(NSI News Source Info) Hong Kong (UPI) November 14, 2008: China is concerned about the resurgence of extreme nationalism within Russia, which could lead to territorial demands on China. China is also constantly worried about NATO's eastward expansion. The existence of NATO forces in neighboring countries would undermine its border security. Against this background of regional tensions, improved relations across the Taiwan Strait are not reason enough for the Chinese People's Liberation Army to relax its level of preparedness. All of the issues outlined above have been discussed frequently in numerous military and diplomatic documents over the past 10 years. China's development and deployment of military equipment correspond to all the conflict scenarios it foresees. First, priority attention has been placed on the development of combat equipment related to the air force, navy and landing operations, all of which are directed at Taiwan. Second, in response to possible intervention by U.S. forces, China has actively developed and deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, intermediate-range ballistic missiles, anti-satellite weapons, space warfare capabilities, and ballistic-missile and attack submarines. Third, to cope with front lines in Vietnam and India, China has developed mountain warfare armored vehicles and medium- and short-range ballistic missiles. An upgraded IRBM is now deployed in Yunnan province, which borders Vietnam. Fourth, in the direction of Japan, the PLA has deployed DF-3A IRBMs in coastal Shandong province and reinforced the combat capabilities of its No. 19 Division based in that region. Fifth, with an eye to Southeast Asia and India, a large submarine base has been established on Hainan Island and electronic surveillance stations set up on the Xisha Islands (also known as the Paracel Islands) in the South China Sea at China's southern tip. Sixth, in response to the presence of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, China has sped up the deployment of HQ-9 long-range ground-to-air missiles in major metropolitan centers and strengthened its No. 6 Fighter Division in the Lanzhou Military Region of central China. In the direction of Russia, China is now actively developing and upgrading new main battle tanks and armored vehicles. Given the need to cover all the scenarios described above, it is likely that China's military spending will continue to rise, with the 2009 military budget reflecting at least a 10-percent increase over this year. Some equipment intended for combat operations against Taiwan will be replaced, and there will be some adjustments in the deployment of this equipment. The pressure to maintain a vigilant "military deterrence" against Taiwan is expected to continue. It is worth noting, however, that with the warming of cross-strait relations and the balance of military power in the Taiwan Strait already tilted in China's favor, the PLA will likely focus its military buildup in other directions, particularly in the upgrading of long-range military projection capability. Close attention should be paid to China's building of a new aircraft carrier fleet, its development and deployment of more ICBMs, SSBNs (ballistic missile submarines), new bombers and next-generation fighters. The Chinese military industry will also take this opportunity to put greater effort and expenditure into upgrading and expanding its research for the development of new weapons systems.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Pakistan army chief to raise US missile strikes with NATO (NSI News Source Info) Islamabad (AFP) November 14, 2008: Pakistan's army chief will visit Brussels next week for talks with senior NATO officials about US missile strikes on Pakistani soil near the Afghanistan border, the military said Thursday. The missile attacks by US drones in Pakistan's northwest tribal areas, which US and NATO officials describe as a safe haven for Taliban and Al-Qaeda, have sharply raised tensions between Washington and nuclear-armed Pakistan. "Army chief Ashfaq Kayani will discuss the complexities of security issues and the need for a comprehensive approach, while fully addressing Pakistan's interest," the military said in a statement. Kayani will undertake the three-day visit from Tuesday after receiving a special invitation from chief of the NATO military committee admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, it said. The military committee is the highest forum of NATO, which meets regularly to discuss various strategic issues concerning the organization. "He will participate in the meeting of Chiefs of Defence for discussion on the prevailing security situation in the region and discuss implications of drone strikes," the statement said. The Pakistani foreign ministry on Thursday said the United States was breaking international law by launching missile attacks on its northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan. President Asif Ali Zardari recently promised zero tolerance against violations of his country's sovereignty.
Britain resists Afghan call for more troops (NSI News Source Info) London (AFP) November 14, 2008: Britain played down Thursday the prospect of sending more troops to Afghanistan in the near future, after Afghan President Hamid Karzai held talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London. Speaking a day after two more British soldiers were killed in the violence-scarred country, and as a poll suggested public support for pulling forces out, Brown's spokesman reiterated London's long-term support for Kabul. "The UK is committed to maintaining troops in Afghanistan until the government of Afghanistan has built sufficient capacity to maintain a stable security situation and the rule of law," he said. But asked after the Downing Street talks if extra British forces were set to be deployed, he said: "I don't agree with the assertion that we now look like we are sending more troops." The defence ministry later denied a BBC report that it was planning to send another 2,000 troops to Afghanistan next year in anticipation of a request for reinforcements from US president-elect Barack Obama. "We have received no request for extra troops," a ministry spokesman said. "While we keep our force levels under continuous review, based on military advice, there is no further intent to increase force levels at this time." Britain has more than 8,000 troops in Afghanistan, largely battling Taliban insurgents in the south, where two Royal Marines were killed Wednesday while on a joint patrol with Afghan forces in the volatile Helmand province. The threat of a growing Taliban insurgency was highlighted by a new suicide attack Thursday in eastern Afghanistan, which killed an American soldier and at least 10 civilians. Speculation over a possible change of US strategy, shifting focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, has grown as Obama prepares to take over from US President George W. Bush on January 20. Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta met British Foreign Secretary David Miliband in London on Wednesday and called openly for more international troops on the front line in the south of the country. But the Downing Street spokesman said Thursday's talks had focused on how British operations in Afghanistan could be enhanced, rather than the possibility of more troops being sent. Neither did Karzai refer to the prospect of more troops -- and insisted that violence in his country was not getting worse, saying after the talks that it was at the same level "as it was for the past year or two". "The whole effort is to make it better and to bring violence down," he said in brief remarks cited by the BBC. A poll Wednesday suggested that more than two-thirds -- 68 percent -- of respondents believed British troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan next year. Only 24 percent said British soldiers should stay there. The defence ministry admitted the government needed to do more to win public backing for the Afghan conflict. "We need to do more to explain to the UK public why it's so important that the UK continues to support the government of Afghanistan and the international presence in Afghanistan," said a spokesman. The two latest deaths in Afghanistan took the combined toll of British military fatalities there and in Iraq to 300. British charity Oxfam's head of policy for Afghanistan, Matt Waldman, meanwhile warned of a looming aid crisis in the country this winter. "There is an impending humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan with millions of people already facing hunger, and the situation is compounded by higher levels of insecurity than at any point since 2001," he said.
