DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY January 08, 2009 ~ Enabling Afghanistan's Security Forces To Lead The Way*Source: DTN News / British Ministry of Defence (MoD) Report by Joe Clapson
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - January 08, 2010: The working relationship between members of the Afghan National Security Forces and British forces is paving the way for Afghan forces to lead from the front and secure their own future. An Afghan police officer, mentored by the Coldstream Guards, leads a team out on patrol from Forward Operating Base Jackson near Sangin [Picture: Steve Dock, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]
Success for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan cannot be gained without the country's own forces leading the way.
That was the blunt assessment from all ranks of British personnel in Sangin and the feeling from the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Afghan National Army (ANA) is mutual - they openly admit that they want and need help to make their country a safer place.
High-ranking officials from both organisations emphasise that only a joint force of international soldiers and Afghan nationals would defeat the insurgency.
Sergeant Rohullah Abdullah, Second-in-Command of the ANP in Sangin, spoke of the vital relationship that has been forged with British soldiers working as police mentors:
"I have worked for three years in Sangin and in my opinion we are here to serve the people along with ISAF to make the environment safer," he said.
"When I first came here there was trouble in the bazaar - there was lots of fighting. Now there are no problems and people go shopping."
Sgt Abdullah, surrounded by proud members of his force, insisted mentors from the Coldstream Guards at Forward Operating Base Jackson were doing a lot to improve security:
"Our forces are working together and the police are getting better every day," he said.
"If we have any problems we talk with our mentors to gain advice and help.
"The locals are now aware that the ANP and ISAF want to serve the people and provide security."
The town of Sangin has become notorious for its sympathy towards the Taliban and civilians have struggled to escape the lure of money fuelled by corruption.
However, the police mentors are optimistic about the future because, with Afghan faces on patrol, locals are more inclined to consent to the operation and impart helpful information.
"The ANA are local sets of eyes and they get more information than us. They speak the language and, like our lads, they are not going in blind."
Warrant Officer Class 2 Chalky White
ANP mentor Sergeant Simon Thompson, Coldstream Guards, said:
"We are trying to build trust and work with them.
"Locals are starting to trust the ANP because they realise they are doing a good job.
"They are now approaching the ANP instead of us if they have problems, which is a step forward."
Sgt Abdullah agreed that the people of Sangin were turning their backs on the Taliban insurgency:
"Now the people are very happy with the Government and they are not happy with the insurgents or the drug dealers - they want our help."
The need to strengthen the Afghan presence on the ground was reiterated by soldiers mentoring the ANA.
Personnel from 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (2 YORKS) working in the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team were in no doubt that lives are being saved by the joint patrols.
Warrant Officer Class 2 Chalky White, A Company, 2 YORKS, said:
"When we have ANA with us the locals are more likely to tell us if there are IEDs present in the area.
"Without the ANA, the nationals are reluctant to come forward, even if we ask them if there has been Taliban activity."
In simple terms, in the minds of British soldiers, progress can only be gained by continuing to work alongside the Afghan forces as their link to the wider population:
"Sangin is an evil place and a lot of the area here is unknown territory," admitted WO2 White.
"The ANA are local sets of eyes and they get more information than us. They speak the language and, like our lads, they are not going in blind."
In further support of the strengthening bond between the British and Afghan forces, Lieutenant Said Akbar, one of 15 ANA Commanders throughout Afghanistan, explained the essential relationship:
"If ISAF wants to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban it can do it, but the ANA alone does not have the capability," he said.
This article is taken from the December 2009 edition of SOLDIER - Magazine of the British Army.
DTN News: Lockheed Martin F-35B Begins In-Flight STOVL Operations*Source: DTN News / Lockheed Martin
(NSI News Source Info) NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.,- January 08, 2010: The Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] F-35B Lightning II short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) stealth fighter engaged its STOVL propulsion system in flight for the first time today. The successful test is the first in a series of planned STOVL-mode flights that will include short takeoffs, hovers and vertical landings.
"The joint F-35 industry and government team has already shown during extended ground tests that the STOVL propulsion system performs well, and thousands of hours of component testing has validated its durability. Now we are seeing early proof that the system operates in flight as our team predicted," said Dan Crowley, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager.
The aircraft is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 engine driving a Rolls-Royce LiftFan®. The system, which includes a Rolls-Royce 3-bearing swivel duct that vectors engine thrust and under-wing roll ducts that provide lateral stability, produces more than 41,000 pounds of vertical thrust. The F135 is the most powerful engine ever flown in a fighter aircraft.
F-35 Lead STOVL Pilot Graham Tomlinson of BAE Systems took off at 1:53 p.m. EST, climbed to 5,000 feet and engaged the shaft-driven LiftFan propulsion system at 210 knots (288 mph), then slowed to 180 knots (207 mph) with the system engaged before accelerating to 210 knots and converting back to conventional-flight mode. The STOVL propulsion system was engaged for a total of 14 minutes during the flight. Tomlinson landed at 2:41 p.m. EST.
STOVL-mode flights will continue, with the aircraft flying progressively slower, hovering, and ultimately landing vertically. Most STOVL-mode testing will be conducted at NAS Patuxent River.
