(NSI News Source Info) LONG BEACH, Calif. - March 31, 2009: Boeing March 26., celebrated the 'major join' of Qatar's first C-17 Globemaster III advanced airlifter in a ceremony at the company's C-17 final assembly facility in Long Beach. Qatar was the first Middle East nation to order the C-17. During major join, the airlifter's four major fuselage sections -- the forward, center and aft fuselages and wing assembly -- are integrated, and the aircraft looks like a C-17 for the first time. Qatari officials drove ceremonial rivets into the aircraft's fuselage today as Boeing executives and hundreds of employees looked on. Boeing will deliver Qatar's first C-17 this summer. "This is an exciting moment for our country," said Gen. Ghanim Shaheen Al-Ghanim, deputy chief of staff for the Qatar Armed Forces. "Watching this C-17 nearing the end of the assembly line means we are now just months away from a new era in critical airlift capabilities in our region -- for our troops and for those in need of humanitarian supplies or disaster relief." Boeing and the government of Qatar signed an agreement on July 21, 2008, for the purchase of C-17 advanced airlifters and associated equipment and services to provide new strategic-airlift capabilities for the country's defense forces. "The C-17 will strengthen Qatar's ability to transport equipment and troops in the region, as well as participate in humanitarian operations in the Middle East and South Asia," said Brig. Gen. Ahmad Al-Malki, head of Qatar's airlift selection committee. "Its high reliability and operational flexibility are reasons why we selected it." "Boeing is extremely proud to provide Qatar with the kind of strategic airlift capability and superior mobility that the C-17 continues to deliver to all of our customers," said Tommy Dunehew, Boeing International C-17 program manager. "In challenging military and humanitarian operations, the C-17 has proven again and again that it is the most advanced airlifter in the world and a global leader in mobility." Boeing will provide support for Qatar's C-17s, including material management and depot maintenance support, under the C-17 Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership. There are currently 198 C-17s in service worldwide -- 14 with international customers. The U.S. Air Force, including active Guard and Reserve units, has 184. International customers include the UK Royal Air Force, the Canadian Forces, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability consortium of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. The United Arab Emirates announced on Feb. 24 that it will acquire four C-17s.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Boeing Holds 'Major Join' Ceremony For Qatar's 1st C-17
Lease Corporation International Group Orders 20 Bombardier CSeries Jetliners With Options To Purchase A Further 20
Lease Corporation International Group Orders 20 Bombardier CSeries Jetliners With Options To Purchase A Further 20
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 31, 2009: Bombardier Aerospace announced today that Lease Corporation International Aviation (New Buildings) Limited has signed a firm purchase agreement for three CS100 and 17 CS300 jetliners. In July 2004, Bombardier announced the development of the CSeries family of airliners to replace the cancelled BRJX project. The CSeries would be larger than the current Canadair Regional Jets, and capable of carrying 110 or 130 passengers. For the first time, Bombardier would be competing directly with the smallest offerings from the much larger Boeing and Airbus companies. At the time, Bombardier expected the aircraft to be available by 2013. In March 2005, Bombardier's board decided to promote the plane to airlines to gather advance orders. Two models were announced: the 110-seat C110, and the 130-seat C130. The CSeries would feature new, more fuel-efficient engines and a higher percentage of composite materials in its fuselage, a strategy similar to that used in the much larger Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. The aircraft were designed to seat passengers in a 3+2 arrangement in coach and a 2+2 arrangement in business/first class, similar to the Boeing 717. The aircraft would have under-wing turbofans. The CSeries' cross-section was designed to give enhanced seating comfort for passengers, with features like broader seats and armrests for the middle passenger and larger windows at every seat to give every passenger the physical and psychological advantages of ample natural light. The CSeries cabin would also have large, rotating overhead storage bins, a first for single-aisle aircraft, allowing each passenger to stow a sizeable carry-on bag on board. Compared to the cabins of current in-service narrowbody aircraft, the CSeries would provide airlines with the largest overhead bin volume per passenger and a wider aisle that would allow for faster boarding and disembarcation of passengers. In May 2005, Bombardier secured agreements with the Federal Government of Canada, the Provincial Government of Quebec, and the Government of the United Kingdom for supports and loans for the CSeries project. The Canadian government has committed US$350 million in financing; the British government has committed US$300 million. The fuselage will be built by China Aviation Industry Corp. I (AVIC I). Final assembly of the aircraft was to be at Mirabel Airport, outside Montreal, Quebec. Substantial portions of the aircraft were to be constructed at Bombardier facilities in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The purchaser, which also took options on a further 20 CSeries aircraft, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lease Corporation International Limited (LCI). LCI is a privately owned aircraft leasing company that owns and leases planes to major airlines. Based on list prices, the firm order for 20 CSeries aircraft is valued at approximately $1.44 billion U.S. “This firm order for both CS100 and CS300 aircraft adds to the momentum we anticipated for CSeries aircraft following the initial firm order by Deutsche Lufthansa AG. Moreover, LCI’s purchase confirms the flexibility designed into this technologically advanced aircraft family as required by all our customers, but especially leasing companies,” said Gary R. Scott, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “We are grateful for LCI’s confidence in the CSeries aircraft and delighted to welcome them as the launch leasing company customer. We look forward to working with them on further development of the aircraft for its entry into service in 2013.” “We are excited about the future of Bombardier’s CSeries jetliner family,” said LCI Chairman, Adam Tomazos. “Market studies carried out by ourselves and other organizations see a large worldwide demand for aircraft in the 100- to 149-seat category over the next two decades and the CSeries jetliner family is a perfect fit.” The launch of the CSeries family of aircraft was announced at the Farnborough Air Show on July 13, 2008. The 110-seat and 130-seat CSeries family of aircraft brings unmatched passenger comfort, performance, and operating economics, benefiting from the latest technological advancements, including: fourth-generation aerodynamics; increased use of composites and advanced aluminium alloys in structures; the very latest in system technologies, such as fly-by-wire, electric brakes, and a next-generation engine – the Pratt & Whitney PurePowerTM PW1000G engine. PurePowerTM represents a significant breakthrough in turbofan technology, especially on the environmental front where it will set new benchmarks from dramatically reduced fuel burn, noise, and emissions. At time of entry into service in 2013, the CSeries family of aircraft will be the greenest single-aisle aircraft in its class. These game-changing aircraft will emit 20* per cent less CO2 and 50* per cent less NOx, fly four* times quieter, and deliver dramatic energy savings – 20* per cent fuel burn advantage as well as 15* per cent improved cash operating costs versus current in-production aircraft of similar size. The CSeries aircraft will set a new benchmark in the industry, consuming as little as two litres of fuel per passenger per 100 kilometres in its more dense seating layouts*. TheCS100 and CS300 aircraft models will share a new common centerline engine and have the same crew type rating, operating and maintenance procedures. Each of the aircraft models will also have operational flexibility to permit utilization on both short-haul and transcontinental routes. In addition to Bombardier’s fourth-generation transonic composite wing design, the company is also using its Reconfigurable Engineering Flight Simulator II (REFS II) to develop customized ‘fly-by-wire’ control laws specific to CSeries aircraft. This simulator is the first of many devices planned, as part of an extensive integrated test regime, to ensure the CSeries aircraft achieves consistently high levels of reliability when it enters service. About Lease Corporation International Lease Corporation International (LCI) is a privately owned aircraft lessor founded in 2004. Since its inception LCI has acquired aircraft valued at over $3.5 billion. Its customer list includes national flag carriers and major airlines such as Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Air France and Virgin Atlantic. The company’s highly experienced management team works closely with airframe and engine manufacturers, and with major financial institutions to provide aircraft leasing solutions for airlines worldwide. Further information is available at www.lciaviation.com. LCI is a member of the Libra Group.
