Sunday, September 28, 2008

German Producing Its Skyshield 35 C-RAM System

German Producing Its Skyshield 35 C-RAM System (NSI News Source Info) September 29, 2008: Germany is ready to begin producing its Skyshield 35 C-RAM system (Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar), and get it to Afghanistan next year. Skyshield 35 C-RAM consists of two 35mm guns (each with 228 rounds of ammo) and a radar. It operates automatically, much like the U.S. 20mm Phalanx system.) Each target (an incoming mortar round) is spotted by the radar, which then points one of the guns in the right direction and fires off 10-12 rounds, which intercept the incoming shells with airbursts of fragments which cause the mortar shells to miss their target.
Skyshield 35 C-RAM system
The U.S. C-RAM is a version of the Phalanx, designed to protect large bases from mortar and rocket attack. The original Phalanx was a 20mm cannon designed to defend American warships against anti-ship missiles. Phalanx does this by using a radar that immediately starts firing at any incoming missile it detects. The C-RAM system has its software modified to detect smaller objects (like 82mm mortar shells). This came about when it was discovered that the original Phalanx could take out incoming 155mm artillery shells. This capability is what led to C-RAM. Other modifications include linking Phalanx to the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar and Q-36 Target Acquisition Radar. When these radars detect incoming fire, C-RAM points toward the incoming objects and prepares to fire at anything that comes within range (about 2,000 meters) of its cannon. C-RAM uses high explosive 20mm shells, that detonate near the target, spraying it with fragments. By the time these fragments reach the ground, they are generally too small to injure anyone. The original Phalanx used 20mm depleted uranium shells, to slice through incoming missiles. Phalanx fires shells at the rate of 75 per second. Another advantage of C-RAM, is that it makes a distinctive noise when firing, warning people nearby that a mortar or rocket attack is underway, giving people an opportunity to duck inside if they are out and about. The first U.S. C-RAM was sent to Iraq in 2006, to protect the Green Zone (the large area in Baghdad turned into an American base). It was found that C-RAM could knock down 70-80 percent of the rockets and mortar shells fired within range of its cannon. It took about a year to develop C-RAM, and another version, using a high-powered laser, instead of the 20mm gun, is in development.

Venezuela Doubles Up On Chinese K-8 Trainer Aircraft Jets

Venezuela Doubles Up On Chinese K-8 Trainer Aircraft Jets (NSI News Source Info) September 29, 2008: Venezuela has doubled its order for a dozen K-8 trainer aircraft from China. These aircraft cost about $25 million each. China has exported K-8s to several other countries (often at bargain prices), including Myanmar (Burma).
K-8 Trainer Aircraft
The K8 (also called JL-8) is a 4.3 ton, two seat, jet trainer. It can use an American, Chinese or Ukrainian engine. Originally, China was going to just use a 3600 pound thrust American engines. But after the 1989 Chinese crackdown on pro-democracy forces, the United States cut off the supply of engines. This encouraged China to design a similar engine (the WS-11). But China has had a hard time mastering the precise technologies and manufacturing techniques needed to build jet engines. So it has been buying the Ukrainian AI-25TLK, while it works to perfect its own engine design. The K8 has a cruising speed of 800 kilometers an hour, endurance of four hours and five hard points. It can carry a 23mm cannon in the hard point under the fuselage, and half a ton of bombs, rockets or missiles, from the four hard points on the wings. This gives the aircraft combat capability, at least against a foe with few anti-aircraft weapons. Electronics on the JL-8 are minimal, as it's basically a two seat trainer, to prepare fighter pilots before they climb into anything from a an F-16 to Su-30s (Venezuela has both).

BAE’s Diverse MRAP Orders

BAE’s Diverse MRAP Orders (NSI News Source Info) September 29, 2008: The USA’s Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) program has been a long road for BAE Systems. In the wake of the US Army’s belated realization that mine protection was critical for vehicles in theater, BAE’s designs, long-standing experience in the field, and production capacity had made them an early favorite. By June 20/07, however, contracts had been issued for 3,266 Category I patrol & Category II squad-sized MRAP vehicles, fully 42% of a the program’s planned 7,774 orders. Force Protection had racked up orders for 1,780 Cougar vehicles, and Navistar/Plasan Sasa had come out of the tests at Aberdeen with orders for 1,216 of its MaxxPro joint design. BAE sat in 4th place with orders for just 90 vehicles – 2.8% of the total. It had to be a humbling experience for the firm that went into 2004 as the world leader in the field.
RG-33 variant
BAE has worked hard to catch up, and recent contracts have put them solidly back into the competition, even as the number of MRAPs in the program more than doubled to over 15,000. The latest orders widen their lead over 3rd place firm Force Protection, and make them one of just 2 firms with a foothold under the new MRAP-II qualifications. MRAP-II includes protection against EFP (explosively-formed projectile) land mines that fire the equivalent of a cannon shell at the vehicle, in addition to the standard underbody blasts.