The F-35B will replace U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B STOVL fighters, F/A-18 strike fighters and EA-6B electronic attack aircraft. The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, as well as the Italian Air Force and Navy, also will employ the F-35B. With its short takeoff and vertical landing capabilities, the F-35B will enable allied forces to conduct operations from small ships and unprepared fields, enabling expeditionary operations around the globe.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 is a 5th generation fighter, uniquely characterized by advanced stealth with supersonic speed and high agility, sensor fusion, network-enabled capabilities and advanced sustainment. The three F-35 variants are derived from a common design, are being developed together and will use the same sustainment infrastructure worldwide, bringing economies of commonality and scale. The United States and eight international partners are planning to buy more than 3,000 F-35 aircraft.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Two separate, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136.
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.
DTN News: India TODAY January 08, 2010 ~ Indian Troops Storm Hotel, End Siege In Central Srinagar*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SRINAGAR, India - January 08, 2010: Commandos stormed a hotel in Indian-administered Kashmir on Thursday where two militants had been holed up for nearly 24 hours, killing the gunmen and bringing an end to the siege.SRINAGAR, INDIA - JANUARY 07: A fire engulfs a hotel following a gun battle between Indian police suspected militants on January 7, 2010 in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Two Pakistani trained militants were killed when Indian troops stormed a hotel on Thursday morning in Kashmir. Militants opened fire and lobbed grenades from inside the hotel where they took refuge on Wednesday for nearly 22 hours, police said.
The four-storey hotel in Srinagar, the summer capital of the volatile Himalayan region, was on fire before police announced both extremists had been killed in a morning assault by security forces.
The gunmen – one a Pakistani and the other an Indian Kashmiri, according to police – had taken refuge in the hotel on Wednesday after throwing grenades and opening fire in Srinagar’s main market area.
One police officer was killed in the attack and one bystander succumbed to his injuries Thursday. “The operation as far as we are concerned is over,” Kuldeep Khuda, the state police chief, told reporters at the scene.
A militant group, Jamiat-ul-Mujahedin, claimed it was behind the assault, which left five police and four civilians injured. Police pointed the finger at the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).
Overnight in Srinagar, police fired teargas to disperse scores of anti-India and pro-militant youths who threw stones at security forces, chanting “Kashmiri Mujahedeen, we are with you” and “We want freedom”.
Khuda said the police had cleared the building from the top floor before encountering and killing the first militant early Thursday.SRINAGAR, INDIA - JANUARY 07: An Indian policeman carries a rocket propelled grenade launcher (RPGL) before storming a hotel during a gun battle between Indian police and suspected militants on January 7, 2010 in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Two Pakistani trained militants were killed when Indian troops stormed a hotel on Thursday morning in Kashmir. Militants opened fire and lobbed grenades from inside the hotel where they took refuge on Wednesday for nearly 22 hours, police said.
“The other terrorist tried to set the building on fire... and he tried to make his escape but he was shot down,” he said.
Wednesday’s assault came as Indian Kashmir’s chief minister marked his first year in office by pledging to slash the security force presence in the region if violence continued to decline.
DTN News: African Counterterrorism Gets Greater Focus*Source: By John J. Kruzel American Forces Press Service issued January 7, 2010
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - January 08, 2010: Counterterrorism in Africa has come into greater focus since the United States cited five African countries on a list of nations deserving more scrutiny amid heightened airport security following a botched terrorist attack on a Christmas Day flight.Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is seen in this screen grab taken from an Islamist website December 28, 2009. A regional wing of al Qaeda claimed responsibility on December 28, 2009 for a failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S.-bound passenger plane, saying it was to avenge U.S. attacks on the group in Yemen. In a statement posted on Islamist websites, the group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said it had provided Abdulmutallab in the attempt with a "technically advanced device" but that it had failed to detonate because of a technical fault.
Combating terrorism in Africa is one emphasis of the U.S. Africa Command, the military’s newest unified combat headquarters, and its associated sub-commands.
“There's been a lot of media focus on the incident and terrorism in general right now,” Maj. Gen. William B. Garrett III, commander of U.S. Army Africa, said this week during a blogger’s roundtable, adding that “it involved a Nigerian and apparently emanated from Africa, with possible links to Yemen.”
Sudan ranked among four countries the U.S. identified as a sponsor of terrorism, while Nigeria, Algeria, Somalia and Libya are considered prone to terrorism. The U.S. compiled the list and the guidance to apply stricter security methods to passengers with connections to such countries after a Nigerian terrorist attempted to detonate an explosive device on Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Dec. 25.
Of the $350 million made available to the Defense Department in Fiscal Year 2009 to aid counterterrorism efforts abroad, the department has focused a portion of these so-called 1206 funds at building partner capacity on the African continent.
Some $10.3 million of the congressionally-allotted counterterrorism funding has been directed at Ethiopia for force development, with $15.2 million to Kenya and $8.5 million flowing to southeastern African nations for maritime security. The department allocated $8.8 million to Tunisia for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and nearly $5 million to Nigeria, the native country of alleged would-be Christmas Day bomber Farouk Abdulmutallab.
As the United States ratchets up security measures in domestic and partnering airports, Africom continues to build the capacity of partner nations on the continent to deal with transnational problems emanating from within their borders.
“The U.S. Army's role in all of this is to help strengthen the capabilities and capacity of our land force partners so they can help protect their people, secure their borders, support development, contribute to better governance and help achieve regional stability,” Garrett said.
In addition to counterterrorism, the general listed violent extremism, cyber attacks, piracy, illicit trafficking, crime, corruption, disease and displaced people as other problems plaguing some of Africom’spartner nations.
