Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pakistan and Taliban

Indian Intelligence Agencies Predicted Afghanistan Embassy Attack as Pakistan Signs Agreements with Taliban July 10, 2008: Two weeks before the suicide bombing at the Indian Embassy in Kabul that killed 41 people, Indian intelligence agencies had alerted Afghan authorities of the possibility of such an attack by the Taliban.Four Indians, including a defence attache and a high-ranking diplomat, were among those killed in the terror attack on Monday. Government sources said the involvement of Pakistan in the latest terrorist attacks could not be ruled out, with Pak military intelligence trying to strike a deal with the Taliban.Soon after the attack, Afghanistan too had blamed a 'foreign intelligence agency' for the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, making a veiled reference to Pakistan. Security at the Indian Embassy in Kabul was increased and new barricades were erected around it two days before the bomber blew himself up.According to sources, the loss of human life in Monday's suicide bombing would have been 'much, much higher' had new efforts to buttress security at the mission had not been taken. Ruing that 'there is little anyone can do when someone decides to blow themselves up,' sources did mention that this attack on the Indian mission in Kabul was 'serious' and 'we will not let them (those responsible for sheltering, arming and funding enabling terrorists) go.'Indian security forces are on high alert within the country and at all Indian missions abroad following a threat perception from terrorists through Pakistan. Referring to the recent suicide bombing near the Lal Masjid in Islamabad that killed 20 people, Indian government sources said that with 'Pakistan too experiencing bombings and attacks that left innocent civilians dead or maimed, it might learn the cost of terrorism and work towards wiping out the menace.'The Indian Embassy in Kabul will soon be shifted in a new and more secure building in Kabul, sources said. Despite the attacks, India has vowed to intensify its efforts to help with the reconstruction work in Afghanistan and to ensure stability in the country.Meanwhile, a member of Parliament, on Wednesday, claimed that it is a deliberate design by the Pakistan military intelligence to perpetrate horrific acts of terrorism in India and Indian installations in nations like Afghanistan, and also within Pakistan to derail the peace process between the two neighbours. He said the Pakistan military is trying to create a state of unrest among people in an attempt to show the new dispensation in Islamabad in poor light and thereby seize back power.

