Sunday, October 19, 2008

U.S Special Forces to Hold Joint Exercises with Indian Army in Ladakh

U.S Special Forces to Hold Joint Exercises with Indian Army in Ladakh
(NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: After the Royal Marines, the US marines will also be holding a joint military exercise with the Indian Army in Ladakh. US Army Chief General George Casey along with his Indian counterpart Deepak Kapoor visited Ladakh and its adjoining areas to select the location where the Indo-US military exercises would be held."Dates for these joint exercises could be decided only after the US Army chief will get satisfied with the venues for these exercises," Defence spokesman, Lt Col Anil Mathur told reporters.The visiting US General Casey was briefed about different venues and glacial peaks in Ladakh by the senior formation commanders of the Army. Mathur said the aim behind the joint exercise would be to impart warfare techniques to each other especially in handling mountain warfare. "The joint exercise would be small and could take place at the company level," he said.The mountainous region of Ladakh assumes significance for the joint exercise as its terrain resembles that of the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, where the US marines are fighting Taliban and Al Qaeda militants as part of the NATO peace force. Sources said the aim behind the exercise is to learn from the military experiences of Indian troops, who have been dealing with insurgency for the past two decades.Earlier in 2006, Indian and US Special Forces held mountain warfare exercises in the same region close to the China border. Pakistan, already had expressed annoyance over the visit of US Army chief to the Siachen glacier. However, it is not clear whether General Casey visited Siachen or not. The defence spokesman denied General Casey’s visit to Siachen. "He (Casey) only visited Ladakh, not Siachen," said Mathur.Last year, the UK marines were in Ladakh to participate in a similar joint exercise. The exercises were held for three weeks in September.

Malabar 2008: India, United States Begin Arabian Sea Naval War Games from October 20th 2008

Malabar 2008: India, United States Begin Arabian Sea Naval War Games from October 20th 2008
(NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: The Indian and the US navies are all set to engage each other in war games in the Arabian Sea. The exercises, which will be undertaken under the recurrent Malabar series of exercises that commenced in 1992, would take place from October 20 in Goa. Diverse activities ranging from gun-firing and fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers, to combating the scourge of terror, through Maritime Interdiction Operations exercises would be included during the exercises.The exercise is primarily aimed at deriving mutual benefit from the experiences of the two participating professional navies.These exercises are meant to increase intel-operability, that means being able to operate together and using the same procedures that we can understand, as all navies have slightly different procedures from each other, said Anil Chopra, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, Indian Navy.The Indian navy will be represented by, INS Mumbai, an indigenous Delhi Class guided missile destroyer; INS Rana, a Rajput Class guided missile destroyer and four guided missile frigates - INS Talwar, Godavari, Brahmaputra and Betwa.In addition, INS Aditya which is an underway replenishment tanker and Shishumar class submarine, Sea Harrier fighters, fixed and rotary wing aircraft are also scheduled to participate in the joint exercise.Ronald Reagan Strike Group (RRSG) of the USN 7th Fleet which is based at Yokosuka, Japan will represent the US navy.The RRSG will include USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Chancellorsville, USS Gridley, USS Decatur, USS Thach and USS Bridge, an underway replenishment tanker.In addition, one submarine, USS Springfield and one P3C Orion aircraft will also participate in the exercise.The regular India-US navy interaction over the years has resulted in an increase in the complexity and professional content of the bilateral exercise.The thrust of the exercise this year would be on Surface or Air Operations, Advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Surface Firings, VBSS (Visit Board Search and Seizure) and Submarine Operations.These exercises will enable enhancing maritime cooperation.We also hope to advance to more complex operations and teach our cadets to go beyond technical exercises which we have continued to do with Malabar. Ninety percent of the world's trade passes on the oceans. The maritime cooperation of the two navies is a vital component to reach stability and prosperity for India, US and other nations, said John P. Nolan, USN, Commanding Officer of Chancellorsville, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.Indian warships were involved in exercises with the USS Ronald Reagan in waters off the Sri Lankan coast last year, which had five participating countries - India, US, Australia, Japan and Singapore.

