DTN News: Airbus Confident A400M To Fly By Year-End
*Source: DTN News / EADS
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS/FRANKFURT - October 11, 2009: Airbus is confident its delayed A400M military transport plane will fly by the end of the year but dismissed a magazine report that its maiden flight could come as soon as November 30 as "fantasy." The A400M has a much larger payload than the C-160 Transall and C-130 and the design makes extensive use of composite materials. The capability for short soft field landing and take-off is part of the requirement and the aircraft has six-wheel high-flotation main landing gear.
No date has yet been set for the first flight, a spokeswoman for Airbus Military said on Saturday. German weekly magazine Focus said the aircraft could take to the skies as soon as November 30, citing sources close to suppliers.
"Many dates will be leaked by people who have little knowledge of all the work which is to be undertaken until the first flight and, in particular, all the ground tests which are all dependent on each other," the spokeswoman said.
"Therefore any date which may be circulated is a fantasy."
Europe's largest military project, designed to provide badly needed capacity to transport troops and heavy equipment to combat zones such as Afghanistan or to carry out humanitarian relief operations, has been dogged by technical delays and mounting financial losses and is four years late.
Airbus parent EADS (Paris:EAD.PA - News) is in talks to rescue the 20 billion euro ($29.5 billion) contract with the seven European nations that ordered the plane: Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey.
Sources close to the matter told Reuters earlier this month that technicians had completed engine trials on the A400M, clearing a significant obstacle to its maiden flight.
"We are very confident to be able to fly the aircraft by the end of the year and hopefully before and we cannot confirm any date," the spokeswoman added on Saturday. "It will take to the air as soon as the test pilots are ready."
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DTN News: Nigeria TODAY October 11, 2009 ~ Exploding Tanker Kills Up To 80 People
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) LAGOS, Nigeria - October 11, 2009: At least five minibuses packed with up to 18 passengers each and two cars were incinerated by the fireball.
One of the buses engulfed by flames was a school bus full of children, according to another source. Oil tanker spills, such as this from April last year, are common on Nigeria's poor roads. Up to 80 people are reported to have been burned alive when a petrol tanker exploded on a Nigerian road, setting fire to several vehicles including a school bus.
The tanker flipped and spilt fuel over the road between Onitsha and Enugu in the south of the country when it hit a pothole around midday on Friday.
The fire is said to have started after a policeman at a nearby checkpoint began shooting into the air to stop people scooping up fuel from around the overturned truck.
“Immediately the policeman shot into the air, the tanker burst into flame that engulfed other vehicles that were close by and equally trapped some of the people that were gathered around the scene who were not fast enough to escape,” a source told local newspapers.
Another anonymous onlooker said: “We were standing nearby and could do nothing while these little children were burnt to ashes due to the level of heat that was coming from the fire.”
State road safety director Ben Ekenna admitted local roads were in a bad state, commenting: "If something isn't done quickly, tragedies like this will happen again."
Accidents on Nigeria's poorly-maintained inter-city roads are common and newspapers are filled with pictures of overturned trucks, destroyed roads and huge potholes.
Last June a road safety expert said Nigeria needs to treat the carnage on its roads as a national emergency.
In addition, the oil-rich country often has domestic fuel shortages, making tanker spills dangerously attractive to poor Nigerians who rush to collect the leaking petrol.
DTN News: Turkey Drops Joint Air Force Drill Due To IAF Participation
*Source: DTN News / jpost.com By Yaakov Katz
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - October 11, 2009: In another sign of continued tensions between Ankara and Jerusalem, the Turkish military canceled a planned joint exercise with the Israel Air Force scheduled for this week, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
An Israeli F-16 warplane takes off from an air force base in southern Israel.
Defense officials told the Post that Turkey informed Israel of the cancellation of the Anatolian Eagle exercise last week, which was to also include US, Italian and NATO forces, saying this was because the planes that Israel was going to send likely bombed Hamas targets during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip earlier this year.
