Saturday, July 25, 2009

DTN News: Iran Vows To Hit Israel's Atomic Sites If Attacked ~ Report

DTN News: Iran Vows To Hit Israel's Atomic Sites If Attacked ~ Report
*Source: DTN News / Reuters By Parisa Hafezi
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - July 25, 2009: The Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday that Iran would strike Israel's nuclear facilities if the Jewish state attacked it, state television reported. In this photo released by the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Mohammad Ali Jafari speaks to the media during a press conference in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, July 25, 2009. "If the Zionist Regime (Israel) attacks Iran, we will surely strike its nuclear facilities with our missile capabilities," Mohammad Ali Jafari, Guards commander-in-chief, told Iran's Arabic language al-Alam television. The Revolutionary Guards are the ideologically driven wing of Iran's military with air, sea and land capabilities, and a separate command structure to regular units. Iranian leaders often dismiss talk of a possible strike by Israel, saying it is not in a position to threaten Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter. They say Iran would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests and Israel. "We are not responsible for this regime and other enemies' foolishness ... If they strike Iran, our answer will be firm and precise," state television quoted Jafari as saying. The United States, Israel and their Western allies fear that Iran is enriching uranium with the aim of producing nuclear weapons and have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the row. Iran says it is pursuing only a nuclear power generation program. Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, has repeatedly described Iran's nuclear program as a threat to its existence. Iran refuses to recognize Israel. "NOT SCARED" Jafari said Israel was entirely within the reach of Iran. "Our missile capability puts all of the Zionist regime (Israel) within Iran's reach to attack," Jafari said. "The Zionist regime is too small to threaten Iran." Military experts say Iran rarely reveals enough detail about its new military equipment to determine its military capabilities. Israel has so far quietly acceded to Washington's strategy of talking to Tehran about curtailing its sensitive nuclear work. Israel believes that a multi-level missile shield underwritten by the United States would protect the country against possible missile attacks. Jafari said such a shield could only protect Israel "in a limited way." "But they will have no answer when Iran bombards them (and) sends a great number of its missiles," he added. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in May Iran had tested a missile that defense analysts say could hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf. Washington said the test was a "step in the wrong direction" to remove concerns over its nuclear work. Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, conduit for about 40 percent of globally traded oil, if it is attacked. The U.S. military says it will prevent any such action. Military experts say Iranian missiles often draw on technology from China, North Korea and other countries. Israel has three German-made submarines that are widely assumed to carry nuclear missiles. One of the submarines sailed from the Mediterranean, via the Suez Canal, to Israel's Red Sea port of Eilat in early July, seen as a signal to Iran of the long reach of its arsenal. Jafari said Iran "was not scared" of Israel's military capabilities. "It is part of the psychological war that the West has launched against Iran," he said. Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, was re-elected in a disputed June 12 presidential vote that stirred the largest display of internal unrest in the country since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

DTN News: China Plans Blockbuster Birthday ~ 60th Anniversary Of The Revolution On October 1st 2009

DTN News: China Plans Blockbuster Birthday ~ 60th Anniversary Of The Revolution On October 1st 2009
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - July 25, 2009: PREPARATIONS are under way for China's military dress parade in Tian'anmen Square on October 1 in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
Female militia march during a rehearsal for a parade to celebrate the country's national day in Taiyuan, Shanxi province July 25, 2009. China will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its founding on October 1 this year.
The "solemn, enthusiastic but frugal" parade will showcase China's domestic weapons used by all branches of the armed forces, Colonel Cai Huailie told a press conference held by the Information Office of the State Council, or Cabinet, yesterday.
The parade will also include a demonstration of the equipment of the People's Armed Police Force and Militia and Reserve Forces, said Cai, who is with the Headquarters of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army.
The 2009 parade, compared with previous ones, will showcase the military's progression from mechanization to information based weaponry. New army uniforms and plenty of new domestic weapons will be included, said Luo Yuan, a military expert with the Academy of Military Sciences.
"More importantly, the parade can greatly inspire military morale, in wartime or peaceful periods," he added.
China has held 13 military parades through Beijing's main east-west artery, Chang'an Avenue, and across Tian'anmen, a prominent symbol of the republic.
The late Mao Zedong reviewed the nation's first military parade in the country's founding ceremony on October 1, 1949. There were 10 parades through 1959. The ceremony was suspended until October 1, 1984, when the late Deng Xiaoping inspected an all-services parade that marked the debut of China's Strategic Missile Corps.
The most recent parade took place in 1999 for the 50th anniversary of the PRC.

DTN News: China ~ Integration Of Military With Economy Stressed

DTN News: China ~ Integration Of Military With Economy Stressed *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - July 25, 2009: The Politburo of the CPC Central Committee has held a study session on the integration of the country's military and its social development. It took place one week before the anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army. The Politburo of the CPC Central Committee has held a study session on the integration of the country's military and its social development. Hu Jintao, the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, stressed the need to integrate national defense build-up with the country's economic development. He added that economic construction provides material support to defense modernization. And a strong and modern military offers security and technological backing to economic and social progress. The Party leader's vision includes boosting national defense education in schools at all levels. And it also aims to enroll social elite into military institutions. Hu Jintao pointed out that the defense technology industry will further boost the country's economic growth.