Bird Dogs for the Iraqi Air Force

Bird Dogs for the Iraqi Air Force (NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: Iraq’s air force has been very slow in getting to its feet. A handful of Seeker light observation aircraft with their distinctive bubble-shaped fronts, a few Comp Air light propeller aircraft, a couple of old, refurbished C-130E transports, and a handful of helicopters.
Cessna 208B :note ISR turret
A few Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350s have been ordered for transport and surveillance duties, and an RFP for armed counterinsurgency aircraft in is progress, but decisions to date have ensured that the Iraqi air force is still a long way from being able to secure Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. While it continues to grow, its primary duties remain troop/medical transport, light supply duties, and surveillance of roads and infrastructure. That kind of surveillance doesn’t require high tech, high-end aircraft. The USAF has been using F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft at $15,000 per flight hour, plus recapitalization amortization. Iraq’s solution offers a significant contrast to the American approach – and it would appear that armed variants are prepping for delivery… Light propeller aircraft like Cessna’s L-19 “Bird Dog” and O-2 successor worked very well in Vietnam. Their modern descendants can be outfitted with modern surveillance turrets plus “Mk1 eyeballs and ears” for a fraction of a fighter jet’s acquisition and amortization cost, in order to do more or less the same ISR job. They’ll also crash less often than expensive UAVs, and are more suitable for fledgling air forces. Specialty models like the Schweizer RU-38 Twin Condor even add acoustic silencing, plus more mission space for dedicated surveillance equipment. The “Bird Dog” concept certainly fits the IqAF’s profile and support capabilities, and was initially slated to serve as a trainer aircraft. Sure enough, statements from people on the front lines suggest that Cessna aircraft are in fact acquiring other IqAF roles as well. Meanwhile, deliveries are underway. Contracts & Events: Oct 14/08: Aviation Week reports that armed Cessna 208Bs destined for Iraq are flying out of an airport near Fort Worth, TX, and are set to be delivered in December 2008. The airport is used by ATK Integrated Systems for its projects: “Two Cessna Grand Caravan 208Bs, armed with a pair of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles each, have been photographed flying out of Meacham Airport earlier this month…. In December the Iraqi Air Force will receive the first three armed Caravans – with laser designators for the missiles – followed by two more in early 2009, says USAF Brig. Gen. Brooks Bash, current chief of the Coalition Air Force Transition team.” some Cessna Caravans are already in service with the IqAF, as unarmed reconnaissance planes. July 9/08: U.S. forces transfer ownership of 11 aircraft to the Iraqi air force during a ceremony at New Al Muthana Air Base. Army Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commander of Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq, signed over 8 Cessna 172s and 3 Cessna Caravan 208s worth more than $9 million to Iraqi Defense Minister Abd al-Qadir al-Mufriji. Hawker Beechcraft’s new King Air 350 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and King Air 350 light transport aircraft were also unveiled during the ceremony. Brig. Gen. Brooks Bash said the Cessna 127 and 208 aircraft would be part of the IqAF training program at Kirkuk Regional Air Base in northern Iraq, allowing more than 130 new pilots to train and graduate by 2010. “As of now, the Iraqi air force is just beginning to grow,” [Bash] said. “They will double in size within the next year, giving them up to 6,000 airmen and 133 aircraft by the end of 2009.” USAF release. Nov 29/07: Cue more Cessna Caravans. The Cessna Aircraft Co. of Wichita, KS received a firm-fixed price contract for $23.7 million to buy 5 Cessna C-208B Caravan aircraft along with minor aircraft modifications, logistic support services, and one year of spares for the Iraqi Air Force. The contract also includes an option for 2 additional aircraft, At this time, all funds been obligated. The 337th AESG/FMS at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (FA8617-08-C-6183). Oct 31/07: U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Wobbema, Chief of Staff for the Coalition Air Force Transition Team, says in an interview that: “And then we’ve got this Cessna [208B] Caravan. The Cessna Caravan will also become—there will be an armed variant of that that will come online.” Aug 3/07: Cessna Aircraft Co. in Wichita, KS has received a firm-fixed-price contract for $10.6 million. The aircraft will reportedly be used primarily in a trainer role, and for about the price of a high-end Predator UAV system, this contract action will procure 18 Cessna C-172 aircraft (with an option for 10 more), logistics support services, and 1 year of spares for the Iraqi Air Force. At this time, $7.5 million has been obligated. Work will be complete December 2008. Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (FA8617-07-C-6181).

US SOCOM takes delivery of Hummingbird

US SOCOM takes delivery of Hummingbird (NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has begun purchasing a new unmanned helicopter, Boeing's A160T Hummingbird, which can be used for resupply and surveillance missions and will soon be equipped with a new radar that can identify enemy targets hiding beneath dense tree cover.
A160T Hummingbird
"Delivery is already under way," said John Groenenboom, Boeing's programme manager for the Hummingbird: a quiet-running, high-endurance vehicle that was developed under contracts with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the US Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate. SOCOM told Jane's on 15 October that it plans to receive delivery of 10 Hummingbirds by November of this year under a joint SOCOM-DARPA programme known as the Special Operations Long Endurance Demonstration (SLED). The Hummingbird is suited for special forces missions because - unlike fixed-wing aircraft - it can hover over a designated area to provide persistent surveillance and can resupply troops in areas where runways are not available, such as mountainous regions. The Hummingbird also lends itself to covert operations because it is extremely quiet. Anecdotal evidence, based on informal flight testing, suggests that the Hummingbird is four times quieter than a Bell 407 helicopter, according to Groenenboom. The helicopter is also expected to enable surveillance of densely wooded areas once it is equipped with a new radar known as FORESTER (Foliage Penetration Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Tracking and Engagement Radar).

