Wednesday, July 09, 2008

DTN News: D-8 Muslim States Meeting In Malaysia And Agree To Boost Food Production

DTN News: D-8 Muslim States Meeting In Malaysia And Agree To Boost Food Production (NSI News Source Info) KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - July 9, 2008: Eight Muslim developing nations agreed on Tuesday to embark on joint ventures to boost food production and endorsed a 10-year blueprint to expand trade cooperation.
In a joint statement, the Developing Eight summit warned that the current global shortage and skyrocketing prices of food posed a “serious threat’’ to socio-economic stability.
It also urged the international community to take action to tame spiralling oil prices and vowed to collaborate to develop alternative fuels and peaceful uses of nuclear energy – in an apparent support for Iran’s nuclear programme that has been criticised by the West. Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the group would promote joint ventures among their companies on projects to produce fertiliser, animal feed and create a seed bank to ease supply constraints in agricultural output.
“We want to cooperate in areas of food production. We want to increase food supply,’’ Mr Badawi, who chaired the summit, told a news conference.
“We have land, plenty of good and fertile land. We can form joint venture companies to invest.’’
Formed in 1997, the group brings together Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Nigeria, a market of nearly one billion people.The meeting coincides with the Group of Eight summit under way in Japan.The D-8 summit also agreed to take coordinated position in international forums and enhance regional cooperation to promote interests of developing Muslim nations.
At the end of the summit, “Kuala Lumpur declaration on meeting global challenges through innovative cooperation” was adopted in the final open session by the heads of the delegations of the eight member countries.
In the three-page joint declaration members reiterated their commitment to goals of the grouping.“We consider this summit as a turning point in the history of D-8 cooperation celebrating the tenth anniversary and adopting ten-year roadmap and other basic documents to enhance cooperation and solidarity among ourselves.”
The declaration recognised the need to address the current global food shortages and considered it a threat to socio-economic stability. They accepted a Bangladesh proposal to consider creation of a D-8 Food Fund.
On surging oil prices, the declaration expressed commitment to efforts in the energy sector and acknowledged the importance of collaborative efforts to enhance capacity, transfer of technology, exploration of new sources of supply, development of alternative fuels, including renewable sources, as well as peaceful use of nuclear energy.The declaration recognised intra-regional mobility of labour an effective tool to poverty eradication and development.
In this regard, the members agreed to enhance cooperation and exchange experience concerning protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers.
The members also agreed to focus on promotion of halal industry by launching joint ventures.
The declaration appreciated the contribution of Malaysia in developing common standards through Halal Development Cooperation, International Halal Integrity Alliance, and the Malaysian International Halal Showcase and the offer of Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme to conduct halal training programme.
It was also agreed that members would jointly harness the potential of Islamic banking and finance.
It welcomed signing by Malaysia of the agreement on simplification of visa procedures for D-8 businessmen and its ratification by Bangladesh, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan.

DTN News: First Airbus A400M Military Transporter Aircraft Rolled Out

DTN News: First Airbus A400M Military Transporter Aircraft Rolled Out (NSI News Source Info) SEVILLE, Spain - July 9, 2008: In a ceremony presided over by His Majesty Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, Airbus Military has today rolled out the first complete A400M military transport aircraft from the Final Assembly Line facility in Seville, Spain. Designed initially to a recognised requirement for a new airlifter for European air forces, the A400M incorporates the state-of-the-art materials and technology that are being continuously perfected in today’s civil aircraft fleets. Features such as electronic flight controls, carbon composite structures and an automated handling system will bring new standards of operability and safety to military aircrews. Launched under a single contract in 2003 with 180 orders for seven European launch customers, the A400M represents the most ambitious military procurement programme ever undertaken in Europe. The launch customer nations, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom were subsequently joined by Malaysia and South Africa, which recognised the potential of the new airlifter for their own requirements and brought the total number of commitments to 192. “Today is a great day for our industry,” said Carlos Suarez, CEO of Airbus Military and Head of MTAD: “It is the result of the combined efforts and determination of all those involved in the programme. It has been supported by the national governments - our customers, the industrial partners, the suppliers, and the employees who have worked to produce the aircraft. I would like to thank and congratulate them all.” “This event demonstrates our joint determination to show that EADS can design and manufacture a long-range military transport aircraft which will set new standards in airlift and open further potential in international markets. It also serves to justify the confidence which our customers placed in us when awarding the initial contract.”, said Louis Gallois, CEO of EADS. The initial contract, worth some 20 billion Euros was signed with a single interface between Airbus Military and OCCAR, (Organisation Conjointe de Coordination en matière d’Armement), the contractual body representing all seven European customer nations). Versatility is the characteristic that best describes the A400M, it being conceived with both tactical and strategic capability. With a payload of up to 37 tonnes over ranges of up to 4700 nm, the A400M is designed to carry all loads and vehicles in the European Staff Requirement (ESR) inventory, serve as an aerial delivery platform and act as an in-flight refueller for both fast jets and helicopters. The A400M is the first truly new military transport aircraft of its category designed in over 30 years, with twice the capacity and twice the payload of the current aircraft types that it will replace. It is all set to become the new standard in military airlift

