Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Pakistani Militant Confesses to Planning Mumbai Attacks / Pakistani Militants Admit Role in Siege, Official Says
Pakistani Militant Confesses to Planning Mumbai Attacks / Pakistani Militants Admit Role in Siege, Official Says (NSI News Source Info) January 1, 2009: Senior Pakistani officials have told two U.S. news outlets that a militant leader arrested in Pakistan has confessed to involvement in the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. Two reports quote unidentified Pakistani officials as saying captured militant Zarar Shah has acknowledged helping plan the attacks and has given interrogators details about how they were carried out. The confession was first reported in The Wall Street Journal and later confirmed by the Associated Press news agency. They did not identify any of the government and intelligence officials involved. An Indian soldier takes cover as the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai burns during a gun battle between the Indian military and militants in NovemberShah has been identified as a leader of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India blames for the Mumbai attacks that killed more than 170 people. Pakistani authorities arrested him earlier this month, along with another of the group's suspected leaders, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, amid intense international pressure to crack down on the movement after the Mumbai attacks. Both news outlets quote an official who said Shah "is singing" [giving up information]. They also said the disclosure may increase international pressure on Pakistan to publicly accept that the attacks originated within its borders. The office of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said he told U.S. President George Bush in a phone call Wednesday that "anyone found involved in such attacks from Pakistani territory will be dealt with sternly." India says the gunmen who attacked Mumbai were Pakistanis trained and equipped by Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has in the past had close ties to Pakistani intelligence services. Pakistan says India has failed to provide evidence of the attackers' nationalities. In the wake of the attacks, tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals have reached the highest level in years. Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram addresses the media in New Delhi, 31 Dec 2008India's home minister, P. Chidambaram, told reporters in New Delhi today that Pakistan "is in a state of denial" about the involvement of its citizens in the attacks. The White House said President Bush telephoned both the Pakistani leader and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday, urging them to cooperate with each other in the Mumbai investigation and on counterterrorism in general. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters in Crawford, Texas, that all three leaders "agreed that no one wanted to take any steps that unnecessarily raise tensions."
Hungarian Air Force's New Gripen JAS Fighter Jet Fleet
(NSI News Source Info) December 31, 2008: Sweden's Minister of Defense Sten Tolgfors, left, and his Hungarian counterpart Imre Szekeres, right, shake hands during the hand over ceremony of the Swedish made Gripen JAS 39 fighter jet fleet of the Hungarian Air Force at the a military base in Kecskemet (90 km/56 miles south of Budapest), Hungary. Hungarian government ordered 14 new Gripen fighter jets to replace the country's Russian MiG 29 fleet.There is an increasing bribing scandal about Hungary's and the Czech Republic's Gripen fighters following a Swedish TV investigation, in which officials admitted that corruption was surrounded the decisions to buy the jets.
British Forces New MRAP Cougar For Afghanistan / MoD Ordered MRAP From Force Protection Industries Inc
