Russia Hopes U.S. Will Review Missile Defense Plans - Lavrov / FM :Russia Seeks Co-operation With New U.S. Administration
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - January 17, 2009: Moscow is hoping that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will review Russia's proposal for a collective Russian-American-European missile defense network, the Russian foreign minister said on Friday.
"We have noticed that President-elect Obama is willing to take a break on the issue of missile defense...and to evaluate its effectiveness and cost efficiency," Sergei Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow.
Moscow has strongly opposed the possible deployment by the U.S. of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic as a threat to its security and nuclear deterrence. Washington says the defenses are needed to deter possible strikes from "rogue states."
"We hope that while studying the [missile defense] project, he [Obama] will pay attention to the breakthrough proposals made by Russia in 2007 on the collective Russian-American-European network for monitoring the global risks of missile proliferation and joint measures to tackle these risks," the minister said.
Last November, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that Moscow would deploy Iskander missile systems in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, sandwiched between NATO members Lithuania and Poland, in response to any deployment by Washington of elements of a missile defense shield in Europe.
Lavrov also said that Moscow is closely following statements made by possible future members of the Obama administration prior to his inauguration on January 20, reiterating that Russia is open for a dialogue on equal terms.
Russia-U.S. relations have been frayed by Washington's plans to deploy elements of a missile shield in Central Europe, Russia's five-day war with Georgia over South Ossetia last August, and NATO's eastward expansion.
"We are listening to and studying all statements made by people from Obama's circle, as well as the U.S. president-elect himself, and we are open for a dialogue on equal terms," the Russian minister said.
At a confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, Obama's choice for secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said she planned to work very closely with Russia on key economic, security, nonproliferation, and arms control issues.
Lavrov also said he hoped that once Obama assumes office the Iran Six group of world powers will resume contact with Tehran on the resolution of its controversial nuclear program.
"Our position is that Iran, which has answered many questions from the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], should continue its active cooperation with this agency to resolve remaining problems that are still in the Iranian [nuclear] dossier," Lavrov said.
Russia has repeatedly called on the Iran Six group, which also involves the United States, China, France, Britain and Germany, to support the work of the UN nuclear watchdog, while the United States wants to strengthen sanctions against Iran.
Tehran is under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to suspend its nuclear program, which many Western powers led by the United States say is a covert nuclear weapons program, a claim that Iran has dismissed.
Pakistan Needs To Go Further, Faster On Mumbai -UK / Pakistan Extends Crackdown On Mumbai Suspects
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD - January 17, 2009: Pakistan must go further and faster in prosecuting people involved in the November attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai and in rooting out terrorism, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Friday. Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, right, shakes hands with visiting British Foreign Secretary David Miliband in Islamabad, Pakistan on Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. Miliband, who received great appreciation for his statement in favor of Pakistan over Mumbai attacks, is on a two-day visit to defuse the ongoing tension between Pakistan and India.
Pakistan assured Miliband that it would conduct a transparent inquiry into the attacks in which 179 people were killed, and promised to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Miliband said he believed Pakistan was sincere in its commitment to prosecute those behind the assault, which both he and India said was the work of the banned Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Islamist militant group.
"They have taken steps since the end of November to detain significant numbers of people associated with the LeT organisation, this is welcome," Miliband told a news conference.
"But .. the action needs to go further and the action needs to go faster," said Miliband, who arrived in Pakistan from India.
Tensions have run high between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours since the assault on India's financial hub, with India increasingly frustrated with what it sees as Pakistan's lack of action in response.
For its part, Pakistan has been angered by an Indian suggestion Pakistani state agencies were involved and what it sees as repeated Indian hints of military action.
But the chances of a military confrontation have receded, according to analysts, thanks in part to the diplomacy of the United States and other powers.
Pakistan has in the past used Islamist militants to further foreign policy objectives: in Afghanistan to fight Soviet occupiers in the 1980s and later to oppose Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region.
Pakistan has detained scores of members of the LeT and an affiliated Islamic charity, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, but India is demanding it dismantle what it calls the "infrastructure of terrorism".
Miliband, who said in India the Pakistani state was not linked to the Mumbai attacks, held talks with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
He was due to meet President Asif Ali Zardari and army chief General Ashfaq Kayani.
Pakistan condemned the Mumbai attack from the outset and denied involvement of any of its agencies. It has offered to cooperate with India in the investigation.
"Pakistan remains determined to uncover full facts pertaining to the Mumbai incident," the Foreign Ministry quoted Qureshi as telling Miliband.
Qureshi said Pakistan would use information provided by India as well as Pakistan's own investigations "to establish legally tenable evidence to bring the perpetrators to justice".
Miliband said terrorism posed a "mortal threat" to Pakistan and its neighbours and Pakistanis faced a choice between building a decent society and an alternative in which a small minority held the rest of the country to ransom.