DTN News: New Deal Paves Way For US Companies To Sell Sophisticated Arms To India

DTN News: New Deal Paves Way For US Companies To Sell Sophisticated Arms To India *Source: DTN News / VOA By Anjana Pasricha
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - July 25, 2009: A recent visit by U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to India has paved the way for American companies to sell sophisticated arms to India. India plans to spend billions of dollars to modernize its military.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and India's Foreign Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna smile during the signing of agreements ceremony in New Delhi July 20, 2009. The United States and India said on Monday they had agreed on a defence pact that takes a major step towards allowing the sale of sophisticated U.S. arms to the South Asian nation as it modernises its military.
For American companies wanting to pick up lucrative defense contracts in India, an "end use monitoring pact" finalized by India and Washington has come as welcome news.
The U.S. India Business Council says the agreement will enable defense and security trade between the two countries "as never before."
The end use monitoring pact, a requirement under U.S. law, was announced during the recent visit of U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to New Delhi. It allows Washington to monitor that sophisticated defense technology and equipment are not re-sold to third countries, and removes a key barrier to American military exports to India.
Rahul Bedi with Jane's Defense Weekly in New Delhi says India is emerging as one of the world's largest markets for defense equipment as it plans to spend nearly $50 billion over the next five years to modernize its military.
"This pact opens up the possibility of business worth anywhere between about 14, 15 to $20 billion in fighter aircraft, in attack helicopters, in light observation helicopters, in heavy lift helicopters, and also a range of varied ordinance equipment, hardware, so it opens up tremendous possibilities," Bedi said.
The pact will particularly benefit U.S. companies Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which are bidding for the most sought after contract India is handing out - the sale of 126 multirole fighter jets worth more than $10 billion. The U.S. companies are competing with other global defense giants for the contract.
Most of Indian defense equipment was procured from the former Soviet Union, but over the last 15 years, India has also been buying equipment from countries such as France, Britain and Israel.
In the wake of the significant improvement in relations between India and the United States, New Delhi has also made deals in the last year to purchase military transport aircraft, and maritime reconnaissance aircraft from the United States.
Rahul Bedi says the end user monitoring treaty will ensure that the equipment being bought can be equipped with sensitive technology.
"A lot of the equipment which the military wanted was highly sensitive, and subject to the end user monitoring treaty," Bedi said. "Now it is going to free up all these aircraft and all these platforms to be equipped with high tech and avionics weaponry.
"Foreign companies say the Indian defense market has great potential as its military seeks access to high technology equipment. India was the world's tenth largest military spender in 2008.

DTN News: US Government Lacks Tech Talent For Cyber Defense ~ Analysis

DTN News: US Government Lacks Tech Talent For Cyber Defense ~ Analysis
*Source: DTN News / Defense Media
(NSI News Source Info) SAN FRANCISCO, USA - July 25, 2009: Bureaucracy and a shortage of employees with technology prowess have left the US government without the talent it needs to defend against cyber attacks, a study warned Wednesday. "The results of this research are troubling and, in many ways, familiar," said the authors of the report, which is intended to check the status of the federal cybersecurity workforce. "The overriding finding of our analysis is that our federal government will be unable to combat these threats without a more coordinated, sustained effort to increase cybersecurity expertise in the federal workforce." The "pipeline of potential new talent" are inadequate, while complicated processes and rules hamper efforts to recruit and retain federal workers with needed technology skills for cybersecurity, according to the study, titled "Cyber IN-Security." It also found that there are conflicting views inside government regarding what technology talents are sought in new hires. The study surveyed 18 federal agencies and experts both inside and outside government, said the Partnership for Public Service, a non-profit group based in Washington that authored the study with consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. "Numerous factors hamper government's ability to build a top-notch cybersecurity workforce, making it difficult to fill critical talent gaps," the study concluded. US leaders, it suggested, need to vastly improve the way government hires, manages, and cultivates employees with technology talent. Congress and the White House should also promote and support students learning math and science skills to bolster the future pool of cyber security workers, the study concluded.

DTN News: Australia ~ USAF C-17 Globemaster Sustainment Partnership

DTN News: Australia ~ USAF C-17 Globemaster Sustainment Partnership
*Source: DTN News / US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 25, 2009: On July 17, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the Government of Australia’s request to continue participation in the USAF/Boeing Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership (GSP), which consists of support for four Boeing C-17A aircraft.
The estimated cost is $300 million.
The Government of Australia has requested to continue participation in the USAF/Boeing Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership (GSP) which consists of support for Australia’s fleet of four Boeing C-17A Globemaster III cargo aircraft, contractor technical and logistics personnel services, support equipment, spare and repair parts, and other related elements of logistics support.
Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific. The strategic location of this political and economic power contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region. Australia’s efforts in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations in Iraq and in Afghanistan have had a significant impact on regional, political, and economic stability and have served U.S. national security interests. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives and facilitates burden-sharing with our allies.
This program will ensure Australia can effectively maintain its current force projection capability that enhances interoperability with U.S. forces. Australia is a staunch supporter of the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. Australia’s troops are deployed in support of Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, where U.S. assets currently provide this proposed capability.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
The principal contractor will be Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in St. Louis, Mo. There are no known offset agreements in connection with this proposed sale.
Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of ten U.S. Government and contractor representatives to participate in program management and technical reviews for two-week intervals annually. Additionally, up to ten contractor representatives will be required to provide in-country services throughout the life of this case.
There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.
This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

DTN News: South Korea ~ MH-60S Multi-Mission Helicopters

DTN News: South Korea ~ MH-60S Multi-Mission Helicopters *Source: DTN News / US Defense Security Cooperation Agency
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 25, 2009: On July 17, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government Korea of eight MH-60S Multi-Mission Helicopters with 16 T700-GE-401C Turbo shaft engines and associated Airborne Mine Countermeasure (AMCM) Sensors, eight AN/AQS-20A Towed Sonar Mine Countermeasure Systems, eight AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection Systems, eight AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization Systems, eight AN/ALQ-220 Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep Systems, eight AN/AWS-2 Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance Systems and related support and services.
The estimated cost is $1.0 billion.
The Republic of Korea has requested a possible sale eight MH-60S Multi-Mission Helicopters with 16 T700-GE-401C Turbo shaft engines and associated Airborne Mine Countermeasure (AMCM) Sensors, eight AN/AQS-20A Towed Sonar Mine Countermeasure Systems, eight AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection Systems, eight AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization Systems, eight AN/ALQ-220 Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep Systems, eight AN/AWS-2 Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance Systems, test and support equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and other related logistics support.
The Republic of Korea is one of the major political and economic powers in East Asia and the Western Pacific and a key partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability in that region. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability, which will contribute to an acceptable military balance in the area.
This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives. The Republic of Korea needs these helicopters to support the Korean Navy's ability to provide mine warfare detection and mine neutralization operations to maintain critical sea-lines of communication and coastal access around the Korean peninsula.

