Sunday, November 30, 2008

Taliban kill 'US spy' in Pakistani tribal area: official

Taliban kill 'US spy' in Pakistani tribal area: official
(NSI News Source Info) MIRANSHAH - November 30, 2008: Taliban militants hanged and shot dead an Afghan man in a restive Pakistani tribal area bordering Afghanistan, accusing him of spying for the US, an official said on Sunday. The body of Ajab Khan, 35, was found in the tribal district of North Waziristan on Sunday, a local administration official told AFP. Militants have killed several people, accusing them of spying on their activities on behalf of the Pakistani government and US forces operating across the border in Afghanistan Khan's body had bullet wounds and there was rope tied around his neck, indicating he was hanged and later shot, the official said. A note found with Khan's body said he had been killed because he was spying for US forces. Militants have killed several people, accusing them of spying on their activities on behalf of the Pakistani government and US forces operating across the border in Afghanistan. The northwest has been wracked by violence since hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda rebels fled there after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

Thales WATCHKEEPER Successfully Passes First System Flight Trial

Thales WATCHKEEPER Successfully Passes First System Flight Trial (NSI News Source Info) London, UK - November 30, 2008: Thales UK has announced the successful first system flight trials of the WATCHKEEPER unmanned air vehicle (UAV), with the autonomous flight taking place under the system guidance of the WATCHKEEPER ground control software and fully integrated within the ground control station (GCS). These trials of the UAV, which operates with dual payloads, will continue into 2009, and will validate the key mission system capability of the WATCHKEEPER system. This is another significant step forward in the WATCHKEEPER programme and follows closely from the first successful flight trials of the WATCHKEEPER air vehicle in April 2008 and the demonstration of the WATCHKEEPER Automatic Take-Off and landing (ATOL) capability in August 2008. The control software has been produced by Thales UK at its Crawley facility. The GCS has been designed and manufactured in the UK by UAV Tactical Systems Ltd (U-TacS), the Thales UK/Elbit Systems joint company site in Leicester. During the first successful flight trials at Elbit's facilities in Israel, the WATCHKEEPER UAV was controlled by the WATCHKEEPER GCS using Thales-developed software and performed an automatic take-off and landing. This initial stage of systems trials will provide an essential link between the various sub-system level trials and the full WATCHKEEPER systems trials to be undertaken in the UK next year. The WATCHKEEPER system test programme includes: + System command and control of UAV from WATCHKEEPER GCS + Initial assessment of system data link performance + Dual payload installation + Generation and exploitation of payload imagery (the 'imagery chain') + WATCHKEEPER avionics system trials (IFF and airborne radio assessment) + Further systems ATOLS assessment + Electrical power system performance with dual payloads installed Mark Barclay, Managing Director of Thales UK's aerospace business, says: "This is another major step forward on the WATCHKEEPER programme and one of a number of trials that are scheduled over the coming months. We have made steady progress since the contract was signed in 2005 and I am particularly pleased that Thales and our external partners continue to deliver in line with the agreed customer schedule."

Russia, India to step up anti-terror interaction - Kremlin

Russia, India to step up anti-terror interaction - Kremlin (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 30, 2008: Russia and India will step up their anti-terrorist cooperation in the wake of militant attacks on India's financial capital that killed nearly 200 people, the Kremlin press office said on Sunday. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held a telephone conversation on Sunday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Kremlin press office said. "Both sides expressed their intention to intensify anti-terrorist interaction. These issues will be discussed during the forthcoming visit by the Russian president to India and within the framework of the Russian-Indian working group for combating international terrorism," the Kremlin press office said. Terrorists swept through Mumbai on Wednesday night, armed with submachine guns and grenades attacking hotels, the railway station, a cinema, and a hospital. The three-day rampage killed 174 people, including more than 20 foreigners

Iran proposes building nuclear power plants with Arab states

Iran proposes building nuclear power plants with Arab states (NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN - November 30, 2008 Iran on Sunday proposed building light-water nuclear power plants jointly with neighboring Arab countries. The proposal was put forward by Gholamreza Agazadeh, Iranian vice-president and head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, who spoke at a conference on nuclear power plants, environment and sustainable development. "Iran is ready to provide very soon a comprehensive plan for the proposal if it were approved in generalities by the Persian Gulf littoral states," the Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Agazadeh as saying. Iran is under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, which it insists has purely civilian goals. Western powers led by the United States, along with Israel, accuse Tehran of attempting to develop nuclear weapons, something Iran has consistently denied. Iran is completing the construction of its first nuclear power plant at Bushehr in the south of the country with the assistance of Russian specialists. The $1bln project is subject to UN monitoring following Iran's refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program and Western suspicions that Tehran is seeking to build nuclear weapons. The Bushehr nuclear power plant is expected to be launched in the first half of 2009.

Mumbai attacks push India and Pakistan into deep water

Mumbai attacks push India and Pakistan into deep water
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - November 30, 2008: Outrage in India over the Mumbai attacks risks sparking a dangerous escalation in tensions with Pakistan, analysts say, even as Islamabad cautions against any knee-jerk reaction. Having accused "elements in Pakistan" of involvement in the ruthless attacks that left 195 dead in India's financial capital, the government here is now under extreme public pressure to exact some form of visible retribution.
The two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals are past masters of the art of military and diplomatic brinkmanship, but the stakes are heightened by looming general elections in India in which national security will be a key issue. In a televised address to the nation on Thursday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vowed that the perpetrators and organisers of the Mumbai assault would be made to pay "a heavy price".
On Saturday, Singh called a meeting of India's army, navy and air force chiefs. But while India would like to lean heavily on Islamabad to ensure it delivers on repeated promises to prevent Pakistani territory being used for anti-India activities, analysts say the government's options are limited.
Pakistani protesters shout anti-terror slogans in Lahore. The demonstration was organised after the terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai. Outrage in India over the Mumbai attacks risks sparking a dangerous escalation in tensions with Pakistan, analysts say, even as Islamabad cautions against any knee-jerk reaction
Former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra said New Delhi would be constrained by a lack of proof that Islamabad had any direct role in the attacks. "There is little to suggest that the gunmen were sponsored by the Pakistani government," Mishra said. The scale and style of the assaults -- involving multiple targets and hostage-taking -- bore "the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda attacks in the Middle East and North Africa," Mishra said.
"These are new elements that differentiate the Mumbai attacks from the parliament attack." In 2001, gunmen from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group attacked the Indian parliament, resulting in the complete rupture of diplomatic ties and pushing the rivals to the brink of war.
Supporters of the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (Pakistan People's Movement) march against the Indian government's claim that Pakistani based militants were behind the Mumbai attacks at a rally in Lahore November 30, 2008. Pakistan's government has begun rallying support both at home and abroad as tension flared with old rival India after a bloody militant assault on the Indian city of Mumbai
Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal all but ruled out the possibility of India resorting to any cross-border military response. "The Indian leadership would have to weigh very carefully the consequences of using the military option in the wider context of peace and stability in the region," Sibal said.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari appealed for calm on Saturday and argued that any increase in Indian-Pakistani tensions would be a victory for the extremists. "Whoever is responsible for the brutal and crude act against the Indian people and India are looking for reaction," Zardari said in an interview with Indian CNN-IBN television.
"We have to rise above them and make sure ourselves, yourself and world community guard against over-reaction," he said. Kalim Bahadur, a retired professor of international relations, said India might find it difficult to take a hard line with Pakistan, given that Zardari's government was still finding its feet and itself battling Islamic militants.
"The Pakistani president's grip on power is not strong. We have seen that Zardari says things, then he is contradicted or he has to clarify what he has said. "The situation seems to be that the democratic government has no control over extremist elements," Bahadur said.
Independent security analyst K. Subrahmanyam suggested that a primary motive for the Mumbai attacks could well have been a desire to "wreck the peace process" launched by India and Pakistan in January 2004.
Given the targeting of foreigners by the Mumbai attackers, Subrahmanyam said New Delhi had an opportunity to rally international pressure on Islamabad to cut support to Islamist groups. Another analyst, C.Uday Bhaskar, urged Singh and his government to keep the engagement with Pakistan on track while carefully monitoring Islamabad's actions in the coming weeks. "Snapping links is not a desirable option," he said.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