A member of bomb disposal squad tries to detect an explosive planted at road side near Bannu, Pakistan, on Friday, Jan. 16, 2008. Pakistani security forces are engaged with militants and Taliban in the northern Pakistan.
Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee reiterated that India wanted the Mumbai attack plotters to be extradited to India despite a report that he had earlier said the accused could be tried and punished in Pakistan. Pakistan has ruled out sending Pakistanis to face trial in India.
Miliband, who in India had shown no support for India's demand for extradition of the accused, said India's "first preference" was to see suspects put on trial in India but that did not rule out successful prosecutions in Pakistan.
Ex-German Leopard Tanks Have Military Buyers / German Main Battle Tank Technology Compatible To Best In The World - Analyze
(NSI News Source Info) January 17, 2009: Last year Chile received 136 second hand Leopard II tanks from Germany. Most (93) of them were used to form three tank battalions. Chile already has six battalions of older Leopard I tanks, and one battalion (30) of these are being sold to Ecuador. Price was not disclosed, but is believed to be about half a million dollars per tank. The Leopard (or Leopard 1) is a tank designed and produced in Germany, that first entered service in 1965. It was used as the main battle tank by over a dozen countries worldwide.
It is a fairly conventional tank, armed with a German-built version of the British L7 105-mm gun. The Leopard is known for its good cross-country speed. The design started as a collaborative project between Germany and France in the 1950s, but the partnership ended and the final design was ordered by the Bundeswehr, production starting in 1965. In total 6,485 Leopard tanks have been built, of which 4,744 were battle tanks and 1741 were utility and anti-aircraft variants, not including eighty prototypes and pre-series vehicles. Since 1990, the Leopard 1 has gradually been relegated to secondary roles in most armies. In the German Army, the Leopard 1 MBTs have been phased out in 2003 while Leopard 1 derived vehicles are still widely used. The Leopard 2 MBTs have taken over the MBT role.
Until the 1980s, the Leopard I was considered one of the best tanks available. First built in the late 1960s, it was the first post-World War II German tank design. Although a contemporary of the American M-60A3, the German tank was considered superior. For this reason, Germany was able to export Leopards to many nations, including Australia. Most of the 4,744 produced (plus 1,741 Leopard chassis adapted to other uses, like recovery and anti-aircraft) have been retired (in storage) or scrapped. Many owners of may have to melt it's Leopard Is down, for there's not much of a market left for 44 ton tanks, even those equipped with a lot of nifty upgrades. The original buyers of Leopard I have already flooded the market.
The export market is further clouded by legal restrictions, as Germany still retains the right to reject any buyer for the tanks. Thus prospective buyers must pass muster with German public opinion. No nations suffering from bad PR need apply.
The second hand Leopard I market is made worse by the availability of the Leopard II. This is basically a contemporary of the U.S. M-1, and often considered superior to the M-1. But the M-1 has an impressive combat record, and no Leopard II has ever seen action. Still, on paper, and in training exercises, the Leopard II has been impressive. Some 3,000 Leopard IIs are out there, and Germany is still marketing them. Many surplus M-1s are available, and a few Leopard IIs. Add to this the thousands of late model Russian tanks available, and it's no wonder why second hand tanks like the Leopard I go for such low prices.
Slovakia Air Force Selected Light Transport Aircraft C-27J: Report / Slovakia Chooses Alenia’s C-27J Light Transport Aircraft
(NSI News Source Info) January 17, 2009: Around the world, buyers of light military transport aircraft face 3 main choices: Alenia’s C-27J Spartan, EADS-CASA’s C-295M, or Russia’s AN-32. EADS-CASA began with notable leads in orders and customers over its C-27J rival. Spain, Algeria, Brazil, Finland, Jordan, Poland, and Portugal picked the C-295M, which offers better range, more cost-efficient operation, and more standard cargo pallets in its longer fuselage.
The Alenia C-27J Spartan is a medium-sized military transport aircraft. The C-27J is an advanced derivative of the company's G.222 (C-27A Spartan in US service), with the engines and systems of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules. The aircraft was selected as the Joint Cargo Aircraft for the United States military.
Then the USA’s Joint Cargo Aircraft program made Alenia a winner, and will order at least 78 C-27Js. That tipped the production balance, and appears to be adjusting decision calculations as well. The C-27J’s customers now include Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Morocco, Romania, and the USA. Its larger fuselage diameter and reinforced floor let it carry tactical loads like vehicles and small helicopters as well as pallets, and its design gives it both a higher top speed and commonalities with the global C-130J Hercules medium transport fleet. If US Special Operations Command has its way, an AC-27J “Baby Spooky” gunship variant may be next.
