DTN News: Afghanistan (Part #2) TODAY November 6, 2009 ~ Combined Afghan And Int'l Security Forces Detain Militants, Seize Weapons In Afghanistan
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info)KABUL, Afghanistan - November 6, 2009: Combined Afghan and international security forces killed or detained several militants and recovered multiple weapons and explosives in operations in Afghanistan yesterday, military officials reported. U.S. soldiers take cover and return fire from an irrigation canal as Taliban fighters ambush U.S soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division during a patrol outside of the village of Qatar Kala in the Pech Valley of Afghanistan's Kunar province.
A combined security force detained a group of suspects in Khowst province, including a Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin militant group commander believed to be responsible for managing a homemade-bomb network and working with Haqqani terrorist network elements in the area.
Recent media reports profile the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin as one of the three main militant groups in Afghanistan, officials said. The group keeps a low profile by cooperating with Taliban and Haqqani elements and deferring credit to those factions for attacks it conducts.
U.S soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division return fire after their patrol in the Pech Valley of Afghanistan's Kunar province was ambushed by Taliban fighters Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009.
The combined force targeted compounds near Paru Kheyl village in the Sabari district, north of Khowst City, after intelligence indicated militant activity there. The force searched the compounds without incident and detained the suspects. One of the men surrendered and identified himself as the Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin commander. No shots were fired, and no one was injured.
Elsewhere, a combined force detained several militants in Kandahar province while pursuing a Taliban commander associated with homemade-bomb attacks in the province.
Acting on intelligence that indicated the Taliban commander’s presence, the force targeted a vehicle outside Mokhanjak village in the Meyan Nashin district and found about 1,300 pounds of urea nitrate, several cans of fuel and assorted documents.
A US Army convoy patrols in Kandahar on November 5, 2009. The United Nations is to evacuate around 600 non-essential foreign staff from Afghanistan after a Taliban attack on a guesthouse killed five employees on October 28.
Urea nitrate is a primary ingredient for homemade explosives and becomes a powerful explosive when mixed with fuel. The force destroyed the urea nitrate and fuel in place. No shots were fired, and no one was injured or killed.
In a separate operation, a combined force killed multiple militants and detained several suspected militants in Logar province while pursuing a Taliban commander responsible for numerous attacks in the area.
The force targeted a compound near Shah Mazar village in the Baraki Barak district after intelligence indicated militant activity there. The force received hostile fire and returned fire, killing the militants, then searched the compound, recovered pistols, hand grenades and ammunition, and detained several suspected militants. All recovered items were destroyed at a safe distance from buildings and other structures. No civilians were harmed during this operation.
Meanwhile, a combined force killed several militants in Nangarhar province while pursuing an al-Qaida operative known for a range of duties, including militant training. He also is believed to be responsible for several attacks in the area.
The force targeted a compound near Baghdarreh village, south of Jalalabad City, after intelligence indicated militant activity there. The force received hostile fire and returned fire, killing the militants. The force recovered a machine gun and assault rifles. All weapons were destroyed at a safe distance from the compound.
In a separate operation, a combined force killed a militant and detained a suspected militant while pursuing a Taliban commander responsible for supplying foreign fighters and homemade bombs to other militant elements in the area. He is known to be in charge of as many as 40 Taliban fighters.
The force targeted the building near Stazkhan village in Achin district after intelligence indicated militant activity there. The joint force received hostile fire and returned fire, killing the militant. The force then searched the building, detained a suspected militant and recovered bomb materials, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and chest racks fully loaded with ammunition. No civilians were harmed during this operation.
DTN News: Iran Tested Advanced Nuclear Warhead ~ Media Report*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK - November 6, 2009: The U.N. nuclear watchdog has asked Iran to explain evidence suggesting the Islamic Republic's scientists have experimented with an advanced nuclear warhead design, the Guardian reported in its Friday edition.
Iranian Mehdi Abrishamchi, head of a peace commission speaks during a conference of the People's Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) on new dimensions to the secret Iranian nuclear programme on November 3, 2009 in Paris.
The newspaper, citing what it describes as "previously unpublished documentation" from an International Atomic Energy Agency compiled dossier, said Iranian scientists may have tested high-explosive components of a "two-point implosion" device.
