Russian warships to visit Venezuela on November 24-30
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW/CARACAS - November 7, 2008: A task force from Russia's Northern Fleet led by the Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser will visit Venezuela on November 24-30, a spokesman for the Venezuelan Defense Ministry announced Friday.
"A group of Russian warships will visit Caracas on November 24-30, when the first joint naval exercises are due to take place," the spokesman said.
The Northern Fleet task force also includes the large anti-submarine warfare ship Admiral Chabanenko.
The Russian ships are currently in the Mediterranean.
Another Northern Fleet task force, led by the missile cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, will conduct joint exercises with Black Sea Fleet warships in the Mediterranean in December.
Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, an aide to the Russian Navy commander, said earlier that the Pyotr Veliky had called at a French naval base for the first time on Wednesday.
He said the ship dropped anchor off Toulon on Wednesday morning, and would remain until Saturday.
Russia to equip 5 brigades with Iskander missile systems by 2015
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 7, 2008: At least five missile brigades deployed on Russia's western border will be equipped with new Iskander-M short-range missile systems by 2015, a Defense Ministry source said on Friday.
"By 2015, the Iskander system will be put in service with five missile brigades, primarily near Russia's western border and in the Kaliningrad Region," the source said.
Russia believes that the placement of high-precision tactical missiles near borders with NATO countries would be the best response to U.S. missile defense plans for Europe.
Moscow has repeatedly expressed its opposition to Washington's plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic, saying they threaten Russia's national security.
The deployment of mobile Iskander-M missile systems with a range of 500 km (310 miles) in the Kaliningrad region would allow Russia to target almost anywhere in Poland and also parts of Germany and the Czech Republic.
The Iskander-M system is equipped with a solid-propellant single-stage guided missile 9M723K1 (SS-26 Stone) controlled throughout the entire flight path and fitted with a non-separable warhead.
The missile follows a non-ballistic "fuzzy" path, which includes such features as violent maneuvers in the terminal phase of flight and the release of decoys.
It is built with elements of "stealth" technology and has a reduced reflective surface. The altitude of its flight trajectory never exceeds 50 kilometers (30 miles), which makes it even harder to detect and intercept.
The source also said Russia will supply Iskander missile systems to Belarus as part of an "asymmetric" response to the U.S. European missile shield.
"Belarus is our ally and we ... will deliver these systems to that country on a priority and most favorable basis," the official said.
Russia and Belarus, which have maintained close political and economic ties since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, have been in talks for several years on the delivery of Iskander-E systems to equip at least one Belarus missile brigade by 2015.
With its maximum range of 280 km (about 180 miles), Iskander-E is likely to target U.S. missile defense facilities in Poland, which shares a border with Belarus.
Indonesia: Islamic Terrorists Unite In Failure
(NSI News Source Info) November 7, 2008: Police believe that only a small minority of Islamic conservatives back terrorism. Even Jemaah Islamiya, long described as the al Qaeda affiliate in the region, has officially turned away from terrorist violence, although some radical members still advocate bombings and such. But most of the radicals have fled the country, and they are being killed or arrested as they desperately seek a sanctuary. Three of these men, arrested earlier this year in Malaysia, went on trial for terrorism last month.
Islamic conservatives have turned to using publicity and political influence to get laws passed to impose more conservative lifestyle rules. These have been met with massive political and popular opposition. Meanwhile, Islamic radical leaders outdo each other with conspiracy theories. For example, senior radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir now insists that the 2002 Bali bombing (that killed 200) was actually a CIA missile, fired from a ship off shore. Many followers will believe this, but most Indonesians know exactly what happened.
The 2,500 foreign troops and police in East Timor have been able to prevent another outbreak of violence, but have not been able to do much about the underlying causes (massive unemployment). There is still a lot of low level crime, and not much economic investment.
November 3, 2008: In the Maluku islands, three fire bombs (Molotov Cocktails) were set off, one against a government office building. There were no injuries. These islands are about half Christian, and long the scene of Islamic radical violence, which has been in decline.
October 31, 2008: In the last few days, police on the island of Sulawesi have found and disarmed two terrorist bombs, which were planted in a Hindu neighborhood. Islamic terrorists are determined to make a statement, as the execution of three Islamic terrorists approaches. The Hindu minority (three percent of the population) is a particular target of the Islamic extremists, because historically the Hindus are considered pagans, while Christians and Jews are recognized as having some historical connections with Islam.
October 25, 2008: Australia has warned its citizens to stay away from Indonesia, and possible unrest, until the three Islamic terrorists (convicted for their part in the 2002 bombings) are executed sometime in November.