Slovakia has now become the latest country to opt for the C-27J, beating rumored offers from EADS-CASA (C-295M) and Lockheed Martin (C-130J). Alenia was named as the preferred bidder in late December 2008, and negotiations will now focus on Slovakia’s 100% requirement for industrial investment offsets. Alenia’s key partners Rolls Royce (engines) and the Czech Republic’s Aero Vodochody (center wing boxes) are also likely to be involved in these discussions.
The order is unlikely to be large, as the country has just 2 AN-26 and 1 AN-24 aircraft to replace. Another AN-24 was lost over Hungary in January 2006 when it crashed while returning from Kosovo, killing all 42 soldiers on board. Previous approval discussions for the Slovakian program focused on figures of about $112 million equivalent, which would suffice for 2-3 aircraft plus the usual spares, training, and other costs associated with a new aircraft type.
Pentagon Giving 8,500 Armored Humvees To Iraqi Army / U.S. Forces Give Humvees To Iraqi Army
(NSI News Source Info) CAMP TAJI, Iraq - January 17, 2009: As part of an ongoing effort to enhance the Iraqi army’s combat effectiveness, the U.S. military has turned over thousands of armored Humvees.
The program is a joint effort between the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force as part of Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq, with the intent to turn over 8,500 of the vehicles to the Iraqis by July, officials said.
Army Col. Michael Sage of the command’s supply division manages a $200 million contract to refurbish the vehicles before they are sold to the Iraqis.
The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or Humvee) is a military 4WD motor vehicle created by AM General. It has largely supplanted the roles formerly served by the M151 1/4 ton MUTT, the M561 "Gama Goat", their M718A1 and M792 ambulance versions, the CUCV, and other light trucks with the United States military, as well as being used by a number of other countries and organizations.
"Our aim is to provide the Iraqi security forces, military and police, with a proven, reliable, and capable vehicle that will build their forces' capability and enable [them] to engage in the counter-insurgency fight," he said. The command’s mission is to generate, train, and help to sustain Iraqi security forces so they become capable and self-reliant.
Humvees destined for service in the Iraqi army or police force start the transition process at the Redistribution Property Assistance Team yard here, a few miles north of Baghdad. Once at Camp Taji, the Humvees face a rigorous validation process.
"The vehicles are cleaned, inspected and processed through a maintenance program that refurbishes the vehicles from the ground up," Sage said.
After that process, every Humvee receives a follow-up inspection, is repainted for the Iraqi army or national police forces, and undergoes a joint inspection by Iraqi and U.S. officials before it is accepted, the colonel added.
Mechanics of the 1538th Transportation Company, 165th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, conduct the initial inspection.
"It's a huge mission that involves players all over the country, and the whole thing is focused right here at Camp Taji," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Russell Hullaby, who heads up the inspection process. "Every Humvee transferred to the Iraqis comes through us. It's really something that my guys can be proud of."
The 536th Maintenance Company, 419th Combat Sustainment Support Brigade, 10th Sustainment Brigade, is a direct-support unit assigned to the 165th CSSB that assists in major repair work.
"We're equipped to fix minor problems on site," Hullaby said, "but major jobs like engine or transmission replacement have to be handed over to the 536th."
The Air Force-controlled Redistribution Property Assistance Team main office validates 50 cleared Humvees per week and assigns a batch number for transfer to the Iraqi Defense Ministry.
"Our program turns over armored Humvees only," said Maj. Sharon Ramp, on-site director of the Iraqi Humvee turnover program here.
Ramp said since the program's inception, it has transferred more than 3,000 Humvees to the Iraqis, averaging 400 vehicles per month.
Singapore's Formidable-class Frigate Squadron Fully Operational / Singapore Commissions Final Two Stealth Frigates
(NSI News Source Info) January 17, 2009: The final two of a fleet of six stealth frigates, RSS Stalwart and RSS Supreme, were commissioned at the Changi Naval Base today. With all six frigates brought into service, the Republic of Singapore Navy's (RSN) Formidable-class Frigate Squadron is fully operational.
Officiating at the commissioning ceremony, Minister for Defence Teo Chee Hean said "the frigates, with their longer range and reach, will significantly increase the RSN's ability to protect our Sea Lines of Communication. This is a critical mission as the lion's share of Singapore's trade is conducted by sea."
The Formidable class multi-role stealth frigates are the latest platforms to enter into service with the Republic of Singapore Navy, and are multi-mission derivatives of the French Navy’s La Fayette class frigate. The frigates are key information nodes and fighting units, and are "by far the most advanced surface combatants in Southeast Asia". The six ships form the 185 Squadron of the Navy.
The operationalisation of the Frigate Squadron marks a significant milestone in the RSN's transformation to a 3rd Generation fighting force. Its state-of-the-art combat capabilities and systems will enhance the RSN's ability to protect Singapore's Sea Lines of Communication and boost the RSN's capability to integrate its operations with the Army and Air Force.