British Forces New MRAP Cougar For Afghanistan / MoD Ordered MRAP From Force Protection Industries Inc (NSI News Source Info) December 31, 2008: With UK Forces very much active in Afghanistan and Iraq a new vehicle has been ordered by the UK MoD (Ministry of Defence) to provide protection to troops on patrol from mines and roadside bombs. The vehicle is the Cougar 4×4 produced by Force Protection Industries Incorporated (Ladson, South Carolina) in the US, who were also responsible for the highly successful Mastiff. By November 2008, the MoD had ordered 400 Cougars (the contract is due for completion by July 2009; a contract valued at around $200m) and these will be modified by the addition armour systems, specialist Nato-spec weapons, communications systems and electronic countermeasures equipment into the 'Ridgback' when they arrive in the UK (the vehicles were ordered as an urgent operational requirement (UOR)). The first batch of five Cougars was delivered to RAF Brize Norton on 14 August 2008. NP Aerospace in Coventry has the contract (£81m) for carrying out the modifications to the Cougar. Ridgback weaponry The Ridgback weapons will include the heavy machine gun, 7.62mm general purpose machine gun, grenade launcher and some will be equipped with remote weapons systems allowing the Ridgback weapons to be operated from inside using a camera and joystick. Des Browne, the UK Defence Secretary, commented: "I am determined to do all that I can to get more armoured vehicles out to our forces on operations – to give commanders a choice about what vehicles they use. The Mastiffs have saved lives out in theatre and we have ordered the Ridgback because it is a smaller version of the Mastiff – offering our forces first-rate protection with more manoeuvrability." The Ridgback will be produced in four variants for different roles – a troop carrier, a protected weapons station and an ambulance or command post vehicle. Performance The Ridgback will come into service in 2009 in Iraq and Afghanistan (it is fully transportable by C17). The vehicle can carry 12 troops and can run on run flat tyres (Michelin XZL 395/85 R20 and Hutchinson VFI) at a speed of 55mph. The Ridgback is a mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) category I vehicle with a high armour rating (shaped hull and protected cabin using composite armour systems) and will also use special armoured seats to protect troops. The vehicle will be powered by a Caterpillar C-7 diesel engine that can give 330hp at 2,400rpm and a torque of 860ft lbf at 1,450rpm with an operational range of 420 miles. "The first batch of five Cougars was delivered to RAF Brize Norton on 14 August 2008." The transmission for the Cougar / Ridgback is an Allison 3500 SP series and the front and rear axles are Marmon-Herrington MT-17 and R-17 respectively (modified for the harsh terrain). The vehicle weighs around 38,000lb with a payload of 6,000lb and as such uses air brakes for effective stopping. The standard crew is six, but with the Ridgback there will be several versions. Electrics are standard 24V and there are two air conditioning units (24,000BTU and 48,000BTU) for use in hot climates. There are three doors (two in front and one rear double-sized crew door) and one topside hatch. The Cougar's standard dimensions are: height 104in (gun shield will add 26in), width 102in, length 233in, hull internal length 108in, fording depth 39in, ground clearance 15in-16in. The cabin can be sealed to provide NBC protection and there are various other accessories including four point harnesses for seats, integral tool kit, ballistic glass, 360° ring mount or spigot mount for weapons, infrared / blackout lighting, dual spare wheels, 9,000lb-capacity electric winch and fire extinguishing systems as well as shielded ammo storage areas.
J-10 Fighter: Improved Version First Flight in China (NSI News Source Info) Chengdu - December 31, 2008: Several eyewitnesses in Chengdu city prove that a greatly improved J-10 fighter makes its first flight from CAC (Chengdu Aircraft Corporation) internal airport in Huang Tianba.Some spectators say that the eyeable improvements include a DSI inlet, Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) Pod and Tail Wing-tip Integrated Electrical Avionics. Besides, some Internet resources claim that new J-10 has equipped with high-performance AESA radar, modified wing inner structure and stealth in-board pylons. The engine is still the Russian AL-31F, which will be replaced by FADEC AL-31FM3 for better air performance. But China’s WS-10 engine also has opportunity. The flight lasts about 10 minutes and the test pilot is believed to be Liang Wanjun (梁万俊). Although closing to 3.5th+ generation fighters like Typhoon and Rafael, how many new J-10 fighters will be purchansed by PLA Air Force is still one question, because CAC and SAC have entered the drastic competition for PLA’s 5th generation fighter. There always a rumar that CAC will provide prototype fighter before 2012. Choosing New J-10 or investing future combat aircraft ? Who knows!
