(NSI News Source Info) January 31, 2009: Boeing on Thursday welcomed the Obama administration's mention of its C-17 transport plane on the White House website, the only weapons programme in production singled out by name, but said it was still awaiting word on possible orders in fiscal 2009 and 2010. Jean Chamberlin, vice president of global mobility systems for Boeing and C-17 programme manager, told Reuters she remained hopeful that the company's ahead-of-schedule performance, continued cost-cutting efforts and strong airlift demand would translate into more orders in coming years. The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is a large American airlifter manufactured by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. The C-17 is operated by the United States Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Canadian Forces, while NATO and Qatar have placed orders for the airlifter. In addition, Boeing has already spoken with a number of countries to offer C-17 aircraft as substitutes for the EADS A400 military transport, given significant delays in that programme, Chamberlin said in an interview. "We certainly have talked to a number of different nations," Chamberlin said. "We're ready to help with an interim solution while they wait for the A400M to be fielded." Airbus parent EADS this month said the plane built for seven European Nato countries, already two years late, could fall three to four years behind schedule. Britain's defence procurement minister this week refused to rule out cutting back Britain's order of 25 A400M aircraft, saying his country needed the strategic capability. Chamberlin said Boeing officials were available around the world to talk with A400M customers, but declined to name any specific countries with which talks had already taken place. Three assessments She declined to predict how many additional orders Boeing could get from the US Air Force over the next few years, or from international customers, and said much would depend on three separate assessments currently planned by the US military. The White House website refers to the C-17 and the KC-X air refuelling aircraft as 'essential systems' in its defence agenda. KC-X is the name of the competition for a new refuelling plane. One congressionally mandated look at strategic airlift needs is due to be completed by the independent Institute for Defense Analyses next month, while a mobility capabilities study is not expected to be finished until the fall. In addition, the Pentagon is also gearing up to study all its major efforts as part of the Quadrennial Defense Review conducted once every four years. Chamberlin said the high operational tempo in the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, proposed troop increases in the Army and Marine Corps, and ongoing need for humanitarian and disaster relief all point to growing demand for airlift, and possibly additional C-17 orders. Boeing already has orders from the US Air Force for 190 C-17 transport planes, and expects to get an additional order next month for 15 more planes approved in the fiscal 2008 war spending budget, Chamberlin said. The Pentagon initially planned to cap the C-17 programme at 180 planes, but lawmakers, keen to maintain high-paying jobs in their districts, where Boeing plants and suppliers are located, have repeatedly added funding for the programme. Boeing has invested large sums of its own money to keep suppliers on line until those orders are finalised. The fiscal 2008 orders will keep the C-17 production line running through the third quarter of 2010, Chamberlin said, noting Boeing also hopes to secure orders for 15 additional planes in the supplemental war budget for fiscal 2009. Further savings possible The fiscal 2010 budget prepared by the outgoing Bush administration did not include any C-17s, she said; but Defense Secretary Robert Gates this week said the new administration would review that proposal and submit its own to congress in the spring, possibly by the end of March. Given repeated mentions by President Barack Obama of the C-17 programme during his campaign, and most recently on the White House website, Chamberlin said Boeing was hoping for some additional C-17 orders in fiscal 2010. She said Boeing had given Obama transition officials data about the C-17 program but did not know the plane would be singled out: "We're encouraged by it, and surprised..." Boeing was working on a possible multiyear proposal that would extend production for several more years and offer the Pentagon even more cost savings, Chamberlin said. The C-17 line employs 30,000 people at Boeing and its suppliers. She declined to estimate the extent of possible discounts but said the company was continually working to reduce its production costs. "We certainly can offer options that will be affordable to the Department of Defense," she said. Analyst Joe Nadol at JP Morgan on Thursday said he expected Boeing's defense units to show modest top-line growth in 2010, but he predicted 'further risk to performance in 2011 and beyond, particularly on C-17' and future combat systems.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Analysis: Obama Unlikely To Widen Afghan War By Anne Gearan - The Associated Press
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON — January 31, 2009: President Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to redirect U.S. troops and resources to Afghanistan from Iraq, but he has done little so far to suggest he will significantly widen the grinding war with insurgents in Afghanistan. On the contrary, Obama appears likely to streamline the U.S. focus with an eye to the worsening economy and the cautionary example of the Iraq war that sapped political support for President George W. Bush. “There’s not simply a military solution to that problem,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said last week, and Obama thinks “that only through long-term and sustainable development can we ever hope to turn around what’s going on there.” Less than two weeks into the new administration, Obama has had little to say in public about what his top military adviser says is the largest challenge facing the armed forces. He did say Afghanistan and Pakistan are the central front in the struggle against terrorism, a clue to the likely shift toward a targeted counterterrorism strategy. After Obama’s first visit to the Pentagon as president, a senior defense official said the new president surveyed top uniformed officers about the strain of fighting two wars and warned that the economic crisis will limit U.S. responses. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama’s meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff was private. Obama said he wants to add troops to turn back a resurgent Taliban, but he has not gone beyond the approximately 30,000 additional forces already under consideration by the previous administration. Those troops will nearly double the U.S. presence in Afghanistan this year, but they amount to little while Obama recalibrates a chaotic mishmash of military and development objectives. Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week warned of grandiose goals in Afghanistan, prescribing a single-minded strategy to prevent Afghanistan from being a terrorism launch pad. “Afghanistan is the fourth or fifth poorest country in the world, and if we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose,” Gates said, referring to a haven of purity in Norse mythology. “Nobody in the world has that kind of time, patience or money, to be honest.” Obama has ordered a fast internal review of his military, diplomatic and other options in Afghanistan before he makes decisions that define how aggressively he will answer the growing threat of failure in Afghanistan. Along with that review, coordinated by the National Security Council, Obama will have results of a just-completed classified Joint Chiefs of Staff assessment of a largely stalemated fight against the Taliban and counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaida and affiliated groups along the Pakistan border. That report, which has not yet gone to the White House, talks broadly about tamping down expectations in the Afghan war. Instead, it suggests that key goals should be to make modest gains to stabilize the governance and to eliminate terrorist safe havens, senior defense officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the report is secret. It also calls for military commanders to better articulate what their objectives in Afghanistan are because only then can leaders determine what types of troops should be deployed and how many. The Joint Chiefs review also stresses that the strategy must be driven by what the Afghans want and that the U.S. cannot impose its own goals on the Afghan government. Also coming: Army Gen. David Petraeus’ wider survey of both the Afghan and Iraq wars and other issues in the Middle East. Petraeus, military architect of the “surge” of U.S. troops in Iraq, is not likely to recommend a similar increase in Afghanistan. Like Gates, Petraeus has argued that the U.S. cannot shoot itself into victory in Afghanistan. And waiting for Obama when he arrived was an unreleased assessment by the Bush White House that sketched grim options in a war that the Bush administration once thought was all but won. “It is clear that 2009 will be a crisis year in Afghanistan,” said Anthony Cordesman, a close student of military developments in Afghanistan at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Fundamental changes are needed in U.S. strategy, force levels and aid effort to reverse years of inadequate and incompetent efforts.”
Russia And Cuba Appear To Rekindle Their Cold War Alliance
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - January 31, 2009: The presidents of Russia and Cuba on Friday signed documents aimed at rekindling their faded Cold War alliance, pledging to expand cooperation in agriculture, manufacturing, science and tourism but studiously avoiding a public discussion of military ties. It had been nearly a quarter century since a Cuban leader had set foot on Russian soil, and President Raul Castro's visit to Moscow this week had little of the pomp and propaganda of the Cold War days, when he and his brother, Fidel, were greeted with parades on Red Square. But a decade and a half after a crumbling Soviet Union hastily withdrew financial and ideological backing from Cuba, Russia is seeking to expand economic ties with the island and possibly forge stronger military relations in an echo, as yet still faint, of an alliance that lasted 30 years. It is part of a larger Russian push into Latin America to secure new markets and also to swipe at the United States for what Moscow considers Washington's meddling in Russia's historic sphere of influence, particularly in the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Georgia. "Your visit opens a new page in the history of Russian-Cuban relations," President Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting with Raul Castro at the Kremlin on Friday. Neither Medvedev nor Castro spoke publicly about possible military cooperation, perhaps out of a desire to avoid antagonizing the new Obama administration, analysts said. Since Obama's election last November, both Russia and Cuba appear to have called a unilateral truce with Washington.
War on Terrorism Over?
