ST Marine Wins S$200M Asian Order for LPD Ship
(NSI News Source Info) Singapore - November 12, 2008: Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering) today announced that its marine arm, Singapore Technologies Marine Ltd (ST Marine), has secured a contract in a basket of currencies amounting to about S$200m, to design and build a 141 meter Landing Platform Dock (LPD), two 23m Landing Craft Mechanised (LCM) and two 13m Landing Craft Vehicle and Personnel (LCVP), for a navy in the Asia Pacific region. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid 2009 and delivery is planned for in 2H 2012. This contract is not expected to have any material impact on the consolidated net tangible assets per share and earnings per share of ST Engineering for the current financial year. "ST Marine is very honoured to be selected amongst renowned international yards and is proud that its proprietary design is successful beyond our shores." ~ CHANG Cheow Teck, President, ST Marine ST Marine, the marine arm of ST Engineering, provides turnkey building, repair and conversion services for a wide spectrum of naval and commercial vessels. In shipbuilding, it has the proven capabilities to provide turnkey solutions from concept definition to detailed design, construction, on-board system installation and integration, testing, commissioning to through-life support. ST Engineering is an integrated engineering group providing solutions and services in the aerospace, electronics, land systems and marine sectors. Headquartered in Singapore, the Group reported revenue of $5.05 bn in FY2007.
Brazilian Air Force’s upgrade of its Aeritalia/ Embraer AMX light strike fighters(NSI News Source Info) HAIFA, Israel - November 12, 2008: Elbit Systems Ltd. announced that on November 10, 2008 it was awarded a contract by Embraer, the Brazilian aircraft company, for the supply of avionics for the Brazilian AMX jet upgrade project. The initial development and prototype phase of the contract is in an amount of approximately $67 million. The entire contract, including the subsequent production phase, is valued at approximately $187 million and is scheduled to be completed through 2014. Implementation of the production phase following completion of the development and prototype phase is subject to further approval Elbit Systems was selected as the main subcontractor of Embraer, the prime contractor for the project and the manufacturer of the AMX jet, which is to be supplied to the Brazilian Air Force. Elbit Systems will be performing the project in cooperation with its wholly-owned Brazilian subsidiary Aeroeletronica S.A. (AEL), located in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Under the project, Elbit Systems and AEL will supply the central battle mission computer of the AMX, as well as display systems, the ammunition management system and additional systems. Elbit Systems' Israeli subsidiary, Elisra Electronic Systems Ltd., will supply the electronic warfare (EW) systems as a major subcontractor to AEL. Joseph Ackerman, Elbit Systems' President and CEO, said: "We take great pride in our selection for this important project. We believe our selection reflects the satisfaction of our Brazilian customers from our past performance, including our long-standing successful collaboration with Embraer. Our ability to incorporate Elisra's EW systems in this upgrade project, testifies to the synergy within Elbit Systems portfolio, which enables us to provide our customers with a wide variety of innovative end-to-end solutions." Elbit Systems Ltd. is an international defense electronics company engaged in a wide range of defense-related programs throughout the world. The Company, which includes Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries, operates in the areas of aerospace, land and naval systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance ("C4ISR"), unmanned air vehicle (UAV) systems, advanced electro-optics, electro-optic space systems, EW suites, airborne warning systems, ELINT systems, data links and military communications systems and radios. The Company also focuses on the upgrading of existing military platforms and developing new technologies for defense, homeland security and commercial aviation applications.
Indo-Bangladesh border threatens India's security
(NSI News Source Info) November 12, 2008: The reports point out that with easy availability of arms, ammunition and explosives from China via Myanmar and the unholy alliance of terrorists are set to wreak havoc in India as evident from the recent blasts in North India, Tripura and Assam.
THE ROLE of Bangladesh has attracted serious scrutiny over the recent serial blasts in India. The Bangladesh Government’s repeated assurance of taking strong actions against terrorist groups appears to be hollow as a section of the Bangladeshi civil and military officials have been working hand in hand with the agents of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan to help out the Islamic terrorists and the militants from India’s North-eastern states and West Bengal.