According to reports over the weekend in the Turkish press, Ankara decided last week to cancel international participation in the annual air force exercise, in which Israel has taken part in several times in the past. The reports claimed that the move was aimed specifically at preventing the Israel Air Force from participating, an idea confirmed by the IDF Spokesman's Office on Saturday night.
"The exercise was postponed due to a Turkish decision to change the composition of the participants and not allow the Israel Air Force to participate, a decision we were informed of only several days ago," read a statement from the IDF Spokesman's Office.
On Thursday, the Turkish military issued a statement saying, "Anatolian Eagle Exercise will be executed as planned between October 12-23, [but] multinational participation is postponed."
Israeli defense officials confirmed that the cancellation was connected to tension between Jerusalem and Ankara that was sparked by Operation Cast Lead.
"Ties between the countries are still tense," explained one defense official. "The announcement about the cancellation was sudden and unexpected."
Anatolian Eagle was first held in 2001, with Turkish, Israeli and American participation. The drill lasted almost two weeks and included Israeli F-16s, helicopters and refueling tankers. Israel last participated in the exercise in September 2008, but has not flown in Turkey since Operation Cast Lead, due to the increase in tensions.
Israel's absence from the last Anatolian Eagle exercise in June drew headlines in Turkey. Israeli officials said at the time that the IAF would participate in the upcoming exercise scheduled for October.
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DTN News: Turkey, Armenia Agree To Forge Ties
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ZURICH, Switzerland - October 11, 2009: Turkey and Armenia have signed an accord to establish diplomatic ties in an effort to set aside a century of animosity between the neighbouring countries. Armenian foreign minister, Edouard Nalbandian (1st L) shakes hands with Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu, (2ndR) as (L to R, 2nd raw) Swiss foreign minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, and US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, applaude during the signing ceremony of the protocols and statements between Armenia and Turkey, at the University of Zurich on October 10, 2009. Turkey and Armenia's foreign ministers signed pacts to establish ties, in a first step to reconciliation after nearly a century of bitterness over their history.
The signing ceremony took place at Zurich University on Saturday as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped the two sides clear a last-minute snag.
Diplomats said Armenia was concerned about wording in the Turkish statement that was to be made after the signing ceremony.
The accord, reached after several weeks of Swiss-mediated talks, calls for the re-opening of the countries' border, which has been closed since 1993.
The Turkish and Armenian parliaments are expected to ratify the accord, but nationalists on both sides are seeking to derail its implementation and there is strong opposition from the Armenian diaspora.
Opponents of the agreement say the protocol doesn't go far enough in addressing the contentious issue of whether the deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire amounted to genocide. Instead, it calls for the establishment of a joint Armenian-Turkish historical commission to examine events during the First World War.
Turkey has acknowledged that many Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War, but denies their deaths were a result of a systematic campaign.
Speaking in Istanbul, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was showing "goodwill" to restore ties with Armenia. But he said Turkey was still keen on seeing Armenian troops withdrawn from Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-occupied enclave in Azerbaijan.
Turkey closed its border with Armenia 16 years ago in solidarity with its ally Azerbaijan after Armenian troops occupied part of the region.
DTN News: Pakistan TODAY October 11, 2009 ~ Pakistan Nabs Last Attacker, Ends Siege Of Army HQ
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) RAWALPINDI, Pakistan - October 11, 2009: Pakistan's army says commandos have caught the last militant who attacked its headquarters and took dozens of hostages. Pakistani police officers guard the main road leading to the army's headquarters in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009. Gunmen wearing military uniforms and wielding assault rifles and grenades attacked Pakistan's army headquarters Saturday, sparking a ferocious gunbattle outside the capital, authorities said.
Spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas says the capture Sunday morning brings to an end a 22-hour standoff in the garrison city of Rawalpindi outside the capital.
He says the final militant who was caught is wounded.
