(NSI News Source Info) April 26, 2009: A fleet of nearly 200 new armoured vehicles to support front line troops on operations has now been ordered by the MOD, it was announced yesterday, Tuesday 21 April 2009. The £74m order for around 110 enhanced Jackal 2 vehicles and more than 70 Coyote Tactical Support Vehicles has been awarded to vehicle manufacturer Supacat, which has formed an alliance with Babcock. Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment drive Jackal vehicles providing security along a convoy route in Kajaki on Operation OQAB TSUKA, in Afghanistan, in this undated handout photograph received in London on September 2, 2008. British troops backed by special forces completed one of the largest logistical operations of the 7-year Afghan conflict on Tuesday, delivering a 200-tonne turbine to a remote Taliban-dominated region. The huge turbine, which promises to deliver power across south Afghanistan once running, was carried by a 100-vehicle convoy that inched its way across Taliban territory for five days to reach a hydroelectric dam on the Kajaki reservoir. Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment drive Jackal vehicles providing security along the convoy route in Kajaki on Operation OQAB TSUKA. British Forces have successfully delivered a hydro-electric turbine over 180km from Kandahar Airfield to the Kajaki dam in the north of Helmand province. The operation, codenamed �OQAB TSUKA�, or �Eagle�s Summit� was to deliver a turbine that is to be installed in the Kajaki dam in order to provide much needed electricity to parts of Southern Afghanistan. The enhanced Jackal 2 features improved manoeuvrability and reliability, and will be able to carry three crew members; one more than its predecessor. The Coyote Tactical Support Vehicle is based on a 6x6 derivative of the Jackal and will support the go-anywhere, high mobility Jackals across the harsh terrain of Afghanistan. Both vehicles have been bought as part of the £700m Protected Patrol Vehicles package unveiled by the Secretary of State for Defence, John Hutton, last October. Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, announced the contract during a Supacat vehicle drive day at the Long Valley Test Ground in Aldershot yesterday, 21 April 2009. He said: "These impressive vehicles will give our troops increased protection on front line operations and with their purchase we are showing our commitment to provide our Service personnel with the very best equipment we possibly can. "This contract comes as our newest armoured vehicles, Mastiff 2 and Ridgback, go to Afghanistan for the first time, underlining our ability to deliver kit quickly to where it is needed." Jackal 2 will have a 6.7-litre engine giving it a top speed of 80 miles per hour (129km/h) on roads and 55mph (89km/h) cross-country. Supacat, based at Dunkswell, Devon, will be the prime contractor and will be responsible for design, development, prototyping, integration and overall programme management. Babcock will be responsible for detailed production planning, purchasing and manufacture at their Devonport dockyard facility. Supacat Managing Director Nick Ames said: "This alliance will help to ensure that our Armed Forces receive the best possible equipment within the shortest possible timescale. The enhanced Jackal 2 and Coyote Tactical Support Vehicle (Light) will increase troops' protection and their operational effectiveness. We are extremely pleased that we can help in this way." Babcock's Equipment Solutions Managing Director Roger Gillespie added: "We have previously worked closely with Supacat in delivering more than 200 Jackals to the MOD and this contract will further demonstrate that this method of design, production and delivery is the best for MOD's needs." Jackal 2 and Coyote are scheduled to be delivered to the MOD from summer 2009 onwards. The vehicles are expected to support operations in Afghanistan from the autumn.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Beyond Pakistan: The First Nuclear Failed State Part One by Paolo Liebl Von Schirach (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 26, 2009: Afghanistan is a big problem for the Western world and for the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But if Pakistan fails, the United States and its allies have an even bigger problem. What can the West do to prevent a large, dysfunctional nuclear-armed Muslim nation of 172 million inhabitants from becoming a major incubator of anti-Western hostility? The disintegration or continuing instability in Pakistan, or its possible takeover by extreme Islamic forces, including the Taliban, could also threaten a major conflict with neighboring India, which also has nuclear weapons. In reality, however, there is very little that the United States or any other outside nation can do to influence political developments in Pakistan. The nation's problems are rooted in an