DTN News: India To Resume Selling Arms To Nepal

DTN News: India To Resume Selling Arms To Nepal
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) KATHMANDU, Nepal - July 25, 2009: India will resume sending arms to Nepal, lifting a four-year ban imposed after former Nepalese King Gyanendra enforced autocratic rule in the Himalayan kingdom. The ban's end is part of the fruit of the July 21 meeting of Nepalese Defense Minister Bidya Devi Bhandari and Indian Defence Minister A. K. Antony, according to Indian Defence Ministry sources. India and Nepal will also resume talks on India-Nepal security issues, the sources said.Details of the sales are not yet formalized. India had been supplying Nepal automatic rifles, machine guns, mortars, mines and mine-protected vehicles. It also had sold two Advanced Light Helicopters to Nepal at a discount. Recruitment of Gurkhas from Nepal in the Indian Army and joint training of the countries' troops will begin soon, the sources said.The countries have had strong military ties since they concluded an agreement about recruiting Gurkhas in 1949. The relationship deepened as the Maoist insurgency gained ground in Nepal. The resumption of military supplies to Nepal is well-timed because it will stem the growing Nepal-China ties that had gained momentum after the Maoists briefly came to power in Nepal in 2008, said Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general. That government fell in May, after Prime Minister Prachanda sacked the country's army chief, plunging Nepal into political turmoil.

DTN News: South Korea Drops 5th-Generation Fighter Plan

DTN News: South Korea Drops 5th-Generation Fighter Plan
*Source: DTN News / Defense Media
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - July 25, 2009: South Korea will refocus its KF-X fighter-development program, which aimed to create a fifth-generation stealth fighter, and instead solicit foreign firms' help in producing about 250 F-16-class fighter jets after 2010, according to a research institute here. SOUTH KOREA WANTS to retire the F-4Ds, shown above, which were received from the U.S. Air Force inventory. (FRED ROOS / BOEING) The Weapon Systems Concept Development and Application Research Center of Konkuk University was ordered in April by the government to look at the feasibility of the controversial KF-X effort, which originally aimed to produce and market about 120 aircraft, stealthier than Dassault's Rafale or the Eurofighter Typhoon but not as stealthy as Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II. "Korea has been evaluated with the capacity of 63 percent of necessary technology if the total technology is assumed 100 percent," the letter said. "That … means that self-development of aircraft is possible with joint development of core technology … and technology transfer from abroad."On May 18, the center told major foreign aircraft manufacturers that the South Korean military wants to replace older F-4s and F-5s with a lesser fighter, one on par with the F-16 Block 50. In a letter, the center sent detailed operational requirements for the new jet, which is to have basic stealth technology and a domestically built active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. On May 29, the center asked Boeing, Eurofighter, Lockheed Martin and Saab about their views on the per-plane cost estimate of $50 million, as well as budget-sharing ideas and technology transfer. The center will wrap up the feasibility study by October. The Ministry of National Defense will issue a decision on the KF-X initiative by year's end. REQUIREMENTS The new jet is to have a combat radius about 1.5 times that of the F-16; an airframe life span 1.34 times longer than that of the F-16; better avionics than that of the F-16 Block 50; an electronic warfare suite; an infrared search-and-track system; and data link systems fit for a network-centric environment, the document says. South Korea's LIG Nex1 is likely to build the AESA radar using technology provided by Israel's Elta Systems. Among other required capabilities are thrust of 50,000 pounds, provided by either one or two engines; super-velocity intercept and supercruise capabilities; and the ability to hit targets in the air, on land and at sea. In the first 11 years of exploratory and full-scale development, about 120 KF-Xs would be built to replace F-4s and F-5s, and more than 130 aircraft would be produced after the first-phase models reach initial operational capability. An industry source here said Boeing might be the front-runner with its F/A-18 Super Hornet and other 4.5-generation fighter technologies. Sweden's Saab aerospace group might take part as a systems integrator with Korea Aerospace Industries, South Korea's only aircraft maker, he said. Greg Lexton, vice president of Boeing Korea, said July 23Boeing is looking at South Korea's KF-X proposal and called an F/A-18 green aircraft a "possible idea." A Lockheed Martin executive noted that his firm had worked with South Korea to produce KF-16s under license and develop the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jet. He also noted Lockheed's co-development work with European nations, Japan and Taiwan. "We'll look at what South Korea wants carefully and discuss what Lockheed Martin will be able to do or not be able to do for the KF-X in the coming months," he said. Defense analysts here remain skeptical about the effectiveness of the KF-X program. One chief researcher at the state-funded Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) recalled an earlier study by a local economic policy think tank that concluded that the program would cost at least $10 billion, but would reap only $3 billion in economic benefits. "I believe there have been no major changes in the content of the KF-X program since the 2007 feasibility study," he said. "There is almost no persuasion in the rationale behind the costly program. Do you want to acquire sophisticated stealth aircraft technologies through the KF-X partnership? Or do you believe indigenous KF-16+ aircraft could be operationally feasible and sold to other nations after 2020?" State-of-the-art fifth-generation combat aircraft, such as the F-35 and Typhoon, are expected to dominate the global market between 2020 and 2050, so developing an indigenous KF-16+-level fighter could never be sound economically and technically, the researcher said.