The IAEA said in September it has no proof Iran has or once had a covert atomic bomb program.
The Vienna-based IAEA was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.
Iran's Foreign Ministry and the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) were also unavailable for comment when contacted by Reuters.
The IAEA statement in September followed reports from the Associated Press quoting what it called a classified IAEA document saying agency experts agreed Iran now had the means to build atomic bombs and was heading towards developing a missile system able to carry a nuclear warhead.
The Guardian report said that even the existence of two-point implosion nuclear warhead technology is officially secret in both the United States and Britain.
The technology allows for the production of smaller and simpler warheads, making it easier to put a warhead on a missile, the newspaper said.
Extracts of the dossier have been published before, but it was not known the dossier included documentation of such a sophisticated warhead, the newspaper said.
U.N. inspectors found "nothing to be worried about" in a first look at a previously secret uranium enrichment site in Iran last month, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said in remarks released on Thursday.
ElBaradei also told the New York Times that he was examining possible compromises to unblock a draft nuclear cooperation deal between Iran and three major powers that has foundered over Iranian objections.
A nuclear site, which Iran revealed in September three years after diplomats said Western spies first detected it, added to fears of covert Iranian efforts to develop atom bombs. Iran says it is enriching uranium only for electricity.
DTN News: Sudan TODAY November 6, 2009 ~ Is Sudan’s Darfur Crisis Getting Too Much Attention?
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) KHARTOUM, Sudan - November 6, 2009: Activists often say that the world is not paying enough attention to Sudan’s Darfur crisis. But could the opposite be true — that Darfur is actually getting too much attention, from too many organisations, all at the same time?
Actress Sara Rue and tournament champion Ali Akhyari play during the 2nd Annual Ante Up for Africa poker tournament to benefit Darfur at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in Highland, California on October 29th, 2009.
A rough count shows at least 10 international and local initiatives searching for a solution to the region’s festering conflict. Many of them are at least nominally coordinated by the United Nation and the African Union. But with so many parallel programmes in play, the opportunities for duplication, competition and confusion are legion.
Top of the bill on the international stage is the double act between the United Nations and the African Union. Their joint Darfur mediator — Burkina Faso’s low-profile former security minister Djibril Bassole — spends much of his time shuttling between capitals, holding closed-session discussions with rebels, regional powers, Darfuri intellectuals and civilian groups.
The most high-profile initiative is a project launched at the Arab League for peace talks between Sudan’s government and rebels hosted in Qatar. Those talks, currently stalled, are hosted “in coordination” with Bassole but their have their own separate identity — Qatar has made its own statements and has held its own meetings with rebels.
During one crowded fortnight in August, both Libya and the United States held separate meetings with different sets of rebel splinter groups, urging them to reunite ahead of talks, with mixed results.
The Obama administration has since formalised its approach to Darfur with a new Sudan policy — although it did not go into details on which carrots and sticks its Sudan envoy Scott Gration would be able to offer Khartoum and Darfur’s rebels.
Egypt has held and hosted meetings with Darfur rebels and other major players. Russia, which says it wants to rebuild its influence in Africa, has appointed a Sudan envoy, and held a two-day symposium on Darfur earlier this month. China also has a Sudan envoy but has so far, mercifully, held back from organising its own conferences.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki led a panel of African dignitaries around Darfur and produced a report packed with recommendations for the region. A group of veteran politicians formed by Nelson Mandela called The Elders have kept a watching brief in Darfur since their first visit there in 2007 and have continued to release statements and reports.
Inside Sudan, the Khartoum regime has trumpeted its Sudan People’s Initiative, a mass congress of political parties, civil society groups (but no rebels) that met in November 2008 to recommend a set of solutions to the crisis.
The south’s dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) joined forces with opposition parties in September to release a Juba Declaration - a blueprint to solve Sudan’s ills including its own Darfur plan.
And that isn’t even counting the various Darfur peace plans and campaigns launched by mainly U.S.-based activists from Save Darfur and other coalitions - or the push for prosecutions by the International Criminal Court.
Cynics might say Khartoum and some of its key negotiating partners have an interest in encouraging the multiplication of Darfur’s peace efforts.
Each new initiative creates another set of meetings, another set of processes, another collection of excuses to delay making the hard decisions that will end the conflict.