U.S. Intelligence Focuses on Pakistani Group as Substantial Evidence Emerge

U.S. Intelligence Focuses on Pakistani Group as Substantial Evidence Emerge (NSI News Source Info) November 29, 2008: American intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Friday that there was mounting evidence that a Pakistani militant group based in Kashmir, most likely Lashkar-e-Taiba, was responsible for this week's deadly attacks in Mumbai.
The officials cautioned that they had reached no firm conclusions about who was responsible for the attacks, or how they were planned and carried out. Nevertheless, they said that evidence gathered in the past two days pointed to a role for Lashkar-e-Taiba or possibly another group based in Kashmir, Jaish-e-Muhammad, which also has a track record of attacks against India.
The officials requested anonymity in describing their current thinking and declined to discuss specifics of the intelligence that they said pointed to Kashmiri militants. In the past, the American and Indian intelligence services have used communications intercepts to tie Kashmiri militants to terrorist strikes. Indian officials may also be gleaning information from at least one captured gunman who participated in the Mumbai attacks.
According to one Indian intelligence official, during the siege the militants have been using non-Indian cellphones and receiving calls from outside the country, evidence that in part led Indian officials to speak publicly about the militants’ external ties.
Lashkar-e-Taiba denied any responsibility on Thursday for the terrorist strikes. American intelligence agencies have said that the group has received some training and logistical support in the past from Pakistan’s powerful spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or I.S.I., and that Pakistan’s government has long turned a blind eye to Lashkar-e-Taiba camps in the Kashmir region, a disputed territory over which India and Pakistan have fought two wars.
Officials in Washington said Friday that there was no evidence that the Pakistani government had any role in the attacks. But if evidence were to emerge that the operation had been planned and directed from within Pakistan, that would certainly further escalate tensions between India and Pakistan, bitter, nuclear-armed rivals. It could also provoke an Indian military response, even strikes against militants’ training camps.
American and Indian officials were pursuing the possibility that the attackers arrived off the coast of Mumbai in a large ship and then boarded smaller boats before initiating their attack.An American counterterrorism official said there was strong evidence that Lashkar-e-Taiba had a “maritime capability” and would have been able to mount the sophisticated operation in Mumbai.
Senior Bush administration officials sought to keep the tensions from boiling over on Friday by maintaining steady contact with Indian officials. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke by phone with Pranab Mukherjee, India’s foreign minister, and one of Ms. Rice’s deputies spoke with the Indian foreign secretary.
In what was seen as a sign of Pakistan’s concern about a possible Indian response, Pakistani officials announced Friday that the head of the I.S.I. would go to India to help the Indian government with its investigation. On Friday evening, however, Pakistani officials indicated that a lower-level I.S.I. representative might make the trip.
American and Indian officials have for years blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba for a campaign of violence against high-profile targets throughout India, including the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi and an August 2007 strike at an amusement park in Hyderabad. At times, Indian officials have also said Jaish-e-Muhammad was responsible for the attack on Parliament.
That attack prompted the Bush administration to try to freeze Lashkar-e-Taiba’s assets and press Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president at the time, to crack down on the group’s training operations in Pakistan.A State Department report released this year called Lashkar-e-Taiba “one of the largest and most proficient of the Kashmiri-focused militant groups.” The report said that the group drew financing in part from Pakistani expatriates in the Middle East, and that it used a front organization called Jamaat ud-Daawa to coordinate charitable activities, like relief for the victims of the October 2006 earthquake in Kashmir.
The report said the actual size of the group was unknown, but estimated it at “several thousand” members.
Recently, some of the group’s operations have shifted from Kashmir to Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas and even to Afghanistan to attack American troops. American officials and terrorism experts said the group had not sent large numbers of operatives into Afghanistan, but had embedded small teams with Taliban units to gain fighting experience.
“Afghanistan is an operating war zone, so they can get active training as the Kashmir front has slowed down a bit,” said Seth Jones, a terrorism expert at the RAND Corporation.
The group is believed by experts to have at least a loose affiliation with Al Qaeda. In March 2002, a Qaeda lieutenant, Abu Zubaydah, was captured in a Lashkar-e-Taiba safe house in Faisalabad, Pakistan, according to the State Department report.
Lashkar-e-Taiba is not known to have singled out Westerners in past terrorist attacks, as the gunmen in Mumbai seem to have done. But one counterterrorism official said Friday that the group “has not pursued an exclusively Kashmiri agenda” and that it might certainly go after Westerners to advance broader goals.Even as a Kashmiri connection to the attacks began to emerge on Friday, American officials said they were puzzled by some developments. For instance, they said they knew next to nothing about a group called the Deccan Mujahedeen, which issued a claim of responsibility for the attacks.
Terrorism experts have said there is no evidence of that group’s involvement in past strikes, and they speculated that another group fabricated the name to mask responsibility

Afghanistan Today

Afghanistan Today November 29, 2008 News Source Info NSI US soliders on a patrol in Paktika province on November 28, 2008. Troops killed 44 militants in Afghanistan, officials said Saturday, as around a dozen police and soldiers were still missing following a major clash and believed to be in Taliban hands.
British soldiers keep watch at the scene of a suicide car attack in Kabul November 27,2008. A suicide car bomber struck a convoy of foreign troops near the U.S. embassy in Kabul on Thursday, killing one civilian and wounding six more, the head of the Afghan capital's police force said.

HAL eyes Eurocopter partnership

HAL eyes Eurocopter partnership November 28, 2008: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is reportedly considering a partnership with Eurocopter for the manufacture of 187 military helicopters. The Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), multi-role and multi-mission helicopter is in service with the Indian Army
A HAL official told Flight Global that a western partner could help expedite the design and production process.
"We hope to begin the initial work on the light utility helicopter next year. It would take around five years to completely design and develop a new helicopter, and an experienced Western partner would help in every stage," explained a HAL official.
HAL, which will also maintain the new helicopters, is expected to create a new division to oversee the LUH (light utility helicoper) programme.
The LUH unit would operate independently from the company's existing Dhruv advanced light helicopter and light combat 'copter projects.
Eurocopter recently announced plans to significantly expand its operations in India. According to Ludovic Boistot of Eurocopter, the Indian military market offered "big potential, as the military has undertaken a programme of modernisation and replacing its fleet".
The firm currently counts 480 helicopters on active service in the country."
Rapidly growing economy, increasing reliance on air transport, service to tourist destination and religious places and find of new gas reserves and the demand in other sectors will give big push to helicopter industry in this country," added Boistot.
It should be noted that over 10,000 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in service, with at least 2,800 customers in 140 countries.

China and South Korea set up Hotline

China and South Korea set up Hotline (NSI News Source Info) November 29, 2008: China and South Korea have set up a military hotline, to avoid accidental clashes between their sea and air forces. At each end, military personnel are on duty 24/7, prepared to quickly defuse any encounters. The South Korea end of the hot line is at the headquarters of the South Korean 2nd Fleet, which is 70 kilometers south of the capital, Seoul. South Korean Air Force officers, based at the Daegu air base, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, are linked to the 2nd Fleet hotline operation. The Chinese end of the hotline is at their Northern Fleet headquarters at Qingdao (formerly "Tsingtao") at the tip of the Shandong peninsula, which is on the 38th parallel, pointing at Korea, across the Yellow Sea. This hotline is the only one that exists with China. South Korea also has a hotline with Japan (established in 1997) and Russia (established in 2000). The principal point of friction at sea is the nearly 200 Chinese fishing boats that enter South Korean waters illegally each year, seeking the valuable crabs found there. Chinese and South Korean warships patrol the area, to try and prevent the poaching, and sometimes encounter each other. Both nations also fly air patrols over the Yellow Sea.

Iraqi Navy Patrolling Coast

Iraqi Navy Patrolling Coast (NSI News Source Info) November 29, 2008: Having recently received several new patrol boats, and after several years of training, Iraqi sailors and marines are now beginning to take over complete responsibility for patrolling and guarding offshore oil facilities and checking ships and boats that move along Iraq's 58 kilometer coastline.
Shipping has to be monitored for smugglers and terrorists. Since 2003, the U.S. (coast guard, navy, marines) and the British Royal Navy has undertaken these tasks.
Currently, there are about 2,000 Iraqis assigned to the navy, coast guard and marines.