Algeria takes delivery of Russian fighters Su-30MKA

DTN News: Algeria Takes Delivery Of Russian Fighters, Reviving Major Defence Deal (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - July 9, 2008: Russia has delivered two Su-30MKA 'Flanker' multirole fighters to Algeria, the first provision of aircraft to the North African country since a 2006 deal was nearly jettisoned due to Algiers' return of Russian-made MiG fighter jets. The aircraft were delivered to a military base some 40 km south of Algiers on 31 May, according to a Ministry of Defence statement released in local media and confirmed from Moscow by Russian state information service RIA Novosti. The resumption of the deal looks to pave the way for complete delivery of an arms package worth some USD7.5 billion, cementing Algeria as the world's third largest importer of Russian arms. The two fighters join six other Sukhoi aircraft previously delivered as part of a package of 28 Su-30MKAs for delivery by 2010. In February Algeria returned a number of MiG-29s after rejecting two MiG-29UBT trainers, judging them to be of low technical quality and secondhand rather than new, according to published

DTN News: Japan's GSDF Requests Development Funds For Mobile Combat Vehicle ~ New Kido-Sentou-Sya

DTN News: Japan's GSDF Requests Development Funds For Mobile Combat Vehicle ~ New Kido-Sentou-Sya (NSI News Source Info) TOKYO, Japan - July 9, 2008: Japan's Ground Self Defence Force (GSDF) has requested funding for the development of a Mobile Combat Vehicle (MCV, or Kido-Sentou-Sya) in a budgetary request for the 2008 financial year. The funding request for the new 8 x 8 armoured vehicle was approved by the Japanese Cabinet on 24 December 2007 as part of the 2008 budget. This, however, still needs to be approved by the Diet - which rejected funding for the MCV a year earlier. A vote on the budget is set for March 2008, two months later than usual due to the appointment of a new prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda, in September 2007. Most armies would describe the MCV - a purely Japanese designation - as a mobile gun system (MGS). It will be armed with a 105 mm low-recoil gun and will fire the same ammunition as the current Type 74 main battle tank (MBT). The total development cost for the MCV is estimated at JPY17.3 billion (USD169 million), with the project planned to end in 2015. The GSDF has asked for an initial JPY2.6 billion for the project in 2008, intended to cover costs of the chassis and turret/weapon system. The MCV will be developed by the Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI), with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) acting as the prime industrial contractor. The MCV will have a maximum combat weight of under 26 tonnes, which will enable it to be transported in the CX transport aircraft that TRDI is currently developing for the Japanese Air Self Defence Force. The MCV will have a high level of strategic mobility by air and land when compared to the currently deployed Type 74 MBT and Type 89 mechanised infantry combat vehicle (MICV), which lacks strategic mobility.

British forces have new BvS10 Viking tracked armoured vehicles

UK MoD awaits up-armoured BvS10 Vikings 09 July 2008 BAE Systems Hagglunds is to begin delivering a further 14 BvS10 Viking tracked armoured vehicles to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) in mid-July, all of which will be fitted with the enhanced protection package developed for operations in Afghanistan. That package was rapidly developed under an urgent operational requirement (UoR) in a series of applique fits, principally to up-armour the vehicles against small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, but also to enhance driver awareness. As other forces in Afghanistan have discovered, low levels of ambient light have reduced the effectiveness of existing light intensification systems for night operations and the Vikings have been fitted with both infrared headlamps and Selex Galileo's latest Driver's Night Vision System (DNVS 2). The latter combines an uncooled thermal imager working in the 8-14 µm band with a daylight TV camera; this feeds a colour LCD driver's display with a clear non-reflective screen. The armour package consists of bar armour around the front and sides of the front vehicle section and the sides and rear of the aft 'trailer' section. The forward bar package fit has been arranged to hinge with the doors and flop backwards at the front to allow access to the engine bay.