Pakistani commandos raided a building inside the army headquarters early Sunday and freed 25 people held hostage.
Three captives and four hostage-takers were killed, as were two of the rescuers.
The attack demonstrated militants' ongoing strength in Pakistan despite military action against them.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani commandos raided a building inside army headquarters early Sunday and freed 25 people held hostage for more than 18 hours by Islamist fighters, a military spokesman said. Three captives and four hostage-takers were killed, while one militant was believed to be on the run.
The audacious assault on the country's military establishment showed the strength of militants allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban ahead of a planned army offensive on their heartland in South Waziristan along the Afghan border and signaled that any push there would be met with more attacks across Pakistan.
The government said the siege had steeled its resolve to go through with the South Waziristan offensive, calling it "inevitable." The United States and Pakistan's other Western allies want the country to take more action against insurgents also blamed for soaring attacks on U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Explosions and gunshots rang out as commandos moved into a building in the complex just before dawn Sunday, while a helicopter hovered in the sky. Three ambulances were seen driving out of the heavily fortified base close to the capital, Islamabad.
Two hours after the raid began, two new explosions were heard. The army said it was "mopping up" the remaining insurgents.
Up to five heavily armed militants took the hostages after they and about four other assailants attacked the main gate of the army headquarters Saturday, killing six soldiers, including a brigadier and a lieutenant colonel. Four of the attackers, who were wearing army uniforms, were killed.
No group claimed responsibility, but authorities said they were sure that the Pakistani Taliban or an allied Islamist militant group were behind the strike. The city is filled with security checkpoints and police roadblocks.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said 20 of the hostages had been kept in a room guarded by a militant wearing a suicide vest who was shot and killed before he managed to detonate his explosives.
He said the 25 who were freed included soldiers and civilians. Three captives were killed, along with four militants, he said. "It was a very skilled rescue operation," he said.
One of the hostage-takers was believed to be on the run, and the military was searching for him, Abbas said.
Saturday's siege followed a car bombing that killed 49 on Friday in the northwestern city of Peshawar and the bombing of a U.N. aid agency earlier in the week that killed five in Islamabad. The string of attacks destroyed any remaining hope that the militants had been left a spent force by the death of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in a U.S. missile strike in August.
A week ago, Baitullah Mehsud's successor, Hakimullah Mehsud, told journalists summoned to a briefing in South Waziristan that the Taliban would launch more attacks on military, government and other targets in the country.
The army — which until 2001 had patronized various militant groups for use as proxies in Afghanistan and India — had previously been unwilling to go into Waziristan. Three earlier offensives there have ended in failure, and no one thinks the fight against an estimated 10,000 well-armed fighters there will be any easier this time.
But there are hopes the army may have learned from its successful operation in the northwestern Swat Valley this year.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said a Waziristan offensive was now "inevitable."
"We are going to come heavy on you," he warned the militants.
In its brazenness and sophistication, Saturday's assault resembled attacks in March in the eastern city of Lahore by teams of militants against the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team and a police training center, which the insurgents took over for eight hours before security forces retook it.
The attack began shortly before noon when the gunmen attacked the main gate with assault rifles and grenades after bundling out of a white van that reportedly had army license plates.
"There was fierce firing, and then there was a blast," said Khan Bahadur, a shuttle van driver who was standing outside the gate. "Soldiers were running here and there," he said. "The firing continued for about a half-hour. There was smoke everywhere. Then there was a break, and then firing again."
After a 45-minute gunfight, four of the attackers were killed, said Abbas, who initially told the Geo television news channel that the assault was over and the situation "under full control."
But more than an hour later, gunshots rang out from the headquarters compound, and Abbas then confirmed that other gunmen had eluded security forces and slipped into the compound.
A police intelligence report obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday had warned in July that members of the Taliban along with Jaish-e-Mohammed, a militant group based in the country's Punjab province, were planning to attack army headquarters after disguising themselves as soldiers. The report was given to the AP by an official in the home affairs ministry in Punjab's home department.
