Friday, August 15, 2008
Chilean Air Force Orders Super Tucanos (NSI News Source Info) 15 August, 2008: LONDON - Chile has inked a deal with Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer to deliver 12 Super Tucano turboprop trainer aircraft for the Chilean Air Force. The first of the aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in the second half of next year. A statement released Aug. 15 by Embraer said the aircraft would be used on tactical training missions. Acquisition of the Super Tucano is part of an Air Force modernization program that also includes operating Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets. Earlier this week, Embraer announced it had delivered the 25th and final Super Tucano ordered in 2005 by the Colombian Air Force. The Colombians, who use the aircraft in the training and light attack roles, were the first export customer for the uprated Tucano.
Boeing Delivers Super Hornet Proposal to Brazil For F-X2 Competition (NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS, Aug. 15, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] delivered a detailed proposal July 30 offering its advanced F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to the Brazilian Air Force as part of Brazil's F-X2 fighter competition. "International interest in the combat-proven Super Hornet continues to increase, and Boeing is honored Brazil is considering the Super Hornet to meet its near-term defense requirements," said Bob Gower, F/A-18 and EA-18 Programs vice president, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. Boeing received a Request for Information from the government of Brazil on June 12. The stated initial requirement is for 36 aircraft, with the potential for up to 120 aircraft. The Super Hornet variant Boeing is offering to Brazil is based on the Block II F/A-18E/F model flown by the U.S. Navy and currently being built for the Royal Australian Air Force. Advanced technology -- such as Raytheon's APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar -- and proven reliability are drawing increasing international interest in the aircraft as a cost-effective and lethal air defense solution. "The Super Hornet we are proposing for Brazil delivers cutting-edge, multi-role strike fighter capability that is ready today," said Gower. "With the Block II enhancements, the Super Hornet's combat capabilities continue to grow, offering a comprehensive multi-role solution at an affordable price." Boeing has delivered more than 360 Super Hornets to the U.S. Navy. Australia has ordered 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets to bolster its fleet of F/A-18 Hornets. Boeing is in discussions with several other international customers about their interest in procuring the F/A-18E/F.
Philippine fighting ends, but peace process under threat (NSI News Source Info) 15 August 2008: Several days of fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ended on 13 August with the peace process between the government and the separatist group in serious jeopardy. The UN also warned of an "unfolding humanitarian crisis", with 160,000 civilians having fled their homes in central Mindanao to escape the fighting. The World Food Programme said on 13 August that it planned to supply enough rice to feed 96,000 people for a month in the North Cotabato area. MILF fighters had seized 15 villages around North Cotabato after the establishment of a new autonomous Muslim 'state within a state' called the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity - which the government had been due to sign up to formally on 6 August - was blocked by the country's supreme court amid fears it could precipitate the break-up of the Philippines. IMAGE: Philippine Army soldiers board a C-130 transport aircraft at Villamor airbase in Manila on their way to Mindanao to give support to government forces fighting the MILF.