Mr Teo extended his appreciation to the Defence Science & Technology Agency, DSO National Laboratories, French shipbuilder DCNS and ST Marine, as well as the men and women of the RSN for making the Frigate Programme a success.
Finnish Defence Forces Order Scania Lorries / Finnish Defence Forces Order 91 Lorries From Scania / Scania To Deliver 91 Trucks To The Finnish Defence Forces
(NSI News Source Info) January 17, 2009: The Finnish Defence Forces said in a statement Thursday it had placed an order with Swedish lorry maker Scania, majority-owned by Volkswagen, for 91 heavy goods vehicles. The military added that the order was worth about 63 million euros when an option of 197 further lorries was included.
According to a recently concluded purchasing agreement, Scania has been commissioned to supply 91 trucks to the Finnish Defence Forces during 2009 and 2010. The deal also includes a five-year repair and maintenance agreement and an option for another 197 vehicles within a 4-year period.
During 2008, Scania won several orders from the Finnish Defence Forces: 21 all-wheel-drive off-road trucks in July and earlier in the year an order from the Finnish Border Guard for 26 engines powering 13 new patrol boats.
Scania has supplied around 200 trucks to the Finnish Defence Forces during the past 10 years and Scania’s Finnish subsidiary, Oy Scan-Auto Ab, recently signed a deal for a six-year repair and maintenance agreement covering vehicles already delivered.
“Scania’s ability to supply special-purpose trucks for demanding transport tasks directly from the factory has been an advantage, and naturally so has the quality and performance of the trucks,” says Markku Lipsonen, Managing Director of Oy Scan-Auto Ab. “Combined with our comprehensive network of professional service workshops and the availability of repair and maintenance agreements, these have been decisive factors for the choice of Scania .”
Swiss Issue Second RFP For New Fighter, Set 2.2 Billion CHF Budget / Partial Tiger Replacement (TTE): Second Request For Proposal Delivered To Manufacturers
(NSI News Source Info) January 17, 2009: With the delivery of the second, updated request for proposal to the three manufacturers Dassault, EADS and Saab, the evaluation of a successor for the F-5 Tiger is proceeding as planned.
The 12 F-5F Tiger II double seater aircraft were acquired in the two procurements. Their weapons and cockpits are identical to the single seater fighter-bomber type. This makes them suitable not only for conversion training and instruction, but also for combat missions (during which there is usually a systems operator aboard on the second seat). For the combat missions, the aircraft is equipped with a 20mm gun and two guided missiles. (Registration: J-3201 to J-3212).
In the updated request for proposal the manufacturers are asked to submit an offer for 22 aircraft. In addition, armasuisse [the Swiss defence procurement agency—Ed.] sets the budget at CHF 2.2 billion and inquires how many aircraft can be delivered for this amount.
In the updated request for proposal the results and data gathered from the ground and flight tests and from the first offer have been incorporated. This includes functions and performances which do not meet the military requirements. armasuisse wants to give the manufacturers the opportunity to propose respective improvements. Improvements are also sought in additional fields.
A priorisation with respect to military cooperation should guarantee that the peak demand for pilots can be covered when the new aircraft are introduced. Furthermore armasuisse investigates the possibility of conducting a training with a TTE squadron during the months of June, July and August from a base in the manufacturing country.
New ways are also examined to minimise operating costs and to ensure the competences of Swiss Industry in the field of aeronautical technologies. A strategic cooperation between the aircraft companies, armasuisse and Swiss aviation industry should enable Switzerland to participate in further developments of the TTE. In addition the possibility of reducing maintenance costs is investigated.
Offers, flight and ground tests
The two-stage process of requests for proposal began in January 2008 with the first request for proposal armasuisse addressed to the four aircraft manufacturers Boeing, Dassault, EADS and Saab. In April 2008 Boeing decided not to submit an offer. The remaining manufacturers submitted their offers in July 2008. With the delivery of the second request for proposal the manufacturers now have until mid April 2009 to submit an updated offer.
In July 2008 the flight and ground tests with the three remaining candidates began. For this purpose two two-seaters each of the "Rafale" (Dassault), "Eurofighter" (EADS) and "Gripen" (Saab) aircraft were stationed at the Emmen military airbase. The tests were completed at the beginning of December 2008.
The next steps?
The evaluation of the tests and updated offers will be concluded at the end of May 2009 with the evaluation report prepared by armasuisse in close cooperation with the Swiss Air Force. After consultation with the Chief of the Armed Forces, the National Armament Director will propose the preferred candidate to the Head of the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS).
The further schedule foresees:
-- The selection of the aircraft type is planned for July 2009.