Defense Firms Brace For Slowdown Under Obama (NSI News Source Info) December 31, 2008: Arizona defense contractors who have prospered during the Bush presidency are bracing for a slowdown under President-elect Barack Obama. Combined, the approximately 1,000 Arizona companies that do business with the Department of Defense annually pump more than $12 billion into the state's economy. Business has more than doubled in the past eight years for those companies as the U.S. defense industry has ballooned to an estimated $700 billion in 2009 from $261 billion in 2000. Although substantial budget cuts are unlikely, experts believe a slowdown in the growth of defense contracts is inevitable. Jim Albaugh, chief of Boeing Co.'s Integrated Defense Systems unit, sees defense budgets flattening as the result of mounting budget pressure. Albaugh foresees the possible postponement of certain future weapons programs. Boeing has about 4,500 employees in Arizona, primarily manufacturing Apache Longbow helicopters for the Army. Ron Grabe, manager of Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Launch Systems Group in Chandler, is concerned about the increasing scrutiny of defense programs. Obama has promised to end the war in Iraq, which has been putting $10 billion a month into U.S. defense contractors' pockets, and to revamp the way contracts are awarded. Although Obama is committed to maintaining adequate funding to bring U.S. military capabilities into the 21st century, there will likely be increased scrutiny of defense spending, particularly for high-ticket programs involving exotic weapons and equipment. He has pledged to examine every defense program for relevance and cost and to apply greater scrutiny to the contracting process. During his campaign, Obama specifically mentioned the $33 billion missile-defense program as an area for potential cuts. A recently released Arizona State University study found that the program contributed $193 million to the state's economy in 2007 and supported almost 2,000 jobs. Although Boeing is the prime contractor on the program, most of the work in Arizona is being done by Orbital and Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson. The Obama administration also will make the decision on two major contracts that were awarded and later rescinded. They are a $40 billion contract to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of air refueling tankers, and a $6.2 billion contract to replace about 375 Kiowa Warrior helicopters. The tanker contract was awarded to a partnership between Northrop Grumman and Airbus' European parent EADS N.V. It was later rescinded as a result of protests from rival bidder Boeing. Both companies were bidding for a new contract when the government temporarily called off the competition. Local defense firms such as Honeywell Aerospace and Hamilton Sundstrand are major contractors on both proposals. Boeing estimates the contract could mean $40 million a year for its Arizona suppliers and 1,100 new jobs for the state, while Northrop Grumman asserts it would mean 1,000 jobs and $80 million a year to Arizona's economy if it won the contract. Boeing also is bidding to replace the Kiowa Warriors, a contract that could have a huge impact on Arizona. A contract for the new armed-reconnaissance helicopters was awarded to Bell Textron but was rescinded in October because of extensive delays and cost overruns. Boeing lost out to Bell in the initial bidding and plans to make another run at the contract. The helicopters would be produced at the Mesa plant where Boeing now makes the Apache Longbow helicopters. Jeffrey Dodson, manager of state and local government relations for Boeing, noted that winning the armed-reconnaissance helicopter contract win would be a huge boon to the company's Mesa's operation. Obama has vowed to make bidding on government contracts more transparent and competitive to reduce problems such as those experienced with the tanker program and the armed-reconnaissance helicopter. He wants to draw new players into the mix instead of handing out contracts to the usual players. Obama wants to restore the government's ability to manage contracts by rebuilding the corps of officers who oversee contracts and by ordering the Justice Department to prioritize prosecutions that will punish and deter fraud, waste and abuse.
Middle East: Israel And Hamas Having Cyber War Too!! (NSI News Source Info) December 31, 2008: This screen print from the internet shows the Israeli army's YouTube-embedded webpage on December 31, 2008.
The Israeli military has launched its own channel on video-sharing website YouTube, posting footage of air strikes and other attacks on Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.
The spokesman's office of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it created the channel -- youtube.com/user/idfnadesk -- on December 29 to "help us bring our message to the world."
Pakistan: Army Protecting Supply Route To Afghanistan (NSI News Source Info) December 31, 2008: Pakistani army troops move towards Khyber tribal area, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008 on the outskirt of Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistani troops killed three militants in an operation to secure the major supply route to U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, an official said.
Israel vs GAZA - Time to Act Israel should Hit Hamas Hard Before it is Too Late By David Eshel
