Sunday, July 13, 2008

Russia's Sukhoi Su-37

Russia's Sukhoi Su-37
July 13, 2008: A bold, new combat aircraft designed by the legendary Sukhoi Design Bureau and now undergoing tests in Russia has taken aim at America's next-generation fighter, the F-22. The Russian challenge comes in the form of the single-seat Sukhoi S-37, the world’s first combat aircraft to successfully exploit forward-swept wing (FSW) technology. First word of the S-37 leaked to the West in 1997, and took Western defense analysts by surprise. Now, after more than 120 test flights at the secret Zhukovsky Flight Test Center near Moscow, it is clear that there is nothing like this bird flying anywhere in the world today. Its creator, the Sukhoi group, is considered to be Russia's premier combat aircraft producer. Sukhoi currently produces a family of topnotch operational fighters and fighter-bombers all based on the very agile and powerful Su-27 air superiority fighter. These include such models as the Su-33 aircraft carrier-based air defense fighter and the thrust-vectoring Su-37, a fighter and ground-attack aircraft. The general director of the Sukhoi Design Bureau and the Sukhoi Aviation Military-Industrial Complex, Mikhail Pogosyan, is proud of his company’s success. But looking to the future, he sees the need to build a fifth-generation fighter and to find an eventual replacement for the Su-27. "The S-37 program [has] a critical importance for the development of our company," he tells POPULAR MECHANICS. Named Berkut, which translates to mean Golden Eagle or Royal Eagle, the S-37 bears an "S" rather than an "Su" designation because it is an experimental rather than production aircraft. Design of the aircraft, originally known as the S-32, began around 1983, and drew on many years of FSW research that had commenced in the former Soviet Union during the 1940s—initially using captured Nazi technology. The Russians were also well aware of the Grumman X-29 FSW research aircraft, as two of these single-seat, single-engine planes were being tested in America between 1984 and the early 1990s (see "The Outer Limits").

Russia’s Sukhoi Su-35

Russia's Sukhoi Su-35 July 13, 2008: This article explains the source of the widespread confusion regarding the SU-35’s layout and key characteristics, reviews what is now known about the platform, and tracks its development. The aircraft has a nominal customer in the Russian Air Force, but no large-scale orders as of yet. Nevertheless, the SU-30 family remains a strong export success for Russia, and the SU-35 is being positioned to succeed most SU-30MK variants as Russia’s fighter export of choice within the coming decade.

Canada Awards C$374M Contract for LAV Support

New Support Contract for Canada's Light Armoured Fleet July 13, 2008: GATINEAU, Quebec --- The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) and Secretary of State (Agriculture), and the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, today announced that the Government of Canada has awarded a $374 million contract to General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS-C) to provide a full range of services to the Canadian Forces Wheeled Light Armoured Vehicles fleet. "As the sole manufacturer of the Wheeled Light Armoured Vehicles, General Dynamics Land Systems Canada is the only company capable of providing the full range of services needed to maintain these state-of-the-art vehicles well into the future," said Minister Paradis, adding, "The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the Canadian Forces are equipped with the services they need to support their operations." "Canada's fleet of LAV III vehicles form the backbone of operations in Afghanistan," said Minister MacKay. "They continue to prove their worth in the exceptionally demanding Afghanistan environment. This contract will ensure that these vehicles receive the maintenance support needed to perform in challenging operations for years to come." The services provided for in the contract include fleet management, publication and technical data management, program management, spare parts, repair and overhaul services, training support, technical services and field service representation. The contract was awarded on a sole-source basis as GDLS-C is the designer of the Wheeled Light Armoured Vehicles and, together with its prime suppliers, owns most of the intellectual property rights or has exclusive access to all of the proprietary technical data related to this equipment. The contract period is from June 1, 2008, to March 31, 2013. GDLS-C has agreed to provide direct and indirect industrial and regional benefits equivalent to 100 percent of the value of the contract. "Through the industrial and regional benefits policy, we are ensuring that every contract dollar awarded is invested back into the Canadian economy," said Minister Paradis.

Indian Army abandons plans to order more Arjuns

Indian Army abandons plans to order more Arjuns 13 July 2008: The Indian army has confirmed that it will not place additional orders for the locally designed Arjun main battle tank (MBT) beyond the 124 already under construction. General Dalip Bhardwaj, the army's director general of mechanised infantry, said on 5 July that "the army will place no more orders for the Arjun". While the Arjun "might be used in the next decade or so", he added that it was not suitable "for next-generation warfare". "The army... is looking 20 to 25 years ahead and wants a futuristic MBT," he said. The Indian Ministry of Defence ordered 124 Arjuns in 2000 - which the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been developing since 1972 - to be built at the Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi in southern India. These were meant to be delivered by 2009 but will not be completed on time.

