Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Russia, Kazakhstan to conduct joint war games on Oct. 3

Russia, Kazakhstan to conduct joint war games on Oct. 3 (NSI News Source Info) ASTANA - October 1, 2008: Troops from Russia and Kazakhstan will conduct joint maneuvers near the Kazakh city of Almaty on October 3, the Central Asian country's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. The drills, named Aldaspan-2008, will include command-and-staff exercises and tactical maneuvers. They will engage Kazakh staff officers and airmobile troops, as well as Russian Air Force officers and aircraft, and a special-purpose group of the General Staff. The two countries, both members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), are set to conduct joint naval anti-terrorism exercises in the Caspian Sea in 2009. The CSTO is a security grouping also comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Russia has recently been strengthening military ties with Eurasian allies amid growing tensions over NATO expansion and U.S. missile shield plans for Central Europe.

Russia plans to raise defense expenditure by 50% in 3 years

Russia plans to raise defense expenditure by 50% in 3 years (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - October 1, 2008: Russia is planning to increase its spending on defense by 50% in the next three years, a senior MP said Tuesday. Russia's defense budget is believed to be less than a tenth of the United States', but the country's military expenditure has been steadily growing in the past few years. "According to a draft federal budget for 2009-2011, expenditure on national defense will increase in 2009 by 25.7% from 1.02 trillion rubles ($40 billion) to 1.28 trillion rubles ($51.3 billion) and would account for 14% of total budget spending," said Viktor Zavarzin, chairman of the Defense Committee in Russia's lower house of parliament. He also said that by 2011 the total defense expenditures would increase by 45.6% compared with 2008. A large portion of additional expenditures would go toward raising salaries and improving the living conditions of military personnel, he added. Russia is soon to adopt a new military doctrine that aims to transform the Armed Forces into a mobile and effective military force. Their structures will be "optimized" through the use of combined arms units performing similar tasks. President Dmitry Medvedev said last week that Russia would make the modernization of its nuclear deterrent and Armed Forces a priority in the decade up to 2020. "We must ensure air superiority, precision strikes at land and sea targets, and timely deployment of troops," Medvedev said. "We are planning to launch large-scale production of warships, primarily, nuclear submarines with cruise missiles and multi-purpose attack submarines." Russia's Defense Ministry earlier said it would spend around 1 trillion rubles ($40 billion) of federal budget funds in 2008, 20% more than in 2007, and that in 2008-10 military spending would account for 15.5-16% of total federal budget spending.

Russian warship visits naval base near Kyoto

Russian warship visits naval base near Kyoto (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - October 1, 2008: A Russian warship from the Pacific Fleet has made a port call at the Maizuru naval base in Japan's Kyoto Prefecture, a Navy spokesman said on Tuesday. Maizuru hosts a key district headquarters for Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force. "Today, the Admiral Panteleyev large ASW ship accompanied by a rescue tugboat arrived at the Maizuru port on an unofficial visit," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo told RIA Novosti. The visit is part of the Pacific Fleet's agenda of annual activities in international waters. "The Russian vessels will participate in joint exercises with Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force and practice coordinated maneuvering and communications," Dygalo said. The Admiral Panteleyev is an Udaloy-class destroyer that serves as an anti-submarine warfare platform fitted with a variety of ASW weapons and limited surface-to-air defense capabilities. The unofficial visit of the Russian ships to Japan will last until October 3, the spokesman said.

Israel Asks To Buy F-35s: Pentagon

Israel Asks To Buy F-35s: Pentagon (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - October 1, 2008: Israel has asked to buy up to 75 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters in a deal worth as much as $15.2 billion if all options are exercised, the Pentagon said Sept. 30. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the sale initially would be for 25 fighters designed for conventional take off and landing. But Israel would have the option of buying another 50 of the aircraft, either designed for conventional take off and landing or for short take off and vertical landing, the agency said. "The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as 15.2 billion dollars," it said in a statement. The F-35 is a stealthy new multi-role fighter built by Lockheed Martin that is intended to replace the F-16. Israeli officials have said they plan to buy 100 fighters over the next decade. It was unclear how soon delivery of the aircraft might begin. The DSCA disclosed the proposed sale in a notification to Congress, which has 30 days to raise any objections to the sale. A deal would then have to be concluded with the Israelis. "It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives," the DSCA said. "Israel needs these aircraft to augment its present operational inventory and to enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability," it said.

Monday, September 29, 2008

China sends tanks to East Africa: reports

China sends tanks to East Africa: reports (NSI News Source Info) Hong Kong - September 30, 2008: China recently exported its T85IIM Main Battle Tanks to Uganda, according to a military industry source. But the tanks may be more for display than for defense. "This is a very small batch, intended for a military parade only," the source said. This would be the first instance for the Ugandan army to employ Chinese-made tanks. The same type of Main Battle Tank made an appearance at Sudan's National Day military parade last year. Yet, according to the source, the tanks were exported from China much earlier, possibly six or seven years ago, also in small quantity. Military observers believe that China's T85IIM will prove attractive to many African countries because it is cheaper than those from other countries yet still provides sufficient combat power. The 41-ton T85IIM MBT is fitted with a fire control system capable of maintaining vertical and horizontal stability. The tank fires mainly armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot, high explosive antitank and high explosive munitions. It uses 730-horsepower engines, which have a power-to-weight ratio of 17.8 horsepower per ton. In recent years China reportedly has undertaken technological upgrades on the 125mm APFSD, and the service life of the tank engine also has been improved, which are major steps forward in the country's tank manufacturing industry. To date, only Pakistan, Sudan and Uganda are known to have imported the T85IIM serial MBTs. Based on the T85IIM, China also has produced the T96 MBT -- which has undergone two major upgrades so far -- for its own People's Liberation Army ground forces. The latest T96A2 MBT is fitted with a simplified thermal imaging system, as well as new-generation modular wedge-shaped armor. China also has helped Sudan and other African countries upgrade the T59 tanks they imported from China in earlier years to T59D standard. The industry source disclosed details of China's tank-upgrade programs. First of all, with help from such countries as France, China has redesigned its third-generation thermal imaging system. Secondly, China also has upgraded its APFSDS munitions. In addition, China has designed a 1,500-horsepower engine, which has been tested on T99A2 MBTs. The reliability and efficiency of its 1,500/1,200-horsepower engines also have been considerably enhanced, but the export version of the MBT2000 main battle tank is still fitted with the Ukrainian-made 6TD2 1,200-horsepower diesel engine. Research and development on the 1,500-horsepower tank engine is partly completed, the source said, with the major problem still being the immense size of the engine system. Because of this, the newly developed engine can be fitted only on a T99A2 MBT for testing. As part of the testing, the T99A2 MBT has been outfitted with an active protection system similar to the Russian ARENA radar. This new millimeter-wave radar is mainly used to detect antitank missiles. The thermal imaging system fitted on a T99A1 MBT is a second-generation technology; its mechanical scanning is noisy and not highly reliable. This is why this technology was not used for Pakistan's Al-Khalid tank, co-developed with China. The Wuhan Gaode IR Technology Group Co. has jointly developed 2.5-generation infrared cooling and non-cooling technologies with the French Sofradir Co. Some IR136 third-generation cooling component parts already are being used on third-generation tanks, probably the T99A2 MBT. In recent years a key priority of China's tank industry has been the upgrading of 125mm caliber tank ammunition, particularly APFSDS. China so far has upgraded APFSDS II to APFSDS IIM, both of which have a weight of 23 kilograms, but with different velocities. The APFSDS II has a velocity of 1,720 meters per second, while the IIM's velocity is 1,700 meters per second. The two types of APFSDS munitions have a penetration capacity of RHA220 mm/68.5o and RHA220mm/66.4o at a range of 2,000 meters respectively. The 125mm BTJ1 HEAT munitions have a penetration capacity of RHA180mm/68o with behind armor effect, while the HEAT munitions displayed in earlier years have had a penetration capacity of RHA80mm/68o with behind armor effect.

Airbus expecting 'large' China order by early 2009: CEO

Airbus expecting 'large' China order by early 2009: CEO (NSI News Source Info) Tianjin, China (AFP) September 30, 2008: European aircraft giant Airbus is expecting a "large order" from Chinese airlines by early 2009, the company's chief executive officer Tom Enders said here Sunday. The Chinese aviation market "next year will still see strong growth and we are expecting another large order -- maybe before the end of the year or Chinese New Year," Enders said at the opening of a new Airbus assembly line. Airbus has already signed memorandums of understanding with Chinese carriers for 280 aircraft, Enders said at the inauguration, which was attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. The Airbus plant in the Chinese port city of Tianjin is the firm's first outside Europe and gives Airbus a foothold in a market hungry for new planes and hotly contested by its US rival Boeing. Boeing makes aircraft components in China but has no assembly lines outside the United States. Enders said he hoped the plant -- where the A320 jet, the group's family of single-aisle airliners, will be built -- would be a "springboard for future development for Airbus in China and the region." China's aviation market, the second largest in the world, currently accounts for 15 percent of Airbus sales. The European firm is counting on continued growth in the huge market, with the world's most populous nation expected to need about 2,800 passenger and cargo planes over the next 20 years -- at a cost of around 330 billion dollars. By 2011, the Tianjin site -- located about 120 kilometres (75 miles) southeast of the capital Beijing -- will employ 600 people. It now hosts 100 Europeans and 290 Chinese, many of them trained by English-speaking German and French colleagues in Hamburg and Toulouse.