In fact, according to the intelligence reports, these ISI agents and Bangladeshi officials have now been coordinating between the Indian militants and Islamic terrorists to carry out subversive activities in India.
The reports point out that with easy availability of arms, ammunition and explosives from China via Myanmar and the unholy alliance of terrorists are set to create havoc in India as it is evident from the recent blasts in North India, Tripura and Assam.
The reports have also mentioned that the militants from Assam,. Tripura, Manipur and West Bengal have already undergone a series of training along with the members of the Islamic Jihadi Council (IJC) in the use of different kind of explosives, including RDX and TNT under the supervision of some ISI and Bangladeshi experts.
According to the reports, the Islamic Jihadi Council is comprised of activists from Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI), Lashkar-e-Toiba (L-e-T), Taliban, and Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups, who are now settled in different parts of Bangladesh.
The reports also point out that under the supervision of the ISI and Bangladeshi experts, the IJC members, most of whom are trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan, have been working together with the members of different militant groups from North-East India for carrying out subversive activities in India.
Besides utilising the militants from the North-eastern parts of India, it is feared that the ISI and the IJC may even use the Maoists to carry out serial blasts in different parts of the country. The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) had already arranged meetings between the ISI agents and the Maoists, both in Bangladesh and Nepal.
Reports from across the border said that at least 20 teams, comprising Indian militants and Islamic terrorists, had been formed after extensive training on use of different kinds of explosive to carry out clandestine activities in different parts of India.
These teams had reportedly established contacts with their linkmen in Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia, North and South 24 Parganas and Kolkata in West Bengal. Each team is comprised of at least seven members.
The Intelligence agencies blamed the attitude of the Bangladesh Government and poor management of Indo-Bangla border for the recent spurt in serial blasts in different parts of India. The concerned officials also stated that lack of cooperation from the Bangladesh authorities and insufficient border security forces made it virtually impossible to crack down these militant groups.
They also pointed out that the recent handover of 17 ATTF militants by the Bangladesh Rifles was merely an eyewash. The seventeen militants actually belonged to a breakaway group, which wanted to surrender before the authorities in Tripura. The Bangladesh Rifles intercepted the seventeen militants and put them behind the bar. Later, they were handed over to the BSF authorities.
However, Bangladesh authorities are not leaving any stone unturned to play host to the leaders of Indian militants like Anup Chetia, Paresh Barua and Jiban Singh.
Most of these leaders have been running businesses in and around Dhaka and Chittagong with the money extorted from the Indian businessmen and the so-called help from their ‘friends’ in Bangladesh Government.
West Bengal, Assam and Tripura have been demanding for a long time deployment of more Border Security Force battalions for proper manning of the Indo-Bangladesh border. But the Centre continued to turn a deaf ear to their demands.
A senior West Bengal official said that serial blasts were designed to destroy the basic fabric of the country. He further added that it is high time Centre paid more attention to the international border with Bangladesh. He also warned that any further delay would just aggravate the situation.
The official also added that the concerned authorities have intensified vigilance along the border and other vulnerable areas to prevent any subversive activity by the unholy nexus of Islamic terrorists and Indian militants.
Iran Test Fires New Medium-Range Missile
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN - November 12, 2008: Iran on Nov. 12 test-fired a new generation of ground-to-ground missile, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted the defense minister as saying.
"The defense minister's experts ... succeeded in testing a new generation of ground-to-ground missile," Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was quoted as saying.
State television showed footage of a missile similar in size to the medium-range Shahab 3 being fired.
"This is a two-stage missile carrying two engines with combined solid fuel," Najjar said, adding that the missile was named Sejil.
In the past, Iran has often boasted of developing new weapons systems only to be met with skepticism from Western defense analysts.
With an advertised range of 2,000 kilometers (1,350 miles), the Shahab-3 can reach parts of southern Europe but poses the greatest threat to points in the Middle East including Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.
"The testing of this missile has been carried out within the framework of our defensive deterrent doctrine and the Islamic republic's standard missile activities," Najjar said.
"It will not be used against any country ... and has nothing to do with the latest regional and international developments."