Six powers favour dual track on Iran nuclear issue: France
(NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: Representatives from the six powers involved in negotiations over Iran's disputed nuclear programme have reaffirmed their dual-track approach of dialogue and sanctions with Tehran, the French foreign ministry said Thursday. The political directors from China, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States along with France and a representative for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana met in Paris Thursday evening to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue, the ministry said in a statement. The communique recalled that the UN Security Council "reaffirmed the importance of the dual-track approach," namely talking with Tehran while also considering imposing more sanctions on the regime if it fails to halt sensitive nuclear work. Tehran maintains that it is enriching uranium only for peaceful purposes to generate power, while Western powers, especially Washington, suspect Iran of trying to develop an atomic bomb. "The meeting allowed the participants to review the current situation and to discuss the way ahead on both tracks," the ministry said, adding that the six powers would continue their talks on the next steps in the coming weeks. Ahead of Thursday meeting, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told journalists that "we have always been supporters of both sanctions and dialogue, and it must continue like that." He added: "We haven't had a lot of results in our attempts at dialogue with the Iranians... (but) it is not a reason to give up." Kouchner also noted that US president-elect Barack Obama had talked during his election campaign about possibly opening a dialogue between Washington and Tehran. "It's up to the American president to put that in motion starting in January," after he is sworn into office, Kouchner said.
South Korea presses Iran on nuclear activities
South Korea on Thursday urged Iran to restore international confidence in its nuclear activities during talks with Tehran's foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, a Seoul spokesman said. Mottaki, who arrived from North Korea and briefed his South Korean opposite number on his mission there, said Iran's nuclear programmes were not aimed at developing atomic weapons but for peaceful purposes. The foreign ministry spokesman was issuing a summary of the talks between Mottaki and South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan, who said that it was important for Tehran to restore confidence in its activities. In Pyongyang earlier, Mottaki met his North Korean counterpart Pak Ui Chun and other top officials, the communist nation's official Korean Central News Agency said. The United States accuses Iran of using its nuclear programme as a cover to build nuclear arms. Tehran insists it is strictly peaceful and aimed solely at generating electricity. Diplomatic efforts to disarm North Korea have also hit a snag over how to verify its commitment to dismantling its nuclear facilities.
Indian Air Force 197 Light Helicopter Contract: Bell Withdraws Bid Citing Offsets Clause (NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: After withdrawing its bid from the Indian Air Force's (IAF) attack helicopter deal, US chopper manufacturer Bell has now backed off from the contest for 197 light utility helicopters (LUHs). "We are not participating in the competition as our senior management felt it was not feasible for the company to comply with the offsets clause in the tender documents," a Bell Helicopters India Incorporated official said today.The decision of Bell comes within a month of it exiting the attack helicopter bids citing problems with procurement procedure. India had issued the request for proposals (RFP) for the 197 LUHs this July. Bell claimed the Indian Defence Ministry had put down clauses under which the original equipment manufacturer winning the contract was bound to plough back 50 per cent of the deal amount to India as offsets, which was hard for them to comply with.In fact, India was forced to issue a fresh tender for its LUH requirements, after cancelling the original RFP in December last following objections raised by Bell over rejection of its bids in favour of French major Eurocopter's AS-355 'Fennec'.Bell and Eurocopter were the two final contenders and India had decided to put its weight with 'Fennec' after technical evaluation.