Officials said Saturday that they had raided a house in the capital where the attackers were believed to have stayed. They found military uniforms and bomb-making equipment.
Militants regularly attack army bases across the country and bombed a checkpoint outside the army compound in Rawalpindi two years ago — one of several major bombings to hit the garrison city in recent years. But rarely have the Taliban mounted an armed assault in the city involving multiple fighters.
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DTN News: China Buys All-American Hummer For $150 million
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, DC - October 11, 2009: Nothing was more American than the Hummer. It was Schwarzenegger, cigars and swagger, laughing in the face of scornful environmentalists.
Only now the Chinese are laughing.
General Motors Co., seeking to shed brands after emerging from bankruptcy, is nearing an agreement to sell its Hummer sport-utility vehicle business to China’s Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. for about $150 million, said three people familiar with the deal.
General Motors sold the military-inspired off-road brand to China's Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. for a reported $150 million on Friday, consummating a deal announced in early June.
Tengzhong, a sprawling conglomerate with no car-building experience, will own 80 percent of the company. Hong Kong investor Suolang Duoji, who in turn is a major investor in Tengzhong, will own the rest. They will assume existing agreements with Hummer's 160 U.S. dealerships, including two in the Washington area.
In its June bankruptcy filing, GM estimated that Hummer was worth $500 million. The deal requires regulatory approval in both Washington and Beijing.
GM said it will continue to make the Hummer at least until June 2011, with an option to continue another year. Hummer's management team will stay in place, and company headquarters will be located in the Detroit area.
After GM's attempts to sell its Saturn brand failed last week, analysts called the deal a victory for GM despite the low price tag.
"It's good news for General Motors, they actually got some money out of it versus having to spend money to wind it down, as they have to do with Saturn," said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with auto information site Edmunds.com.
Back in February, while seeking more federal aid, GM said that it would sell or close its Hummer, Saturn and Saab divisions in an effort to succeed as a leaner, more profitable company.
Concern about Hummer's sale to the Chinese was muted.
"Yeah, it feels a little weird," said Anthony Cancel, new car sales manager at Moore Cadillac Hummer in Chantilly.
"But Americans are still going to build these cars" for a while, Mr. Cancel said. "That's going to employ 3,000 Americans."
He noted that even with Hummer's future in doubt, his dealership was still selling 15 of the vehicles a month, down from a peak of 75. GM has not produced the car for six months, he said.
"It came at a pretty good time, we only have two left. From the time they turn the factory on it takes four weeks for us to get cars," Mr. Cancel said.
Ms. Krebs said the Chinese are following the lead of the Japanese and Koreans, but not by building the cars on their own.
"The Chinese are achieving a global presence by acquisition rather than introducing their own brands," she said. "They're buying low right now."
"The Chinese are achieving a global presence by acquisition rather than introducing their own brands," she said. "They're buying low right now."
Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. has joined a Swedish consortium led by Koenigsegg seeking to complete the purchase of Saab this month. China's Geely Automobile was interested in buying Opel from GM and is bidding to buy Volvo from Ford Motor Co.
"It's the same with the Indians, with Tata [Motors] buying Jaguar and Land Rover," Ms. Krebs said.
The Financial Times reported this week that Geely's bid for money-losing Volvo was worth $2 billion but that Ford had concerns about protecting its technology. The London newspaper reported that a U.S. consortium led by former Detroit executives has also placed a bid.
Independent auto analyst Tom Libby said trade is so interconnected now that Chinese ownership of Hummer is unlikely to diminish its macho appeal.
"I have always held that the Hummer brand has value in this market and I consider it a viable competitor to Jeep," he said.
The Jeep had its origin in the U.S. military, he said, and still benefits from "sort of a patriotism connection."
The Hummer is derived from the Humvee, the U.S. military's successor to the Jeep.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican and former action-movie hero, persuaded military contractor AM General to make a civilian version of the Humvee in the early 1990s. AM General of South Bend, Ind., continues to make the military Humvee.