October 21, 2008: Indonesian police arrested five men, and seized bomb making materials. The five, who belonged to several Islamic radical groups, were planning to bomb the largest fuel storage area in the capital. The arrested men appeared to have help from other radical groups (Jundulah, the Islamic State of Indonesia, KOMPAK, FAKTA and a branch of Jemaah Islamiya in Singapore.) Most of these supporting groups appear to be tiny, some with only a few active members. The radicals seem to have found each other, and joined forces to improve their chances of carrying out an attack.
October 20, 2008: In Papua, a pro-independence rally of some 2,000 people, was broken up by police, who arrested fifteen people.
Russia Stocking Up On Attack Helicopters
(NSI News Source Info) November 7, 2008: Russia is buying a dozen Ka-52 scout helicopters in the next year. This aircraft is a Ka-50 variant, called the Alligator. The Russian army is in the process of buying about 40 Ka-50 helicopter gunships. It has bought a sixteen of them over the last seven years, and some saw action in Chechnya. The Ka50 is not considered a replacement for the Mi-24 gunship, but rather as a scout helicopter.
Ka-52 helicopter gunships
The Ka-50 weighs 11 tons, has a top speed of 350 kilometers an hour and can carry up to two tons of weapons or additional fuel. Normal operating range is 260 kilometers, but with additional fuel tanks, it can stay in the air for up to four hours.
Ka-52 variant has two seats, so that a commander can be carried. Normally, the Ka-50 operates with one pilot. Weapons carried include 30mm or 23mm automatic cannon, plus bombs, missiles and rockets.
The Ka-50 is similar to the U.S. AH64 Apache, which weighs ten tons and can carry about the same amount of weapons. However, the AH-64 has a lower max speed (300 kilometers an hour) and has a two man crew. Developed a decade before the Ka-50, there are over a thousand AH-64s in service. To deal with this, the Ka-52 sells for a third or more less than a comparable model of the AH-64. U.S. scout helicopters weigh less than three tons, but the Russians expect their scouts to do more fighting.
Russia's missile gambit could yet backfire: analysts
(NSI News Source Info) Brussels - November 7, 2008: Russia aims to curb Washington's defence shield ambitions by deploying missiles near Poland but the ploy could backfire and harden US president-elect Barack Obama's stance, analysts say.
President Dmitry Medvedev's decision to set up Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad territory wedged between Poland and Lithuania -- announced just as Obama was elected -- immediately raised "serious worries" at NATO.
Medvedev said the move would neutralise the security threat posed by the US shield which will link 10 interceptors in Poland to a radar in the Czech Republic by 2013-2014 and is aimed at countering "rogue states" like Iran.
Iskanders carry conventional warheads over a range of up to 280 kilometres but Russia, given its frustration over the US system, could deploy an updated version capable of reaching close to 500 kilometres (300 miles).
This could be in defiance of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, signed between Moscow and Washington in 1987 and banning missiles with ranges of 500-5,500 kilometres, from which Russia has already threatened to withdraw.
It could also be a new step in rolling back Cold War-era arms accords, after Moscow suspended almost a year ago participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, limiting troop numbers and military equipment in Europe.
But while the deployment might raise new tensions between Russia and NATO -- whose biggest and most powerful member is the United States -- it would not, of itself, significantly change the military balance of power.
"This project to deploy Iskanders, in place of the old Totchka missiles, in the Kaliningrad region already dates from 2000. It was only delayed due to lack of funding," said Joseph Henrotin, at Belgium's Strategic Studies Network.
Even Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, whose country is directly in Russia's firing line, considers Medvedev's missile gambit to be "a new political step, not a military one."
Despite this, analysts differ over how the future US administration will respond to the move.
For Francois Heisbourg, special advisor at the Foundation for Research and Security (FRS) in Paris, "this manouevre of intimidation by the Russians could backfire on them."
"If they think that the United States will give up the idea of deploying their anti-missile shield, they're barking up the wrong tree," he said.
Certainly US Democrats have never been quite as enthusiastic as President George W. Bush's Republicans toward this vast and costly -- roughly eight to nine billion dollars a year -- expansion of the defence shield into Europe.
But "Obama is extremely sensitive to anything that might portray him as someone who is easy to intimidate", as his lack of international experience was a factor that his campaign rivals tried to exploit, Heisbourg noted.
"He will not want to give the impression that he is someone who can easily be pushed around, right at the beginning of his mandate," he said.