The name Sejil comes from a Koranic term, which means those stones thrown by God's birds at an army of elephants heading to destroy the Kaaba in what is now Saudi Arabia around 1,400 years ago.
The Kaaba, in Mecca, is Islam's holiest site.
Washington has never ruled out military action over what it charges is Tehran's effort to develop a nuclear weapon.
Iran insists it wants to develop nuclear power for civilian purposes only in the knowledge that its huge oil and gas reserves will eventually run out.
It has warned of a dire response in the event that it comes under attack by the United States or its regional ally, Israel.
In February, it fired a probe into space on a Shahab-3 missile, a development that prompted even Russia to say it raised suspicions that Iran was seeking a nuclear weapons capability.
Compromise on U.S. missile shield possible - Kremlin source
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 12, 2008: Russia believes that a compromise on a controversial U.S. missile shield in Europe is still possible, but is waiting for more constructive proposals from the new U.S. administration, a Kremlin source said on Wednesday.
"A compromise is still possible," the source said.
"However, the current U.S. proposals are insufficient ... because the Bush administration is seeking to make the decision [on the deployment of the missile shield] irreversible and ... leave the new U.S. president without an alternative, putting on him the burden of responsibility for something that was decided without him," the source added.
Washington said last Thursday it had provided new proposals to ease Russia's concerns over the planned deployment of 10 U.S. missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, which the United States said were needed to counter possible attacks from "rogue" states like Iran.
Russia, which says the missile defense system is a threat to its national security, has indicated it will not address the U.S. proposals until after President-elect Barack Obama is inaugurated in January.
As an "asymmetric" response to the proposed U.S. missile shield in Europe, Russia announced the possible deployment of Iskander-M short-range missile systems in the Kaliningrad exclave, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea.
The Kremlin source said new discussions on the European missile shield should involve Russia, the United States and the European Union and must be based on respect for common interests rather than on a unilateral decision made by Washington.
Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy in Moscow announced on Wednesday that Russia and the United States had agreed to resume talks on strategic security and missile defense in December.
U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns discussed arrangements for the upcoming meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier this month.
Russia to test fire another Bulava ICBM before yearend - Navy
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 12, 2008: Russia will test fire another Bulava sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile before the end of the year, a source in the Navy headquarters said on Wednesday.
The source said a Bulava missile would be launched from the submerged Dmitry Donskoi Typhoon-class nuclear submarine in northern Russia's White Sea, at a target at the Kura testing grounds on the Kamchatka Peninsula, about 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles) east of Moscow.
"Earlier, we had some problems with the missile stage separation, but we hope this issue has been resolved," he said.
The latest test of the Bulava missile from the submerged Dmitry Donskoi on September 18 was a success.
The source reiterated that Russia is planning to adopt new Bulava missiles for service with the Navy and commission the first Borey-class strategic nuclear submarine in 2009.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30), developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, is designed for deployment on Borey-class Project 955 nuclear-powered submarines.
The first submarine in the series, the Yury Dolgoruky was built at the Sevmash plant in the northern Arkhangelsk Region and is currently undergoing sea trials.
The submarine has a length of 170 meters (580 feet), a body diameter of around 13 meters (42 feet), and a submerged speed of about 29 knots.
It will be equipped with 16 Bulava ballistic missiles, each carrying up to 10 nuclear warheads and having a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles).
Two other Borey-class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash plant.
Fourth-generation Borey-class nuclear-powered submarines armed with Bulava missiles will form the core of Russia's fleet of modern strategic submarines.
Russia plans to build at least seven $890-million submarines of this class by 2015.
New Russian diesel-electric icebreaker completes sea trials
(NSI News Source Info) ST. PETERSBURG - November 12, 2008: The St. Petersburg Baltiysky Zavod shipyard has completed sea trials of a new diesel-electric icebreaker in the Baltic Sea, the company said on Wednesday.
"During the tests that took place in the Gulf of Finland, the ship gave a perfect performance and showed that its onboard systems were in order. State commission members noted the strict compliance of all of the ship's mechanisms with domestic standards and international norms," the company said.
Specialists from the shipyard spent two weeks testing the vessel's maneuverability and its operation under normal seafaring conditions.