DTN News: Russia Lays Down Second Yasen Class Nuclear Submarine

DTN News: Russia Lays Down Second Yasen Class Nuclear Submarine
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) SEVERODVINSK, Russia - July 25, 2009: Construction of a second Project 885 Yasen (Graney) class nuclear-powered multipurpose attack submarine started on Friday at the Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia, the company said. Graney class nuclear submarines combine the ability to launch a variety of long-range cruise missiles (up to 3,100 miles) with nuclear warheads, and effectively engage hostile submarines, surface warships and land-based targets. The Kazan submarine will feature more advanced equipment than the first vessel in the series -the Severodvinsk, which was laid down in 1992 and is scheduled to join the Russian navy in 2010 or early 2011 after a long delay for financial reasons. "The second submarine will have improved electronics and fire-control systems, and will be built exclusively with Russian-made materials and components," Sevmash spokeswoman Anastasia Nikitinskaya said. The submarine's armament will include 24 cruise missiles, including the 3M51 Alfa SLCM, the SS-NX-26 Oniks SLCM or the SS-N-21 Granat/Sampson SLCM. It will also have eight torpedo tubes as well as mines and anti-ship missiles such as SS-N-16 Stallion. Russia's Navy commander, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, said in July last year that the construction of new-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile and attack submarines was a top priority for the Russian Navy. Under the Russian State Arms Procurement Program for 2007-2015, the Navy is expected to receive at least five Project 955 Borey nuclear-powered strategic submarines equipped with new Bulava ballistic missiles and two Project 885 Yasen nuclear multipurpose attack submarines.

DTN News: Turkish Navy Frigate Captures 5 Somali Pirates

DTN News: Turkish Navy Frigate Captures 5 Somali Pirates *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ANKARA, Turkey - July 25, 2009: The Turkish military says its navy commandos aboard the Turkish frigate TCG Gediz, raided a Somali pirates' skiff and captured five of them.
The Turkish navy frigate TCG Gediz has launched an operation against Somali pirates, who were feared to be preparing to seize another ship off the coast of Somalia, capturing five of the pirates.
The Turkish frigate, a part of a UN-led force to prevent pirates from hijacking foreign ships off the coast of Somalia, captured the pirates who were feared to be preparing to seize another ship on Friday.
The Turkish military said a navy helicopter aboard a second Turkish frigate, the TCG Gaziantep, also took part in the operation.
A Turkish ship was seized last week by Somali pirates with 23 crew members aboard. Pirates are still in negotiations with the ship's owners over the ransom.

DTN News: Taliban Destroy 60% Of Schools In Northwest Pakistan

DTN News: Taliban Destroy 60% Of Schools In Northwest Pakistan
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - July 25, 2009: Since the last two years that the Taliban militants have launched a violent insurgency in Pakistan, they have destroyed over 60 percent of schools in the country's restive northwest.
In a campaign against education, especially for girls in the troubled tribal region of northwest Pakistan and the Swat valley, Taliban militants have shut down 4,000 private schools and have either blown-up or set on fire 230 schools, including 112 girls' schools in the region, a Press TV correspondent reported late on Friday.
Moreover, around 87 schools, including 45 girl's schools, have been partially damaged and the total financial damage comes to billions of rupees, the correspondent quoting a government report said.
The report highlighted the fact that approximately 120,000 students have been forced to discontinue their studies due to the ongoing conflict between the Pakistani army and the Taliban militants.
This comes as Pakistani security forces launched an anti-Taliban offensive in the region some four months ago, killing over 1,700 insurgents including some top commanders

DTN News: Iran Plane Slams Into Perimeter Wall Killing 17

DTN News: Iran Plane Slams Into Perimeter Wall Killing 17
*Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - July 25, 2009: An Iranian airliner overshot the runway and slammed into a perimeter wall killing 17 people in the second city of Mashhad on Friday in the country's second air disaster in 10 days, state media said. An image grab taken from Iran's satellite English-language official Press TV station shows the wreckage of a plane. "There was an accident and a fire involving a passenger plane from Tehran to Mashhad that has left 17 people dead and 19 injured," the official IRNA news agency reported, quoting the deputy governor of Khorasan province, Ghahreman Rashid. Rashid identified the plane as a Russian-designed Ilyushin and said it carried 153 passengers. "All the dead and injured people and passengers have been evacuated and the fire has been completely controlled," Rashid said, according to IRNA. A senior transport official said the incoming aircraft had overshot the runway. "Instead of landing at the beginning of the tarmac, the plane landed in the middle of the runway," the ISNA news agency quoted deputy transport minister Ahmad Majidi as saying. "Because the tarmac?s length is short, it has gone off the tarmac and crashed into the opposite wall. "The Ilyushin 62 belonged to the Aria Airline," Majidi added referring to an independent Iranian carrier. The Mehr news agency said the plane crashed through the airport's perimeter wall before hitting power lines and coming to a halt in adjacent farmland. State television said that the accident occurred as the plane was landing at the international airport in Mashhad, a popular Shiite Muslim pilgrimage centre in northeastern Iran. "The plane... had a technical glitch," state television said quoting the director of the public relations department at Mashhad's Hashemi Najad airport, who was identified only by his surname Pirhandeh. The television's website quoted acting state aviation organisation director, Mohammad Ali Ilkhani, as saying that the plane had "swerved off the tarmac at Mashhad airport as it landed, before crashing nose-first into one of the airport?s walls." It was the second reported major incident in the past decade involving the Iranian carrier formerly known as Aria Air Tour. On November 13, 2000, a Russian-designed Yakovlev aircraft linking the southern Iranian cities of Ahvaz and Bandar Abbas was briefly hijacked before elite Revolutionary Guards intervened freeing the passengers at the cost of one crew member and two Guards wounded, according to a report by US carrier American Airlines on criminal acts against civil aviation. Friday's crash was the second deadly accident involving an Iranian airliner since July 15 when a Caspian Airlines plane crashed near the city of Qazvin, northwest of Tehran, killing all 168 on board. That accident occurred shortly after takeoff from Tehran's international Imam Khomeini airport on its way to the Armenian capital, Yerevan. The plane caught fire in mid-air and plunged into farmland outside a village in northwest Iran just 16 minutes after take-off, killing all 153 passengers and 15 crew members on board. Iran, which has been under years of international sanctions hampering its ability to buy modern Boeing or Airbus planes, has suffered a number of aviation disasters over the past decade. Its civil and military fleet is made up of ancient aircraft in very poor condition due to their age and lack of maintenance. In the most deadly previous crash, 117 people on board another Russian-designed aircraft, a Tupolev, were killed when it crashed into snow-covered mountains in western Iran in 2002. The Iranian crash earlier this month marked one of the deadliest series of crashes in many year. It came just two weeks after a Yemenia Airbus A310 crashed in the Indian Ocean off the Comoros with 153 passengers and crew on board, with only one survivor. That incident occurred just 29 days after the crash of an Air France A330, killing 228.