immature, essentially anti-democratic political culture in which religious fundamentalism and its violent appendices have found a fertile terrain. The Saudi government has funded thousands of madrassas, Islamic religious schools that teach no science or many other secular subjects. It may be simplistic to assume that religious education provides breeding grounds for fundamentalists or would-be terrorists, but in at least some cases this is certainly true. However, the problem is not so much religious education as a lack of a vibrant, modern education aimed at preparing young Pakistanis to become protagonists in the unfolding global economy. Religious education alone, even if devoid of any hint of radicalism, does not provide the necessary skills or attitudes for economic enterprise and wealth creation. On the other hand, unimpeded Islamic religious radicalism, not seriously challenged by a weak and disorganized state, is a real problem. It not only threatens Pakistan itself but also fans the continuing conflict in neighboring Afghanistan and has serious implications for stability in South Asia and as a growing menace for the rest of the world. Given all this, what can the West do? Not very much, at least not directly. Still, the West can at least attempt to create an international environment that may offer more opportunities to those Pakistanis who would like to try peaceful modernization. In other words, the average Pakistani citizen should be able to believe that there is a realistic way forward founded on peaceful modernization, fostered by constructive links with the international economy. It may not be much, but providing an alternative to millenarian fanaticism is better than doing nothing. For those who had ignored the progressive radicalization of Pakistan, the terror attacks last November in Mumbai, the economic and cultural capital of India, helped focus the international community on the sources of terrorism in South Asia. The Indian government and security services believe the attackers, who came by sea, were trained and equipped in mujahedin camps in northern Pakistan. Part 2: The steps the international community must take to keep Pakistan united and stable (Paolo Liebl von Schirach is the editor of SchirachReport.com, a regular contributor to Swiss radio and an international economic-development expert.) (United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)
President Barack Obama Shifts From Iraq To Afghan War Now Stakes Are Higher
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 26, 2009: President Barack Obama has moved quickly to shift the US military's focus to the Afghan war instead of Iraq, but the success of his new strategy could hinge on events beyond his control in volatile Pakistan. Pakistani soldiers take a break inside a home abandoned by militants driven out by the advancing Pakistani army at the Sabagai village in the Bajur tribal region in Pakistan, on the border with Afghanistan. The Pakistani army operation to rout militants from the Bajur tribal region and the evidence uncovered during the three month assault would indicate a frightening amount of coordination among militant groups.
In his first 100 days in office, Obama has announced plans to withdraw most US combat troops from Iraq before 2011 while ordering an escalation of the US commitment in Afghanistan, approving the deployment of 21,000 reinforcements. His new strategy for the Afghan war places Pakistan at the center of efforts to turn the tide against emboldened Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants, whose advances on both sides of the Afghan border have raised global alarm. Citing the spreading threat of Taliban militancy, Obama has called the region "the most dangerous place in the world." Pakistan already looked fragile before Obama took office but a ceasefire deal with the Taliban in the Swat Valley took Washington by surprise and raised grave questions about the strength of Islamic militancy in the nuclear-armed state. Through diplomacy and offers of generous military and economic aid, Obama hopes to push Pakistan to confront Taliban hardliners who are challenging both the Kabul government and Islamabad's authority. But Obama's top advisers acknowledge Washington holds only limited leverage over Pakistan, which has yet to carry out a decisive crackdown on the militants despite repeated pleas from US officials. "Even if we get everything right in Afghanistan -- if we have a corruption-free government, if we get counter-insurgency just right -- we will not succeed if we do not fix Pakistan," Obama's special envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, said earlier this month. Pakistan's military and political leaders have proved reluctant to shift their focus away from the country's arch-foe, India, while the powerful intelligence service has been widely accused of collaborating with the Taliban. Although sending US