Pakistan - AH-1F Cobra Helicopter Refurbishment

Pakistan - AH-1F Cobra Helicopter Refurbishment (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - September 30, 2008: The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Pakistan of AH-1F Cobra helicopter refurbishment as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $115 million. The Government of Pakistan has requested a possible sale of refurbishment and maintenance of eight AH-1F Cobra Helicopters. The Government of Pakistan has also requested warranties, system integration, spare and repairs parts, including transportation for the parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $115 million. This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for economic progress in South Asia and a partner in the Global War on Terrorism. In addition, the Cobra helicopters are a very important part of Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The Pakistan Army uses the Cobras to conduct and support counterinsurgency and counter terrorism operations. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not affect the basic military balance in the region. The prime contractor will be US Helicopter in Ozark, Alabama. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple U.S. Government and contractor representatives in Pakistan for approximately three weeks to ensure delivery and operability of the equipment. Also, a three person Field Office will be established for three years to provide technical assistance and contract administration for the Pakistan Army. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

A400M Delays Creating Contract Controversies

A400M Delays Creating Contract Controversies (NSI News Source Info) September 30, 2008: Airbus’ A400M is a EUR 20 billion program that aimed to repeat Airbus’ civilian successes in the military market. A series of smart design decisions were made around capacity (35 tons, large enough for survivable armored vehicles), extensive use of modern materials, multi-role capability as a refueling tanker, and a multinational industrial program; all of which leave the aircraft well positioned to take overall market share from Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules. If the USA’s C-17 is allowed to go out of production, the A400M would also have a strong position in the strategic transport market, with only Russian IL-76 and AN-124 aircraft as competition. To date, orders have been placed by Germany (60), France (50), Spain (27), Britain (25), Turkey (10), South Africa (8), Belgium (7), Malaysia (4), Chile (3, to finalize), and Luxembourg (1).
A400M rollout, Seville
In the immediate term, however, the firm’s biggest issue is timing. In November 2007, “Airbus A400M Program Delayed 6-12 Months” covered ongoing issues with Airbus’ new military transport aircraft. Without no flying aircraft and a backlog of almost 200 planes, Airbus has already lost potential opportunities in Norway, Canada, and India; even as Lockheed Martin uses that time to solidify the MC/HC-130J variant’s position as a Special Operations aircraft. June 26/08 saw the first A400M aircraft rolled out at the final assembly line in Seville, Spain, but aircraft weight growth is being reported as a critical issue, testbed issues are slowing engine certification, and first flight has now been moved back again again from summer 2008 to early 2009. The key milestone remains the beginning of deliveries, which has escalated into a significant contractual issue at Airbus. In September 2008, EADS CEO Louis Gallois has reportedly sent a letter to the governments of 7 countries who have ordered the A400M, asking them to waive the contract’s built-in penalties for late delivery. Or face a freeze in production from Airbus. Meanwhile, the plane’s engine maker has issued a volley of its own… Gallois is quoted as saying all expected profits from the initial 180 orders are already invested, adding that the A400M is “a heavy lossmaker” which is creating problems for EADS’ financial performance. He reportedly adds that the present position could become “untenable” within months unless a deal is agreed that “keeps everyone happy.” Based on reports in the French and German press, program cost escalation of around EUR 700 million could add cost renegotiation to the discussions, as well as the waiver of penalty clauses. EADS is currently facing several major investment sinks. One is the ongoing effort to address issues with its A380 super-jumbo, which has cost the firm billions of euros. Another is the decision to develop the A350XWB as a major new technology project, after existing customers told Airbus that its plan for incremental improvements to existing designs would not be able to compete with Boeing’s 777. Then there’s the market for “single-aisle” airliners like Airbus’ A320 family, which makes up the bulk of Airbus’ orders. With Boeing working on a 737NG project to bring the next generation of aircraft to market in that class, Airbus must continue to invest billions of its own or face the prospect of a serious strategic setback. The A400M’s issues leave the project flying directly into this financial storm. Project delays are already costly in that situation, and a November 2007 release from EADS reported a EUR 1.2 – 1.4 billion charge to earnings flow (up to $2 billion) as a result of the existing delay. Payment of significant penalty clauses on its first 180 aircraft would exacerbate that problem sharply, by slashing profitability on what could still turn out to be a majority of the A400M’s total lifetime orders. With anticipated A400M profits already invested, every dollar of profitability slashed would have to be replaced with investment dollars, at a time when multiple investment projects are already straining Airbus’ capacity. All without any assurance that the A400M’s initial margin issues would be made up with enough subsequent orders at full rate to create an acceptable average return. Worse, Airbus’ classic resort to government subsidies for investment dollars is constrained by a trade dispute with the USA over that exact issue, at a time when a $35 billion aerial tanker contract that Airbus now leads hangs in the balance. To date, Germany is holding somewhat firm, saying that “financial concessions” should only be discussed upon receipt of the planes. Reactions have yet to become public from other customers, but even a deal that achieved relief from penalties in Germany, France, and Spain would cover 76% of the aircraft’s initial orders. Reports from London’s Financial Times, however, indicate that partner governments in France and the UK were consulted before Germany issued its refusal.