Lockheed Martin GPS III Team Maintains Schedule Performance, Achieving Key Milestones In Preliminary Design Review Phase
Lockheed Martin GPS III Team Maintains Schedule Performance, Achieving Key Milestones In Preliminary Design Review Phase
(NSI News Source Info) NEWTOWN, Pa - March 31, 2009: The Lockheed Martin team developing the U.S. Air Force's next-generation Global Positioning System (GPS) spacecraft, known as GPS III, continues to meet or exceed key milestones on schedule in the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) phase of the program. Lockheed Martin GPS III Team Maintains Schedule Performance, Achieving Key Milestones In Preliminary Design Review Phase Lockheed Martin, Newtown, Pa., along with teammates ITT, Clifton, N.J., and General Dynamics of Gilbert, Ariz., have successfully completed 61 of 71 subsystem and assembly PDRs, with the Global Positioning Systems Wing of the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles, Calif. The GPS III PDRs successfully completed within the last month include a spacecraft bus PDR, consisting of 31 individual bus assemblies and seven bus subsystem PDRs. General Dynamics completed a series of 12 network communication PDRs in late March. The team is now gearing up for a navigation payload PDR at ITT. This process will culminate with a comprehensive spacecraft Segment PDR in late May that will validate that the design meets warfighter and civil requirements prior to entering the Critical Design Review phase. "The entire team is executing according to plan, achieving important design milestones and retiring risk for this critical program," said Col. Dave Madden the U.S. Air Force GPS Wing Commander. "Our steady progress is the result of a joint government-industry team focused on mission success and delivering the much-needed capabilities that GPS III will provide to users around the globe." GPS III will improve position, navigation and timing services and provide advanced anti-jam capabilities yielding superior system security, accuracy and reliability. The team is working under a $3 billion Development and Production contract awarded in May 2008 to produce up to 12 GPS IIIA satellites, with first launch projected for 2014 The new generation GPS IIIA satellites will deliver significant improvements over current GPS space vehicles, including a new international civil signal (L1C), and increased M-Code anti-jam power with full earth coverage for military users. "Our proven heritage design of the various elements and strong partnership with the Air Force has been critical to the success of the PDRs and meeting the planned schedule," said Dave Podlesney, Lockheed Martin's GPS III program director. "We are on track to deliver a successful Segment PDR for our customer and move quickly and efficiently into the next phase of this essential program." The GPS constellation provides critical situational awareness and precision weapon guidance for the military and supports a wide range of civil, scientific and commercial functions – from air traffic control to the Internet – with precision location and timing information. Air Force Space Command's 2nd Space Operations Squadron (2SOPS), based at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., manages and operates the GPS constellation for both civil and military users. 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.
Russian Military Hardware Set Footing In United Arab Emirates
(NSI News Source Info) March 31, 2009: Russia is beginning to capture new arms markets of Arab countries that were earlier oriented to the West, the head of the Russian Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation said. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (2R) meets with ruler of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktoum (2L) and members of his delegation at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 30, 2009. Russia is beginning to enter new armaments markets where presence was previously considered as hardly probable. In particular, some Persian Gulf countries, including Qatar and Kuwait, are displaying certain interest in the development of military and technical cooperation.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili Vows To Build Strong, Modern Army
(NSI News Source Info) TBILISI - March 31, 2009: Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has pledged to build new and stronger armed forces in the light of the recent military conflict with Russia. Georgia's military suffered a major defeat in a five-day war with Russia in August last year after attempting to regain its breakaway region of South Ossetia. Georgia reportedly lost up to 3,000 servicemen and police in the conflict although Tbilisi confirmed only about 70 deaths. "This time we are going to build modern, significantly higher quality, significantly stronger armed forces, and no one should have any illusions about that," Saakashvili told reporters late on Monday after a meeting with Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Georgia signed in January a strategic partnership treaty with the United States, which has long provided economic and military support for Tbilisi, including training its troops. Saakashvili said that previous U.S. training programs were limited to training peacekeepers, rather than prepared the Georgian military for full-scale military operations, and expressed hope that Washington would provide stronger support to Tbilisi in developing its military. "After signing the treaty Georgia and the U.S. have entered a new stage of military and political cooperation," he said. Georgia lost control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in bloody post-Soviet conflicts in the early 1990s. The two republics, bolstered by Russian peacekeepers, have had de facto independence since then, and have been a bone of contention between Georgia and Russia. Major-General Devi Tchankotadze (L), Chief of Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces, and General James E. Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. , salute during a wreath laying ceremony at a military base in Gori some 80 km (50 miles) west of Tbilisi, March 30, 2009. Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states on August 26, two weeks after the war with Georgia, triggered by Tbilisi's attack on South Ossetia.
Madagascar Suspended From Southern African Group
(NSI News Source Info) LOZITHA, Swaziland - March 31, 2009: Madagascar's neighbors have suspended the impoverished nation from their regional development and democracy club, and threatened Tuesday to take further steps if the Indian Ocean island's ousted president is not restored to power. A Southern African Development Community summit that ended early Tuesday also called on the West to lift sanctions against another member, Zimbabwe. Madagascan police controls a street intersection in downtown Antananarivo on March 28, 2009. Supporters of Madagascar's ousted president Marc Ravalomanana turned out for the sixth consecutive day of protest against the toppling of their leader 11 days ago. Up to 20,000 demonstrators gathered in Democracy Square in the capital Antananarivo, where some government officials called for a national strike to begin on Monday. Street protests led by opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, who accused Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana of corruption and mismanagement, brought down Ravalomanana earlier this month. Ravalomanana ceded power to the military, which declared Rajoelina the new president. Tomaz Salomao, executive director of the southern African group, said the summit urged Rajoelina "to vacate the office of the president as matter of urgency, paving the way for unconditional reinstatement of President Ravalomanana." If that does not happen, the leaders said in a communique that followed the daylong summit, the regional group would work with the African Union and the United Nations to "consider other options to restore constitutional normalcy." The African Union had earlier condemned Rajoelina and suspended Madagascar until it has a government elected through fair and transparent elections. Western nations have also voiced concern at what critics say was a coup, and Washington cut all non-humanitarian aid to Madagascar. The southern African leaders had been expected to impose sanctions on Madagascar. Their decision on Zimbabwe may offer a clue why they did not. In their communique, the southern Africans "urged the developed countries to lift all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe as these sanctions will undermine the country's and (regional) efforts to normalize the situation in that member state." Zimbabwe's inflation is the world's highest and has left most of its people dependent on foreign handouts, and a cholera outbreak has killed more than 4,000 people since August. President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from Britain, blames Western sanctions for Zimbabwe's economic collapse. But the longtime opposition party blames mismanagement and corruption by Mugabe's party. Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai formed a unity government earlier this year after months of negotiations.
British Troops In Iraq Pack Their Bags
(NSI News Source Info) Basra, Iraq - March 31, 2009: British armed forces move toward a complete withdrawal from Iraq, marking an end to their six-year presence in the war-hit country.
Major-General Andy Salmon, Britain's senior commander in Iraq, is slated to surrender the army's main base to the US command on May 31, the official end-of-combat date. A British military band performs during a ceremony of the departure of the British forces in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad, March 29, 2009. Iraqi officials on Sunday said goodbye to British troops six years after they invaded, the farewell feast marking the beginning of the end of an unpopular and controversial British presence in Basra.
Salmon, who is slated to return to the UK with most of Britain's 4000 troops, said Tuesday that the British military has scored major achievements in Iraq and will leave the country with their "heads held high".
Involvement in the US-led military campaign in Iraq has come at a price for Britain; more than 180 British troops have lost their lives.
British army personnel have reportedly been anxiously awaiting their departure from Iraq. "Hopefully when the last British soldier leaves Iraq, it will stay peaceful because no one really wants to come back," says Corporal Nathanael Wrigglesworth.
More than 1,320,000 Iraqis have been killed, according to justforeignpolicy.org Following Washington's invasion of Iraq in 2003, the British-led coalition took control of Basra -- Iraq's third-largest city and a strategic oil hub.
Britain's pullout comes 50 years after its previous exit from Iraq, when it left the Habbaniyah base near Fallujah and ended a 41-year presence.
US 'Looks Forward' To Iran Help, After 30 Years On Afghanistan Factor
(NSI News Source Info) The Hague - March 31, 2009: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggests that Iran seeks stability and an end to the drug trade that bankrolls the Afghan insurgency.