Indian Air Force Su 30 MKI Fighter Jets to be Stationed at Tezpur Air Base Assam by December 2008 (NSI News Source Info) 15 August, 2008: Within the next four months, a first batch of eight Su-30MKI multi-role fighters will be positioned at the Tezpur Air Base in the Indian state of Assam, near the border with China, Kanwa Online reported Friday. This is almost six months ahead of the time line earlier reported in the mainstream media.This will be the first time for Su-30MKI fighters to be deployed in the north eastern sector near the disputed India-China border also known as the McMahon Line. The deployment of two squadrons of Su-30MKI fighters at the Tezpur Air Base in the eastern part of the country will greatly enhance India's capability to launch aerial precision attacks on China.Not taking into consideration the aerial refueling capability of the fighters, the Su-30MKI's 1,500-kilometer (932-mile) combat radius is enough to cover all the major cities in southwest China, including Kunming, Chengdu and Chongqing. India plans to outfit the fighters with the latest BrahMos air-to-ground supersonic missiles, which have a 290-kilometer (180-mile) range.Along the India-China border air power has been shifting in favor of India. First of all, India has quite a number of airports in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, making troop maneuvers easier. In the Tibet region, China has only the Kang-ko Airport in eastern Tibet, the Gongka Airport in Lhasa and one more known as the Hidden Airport. Fighter aircraft are not normally stationed at any of these airports.China already has a massive troop presence in the border regions neighboring India including Sichuan and the occupied nation of Tibet and has sent Su-27SK fighters to this area for airport transfer training on the plateau. Troops that took part in this training reportedly faced difficulties in logistic support and supply. In the nearby Chengdu Military Region, the only air force units with decent combat strength are one J-10A regiment under the PLA Air Force's No. 44 Division and one Su-27 regiment under the No. 33 Division. The Diqing and Zhongdian airports in Yunnan province could be used for operations against India, but these are small civilian airports.India has built a number of airports in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, including seven military airports. The small Teju New Airport located close to the border with China has only one runway and is mainly used for rapid transport by helicopter. It could be used as a runway for MiG-21 fighters to take off and land. There is another similar airport in Machuka, again close to the border. A small airport at Sookerating has one runway, while the Along Airport is also available for fast landing and takeoff of helicopters, indicating that the Indian Air Force attaches great importance to fast reaction capability.Other small frontline airport facilities include the Jorhat Airport and Lilabari Airport. The Chabua Airport can field not only An-32 light transport aircraft but also Mi-8/17 helicopters, and is the pivotal airport for the Indian Air Force to quickly deliver troops in the region. Two runways have been built at this airport.To the south of Arunachal Pradesh is Assam, where Tezpur is the largest military airport. Tezpur Airport, now preparing to receive the Su-30MKI fighters, is no more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the practical line of control at the China-India border. The Indian Air Defense Force No. 30 Squadron is stationed there, armed with 16 MiG-21FL fighters, all of which are now anchored in mound-structured hangars.Two other small airports have been built in Assam, the Dimapir and Kumbhirgram dual-use airports. The Indian Air Force also has the Lengpui, Barapani and Guwahati airports in the area.In the strategic direction of Bhutan and central Nepal, the Indian Air Force has built three major military airports, sufficient to provide deterrence over the central part of Tibet. These airports include the Baghdogra (Avantipur) Air Base, where at least 16 MiG-21FL fighters and An-32 transport aircraft are based. The airport is equipped with mound-structured hangars, each accommodating two MiG-21 fighters. The Baghdogra Airport is also only 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the border with China, and is the home base of the Indian Air Force No. 8 Squadron.In this region, the Hashimara Air Base is one of the better-equipped military airports with large, full-fledged facilities. There are 18 MiG-27ML attackers based here, and during a confrontation with China, these could hit targets deep in Tibet through the Bhutan-Nepal corridor. The No. 22 Squadron of the Indian Air Force Is stationed at this airport. In addition, a simple runway has also been built at Cooch Behar. India and China have been following very similar paths in the construction of airport facilities and SAM-2 ground-to-air missile positions.
Russia beefs up coast guard on its Black Sea coast (NSI News Source Info) YOSHKAR OLA August 15, 2008 - Russia's border service has dispatched additional patrol vessels to protect the Black Sea coast near the city of Sochi, the service chief said on Tuesday. Army Gen. Vladimir Pronichev said the border troops were also using aircraft, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), as well as special monitoring equipment to oversee the situation in Georgia's breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. On Monday, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov ordered additional measures to reinforce Russia's state border in the South Federal District. Gen. Pronichev said the situation in the area was "under control" and said that the service was aware of "events in our area of responsibility." He added that Russian border guards "have sufficient resources and the capability to ensure state border security."