-- Together with the bill on Armament Program 2010, the collective Federal Council will approve the procurement of the selected type and submit it to Swiss Parliament.
-- Treatment of the Partial Tiger Replacement by Swiss Parliament is foreseen for 2010.
Japan Places First Order With Eurocopter / Japan Military Picks Eurocopter EC135 Helicopters For First Time: Official
(NSI News Source Info) TOKYO - January 16, 2009: Japan's military will for the first time buy helicopters from Eurocopter, ordering training choppers from the unit of European aerospace giant EADS, officials said Jan. 16.
Japan's defense ministry said on its Web site that it selected the EC135 Eurocopter as part of "bidding for training helicopters for the Maritime Self-Defence Forces," pacifist Tokyo's official name for its navy. (Photo/Image: Eurocopter EC135 P2 of the German Police). The EC 135 is a twin-engine civil helicopter produced by Eurocopter, widely used amongst police and ambulance services, and for executive transport. It is capable of flight under instrument flight rules (IFR). The EC135 can trace its history back to before the formation of Eurocopter. It was started as the BO 108 by MBB of Germany in the mid-eighties. A technology demonstrator ('V1') flew for the first time on 17 October 1988, powered by two Allison 250-C20R/1 engines. A second BO 108 ('V2') followed on 5th June 1991, this time with two Turboméca TM319-1B Arrius engines. Both these machines had a conventional tail rotor.Japan buys most of its military equipment from the United States, with which it has a security alliance.
Eurocopter, part of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, which includes Airbus, was bidding for the contract against British-Italian firm AgustaWestland.
French Transport Minister Dominique Bussereau, visiting Tokyo for talks on global warming, welcomed the deal.
"I have thanked Japan," Bussereau said. "This is a very major contract as it marks the first time that Eurocopter has signed a contract with the Japanese navy."
Eurocopter has sold choppers in Japan since 1964 but until now has sold only for civilian use.
The value of the contract has yet to be decided. Industrial sources said Japan would initially buy two choppers, but that the order could go up to 15.
The order comes as a European consortium including EADS tries to sell to Japan its Eurofighter jets.
Japan has been seeking the next-generation U.S. F-22A Raptor, which can evade radar detection at supersonic speeds. But the U.S. Congress forbids any exports of the advanced stealth jets.
South Korea Seeks To Buy Older Apaches Attack Helicopters / South Korea Plans To Buy An Additional Batch Of Older Apaches Attack Helicopters
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL - January 16, 2009: South Korea's arms procurement agency has been in close consultation with the U.S. government to purchase 36 refurbished Apache attack helicopters to deploy in 2012, when South Korean commanders take over wartime operational control of their troops from the U.S. military, a source said Jan. 14.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) wants to receive the first batch of 18 Block II Apache Longbow models modified from the Block I standard in 2012, and the second batch of the older units, dubbed MIMEX, in 2014, said the source privy to negotiations.
The AH-64 Apache is an all-weather day-night military attack helicopter with a four-bladed main and tail rotor and a crew of two pilots who sit in tandem. The main fixed armament is a 30 mm M230 Chain Gun under the aircraft's nose. It can also carry a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire and Hydra 70 rocket pods on four hardpoints mounted on its stub-wing pylons. The AH-64 is the principal attack helicopter of the United States Army, and a successor to the AH-1 Cobra.
In a related move, the agency plans to start a feasibility study this month on the acquisition of Apaches, he said.
The moves follow U.S. Forces Korea (USFK)'s announcement in November that it will pull a fleet of 24 Apache helicopters out of the Korean Peninsula in March for rotational deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan this fall.
Public jitters have grown here since then over a possible security vacuum, as the U.S. Apache units are in charge of key missions to deter North Korean armored units in case of war.
"I heard that DAPA's international product team is receptive to the U.S. Army Apache program manager meeting with DAPA and also with JUSMAG-K, and that there is strong interest in 18 MIMEX in 2012 and 18 more in 2014,'' the source said on condition of anonymity.
JUSMAG-K refers to the Joint U.S. Military Affairs Group-Korea, which coordinates South Korean purchases of U.S. weapons through the Pentagon's government-to-government Foreign Military Sales program.
The DAPA has shown interest in Block II models, so the U.S. government may want Boeing to do the upgrade, he said.
The source, however, said the agency was still "keeping all options open," including the introduction of the up-to-date AH-64D Apache Longbow heavy attack helicopters through a commercial deal with Boeing, given the proposed refurbishment would cost more than buying new models.
"I'm sure the ROK Army wants the latest and greatest, but also wants capability fast. It also must be affordable. These are the issues,'' he said.