Iran has accepted an invitation to take part in a UN-sponsored conference on Afghanistan in the Hague, marking a turning point in three decades of its deadlocked relations with the US. Clinton, speaking to reporters en route to The Hague, said she is "looking forward" to Iran's participation and contribution to achieve security in the war-hit Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she "looks forward" to Iran's help in Afghanistan. Previous Iranian efforts to bring stability to the war-torn country were not welcomed by Washington.
"The fact that they accepted the invitation to come suggests that they believe there is a role for them to play and we are looking forward to hear about that," said the former first lady.
"From our information, they are really concerned about all the narcotics crossing the border into their country… This is a matter of their own internal security. . . . I would imagine that's an area where they are willing to work with others," Clinton added.
She did not rule out a sit-down with Iranian delegates at the conference -- which is directed at rallying world support for calm in Afghanistan at a time when US military efforts have reached a stalemate in the landlocked country.
The meeting will bring together leading representatives from more than 70 countries and international organizations. Iran neighbors Afghanistan and has close historical, cultural and linguistic ties with the country.
Tehran's post 9/11 cooperation with Washington to uproot the Taliban were to such an extent that according to the former US special envoy to Kabul, James Dobbin, "few countries were as helpful to the United States - in its early involvement in Afghanistan - as Iran."
Former National Security Council official Flynt Leverett has also acknowledged Iran's help in stemming Afghan violence. "Washington's engagement with Tehran over Afghanistan provided significant and tangible benefits for the American position during the early stages of the war on terror," he has said.
US President George W. Bush, however, responded to the Iranian efforts by labeling the country as an "axis of evil" in a 2002 State of the Union address.
G20 Summit To Tackle Global Financial Crisis, But Consensus On Solution Uncertain
(NSI News Source Info) Washington D.C - March 31, 2009: The G20 summit in London April 1st and 2nd aims to reach a consensus on how to solve the global economic crisis. However, there are many challenges that must be met first. Professor John Kirton, director of the G20 Research Group at the University of Toronto, says world leaders face "a very big job across a very broad agenda." "The first thing they have to do is to make sure that the fiscal and monetary stimulus that the G20 countries are injecting into their economies to get growth back, to provide jobs for their citizens, is enough. That it's working well. That it's targeted in the areas that will really help the most. Secondly, they've got to make sure that the financial system is working by unblocking the credit channels," he says. That means comprehensive and up-to-date supervision and regulation of the financial industry. Kirton also warns against a knee-jerk reaction to the global recession. He says, "They have to make sure that we don't see an outburst of vicious trade protectionism, which everyone knows punishes all concerned. But [it] is such a temptation for politicians to engage in to appear to be doing something for their voters back home." Other challenges include meeting the Millennium Development Goals and modernizing major financial institutions. "We need to reform the global financial architecture, particularly the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, international institutions that were designed in and for a world of 1944, but really need to be changed for the 21st Century global economy we now have," he says. However, although the problems are shared by all at the G20 summit, getting them all to agree still won't be easy. "When you have up to 28 leaders from very diverse parts of the world, levels of development, culture, it's very difficult to get consensus - far more difficult than it is to get in the old G8 club," he says. Kirton also says that the current financial crisis is "characterized by a degree of complexity and uncertainty that's never been seen before." "So in some sense, they're all in this together searching in the dark for a common answer. And I think that is a unifying bond that will pull them together," he says. At last November's summit in Washington, the G20 did set the groundwork for modernizing the financial structure. This includes assessing financial risks not just at individual institutions, but across the whole financial sector. Kirton also says financial institutions must end a typical cycle of economic behavior. "So, for example, when times are good and banks are making a lot of money, they should set aside more capital for a rainy day (bad times). At present of course, when times are good, they think they don't need that safety net so they put aside less. Then when times are bad, of course, they realize they need it so they start hoard their cash – exactly the wrong thing to do," he says. Into this crisis steps the new US President, Barack Obama, who, Kirton says, carries with him great hopes and expectations. But he'll face European leaders, who may disagree with his economic stimulus plans. The unknown factor at the G20 summit is China, which has plenty of money at its disposal. "It's difficult to imagine that even if the United States and the Europeans come to a strong consensus that they can actually solve the global problem unless China shares in that leadership," he says. The director of the G20 Research Group expects the summit to address the needs of developing countries for at least two reasons. One is the long-standing commitment of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to helping poor countries. And the other, Kirton says, is the understanding Barack Obama has, from personal experience, of how the crisis could affect such countries as Indonesia and Kenya. The unanswered question is: Will parliaments and congress back home follow through and release the money needed to help poor countries?
Afghanistan Conference Draws 80 Countries
(NSI News Source Info) The Hague - March 31, 2009: Representatives from more than 80 nations, including the United States and Iran, are gathering Tuesday in the Hague for a key conference focusing on Afghanistan at a time when NATO and U.S. forces there are fighting a rising insurgency.
The Afghanistan conference follows the unveiling of a new U.S. strategy that calls for sending more aid and additional troops to conflict-torn country and to focus more on al-Qaida terrorists operating there.
Dutch Development and Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders, whose country is hosting the conference, says the meeting is not about dollars and soldiers, but about forging an international agreement on what to do in Afghanistan.
"Obviously the outcome of this conference has direct implications for troop levels and for money being spent on development cooperation," said Bert Koenders. "But I think the importance is to force a new international consensus and a contract between Afghanistan and the international community on mutual rights and obligations."
Mr. Koenders said the Afghan government should do more to fight corruption and to guarantee August presidential elections are free and fair. He says the international community should strike a better balance between military and non-military aid.
But European members of NATO are under pressure to come up with more troops for the alliance's operations in Afghanistan, particularly after U.S. President Barack Obama said he would add 4,000 troops to quell the rising insurgency. That is on top of the 17,000 new troops he has already pledged.
On NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer also urged Europe to do more, saying this should not simply be Mr. Obama's war. World leaders are expected to discuss that issue at a NATO summit on the French-German border later this week.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be joining representatives from more than 80 countries and international organizations at the conference. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Afghan President Hamid Karzai will also be there, as will representatives from Iran. There appear to be no plans for high-level talks between U.S. and Iranian officials, but Minister Koenders says Iran's presence is key. "I think they are very vital for the future of Afghanistan," he said. "It is a neighboring country. They have an enormous interest in stability in Afghanistan, in terms of the refugee flows they have had to deal with, but also in terms of exports of drugs [from Afghanistan]."
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also expected at the Hague meeting. Russia hosted its own conference on Afghanistan last Friday.
TATA Advanced Systems To Supply Surface To Air Missile Launchers To Indian Air Force
(NSI News Source Info) March 31, 2009: The Tata Group's defence arm, Tata Advanced Systems, has bagged an order for supplying 16 indigenous Akash surface to air missile (SAM) launchers for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The Strategic Electronics Division received the Rs 182 crore order for the launchers on Monday, even as the group celebrated the launch of its Nano small car.
The order for the missile launchers is bigger than the Rs 172 crore order for Pinaka multi-barrel rockets manufactured by the group for the Indian army in 2007.
The total contract for two regiments of Akash SAMs worth an estimated Rs 1,200 crore was placed by the IAF on public sector undertaking Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) earlier this year and deliveries are to be completed in three years.
While public sector undertaking BDL is manufacturing the missiles, BEL is producing the Rajendra phased array radar.
Philippines: Kidnappers Threaten To Behead Red Cross Hostage
(NSI News Source Info) March 31, 2009: A government official in the Philippines says kidnappers holding three Red Cross workers have threatened to behead one of their captives Tuesday by 2 p.m. local time (0600 UTC) unless police and troops withdraw from Jolo island. Philippine government via Associated Press Abu Sayyaf militants set up camp in the thick jungles of Jolo in the southern Jolo island. Philippine troops prepare to pull out from Jolo island in order to save the life of ICRC hostages threatened with beheading by Abu Sayyaf militants, 29 Mar 2009.
Authorities say the militant group Abu Sayyaf contacted the government late Sunday to demand a complete evacuation of government forces from Jolo, in the southern Philippines, by Monday night. The island nation's interior secretary, Ronaldo Puno, says it is physically impossible to comply with the new demand.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is appealing for the release of its three workers - Eugenio Vani of Italy, Mary Jean Lacaba of the Philippines and Andreas Notters of Switzerland - who were kidnapped on January 15th.
