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Rapid Fire May 15, 2012: Britain’s Core Equipment

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The British Ministry of Defence published a “core equipment programme” shopping list [PDF] worth 152 billion pounds (about $244B) over 10 years that they say is sustainable because they have now balanced their books. This includes 2 Queen Elizabeth carriers, Type 45 destroyers and Type 26 frigates, new helicopters, armored fighting vehicles and “continued investment in Typhoon and JSF.” Overall, this sounds like a balanced, sensible plan – don’t look for dramatic changes in it. The next step is a 10-Year Equipment Plan for more details to be assessed by the National Audit Office (NAO). Philip Hammond’s book balancing relies on future defense equipment budget growth that may prove challenging to stick to. * Pakistan sounds ready to reopen its Afghan border to facilitate NATO logistics. Using the Northern Distribution Network is a pretty expensive proposition, but the US had unreleased Coalition Support Funds as leverage to untie that knot. The alliance has invited Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to next week’s summit in Chicago where withdrawal timetables will be discussed, given recent statements made by Australia and France’s new president François Hollande. * The Atlantic Council has a set of recommendations [PDF] for NATO members to strengthen their alliance. […]

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