But according to Andrew Cuchins, at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, Moscow's "public relations" error must not be allowed to drive the wedge deeper between Russia and the United States right now.
"A failed diplomacy with Russia is not workable," he said.
And he warned: "We have not found a way which integrates Russia security concerns into a broader security framework."
"If we don't convince the Russians we are taking these concerns into account, (there will be) no way to negotiate on armaments control and proliferation," he said.
He also said it was vital "to convince the Iranians that Russia and the Americans are serious about cooperating".
"I think there could be, and should be, a greater effort to integrate the Russians into evolving missile defence strategy in Europe," he said.
Book Reveals Failed Delta Hunt for bin Laden
(NSI News Source Info) Military.comby Christian Lowe - November 7, 2008: It was bitter cold. The harsh wind swept across their high mountain redoubt with only thin native blankets to shelter them from the bitter Afghan air. They were hours from resupply, carrying only what they could on their backs.
And that's just how they wanted it.
Peering through their high-tech spotting scopes and talking in low whispers to pilots above, the Delta Force operators high in the mountains of Tora Bora were warmed by the thought that they, more than anyone else in that desolate land, were killing more perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks than anyone else in the world.
For nearly a week, 40 of America's best trained, most elite Soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta, or "Delta Force," combed the 14,000 foot peaks with wavering Afghan militia allies to hunt down the world's most wanted man: Osama bin Laden. In a first ever account, the man who shepherded those bearded warriors into Tora Bora's thin mountain air writes of the near misses, frustrated plans and weak-kneed guerrillas that stymied their quest for al Qaeda's top commanders.
Writing under the name "Dalton Fury," the Delta Force commander -- a major at the time - gives a detailed look in "Kill bin Laden: A Delta Commander's Account of the Hunt for the World's Most Wanted Man" how the unit prepared for, planned and executed its complicated mission.
For Delta, it was an unprecedented task. A force best know for lightning-fast counterterrorism raids, long range reconnaissance and high value target snatches, the operators on the Tora Bora mission had to work a hybrid plan that combined unconventional warfare, intelligence collection, long-range logistics and close air support - all while waiting for the call to swoop down on an Osama hideout at a moment's notice.
"We went into a hellish land that was considered impregnable and controlled by al Qaeda leaders who had helped defeat the Soviet Union," Fury writes. "We killed them by the dozen. Many more surrendered. ... And we heard the demoralized -- bin Laden speak on the radio, pleading for women and children to fight for him."
"Then he abandoned them all and ran from the battlefield," Fury adds with some satisfaction. "Yes. He ran away."
(Though Military.com knows Fury's true name, we will honor his wishes and not reveal it here.)
As Fury tells it, his Delta colleagues racked up an impressive body count and thought for a while they had actually killed the al Qaeda leader or his deputy. But a reader can clearly see between the lines of "Kill bin Laden" that Fury was frustrated with his unit's lack of success in killing their key target. While dropping JDAMs on terrorist caves was gratifying, Fury never mentions a single shot fired by his operators in the entire early December 2001 engagement -- cold comfort to some of the best combat marksmen in the world who were itching for a up-close fight.
Fury is also disappointed by his commanders' reluctance to engage his operators more into the fight, mandating the reliance on Afghan militias to do most of the heavy lifting. His unit proposed two plans to corner bin Laden. One involved a backdoor, high-altitude mountaineering assault from the Pakistan border, the other called for sowing GATOR anti-personnel mines along the most likely approaches and escape routes to stymie an al Qaeda escape long enough for a commando assault.
Both plans were rejected by higher headquarters -- or the White House -- and Fury was left to the worst possible alternative: a frontal assault.
"Kill bin Laden" is one of the most detailed and informative descriptions of a battle forgotten by most Americans, but one that was truly the closest the West gotten to bin Laden since 9/11. It's not the "tell all" of Eric Haney's "Inside Delta Force" but compares well with Gary Bernsten's "Jawbreaker" in it's revelation of black ops.
And that's where Fury has bumped into the most controversy. Some in the Army Special Force community have rejected Fury for his breach of Delta's code of silence - a written and un-written rule among operators that one never speaks to outsiders of their endeavors. Credible online forums have already revealed Fury's true name, ignoring his pleas for anonymity for fear of endangering his family.
Fury declined several requests for an interview with Military.com to discuss this issue and details of his book.
Revealing his missions and opening Delta to the world in even this small way has earned "Kill bin Laden" scorn from portions of the special operations community. But Fury's critics never dispute his facts.