Pope Benedict also added his voice to the plea for the hostages' safety. A Vatican communiqué Monday says the pontiff is urging that "humanitarian sense and reason prevail over violence and intimidation."
In his message directed to the kidnappers, ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger said the hostages were only helping people in need, and that no ideology or religious law could justify killing them.
Last week, the Philippine government withdrew troops from a portion of Jolo Island, in response to a pledge that one of the hostages would be freed. The transfer never took place, however.
Abu Sayyaf is a Muslim extremist group that says it is fighting for an Islamic state in the southern Philippines. Since its inception in the 1990s, the group has been involved in numerous kidnappings, bombings and some of the bloodiest attacks in the region.
Sri Lanka 'Could Halt Fighting'
(NSI News Source Info) March 31, 2009: The Sri Lankan government says it is considering a humanitarian pause in the offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels in the north-east of the country. The pause would allow civilians caught up in the fighting time to escape. A senior foreign ministry official told the BBC that the details for a halt would be worked out shortly. Earlier, the Sri Lankan military said more than 50 Tamil Tiger guerrillas were killed in land and sea battles in the north-eastern region. "The government is considering a humanitarian pause and the modalities will be worked out shortly," Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Dr Palitha Kohona told the BBC, without elaborating further. The Sri Lankan government has been under immense pressure from the UN and other international bodies to call a temporary halt in the fighting to allow time for tens of thousands of trapped civilians to escape. The UN says nearly 3,000 civilians may have been killed and 7,000 others injured in the fighting in the last two months. Fierce clashes Earlier, the military said two separate clashes in the north-eastern region had left more than 50 rebels dead. There has been no reaction from the Tamil Tigers to the claims but pro-rebel websites said the rebels were offering stiff resistance in the area. Neither version of events could be independently confirmed, as journalists are not allowed to report from inside the conflict zone. Meanwhile, officials say more than 1,600 civilians fled the war zone and reached government-controlled areas on Monday. The government says more than 61,000 people have already fled from rebel-held areas and have been housed in special camps in the northern region.
North Korean Launch Success Would Lead To Missile Sales
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL - March 31, 2009: The long-range missile North Korea is expected to test as soon as Saturday could reach as far as the U.S. and parts of western Europe. But U.S. military officials and other analysts say the development is dangerous not because North Korea is likely to use such missiles but because it will probably sell them to other countries, such as Iran. Conservative protesters burn a North Korean flag with a portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and a mock North Korean missile during an anti-North Korea rally denouncing the North's planned rocket launch near the U.S. embassy in Seoul March 30, 2009. The United States deployed a missile-interceptor ship from South Korea on Monday, a military spokesman said, days ahead of a North Korean rocket launch widely seen as a long-range missile test that violates U.N. sanctions. Protesters holding portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il shout slogans during an anti-North Korea rally, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul Monday. A successful launch of a long-range missile, after two failures, would validate three decades of investment and work by North Korea. It could also boost one of the country's few major sources of income -- selling weapons to other countries. The only clues about the launch's trajectory are North Korea's documents, filed with the International Civil Aviation Organization and maritime authorities, for two areas where debris from the launch is likely to fall. The first is in the sea between North Korea and Japan; the second is in the Pacific Ocean, east of Japan. Intelligence officials are watching for signs that Iranian experts will participate in the launch as they did when North Korea last fired a long-range missile in July 2006. A Japanese newspaper, Sankei Shimbun, reported Monday that a group of 15 Iranian scientists and military experts arrived in North Korea to help with the test. The paper didn't name sources for the report, and officials in South Korea said Monday they couldn't confirm it. Since January, intelligence officials in South Korea, the U.S. and other countries have been monitoring preparations at the launch pad where North Korea last tested a long-range missile. North Korea has said between April 4 and 8 it will launch a rocket carrying a satellite to space, but most outsiders say that is a cover story for a missile test. On Monday, the U.S. deployed two missile-interceptor ships from South Korea to monitor the North's launch. U.S. officials have ruled out shooting down the North's projectile. While the precise range of the long-range missile isn't clear, Dennis Blair, the U.S. national intelligence director, told a Senate panel earlier this month that if the launch works, "it could reach not only Alaska, Hawaii, but also part" of the continental U.S. Protesters holding portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il shout slogans during an anti-North Korea rally, near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul Monday. Since preparations were discovered, analysts have speculated North Korea wants to use the launch to build dictator Kim Jong Il's reputation within the country and coax new U.S. President Barack Obama to provide more financial aid and reduce pressure on disarmament. The most concrete benefit for North Korea is its potential revenue from selling the technology. Almost a decade ago, North Korea reaped as much as $600 million annually from weapons sales. But two key customers, Pakistan and Libya, stopped doing business with it after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. The North Korea-Iran weapons connection is well known in military-intelligence circles. In August, India blocked a North Korean plane from delivering cargo to Iran based on a U.S. request. North Korea is widely believed to have sent scientists to watch Iran test-fire a missile in February. "The sale of this system to Iran probably means hundreds of millions of dollars into the coffers of North Korea," says Bruce Bechtol, a former U.S. military intelligence officer who is now an analyst of North Korea's military. "This is all about proliferation. That is the most important issue." The long-range missile, called Taepodong 2 or Paektusan 2, is expected to be able to fly as far as 6,000 miles, enough to reach the western U.S. or parts of western Europe. The missile failed shortly after liftoff in the July 2006 test. In 1998, North Korea tested an earlier variant, which fell into the Pacific Ocean east of Japan during the second stage of its firing. Dan Pinkston, senior analyst at International Crisis Group in Seoul and author of a recent assessment of the North's missile systems, says the coming test will provide North Korea with new research data and, if successful, a chance to impress potential customers. It's likely to prove reliable enough to pose a threat to the U.S., Mr. Pinkston says, adding, "It's pretty shaky as far as the range goes." Experts also say North Korea is several years away from being able to place a warhead on a long-range missile. North Korea's military strategy is built around short- and mid-range missiles that can easily reach nearby South Korea and Japan, in hopes of being able to strike those countries definitively before retaliation can begin. That strategy emerged as North Korea's poverty rendered it less able to update weapons and facilities in the manner needed to sustain a protracted fight. In addition to missiles, North Korea has positioned 70% of its one-million-strong military within 100 kilometers of the border with South Korea.