ground forces over the Afghan border has been ruled out, Obama has kept up air strikes against Al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan using unmanned Predator drones. Intelligence officials say the bombing campaign has damaged Al-Qaeda, but it has sparked public outrage in Pakistan and become a source of tension between the two countries. In justifying his "Af-Pak" strategy, Obama made no mention of forging democracy and said he was targeting the threat posed by Al-Qaeda. But the blueprint requires costly nation-building efforts in Afghanistan and counter-insurgency warfare on a large scale, over an indefinite time period. The gap between how the strategy has been sold to the public and what it will entail could cause Obama problems later on among American voters as well as US allies, said Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "That confusion is likely to make a costly commitment to the region harder to justify and sustain over the long run," Markey recently wrote. A vocal opponent of the war in Iraq who was criticized for being slow to recognize the success of the US military "surge" in Iraq, Obama has adopted a plan for Afghanistan that draws heavily on lessons learned from fighting Iraqi insurgents. The strategy envisages clearing insurgents in the south from main roads and villages, ferrying in aid, wooing moderate "foot soldiers" among the Taliban and training Afghan security forces who will one day take over from the Americans. A recent rise in sectarian violence in Iraq also poses a threat to Obama's Afghan mission. His strategy assumes that forces can be drawn down in Iraq to free up manpower for the Afghan front. If gains in Iraq begin to unravel, however, Baghdad might ask Washington for help, and Obama would be faced with a difficult dilemma. As he weighed reducing American forces in Iraq, the president heeded the advice of his defense secretary and top military officers, deciding to back off his initial plans for an earlier exit to give commanders more flexibility. Obama was credited with taking a similarly pragmatic approach on deliberations over Afghanistan. He reportedly struck a middle ground between commanders urging more boots on the ground and his vice president, Joseph Biden, who cautioned against committing too many troops to a possible quagmire. By the fall, there will be about 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan. At that point, Obama will have to decide whether to send another 10,000 as requested by the US commander there, General David McKiernan. The general has said a large US force will be needed for at least another four years to allow time to train Afghan security forces.
Russia Launches Military Transport Plane Project With India
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - April 26, 2009: The Russian government allocated $64 million in 2009 to part finance a joint project with India to develop a new military transport plane, a defense industry official said on Thursday. Russian government has signed a directive to launch the Russian-Indian project for the development of the MTA military transport plane. 64 million dollar has been allocated from the federal budget for this project in 2009. Russia and India signed an intergovernmental agreement on the joint development of a multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) in 2007. The cost of the $600-mln project is being equally shared by the two countries. "The Russian government has signed a directive to launch the Russian-Indian project for the development of the MTA military transport plane, 2.156 billion rubles ($64 mln) has been allocated from the federal budget for this project in 2009," said Viktor Livanov, general director of the Ilyushin design bureau. The transport plane, with a 20-ton cargo capacity, is expected to go in service with the Russian and Indian air forces in about eight years, the official said. The Russian participants in the project include the Ilyushin design bureau and the Irkut Corporation, which is part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), created in 2006. HAL state-owned aircraft manufacturing company is representing India in the project. India is expected to procure 45 MTA planes, while Russia, which needs to replace its outdated fleet of An-12, An-26 and An-32 transport planes, is most likely to commission at least 100 aircraft.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton In Beirut, Lebanon
(NSI News Source Info) April 26, 2009: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton seen with Lebanese majority leader, lawmaker Saad Hariri in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday April 26, 2009.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Sunday with Lebanon's president on a stop in Beirut ahead of a critical election that could see a pro-U.S. government ousted by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies.
