DTN News: Turkey Demands Israel Deliver Drones*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ANKARA, Turkey - November 27, 2009: Turkey has warned Israeli defense contractors to deliver on 10 promised drone aircraft in 50 days or the deal may be canceled.
Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said this week that he had sent a letter to Israel Aerospace Industries and Israel's Elbit defense contractor insisting that the unmanned aerial vehicles be delivered by the end of the year.
"If this letter does not bear fruit either, then the tender may be canceled," the minister told CNN Turk. "There is no cancellation at the moment," he added.
Turkey awarded the contract four years ago. It entails the purchase of 10 drones known as Herons from their manufacturers, Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit.
The contract deadline was initially set at between 24 and 30 months. But both contractors missed the first date, also breaching another deadline for the delivery of four Herons in August. Under the revised deal, delivery of another two drones would have followed, plus the last four by the end of October.
The deal is estimated at $185 million.
Turkey's Zaman newspaper reported recently that Israel was set to make good on its arms contract, pledging to deliver the weapons by the end of the year.
But should Turkey fail, the deal may be canceled and Ankara may demand punitive damages.
"Turkey plans to impose a heavy monetary penalty on Israel for the delay," a senior Turkish official was quoted saying in the Zaman report. "If this country refuses to comply with the penalty, then Turkey will head to the International Court of Commercial Arbitration," he added, saying that the penalty could range between $3 million and $4 million.
Turkey recently returned two drones because of what military officials called their lagging performance.
The military brass there sanctioned the Israeli purchase after the United States refused to sell it similar equipment for fear of them being used against Kurdish rebels.
Both nations have since then traded accusations as to the source of the blame for the drone delay.
Specifically, Israeli companies have complained that the Turkish go-between contractor, Aslan, was responsible because of problems in the camera it had been ordered to fit on the drones.
According to Israel's Haaretz daily, "The camera was too heavy and prevented the drone from reaching an altitude of 30,000 feet in keeping with the project prospectus."
Turkish counterclaims, however, accuse the Israeli contractors of raising technical excuses to "avoid fine for violating the agreement," Haaretz said.
Relations between Ankara and Jerusalem have been strained since the Gaza War, with Turkey accusing Israel of waging war crimes in its offensive. The rancor reached a peak during a public debate between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli President Shimon Peres.
After both leaders traded insults, Erdogan angrily stormed offstage in response.
The strained relations have also taken a toll on the two countries' military alliance.
Last month, for example, Turkey prevented Israel from joining a NATO-alliance military exercise that was ultimately canceled due to Israel's exclusion.
DTN News: Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani Warns President Barack Obama Over US Afghan Troop Plan*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - November 27, 2009: Pakistan has warned the US that sending more soldiers to Afghanistan could endanger its southwest border region. President Barack Obama is expected next week to order more than 30,000 extra US soldiers into Helmand province, to battle Taliban insurgents. Soldiers of Pakistan army seen outside a cave allegedly used by militants in stronghold of Taliban in Kot Kai in Pakistan's tribal area of Waziristan along the Afghanistan border on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009. In Pakistani tribal areas security forces are engage with Taliban and al-Qaida militants, Hundreds of thousands people fled their villages due to fierce fighting.
But Pakistan prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani fears this would force militants over the border into Balochistan.
"We want a stable Afghanistan. At the same time we don't want our country to be destabilised," said Mr Gilani.
"This is the concern that we already discussed with the US administration - that the influx of militants towards Baluchistan should be taken care of, otherwise that can destabilise Balochistan."
We have asked US to consult us in case of any paradigm shift in the policy.,Yusuf Raza Gilani,
Prime minister, Pakistan
Security in Pakistan has been deteriorating ever since coalition forces entered Afghanistan eight years ago.
In Balochistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan, hundreds of people have died in attacks by both separatist insurgents and Taliban fighters.
In wider Pakistan, suicide attacks and bombings have killed more than 2,550 people in the last 29 months.
President Obama is due to unveil his new Afghanistan policy next week, after weeks of deliberations.
He is expected to lay out an exit strategy for withdrawing forces.
Mr Gilani said Pakistan should be consulted on any shift in America's Afghan policy, because it would be directly affected by it.
He would not say if Pakistan had been consulted on the expected troop surge.
"We have asked US administration to consult us in case of any paradigm shift in the policy... so that we can formulate our strategy accordingly," the prime minister said.
Correspondents say it is unlikely that Mr Gilani seriously believes he can influence US strategy in Afghanistan. He is more likely trying to win domestic favour.
Many Pakistanis are angry with their government's perceived support for the US military presence in Afghanistan.
Some blame the US for the suicide bombings by insurgents who have been "driven out" of Afghanistan and over the border into Pakistan.
Mr Gilani may simply be seeking to distance himself from the US announcement next week on how many new soldiers it will deploy.