DTN News: IMF Approves 2.6 Billion Dollar Loan For Sri Lanka

DTN News: IMF Approves 2.6 Billion Dollar Loan For Sri Lanka *Source: DTN News / AFP (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 25, 2009: The International Monetary Fund on Friday approved a 2.6-billion-dollar loan for Sri Lanka to support its economic reform program and help the country weather the severe global downturn. The IMF executive board approved the loan as the Asian country emerges from a 37-year civil war. The so-called Stand-By Arrangement is in an amount equivalent to 1.65 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), an IMF asset that is based on a basket of currencies -- the dollar, yen, euro and pound -- and calculated daily. The 20-month loan is worth about 2.6 billion dollars, the IMF said. A first installment of about 322.2 million dollars is immediately available to Sri Lanka, while the remainder will be phased in "subject to quarterly reviews," the multilateral institution said. "The key objectives of the authorities' economic reform program supported by the fund are to strengthen the country?s fiscal position while ensuring the availability of resources for much needed post-conflict reconstruction and relief efforts," the IMF said. The IMF said the program also was intended to rebuild international reserves and strengthen Sri Lanka?s domestic financial system, "and to protect the most vulnerable in the country from the burden of the needed economic adjustment." The IMF loan, under negotiation with Sri Lankan authorities since March, comes two months after the end of the civil war with the rebel Tamil Tigers that claimed up to 100,000 lives. Sri Lanka crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels -- who had been fighting since 1972 to carve out a separate state for minority Tamils -- in May. The Sri Lankan government had requested a 1.9-billion-dollar IMF loan in March to help stave off its first balance of payments deficit in four years after foreign currency reserves fell to around six weeks' worth of imports. "The global financial crisis has had a significant impact on Sri Lanka?s economy," said Takatoshi Kato, the IMF deputy managing director and acting chairman of the board. "The government?s ambitious program, supported by the IMF, intends to restore fiscal and external viability and address the significant reconstruction needs of the conflict-affected areas, thereby laying the basis for future higher economic growth," he said. Kato said the government?s program would entail "difficult" economic reform measures. "Nevertheless, the government should take advantage of the opportunity created by the end of the conflict to ensure national reconciliation, restore macroeconomic stability, and promote strong and durable growth," he said.

DTN News: Eurofighter Contract Could Be Signed Next Week

DTN News: Eurofighter Contract Could Be Signed Next Week *Source: DTN News / Reuters
(NSI News Source Info) CASTELLET, France - July 25, 2009: Nations involved in the Eurofighter Typhoon consortium appear set to sign a contract confirming the next wave of combat jet production next week. The Eurofighter Typhoon is truly cosmopolitan. Please use the tabs below to see how this extraordinary aircraft transcends boundaries in terms of both capability, co-operation and appeal. *Single-seat, twin-engine fighter, *Swing-role, *Supremely agile. The collective military requirements of the Partner Nations are the foundation of the Eurofighter Typhoon Weapon System. Eurofighter Typhoon is a highly agile Air Superiority and Air-to-Surface, multi-role/swing-role weapon system, making it the most capable front line fighter available. Swing-role means that one aircraft can perform a number of different roles, all carried out with ease and precision. Developed by Europe’s leading aerospace companies, Eurofighter Typhoon is now the aircraft of choice for six Nations' Air Forces - Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Austria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and will fulfil Air Force requirements well into the 21st Century. Aircraft production is ongoing, with 707 aircraft under contract to the six Nations. "You should see something on that next week. That is next week's subject," British Defence Procurement Minister Quentin Davies told Reuters, asked about the contract's signing. He was speaking after a group involving some of the same European nations agreed to inject new life into the Airbus A400M military transport plane program. Eurofighter was conceived 25 years ago and involves Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain building more than 600 high-peformance fighter jets. Britain recommitted itself to the defence contract in May after a row over the cost of the multi-billion dollar programme. To ease budget worries, buyer nations agreed to split the third and final tranche of orders into two parts. But a final signature that will keep open production lines has been held up by talks with the manufacturing consortium over savings in long-term "life-cycle" costs sought by governments. The Eurofighter consortium comprises Britain's BAE Systems (BAES.L), Italy's Finmeccanica (SIFI.MI) and EADS (EAD.PA), representing Germany and Spain. EADS is also the manufacturer of the A400M transport plane which won a reprieve when seven countries including Britain, Germany and Spain agreed on Friday to renegotiate the project. Britain had also threatened to pull out of that project due to concerns over a four-year delay in production.

DTN News: U.S. Air Force Accepts Second Lockheed Martin SBIRS HEO System For Operations