Author: John Feffer
(NSI News Source Info) January 31, 2009: Last week, shortly after being inaugurated, President Barack Obama ended the "global war on terror" (GWOT). Or so The Washington Post reported. The new president countermanded the Bush administration's extralegal approaches by mandating the closure of Guantánamo within a year, outlawing the use of torture in interrogations, and putting the CIA out of the secret prisons business. Obama announced that he wanted to "send an unmistakable signal that our actions in defense of liberty will be as just as our cause." Sounds good. But the Post's declaration might be just as premature as President George W. Bush's infamous "mission accomplished" speech on the USS Lincoln that signaled the "end" of the Iraq War. On the civil liberties front, for instance, the administration retains the right to use renditions, by which the CIA secretly abducted suspects and transferred them to third countries without trial. "I think it's a glaring hole," Vincent Warren of the Center for Constitutional Rights said last week on Democracy Now! "I think that one way that the Obama administration could have dealt a more decisive blow to the illegal Bush policies and even the rendition policy, which originated under Bill Clinton, is to specifically reference this and to say that we are going to disavow this." Also, the inmates at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, which holds more prisoners than Gitmo, and the thousands held in Iraq won't get the case-by-case review accorded to their counterparts in Cuba. Non-military agencies like the CIA, after a six-month review, might get "additional or different guidance" on interrogations -- and who knows what that means.
And, as Politico points out, the guy in charge of the 30-day review of Gitmo is the same fellow who was in charge for the last two years -- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. That's not exactly a recipe for reform. But even if Obama holds to his word on torture, closes Guantánamo within the year, applies the same yardstick to detainees at Bagram and in Iraq, and eliminates the Clinton-era policy on extraordinary rendition, the death of the "global war on terror," as Mark Twain once said of his own prematurely published obituary, is greatly exaggerated.
Indeed, on the day after it published GWOT's obituary, The Washington Post reported on two U.S. unilateral air strikes in Pakistan that killed 20 suspected terrorists. Although it observed an uncharacteristic silence over these strikes, the Pakistani government has previously expressed outrage at these violations of its sovereignty. Then there's Afghanistan, which will be the new epicenter of U.S. counterterrorism strategy. Here's the relevant excerpt from the official White House statement on foreign policy: "Obama and Biden will refocus American resources on the greatest threat to our security -- the resurgence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
They will increase our troop levels in Afghanistan, press our allies in NATO to do the same, and dedicate more resources to revitalize Afghanistan's economic development." Why does Obama believe that he can escape the same outcome in Afghanistan that Bush faced in Iraq? As former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern argued in a recent appeal for a five-year "time-out" on war, "In 2003, the Bush administration ordered an invasion of Iraq, supposedly to reduce terrorism.
But six years later, there is more terrorism and civil strife in Iraq, not less. The same outcome may occur in Afghanistan if we make it the next American military conflict." So, is this a kinder, gentler GWOT? Certainly the new Obama administration is more concerned about observing international law. It's more prudent in its willingness to use diplomacy over force. But so far at least, the new president still treats terrorism as a war to be won rather than an endemic problem to be dealt with patiently and largely by law enforcement agencies. We're still at war in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and for the time being in Iraq.
We're still selling arms to Indonesia, Israel, and Colombia as part of an overall counterterrorism approach. The Pentagon's new Africa Command (AFRICOM) still looks at counter-terrorism through a military lens.
U.S. Navy Retires Last Lockheed Martin S-3B Viking From Fleet Service; Carrier-Based Multi-Mission Aircraft Completes 35-Year Career
U.S. Navy Retires Last Lockheed Martin S-3B Viking From Fleet Service; Carrier-Based Multi-Mission Aircraft Completes 35-Year Career
(NSI News Source Info) NAS JACKSONVILLE, Fla., - January 31, 2009: The U.S. Navy retired the last Lockheed Martin S-3 Viking from fleet service in ceremonies here this morning, closing out the aircraft's distinguished 35-year Naval career. Development of the S-3 began in August 1969, and first flight occurred on January 21, 1972. Sea Control Squadron 41 (VS-41), the S-3 training unit known as the Shamrocks and the first operational S-3 unit, received its first aircraft in February 1974. A total of 187 S-3s were built (eight test and 179 operational aircraft) between 1971 and 1978. Over its career, the Viking served with 18 Navy squadrons and accumulated approximately 1.7 million flight hours.
The Lockheed S-3 Viking is a jet aircraft originally used by the United States Navy to identify, track, and destroy enemy submarines. In the late 1990s, the S-3B's mission focus shifted to surface warfare and aerial refueling. After the retirement of the A-6 Intruder and A-7 Corsair II, the Viking was the only airborne refueling platform organic to the Carrier Air Wing(s) until the fielding of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. "The S-3 Viking was known as the 'Swiss Army Knife of Naval Aviation' and served the U.S. Navy well in a wide variety of roles over the course of its operational service life," said Ray Burick, Lockheed Martin vice president of P-3/S-3 programs. "The Viking has played a critical role in carrier-based anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, as well as overland operations, refueling, targeting, and electronic surveillance. And of course Lockheed Martin is proud of the role it will continue to play in support of these critical Navy carrier-based missions, as many of these missions will eventually be carried out by the F-35C Lightning II." The first S-3 was built at the then-Lockheed Aircraft Co. plant in Burbank, Calif., and was trucked to the company's facility in Palmdale, Calif., for first flight. Company pilots John Christiansen and Lyle Schaefer were at the controls, kicking off a 26-month test program. Among its notable firsts, the S-3 was the first antisubmarine warfare (ASW) platform to have a computerized acoustic system. Sea Control Squadron 29 (VS-29), known as the Dragonfires, made the first S-3 deployment aboard the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-67) in July 1975. The S-3 fleet surpassed 100,000 flight hours less than two years after that first deployment. Several variants of the S-3 carried out a range of missions for the U.S. Navy. Seven aircraft were modified to US-3A Carrier Onboard Delivery aircraft, capable of carrying 4,250 lbs. of cargo. The ES-3A Shadow was designed for fleet electronic surveillance, replacing the EA-3B. Sixteen aircraft were modified to ES-3A configuration, and the first mission capable Shadow flew in May 1991. Development of a KS-3A tanker variant began in 1979; although the KS-3A was never produced, it did prove the concept of "buddy tanking" (aerial refueling using a wing-mounted pod), which most S-3s later performed. At the height of combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom, S-3 crews transferred nearly eight million pounds of fuel to Coalition aircraft. The significantly improved S-3B was developed in the early 1980s to better detect quiet Soviet submarines, identify targets and carry standoff weapons. The S-3B flew for the first time in prototype form in September 1984. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, an S-3B from VS-38, the World Famous Red Griffins, carried out the first S-3 attack mission, disabling Saddam Hussein's ocean-going yacht with a laser-guided Maverick air-to-surface missile. In 2003, an S-3B from VS-35 became the first aircraft ever to have the Navy One call sign when it carried former President George W. Bush to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). Under the S-3 Integrated Maintenance Program (IMP), Lockheed Martin and Navy personnel worked side-by-side to perform scheduled depot maintenance and repairs on the S-3s to return the Vikings rapidly to the operational fleet. The program began in 2001, primarily as a means of reducing the backlog at Naval Aviation depots. IMP increased S-3 aircraft operational availability by 53 percent and reduced maintenance tasking by 47 percent over the depot-level maintenance plan. IMP also resulted in significantly reduced costs to the Navy. A total of 149 aircraft were processed through the IMP inspections, and nearly all of the aircraft were redelivered to the Navy on or ahead of schedule. The program concluded in 2007, as the Viking fleet was being drawn down. "The S-3 Viking will long be remembered for its mission capability, its flexibility and its reliability," said Burick. "The aircraft has served the U.S. Navy admirably for more than three decades. We salute all who have flown and supported the Viking." The NASA Glenn Research Center near Cleveland, Ohio, currently has four S-3B Vikings, performing aircraft icing research missions. It is likely that four S-3Bs will remain in Navy service, although in a support role providing range surveillance at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at Point Mugu, Calif. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 146,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.