Israel developing artillery system for Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan improves artillery with Israeli support 09 July 2008 Three new artillery systems have been unveiled by the Kazakhstan armed forces. They were the subject of a presentation to Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev on 12 May at the training area of the Otar Guards Motor Rifle Division near Alma Aty, and subsequently participated in the Russian-Kazakh airmobile forces' exercise 'Co-operation 2008' in early July. Developed by Israeli industry under contract to the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defence (MoD), the systems are to be manufactured by local Kazakh companies. Examples are expected to be exported to other countries in the region, including Azerbaijan and the Kyrgyz Republic. Jane's has learned that the programme covers delivery of "several fully equipped artillery brigades" to customer(s) in Central Asia. Israel's Soltam has been responsible for developing two of the new Kazakh artillery systems: the Semser 122 mm truck-mounted howitzer and the Aibat 120 mm self-propelled (SP) mortar. Israel Military Industries (IMI) led the team that developed Naiza, a variant of IMI's Lynx autonomous multipurpose rocket system. All three systems have integrated automated command-and-control (C2) systems, provided by Soltam and Elbit. In addition, Aeronautics Defense Systems Orbiter mini-UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) systems provide aerial reconnaissance, target data and live battle-damage assessment, their output being fed into the overall command architecture of the fire-control system under development for the Kazakh systems.

U. K. acquiring two new aircrafts carriers

U. K. Signs Deal for 2 Carriers July 09, 2008: LONDON - A deal to build two 65,000-ton aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy has been signed by the British government, but a price for the program will not be finalized until 2010. The contract has a target price of 3.2 billion pounds. (Royal Navy illustration) The contract, signed July 3 by the Ministry of Defence and shipbuilder BVT Surface Fleet on board the pocket carrier HMS Ark Royal at the Portsmouth naval base in southern England, has a target price of 3.2 billion pounds ($6.4 billion). The deal includes a 700 million pound contingency and risk fund and a clause allowing both sides to reassess the final cost after the first phase of the project is completed in 2010. "The MoD retains the right to renegotiate the program at the end of the first 30-month phase of the overall project. The final target price will be agreed at that point," a ministry spokesman here said. The British are undertaking a similar process in which final pricing is decided after construction gets under way on several of the Astute-class nuclear submarines being built by BAE Systems. An industry executive said, "There are incentives in the deal for the alliance to bring the program home in as close to the 3.2 billion-pound target price as possible, but you probably won't find many people who don't think we will be calling on the contingency fund at some stage." The potential for renegotiation will raise concerns about the vulnerability of the program to a future change of government. A general election is likely here in the next 20 months or so. The carrier program was pushed through by the Labour administration and the Royal Navy against strong opposition from some quarters as the MoD grapples with balancing program plans and a defense budget under pressure. Lee Willett, the head of maritime studies at the Royal United Services Institute, here, said the signing of the contract clearly puts the carrier program on a firmer footing than it has been for the last couple of years. "All bets are off, though, if a change of administration comes about at the next election. That would likely mean a defense review and ultimately a freeze or reduction in defense spending," he said. "It's been a good day for Royal Navy power projection and for the industry here, but a new government would bring the potential for a lot of change," he said. In a statement today, Conservative Party shadow defense secretary Dr. Liam Fox welcomed the carrier signing, saying they were vital in maintaining Britain's expeditionary capability. "However, a number of issues still remain," he said. "The government must give assurances that the next stage of the program will not suffer any further delays, and that a sufficient number of escort vessels will be provided to protect the carriers. The government must also ensure that the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft comes into service as soon as possible." Cutting the program partway through the build would be a highly expensive operation. BAE announced it had been awarded a 275 million pound order by the MoD to design and supply the carrier's mission systems. The deal brings spending to date on equipment and materials for the carrier to 389 million pounds. In addition, a further 35 million pounds also is being spent modifying the Rosyth dockyard in preparation for assembly of the aircraft carriers. If construction proceeds to schedule, the first of the new carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, should be in service in 2014, followed two years later by HMS Prince of Wales. Initially the warships, the biggest ever operated by the Navy here, will be equipped with Harrier GR9 strike aircraft, but eventually these will be replaced with the vertical takeoff variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The MoD declined to give a date for when the F-35 would enter service on the carriers. The first carrier originally was due in service in 2012, but the project has been delayed by wrangling over costs and the need to mature design work to reduce risk. Aside from BVT, the other companies involved in the group known as the Aircraft Carrier Alliance are Babcock International and Thales UK. The carriers are being built in modules at yards around Britain and then floated up to the Rosyth facility of Babcock's for final assembly. BVT officially formed on July 1, bringing together the two surface warship yards of BAE on the Clyde in Scotland with the VT facility at Portsmouth. It will be responsible for just under half the value of the contract. The remainder will be subcontracted to other alliance members and subcontractors.