DTN News: U.S. Air Force Accepts Second Lockheed Martin SBIRS HEO System For Operations *Source: DTN News / Lockheed Martin
(NSI News Source Info) SUNNYVALE, Calif., - July 25, 2009: The Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT]-led team developing the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) announced today that the second Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO-2) payload and ground system modifications have been accepted for operations by the U.S Air Force, paving the way for U.S. Strategic Command’s formal certification of the HEO-2 system next month. Under contract to the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., is the prime contractor and systems integrator for the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) High program. SBIRS High is the nation’s next-generation missile warning system and will also provide greatly expanded capabilities for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. When fully operational, SBIRS High will comprise of two payloads in highly elliptical orbit (HEO), four satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), as well as fixed and mobile ground-based assets to receive and process the infrared data. SBIRS High is already providing the nation with enhanced worldwide missile detection and tracking capabilities, battlefield data, and technical intelligence through its ground segment. The first phase of the program, declared operational in 2001, consolidated ground functions of four remote sites into one centralized ground station. In addition to processing missile-warning data from Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites currently on orbit and managing the DSP constellation, the SBIRS ground station is credited with delivering significant operations and maintenance savings for its customer. SBIRS is designed to provide early warning of missile launches, and simultaneously support other missions including missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness. Announced to be on-orbit in June 2008 by a joint U.S. Air Force/Lockheed Martin team, the HEO-2 payload has been exceeding expectations during its on-orbit test regimen necessary before beginning on-orbit operations for the user. “HEO performance continues to be spectacular," said Col. Roger Teague, the U.S. Air Force SBIRS Wing Commander. "We are very proud to add the second HEO payload system to our growing constellation. This asset provides outstanding capabilities to combatant commanders and the excellent performance of this second HEO system is a true testament to the teamwork and dedication by the government and industry team.” Acceptance of the HEO-2 system follows a highly successful operational utility evaluation and trial period during which live HEO-2 data was injected into user operational networks providing critical missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence, and battlespace awareness data. This milestone paves the way for United States Strategic Command’s final certification of the HEO-2 system in August when the sensor and its data will be declared certified for use as part of the U.S. strategic missile warning system. "We are proud of our partnership with the Air Force in delivering significantly enhanced early warning and intelligence capabilities for the warfighter," said Jeff Smith, Lockheed Martin's SBIRS vice president. "We look forward to our continued progress in fielding this critical capability and achieving total mission success for our customer." The SBIRS team is led by the Space Based Infrared Systems Wing at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Sunnyvale, Calif., is the SBIRS prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Azusa, Calif., as the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system. Lockheed Martin's SBIRS contract includes the two highly elliptical orbit (HEO) payloads now on-orbit, two geosynchronous orbit (GEO) satellites, as well as ground-based assets to receive and process the infrared data. The team was recently awarded a $1.5-billion contract for the third HEO payload, the third GEO-3 satellite and associated ground modifications. A contract to include a fourth HEO payload and potential fourth GEO satellite is expected to be awarded later this year. 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.

DTN News: Force Protection, Inc. Awarded $56.3 Million For Additional Cougar Independent Suspension Upgrade Kits

DTN News: Force Protection, Inc. Awarded $56.3 Million For Additional Cougar Independent Suspension Upgrade Kits
*Source: DTN News / Force Protection, Inc.
(NSI News Source Info) LADSON, S.C. - July 25, 2009: Force Protection, Inc. (NASDAQ: FRPT), a leading designer, developer and manufacturer of life saving survivability equipment and provider of total life cycle support for those products, today announced that it had received a modification to contract M67854-07-D-5031 from Marine Corps Systems Command for approximately $56.3 million for independent suspension upgrade kits on approximately 545 additional Cougar vehicles.
The Cougar is a family of medium Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles which can be supplied in 4X4 or 6X6 layout. It can be configured for a wide range of tasks including troop carrying (up to 12 in the 6X6), EOD (4 troops and a large EOD robot in the 4X4), command and control, artillery prime mover, recovery and ambulance duty. Cougar is in production.
This contract modification is subject to definitization. The work is expected to be completed prior to December 31, 2009. On April 9, 2009, Force Protection announced an order for approximately $158 million from Marine Corps Systems Command for suspension upgrade kits. That order provided suspension kits for approximately 1,500 Cougar vehicles. Michael Moody, Chief Executive Officer of Force Protection, commented, “This additional independent suspension order further demonstrates the flexibility and sustainability of the Cougar.
The Cougar has performed extremely well in Iraq with an impressive operational readiness rate. This suspension upgrade will provide increased mobility for even more Cougars in the much more rugged terrain of Afghanistan.
We are delighted that our customer has placed their continued confidence in the Cougar with these additional suspension kit upgrades.”
About Force Protection, Inc.
Force Protection, Inc. is a leading American designer, developer and manufacturer of survivability solutions, predominantly blast- and ballistic-protected wheeled vehicles currently deployed by the U.S. military and its allies to support armed forces and security personnel in conflict zones.
The Company’s specialty vehicles, the Cougar, the Buffalo and the Cheetah, are designed specifically for reconnaissance and urban operations and to protect their occupants from landmines, hostile fire, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs, commonly referred to as roadside bombs).
The Company also is the developer and manufacturer of ForceArmor™, an armor package providing superior protection against explosively formed projectiles (EFPs), now available for a wide range of tactical-wheeled vehicles. The Company is one of the original developers and primary providers of vehicles for the U.S. military’s Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicle program.
For more information on Force Protection and its vehicles, visit
Force Protection, Inc. Safe Harbor Language
This press release contains forward looking statements that are not historical facts, including statements about our beliefs and expectations. These statements are based on beliefs and assumptions of Force Protection’s management, and on information currently available to management. These forward looking statements include, among other things: the growth and demand for Force Protection’s vehicles, including the Cougar vehicle; the rate at which the Company will be able to produce these vehicles and products; the performance, readiness and increased mobility of these vehicles; and the Company’s expected financial and operating results, including its revenues and cash flow, for future periods. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update any of them publicly in light of new information or future events. A number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Examples of these factors include, but are not limited to, ability to effectively manage the risks in the Company’s business; the ability to develop new technologies and products and the acceptance of these technologies and products; the ability to obtain and complete new orders for its vehicles and products; the Company’s ability to identify and remedy its internal control weaknesses and deficiencies, and other risk factors and cautionary statements listed in the Company’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the risks set forth in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008, as updated in the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended March 31, 2009.