Land Rover Evolves From Jeep Out Of Necessity for Civilian Use, After WWII (NSI News Source Info) Allenwood, NJ, - January 31, 2009: Maurice Wilks’ Jeep had reached the end, and this war surplus vehicle was so useful on his farm that he really wanted a replacement. He was the technical director for Rover Cars in 1947, and detected a strong demand for utilitarian ex-military 4x4s. He felt sure that a British designed and built agricultural vehicle would have great potential. The first Land Rover was conceived, built and designed within a year and launched in April 1948, at the Amsterdam Motor Show. Innovation and resourcefulness were instilled in the brand right from the beginning, as in post-war rationed Britain, aluminum replaced steel and paint left over from a fighter plane factory was used. With a Rover Cars’ engine, a lightweight chassis and permanent four wheel drive, this really was a unique little vehicle. Land Rover is an all-terrain vehicle and Multi Purpose Vehicle (MPV) manufacturer, based in Solihull, England, now operated as part of the Jaguar Land Rover business owned by Tata Motors, India. Originally the term Land Rover referred to one specific vehicle (see Land Rover Series), a pioneering civilian all-terrain utility vehicle launched on 30 April 1948, at the Amsterdam Motor Show, but was later used as a brand for several distinct models, all capable of four-wheel drive. Ten years later, Land Rover brought out a new model that featured a long list of modifications. The changes made the Series II easier to drive without sacrificing durability. With a new 2.25 liter gasoline engine, orders flooded in from over seventy countries and an international brand was well and truly established. From the beginning, Land Rover was the choice of pioneers, explorers and anyone with a spirit of adventure. Numerous expeditions ran thanks to the gutsy Land Rover – including the first overland trip from London to Singapore. In this new millennium, at age 60, these trusted Land Rover vehicles can be kept going by replacement parts bought on the Internet. It’s hard to conceive that ordering your rover parts out of the ether, paying for them with a piece of plastic, and having them delivered to your doorstep by a delivery person, would have been imaginable right after WWII. If a range rover headlight is needed, or a Land Rover one, different sorts of headlights have been developed for use in these modern times. These include high intensity discharge and halogen bulbs. The rugged design of Land Rover machines offers tough off-road navigation and elegant interior appearances. But all their parts have to work correctly and be of durable construction. That’s often why people buy Range or Land Rovers like Maurice Wilks developed after WWII – he wanted to keep a rugged, durable and strong vehicle to use on his farm. The Land Rover headlight is among the most important element on the automobile for hazard-free travel on unlighted streets or in stormy conditions or over rough terrain, either in the city or on a farm. When someone buys a Land Rover, they are buying a vehicle with great performance and outstanding looks. The headlamps should be switched out as they appear to become dim or are broken. Keep a vehicle in good condition and any unnecessary driving dangers will be kept to a minimum. Each time the brakes are used on any vehicle, this damaging heat abrades away the brake components until they must eventually be changed - optimally well before the other components start to take damage. As the brake pedal is applied, the land rover pads are pushed against the car's brake rotor and the momentum and energy of the car or truck is exchanged for heat energy. Braking a car requires a number of components cooperating in tandem - the brake pedal, brake rotors, brake lines, and brake pads.
Fake Internet Drugs Risk Lives And Fund Terrorism
(NSI News Source Info) London, UK - January 31, 2009: People who buy fake internet drugs could be risking their lives and supporting terrorism, according to an editorial in the February issue of IJCP, the International Journal of Clinical Practice. Editor-in-Chief Dr Graham Jackson, a UK-based Consultant Cardiologist, has called for greater public awareness of the dangers and consequences of the counterfeit drugs market, which is expected to be worth Pounds 55 billion by 2010. "Harmful ingredients found in counterfeit medicines include arsenic, boric acid, leaded road paint, floor and shoe polish, talcum powder, chalk and brick dust and nickel" he points out. "In one scheme, Americans buying fake Viagra on the internet were actually helping to fund Middle East terrorism, unknowingly jeopardising the lives of men and women serving in their own armed forces." The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency estimates that nearly 62 per cent of the prescription only medicines offered on the internet, without the need for a prescription, are fakes. "Alarmingly these include fake drugs that could have devastating consequences, like counterfeit medication for potentially fatal conditions like cancer and high blood pressure. Others can include no active ingredients or harmful ingredients like amphetamines." Although some internet pharmacies are legitimate, a significant number are illegal and often operate internationally, selling products of unknown content or origin. "Counterfeit drugs may originate from many different countries, where governments have little or no controls in place, and be then imported into other countries without being inspected" says Dr Jackson. "In 2004 Pfizer investigated one Canadian online pharmacy and discovered that the domain name was hosted in Korea and registered in St Kitts. Orders placed on the web were dispatched in a plain envelope from Oklahoma City with a non-existent return address." The challenge of combating these criminal and potentially life-threatening activities is a major concern, he says. However efforts are being hampered by a lack of resources, manpower, adequate legislation and coordination between countries. Dr Jackson stresses that raising public awareness is essential, as lives are clearly at risk. "Patient groups need to be motivated to educate men and women about the dangers of buying medication outside the healthcare system" he says. "Prescription only medicines are just that, so being able to buy them without a script is a sure sign of illegal practice. "The best way to avoid counterfeit drugs is to use a reputable and regulated pharmacy that dispenses with a legal prescription."
Ukrainian Army Received Upgraded Oplot MBT
(NSI News Source Info) January 31, 2009: According to an announcement made by the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are ready to place an order for ten Oplot main battle tanks (MBT), three Atlet Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicles (ARRV) and 10 BTR-4 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC).T-84 Oplot — T-84U with new western-style turret, but retaining the 125mm gun. The Oplot tank features a new welded turret with separate crew and ammunition compartments with blowout panels on the ammunition compartment, a new bustle-mounted autoloader. A small number is in service with the Ukrainian Army.
The upgraded version of the Oplot main battle tank is undergoing government trials, which include comprehensive testing of the tank's firing, mobility and protection capabilities. After completion of the trials, if successful, the Oplot will enter small-scale production, with the first batch of 10 vehicles planned to be produced in 2009. The production will take place at the Malyshev Plant in Kharkov. The upgraded Oplot MBT differs from the basic Oplot version in having a commander's panoramic sight incomporating daylight and thermal imaging channels, new-generation explosive reactive armour based on a new principle of defeating kinetic and chemical energy attacks (with special focus on increasing the hull side and turret side protection level to enhance the tank's survivability in urban conditions), more environment-friendly 1200 hp 6TD-2E diesel engine instead of original 6TD-2 engine, complex movement control system with a new steering wheel and an upgraded digital panel for the driver, new radio equipment, and more powerful (10 kW rather than 8 kW) auxiliary power unit.
Russian Cruiser Pyotr Veliky Leaves India
(NSI News Source Info) MORMUGAO (India) - January 31, 2009: Russia's Pyotr Veliky missile cruiser has left the port of Mormugao in the Indian state of Goa and headed for African waters. The Pyotr Veliky arrived in Mormugao on an unofficial visit January 29 after participating in a PASSEX-type naval exercise in the Indian Ocean with the Indian guided-missile destroyer INS Delhi. Mormugao is the only port on India's western coast that allows visits by nuclear-powered ships. After the two-day visit, during which supplies of food and water were taken on board, the Russian cruiser headed for the Somali coast to participate in the second stage of the INDRA-2009 joint naval drills with the Indian Navy, which involves practicing joint anti-piracy operations. The Pyotr Veliky will join up with a task force from Russia's Pacific Fleet, comprising the Admiral Vinogradov, an Udaloy class destroyer, a tugboat and two fuel tankers, which are carrying out anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden. The Russian Navy said on Wednesday that the Northern Fleet's Admiral Levchenko destroyer will also participate in the INDRA-2009 exercise. Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 110 ships were attacked in 2008, with 42 vessels seized and 815 crew members abducted. Up to 20 warships from the navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the lawless East African nation. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution last December authorizing countries and multinational organizations involved in tackling piracy to "undertake all necessary measures in Somalia, including in its airspace" to prevent "acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."
