(NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - May 3, 2009: They decided to "graciously resign" from the exco although they were not legally bound to do so, said the AWARE exco which lost a no—confidence vote at its extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Saturday. "We need not step down, but we considered it and came to the conclusion that for the sake of AWARE, we would step down," said Ms Maureen Ong who had been the honorary treasurer. Wishing the new exco "all the best," AWARE president of less than two months Ms Josie Lau said she hopes AWARE will return to its original roots in accordance to its constitution and continue to contribute to the advancement of women. The bitter leadership tussle between the two groups — made up of the old guards including those who were AWARE’s founding members, and the new guards — had led to the no—confidence vote at the EGM. At a post—EGM news conference, Ms Lau also responded to criticisms raised over the S$90,000 spent in the past month under her watch, of which S$23,000 went to renting the exhibition halls at the Suntec convention centre for Saturday’s meeting. Ms Lau said: "I am sure we are very above board in those expenditures, given the circumstances surrounding events in the last few days. We had to spend what was spent." Going forward, Ms Charlotte Wong Hock Soon who stepped down as vice—president said she would be happy to contribute to AWARE in the area of education if invited to do so by the newly elected exco. Ms Wong is a former sociology lecturer at the National University of Singapore.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Sri Lankan Army Inspecting LTTE's Captured Territory
(NSI News Source Info) COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - May 3, 2009: Handout photograph released by the Sri Lankan military April 27, 2009 shows what the army say is a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) transmission tower they discovered hidden in the 'No Fire Zone' in northern Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka on Monday said combat with heavy weapons was over in a last pocket of territory held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and they were shifting their focus to rescuing civilians trapped there.
The announcement came a day after the government dismissed an attempt to declare a truce by the rebels, now cornered in less than 10 square km (4 sq mile) of coastline by a military juggernaut aiming to end a war that started in 1983.
DTN News: Japan TODAY May 3, 2009
(NSI News Source Info) May 3, 2009: Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso speaks at a press conference in Beijing on April 30, 2009. Aso called for Tokyo and Beijing to unite in facing the world's environmental and economic challenges, seeking also to calm fears about China's military power.
DTN News: Pakistan TODAY May 3, 2009
(NSI News Source Info) May 3, 2009: Pakistani army tanks patrol Buner district where troops recently launched an offensive against militants May 2, 2009. Pakistani security forces killed 16 Taliban militants after coming under attack in a volatile tribal region on the Afghan border on Saturday, the military said.
DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY May 3, 2009
(NSI News Source Info) May 3, 2009: A U.S. solider of 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division crosses a water stream during a search operation to hunt members of Taliban in Nerkh district of Wardak province in west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 2, 2009.
Australia To Buy US Jets, Build Up Navy, Air Force
(NSI News Source Info) CANBERRA, Australia - May 3, 2009: Australia plans to buy 100 state-of-the-art U.S. jet fighters and double the size of its modest submarine fleet in a bid to keep pace with an Asian military buildup. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, announcing the plan on board the HMAS Stuart in Sydney Harbour on Saturday, said Australia's military must be prepared for any situation. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, right, announces the government's defense white paper as Chief of the Defense Force Angus Houston, left, looks on, aboard HMAS Stuart at Garden Island naval base in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, May 2, 2009. Its 140-page white paper - Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030, released on Saturday - outlines defense and strategic planning and signals what the government calls a major new direction aimed at building a "heavier" naval, air combat and logistics capability in the Asia Pacific. "It's important for our own capability requirements ... for the Australian Defense Force to be prepared to meet a range of contingencies arising from military and naval buildups across our region," Rudd said. "That is prudent, long-term defense planning, and we believe we've got the balance absolutely right." The major defense update also says that global warming and shortages of fuel, food and water will likely be emerging threats to world peace as countries seek to guarantee supplies of crucial resources. The plan says world powers will jockey for naval supremacy in the Indian Ocean as it gains importance as a seaway for oil shipped from the Middle East to Asia. It does not single out any single country as posing a military threat to Australia, which is a close military ally of the United States. The plan focuses on building Australian naval and air force strength to take any fight over Australia's security far offshore. To do this, Australia's current fleet of six Collins-class submarines will be replaced by 12 longer-range Australian-manufactured submarines. The government, which bans atomic energy in Australia, has ruled out nuclear propulsion. The navy's 12 frigates will also be replaced by the same number of larger warships. Australia will remain without an aircraft carrier. The government plans to buy 100 U.S.