Russia's NATO envoy calls U.S. missile shield 'dead cat' (NSI News Source Info) BRUSSELS August 15, 2008 - Russia's ambassador to NATO has compared the U.S. missile defense system to "a dead cat," since its effectiveness can only be verified as a result of reciprocal thermonuclear missile strikes. "The Europeans have received a 'dead cat' from the Americans," Dmitry Rogozin said, commenting on the U.S.-Polish missile-defense deal, signed Thursday. He said that if the threat really came from Iran, as the U.S. says it does, it would be more "logical to deploy U.S. missile defense elements on NATO's southern flanks - in Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania." He earlier said the missile defense system for central Europe targets Russia. Rogozin said that by signing the agreement with the United States, Poland has effectively confirmed that Russia is the focus of the missile shield. "The Poles should be thanked for helping reveal the strategic goal of the U.S. missile defense plan," Dmitry Rogozin said in an interview with RIA Novosti. Russia is strongly opposed to the missile shield, which it says will undermine its nuclear deterrent and threaten its national security. President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday he had no doubt it was aimed against Russia, but added that Moscow was ready to continue talks with all parties concerned. Washington says plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland coupled with a radar system in the Czech Republic are intended to counter possible attacks from what it calls "rogue states," including Iran. The agreement was reached after Washington agreed to reinforce Poland's air defenses. The deal is still to be approved by the two countries' governments and Poland's parliament. Officials say the interceptor base in Poland will be opened by 2012. The Czech Republic signed a deal to host a U.S. radar on July 8. Russian officials earlier said Moscow could deploy its Iskander tactical missiles and strategic bombers in Belarus and Russia's westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad if Washington succeeded in its missile shield plans in Europe. Moscow also warned it could target its missiles on Poland.
Chavez accuses Bush of ordering attack on South Ossetia (NSI News Source Info) BUENOS AIRES August 15, 2008 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez believes that Georgian forces launched their attack on South Ossetia on the orders of the U.S. president, the Union radio station reported Friday. "The leadership of the U.S., which gives orders to Georgian authorities, is to blame for the Caucasus' burning," began Chavez, as quoted by the Venezuelan radio station. "The president of the U.S., the imperialist George Bush, I am absolutely certain was the one who gave the order to Georgian forces to burn towns and villages and to kill innocent people," he said. The conflict began with an attack by Georgian forces on Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway Georgian republic of South Ossetian, on August 8. Russia has said that around 1,600 people died in the Georgian assault. During the subsequent Russian military operation to force Georgian troops out of the de facto independent republic and to reinforce its peacekeepers in the region, Moscow sent some 10,000 servicemen and several hundred armored vehicles into South Ossetia. Washington has supported its ally throughout the crisis, refusing to condemn Tbilisi's attack on South Ossetia and calling Moscow's response "disproportionate." "Russia's actions were fully justified," Chavez said. He also said that the U.S. was seeking to surround a Russia which had "risen from its knees thanks to the firm hand of ex-president Putin, and has again become a world power." He was speaking in Asuncion at the inauguration of the new president of Paraguay, the leftist former bishop Fernando Lugo.
Ukraine proposes drafting Black Sea fleet deal with Russia (NSI News Source Info) KIEV August 15, 2008 - Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko sent an urgent proposal to Russia on Friday to draft a bilateral agreement on the Russian Black Sea fleet deployed in Ukraine. Yushchenko said he had presented Russia with "an urgent proposition to launch talks and draw up an agreement to regulate bilateral relations during military operations" such as those in Georgia over the past week. Ships from Russia's Black Sea Fleet patrolled the waters off the Georgian coast during Russia's "peace enforcement" operation that began after Georgia launched an offensive in breakaway South Ossetia on August 8. Yushchenko signed a decree Wednesday stating that Russia was required to notify the Ukrainian authorities of all movements by naval vessels and aircraft from its Crimea-based Black Sea Fleet. He signed the document after returning from Tbilisi, where he took part in a mass rally in support of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili amid fighting with Russia. Both leaders have pursued pro-Western policies, seeking to join NATO and the European Union and reduce Russian influence. Ukraine even threatened last weekend to refuse to allow the Russian vessels to return to the Sevastopol naval base. Russia's Defense Ministry said Sunday that the Russian Navy had sunk a Georgian vessel transporting missile launchers. Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses the Sevastopol base under agreements signed in 1997. Yushchenko announced earlier this year that Ukraine would not extend the lease beyond 2017.