China's Aviation Sector Heating Up (NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: “Airshow China,” the huge aerospace trade show that’s known officially as the “China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition,” ended Sunday in the southern-coast city of Zhuhai. It was the seventh time the event has been held. But it’s the first time China’s commercial airplane sector has a long-term flight plan to follow. Roughly $4 billion deals involving 102 aircraft were signed during the six-day event, which was attended by representatives of 600 aviation companies from 35 countries, officials from the Airshow China Organizing Committee told the People’s Daily newspaper. But the real news was that China has set a timetable for its proposed “jumbo” jet, a passenger aircraft China plans to design and build domestically to compete directly with commercial jetliners built by industry heavyweights Airbus SAS of Europe and The Boeing Co. (BA), the U.S.-based airliner industry pioneer that’s America’s biggest exporter. China said its jumbo jet would be on the market by 2015. The Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd. (CACC), established in May, was put in charge of the huge jetliner’s assembly, marketing and after-sales service. The government is providing $2.9 billion in seed money for the venture. Miao Wei, vice minister of industry and information technology, told thePeople’s Daily that the design concept and research on the airplane’s key technologies will be finished before 2010, and the first airliner will roll off the production line before 2015. With those tasks completed, China’s jumbo jet should be in service by 2020. “The next few years will be an important period for China’s aviation industry,” Miao said. China’s move into the jumbo-jet market is just the latest move by the world’s fourth-largest economy to establish itself as a global superpower. This particular project was chosen well. During the next 20 years, in fact, Boeing estimates that air carriers worldwide will require 28,600 commercial aircraft with a value of $2.8 trillion. The Boeing outlook is generally viewed as the world’s best analysis of the global market for commercial airliners and cargo aircraft. And this projection isn’t limited to jumbo-sized passenger jets: It includes short-range connector planes, regional jets, cargo planes and the jumbos. When it refers to a "jumbo" jet, China is talking about the so-called wide body airliners that carry 200 to 800 passengers and that make globetrotting trips to almost any point on the globe. China alone will require 3,400 new airplanes worth about $340 billion over the next 20 years, Boeing projected in its recent market forecast. That works out to sales of about $17 billion annually over the next two decades. About 2,650 of those commercial airplanes will be actual airliners, Airbus projected in a forecast of its own. Up to now, Chinese airlines have been placing huge orders with Boeing and Airbus to modernize their air fleets and close the customer-service gap on their foreign competitors. And neither of those forecasts factors in other white-hot Asian markets – such as Vietnam – which will also need to outfit their commercial air fleets as their economies make the leap from "emerging" to mainstream. But with such a large potential market, many observers find it surprising that there aren’t more potential players. That’s changing - or at least it is at the lower end of the market. China and Russia are both well along on government-backed programs to develop a regional jetliner for sale to global customers. Back in March, Japan entered the regional jetliner shootout when Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHVYF.PK) unveiled a plan to develop a "regional" jetliner for use by airlines all around the world. The development work alone is expected to cost several billion dollars, but the program has the backing of both Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) – the world’s No. 1 automaker by sales – and the Japanese government. Mitsubishi Heavy hopes to have the jet in the air by 2013 and is aiming to sell 1,000 of the airplanes over the next 20 to 30 years, grabbing one-fifth of expected new demand in a market that is projected to roughly quintuple to more than 5,000 planes by 2026. But it could be a bumpy flight: IncumbentsBombardier Inc., of Canada, and Embraer (Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA) (ERJ) of Brazil, currently dominate the short-range jetliner market. Both the China and Russia ventures will take wing well before Japan’s new jet, and the eventual existence of all five combatants in this slice of the airline market could lead to some pretty congested airspace – especially since several players are expected to link up with market-savvy foreign heavyweights, including, potentially, Boeing. As tough as that sounds, attacking the jumbo-jet market will be tougher still. Even with fewer contestants.
Jumbo Challenges for a Jumbo Jet The tremendous appetite for capital, the engineering challenges that range from complex aerodynamics to new composite materials, and the need to be able to manage a string of suppliers scattered about the globe are just a few of the hefty demands that make this mountain too high for all but a few global companies to climb. Right now, in fact, there are only two new jumbo jet programs underway, either in development or in testing, and both have been riddled with technical problems and other issues that have resulted in pushed-back delivery dates. These are: *The Boeing 787 "Dreamliner," a replacement for the company’s Boeing 767. It’s making heavy use of composite materials and depends heavily on a network of global suppliers, and delays have pushed the delivery date for the first jets well into next year. Boeing’s just-settled strike is the latest such issue. *And the Airbus A350, a replacement for the Airbus A330/A340 line, and a program whose many delays have pushed its delivery date out to an estimated 2012 or 2013, according to several sources. Given that huge companies such as McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed (LMT) have gone up against Boeing and failed, many analysts are skeptical about the "commercial prospects" of a jumbo jet designed and built in China. China has virtually no experience in this market and the two other (known) attempts – ventures with Douglas and Airbus – ended in failure. And even if China succeeds, it’ll be a good 20 years before U.S. or European airlines flying China-built jets will be ready to lose your bags on a regular basis. China’s jumbo-jet company "might be able to establish a presence in the business over the next 10 to 20 years if they nurture it with government seed cash, and gradually offer shares to the private sector," Richard L. Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with Teal Group Corp., an aerospace-and-defense consulting firm, told Reuters. Although that’s probably a good estimate, China clearly isn’t deterred by such long time frames. The country reorganized its aviation industry back in 1999, establishing 10 state-owned companies – each with carefully defined mandates, reports GlobalSecurity.org. The jumbo-jet program grew out of that reorganization. Growing the Business The jumbo jet isn’t China’s only commercial aircraft program. Among the deals signed at the air show, the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) said it will sell 25 ARJ21-700 regional jets to the GE Commercial Aviation Services unit of General Electric Co. (GE) in a deal that’s valued at $733 million. The first jet will be delivered in 2013, with one per month thereafter, the People’s Daily reported. COMAC Board Chairman Zhang Qingwei said it was the first time Chinese-developed and manufactured regional jets have entered Western airline markets. Miao said the ARJ21-700 will enter service next year, while work on a 100-seat version, a business-jet model and a freighter begin in the New Year, as well. China has also received 136 orders for the MA 60, a propeller-driven commuter plane, Miao said. Xi’an Aircraft Industry Group Co. Ltd., the maker of the plane, has already delivered 34, he said. In terms of non-civilian aircraft news, the air show hosted the first rollouts of China’s homebuilt Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corp. J-10 “Annihilator” fighter and FBC-1 “Flying Leopard” fighter-bomber. Models of a “soft” lunar-lander, and a lunar rover vehicle – all for the second phase of Chinas’ lunar space program, which aims to explore the moon’s surface – were on display at the air for the first time. Designed and produced by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), the lander is likely to be launched in 2013, a corporation source said Wednesday. The 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition will be held in Zhuhai from Nov. 16 to 21, 2010, the organizers said.