-manufactured Lockheed F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighters to phase out the current Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets over the next decade. But the opposition Liberal party argued that the report doesn't explain how the new equipment will be funded. "Nobody reading this white paper could have any confidence that the government has the capacity, the commitment, or even knows how it is going to pay for this dramatic expansion in our military hardware," opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Sydney. Rudd recently warned that Australia needed to reshape its military in response to an "explosion" in defense spending in Asia. Saturday's plan said the global economic downturn would slow the recent arms buildup in some Asian countries, though China will likely continue its military modernization, it said. "But the pace, scope and structure of China's military modernization have the potential to give its neighbors cause for concern if not carefully explained," the paper says. "China has begun to do this in recent years, but needs to do more." Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, center bottom, announces the government's defense white paper aboard HMAS Stuart at Garden Island naval base in Sydney, Saturday, May 2, 2009. Its 140-page white paper - Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030, released on Saturday - outlines defense and strategic planning and signals what the government calls a major new direction aimed at building a "heavier" naval, air combat and logistics capability in the Asia Pacific. The government is committed to increasing defense spending, which is 22 billion Australian dollars ($16 billion) in the current fiscal year, by 3 percent each year despite the current recession. Australia is the largest contributor to the U.S.-led coalition force in Afghanistan outside NATO. Rudd announced this week that the Australian military commitment there would be boosted from 1,100 to 1,550.
Afghanistan: U.S. And Afghan Forces Killed 5 Militants in Helmand Province
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL - May 3, 2009: Afghan National Army (ANA) and the U.S.-led Coalition forces killed five militants in an joint patrol on Friday in southern Afghan province of Helmand, said a Coalition statement issued here on Saturday. U.S. soliders of 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division patrol during a search operation to hunt members of Taliban in Nerkh district of Wardak province in west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 2, 2009. The joint troops were conducting a routine combat reconnaissance patrol in Nahr Surkh district when armed militants attacked from several compounds with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, the statement said. Afghan and Coalition forces pursued the militants and returned fire with small-arms and heavy weapons, killing five of them, it added. Multiple weapons were recovered from the militants' hideouts. "No Afghan, Coalition Forces or civilian casualties were reported," the statement said. Conflicts and violence have claimed more than 5,000 lives last year while Taliban militants vowed to launch Spring Offensive since April 30 this year to intensify all kinds of assaults on government and international troops.
Uniformed Iraqi Kills US Soldiers / U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates Says al-Qaida Trying To Spark New Round Of Iraq Unrest
Uniformed Iraqi Kills US Soldiers / U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates Says al-Qaida Trying To Spark New Round Of Iraq Unrest
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - May 3, 2009: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the recent series of highly deadly bombings in Iraq is an attempt by al-Qaida to spark sectarian violence as U.S. troops reduce their security role. Secretary Gates says he spoke to top U.S. commanders in Iraq about the violence just a few days ago. "The judgment of the commanders is this is an orchestrated effort on the part of al-Qaida to try and provoke the very kind of sectarian violence that nearly tore the country apart in 2006," he said. Secretary Gates says al-Qaida in Iraq announced its plan about six weeks ago. He says the al-Qaida leadership is testing new security arrangements as U.S. combat forces prepare to withdraw from Iraqi cities by June, and to end their combat role throughout Iraq by August of next year. "They are clearly trying to take advantage of our drawdown, and particularly are drawing back away from the cities, to try and provoke a renewed round of sectarian violence," he said. Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates played down the concern expressed by one senator that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki is contributing to the unrest by refusing to talk to some Sunni opposition groups. "The latest information we have is that he is reaching out to some of the Sunni groups. He does have a problem with the Baathist Party and some of the people who worked for Saddam Hussein. But he is reaching out to other Sunnis in terms of political alliances," he said. In a commentary published Thursday, respected analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies also blames the violence on al-Qaida, saying its leaders will take advantage of any potential weakness - whether it is the change in the role of U.S. forces or a problem in the reconciliation process. "It's going to be several years before you can create effective Iraqi security forces, before you can get to the level of political accommodation that will make it easy to establish a real rule of law and create more effective security structures. Tragic as it sounds, we have to accept these levels of violence to occur until a great deal more progress takes place in Iraq. It will be a matter of years, not months or weeks," he said. Still, Cordesman says, it is important to note that the overall level of violence has not changed recently in Iraq, and is sharply down from last year. He says ending violence in Iraq will require consistent U.S. and Iraqi efforts to build the country's security forces, reconcile its diverse political factions and improve its economy. "In the interim," he writes, "there will be good and bad months, but no truly peaceful months." At a news conference Wednesday marking his 100th day in office, President Obama noted that al-Qaida has at least so far not been successful in sparking a new round of widespread ethnic violence in Iraq. "I think it's important to note that, although you've seen some spectacular bombings in Iraq that are a legitimate cause of concern, civilian deaths, incidents of bombings, etc., remain very low relative to what was going on last year, for example. And so you haven't seen the kinds of huge spikes that you were seeing for a time. The political system is holding and functioning in Iraq. Part of the reason why I called for a gradual withdrawal as opposed to a precipitous one was precisely because more work needs to be done on the political side to further isolate whatever remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq still exist," Mr. Obama said. At the request of senior military commanders, President Obama agreed to a 19-month timetable for the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq, rather than the 16 months he had promised during the presidential election campaign. And he agreed that most of the U.S. combat troops could stay in Iraq until close to the end of that time period. A residual U.S. force will remain to train and support Iraqi forces until the end of 2011.
Swine Flu Pandemic Still ‘Imminent,' WHO Officer Says / Swine Flu: How Afraid Should We Be?
*Analysis: Health authorities the world over are warning of a swine-flu 'Armageddon’. It could be that they are simply trying to avoid accusations of underplaying the risks. On the other hand, it may be that the worst is to come later this year (DTN Defense-Technology News)
(NSI News Source Info) May 3, 2009: On June 24, 1918, the young poet Wilfred Owen crawled into an Army-issue bell tent at a camp in Scarborough and began composing a letter to his mother, Susan. Then a 20-year-old officer in the Second Manchesters, Owen had just been deemed fit for duty after a lengthy convalescence in Scotland following an attack of a nervous condition brought on by the stresses and strain of the war. But, as Owen waited in North Yorkshire for the orders that would return him to the Front, his thoughts were on another disease entirely. “STAND BACK FROM THE PAGE! and disinfect yourself,” he begins his letter. “Quite 1/3 of the Batt and about 30 officers are smitten with the Spanish Flu. The hospital overflowed on Friday, then the Gymnasium was filled, and now all the place seems carpeted with huddled, blanketed forms. The boys are dropping on parade like flies.”UPDATES with latest information; graphic provides an update of swine flu outbreaks worldwide. At first, Owen’s remarks read like genuine alarm. But, as the next passage makes clear, Owen is being ironic and, far from taking the disinfectant measures seriously, considers the flu something of a joke. “The thing is much too common for me to take part in. I have quite decided not to! Imagine the work that falls on unaffected officers.” No doubt Owen’s remarks will resonate with many Britons waking up today to the latest casualty count from Mexican swine flu, or H1N1 as the World Health Organisation now insists on calling the virus out of concern for the plumeting price of pork bellies. In a world seemingly gone mad over the “Montezuma’s revenge” virus, humour will strike many as the only rationale response. “Doctor, doctor, I think I have swine flu,” runs one joke doing the rounds. “Try oinkment.” However, with calls to the NHS flu hotline doubling each day, and increasingly dire predictions from the WHO about the imminence of a pandemic that could dwarf the Spanish influenza of 1918, such jokes may not inoculate us for long. Owen never lived to rue his words, dying at the Sambre-Oise canal in France in one of the last skirmishes of the First World War.