Russia finds Ukrainian car plates at Georgian army base (NSI News Source Info) BRUSSELS August 15, 2008 - Moscow intends to send an official request to Kiev to identify Ukrainian diplomatic license plates discovered by Russian intelligence officers at a Georgian military base, Russia's NATO envoy said Friday. "We do not know what they were intended for, we are merely stating a fact," Dmitry Rogozin said. The suspicious discovery, which could signal that Ukraine was involved in the recent conflict in Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia, was made in Senaki, in western Georgia. Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chef of Russia's General Staff, reported earlier in the day that Russian reconnaissance officers in Abkhazia had spotted a large number of cars with license plates of Ukrainian diplomats. Commenting on the purpose of the plates, the Defense Ministry official said cars with such plates could have moved freely across Georgia and its breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. "Diplomatic cars are not subject to checks on roads. They can carry any cargoes, including arms," Nogovitsyn said.
Russian mini-subs to search Baikal for sunken treasures (NSI News Source Info) NOVOSIBIRSK August 15, 2008 - Two Russian mini-submarines will dive to the bottom of Siberia's Lake Baikal next week to search for "archaeological artifacts," a spokesman for the Baikal preservation foundation said Friday. The expedition in the Mir-1 and Mir-2 mini-submarines will examine the lakebed where the Selenga River flows into Baikal. The region is situated on the southeastern shore where ancient transport routes cross. Baikal, called the Sacred Sea by locals for its size and beauty, is the world's oldest and deepest lake, with an age estimated at 25 million years. It holds around 20% of the planet's freshwater and is home to hundreds of unique species of fauna and flora. According to previous archaeological findings, the territory near the lake, also known as the Blue Eye of Siberia, has been inhabited since the Stone Age. Located in southern Siberia, near the Mongolian border, Baikal's shores were home to the Eurasian Hun tribes in the 3rd century B.C. Among the many treasures rumored to have disappeared into Baikal's depths are several sacks of gold, taken from the Imperial Russian reserves and carried across the ice by Admiral Alexander Kolchak's White forces fleeing the Bolsheviks in the winter of 1919-1920. Some of the officers reputedly froze on the ice as temperatures dropped to 60 degrees Celsius below zero, and the treasure sunk when the spring thaw came. Although the Kolchak story is unproven, several other cases of lost treasure have been documented. Russian tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolyets quoted explorer and treasure-hunter Sergei Nadyozhdin as saying: "Some cases in which money and other valuables went to the bottom of the lake are known from documents." He cited an incident in December 1886, when seven horse-drawn carriages carrying 1,000 silver rubles each attempted to cross the lake ice. The ice cracked, and the leading troika sunk in the lake a few hundred meters from the shore, while the rest rushed back to land, with the result that "several poods [16 kg units] of silver still lie at the bottom." The paper quoted historian Veniamin Kropotkin as saying: "Over the past 150-200 years, plenty of goods have sunk to the bed of the 'world's purest lake' - carts, wagons, steamships, automobiles." In 1993, ice on the rail line near the village of Tankhoi caused an entire freight train to hurtle into the water, where it remains to this day, he told the paper. "Divers have already tried to investigate some objects, which sunk in shallower waters. On the lake's bed near the village of Listvyanka, for example, a 1.5-meter cannon was discovered," the historian said. The participants stress that searching for archaeological artifacts is not the main goal of the research expedition, which is largely focused on studies of the lake's unique ecosystem. The two-year expedition, which started at the end of July, will include around 160 dives in various parts of the lake. A team of U.S. oceanologists has also been invited to join the Lake Baikal exploration next week.