Mercedes Wins Aussie Order for 1,200 G-Class Vehicles
(NSI News Source Info) MELBOURNE – November 14, 2008: The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has signed a contract with Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific (MBAuP) for the supply of 1,200 G-Class cross-country vehicles.
Internally coded by the ADF as ‘Land 121’, but more commonly referred to as ‘Project Overlander’, this large-scale undertaking by the ADF is to replace its tactical vehicle fleet. MBAuP successfully managed and secured the lightweight/light segment of the Land 121 tender through the involvement of fifty technical and engineering specialists from Australia, Germany and Austria. The G-Class cross-country vehicle supply contract has taken more than five years from the commencement of the tender process through to today’s signing.
The first deliveries of the G-Class off-road vehicles to the ADF will commence in 2009, which coincidentally marks thirty years of G-Class production, and will run through to at least 2014. The military-specification G-Class vehicles will be built in a dedicated factory in Graz, Austria in both a 4X4 (for the lightweight component of the tender) and a 6X6 configuration (for the light component).
All of the G-Wagons supplied to the Australian Defence Force will be fitted with different variants of modules or cargo platforms. The modules will be supplied and delivered by VARLEY, based in Newcastle, NSW. A total of nine vehicle variants will be supplied across the 4X4 and 6X6 platforms.
In addition to the vehicle supply contract there is also a 30-year strategic agreement and a service/parts/support contract which will run for an initial 15 years with an option for an extension beyond this time frame. The total value of the vehicle and service/parts/support contract is AUD$350 million.
The high degree of component commonality between the civilian and military versions of the G-Class has produced economies of scale in research, development and parts production.
The famous Mercedes-Benz G-Class off-roader was first unveiled in 1979 and was designed predominantly with heavy-duty off-road terrain in mind. Originally known as the G-Wagen, which is short for ‘geländewagen’, or ‘cross-country vehicle’, this iconic all-terrain wagon has, over the many years of its production life, been adapted to ever-changing customer requirements in the civilian and military worlds.
It boasted outstanding off-road capabilities right from the outset, but its all-terrain prowess has been continuously improved through the addition of cutting-edge electronic controls and powertrain technologies, proven in the toughest off-road applications.
Its exceptional performance off the beaten track, its excellent towing abilities and balanced handling characteristics have resulted in the G-Class enjoying an extraordinarily long production career, which now stands at 29 years.
Italy Orders Two Additional U212A Submarines
(NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: On 11th November 2008 the Italian shipyard Fincantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A. and the German Submarine Consortium signed a contract in Genoa for the delivery of components for two Class 212A submarines. The German Submarine Consortium for Italy is made up of Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW) and TKMS Blohm + Voss Nordseewerke GmbH (BVN) – both companies belong to ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems – and MarineForce International LLP.
The German Submarine Consortium for Italy is made up of Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW) and TKMS Blohm + Voss Nordseewerke GmbH (BVN) – both companies belong to ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems – and MarineForce International LLP. HDW and BVN will deliver construction documents and components, such as for the fuel cell propulsion system, the torpedo tube bow section and other smaller components for the 2nd batch. This will increase to 24 the number of submarines at sea around the world equipped with an HDW fuel cell propulsion system.
The two Class 212A boats to be built by Fincantieri in Muggiano for the Italian Navy are sister ships to the 1st batch of these submarines. The first two boats were also built in Italy to German specifications and documentation, and they have been in operational service in the Italian Navy since 2006 and 2007. Delivery of the new boats is scheduled for September 2015 and September 2016.
Main characteristics of the Class 212A submarines for the Italian Navy:
Length: approx. 56 m
Height: approx. 11m Displacement: approx. 1,450 t
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems AG, with its head office in Hamburg, Germany, is part of ThyssenKrupp Technologies AG within the ThyssenKrupp Group. With its technological competence, extensive portfolio and continuous innovations the corporate group, being the umbrella organisation for shipyards in Germany, Sweden and Greece and various marine engineering companies, represents one of the leading systems houses in European shipbuilding.