To help boost the Army's independent anti-tank and fire support capabilities after the wartime control transition, South Korea has pushed to buy the older Apaches, separately from the Korea Attack Helicopter project aimed at building an indigenous helicopter with technological support from foreign helicopter manufacturers.
Last year, the two governments opened negotiations over the MIMEX program, with the United States offering for sale about 260 Block I Apaches available for upgrades, according to the JUSMAG-K.
South Korea proposed that the U.S. government sell 36 second-hand Apaches for about 1 trillion won ($744 million), and said later that it would make a final decision as late as August, according to JUSMAG-K officials.
The Apache Longbow is armed with AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and Hydra 70 laser-guided rockets. Their main missions are to help prevent North Korean special forces from infiltrating the South by sea and neutralize North Korean armored units crossing the military demarcation line in case of war.
The USFK maintains two Apache battalions here.
On Jan. 12, U.S. and South Korean military officials announced that 12 F-16 fighter jets would temporarily replace the departing Apache battalion. Previously, the USFK said 12 A-10 attack aircraft would replace the Apaches' air-to-ground and close-air-support missions.
Col. Mike Chandler, chief of staff of the U.S. 7th Air Force, said the change of plans was due to "a structural issue'' with the A-10's airframe.
"The air-to-ground mission and the close-air-support mission are primarily to support the soldiers on the ground,'' Chandler said. "Helicopters, the A-10 platform and the F-16 platform are all capable of performing that mission."
Despite USFK's explanations, critics here say the "flip-flop" could cause a security vacuum due to different mission capabilities between Apaches and F-16s.
Some experts say F-16s are outstanding performers but not well suited for conducting missions against enemy tanks at low air speeds and altitude. They also speculate the F-16 deployment signals USFK's mission shift to an air- and naval-centric support of South Korean troops after the transition to wartime operational control in 2012.
"The F-16's combat-proven record is well known and will provide an enhanced deterrent capability on the Korean Peninsula," USFK Commander Gen. Walter Sharp said in a press release. "This deployment also increases Republic of Korea-United States training opportunities, which further strengthens Combined Forces Command's ability to defeat any North Korean aggression."
According to the release, the F-16 is a multirole fighter capable of conducting a broad range of missions, including close air support, precision strike and counter-air.
Zimbabwe Plans To Unveil 100 Trillion Dollar Note / Zimbabwe Rolls Out Z$100 Trillion Note
(NSI News Source Info) January 16, 2009: The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said on Friday it was introducing a 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar bill as part of anti-inflation measures, the African Press Agency reported.
The new note is worth about 300 U.S. dollars on the black market.
The agency said Zimbabwe was also introducing 10 trillion, 20 trillion and 50 trillion Zimdollar notes.
The move set to provide easier access for workers to their salaries from banks comes just four days after the country circulated 50 billion Zimdollar bills on Monday amid the deepening economic crisis.
Zimbabwe's inflation is officially put at 231 million %, while independent financial institutions it could be estimated at more than 500 quintillion %.
The extended economic crisis has devastated Zimbabwe's healthcare system, leaving the country virtually incapable of dealing with a cholera epidemic that has already killed over 2,100 people.
Russian Military Spending To Reach $125 Billion By 2011
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - January 16, 2009: The state will earmark 4 trillion rubles ($125 billion) for arms procurements by 2011, including 1 trillion rubles ($31 billion) in 2009, the Russian prime minister said on Thursday.
Vladimir Putin said the modernization of defense related enterprises would continue despite the global financial crisis.
"The modernization of defense industry enterprises as well as the development of modern weapons should continue," he said.
He added that federal defense programs need to be reviewed and "streamlined," in particular with regard to production volumes.
Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said earlier on Thursday the state had earmarked $10 billion for 'core enterprises' and defense-related sectors of industry.
Sudan Fears US Military Intervention Over Darfur / Sudan Increasingly Fearful US Will Resort To Military Intervention
(NSI News Source Info) January 16, 2009: Sudan's government is increasingly fearful that the incoming US administration will resort to military intervention to end the six-year-old crisis in Darfur that has killed up to 200,000 people and left 2.7 million homeless, diplomatic sources in Khartoum say.
"There is a great need for us to sound the alarm again about Darfur," Hillary Clinton, who was endorsed as secretary of state yesterday, told the US Senate this week. "It is a terrible humanitarian crisis compounded by a corrupt and very cruel regime in Khartoum."
Clinton said the Obama administration, which takes office on Tuesday, was examining a wide range of options, including direct intervention in support of a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force, known as Unamid, which has struggled to make an impact after beginning operations last year.
"We have spoken about other options, no-fly zones, other sanctions and sanctuaries, looking to deploy the Unamid force to try to protect the refugees but also to repel the militias," Clinton said. "There is a lot under consideration." Clinton has previously asserted that the US has a "moral duty" to help Darfurian civilians.
