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£3.5bn armored vehicle order as Cameron calls for more NATO spending

Published time: September 03, 2014 11:39
The SCOUT Specialist Vehicle (Image from www.generaldynamics.uk.com)

The SCOUT Specialist Vehicle (Image from www.generaldynamics.uk.com)

The Ministry of Defence will sign a £3.5 billion contract for 589 Scout Specialist Vehicles – the largest MoD order for armored vehicles in over 30 years. The move coincides with a British push for increased defense spending at the upcoming NATO Summit.

The Scouts will be the army’s first fully-digitalized armored vehicles, providing “eyes and ears” on the battlefields of the future, said the MoD.

General Dynamics, awarded the contract, said it will provide a “highly-agile, tracked, medium-weight armored fighting vehicle, providing British troops with state-of-the-art best-in-class protection.”

David Cameron hopes the deal will lead by example, as he and President Obama urge European leaders attending the NATO Summit to honor their commitments to allocate a minimum of 2 percent of GDP to defense spending.

Some 61 heads of state are expected to gather at the Celtic Manor Resort outside Newport, South Wales, on Thursday, with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine set to top the agenda.

Further discussions will range from next year’s NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, possible alliance airstrikes in northern Iraq against the Islamic State, and the institution of a rapid reaction force in Europe.

“With the second-largest defense budget in NATO, meeting NATO’s 2 percent of GDP spending target and investing in new capabilities to deal with the emerging threats, we are ensuring Britain's national security, staying at the forefront of the global race and providing leadership within NATO,” said Prime Minister David Cameron.

Western nations have accused Russia of intervening militarily in the conflict in Ukraine – claims that Moscow denies.

Although not a NATO member state, Cameron has invited Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko to the summit. His government announced it will send troops to the Ukraine in the next month to take part in possible military exercises.

Both Britain and Germany have so far rejected sending arms to the Ukrainian government, or sending vessels to the Black Sea.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, however, said that in order to remain credible, NATO must demonstrate it has not lost “the appetite to intervene” when the alliance’s “interests or our obligations” require it to do so.

A destabilizing force?

A 50-million-pound security operation, put in place for the summit, has begun in Newport and Cardiff with almost 10,000 police officers from forces across the UK drafted in to prevent attacks by terrorists or protesters.

Twelve miles (19km) of security fencing, dubbed the ‘ring of steel’ and likened to the Berlin Wall by some residents, has been erected to guard the summit.

Some 400 people have joined a protest camp to rally against NATO. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said that it expects Saturday’s protest to be a “major demonstration.”

“Far from promoting security, NATO is a destabilizing global force,” said CND General-Secretary Kate Hudson. “Its war of aggression in Afghanistan has killed tens of thousands and left that country fragmented: the ripples of which are being felt across the region.”

“Through its insatiable expansion into Eastern Europe, capitalizing on the vacuum left following the collapse of the USSR, NATO has contributed to heightening tensions around Russia and Ukraine, and risks provoking a new Cold War.”