The Moskva icebreaker is the first ship in a new generation of multipurpose icebreakers being built by Baltiysky Zavod under a $185 million contract with Rosmorport, Russia's state-run port management company. The ship was floated out in May 2007.
The Moskva-class icebreakers are designed to escort large-capacity tankers, to salvage and rescue ships caught in ice floes, to clean up oil and chemicals spills in open sea, and to fight fires on board ships in the Arctic.
The vessel's hull can break through ice up to 1-meter thick.
The Moskva is the first icebreaker with a diesel-electric power plant to be built at a Russian shipyard in 32 years. During that time, all Russia's non-nuclear icebreakers were built abroad.
North Korea denies agreeing to nuclear sampling (NSI News Source Info) November 12, 2008: North Korea denied on Wednesday ever having agreed to foreign states taking samples from its main nuclear complex to verify denuclearization data.
After U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill's visit to Pyongyang in early October, Washington said the sides had reached a verbal agreement on verifying North Korea's nuclear activities, under which Pyongyang pledged to allow foreign experts to take samples from the Yongbyon complex.
"It is an act of infringing upon sovereignty, little short of seeking a house-search ... to insist on adding even a word to the written agreement," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement released by the official Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea's refusal to allow sampling, which the U.S. considers to be a key step in verifying the secretive state's past nuclear activities, is likely to put a new obstacle in the way of six-party negotiations on the North's denuclearization, involving the two Koreas, Japan, China, the United States and Russia.
The statement said North Korea agreed to foreign inspectors visiting the Yongbyong complex, conducting tests, examining documents and interviewing scientists, but only after the five countries fulfill their commitments under a six-party deal to provide fuel aid.
The ministry also said work to deconstruct the reactor has been slowed down.
"We have taken measures to slow down to half the speed of removing spent fuel rods according to the action-to-action principle, in response to the delay in economic compensation by the five parties," the statement said.
The North Korean government has issued several angry statements in recent weeks against South Korea, for its alleged failure to honor intergovernmental commitments and to prevent the distribution of propaganda leaflets, and against Japan, for its refusal to provide promised fuel aid and over Japanese media rumors on the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
The North Korean government said earlier on Wednesday that it would close its land border with the South as of December 1, due to Seoul's "grave and wanton violations" of the 2000 and 2007 inter-Korean summit agreements.
Indonesia to buy 6 jet fighters, 18 armored vehicles from Russia
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 12, 2008: Rosoboronexport has signed deals to sell six Su-30 Flanker-C jet fighters and 18 BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles to Indonesia, an official at Russia's arms export monopoly said on Wednesday.
Nikolai Dimidyuk, Rosoboronexport's special programs director, said Indonesia could also buy other Russian warplanes as well as Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters.
"Indonesia is still very interested in Russian fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft," he said.
He expressed confidence the Russian Finance Ministry would soon approve a $1 billion loan for Indonesia.
"We are sure that this loan will be used to buy arms," Dimidyuk said.
He added that Indonesia had asked Russia to modernize its Soviet-era weapons and equipment.
"All of their Soviet-made weapons are obsolete," he said.
India Tests Sea-Based Missile From Land
(NSI News Source Info) BHUBANESWAR - November 12, 2008: India on Nov. 12 conducted a successful test of a missile from its eastern coast, defense sources said.
The submarine-based ballistic missile, which has a top range of 700 kilometers (438 miles), was launched from a land-based mobile launcher at the Chandipur-on-Sea testing range in eastern Orissa state.
"The test went off well," a defense official said.
India had previous tested the K-15 missile from an undersea platform for the first time in February this year, completing its goal of having air-, land- and sea-launched ballistic systems.
The K-15 will be deployed on a nuclear submarine that the Indian navy expects to be ready for sea trials by 2009.
The Shaurya, with a payload of one ton and a 600-700 km range, is capable of effectively engaging targets in Pakistan and China.
The DRDO said the missile was launched from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, in eastern India.
According to Indian media reports, although there was speculation that the missile was a land version of the K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missile, which is still in development, DRDO sources were quoted as saying the Shaurya is unrelated to the K-15 Sagarika project.