DTN News: The F-35’s Air-to-Air Capability Controversy

DTN News: The F-35’s Air-to-Air Capability Controversy *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) September 30, 2008: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter/ Lightning II program is reaching a critical nexus. In order to keep costs under control and justify the industrial ramp up underway, participating countries need to sign order agreements within the next year or so. The F-35 is not a proven fighter design that has demonstrated a baseline of performance in service, however; it is a developmental aircraft in the early days of its test program, which is scheduled to continue until 2013. As one might expect, that status makes the F-35 a controversial long-term bet in many of the program’s member countries. The USA is looking at its budgets, and has concluded that it can afford about half of the annual aircraft buy it had planned during the program’s early years.
Its fellow Tier 1 partner Britain is reportedly re-evaluating its planned F-35B order in light of rising costs and problematic defense budgets. Sharp controversy has erupted in Tier 2 partner the Netherlands over long-term costs and industrial arrangements, leading to political pressure for a competitive bid. Tier 3 partners Norway and Denmark have both traveled down that same road, and are holding open competitions that pit the F-35 against Saab’s modernized JAS-39NG Gripen. Australia hasn’t yet reached that point, but September 2008 has featured a very public set of controversies around the F-35’s performance. In the current environment, the altercation in Australia has become a controversy with implications, and responses, that have reached well beyond that continent’s shores…. *F-35: September 2008’s Australian Altercation *F-35: Air to Air Analyses *Additional Readings F-35: September 2008’s Australian Altercation On Sept 11/08, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has asked for a full report from Australia’s DoD, in response to public reports that a classified computer simulation of an attack by Russian-built SU-30 family aircraft on a mixed fleet of F-35As, Super Hornets and F-22s, had resulted in success for the Russian aircraft. Fitzgibbon, who questioned the strategic logic behind Australia’s plans for an F-35/ F-18F fighter fleet while in opposition, asked for anAustralian Department of Defence review, and added that: “I’m determined not to sign on the dotted line on the JSF until I am absolutely certain it’s capable of delivering the capability it promises and that capability can be delivered on time and on budget.” On Sept 12/08, Australia’s opposition Liberal Party waded into the fray in support of its previous decision to buy the F-35A. It asked the new minister to release the results of the recent Air Combat Capability Review, and get on with his decision. On Sept 25/08, the RAND Corporation stepped in with a statement of their own concerning the August 2008 Pacific Vision simulation: “Recently, articles have appeared in the Australian press with assertions regarding a war game in which analysts from the RAND Corporation were involved. Those reports are not accurate. RAND did not present any analysis at the war game relating to the performance of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, nor did the game attempt detailed adjudication of air-to-air combat. Neither the game nor the assessments by RAND in support of the game undertook any comparison of the fighting qualities of particular fighter aircraft” The end result left the Australian controversy without much substance. Even so, the timing of this contretemps could not have been worse from Lockheed Martin’s perspective. Just 3 days earlier, the left-wing American Center for Defense Information had released “Joint Strike Fighter: The Latest Hotspot in the U.S. Defense Meltdown.” This analysis by Pierre M. Spey, a key member of the F-16 and A-10 design teams, cast sharp doubt on the F-35’s capabilities: “Even without new problems, the F-35 is a ‘dog.’ If one accepts every performance promise the DoD currently makes for the aircraft, the F-35 will be: “Overweight and underpowered: at 49,500 lb (22,450kg) air-to-air take-off weight with an engine rated at 42,000 lb of thrust, it will be a significant step backward in thrust-to-weight ratio for a new fighter…. [F-35A and F-35B variants] will have a ‘wing-loading’ of 108 lb per square foot…. less manoeuvrable than the appallingly vulnerable F-105 ‘Lead Sled’ that got wiped out over North Vietnam…. payload of only two 2,000 lb bombs in its bomb bay…. With more bombs carried under its wings, the F-35 instantly becomes ‘non-stealthy’ and the DoD does not plan to seriously test it in this configuration for years. As a ‘close air support’... too fast to see the tactical targets it is shooting at; too delicate and flammable to withstand ground fire; and it lacks the payload and especially the endurance to loiter usefully over US forces for sustained periods…. What the USAF will not tell you is that ‘stealthy’ aircraft are quite detectable by radar; it is simply a question of the type of radar and its angle relative to the aircraft…. As for the highly complex electronics to attack targets in the air, the F-35, like the F-22 before it, has mortgaged its success on a hypothetical vision of ultra-long range, radar-based air-to-air combat that has fallen on its face many times in real air war. The F-35’s air-to-ground electronics promise little more than slicker command and control for the use of existing munitions.” On Sept 18/08, Lockheed Martin fired back in “F-35: Setting the Record Straight.” It takes direct aim at both the Australian press reports, and the CDI article, noting that external weapons clearance is part of the F-35’s current test program. Lockheed Martin added that: ”....The Air Force’s standard air-to-air engagement analysis model, also used by allied air forces to assess air-combat performance, pitted the 5th generation F-35 against all advanced 4th generation fighters in a variety of simulated scenarios…. In all F-35 Program Office and U.S. Air Force air-to-air combat effectiveness analysis to date, the F-35 enjoys a significant Combat Loss Exchange Ratio advantage over the current and future air-to-air threats, to include Sukhois…. In stealth combat configuration, the F-35 aerodynamically outperforms all other combat-configured 4th generation aircraft in top-end speed, loiter, subsonic acceleration and combat radius. This allows unprecedented “see/shoot first” and combat radius advantages. The high thrust-to-weight ratios of the lightweight fighter program Wheeler/Sprey recall from 30 years ago did not take into consideration combat-range fuel, sensors or armament… We do consider all of this in today’s fighters…. ....Simply put, advanced stealth and sensor fusion allow the F-35 pilot to see, target and destroy the adversary and strategic targets in a very high surface-to-air threat scenario, and deal with air threats intent on denying access—all before the F-35 is ever detected, then return safely to do it again.” Note that Lockheed Martin’s release does not address infared stealth against modern IRST (infa-red scan and track) air to air systems, which are present on advanced European and Russian designs and have ranges up to 70km. Nor does it make any claims concerning superior maneuverability against thrust-vectoring opponents like Russia’s MiG-29OVT and the most modern members of the SU-30 family, or canard-equipped “4.5 generation” aircraft like the Dassault Rafale, EADS Eurofighter, or Saab’s Gripen. F-35: Air to Air Analyses Both the CDI’s analysis, and Lockheed Martin’s reply, are incomplete. Spey has undertaken a similar analysis of the F-22A Raptor for CDI, but aircraft pilots have said that his analysis in key areas like maneuverability is poorly done, and does not match provable reality. This justifies strong caution in accepting Spey’s analysis, and Lockheed Martin’s reply offers additional reasons for doubt. In fairness to Spey, it should also be said that combat experience with his A-10 aircraft in Afghanistan et. al. does back up his contentions concerning the limitations of fast jets, and the capabilities required for close air support. In the F-22’s case, reasons could be advanced to explain why Spey’s F-22 analysis parameters were wrong, such as the F-22’s thrust vectoring and controllable tail surfaces to offset Spey’s unidimensional wing loading analysis, the tactical implications of having the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, and stealth that has defeated AWACS aircraft and worked against international fighter pilots even at relatively short ranges. F-22 pilots have also racked up incredibly lopsided kill ratios in American and international exercises, far in excess of “normal” performance for new aircraft, that back up their pilots’ performance claims. This is all much harder to do for the F-35, which remains a developmental aircraft and lacks key aerodynamic features like combat thrust vectoring (Harrier, SU-30 family, MiG-29OVT, F-22A), canards for fast “point and shoot” manevers with high off-boresight short-range missiles (some SU-30 family, Rafale, Eurofighter, Gripen), or loaded supersonic cruise (F-22A). The F-35 has also been designed from the outset to feature less stealth than the F-22A, though it will be stealthier than contemporary 4.5 generation European and Russian aircraft. Aircraft intake size and hence volume are set unless the aircraft is redesigned, and wing size, angle and loading can all be observed. The F-35’s explicit design goal has been stated as being the F-16’s equal in in air to air combat, at a time when the F-16’s future ability to survive in that arena is questioned. The question naturally arises: what special features give the F-35 a unique ability to prevail against the kind of advanced, upgraded 4.5 generation and better fighters that it can be expected to face between its induction, and a likely out of service date around 2050 or later? Classified simulations whose assumptions are shielded from the public may indeed demonstrate the attested results, but their foundations are outside any public scrutiny, and amount to a claim that must be taken on faith. That may not be very convincing in the political sphere. Especially since models of this type have been wrong before, due to the well-known phenomenon of incorrect or missing assumptions producing results that don’t match the test of battle. Ultimately, solid proof comes from use in combat against peer opponents. Israel’s nuclear program removed that perennial testing ground, by ending the consistent string of conventional wars that used to be the globe’s top source for that kind of information. Nor has any other source for that kind of peer conflict data emerged since the 1990s. If the F-35 lacks that kind of backing, well, so do all of its competitors. These days, an imperfect but acceptable substitute may be available via performance in multinational exercises like Red Flag or Indra Dhanush, where some of the opponents will have less institutional incentive to soft-pedal comparative performance claims in the name of a united organizational front. The F-35 does have the equivalent of a Sniper ATP reconnaissance and targeting pod built in, and experience on the front lines indicates that its presence goes significantly beyond just “slicker command and control for the use of existing munitions.” That addresses an important component of the F-35’s overall rationale – but it does not address the air to air dimension. As it happens, that air to air dimension will not be a priority for every customer. Some customers may be quite satisfied with a manned fighter that offers good international/NATO commonality, the ability to perform basic airspace sovereignty duties, good survivability against medium to advanced air defenses if encountered, off the shelf surveillance and targeting capabilities that exceed all other contemporary fighters, and the ability to carry enough weapons to support international missions against opponents up to the level of Serbia or al-Qaeda and the Taliban. For those countries, even an F-35 that matched Spey’s characterization might well suffice. Questions of industrial benefits and costs, rather than air to air capabilities, will dominate fighter replacement discussions in those countries. The F-35 program has already seen a 54.4% increase in overall program costs per aircraft delivered from 2001 to the present day, and the US GAO believes that another 14.5% rise to about $327 billion for 2,456 American fighters could still lie ahead. If the GAO is correct, it would place the fully-loaded program cost of each F-35 at $137 million . That price is not at all the same as the “flyway cost” of buying an individual aircraft, but it does affect program partners if the USA isn’t prepared to bear those additional program costs alone. Or if rising costs force the USA to slash its own procurement numbers yet again, a move that would affect the aircraft’s production economies of scale and learning curves. Budgetary and industrial concerns will always be part of the debate, but some customers may also have stricter performance requirements to deal with. If a country needs aircraft to operate from small aircraft carriers or amphibious assault LHDs, the AV-8 Harrier’s age and projected phase-out plans will make the F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off, Vertical Landing) their only non-Russian option. Customers in this category include the US Marine Corps, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and others. Very large LHDs, or small carriers equipped with ski-jumps, may also allow some competition from the less flexible STOBAR (Short Take Off But Assisted Recovery) MiG-29K, which India’s navy plans to induct by 2011 or so. For those customers, the choice boils down to having fighter jet launch capability from those platforms – or not. On the flip side, if maintaining regional or local air superiority is a priority mission for any replacement fighter, then air to air performance against enemy aircraft becomes extremely important. This is certainly true for the US Navy’s carrier fleet, for Australia’s RAAF, and to a lesser extent for the future British Navy. With these customers, Lockheed Martin must either depend on political inertia, or advance plausible, non-classified rationales that explain why its F-35s will perform as an air superiority fighter. Australia may have been the first potential customer to raise the issue this openly in the political sphere; it is unlikely to be the last. What’s common to every potential F-35 customer, of course, is the time factor. Competitively tested performance, and firm costs, are still some years away. Even so, many defense departments around the world will need to make decisions before that evidence becomes available. Hence the current political conundrums in country after country, and the tension that inevitably surrounds any program of this size before key commitments are made. As Aviation Week’s Bill Sweetman puts it:

US Army Acquires 4,853 More Hummers

US Army Acquires 4,853 More Hummers (NSI News Source Info) September 30, 2008: AM General LLC in South Bend, IN received a $735 million firm-fixed-price contract for 4,853 High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV). Work will be performed in Mishawaka, MI with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/09. One bid was solicited and one bid was received by US Army TACOM in Warren, MI (DAAE07-01-C-S001). Note that these are just contracts for the basic vehicle; items like CROWS weapon mounts, Blue Force Tracker electronics, radios, et. al. are contracted separately and installed.
RE HMMWV, changes
This tranche follows a flurry of orders in April and May 2008. See: “$650.1M for 4,526 Hummers," “Another 3,216 Hummers for $522.4M,” and “$187.5M for Another 1,470 Hummers.” The US military has begun fielding “Reliability Enhanced” M1151, M1152 and M1165 model HMMWVs. There have been some changes made, based on the harsh environment of South West Asia, increased payload demands, and some feedback from the field.