Regional powers may also be competing for influence in Sudan, an oil producer and Africa’s largest country. “There has been a lack of a single clear strategy on Darfur so everyone is poking their nose in, trying to gain influence in Sudan,” said Al-Tahir al-Feki, a senior official with Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels.
Only one thing is clear. When the Darfur crisis is finally resolved and the Nobel Committee comes to hand out its peace prize to the organisations responsible for sealing the deal, there could be a crowded podium.
DTN News: Indian Navy's MiG-29 Fighter Jets Would Be A Heavy Punch To It's Adversary*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - November 6, 2009: Russia's MiG aircraft maker has successfully tested on board the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier four MiG-29 carrier-based fighter jets due to be delivered to India.The first four ship-borne Russian-made Mig-29 K/KUB fighter jets, purchased for the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, will be inducted in the Indian Navy by October, officials here said.
Russia and India signed a contract on January 20, 2004, stipulating the supply of 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs to India as part of a $1.5 billion deal to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian navy.
"During the tests on September 28-29, the MiG-29K and MiG-29KUB fighters conducted several take offs and landings on the deck of the [Admiral Kuznetsov] aircraft carrier in the Barents Sea," the company said in a statement.
Admiral Kuznetsov is the only aircraft carrier in the Russian Navy.
The two MiG-29Ks and two MiG-29KUBs were officially transferred to India earlier this year. They were inspected by Indian technical experts and used in a five-month flight training course for the Indian pilots.
The aircrafts are expected to be delivered to India in mid-October.
Meanwhile, Russia and India are still negotiating a new deal on the completion of the Admiral Gorshkov overhaul.
Russia has pledged to finish the Admiral Gorshkov's overhaul as soon as possible and deliver it to India in 2012 if the additional $1.2 bln funding is provided by New Delhi.
After modernization, the carrier will join the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya, and is expected to be seaworthy for 30 years.
DTN News: French Mistral Warship To Visit Russia November 23*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - November 6, 2009: France's Mistral amphibious assault ship will arrive on an official visit to St. Petersburg on November 23, a senior Russian Navy official said on Thursday.
Russia is seeking to buy a Mistral-class helicopter carrier worth 400-500 million euros (around $600-$750 mln). The Russian Navy and defense industry experts will be able to inspect the ship during the visit.
"The visit was originally scheduled for November 14, but it was later postponed until November 23," a source in Russia's Baltic Fleet said.
France said in mid-October it had decided to start official negotiations on the sale of a warship to Russia. Paris indicated it would formulate its terms and the further course of negotiations would depend on Moscow's response. A final decision is expected in mid-November at the latest.
Oleg Burtsev, first deputy chief of the Navy Main Staff confirmed Moscow's plans last Saturday to buy one Mistral-class warship and build another four in Russia under French licensing.
The first warship will be built at the STX shipyard in France in partnership with the French shipbuilder DCNS.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles, including 13 battle tanks, as well as 450 military personnel. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and can be used as an amphibious command ship.
The Russian Navy is planning to deploy the Mistral-class warships in the Northern and Pacific fleets to conduct troop transport, peacekeeping and rescue missions. In addition, the helicopter carriers could be used effectively in anti-piracy operations, including off the Somali coast.
Russian shipbuilders strongly oppose the deal and the government has yet to make a decision on whether Russia needs to build costly amphibious assault ships.
DTN News: Pakistan TODAY November 6, 2009 ~ Pakistan In 'State Of Trauma' Over Blasts
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) RAWALPINDI, Pakistan - November 6, 2009: The anxious wives were on the phone again to their husbands in the Pakistani garrison town of Rawalpindi, a terrorist target where daily routine can turn to horror in an instant.A Pakistani policeman (2nd R) checks a weapon amongst weapons and ammunition recovered from a group of bandits in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman November 5, 2009. 5 bandits were killed in a pre-dawn police operation near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, local media reported.
"She's very worried," Abdul Habib said after putting down the receiver while visiting a friend's carpet shop close to the site of a bombing which left 35 people dead.
Not far from the carpet shop, Junaid Anwar Baig's wife had also phoned.
"She calls two or three times a day," said Baig, 62, who sells copper ornaments and other handicrafts.
"She always says: 'Be careful. Don't move around.'"
Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked extremists have carried out a two-year campaign of attacks that have killed more than 2,400 people in Pakistan, which has a population of around 167 million.
The indiscriminate killing, beamed into living rooms by television channels broadcasting round the clock, is cultivating a state of fear and uncertainty across Pakistan.
"The whole nation is in a state of trauma," said Naima Hassan, a psychologist who has counselled victims of the attacks.
There have around 300 blasts since the wave of violence began. Last week in northwestern city Peshawar 118 people -- many of them women and children -- died in a market bombing that was the country's second-worst attack.
"The problem is this: you can't stop it," said Habib, 57. "Anything can happen at any time. Mentally, everybody's upset."
That feeling of helplessness is common, said the psychologist.
"They feel that they are unable to cope with this terrorism," she said.
Along Mall Road, a wide, busy street in front of the carpet shop and Baig's business, they have already had a lot to cope with.
In the latest attack to strike this city adjoining the capital Islamabad, a bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up close to people queuing for their salaries outside a Pakistani bank and hotel, police said.
The bomb site, still blocked by police, is about 200 metres (yards) from army headquarters where last month 10 gunmen kept up a nearly 24-hour siege that left 23 people dead and deeply embarrassed the military.
A short walk from Baig's shop, another suicide attacker rammed an explosives-laden car into a convoy, killing the military's top doctor and at least seven other people in February last year.
Similar violence across the country has left people suffering "at extreme levels", Hassan said.
"Their mental well-being is at stake."
Pakistanis are "losing quality of life", constantly in a state of fear and anxiety which is leading to ailments as well as sleep disorders, she said.
Baig has been in business for a quarter of a century at the same location, which he remembers was once "a very peaceful place".
Sitting behind his desk, the man with a long beard and glasses still manages to chuckle and smile but says the security problem has produced two types of personalities.
"One group of people is very much depressed," he said, while others feel: "We have to fight."
He is no psychologist but says: "There is an effect on the mental soundness of Pakistanis." So focused on militants, the country is unable to move forward, he said.
"When I go out from my home, I am ready for death," says Muhammad Idress, 29, who runs a simple medical clinic built of plywood within sight of the spot where the military doctor died.
Idress's attitude is typical, Hassan said.
"They always think that they are close to death," and are extremely worried about the future of their children, she said. "This the majority of the population."
Naseem Akhtar, 29, said her worried family told her to stay away from work at Idress's clinic after the latest bombing.
Just a few months after moving to Rawalpindi from her farming village southwest of the city, she says she is going back for the sake of her two children.
"I am so afraid that I don't want to send them to school in the city," she said.
The nation can eventually recover from its moderately traumatised state if government forces can exert control and prevent attacks, Hassan said.
Prolonged insecurity will lead to severe psychological trauma that will badly damage people's lives and place them in need of longer-term counselling support, she said.
"This is not a headache which you can remedy by taking two aspirin," the psychologist said.
DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY November 6, 2009 ~ U.S. Officials Fear President Hamid Karzai Can't Keep Anti-Corruption Pledge
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - November 6, 2009: President Hamid Karzai vowed Tuesday that he would clean up his government in his second five-year term, but U.S. officials are worried that the Afghan leader will have to award key posts to ethnic warlords and regional power barons who are linked to drug trafficking in exchange for their help in his re-election.Former Presidential challenger Abdullah Abdullah speaks to the media during a press conference at his home on November 4, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Abdullah was the main opposition candidate but withdrew from the November 7th run-off, handing Mr Karzai a second term. Abdullah spoke to the media today to say that Karzai's government lacks legitimacy because of the controversial election process that declared Mr. Karzai the winner by default.
The U.S. concerns were heightened by the return from Turkey late Monday of Abdul Rashid Dostum, a notorious former communist general and a leader of the ethnic Uzbek minority who's alleged to have allowed the 2001 killing of as many as 2,000 Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners, then having their mass graves dug up and their remains hidden in 2008.
Dostum, who left for Turkey a year ago after allegedly beating a political rival and his family, last visited Kabul four days before the Aug. 20 presidential election as part of an alleged deal to deliver the votes of his large following to Karzai. Dostum, however, quickly left again for Turkey after the U.S. complained.