Pakistan’s leader says unilateral strikes unacceptable
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON — November 12, 2008: Pakistan’s prime minister yesterday reminded visiting American senators, including Sheldon Whitehouse, that his government opposes unilateral U.S. strikes against suspected terrorists within his nation’s borders.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani “was very polite and very courteous” during his meeting in Islamabad with Whitehouse and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, “but he made his point very clear,” the Rhode Island Democrat said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Gilani thus touched on one of the basic strategic and diplomatic dilemmas of the war in Afghanistan, said Whitehouse. Fighters from al-Qaida and the Taliban can attack Afghanistan government forces and their U.S. and European allies and flee to frontier sanctuaries inside Pakistan. But U.S. forces cannot go after enemy troops across the border without Pakistan’s cooperation — or else they risk offending an important ally’s sense of sovereignty.
But Whitehouse said he saw indications that the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan are finding ways to improve joint operations against a common enemy. For example, he said the allies have established the first of several jointly staffed bases in the borderlands where their military and intelligence officers can share computer and radio transmissions from the battlefield and plan responses together.
That was one of several signs of what Whitehouse described as grounds for hope of an improved military situation in Afghanistan. He spoke by telephone from Doha, Qatar, after a three-day round of meetings in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He also met Afghan President Hamid Karzai and with military and diplomatic leaders from the United States and its allies — including those of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which provides about half of the counterinsurgency force in Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, Whitehouse and Snowe, who sit on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, had briefings in Kabul, Bagram Air Force Base, Jalalabad and a forward operating base near the border of Pakistan.
Yesterday they traveled to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, where they had meetings with U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson and other American officials as well as Gilani and some of his government’s top officers.
Whitehouse said a persistent theme of the talks with American and allied officials was the need for more troops and the money and equipment to support them. He said U.S. military personnel also expressed frustration with the difficulty in responding to the cross-border operations of the Taliban and al-Qaida. American military leaders also described the need for more NATO troops — operating, ideally, under fewer self-imposed rules that restrict their availability for certain combat and other counterinsurgency operations.
Whitehouse said he thinks President-elect Barack Obama would do well to raise those issues with members of the NATO alliance when he becomes president.
Whitehouse also said he was inspired by the “astonishingly high” morale of the U.S. troops and officers he encountered in Afghanistan. He spoke, too, of the stories he heard of substantial progress in the efforts — parallel in some ways to the military successes in Iraq over the past year — to take the fight into what had been secure areas for the insurgents.
Indian Air Force fly in to see Hercules in action
(NSI News Source Info) November 12, 2008: HIGH flyers from RAF Lyneham have been sharing their airbourne expertise with their Indian counterparts.
Two officers from the Indian Air Force visited RAF Lyneham to see how the Wiltshire base operates the J–Type Hercules, of which it has ordered six.
Squadron leader Simon Brewis, of RAF Lyneham, flanked by Indian Air Force wing commanders Mansij Lal and Simranpal Singh Birdi
Wing Commander Mansij Lal and Wing Commander Simranpal Singh Birdi got to see all aspects of Hercules’ operational work.
As well as night and day time flying operations they also got to experience low level flying in a Hercules and were there during a number of air drops.
RAF Lyneham’s station commander, Group Captain Mike Neville, said: “We were delighted that we were able to share our experiences of air transport operations with the Indian Air Force and hope that this will be the start of a fruitful relationship with a fellow J-Type Hercules operator.”
Canadian Leopard Tanks Make Taliban Run Up The Hill
(NSI News Source Info) November 12, 2008: Two years ago, Canada sent 17 of its Leopard 1 tanks to Afghanistan, to give Canadian troops there some extra firepower against the Taliban. Some Canadian legislators were inclined to do without tanks, but Canadian military leaders believed the heavy combat vehicles would be useful. Not only are they impervious to most weapons, but they scare the hell out of the enemy. The troops proved to be correct in their assessment. The Leopards have seen constant action, particularly because the Taliban have been intent on driving the Canadians out by inflicting many casualties on the foreign troops. But the tanks turned out to be the best weapon to deal with the Taliban attacks, and the Canadian troops are glad to have them around.