Saudi Arabia - AIM-9X SIDEWINDER Missiles

Saudi Arabia - AIM-9X SIDEWINDER Missiles (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - September 30, 2008: The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Saudi Arabia of AIM-9X SIDEWINDER missiles as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $164 million. The Government of Saudi Arabia has requested a possible sale of 250 All-Up-Round AIM-9X SIDEWINDER Missiles, 84 AIM-9X SIDEWINDER Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs), 12 AIM-9X SIDEWINDER Dummy Air Training Missiles (DATMs), missile containers, missile modifications, test sets and support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical data, maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, contractor engineering and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $164 million. This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East. The sale of the AIM-9X SIDEWINDER missile system will significantly enhance the Royal Saudi Arabia Air Force's current air-to-air intercept capability. Saudi Arabia will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces. The prime contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company of Tucson, Arizona. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this proposed sale will require temporary travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to conduct an initial and/or follow-up Enhanced End-Use-Monitoring (EEUM) Site Survey and in-country training. Also, this program will require U.S government and contractor personnel to conduct annual, one week Program Management Reviews in Saudi Arabia. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

Three Fast Missile Crafts For The Egyptian Navy

Three Fast Missile Crafts For The Egyptian Navy (NSI News Source Info) September 30, 2008: VT Halter Marine, Inc., Pascagoula, Miss., is being awarded a $393,722,502 firm fixed price not-to-exceed modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2212) for the detail, design and construction of three Fast Missile Crafts for the Egyptian Navy. The mission of the Fast Missile Craft is to conduct independent and joint operations primarily against surface shipping and armed surface adversaries in the littoral by fulfilling the role of coastal patrol, surveillance, interdiction, surface strike, and naval battle group support for the Egyptian Navy for the 21st century. Work will be performed at Pascagoula, Miss., (23 percent); Manassas, Va., (12 percent); Detroit, Mich., (11 percent); Baltimore, Md., (8 percent); Pittsburgh, Pa., (1 percent); Philadelphia, Pa., (2 percent); Camden, N.J., (1 percent); New Orleans, La., (3 percent); Thibodaux, La., (3 percent); Boca Raton, Fla., (2 percent); and other sites (34 percent), and work is expected to be completed Apr. 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

France - Upgrade E-3F AWACS Aircraft with Block 40/45 Mission Computing

France - Upgrade E-3F AWACS Aircraft with Block 40/45 Mission Computing (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - September 30, 2008: The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to France of upgrades to E-3F AWACS Aircraft with Block 40/45 Mission Computing as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $400 million. The Government of France has requested a possible sale to upgrade four E-3F Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) Aircraft with Block 40/45 Mission Computing, Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Radar System Improvement Program (RSIP) Interface, and Mode 5/S Identification Friend or Foe (IFF). In addition, this proposed sale will include related spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, integration, personnel training and equipment, contractor engineering and technical support services, and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $400 million. France is one of the major political and economic powers in Europe and NATO and an ally of the United States in ensuring peace and stability in that region. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist France to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. France previously purchased four sets of AWACS mission equipment and needs this upgrade to maintain interoperability and interchangeability with U.S. and other NATO coalition partners. Also, this upgrade will greatly improve the Air Force’s capability to contribute to the Global War on Terrorism and NATO operations. France will have no difficulty absorbing the additional AWACS aircraft into its armed forces. The prime contractor will be Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in Seattle, Washington. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any U.S. Government and contractor representatives to France. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. This notice of a potential sale is required by law; it does not mean that the sale has been concluded.

Serdyukov Secures Arms Deal in India

Serdyukov Secures Arms Deal in India
(NSI News Source Info) September 30, 2008 - NEW DELHI: India will buy 347 T-90 battle tanks from Russia and build 1,000 more locally with Russian help, India's defense minister said Monday, as the countries decided to iron out differences that had delayed several arms deals.India, one of the world's biggest arms buyers, and Russia, a longtime supplier, also agreed to speed up delivery of an aircraft carrier that had been slated for 2012, a defense official said.The announcement came after a meeting between Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony, who said the two countries had also decided to extend a defense-cooperation deal by another 10 years.India is moving closer to the West in a challenge to traditional ally and supplier Russia. European and U.S. firms are bidding for India's $10 billion deal to buy 126 fighter jets, one of the biggest arms contracts in the world.In 2004, India and Russia had signed a $1.6 billion deal to bring the carrier Admiral Gorshkov to India by 2008. India may now have to pay an extra $1.2 billion for the carrier's refitting costs."The Indian side has considered the Russian demand for an escalation in price … the same has been considered and would be placed before the cabinet for consideration," Antony said in a statement.India plans to spend $30 billion over the next four years to modernize its largely Soviet-era arms.They agreed to speed up pending projects, including delivery of Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, battle tanks, stealth frigates and missile destroyers, officials said.While analysts say Russia was delaying some arms deliveries due to uneasiness about India's growing ties with the United States, India says Russia is still their tried and tested friend.

India, Russia to develop 2 versions of 5th-generation fighter

India, Russia to develop 2 versions of 5th-generation fighter (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - September 29, 2008: Russia and India will jointly develop two versions of a new fifth-generation fighter, the head of an Indian defense company said on Monday. A Russian-Indian advanced multirole fighter is being developed by Sukhoi, which is part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), along with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), under an intergovernmental agreement signed in October 2007. "The aircraft will have different wings, electronics and radars," HAL Chairman Ashok K. Baweja said after a meeting of the Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission on military technical cooperation in New Delhi. He also said India will develop a two-seat version to meet the requirements of the Indian air superiority doctrine, while Russia will develop a single-seat fighter. Russia's Sukhoi aircraft maker earlier said it had started the construction of a prototype of the fifth-generation fighter, which will feature high maneuverability and stealth to ensure air superiority and precision in destroying ground and sea targets. The Russian version will be built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft-manufacturing plant in Russia's Far East. Flight tests of the fifth-generation fighter will begin as early as 2009, and mass production of the aircraft may start by 2015, Sukhoi said. Russia's military cooperation with India goes back nearly half a century, and the country accounts for about 40% of Russian arms exports. Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission sessions are held annually and alternate between New Delhi and Moscow. The previous meeting took place in the Russian capital in October 2007.

Russia conducts military drills in Far East

Russia conducts military drills in Far East (NSI News Source Info) VLADIVOSTOK - September 29, 2008: Russia has started a tactical exercise in the country's Far East as part of the Stability-2008 strategic maneuvers, a military spokesman said on Monday. The Bereg (Coast) exercise will run from September 29 though October 5, and involves units of the Far East Military District, based in the Primorye Territory, as well as the Far Eastern air and air defense forces and the Pacific Fleet. "The exercise aims to practice the deployment of the combined-arms task force in a simulated operation to defend the infrastructure of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands from possible terrorist attacks, to guarantee safe navigation and to deal with consequences of natural and industrial disasters," a spokesman for the Far East Military District said. The Stability-2008 drills will last until October 21 in various regions of Russia and Belarus with the goal of practicing strategic deployment of the Armed Forces, including the nuclear triad, to counter potential threats near the Russian border. The maneuvers include a number of theater-level, tactical and command-and-post exercises under a common strategic concept.

Russian ships arrive in South Korea for naval exercise

Russian ships arrive in South Korea for naval exercise (NSI News Source Info) VLADIVOSTOK - September 29, 2008: Two Russian ships have arrived in South Korea to take part in joint anti-terror naval exercises, a Russian border guard spokesman said on Monday. The joint exercise will take place from September 29 through October 2. The exercise will see two Russian ships and three South Korean vessels, as well as speedboats and special task forces from both countries, rehearse interaction in fighting crime at sea, the pursuit and detention of a vessel seized by terrorists, freeing hostages, and a range of rescue operations The Russian ships taking part in the exercise are the patrol boat Shkiper Gek and the coast guard vessel Korsakov, from the Primorye Territory.