Friday, January 30, 2009
France To Pull 2,100 Troops From Africa
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS - January 30, 2009: France will withdraw 2,100 troops from Ivory Coast and Chad this year, out of a total 13,290 personnel deployed overseas, intending to save from 100 million euros to 150 million euros ($130.0 million to $196.3 million), the government said. Foreign deployments cost 857 million euros last year, up from 685 million euros in 2007, Defense Ministry figures show. French Prime Minister François Fillon told the lower house National Assembly in a Jan. 28 debate on foreign military operations that "at least 1,000" of 1,650 French soldiers deployed in the European Union Eufor contingent would be pulled out by the summer. The United Nations takes over the mandate for the multinational force deployed on the border of Congo and Chad on March 15. France was a prime mover in getting the European Union to commit troops alongside African Union forces along the Chadian border to protect refugees from the Darfur province. Reduced conflict and the prospect of elections in Ivory Coast meant France could pull some troops out of the West African country, Fillon said. Defense Minister Hervé Morin said in an interview with daily newspaper France Soir on Jan. 28, "The idea in 2009 is to move toward a 20 percent reduction. We could cut numbers from 13,000 to 10,000," he said. Lower numbers abroad could save from 100 million euros to 150 million euros a year, he said. Troop strength in Afghanistan would be maintained, and Morin ruled out a force increase as requested by U.S. President Barack Obama. "This subject is not up for debate," Morin said. "There is no plan to send new French troops to Afghanistan." Other withdrawals could come from Bosnia and Kosovo, he said. The white paper on defense and national security set out the guidelines for foreign intervention, including: * Seriousness of threat to national security or international peace and security. * Consideration of other measures. * Respect for international rule of law. * Sovereign appreciation by French political authorities, freedom of action and capacity to assess the situation at all times. * Democratic legitimacy, implying transparency of goals and support of the nation, as expressed by parliament. * Capacity to commit French troops at a sufficient level, national control and a political strategy seeking a lasting settlement of the crisis. * Definition of the commitment in space and time, with a precise evaluation of cost. Because the deployments are not fully funded by the general budget, money has traditionally been used from the equipment investment account.
Pakistani PM: Most Of Tribal Areas 'Cleared Of The Terrorists' Author: Bill Roggio
(NSI News Source Info) January 30, 2009: Pakistan's prime minister and his closest adviser have claimed success against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas. Both men also vowed to wrest control of the district of Swat from extremist control. But reports from the region paint a less optimistic picture. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said the Taliban and al Qaeda have largely been driven from much of the tribal areas. “We are genuinely attacking the targets and the most areas have already been cleared of the terrorists,” Gilani told the international media at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He also claimed al Qaeda operatives are no longer present inside Pakistan. Rehman Malik, Gilani's adviser on internal Pakistani security issues, also provided an upbeat assessment of the situation in the tribal areas. He claimed the Pakistani military has been successful in driving the Taliban from much of the tribal areas, including the Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold of Bajaur. "We took action against them and in Bajaur, we arrested dozens of Afghan Taliban, Uzbek and Chechen nationals from there and succeeded to retake about 98 percent control of the area,” Malik said during a briefing to the Pakistani Senate. Malik also claimed the Taliban would soon be driven from the settled district of Swat, where Mullah Fazlullah's forces are in control and have declared a radical version of sharia, or Islamic Law. The “situation in Swat would be resolved soon and we would soon get deliverance from terrorists,” Malik said. Earlier this week, the Pakistani military launched its third attempt to drive off the Taliban from Swat in two years. Malik claimed that the military has executed a "strategy shift" and now controls Swat's main town of Mingora "and some important pockets." Malik would not provide details on this shift in strategy.
Taliban presence, by district and tribal agency, the Northwest Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies. Information on Taliban presence obtained from open source and derived by The Long War Journal based on the presence of Taliban shadow governments, levels of fighting, and reports from the region. Map created by Bill Raymond for The Long War Journal. While Gilani and Malik touted the successes in the tribal areas and Swat, the situation in these regions is far worse than portrayed. The tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan remain Taliban bastions, dotted with al Qaeda training camps. The military has negotiated peace agreements with the powerful Haqqani, Mehsud, Bahadar, and Nazir Taliban factions in these agencies. The Taliban recently declared sharia law in the agencies of Bannu and Arakzai, where they run effective parallel governments. The military has recently fought heavy battles with the Taliban in Arakzai and Mohmand but have failed to dislodge the extremist forces. The Taliban and allied anti-Shia terror groups also control much of the Kurram tribal agency. The Shia are located in pockets in and around the town of Parachinar. Military forces based there will not intervene to end the sectarian wars. In Khyber, Taliban forces have laid siege to NATO's supply lines moving through the Khyber Pass. The attacks have forced the government to shut down the strategic road to Kabul four times over the past five months. Three military operations have failed to dislodge the Taliban, who control nearly all of the agency. And in Bajaur, where Rehman claimed the government has defeated the Taliban, after six months of brutal fighting reminiscent of World War I trench warfare, the Taliban remain active. Some of the Taliban forces simply withdrew to the neighboring Mohmand tribal agency, the settled districts of Dir, Malakand, and Swat, or across the border in Afghanistan's Kunar province. Taliban commander Faqir Mohammed and his senior commanders have evaded the operation. Outside of the tribal agencies and Swat, the Taliban control or have a strong influence in 15 of the Northwest Frontier Province's settled districts. The Taliban run the show in Tank, Bannu, and Hangu. The government negotiated peace deals with the Taliban in Lakki Marwat, Malakand, and Dir. The Taliban have savaged shipping terminals that serviced NATO supply convoys in the provincial capital of Peshawar. The military has launched multiple operations to eject the Taliban since September, but these have been unsuccessful. The Taliban have murdered and kidnapped foreign dignitaries and aid workers in the city. Last week, Qari Hussain, a Taliban commander who runs suicide camps for children in South Waziristan, openly held a press conference in Peshawar. The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's main council appointed a commander for Peshawar and nearby Mardan. Charsadda and Kohat have been the scenes of violent battles and devastating suicide attacks. The Taliban laid siege to the Kohat Tunnel, the vital north-south link between Peshawar and the southern districts and agencies, several times during 2008. The tunnel was shut down for more than one month late last summer. One of the largest suicide attacks in Pakistan took place in a mosque in Charsadda. The Taliban have also crushed tribal opposition in Dir, Buner, Swat, Khyber, Aurakzai, and Mohmand. Meanwhile, the Taliban and al Qaeda operate more than 150 terror camps in the northwest. Covert US airstrikes have killed seven senior al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan's tribal areas since January 2008. Senior al Qaeda operatives and leaders remain in the northwest despite the US airstrikes and the uncoordinated Pakistani military operations that have failed to put pressure on the Taliban's stranglehold of the northwest.
Russian, Italian Navies Hold Exercises In Ionian Sea
(NSI News Source Info) SEVASTOPOL - January 30, 2009: Russia's Black Sea Fleet flagship the guided-missile cruiser Moskva and Italy's destroyer the Andrea Doria held one-day drills in the Ionian Sea in the Strait of Messina on Friday, the Black Sea Fleet said. On Thursday all details of the joint exercises were coordinated on board the Russian cruiser. "The ships practiced elements of joint maneuvering, signaling, communications and joint actions on detecting surface targets. Ship-based helicopters from the two vessels were used in the exercises," the fleet press service said. The Russian cruiser's three-day unofficial visit to Messina port that ended today was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Messina earthquake and Russia's participation in the international relief efforts. The Messina quake with an estimated magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale was followed by a tsunami that struck many coastal cities with 40-foot (12-meter) waves, causing more destruction. The earthquake and tsunami killed two-thirds of the city's then-150,000 population.
Pakistan Navy To Acquire UAVs, Early Warning Aircraft
(NSI News Source Info) KARACHI - January 30, 2009: Pakistan Navy will soon acquire Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to strengthen its air fleet, according to Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir.
Speaking on Thursday at a ceremony marking the induction of a Fokker aircraft and commissioning of the T-56 Engine Test Bench at the Pakistan Navy Aviation Base, PNS Mehran, Admiral Bashir described the induction of Z-9 helicopters, AEWs, UAVs and P-3Cs as a “force multiplier” for the navy’s fleet of aircraft.The Harbin Z-9 is a Chinese military utility helicopter. It is a license-built version of the French Eurocopter Dauphin, and is manufactured by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. The first Z-9 flew in 1981, and was built in China from components supplied by Aérospatiale, but by the early 1990s the Z-9B was being built from over 70% indigenous Chinese components. On 16 January 1992, indigenous variant Z-9B was constructed with 70% Chinese-made parts flew successfully. The flight test completed in November 1992, with design certificate being certified later next month. The Z-9B production began in 1993, entering PLA service in 1994.
To enhance the “subsurface defence capability”, he said, a contract would be signed soon for the German-origin Type-214 submarines.
Commander of Naval Aviation Commodore Adnan Nazir said the Fokker, being a versatile aircraft, would serve to augment the operational capabilities of the fleet. The setting up of the T-56 Engine Test Bench was a step towards self-reliance as it would be used for overhauling and maintaining P-3C aircraft, he added.
Admiral Bashir, who is Pro-Chancellor of the Bahria University, formally launched the varsity’s medical and dental college.