There were some problems. When the weather got warm, the lack of air conditioning, and the age of the first tanks sent , became problems. Soon Canada has made arrangements with Germany, the manufacturer of the Leopard, to lease twenty of the most modern version of the tank, the Leopard 2A6M, which has considerably better protection against mines, roadside bombs and RPG rockets. The 62 ton Leopard 2 has a 120mm main gun and two 7.62mm machine-guns. The 43 ton Leopard 1 has a 105mm gun, and is actually a little slower (65 kilometers an hour) than the Leopard 2. Both tanks have a four man crew. Germany is selling off some of its Leopard 2s, and offered Canada 80 of them at a bargain price. Canada shopped around and got a better deal from Holland, and is buying a hundred Dutch Leopard IIs for $5.7 million each.
Lithuania plans to buy two radars to monitor airspace
(NSI News Source Info) VILNIUS - November 12, 2008: Lithuania's Defense Ministry plans to buy two long-range radars to monitor airspace to replace Soviet-made equipment - three P-37 radars and three P-18 radars, the ministry said Tuesday.
The deal is being arranged under the mediation of the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency, which on November 10 sent NATO members an invitation to take part in a radar tender.
The winner of the tender will be decided in 2009, while bringing the radars into service and training personnel will continue until late 2015.
The ministry plans to allocate about 34.8 million euros ($43.6 million) to buy the radars. The sum will be paid in installments.
"Perfecting the monitoring of the airspace is a priority task to develop regional defenses," Defense Minister Juozas Olekas said.
Greece to join MS-21, Be-200 aircraft projects - Russian minister
(NSI News Source Info) ATHENS - November 12, 2008: Greece is to participate in the production of the Russian MS-21 medium-haul passenger aircraft and in post-sale servicing of the Be-200 amphibious aircraft, the Russian industry minister said on Tuesday.
Viktor Khristenko, who is currently on a visit to Greece, said Russia's Irkut aircraft maker and Greece's Hellenic Aerospace Industry were set to sign a joint memorandum envisioning bilateral cooperation in these two projects on Tuesday.
"We are certainly interested in selling the Be-200 aircraft on the Greek and European markets. Setting up a servicing center in Greece will largely depend on sales of these planes on the European market," the minister said.
Developed by the Beriev Aircraft Company, the Be-200 has a number of uses, including fire fighting, as an air ambulance, in search-and-rescue, cargo and passenger transport and maritime surveillance.
The Be-200 has a maximum speed of 710 km/h (440 mph), a range of 2,100 km (1,300 mi), and an operational service ceiling of 8,000 m (26,250 ft).
In summer 2007, at the request of the Greek government, Russia dispatched several Be-200s to assist Greece in dealing with a spate of forest fires, which killed 68 and destroyed over 200,000 hectares of forest and hundreds of homes in dozens of towns.
"This aircraft is unique and is important and necessary not only for Greece, but also for the rest of the European Union, especially the Mediterranean," Khristenko added.
"Our second goal is to involve Greece in the development and production of components for the new MS-21 project, which is a priority for the Russian aircraft industry," the minister said.
The MS-21 plane is being developed by Russia's major manufacturing companies - Ilyushin, Tupolev and Yakovlev - to replace the aging Tu-154, which currently accounts for some 80% of Russia's passenger and freight traffic, and compete with the Airbus A-320 and Boeing 737 aircraft.
The single-aisle MS-21 family of passenger aircraft is designed to seat between 150 and 220 passengers and to fly up to 5,000 kilometers (3,125 miles), or 6,350 kilometers (4,000 miles) in the case of the longer-range model.
The new passenger jet, due to enter service in 2012, is expected to be 10-15% more efficient than the equivalent Boeing and Airbus aircraft. However, its target price will be just $35 million, $20 million less than the similarly-sized Boeing 737-700.
Russian warship escorts Danish vessel off Somali coast
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 12, 2008: The Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate is providing protection for a Danish vessel carrying Russian crew members off the Somali coast, a Russian navy spokesman said on Tuesday.
