DTN News: Russia Sends Additional Missile Cruiser To Indian Ocean Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) SEVASTOPOL, - April 10, 2010: The Moskva missile cruiser will set sail on Friday on a long-range tour of duty, which will culminate with exercises in the Indian Ocean, a Navy official said.
The flagship of the Black Sea Fleet will join other Russian warships in the region, including the Pyotr Veliky nuclear-powered missile cruiser, which left Russia's Northern Fleet headquarters of Severomorsk on March 31.
"During the tour of duty, the Moskva cruiser will cross the Mediterranean, pass through the Suez Canal and conduct joint exercises with warships from other Russian fleets, including from the Northern Fleet, in the Indian Ocean," a spokesman for the Black Sea Fleet said.
The cruiser, which has a compliment of naval infantry on board, will also make several port calls in the Indian Ocean.
The Moskva is a Slava-class missile cruiser designed as a surface strike ship with some anti-aircraft and ASW capability.
The ship has 16 SS-N-12 Sandbox supersonic anti-ship missiles, mounted in four pairs on each side.
Russia announced in 2007 that it was building up its naval presence in the world's oceans. Once one the world's most powerful navies, Russia now has few ships regularly deployed.
A Russian Pacific Fleet task force, comprising an Udaloy class missile destroyer, Marshal Shaposhnikov, a salvage tug and a tanker, is currently on an anti-piracy mission off the Somali coast.
DTN News: Russia To Build Port Facilities For Mistral shipsSource: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - April 10, 2010: Russia will have to build port facilities if it decides to purchase a French Mistral helicopter carrier for the Russian Navy, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said.
Russia is negotiating the purchase of at least one Mistral-class amphibious assault ship, worth 400-500 million euros (around $530-$660 million) and plans to build three more vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS.
"We do not have port infrastructure for aircraft carriers, but we plan to build it [for Mistral type ships]," Popovkin said. "If we reach an agreement [with France], we'll do everything, if not, we won't."
Popovkin also said Russian Kamov helicopters (Ka-52, Ka-226) will be based on Mistral ship, if the country decides to go ahead with the purchase.
He noted that Russia wanted to buy only one ship and build three more under French license in Russian shipyards, while France planned to sell two vessels and license the construction of the remaining two.
Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military advantages of the purchase, but Popovkin disagrees that the Mistral would be useless for the Russian Navy.
Russia has at least four islands in the Pacific Ocean which are still disputed with Japan as well as the Kaliningrad exclave surrounded by NATO countries. If these regions come under threat, Mistrals could be used to transfer military forces to the conflict zones, he said.
The future of the deal is still unclear because France is unlikely to agree to transferring sensitive technology that Russia could use in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.
Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) Ruslan Pukhov said on Wednesday that France would never sell the Mistral with its naval tactical data system SENIT 9 because it provides links to NATO data exchange formats.
"This system could not be sold because it contains software which allows the control of NATO military forces," Pukhov said, adding that Russia would most likely have to install its own electronic equipment on the Mistral ships.
DTN News: US Troop Flights At Kyrgyzstan Base Suspended Says US MilitarySource: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 10, 2010: The US military has suspended troop flights out of its base in Kyrgyzstan and will instead transport forces to and from Afghanistan via Kuwait, military officials said Friday.
Amid political upheaval in the strategic Central Asian nation, US commanders at the Manas air base decided late Friday "to temporarily divert military passenger transport flights," Major John Redfield, a spokesman for US Central Command, said in an email.
Decisions on continuing other military flights "will be made on a case-by-case basis," he said.
The suspension came after the Americans spotted armored vehicles on the civilian side of the airport, a defense official told AFP.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said details were still unclear and there was no sign of tensions with the civilian authorities at Manas, a crucial hub for the NATO-led war in Afghanistan.
The suspension of troop flights -- which were diverted to a US base in Kuwait -- would remain in effect for at least 72 hours, the official said, but aerial tanker aircraft were continuing to use the runway.
Kyrgyzstan's interim leader Friday offered president Kurmanbek Bakiyev safe passage out of the country, but only if he first resigns.
Bakiyev, however, remained defiant. He told AFP in an interview that he would not resign and accusing the opposition that ousted him of having blood on their hands over this week's uprising that killed at least 75 people.
NATO has increasingly relied on the Manas base amid a surge of US forces in the Afghan war, with an influx of 30,000 troops due by August.
But the US military presence has irritated Russia, placing Kyrgyzstan at the center of a big power rivalry for regional influence.
Kyrgyzstan last year threatened to close the base after receiving a promise of more than two billion dollars in aid and loans from Moscow, which many saw as a sign of Russian resentment over the American operation.
Bishkek eventually agreed to keep the US base open after Washington more than tripled the rent paid to use Manas.
The US base operates round-the-clock, carrying out mid-air refuelling missions and medical evacuations while transporting tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of tonnes of cargo every month.
In March, about 50,000 troops passed through Manas, en route to or out of Afghanistan, according to US Central Command.