F/A-18C Hornet Refuels Over Southeastern Afghanistan

F/A-18C Hornet Refuels Over Southeastern Afghanistan (NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: An F/A-18C Hornet aircraft from Strike Fighter Squadron 113 refuels from a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Stratotanker aircraft over southeastern Afghanistan during a mission supporting international security forces in the Helmand province on Oct. 6, 2008. The squadron is embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to provide support to coalition ground forces in Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka claims smashing 'final' Tiger defences

Sri Lanka claims smashing 'final' Tiger defences (NSI News Source Info) COLOMBO (AFP) — October 19, 2008: Troops and Tamil Tiger rebels were locked in intense fighting in northern Sri Lanka Sunday after government forces smashed through the "last major defences" of the guerrillas, the military said.
Sri Lankan soldiers
The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) launched "poisonous gas attacks" to blunt the military offensive aimed at capturing the rebels' political capital of Kilinochchi, the defence ministry said in a statement. Soldiers stepped up their offensive on Saturday and captured a two-kilometre (1.25-mile) stretch of the defence line set up by the Tigers near Kilinochchi, the ministry said. It said the fighting was at Akkarayankulam, about 13 kilometres southwest of Kilinochchi. Three weeks ago, the military had said it was within striking distance of Kilinochchi. "Army's 57 division troops yesterday pierced the LTTE-built earth bund in Akkarayankulam, the terrorists' last major defence south of Kilinochchi," the defence ministry said in a statement. It said the Tigers "launched poisonous gas attacks" on the troops. Military sources said that the Tigers had used a type of tear gas commonly used during riot control. "However, troops withstood the chemical attack and beat off the terrorists," the ministry said. It gave no details of casualties for both sides, but added: "Several soldiers made their ultimate sacrifice for the nation while many others suffered injuries during this battle." There was no immediate comment from the Tigers. In separate statement, the ministry said soldiers along two other fronts in the north of the island had also stepped up attacks against Tamil Tiger positions over the weekend. Soldiers had encircled a sea base of the Tamil Tigers along the northwest coast while troops on the other side of the island in northeastern Mullaitivu had also stepped up attacks, the ministry said. "Troops also suffered casualties during those confrontations and were being evacuated for treatment," the statement said. Government soldiers fell victim to booby-trapped devices, anti-personnel mines and mortar fire, the ministry said. "Battlefield sources confirmed that the terrorists suffered significant attrition in terms of men and material," the ministry said. Military officials said both sides continued to trade gunfire and long-range attacks throughout the weekend, but monsoon rains had left heavy weapons ineffective. Neither side could also use trenches for cover as most were flooded with rain water. The Sri Lankan government pulled out of a Norwegian-backed truce with the rebels in January. Tens of thousands of people have died on both sides since the LTTE launched its campaign for an independent state in 1972.

J-10 (Jian 10) – Vigorous Dragon Multi-Role Tactical Fighter, China

J-10 (Jian 10) – Vigorous Dragon Multi-Role Tactical Fighter, China
(NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: The J-10 (Jian 10 or Fighter 10) is China's indigenously built multi-role fighter aircraft developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry. Chengdu Aircraft Industry is part of the China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I). In the west the J-10 aircraft is known as the Vigorous Dragon. It is estimated that up to 300 J-10 fighter aircraft will be manufactured. China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) includes the army, navy, air force and Strategic Rocket Force. The Air Force (AFPLA) has 200 fighter and fighter ground attack squadrons and 120 strike fighter squadrons.

The J-10 (Jian 10 or Fighter 10) is China's indigenously built multi-role fighter aircraft.