Pakistan: ISI representative to visit India instead of Pasha

Pakistan: ISI representative to visit India instead of Pasha ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has backtracked on a decision to send the chief of its spy agency to India to help with the Mumbai attack investigation, Dawn reported. The prime minister's office said on Saturday a representative of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency would go to India instead of its director general Ahmed Shuja Pasha, as the government had earlier stated.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani addressing a press conference upon his recent arrival at the Lahore airport
An ongoing special cabinet meeting has been convened to discuss Pakistan's response to the slaughter in Mumbai, and allegations by Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee that 'elements' in Pakistan were involved. 'The special session of the cabinet will take stock of the situation arising out of the allegations by India and the change in level of ISI participation into the probe', a government official told AFP. Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari - while speaking to an Indian television channel - has vowed to take the 'swiftest of action' if evidence is found linking the Mumbai attacks to Pakistani militants. India has blamed Pakistan-based militants for the coordinated assault on its financial capital, Mumbai, raising the prospect of a breakdown in peace efforts between the nuclear-armed rivals. The attacks on two luxury hotels and other sites around Mumbai came after Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has made bold moves to improve ties with India. Pakistan condemned the Mumbai attacks and denied any involvement. In an unprecedented step, it agreed to let the head of its military's ISI go to India to share information at the request of the Indian prime minister. ‘Since we had nothing to hide, we thought there was no harm in calling the Indian bluff by agreeing to the request to send the ISI chief to Delhi,’ a senior official privy to the developments told Dawn earlier. However, opposition politicians criticised what was called a hasty decision to send the spy agency's chief. The opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N’s spokesman Ahsan Iqbal said the government had not taken their party into confidence before taking the decision. ‘Although we are committed to extending full cooperation in the investigations, it should be done through established diplomatic channels and norms,’ he said. LEAVING EARLY Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in India on a scheduled visit aimed at boosting ties when the assault in Mumbai began. He said on Friday anti-terrorism cooperation had to be strengthened and called on India not to play a blame game. According to Reuters, an official at the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi said Qureshi was cutting short his visit.
Qureshi had been due to meet an Indian opposition leader and some other politicians on Saturday, before returning home after his four-day visit, but those meetings had been cancelled, the official said. 'He is at the airport and about to leave on a special plane sent from Pakistan,' said the High Commission official.
Pakistan had for years supported militants battling Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region but was forced rein them in after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
But analysts say security agents still have links with some Kashmiri militants.
The use of heavily armed 'fedayeen' or suicide attackers in Mumbai bears the hallmarks of Pakistan-based militant groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed, blamed for the 2001 attack on India's parliament.
Lashkar-e-Taiba denied any role in the Mumbai attacks, and said it had no links with any Indian group. Instead, the little-known Deccan Mujahideen have claimed responsibility.

Terror in Mumbai is OVER: Taj Mahal hotel freed, three-day Mumbai siege over

Terror in Mumbai is OVER: Taj Mahal hotel freed, three-day Mumbai siege over (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - November 29, 2008: Indian commandos killed the last terrorists holed up in the landmark Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai on Saturday, the third day of battles with militants across India's commercial capital.

An Indian army officer (left) congratulates an Indian National Security Guard (NSG) commando after their successful operation at The Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, on November 29. Commandos killed three holdout gunmen in Taj Hotel, bringing an end of a two-day Islamic militant assault on India's financial capital that left at least 155 dead, including foreigners

Preliminary death toll estimates vary from at least 155 to 195, the vast majority being Indian nationals, officials said adding the toll could rise considerably. About 400 people were reported injured. The bodies of three militants, Kalashnikov assault rifles, scores of grenades and other ammunition were found in the luxury Taj hotel when the siege was over. Fierce gunfire and explosions were heard at the hotel earlier this morning. Nearby Trident-Oberoi hotel and Jewish center were freed on Friday. Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said citing evidence that Pakistan-linked "elements" were responsible for the deadly attacks. And Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the use of neighboring states' territory for launching attacks on India "will not be tolerated." India has in the past frequently accused arch-rival Pakistan of backing Islamic militants active in India. Pakistan asked India not to play politics over the issue and cooperate as terrorism was the two countries' common enemy. One of the arrested militants was a Pakistani citizen. He was reported to have said that some of the militants had come ashore on small speedboats, and that they had earlier hijacked a fish boat near India's Gujarat state bordering on Pakistan. The boat and the bodies of the boat crew were later found by the Indian military near Mumbai. The head of Pakistan's military intelligence agency, Ahmed Shuja Pasha, was to travel to India to discuss the situation with Indian colleagues, but will now send his representative instead, media reports say. Indian authorities said 18 foreigners were among the dead, including Germans, Americans, one Australian, a Briton, one Canadian, two French, an Israeli, an Italian, a Japanese, a Singaporean and a Thai. India's security forces lost 15 officers, including the chief of Mumbai Police Antiterrorism Squad, Hemant Karkare, and at least two commandos. The battles began late on Wednesday when gunmen armed with automatic weapons and grenades opened fire on crowds at a railway station, the two hotels, the Jewish centre, a hospital and a cafe frequented by foreigners.

More Lightweight MRAPs for Spanish Troops

More Lightweight MRAPs for Spanish Troops
(NSI News Source Info) November 29, 2008: Deployed Spanish troops in Afghanistan, part of the NATO’s ISAF mission, can already count on 28 new “Lince” armored vehicles in-country, after the arrival yesterday of other 11 units delivered to the PRT of Qala-i-Naw.
These vehicles are additional to the 17 that they had been shipped by the Ministry of Defense in October.
The 28 armored “Lince” LMVs sent to Afghanistan are equipped with the most advanced security systems available, including inhibitors, radios, antiriot armament and equipment, and so will improve the operational security and safety of the Spanish contingent.
These vehicles, in addition, are fitted with advanced that turns to them into one of safest of all vehicles deployed worldwide, and offer a high level of protection against terrorist and explosive attacks.
The version of the LMV that has been sent to Qala-i-Naw can carry five soldiers with their complete combat equipment, and its multi-layer armor protects the crew against rifle fire, explosion of IEDs or explosive mines, and direct hits by grenades.
The PRT of Qala i Naw is integrated by a military component and a civilian component from the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID), that work in co-ordination.
The military component of the PRT guarantees the security to the members of AECID and develops fast-impact civil projects in the province, such as the school construction, water purification, wells, public lighting systems etc.

Kaman Demonstrates K-MAX to US Marines

Kaman Demonstrates K-MAX to US Marines
(NSI News Source Info) MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. - November 29, 2008: Military helicopters over Quantico, are a common sight, yet many individuals watching do not automatically assume there is no one inside. Kaman Aerospace Group demonstrated the K-MAX Unmanned Multi-Mission Helicopter at the Marine Corps Air Facility here Nov. 20 to highlight its potential benefits to future battlefield operations.
‘‘It is the best aircraft made for lifting,” said Bill Hart, the safety pilot aboard the aircraft during demonstration. ‘‘It’s not the fastest, but we are trying to increase the speed and weight capability, which requires more testing.”
The K-MAX exhibited the ability to support the weight of 6,000 pounds of cargo with its multi-hook capacity and auto landing and drop off capabilities, essentially unmanned. The craft is contractor-supported, managed by a ground controller using a hand-held tablet computer system with electric actuators inside the craft and standard helicopter controls for easy alternating from unmanned to manned.
“There are switches inside that allow me to take over fast and easy, if I need to,” said Hart.
The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Requirements Officer of the Combat Development Directorate⁄Fires and Maneuver Integration Division, Maj. Thomas Heffern, explained that the Marine Corps is more interested in the capabilities and vision than the actual aircraft.
“The vision for the K-MAX is to deliver cargo to Marines and move logistics around the battlefield without excessive manpower,” said Cliff Gunsallus, the vice president of engineering for Kaman.
As demonstrated and explained during the air show, the K-MAX also has the ability to quickly change its route when it is alerted of a threat.
‘‘We are looking at this as a potential capability to mitigate against threats,” said Heffern. ‘‘In the next five years or so this could potentially save man for more important jobs.”
Selling for around $7 million, the K-MAX, which has one engine and can hold 228 gallons of fuel, adding 1,550 pounds to the already 12,000 pound helicopter, is currently limited in quantity with only 22 operating worldwide in seven countries to date.

Friday, November 28, 2008

China Concentrating R&D On Military Technology

China Concentrating R&D On Military Technology (NSI News Source Info) November 29, 2008: China appears to be developing an over-the-horizon (OTH) radar that can spot large ships (like American aircraft carriers) as far as 3,000 kilometers away, and use this information to guide ballistic missiles to the area,. Such radars have long been used to detect ballistic missile launches, and approaching heavy bombers. Some OTH radars have been modified to take advantage of the flat surface of an ocean, to pick up large objects, like ships. Cheaper and more powerful computers enable such OTH radars to more accurately identify ships thousands of kilometers away.