Iraq Takes Delivery of U.S. Surveillance Planes

Iraq Takes Delivery of U.S. Surveillance Planes (NSI News Source Info) September 29, 2008: BAGHDAD - Iraq has taken delivery of U.S.-built Beechcraft spy planes to bolster its security forces, Defence Minister Abdel Qader Jassem Mohammed said Sept. 28, without saying how many were involved. "The ministry has received in the last few days new American (Beechcraft) King Air surveillance aircraft," Mohammed said in a statement, adding that the aircraft flew over Baghdad for the first time Sept. 28. Mohammed said the planes had been bought with Iraqi money, but he did not say how much was paid. However, he said local pilots had been trained to fly the U.S.-built twin-engine turbo-prop aircraft and transmit live images to a control centre to help direct ground troops. Earlier this month Mohammed confirmed that Iraq planned to buy F-16 jets from the U.S., and media reports said that Baghdad wanted 36 of the advanced fighters. Such a deal would be expected to reduce Iraqi reliance on U.S. air power and possibly clear the way for a withdrawal of more U.S. troops from the country, where they currently number 144,000. U.S. officials have previously maintained that they would have to keep fighter aircraft and helicopters in Iraq even after American combat troops leave.

Obama vows to attack Pakistan if unable to act against militants

Obama vows to attack Pakistan if unable to act against militants (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama focused on the economy in the shadow of the US financial crisis in a first presidential debate that also crackled with sharp disputes over Iraq and terrorism.Obama reiterated his vow to launch military attacks on extremists in Pakistan if Islamabad was unwilling or unable to act, prompting a rebuke from McCain: "You don't say that out loud."While snap opinion polls made Obama an easy winner after their clash late Friday, daily newspapers were more cautious.Obama, 47, vying to make history as America's first black president, branded McCain as an inheritor of President George W. Bush's unpopular legacy of "failed" economic and foreign policies.McCain, 72, presented himself as a reformer and posed as a superior potential commander-in-chief, repeatedly saying Obama did not "understand" foreign policy threats or was "naive" in his outlook on the world."I don't think I need any on-the-job training. I'm ready to go at it right now," McCain said.

Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle, USA

Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle, USA (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: The Bionix infantry fighting vehicle was developed by Singapore Technologies Automotives (now Singapore Technologies Engineering) and has been operational with the Singapore Armed Forces since 1999 in the form of the Bionix 25 and Bionix 40/50. Bionix II (BXII) entered service with Singapore Armed Forces in October 2006 and was jointly developed by ST Engineering, the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and the Singapore Army. Bionix II is also produced in a command variant. "The Bionix infantry fighting vehicle was developed by Singapore Technologies Automotives." Other vehicles in the Bionix family are the armoured recovery vehicle (ARV), fitted with a 25t winch and 30t crane, and armoured vehicle launched bridge (AVLB), fitted with an MLC30 bridge that can be launched under armour or by remote control. An infantry carrier vehicle (ICV) variant was developed by Singapore Technologies as a private venture and offered for the US Army's interim armoured vehicle, a competition won by the General Dynamics Stryker ICV.
Bionix II is the latest variant of the Bionix infantry fighting vehicle produced by Singapore Technologies Engineering.
Bionix II (BXII) entered service with Singapore Armed Forces in October 2006.
Bionix 25 (left) is armed with 25mm cannon and Bionix 40/50 (right) with 40mm grenade launcher and machine
The Bionix armoured vehicle launched bridge (AVLB) is fitted with an MLC30 bridge that can be launched under armour or by remote control.
Bionix II Bionix II has common hull, power pack and suspension as the previous vehicles but is equipped with a network-enabled digital battle management system, a new ATK mk44 Bushmaster 30mm dual-feed cannon and modular armour package. It has a two-man turret and can accommodate up to ten troops. It is also armed with one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and one 7.62mm general-purpose machine gun. Bionix II has an improved day / night thermal sighting system (DNTSS) with a dual-axis stabilisation system for enhanced target tracking. An integrated eye-safe laser rangefinder has a range of up to 3km. Bionix 25 Bionix 25 has a two-man turret and can accommodate ten troops. It is armed with an ATK M242 25mm Bushmaster dual-feed cannon with vertical and horizontal stabilisers. The cannon has 180 ready-to-fire 25mm rounds plus 420 rounds in the ammunition store. The cannon fires HEI and APFSDS rounds manufactured by Chartered Industries of Singapore (now Singapore Technologies Kinetics) under a licensed manufacturing agreement with Oerlikon Contraves. The gunner has an 8x magnification day and thermal night sight with two fields of view for the 25mm cannon. A laser range finder can be optionally fitted to the day and night sight. There are three general purpose 7.62mm machine guns, one mounted co-axially with the 25mm cannon, one roof-mounted for anti-aircraft use by the commander or gunner and one rear mounted gun on the right side. The vehicle has six 76mm smoke grenade launchers. Bionix 40/50 Bionix 40/50 is fitted with a one-man 40/50 cupola manufactured by Chartered Industries of Singapore and can accommodate 11 troops. It has a twin weapon station with 40mm grenade launcher, 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns. Turret The two-man Bionix turret is of all-welded-steel-armour construction. Additional armour protection can be installed with an add-on layer of spaced passive armour. The gunner's station is on the right and the commander's station is on the left, each with a single hatch cover. "Bionix 25 has a two-man turret and can accommodate ten troops." The turret traverses through 360°. The turret traverse and weapon elevation is by all-electric digital control. Both the gunner and commander have a turret stop button and are able to lay and fire the weapons. Three day-periscopes give the gunner a field of view to the right and to the rear of the vehicle. The commander has a secondary optical relay from the gunner's sight and five day-periscopes with fields of view to the front, left and rear. Hull The hull and turret are of all-welded-steel construction with modular passive armour protection. Access to the troop compartment at the rear of the vehicle is by a power-operated ramp, which can operate as an emergency access and exit door. A single hatch is installed over the troop compartment. Driver's station The driver's station has three periscopic sights. The two outer periscopes are day sights while the centre periscope can be rapidly changed between a daytime scope and an image-intensifying night scope. Engine The power pack, which can be easily removed in the field in less than 15 minutes, is installed at the front right of the vehicle. The Detroit Diesel 6V-92TA turbocharged diesel engine develops 475hp at 2,400rpm, with potential of achieving 550hp. The engine is equipped with electronically controlled diesel injection. The engine compartment is fitted with an automatic fire detection and dry-powder fire suppression system with a supplementary manual back up. The vehicle is equipped with automatic hydromechanical HMPT-500EC transmission and final drives from General Dynamics Land Systems. The cooling system, supplied by Galley, was designed to give the vehicle a low thermal signature. The two fuel tanks of total capacity 562l are installed on either side and in the upper part of the hull. Suspension and running gear The Hydrostrut suspension from Horstman Defence Systems, based in Bath UK, gives stability for operating weapon systems and comfortable riding conditions. The suspension is hydropneumatic and is based on the proven Hydrogas suspension unit fitted on Challenger tanks and AS 90 self-propelled howitzer. "Bionix has manoeuvrability over obstacles, including a 2.2m trench and 0.8m vertical steps." The vehicle has 77-link single pin cast tracks and six dual tyre wheels on each side. Mobility Bionix has road speeds of 70km/h and 25km/h to 40km/h across country. The range is 415km at a speed of 45km/h without refuelling. Bionix can negotiate gradients to 60% and side slopes of 30%. With a turning radius of 9.9m and 6.5m with a pivotal turn, the vehicle can manoeuvre in urban environments and in confined spaces. Bionix has manoeuvrability over obstacles, including a 2.2m trench and 0.8m vertical steps and is capable of fording to a depth of 1m with preparation. The vehicle is fully amphibious with an optional kit.

Poland Expects End to Army Draft

Poland Expects End to Army Draft (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: Just before Russia's war with Georgia, the Polish government approved a long-planned bill aligning the Nato member with others in Europe by ending conscription. Many young men are delighted, but in a country feeling more vulnerable as Russia flexes its military muscle, some experts worry the reform may be hastily prepared and too costly. "The Polish government has approved a long-planned bill aligning Poland with others in Europe by ending conscription." Coinciding with rising tensions after Warsaw decided at the height of the Georgia conflict to allow the United States to station parts of a missile shield on its soil, the reform aims to trim down the military to a professional force. Russia has said it would respond to the shield deal, which it sees as a threat to its own national security, with more than just a diplomatic protest.