(NSI News Source Info) December 31, 2008: No sovereign state or democratic government can disregard its duty to protect the physical security of its citizens over an extended period of time. After maintaining a long period of unbelievable restraint and indulgence to one-sided violence against it's civilian population, living peacefully in internationally recognized territory, Israel is forced to stop, once and for all, the rocket bombardment, which has turned life around the notorious Hamastan-ruled Gaza Strip into living hell. It is the unfettered duty of a national army to defend its citizens and that is what the government should order it to do, without further delay. The rules are quite simple to follow: It is the duty of the political leadership in a democracy, to give the army a clear directive, which in this case should be "Stop the firing on Israeli civilians", using every means which is acceptable under law. Based on this directive, which presents the strategy, the military must form it's best method, using sufficient force to achieve this objective within minimum time and space and with acceptable losses to it's own forces and uninvolved enemy civilians. The latter poses, in this case, being densely populated Gaza, extreme challenges in planning and execution of this highly sensitive task. But sufficient pre-mission training, excellent drills and control procedures, constant situational awareness and top quality leadership can render such complex operations successful. The IDF has a proven record in achieving such results in the past. The present IDF under the leadership of Lt General Gabi Ashkenazi has undergone rigorous training procedures after the Second Lebanon War fiasco and should now be fully capable of carrying out a successful operation in Gaza and, if necessary simultaneously on the northern front, if Hezbollah should enter into the fray. There has been some public outcry that a large-scale military operation into Gaza could jeopardize the live of Corporal Gilad Shalit, held captive for over two years by Hamas, hidden somewhere in the Gaza Strip. While every life is always precious, especially to his loved one's, all deeply concerned over his personal fate, considerations, like the safety of a single soldier held captive by the enemy, cannot become a decisive factor in the nation's strategic aims. Moreover, both the political and the military leadership should have long ago taken urgent steps to release, or rescue it's soldier. This was the ultimate duty of the political leadership and a top priority item of the military staff. It is therefore unacceptable that military intelligence, ISA and Mossad and Sayeret Matkal (GHQ special forces unit), could not find his hideout, long ago and mount a successful rescue operation, attempting to release him, from within the confines of the Gaza Strip, being only a few kilometers away. Arguments, aired, that such a rescue mission would be dangerous and probably cost the life of the soldier, are reasonable, but must be part of the overall decision making process. An entire nation cannot be held hostage over the fate of a single soldier and even his next of kin must accept the possibility of his or her son being killed in action, once he joins active military service. One tends to forget, that two of Shalit's tank crew comrades were indeed killed in the same action at Kerem Shalom in 2006! It takes a lot of guts ordering to mount a daring, high-risk rescue mission, the success and failure is often less than 50%, sometimes near nil. However courageous leaders are willing to take the risk for the sake of troop morale, which is a primary element in combat motivation. The operation has a chance to succeed, if well prepared and carried out with sufficient ruse, professional deception and surprise. What about the extraordinary risks taken at Entebbe, Maalot and even the late Nachshon Wachsman* rescue attempt which both failed, but at least demonstrated determination and courage by the decision makers. As for the oncoming Gaza Operation, it stands to reason that Israel is planning a relatively short operation that will cause maximum damage to Hamas "assets. For it's success, the less spoken about, the better are it's chances to hit their mark with acceptable hitches. The IDF chief of staff has constantly demands that the political leadership formulates clear objectives for a Gaza Strip operation – also known as an exit strategy – it now seems that this has been given. The realistic objective of any military operation should not be the ousting of Hamas, which needs excessive time and means, but rather, the undermining of its military capabilities and weakening its regime. Such an operation must end with a clear bilateral truce based on terms Israel can live with. The IDF should be delivering powerful surgical blows, simultaneously, from the air on the ground and from the sea, against selected prime targets in the Gaza Strip in a manner that would heavily jeopardize the Hamas regime in Gaza. For months, military analysts have predicted that Hamas was creating a full-scale army in the Gaza Strip. This may of course create substantial difficulties against a massive Israeli ground operation, if conducted according to expected military procedures. However, if reliable, accurate and as far as possible, real time intelligence is available, then fighting against an enemy who has known and identified military installations, can achieve substantial results, even of strategic value. Targets, such as training camps, supply depots, weapon construction facilities, command and control centers - can all become legitimate high value targets, which once destroyed weaken the former guerilla organization considerably. Moreover, by targeting known senior leaders, a military-like organization can quickly lose cohesive function, if its communications network is disrupted or effectively jammed. One should not forget the immense effect the assassination in 2004, of Sheikh Yassin and his replacement Rantissi had on Hamas’ activities, which virtually ceased for nearly six months! Hamas and the other organizations will no doubt respond with massive rocket fire at Israeli communities while attempting to carry out other terror attacks. Israel will have to regard a major operation in Gaza as an act of war, enforcing severe martial law concerning civilian defense in all affected areas. With no further time to waste, Israel must now take initiative, end Hamas' hold on Palestinian government institutions before it is too late. If the Second Lebanon War paralyzed the Haifa Port, the next clash vis-à-vis the Palestinians could create a similar threat on the Ashdod Port. No sane nation can tolerate such a strategic challenge and remain inactive.