The J-10 is powered by one AL-31FN turbojet engine. The more advanced J-10 Super 10 has AL-31FN engine with thrust-vectoring nozzle.
The horizontal close-coupled foreplanes on the forward fuselage improve the take-off and low-speed handling characteristics of the J-10.
The J-10 fitted with external fuel tanks and the PL-8 short range air-to-air missile, which is a variant of the Rafael Python 3 missile manufactured under licence in China.
The J-10 has a maximum speed of Mach 1.9 and a combat range of 550km.
The J-10 has 11 external hardpoints for weapons and fuel tanks – five on the fuselage (one on the centreline and a pair on each side of the fuselage) and three hardpoints on each wing.
It is estimated that China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has a requirement for up to 300 J-10 fighter aircraft to replace J-7 and Q-5 aircraft.
The J-10 aircraft is considered as a replacement for the J-7 and Q-5. The Air Force currently operates about 250 J-7 (MiG-21) air defence and attack aircraft and about 500 Q-5 attack aircraft. China formally announced the J-10 in February 2007. The existence of the J-10 was first reported in 1994, but the J-10 program was started in 1988 and the first flight of the single seat aircraft took place in 1998. A two-seater variant made its first flight in 2003. There are reports that the J-10 entered service in 2005 and is operational in single seater and two seater versions in at least two PLA Air Force squadrons. It has also been reported that Pakistan will receive the first export versions of the J-10, up to 36 aircraft, by around 2010. China and Pakistan have worked closely on the development of another fighter aircraft, the JF-17 or FC-1 light fighter aircraft. J-10 DESIGN The structure of the aircraft is based on a tail-less delta (triangular planform) wing, foreplanes and a sweptback vertical tail. There are two, fixed, outwardly canted ventral (on the underside of the body) fins near the tail. The size and design of the J-10 are very similar to that of the Israeli Aircraft Industries Lavi fighter aircraft, which itself is similar to and derived technology from the USAF F-16 aircraft. The horizontal close-coupled foreplanes (larger than those on the Lavi) on the forward fuselage improve the take-off and low speed handling characteristics. WEAPONS The J-10 has 11 external hardpoints: five hardpoints on the fuselage with one on the centreline and a pair of hardpoints on each side of the fuselage, and three hardpoints on each wing. The outer wing stations carry air-to-air missiles such as the Chinese built Python 3 PL-8, P-11 or PL-12 or the Russian Vympel R-73 (AA-11 'Archer') or R-77 (AA-12 'Adder). The PL-8 infrared homing short-range air-to-air missile is manufactured in China under a licensed production agreement by the China Academy (formerly the Luoyang Electro-optics Technology Development Centre) and is a variant of the Israeli Python 3 missile. The PL-11 is a licensed-manufactured variant of the MBDA Italy Aspide medium-range air-to-air missile. The PL-12 missile is manufactured in China under a collaborative agreement with Russia. It uses the Russian AA-12 Adder missile technology configured with a Chinese-developed rocket motor to give a range of 50 miles and speed of Mach 4. In the west the J-10 aircraft is known as the Vigorous Dragon. The aircraft can be armed with laser-guided bombs, the anti-ship YJ-8K or C-801K solid rocket powered missiles, the C-802 land attack and anti-ship turbojet-powered missiles manufactured by CHETA, and the YJ-9 anti-radiation missile. A 23mm cannon is installed internally on the port side of the forward section of the fuselage above the nosewheel. SENSORS The aircraft could be fitted with a forward looking infrared and laser target designator pod. The China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I ) has displayed an exhibition model of the J-10 fitted with targeting pods, which would provide the capability of the J-10 to deploy laser and satellite navigation guided weapons. Possible pulse Doppler radar fits include the Chinese Type 1473 radar, Russian Phazotron Zhuk-10PD or Zhemchug, the Chinese JL-10A, the Israeli IAI Elta EL/M-2023 or the Italian Galileo Avionica Grifo 2000. COCKPIT The single seat fighter aircraft is also being developed in a two-seat variant as a trainer aircraft and as an electronic warfare aircraft. The first flight of the two-seat variant was completed in 2003. The cockpit is fitted with a zero-zero ejection seat. The aircraft has a digital fly-by-wire flight control system and HOTAS Hands-On Throttle And Stick control on which the pilot has every control for combat incorporated into the two handholds. Cockpit displays include a helmet-mounted weapon sight, a wide field of view head-up display and one full-colour and two monochrome liquid crystal multi-function displays. The avionics is served by a 1553B databus. ENGINE The aircraft is powered by the AL-31 turbojet engine supplied by Saturn Lyulka. The prototype aircraft and the first series of production aircraft are fitted with the AL-31FN developing 79kN and 123kN with afterburn, and which is the currently used in the Chinese Air Force Su-27 and Su-30 aircraft. The more highly powered and advanced variant of the J-10, the Super-10, first reported in 2006, is fitted with the AL-31FN M1 supplied by Salyut. The AL-31FN M1 provides 132.5kN and is equipped with full authority digital engine control and a four-way swivelling exhaust nozzle for vectored thrust. It is estimated that up to 300 J-10 fighter aircraft will be manufactured. The aircraft carries a maximum of 4,950l of fuel internally, comprising 3,180l in the wing tanks and 1,770l in the fuselage tanks. A fixed refuelling probe for in-flight refuelling is installed halfway up the forward port side of the fuselage and just forward of the pilot. Aerial refuelling of the J-10 is from a Xian H-6U tanker aircraft. Additional fuel can be carried in auxiliary tanks on the centreline under the fuselage and on the innermost pair of the three sets of wing hardpoints. LANDING GEAR The aircraft is equipped with tricycle-type landing gear. The nose unit has twin heels and retracts rearwards and the main units retract forward. The aircraft has a drogue parachute for landing.