India produced avionic systems for Indian Air Force's SU-30MKI aircraft

Indian Joint Venture to Produce Aircraft Displays July 09, 2008: NEW DELHI - Indian joint venture Samtel HAL Display Systems (SDS) has won a contract worth $50 million to manufacture multifunctional displays for the Indian Air Force's Su-30MKI aircraft. Based here, SDS is a joint venture between private firm Samtel and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., which is building the fighter jets under license. The displays, jointly developed with the Defence Avionics Research Establishment - a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organization - and manufactured by Samtel, has recently received clearance for flight-testing from the Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness. With this clearance, Samtel becomes the first Indian company to indigenously produce multifunctional displays for the Indian military, an SDS release said. A senior SDS executive said that in the second phase, the company will manufacture displays for HAL's Light Combat Aircraft and the Intermediate Jet Trainer. The SDS joint venture was formed in 2006 as the first public-private partnership in this sector for developing and manufacturing avionics display systems. With the July 8 order, the joint venture will become the first Indian company to produce these displays in India. The display is a device that puts all aircraft systems-monitoring and flight-planning functions at the pilot's fingertips, displaying a composite view of the aircraft's environment. Samtel holds 60 percent of the stake in the joint venture, with the balance being held by HAL.

South Korea and Indonesia made a pact to exchange defense hardware

S. Korea Seeks Subs-For-Aircraft Deal with Indonesia July 09, 2008: SEOUL - South Korea is seeking a deal to trade its 1,300-ton diesel-electric attack submarines for Indonesian-built patrol aircraft, military officials said on July 1. The deal will be discussed when arms procurement officials from the two nations meet in Jakarta the week of July 7, a defense ministry spokesman said. He declined to confirm local media reports that the two nations would sign a memorandum of understanding on a one billion dollar deal to trade two South Korean submarines for eight Indonesian-built CN-235s. "We hope to sell our 1,300-ton 209-class submarines in return for acquiring CN-235s," a spokesman for the Defense Acquisition Programme Administration told AFP, without confirming details of the deal. "If the two nations agree on the deal, we can export submarines for the first time," he said. South Korea has nine 209-Class and two 1,800-ton 214-class submarines, both designed by Germany. It has already purchased eight CN-235s, jointly developed by Indonesia and Spain. Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, has upgraded its ageing naval fleet. If the two sides fail to agree next week, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-Hee will address the issue during his visit to Jakarta this month, the Korea Times said. "The two sides have virtually finalized the deal, as Indonesia accepted our final proposal on June 12 when its vice defense chief was visiting," a source was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Fossils = Natural History

Fossil Feathers Preserve Evidence Of Color July 09, 2008: The traces of organic material found in fossil feathers are remnants of pigments that once gave birds their color, according to Yale scientists whose paper in Biology Letters opens up the potential to depict the original coloration of fossilized birds and their ancestors, the dinosaurs. Closer study of a number of fossilized bird feathers by Yale PhD student Jakob Vinther revealed that organic imprints in the fossils - previously thought to be carbon traces from bacteria - are fossilized melanosomes, the organelles that contain melanin pigment. "Birds frequently have spectacularly colored plumage which are often used in camouflage and courtship display," said Vinther. "Feather melanin is responsible for rusty-red to jet-black colors and a regular ordering of melanin even produces glossy iridescence. Understanding these organic remains in fossil feathers also demonstrates that melanin can resist decay for millions of years." Working with Yale paleontologist Derek E. G. Briggs and Yale ornithologist Richard O. Prum, Vinther analyzed a striped feather found in 100 million-year-old rocks from the Lower Cretaceous Period in Brazil. The team used a scanning electron microscope to show that dark bands of the feather preserved the arrangement of the pigment-bearing structures as a carbon residue - organized much as the structures are in a modern feather. The light bands showed only rock surface. In another fossil of a bird from the Eocene Epoch - 55 million years ago - in Denmark there were similar traces in the feathers surrounding the skull. That fossil also preserved an organic imprint of the eye and showed structures similar to the melanosomes found in eyes of modern birds. "Many other organic remains will presumably prove to be composed of melanin," said Vinther. He expects that fur of ancient mammals and skin from dinosaurs preserved as organic imprints will likely be the remains of the melanin. "Now that we have demonstrated that melanin can be preserved in fossils, scientists have a way to reliably predict, for example, the original colors of feathered dinosaurs," said Prum, who is the William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology and chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, as well as curator of ornithology at Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History.