Sri Lanka: LTTE Stronghold Under Attack By Army (NSI News Source Info) December 31, 2008: The navy blockade continues unbroken, despite desperate LTTE attempts to ship weapons and munitions in. There are only a few bits of coastline where the LTTE can land stuff, so it's easier for the navy to catch the smuggling attempts. The fighting around the LTTE capital of Kilinochchi is apparently attracting the best fighters the LTTE has left. That's because some army units have been hit with well prepared and led counterattacks. These were attempts to push the army back, but these offensive operations failed. Sometimes there were heavy army casualties, but the soldiers stood their ground and stopped the LTTE attackers. That didn't happen 5-10 years ago, and is one reason why the LTTE are on their last legs. The rebels no longer have a qualitative edge on the battlefield. Advancing troops have captured an LTTE airstrip, hidden under nets and foliage. The army is advancing up the east coast, past the town of Mullaitivu, and down the east coast along the Jaffna peninsula. The LTTE defenses consist of recently recruited fighters holding out in recently built bunkers. The morale of the LTTE fighters is rapidly declining, as is their battlefield effectiveness. The government is also getting more information on the day-to-day whereabouts of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran. The air force is bombing these locations, hoping to kill or wound Prabakaran (whose death would be a major blow to the LTTE). In any event, the army believes they will have Prabakaran, dead or alive, with six weeks. While there's always a chance that Prabakaran will flee the island and attempt to keep up a terror campaign from exile, that is considered unlikely. Sri Lankan diplomatic efforts have gotten the LTTE declared an international terrorist organization, and it's unlikely any nation would allow Prabakaran to operate within their borders. December 28, 2008: Outside the capital, an LTTE suicide bomber attack left eight dead and several dozen wounded. More such attacks have been expected, but have not materialized so far.
USAF Awards B-2 Radar Upgrade Production
(NSI News Source Info) December 31, 2008: Northrop Grumman has been awarded a production contract for the B-2 radar modernization program (RMP), a key upgrade required to "ensure sustained operational viability" of the stealth bomber fleet, the U.S. Air Force says. The upgrade was required after the U.S. Commerce Dept. directed the Air Force to stop using the B-2's current radar frequency. The RMP moves the radar from a band where the B-2 is a secondary user to a frequency where it is a primary user. The modification incorporates an active electronically scanned array (AESA) antenna. There are no changes to the radar signal and data processing, and no new capability, but Northrop Grumman says the RMP lays the foundation for future growth. The B-2 radar, which has two antennas mounted in the leading edges of the flying wing, is used for navigation, targeting, weather avoidance, aircraft deconfliction, station keeping and tanker rendezvous. Raytheon is supplying the new APQ-181 AESA, Award of the production contract, with a target price of $468 million, follows "successful initial operational test and evaluation flight tests that were recently completed at Edwards AFB, California," the Air Force says. Development of the RMP was interrupted in 2007 by technical issues with the Ku-band AESA antenna. Initial operational capability with six aircraft retofitted is scheduled for 2010, and full operational capability for 2011.
Israel Says Proposals For Truce With Palestinians Unrealistic (NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV - December 31, 2008: Israel considers all international proposals on a ceasefire in Gaza unrealistic and insists that Palestinian militants should stop attacks first, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday. Israel launched on Saturday a series of airstrikes targeting the infrastructure of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic movement that controls Gaza. More than 380 Palestinians have died in the aerial assault, as well as four Israelis killed by rockets and mortars fired into Israel as a response. Israeli soldiers stand atop a tank outside the central Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. Israel hit the Gaza Strip with more air strikes on Tuesday and said its military action could last weeks, while rockets fired by Islamist Hamas struck deep inside the Jewish state. Israeli soldiers stand atop a tank outside the central Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. Israel hit the Gaza Strip with more air strikes on Tuesday and said its military action could last weeks, while rockets fired by Islamist Hamas struck deep inside the Jewish state. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that international society was sending various proposals to Israel asking to stop raids, but so far none of them match Israelis' demands. "In order for a proposal to become realistic, it needs to strictly include guarantees of stopping rocket fire and terrorist attacks, as well as provisions on how Hamas will stick to these guarantees," Palmor said. France, at the end of its six months as EU president, proposed in particular that Israel announces a 48-hour truce to allow humanitarian aid to Gaza. Israel has said its military operation was aimed at eliminating the threat to its population of rockets and mortar shells from Gaza, and was launched in response to increased militant rocket attacks since a six-month truce ended on December 19. Israel's Defense Ministry said it had kept one border crossing open for the three working days since its military operation began. In that time, 179 trailers of humanitarian goods have passed through into the enclave, the ministry said.