US Has ‘Concerns’ Over Pakistan’s Nukes: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 26, 2009: Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is currently safe, but Washington has ‘concerns’ over what could happen if the advancing Taliban topples the government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview with Fox News on Saturday. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is currently safe, but Washington has ‘concerns’ over what could happen if the advancing Taliban topples the government, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. The security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is ‘an issue that we have very adamant assurances about from the Pakistani military and government. We’ve done a lot of work over the years evaluating that,’ Clinton told Fox News in an interview in Baghdad. ‘I think that the current thinking of our government is that it is safe,’ she said, according to a transcript of the interview. ‘But that’s given the current configuration of power in Pakistan. ‘One of our concerns, which we’ve raised with the Pakistani government and military is that if the worst, the unthinkable were to happen, and this advancing Taliban encouraged and supported by Al-Qaeda and other extremists were to essentially topple the government for failure to beat them back — then they would have the keys to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan,’ Clinton said. ‘We can’t even contemplate that. We cannot, you know, let this go on any further. Which is why we’re pushing so hard for the Pakistanis to come together around a strategy to take their country back,’ Clinton told Fox. More than 1,800 people have been killed in a wave of Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked extremist attacks across Pakistan since July 2007, when the military stormed the occupied Red Mosque in Islamabad. The United States voiced concerns on Thursday over advances by the Taliban in Pakistan and said the issue was taking up a significant amount of President Barack Obama’s time.
NATO Soldier At Guard At Harbor In Karachi, Pakistan
(NSI News Source Info) April 26, 2009: A soldier of the Standing NATO Maritime Group One stands guard at harbor in Karachi, Pakistan on Sunday, April 26, 2009.
A fleet of NATO destroyers and frigates arrived in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi ahead of a two- day exercises with the Pakistani Navy that focus on counter terrorism and battling piracy.
Azerbaijani And US Soldiers In A Joint NATO Military Exercise Outside Baku
(NSI News Source Info) April 26, 2009: Azerbaijani and US soldiers participate in a joint NATO military exercise outside Baku on April 24, 2009.
Soldiers from Azerbaijan serve alongside Turkish troops in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
US Envoy Richard Holbrooke’s Portfolio Includes India, Says US Gen. David Petraeus
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 26, 2009: The portfolio of the new US envoy Richard Holbrooke includes India even though his title – envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan – does not indicate so, says US Gen. David Petraeus. Members of Code Pink protest as Commander of the U.S. Central Command Gen. David Petraeus testifies during a hearing before the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill April 24, 2009 in Washington, DC. The hearing was focused on base posture and supplemental request of the central command. The general, who commands American forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan as the US Central Command chief, also emphasised the need to address the Kashmir dispute, saying that a reduction in tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir would help the fight against extremists. ‘There are people who have rightly said that Ambassador Holbrooke's title should be Afghan, Pakistan and India,’ Gen. Petraeus told a subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations. ‘Now, let me just tell you, his portfolio very much includes India and, in fact, the Central Asian states and the other neighbours there.’ The general’s comments are bound to irk New Delhi which refuses to accept any international mediation in its relations with other South Asian nations. India is particularly sensitive to third party mediation in its disputes with Pakistan and has rejected all previous offers to help resolve the Kashmir issue that has plagued relations between South Asia’s two nuclear states for more than 60 years. When President Obama announced that he plans to appoint a special envoy for South Asia, the Indian government lobbied successfully to keep India out of the new envoy’s portfolio. Gen. Petraeus’s remarks, however, indicate that while the word India has been dropped from Ambassador Holbrooke’s title, his functions include consulting India on all major issues, as he has been doing since his appointment. But Mr Holbrooke has made it clear that he is not going to mediate between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir dispute. Gen. Petraeus, however, observed that if the international community could resolve the Kashmir dispute or reduce the tensions generated by this issue, Pakistan would have had a greater focus on fighting the extremists on its western border. ‘If you could resolve that conundrum or even reduce the tensions; that could contribute to an ability to focus more intellectually as well as just sheer forces physically on the internal extremist threat,’ he said. ‘It is very important to reduce the tensions between India and Pakistan so that Pakistan can both intellectually and physically focus on the most pressing threat to their existence, which is the internal extremist threat, rather than the traditional threat of India.’ The general said that the need to reduce tensions between the two South Asian neighbours becomes clearer when an observer looks at the number of their forces tied up on the Indian border, and at the percentage of their defence budget devoted to the standoff. Underlining the importance of keeping India involved in US efforts to defeat extremist forces in the South Asian region, Gen. Petraeus noted that Ambassador Holbrooke's first trip to the region didn't include just Afghanistan and Pakistan. He then continued on into India.