Boeing and Seal Dynamics Sign Contract for Innovative Supply-Chain Solution (NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE, Aug. 15, 2008 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] and Seal Dynamics, an integrated provider of engineering and logistics solutions serving the industrial and airline industries, have signed an agreement that will help airlines significantly reduce their maintenance costs. This partnership is part of Boeing's Integrated Materials Management (IMM) initiative, in which Boeing and suppliers such as Seal Dynamics maintain an airline's inventory of spare parts, providing items as needed. By reducing the airline's spare parts inventory, IMM reduces the cost of doing business. "Boeing welcomes Seal Dynamics to the Integrated Materials Management family of customers and network suppliers. Seal Dynamics has extensive knowledge and experience in providing innovative service solutions to its customers," said Joe Brummitt, director of Integrated Materials Management for Boeing. "The IMM service network and airline customers will greatly benefit from this experience as we further expand the scope of IMM." The Aerospace MRO Division of Seal Dynamics serves global, national and regional carriers within the commercial airline and aviation industry. Their strength in engineering and logistics expertise provide the product solutions, services and support necessary to ensure the right products are available to customers when they need them. "Seal Dynamics is pleased to partner with Boeing in the IMM program. We are confident that our commitment to world class supply solutions will bring tremendous value to the IMM family of customers," said David Susser, president of Seal Dynamics. Integrated Materials Management is considered the next step in expanding Boeing services to suppliers throughout the world to provide value for airline customers and supplier partners by building on existing materials management programs with airlines. Current IMM customers include AirTran Airways, ANA, Nippon Cargo Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Delta Air Lines, Japan Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, SAS Technical Services, Japan Transocean Air, Singapore Airlines, SIAEC and Thai International Airways.
India allows Singapore to train ground forces in India
(NSI News Source Info) New Delhi, August 15, 2008: India-Singapore-Army Training After allowing Singapore to use Indian Air Force (IAF)'s Kalaikunda airbase and nearby firing ranges to train its pilots, India has signed another agreement with the country permitting it the use of Babina and Deolali firing ranges for armor and artillery exercises. The agreement, signed by Defense Secretary Vijay Singh and Permanent Secretary (Defense) Chiang Chie Foo here on Tuesday, will allow Singapore to train its ground forces in India for the next five years, said an official statement issued here. Significantly, in a first, India has also allowed Singapore to station a small detachment of Army personnel and equipment (Artillery Guns and Tanks) at the Babina and Deolali ranges on a permanent basis for the duration of the agreement. "The agreement provides for temporary detachment of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel for a maximum period of eight weeks, up to two times a year. Under the agreement, India will provide firing range facilities and infrastructure to SAF for the purpose of joint military training and exercises. While the MoD did not specify the amount, Singapore will pay India for the use of the ranges by its Armed Forces. The ministry spokesperson said that besides the bilateral agreement, the two sides also signed associated protocols on training, administration and logistics and financial arrangements. The agreement comes into effect from Tuesday and shall remain in force for a period of five years. In October last year, the Government signed a crucial defense agreement with Singapore allowing it to use the Kalaikunda airbase to train its pilots. The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), plagued with a shortage of air space and training assets, had been visiting the West Bengal airbase regularly for joint exercises.