US Won't Hunt Militants Over Pakistan Border: President Barack Obama
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - March 31, 2009: President Barack Obama ruled out sending US troops on a hot pursuit of extremists across the Afghan border into Pakistan -- but demanded Islamabad hold up its end of the anti-terror struggle. Referring to US missile strikes on militants, Obama said in a television interview: "If we have a high-value target within our sights, after consulting with Pakistan, we're going after them." But asked on CBS program "Face the Nation" if he would order US troops on the ground into militant safe havens inside Pakistan, Obama stressed: "No. US Army soliders set out on a patrol in Paktika province, situated along the Afghan-Pakistan border "Our plan does not change the recognition of Pakistan as a sovereign government," he said. "We need to work with them and through them to deal with Al-Qaeda. But we have to hold them much more accountable." Obama on Friday put Pakistan at the center of the fight against Al-Qaeda as part of a new strategy dispatching 4,000 more troops, in addition to an extra 17,000 already committed, and billions of dollars to the Afghan war. Asked if this was now his personal war, Obama said: "I think it's America's war." "And the focus over the last seven years I think has been lost. What we want to do is to refocus attention on Al-Qaeda," he said in a reference to predecessor George W. Bush's diversion of resources to Iraq. "We are going to root out their networks, their bases. We are going to make sure that they cannot attack US citizens, US soil, US interests, and our allies' interests around the world." With Pakistan subject to a renewed US focus, Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged its powerful intelligence service to cut contacts with extremists in Afghanistan, which he called an "existential threat" to Pakistan itself. Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence has had links with extremists "for a long time, as a hedge against what might happen in Afghanistan if we were to walk away or whatever," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "They can count on us and they don't need that hedge," Gates said, citing the ISI's links specifically to the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani militant network and to the forces of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Obama said reports of ISI links to Afghan extremists "aren't new," and attacked the notion "among the average Pakistani that this is somehow America's war and that they are not invested." "And that attitude I think has led to a steady creep of extremism in Pakistan that is the greatest threat to the stability of the Pakistan government, and ultimately the greatest threat to the Pakistani people." Obama said his planned tripling of US aid for Pakistan would strengthen the nuclear-armed nation's economy and basic services, and so erode support for terrorism. Ahead of an international meeting on Afghanistan in The Netherlands on Monday, he added the new US strategy "doesn't just rely on bullets or bombs but also relies on agricultural specialists, on doctors, on engineers." Development work in both Afghanistan and Pakistan would encourage people to see "they have much more at stake in partnering with us and the international community, than (in) giving in to some of these extremist ideologies." Gates was asked about a weekend New York Times report that US military commanders had pressed Obama for even more troops for Afghanistan. "The president has approved every single soldier that I have requested of him," the Pentagon chief said, in remarks echoed on CNN by General David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command. "And the reality is there already are a lot of troops there," Gates added. "This will bring us, when all is said and done, to 68,000 troops plus another 35,000 or so Europeans and other partners." Republican Senator John McCain, Obama's defeated opponent for the White House, said "the outlines of this proposal are good" but that he would have sent more new troops, in the order of 10,000. His own message to the US public would be that "it's going to be long and hard and tough," McCain said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Chinese Pilot Gets Top Honors For Saving Faulty Jet Fighter
(NSI News Source Info) Beijing - March 31, 2009: A Chinese pilot who successfully brought a malfunctioning jet fighter, a domestically made J-10, in for a landing was given the nation’s First-Class Merit Citation and a Meritorious Pilot gold medal last Thursday.A Chinese-made J-10 fighter jet flies low during the 7th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition held in Zhuhai, southern China's Guangdong province Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008.
Li Feng, 38, an air force pilot with more than 2,000 hours of flight time, encountered an engine problem during a tactical training exercise at an altitude of about 4,500 meters on March 7. With assistance from the command center of a nearby air base, Li tried every possible means to return to base. However, the plane lost all power at an altitude of 1,160 meters, although it was only about 6 km from the base’s runway. “There was some smoke in the cockpit, perhaps generated by the engine, which leaked into the environmental control system,” Lt.-Col. Li said during an interview with China Central Television last week. “All readings on the instrument board vanished, red lights flashed and the radio went out,” he said. Under Air Force rules, fighter pilots may eject if their aircraft loses engine power below 2,000 meters and can’t be restarted. Before Li lost contact with the control tower, the commander in the air base asked him to eject. But Li Feng insisted on having another try. “I knew where the deadline (to abandon the aircraft) was and was prepared for the ejection, but I decided not to give up unless the fighter was totally out of control.” After 106 seconds, Li was able to glide the fighter to a safe landing. During his service in the Air Force, Li handled another emergency in 1999, when his J-7 jet fighter caught fire at take-off. The award ceremony was held by the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Air Force Command in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province. Li received the medal from Yang Dongming, Deputy Commander of the PLA’s Air Force, who came especially to the city for the ceremony on behalf of Commander Xu Qiliang. Li is a deputy commander of an aviation regiment in the PLA’s Guangzhou Military Area Command. The First-Class Merit Citation is the second-highest military award can get. The Meritorious Pilot gold medal is the top award that the PLA Air Force grants to its pilots. Only a very small number of outstanding pilots have been awarded those medals since 1991. Li was also given 200,000 yuan (29,411 U.S. dollars) for his courage and composure, which allowed him to save the aircraft worth 200 million yuan. He will share the bonus with other people involved. Those who were in the control tower during the event won Second-Class Merit Citations. The J-10 is the third generation of a single-engine fighter made by China’s largest state-owned aircraft maker, Aviation Industry Corp. of China.
Pakistan Blames Taliban-Allied Militants In Lahore Attack
*Elite army and paramilitary troops battled for eight hours with gunmen who overran a police acadamy outside Lahore, killing 20. At least three of the assailants blew themselves up as troops entered.
By Mubashir Zaidi and Laura King
(NSI News Source Info) Reporting from Istanbul, Turkey, and Islamabad, Pakistan - March 31, 2009: Pakistani authorities Monday blamed Taliban-linked militants for a bloody daylong assault on a police academy outside the eastern city of Lahore that left about 20 people dead, including at least four of the assailants.Pakistan Army officers arrive during a siege at the Manawan police training school on March 30, 2009 in Lahore, Pakistan. The armed group stormed the academy just outside of the city with current reports of at least 11 people dead. The storming follows the recent attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team also in Lahore less than a month ago.
In a chillingly methodical strike, heavily armed gunmen stormed the training center as recruits gathered for morning drills. The assailants held off elite army and paramilitary troops for nearly eight hours before finally being overpowered. At least three of the attackers blew themselves up as troops overran their last stronghold, an upper floor in the compound's main building. Afterward, black-clad Pakistani commandos chanted "God is great!" and fired off rounds of celebratory gunfire.
The audacious attack was yet another sign of intensifying turmoil in Pakistan, considered a crucial U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic militants despite the fact that its year-old civilian government has been struggling to stay in control. President Obama declared last week that quelling the insurgency in Pakistan is key to success in the war in neighboring Afghanistan. He tied continuing U.S. aid to progress in confronting the militants.
The assault on the police compound, which began about 8 a.m., was swift and sudden. Pakistani news reports cited witnesses as saying that the gunmen, some in civilian dress and some in what appeared to be police uniforms, hit the lightly guarded compound from several directions at once, hurling grenades and gunning down police cadets on the compound's parade ground. After a period of initial confusion, hundreds of army and paramilitary troops, including elite Rangers, were rushed to the scene. The Dawn news television channel reported that a helicopter was hit by assailants' gunfire as it flew in troops, but managed to land safely.
Shortly before 4 p.m., acting Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced that authorities had regained control of the compound. He told reporters later that the attackers were linked to Baitullah Mahsud, commander of Pakistan's Taliban movement.
About 90 people were reported hurt, with many of the wounded spending hours trapped inside as the battle raged around them. Some police trainees said they leapt from windows to escape, or scaled the compound's high walls to get away.
At one point, the assailants appeared to repel an armored personnel carrier that tried to enter the compound. The provincial governor, Salman Taseer, described the chaotic events as a "total siege."
It was the second major attack within a month in Lahore, the cosmopolitan city capital of Punjab province that was once considered a relatively peaceful corner of the country. On March 3, six police guards and a bus driver were killed there when gunmen attacked the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team.
The attack was also reminiscent of the November onslaught in Mumbai, when teams of gunmen hit luxury hotels and other sites around India's commercial capital in a series of coordinated strikes, leaving nearly 170 people dead.
In Lahore, the police trainees who were in the compound as the attack unfolded described an operation almost military in its precision.
"They kept on spraying bullets at us without stopping, and I saw many of my colleagues getting hit, crying out and falling to the ground," said a 23-year-old recruit, Mohammed Atif, who suffered minor injuries.
Throughout the day, Pakistanis were transfixed by live television coverage of the siege, which included images of dead police recruits lying on the ground inside the compound. Footage also showed a captured assailant prone on the ground, being kicked by police before they hauled him to his feet and led him away.
Analysts said the attackers' aim may have been to demoralize the government by humiliating the security forces. Many of recruits could be seen sobbing as they emerged from the compound. Some quit the force on the spot.
"It's very likely this group had perfect knowledge of the targets and knew the operational environment well," said Rohan Gunaratna, director of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore. "They had familiarity with law-enforcement operations and their targets, and studied them very carefully over a period of time.
Zaidi is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Mark Magnier in New Delhi contributed to this report.