India: Dozens Of Militants Cross Into Indian Kashmir - Captured Militant
(NSI News Source Info) SRINAGAR, India - April 26, 2009: More than 30 Islamic militants have crossed into Indian Kashmir from the Pakistan side of the divided region in recent weeks, a captured militant said Saturday. Syed Moinullah Shah, a suspected Pakistani rebel allegedly belonging to Hezb-ul-Mujahedeen, the largest Kashmiri guerrilla group fighting against Indian rule, and Brigadier Gurmeet Singh, right, look on during a press conference organized by the Indian army, at an army base in Srinagar, India, Saturday, April 25, 2009. Indian army arrested Shah in Indian-controlled Kashmir and recovered arms and ammunition from him, a top army officer said on Saturday. The infiltration by such a large number of militants is likely to fuel security concerns in Kashmir which is in the middle of a five-stage general election that has been boycotted by Muslim separatists. The first two rounds of voting passed off peacefully but next week polling moves to the region's more sensitive Muslim-majority areas. "In all 120 of us infiltrated into this side of Kashmir," the militant, Sakib Moinullah Shah, told a press briefing arranged by the military in Srinagar. "Thirty-one were militants. Others were porters, guides and those who cut the snow to make way for us," said Shah, a Pakistani national. Shah was captured after a series of gunbattles with the security forces that left 12 of the militants dead. According to the Indian army's senior officer in Kashmir, Brigadier General Gurmit Singh, another six died in an avalanche, leaving a dozen still at large. The porters, guides and snow beaters had all crossed back over the Line of Control that divides Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. "These guides and porters are paid only after they return," Singh said. Shah said he was a member of Indian Kashmir's most powerful militant group the Hizbul Mujahedin. Kashmir is in the grip of a nearly 20-year old insurgency against Indian rule that has so far left more than 47,000 people dead, according to official figures.
Lockheed Martin Provides U.S. Strategic Command With Enhanced Mission Planning Capability
(NSI News Source Info) Omaha, Neb. - April 26, 2009: Lockheed Martin has enhanced the U.S. Strategic Command’s ability to plan operations that support their critical mission areas, which include strategic deterrence, space and cyberspace. The delivery of the portal-based Integrated Strategic Planning and Analysis Network (ISPAN) Collaborative Information Environment (CIE), gives commanders a faster moving decision environment and an accelerated operations tempo, providing parallel - not sequential - planning and decision making capabilities. “This capability will enable the U.S. Strategic Command to provide senior leadership with an increasing set of options to support our national strategic objectives,’’ said Cliff Spier, vice president of C2 Solutions for Lockheed Martin’s IS&GS-Defense. “Through this effort, USSTRATCOM, its Joint Functional Component Commands and other key Commands around the world can better respond to global situations more rapidly and with greater understanding." A component of the command's primary mission planning and execution system, ISPAN CIE focuses on enhancing mission planning in a collaborative environment. Users can now collaborate and provide customized views based on role and security clearance level which allows planners to more quickly integrate, coordinate and synchronize plan options. Commanders now have the access, flexibility, functionality, and speed, to support mission area planning for adaptive, and crisis action planning for both kinetic and non-kinetic operations. This has a direct impact on mission effectiveness as decision makers are able to evaluate more options in a shorter amount of time. Supporting the full spectrum of the command's mission, ISPAN allows USSTRATCOM commanders to monitor worldwide situations in real time, assess potential threats or areas of interest, and then plan and support execution of a swift response in coordination with regional combatant commanders. The system also provides global situational awareness that enables senior leaders to closely coordinate with combatant commanders as well as warfighters in the field on course-of-action development. 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.