U.S. officials were concerned that Dostum's return late Monday - the same day that President Barack Obama pressed Karzai in a telephone call congratulating him on his re-election to crack down on high-level corruption - was a prelude to his appointment to the Afghan leader's new Cabinet.
"Dostum came back to cash in" said a U.S. defense official, who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.
But Karzai insisted, in his first news conference since he was certified on Monday as the winner of the election, that he'd move forcefully to eliminate corruption in his new administration.
"We have been tarnished with corruption, and we will continue to make every possible effort to wipe off this stain," Karzai said.
The Obama administration has identified corruption in the Karzai administration as a key problem undermining the eight-year-old war effort against the Taliban. Karzai has had uneasy relations with the administration, however, particularly as the Afghan president's campaign was accused of widespread voter fraud.
Many U.S. officials, Western diplomats and other experts fear that Karzai will award positions in the central and provincial governments to unsavory figures, including regional militia leaders and power brokers who oversaw the massive ballot box-stuffing on his behalf.
"I think the corruption and the failures in the system and the government cannot only be fixed through removal," Karzai said Tuesday. "There are rules, and there are regulations, and there are laws that need to be reformed."
One of the most controversial members of Karzai's new government, Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, stood next to the president at the news conference. Fahim, the first vice president-elect, has been accused of war crimes and dogged by allegations that he's tied to the drug trade.
Karzai "is too beholden to these types and he doesn't see it yet in his interest to remove them and start a clean government and be a genuine partner with the international community," said Rachel Reid, who monitors Afghanistan for U.S.-based Human Rights Watch.
"The next few days, weeks and months are almost more important than the election itself as we see who Karzai appoints to his new government," she said. "This will send the signal of whether we see a new kind of governing, a more credible form of governing, or whether Afghanistan will continue to spiral into further corruption and insecurity."
"It's not enough to blame Karzai," Reid continued. "The U.S. and other major players in Afghanistan are complicit in this impunity culture. They have relationships with many of the most notorious former warlords, current criminals and militia leaders. They have high-level meetings with them, they use their armed gangs to guard their bases, they invite them to the White House. They, too, must clean up their act, or they don't have a leg to stand on when they come to tell Karzai to change his allegiances."
Other figures of concern who provided critical support for Karzai's re-election include former Helmand province governor Sher Mohammad Akhundzada, who was found with 9 tons of drugs in 2005; Assadullah Khalid, a former governor of Kandahar province; and parliamentarian Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a former anti-Soviet guerrilla leader and hard-line Islamist linked to Osama bin Laden who's accused of war crimes and land theft.
Karzai also received considerable help from his brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, the main power in Kandahar, who's allegedly involved in drug trafficking and other abuses, but also reportedly receives payments from the CIA. He denies the allegations.
The U.S. defense official said there are concerns that Karzai may find himself in deep political trouble because he may be unable to keep all of the power-sharing promises he made to unsavory figures in return for votes.
"He can't deliver all the jobs he promised," the U.S. defense official said.
Karzai claimed a new term after his challenger, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, dropped out of a runoff election this Saturday over concerns that voter fraud also would mar the second round.
Karzai has never admitted that his campaign was involved in fraudulent activities during the first round Aug. 20, and he referred to those allegations again Tuesday as "defamation and disrespect."
He said he wanted to form "a government of unity, a government for all Afghan people," but he gave no specifics as to whom he might include or whether he'd back any of the changes that Abdullah sought, such as electing, rather than appointing, provincial governors.
Karzai also said he'd reach out to the Taliban and try to get them to renounce violence, but again he offered no specifics on how that might be done.
The Taliban have sought this week to generate a propaganda victory from the decision to scuttle the runoff and declare Karzai the winner.
"The cancellation of the runoff election shows that all decisions are made in Washington and London but announced in Afghanistan," said a statement released by the Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
DTN News: Airbus Freighter Makes Maiden Test Flight*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - November 6, 2009: Airbus will deliver the first of its new freight cargo aircraft in the summer of 2010, the company said Thursday after the plane took off on its maiden test flight.In this photo released by Airbus on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009, Airbus' new freight cargo aircraft, the A330-200F, takes off from Toulouse-Blagnac's airport, southwestern France, during its first test flight. Airbus will deliver the first of its new freight cargo aircraft in the summer of 2010, the company said Thursday after the plane took off on its maiden test flight.