So give "Kill bin Laden" a read; the author did the American public a service by explaining to the victims of 9/11 how America tried to kill the mastermind behind that horrifying day, and it could serve to remind us all that "enemy number one" is still out there - and so is Delta, hunting him to the ends of the Earth.
French Defense Firms to Transfer High Technology to India
(NSI News Source Info) November 7, 2008: France has cleared its aerospace and defence companies to go ahead to undertake complete transfer of technology (TOT) of strategic systems for the $10 billion Indian contract for acquisition of 126 multi-role combat aircraft. Key technologies that can be transfered include AESA radars, stealth composites and advanced missiles network enabled technologies."The French government has given us all clearance for technology transfer of all key systems," said JPHP Chabriol, senior vice president, D'assault Aviation, the manufacturers of French fighters Rafael -- one of the prominent contestants for the Indian contract -- as his new fighter Rafael prepares for the test in Indian conditions in mid-June next year. France's approval comes even as the US companies may have to seek the State administration and Congressional clearances before parting with the technologies like AESA radar, which ironically has been pioneered by the US defence majors.According to the field trial schedule sent to the bidding companies, the contending fighters are to undergo resistance to humidity trials in south Indian city of Bangalore, tests for heat and dust in Thar desert in Jodhpur and cold trials in snowy wilderness of Ladakh.Major French aerospace companies D'assault, Thales and Snecma have joined hands to float Rafael International to popularize the French fighter worldwide. While D'assault will hold 60 per cent stake in the new company, Thales which provides 90 per cent avionics for the fighter and its engine maker Snecma will hold 20 per cent each. "Rafael makes sense for the IAF after Mirages," Chebriol said expressing his company's determination to stay in the Indian market.
US Military Adds Heavy Trucks Under FHTV-III
With its bridge buy of FMTV medium trucks in place and the re-compete proceeding, and initial awards for the potential JLTV Hummer replacement designs underway, the next order of business on the US Army’s agenda was a new Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles’ multi-year contract: FHTV-III.
Oshkosh has provided the core of this capability for over 20 yeas now. Its Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT) and their 13-ton payloads are the mainstay of the FHTV fleet, serving in variants that include M977/985 Cargo, M978 Fueler, M982/983 Tractors, and M984 Wrecker; they also serve as heavy transporters for Patriot and THAAD air defense systems. M1074/75 Palletized Load Systems (PLS) and PLS trailers (PLST) are best known for their automated container/pallet loading arms, and for their Universal Power Interface Kit (UPIK) that can add modules for firefighting, construction, cranes, et. al. The M1000/1070 Heavy Equipment Transporters (HET) are flatbeds that can transport a 70-ton Abrams tank – or anything less – in order to save wear and tear on expensive armored vehicles and on the roads. A specialized FHTV truck called the M1977 CBT can even lay bridges.
Analysis: Why 2009 could be the year of the Gripen
(NSI News Source Info) November 7, 2008: The next 18 months will see Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania and Switzerland make final selections for their respective fighter procurement competitions, with sales of up to 523 aircraft worth at least USD35 billion-USD40 billion at stake.
It will be a truly crucial period in shaping the future of the global fighter market.
The common link between these eight contests is the presence of the Saab Gripen in the bidding process. So far the Gripen's success in the export market has been limited, with contracts for 60 aircraft in place across the Czech Republic (14), Hungary (14), South Africa (26) and Thailand (6). Saab hopes, and Jane's Defence Forecasts believes, that the next 18 months may see this number increase significantly.
Competition is fierce to fill these eight national requirements, with the following among the Gripen's competitors in the various contests: Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; Dassault's Rafale; the Eurofighter Typhoon; Lockheed Martin's F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning II; and RAC MiG's MiG-35.
Jane's believes the Gripen team has reasons for optimism, however.
First of all, in terms of the aircraft's capability, Saab is offering its enhanced Gripen NG (Next Generation) variant for the Brazilian, Danish, Dutch, Indian and Norwegian requirements, which incorporates a number of significant improvements over the baseline Gripen C/D. These enhancements include: an active electronically scanned array radar developed in conjunctionwith Thales (due to begin flight testing in 2009); General Electric F-414G engines, which provide increased thrust and maximum take-off weight; additional weapons stores; enhanced avionics and electronic warfare capabilities; and increased range.
These new capabilities are currently being developed through the Gripen Demonstrator programme, which was approved by Sweden's Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) in October 2007 and unveiled the following April. According to Saab, further enhancements will be rolled out in three-year increments, to enable continuous development of the platform over the life of the programme and removing the need for comprehensive and expensive mid-life upgrade programmes. Development and incorporation of specific customer-funded requirements is also envisaged as part of a 50-year programme plan.