A Defense Department official recently described the department’s effort in a large swath of the continent as representing a key element in the U.S. government’s three-pronged approach. “DoD is the third pillar of the 3-D approach -- diplomacy, development and defense -- in the Sahel and Maghreb region to address the challenges posed by al Qaida in the land of the Islamic Maghreb,” Vicki Huddleston, the deputy assistant secretary for Africa, said at a hearing before the African Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Maghreb refers to northern Africa while the Sahel characterizes a horizontal strip of the continent lying below the Sahara Desert and north of the continent’s Sudan region.
“We believe that the long-term solution must be that each nation is capable of governing and controlling its territory with a professional military accountable to civilian governments that have the support of local populations,” Huddleston said. “If this is not the case, then those who espouse violent extremism and acts of terrorism, even if temporarily deterred, will return to the ungoverned spaces.”
DTN News: Financial News TODAY January 08, 2010 ~ New Japanese Finance Minister Calls For Weaker Yen*Source: DTN News / BBC
(NSI News Source Info) TOKYO, Japan- January 08, 2010: Japan's newly appointed finance minister Naoto Kan has called for a weaker yen in order to aid the recovery of the Japanese economy. Speaking the day after his appointment, Mr Kan said it would be "nice" to see the currency weaken. Newly appointed Finance Minister Naoto Kan smiles upon his first arrival at the Finance Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010, shortly after taking over the post from his 77-year-old predecessor Hirohisa Fujii who resigned due to his health problem. Kan, 63, welcomed the yen's recent retreat from the 14-year high of 84.83 against the dollar hit in November but indicated it hadn't fallen far enough. "I hope currency markets correct themselves further, weakening the yen," he said.
His predecessor, Hirohisa Fujii, who stepped down for health reasons, was criticised for tolerating a strong yen, which hurts Japan's exporters.
Japan is currently battling the threat of deflation and a large public debt.
Mr Kan said he would seek to work with Japan's central bank on the issue, prompting speculation that he might order official intervention.
"I will deal with it seriously and work hard to bring it to the appropriate level, considering the impact that foreign exchange has on the Japanese economy," Mr Kan told reporters.
An appropriate level would be about 95 yen to one US dollar, he said, making a rare public comment by a government minister on the currency's desired value.
The yen dropped against the dollar on foreign exchange markets to 92.8 following his remarks, from 92.2 before he spoke.
The yen has dropped steadily since reaching a 14-year high against the dollar of 85 in November.
Japan has not intervened in the currency market for several years and Mr Kan's predecessor, Mr Fujii, had spoken against weakening the yen to help exporters.
Mr Kan was appointed to the post on Wednesday, after Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama reluctantly accepted Mr Fujii's resignation.
Mr Fujii, 77, has been treated in hospital for high blood pressure.
He had told reporters he was exhausted after weeks of wrangling within Japan's governing coalition to finalise the budget.
The change of faces in such a key post is being seen as a severe test for Mr Hatoyama - who came into power in September after nearly 50 years of conservative rule and is already suffering from falling ratings.
Mr Fujii's departure has added to uncertainty about the new government's ability to handle the economy.
Parliament reconvenes the week after next with the budget at the top of the agenda.
Double dip risk
Mr Kan has headed a national strategy unit that sets fiscal priorities but he has nothing like the budgetary experience of Mr Fujii, says the BBC's Roland Buerk in Tokyo.
The question for bond markets is whether he will be able to resist pressure for more government spending, especially if Japan's economy sags towards a double dip recession, our correspondent says.
The 63-year-old Mr Kan's previous experience in government is as a health minister in the mid-1990s. He is also currently the deputy prime minister.
Analysts are questioning whether he will be able to stem Japan's deflation and massive government debt.
The world's second largest economy is currently recovering from its worst recession in decades, with public debts worth about 200% of annual economic output.
Roland Buerk, BBC News, Japan
*Japan's recovery is frail, made vulnerable by worsening deflation.
*Exporters, still suffering a hangover from the global recession, are being laid low by the strong yen.
*There are fears in government of a possible return to recession, which it cannot afford as it faces upper house elections in July.
*The other big issue is the national debt.
*It is pushing towards 200% of GDP, by far the highest in the industrialised world.Read more
DTN News: Technology News TODAY January 08, 2010 ~ 250 Million Old Mass Extinction May Be Causing Lung Cancer In A Chinese Region*Source: DTN News / China National News
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - January 08, 2010: A new study has shown that the volcanic eruptions thought responsible for Earth's largest mass extinction 250 million years ago has been linked to unusually high rates of lung cancer in a particular area of China.Coal from China's Xuan Wei County, widely used for cooking and heating, may contribute to unusually high rates of lung cancer among women in the region. Credit: US Department of Energy
The study shows for the first time that the high silica content of coal in one region of China, which may have been released by volcanic eruptions 250 million years ago, may be interacting with volatile substances in the coal to cause unusually high rates of lung cancer.
The study, by scientist David Large and colleagues, note that parts of China's Xuan Wei County in Yunnan Province have the world's highest incidence of lung cancer in nonsmoking women - 20 times higher than the rest of China.
Women in the region heat their homes and cook on open coal-burning stoves that are not vented to the outside.
Scientists believe that indoor emissions from burning coal cause cancer, but are unclear why the lung cancer rates in this region are so much higher than other areas.