Air Tanker Wars Back To Square One

Pentagon To Re-Bid Air Force Tanker Contract

July 10, 2008: The Pentagon has spiked a controversial $35 billion contract for a new Air Force refueling tanker and will reopen the competition, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said July 9. In addition, Gates has taken the source selection process for the KC-X tanker out of the Air Force's hands and directed John Young, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, to serve as the new source selection authority and to appoint a new source selection committee. Gates said that was done "with the full support of the Air Force." Young said the cancellation was in the form of a stop-work order on the contract the Pentagon had signed with Northrop Grumman and EADS. The cancellation opens the door for rival Boeing to get its losing bid reevaluated. The Pentagon acted after the Government Accountability Office last month upheld Boeing's protest of the award to build 179 tanker aircraft, sustaining what Gates said were eight of more than 100 issues raised by Boeing. The issues included the Air Force's failure to acknowledge that Boeing's proposal provided more optional systems than Northrop's; "misleading and unequal discussions" with Boeing; and the service's inaccurate estimate of both tankers' life-cycle costs. All of the GAO findings will be addressed, Gates said. At a Pentagon news conference, Gates said that while the KC-X process has gone on "far too long," he believes the new competition can be completed, and a contract awarded, by December. That can be accomplished, he said, "by running a process that is transparent to the competing companies, by complete communication with those companies so that there are no surprises, no considerations that have not been discussed, no criteria that have not been discussed, nothing done that is unfair." But Young later said that December is "a goal" and that the Pentagon has called for "modified proposals," meaning that Boeing, for instance, could submit a completely different airframe for consideration. Young said the Pentagon would be following a "normal acquisition process," including a draft for proposals amended by the GAO's findings. But he and Gates both said they do not anticipate issuing new evaluation criteria. Young said the Pentagon believes it has a valid requirements document. "We believe that we can ask both bidders to modify their proposals to address those concerns based on how we will implement those findings in that amended request for proposals and move forward," he said. Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, in office just 2 1/2 weeks, acknowledged that GAO's decision on the KC-X award "has been sufficient to cast doubt on the Air Force's management of the overall process." But Gates and Young denied that GAO's conclusions - coming 1 1/2 years after it canceled the Air Force's November 2006 contract award to Boeing for a combat search-and-rescue helicopter - mean that the Air Force's acquisition process is broken. "I have confidence in the acquisitions team," Gates said. "I think that Secretary Donley has indicated that there are some areas where there needs to be improvement, but I think we will go forward with that." That confidence extends to Sue Payton, the Air Force assistant secretary in charge of acquisition, Gates said. But he added that placing his top acquisitions chief in charge of the selection process "is an appropriate and necessary step to ensure congressional and public confidence that DoD can and will successfully manage to completion a large, complex procurement such as the KC-X. It is essential for the department, working with Congress, to maintain both internal and public confidence in our acquisition process. "This is the third time we've gone at this," Gates said. "And under those circumstances, it seemed to me that we were most likely most quickly to gain the confidence of Congress in the way forward by having the undersecretary oversee this particular contract." Once the contract is awarded, the Air Force will manage it and execute the program, Young said. Young said officials decided not to do a competitive "fly-off" because both aircraft are essentially commercial models being modified with booms and probes, and there's "not as much technical risk" as with a program being built from scratch, such as the Joint Lightweight Tactical Vehicle. "We're already getting the benefit in this program of a commercial marketplace that delivered something like 400 aircraft in each company last year," Young said. "We're going to buy 12 to 15 aircraft per year. We're getting huge benefit from getting commercial market pricing and riding on that commercial industrial base. "So it's not clear to me that competition at the prototyping or production level will pay us great dividends," Young said. "It will add significant costs for us in terms of training, that development money, the testing money, the training money, the additional spares, and a long-term lifecycle of two aircraft." Splitting the buy between the two groups also was ruled out because of the potential costs. "We would have to spend the development money and the testing money to develop and test two tankers," Young said. Subsequently, he said, "We would probably have to cut the buy to six, seven, eight aircraft a year between two companies. That would drive the price up further even yet. Then I would have to train people in two different aircraft. "And, frankly, if I spent the money to develop both tankers, you'd have to ask yourself, well, would you really have another competition at KC-Y?" he said, referring to this first phase of a three-phase acquisition process for the tanker. Congressional leaders were briefed earlier July 9, Gates said. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said Gates' decision "is a win for America's workers and taxpayers, as well as our war fighters deployed around the world." Northrop partner EADS - the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company - is the parent company of Boeing rival Airbus. The House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the tanker debacle Thursday at 2 p.m. Young will testify, along with two GAO investigators

Russia's Sukhoi Su-35 fighter

Russia's Su-35 fighter makes first demonstration flight
July 10, 2008: ZHUKOVSKY (Moscow Region) - Russia's new state-of-the-art Su-35 Flanker multirole air superiority/strike fighter successfully completed its first demonstration flight on Monday. During the six-minute flight it carried out a number of stunts and maneuvers. The demonstration was attended by Vladimir Mikhailov, former commander of Russia's Air Force. Deliveries of the new aircraft, billed as "4++ generation using fifth-generation technology," to foreign clients will start in 2011, the chief executive of the Sukhoi aircraft maker said earlier on Monday. "We have a large number of orders for this aircraft. Deliveries will be made both for the Russian Air Force and foreign clients... We will start deliveries in 2011," Mikhail Pogosyan said. The manufacturer said previously the Su-35 would enter service with the Russian Air Force in two to three years. Russia's Air Force commander Alexander Zelin said that Russian Air Force regiments could receive the new aircraft. "We plan to train two to three regiments to fly the Su-35 aircraft," he said. The Su-35, powered by two AL-37F engines, combines high maneuverability and the capability to effectively engage several air targets simultaneously using both guided and unguided missiles and weapon systems. The Su-35 prototype made its maiden flight on February 18, and two more aircraft are being prepared for similar tests at an aircraft manufacturing plant in Russia's Far East. Sukhoi, which is part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, is planning to export more than 40 combat aircraft in 2008. In 2007, Sukhoi exported about 50 Su-30MK2, Su-30MKM and Su-30MKI aircraft to countries including Algeria, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Venezuela. The company also announced that its 2007 sales had grossed over 50 billion rubles ($2 billion).

DTN News: Iran Test-Fired Nine Long- And Medium-Range Missiles Wednesday

DTN News: Iran Test-Fired Nine Long- And Medium-Range Missiles Wednesday
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - July 10, 2008: Iran test-fired nine long- and medium-range missiles Wednesday during war games that officials said were intended to show the country can retaliate against any U.S. or Israeli attack, state television reported. The test-firings were widely condemned in the United States, notably by the White House and the two main presidential candidates. The exercise was being conducted at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway through which about 40 percent of the world's oil passes. Iran has threatened to shut down traffic in the strait if attacked.