While currently in the developmental stage, the Gripen NG programme would be accelerated in the event of a contract win and the aircraft would be available to enter service from 2014.
With regard to cost, the Gripen NG is viewed by Jane's as competitive in terms of both acquisition and through-life support costs when compared to its rivals. Bob Kemp, sales and marketing director for Gripen International, citing figures produced for the Dutch fighter contest, said Saab believes that the Gripen NG, as part of an 85-aircraft fleet, would cost EUR6 billion (USD7.6 billion) less than the F-35 in terms of life-cycle costs over a 30-year period.
At a unit cost of between USD50 million andUSD60 million, the Gripen also offers the lowest-cost platform in terms of acquisition expenditure. By comparison, according to Fiscal Year 2009 US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy (USN) budgetary documentation, the unit costs of the F-35 and F/A-18E/F are USD83.1 million and USD82.7 million respectively.
Unsurprisingly in such a competitive market, each of the contenders in these fighter contests has its strengths and weaknesses and much will depend on the specific circumstances, priorities and requirements of the customer nations. As such, some contests are better suited to the Gripen proposal than others, particularly in Europe.
Saab Proposes JAS-39 Gripen Sale to Swiss Air Force
(NSI News Source Info) November 7, 2008: Swedish aerospace/defence firm Saab announced on the 2nd July that it had provided Switzerland with a proposal to possibly sell combat jets to the Swiss Air Force.
"Switzerland has a need to replace its fighter aircraft [Northrop] F-5E/F Tiger II and [Saab’s JAS-39] Gripen is one of three potential suppliers", Saab stated, adding: "The exact number of required aircraft has not been disclosed."
At the end of June, the official publication for the Swedish government wrote that Switzerland could acquire as many as 33 Gripens, adding that permission had been sought at governmental level for an offer to be made.
Saab stated, additionally, that agreements had been drawn up between it and Pilatus [Swiss aircraft firm]/ Rheinmetall Schweiz AG in association with the potential sale.
"The agreement between Saab and Pilatus regards future cooperation in the aviation area and is the result of discussions initiated as part of industrial cooperation activities in the event Switzerland should decide to buy Gripen fighter aircraft to replace its F-5E/F Tiger”, the Swedish firm said.
The JAS-39 Gripen is operated by the air forces of South Africa, Hungary and the Czech Republic, as well as Sweden, with the total order book currently standing at 236.
It is one of six types in contention to win a highly-coveted Indian Air Force contract for 126 new combat aircraft.
Potential Gripen Orders
Additionally, it emerged earlier this year that Saab is offering the Gripen to Norway as a replacement for the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s F-16s. In this latter capacity, it is up against the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
Meanwhile, India is in the process of comparing it to five other types – the French Rafale, the Russian Mig 35, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the US-built F/A18E/F Super Hornet, as well as the F-16.
France Offers to Upgrade India’s Mirage 2000 Fighters
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS - November 7, 2008: The Indian Air Force (IAF) can address the alarming dip in its operational capabilities by upgrading its fleet of Mirage-2000 fighter jets, even as it evaluates a global tender it has floated for purchasing 126 new combat aircraft, says French electronics major Thales, which is on the verge of inking the upgrade deal. "The upgrade will significantly enhance the IAF's air potential by extending the operational performance of the Mirage fleet and taking full advantage of the aircraft's world class capabilities," Francois Quentin, Thales senior vice president and head of its aerospace division, told a group of visiting Indian journalists here. "As a result, the IAF will have a coherent platform-system combination for the next 20 years at a significantly lower cost than the acquisition of new-build aircraft with equivalent performance," Quentin added. At the same time, another Thales official pointed out that a decision on the upgrade would have to be taken by the end of this year so that the project could begin early 2009, ahead of the parliamentary polls that are due by May but could be advanced to February. "Our experience, not only with India but with other countries also, has been that if an election comes in the way, a decision on a project like this can be delayed by at least two years," the official told IANS on condition of anonymity. This statement acquires significance since the IAF is known to have been considering the upgrade for at least two years but floated a request for proposal (RFP) only in April, to which Thales replied in July. Price negotiations are set to begin later this month. While Thales was reluctant to state figures given a confidentiality clause, the project is believed to be worth $1.5 billion for upgrading the 51 Mirage-2000s in the IAF fleet to Dash-5 levels. This will give the jets multi-role capability with longer-range radars and fire-and-forget missiles, enabling the aircraft to perform a given mission thanks to greater fuel and weapon-delivery capacities. The upgrade will involve providing the Mirage-2000, which was first inducted in mid-1980 and of which the IAF now operates 51, a state-of-the-art fly-by-wire