NATO-led exercises start in Armenia

NATO-led exercises start in Armenia (NSI News Source Info) YEREVAN - September 29, 2008: Over 900 troops from 21 countries have started NATO-led exercises in Armenia, the Armenian Defense Ministry said on Monday. The Cooperative Longbow/Lancer - 2008 drills will be held through October 21 and will involve seven members of the Western military alliance, along with 14 participant states in the NATO cooperation programs Partnership for Peace (PfP) and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI). The exercises, aimed at improving interoperability between multinational troops in NATO-led operations, fall into two parts. Cooperative Longbow will feature staff training, and Cooperative Lancer will be devoted to field drills. The scenario is based on a NATO-led Crisis Response Operation mandated by the UN. It involves the evacuation of non-combatant civilians, counter-terrorist activities, and also stabilization operations.

Friends of Pakistan group pledges aid for stabilization

Friends of Pakistan group pledges aid for stabilization (NSI News Source Info) United Nations (AFP) Sept 29, 2008: World powers held a first meeting on Pakistan here Friday and pledged development aid as a means of stabilizing the restive, nuclear-armed South Asian country. The foreign ministers of Pakistan's major donors agreed to form a partnership with Islamabad "to develop a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the security, development, and political needs of the border." They acknowledged the need for Pakistan "to undertake serious economic reform and agreed to look at improved trade access for Pakistan to their markets," according to a statement issued at the end of the meeting. The so-called "Friends of Pakistan" also agreed to encourage private sector involvement in Pakistan's development. The "Friends of Pakistan" groups Britain, France, Germany, the United States, China, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Turkey, Australia and Italy plus the United Nations and the European Union. "I hope that the president and the Pakistani people were assured today that the international community will be by their side as they take difficult decisions and work for a more stable and prosperous Pakistan," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said after the meeting. Her British counterpart David Milliband said the meeting sent "a very strong signal of political support and also practical support to the democratically elected government of Pakistan." And German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters that Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, outlined conditions in his country. "Internal stability in Pakistan is the key to security and stability in the region," the minister, who is also Germany's vice-chancellor, said. "That is why the group of countries that met was prepared to help with internal stabilization, at first economically and then by helping to improve conditions in the educational system and government institutions," he added. Steinmeier said the UAE had invited members to join a further meeting at the end of October in Abu Dhabi. The meeting was held on the margins of the UN General Assembly session, a day after US military officials said Pakistani and US troops had exchanged fire along the Pakistani-Afghan border after two US military helicopters came under fire. Tensions are also running high in the border region in the face of a growing insurgency by Taliban extremists supported from sanctuaries inside Pakistan's tribal areas. Increased US missile strikes and a reported raid into Pakistan earlier this month by US special operations forces have further strained relations between the United States and its erstwhile ally, Pakistan.

US operates anti-missile radar in Israel: report

US operates anti-missile radar in Israel: report (NSI News Source Info) Jerusalem (AFP) September 29, 2008: The United States has recently deployed an anti-missile radar in Israel that is mainly to warn of incoming Iranian ballistic missiles, Israeli state radio reported Sunday.
An X-band radar is a powerful phased array radar that can target the warhead of a long or medium range missile in space. The United States has deployed one in Japan and plans to install a larger X-band radar in the Czech Republic. The radar with a range of more than 2,000 kilometres (1,240 miles) is sited in the south of the country, the radio added. It is operated by a permanent 120-strong US army staff. Questioned by AFP, a defence ministry spokesman said he did "not know about such a deployment". A senior Pentagon official had said in late July that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates agreed to explore deploying a powerful missile defense targeting radar in Israel. "The idea here is to help Israel create a layered missile defense capability to protect it from all sorts of threats in the region, near and far," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Besides the radar, Gates also agreed to explore sharing missile early warning launch data, as well as US funding for two costly Israeli projects designed to counter short-range rockets and mortars, he said. The official said deploying the X-band radar was a near-term proposition, adding "all this is moving pretty quickly." "We are going to station this land-based system there, and the Israelis would plug into it," said the official. An X-band radar is a powerful phased array radar that can target the warhead of a long or medium range missile in space. The United States has deployed one in Japan and plans to install a larger X-band radar in the Czech Republic. The official linked the assistance to the US administration's push for progress on a roadmap for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But it appeared to be more directly related to Israel's concern about Iran's nuclear program.

Raytheon Corporation Automated Carrier JPALS (Joint Precision Approach and Landing System)

Raytheon Corporation Automated Carrier JPALS (Joint Precision Approach and Landing System) (NSI News Source Info) September 29, 2008: The U.S. Navy has paid Raytheon corporation $233 million to complete work on an aircraft carrier version of JPALS (Joint Precision Approach and Landing System). This is a GPS based system that uses an enhanced (via local equipment) GPS signal so that aircraft can land at night or in bad weather. JPALS is accurate to within one or two feet. The navy initially sought to use JPALS for helicopter operations on non-carriers (destroyers and cruisers). But the new version will emphasize carrier use. This is also an essential technology to make it possible for UAVs to operate on carriers.
JPALS (Joint Precision Approach and Landing System)
There is already a civilian version of JPALS in use. What makes JPALS unique is the use of encrypted signals, and for ship use, low strength signals (so the ships cannot be detected by enemy forces looking for transmissions). JPALS is also portable, so it can be moved and set up quickly. The civilian versions of this technology are installed at airports as a permanent part of the infrastructure.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

German Producing Its Skyshield 35 C-RAM System

German Producing Its Skyshield 35 C-RAM System (NSI News Source Info) September 29, 2008: Germany is ready to begin producing its Skyshield 35 C-RAM system (Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar), and get it to Afghanistan next year. Skyshield 35 C-RAM consists of two 35mm guns (each with 228 rounds of ammo) and a radar. It operates automatically, much like the U.S. 20mm Phalanx system.) Each target (an incoming mortar round) is spotted by the radar, which then points one of the guns in the right direction and fires off 10-12 rounds, which intercept the incoming shells with airbursts of fragments which cause the mortar shells to miss their target.
Skyshield 35 C-RAM system
The U.S. C-RAM is a version of the Phalanx, designed to protect large bases from mortar and rocket attack. The original Phalanx was a 20mm cannon designed to defend American warships against anti-ship missiles. Phalanx does this by using a radar that immediately starts firing at any incoming missile it detects. The C-RAM system has its software modified to detect smaller objects (like 82mm mortar shells). This came about when it was discovered that the original Phalanx could take out incoming 155mm artillery shells. This capability is what led to C-RAM. Other modifications include linking Phalanx to the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar and Q-36 Target Acquisition Radar. When these radars detect incoming fire, C-RAM points toward the incoming objects and prepares to fire at anything that comes within range (about 2,000 meters) of its cannon. C-RAM uses high explosive 20mm shells, that detonate near the target, spraying it with fragments. By the time these fragments reach the ground, they are generally too small to injure anyone. The original Phalanx used 20mm depleted uranium shells, to slice through incoming missiles. Phalanx fires shells at the rate of 75 per second. Another advantage of C-RAM, is that it makes a distinctive noise when firing, warning people nearby that a mortar or rocket attack is underway, giving people an opportunity to duck inside if they are out and about. The first U.S. C-RAM was sent to Iraq in 2006, to protect the Green Zone (the large area in Baghdad turned into an American base). It was found that C-RAM could knock down 70-80 percent of the rockets and mortar shells fired within range of its cannon. It took about a year to develop C-RAM, and another version, using a high-powered laser, instead of the 20mm gun, is in development.

Venezuela Doubles Up On Chinese K-8 Trainer Aircraft Jets

Venezuela Doubles Up On Chinese K-8 Trainer Aircraft Jets (NSI News Source Info) September 29, 2008: Venezuela has doubled its order for a dozen K-8 trainer aircraft from China. These aircraft cost about $25 million each. China has exported K-8s to several other countries (often at bargain prices), including Myanmar (Burma).
K-8 Trainer Aircraft
The K8 (also called JL-8) is a 4.3 ton, two seat, jet trainer. It can use an American, Chinese or Ukrainian engine. Originally, China was going to just use a 3600 pound thrust American engines. But after the 1989 Chinese crackdown on pro-democracy forces, the United States cut off the supply of engines. This encouraged China to design a similar engine (the WS-11). But China has had a hard time mastering the precise technologies and manufacturing techniques needed to build jet engines. So it has been buying the Ukrainian AI-25TLK, while it works to perfect its own engine design. The K8 has a cruising speed of 800 kilometers an hour, endurance of four hours and five hard points. It can carry a 23mm cannon in the hard point under the fuselage, and half a ton of bombs, rockets or missiles, from the four hard points on the wings. This gives the aircraft combat capability, at least against a foe with few anti-aircraft weapons. Electronics on the JL-8 are minimal, as it's basically a two seat trainer, to prepare fighter pilots before they climb into anything from a an F-16 to Su-30s (Venezuela has both).