Boeing Airborne Laser Team Begins Weapon System Flight Tests
(NSI News Source Info) EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - April 26, 2009: The Boeing Company, industry teammates and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency have begun Airborne Laser (ABL) flight tests with the entire weapon system integrated aboard the ABL aircraft. ABL, a heavily modified Boeing 747-400F aircraft, completed its functional check flight April 21 from Edwards Air Force Base with the beam control/fire control system and the high-energy laser onboard, confirming the aircraft is airworthy, ready for more airborne tests, and on track for its missile-intercept demonstration this year. "With ABL's return to flight, we are on the verge of fully demonstrating the unprecedented speed, mobility, precision and lethality that ABL could provide to America's warfighters," said Michael Rinn, Boeing vice president and ABL program director. ABL would deter potential adversaries and provide speed-of-light capability to destroy all classes of ballistic missiles in their boost phase of flight. Eliminating missiles in their boost phase would reduce the number of shots required by other elements of the layered ballistic missile defense system. ABL also has the potential to be employed for other missions, including destroying aircraft and surface-to-air missiles. The program has logged many accomplishments over the past several years. In 2007, ABL completed almost 50 flight tests that demonstrated its ability to track an airborne target, measure and compensate for atmospheric conditions, and deliver a surrogate high-energy laser beam on the target. In 2008, the team completed installing the high-energy laser onboard the aircraft and, for the first time, operated the entire weapon system at high power levels. Boeing is the prime contractor and overall systems integrator for ABL, and provides the modified aircraft and battle management system. Northrop Grumman supplies the high-energy laser, and Lockheed Martin provides the beam control/fire control system.
BAE Systems Welcomes New £574 Million Harrier Availability Contract
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON - April 26, 2009: BAE Systems has today welcomed the award of a new £574 million Harrier availability contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The contract, which will ensure increased availability of Harrier fighter aircraft to support frontline forces, is consistent with the Company’s strategic move to grow its readiness and sustainment capabilities and support its customers through partnering agreements. BAE Systems will keep British Harriers flying until their retirement in 2018, under a £574M deal announced April 23. Under the contract known as HPAC; Harrier Platform Availability Contract, BAE Systems will take over responsibility for the depth maintenance of the UK’s fleet of Harrier aircraft that will support the aircraft until its out-of-service date (currently 2018). This maintenance will be carried out jointly with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy (RN) at RAF Cottesmore. The RAF and Royal Navy will continue to carry out day-to-day flightline maintenance. Under the HPAC service, BAE Systems will be responsible for the maintenance of the RAF’s and RN’s Harriers, along with providing spare parts and technical advice to the operational squadrons. Alun Fishburne, Director of Harrier at BAE Systems, said: “Signature of HPAC represents a major achievement for the joint BAE Systems / UK MOD team and recognises that the connection between the UK’s defence industrial sector and our armed forces has never been more vital. It will provide an effective and flexible through life service to the front line customer at significantly reduced cost. It builds on major growth in BAE Systems’ support activities, and aligns with our ultimate goal to support the men and women of the armed forces.” A report on fast jet support by the National Audit Office stated that BAE Systems’ existing contracts have already reduced the cost of maintaining the Harrier by £109m, helped cut the cost per flying hour by 44% and made an additional 11 aircraft available to the frontline. The current contracts such as the Joint Upgrade and Maintenance Programme (JUMP), operating out of RAF Cottesmore, are being incorporated into HPAC and the new contract will build on the success of these. The BAE Systems team has met every milestone on the programme to date. Group Captain Andy Ebdon, Harrier IPT Leader, MOD, said: "HPAC is great news for the future support of Harrier and is testament to a tremendous sustained joint effort by MOD and Industry to build on the successes already achieved. Joint Force Harrier is now assured of the cost effective support throughout its remaining service to 2018." With the award of the £450m Typhoon Availability Service (TAS) contract on the 4th March, the UK MoD has awarded availability contracts valued at over £1bn to BAE Systems in the last two months. About BAE Systems BAE Systems is the premier global defence, security and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. With approximately 105,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £18.5 billion (US $34.4 billion) in 2008.