"The Danish side has asked through diplomatic channels for a Russian warship to escort its CEC Commander vessel in the Gulf of Aden," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said, adding that the crew included 15 Russian seamen.
The Neustrashimy entered waters off the Somali coast in late October. Somali pirates have attacked around 60 ships so far this year, resulting in the seizure of around 30 vessels. The East African nation has been without a functioning government since 1991 and has no navy to police its coastline.
A Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and heavy weaponry was seized by Somali pirates on September 25.
NATO and the EU have recently announced plans to increase their naval presence in the Gulf of Aden. About 20,000 vessels pass through the region annually.
In early June, the UN Security Council passed a resolution permitting countries to enter Somalia's territorial waters to combat "acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."
British defence secretary compares Afghanistan to WW1
(NSI News Source Info) London - Nov 12, 2008: British Defence Secretary John Hutton compared the conflict in Afghanistan to World War I Tuesday as Europe marked the 90th anniversary of the conflict's end.
Hutton said both conflicts were fought to defend a "vital national interest" and likened the bravery of British troops fighting as part of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan to that of World War I veterans.
"In both 20th century world wars, Britain fought because we needed to defend our vital national interest. The same applies today," he said during a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank in London.
"In Afghanistan, the deployment of our armed forces was in response to an attack on our national interests every bit as unambiguous as the threat presented by the invasions of Belgium in 1914 or Poland in 1939."
In the two world wars Britain faced the threat of invasion if German-led aggression was not stopped.
In Afghanistan Britain is fighting in a US-led coalition against the Taliban, ousted from power after the 9/11 attacks for harbouring Al-Qaeda leaders including Osama bin Laden.
Hutton also paid tribute to the "extraordinary sacrifice" of the armed forces in conflicts like Afghanistan.
"Their personal bravery and courage I believe is in every way equal to the sacrifice of the generations who came before them," he said.
Hutton, who has written a book about one British regiment's experiences on the Western Front during World War I, spoke after attending a two-minute silence at the Cenotaph national war memorial in London.
Britain has around 8,000 troops in Afghanistan and 122 of its armed forces personnel have been killed there since 2001.
Some 760,000 Britons were killed in World War I.
Russia will abandon missile plans if US cancels shield
(NSI News Source Info) Moscow (AFP) November 12, 2008: Russia will abandon plans to deploy missiles on the EU's doorstep in Kaliningrad if the US scraps its plans to base part of a missile defence shield in Europe, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.
"We have said through the voice of our president that if the third zone of positioning of the US anti-missile shield is created, one of the measures to neutralise the threats to Russia's security that would inevitably arise will be the deployment of Iskander systems in the Kaliningrad region," he said.
The missiles will be deployed "only if the third zone of positioning really takes shape," Lavrov told reporters.
President Dmitry Medvedev announced the move to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian territory between Poland and Lithuania, last Wednesday.
He said the deployment would counter a US anti-missile system to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic by 2013-2014, sounding a warning shot to US president-elect Barack Obama and Washington's allies in central Europe.
Russia says the US plans threaten Russian security and dismisses claims they are directed against "rogue states" such as Iran.
Medvedev had said the US had sped up its missile-defence plans in reaction to August's war in Georgia, in which Russia clashed with its southern neighbour over the Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia.
The Russian president's announcement drew criticism from the West, with the United States calling it "disappointing" and Germany saying it was "the wrong message at the wrong time."
The European Union also expressed strong concern over Russia's decision.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski said that Obama had told him in a telephone call that "the anti-missile shield project would go ahead" in which 10 missile interceptors are set up in Poland under a deal signed August 14.
But Obama's foreign policy advisor Dennis McDonough said the president-elect "made no commitment" on the shield during his conversation with the Polish president.
"His position is as it was throughout the campaign, that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable," McDonough said.