BAE’s Diverse MRAP Orders

BAE’s Diverse MRAP Orders (NSI News Source Info) September 29, 2008: The USA’s Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) program has been a long road for BAE Systems. In the wake of the US Army’s belated realization that mine protection was critical for vehicles in theater, BAE’s designs, long-standing experience in the field, and production capacity had made them an early favorite. By June 20/07, however, contracts had been issued for 3,266 Category I patrol & Category II squad-sized MRAP vehicles, fully 42% of a the program’s planned 7,774 orders. Force Protection had racked up orders for 1,780 Cougar vehicles, and Navistar/Plasan Sasa had come out of the tests at Aberdeen with orders for 1,216 of its MaxxPro joint design. BAE sat in 4th place with orders for just 90 vehicles – 2.8% of the total. It had to be a humbling experience for the firm that went into 2004 as the world leader in the field.
RG-33 variant
BAE has worked hard to catch up, and recent contracts have put them solidly back into the competition, even as the number of MRAPs in the program more than doubled to over 15,000. The latest orders widen their lead over 3rd place firm Force Protection, and make them one of just 2 firms with a foothold under the new MRAP-II qualifications. MRAP-II includes protection against EFP (explosively-formed projectile) land mines that fire the equivalent of a cannon shell at the vehicle, in addition to the standard underbody blasts.

Iraq Takes Delivery of U.S. Surveillance Planes

Iraq Takes Delivery of U.S. Surveillance Planes (NSI News Source Info) September 29, 2008: BAGHDAD - Iraq has taken delivery of U.S.-built Beechcraft spy planes to bolster its security forces, Defence Minister Abdel Qader Jassem Mohammed said Sept. 28, without saying how many were involved. "The ministry has received in the last few days new American (Beechcraft) King Air surveillance aircraft," Mohammed said in a statement, adding that the aircraft flew over Baghdad for the first time Sept. 28. Mohammed said the planes had been bought with Iraqi money, but he did not say how much was paid. However, he said local pilots had been trained to fly the U.S.-built twin-engine turbo-prop aircraft and transmit live images to a control centre to help direct ground troops. Earlier this month Mohammed confirmed that Iraq planned to buy F-16 jets from the U.S., and media reports said that Baghdad wanted 36 of the advanced fighters. Such a deal would be expected to reduce Iraqi reliance on U.S. air power and possibly clear the way for a withdrawal of more U.S. troops from the country, where they currently number 144,000. U.S. officials have previously maintained that they would have to keep fighter aircraft and helicopters in Iraq even after American combat troops leave.

Obama vows to attack Pakistan if unable to act against militants

Obama vows to attack Pakistan if unable to act against militants (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama focused on the economy in the shadow of the US financial crisis in a first presidential debate that also crackled with sharp disputes over Iraq and terrorism.Obama reiterated his vow to launch military attacks on extremists in Pakistan if Islamabad was unwilling or unable to act, prompting a rebuke from McCain: "You don't say that out loud."While snap opinion polls made Obama an easy winner after their clash late Friday, daily newspapers were more cautious.Obama, 47, vying to make history as America's first black president, branded McCain as an inheritor of President George W. Bush's unpopular legacy of "failed" economic and foreign policies.McCain, 72, presented himself as a reformer and posed as a superior potential commander-in-chief, repeatedly saying Obama did not "understand" foreign policy threats or was "naive" in his outlook on the world."I don't think I need any on-the-job training. I'm ready to go at it right now," McCain said.

Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle, USA

Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle, USA (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: The Bionix infantry fighting vehicle was developed by Singapore Technologies Automotives (now Singapore Technologies Engineering) and has been operational with the Singapore Armed Forces since 1999 in the form of the Bionix 25 and Bionix 40/50. Bionix II (BXII) entered service with Singapore Armed Forces in October 2006 and was jointly developed by ST Engineering, the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and the Singapore Army. Bionix II is also produced in a command variant. "The Bionix infantry fighting vehicle was developed by Singapore Technologies Automotives." Other vehicles in the Bionix family are the armoured recovery vehicle (ARV), fitted with a 25t winch and 30t crane, and armoured vehicle launched bridge (AVLB), fitted with an MLC30 bridge that can be launched under armour or by remote control. An infantry carrier vehicle (ICV) variant was developed by Singapore Technologies as a private venture and offered for the US Army's interim armoured vehicle, a competition won by the General Dynamics Stryker ICV.
Bionix II is the latest variant of the Bionix infantry fighting vehicle produced by Singapore Technologies Engineering.
Bionix II (BXII) entered service with Singapore Armed Forces in October 2006.
Bionix 25 (left) is armed with 25mm cannon and Bionix 40/50 (right) with 40mm grenade launcher and machine
The Bionix armoured vehicle launched bridge (AVLB) is fitted with an MLC30 bridge that can be launched under armour or by remote control.
Bionix II Bionix II has common hull, power pack and suspension as the previous vehicles but is equipped with a network-enabled digital battle management system, a new ATK mk44 Bushmaster 30mm dual-feed cannon and modular armour package. It has a two-man turret and can accommodate up to ten troops. It is also armed with one 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and one 7.62mm general-purpose machine gun. Bionix II has an improved day / night thermal sighting system (DNTSS) with a dual-axis stabilisation system for enhanced target tracking. An integrated eye-safe laser rangefinder has a range of up to 3km. Bionix 25 Bionix 25 has a two-man turret and can accommodate ten troops. It is armed with an ATK M242 25mm Bushmaster dual-feed cannon with vertical and horizontal stabilisers. The cannon has 180 ready-to-fire 25mm rounds plus 420 rounds in the ammunition store. The cannon fires HEI and APFSDS rounds manufactured by Chartered Industries of Singapore (now Singapore Technologies Kinetics) under a licensed manufacturing agreement with Oerlikon Contraves. The gunner has an 8x magnification day and thermal night sight with two fields of view for the 25mm cannon. A laser range finder can be optionally fitted to the day and night sight. There are three general purpose 7.62mm machine guns, one mounted co-axially with the 25mm cannon, one roof-mounted for anti-aircraft use by the commander or gunner and one rear mounted gun on the right side. The vehicle has six 76mm smoke grenade launchers. Bionix 40/50 Bionix 40/50 is fitted with a one-man 40/50 cupola manufactured by Chartered Industries of Singapore and can accommodate 11 troops. It has a twin weapon station with 40mm grenade launcher, 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns. Turret The two-man Bionix turret is of all-welded-steel-armour construction. Additional armour protection can be installed with an add-on layer of spaced passive armour. The gunner's station is on the right and the commander's station is on the left, each with a single hatch cover. "Bionix 25 has a two-man turret and can accommodate ten troops." The turret traverses through 360°. The turret traverse and weapon elevation is by all-electric digital control. Both the gunner and commander have a turret stop button and are able to lay and fire the weapons. Three day-periscopes give the gunner a field of view to the right and to the rear of the vehicle. The commander has a secondary optical relay from the gunner's sight and five day-periscopes with fields of view to the front, left and rear. Hull The hull and turret are of all-welded-steel construction with modular passive armour protection. Access to the troop compartment at the rear of the vehicle is by a power-operated ramp, which can operate as an emergency access and exit door. A single hatch is installed over the troop compartment. Driver's station The driver's station has three periscopic sights. The two outer periscopes are day sights while the centre periscope can be rapidly changed between a daytime scope and an image-intensifying night scope. Engine The power pack, which can be easily removed in the field in less than 15 minutes, is installed at the front right of the vehicle. The Detroit Diesel 6V-92TA turbocharged diesel engine develops 475hp at 2,400rpm, with potential of achieving 550hp. The engine is equipped with electronically controlled diesel injection. The engine compartment is fitted with an automatic fire detection and dry-powder fire suppression system with a supplementary manual back up. The vehicle is equipped with automatic hydromechanical HMPT-500EC transmission and final drives from General Dynamics Land Systems. The cooling system, supplied by Galley, was designed to give the vehicle a low thermal signature. The two fuel tanks of total capacity 562l are installed on either side and in the upper part of the hull. Suspension and running gear The Hydrostrut suspension from Horstman Defence Systems, based in Bath UK, gives stability for operating weapon systems and comfortable riding conditions. The suspension is hydropneumatic and is based on the proven Hydrogas suspension unit fitted on Challenger tanks and AS 90 self-propelled howitzer. "Bionix has manoeuvrability over obstacles, including a 2.2m trench and 0.8m vertical steps." The vehicle has 77-link single pin cast tracks and six dual tyre wheels on each side. Mobility Bionix has road speeds of 70km/h and 25km/h to 40km/h across country. The range is 415km at a speed of 45km/h without refuelling. Bionix can negotiate gradients to 60% and side slopes of 30%. With a turning radius of 9.9m and 6.5m with a pivotal turn, the vehicle can manoeuvre in urban environments and in confined spaces. Bionix has manoeuvrability over obstacles, including a 2.2m trench and 0.8m vertical steps and is capable of fording to a depth of 1m with preparation. The vehicle is fully amphibious with an optional kit.