U.S. Blasts North Korea For Reactivating Nuke Program
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 26, 2009: The United States on April 25 blasted North Korea's decision to reactivate its nuclear program and called for the reclusive nation to return to international denuclearization talks. A Japanese tourist visits a pavilion with a board showing details of North Korean missiles, at an observation post near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, about 45 km (28 miles) north of Seoul, April 26, 2009. North Korea has started to extract plutonium from spent fuel rods at its nuclear arms plant, its foreign ministry said on Saturday, further raising regional tensions already stoked by its defiant rocket launch this month. "We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-weapons state," said Megan Mattson, a State Department spokeswoman. The North's announcement that it had started reprocessing spent fuel rods to make weapons-grade plutonium came just hours after the United Nations slapped sanctions on three North Korean firms accused of backing missile development. On April 14, the North said it would quit six-nation nuclear disarmament talks and restart its atomic weapons program after the U.N. Security Council issued a statement condemning the Pyongyang's controversial April 5 rocket launch. Pyongyang says it put a satellite into orbit but the United States and its allies say the launch was a disguised long-range ballistic missile test. "The United States remains committed to the six-party goal of the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner through the six-party talks," said Mattson. Mattson said the U.S. continues "to seek full implementation of the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement under which North Korea committed to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and return, at an early date, to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards." Infuriated by the U.N.'s actions, North Korea has expelled inspectors from the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who had been monitoring its stated efforts to dismantle its nuclear programs. The North had been disabling parts of the Yongbyon nuclear complex as agreed under a February 2007 six-nation deal involving the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan. But six-party negotiations stalled last December because of disputes about ways to verify its declared nuclear activities. Analysts say it will take three to four months before the North completes reprocessing some 8,000 spent fuel rods from the reactor in Yongbyon to obtain plutonium. The North, which carried out its first nuclear test in October 2006, reportedly put the size of its plutonium stockpile at 31 kilograms when it handed over a nuclear declaration in June 2008. If all has been turned into weapons, the North might have six to eight bombs, experts say.
NATO French Forces On Patrol In Kabul, Afghanistan
(NSI News Source Info) April 26, 2009: Armoured vehicles with French Army soldiers from the NATO-led coalition patrol past a boy sleeping in a wheelbarrow in south Kabul April 24, 2009.
NATO Extends Anti-Piracy Mission Off Somalia
(NSI News Source Info) BRUSSELS - April 26, 2009: NATO decided April 24 to extend its anti-piracy work off the coast of Somalia given the increase in attacks on merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden. "NATO has decided to continue the counter piracy activities off Somalia in the Gulf of Aden," said a spokesman for the transatlantic alliance at its Brussels headquarters. While conducting World Food Program escort duties on 18 April 2009, Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg respond to a pirate attack against MV Front Ardenne off the coast of Somalia in this Canadian National Defence handout photo, obtained on April 20, 2009. Winnipeg was forced to aggressively pursue and fire multiple warning shots in order to eventually stop and search the pirate skiff. The Naval Boarding Party then discovered items that confirmed the occupants were involved in illegal activities and confiscated them in accordance with standard operating procedures. HMCS Winnipeg is operating in the Gulf of Aden under Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) to counter acts of piracy and provide security for transiting merchant vessels. Commanded by Commander Craig Baines, the Halifax-class patrol frigate has a crew of approximately 240, including a CH-124 Sea King helicopter detachment. Four vessels from NATO's Standing Naval Maritime Group One have been conducting anti-piracy work and escorting merchant ships, including some carrying food aid for Somalia, since last month. The naval ships were due to make courtesy port visits to Karachi in Pakistan, Singapore and Perth in Western Australia, but the last two visits have been cancelled, the spokeswoman said. They now will break off to visit Karachi on Monday and Tuesday but return to continue their counter piracy work until June 6. "With the great increase in pirate attacks and the ensuing international attention, NATO's recent contribution to counter-piracy has been significant," the spokeswoman said. Pirates attacked over 130 merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden last year - more than double last year's total, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Attacks increased tenfold in the first three months of 2009 compared to the same period last year.