Gunmen attack Nigerian navy

Gunmen attack Nigerian navy
(NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: Gunmen in speedboats attacked Nigerian navy vessels guarding the country's main crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals on Wednesday, Nigerian military and security sources said. The attackers hit gunboats protecting Bonny Island in the Niger Delta, home to an LNG terminal whose exports make up close to 10% of world supply and to Nigeria's biggest crude oil export facility, operated by Royal Dutch Shell. "The intention was likely to surprise our troops, capture arms, ammunition and if possible snatch our gunboat," Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, a spokesman for the joint military taskforce in the delta, told Reuters. He said that six speedboats had attacked navy gunboats close to the LNG terminal but that the gunmen were repelled. A member of the taskforce was wounded and several of the attackers were killed when two of their boats were sunk, Musa said. No group has claimed responsibility. The strike in the heart of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry is the first since the region's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), announced a ceasefire last month after a plea from elders. The ceasefire followed six straight days of attacks in the eastern delta, which forced Shell to warn it could not guarantee to meet oil export obligations from Bonny. Industry executives say that continued insecurity, as well as chronic funding problems hampering joint ventures with the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp (NNPC), mean production is stagnating in the world's eighth-biggest exporter. Nigeria's foreign minister said this week that oil output was down to 1.5m barrels per day (bpd), although the oil minister put the figure at 2m bpd a few weeks earlier. Threat to LNG Militants in the Niger Delta have shut down about a fifth of Nigeria's oil production since early 2006 with a campaign of pipeline bombings and attacks on oil facilities, but the country's LNG exports have largely escaped the violence. LNG is made by cooling and condensing gas to a liquid that is one six-hundredth of its normal volume. It is shipped in special tankers to markets including Europe and the US, and is generally considered more secure than oil exports. Strong global demand for LNG as an alternative energy supply, particularly as volatile oil prices add to havoc in consumer economies, has heightened interest in Nigeria's gas reserves, estimated at 180trn cubic feet. But insecurity is a major deterrent to new investment. A worker in the Bonny LNG plant said he heard shooting that seemed to be less than half a kilometre from his living quarters. A private security source working in the oil industry said the assailants had fled into the narrow creeks around Bonny Island and that they might return for another strike. Shell said it could not immediately confirm any details. Bonny, in the southern Niger Delta, is home to Nigeria's only functioning LNG plant, controlled by a group of Western companies including Shell, Total and Eni unit Agip. State oil firm NNPC owns 49%. It is also home to Nigeria's biggest single crude oil export terminal by volume, which is owned by SPDC, a joint venture in which Shell holds 30% and NNPC holds 55%. Local subsidiaries of Total and Agip hold the remainder.

Pakistan Army acknowledges presence of US base in Hasanpur near Tarbela

Pakistan Army acknowledges presence of US base in Hasanpur near Tarbela (NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: GRIM new intelligence assessments about the rapidly deteriorating situation in Pakistan were disclosed yesterday amid reports the US had deployed hundreds of military "advisers" close to the hub of the country's nuclear arsenal. Officials involved in drafting a new, classified national intelligence estimate for policy planners in Washington said it portrayed the situation as "very bad", "very bleak" and "on the edge". It is said to summarise the embattled Islamic nation in three words: "No money, no energy, no government." Its reported tone was matched during a secret emergency session of Pakistan's parliament in Islamabad yesterday when one of the country's most senior leaders -- giving MPs the Government's view of the situation -- conceded for the first time that a grouping of al-Qa'ida, the Taliban and local jihadi militants was seeking not just to launch terrorist attacks but to take over the country. The gloomy assessment was provided behind closed doors by Information Minister Sherry Rehman. Disclosure of the two assessments came as diplomats in Islamabad were warned for the first time to restrict their movements because of the threats posed by the militants and not to "go out of station" -- travel too far from their embassies. A government official was quoted as saying the directive had been issued following last month's kidnapping of the Afghan ambassador-designate and three other foreigners. The assessments came as the Pakistan army acknowledged for the first time the presence of US "trainers" who have been deployed at a base close to the Tarbela dam, 20km from Islamabad, the site of the main hub of the country's nuclear arsenal. Tarbela is the site of the brigade headquarters of Pakistan's crack commando unit the Special Operations Task Force, and reports in Pakistan have claimed a 300-strong "US training advisory group" is now based at Hasanpur, a small town 6km away. The local airstrip has been upgraded to "war readiness" and underground shelters, bunkers and tunnels had been built, reports said. The presence of the US group -- and, in effect, the establishment of the US's first "base" in Pakistan -- follows a statement by the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, conceding Washington had deployed "trainers" in the country. Some critics -- notably disaffected former Pakistan army officers, at least one of whom has close links to the militants -- have claimed that Pakistani land has been sold to the US to set up a fully fledged base. General Hamid Gul, a former boss of the ISI spy agency, was quoted in leading newspaper The News yesterday as saying he "did not buy" the argument that the Americans were at Tarbela to "train" Pakistani soldiers. The newspaper said he recalled an earlier statement by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in which she conceded the US did have a plan to secure Pakistan's nuclear assets. Pakistan army spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas denied the US had been allowed to buy any land for a base at Tarbela. He said that "US trainers have been involved in the training of our commandos even in the past. They come, train our men, and go back". The intelligence estimate being prepared for US policymakers was said to conclude that the growing al-Qa'ida- and Taliban-backed insurgency, combined with the Pakistan army's reluctance to launch an all-out crackdown against them, was plunging Pakistan deeper into turmoil and violence. The NIE's conclusions were said to reflect the consensus of all 16 US intelligence agencies.

Boeing Awarded Contract to Continue Testing Advanced Tactical Laser

Boeing Awarded Contract to Continue Testing Advanced Tactical Laser (NSI News Source Info) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., - October 19, 2008: The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has been awarded a U.S. Air Force contract valued at up to $30 million to continue testing the Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL). The Extended User Evaluation (EUE) contract from the Air Force's Air Armament Center calls for Boeing to operate and maintain the ATL system, enabling the Air Force and other potential users to assess ATL's capabilities. ATL, a C-130H aircraft equipped with a high-energy chemical laser and a beam control system, will undergo a series of ground and flight tests during the EUE. The new contract, awarded Sept. 30, is a follow-on to the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) contract under which Boeing developed and integrated the ATL system. "The Extended User Evaluation will expand the envelope of the Advanced Tactical Laser and further demonstrate how this ultra-precision engagement capability can significantly reduce collateral damage," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. "ATL has the potential to perform a wide range of important missions for the warfighter." "The Extended User Evaluation will give the warfighter the opportunity to conduct hands-on operation of ATL and determine how this transformational laser-gunship technology can be integrated into the battlefield," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Directed Energy Systems. ATL will destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage, supporting missions on the battlefield and in urban operations. Boeing's ATL industry team includes L-3 Communications/Brashear, which made the laser turret, and HYTEC Inc., which made various structural elements of the weapon system.