Earlier studies show a strong link between certain volatile substances, called PAHs, in coal smoke and lung cancer in the region.
The scientists found that coal used in parts of Xuan Wei County had about 10 times more silica, a suspected carcinogen, than US coal.
Silica may work in conjunction with PAHs to make the coal more carcinogenic, they indicate.
The scientists also found that this high-silica coal was formed 250 million years ago, at a time when massive volcanic eruptions worked to deposit silica in the peat that formed Xuan Wei's coal.
DTN News: US Navy Concerned About Alleged Al-Qaida Threat To US Ships*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) KUWAIT - January 08, 2010: The U.S. Navy says it is on heightened alert after receiving what it calls "credible" al-Qaida threats against American warships and commercial vessels in the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf. (Image/Photo: Fog rises over the Atlantic Ocean as the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower conducts flight operations, 4 Jan 2010)
The latest threat from Osama bin Laden's terror network calls on followers to gather intelligence about ships and their sailors so that they can be targeted for attacks.
The threat, made on December 31 in a message posted on an extremist Internet Web site, prompted the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to elevate the risk for all U.S. military and commercial ships sailing through an area stretching from Somalia to the Persian Gulf.
The message contained detailed instructions, particularly on what type of intelligence should be collected from each U.S. warship. The unnamed author says al-Qaida will use the information to target American vessels, including aircraft carriers, submarines, and all naval equipment deployed in the region. He urges potential informants not to underestimate the importance of any piece of information they can gather.
Navy spokesman Lieutenant Nathan Christiansen tells VOA that sailors and their families have been warned to be careful not to reveal any information that could be used against them.
"It is important that Navy families remain vigilant in not sharing potentially sensitive or secure information by any non-secure means, and that includes letters, e-mails, phone conversations, or social media including Facebook," he said.
Fifth Fleet would not comment on what additional security measures are being taken to protect its ships and personnel. The U.S. Navy has a significant presence in the region, especially in the Gulf of Aden - a busy commercial shipping lane off the northern coast of Somalia. The U.S. Navy and the navies of dozens of other countries are patrolling the narrow waterway to deter ship hijackings-for-ransom by pirate gangs.
Reports that al-Qaida-trained operatives may be poised to attack American commercial and passenger vessels in the Arabian Sea are being widely circulated in Arab-speaking Gulf states, including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates. Western intelligence officials have reportedly urged each country to boost security measures and to provide better protection for ships, especially oil and gas tankers.
On Thursday, a Kuwaiti newspaper, al-Qabas, said unnamed Kuwaiti security sources confirmed that al-Qaida has regrouped in the region in recent months, thanks largely to the deteriorating security in Somalia and Yemen.
Both countries are home to militant anti-West insurgent groups that have publicly claimed allegiance to al-Qaida. The group in Yemen, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is believed to have ties with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up a U.S. passenger jet on December 25.
Al-Qaida has targeted the U.S. Navy in the past. In 2001, al-Qaida boasted that it had carried out the October 2000 bombing of USS Cole while the destroyer was refueling at a port in southern Yemen. The blast killed 17 sailors and wounded 39 others.
DTN News: Israel TODAY January 08, 2010 ~ Qassam Fired From Gaza Explodes Near Ashkelon*Source: DTN News / By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - January 08, 2010: A Qassam rocket fired from Gaza exploded just south of Ashkelon on Thursday, causing no casualties or damage. (Image/photo: Gaza militant fire on Israel. Alex Zeger / JINI) The rocket fire came at the heels of a barrage of mortar shells earlier in the day, with Gaza militants firing at least 10 shells into Israel, and an anti-tank missile being fired at Israel Defense Forces troops patrolling the border with Gaza.
No one was hurt in any of the incidents.
Earlier Thursday, the Israel Air Force dropped thousands of warning leaflets over Gaza, warning Gaza residents to stay away from the border with Israel and to avoid involvement in smuggling, Ma'an news agency reported.
One of the leaflets featured a map, and warns Gazans that anyone within 300 meters of the security fence is endangering himself. Another leaflet urged Gazans not to sit idly by as smugglers put them and their communities in harm's way.
It included a phone number and e-mail address for anyone willing to provide information about the smuggling tunnels. The warnings came after six mortar shells exploded in the northwestern Negev, three others struck near the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza, while another exploded in the coastal strip.
The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility Thursday for the mortar fire. The Defense Ministry on Thursday closed the Kerem Shalom crossing until further notice. Dozens of aid trucks that were prepared to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza were waiting at the crossing Thursday morning, Israel Radio reported.
On Wednesday, GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant warned Negev residents that the quiet Israel has recently expereinced along the Gaza border may only be temporary, adding that the IDF was prepared to face tensions should they arise. Galant also urged civilians in the Negev to "prepare themselves for another round of fighting."
This picture provided by the Israeli Defense Ministry on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010 and made within 48 hours of release, shows a rocket fired from the "Iron Dome" system during a test in southern Israel. The Defense Ministry said Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010 it has successfully completed testing a high-tech rocket defense system designed to protect its civilians from attacks by militants in Gaza and Lebanon.
"It is important that we fully appreciate the value of this calm period for the residents of the area," he said. "The quietness allows the development of the regional infrastructure, agriculture and economical prosperity." Hamas had said it was cracking down on militant groups firing at Israel from the Gaza Strip, but communities in the Negev have been hit with rockets numerous times in the year since the IDF embarked on Operation Cast Lead.