A Polish Army soldier patrol leader debriefs his team after completing an afternoon patrol around the perimeter of Camp Babylon, Iraq.

The draft law would end conscription next year and create a fully professional, better-paid military of 120,000 people by 2010. This would be down from the mainly conscript force of 124,000 now. Where the current army includes 76,000 full-time soldiers, the slimmed-down one would comprise around 90,000. "In the worst-case scenario the higher salaries, which are definitely required in a professional army, would come at the expense of funds for new technology and equipment that the army also needs just as much," said Janusz Walczak, an independent military expert. Parliament is expected to endorse the plan soon, but to take effect, it must then be signed by President Lech Kaczynski, a strong supporter of a modern, professional army. He has said he would prefer the force to increase to 150,000. The structural changes alone are estimated by analysts to cost up to 5bn zloty ($2.1bn) until 2010, excluding new equipment, apartments, training and promised higher wages New era of professionalism Defence Minister Bogdan Klich said this week total investments in the army will reach 60bn zlotys until 2018 to achieve the new professional status, including the spend on new equipment. "All European armies are becoming professional, smaller and mobile," said Walczak. "But Poles want to do everything in a split second. We only know we want to build a completely new army in two years, but nobody knows how much it will cost or what must really be done. The reform should be more gradual, should be given more time." Several ex-Soviet satellites have abandoned conscription, a legacy of the communist era which many young men tried to avoid by extending their studies or feigning sickness. Until now, all Polish men below the age of 60 were obliged to perform up to nine months service in the military. "Some experts worry that the reform conscription may be hastily prepared and too costly." Backers of the reform say a professional army is needed to allow Poland to take part fully in foreign missions, which conscripts are not properly trained to do. Nato's largest ex-communist member state, Poland has deployed about 3,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Lebanon, Syria and Chad. It ends its mission in Iraq in October. The opportunity to be part of a fully professional army has excited some conscripts, but they have firm demands and these expectations lie behind some analysts' concerns. "I expect a high salary, training, language courses and at least partial financing of my apartment," said Robert Pzajtis, a private serving in a Warsaw unit. Private Adam Wilk, a conscript in the last intake, thinks his experience in the army helped him decide that he really wants to be a professional soldier. "I am mainly attracted to the army by the chance to take part in foreign missions. I would like to join them, gain this experience, test myself. This is a good job because it's a state job and a pension is guaranteed after 25 years," Wilk said. The current average mid-level army salary is 3,000 zlotys ($1,290) a month and no side jobs are allowed. That's just short of Polish corporate sector wages averaging about 3,228 zloty a month in July, although the government promises raises of about 4% for soldiers next year. With Poland's booming economy already suffering labour shortages in some sectors, some experts doubt the revamped army will have the resources to entice skilled young people. "It is very difficult to say whether the country has the financial resources to fill these 120,000 places," said Roman Kuzniar, a professor at Warsaw University. "Clearly, we may have a problem if proposed conditions such as salaries and flats are not attractive enough to lure people from their current jobs." "The current average mid-level army salary is 3,000 zlotys ($,290) a month and no side jobs are allowed." Relief for some The reform also comes as a relief to the many young men who want to avoid military service, like Kacper, a 24-year-old graduate who spoke on condition of anonymity because he pretended to be mentally ill at his medical commission hearing. "Oh, I just acted strange, you know, like a freak," he said. He is now starting work at an international company. "Many of my male friends did similar things as well or organised false medical papers not to get enlisted," he added. Polish internet forums are full of advice of how to hurt yourself just enough to get a 'D' category from the army's medical commission, meaning effective inability to serve. "Does anybody know a painless way to twist your ankle or anything else that would make them not take me in? Would saying I am gay be enough? I don't want to waste my time in the army!" said posts at an online forum entitled 'Ways to Avoid Military Service'.