China Denies Spying Allegations / China Says Cyber Attacks Are A Global Challenge
(NSI News Source Info) March 31, 2009: China has denied involvement in the electronic spy network which researchers say infiltrated computers in government offices around the world. The spokesman of the Chinese embassy in London said that there was no evidence to show Beijing was involved. He suggested the findings were part of a "propaganda campaign" by the Tibetan government in exile. The research was commissioned by the Dalai Lama's office alarmed by possible breaches of security. 'Pieced together' In an official statement, Liu Weimin writes that the report by Canadian researchers at the Information Warfare Monitor is "just some video footage pieced together from different sources to attack China". Mr Liu stresses that in China "it is against the law to hack into the computers of others". Cyber attacks, he says, are "a global challenge" requiring global co-operation. "China is an active participant in such co-operation in the world." The report said that the electronic network had infiltrated 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including computers belonging to foreign ministries and embassies. 'No conclusive evidence' The Canadian researchers had been approached by the office of the Dalai Lama, who feared the computers of his Tibetan exile network had been infiltrated. The researchers said that while the network was based mainly in China, there was no conclusive evidence China's government was behind the infiltration. They said ministries of foreign affairs of Iran, Bangladesh, Latvia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Barbados and Bhutan appeared to have been targeted. Compromised The researchers said hackers were apparently able to take control of computers belonging to several foreign ministries and embassies across the world using malicious software, or malware. "We uncovered real-time evidence of malware that had penetrated Tibetan computer systems, extracting sensitive documents from the private office of the Dalai Lama." They said they believed the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused mainly on governments in Asia.
Defense Ministry Eyes Possible Lift Of U.S. Ban On Foreign Sales Of F-22 Fighter
(NSI News Source Info) March 31, 2009: The Defense Ministry will closely follow discussions in Congress next month over the United States' 2010 fiscal defense budget amid growing speculation that a ban on foreign sales of the stealth F-22 fighter jet may be lifted to keep the threatened production line alive. Israel has in the past expressed interest in the fifth-generation aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin, but has been unable to place an order due to a congressional ban on foreign exports. In addition to Israel, Japan and Australia have also expressed interest in the aircraft. A single-seater and double engine aircraft, the F-22 achieves stealth though a combination of its shape, composite materials, color and other integrated systems and can fly in enemy airspace without being detected. Israel has had its sights on the F-22 since its development began in the early 1990s. It is today the only 5th generation fighter jet fully operational with stealth capabilities and is called the "Raptor" by the US Air Force which operates squadrons out of Langley, Virginia, Florida and New Mexico. RELATED Damascus set to receive MiG 31E planes The future of the F-22 program is in question, however, as officials in the Obama administration have hinted recently that the Pentagon may decide to shut down the production line due to its high cost - as much as $150 million a piece. The proposed base budget for 2010 will be $534 billion and the Pentagon is working on preparing a list of which development programs it plans to phase out. But Israeli defense officials said there was a possibility that in order to keep the program afloat, Congress may decide to permit the sale of the advanced jet to foreign countries such as Israel. "If this happens we will definitely want to review the possibility of purchasing the F-22," explained a top military source. "In order to have strong deterrence and to win a conflict we need to have the best aircraft that exists." The Defense Ministry and the Pentagon are currently in advanced negotiations ahead of the planned signing of a contract for the order of at least 25 Joint Strike Fighters, also known as the F-35. A number of top IAF pilots recently visited the US to fly in the JSF simulator and returned to Israel with positive impressions. Defense officials would not say whether a decision in Congress on lifting the export ban on the F-22 would have an impact on Israel's decision on the JSF but said that the issue would need to be reviewed. It was possible that if the F-22 was opened for foreign sales that the IAF would decide to postpone the procurement of the JSF by a number of years, the officials said.
Poland Received First C-130E Hercules Military Transpot Plane: Reports / Air Force Officials Deliver First C-130 To Polish Military
Poland Received First C-130E Hercules Military Transpot Plane: Reports / Air Force Officials Deliver First C-130 To Polish Military
(NSI News Source Info) RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany - March 31, 2009: American and Polish airmen delivered the first of five refurbished C-130E Hercules military transport planes and spare parts March 24 to the Polish air force at Powidz Air Base, Poland.
"It's a great day for them to celebrate the arrival of the Hercules. It's vital to them being able to -- own their own -- organically pick up and go," said Air Force Maj. Gen. William A. Chambers, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe director of air and space operations.The extended range C-130E model entered service in 1962 after it was developed as an interim long-range transport for the Military Air Transport Service. Essentially a B-model, the new designation was the result of the installation of 1,360 US gallon (5,150 liter) Sargent Fletcher auxiliary fuel tanks under each wings (mid-section) and more powerful Allison T-56-A-7A turboprops. The E model also featured structural improvements, avionics upgrades and a higher gross weight. The KC-130 tankers, originally C-130Fs procured for the US Marine Corps (USMC) in 1958 (under the designation GV-1) are equipped with a removable 3,600-US gallon (13,626 L) stainless steel fuel tank carried inside the cargo compartment. The two wing-mounted hose and drogue aerial refueling pods each transfer up to 300 US gallons per minute (19 liters per second) to two aircraft simultaneously, allowing for rapid cycle times of multiple-receiver aircraft formations, (a typical tanker formation of four aircraft in less than 30 minutes). The US Navy's C-130G has increased structural strength allowing higher gross weight operation.
"They're one of our allies who are very willing to go," he said. "Whether it is Afghanistan or Iraq, they've been alongside the Americans in both fights.The 'Herc' is a great symbol of the American-Polish partnership, and we're grateful to be alongside them." It was a sentiment echoed by Polish Brig. Gen. Tadeusz Mikutel, the 33rd Air Base commander.
"This is a milestone for our air defense. The plane is able to carry 17 tons of equipment or 90 equipped soldiers. That is why the plane will leave (our) CASA planes behind," General Mikutel said. Also on hand for the celebration were Stanislaw Komorowski, Poland's vice minister of defense; Polish Lt. Gen. Andrzej Blasik, commander of the Polish air force; Pamela Quanrud, the deputy chief of mission for the American Embassy in Warsaw; and several Polish military and local government authorities.
The new plane expands the Polish air force's ability to transport troops and equipment, while providing support for evacuation and humanitarian operations. Its presence in the Polish fleet will also increase their interoperability with other air forces because the C-130 is used by several nations around the world, to include NATO allies.
The C-130 received an escort to Powidz AB by F-16s from the Polish air force when it neared its final destination, and performed two flyovers of the gathered crowd to showcase the newest addition to the Polish inventory. Upon landing, both the American and Polish crews were recognized for the achievement.
"I think we can accomplish a lot of missions to deliver cargo to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Polish Sgt. Andrzej Kozera, a C-130 flight engineer.
The Reserve aircrew from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and an active-duty loadmaster from Edwards AFB, Calif., picked the plane up in Waco, Texas, with their Polish counterparts after its refurbishment and flew it across the Atlantic, stopping at Ramstein AB. It made its final leg to Powidz AB, where it will become part of the 14th Lift Squadron.
The entire project, including total refurbishment of five aircraft, support equipment, supplies, training and contracted logistics support, is valued at $120 million.
The donation is a result of an American pledge to provide Poland with such a capability, and is fully funded through bilateral military assistance grant money.
The delivery of the five modernized and upgraded aircraft is scheduled to be complete in the summer of 2010.
Bell Wins $289M For UH-1Y, AH-1Z Production / Pentagon Contract Announcement
(NSI News Source Info) March 31, 2009: Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $288,862,757 firm fixed price contract for the Fiscal Year 2009 procurement of 11 UH-1Y and 5 AH-1Z helicopters and associated technical data for the U.S. Marine Corps. Under the US Marine Corps H-1 programme, 100 UH-1N Huey utility helicopters are being remanufactured by Bell Helicopter to the UH-1Y grade and 180 AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters to AH-1Z grade. In April 2005, the USMC decided that the helicopters will be built as new rather than remanufactured, starting from the third low-rate initial production (LRIP) batch in 2008. "The UH-1Y helicopter is fully marinised and capable of shipboard operations worldwide." This strategy was preferred because of the increase in operational deployment following Operation Iraqi Freedom, the marginal cost difference and the adverse impact of having helicopters out of commission during the upgrade process. The UH-1Y and AH-1Z have a very high level of commonality which reduces the manufacturing and procurement costs. The helicopters have a common four-bladed, composite, hingeless, bearingless main rotor system and tail rotor, engine, avionics, software, controls and displays.
Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, (60 percent) and Amarillo, Texas, (40 percent), and is expected to be completed in Oct. 2011.
Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured.
The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-09-C-0023).
US Orders 22 Mi-17CT Helos, M-16 Rifles For Iraq / Pentagon Contract Announcement
(NSI News Source Info) March 31, 2009: Aeronautical Radio Incorporated, Annapolis, Md., was awarded on Mar. 7, 2009, a $80,600,000 firm fixed price contract for the procurement and delivery of (22) Mi-17CT helicopters in support of the Iraqi Government.The Pentagon is buying 22 additional Mi-17 helicopters from Russia’s Ulan Ude aviation plant to equip the Afghan Army Air Corps, which already operates the type.
Work is to be performed at Warner Robins, Ga., (15 percent), Dubai, United Arab Emirates, (20 percent), and Ulan Ude Russia, (65 percent) with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid received.
Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity (W900KK-08-C-0011).
Pentagon Contract Announcement (Source: U.S Department of Defense; issued March 27, 2009) FN Manufacturing LLC., Columbia, S.C, was awarded on Mar. 12, 2009, a $12,785,647 firm fixed price 3-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract for 18,390 M16 A4 rifles for Iraq. Work is to be performed at Columbia, S.C., with an estimated completion date of Mar. 8, 2010. Three bids were solicited with three received. TACOM-RI, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (W52H09-08-D-0121).
Monday, March 30, 2009
Russia's New Arctic Force To Focus On Border Protection
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - March 30, 2009: Russia will prioritize the strengthening of its border guards while creating a special Arctic force in line with a new strategy to protect its regional interests, a senior parliamentary member said Monday. The Russian Security Council posted on its website last Friday a document entitled "The fundamentals of Russian state policy in the Arctic up to 2020 and beyond." The document outlines the country's strategy in the region, including the deployment of military, border and coastal guard units "to guarantee Russia's military security in diverse military and political circumstances." According to the document, Russia will create by 2020 a group of forces to protect its political and economic interests in the Arctic. "This is not about the creation of a new strike force. The military component [of the Arctic Group of Forces] will be optimized to accomplish new tasks. The main focus will be on tasks performed by border guard units," said Adm. (Ret.) Vyatcheslav Popov, head of the Commission on Maritime Policy in the upper house of the Russian parliament and the former commander of the Northern Fleet. Popov stressed the necessity of building infrastructure for border guard units on Russia's Arctic coast and islands in the Arctic Ocean, as well as expanding the network of forward-based airfields in the region. "The military component of the Arctic force will include units from the Northern and the Pacific fleets and military districts whose northern borders lie in the Arctic," the admiral said. The new document also prioritizes the delineation of the Arctic shelf "with respect to Russia's national interests." High Arctic territories, seen as the key to huge untapped natural resources, have increasingly been at the center of mounting disputes between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark in recent years as rising temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice. President Dmitry Medvedev said in September at a Russian Security Council session that the extent of the Russian continental shelf in the Arctic should be defined as soon as possible. Medvedev also said the Arctic shelf was a guarantee of Russia's energy security and that the Arctic should become a resource base for Russia this century, adding that "about 20% of Russia's GDP and 22% of Russian exports are produced" in the area. Russia has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov ridge in the summer of 2007 - to support its territorial claims in the region. Moscow pledged to submit documentary evidence to the UN on the external boundaries of Russia's territorial shelf by 2010. A Russian proposal on creating security structures in the Arctic region will be discussed at a ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in April. The Arctic Council was established in 1996 to protect the unique nature of the Arctic region. The intergovernmental forum comprises Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
China Says No Plans To Shoot Down North Korean Rocket
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING - March 30, 2009: China has no plans for special operations against North Korea's upcoming rocket launch, a Chinese Air Force General said on Monday. North Korea announced plans last month to launch what it says is a communications satellite from its Musudan-ri launch site on April 4-8. However, the U.S., Japan and South Korea believe that the secretive state is planning to test its Taepodong-2 long-range missile. "China has focused on how to defuse tensions and bring about reconciliation... China believes that peace is golden," China Daily quoted Lt. Gen. Liu Chengjun, president of the Beijing-based Academy of Military Science, as saying. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday that the United States would not shoot down the rocket, as it does not pose a threat to the U.S. "I think if we had a missile that was heading for Hawaii, that looked like it was headed for Hawaii or something like that, we might consider it," Gates told Fox News. "I don't think we have any plans to do anything like that at this point." Japan's Security Council gave approval on Friday for the military to destroy the North Korean rocket. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned on Saturday that the launch would complicate peace and stability in northeast Asia.
Russia To Test Launch Topol Ballistic Missile In April
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - March 30, 2009: Russia will test launch on April 10 a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia, the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) said on Monday. On October 18, 2007, another successful test launch was conducted. One Topol from a mobile launcher at Plesetsk test site reached its target on Kamchatka. As the Strategic Rocket Forces representative reported, it allowed for the extension of Topol's service life to 21 years. Another test of the SS-25 was carried out on Thursday, August 28, 2008. The launch was said to be specially tasked to test the missile's capability to avoid ground-based detection systems. The test included the use of a new warhead, designed to penetrate missile defense systems. The latest test was conducted on October 12, 2008 when a Topol was launched from the Plesetsk test site in northern Russia. The missile, with a dummy warhead, hit a target at the Kura Test Range on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev observed the test on site. The Topol will eventually be replaced by the road-mobile version of the Topol-M (SS-27) missile. The RS-12M Topol (SS-25 Sickle) is a single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) approximately the same size and shape as the U.S. Minuteman ICBM. The first Topol missiles were put into service in 1985. "The goal of the upcoming launch is to confirm the reliability of the technical characteristics [of the missile] during an extended service period," the SMF said in a statement. The missile has a maximum range of 10,000 km (6,125 miles) and can carry a 550-kiloton nuclear warhead. Although the service life of the SS-25 was extended to 21 years after a series of successful test launches last year, the missile will be progressively retired over the next decade and be replaced by a mobile version of the Topol-M (SS-27 Stalin) missile. According to open sources, Russia's SMF has a total of 541 ICBMs, including 306 Topol missiles and 59 Topol-M missiles.
Pakistan: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates Urges ISI To Cut Ties With Afghan Extremists
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - March 30, 2009: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Pakistan's powerful intelligence service to cut contacts with extremists in Afghanistan, which he called an ‘existential threat’ to Pakistan itself, AFP reports. Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks to reporters during a news briefing at the Pentagon. Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence has had links with extremists ‘for a long time, as a hedge against what might happen in Afghanistan if we were to walk away or whatever,’ he said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ ‘What we need to do is try and help the Pakistanis understand these groups are now an existential threat to them and we will be there as a steadfast ally for Pakistan,’ Gates said. ‘They can count on us and they don't need that hedge,’ he said, citing the ISI's links specifically to the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani militant network and to the forces of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The Pentagon chief's comments came after President Barack Obama Friday put Pakistan at the center of the fight against al Qaeda with a new strategy to commit thousands more troops and billions of dollars to the Afghan war. ‘He clearly understands this is a very tough fight and that we're in it until we're successful, that al Qaeda is no longer a threat to the United States and that we are in no danger of either Afghanistan or the western part of Pakistan being a base for Al Qaeda,’ Gates said. On troop levels in Afghanistan Asked about a New York Times report that US military commanders had pressed Obama for even more troops, the defense secretary said: ‘The president has approved every single soldier that I have requested of him.’ ‘Now, the reality is I've been at this a long time and I don't think I've ever in several decades run into a ground commander who thought he had enough troops. That's probably true in all of history. ‘But we have fulfilled all of the requirements that the general has put down for 2009, and my view is there's no need to ask for more troops,’ he said, referring to US commander General David McKiernan. ‘And the reality is there already are a lot of troops there. This will bring us, when all is said and done, to 68,000 troops plus another 35,000 or so Europeans and other partners.’ But the new strategy will be reviewed at the end of the year, Gates also stressed, and said the United States has not given up on extracting more troops from European nations as Obama heads to a NATO summit in France and Germany. ‘In fact, I think some of our allies will send additional forces there to provide security before the August elections in Afghanistan,’ Gates said, adding that Washington also expected more civilian experts and police trainers.