DTN News: Boeing Delivers 400th F/A-18E/F Super Hornet To US Navy

DTN News: Boeing Delivers 400th F/A-18E/F Super Hornet To US Navy *Source: DTN News / The Boeing Company
(NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS - July 25, 2009: The Boeing Company, yesterday (July 24) announced that it delivered the 400th F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to the U.S. Navy in June. The original Super Hornet strike fighter achieved initial operational capability with the Navy in September 2001. The advanced Super Hornet Block II, equipped with the Raytheon-built APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, debuted in 2005 and is in production today. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a combat-proven strike fighter with built-in versatility. The Super Hornet's suite of integrated and networked systems provides enhanced interoperability, total force support for the combatant commander and for the troops on the ground. “The Super Hornet provides 21st-century combat capability to U.S. servicemembers around the world every day,” said Bob Gower, vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18 Programs for Global Strike Systems, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. “This delivery is a result of the dedication and pride of the Boeing employees who build this aircraft, as well as the outstanding program partnership with the Navy, the Hornet Industry Team and more than 1,900 suppliers," Gower added. "It’s also an important milestone for U.S. taxpayers, because every Super Hornet, from one to 400, has been delivered on time and on budget.” The Block II F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a multirole aircraft, able to perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum, including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker missions. The Hornet Industry Team includes Boeing, Northrop Grumman, GE Aircraft Engines and Raytheon. Boeing will deliver the first F/A-18F for Australia -- the first international Super Hornet customer -- next week. Boeing is in discussions with several other customers about their interest in procuring the Super Hornet. “The Super Hornet delivers the cost and schedule certainty that governments rely on and taxpayers expect, while providing warfighters with the advanced capability they need, today,” Gower said. U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Darrah, F/A-18 and EA-18G program manager, PMA-265, said the 400th Super Hornet delivery is critical to ensuring on-schedule and on-budget capability for the Navy. “Every Super Hornet delivered to the Navy has been delivered on or ahead of schedule,” Darrah said. “The Navy and our nation depend on the advanced capability the Super Hornet delivers each day around the globe. The F/A-18E/F’s advanced capability, combined with its remarkable program performance, make the Super Hornet a true model for defense acquisition.” A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide

DTN News: 525 EFS F-22 Raptors train with Kadena F-15s

DTN News: 525 EFS F-22 Raptors train with Kadena F-15s *Source: DTN News / Elmendorf Air Force Base By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente
(NSI News Source Info) ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam - July 25, 2009: Two F-22 Raptors from the 525th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron returned here July 15 from Japan following training with F-15 Eagles at Kadena Air Base, Japan.
Two F-22s fly over Alaska's mountain ranges as part of a refueling mission. The F-22s are assigned to the 525th Fighter Squadron and are the Air Force's newest and stealthiest fighter aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Christopher Gross)
The 525th EFS, deployed here from Elmendorf as part of U.S. Pacific Command's Theater Security Packages in the Asia-Pacific region, was able to demonstrate the Raptor's ability to forward deploy to another location and practice defensive counter air tactics with the F-15s from the 44th Fighter Squadron at Kadena AB.
"Basically we used air assets to protect an area," said Capt. Robert Ice, 525th EFS F-22 pilot and assistant chief of mobility. "Our tasking was to protect the 'homeland' from simulated adversaries. They came to our location, but we prevented them from getting by us."Ice said he was glad to be able to participate in the exercise with the F-15s."
This type of training is a great opportunity to get together and learn about both of the airframes' capabilities," he said. "Training is limited, but it's a great experience to be able to show up and operate smoothly in an unfamiliar location."
The F-22 pilot said that while both aircraft are exceptional, putting the two together allows the aircraft to carry out missions more effectively.
"When we fight with F-22s and F-15s, as a team, we are more lethal," said the captain. Capt. Jeff Haney, 525th EFS F-22 pilot and assistant chief of weapons, said he enjoyed the opportunity to conduct dissimilar flying as well.
"This was like a normal training sortie, but with different jets," Haney said. "It was a great way to obtain realistic training with other organizations."
As the flight lead for the training, the captain said he was able to gain some experience by planning the mission.
"I definitely gained a lot from a mission planning perspective," Haney said. "I think planning the mission in another airspace was a good experience. I was able to talk with pilots from other bases and get their perspective on training.
"Haney said those who were involved all gained a better knowledge of the F-22 and F-15. "I think being able to fly dissimilar training with different squadrons and aircraft provided the pilots a lot of experience from the training scenario," he said. "Each jet has different capabilities, and we are able to gain knowledge and experience from the scenario."
While the two 525th EFS Raptors were in Japan, the 94th EFS, deployed to Kadena AB from Langley Air Force Base, Va., hosted and supported the 525th EFS aircraft and personnel.
In addition to the 525th EFS being able to train with the 44th FS, two 94th EFS pilots were given the chance to train with the 525th EFS.
Both F-22 squadrons are deployed as part of the PACOM commander's Theater Security Packages in order to provide security and stability to the Asia-Pacific Region.

DTN News: What Will Support The F-35C?

DTN News: What Will Support The F-35C?
*Source: DTN News / F-16.Net By Eric L. Palmer
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - July 25, 2009: The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter known as the F-35C will be rolled out next week. It is billed to offer the U.S. Navy a “day one” of the war combat aircraft.
The F-35C carrier variant will have a larger, folding wing and larger control surfaces for improved low-speed control, and stronger landing gear for the stresses of carrier landings. The larger wing area allows for decreased landing speed, increased range and payload, with twice the range on internal fuel compared with the F/A-18C Hornet, achieving much the same goal as the heavier F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The United States Navy will be the sole user for the carrier variant. It intends to buy 480 F-35Cs to replace the F/A-18A, B, C, and D Hornets. The F-35C will also serve as a stealthier complement to the Super Hornet. On 27 June 2007, the carrier variant completed its Air System Critical Design Review (CDR). This allows the first two functional prototype F-35C units to be produced. The C variant is expected to be available beginning in 2015.*
With shaky and uncertain defense budgets being a given for the future, this could cause a bit of a dilemma on how to best support an F-35C strike package with off-board platforms.
First, the escort jammer that will fly off of the carrier deck is too slow and was delivered with yesterdays jammer system. Relevant if you are going up against a second or third string air defense on par with Allied Force 1999. Not so good if you are looking at the emerging threats in the Pacific Rim over the next 20 years.
Really, the F-35C will be long over the hill and far far down range before the EA-18G can be of any use. The EA-18G won’t have the range or useful jamming gear. And, if the EA-18G does some how get the next gen jammer, it will still be an escort jammer that will be too slow and too short on legs.
What to do? It may be time to call on a variety of 737 variants based on the P-8 and even possibly the Wedgetail. Wedgetail because it proves the aircraft can fly with a really odd looking shape. Where the shape wouldn’t be to support airborne early warning but instead would be a quality stand-off jammer that could blanket or focus along a very wide band of enemy radar threats at significant range.
This isn’t too far fetched given the future threats and the USAFs inability to come up with useful joint support. It may get bad enough where the U.S. Navy has to come up with their own wide-body large air-to-air refueling aircraft for dedicated carrier operations. An F-35C is going to need lots of refueling support. The aircraft can start a sortie carrying almost 10 tons of gas.
It is yet to be seen how the F-35C will prove itself. A U.S. Navy OPEVAL is a long way off. Starting now on what kind of tanking the U.S. Navy can depend on and what kind of real stand-off jamming they can come up with is a good idea.
With unstable defense budgets looming, depending on other services for joint support of carrier operations may be a pretty weak plan. Just as important, the UCAS-N operating off of a carrier is far from a done deal.
We are seeing huge old reliable paradigms at risk. With future defense budgets having lots of questions marks around them, expect to see a whole bunch of new unknowns appear when figuring out how to best use the F-35C against high end threats.