BAE SYSTEMS INVENTS NEW LAUNCHER FOR SMALL-UAV’S (NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: A team from BAE Systems has developed a much-needed capability for use on the front line – a compact mortar-based launcher for small Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs). UAVs provide front line units with vital real-time intelligence without the need for conventional air support. Until now, the ability to rapidly deploy these platforms by individual Platoons has been limited to very small systems (typically weighing 3-5 kg) which have limited capability. More capable UAVs have not been suitable due to a need to use large, cumbersome catapult or rocket-based launchers.The new device, developed under a programme code-named ‘Project Artful’, is simple, easy to use, and portable. It allows UAVs of up to 25 kg in weight to be paired with a mortar-based launch mechanism, which has European and world-wide patents pending. This makes it possible for individual front line units to rapidly deploy such systems, significantly enhancing their operational effectiveness.“ We identified that the burden of transporting launch and support equipment has been a major factor in preventing the use of small UAVs on the front line,” states Chris O'Brien, from BAE Systems. “This new system dispenses with the need for specialist launch equipment such as rockets and catapults, bringing Brigade-level capability to individual Platoons. It can work with a wide variety of different UAVs and mortars without the need for re-qualification.”‘Project Artful’ was initially developed by BAE Systems’ Military Air Solutions business, based in North West England, but quickly grew into a partnership involving a number of small and medium enterprises including IBEX Ropes, Cranfield Aerospace and Blue Bear Systems Research. The Company’s Land Systems business was also part of the ‘Project Artful’ team.A key goal was to develop a method of reducing the enormous forces produced by the mortar launch to a level survivable by the UAV.Rebecca Darby, a graduate engineer for BAE Systems explains, “By developing and applying scientific methodologies that hadn't been used in this area before, we were able to design an innovative UAV launch mechanism. By using a simple bungee cap based device we have been able to reduce the launch loads placed upon the UAV by a factor of twenty. The system has been extensively trialled to demonstrate its versatility and reliability.” About BAE Systems BAE Systems is the premier global defence and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With approximately 100,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £15.7 billion (US $31.4 billion) in 2007.
Russia Sells 12 Fighters to Sudan: Reports (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 14, 2008: Russia has sold 12 MiG-29 fighter jets to Sudan, Sudanese Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Mohammed Hussein said during a visit to Moscow on Nov. 14, Russian news agencies reported. "Yes, it's all done. The planes have been bought," the defense minister was quoted as saying to reporters at a briefing in Moscow, in response to a question about a contract for the purchase of the 12 planes. "We are very satisfied with our military relations with Russia," he said. Russia was accused by human rights group Amnesty International last year of violating a U.N. resolution by supplying arms to Sudan that were then used in the war-torn Darfur region, a charge rejected by Russia's foreign ministry. The U.N. Security Council imposed an embargo on sales and deliveries of arms to Darfur in 2004. Some 300,000 people have died in the civil war in Darfur since 2003 and two million more have fled their homes, according to U.N. figures, although some sources put the toll much higher while Sudan says just 10,000 have died. Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir earlier this month declared a ceasefire in Darfur. The main rebel movement in the region, the Justice and Equality Movement, has dismissed Beshir's call as a propaganda stunt for the West.
Japan ready to loan $100B to IMF bailouts
(NSI News Source Info) TOKYO, Japan (AP) - November 14, 2008: Japan is ready to lend up to $100 billion to the International Monetary Fund to support nations reeling from the global financial crisis, its prime minister said Friday in a newspaper column ahead of a Group of 20 summit in Washington. Prime Minister Taro Aso described the current turmoil as "the financial crisis of the century" and urged global leaders to "hammer out realistic yet substantive countermeasures," according to a column in the Wall Street Journal. He called for improvements in the IMF's role in monitoring financial markets and detecting potential crises early. "Also, the Fund's financial resources must be increased to enable it to extend necessary assistance to emerging economies that drive world growth," Aso wrote. "Japan is prepared to lend up to $100 billion to the Fund as an interim measure before a capital increase takes place." Amid the unfolding crisis, Japan has been eager to boost its international clout by helping to stabilize the world's financial system. "In the near term, Japan's own experience with the bursting of a bubble economy, a subsequent financial crisis and a recovery process could serve as a useful guide" for other countries," Aso said. Officials in Tokyo have repeatedly said Japan, with its nearly $1 trillion in foreign currency reserves, is ready to provide funds to the IMF if it needs more money for rescue packages. But they had previously not given an amount. A Japanese government official said that Aso will extend the $100 billion loan offer at the G-20 meeting this weekend in Washington. He asked to not to be identified, citing government protocol. The Washington-based IMF has dipped into its reserves fund to provide emergency loans to Iceland, Hungary and Ukraine worth more than $30 billion. Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said last month that Japan would offer cash along with proposals about accounting standards and other regulatory changes needed to reform the international financial system. The IMF has about $210 billion but that may not be enough, he said. Aso also said in his column that he wanted to see a general capital increase for the Asian Development Bank, "which currently has limited scope for new lending." The G-20 summit this weekend will bring together leaders from 20 of the world's biggest developed and developing economies to discuss ways to tackle the global financial crisis, including possible coordinated tax cuts or spending increases around the world. The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast that economic output would shrink 1.4 percent this quarter for the 30 market democracies that make up its membership -- and keep contracting until the middle of next year. That would mean the developed world has now entered a slump estimated to last at least three quarters; two consecutive quarters is a common definition of recession. For all of 2009, these countries' economies would contract by 0.3 percent.