Just last week, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for firing two Russian-made Grad missiles from Gaza at southern Israel. The Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) also claimed responsibility for firing four mortar shells at Israeli army vehicles near the border the week before.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened following those strikes that Israel would respond to every single rocket by Gaza militants.
DTN News: Airlines News TODAY January 07, 2010 ~ Turkish Airlines Orders 20 A320 Family Aircraft*Source: DTN News / Airbus
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - January 07, 2010: Turkish Airlines signed a firm order for 20 Airbus A320 Family aircraft on 30 December 2009. The order is for a mix of A319s and A321s with exact numbers of each to be finalised shortly. The aircraft are scheduled for delivery from 2011 onwards, and will be used for expansion of domestic and regional routes.
This new order brings the total number of Airbus aircraft ordered by the airline in 2009 to 36, including four A321s, 10 A330-300s and two of the all new A330-200F. Turkish Airlines introduced its first Airbus aircraft in 1985 and today operates the largest Airbus fleet in the country with a total of 67 aircraft, including 47 A320 Family aircraft, four A310s, seven A330s and nine A340s.
"The high reliability and low operating costs of our A320 fleet have been a key factor in our success so far and we see the aircraft as an integral part of our expansion plans" said Mr. Hamdi Topcu, Chairman of Turkish Airlines. "This order underlines our commitment to continued growth whilst providing the highest level of comfort to our passengers."
"Turkish Airlines is one of the fastest growing European airlines and we are delighted that they continue to partner with Airbus to support their expansion" said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. "The additional A320s will allow Turkish Airlines to further exploit the commonality benefits offered by the Airbus Family of aircraft."
Airbus aircraft share a unique cockpit and operational commonality, allowing airlines to use the same pool of pilots, cabin crews and maintenance engineers, bringing operational flexibility and resulting in significant cost savings.
The A320 Family, which includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, is recognised as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family. More than 6,400 Airbus A320 Family aircraft have been sold and more than 4000 delivered to more than 300 customers and operators worldwide, making it the world's best selling commercial jetliner ever.
With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single aisle aircraft. Uniquely, the A320 Family offers a containerised cargo system, which is compatible with the world wide standard wide-body system.
DTN News: Boeing Commercial Airplanes Achieves 2009 Delivery Target, Maintains Strong Backlog* Company delivers 481 airplanes in tough economy* Robust backlog continues with 3,375 airplanes*Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE, - January 07, 2010: Boeing (NYSE: BA) recorded 481 commercial airplane deliveries in 2009, matching the company guidance of 480-485 airplanes. The Commercial Airplanes backlog remains strong at 3,375 airplanes. Boeing registered 263 gross and 142 net commercial orders for the year as air travel and freight declined and carriers worldwide experienced severe economic challenges.
The Next-Generation 737 continued its reign as the industry workhorse with 372 deliveries. The airplane also topped Boeing's order book with 197 gross orders as carriers chose the 737's efficiency and versatility for future fleet needs. The 777 led Boeing's twin-aisle programs as operators chose the most reliable and efficient twin-aisle jet flying today.
The global recession presided as an oppressive market reality in 2009, driving many carriers to re-evaluate their near- and medium-term fleet requirements. Program orders, deliveries and backlog at the end of 2009 were as follows:
...............Gross.......... Orders Net.......... Orders Deliveries.......... Backlog Units
737 ........197.................. 178 ...........................372................................ 2,076
777 .........30.................... 19 .............................88................................... 281
747 ............5...................... 2................................ 8................................... 108
767 ............7...................... 2................................ 13.................................... 59
787 ..........24................... -59............................ N/A.................................. 851
First flight of the 787 Dreamliner took place Dec. 15, with first delivery scheduled for fourth-quarter 2010. The 747-8 Freighter is slated for first flight early this year with first delivery planned for fourth-quarter 2010. Delivery of the 747-8 Intercontinental passenger airplane is planned for fourth-quarter 2011.
"2009 was not without its challenges but it also was a year of exciting achievements for our company and our industry," said Jim Albaugh, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive officer. "With signs of economic recovery emerging in 2010, we look forward to better days ahead."
Boeing expects to provide 2010 commercial airplane delivery guidance when the company releases year-end earnings Jan. 27.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes highlights in 2009 included:
*First flight of the 787 Dreamliner.
*3,000th delivery of the Next-Generation 737.
*The first 777 Freighter delivered to launch customer Air France.
*Delivery of the 1,400th 747 as the program celebrated its 40th anniversary.
*Boeing and the U.S. Navy formally unveiled the P-8A Poseidon - a derivative of the Next-Generation 737 - for the service's newest maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.
*Significant progress among Boeing and its partners in studying sustainable biofuels.
*Boeing Training & Flight Services (formerly Alteon) introduced its new name and branding to highlight its expanded capabilities.
*Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services expanded its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations with the opening of a new hangar at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport.
*The 737-700C (Convertible) became the first member of the Next-Generation 737 family to be offered in both an all-passenger and all-cargo layout.