Airbus says the aircraft, the A330-200F, meets a growing demand for freight haulers with smaller holds than the jumbo models currently based on rival Boeing Co.'s 747, and will be more economical to operate than the aging DC-10 freighters now serving the mid-size market.
"We see the first signs of recovery in the cargo market," Airbus' freighter marketing manager Jonathan Lesieur told reporters in a conference call.
Airbus forecasts total demand for about 1,600 freighters in the 30- to 80-ton capacity segment over the next two decades, Lesieur said.
The first A330-200F will be delivered to Etihad Crystal Cargo, an airline based in the United Arab Emirates, which has ordered three of the aircraft.
The A330-200F is a modified version of Airbus' A330-200 passenger jet, and it has a list price of around $180 million, Lesieur said. Since the program was announced in January, 2007, Airbus has received 67 firm orders from nine airlines for its freighter.
Last week Turkish Airlines announced its commitment to buy two A330-200Fs, though it has not yet placed a firm offer.
A version of the aircraft is also Airbus' contender for the U.S. Air Force's $35 billion contract to build new air refuelers and replace the Air Force's aging fleet of 179 tankers.
Lesieur said that Airbus could locate manufacturing of the A330-200 in Alabama if it wins the contract. Airbus is competing with Chicago-based Boeing for the order.
Airbus and its partner Northrop Grumman Corp. are offering a tanker based on the Airbus A330. Boeing may offer tankers based on its 767 or 777 jets or both.
DTN News: Boeing May Lose Oman Order to Airbus If 787 Dreamliner Delayed*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK - November 6, 2009: Boeing Co. risks losing a $1 billion order for its 787 Dreamliner aircraft to a rival model from Airbus SAS if the U.S. plane’s production schedule slips any further, Gulf carrier Oman Air said today. Boeing recently announced that it has chosen its North Charleston, S.C., facility as the location for a second final assembly site for the 787 Dreamliner program. Boeing evaluated criteria that were designed to find the final assembly location within the company that would best support the 787 business plan as the program increases production rates. In addition to serving as a location for final assembly of 787 Dreamliners, the facility also will have the capability to support the testing and delivery of the airplanes.
Oman, which has ordered six Dreamliners for delivery starting in the first half of 2014, may turn to Airbus’s A330 widebody if a two-year delay to the 787 is extended, Chief Executive Officer Peter Hill said in an interview.
“I really hope they get their act together,” Hill said. “Further delays might mean that we’d have to look elsewhere.”
Boeing says the Dreamliner will fly this year and that the aircraft will be delivered to the first customers at the end of 2010. The plane’s production schedule has slipped more than two years since the first of five delays emerged in October 2007.
Muscat-based Oman Air already has seven A330s from Airbus on order, with the first four scheduled for handover this year. Buying the Toulouse, France-based planemaker’s newer A350 model is not an option as the carrier would be too far down the delivery list, said Hill, who spoke in London.
The CEO said he’s not yet actively looking at alternatives to Chicago-based Boeing’s Dreamliner, which has a list price that averages about $178 million for the various versions.
Positioned for Rebound
Oman Air has no plans to defer any planes as a response to the recession and needs the delivery positions to take advantage of any rebound in demand for air travel, Hill said.
“We don’t have a view that we should defer, we want to develop routes, we want to expand,” he said.
Boeing was trading up 3 percent at $49.49 as of 2:04 p.m. in New York. The stock has gained 16 percent so far this year for a market value of $35.9 billion. Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. closed up 0.5 percent at 13.27 euros and has added 10 percent this year, valuing it at 10.8 billion euros ($16 billion).
Oman Air aims to facilitate tourism to Oman rather than to compete with Middle Eastern rivals Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways in building a global hub, Hill said.
“Oman as a destination is a premium product,” the CEO said in the interview. “We’re not really looking for the backpackers, we’re looking for mid- to high-class travelers.”
The carrier has added Paris, Frankfurt and Munich to its route network this year and is considering flights to further European destinations such as Prague and cities in Italy and Scandinavia, he said. New services to the Maldives and Sri Lanka are designed to promote two-sector holidays, where travelers stop in Oman before moving to a second destination.