Germany’s F125 Special Forces and Stabilization Frigates

Germany’s F125 Special Forces and Stabilization Frigates (NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: There is general acknowledgment in global naval circles that many future operations are going to involve shallow littoral chokepoints for maritime trade, operations in and around failed states like Somalia, and expeditionary stabilization operations. That realization has driven a number of approaches to naval construction.
F125 Concept
In the Netherlands, Royal Schelde’s Sigma Ships are designed in block modules, which can be added or subtracted to build anything from an offshore patrol vessel to a large frigate. Denmark is already building its Flyverfisken Class and Absalon Class ships, which pioneered the mission module concept and can be used in roles ranging ranging from mine or sub hunting, to anti-ship warfare/ land attack, to carrying troops. Sweden’s Visby Class stealth corvettes are attracting renewed American attention, and helped to inspire the American concept of the Littoral Combat Ship – which has been criticized for its cost, and for packing less punch and having less high-end armament flexibility than any competitor. Germany’s response has been the F125 frigate, which might best be described as an “expeditionary frigate” design. It doesn’t use the Danish or American mission module concept, but does include a number of features aimed at making it a strong contributor to long international deployments in littoral environments, and to naval support for stabilization operations. *The F125: Key Features *F125: Contracts and Key Events The F125: Key Features One of the F125’s most challenging demands was the benchmark of a ship that can deploy for up to 2 years away from home ports, while maintaining an average time at sea of more than 5,000 hours per year (almost 60%). The ships will use a CODAG (COmbined Diesel-electric And Gas) propulsion system that offers more distributed power generation, as well as quieter operation. Dual redundancy uses the “two island principle,” ensuring that key items are present in at least 2 different locations in case of breakdown or battle damage. The superstructure itself is split into two larger pyramidal deckhouses, as a partial reflection of this principle. The small 120-person crew continues a naval trend, and German doctrine aims to take a leaf from the US Navy by bringing the new crew to the ship when rotation is required. Guidance and surveillance will involve an active phased array radar, which will be divided between the 2 deckhouses. In addition to offering dual-island resiliency, an active array system offers all of its corollary improvements in reliability, sensitivity, and multi-targeting capabilities over passive phased array radars. Various electro-optical systems will be used for passive short range surveillance that cannot be picked up by enemy sensors. Once targets are detected, the F125 frigates’ main armament will be a 127mm Oto Melara lightweight gun for anti-surface warfare and naval gunfire support, which has the ability to fire Vulcano long-range attack rounds with a range of up to 100km. Harpoon Block II missiles provide the ship’s initial set of naval and land strike punch until a successor system is chosen. The F125 ships were originally slated to mount naval versions of the Bundeswehr’s M270 MLRS rocket launcher and PzH-2000 155mm Mobile howitzer. The MONARC system solved some of the challenges with recoil management via an intricate mounting; nevertheless, the work required to modify these Army systems to fit in a frigate sized ship, and to cope with the hostile naval environment, eventually doomed both concepts. Two stations can mount the German-American MK44 Rolling Airframe Missile system for for short range protection against anti-ship missiles, aircraft and helicopters. For very close-in defense, each ship will mount 5 of Mauser’s 27mm MLG remote-controlled cannons, and another 5 of Oto Melara’s 12.7mm/.50 caliber Hitrole-NT RWS to counter small boats and other asymmetric threats likely to be encountered on anti-piracy and stabilization operations. A couple of manned 12.7mm machine guns will be used as a last-ditch backup in case of power failure or other issues, and the ARGE consortium is looking at mounting non-lethal weapons such as water cannons, ultra-high intensity lights, et. al. The ships’ most unusual, and potent weapon may well be a human one. The F125 is designed to support up to 50 special forces, along with space for 2 NH90 helicopters and/or 2-4 armed small boats. Delivery of the first frigate is scheduled for 2014, and the 4th ship is slated for delivery by 2017. F125: Contracts and Key Events Oct 14/08: Siemens Marine announces a EUR 50 million (currently about $67 million) order from the ARGE consortium of Krupp Marine Systems AG and Fr. Lürssen Werft GmbH & Co. KG. Siemens will equip 4 German F125 Class frigates with propulsion equipment and integrated automation and control systems. The F125s will be Germany’s first ships to use a CODAG (COmbined Diesel-electric And Gas-turbine) electric propulsion system Siemens products will be related to its SINAVY product line, and include the electrical propulsion system, consisting of 2 4.5 MW electric motors with the associated converters, the electronic control unit and the medium-voltage switchgear. For control and monitoring purposes, an integrated control and automation system for on-board ship equipment (ILASST) will be installed, including a battle damage control system (BDCS) and an on-board training system (OBTS). The firm claims that even after delivery, these systems will help them provide comprehensive life-cycle support for the frigates. Siemens release. June 26/07: The German Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement (BWB) signs the construction order for 4 F125 Class frigates. The contract is awarded to ARGE F125, an industrial consortium formed by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Fr. Lürssen Werft. The initial batch of 4 ships is estimated to cost about EUR 2.2 billion ($2.96 billion). BWB release. April 4/07: Finmeccanica subsidiary OTO Melara announces a EUR 80 million (currently about $108 million) pair of orders for naval gun systems to be mounted on Germany’s F125 frigates. The first contract worth EUR 70 million is for the supply of 5 of its 127/54 LW (Light Weight) gun systems: 4 for the frigates, and 1 for training. The Germans had originally looked at mounting their MONARC 155mm howitzer on the F125s, but this order appears to mark the definitive end of those plans. Germany has also selected the remote-controlled Hitrole 12.7mm remote-control turret in the new Naval Tilting (NT) version. OTO Melara will provide a total of 25 12.7mm Hitrole-NT systems under the ER 10 million contract: 5 on board each of the 4 frigates (TL = 20) and 5 on land for training purposes. The Hitrole RWS is currently serving with the Italian finance police and the UAE and Mexican navies, among others. March 10/06: EADS announces that the “Workgroup for the F125 Frigate” chose them to supply the command & control and weapons deployment system (Fuhrungs und Waffeneinsatzsystem – FUWES), including development and delivery of the complete software, hardware and infrastructure, and performance verification for all 4 ships. FUWES is based on the technology used for EADS’ Advanced Naval Combat System (ANCS) which is already being successfully used in Finland’s Hamina class Fast Attack Craft. It adds components that are already successfully deployed on Germany’s new F124 Sachsen Class air defense frigates and K130 Braunschweig Class corvettes.