However, within weeks of the Armistice on November 11, men who had survived the killing fields of Flanders would find themselves turning a ghastly purple colour as the Spanish flu, which was also an H1N1, burrowed deep into their respiratory tract, causing their lungs to fill with choking fluids. Between September and December of 1918, about 12,000 Londoners died in the second wave alone, and, by the time the third wave of infections had subsided in May 1919, about 225,000 Britons were dead. With half the nation’s doctors and nurses serving at the Front, and in a world without antivirals or antibiotics, there was little anyone could do. “So many were ill that only the worst could be visited,” recalled a GP’s son from Lancashire. “People collapsed in their homes, in the streets and at work. All treatment was futile.” Worldwide, the mortality from the Spanish flu – so-called because Spain, not being a party to the war, was one of the few countries openly to report the spreading depredation – was simply inconceivable, with as many as 50 million dead according to conservative estimates. But that was then. The world is no longer at war and Britain is not Mexico, point out the sceptics. On Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday, the Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins laid into Professor John Oxford, a virologist at Barts hospital and one of the world’s foremost experts on influenza, for referring earlier in the week to H1N1 as an “Armageddon sort of virus”. Scientists were “mad” to use such emotive language, Jenkins ranted, and journalists who failed to exercise judgment by quoting official government projections of as many as 94,000 London dead, were madder still. The novelist and Evening Standard columnist Will Self has been similarly scathing, describing the predictions of imminent Apocalypse – or “Aporkalypse”, as some wags put it – as so much media “squealing”. Meanwhile, Michael O’Leary, the embattled boss of Ryanair, in a desperate effort to stave off a further catastrophic fall in passenger numbers in a business only just beginning to recover from the credit crunch, claims that only people “living in slums” in Mexico and Asia are at risk.People wear surgical masks to help prevent contamination with the swine flu as they attend a baptism ceremony at a church on May 2, 2009 in Mexico City, Mexico. The Mexican government continues its efforts to contain the H1N1 virus or the so-called swine flu. Cases have been confirmed in 15 countries, including Mexico and the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the threat level to 'phase 5,' indicating a 'pandemic is imminent. Behind the backlash is the sense that we have been here before – in 2005 to be precise, when Prof Oxford and experts such as David Nabarro, the head of influenza planning at the United Nations, made similarly apocalyptic predictions about the bird-flu virus, H5N1. The subtext is that they cried wolf once, so why believe them now? Pandemics are the viral equivalent of perfect storms. In order to trigger an event on the scale of 1918, three things have to happen. First, a new influenza virus – one against which people have no or few antibodies – has to emerge from a “hidden” animal reservoir. Second, the virus has to make people sick. Both these conditions have already been met by the new H1N1 sub-type from Mexico. The third thing that needs to happen is that the virus must be able to spread efficiently between people, preferably via a cough, sneeze or handshake. With the announcement yesterday that a 24-year-old Falkirk man, who plays on the same football team as Iain Askham, one half of the Cancún honeymoon couple who introduced the flu to Britain, has been diagnosed with the virus after a night out with Askham in the pub, the third condition has now been fulfilled. But this is not the only reason why England’s chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson is now saying we will see “many” more cases or why Robert Madelin, director general for EU consumer health policy, is predicting that deaths are inevitable, the only question being whether the toll will be in the “thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands”.
At the root of their concern is a scientific understanding of the way that influenza viruses evolve and recombine with the genes of other viruses, including avian-flu genes – knowledge that, for the most part, is denied their critics. Another factor is that they know that it is better to be proven wrong than to be accused of failing to keep the public properly informed, as occurred during the BSE crisis. Indeed, one reason why even normally cautious commentators, such as Dr Alan Hay, director of the World Influenza Centre in Mill Hill, north London, are using words such as “ominous” is that the majority of the deaths recorded so far in Mexico have been in adults between the ages of 20 and 40, a mortality pattern that mirrors that of the 1918 Spanish influenza.