New Props Improve Antarctic Hercules

New Props Improve Antarctic Hercules
(NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: The New York Air National Guard has begun operating a ski-equipped Lockheed Martin LC-130H Hercules with new Hamilton Sundstrand NP2000 propellers, the first of 12 to be retrofitted to improve support for remote deep-field camps in Antarctica. Flight tests of the eight-blade composite propellers on the C-130 were conducted earlier this year at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on a Wyoming ANG aircraft, demonstrating increased performance and reliability, and reduced noise, vibration and fuel consumption, the company says. The composite-blade-outfitted NP2000s, already used on the U.S. Navy's carrier-based Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeyes, replace the original four-bades metal units and increase thrust, thus improving takeoff performance. Hamilton Sundstrand helped fund flight tests, but the Defense Department is paying for the retrofits. The retrofitted LC-130 is scheduled in November to fly its first mission to Antarctica, where the new propellers are expected to reduce the need to use JATO rockets for takeoff from ice- and snow-covered runways at deep-field sites.

Glide-Bomb Success Turns Attention To Future

Glide-Bomb Success Turns Attention To Future
(NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: Proponents of the German precision-guided Hope standoff penetrator glide bomb say it precisely hit its target in flight trials this month, although exact details on the standoff range and impact accuracy are being closely guarded. Hope has a nominal range exceeding 100 km and accuracy of around 3 meters, using GPS guidance system (with Selected Availability / Anti-Spoofing Module capability) and aided by an inertial navigation system. Earlier sled tests suggested the 3,000 lb.-class bomb has a penetration capability greater than the U.S. Air Force's 5,000 lb. GBU-28, says a German official. The recent trial took place at the Swedish flight test center at Vidsel, using a Tornado IDS strike aircraft belonging to the German flight test center (WTD61) at Manching near Munich (Aerospace DAILY, Sept. 15). It follows a similar test last year, which took place on the more restricted Sardinian test range Decimomannu. Vidsel allowed for a more complete assessment of the weapon, according to a project official, and also demonstrated that some performance shortfalls identified a year ago were remedied. Hope met both range and accuracy targets set for the test, he adds. Nevertheless, the exact production configuration of the weapon remains to be fixed. The trials validated the system's electronic performance, the oblique wing and bomb body, but the design could be adjusted slightly. Moreover, there is still interest in adding a seeker and datalink to allow human intervention, in part to reduce the risk of collateral damage. A formal development program would likely take about three years.

Fire Scout Test Aimed At Coast Guard

Fire Scout Test Aimed At Coast Guard
(NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: The first flight of an MQ-8B Fire Scout with multimode maritime radar has removed a major obstacle to U.S. Coast Guard interest in the shipborne vertical-takeoff-and-landing unmanned air vehicle (VUAV), manufacturer Northrop Grumman believes. The off-the-shelf Telephonics RDR-1700B imaging surveillance radar completed a functional check flight on Northrop’s company-owned Fire Scout, aircraft P6, on Sept. 19 at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona (Aerospace DAILY, Sept. 23). The radar has since been removed to allow testing of another payload, but the company plans to reinstall the sensor in October for overwater flight-tests from Webster Field in Maryland or Wallops Island on the Virginia coast, says Mike Fuqua, Fire Scout business development manager. Fuqua says the Coast Guard has made clear its interest in the Fire Scout, for operation from its new National Security Cutter (NSC), but stipulated its requirement for an integrated radar. The U.S. Navy plans to begin developing a radar for the MQ-8B in fiscal 2009, for fielding in 2011, but Northrop used its own money to integrate the nondevelopmental RDR-1700B on the Fire Scout to demonstrate the capability, he says. The Coast Guard and Navy have held several meetings to discuss the Fire Scout, Fuqua says. But the Coast Guard is also moving ahead with plans to form a joint program office with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to coordinate the use of maritime UAVs. CBP’s Air & Marine division is promoting the use of its land-based General Atomics Predator Bs for maritime surveillance. Organic ISR Northrop believes the Coast Guard will want an organic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability for the NSC, to allow operations out of range of land-based UAVs. Under its Deepwater modernization program, the Coast Guard originally selected the Bell Eagle Eye tiltrotor UAV over the Fire Scout, but the Eagle Eye program was canceled in 2007. “We’re pretty sure the Coast Guard will demand maritime-based ISR, and look for the most mature, reliable and capable VUAV,” Fuqua says. “We think the Fire Scout is viable for the NSC,” he says, noting the new cutter has space for a UAV ground control system designed into its combat information center. The Coast Guard is expected to demand integration on the VUAV of the automatic identification system (AIS), to track transponder-equipped shipping, but this is a capability the Navy also wants for its radar-equipped Fire Scout, Fuqua says. P6 is being prepared for flight-testing of the ASTAMIDS multispectral mine detection payload planned for the U.S. Army’s Fire Scouts, but once those are complete the radar will be reinstalled, Fuqua says. Following overwater test flights, Northrop plans to conduct a capability demonstration for the Coast Guard and Navy, although the timing has not been determined.