Thailand & Cambodia Not Eye To Eye
(NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: Peace talks with Cambodia have resumed, avoiding a border war over real estate near an ancient temple. The basic problem is that the current 730 kilometers long border was defined in 1907 by the placement of only 73 border markers. This has left the exact location of the border open to interpretation. Occasionally these interpretations clash, as is happening now. In the capital, someone threw a bomb into a camp occupied by market stall operators protesting being evicted from their current location, to make way for new stall operators. The bomb wounded fifteen. There have been several similar bombings in the last few months. November 4, 2008: Two bombs went off in a marketplace in the south, killing one and wounding over 70. The murder rate down south continues to run at several times the national average, as Islamic terrorists continue to try and drive non-Moslems out of the area. Anti-Moslem vigilantes strike back, killing suspected terrorist leaders. November 1, 2008: Over 60,000 pro-government demonstrators assembled in the capital. Wearing red shirts, the demonstrators came in from rural areas, where the government gets most of its votes. Police were largely successful in keeping the pro and anti-government demonstrators from clashing with each other.
Indian Su-30MKI In Action At "Red Flag" Exercises in Nevada
(NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: U.S. pilots have had several encounters with the Indian Su-30 MKI fighters and the overall (and unofficial) reaction is a big yawn. The Indians are quite proud of their Su-30 MKIs, as they are the top of the Su-30 line. Outfitted with more powerful engines, and Western electronics, the 38 ton aircraft is a maintenance nightmare, and, well, delicate. The Su-30 MKI is a highly developed Su-27, a 33 ton aircraft designed in response to new U.S. fighters. Chief among these was the F-15, a 31 ton, 1970s design that proved very successful. None have ever been shot down, and few aircraft it has fought have survived. The Russians went in several directions with the Su-27/30. The main departure from the F-15 was to make the Russian design more maneuverable. This puzzled many U.S. observers, because air warfare was seen going in the direction of AWACS, jamming and long range missile engagements. Building a better dogfighter went against this trend. In any event, the Indians, apparently at the urging of the Russians, refused to conduct joint (with the U.S. and other NATO nations) training exercises under highly realistic conditions (little jamming or AWACS use). The U.S. Air Force was not reluctant to go along with this, because many technical secrets would be revealed to the Indians (and vice versa) if the training combats were as realistic as they could be. The eight Indian Su-30 fighters, that recently participated in U.S. Air Force "Red Flag" exercises in the United States (Nevada), were specifically ordered not to use their Russian made NO11M radar. This was expected, as the Indians are obliged to keep the technical details of this equipment secret, lest a potential enemy get a head start on figuring out how to deal with it. Allowing this radar to emit its regular signals would give counter-measures people a head start in figuring out how to deceive it. NO11M is a modern radar, which first entered service in 1993. India, and the Russians, don't want the NO11M broadcasting at a place like Nellis Air Force Base, the Nevada location of the Red Flag exercises. That's because Nellis has plenty of equipment to pick up every nuance of the NO11M broadcasting in combat mode. In the fifteen years the NO11M has been in service, the U.S. has probably recorded it in action, but not to the extent that this could be done at Nellis. Then again, maybe American spies got all the data they needed right from the factory. No one is talking, and the Indians, at the behest of their Russians suppliers, are not taking any chances. Indian pilots were also not allowed to drop chaff or flares, or use some of the other electronic communications their Su-30s are equipped with. The Americans admired the skill of the Indian pilots, who were handpicked for these "Red Flag exercises, but disappointed that more realistic training (as is the case between NATO pilots) was not possible. But U.S. and NATO pilots saw enough to make them realize that the Su-30, even the MKI model, was hardly a super-fighter. F-15s and F-16s could handle it in a real war, and the F-22 would probably really clean up.
Sri Lankan Army Problomatic Desertion Factor (NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: In Sri Lanka, the army's amnesty program continues to perform well. In the last six months, over 4,000 deserters have reported back to their units and avoided prosecution. The Sri Lankan army has long had a problem with desertion. The largely Buddhist country has never been known as warlike. At the beginning of the year, there were about 20,000 deserters on the books. In the past, the army has managed to get deserters to return by offering an amnesty. Five years ago, the army had 51,000 deserters, and an amnesty cleared most of those. This past Spring, another amnesty was offered, and by Summer, about 8,000 deserters returned to duty, or were officially discharged. But now the army is doing something rare, it is sending military and civilian police to go find the remaining 12,000 deserters, and bring them in. Most will be discharged, some of those still fit for service, will be offered another chance to finish their military obligation. This search for deserters has resulted in the arrest of over 3,000 troops, including 21 officers, being arrested. The main cause of the desertion is the 25 years of fighting with Tamil rebels. This has killed over 70,000 Sri Lankans. About a third are Tamils (who are 18 percent of the population), most of the rest are soldiers. Since the army was only about 150,000 strong, when the heaviest fighting took place in the last decade, it's no wonder so many recruits changed their minds about being in the army. The Sri Lankan army has always been an all-volunteer force. But once you are in, you are obliged to stay in as long as your contract specifies. If you leave before that time is up, you are classified as a deserter. In the past, the army did not make a big effort to hunt down deserters and bring them back. That would have caused civil unrest. A better solution has been victory in combat. And that's what the army has been doing for the past year. Nothing succeeds like success. The generals have been keeping army casualties down, while killing lots of the enemy. So a record number of deserters are returning, and those who refused to come back are being arrested, without much risk of civil disorder over the matter.