Similar concerns motivate Prof Oxford, who has spent most of his career studying the Spanish influenza, and it is also why, on Wednesday, Angus Nichol, head of the Influenza Programme at the European Centre for Disease Control in Stockholm, informed The Independent: “Influenza viruses are very slippery creatures. The relatively few deaths we have seen so far could be the tip of the iceberg.” In 2005, I came face-to-face with what was then also being billed as an “Armageddon” strain when I travelled to Vietnam.
On an isolation ward at Hanoi’s Bach Mai hospital, I watched as doctors struggled to ventilate a young man who had caught the H5N1 virus after slaughtering an infected duck for a family meal. Pencil-thin and breathing heavily, Sy Tuan drifted in and out of delirium, gasping for air. He had waited too long to seek treatment, and the virus had burrowed deep into his lungs, sparking an auto-immune reaction. Dr Nguyen Tuong Van, the director of Bach Mai’s intensive care unit showed me Sy Tuan’s chest X-rays. There were white shadows everywhere. It was like looking at a patient with advanced tuberculosis. Sy Tuan survived and, though there have been subsequent human H5N1 infections, H5N1 never became a “super spreader”. Indeed, since the current outbreak began in 2003, there have been only 421 cases and 257 deaths, the majority in south-east Asia. By contrast, the Mexican H1N1 subtype has already infected about 3,000 people and been reported on every continent on the globe. It is too early to say how or where the critical mutations occurred. Some newspaper reports have pointed the finger at a pig-farming facility near La Gloria, in Veracruz, operated by the US company Smithfield, the world’s biggest pork processor. It was at La Gloria, about 12 miles from the farm, that, on April 2, a five-year-old boy, Edgar Hernandez, became ill with what the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has since confirmed as the first human infection with the swine flu. However, other reports suggest that the index case may have been a census-taker from Oaxaca, who lived nowhere near the pig farm.Updates figures and day in chatter to Saturday; graphic shows daily reported U.S. cases of swine flu since April. But what cannot be denied is that Mexican H1N1 is primarily a pig flu and a dangerous one at that: what is known in the trade as a “quadruple reassortment”, consisting of two swine flu strains, one human strain, and an unidentified avian strain. Moreover, according to preliminary analysis from human cases in California and Texas, six of the eight viral segments are closely related to a North American swine flu strain that emerged in 1998, killing hundreds of sows at a pig breeding facility in North Carolina. Some of the most worrying parallels, however, are historical. Although the 1918 pandemic was blamed on the Iberians, “Spanish” influenza is a misnomer. Then, as now, the earliest reported case came from the Americas, from Haskell County, Kansas, where doughboys at a US army base were being fattened on chickens and pork grown on local farms before being marched on to transports to join Wilfred Owen in northern France. And then, as now, the first cases occurred in the spring, a highly unusual time of year for an outbreak in the northern hemisphere. The last observation is particularly worrying and explains why scientists have been advising governments to activate their pandemic plans now, rather than waiting for the WHO to declare a level-six alert – the formal signal that a pandemic has started. It is argued that, if the current outbreak is mirroring the 1918 pandemic, then we should expect the first wave to be mild. It is when Mexican H1N1 returns in the autumn that we could see a sudden ratcheting up of its virulence and a spike in mortality, as occurred in 1918. Such questions may soon be answered by genomic analysis already underway at the CDC in Atlanta. Once epidemiologists have a better handle on the true level of infections in Mexico and whether the deaths reported so far are due to H1N1 and not some other strain of flu, or even bacterial pneumonias, we will also be in a better position to gauge the attack rate and in which direction the virus is evolving. There is even a possibility that Mexican H1N1 could recombine with H5N1 when it reaches south-east Asia, thus becoming both highly transmissible and highly pathogenic, a combination that surely would be a formula for “Armageddon”. In 1918, Britain’s medical authorities buried their heads in the sand, reasoning that there was little doctors could do to prevent influenza or to treat it and that, besides, the needs of war dictated the nation “carry on”. Today, we do not enjoy the bliss of ignorance, as Wilfred Owen did, and no amount of shouting at scientists will make it so. Mark Honigsbaum is a researcher at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, and the author of Living With Enza: The Forgotten Story of Britain and the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 .