The college is affiliated with the PNS Shifa hospital and is recognised by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council. The college will initially admit 100 students on merit.Admiral Bashir thanked the administration of Altamash Dental Institute for their cooperation in establishing the college. He expressed the hope that the college would impart quality education, thereby helping to improve medical facilities in the country.
The rector of the university, Vice-Admiral (retd) Farooq Rashid, spoke about the teaching methods adopted by the college.
The principal of the college, Dr Tipu Sultan, said the country only had 79 medical colleges and universities, of which 50 were in the private sector. He said his college would soon have its own campus near PNS Shifa hospital.
Bombardier Delivers First Bombardier 415MP Amphibious Aircraft To Malaysia
(NSI News Source Info) January 30, 2009: Bombardier Aerospace announced that Malaysia’s coast guard agency, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), has taken delivery of the first of two Bombardier 415MP amphibious aircraft ordered by the Malaysian government in June 2008. The Malaysian government is the launch customer in Asia for the specialized Bombardier 415MP aircraft. Present at an official ceremony held in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, was Datuk Seri Najib, Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia; Datuk Amdan, Director General, MMEA; and Mr. Michel Bourgeois, President, Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft, Bombardier Aerospace. The Bombardier 415 is a Canadian amphibious aircraft purpose-built as a water bomber. It is the only aircraft designed and built specifically for aerial firefighting and is based on the company's CL-215. It is marketed in the United States as the "Superscooper." A variant of the rugged Bombardier 415 amphibious aircraft – the only aircraft specifically designed for aerial firefighting – the Bombardier 415MP amphibious aircraft will be modified for maritime surveillance capabilities to meet the specialized needs of the MMEA. The first Bombardier 415MP aircraft delivered to Malaysia will be equipped with a state-of-the-art surveillance suite that includes two side-looking airborne radars, one forward-looking infrared radar, an airborne maritime surveillance system and other avionics and communications equipment. “Bombardier Aerospace is proud to deliver its first Bombardier 415MP aircraft to Malaysia. We are confident this hardworking aircraft, with its multi-purpose capabilities, will prove a worthy tool in Malaysia’s efforts to patrol its extensive waterways and to enhance its search and rescue missions,” said Michel Bourgeois, President, Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft, Bombardier Aerospace. “The aircraft’s ability to fly at low speed and low altitude with great maneuverability, and to execute direct interventions on water, makes it an ideal aircraft for coastal patrol missions. It is a very capable and cost-effective aircraft, able to carry out a multitude of specialized missions that previously required dedicated vessels and aircraft.” The multi-purpose Bombardier 415MP aircraft can be used in a variety of specialized missions such as search and rescue, environmental protection, coastal patrol and transportation. It is fitted with sophisticated sensors to locate and identify vessels, people in distress and pollutants. Since delivery of the first Bombardier 415 aircraft in 1994, Bombardier Aerospace has delivered 69 Bombardier 415 aircraft, including three Bombardier 415MP aircraft, to Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Ontario, Québec and Spain, with 42 aircraft in operation in the Mediterranean region alone. About BombardierA world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2008, were $17.5 billion US, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at http://www.bombardier.com/. Bombardier, Bombardier 415 and Bombardier 415MP are registered and/or unregistered trademarks of Bombardier Inc.,or its subsidiaries.
F-16 Seen As Still Competitive, Has Backlog Of 215 Orders / Lockheed Martin's F-16 Still Competitive In Fighter Market
F-16 Seen As Still Competitive, Has Backlog Of 215 Orders / Lockheed Martin's F-16 Still Competitive In Fighter Market
(NSI News Source Info) NEWTOWN, Conn. - January 30, 2009: The Lockheed Martin F-16 has been continually upgraded since production began decades ago, and the latest Block 50/52 and Block 60/E/F variants remain highly capable and affordable multirole fighters. Lockheed Martin received an order from Morocco at the end of 2007, snatching the 24-aircraft order away from Dassault's Rafale in a last minute effort.
Lockheed Martin is able to be aggressive on pricing the F-16, and as in prior years the purchase of F-16s is one way of increasing a nation’s ties with the American defense establishment.The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force. Designed as a lightweight fighter, it evolved into a successful multirole aircraft. The Falcon's versatility is a paramount reason it has proven a success on the export market, having been selected to serve in the air forces of 25 nations. The F-16 is the largest Western jet fighter program with over 4,400 aircraft built since production was approved in 1976.
Other recent customers include Turkey, which executed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for 30 aircraft during 2007 (consisting of 14 single-seat C models and 16 two-seat Ds). The Turkish aircraft will be assembled and delivered by TUSAS beginning in 2011. The new aircraft will replace about half the TuAF's elderly F-4 fleet in the near term as the service waits for the new Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II to arrive on the scene.
Greece ordered 30-unit Block 52+ F-16s in December 2005, but the Greek government later announced that it would not be exercising a 10-aircraft option under the deal and would be looking elsewhere to fill an ongoing requirement for another 30 fighters.
The Pakistani Air Force has ordered 18 new fighters through the Pentagon's Foreign Military Sales program at the end of 2007. The order is part of a bigger deal to upgrade the PAF's existing fleet of A/B model F-16s. Pakistan took an option to purchase an additional 18 fighters under the deal. Pakistan may exercise these options, but funding the purchase will be difficult at the same time the PAF is purchasing large numbers of Chengdu FC-1s. Ongoing political turmoil in the country could also cause further deliveries of F-16s to be blocked by the U.S. government. Israel noted back in mid-2005 that it was considering additional purchases F-16 fighters if the F-35 program were to suffer further delays. Israel has also made noises about cutting its requirement for F-35s than expected.
Taiwan has long been expected to order 66 F-16s as part of an effort to recapitalize a portion of its fighter fleet, but domestic political wrangling has held up the process, along with the Bush administration's seeming ambivalence to the deal. Washington is currently looking to China to cooperate on a number of security issues, including efforts to end the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. The Taiwanese Air Force's plan to order 66 new F-16s will likely never reach fruition.
The F-16 also is in the running for a potentially huge order by the Indian Air Force, which issued a long-awaited Request for Proposals in August 2007 to fill a requirement for 126-200 new multirole fighters. The Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft program is intended to replace many of the service's elderly MiG-21s. Competing against the F-16 are the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, the MiG-35, and the Saab Gripen. Among the Western-built aircraft, the F-16 and Gripen are single-engined fighters that provide a “low-cost” alternative to the heavier, twin-engined Super Hornet and Rafale. The MiG-35 is a follow-on to the MiG-29, which is already in service with the IAF.
The RFP was not made available to the public, and it is not clear from the outside what factors the IAF considers most important in selecting a new fighter. In making its selection, India can be expected to be wary of offending long-time supplier Russia, but the nation is currently in a period of warming relations with the U.S. government, and U.S. recognition of India's right to develop its nuclear facilities may be rewarded by a large aircraft purchase.
Elsewhere, Lockheed Martin notes that “several customers” are showing high interest in the F-16E/F (formerly the Block 60 model developed for the United Arab Emirates), but many nations that would offer the best prospects for a new order are the same nations Lockheed Martin believes will be drawn to the F-35.
The F-35 was designed with the idea of supplanting the F-16 as the pre-eminent “affordable” multirole fighter in the western and Asian defense markets. Looking ahead, and Lockheed Martin may find itself in the same position as Dassault when the latter was offering customers both the Mirage 2000 and Rafale at the same time. Offering two aircraft that compete against each other may become an undesirable position for Lockheed Martin, or the F-16 may continue to be offered to customers that cannot afford the expected higher cost of the F-35.
Forecast International's projections call for production of the F-16 out to 2016, but additional orders could well extend production out several more years.
Eastern Europe has shown an affinity for cheap, single-engine fighters in recent years as countries in the region look to meet NATO responsibilities without breaking their limited defense budgets. Romania and Bulgaria is reported to be interested in acquiring 16 fighters, and the F-16 and Gripen are prime contenders for orders from these nations. Romania is looking for 48 fighters to replace 100 MiG-21s in its inventory. Funding is an obstacle, however. The near-term costs of the acquisition could be reduced by purchasing a mixture of new and refurbished aircraft or signing a lease deal.
The continuing interest in Lockheed Martin's F-16 is keeping GE and Pratt & Whitney busy building F110 and F100 engines for export orders, while both companies are developing engines for 5th generation fighters like the F-22 and F-35.
Overall, production during the 2009-2018 forecast period is projected to total 215 aircraft.
India’s HAL to Deliver First Export Dhruv Helicopter / From HAL To Ecuador: 7 Choppers
(NSI News Source Info) BANGALORE - January 30, 2009: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which will be showcasing wide array of its Research and Development (R&D) capabilities along with current and new products during Aero India 2009 will hand over a Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to the Ecuadorian Air Force.