U.S. Forces Work On UAV Cooperation Plan

U.S. Forces Work On UAV Cooperation Plan (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: The U.S. Army and Air Force are nearly finished working out plans for cooperating on operations of medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Gen. William Wallace, commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), and U.S. Air Force Gen. John Corley, commander of Air Combat Command, are scheduled to meet Sept. 26 to finalize plans before briefing them to their respective service chiefs in advance of annual Army/Air Force staff talks set for early next year. During previous staff talks early this year, Wallace and Corley were tasked with developing “a common view of UAV conops [concept of operations] focused exclusively on the operational level,” Wallace said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington Sept. 25. “I think we’re pretty close to a resolution of common ground between us and the Air Force,” he said. While each service has unique requirements for medium-altitude UAVs, there is considerable overlap, Wallace said: “Perhaps common platforms, certainly common training, certainly common handoff procedures from one organization to another, [and] probably some common ground station requirements… “ How UAVs are used in theater will still be the ultimate responsibility of the joint force commander in the field, Wallace said. But the services need to develop procedures for dynamically transferring control of UAVs in flight from one service to another if a higher-priority mission emerges, he said. At the moment, there is frustration in the field over the inability to retask UAVs for more critical, time-sensitive missions after they’ve been launched. “Given that we can get around the procedural and technical exclusivity of some of our platforms, some time in the future we will have a common capability to share both platforms and information and all that sort of thing across both services, and arguably to the other services and the joint force commander as well,” he said. The cooperative plan follows a bitter struggle between the services for control of medium-altitude UAVs such as the Air Force Predator and the Army’s Sky Warrior, which is a Predator variant. The Air Force was rebuffed by the Pentagon when it attempted to become the executive agent for all but small UAVs that operate below 3,500 feet.

Gates admits shortfall in US troops for Afghanistan

Gates admits shortfall in US troops for Afghanistan (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: The head of the US Department of Defense has acknowledged that the country does not have enough troops available to meet a standing request to send additional combat brigades to Afghanistan. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Senators on 23 September that the Pentagon could not immediately meet the requirement for forces set by General David McKiernan, the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. "Without changing deployment patterns, without changing the length of tours, we do not have the forces to send three additional brigade combat teams at this point," he said. "My view is that those forces will become available probably during the spring and summer of 2009." President George W Bush on 9 September announced a small - and gradual - reduction in forces from Iraq. That withdrawal will enable a shift of around 4,500 troops to Afghanistan, but still falls short of a request from Gen McKiernan, who has sought at least three additional combat brigades for Afghanistan.

IAF to procure MI-17 V5 choppers from Russia

IAF to procure MI-17 V5 choppers from Russia (NSI News Source Info) Chandigarh - September 28, 2008: The Indian Air Force is likely to add MI-17 V5 medium lift helicopters in its fleet as negotiations to procure them from Russia are in final stages, a senior IAF official said on Thursday. "Our negotiations are in the final stages with Russia. In the next three months, we will sign a contract with them. After two-three years of signing of the contract, we will start the procurement of these helicopters," Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Maintenance Command, Air Marshal Gautam Nayyar told reporters here. These would replace MI-8 helicopters, which have outlived their life, he said, adding once these machines are procured, they will help tide over the problems faced by helicopters in high altitudes of Siachin and Ladhak. He said the MI-17V5 will have modern avionic equipment and their engine performance will be better than the existing helicopters. "They will be very effective in the high altitude areas. MI-17V5 will gradually replace the MI-8 helicopters of IAF," he said, adding at present "we have 50 MI-8 and their estimated life span is 35 years. However, they all are 38 years old and we will replace them with 80 MI-17V5." To a question, he said in India there are 13 Base Repair Depots (BRDs) that look after the maintenance of air crafts and other related equipment and Rs 500 crore would be pumped in over the next few years for their upgradation and modernisation. To another question, Nayyar admitted that IAF was not getting enough quality engineers as IIT graduates are not forthcoming. But he hoped that with the implementation of the sixth pay commission, things would change and graduates from premier institutions would choose IAF as a career. He also said that the IAF was also planning to open a Rs-200 crore world class engineering college in Bangalore.