Poland Expects End to Army Draft

Poland Expects End to Army Draft (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: Just before Russia's war with Georgia, the Polish government approved a long-planned bill aligning the Nato member with others in Europe by ending conscription. Many young men are delighted, but in a country feeling more vulnerable as Russia flexes its military muscle, some experts worry the reform may be hastily prepared and too costly. "The Polish government has approved a long-planned bill aligning Poland with others in Europe by ending conscription." Coinciding with rising tensions after Warsaw decided at the height of the Georgia conflict to allow the United States to station parts of a missile shield on its soil, the reform aims to trim down the military to a professional force. Russia has said it would respond to the shield deal, which it sees as a threat to its own national security, with more than just a diplomatic protest.

A Polish Army soldier patrol leader debriefs his team after completing an afternoon patrol around the perimeter of Camp Babylon, Iraq.

The draft law would end conscription next year and create a fully professional, better-paid military of 120,000 people by 2010. This would be down from the mainly conscript force of 124,000 now. Where the current army includes 76,000 full-time soldiers, the slimmed-down one would comprise around 90,000. "In the worst-case scenario the higher salaries, which are definitely required in a professional army, would come at the expense of funds for new technology and equipment that the army also needs just as much," said Janusz Walczak, an independent military expert. Parliament is expected to endorse the plan soon, but to take effect, it must then be signed by President Lech Kaczynski, a strong supporter of a modern, professional army. He has said he would prefer the force to increase to 150,000. The structural changes alone are estimated by analysts to cost up to 5bn zloty ($2.1bn) until 2010, excluding new equipment, apartments, training and promised higher wages New era of professionalism Defence Minister Bogdan Klich said this week total investments in the army will reach 60bn zlotys until 2018 to achieve the new professional status, including the spend on new equipment. "All European armies are becoming professional, smaller and mobile," said Walczak. "But Poles want to do everything in a split second. We only know we want to build a completely new army in two years, but nobody knows how much it will cost or what must really be done. The reform should be more gradual, should be given more time." Several ex-Soviet satellites have abandoned conscription, a legacy of the communist era which many young men tried to avoid by extending their studies or feigning sickness. Until now, all Polish men below the age of 60 were obliged to perform up to nine months service in the military. "Some experts worry that the reform conscription may be hastily prepared and too costly." Backers of the reform say a professional army is needed to allow Poland to take part fully in foreign missions, which conscripts are not properly trained to do. Nato's largest ex-communist member state, Poland has deployed about 3,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Lebanon, Syria and Chad. It ends its mission in Iraq in October. The opportunity to be part of a fully professional army has excited some conscripts, but they have firm demands and these expectations lie behind some analysts' concerns. "I expect a high salary, training, language courses and at least partial financing of my apartment," said Robert Pzajtis, a private serving in a Warsaw unit. Private Adam Wilk, a conscript in the last intake, thinks his experience in the army helped him decide that he really wants to be a professional soldier. "I am mainly attracted to the army by the chance to take part in foreign missions. I would like to join them, gain this experience, test myself. This is a good job because it's a state job and a pension is guaranteed after 25 years," Wilk said. The current average mid-level army salary is 3,000 zlotys ($1,290) a month and no side jobs are allowed. That's just short of Polish corporate sector wages averaging about 3,228 zloty a month in July, although the government promises raises of about 4% for soldiers next year. With Poland's booming economy already suffering labour shortages in some sectors, some experts doubt the revamped army will have the resources to entice skilled young people. "It is very difficult to say whether the country has the financial resources to fill these 120,000 places," said Roman Kuzniar, a professor at Warsaw University. "Clearly, we may have a problem if proposed conditions such as salaries and flats are not attractive enough to lure people from their current jobs." "The current average mid-level army salary is 3,000 zlotys ($,290) a month and no side jobs are allowed." Relief for some The reform also comes as a relief to the many young men who want to avoid military service, like Kacper, a 24-year-old graduate who spoke on condition of anonymity because he pretended to be mentally ill at his medical commission hearing. "Oh, I just acted strange, you know, like a freak," he said. He is now starting work at an international company. "Many of my male friends did similar things as well or organised false medical papers not to get enlisted," he added. Polish internet forums are full of advice of how to hurt yourself just enough to get a 'D' category from the army's medical commission, meaning effective inability to serve. "Does anybody know a painless way to twist your ankle or anything else that would make them not take me in? Would saying I am gay be enough? I don't want to waste my time in the army!" said posts at an online forum entitled 'Ways to Avoid Military Service'.

New Props Improve Antarctic Hercules

New Props Improve Antarctic Hercules
(NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: The New York Air National Guard has begun operating a ski-equipped Lockheed Martin LC-130H Hercules with new Hamilton Sundstrand NP2000 propellers, the first of 12 to be retrofitted to improve support for remote deep-field camps in Antarctica. Flight tests of the eight-blade composite propellers on the C-130 were conducted earlier this year at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on a Wyoming ANG aircraft, demonstrating increased performance and reliability, and reduced noise, vibration and fuel consumption, the company says. The composite-blade-outfitted NP2000s, already used on the U.S. Navy's carrier-based Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeyes, replace the original four-bades metal units and increase thrust, thus improving takeoff performance. Hamilton Sundstrand helped fund flight tests, but the Defense Department is paying for the retrofits. The retrofitted LC-130 is scheduled in November to fly its first mission to Antarctica, where the new propellers are expected to reduce the need to use JATO rockets for takeoff from ice- and snow-covered runways at deep-field sites.

Glide-Bomb Success Turns Attention To Future

Glide-Bomb Success Turns Attention To Future
(NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: Proponents of the German precision-guided Hope standoff penetrator glide bomb say it precisely hit its target in flight trials this month, although exact details on the standoff range and impact accuracy are being closely guarded. Hope has a nominal range exceeding 100 km and accuracy of around 3 meters, using GPS guidance system (with Selected Availability / Anti-Spoofing Module capability) and aided by an inertial navigation system. Earlier sled tests suggested the 3,000 lb.-class bomb has a penetration capability greater than the U.S. Air Force's 5,000 lb. GBU-28, says a German official. The recent trial took place at the Swedish flight test center at Vidsel, using a Tornado IDS strike aircraft belonging to the German flight test center (WTD61) at Manching near Munich (Aerospace DAILY, Sept. 15). It follows a similar test last year, which took place on the more restricted Sardinian test range Decimomannu. Vidsel allowed for a more complete assessment of the weapon, according to a project official, and also demonstrated that some performance shortfalls identified a year ago were remedied. Hope met both range and accuracy targets set for the test, he adds. Nevertheless, the exact production configuration of the weapon remains to be fixed. The trials validated the system's electronic performance, the oblique wing and bomb body, but the design could be adjusted slightly. Moreover, there is still interest in adding a seeker and datalink to allow human intervention, in part to reduce the risk of collateral damage. A formal development program would likely take about three years.

Fire Scout Test Aimed At Coast Guard

Fire Scout Test Aimed At Coast Guard
(NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: The first flight of an MQ-8B Fire Scout with multimode maritime radar has removed a major obstacle to U.S. Coast Guard interest in the shipborne vertical-takeoff-and-landing unmanned air vehicle (VUAV), manufacturer Northrop Grumman believes. The off-the-shelf Telephonics RDR-1700B imaging surveillance radar completed a functional check flight on Northrop’s company-owned Fire Scout, aircraft P6, on Sept. 19 at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona (Aerospace DAILY, Sept. 23). The radar has since been removed to allow testing of another payload, but the company plans to reinstall the sensor in October for overwater flight-tests from Webster Field in Maryland or Wallops Island on the Virginia coast, says Mike Fuqua, Fire Scout business development manager. Fuqua says the Coast Guard has made clear its interest in the Fire Scout, for operation from its new National Security Cutter (NSC), but stipulated its requirement for an integrated radar. The U.S. Navy plans to begin developing a radar for the MQ-8B in fiscal 2009, for fielding in 2011, but Northrop used its own money to integrate the nondevelopmental RDR-1700B on the Fire Scout to demonstrate the capability, he says. The Coast Guard and Navy have held several meetings to discuss the Fire Scout, Fuqua says. But the Coast Guard is also moving ahead with plans to form a joint program office with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to coordinate the use of maritime UAVs. CBP’s Air & Marine division is promoting the use of its land-based General Atomics Predator Bs for maritime surveillance. Organic ISR Northrop believes the Coast Guard will want an organic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability for the NSC, to allow operations out of range of land-based UAVs. Under its Deepwater modernization program, the Coast Guard originally selected the Bell Eagle Eye tiltrotor UAV over the Fire Scout, but the Eagle Eye program was canceled in 2007. “We’re pretty sure the Coast Guard will demand maritime-based ISR, and look for the most mature, reliable and capable VUAV,” Fuqua says. “We think the Fire Scout is viable for the NSC,” he says, noting the new cutter has space for a UAV ground control system designed into its combat information center. The Coast Guard is expected to demand integration on the VUAV of the automatic identification system (AIS), to track transponder-equipped shipping, but this is a capability the Navy also wants for its radar-equipped Fire Scout, Fuqua says. P6 is being prepared for flight-testing of the ASTAMIDS multispectral mine detection payload planned for the U.S. Army’s Fire Scouts, but once those are complete the radar will be reinstalled, Fuqua says. Following overwater test flights, Northrop plans to conduct a capability demonstration for the Coast Guard and Navy, although the timing has not been determined.