B-2 20th Anniversary Celebration Lands In Dayton / U.S. Air Force, Northrop Grumman To Commemorate Successful Bomber Partnership
B-2 20th Anniversary Celebration Lands In Dayton / U.S. Air Force, Northrop Grumman To Commemorate Successful Bomber Partnership
(NSI News Source Info) DAYTON, Ohio - May 2, 2009: The nearly 30-year B-2 stealth bomber partnership between the Air Force and Northrop Grumman Corporation will be center stage on Friday evening May 1 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is a multirole heavy bomber with "low observable" stealth technology capable of penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses to deploy both conventional and nuclear weapons. Because of its considerable capital and operations costs, the project was controversial in Congress and among Pentagon brass during its development and placement into service. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the United States scaled back initial plans to purchase 132 of the bombers. By the mid 1990s, Congress made appropriations to purchase a total fleet of just 21 of the bombers. The cost of each air vehicle averaged US$737 million per plane in 1997 dollars. Total procurement costs averaged US$929 million per plane, which includes spare parts, equipment, retrofitting, and software support. The total program cost, which includes development, engineering and testing, averaged US$2.1 billion per aircraft (in 1997 dollars). A private gala hosted by the Air Force will become the latest stop in a year-long series of festivities designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first flight of the B-2. The event will feature comments and perspective by B-2 program leaders past and present. Northrop Grumman is the Air Force's prime contractor for the B-2, the flagship of the nation's long range strike arsenal. The first flight of the B-2 took place on July 17, 1989 from Palmdale, Calif. "The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is the one of the most powerful, most survivable airborne weapon systems in the world today, and, in my opinion, the finest aircraft ever developed and put into service for our country," said Col. Kevin Harms, USAF, Commander, 702nd Aeronautical Systems Group. "We are currently engaged in several modernization efforts to keep this great aircraft flying for many years to come. I would like to recognize and thank the men, women and families of Wright Patterson Air Force Base whose dedicated service to the B-2 program helps keep the fleet ready at all times to defend America's interests anywhere in the world." "Northrop Grumman is honored to be the Air Force's partner in developing, producing and today sustaining this most treasured of national assets," said Dave Mazur, vice president of long range strike and B-2 program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "We remain committed to modernizing and maintaining the fleet so that it remains as capable against enemy threats in the future as the day the first aircraft rolled off the assembly line." The B-2 museum gala will include a cocktail party held in the shadow of a ground-test version of a B-2 named the "Spirit of Freedom," the world's only B-2 aircraft on permanent public display. Also on display will be a B-2 themed motorcycle that Northrop Grumman commissioned and paid for as part of the 20th anniversary year celebration. The B-2 Stealth Bike was designed and built by Orange County Choppers, Newburgh, N.Y. It was featured on the season premiere of the cable reality show "American Chopper," which airs on TLC. The B-2 fleet today consists of 20 aircraft: 19 operational aircraft and one flight test aircraft. The 509th Bomb Wing, a part of Air Force's Air Combat Command, flies and maintains the fleet from its home at Whiteman AFB, Mo. The 702 Aeronautical Systems Group at Wright Patterson AFB serves as the acquisition arm and overall lead for the B-2 program. The Air Force's Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center manages the sustainment and ensures the availability of spare parts for the fleet. Northrop Grumman performs periodic programmed depot maintenance on the fleet at its B-2 program headquarters in Palmdale, Calif., in the same facilities used to assemble and test the B-2s in the 1980s. The company also leads a variety of B-2 modernization programs designed to improve the aircraft's radar, communications, and weapons delivery capabilities. Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
Britain To Remove Vector Vehicle From Afghan Operations