2nd Sino-Indian military drill to begin from December (NSI News Source Info) New Delhi, August 15, 2008: India-China-Military Drill Building on the goodwill generated in last year's ground-breaking military drill, Indian and Chinese armies are likely to hold their second joint exercise in December on Indian territory to enhance the steadily improving ties between the two powerful militaries of the world. A high-level Chinese military delegation will visit New Delhi later this month to finalize details of the joint exercise which officials say will be much 'bigger' this year. "The second joint military exercise between People's Liberation Army (PLA) and Indian Army is likely to be held in December," Indian official media reported quoting a top Chinese diplomat. "A Chinese delegation will be in New Delhi after the Olympic Games to finalize dates and other details of the exercise," he said. Asked about preparations of the PLA, he said they are looking forward to participating in the joint exercise as it will help enhancing ties between the two armies. In a sign of warmer ties, India and China conducted their first ever joint exercise code-named 'Hand-in-Hand 2007' at Kunming Military Academy and in a hilly terrain near Kunming in China's Yunnan province from December 21 to 25 last year with the spotlight on anti-terrorism drill. As many as 103 troops from the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry and an equal number from People's Liberation Army took part in the landmark exercise as part of confidence-building measures that upgraded the Sino-Indian military ties. An official in the Defense Ministry said the 'details of the exercise are being worked out' for this year's exercise which will take ties between the two largest armies to a 'new high'.
Iraqi Troops Taking Over Georgian Base (NSI News Source Info) August 15, 2008: BAGHDAD - Iraqi security forces are taking over checkpoints near the Iranian border that had been manned by Georgian troops until they departed for their country's conflict with Russia, the U.S. military said today. Shiite pilgrims, meanwhile, faced more violence as they headed toward the holy city of Karbala for a major religious festival. A roadside bomb struck a minibus beginning the trip in eastern Baghdad Friday morning, killing at least one passenger and wounding 10 others, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information. The attack came a day after a female suicide bomber struck Shiite pilgrims resting by the side of a road south of Baghdad in Iskandariyah, killing at least 18 people and wounding 75. The U.S. military said 18 people were killed, but Iraqi police in the area gave a higher death toll of 26. AP Television News footage showed a bloodied young boy covered with a wool blanket in his hospital bed while relatives wheeled a wounded woman shrouded in a black cloak through the corridor. Georgia's announcement last week that it was recalling its soldiers from Iraq has forced the Americans to shuffle units to fill the vacuum. The 2,000 Georgians had been responsible for searching vehicles and people at a series of checkpoints along smuggling routes in the desert border region near Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. The former Soviet republic had been the third-largest contributor of coalition forces after the U.S. and Britain. Iraqi soldiers already have taken over traffic checkpoints and are providing security at the entrance of the Georgians' former patrol base, the U.S. military said. Meanwhile, American soldiers with the 41st Fires Brigade are training them to take over the rest of the Georgians' mission, including patrols and the base itself, according to the statement. The move came after U.S. officials acknowledged the Georgians' departure would have a "near-term impact" but insisted adjustments were being made to minimize the disruption to operations. Americans have increasingly been trying to move to more of an oversight role and letting Iraqi security forces take the lead so the foreign troops can eventually go home. "They have stepped up to the plate, and their partnership is why we are able to take over the mission that the Georgians had to leave behind, with no change in the security and safety of the Iraqi people," brigade commander Col. Richard M. Francey, Jr., said of the Iraqi troops. Last year, Georgia agreed to move most of its soldiers from the relatively safe Green Zone in Baghdad to the mainly Shiite desert area southeast of the capital. The purpose was to help interdict weapons and other supplies allegedly smuggled to militiamen from Iran, particularly powerful roadside bombs known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs. At the time, U.S. commanders said the Georgians would give their strapped forces a boost by helping search vehicles and people along highways as part of stepped-up efforts to stanch the flow of illegal arms and foreign fighters to Baghdad. But Georgia called its forces home after an outbreak of fighting with Russia over two breakaway provinces.
BAE to Build 155mm Naval Gun for U.K.