As part of the expansion Oman Air has boosted capacity 23 percent this year with five Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The carrier will probably lose money as it adds planes and routes, said Hill, who is targeting break even within five years.
“We won’t be making money this year,” he said. “We’re designing the airline to be sustainable in the future.”
DTN News: South Africa Government Cancels Multibillion-Rand Airbus A400M Militray Aircraft Contract
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) CAPE TOWN, South Africa - November 5, 2009: The Cabinet has decided to terminate the multibillion-rand Airbus A400M strategic lift military aircraft contract, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said on Thursday.The TP400 power-plant developed for the A400M by EuroProp International (EPI) took to the air for the first time on 17th December 2008 on the Lockheed C-130K flight test-bed. The TP400 is installed on the inner left engine mount of the C-130K which is otherwise powered by three of the usually four Allison T56 turbopropellers The aircraft took off at 10.44 local time from Cambridge airfield (UK) where Marshall Aerospace, which is conducting the flight test-bed trials, is based, and touched down at 11.59 local time. The flight lasted one hour and 15 minutes. During the flight, various flight characteristics such as aircraft basic handling and TP400 response at a thrust equivalent to the maximum power generated by each of the other T56 engines were tested to satisfaction in several aircraft configurations up to a speed of 165kts and an altitude of 8,000ft. This was a first step in the aircraft envelope opening. It will allow progress towards the completion of the approximately 50 flight test hours planned to reach sufficient maturity for the engine itself. Once this is achieved and sufficient maturity and satisfactory integration is also reached for the global propulsion system, it will be able to subsequently fly on the A400M.
"The termination of the contract is due to extensive cost escalation and the supplier's failure to deliver the aircraft within the stipulated timeframes," he told a media briefing following Wednesday's regular Cabinet meeting.
The original cost of acquiring the eight military airlift planes was R17-billion, but going ahead with the deal would now mean paying in the region of R40-billion due to cost increases, he said.
The R2,9-billion already paid would be refunded to the National Treasury as per the contract provisions.
There would be no penalties for cancelling the contract, because of the delays in the delivery deadlines stipulated in the contract, Maseko said.
The cost escalation would have placed an unaffordable burden on the taxpayer at a time when the national fiscus was under pressure due to the economic downturn.
Maseko said the decision followed a review of the contract by the ministries of defence, finance, trade and industry, science and technology, and public enterprises.
The South African Air Force would now have to go back to the drawing board to reassess its current airlift capacity and needs.
The cancellation might affect South Africa's peacekeeping missions in Africa, Maseko said.
DTN News: Lockheed Martin Awarded $292 Million Contract To Provide Support For Pentagon Networks*Company to support network infrastructure for the Information Technology Agency
*Source: DTN News / Lockheed Martin
(NSI News Source Info) Arlington, Va., - November 5, 2009: The Pentagon’s network
infrastructure will continue to receive top tier operations and maintenance support now with an award of a $292.7 million contract to Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) by the U.S. Army Information Technology Agency (ITA).
Lockheed Martin will continue to provide network operations maintenance, management, and security support for all data networks within the Pentagon and the National Capital Region. The program provides constant, round-the-clock support through the Network Infrastructure Service Center.
“We’re thrilled to continue to support the critical mission of the Pentagon by ensuring top quality, secure networks,” said Ron Stefano, Vice President for Information Systems & Global Service-Defense. “It is truly a testament to the solid partnership our team has with our military customer. Their mission is our mission, and we are proud to support them.”
In 2000, Lockheed Martin won a 10- year contract with the U.S. Army to serve as the Pentagon’s Information Technology provider under the Information Technology Agency (ITA) contract. During this period a massive Pentagon renovation effort was under way, and Lockheed Martin was responsible for providing the IT infrastructure and network management from the customers wall plate all the way out to the networks.
On March 1, 2009, the Army awarded a sole source six month contract to Lockheed Martin to bridge the gap between the previous and current contracts, consolidating two separate existing contracts at the Pentagon - the Network Infrastructure Services Operation (NISO) and the Pentagon Primary Technical Control Facility contracts.
The program recently achieved International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 20000 certification for the ITA Enterprise Transport Management program, providing the customer with the satisfaction and advantage of a third party verification that Lockheed Martin uses the best IT practices in the world to support their mission.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 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.