digital cockpit and an enhanced weapons-carrying capability. Under the Thales proposal, the company would deliver the first two aircraft from its facilities in France within 40 months of the signing of the contract, and would simultaneously assist Hindustan Aircraft Limited (HAL) in upgrading another two aircraft in India in the same time frame. Thereafter, HAL would upgrade one of the remaining 47 aircraft every month. "The IAF will be further enhanced by the integration of new capabilities," Pierre-Yves Chaltiec, CEO of Thales Airborne Systems, said. "These include longer range detection across the spectrum, improved tactical situation awareness, longer range weapon firing against multiple simultaneous targets, weapon stealth and extended operating envelope with the capability to engage ground targets while countering airborne threats," he added. "The resulting tactical advantage will allow commanders to commit fewer aircraft while achieving a higher success rate, thanks in particular to greater fuel and weapon-delivery capacities. For instance, a typical border protection mission involving two hours on station will require just two upgraded Mirage-2000 aircraft compared with six current aircraft," Chaltiec said. The IAF had floated a global tender in September 2007 for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft in a deal valued at $10 billion. Six jets are in the fray: the US Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-16, the French Dassault Rafale, the Swedish Saab Grippen, the Russian MiG-35 and
the Eurofighter Typhoon built by a four-nation European consortium. The technical bids are currently being evaluated after which all the six aircraft will be put through a rigorous testing process in Bangalore, Jaisalmer and Leh. The first is meant to gauge the aircraft's ability to operate in the humid conditions of southern India, the second their effectiveness in the deserts of Rajasthan and the third to study their suitability in the icy Himalayan heights of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. By the time the evaluation process is complete, the size of the order is likely to rise to around 200 jets, as the IAF, which is down to 32 squadrons from a high of 39 1/2, is expected to see a further depletion of its fleet due to the retirement of some its ageing Soviet-era MiG-21 aircraft. The IAF has a sanctioned strength of 45 squadrons.
Oboronprom Corporation and AgustaWestland Agree Upon JV Establishment and UTAir Signs Letter Of Intent for Purchase of AW139s
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 7, 2008: Oboronprom Corporation and AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, are pleased to announce they have signed an agreement for the establishment of a 50-50 joint venture company in Russia to set up and run a civil AW139 helicopter Final Assembly Line, for which the approval of the Russian Government is being sought, as required under the Strategic Enterprises Law. The registered office of the JV Company and the Final Assembly Line will be located in the Moscow region of Russia and the AW139s assembled there will be used to satisfy the requirements of the civil markets in Russia and CIS countries primarily and - through the AgustaWestland network – for the rest of the world. Furthermore, UTAir of Russia has signed a Letter Of Intent for the purchase of 35 to 49 AW139 helicopters over a 5-7 year period that will be delivered from the joint venture company’s Final Assembly Line starting from 2011. UTAir is a major world helicopter operator satisfying the needs of the oil and gas industry. However, a range of other services are provided by the company including transport, operations in the forest sector and forest patrolling, search and rescue, emergency medical evacuation and aerial works. Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, Finmeccanica Chairman and CEO, commented “This latest achievement further strengthens AgustaWestland’s position in this key market where Finmeccanica has been building a remarkable industrial base in recent years through major cooperations with prime local players. We now see relevant business opportunities in the future”. Giuseppe Orsi, AgustaWestland CEO, said “The establishment of a JV Company in Russia with Oboronprom will be a milestone in our global strategy aimed at expanding our presence in the civil market. We are also delighted that a leading company such as UTAir has selected the AW139 to be produced in Russia to satisfy their demanding operational requirements”. “We evaluate the signing of the document as an important event for the Russian high-technology sector. This is the evidence of more intensive cooperation of our country and Russian companies in the global contribution. In the framework of this mutually beneficial co-operation the Russian helicopter engineering sector can gain access to the advanced production technologies and high quality standards of the product support. We will strive to expand our collaboration, and by means of localization of production in Russia as well” said Andrey Reus, Director General, OPK Oboronprom. AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is a major force in commercial and military helicopter markets around the world and offers an unrivalled range of helicopters, training and support solutions to satisfy customer's mission requirements. Oboronprom Corporation is multi-profile industrial investment group, founded in 2002. Major activities of the corporation: helicopter production, engine production, air-defenсe systems and complex radio-electronic systems, leasing.