(NSI News Source Info) 15 August, 2008: LONDON - The possibility of British warships firing 155mm artillery is a step closer to reality after an announcement from BAE Systems that it has signed a deal with the Ministry of Defence to build a gun to undertake land-based firing trials next year. CORDA, BAE's consulting arm, together with the company's Land Systems business in Britain and defense research company QinetiQ, hope to start live-firing trials in fall 2009 with a 155mm naval gun based on the British Army's AS90 self-propelled howitzer system. BAE said it is also exploiting the capabilities of other company business units such as Armament Systems in the U.S. and Bofors in Sweden. The Armament Systems division is already in the latter stages of developing a similar system for the U.S. Navy - the 155mm Advanced Gun System destined for the force's DDG 1000 destroyer program. No more than two DDG 1000s are likely to be built rather than the seven planned, but the AGS could find its way onto up-rated Arleigh Burke DDG-51 destroyers likely to be built in their place. If the 4 million pound ($7.55 million) British contract goes according to plan, BAE hopes to move to a full technology demonstrator program ahead of possible retrofitting of the gun to existing Type 23 frigates and Type 45 destroyers, as well as an upcoming generation of warships known as the Future Surface Combatant. This latest contract is the third phase of work that kicked off in 2006 as part of a three-year MoD research program known as Maritime Surface Effects. Eight different study programs are looking at issues such as coastal suppression, naval fire support, offensive and defensive surface warfare, and the role of unmanned surface vehicles. BAE said in a statement that replacing the current 4.5-inch gun with a 155mm system would increase the range and effect on targets while also reducing costs by using the same gun and ammunition as the British Army. Previous study phases examined the feasibility of fitting the 155mm gun into the existing Mk8 Mod 1 turret and considered some of the technology risks of the proposed solution. "In addition to providing the Royal Navy with a potential low-cost route to a significant enhancement in capability, this program will help to sustain the U.K. industrial capacity to design, upgrade and manufacture artillery and gunnery systems," BAE Land System executive John Kelly said.
U.S., Poland sign missile defense deal (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, August 15, 2008 - The United States and Poland signed a deal to deploy missiles as part of a U.S. defense shield in the ex-Communist-bloc country amid a military crisis in Georgia. The preliminary agreement to place 10 interceptor missiles signed by Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer and U.S. chief negotiator John Rood late on Thursday is likely to fuel tensions between the West and Russia already strained over Russia's military response to a Georgian offensive in the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russia is strongly opposed to the plan, which it considers as a threat to its national security. Washington says the European shield planned for deployment in Poland and the Czech Republic is designed to counter possible attacks from "rogue states." The agreement was reached after Washington agreed to reinforce Poland's air defenses. It is still to be approved by the two countries' governments and Poland's parliament. Russia lawmakers said the deal will trigger a new arms race and confrontation in Europe. Moscow has repeatedly warned it will be forced to respond.
The United States and Poland have signed an agreement to deploy U.S. interceptor missiles in the former Communist-bloc country. The news comes amid a military crisis in Georgia that has provoked strong criticism of Moscow by the U.S. and other Western countries. The preliminary deal to place elements of the U.S. global missile defense shield, signed by Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer and U.S. chief negotiator John Rood late on Thursday, is likely to further fuel tensions between Washington and Moscow. Russia is strongly opposed to the missile shield plan, which it says will undermine its nuclear deterrent and threaten its national security. Washington says plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland coupled with a radar system in the Czech Republic are intended to counter possible attacks from what it calls "rogue states," including Iran. The agreement was reached after Washington agreed to reinforce Poland's air defenses. The deal is still to be approved by the two countries' governments and Poland's parliament. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in televised remarks that "the events in the Caucasus show clearly that such security guarantees are indispensable." The U.S.