An Over-The-Horizon (OTH) Radar

China's principal weapon would be their DF-21 ballistic missile, equipped with a high-explosive warhead and a guidance system that can home in and hit a aircraft carrier at sea. The DF-21 has a range of 1800 kilometers and normally hauls a 300 kiloton nuclear warhead. It's a two stage, 15 ton, solid fuel rocket that could carry a half ton penetrating, high-explosive warhead, along with the special guidance system (a radar and image recognition system). It is believed that the Chinese have reverse engineered, reinvented or stolen the 1970s technology that went into the U.S. Pershing ballistic missile. This 7.5 ton U.S. Army missile also had an 1,800 kilometers range, and could put its nuclear warhead within 30 meters of its aim point. This was possible because the guidance system had its own radar. This kind of accuracy made the Russians very uncomfortable, as it made their command bunkers vulnerable. The Russians eventually agreed to a lot of nuclear and missile disarmament deals in order to get the Pershings decommissioned in the 1980s. The Chinese have long been rumored to have a system like this, but there have been no tests. If the Chinese do succeed in creating a "carrier killer" version of the DF-21, the U.S. Navy can modify its Aegis anti-missile system to protect carriers against such attacks. There are also electronic warfare options, to blind the DF-21 radar. Another problem the Chinese will have is getting a general idea of where the target carrier is before they launch the DF-21. This is not impossible, but can be difficult. China is developing the technologies, and it's only a matter of time before they can actually do it, or at least try to.

Ka-52 Alligator helicopter production launched

Ka-52 Alligator helicopter production launched
(NSI News Source Info) November 29, 2008: A new-generation Ka-52 Alligator combat helicopter making a demonstration flight over the airfield at the Progress Aviation Plant in Arsenyev. The multi-role Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter is an improved derivative of the two-seat mass-produced Ka-50 Black Shark attack helicopter.
Deliveries of the Ka-52 Hokum-B to the Russian Air Force will start in 2009. The Kamov design bureau has said it plans to supply Ka-50 and Ka-52 helicopters to foreign customers in the future.

Uganda: Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) - War Without End

Uganda: Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) - War Without End (NSI News Source Info) November 28, 2008: Uganda's internationally-directed mediation team issued a statement designed to put pressure on the LRA's Joseph Kony. Negotiators said that Kony "must" sign the peace agreement by the end of November 2008.
However, the mediation team did not say what would happen if Kony does not sign the agreement.
Congo and Uganda have indicated they would take combined military action against the LRA. Of course, the LRA appears to have anticipated this.
LRA cadres are now operating in the Central African Republic. Will the demand motivate Kony? He still faces arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court. An LRA spokesman said on November 27 that Kony would sign it. Several thousand more civilians have fled the Congo violence, and crossed into Uganda. So far, about 15,000 refugees have arrived. November 14, 2008: While the Congo has numerous troubles already in eastern Congo, LRA raids in Congo in September (which killed at least 200 people) have led to new regional security talks between Uganda and the Congolese government. The Government of South Sudan may also be involved. The Government of South Sudan knows that the Sudan government (in Khartoum) has used the LRA as a "tool" against Uganda. If trouble erupts between north and south Sudan the LRA could be a "north Sudanese tool" for use against the south. A UN report described the LRA attacks in Congo were "systematic." The LRA guerrillas abducted approximately a hundred Congolese children. They also abducted children in a series of attacks in Sudan. This is an old LRA tactic. The children was used to carry supplies. Over time they may become "LRA recruits." November 13, 2008: Since the Museveni government came to power in 1986 it has confronted Uganda's traditional "north-south" divide. The war with the LRA in some ways reflects this division. The LRA largely comes from the Acholi tribe in northeastern Uganda. Museveni is a southerner. Museveni has, in the view of northerners, favored southern tribal groups. This is one reason the government's "recovery and reconciliation program" (part of the peace process with the LRA) has focused on "reconstruction" efforts in northern Uganda. However, the northerners aren't "sold" on the government's sincerity. The Ugandan press makes that evident. This is one reason LRA die-hards refuse to surrender. They think if they can hang on long enough, government reconciliation programs will fail and the north will be ready to rebel again. This is why LRA senior commander Joseph Kony still claims the LRA is fighting "against the marginalization of the north" (ie, northern Uganda).

ST Aero to Retrofit Indonesian C-130Bs

ST Aero to Retrofit Indonesian C-130Bs (NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - November 28, 2008: Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering) today announced that its aerospace arm, Singapore Technologies Aerospace Ltd (ST Aerospace), has been awarded a US$51 million (about S$75m) contract to perform maintenance and modification on four C-130B aircraft for the Indonesian Air Force (IAF). The programme commences immediately and is expected to be completed over 30 months. The work will be performed by ST Aerospace's subsidiary, ST Aerospace Engineering Pte Ltd (STA Engineering). This contract is not expected to have any material impact on the consolidated net tangible assets per share and earnings per share of ST Engineering for the current financial year. "We are pleased that the Indonesian Air Force has selected us for this programme. We have previously provided services to IAF, and the continued endorsement through this new contract demonstrates its satisfaction with our quality proposition. With our extensive experience on the C-130 and our performances in serving leading air forces and airlines around the world, we look forward to bring value to the IAF and meet its expectations," said Tay Kok Khiang, President, ST Aerospace. ST Aerospace is the aerospace arm of ST Engineering. Operating a global MRO network with facilities in the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe, it is the world's largest aircraft MRO provider with a global customer base that includes many of the world's leading airlines, airfreight operators and military operators. Its services include airframe, engine and component maintenance, repair and overhaul; engineering design and technical services; and aviation materials and management services, including Total Aviation Support. ST Aerospace has a global staff strength of more than 7,000 engineers and technical specialists.

Iran Says Navy Can Strike Well Beyond Its Coast

Iran Says Navy Can Strike Well Beyond Its Coast
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Source; War News Updates - November 28, 2008: Iran's navy can strike an enemy well beyond its shores and as far away as Bab al-Mandab, the southern entrance to the Red Sea that leads to the Suez Canal, an Iranian naval commander said on Thursday.
Naval Commander Mahmoud Mousavi also repeated Iran's assertion that it could control the Strait of Hormuz, the entrance to the strategic Gulf waterway that is on Iran's coast, Fars News Agency reported.
The United States, Iran's arch-foe which has a naval base in Bahrain on the Arab side of the Gulf, has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to end a row over Iran's nuclear plans which Washington says is to make bombs. Tehran denies this.
"We have now attained the capacity to take our defence capability to the depth of the seas, oceans and the Red Sea and face the enemy at the Bab al-Mandab strait if the enemy should have an evil intention," Mousavi said.