U.S. Forces Work On UAV Cooperation Plan

U.S. Forces Work On UAV Cooperation Plan (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: The U.S. Army and Air Force are nearly finished working out plans for cooperating on operations of medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Gen. William Wallace, commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), and U.S. Air Force Gen. John Corley, commander of Air Combat Command, are scheduled to meet Sept. 26 to finalize plans before briefing them to their respective service chiefs in advance of annual Army/Air Force staff talks set for early next year. During previous staff talks early this year, Wallace and Corley were tasked with developing “a common view of UAV conops [concept of operations] focused exclusively on the operational level,” Wallace said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington Sept. 25. “I think we’re pretty close to a resolution of common ground between us and the Air Force,” he said. While each service has unique requirements for medium-altitude UAVs, there is considerable overlap, Wallace said: “Perhaps common platforms, certainly common training, certainly common handoff procedures from one organization to another, [and] probably some common ground station requirements… “ How UAVs are used in theater will still be the ultimate responsibility of the joint force commander in the field, Wallace said. But the services need to develop procedures for dynamically transferring control of UAVs in flight from one service to another if a higher-priority mission emerges, he said. At the moment, there is frustration in the field over the inability to retask UAVs for more critical, time-sensitive missions after they’ve been launched. “Given that we can get around the procedural and technical exclusivity of some of our platforms, some time in the future we will have a common capability to share both platforms and information and all that sort of thing across both services, and arguably to the other services and the joint force commander as well,” he said. The cooperative plan follows a bitter struggle between the services for control of medium-altitude UAVs such as the Air Force Predator and the Army’s Sky Warrior, which is a Predator variant. The Air Force was rebuffed by the Pentagon when it attempted to become the executive agent for all but small UAVs that operate below 3,500 feet.

Gates admits shortfall in US troops for Afghanistan

Gates admits shortfall in US troops for Afghanistan (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: The head of the US Department of Defense has acknowledged that the country does not have enough troops available to meet a standing request to send additional combat brigades to Afghanistan. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Senators on 23 September that the Pentagon could not immediately meet the requirement for forces set by General David McKiernan, the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. "Without changing deployment patterns, without changing the length of tours, we do not have the forces to send three additional brigade combat teams at this point," he said. "My view is that those forces will become available probably during the spring and summer of 2009." President George W Bush on 9 September announced a small - and gradual - reduction in forces from Iraq. That withdrawal will enable a shift of around 4,500 troops to Afghanistan, but still falls short of a request from Gen McKiernan, who has sought at least three additional combat brigades for Afghanistan.

IAF to procure MI-17 V5 choppers from Russia

IAF to procure MI-17 V5 choppers from Russia (NSI News Source Info) Chandigarh - September 28, 2008: The Indian Air Force is likely to add MI-17 V5 medium lift helicopters in its fleet as negotiations to procure them from Russia are in final stages, a senior IAF official said on Thursday. "Our negotiations are in the final stages with Russia. In the next three months, we will sign a contract with them. After two-three years of signing of the contract, we will start the procurement of these helicopters," Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Maintenance Command, Air Marshal Gautam Nayyar told reporters here. These would replace MI-8 helicopters, which have outlived their life, he said, adding once these machines are procured, they will help tide over the problems faced by helicopters in high altitudes of Siachin and Ladhak. He said the MI-17V5 will have modern avionic equipment and their engine performance will be better than the existing helicopters. "They will be very effective in the high altitude areas. MI-17V5 will gradually replace the MI-8 helicopters of IAF," he said, adding at present "we have 50 MI-8 and their estimated life span is 35 years. However, they all are 38 years old and we will replace them with 80 MI-17V5." To a question, he said in India there are 13 Base Repair Depots (BRDs) that look after the maintenance of air crafts and other related equipment and Rs 500 crore would be pumped in over the next few years for their upgradation and modernisation. To another question, Nayyar admitted that IAF was not getting enough quality engineers as IIT graduates are not forthcoming. But he hoped that with the implementation of the sixth pay commission, things would change and graduates from premier institutions would choose IAF as a career. He also said that the IAF was also planning to open a Rs-200 crore world class engineering college in Bangalore.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

NIGERIA ARMY: Clean, Lean, Mean And On The Offensive

NIGERIA ARMY: Clean, Lean, Mean And On The Offensive (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: Despite rebel protests (and their unilateral ceasefire), the military continues to seek out and attack rebels in the Niger Delta. Over 200 suspected rebels have been arrested, and several dozen killed or wounded. The new commanders of the army are under orders to shut down the rebel activities, and clean up the corruption and inefficiency in the military. September 21, 2008: Faced with a growing counteroffensive by the army, Niger Delta rebel group MEND has declared a unilateral ceasefire. The military said they would ignore the ceasefire. September 20, 2008: Rebels in the Niger Delta bombed another oil pipeline. The attacks in the last week have reduced oil shipments by 280,000, and only about 1.8 million barrels a day (from a potential max of 2.6 million barrels) are being shipped. The army has counterattacked, and at least ten rebels were killed today by these operations, along with three speedboats sunk. September 19, 2008: The new commander of the army has sent investigators to the Niger Delta, there being suspicions that some soldiers have been corrupted (paid off) by rebels (who have made a lot of money stealing oil.) September 18, 2008: A week of attacks by tribal rebels in the Niger Delta has halted shipment of 150,000 barrels of oil a day. The army has responded by sending five battalions of infantry into the delta, seeking out and attacking rebel bases and wanted individuals.

ATTRITION: Afghanistan Explained

ATTRITION: Afghanistan Explained (NSI News Source Info) September 28, 2008: So far this year, about 4,200 people have died in Afghanistan. Sounds awful, doesn't it? That's an annual rate of about 6,000 dead. Or, about 24 dead per 100,000 population, as such things are measured by crime statisticians. The murder rate in the Western hemisphere (about 8 per 100,000 people a year) is much higher than in Europe, where it is about 3-4. Middle Eastern nations have rates of between 5-10. The United States rate is about six per 100,000. There are other parts of the world that are more violent. Iraq has a murder rate of 26. That's not a lot higher than it was under Saddam (10-20 a year), but less than a third of what it was a year ago. In Africa, especially Congo, Sudan and South Africa, you find similar murder rates. Only South Africa has a sufficiently effective government to actually keep accurate track of the murder rate, mostly from crime, but it's over 50 per 100,000. It's worse in places like Congo and Sudan, but the numbers there are only estimates by peacekeepers and relief workers. In southern Thailand, a terror campaign by Islamic radicals has caused a death rate of over 80 per 100,000. In Afghanistan, the death rate for civilians, mostly from Taliban violence, has been 6-7 dead per 100,000 people, in the last two years. Most of the dead in Afghanistan are among Afghan soldiers and police (about 1,500 a year for the last two years), foreign troops (200-300 a year) and the Taliban (over 4,000 a year). That brings the rate up to 24 per 100,000. But what is not counted is the deaths from banditry and tribal feuds throughout the country. Afghanistan is a violent place, and always has been. The problem is that the continual violence makes it difficult to put the current fighting against the Taliban into context. The country has long been awash in weapons, and men eager to use them. Afghans has been known as good recruiting grounds for local conquerors for thousands of years. The several major invasions of India over the last thousand years saw lots of Afghans in the ranks of the conquering armies. In some cases, there were so many Afghans, that Indian records simply record the invaders as "Afghans." When not invading neighbors, Afghans practice on each other. Not a lot of accurate record keeping out there in the bush, but public health stats indicate an average life span in the 40s. There's a lot of disease, accidents, and not much modern medicine. But there's also much talk of murder. There are tribal feuds, lots of banditry, and even within families, there are murders and executions. The problem with tribal cultures is the difficulty controlling this kind of violence. In much of Afghanistan, it isn't being controlled and, as always, the resulting deaths are not being reported either. Thus the civilian murder rate, excluding the Taliban, is probably over 10 per 100,000 year. Many of the Taliban related deaths would have occurred anyway, because the Taliban are basically a tribal rebellion by some of the Pushtun tribes that want to run the country (in the name of God, of course, as it has long been good PR to commit your atrocities while invoking a higher power.) The Taliban, according to their public announcements, feel that they could quickly overcome the other tribes and take control, were it not for the 70,000 foreign troops in the country. That's in recognition that most of the Taliban losses are at the hands of foreign troops. But it also implies that the Taliban feel they have access to plenty of people who know how to kill and, if not interfered with, can butcher enough Afghans to gain control of a nation of 25 million people.