The HEMTT A3 (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) Is An Electrifying Innovation

The HEMTT A3 (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) is An Electrifying Innovation (NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: The U.S. Army has been successful with field tests of the new version of its diesel-electric HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck). Now it is proposing that the humvee replacement use the same power system.
The HEMTT A3 (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) is according an Oshkosh press release the first production-ready, tactical military truck powered by an energy efficient diesel-electric drive system, called ProPulse®, that can increase fuel efficiency by 20 percent or more, depending on mission profile.
The U.S. Army began introducing the humvees (or hummers) in 1984. This vehicle design, the first new vehicle design since World War II (when the jeep and ¾ ton truck was introduced), was expected to last for three decades or more. But that plan changed once Iraq was invaded. As expected, hummers wore out a lot more quickly (five years) in combat, than during peacetime use (14 years). So the army and marines are developing, ahead of schedule, a new vehicle to supplement the hummer in combat zones. Designs are being submitted, and the new vehicle is expected to be selected, tested and enter production in five years. The army will buy at least 38,000 of the JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle), while the marines will buy about 14,000. The JLTV design using the diesel-electric drive, has a roomier vehicle interior, because there is no drive train (each wheel has its own electric motor.) This approach also makes it possible to install fuel cells, which the military is also researching heavily. The hummer will continue to be used outside of the combat zone, where most troops spend most of their time. But the JLTV will be built to better handle the beating vehicles take in the combat zone, including a design that enables troops to quickly slide in armor and Kevlar panels to make the vehicles bullet and blast proof. With the proliferation of electronic and electrical equipment on the battlefield, there's a growing power shortage out there. Thus the enthusiasm for the new version of the 13 ton HEMTT. Here, the diesel engine drives a generator, which produces over 100 kilowatts of power. Normally, this electricity runs electric motors that move the truck. But put the truck in park, and the power is available for other uses, like powering a military base in a remote location. Testing has demonstrated that HEMTT A3 is rugged enough for regular army use, and gets about the same fuel mileage as a diesel only system. A diesel-electric JLTV would have the same advantages. In 2005, a HEMTT A3 prototype was sent to New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina hit, and provided power for a hospital. If this new "Propulse" technology survives its remaining tests, it will be installed in other models of army trucks as well. This gives the JLTV diesel electric design an edge in the competition to select the model that will go into production, despite the fact that diesel-electrics are 20-30 percent more expensive to manufacture.