US defends missile defense plan
The United States reaffirmed Tuesday that its missile defense plan does not target Russia after Moscow said it would not put missiles on the European Union's doorstep if Washington forgoes the shield. "Missile defense is designed to protect all of us from launches from rogue states. We will continue to make that clear to the Russians," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told AFP. He spoke after Russian Foreign Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Moscow would drop plans to put missiles in Kaliningrad if Washington halts its missile shield initiatives. "We have said through the voice of our president that if the third zone of positioning of the US anti-missile shield is created, one of the measures to neutralize the threats to Russia's security that would inevitably arise will be the deployment of Iskander systems in the Kaliningrad region," he said. The missiles will be deployed "only if the third zone of positioning really takes shape," Lavrov told reporters. President Dmitry Medvedev announced the move to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian territory between Poland and Lithuania, last Wednesday. He said the deployment would counter a US anti-missile system to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic by 2013-2014, sounding a warning shot to US president-elect Barack Obama and Washington's allies in central Europe.
The Iskander Threat To Europe: Bluff Or Real?
(NSI News Source Info) Washington (UPI) November 12, 2008: Can Russia produce enough Iskander-M missiles to equip five battalions by 2015? Critics say it's a bluff. But don't bet against them.
Russia is upping the ante on its threats to target the proposed new U.S. ballistic missile defense base in Poland to protect the Eastern Seaboard and Western Europe against the threat of Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev chose the very day after Sen. Barack Obama's historic presidential election victory to repeat the Kremlin's threat to deploy the Iskanders in the Kaliningrad oblast, or region, to the north of Poland and target the proposed base. He did so in his first state of the union televised address to the Russian people -- the highest-profile platform possible.
On Friday, only two days later, the RIA Novosti news agency cited a Russian Defense Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying that by 2015, the Kremlin would have a minimum of five missile brigades deployed on Russia's western border with new Iskander-M short-range missile systems.
"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 official stated, according to the report.
A report in Moscow News Monday downplayed the significance of these reports as bluff. It questioned whether Russia's military-industrial complex, still crippled by the loss of its Ukrainian-based factories and iron ore and coal resources following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, could produce that number of Iskanders. And in any case, the Iskander has a very short range of only 160 miles (280 kilometers), the newspaper said.
Basing such missiles on Russia's western border with Belarus would still put them out of range of the ballistic missile defense base for 10 Ground-based Mid-course Interceptors that the United States is currently building in Poland to defend the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Western Europe against any threat from Iranian intercontinental ballistic missiles in the future.
However, the Moscow News report is misleading. RIA Novosti more accurately gives the Iskander-M's operational range as 310 miles (more than 500 kilometers). This would allow Iskander-Ms based in the Kaliningrad region to hit targets anywhere in Poland. It also would put most of the Czech Republic within their range, including the likely site for the advanced radar tracking array essential to guide the Polish-based GBIs to their targets. And eastern parts of Germany would be within their range too.
The Moscow News report also said that after eight years of efforts, Russia still has only one squadron equipped with the Iskanders. These kinds of bottlenecks remain extremely common in the Russian military-industrial complex, despite the enormous investments that Prime Minister and former President Vladimir Putin has poured into the sector over the past eight years.
But if there is one thing the Russian military-industrial sector, like its Soviet predecessor, is good at doing, it is being able to focus resources in a handful of key areas to push them through to effective mass production and reliable operational deployment.
Even if the Kremlin cannot meet the target of five missile battalions armed with Iskander-Ms in Kaliningrad by 2015, it is likely to have enough of them there to do the job.
Finally, the Iskander-Ms will not be deployed against Poland only from Kaliningrad. They also will be deployed by Belarus, Russia's most loyal ally among the former Soviet republics, along the Polish-Belarus border, the Russian Defense Ministry official told RIA Novosti.
"Belarus is our ally, and we ... will deliver these systems to that country on a priority and most favorable basis," the news agency quoted him as saying.
Pakistan: Khyber Tribal Region....Lawlessness
(NSI News Source Info) November 12, 2008: Local Pakistani tribal people stand near an armored car reportedly hijacked by militants in Khyber tribal region of Landikotel, 55 kilometers (34 miles) northwest of Peshawar, Pakistan on Monday Nov. 10, 2008. An officials says security forces are hunting militants who hijacked 13 trucks carrying military vehicles and other supplies for foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Pakistani militants who hijacked 13 trucks carrying military vehicles and other supplies for foreign troops in Afghanistan