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Govt to establish 'defence solutions centre'

A Government-backed Defence Solutions Centre, which will develop technologies for the global defence market, will be built in Farnborough, the Prime Minister will say.

David Cameron is expected to also announce:

  • The launching of a £4 million UK Centre Maritime Intelligent Systems based in Portsmouth.
  • The Government hopes to bring together industry and the Local Enterprise Partnership to develop cutting-edge naval technology, such as autonomous unmanned boats.
  • Building skills for the future through a new Defence Apprenticeship Trailblazer to attract new graduates to the Industry as well as up-skilling the existing workforce.

Armed forces to get £1.1 billion cash injection

The Government will invest £1.1 billion in new equipment for the armed forces, it has emerged.

HMS Protector leaves Portsmouth for double deployment to the frozen continent of Antarctic Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will allocate £800 million to an Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance package, designed to improve the armed forces counter-terrorism response.

The remaining £300 million will go towards a new E-Scan radar for Typhoon and the purchase of Ice Patrol Ship HMS Protector, the MoD said.

The Prime Minister will set out future plans for the armed forces on a visit to Farnborough International Airshow later today.

Developments announced by David Cameron are part of the Defence Growth Partnership, designed to boost the economy and properly equip the army, navy and air force.

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RAF probes images of serviceman 'posing with Taliban body'

The RAF has launched an investigation after photographs emerged appearing to show a British serviceman giving a thumbs-up sign while posing with the dead body of a Taliban soldier.

The images, which originally appeared on the website Live Leak, were taken in Afghanistan following a 2012 militant attack on the British military base Camp Bastion.

Army chief sets key issue for review on women's roles

General Sir Peter Wall, who will lead the armed forces review into whether to lift the ban on women serving in combat roles, has said the key issue in determining the outcome would be the "delivery of operational effectiveness".

Chief of the General Staff Sir Peter Wall has said the Army should "seriously consider" lifting its ban on women serving in combat roles. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The review into whether to lift the bar on women joining the infantry and the Royal Armoured Corps was brought forward by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

The Ministry of Defence had been required to review its existing policy on the deployment of women by 2018 under EU equality laws.

Dannatt: Front line violence 'not right place' for women

The former head of the Army, Lord Dannatt, has told ITV News he believes female soldiers should not be allowed to serve in front line roles.

Gen Dannatt, who led the Army from 2006 to 2009, said combat situations in which units attack with "violence, bayonets and machine guns" are "not the right place" for women to be.

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Hammond: We must look at female soldiers' role again

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said the armed forces must review the role female soldiers can play in combat situations to ensure women know the organisation is "fully open" to them.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said perceptions of the armed forces as the "last bastion of male chauvinism" are wrong. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Archive

Mr Hammond said the reality of the armed forces is "very different" from the "macho image" that he said many continue to apply to it.

But he said the restrictions on women in combat situations is "something we have to look at again", in part because of the "message" it sends to women "who might be looking to join other parts of the military".

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Review begun into female soldiers filling combat roles

It is a move that the head of the army, General Sir Peter Wall, has already suggested might make the armed forces "look more normal" - and it seems Defence Secretary Philip Hammond now agrees.

He has ordered a review of whether women should be allowed into combat to start immediately, and wants a report on his desk by the end of the year.

Earlier he told journalists that if the US, Australia and even France had women in combat roles, it was time for Britain to look at the policy again.

Army chief Sir Peter Wall said women "need to see they have equal opportunities" throughout the armed forces. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive

Currently, there are more than 16,000 women in the armed forces but about 30 per cent of roles are closed to them.

The Defence Secretary says he does not envisage the numbers who apply will be that large but suggests it is time to send a signal that the army is open "to all who can meet the standards required".

It is also true that if the change does go ahead next year, it will not harm the Government's attempts to appeal to women voters in the run up to the General Election.

Royal Navy destroyer checks on Russian fleet in Channel

The Royal Navy has confirmed that it tracked a Russian aircraft carrier and a nuclear-powered battle cruiser that passed through the English Channel last night.

The seven-strong Russian naval task group was led by the Admiral Kuznetsov - the nation's largest warship.

Although the ships did not enter UK territorial waters, their movements were tracked by the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon - the duty fleet-ready escort vessel that was dispatched from Portsmouth to investigate.

HMS Dragon was sent to investigate the Russian fleet. Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

The ships are believed to have been returning to the Baltic after manoeuvres in the Mediterranean.

It is not unusual for Russian warships to pass through the Channel - the same group went through in the opposite direction in December, when HMS Dragon was also sent to investigate.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "We can confirm that HMS Dragon was activated as the fleet-ready escort vessel. She met the task group centred around the Admiral Kuznetsov."

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