HAL which has bagged a contract to supply seven ALHs to the South American country will hand over its first chopper during the biennial airshow which is to be held at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka, from February 11 to 15.
Sources said that the Bangalore- based defence public sector undertaking, which clinched the $51 million deal with Ecuador to supply seven of its 5.5 tonne class helicopter will supply the first Dhruv during the airshow.The HAL Dhruv is a multi-role helicopter developed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is being supplied to the Indian Armed Forces, and a civilian variant is also available. The type was first exported to Nepal and Israel, and is on order by several other countries for both military and commercial uses. Specialized military variants include anti-submarine warfare and helicopter gunship versions. Foreign sales: In June 2008, the government of *Peru ordered two air ambulance Dhruvs for use by the Peruvian health services. Peru has also shown interest in the military version Dhruv. HAL also secured an order from the *Ecuadorian Air Force for seven Dhruvs. HAL has gained this order amidst strong competition from Elbit, Eurocopter and Kazan. HAL’s offer of $ 50.7 million for seven helicopters was about 32% lower than the second lowest bid from Elbit. The first helicopter will be delivered within six months. Dhruv also participated in a Chilean tender for 8-10 5.5 tonne, twin engined new generation helicopter, but lost to the Bell Helicopters Bell 412 amid allegations of arm-twisting by the US Government. The evaluation included flights at high altitudes, hot and desert conditions, ship deck landing, search and rescue at 12,500 ft MSL at a temperature of 2°C as well as long distance ferry flights, clocking 107 flying hours. *On August 10, 2008 HAL chairman confirmed it had finalized a deal with Turkey to supply 3 Dhruvs for $20 million. Turkey is planning to buy as many as 17 helicopters in medical assistance role. *India is also reportedly planning to transfer several Dhruvs to Myanmar. This led to protests from Amnesty International, who pointed to the use of components sourced from European suppliers as a possible violation of the EU Arms Embargo of Myanmar. In a letter to the President of the EU Council of Ministers, Amnesty stated that it had evidence that India planned to transfer two Dhruvs (with European components) to Burma. These reports have been denied by the Indian Government. *HAL is negotiating with Bolivia for delivery of five Dhruvs and with *Venezuela for seven of the choppers in transport roles, and in Europe. The Dhruv is also being offered to *Malaysia. *Indonesia is also evaluating Dhruv helicopters for the Indonesian Army. *Flight certification for Europe and North America is also being planned, in order to tap the large civilian market there.
“HAL will hand over one ALH and will line up five brand new ALH choppers during Aero India as per the contract signed with the Ecuador Aviation Authority,” said sources. The deal envisages the supply of seven helicopters in semi knock-down conditions to Ecuador in a time-frame of 15 months to two years. HAL bagged the order from the South American country last year after fierce bidding, which also involved Israel firm Elbit, Eurocopter, subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company’s, Kazan, Russia.
“A team from HAL has already visited Ecuador and a team from there has visited our facilities to gain first hand expertise. The HAL will also set up a base at Ecuador for maintenance of the ALHs,” said sources.
During Aero India, the aircraft and helicopters of HAL that would be on display are : one Hawk in flying display, Intermediate Jet Trainer, ALHs (one in flying display, one with glass cockpit in static display and one civil ALH) and one DO-228 in Maritime Reconnaissance and Intelligence Warfare (MRIW) role.
Boeing Receives STOC II Training Contract From US Army
(NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS - January 30, 2009: The Boeing Company announced it has received the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation's Omnibus Contract II (STOC II). STOC II is a multiple-award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract with a $17.5 billion cap over as many as 10 years. As awardees, Boeing and wholly owned subsidiary Tapestry Solutions are eligible to bid over the life of the program on a variety of delivery and task orders, depending on the Army's needs. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems' Training Systems and Services business unit will manage the STOC II program from St. Louis. Tapestry Solutions will manage its portion of the program from its facility in San Diego, focusing on simulation and exercise support. "This contract allows us to provide a wide array of services for the warfighter, as well as expand further within the training and simulation markets," said Training Systems and Services Vice President Mark McGraw. "Boeing is uniquely qualified to respond to the quick turnaround time required by ID/IQ contracts." Boeing uses a Streamlined Management and Response Tool to reduce response time on ID/IQ requests by quickly matching contract requirements to a database of suppliers. The company also can provide the high levels of technology and integration required to respond to all areas of STOC II: Boeing will use its Contractor Integrated Technical Information Service to provide a common, secure and controlled process of sharing data, applications and Web sites with external customers, suppliers and partners. "Boeing's management organization is key to keeping costs down while enhancing our 'performance to plan,'" said McGraw. "We strive for continuous improvement, and our quality-management systems will help us meet the customer's schedule and cost requirements." Boeing will work in close partnership with the Army Program Executive Office to provide management and oversight of all delivery and task orders awarded to the company within the STOC II environment.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Analysis: UAVs Protect U.S. Troops In Iraq
(NSI News Source Info) January 30, 2009: Unmanned aerial vehicles have proven their worth in the war on terror as reconnaissance and surveillance platforms that provide battlefield commanders with real-time, optically enhanced streaming video of terrain, suspicious movements and intelligence-driven targets of interest. On the brigade level, the Shadow-200 tactical UAV stands out. On the battalion level and lower, it's the Raven, a hand-launched UAV just 38 inches in length, with a 5-foot wingspan and with nose and side-mounted cameras. The battery-operated vehicle is so small, it can be packed in a suitcase and assembled in minutes. It can take to the air for about 60 minutes to provide soldiers in the field with real-time imagery of what lies ahead, although its cameras lack a zoom capability. But neither the Shadow nor the Raven is weapons-capable. The Predator-MQ1, however, is another matter. It's the big boy on the block with lethal punch to its payload, as terrorists in Iraq as well as Afghanistan have found out. "It's one of the most asked-for assets," said Lt. Col. Debra Lee, commander of the Air Force's 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron. "There's a kind of bidding war that goes on for its time." The Predator is described by the Air Force as a "medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft system for interdiction and conducting armed reconnaissance against critical, perishable targets." It's 27 feet long, 6.9 feet high and has a wingspan of 48.7 feet. It's powered by a four-cylinder, 110-hp engine and cruises at speeds from 85 to 135 mph at heights of up to 25,000 feet. Its range is more than 400 miles. The electronics goody bag consists of a daytime variable-aperture TV camera, a variable-aperture infrared camera for low-light/night filming and other sensors that are packed under the nose in a basketball-sized and -shaped housing that rotates 360 degrees. The cameras stream real-time video to centers in the United States as well as to ground commanders closer to its flight sectors through satellite links. The cameras' optical zoom capabilities -- six step, 155x optical zoom -- can be enhanced two times and four times digitally. Its electronics also allow the Predator's cameras to "see" through smoke and haze. Attached to pylons on its wings are two laser-guided AGM Hellfire missiles. A Hellfire launched from a Predator in 2006 killed Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi was the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq and for months had successfully escaped determined U.S. and Iraqi efforts to capture or kill him -- until intelligence about his travels in Diyala province in a particular vehicle was received. A Predator put paid to Zarqawi's orchestration of terror. "The Predator B -- MQ-9 -- can also carry 500-pound bombs," said Lee, normally a B-1 bomber pilot. "We had some here, but they're in Afghanistan now. But we hear we may be getting some again soon." The upgraded Predator is a 40-foot turboprop with a ceiling of 50,000 feet. Lee's unit is located at Joint Base Balad, which is north of Baghdad and west of Baquba. She and her 20 personnel, who include civilian contractors who maintain the Predators and their electronics, handle the birds during takeoff and landing phases.
North Korea Scraps All Accords With South Korea / North Korea Tears Up Agreements
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL - January 30, 2009: North Korea announced Friday it is scrapping agreements with South Korea on easing military tensions, accusing Seoul of pushing relations to the brink of war.
The communist state said all political and military agreements would be nullified, including one covering their Yellow Sea border - the scene of bloody naval clashes in 1999 and 2002. The statement from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, a state body, further raised tensions after months of icy relations.
It comes less than two weeks after the North's army threatened an "all-out confrontational posture" against Seoul. South Korea stepped up border monitoring and vowed to respond firmly to any violation, but said no unusual activities have been detected.
It expressed "deep regret" at Pyongyang's move and renewed an offer of dialogue. “The confrontation between the north and the south in the political and military fields has been put to such extremes that inter-Korean relations have reached the brink of a war," the North's statement said.