ARH-70A ARAPAHO Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, USA
(NSI News Source Info) November 7, 2008: In July 2005, the United States Army placed a contract on Bell Helicopters for the next generation armed reconnaissance helicopter, ARH. The ARH, designated the ARH-70A Arapaho, will replace the army's current Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors which have been in operation since the mid 1980s and are approaching the end of their operational life.
The ARH-70A armed reconnaissance helicopters will replace the army's current Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors.
The $2.2bn programme is for the procurement of 368 helicopters with deliveries over eight years from 2007 to 2013. The initial $210m contract, awarded on 29 July 2005 to Bell Helicopters, covered the system design and development phase through 2007.
In June 2007, it was agreed by the US Army and Bell that the SDD phase should be extended for a year to 2008. This will conclude with a Limited User Test (LUT), followed by a decision on Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP). Three LRIP helicopters will be produced by 2009. Entry into service is planned for 2010.
A stop work order was issued by the US Army in March 2007 because of concerns over progress and costs on the project. However in May 2007, the Army decided to lift this order and continue with the programme.
The ARH is a militarised version of the proven Bell 407 helicopter, with a more powerful Honeywell HTS900 turboshaft engine rated at 723kW.
MILITARISED BELL 407 HELICOPTER
The ARH is a militarised version of the proven Bell 407 helicopter. The engine on the civil Bell 407 has been replaced by a more powerful Honeywell HTS900 turboshaft engine rated at 723kW. An example of the militarised Bell 407 fitted with the undernose FLIR Systems Brite Star II surveillance and target acquisition system was displayed at the July 2005 Paris Air Show at Le Bourget.
The militarised version of the Bell 407 fitted with Hydra 70 air-to-ground rockets made its first flight in June 2005 from Bell Helicopter's XWORX research and development centre at Arlington Municipal Airport.
The major contractors involved in the ARH program with Bell Helicopters are FLIR Systems, Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, as well as Flight Safety, Computer Sciences Corporation and L-3.
The ARH airframe will be manufactured at the Bell Helicopter Textron aerospace manufacturing facilities at Mirabel, Canada. Final assembly and installation of military equipment will take place at Bell's Fort Worth plant.
The helicopter can be equipped for light reconnaissance, light attack and insertion operations and is capable of day and night operations, in adverse weather conditions and in poor visibility.
"The US Army's ARH-70A is a militarised version of the proven Bell 407 helicopter."
The US Army launched the requirement for the armed reconnaissance helicopter after the cancellation of the $39bn RAH-66 Comanche programme in early 2004. The US Army cancelled the Comanche program because it was thought the helicopter did not meet the requirement for survivability and self-defensive countermeasures, such as the ability to counter current and next generation infrared guided anti-air missiles.
Rockwell Collins is responsible for the ARH avionics suite, the Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS), which is also being fitted on US Army's special operations, CH-47F and UH-60M fleets.
The CAAS includes two 6in x 8in colour active matrix liquid-crystal MFD-268 multi-function displays and CDU-7000 control display units which control communications, navigation, weapons and defensive aids.
Bell has awarded a contract to EFW, an Elbit Systems company, for a helmet display and tracking system based on the ANVIS/HUD-24T. The system has a day / night helmet display and Line-Of-Sight (LOS) electromagnetic head-tracker. EFW is also supplying the helicopter's data transfer system.
The suite also includes an embedded GPS / inertial navigation system and Smiths Aerospace Integrated Standby Instrument System (ISIS).
RECONNAISSANCE HELICOPTER SENSORS
The sensor suite includes the Bright Star II target acquisition and sighting system developed by FLIR Systems. The sensor turret will be installed under the nose of the helicopter and incorporates a laser designator and range finder, a laser spot tracker, colour television and a forward-looking infrared camera.
The helicopter will be armed with a variety of weapons to suit the mission requirements. The helicopter is capable of deploying AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, GAU-19 (12.75mm) Gatling gun pods which fire at 2,000 rounds a minute, Hydra 70 air-to-ground rockets and up to seven 2.75in guided or unguided rockets such as the Folding-fin Aerial Rocket pods (FAR pods).
The helicopter will be fitted with an electronic warfare suite including active and passive countermeasures.
"The ARH-70A will be armed with a variety of weapons to suit the mission requirements."
The ARH-70A is powered by one Honeywell HTS900-2 turbine engine equipped with dual channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system. The HTS900-2 is rated at 970shp (723kW).
The performance of the ARH, the militarised 407, is modified by the additional weight and different aerodynamic properties based on the weapons pylons, FLIR pod and other mission equipment.