Indian Commandos abseil into Mumbai Jewish centre

Indian Commandos abseil into Mumbai Jewish centre
Video: Commandos storm Jewish centre (ABC News) VIDEO ON LINE Video: Mumbai stand-off continues (ABC News) VIDEO ON LINE (NSI News Source Info) November 28, 2008: Commandos have launched a helicopter-borne assault on the Mumbai Jewish centre where suspected Islamist militants are holding at least 10 Israelis, live television pictures showed. Witnesses said the first group of seven armed men crouched on the roof of the building as the helicopter returned to drop at least 10 more military personnel. Intermittent loud explosions were heard. The black-clad soldiers cautiously took up positions on stairs and balconies around the outside of the building as equipment was dropped from the helicopter hovering above. It was not clear if the commandos involved in the assault were Indian or Israeli. Hundreds of witnesses gathered on nearby rooftops to observe the operation. A witness said security forces fired into the building, apparently to provide cover, as commandos rappelled down a rope from the helicopter. Indian authorities said they were still "mopping up" at the Oberoi-Trident hotel, where terrorists are believed to have held people hostage. A number of Australians, including Hunter Valley winery manager Garrick Harvison, are still in the Oberoi waiting for the all clear from Indian security forces. At least 125 people have been killed and more than 300 injured after terrorists armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades carried out attacks across India's financial capital late on Wednesday night (local time). Police said at least five gunmen had been shot dead and one captured. The Jewish cultural centre is run by the orthodox Chabad movement. Seven people escaped from the site earlier this morning. Earlier, the chairman of the Indian Jewish Federation, Jonathan Solomon, said that he believed a number of Israeli nationals were being held at gunpoint. "There is an Israeli rabbi and his wife and a kid has been staying in the house," he said. "The kid is now safely out of the house and with the Israeli consulate. But two Israeli couples are inside the house and we are anxious about them." Additional Info:
Commandos storm Mumbai Jewish centre (NSI News Source Info) MUMBAI, INDIA - Nov 28 2008 05:09
Heavy gunfire erupted on Friday after Indian commandos were dropped by helicopter on to the roof of a Jewish centre in Mumbai, where suspected Islamist militants are holding at least 10 Israelis, a Reuters witness said. Television reports said it was the start of an assault by the paramilitary National Security Guard to flush out the militants.
The Jewish centre was one of three pockets in the country's financial capital where Indian forces were battling die-hard militants, more than 24 hours after the band of heavily armed fighters killed at least 121 people in coordinated attacks.
The Reuters witness said troops fired into the Jewish centre, apparently to provide cover, as commandos rappeled down ropes from helicopters that made at least three sorties. Television showed the commandos taking up positions on the roof.
The building is in a crowded part of the city, making a frontal assault difficult.Police said militants were still holed up as well at the Taj Mahal hotel and the nearby Oberoi-Trident hotel along with an unknown number of hostages.
There are seven South African Airways crew members still trapped in the Oberoi-Trident hotel, the Foreign Affairs Department said on Friday.
"Foreign affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma telephoned them on Thursday. The crew indicated that despite their ordeal, they remain in good health," said spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa.
A Reuters witness said commandos also entered the Oberoi-Trident on Friday morning, although there were no immediate signs of fighting.
Mumbai, a city of 18-million, is the nerve-centre of India's growing economic might and home to the Bollywood film industry. Hindu-dominated India, which has a sizeable Muslim minority, has been hit by militant attacks for decades. But this strike seemed aimed at crippling its ability to draw foreign investment.Its markets closed on Thursday because of the attacks but India's market regulator said he had asked stock exchanges to be ready to trade on Friday, with a final decision to be made later.
Pinning blame
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pinned blame for the attacks on militant groups based in India's neighbours, usually an allusion to Pakistan, raising prospects of renewed tension between the nuclear-armed rivals.He warned of "a cost" if these nations did not take action to stop their territory being used to launch such attacks.
An estimated 25 men armed with assault rifles and grenades -- at least some of whom arrived by sea -- had fanned out across Mumbai on Wednesday night to attack sites popular with tourists and businessmen, including the city's top two luxury hotels.
Police said at least seven of the attackers were killed and nine suspects had been taken into custody. They said 12 policemen were killed, including Hemant Karkare, chief of the police anti-terrorist squad in Mumbai.
At least six foreigners, including one Australian, a Briton, an Italian and a Japanese national, were killed. Scores of others were trapped in the fighting or were being held hostage.Police said 279 people were wounded.
Pakistan group
The Hindu newspaper said at least three of the attackers taken into custody were members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, based in Pakistan.
The group made its name fighting Indian rule in disputed Kashmir, and has been closely linked in the past to the Pakistani military's Inter Services Intelligence agency, the ISI.
Lashkar-e-Taiba has denied any role in the attacks.
"It is evident that the group which carried out these attacks, based outside the country, had come with single-minded determination to create havoc in the commercial capital of the country," Prime Minister Singh said on Thursday.
"We will take up strongly with our neighbours that the use of their territory for launching attacks on us will not be tolerated, and that there would be a cost if suitable measures are not taken by them," he said in a televised address.
Pakistan, condemning the assault, promised full cooperation.
The militants appeared to specifically target Britons, Americans and Israelis, witnesses said.
World leaders including United States president-elect Barack Obama condemned the incident.
The attacks brought the biggest chaos to the city since serial bombings in 1993, blamed on the city's Muslim crime syndicates, killed 260 people and injured hundreds. - Reuters

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Terror in Mumbai

Terror in Mumbai
(NSI News Source Info) Source STRATFOR - November 27, 2008: Fire in the dome of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai on Nov. 26 Summary If the Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai were carried out by Islamist militants as it appears, the Indian government will have little choice, politically speaking, but to blame them on Pakistan. That will in turn spark a crisis between the two nuclear rivals that will draw the United States into the fray. Analysis At this point the situation on the ground in Mumbai remains unclear following the militant attacks of Nov. 26. But in order to understand the geopolitical significance of what is going on, it is necessary to begin looking beyond this event at what will follow. Though the situation is still in motion, the likely consequences of the attack are less murky. We will begin by assuming that the attackers are Islamist militant groups operating in India, possibly with some level of outside support from Pakistan. We can also see quite clearly that this was a carefully planned, well-executed attack. Given this, the Indian government has two choices. First, it can simply say that the perpetrators are a domestic group. In that case, it will be held accountable for a failure of enormous proportions in security and law enforcement. It will be charged with being unable to protect the public. On the other hand, it can link the attack to an outside power: Pakistan. In that case it can hold a nation-state responsible for the attack, and can use the crisis atmosphere to strengthen the government’s internal position by invoking nationalism. Politically this is a much preferable outcome for the Indian government, and so it is the most likely course of action. This is not to say that there are no outside powers involved — simply that, regardless of the ground truth, the Indian government will claim there were. That, in turn, will plunge India and Pakistan into the worst crisis they have had since 2002. If the Pakistanis are understood to be responsible for the attack, then the Indians must hold them responsible, and that means they will have to take action in retaliation — otherwise, the Indian government’s domestic credibility will plunge. The shape of the crisis, then, will consist of demands that the Pakistanis take immediate steps to suppress Islamist radicals across the board, but particularly in Kashmir. New Delhi will demand that this action be immediate and public. This demand will come parallel to U.S. demands for the same actions, and threats by incoming U.S. President Barack Obama to force greater cooperation from Pakistan. If that happens, Pakistan will find itself in a nutcracker. On the one side, the Indians will be threatening action — deliberately vague but menacing — along with the Americans. This will be even more intense if it turns out, as currently seems likely, that Americans and Europeans were being held hostage (or worse) in the two hotels that were attacked. If the attacks are traced to Pakistan, American demands will escalate well in advance of inauguration day. There is a precedent for this. In 2002 there was an attack on the Indian parliament in Mumbai by Islamist militants linked to Pakistan. A near-nuclear confrontation took place between India and Pakistan, in which the United States brokered a stand-down in return for intensified Pakistani pressure on the Islamists. The crisis helped redefine the Pakistani position on Islamist radicals in Pakistan. In the current iteration, the demands will be even more intense. The Indians and Americans will have a joint interest in forcing the Pakistani government to act decisively and immediately. The Pakistani government has warned that such pressure could destabilize Pakistan. The Indians will not be in a position to moderate their position, and the Americans will see the situation as an opportunity to extract major concessions. Thus the crisis will directly intersect U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan. It is not clear the degree to which the Pakistani government can control the situation. But the Indians will have no choice but to be assertive, and the United States will move along the same line. Whether it is the current government in India that reacts, or one that succeeds doesn’t matter. Either way, India is under enormous pressure to respond. Therefore the events point to a serious crisis not simply between Pakistan and India, but within Pakistan as well, with the government caught between foreign powers and domestic realities. Given the circumstances, massive destabilization is possible — never a good thing with a nuclear power. This is thinking far ahead of the curve, and is based on an assumption of the truth of something we don’t know for certain yet, which is that the attackers were Muslims and that the Pakistanis will not be able to demonstrate categorically that they weren’t involved. Since we suspect they were Muslims, and since we doubt the Pakistanis can be categorical and convincing enough to thwart Indian demands, we suspect that we will be deep into a crisis within the next few days, very shortly after the situation on the ground clarifies itself.
Additional Info
Political India responds unitedly Harish Khare (Source: The Hindu) (NSI News Source Info) New Delhi - November 28, 2008: Political and official India reacted calmly and unitedly to the terrorists’ assault in Mumbai. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh went on the air, talked tough, asserted that a group “based outside the country” carried out the Mumbai attacks, and warned “neighbours” of consequences if they continued to allow the use of their territories to these terror groups. Authoritative sources in the Prime Minister’s Office told The Hindu that there would be no negotiations with the terrorists holding hostages. Politically, the principal Opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, as well as other parties extended support to the Manmohan Singh government in what they all described as a grave moment for the nation. The Prime Minister, the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, the Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar and the Samajwadi Party leader, Amar Singh, flew to Mumbai on Thursday evening. Originally all the leaders, including the Leader of the Opposition, L.K. Advani, were to fly together; but practical considerations made Mr. Advani take an earlier flight. Officially, the Prime Minister’s establishment marshalled all available resources to deal with the situation. National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar ensured that all necessary Army, Navy, intelligence and police resources and assets were made available for the anti-terrorist operation. The mobilisation of trained anti-terror resources, in fact, began late on Wednesday night, as it was evident to senior security officials that it was a grave national crisis. The Union Cabinet met on Thursday morning at the Prime Minister’s residence. Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who had flown to Mumbai early this morning (along with an NSG contingent) and returned some hours later, gave a preliminary assessment of the nature of the terrorist threat. Subsequently, the Cabinet committees on security and political affairs met jointly to finetune the government’s response. Mr. Pawar, who joined the meeting late, gave “quality” inputs, an authoritative source said. The political response to the Mumbai development seemed free from grandstanding or one-upmanship of any kind. Political leaders refrained from finger-pointing and did their best to present a united political face to the country.