DTN News: Venezuela To Double Number Of Tanks, Boost Defenses ~ President Hugo Chavez

DTN News: Venezuela To Double Number Of Tanks, Boost Defenses ~ President Hugo Chavez
*Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - July 25, 2009: President Hugo Chavez says Venezuela will at least double the number of tanks in its military and continue strengthening its defense capability, the state-run ABN news agency reported. "We are going to buy more tanks to have an armored force at least twice the size of what we have today," Chavez said on national television on Thursday. "We need to strengthen our forces on land, at sea, and in the air and we are going to continue doing that," he added. The leftist president's announcement comes shortly after neighboring Colombia offered to accommodate more U.S. troops at its air and naval bases, which Chavez said was a serious threat to Venezuela's national security. The Venezuelan army currently has more than 80 outdated French-made AMX-30 main battle tanks and several dozen AMX-13C light tanks. Chavez, who has spent billions of dollars on weapons from Russia in recent years, confirmed that Caracas and Moscow were in talks to purchase Russian T-90 main battle tanks among other military equipment. Between 2005 and 2007 Russia signed 12 contracts worth more than $4.4 billion to supply arms to Venezuela, including fighter jets, helicopters and Kalashnikov assault rifles.

DTN News: A400M Buyers To Renegotiate Troubled Plane Deal

DTN News: A400M Buyers To Renegotiate Troubled Plane Deal *Source: DTN News / Reuters
(NSI News Source Info) CASTELLET, France - July 25, 2009: European NATO nations agreed on Friday to renegotiate the cost and scale of a 20 billion euro defence contract with planemaker Airbus after technical problems and cost overruns plagued development of its A400M military plane. The A400M assembly at the Seville plant of EADS Spain started in Q1 2007. Airbus plans to manufacture thirty aircraft per year. The major assemblies arrive by Airbus Beluga transporters. The four EuroProp TP400-D6 flight test engines have been delivered in late February 2008 for the first A400M. According to EADS the first "static tests" of a dedicated A400M complete structure were started on 14 March in Spain. The decision to open formal contract talks between a joint procurement agency and Airbus parent EADS (EAD.PA) ends months of prevarication over the future of Europe's biggest defence project, which involves upwards of 4,000 production jobs. "It is good news. It is very positive for the programme and everyone who wants this plane," EADS Chief Executive Louis Gallois told Reuters in a telephone interview. "There is now a framework for negotiations and these will not be easy, but on the other hand matters are now clear and well-defined and on the right tracks," he added. Politicians also expressed optimism. "I am convinced this programme will be relaunched, which will be good news for the trade balance of our countries because I am convinced it has enormous export potential," French Defence Minister Herve Morin told a news conference after talks in southern France. Britain, which had threatened to pull out of the project because of delays in supporting its operations in Afghanistan, has agreed to enter the renegotiation "on an equal footing" with it six partners, Defence Procurement Minister Quentin Davies told Reuters. "I hope we can save the programme," he added. Defence sources predicted this week that Britain would ease doubts over its future in the project. The A400M is a heavy transport aircraft designed to carry up to 32 tonnes of troops and equipment over distances of up to 8,000 km (5,000 miles). Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey ordered a total of 180 of the planes in 2003 in a record pan-European contract. Malaysia and South Africa ordered 12. France was due to take delivery of the first plane in 2009 but EADS now says the earliest it can deliver a plane is 2013.
The first flight is expected at end-2009 or early 2010, two years late. Ministers said they would aim for broad agreement by mid-October and hope to sign a deal around the end of the year. A new ministerial meeting will be in Germany in October. DEMANDS ON INDUSTRY Friday's decision follows months of recriminations over the cause of delays. The outcome could affect efforts to project a joint European defence identity and thousands of aerospace jobs. Countries which face pressure on defence spending are reluctant to spend more to help solve A400M development problems, which defence sources say could mean reducing the amount of planes on order. Morin said both financial conditions and the amount of capacity, or planes, would be open for renegotiation. He said nations would be "demanding" with EADS to ensure there were no further problems. EADS said it was fully committed to finding an agreement that is technically and contractually acceptable to both sides. Officials say the Airbus parent could face a hefty bill to help Britain and France fill gaps in troop transport capacity in Afghanistan while development problems are ironed out. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a joint declaration this month that EADS (EAD.PA) must face the consequences of delivery delays. Officials close to the talks said this constituted a rebuff to EADS efforts to persuade government to help fund troubled engine development and other systems or waive delivery fines. Nations have so far spent 5.7 billion euros on the plane, which EADS would have to repay if the project were cancelled. Depending on the outcome, it may still have to pay penalties for late delivery as well as help fund stop-gap measures like renting Boeing (BA.N) C-17s or Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) C-130Js. EADS, which reports earnings next Tuesday, has taken provisions of over 2 billion euros for A400M delays and analysts say it faces more charges. EADS shares closed up 0.9 percent at 12.98 euros on Friday. The stock has risen around 8 percent since the start of 2009, having fallen 45 percent last year.