A detailed report of Boeing Commercial Airplanes orders and deliveries is available on the Web at http://active.boeing.com/commercial/orders/index.cfm
DTN News: Jihadism in 2010 ~ The Threat Continues*Source: By Scott Stewart STRATFOR
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 07, 2010: For the past several years, STRATFOR has published an annual forecast on al Qaeda and the jihadist movement. Since our first jihadist forecast in January 2006, we have focused heavily on the devolution of jihadism from a phenomenon primarily involving the core al Qaeda group to one based mainly on the wider jihadist movement and the devolving, decentralized threat it poses.
The central theme of last year’s forecast was that al Qaeda was an important force on the ideological battlefield, but that the efforts of the United States and its allies had marginalized the group on the physical battlefield and kept it bottled up in a limited geographic area. Because of this, we forecast that the most significant threat in terms of physical attacks stemmed from regional jihadist franchises and grassroots operatives and not the al Qaeda core. We also wrote that we believed the threat posed by such attacks would remain tactical and not rise to the level of a strategic threat. To reflect this reality, we even dropped al Qaeda from the title of our annual forecast and simply named it Jihadism in 2009: The Trends Continue.
The past year proved to be very busy in terms of attacks and thwarted plots emanating from jihadist actors. But, as forecast, the primary militants involved in carrying out these terrorist plots were almost exclusively from regional jihadist groups and grassroots operatives, and not militants dispatched by the al Qaeda core. We anticipate that this dynamic will continue, and if anything, the trend will be for some regional franchise groups to become even more involved in transnational attacks, thus further usurping the position of al Qaeda prime at the vanguard of jihadism on the physical battlefield.
A Note on ‘Al Qaeda’
As a quick reminder, STRATFOR views what most people refer to as “al Qaeda” as a global jihadist network rather than a monolithic entity. This network consists of three distinct entities. The first is a core vanguard organization, which we frequently refer to as al Qaeda prime or the al Qaeda core. The al Qaeda core is comprised of Osama bin Laden and his small circle of close, trusted associates, such as Ayman al-Zawahiri. Due to intense pressure by the U.S. government and its allies, this core group has been reduced in size since 9/11 and remains relatively small because of operational security concerns. This insular group is laying low in Pakistan near the Afghan border and comprises only a small portion of the larger jihadist universe.
The second layer of the network is composed of local or regional terrorist or insurgent groups that have adopted jihadist ideology. Some of these groups have publicly claimed allegiance to bin Laden and the al Qaeda core and become what we refer to as franchise groups, like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) or al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Other groups may adopt some or all of al Qaeda’s jihadist ideology and cooperate with the core group, but they will maintain their independence for a variety of reasons. Such groups include the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Harkat-ul-Jihad e-Islami (HUJI). Indeed, in the case of some larger organizations such as LeT, some of the group’s factions may actually oppose close cooperation with al Qaeda.
The third and broadest layer of the network is the grassroots jihadist movement, that is, people inspired by the al Qaeda core and the franchise groups but who may have little or no actual connection to these groups.
As we move down this hierarchy, we also move down in operational capability and expertise in what we call terrorist tradecraft — the set of skills required to conduct a terrorist attack. The operatives belonging to the al Qaeda core are generally better trained than their regional counterparts, and both of these layers tend to be far better trained than the grassroots operatives. Indeed, many grassroots operatives travel to places like Pakistan and Yemen in order to seek training from these other groups.
The Internet has long proved to be an important tool for these groups to reach out to potential grassroots operatives. Jihadist chat rooms and Web sites provide indoctrination in jihadist ideology and also serve as a means for aspiring jihadists to make contact with like-minded individuals and even the jihadist groups themselves.
2009 Forecast Review
Overall, our 2009 forecast was fairly accurate. As noted above, we wrote that the United States would continue its operations to decapitate the al Qaeda core and that this would cause the group to be marginalized from the physical jihad, and that has happened.
While we missed forecasting the resurgence of jihadist militant groups in Yemen and Somalia in 2008, in our 2009 forecast we covered these two countries carefully. We wrote that the al Qaeda franchises in Yemen had taken a hit in 2008 but that they could recover in 2009 given the opportunity. Indeed, the groups received a significant boost when they merged into a single group that also incorporated the remnants of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, which had been forced by Saudi security to flee the country. We closely followed this new group, which named itself al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and STRATFOR was the first organization we know of to discuss the threat AQAP posed to civil aviation when we raised this subject on Sept. 2 and elaborated on it Sept. 16, in an analysis titled Convergence: The Challenge of Aviation Security. That threat manifested itself in the attempt to destroy an airliner traveling from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 — an operation that very nearly succeeded.
Regarding Somalia, we have also been closely following al Shabaab and the other jihadist groups there, such as Hizbul Islam. Al Shabaab publicly pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden in September 2009 and therefore has formally joined the ranks of al Qaeda’s regional franchise groups. However, as we forecast last January, while the instability present in Somalia provides al Shabaab the opportunity to flourish, the factionalization of the country (including the jihadist groups operating there) has also served to keep al Shabaab from dominating the other actors and assuming control of the country.
We also forecast that, while Iraq had been relatively quiet in 2008, the level of violence there could surge in 2009 due to the Awakening Councils being taken off the U.S. payroll and having their control transferred to the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, which might not pay them and integrate them into the armed forces. Indeed, since August, we have seen three waves of major coordinated attacks against Iraqi ministry buildings in Baghdad linked to the al Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq. Since this violence is tied to the political situation in Iraq, and there is a clear correlation between the funds being cut to the Awakening Councils and these attacks, we anticipate that this violence will continue through the parliamentary elections in March. The attacks could even continue after that, if the Sunni powers in Iraq deem that their interests are not being addressed appropriately.