ESA Ministers Pledge 10 Bn Euros for Space Programs

ESA Ministers Pledge 10 Bn Euros for Space Programs (NSI News Source Info) Source: European Space Agency - November 27, 2008: The Ministers in charge of space activities in the European Space Agency's 18 Member States and Canada today concluded a successful two-day Council meeting in The Hague, agreeing to undertake new initiatives in several fields and endorsing the next phases of a set of ongoing programmes. Today’s decisions are a further step towards giving Europe the means to respond to global challenges. In keeping with the European Space Policy, designed in cooperation with the European Commission, the measures will further strengthen Europe’s role in the development and exploitation of space applications serving public policy objectives and the needs of European citizens and enterprises. These decisions have particular relevance at the present time, showing as they do Europe’s determination to invest in space as a key sector providing for innovation, economic growth, strategic independence and the preparation of the future. Recognising that space is a strategic asset and that it is of fundamental importance for the independence, security and prosperity of Europe, the Ministers also adopted four Resolutions: --first, “The role of Space in delivering Europe’s global objectives”, covering the political and programmatic highlights of the Council; --second, a resolution establishing the Level of Resources for the Agency to cater for Space Science programmes and basic activities in the period 2009-2013; --third, the renewal of the contribution of ESA Member States to the running costs of the Guiana Space Centre - Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana (South America); and --fourth, a resolution outlining the future evolution of the Agency, spanning its financial management reform, decision-making processes, industrial and procurement policies and the further development of site infrastructures for ESA programmes. Decisions on programmes/activities On the programmatic side, the Ministers took decisions concerning the full range of the Agency’s mandatory and optional programmes. The decisions taken concern the following: a) The Agency’s mandatory activities: Funding of the Level of Resources for 2009-2013 covering the Scientific Programme and basic activities. b) Continuation of ongoing optional programmes and start of new programmes: --Subscriptions for the Launcher programmes, including funding of the Guiana Space Centre, Ariane 5 and Vega accompaniment technology programmes, Ariane 5 evolution and the future launchers preparatory programme. --Subscriptions for the Earth Observation activities, including the second segment of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security Space Component programme, the Meteosat 3rd generation development programme and a novel Climate Change Initiative on the provision of essential climate variables. --Subscriptions for the human spaceflight, microgravity and human exploration programmes including exploitation and evolution of the International Space Station, on-board research in life and physical sciences and definition studies on the evolution of a returnable transfer vehicle. --Subscriptions to robotic exploration programmes (the ExoMars programme and preparatory activities on future Mars robotic exploration). --Subscriptions for Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES), focusing on technologies, applications and mission demonstrations and including preparatory work for a European Data Relay System (EDRS), an air traffic management satellite system (Iris) and Integrated Application Promotion combining usage of telecommunications, Earth observation and navigation satellite systems with terrestrial information and communications systems. --Subscriptions for the programme on the evolution of the European Global Navigation Satellite System, to continue the improvement of Galileo. --Subscription to the start of a Space Situational Awareness programme to provide the information to help protect European space systems against space debris and the influence of adverse space weather. --Subscription to the continuation of the General Support Technology programme to provide in a timely way technologies for a wide range of new space programmes. Space is an enabling tool which gives European decision-makers the ability to respond to critical challenges such as global climate change and global security. It brings a significant contribution to Europe's growth and employment; it provides indispensable enabling technologies and services for the knowledge society; it increases the understanding of our planet and Universe; and it contributes towards European identity, cohesion and security, providing inspiration for future human potential and bringing young people into scientific and technical education. Through this meeting the ESA Ministers have seized the opportunity to capitalise on the recent successes and achievements of Europe in space and to translate the political impetus into new programmes able to deliver knowledge, services and competitiveness and to shape ESA to assert itself as a global space agency, indispensable to the world in contributing to global policies.

Marines Test New Mine-Field Breaching Vehicle

Marines Test New Mine-Field Breaching Vehicle
(NSI News Source Info) MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - November 27, 2008: On Nov. 23, the Marines with 2nd Combat Engineers Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, fired the M58 A3 line charge from the Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV) for the first time since the ABV hit the fleet.
The line charge, a 350 foot long string of C4 explosives, is launched by an MK 22 Mod 4 rocket mounted on the ABV. The rocket’s purpose is to stretch the charge to its full length. Once the charge is stretched out, Marines detonate it, creating a lane eight meters wide and 100 meters long.
After the charge is detonated, the lane is free of any mines, improvised explosive devices, or other hazards the Marines may face.
“This equipment is vital to us because clearing obstacle fields is one of the four tenants of combat engineering,” said 2nd Lt. Michael D. Barry, ABV platoon commander.
The line charge is packed with 1,750 pounds of C4, and with that much explosive, combat engineers have the ability to breach bigger lanes. This allows Marines to get through with heavy equipment, and bring more fight to the enemy. Staff Sgt. Justin K. Hickman, platoon sergeant for ABV platoon, said he believes with the new capability they have a great advantage.
The ABV, which has only recently hit the fleet, was designed for combat engineers, more specifically for lane breachers. It looks like an M1A1 Abrams battle tank without the turret, but has a few extra add-ons.
“This was what the vehicle was designed for but didn’t make it out of the testing phase until recently,” said Hickman, an Orangeburg, S.C., native. Besides the ability to launch line charges, it has a full width mine plow, a lane marking system, remote control system and a protective weapon system.
“We can clear a path through a large area, move more quickly, we can get to the enemy without losing Marines to IED’s or mines,” said Hickman. The vehicle is run by a two man crew but has the option to be remotely operated.
With its new capability to launch line charges, it will help the survivability rate of our troops, and increase our ability to quickly get through mine fields and other complex obstacles.
Although clearing an area can still be a long and arduous process, the 2nd CEB Marines now have one more weapon they can turn to when called upon to solve a situation quickly and safely.

General Atomics Wins $115M for 16 Reaper UAVs

General Atomics Wins $115M for 16 Reaper UAVs (NSI News Source Info) Source, US Department of Defense - November 27, 2008: The Air Force is awarding a Firm-Fixed-Price Contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, San Diego, Calif. Not-to-Exceed $115,158,656.
This effort is for 16 Global War on Terror, MQ-9 Reaper, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
At this time $52,927,284 has been obligated. 703 AESG/SYK, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, is the contracting activity (FA8620-05-G-3028).

IAI Wins Israeli Advanced C2 Contract

IAI Wins Israeli Advanced C2 Contract
(NSI News Source Info) BEN GURION INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Israel - November 27, 2008: The MLM Division of the Systems Missiles and Space Group of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been awarded a $28 million contract from Israel’s Ministry of Defense for advanced Command and Control (C2) Systems.
IAI's knowledge and experience in the field of C2 and C4I systems span decades and continues to deepen as development of newer systems proceeds. It is expected that this will enable IAI to win additional local and international programs, in both military and civil markets. Itzhak Nissan, IAI's President and CEO commented: "This significant contract is a vote of confidence in IAI’s MLM Division and its employees who conducted highly-rated design reviews and demonstrations prior to signing of the contract. This award is one of many international achievements in the development and marketing of C4I systems which will continue to strengthen IAI's position as a world leader in this discipline".
Israel Aerospace Industries sales for the third quarter of 2008 reached $877 million, compared with $797 million for the third quarter of 2007, an increase of 10 per cent.
IAI's back log of orders totaled approximately $7.44 billion as of September 30, 2008.
MLM Division of the Systems Missiles and Space Group is the leading systems integration house of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI). As a multifaceted design, development, and systems engineering organization, MLM has the experience, knowledge and capabilities to leverage its cutting-edge technologies to deliver systems that are among the most advanced in the world.