It blasted the conservative South Korean government of President Lee Myung-Bak for "ruthlessly scrapping" pacts reached at summits in 2000 and 2007. Lee, who took office a year ago, rolled back the "sunshine" engagement policy of his liberal predecessors and said he would review the summit pacts.
"The group of traitors has already reduced all the agreements reached between the north and the south in the past to dead documents," the committee said in the statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.South Korean Army soldiers patrol along the barbed-wire fence in Paju, north of Seoul, near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) of Panmunjom, South Korea. South Korean guard post in the eastern part of the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean Peninsula.
"Under such situation it is self-evident that there is no need for the DPRK (North Korea) to remain bound to those north-south agreements." The North has also staked out a tough position in stalled nuclear disarmament negotiations with the United States and four regional partners. Pyongyang, which staged a nuclear test in 2006, has said it may keep its atomic weapons even after ties are established with Washington, as long as any US nuclear threat remains.
Analysts believe the North is raising tensions to ensure it remains a diplomatic priority for the new Obama administration, and is also pressuring Seoul to reverse its tough stance. "This is something bad.
The North is apparently paving the way for military provocations," Yoo Ho-Yeol, a professor at Korea University, told AFP. "It is also seeking to shift responsibility for a possible military clash to the South." Paik Hak-Soon of the Sejong Institute think-tank said armed clashes may break out soon.
But Baek Seung-Joo of the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses told AFP the statement aims at "heaping pressure on Lee Myung-Bak" and does not mean clashes are more likely. The North refuses to recognise the Northern Limit Line, a sea border drawn unilaterally by US-led United Nations forces after the 1950-1953 war.
The two sides have remained technically at war since 1953 because the conflict ended without a peace treaty. But a 1991 reconciliation pact which the North has now nullified implicitly recognised the line as an interim border.
After a naval clash in June 1999 which killed dozens of North Korean sailors, the North demanded the border be redrawn. Six South Koreans were killed in another sea clash in June 2002, while the North's casualties were believed to be heavier. Since Lee took office the North has cut all official contacts with the South.
Last December it expelled hundreds of South Koreans from a joint industrial estate and tightened border controls. On January 17 its army General Staff warned it would not allow South Korean intrusions into the disputed Yellow Sea waters.
However, leader Kim Jong-Il was quoted last week as saying he hopes to push ahead with disarmament talks and does not want to raise tensions with the South.
Nato Split Over Order To Strike Afghanistan Drug Smugglers
(NSI News Source Info) January 30, 2009: A directive ordering Nato commanders to begin directly targeting drug smugglers and heroin factories in Afghanistan is being resisted by senior officers in the country. The directive, issued by US General John Craddock, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Saceur), and leaked to the German news weekly Der Spiegel, orders a significant expansion of the drugs war by Nato forces. It orders that drug smugglers should be attacked even when there is no evidence that their activities are linked to the Taleban insurgency — meaning that Nato forces would for the first time deliberately strike at civilians engaged in purely criminal activity. Previously, operations were limited to smugglers against whom there was clear evidence of support for the Taleban with money, arms or men. A Pakistani tribesman works in a poppy field at the Muhmand Agency tribal area close to the Afghan border, some 80 kms north of Peshawar on April 24, 2008. Poppy cultivators in Pakistan are incensed over the government drive to eradicate poppy fields whilst the United Nations Drug Control Programme declared the country poppy-free in 2000, but growers have been trying to restart cultivation of the lucrative crop in parts of tribal territories in Baluchistan and North West Frontier Province. It is “no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective”, General Craddock writes. Drug traffickers and narcotics facilities are “inextricably linked to the Opposing Military Forces, and may be attacked”. The directive is the result of a meeting of Nato defence ministers last October and was sent to ground commanders on January 5. Egon Ramms, the German leader of Nato command in Brunssum in The Netherlands, who is in charge of the alliance’s International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan, and General David McKiernan, its commander on the ground, are opposed to the directive, Der Spiegel says. It also publishes extracts from a highly critical response to the directive from General McKiernan’s office in Kabul. It accuses General Craddock of attempting to “seriously undermine the commitment Isaf has made to the Afghan people to restrain our use of force and avoid civilian casualties”. Major Marty O’Donnell, an Isaf spokesman, said: “We don’t comment on leaked or classified documents.” However, the substance of the story was independently confirmed to The Times by Western officials in Kabul. The claims come amid renewed speculation that the US Government wishes to press its Afghan counterpart to begin ground-based spraying of poppy fields.
BAE Systems To Provide Transparent Armored Gun Shields For U.S. Warine
(NSI News Source Info) SANTA CLARA, California – January 30, 2009: Under a $9.9 million contract, BAE Systems will provide 442 Marine Corps Transparent Armored Gun Shield (MCTAGS) turret kits used to protect service members in close urban environments. “The proven design of our MCTAGS provides direct vision while providing protection against blast fragmentation and small arms fire to the crew while in the turret,” said Ann Hoholick, vice president Amphibious Vehicles & Armor Kits for BAE Systems. “To date more than 6,000 MCTAGS kits have been installed on various military vehicles to provide added protection for the men and women in uniform.” The kits will be shipped to a Marine Corps base by BAE Systems’ current workforce where they will be installed on High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) by the U.S. Marine Corps. Work under the contract will begin immediately in York, Pennsylvania and Santa Clara, California and activity for the initial delivery order is anticipated to be completed in June 2009. The contract is managed by the Marine Corps Systems Command. BAE Systems’ transparent armored gun shield units have been configured for a wide range of vehicles, including Bradley, M1 Abrams, M113, HMMWV, Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement, Logistics Vehicle System, Assault Amphibious Vehicle – Personnel and for the Stryker Common Ballistic Shield.
Part 2: Arabs Should Contribute Forces Or Funds To Isolate Somali/Aden Pirates Being In their Neighborhood / Bordering Countries
Part 2: Arabs Should Contribute Forces Or Funds To Isolate Somali/Aden Pirates Being In their Neighborhood / Bordering Countries
(NSI News Source Info) January 30, 2009: The Somali pirates are driving up the price of Tuna. Indian ocean tuna fishing is a $6 billion a year industry, with hundreds of boats working off the east coast of Africa. Pirates will seize the fishing boats, even though they these vessels bring a smaller ransom than the larger merchant vessels. But ransoms as high as a million dollars have been paid for tuna fishing boats. This has driven up the coast of insurance, and many boats avoid the increase by staying away from the Somali coast. This has caused the catch to decline about 30 percent in the last two years. This has caused a major recession in the ports in the region that supply the fishing boats with fuel, other supplies and services. Many of the pirates feel it is their patriotic duty to go after the tuna fishing boats, which are destroying the tuna stocks off the coast by overfishing. Since there is no Somali government to regulate the fishing, the large boats (up to 6,000 tons) take all the tuna they can get. Populations of some fishing species have already collapsed, and will take a decade or more (if ever) to revive. The smaller Somali fishing boats can't compete with the larger fishing ships from Europe and East Asia. January 25, 2009: Ethiopia has completed the withdrawal of its troops from Somalia. Already, other nations in the region are asking Ethiopia to send its troops back in. Ethiopia is the only one in the region (if not in Africa, with the possible exception of South Africa) who can handle the Somali gunmen. Somalis and Ethiopians have been neighbors, and at war with each other, for centuries. While the Ethiopians have learned how to deal with the Somalis, they would rather not. It's a nasty business, and these days you get accused of war crimes if you are too good at it for too long. Several hundred heavily armed members of al Shebab, the al Qaeda sponsored Islamic radical group, seized control of Baidoa, long the headquarters for the Transitional National Government (TNG). For the TNG and al Shebab, control of anything is largely symbolic. The TNG represents an attempt by the traditional Somali power brokers to get along with each other and form a government. That didn't work. Al Shebab represents the efforts of one Islamic radical faction to take over the entire country and establish an Islamic dictatorship.