Iraqi Navy's Patrol Boats (NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: Last month, the Iraqi Navy received the first six of 24 Defender class patrol boats. These are 27 foot long craft with a top speed of 80 kilometers an hour. The boats can carry eight armed boarding party marines in an air-conditioned cabin, along with the two man crew. The boats are used to patrol coastal waters and off-shore oil facilities. This work involves boarding and searching merchant ships suspected of smuggling or (much more rarely) terrorism. There are over 700 of these Defender type boats in use worldwide.
U.S. Navy Microscoping Aircraft Inventory (NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: The U.S. Navy is training four of its personnel (three P-3 pilots and one civilian) to operate RQ-4 Global Hawk UAVs. The navy has two RQ-4s on order, and intends to replace its aging fleet of P-3 maritime reconnaissance aircraft with a mix of new P-8A manned aircraft and RQ-4s equipped with sensors optimized for maritime operations. The four navy trainees are in an accelerated course (four months instead of five) and will be made available to help fly U.S. Air Force RQ-4s. The air force can use the help, as the RQ-4s have been in the air for 20,000 hours over the last decade. The rate of use is accelerating. Although the Boeing 737 based P-8A is a two engine jet, compared to the four engine turboprop P-3, it is a more capable plane. The P-8A has 23 percent more floor space than the P-3, and is larger (118 foot wingspan, versus 100 foot) and heavier (83 tons versus 61). Most other characteristics are the same. Both can stay in the air about ten hours per sortie. Speed is different. Cruise speed for the 737 is 910 kilometers an hour, versus 590 for the propeller driven P-3. This makes it possible for the P-8A to get to a patrol area faster, which is a major advantage when chasing down subs spotted by sonar arrays or satellites. However, the P-3 can carry more weapons (9 tons, versus 5.6.) This is less of a factor as the weapons (torpedoes, missiles, mines, sonobouys) are, pound for pound, more effective today and that trend continues. Both carry the same size crew, of 10-11 pilots and equipment operators. Both aircraft carry search radar and various other sensors. The 737 has, like the P-3. been equipped with bomb hard points on the wings for torpedoes or missiles. The B-737 is a more modern design, and has been used successfully since the 1960s by commercial aviation. Navy aviators are confident that it will be as reliable as the P-3 (which was based on the Electra civilian airliner that first flew in 1954, although only 170 were built, plus 600 P-3s. About 40 Electras are still in service). The Boeing 737 first flew in 1965, and over 5,000 have been built. The P-8A will be the first 737 designed with a bomb bay and four wing racks for weapons. Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force and Navy are buying the B version of the RQ-4 Global Hawk UAVs, at a cost of $58 million each. This version is larger (wingspan is 15 feet larger, at 131 feet, and it's four feet longer at 48 feet) than the A model, and can carry more equipment. To support that, there's a new generator that produces 150 percent more electrical power. The RQ-4 has a range of over 22,000 kilometers and a cruising speed of 650 kilometers an hour. The first three RQ-4Bs entered service in 2006. At 13 tons, the Global Hawk is the size of a commuter airliner (like the Embraer ERJ 145), but costs nearly twice as much. Global Hawk can be equipped with much more powerful, and expensive, sensors. These more the double the cost of the aircraft. These "spy satellite quality" sensors (especially AESA radar) are usually worth the expense, because they enable the UAV, flying at over 60,000 feet, to get a sharp picture of all the territory it can see from that altitude. The B version is supposed to be a lot more reliable. Early A models tended to fail and crash at the rate of once every thousand flight hours. The maritime RQ-4 is seen as the ultimate replacement for all manned maritime patrol aircraft. The P-8A will probably be the last manned naval search aircraft. Some countries are using satellite communications to put the sensor operators who staff manned patrol aircraft, on the ground. Some nations propose sending aircraft like the P-3 or P-8 aloft with just their flight crews, having all the other gear operated from the ground. This enables the aircraft to stay in the air longer, and carry more gear.
Pentagon: Afghan Army Growing at Record Pace (NSI News Source Info) November 14, 2008: Briefing reporters at the Pentagon via satellite from Kabul, General Cone says efforts to train the Afghan National Army, or ANA, are going well and a goal has been set to nearly double the number of soldiers within the next several years. "The ANA are leading about 60 percent of the operations they participate in and have proven themselves as an effective fighting force," general Cone said. "The ANA is also in the midst of expanding from their current strength of 68,000 to an end strength of about 134,000." General Cone says that last year, 26,000 soldiers have been trained and added to the Afghan National Army. And he says that this year, the Army will expand by an additional 28,000 troops. He says that is about three times the number trained in previous years.Cone, who heads U.S. efforts to instruct and equip Afghan security forces, says the newly trained troops are being armed with NATO weapons and supplied with armored vehicles.Besides working with the military, Cone's command is also training the Afghan police force, which he says lags behind the Army. "We have a long way to go," general Cone said. "This effort requires sustained support, not just from the United States, but also from the international community. This is especially true for the police reformation where I am short some 2,300 police trainers and mentors." The Bush administration is in the midst of a wide review of its war strategy in Afghanistan and is expected to present its findings before President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is a key advocate of expanding Afghanistan's military forces, although he has approved sending more than 10,000 additional American troops to help fight the Taliban and al-Qaida next year.General Cone says an accelerated training program is a critical part of the overall plan to bring security to the country. "The Afghans are a warrior nation. It is a warrior culture and the trick for us here is to harness that capability," general Cone said. "They very much want to defend their country. And so it is up to us to really work with them in an organized fashion and be able to bring forward that capability as rapidly as we can." General Cone says holding back an even more rapid expansion of Afghanistan's Army is a shortage of seasoned and reliable military professionals.Cone says he is urging the Afghan government to accelerate officer training programs.