The challenge for Hummer, with fresh capital from Tengzhong, will be to reinvent the brand, which has suffered in recent years from its gas-guzzling image. The company will improve efficiency and performance and branch out to alternative fuels and diesel engines.
There's no image problem in China, though.
"I think it works for China," Ms. Krebs said. "I have been to China and Hummers are real popular there, even though they are only sold on the gray market. I've seen them on the streets of Shanghai.
"They're popular in the Middle East and there are opportunities elsewhere, such as Russia," she said.
DTN News: Russia May Revise Use Of Nuclear Weapons In New Military Doctrine*Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia - October 11, 2009: Russia's new military doctrine will contain some changes to the situations that could trigger the use of nuclear weapons or preventive strikes against potential foes, the secretary of Russia's Security Council said on Thursday. The U.S.-proposed European missile shield will eventually spread along Russia's borders and may neutralize Russia's nuclear potential by 2012-2015, a Russian political analyst said on Wednesday. Commenting on reports that the United States and Lithuania were formally discussing deploying elements of the U.S. missile shield in the ex-Soviet Baltic state should Warsaw reject Washington's plans to station 10 interceptor missiles in Poland, Leonid Ivashov, the head of the Moscow-based Academy of Geopolitical Sciences, said: "We should expect that elements of a U.S. missile shield will be placed not only in Lithuania, but also in all territories bordering Russia and controlled by NATO." So far, the Czech Republic has agreed to host an early-warning radar on its territory. Poland has taken a tough stance in missile talks with the U.S., demanding that Washington upgrade its air defense systems in return. Ivashov said the main purpose of the U.S. global missile shield was to neutralize Russia's nuclear potential by 2012-2015 and that NATO eastward expansion was part of this plan. He said Ukraine's and Georgia's possible accession to NATO would have dire consequences for Russia's defense capability.
Russia will soon adopt a new military doctrine that aims to transform the Armed Forces into a more effective and mobile military force. Their structures will be "optimized" through the use of combined arms units performing similar tasks.
"In respect to the possibility of preventive or nuclear strikes we will formulate some provisions that will be somewhat different from those contained in the current doctrine," Nikolai Patrushev said.
The draft doctrine, called "The new face of the Russian Armed Forces until 2030," is still being developed by the General Staff and will be given, according to Patrushev, to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev for consideration by the end of 2009.
The current military doctrine was adopted in 2000. It outlines the role of the Russian military in ensuring the defense of the country and, if necessary, preparing for and waging war, although it stresses that the Russian military doctrine is strictly defensive.
The doctrine lists factors that the Russian Federation perceives as potential threats, both internal and external and declares support for a multipolar world, in preference to a unipolar world dominated by a single superpower that is quick to resort to military force.
The current document also emphasizes Russia's commitment to military reform, with continued use of conscription, but a gradual shift towards a professional army.
But the Security Council believes that since 2000, drastic changes have occurred in the geopolitical and military situation in the world and in the nature of threats against national security, which makes it necessary to revise the specific tasks facing the Russian Armed Forces and related security agencies.
"We would like to make this new military doctrine transparent so that people in the country and abroad will know what we have developed and how we want to work. We will set goals and lay out how to achieve them," Patrushev said.
President Dmitry Medvedev announced last year that Russia would make the modernization of its nuclear deterrent and Armed Forces a priority in the decade up to 2020.
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DTN News: Bolivia To Buy Chinese Jets To Battle Drugs*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) LA PAZ, Bolivia - October 11, 2009: Bolivia plans to buy six Chinese light military aircraft worth nearly $58 million to fight drug traffickers in the world's No. 3 cocaine producer, leftist President Evo Morales said on Saturday.
A member of the Bolivian special forces against narcotic drugs incinerates part of the 500kg (1102lbs) of confiscated cocaine in Santa Cruz, some 900 km (560 miles) east of La Paz, July 12, 2007.