China Parades Naval Might / China Has High Naval Ambitions
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING - April 26, 2009: China paraded its warships and nuclear submarines April 23 in an unprecedented display of maritime might attended by 14 other nations to mark the 60th anniversary of its navy. Fifty-six Chinese subs, destroyers, frigates, missile boats and planes were displayed off the eastern port city of Qingdao just weeks after tensions flared after a naval stand-off with the U.S. in the South China Sea. A Chinese Navy nuclear-powered submarine sails during an international fleet review to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of People's Liberation Army Navy Thursday, April 23, 2009 off Qingdao, China's Shandong Province. China on Thursday displayed for the first time its nuclear-powered submarines, a sign of the navy's growing confidence and its aspirations to become a major sea power. The review - only the fourth to take place since 1949 and the first on such a large and international scale - was opened by two of China's nuclear-powered submarines, the first time in history they have been unveiled to the public. President Hu Jintao boarded the destroyer Shijiazhuang, after having sought to reassure the heads of foreign navy delegations that China's maritime power posed no threat to anyone. "Both now and in the future, no matter to what extent we develop, China will never seek hegemony," he said, in comments reported by Xinhua. State television showed Hu standing on the deck of the Shijiazhuang saluting and calling out to the ships that passed before him. But Jean-Pierre Cabestan, professor of political science at Hong Kong Baptist University, described the event as "a show of force, of power." "It's a public relations display with a double message - China as an integrator, showing it is keeping with the rules of the international game, but also showing it is now in the big power arena," he said. Ships from 14 countries, including the U.S., Russia and France, took part in the fleet review, which Chinese officials have said is aimed at promoting understanding about China's military development. "Suspicions about China being a 'threat' to world security are mostly because of... lack of understanding about China," Ding Yiping, deputy commander of the navy, told the official Xinhua news agency this week. China has always stressed its military build-up, watched with a wary eye by the U.S. - which accuses the Chinese of a lack of transparency - does not pose a threat to other countries. A number of recent incidents at sea have heightened tensions. In March, the U.S. complained that Chinese boats had harassed one of its ships in the South China Sea, forcing it to take action to prevent a collision. China denied the claim and accused the U.S. vessel of "illegal activities". Early this month, China's dispatch of civilian patrol vessels to waters around disputed islands in the same sea - the Spratlys - sparked concern in the Philippines, which also claims sovereignty over the archipelago. China's increasing maritime confidence was also reflected in its decision to send ships to the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, for an anti-piracy assignment in the first potential combat mission for its navy beyond its territorial waters. And the navy's commander-in-chief, Admiral Wu Shengli, said in April China would develop a new generation of warships and aircraft to give it much longer-range capabilities. But Hong Kong Baptist University's Cabestan said China's navy still lagged behind other countries, with no aircraft carriers despite plans to build some. "In terms of technology they are still far behind the Americans, the Japanese, or even the Russians, but in tonnage, they have now become the first navy in Asia," he said. The U.S., which has sent navy chief Admiral Gary Roughead and the destroyer Fitzgerald to the event, would be watching the parade very closely, according to the professor. "The United States are participating, they are playing the card of integration, of the policy of engagement," he said. "But they are also watching attentively the progress of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), all the new missions that the Chinese navy do." Sixty years ago, the PLA's navy was formed when a unit of the Kuomintang's coastal defense fleet defected to the rival communists, bringing with it nine warships and 17 other boats. Kuomintang nationalist forces had been locked in a civil war with the communists, who eventually won and came to power on Oct. 1, 1949.