The US accuses Khartoum's leadership of committing genocide in Darfur. Washington has eschewed direct military involvement since the crisis erupted in 2003, despite growing pressure to act from Sudanese insurgents, exiles, and evangelical Christian groups.
But in a surprise move last week, President George Bush ordered the Pentagon to begin an immediate airlift of vehicles and equipment for the peacekeeping force.
Alain LeRoy, head of UN peacekeeping operations, told the Security Council last month that violence in Darfur was intensifying and stepped-up international involvement was urgently required to avoid a descent into "mayhem".
Influential US-based pressure groups such as the Save Darfur Coalition and Enough are meanwhile demanding that US president-elect Barack Obama act swiftly to fulfil campaign pledges to take more robust action.
"I will make ending the genocide in Darfur a priority from day one," Obama said in April. He has also previously backed a toughening of sanctions and said the US might help enforce a no-fly zone.
"Obama is the [ruling] National Congress party's worst nightmare," said a diplomat in Khartoum. "They wanted [John] McCain and the Republicans to win. They thought they were pragmatists. They think the Democrats are ideologues. They haven't forgotten it was the Democrats who bombed them."
That was a reference to a retaliatory US cruise missile attack on a suspect pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum in 1998, ordered by President Bill Clinton after al-Qaida attacked US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Sudan provided a base for the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden, from 1991 until he moved to Afghanistan in 1996.
A source in Khartoum said Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, was especially alarmed by Obama's selection of Susan Rice, a former Clinton national security council adviser on Africa, as a cabinet member and US ambassador to the UN.
Rice has spoken passionately in the past of the need for US or Nato air strikes, or a naval blockade of Sudan's oil exports, to halt the violence in Darfur.
Referring to the 1994 Rwanda genocide, she said: "I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required."
Bashir felt only "fear and loathing" for Rice and had told aides: "I don't want to see her face here," the source said.
Khartoum's concerns about American intervention extend to southern Sudan, fuelled by reports, denied by the US, that Washington is arming the separatist Sudan People's Liberation Army.
The SPLA is the military wing of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement with which the north fought a 30-year civil war. Salva Kiir, the SPLM leader and Bashir's likely rival in elections due later this year, received red carpet treatment by Bush at the White House last week.
"The government knows the US does not arm the SPLA. They're already heavily armed," a Khartoum-based diplomat said. "But the US does train them. It helps with logistics, planning, and so on. And they (the SPLA) do need air defence. Whether to provide air defence to the south will be a key question for the Obama administration."
Fears of direct confrontation with Washington are being fuelled by expectations that the International Criminal Court, backed in this instance by the US, will issue an arrest warrant for Bashir within the coming weeks. The ICC chief prosecutor charged Bashir last year with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to Darfur.
A call this week by a leading Sudanese opposition figure, Hassan al-Turabi, for Bashir to surrender himself to the ICC to avoid further confrontation with the US and the west has added to tensions in Khartoum. According to family members, Turabi was subsequently arrested.
Russian Warship Leaves Cape Town For Indian Ocean
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - January 16, 2009: The Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered missile cruiser has left the South African port of Cape Town after a three-day visit, a Russian Navy spokesman said on Thursday.
"The Pyotr Veliky cruiser will continue its tour of duty, which includes taking part in joint naval exercises with the Indian navy, scheduled for the end of January," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said.
INDRA is a biennial Russian-Indian exercise aimed at practicing cooperation in enforcing maritime law and countering piracy, terrorism and drug smuggling. INDRA-2009 is the fourth such exercise since 2003 and will involve a number of live-fire drills.
The Pyotr Veliky will join up with warships from the Pacific Fleet for the INDRA-2009 exercise. The Udaloy class destroyer Admiral Vinogradov, a tugboat and two fuel tankers are already in the Indian Ocean, having left Russia's Far East a month ago.
The Admiral Vinogradov destroyer has recently replaced the Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate from Russia's Baltic Fleet in the Gulf of Aden protecting commercial shipping from pirate attacks off the Somali coast.
The International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Malaysia said on Wednesday that the destroyer helped foil a pirate attack on a Dutch container ship.
Soviet Union/Russia Biggest User Of Helicopters In Military And Civilian Roles / Russia Biggest Exporter Of Helicopters To Other Countries
(NSI News Source Info) January 16, 2009: A hundred years ago, the French Breguet brothers, borrowing a page the Wright brothers across the ocean, lifted off in a flying apparatus for the first time, thus marking the birth of the ‘vertical ascent plane.'
In Russia, it was Nikolai Kamov and Alexander Mil who designed helicopters. Kamov's company marks its 60 anniversary this year, while Mil is just one year older.