Typical approximate performance parameters are range of 212km and an endurance of two hours, according to the mission configuration and battlefield flight profiles.
The helicopter is highly manoeuvrable with exceptional low hovering capability in restricted air spaces such as in urban environments. Two armed reconnaissance helicopters can be transported in a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft and be ready to fly in 15 minutes.
Moscow receives updated U.S. missile shield proposals
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 7, 2008: Moscow has received new U.S. proposals aimed at easing Russia's concerns over a planned European missile shield and replacing a strategic arms reduction treaty, a Foreign Ministry official said on Friday.
U.S. Under Secretary of State John Rood said on November 6 that the United States had made a new offer to Moscow to try and ease opposition to the planned U.S. missile shield in Central Europe and proposals on finding a replacement to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1), which expires at the end of 2009.
New confidence-building steps, in particular, would allow Russian monitors access to missile defense facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic.
"We have received the proposals and are currently studying them," said Igor Lyakin-Frolov, deputy head of the press and information department at the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Moscow has repeatedly expressed its opposition to Washington's plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic, saying they threaten Russia's national security.
President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday in his first state of the nation address that Russia would deploy short-range Iskander missile systems in its western exclave of Kaliningrad "to neutralize if necessary the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe."
Rood said that Medvedev's remarks were disappointing but that U.S.-Russian dialogue on the issue would continue.
The U.S. diplomat said he expected to meet his Russian counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov in Moscow in about two weeks to discuss missile defense and other issues, including a new U.S. proposal to further limit strategic nuclear weapons on both sides.
Venezuela reaffirms future arms purchases from Russia
(NSI News Source Info) MEXICO - November 7, 2008: Venezuela will continue to buy modern weaponry from Russia and other "friendly countries" in the future to boost its defense capability, a senior military official said.
"We will continue buying weaponry in Russia, China and Belarus in future years to ensure the defense of our territory and oil reserves from countries like the United States," the Mexican media quoted Gen. Jesus Gonzalez, who oversees weapon procurement for the Venezuelan armed forces, as saying.
Gonzalez said the U.S. deliberately imposed an arms embargo on Venezuela in order to weaken the Latin American country and seize its rich energy resources by force.
"I have no doubt that the Americans want to come here in search of oil and we must be ready to face them. If you want peace, prepare for war," Gonzalez said.
"That is why we asked for help from such countries as Russia and China. Russia is our friend, who has helped us in difficult times," the general said.
Between 2005 and 2007 Russia signed 12 contracts worth more than $4.4 billion to supply arms to Venezuela, including fighter aircraft, helicopters and Kalashnikov assault rifles.
In September, Russia agreed to provide Venezuela with a $1 billion loan so that Caracas could buy TOR-M1 air defense systems, Igla-S portable SAM systems, Il-78 aerial tankers and Il-76 military cargo aircraft.
"During the upcoming visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Venezuela in November this year we may finalize the details of deals on the procurement of [Russian] BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles and T-72 tanks," Gonzales said.
Venezuela and Russia have been recently expanding regular military ties as well.
Two Russian strategic bombers carried out patrols along the coast of South America during a visit to Venezuela in September and a naval task force led by the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Velikiy is on its way to the country for joint exercises in the Caribbean in November.
The two countries are also planning to conduct joint air force exercises in 2009.
China's Navy Takes Delivery of Hospital Ship (NSI News Source Info) November 7, 2008: China's East Sea Fleet took delivery of its first 10,000-ton hospital ship on Oct. 23, dubbed Ship 866.
It is designed and outfitted for both wartime and peacetime operations. A photo of the ship appears to show a rear helicopter deck.
"The carrier features high-tech, comprehensive functions and facilities equivalent to level-three class A hospitals," said the government-run People's Daily.
"It marks an important breakthrough in maritime emergency equipment manufacturing for China, making the country one of the few in the world that has medical care and emergency rescue capabilities on the high seas while also raising the capability of the Chinese navy to accomplish diversified military missions," said the People's Daily.
China has expanded its participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions over the past 10 years with deployments to Africa and the Middle East. There are also undeclared military personnel in Africa protecting Chinese assets and working as military advisers.
The Chinese navy only has two other hospital ships. The navy converted two 2,150-ton Qiongsha-class attack transport ships into hospital ships in the 1990s, the 832 and 833. The ships are deployed with the South Sea Fleet for operations in the South China Sea. A total of six Qiongsha-class attack transports were built in Guangzhou during the 1980s.