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON - May 2, 2009: Britain is to withdraw the recently purchased Vector armored vehicle from operations in Afghanistan after admitting it is too vulnerable as roadside bombs get bigger. The MoD bought nearly 200 of the protected patrol vehicles for units in Afghanistan and Iraq, rushing the first ones into service in early 2007 to replace Snatch Land Rovers in which several British troops had been killed by roadside bombs. The Pinzgauer is used quite widely in the United Kingdom as a fire engine in smaller towns and villages and is increasingly replacing the Land Rover Defender in the military utility vehicle role despite its high cost of upwards of US$100,000 per unit. A new armoured version called the "Vector" entered service in the British Army in early 2007 as part of an effort to provide safer patrol vehicles for troops in Afghanistan. The 6x6 Vector PPV (Protected Patrol Vehicle), will according to the manufacturer, "Build on the existing proven design, with enhancements that will include a combination of physical protection as well as the use of sophisticated electronic countercounter measures to maximise survivability while on patrol". Yugoslavia has been the first generation Pinzgauer customer in huge numbers. Serbian forces added armor and successfully used these field modifications in Balkans conflicts. Many Pinzgauers were sold to military forces (initially Austrian and Swiss) to be used as non-tactical utility vehicles. Typical military roles are as general purpose utility truck, command vehicles, troop carrier and tow vehicle. Roles very similar to other civilian sourced CUCV vehicles like Land-Rover in the UK, the Blazer CUCV in the US, and Geländewagen in many European countries. Pinzgauer and Trailer of the British Army The New Zealand army has purchased 321 Pinzgauer vehicles in 8 variants to fulfill the Light Operational Vehicle (LOV) role. The Malaysian Army had purchased this model to replaced older Volvo C303 in their inventories. The Pinzgauer was also marketed to the civilian marketplace worldwide for use as campers, farm trucks, ambulances, fire-trucks, and rescue vehicles. Likewise, many ended up being used as tourist vans due to their large passenger capacity and stable, reliable platform. Pinzgauers have been used as tourist transports in Africa, Australia, South America, Hawaii, and other exotic locales. Some are still in use today. Pinzgauers were also marketed to and used extensively by energy companies for oil exploration purposes. A few Pinzgauers were used for off-road racing, including the famous Paris to Dakar Rally and the International Rainforest Challenge in Malaysia. Similar-purposed vehicles include the German Daimler-Benz Unimog and Geländewagen trucks, the British Land Rover Wolf, and the American HMMWV "Humvee". An MoD spokesman confirmed the intention to withdraw the vehicle in a May 1 statement. "Since its introduction to theater, the evolving threat from larger improvised explosive devices on operations has led to a requirement for more medium and heavy capability vehicles to withstand these devices," the spokesman said. "Following the delivery of Mastiff 2, Ridgback and vehicles from the protected mobility package announced [by the MoD] in October 2008, we intend to withdraw Vector from operations in Afghanistan. This will be a phased withdrawal and will not lead to any capability gap." Sources said many of the six-wheel-drive Vectors are already sitting in vehicle parks, unused by troops who have moved to the more heavily protected Force Protection Cougar vehicle, known in British Army service as the Mastiff. Vector has attracted increasing criticism in the media for its vulnerability to roadside bombs. The vehicle has also suffered unreliable front hubs and other technical problems. BAE Systems fixed that problem at its own expense. Defence Secretary John Hutton called the Vector the least successful of the armored vehicles purchased by the MoD under the urgent operational requirements procurement process. "Mistakes were probably made there," he told the parliamentary Defence Committee here April 28. BAE, which acquired Vector builder Pinzgauer as part of a wider purchase of Armor Holding in the U.S., still has to deliver about 20 vehicles it is assembling at its Newcastle factory in northeastern England. The company recently announced it was closing the ex-Pinzgauer site at Guildford and moving the remaining support work on the company's vehicle fleet to Newcastle as part of a rationalization plan in the land sector here. Three armored vehicle plants are closing with the loss of up to 500 jobs. BAE said it would "continue to support the Vector vehicles in British Army service."