Sudan: Defiant President Omar Hassan al-Bashir In Doha Ahead Of Arab Summit Monday / Sudan Leader Thanks Arab Summit For Support
Sudan: Defiant President Omar Hassan al-Bashir In Doha Ahead Of Arab Summit Monday / Sudan Leader Thanks Arab Summit For Support
(NSI News Source Info) March 30, 2009: Sudan's embattled President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is in Qatar's capital, Doha ahead of an Arab Summit scheduled to begin today despite an arrest warrant against him issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The summit, however, is expected to support President Bashir officially over the ICC-issued directive despite deep divisions in the Arab world over the indictment. Some political observers believe Qatar will not enforce the arrest warrant since it is not a signatory to the ICC charter establishing the court. The Hague-based international court issued the arrest warrant after Bashir was accused of masterminding war crimes in Darfur. Claude Salhani is the editor of the Middle East Times newspaper. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that President Bashir's presence tarnishes the significance of the Arab summit. "It is going to be an interesting meeting, especially given the fact that the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon is going to be present at this meeting. And he will attend this Monday's session in the presence of Mr. Bashir, and that is going to be an embarrassing moment for Ban Ki-moon. Other than that, I think the Arab League seems to be divided, nothing new in this sense over the issue of Bashir. Some are supporting him, others are not. What's interesting is Mubarak (Egypt's president) is not going to attend this meeting, although he had hosted Bashir a few days ago," Salhani noted. He said the motivations behind the support of Bashir over the ICC arrest warrant could be attributed to several reasons including noncooperation. "It seems that some are making a stance and some are saying like Colonel Gaddafi of Libya for example said that this is an attempt by west to re-colonize their former colonies. He has always got something interesting to say, and he called it a practice of first-world terrorism. So this is a sign of defiance, I guess. On the one hand, I think Qatar is in a peculiar situation, where as the host of this meeting, it would have been hard for them to say no to President Bashir. But on the other hand, Qatar is not a signatory. They haven't signed a charter, which obliges member states to arrest those indicted once they land on their territory. So they get off the hook that way," he said. Salhani said if an Arab League member country has not signed the charter establishing the ICC, it is under no obligation to enforce the arrest warrant against Sudan's President Bashir. "First of all they have to be signatories of the charter. I don't think all of them are. So it depends on if they have signed the declaration of the charter. Then they are obliged by international law to abide by the ruling and to arrest those indicted by the International Criminal Court. But as long as they haven't signed, it's up to the individual leader of that country to decide whether he wants to follow the international ruling or not. He is under no international obligation to do so," Salhani pointed out. He said President Bashir's presence will undermine the importance of the Arab summit in Doha. "In a way it is disadvantage that Mr. Bashir is going to be in Qatar because he is going to take away some of the spotlight on the real issues, and I'm not saying this is not important. But I'm saying for the Arab world, there are some much more urgent matters that they need to discuss and focus on rather than the presence or not of one particular man. Because the presence of President Bashir is not going to change anything in global geo-politics, whereas decisions made on the ground there can change things in the Middle East," he said. This is Bashir's fourth international trip after the ICC issued an arrest warrant against him accusing him of being the brain behind the massacre of Darfuris in the troubled Darfur region. He arrived in Qatar Sunday, after visits to neighboring Egypt, Eritrea, and Libya last week. Some in the Arab world including Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi have sharply denounced the arrest warrant, describing it as an orchestration by western countries to re-colonize the Middle East and adding that it amounts to first-world terrorism. Experts believe that up to 300-thousand people have died and 2.7 million driven from their homes in the Darfur conflict since 2003. According to the joint UN- African Union peacekeeping mission, currently around 15-thousand strong is deployed in Darfur, but its forces remain under-equipped, and it has been attacked by warring factions. The United Nations and humanitarian workers say Sudan's order to expel the 13 aid groups, including Oxfam GB and CARE International punches a giant hole in the safety net that has kept many Darfur civilians alive during six years of war in the vast, arid region of western Sudan. The ICC accuses Bashir of leading a counterinsurgency against Darfur rebels that involves rapes, killings, and other atrocities against civilians. Bashir rejects the charges and refuses to deal with the ICC. Arab and African countries are pressing the UN Security Council to defer any prosecution for at least a year, hoping to defuse the crisis. They contend that the move will worsen conditions on the ground and put in jeopardy the lives of people living in Darfur. Khartoum expelled 13 of the largest aid groups operating in Darfur as part of its defiant response to the International Criminal Court's decision to issue an arrest warrant. The Bashir government accuses the agencies of working closely with the ICC.
Pakistan: Gunmen Storm Police School Killed 9
UP-DATE: Pakistani security forces have recaptured a police academy that was seized by gunmen, officials say. Television footage showed paramilitary troops celebrating on the roof of the compound, near Lahore, after they had besieged the building for eight hours. Pakistan's Interior Ministry official Rehman Malik said 14 people had been killed, including eight policemen and two civilians. Four militants had been killed and three others arrested, he added. The assault comes less than a month after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, killing six policemen. Those gunmen escaped....BBC News
(NSI News Source Info) LAHORE, Pakistan — March 30, 2009: Gunmen firing indiscriminately and throwing hand grenades stormed a police training center in Lahore Monday morning, killing nine people and injuring up to 90 , according to police and media reports. Government troops outside the police training school in Lahore. About 10 to 14 gunmen were holding several hundred cadets hostage as police and the attackers exchanged fire inside the center. Armored police vehicles carrying police and rangers drove into gates of the center after the attackers took control and explosions and bursts of heavy gunfire could be heard sporadically. Scores of police vehicles and ambulances crowded around the high walls of the academy as police rushed to the compound. The attackers, wearing police uniforms, entered the Manawan police training center on the outskirts of Lahore, about eight miles from the Indian border, at about 8 a.m. as the police cadets were conducting their morning parade, police said. They threw hand grenades at the parade ground and started firing, they said. Former police officials told television reporters that security around the school was light, allowing the gunmen to breach the walls easily. The attackers were reportedly firing from the roof of the school and a police helicopter was hovering overhead. Police sharpshooters positioned at nearby buildings were firing into the center. Reached by telephone, the commander of the center, Chaudhry Tanwir, said he was heading the operation to subdue the attackers. Wounded cadets were carried out of the center on stretchers and some who had escaped by jumping over walls were shown weeping in television footage. The school was believed to have 850 cadets under training. Rizwan Naseer, a doctor in charge of emergency operations, said at least 48 people were being treated at hospitals. Local media cited 90 wounded and said there could be many more casualties. The assault appeared to have been well-planned, an intelligence expert said. “This took many weeks to plan, someone should have smelled this was going to happen,” said Masood Sharif, the former chief of intelligence in Lahore. The attack appeared similar to the assault earlier this month by a dozen gunmen on the Sri Lankan cricket team as it traveled to a stadium in central Lahore. Six police officers and a driver died in that incident.
Pakistan Seeking Membership Of SCO Regional Security Group
(NSI News Source Info) Moscow - March 30, 2009: Pakistan is seeking full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) a regional security group, the Pakistani Foreign Minister told an international conference in Moscow on Friday. "I hope that one day we will be invited to join this organization," Shah Mehmood Qureshi said. The SCO regional security group comprises Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Russia took over the presidency of the organization last August. Iran, India, Mongolia and Pakistan have observer status. The SCO is currently holding an international conference in Moscow, to discuss the "situation in Afghanistan and its influence on neighboring states." Talking about Afghanistan, the minister said it was necessary to start a new page in the country's history as the Afghan population deserves peace, progress, economic recovery and development, which he said he thought was "achievable" with long-term participation by the international community. He added that Russia and China could play a key role in improving the situation in the impoverished state. The conference is being attended by foreign ministers and high-level diplomats from SCO member and observer states, as well as Afghanistan, the U.S., and Turkey. The UN Secretary General, and heads from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) are also taking part in the event.