That won't work either, if only because there are several other factions of Islamic radicals competing with al Shebab. And if the Islamic radicals are too successful, the Ethiopians (who have made no secret of this plan) will come back. And then there are the U.S. and NATO commandos up north in Djibouti, who are also up to something. But they are not holding any press conferences about it, unlike al Shebab, which loves to tell the world what it's doing, or thinks it's doing, or plans on doing. The U.S. and Kenya have come to terms on a deal whereby Somali pirates captured by U.S. forces, will be jailed and prosecuted in Kenya. The U.S. will provide money, and other assistance, to reimburse Kenya for their efforts. Most other nations, with warships patrolling the Somali coast, do not have any arrangements to deal with captive pirates. Those ships have been told, in effect, that they can kill pirates, but not take them alive. The anti-piracy patrol is working. While there were twelve ships taken last November, and two in December, none have been taken in January. The pirates currently hold ten ships, having received ransom for, and released six ships this month. The pirates are trying to come up with new tactics, to get around the constant presence of the foreign warships. But so far, the anti-piracy patrol has been able to counter new pirate tactics. January 24, 2009: In Mogadishu, a suicide car bomber set off his explosives before reaching his target (the African Union headquarters), and killed 15 civilians and wounded over two dozen. January 23, 2009: In Somaliland (one of two self-proclaimed statelets in the north, to the west of Puntland), police have arrested several dozen Islamic terrorists and seized ten shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles. The men, and weapons, came from Eritrea (which, with Iran, is supporting Islamic terrorist groups in Somalia).
There were three suicide bombings in Somaliland last October, which prompted the local government and tribal leaders to go after Islamic terrorists (who normally would be tolerated if they did no harm locally.) Al Quaeda has put more money and men into Somalia. The results have been disappointing, because the Somalis are difficult to control, and very dangerous if you anger them. It's like herding cats (if you can imagine cats armed with automatic weapons and nasty tempers.) January 22, 2009: The UN has announced that it will halt food aid to Somalia unless the attacks on the aid effort stop. This includes the extortion of money from food aid trucks by hundreds of roadblocks. But the worst danger is the random attacks on food aid operations personnel, both transportation and distribution. The UN supervised program is currently distributing 57,000 tons of food to 2.5 million people in central and southern Somalia. The food reaches the country via ship, which, for the last few years, has been accompanied by a warship, to prevent seizure by pirates. But once ashore, the food is increasingly stolen by bandits and warlords, who then sell it in the markets, or even take it to neighboring countries (if the prices are sufficiently higher.) It's unknown if the UN would actually halt the food aid program, but it's unusual for them to even threaten to do so. The UN is also trying to get Kenya to stop sending Somali refugees back to Somali. Kenya accepted 60,000 Somali refugees last year, and have had no end of problems with them. Somali gunmen try, and often succeed, in using the refugee camps as rest areas. Worse, the Somali gunmen sometimes do some looting in Kenya, instead of going back to Somali to steal. So Kenya has told the UN to stuff it, and is turning away most Somalis trying to flee into Kenya.
Rolls-Royce Wins £198M to Support British Harriers / Harriers Power up With New Contract
(NSI News Source Info) January 30, 2009: RAF and Royal Navy Harrier 'jump-jets' are set to benefit from a new £198m support contract signed with Rolls-Royce to support the aircraft's Pegasus engine over the next ten years.
The Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine provides the Harrier with its unique Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing capability and the new contract will guarantee its availability to the front line, as well as providing all aspects of technical support.
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said:
"Today's £198m contract will ensure that the Harrier jump-jets continue to demonstrate their power and versatility in support of ground forces in Afghanistan or flying from our aircraft carriers. The Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine gives the Harrier its unique Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing capability.The BAE Systems/Boeing Harrier II (GR5, GR7, and GR9 series) is a second generation vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) jet aircraft used by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and, since 2006, the Royal Navy. It was developed from the earlier Hawker Siddeley Harrier and is closely related to the U.S.-built AV-8B Harrier II. Both are primarily used for light attack or multi-role tasks, and are often operated from small aircraft carriers.
"This contract follows in the footsteps of other fast-jet support contracts in offering improved availability of aircraft whenever and wherever they are needed."
Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace will be managing the new contract from its site at Bristol, with some work being carried out at RAF Wittering and the main repair and overhaul being carried out at the Rolls-Royce site at Ansty in Leicestershire.
Defence Equipment and Support Harrier Project Team Leader, Group Captain Andy Ebdon, said:
"Awarding this contract to Rolls-Royce for complete through-life support of Pegasus is a very significant achievement. It not only assures affordable engine availability, but also incentivises both industry and the MOD to actively work together to improve efficiency. The end effect is better value for money and improved support performance for the front line."
The aircraft is operated in the close air support role by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy under the umbrella of Joint Force Harrier.
Harrier GR9A aircraft, with upgraded Pegasus engines to deal better with extreme conditions, have been operating from Kandahar Airbase in Afghanistan for some time in support of NATO forces conducting operations against the Taliban.
In the UK Harriers are based at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland and RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire, as well as operating as required from Royal Navy aircraft carriers.
4,000th Humvee Transferred to Iraqi Government / Coalition Transfers 4,000th Humvee to Iraqi Government
4,000th Humvee Transferred to Iraqi Government / Coalition Transfers 4,000th Humvee to Iraqi Government
(NSI News Source Info) TAJI, Iraq - January 30, 2009: Coalition members transferred the 4,000th armored Humvee to the Iraqi government Jan. 25 as part of a program to provide mission-capable Humvees to Iraqi security forces and on-the-job training to Iraqi mechanics. The program, based at Camp Taji here, is managed by logistics personnel from Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, with assistance from Army Materiel Command, Tank and Automotive Command, Multinational Corps Iraq and other coalition partners.
The program includes a complete refurbishment of Humvees for the Iraqi Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry and Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Bureau. The project employs more than 500 Iraqis with varying ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs.
The Humvees began arriving at the Retrograde Property and Assistance Team facility here in late 2007 for induction into the program, officials said. Production began in January 2008 with instruction and on-the-job training.
“Above all, this partnership demonstrates the cooperation between the U.S. government, our supporting contractors … and the [Iraqi government] to train and equip Iraqi security forces,” Army Col. Michael Sage, deputy chief of staff for the transition command’s logistics directorate, said.
The vehicles are refurbished to a mission-capable condition, then inspected by a joint U.S. and Iraqi team prior to transfer to the Iraqi government.
The first Humvees were fielded to the Iraqi army March 12. The production goals for the program included an initial delivery of 200 vehicles in March and 400 vehicles every month thereafter. The team is poised to reach its target of up to 8,500 Humvees by the end of 2009, officials said.
“It has been our pleasure to deliver over 4,000 Humvees to the [Iraqi government] in support of its security mission,” Robert Cini, a project manager, said. “The 522 Iraqi employees refurbishing the M1114 [Humvees] on this project are extremely proud of their contribution in keeping their streets and neighborhoods safe.”
Czech Senate Votes To Boost Afghan Troop Levels
(NSI News Source Info) PRAGUE - January 30, 2009: The Czech Senate voted Jan. 28 to increase the maximum number of troops serving in the NATO ISAF mission in Afghanistan to 480 from 415. The deployment is expected to start in late spring or early summer. The government's original proposal of 645 troops was rejected by the lower chamber of parliament. The government coalition has 101 seats out of 200 in that chamber. The proposal now heads to the lower chamber, where a vote will take place Feb. 3. The breakdown of troops is as follows: Kabul Airport, 1st half of year, 55, 2nd half, 55; Logar province, 1st half, 275, 2nd half, 275; the town of Sharan, helicopter unit, 2nd half only, 110; Uruzghan province, 1st half only, 80; Arthur weapon-locating system, 1st half, 40, 2nd half, 40. In addition, 100 special operations troops will be sent to Afghanistan for operation Enduring Freedom for counterterrorism operations. The Senate also agreed to maintain the existing contingent of 430 Czech troops in Kosovo as part of NATO's KFOR mission.
Finland Open To NATO Membership
(NSI News Source Info) HELSINKI - January 30, 2009: Finland remains open to the possibility of joining NATO, according to the Finnish government's latest Security and Defense Policy Report (SDPR). NATO's military and security objectives mirror Finland's concerns and tasks in parallel areas, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said in a press conference. Military observers say NATO membership for Finland may happen as soon as 2011. However, Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said it is "highly unlikely" that Finland would join NATO before 2011. "NATO continues to be a future option for Finland, but before that we should take actions to strengthen crossborder defense cooperation in the Nordic countries," Stubb said. The SDPR noted that "a broad political consensus" was essential before any formal decision could be made on NATO membership. "NATO's objectives, tasks and obligations correspond with the foreign and security policy goals of Finland and the European Union," Vanhanen said. "There is and will continue to be a strong case to consider Finland's membership of NATO in the future. Finland regards NATO as the most important military security cooperation organization." Finland joined NATO's Partnership for Peace program in 1994, the Planning and Review Process in 1995, and the alliance's Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997.