DTN News: Iran Continues To Press Russia For S-300 Air Defense Missile Systems Deliveries*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - November 27, 2009: Iran hopes that Russia will fulfill its contract for the supply of S-300 air defense missile systems, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Russia signed a contract with Iran on the supply of S-300 air defense systems to the Islamic Republic in December 2005. However, there have been no official reports on the start of the contract's implementation.
"Russia is under an obligation [to fulfill the S-300 contract] and an official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry has recently said that Russia has always taken its obligations very seriously," the ISNA news agency quoted Ramin Mehmanparast as saying.
"We hope that Russia will fulfill its promises as soon as possible," the diplomat said.
A senior Iranian military official said earlier on Tuesday that Iran could sue Russia in an international court if Moscow refused to fulfill its commitments on the delivery of S-300 to Tehran.
"Because this is an official agreement, it can be pursued through international legal bodies," the official IRNA news agency quoted Brigadier General Mohammad Hassan Mansourian, deputy chief of Iran's air defense, as saying.
Iran suspects that Russia has refused so far to fulfill the S-300 contract due to pressure from Washington and Tel Aviv.
Both the U.S. and Israel have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program and have expressed concern over the S-300 deliveries, which would significantly strengthen Iran's air defenses.
The latest version of the S-300 series is the S-300PMU2 Favorit, which has a range of up to 195 kilometers (about 120 miles) and can intercept aircraft and ballistic missiles at altitudes from 10 meters to 27 kilometers.
It is considered one of the world's most effective all-altitude regional air defense systems, comparable in performance to the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot system.
DTN News: Russia Has No Reason To Buy Cumbersome And Useless French Warship*Source: DTN News / Sergey Balmasov ~ Pravda.Ru
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - November 27, 2009: The French helicopter-carrier Mistral (Wind) docked in St. Petersburg on November 24. The captain of the warship said that she would take part in maneuvers with the participation of Russian helicopters in the Baltic Sea on November 27.
The French warship arrived in Russia on the invitation from the Russian Navy Command to strengthen the cooperation between the navies of the two countries. However, it looks like Russia intends to buy the Mistral.
Russian engineers and navy officials have shown a lot of interest in the French warship recently. A group of them went on board the ship to get acquainted with its structure and equipment on November 25.
The news about the opportunity for Russia to purchase the Mistral appeared in October 2008. Vladimir Vysotsky, the Commander of the Russian Navy, released a statement about it at the Euronaval-2008 show in Le Bourget.
In April of the current year, the official described the plans to develop the Russian navy and mentioned the necessity to purchase five or six aircraft carriers.
Vladimir Popovkin, deputy defense minister, was more specific on September 19:
“We intend to buy one or two warships, but we also conduct negotiations to launch the production of such vessels in Russia. It will be the first step on the way to the creation of Russian aircraft carriers.
The Mistral is a large warship with gross tonnage of 21,000 tons. The ship is 210 meters long; the cruising range is about 37,000 km. The ship carries 16 helicopters. The crew counts 390 men. In addition, the ship can take 900 commanders, 40 armored vehicles and 70 cars on board.
Does Russia need the Mistral that much? If Russia buys the French vessel, will it mean that domestic ship-building enterprises are out of competition?
Konstantin Sivkov, the vice president of the Academy for Geopolitical Sciences, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that his attitude to Russia’s intention to buy the French warship was absolutely negative.
“Any warship can not be purchased just like that. It must be incorporated into the system of the national armed forces in general and the navy in particular. It must have a specific destination. Therefore, there is no need to purchase the Mistral.
“What is it used for? First and foremost, it is used for landing operations. Where does Russia intend to conduct landing operations with the use of such a large and vulnerable warship? Its air defense system is very weak and can only work well when destroying single airborne targets.
“Everything is clear with the French. They built those ships to support their colonial activities in Africa. Why does Russia need this ship for? To bring commandoes to Latin America? We need to defend our own territories. The only area where the ship could be used is Georgia.
“However, if another armed conflict with Georgia occurs, this huge and poorly armed vessel will not be good taking into consideration the geography of such a small sea as the Black Sea. Besides, Russia already has six commando vessels in the area and they can handle their goals perfectly.
“Both Russian and American naval experts were negative in their estimations of the Mistral. Its combat capacity is rather low. The technological construction of the ship is quite flawed. The air fuel pipe on the ship runs near the cook-house, which means that the French designers made the ship for frequent fires on board.
Russian shipyards are capable of building all types of warships. For example, we built a number of destroyers for China. If we purchase the Mistral, Russia will find itself dependent on the West. Venezuela was purchasing F-16 fighter jets from the United States, but when the relations between the countries were ruined, Washington refused to ship spare parts to Caracas, and the planes became unfit for use soon afterwards.
“Iraq in 1991 is another good example. Baghdad lost Operation Desert Storm because the country had many US and French anti-aircraft systems. A command sent from a satellite put all of those systems out of operation. There are special programs which allow the manufacturing country disable its exported arms easily.
“More importantly, a Mistral warship will cost Russia from 520 to 700 million euros, whereas the construction of a similar helicopter in the country will cost not more than 150 million euros.”