By competing and vying with each other, the two design bureaus have gained world fame: their 5,200 helicopters have flown in more than 80 countries; they also sport the flags of the UN and the Red Cross. The Mil outfit has produced 15 basic models and more than 200 versions. The Mi-28N Night Hunter is not an upgrade, but the first military helicopter on the post-Soviet space and the main combat vehicle for Russia's Defense Ministry. The Mil Mi-28 NATO reporting name "Havoc" is a Russian all-weather day-night military tandem two-seat anti-armour attack helicopter. It is a dedicated attack helicopter with no intended secondary transport capability, better optimized than the Mil Mi-24 for the anti-tank role. It carries a single gun in an undernose barbette, plus external loads carried on pylons beneath stub wings. The Mi-28 has two heavily armoured cockpits, a nose full with electronic equipments, and a narrow-X tail rotor. Engines are two 2,200 hp Isotov TV-3-117VM (t/n 014) gas turbines. The X-type tail rotor (55 deg) has reduced noise characteristics. While the Mi-28 is not intended for use as a transport, it does have a small passenger compartment capable of carrying three persons. The planned purpose of this is to enable the rescue of downed helicopter crews.
The Kamov firm, starting with systems for the navy, has become the only company in the world to launch a serial production of ‘co-axial helicopters' (two counter-rotating blades give increased maneuverability and stability to the craft). And now recall the killing ability of Black Sharks, and the two-seater Alligator, which has a strike potential unequalled anywhere else in the world. It has an onboard digital computer, while pilots are provided with helmet-mounted target designators, thermal imagery technology.
In the post-Soviet period, the two firms experienced nasty bumps on the road to the free market. They paid exorbitant prices for materials and parts, and suffered arrears from customers. Meanwhile, the profit-bringing export flow must never flag, and besides Russian oil workers, rescue services, businesses and the military also need helicopters as good as those supplied to the West. The current demand for civilian helicopters alone is more than 2,000 units. But the industry has its specifics, Mikhail Kazachkov from the Helicopter Industry Association told RIA Novosti in an interview. Its bane is the lengthy production time: an idea to finished product takes, on average, 12 years.
The authorities have decided to restructure the helicopter industry, to optimize its cash flows and make it more competitive. For that purpose they brought its separate branches under one umbrella, called Helicopters of Russia. Reformers from the Industry and Trade Ministry and the Oboronprom Corporation are currently integrating the design bureaus, manufacturing facilities, and service centers more vigorously than in aircraft building. Things are moving toward the unification of research, technical and production policies. And in order to lay a good groundwork for continued efforts, a unified scientific and engineering council, and an innovation engineering center have been set up. According to Sergei Mikheyev, Kamov's general designer, a competitive and creative spirit, emphasis on extra-corporate aims, and the merging of the two teams, although seemingly paradoxical, have produced excellent results.
The reform pursues strategic aims: to make Russia the world leader in seven years, bring the output of helicopters to 450-500 units per year by 2015 (the current figure is 120), and to corner 15% of the world market, while increasing sales to 400 billion rubles. Asset concentration, effective management, and optimization of intellectual resources, production facilities and costs are the overriding objectives.
New projects have great importance as well. According to Andrei Shibitov, the head of Helicopters of Russia, the first project in the development program through 2015-2020 will be a basic high-speed helicopter: "Its concept is not just high speed, it is a combination of many new features." The second project will be a light helicopter in the weight class of 1.5 to 2.5 tons. "Today we are working on the Mi-34, but it is not a helicopter of the future. Western equipment compels us to go one better," he said. Designers are not going to catch up with the Robinson company, but are aiming at an entirely new product with an advanced Russian engine. The third project concerns helicopter gunships. Russia is not going to upgrade the Night Hunter or Alligator, but will develop whole new systems of the fifth generation. Finally, there will be a project to develop a multi-role unmanned aerial vehicle.
Different versions of the Ka-32 successfully operate in Canada, Korea, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Japan and China. Contracts have been signed to supply Mi-24NPs to the Russian air force and Mi-35Ms to Venezuela. Work is under way on secret projects for security agencies.
Helicopters in Russia are a must, they provide transport services where there are no roads or waterways. According to the Industry and Trade Ministry, Russia has less than 14 civilian helicopters per one million of population, while in Canada the figure is 56; in the U.S., 40; and in Japan, 15.
Northrop Grumman Gets $374 Million U.S. Navy Deal / Northrop Grumman to Build New Gerald R. Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier - Report
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - January 16, 2009: Northrop Grumman Corp has won a $373.5 million U.S. Navy contract to prepare for construction of a second Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier, the Defense Department said on Thursday.
The deal includes engineering, logistics support and procurement of components that take a long time to produce, the Pentagon said in its daily contract digest.
Work will be performed in Newport News, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by October 2010, the Pentagon said, adding the award had not been the subject of competition.