India to activate airfield near China border
(NSI News Source Info) New Delhi - November 14, 2008: After Daulat Beg Oldi and Fuk Che airfields in Ladakh, India is aggressively pursuing plans to re-open the Nyama Advanced Landing Ground for Indian Air Force's operations close to the Line of Actual Control with China. However, the IAF plans to reopen the Chu Shul ALG in the region have been shelved for the moment, but could be revived later. "We are working on the Nyama ALG and hopefully it would be open for fixed wing aircraft operations soon. Work has already commenced there and we will be using it in the near future," Western Air Command (WAC) chief Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora told PTI in ENw Delhi on Thursday. "If the government wants, Nyama ALG can be developed into a proper airfield and can be used for transport aircraft operations also," he said. When Nyama gets ready, it will be IAF's 3rd ALG in Ladakh to be reopened nearer to the Chinese and Pakistani borders in the last six months in the region of Jammu and Kashmir. The IAF has been reopening airfields to strengthen its air maintenance operations and promotion of tourism in the region, which is the gateway to the highest battlefield, Siachen Glacier. "IAF had received a request from the government to see if it can develop airfields in the region for tourism purpose. We found that reopening these airfields was possible and could be used for air maintenance operations also," Barbora said. The IAF is not going to reactivate the Chu Shul airfield in the near future, as was being speculated. "We will not be opening the Chushul airfield now. The Army does not want air maintenance in that area, as their trucks can move up to the area for supplies," he said. When IAF reopened Daulat Beg Oldi in May this year, Barbora had flown by an AN-32 transport aircraft to make the first touch down at the DBO.
First Russian peacekeepers leave on EU mission to Chad (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 14, 2008: The first contingent of Russian peacekeepers will leave Russia for Chad on Friday as part of a joint EU mission to support the UN in the Central African country, a Russian Air Force spokesman said. Russia signed an agreement with the EU on November 5 to deploy a contingent of up to 200 service personnel and four Mi-8MT helicopters in the Central African region for up to a year. "The deployment of the first detachment of a helicopter group [around 10 personnel], part of the EU operation to support the UN in Chad and the Central African Republic will leave on November 14 from the Migalovo air base [Tver]," Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik said. Clashes between Chadian rebels and government troops have been devastating the region since 2003, when a loose coalition of three opposition groups attempted for the first time to oust President Idriss Deby. The groups' leaders accuse Deby, who seized power in 1990, of embezzling millions of dollars in oil revenue. The foreign ministers of the 27 EU-member states approved in April a plan to send a peacekeeping mission to Chad and the Central African Republic. The EUFOR contingent, comprising 3,700 personnel from 14 EU countries, began a year-long UN humanitarian mission in March to help protect Sudanese refugees and internally displaced Chadians. Russia has already deployed a helicopter support group in neighboring Sudan. It currently comprises 120 personnel and four Mi-8 helicopters, which provides transport services for UN military observers in Sudan and accompanies cargoes, as well as carrying out rescue operations. Chad gained independence from France in 1960. Since 2003, Chad and Sudan have accused each other of inciting conflict on their common border, which includes most of the troubled west Sudanese region of Darfur.
CIA head says bin Laden isolated, fighting to survive (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON (CNN) - November 14, 2008: U.S. intelligence agencies believe Osama bin Laden is isolated from al Qaeda and spending much of his energy merely surviving, the head of the CIA said on Thursday. Osama bin Laden remains on the run despite a $25 million reward for his capture. CIA Director Michael Hayden said hunting down bin Laden remains his agency's priority. "He is putting a lot of energy into his own survival -- a lot of energy into his own security," Hayden said in a speech at the Atlantic Council in Washington. "In fact, he appears to be largely isolated from the day-to-day operations of the organization he nominally heads," he said. In recent weeks, there have been several U.S. missile strikes by unmanned drones around the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The United States maintains that Taliban and al Qaeda forces operate with relative impunity in tribal areas along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan and use those areas as staging grounds to attack U.S. forces and their allies inside Afghanistan. Hayden said al Qaeda has been hurt by a sustained fight with the United States and its allies, but remains a threat. "Al Qaeda has suffered serious setbacks, but it remains a determined, adaptive enemy unlike any our nation has ever faced," Hayden said. "The war is far from over." Regardless of whether bin Laden is actively helping lead the terrorist organization, the CIA believes capturing or killing him would be a huge blow to al Qaeda, according to Hayden. "This is an organization that has never been through a change at the top," he said. "For 20 years, bin Laden has been the visionary, the inspiration or harmonizing force behind al Qaeda." Hayden said it remained to be seen whether bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, could maintain unity in the ranks without him. "The truth is, we simply don't know what would happen if bin Laden is killed or captured. But I'm willing to bet that whatever happens, it would work in our favor," Hayden said.