Canada Upgrades LAV III Armored Vehicles

Canada Upgrades LAV III Armored Vehicles
(NSI News Source Info) GATINEAU - November 27, 2008: The Minister of Public Works and Government Services, the Honourable Christian Paradis, and the Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, today announced that the Government of Canada awarded a contract to EODC Engineering, Developing and Licencing Inc. of Ottawa for Add-on-Armour kits, modules and spares for its LAV III vehicles. LAV III vehicles are state-of-the-art combat vehicles that are used to transport infantry on the battlefield while providing defensive protection and firepower.
“The Government of Canada is committed to the Canadian Forces,” said Minister Paradis. “Our government is proud to use Canadian companies to procure the finest tools for our Canadian Forces.”
“Our Government's policy is to provide the best possible equipment for the men and women of the Canadian Forces," said Minister MacKay. "The added armour on the LAV III will allow our Forces to conduct their duties in a safer vehicle."
The contract, with an estimated value of approximately $68 million, includes kits, modules, and spares for the supplemental armour for the LAV III vehicles, as well as the repair and overhaul of their current modules and kits.
An additional contract an estimated value of $13.5 million was also awarded to EODC to provide an Improvised Explosive Device Protection Kit for the protection of the LAV III Vehicles. EODC is the only Canadian company that could provide this kit, as it owns the intellectual property rights.
The Government of Canada awarded a two-year contract with two one-year options to EODC Engineering, Developing and Licencing Inc. of Ottawa for Add-on-Armour kits, modules and spares for its LAV III vehicles.
LAV III vehicles are state-of-the-art combat vehicles that are used to transport infantry on the battlefield while providing defensive protection and firepower.
DND has a requirement for supplemental armour kits and modules for its LAV III vehicles to improve protection for soldiers. These kits and modules will improve operational survivability. As there were only two qualified suppliers in Canada, a Request for Proposal was directed in May 2008 to both these companies.
After thoroughly evaluating the two industry proposals, PWGSC determined that EODC, which had the lower bid, would also provide best value for Canadian taxpayers. The EODC contract is valued at approximately $68 million and includes supplemental armour kits, modules and spares for its LAV III vehicles, as well as the repair and overhaul of its current modules and kits.
An additional sole-source contract with an estimated value of $13.5 million was also awarded to EODC for an Improvised Explosive Device Protection kit (IEDPK) for the LAV IIIs. The supplemental armour and the IEDPK will help to protect the men and women of the Canadian Forces for their missions.

Pakistan to Buy German Submarines

Pakistan to Buy German Submarines (NSI News Source Info) Deutsche Welle German radio - November 27, 2008: Pakistan, which has relied on French defense suppliers, is buying German-made submarines for the first time, but is still technologically behind its nuclear rival India. Pakistan has formally agreed to buy three Type 214 German submarines under deal worth more than $1 billion (773.7 million euros) that the two countries are expected to sign within the next few months, according to a media report on Wednesday. The German shipbuilding company Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW) will construct the diesel-electric submarines in a shipyard in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi, Pakistan's English-language daily The News reported. "The commercial contract has been finalized up to 95 percent," said Walter Freitag, the chief executive officer of the HDW, the largest conventional submarine maker in the world. Freitag, who was interviewed by the newspaper during a defense products exhibition called IDEAS 2008 in Karachi, said that once the contract is signed, the first submarine would be delivered to the Pakistan navy in 64 months, with the rest delivered in the following 12 months. Pakistan has traditionally relied on French submarines for its naval defense. This is first time that Karachi has opted for German boats. Earlier, the French firm Armaris, a subsidiary of Thales group, had lobbied for the sale of three Marlin type submarines. The company delivered the last one to Pakistan in 2006. "The Pakistan navy understands submarines and ours are the best," Freitag said. "We use higher grade steel material, which allows greater diving depth. Also, we have fuel cell AIPs and can integrate Harpoons with the Type 214." The non-nuclear Type 214 is a 65-meter-long boat which can dive more than 25 meters, but it lacks the technology to avoid detection. Pakistan's quest for new submarines was prompted by its traditional nuclear-armed rival India reaching a 1.5-billion-euro deal in 2005 with a French company for seven Scorpion submarines.

Qaeda Focusing on Pakistan, Top Marine Says

Qaeda Focusing on Pakistan, Top Marine Says (NSI News Source Info) November 27, 2008: Pakistan has become Al Qaeda's "strategic focus," the Marine Corps Commandant says. And Pakistan still isn't trying all that hard to quash the terror group. "Iraq is now a rear-guard action on the part of al Qaeda," Gen. James Conway tells the Wall Street Journal. "They've changed their strategic focus not to Afghanistan but to Pakistan, because Pakistan is the closest place where you have the nexus of terrorism and nuclear weapons." Gen. Conway said Pakistan's best troops were deployed along its border with India and weren't being used in the fight against the country's militants. Pakistan's leadership doesn't yet seem to accept that terrorism poses an existential risk to the country's future, he added. "Pakistan has to understand there's a dire threat there that they have to act against," he said. Pakistan's failure to take concerted action against the Islamist fighters has led the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. military's secretive Special Operations Command to launch a wave of missile strikes against insurgent targets inside Pakistan. The government in "Islamabad has given tacit approval to the strikes," fired from Predator and Reaper drones, the Journal notes. But the military still seems itching for a fight over the robotic aircraft. Last week, Pakistan's army practiced drone shoot-downs. Now, air force chief Air Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed says he's ready to knock the aircraft out of the sky; the country's political leaders just need to give the thumbs-up. "The air force is ready for any type of air defense," Ahmed tells Reuters. "First this nation, you people, our parliament, our government, has to debate how we have to engage the foreign UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). Whether we have to engage them diplomatically and politically to resolve it or engage them militarily."

Rheinmetall Develops USV For German Navy

Rheinmetall Develops USV For German Navy (NSI News Source Info) Bonn, Germany - November 27, 2008: The German Navy has contracted with Rheinmetall Defence to retrofit and supply it with a robotic boat capable of carrying out a variety of missions. In developing the Unmanned Sea Vehicle (USV), Rheinmetall is transferring its tremendous expertise in the field of unmanned terrestrial vehicles to new maritime applications. The order is worth around EUR1.3 million. Under a research and development contract awarded by Germany's Federal Office for Defence Technology and Procurement, Rheinmetall is integrating robotic components into a Watercat M8 fast attack boat made by Marine Alutech Oy Ab of Finland. Initially to be used for evaluation purposes, the boat will be capable of manned and unmanned operations. In contemporary operations where the main threat is often asymmetric, the special capabilities of the USV mean that it can make a valuable contribution as a reconnaissance asset, carrying out sustained monitoring and/or interception of hostile speedboats. Equipped with appropriate mission modules, unmanned sea vehicles can conduct operations where deploying human beings is extremely hazardous, e.g. capturing drifting contact mines. The system thus makes a tangible contribution to force protection at sea. Weighting just under two tons and measuring approximately eight metres in length, the boat has a top speed of 35 knots. It can operate in manned mode, autonomously, or in remote control mode, and also features automatic waypoint navigation. Moreover, the boat's comprehensive array of sensors significantly expands the surveillance coverage of the carrying vessel. At a later stage, following sea trials, Rheinmetall hopes to supply the armed forces with several of this versatile craft.

U.K. Hawk Delivery Slips

U.K. Hawk Delivery Slips (NSI News Source Info) LONDON - November 27, 2008: Delivery of the first Hawk advanced jet trainers destined for Britain's Royal Air Force have been delayed until 2009, planemaker BAE Systems confirmed. The British company should have delivered the first Hawk 128 to the RAF training base at Valley in October. The contract schedule required BAE to deliver 10 aircraft by the end of the year. A company spokesman said the delivery program had slipped a number of weeks behind schedule as a result of delays caused by "supply chain and resource issues." He said the delay will not "unduly impact on our customer's training program." BAE said in a statement, "Six Hawk 128s have now been delivered to Warton from Brough for flight test and paint, and we aim to have seven aircraft to offer for customer for acceptance by year-end." Deliveries of these and subsequent aircraft to RAF Valley will commence in early 2009. The RAF has been a long-time user of the Hawk. This latest version has been updated with a digital cockpit, new avionics systems and other improvements to make the aircraft compatible with new-generation fighters now coming into operation with the RAF such as the Eurofighter Typhoon. The aircraft are built at BAE's Brough site and readied for customer acceptance at the company's prime air systems factory at Warton. "An initial support package is already on contract and a large quantity of initial provisioning warehouse at RAF Valley. Technicians from our main sub-contractor at Valley, Babcock Defence Services, have started their training, and RAF pilots will start their Mk128 conversion training in the neat future," the statement said. BAE secured the MoD contract in 2004 to develop the new Hawk in controversial circumstances. Geoff Hoon, the defense minister of the day, ignored the advice of officials and ordered the Hawk 128 without a competition. The company was warning at the time it would have to run down the Brough Hawk operation without an RAF order. That would have put at risk a deal with India and other potential sales. Hoon was vindicated when BAE later secured the Indian deal. The British eventually ordered 28 aircraft in 2006 in a deal worth 450 million pounds ($688 million). The Hawks will provide the advanced training element of the Military Flying Training System program now coming together in a partnership arrangement between the MoD and Ascent, the Lockheed Martin-VT Group venture.