As in 2008, we paid close attention in 2009 to the situation in Pakistan. This not only was because Pakistan is the home of the al Qaeda core’s leadership but also because of the threat that the TTP and the other jihadist groups in the country posed to the stability of the nuclear-armed state. As we watched Pakistan for signs that it was becoming a failed state, we noted that the government was actually making considerable headway in its fight against its jihadist insurgency. Indeed, by late in the year, the Pakistanis had launched not only a successful offensive in Swat and the adjacent districts but also an offensive into South Waziristan, the heart of the TTP’s territory.
We also forecast that the bulk of the attacks worldwide in 2009 would be conducted by regional jihadist franchise groups and, to a lesser extent, grassroots jihadists, rather than the al Qaeda core, which was correct.
In relation to attacks against the United States, we wrote that we did not see a strategic threat to the United States from the jihadists, but that the threat of simple attacks against soft targets remained in 2009. We said we had been surprised that there were no such attacks in 2008 but that, given the vulnerabilities that existed and the ease with which such attacks could be conducted, we believed they were certainly possible. During 2009, we did see simple attacks by grassroots operatives in Little Rock, Arkansas, and at Fort Hood, Texas, along with several other grassroots plots thwarted by authorities.
Forecast for 2010
In the coming year we believe that, globally, we will see many of the trends continue from last year. We believe that the al Qaeda core will continue to be marginalized on the physical battlefield and struggle to remain relevant on the ideological battlefield. The regional jihadist franchise groups will continue to be at the vanguard of the physical battle, and the grassroots operatives will remain a persistent, though lower-level, threat.
One thing we noticed in recent months was that the regional groups were becoming more transnational in their attacks, with AQAP involved in the attack on Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in Saudi Arabia as well as the trans-Atlantic airliner bombing plot on Christmas Day. Additionally, we saw HUJI planning an attack against the Jyllands-Posten newspaper and cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in Denmark, and on Jan. 1, 2010, a Somali man reportedly associated with al Shabaab broke into Westergaard’s home armed with an axe and knife and allegedly tried to kill him. We believe that in 2010 we will see more examples of regional groups like al Shabaab and AQAP reaching out to become more transnational, perhaps even conducting attacks in the United States and Europe.
We also believe that, due to the open nature of the U.S. and European societies and the ease of conducting attacks against them, we will see more grassroots plots, if not successful attacks, in the United States and Europe in the coming year. The concept behind AQAP leader Nasir al-Wahayshi’s article calling for jihadists to conduct simple attacks against a variety of targets may be gaining popularity among grassroots jihadists. Certainly, the above-mentioned attack in Denmark involving an axe and knife was simple in nature. It could also have been deadly had the cartoonist not had a panic room within his residence. We will be watching for more simple attacks.
As far as targets, we believe that they will remain largely the same for 2010. Soft targets such as hotels will continue to be popular, since most jihadists lack the ability to attack hard targets outside of conflict zones. However, jihadists have demonstrated a continuing fixation on attacking commercial aviation targets, and we can anticipate additional plots and attacks focusing on aircraft.
Regionally, we will be watching for the following:*Pakistan: Can the United States find and kill the al Qaeda core’s leadership? A Pakistani official told the Chinese Xinhua news agency on Jan. 4 that terrorism will come to an end in Pakistan in 2010, but we are not nearly so optimistic. Even though the military has made good progress in its South Waziristan offensive, most of the militants moved to other areas of Pakistan rather than engage in frontal combat with Pakistan’s army. The area along the border with Pakistan is rugged and has proved hard to pacify for hundreds of years. We don’t think the Pakistanis will be able to bring the area under control in only one year. Clearly, the Pakistanis have made progress, but they are not out of the woods. The TTP has launched a number of attacks in the Punjabi core of Pakistan (including Karachi) and we see no end to this violence in 2010.
*Afghanistan: We will continue to closely monitor jihadist actors in this war-torn country. Our forecast for this conflict is included in our Annual Forecast 2010, published on Jan. 4.
Yemen: We will be watching closely to see if AQAP will follow the normal jihadist group lifespan of making a big splash, coming to the notice of the world and then being hit heavily by the host government with U.S. support. This pattern was exhibited a few years back by AQAP’s Saudi al Qaeda brethren, and judging by the operations in Yemen over the past month, it looks like 2010 might be a tough year for the group. It is important to note that the strikes against the group on Dec. 17 and Dec. 24 predated the Christmas bombing attempt, and the pressure on them will undoubtedly be ratcheted up considerably in the wake of that attack. Even as the memory of the Christmas Day attack begins to fade in the media and political circles, the focus on Yemen will continue in the counterterrorism community.
*Indonesia: Can Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad find an effective leader to guide it back from the edge of destruction after the death of Noordin Mohammad Top and the deaths or captures of several of his top lieutenants? Or will the Indonesians be able to enjoy further success against the group’s surviving members?
*North Africa: Will AQIM continue to shy away from the al Qaeda core’s targeting philosophy and essentially function as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat with a different name in Algeria? Or will AQIM shift back toward al Qaeda’s philosophy of attacking the far enemy and using suicide bombers and large vehicle bombs? In Mauritania, Niger and Mali, will the AQIM-affiliated cells there be able to progress beyond amateurish attacks and petty banditry to become a credible militant organization?