-Polish missile talks had been dragging for months before recent hostilities in Georgia. Moscow has accused the West of bias in favor of Georgia and reliance on statements from Tbilisi during the South Ossetia armed conflict. Russia says it deployed additional troops to South Ossetia to reinforce its peacekeepers and protect civilians after Georgia attacked the capital of the breakaway republic on August 8. White House and State Department officials denied however that the signing of the deal was linked to events in Georgia. "We certainly welcome the development. We believe that missile defense is a substantial contribution to NATO's collective security," White House press secretary Dona Perino said on Thursday, adding that the deal was a result of protracted negotiations. Officials say the interceptor base in Poland will be opened by 2012. The Czech Republic signed a deal to host a U.S. radar on July 8. Senior Russian lawmakers said on Friday the agreement would damage security in Europe, and reiterated that Russia would now have to take steps to ensure its security. Andrei Klimov, deputy head of the State Duma's international affairs committee, said the deal was designed to demonstrate Warsaw's "loyalty to the U.S. and receive material benefits. For the Americans, it is an opportunity to expand its military presence across the world, including closer to Russia," he said. "For NATO," he went on, "This is an additional risk...many NATO countries are unhappy with this, including the Germans and the French." While Klimov called the agreement "a step back" toward the Cold War, he said the missiles were not that important strategically and were more of a political irritant. He also played down a link to developments in South Ossetia: "There might be a psychological element in it, but talks with Poland had been dragging on long enough beforehand." Another senior State Duma member, Gennady Gudkov, said the deal would further divide European countries into U.S. "vassals" and those pursuing more independent policies. Russian officials earlier said Moscow could deploy its Iskander tactical missiles and strategic bombers in Belarus and Russia's westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad if Washington succeeded in its missile shield plans in Europe. Moscow also warned it could target its missiles on Poland.
Gorbachev blames Georgia for provoking war, West for backing it (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, August 15, 2008 - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has blamed Georgia for provoking hostilities in its breakaway region of South Ossetia and criticized Western states for backing Tbilisi. Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" on Thursday, Gorbachev said Russia had moved additional forces into South Ossetia in response to the "devastation" in the South Ossetia capital of Tskhinvali. "This was the use of sophisticated weapons against a small town, against a sleeping people. This was a barbaric assault," Gorbachev told CNN. The Soviet Union's last president and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Gorbachev said the West appears to have been aware of Georgia's plans to seize the province. "Western television didn't show what happened in Tskhinvali," Gorbachev said on the program. "Only now they're beginning to show some pictures of the destruction. So this looks to me like it was a well-prepared project. They wanted to put the blame on Russia." He called Georgia's claims that Russia was attempting to dismantle its democracy "all lies from beginning to end." Many analysts have questioned Georgia's claims to be a "democratic, freedom-loving country," pointing to the use of baton-wielding, gas-masked riot police to put down a peaceful demonstration against Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili last November, and the subsequent closure of an opposition TV station. Saakashvili has also been accused of ordering the murders of political opponents. Georgia has said its attack on South Ossetia on August 8 was provoked by separatists who broke a ceasefire. South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers deployed in the region denied the claims, accusing Tbilisi of shelling the area. Saakashvili, who also appeared on the program on Thursday, said he was disappointed with comments from Gorbachev, whom he said he once respected, calling them "basically vindicating lies and deceptions." "This is the man, Mr. Gorbachev, who helped to, you know, bring down KGB kingdom. And he is the one who is, you know, justifying what the KGB people are doing right now in my country," Saakashvili said. Gorbachev, who presided over perestroika that led to the breakup of the Soviet Union, has defended Russia in the conflict with Georgia in the Western media. In an article published in The Guardian earlier this week, he said Russia was forced to help its peacekeepers and protect civilians in South Ossetia. Russia has accused the Western media of "bias" in it coverage of the conflict. Western nations accused Russia of a "disproportionate" use of force in the Caucasus, saying its handling of the crisis would damage its place on the world scene. Gorbachev also said on CNN that the United States was jeopardizing its fragile relationship with Russia by backing Georgia. Larry King show viewers voted 71% to 29% against the U.S. getting involved in the conflict in Georgia. The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch organization has accused both Russia and Georgia of "indiscriminate attacks" on civilians during the fighting.