"Last week we issued a supreme decree to ... acquire six K-8 aircraft from China," said Morales in a speech in La Paz to mark the 52nd anniversary of the Bolivian air force.
Morales said his government decided to acquire the K-8, a jet trainer that can be used as a light attack aircraft, after the U.S. government blocked the country from buying similar planes from the Czech Republic.
Morales' main regional ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is also buying Chinese K-8 to be used to pursue cocaine flights. They replace a purchase of Brazilian Super Tucanos blocked by a U.S. arms embargo.
Bolivia, which is the third largest producer of the white powder drug after Colombia and Peru, has been at odds with Washington after Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and anti-drug agents on charges of conspiring to overthrow him.
Since taking office in 2006 Morales, an Aymara Indian who once farmed coca, has forged ahead with controversial reforms to help the poor Indian majority in the Andean nation.
The coca leaf is the main ingredient for cocaine, but Indians in Bolivia and across the Andes use it in rituals and chew it for its medicinal and nutritional properties.
Morales also said Bolivia is negotiating the acquisition of an Antonov from Russia's aircraft manufacturer Ilyushin, which will be used as presidential plane, and that the company is considering building an airplane repair hub in the country.
Last month, Morales unveiled a plan to buy a Chinese telecommunications satellite worth up to $300 million.
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DTN News: Airlines News TODAY October 11, 2009 ~ Air India To Deploy More Wide-Bodied Planes On Global Routes
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - October 11, 2009: Air India will deploy the wide-bodied Boeing aircraft B777 on all its seven west-bound destinations as well as Tokyo from Oct 25, the national carrier said Saturday.
“With more than half of our fleet now comprising of the new aircraft, it has given us an opportunity to rework our winter schedule in such a manner as to provide passengers with a product that matches the best in the industry, both on international and domestic sectors,” the airline said in a statement. Currently the state-of-the-art B777s are flown to New York, Chicago, Frankfurt and London.
“The B777 will now be extended to Newark, Paris, Toronto and Tokyo, on long-haul destinations,” it said.
Of the 111 new aircraft on order, the airline has received and inducted 64 aircraft so far. They include nine B777-300ER, eight B777-200LR, 15 A321 and A319 aircraft, besides 17 B737-800 aircraft for Air India Express.
The airline has rescheduled its international operations for this winter. The existing Amritsar-London-Toronto flight will now operate with a B777-300ER, four days a week out of Amritsar while on the remaining three days, the flight will originate from Delhi.
Also the existing thrice-weekly flight to Paris will now be operated with B777-200LR instead of Airbus A330, while four weekly flights to Tokyo will deploy a B777-200LR instead of A330.
Besides these, additional flights on the Mumbai-Riyadh and Delhi-Riyadh routes will take the total frequencies from India to Riyadh to 11 per week from the existing nine. All the 11 flights will be operated with B777-200ER aircraft instead of B747-400.
While the B777 300-ER has a total of 342 seats in three-class configuration, the B777-200LR has a capacity of 238 seats.
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - October 11, 2009: Iran's Navy has employed two home-made supersonic fighter jets named Saeqeh and two gunships named Tiztak in a bid to bolster its defense naval capabilities.
The fighter jets and gunships were officially launched on Saturday in a ceremony attended by Iran's Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and the Commander of the Iranian Army, Major General Ataollah Salehi. (Image: Iran's Saeqeh fighter jet)
The highly advanced Saeqeh (thunderbolt) fighter jet has been designed and built by experts of Iran's Defense Ministry, in cooperation with Iran's army, Vahidi said. "Iran's defense doctrine is based on an effective deterrent.
The Islamic Republic pursues no aim, but to establish sustainable peace and security in the region," he added.
Iran test flied the first generation of the home-manufactured Saeqeh fighter jets in September 2007. The country moves to upgrade its national defense capabilities through home-made production.