Nigeria: The Discreet Foreign Mercenaries

Nigeria: The Discreet Foreign Mercenaries (NSI News Source Info) October 19, 2008: The oil stealing gangs in the Niger Delta have not been able to build wide support, mainly because the gangs are criminals and often act that way towards locals. Increased police and military activity, and the plunging price of oil has sharply cut the income of the gangs.
Armed Gangs in Nigeria
This has led many of the gang members to supplement their income by stealing other stuff, usually from the easiest targets. That means the banks and big companies, with all their security guards, are avoided in favor of stealing from the less well off. This is bad for the public image of the oil gangs. But there is no high command of the gangs, no way to control the thousands of young gunmen looking to replace lost oil income. For example, gangs are running a protection racket on the larger fishing boats, forcing them to pay a fee for the right to fish in an area without being attacked. The navy has been unable to provide enough patrol boats to protect all the fishing boats (who then continue to pay the extortion fees.) Over the last year, the oil industry has bought dozens of patrol boats, and paid the military to supply weapons and crews. The companies decide where the boats will operate, which is basically around the company facilities. Although the government has a program to build new patrol boats locally, this is not expected to produce additional boats any time soon. The companies cannot wait, and went to Western boat brokers to buy second-hand military boats. The Nigerians are particularly hostile to foreign military contractors, so there are few of those, and used mainly to supervise the Nigerian officers and troops who are hired (while still receiving their military pay) to guard specific oil production facilities. Meanwhile, the government officials are as corrupt as ever, despite the many senior officials who are being prosecuted. The problem is that few, if any, of these officials will go to jail. They will spend their stolen money on bribes and lawyers, and get off. The lower level officials, who do a lot of the stealing (you need to bribe most civil servants to get anything done), are still very much in business. Oil exports for this month are averaging about 1.89 million barrels a day. If there are no major new attacks on the oil industry, production next month should go to 1.95 million barrels a day. It will be a year or more before production gets back to the potential max of 2.5 million barrels a day. Cameroon is increasing its defenses along the 1,700 frontier with Nigeria. This is in response to a September 28 attack by Nigerian criminals. Storming ashore from speedboats, heavily armed Nigerian gangsters robbed four banks (using explosives to get at the cash), killed one person and roared off. Cameroon will install radar along the coast near Nigeria and increase naval patrols. There will also be cooperation and coordination with the Nigerian military and police, to fight the seaborne gangsters. The new violence comes in the wake of Cameroonian troops moving in to the Bakassi peninsula. This is the final part of a two year process of turning Bakassi over to Cameroon. This oil rich area used to be Nigerian, but an international court awarded it to Cameroon. Nigeria began handing it over two years ago, but some Nigerian groups have continued to fight for a return to Nigerian rule. The Nigerian gangs are taking advantage of the less well armed and numerous Cameroon security forces. October 15, 2008: In the Niger Delta, six speedboats full of pirates attacked a navy gunboat, with the object of capturing it and stealing its machine-guns and other weapons. The dusk attack failed, as the patrol boat crew sank two of the speedboats and forced the others to flee. One soldier was killed and two wounded.

DARPA to Spend Over $800 Million on Surveillance & Countermeasures Project

DARPA to Spend Over $800 Million on Surveillance & Countermeasures Project (NSI News Source Info) NEWTOWN, Conn. - October 19, 2008: Forecast International projects that the U.S. DARPA will spend over $814 million over the next decade on its Surveillance and Countermeasures Technology project. The project is involved with developing sensor technology to enhance the accuracy and timeliness of U.S. DoD surveillance and targeting systems for improved battlefield awareness, strike capability, and battle damage assessment. The U.S. DARPA's Surveillance and Countermeasures Technology project will take advantage of a number of new developments in such areas as multi-spectral target phenomenology, signal processing, low-power high-performance computing, and low-cost microelectronics to create advanced surveillance and targeting systems. Additionally, the project will encompass several advanced technologies related to the development of techniques to counter advanced battlefield threats. Despite DARPA's plans to invest large sums of money on this project in the coming years, it still remains to be seen whether the U.S. congress will appropriate this funding, given the current high levels of federal government spending.

Public Procurement: Commission Asks Italy for Information on Compliance with Court Judgment on Helicopter Purchase Contracts

Public Procurement: Commission Asks Italy for Information on Compliance with Court Judgment on Helicopter Purchase Contracts (NSI News Source Info) BRUSSELS - October 19, 2008: The European Commission has decided, under Article 228 of the EC Treaty, to send a letter of formal notice asking Italy for full information on its compliance with a 2008 judgment of the European Court of Justice concerning the award of supply contracts for the purchase of helicopters. If the Italian authorities still do not comply, the Commission will send a reasoned opinion to the Italian government and, ultimately, can ask the Court to impose a penalty payment. On 8 April 2008, the European Court of Justice ruled in case C-337/05 that Italy had failed to fulfil its obligations under EU Public Procurement Directives by following the long-standing practice of directly awarding, without any competitive tendering procedure, contracts for the purchase of Agusta and Agusta Bell helicopters to Agusta SpA, in order to meet the requirements of several military and civilian corps. The Commission considers that the Italian authorities have not taken the measures needed to comply with the Court judgment, which obliges them to put an end to the illegal practice: --First, the contracts directly awarded in the framework of the illegal practice are still in force. -- Second, despite the commitment of the Italian authorities to tender the supply contracts for the purchase of helicopters in the future, the information transmitted to the Commission seems to indicate that a new supply contract may be directly awarded to Agusta. -- Third, the Italian authorities have not provided sufficient information on the future purchases of helicopters that have been envisaged in the long term. The Commission considers that the monitoring of the procedures that will be followed in the future for the purchase of helicopters is necessary in order to verify whether the illegal practice has stopped. The Italian authorities are therefore requested to regularly provide the Commission with the information allowing such monitoring, for a period of time proportionate to that during which the illegal practice subsisted.