*Somalia: We believe the factionalism in Somalia and within the jihadist community there will continue to hamper al Shabaab. The questions we will be looking to answer are: Will al Shabaab be able to gain significant control of areas of the country that can be used to harbor and train foreign militants? And, will the group decide to use its contacts within the Somali diaspora to conduct attacks in East Africa, South Africa, Australia, Europe and the United States? We believe that al Shabaab is on its way to becoming a transnational player and that 2010 may well be the year that it breaks out and then draws international attention like AQAP has done in recent months.
*India: We anticipate that Kashmiri jihadist groups will continue to plan attacks against India in an effort to stir-up communal violence in that country and stoke tensions between India and Pakistan — and provide a breather to the jihadist groups being pressured by the government of Pakistan.
As long as the ideology of jihadism survives, the jihadists will be able to recruit new militants and their war against the world will continue. The battle will oscillate between periods of high and low intensity as regional groups rise in power and are taken down. We don’t believe jihadists pose a strategic geopolitical threat on a global, or even regional, scale, but they will certainly continue to launch attacks and kill people in 2010.
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DTN News: India Cancels Contract For Airbus A330 MRTT Midair Refuellers*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - January 07, 2010: In a setback to IAF’s plans to further boost its ‘strategic reach’ capabilities, the government has decided to re-float the tender for acquiring six new mid-air refuelling aircraft for fighter jets after scrapping the virtually finalised $1.5-billion contract with European aerospace major EADS.
‘‘The RFP (request for proposal) will be re-floated and will go EADS, Boeing (US) and Ilyushin (Russian), among others, for a global competition now,’’ said a defence ministry official on Wednesday.
Defence minister A K Antony, on his part, told Parliament last month that the finance minister had ‘‘expressed certain reservations relating to the competitiveness of the bids and the reasonableness of the price’’ for the IAF project to acquire the six new flight refueller aircraft. IAF had selected the Airbus A-330 MRTT (multi-role tanker transport) aircraft of EADS after a thorough evaluation quite some time back but the file was stuck in the finance ministry, which felt they were overpriced.
With Antony not intervening in the matter, the government has now cancelled the entire acquisition process. IAF, incidentally, was not too keen to buy more Ilyushin-78, six of which it had acquired from Uzbekistan a few years ago, since it said the A-330s better met its tanker requirements.
Be that as it may, the four-engined IL-78s, which can each carry over 75 tonnes of fuel to tank up fighters during flight, have proved to be a major force-multiplier for IAF.
IL-78s have made it possible for IAF fighters like the multi-role Mirage-2000s, the deep penetration Jaguars and the air-dominance Sukhoi-30MKIs to operate with extended ranges and flight-times.
Sukhois, for instance, have a cruising speed range of 3,200 km and can carry around eight tonnes of armaments. This strategic capability gets a further boost with air-to-air refuelling by IL-78 tankers, enhancing their radius of operations by more than double, making it possible for them to strike targets deep inside China.Incidentally, Pakistan inducted the first of its four mid-air refuellers, contracted from Ukraine, just last month.
DTN News: The 2012 Mayan Prophecy*Source: Bible Prophecy Today By Ed Hindson
(NSI News Source Info) - January 07, 2010: Is there any truth to the claim that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world on December 21, 2012?The belief that the ancient Mayans held that would mark the end of the world or some other catastrophic event stems from their roots as an agricultural society. As such, they paid much attention to tracking star patterns. They also paid much attention to the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, which occurs on December 21st of each year in the Northern Hemisphere. After that day, the days would grow longer and more amenable to the planting of crops.
The ancient Mayans were also pagans. They relied upon the sun as a god and the Milky Way galaxy as a “sacred tree” to the afterlife. Eventually, they formulated a calendar based upon a combination of their astronomical observations and their pagan belief system. This calendar determined that the stars’ patterns moved in a cycle of 5,125 years. It also determined that once during this cycle, the dark center of the Milky Way intersected with the sun’s movement across the sky.
The last time this occurred, according to the ancient Mayans, was in what we call 3114 BC, which they claim to be the date of creation, though most theologians place it much earlier. The completion of the 5,125-year cycle from that date would bring us to 2012, remembering that there is no “year zero.” While the Mayans did not use our BC/AD calendar, they deduced, then, that what we call 2012 would mark another ending of one cycle and beginning of a new one.
The flaws in such thinking are obvious. First, they are relying on creation rather than the Creator Himself. God warned ancient Israel against undertaking the pagan practices of the surrounding nations, and such advice is still pertinent today:
“There shall not be found among you anyone who maketh his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or who useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter of mediums, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD; and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee,” Deuteronomy 18:10-12.
Additionally, this Mayan prophecy establishes “date-setting,” a practice which Jesus Himself warned about in His Olivet Discourse:
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only,” Matthew 24:36.Since the Mayans were pagans, their prophecy did not establish the return of Christ as the cataclysmic event of the year 2012. Ironically, many anti-Christian New Agers have accepted this Mayan “prophecy” as a valid prediction of either: 1) the end of the world, or 2) the dawn of a new age. By doing so, they may have automatically excluded 2012 from being of any prophetic significance at all, because Jesus said:
“Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh,” Matthew 24:44.So our advice for the Mayan prophecy involving 2012 would be to consider the source and note its deviation from Scripture, and dismiss it accordingly.