Brazil Reveals Helicopter Purchases from Russia

Brazil Reveals Helicopter Purchases from Russia (NSI News Source Info) RIO DE JANEIRO - November 27, 2008: Brazil revealed that it had bought 12 attack helicopters from Russia on October 23, after a visit here by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Nov. 26. The deal, which had not previously been announced, appeared in a memorandum of understanding signed by the Russian leader and Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva. "The parties recognize as a promissory accord ... some activities outlined during the celebration of the supply of the 12 Mi-35M helicopters for the Brazilian Air Force," part of the text read. Brazil and Russia "declare their conviction of the mutual benefits that can come from the continuation of the cooperation started with the negotiations relative to the fleet of attack helicopters." The Brazilian government confirmed the purchase in a joint statement released after Medvedev's departure. Medvedev signed accords to deepen military cooperation with Lula in Brazil earlier, but they did not close concrete agreements. After the meeting the Russian president traveled to Venezuela - which has adopted Cuba's role as the leading anti-American voice in the region - as Russian and Venezuelan warships conduct joint military maneuvers.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Malaysian MB-339CM Flies

Malaysian MB-339CM Flies
(NSI News Source Info) November 27, 2008: Alenia Aermacchi signed a contract with the Malaysian Ministry of Defence related to the supply of 8 MB-339CM trainer aircraft.­ Alenia Aermacchi yesterday completed the first flight of the MB-339CM for the Malaysian air force. The hour long mission was flown by Alenia Aermacchi chief test pilot Quirino Bucci and chief flight test engineer Carlo Monti. The test particularly explored the functioning of the new avionics. The “CM” has a HUD and three multi-function displays in both the front and rear cockpits. The avionics provides embedded simulation capabilities, digital maps, and is compatible for use with night vision goggles. The communications system is also upgraded and an Autonomous Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation pod and other features are part of the package, according to Aermacchi. An air-refuelling probe also is included. Malaysian pilots are due to start flying the aircraft come January, with the first two aircraft to be handed over by April and six more before the end of next year.
Additional Info
First Aermacchi MB-339CM for Malaysian Air Force Takes to the Air (Source: Alenia Aermacchi; issued November. 27, 2008) VENEGONO, Italy --- The first MB-339CM advanced trainer for the Malaysian Air Force made a successful first flight on 25 November from the Alenia Aermacchi facilities at Venegono airport. The flight, carried out by Alenia Aermacchi Chief Test Pilot Quirino Bucci with Chief Flight Test Engineer Carlo Monti, lasted about one hour and entailed the functional check of all on-board systems and particularly of the new avionics.
The first flight marks an important MB-339CM program goal. In January 2009 the Malaysian pilot training activities – which are slated to begin at Alenia Aermacchi – will proceed and the delivery of the first two aircraft is scheduled for the first quarter of 2009. The six remaining aircraft will all be delivered by the end of the next year, thus fulfilling the contract for the supply of eight MB-339CM advanced trainers signed in late 2006 by Alenia Aermacchi, a Finmeccanica company, with the Malaysian Ministry of Defence.
In addition to the aircraft, the deal covers the provision of spare parts, ground equipment and related services. The Royal Malaysian Air Force has been operating the MB-339A for over 20 years. Its selection of the MB-339CM confirms its confidence in the Alenia Aermacchi ability to once again provide it with a trainer with state of the art quality standards and levels of effectiveness.
The MB-339CM is derived from the current MB-339CD variant of the widely used two-seat, aerobatic, single-engine aircraft for the Advanced and Lead-In-Fighter Training phases of the military pilot training syllabus. With its performance, excellent handling and sophisticated systems, the MB-339CD is one of the most successful members of the Alenia Aermacchi training aircraft family. The MB-339CM is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics with a human-machine interface that includes a HUD (Head-Up Display) and three MFD (Multi Functional Displays) in both the front and rear cockpits, as well as software to simulate complex operational scenarios.
The aircraft features an air-refuelling probe, which makes it even more representative of most modern fighters, and enhanced training and operational capabilities. This version adds further training and operational capabilities, integrating new functions in its avionics system. These include embedded simulation, digital maps, compatibility with night vision goggles, new radio and IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) systems, a new integrated AACMI (Autonomous Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation) pod as well as modern safety equipment such as the Crash Data Recorder and Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT).

Pakistan Tries To Clean Up ISI Image By Shutting Down Political Wing

Pakistan Tries To Clean Up ISI Image By Shutting Down Political Wing (NSI News Source Info) November 27, 2008: After much pressure by the United States, Afghanistan, India and many Pakistanis, the new Pakistani government is ridding the ISI (Inter Service Intelligence agency) of personnel who are more interested in committing terrorism, than in stopping it. The government recently announced that the political wing of ISI was being disbanded. This section was believed responsible for Pakistani support of Islamic, or simply Pakistani, terrorist operations in Afghanistan and India, as well as support for Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan itself. The political wing has also served as a domestic spying operation whenever the military was running the country (which is about half the time.) Pakistan is currently run by a newly elected civilian government.
ISI's Political wing being cut off
ISI has long supported Islamic terrorists, and this time Pakistan is determined to root out "Taliban spies" in the ISI. The problem is that these Islamic radicals have been operating openly in the ISI for three decades, and were put there by the government in the late 1970s, when it was decided that Islamic conservatism was the solution for Pakistan's problems (corruption and religious/ethnic conflicts.) These guys are not just "Taliban spies," but Pakistani intelligence professionals that believe in Islamic radicalism. The ISI itself was created in 1948 as a reaction to the inability of the IB (Intelligence Bureau, which collected intelligence on foreign countries in general) and MI (Military Intelligence, which collected intel on military matters) to work together and provide useful information. The ISI was supposed to take intel from IB and MI, analyze it and present it to senior government officials. But in the 1950s, the government began to use the ISI to collect intel on Pakistanis, especially those suspected of opposing the current government. This backfired eventually, and in the 1970s, the ISI was much reduced by a civilian government. But when another coup took place in 1977, and the new military government decided that religion was the cure for what ailed the country. Typically, the Pakistani generals seized control of the government every decade or so, when the corruption and incompetence of elected officials became too much for the military men to tolerate. The generals never did much better, and eventually there were elections again, and the cycle continued. The latest iteration began in 1999, when the army took over, and was only voted out of power last year. Civilian governments tend to be hostile to the ISI, and apparently they are going to make a real effort to clear out many of the Islamic radicals in the ISI. But as recent attempt by the government to take control of the ISI backfired when the generals said they would not allow it. Nothing is simple in Pakistan. The ISI grew particularly strong during the 1980s, when billions of dollars, most of it in the form of military and economic aid, arrived from the oil-rich Arab governments of the Persian Gulf. All this was to support the Afghans, who were resisting a Russian invasion (in support of Afghan communists who had taken control of the government, and triggered a revolt of the tribes). The Afghan communists were atheists, and this greatly offended Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries, who feared that Russia would encourage Arab communists to rebel elsewhere. So the resistance to the Russians in Afghanistan was declared a holy war which, after a fashion, it was. After about nine years of fighting the tribes, the Russians got tired of their slow progress (and more pressing problems back home, like the collapse of their economy from decades of communist mismanagement). The Russians were gone by 1989 (and the Soviet Union collapsed three years later), but the Afghans promptly fell upon each other and the civil war seemed never-ending. This upset Pakistan, which wanted to send millions of Afghan refugees back home. Few of the refugees were interested as long as Afghans were still fighting each other. So the ISI created its own faction, the Taliban, by recruiting teachers and students from a network of religious schools that had been established (with the help of Saudi Arabian religious charities) in the 1980s. The most eager recruits were young Afghans from the refugee camps. The Taliban were fanatical, and most Afghans were willing to support them because they brought peace and justice. But the Taliban never conquered all of Afghanistan, especially in the north, where there were few Pushtun tribes (most Taliban were Pushtuns, from tribes in southern Afghanistan). The Pushtuns were about 40 percent of the population, and had always been the most prominent faction in Afghanistan (the king of Afghanistan was traditionally a Pushtun.)

Chinese Commandos Train To Kill Pirates

Chinese Commandos Train To Kill Pirates (NSI News Source Info) November 27, 2008: The Chinese South Sea Fleet recently conducted an anti-terrorism drill in which commandos flew to a merchant ship and then assaulted it by rappelling down from the helicopter and "cleared" the vessel of pirates and "rescued" the crew. Earlier this month, a Chinese cargo ship, the "Delight", and its 25 man crew, was taken by Somali pirates. About the same time, a Chinese fishing boat, with a crew of 24, was also taken by Somali pirates off the coast of Kenya. China has said it will contribute forces to help deal with the Somali pirates.