Mediterranean union is launched

Mediterranean union is launched July 13, 2008: Mr Sarkozy said he wanted love, not war, around the Mediterranean French President Nicolas Sarkozy has launched a new international body with 43 member nations aimed at ending conflict in the Middle East. The Union for the Mediterranean will tackle issues such as regional unrest, immigration to pollution. At the summit's opening in Paris, Mr Sarkozy said its aim was to ensure the region's people could love each other instead of making war. Israeli and Palestinian leaders earlier expressed optimism about peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel and the Palestinians have never been as close to a peace deal as they are now. He was speaking after talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who said both sides were serious and wanted to achieve peace. Transform the region Mr Sarkozy urged Middle Eastern countries involved in long-running conflicts to end the deadly spiral of war and violence, as European nations had done by making peace which each other during the 20th Century. Mr Sarkozy says his presidency of the EU is committed to progress on Middle East peace He said the grouping "will build peace in the Mediterranean together, like yesterday we built peace in Europe". Comprising 27 EU members with states from north Africa, the Balkans, Israel and the Arab world, the union's membership will include 756m people from Western Europe to the Jordanian desert. Welcoming the presence of Arab states alongside Israel, Greece alongside Turkey and Morocco alongside Algeria, Mr Sarkozy said the group would not be "north against south, not Europe against the rest... but united". He outlined the group's determination to focus on concrete projects focusing on the environment, immigration, security cooperation, transport and education. The French president was clearly buoyed by the presence in Paris of so many Mediterranean rim leaders and said the union would be based on concrete projects, says BBC world affairs correspondent Nick Childs. Mr Sarkozy is one of those politicians who is full of surprises because he is always campaigning. But critics have dismissed the new union as lacking substance, and diplomats say there are continuing disagreements over key issues such as how to address the Middle East peace process and a possible role for the Arab League. The only leader boycotting the Paris meeting was Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, who has described the union as a new form of colonialism. Mr Sarkozy played down the absence of Moroccan King Mohammed VI, saying he had sent his brother as a senior representative. He also dismissed suggestions the Syrian president had snubbed Israel by walking out of a speech by Ehud Olmert. Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said both he and Mr Olmert were serious and wanted peace. Israeli PM Ehud Olmert said his country had never been so close to reaching an agreement with the Palestinians as now. He added that he would like direct talks with Syria, but warned they must not hinder talks with the Palestinians.

US suffers heavy Afghan losses

US suffers heavy Afghan losses July 13, 2008: Nine US soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in clashes with Taleban militants. US commander Daniel Dwyer told the BBC the soldiers had been killed in clashes in the north-east of the country. The BBC's Martin Patience in Kabul says it is one of the biggest single losses in a day for the coalition since the start of military operations there. The attack came as international and Afghan security forces battled militants on several fronts. On Sunday, US forces said 40 insurgents had been killed in Helmand province in the past 24 hours. Insurgents 'hiding' There are conflicting reports as to where the latest attack took place. A foreign military spokesman said US soldiers and members of the Afghan National Army came under attack at a remote base in Kunar province, near the border with Pakistan. But Afghan officials insist the fighting took place in neighbouring Nuristan province. In a statement earlier, Nato reported that a small American Combat Outpost in Dara-I-Pech district of Kunar province, came under heavy fire at around 0430 local time (2400 GMT). It said insurgents had fired "with small arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars using homes, shops and the mosque in the village of Wanat for cover." Combined International Security Assistance Forces (Isaf) and Afghan National Army forces responded with small arms, machine guns, mortars and artillery, it said. Fighter jets and Apache helicopters were also brought in. Reports say that dozens of Taleban militants were also killed in the attack. There has been no confirmation of this. Our correspondent says Afghanistan's north-eastern border with Pakistan is a well-known trouble spot, and that there are frequent Taleban attacks on international and National Afghan forces. The fighting is close to where US forces were accused of killing 47 civilians in an air strike in Nangarhar province a week ago. The US military said they were militants. In a separate incident on Sunday, a suicide bomber killed at least 21 people, many of them children, in a market in the Deh Rawud district of Uruzgan province. No group has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

China breaking UN embargo in Sudan

China 'is fuelling war in Darfur July 13, 2008: The BBC has found the first evidence that China is currently helping Sudan's government militarily in Darfur. The Panorama TV programme tracked down Chinese army lorries in the Sudanese province that came from a batch exported from China to Sudan in 2005. The BBC was also told that China was training fighter pilots who fly Chinese A5 Fantan fighter jets in Darfur. China's government has declined to comment on the BBC's findings, which contravene a UN arms embargo on Darfur. The embargo requires foreign nations to take measures to ensure they do not militarily assist anyone in the conflict in Darfur, in which the UN estimates that about 300,000 people have died. More than two million people are also believed to have fled their villages in Darfur, destroyed by pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia. Plates on the first truck show it was imported after the embargo Panorama traced the first lorry by travelling deep into the remote deserts of West Darfur. They found a Chinese Dong Feng army lorry in the hands of one of Darfur's rebel groups. The BBC established through independent eyewitness testimony that the rebels had captured it from Sudanese government forces in December. The rebels filmed a second lorry with the BBC's camera. Both vehicles had been carrying anti-aircraft guns, one a Chinese gun. Markings showed that they were from a batch of 212 Dong Feng army lorries that the UN had traced as having arrived in Sudan after the arms embargo was put in place. The lorries came straight from the factory in China to Sudan and were consigned to Sudan's defence ministry. The guns were mounted after the lorries were imported from China. When it is shooting or firing there is nowhere for you to move and the sound is just like the sound of the rain Hamaad Abakar Adballa describing attack by anti-aircraft gun The UN started looking for these lorries in Darfur three years ago, suspecting they had been sent there, but never found them. "We had no specific access to Sudanese government army stores, we were not allowed to take down factory codes or model numbers or registrations etc to verify these kinds of things," said EJ Hogendoorn, a member of the UN panel of experts that was involved in trying to locate the lorries. Culpability China has chosen not to respond to the BBC's findings. Its public position is that it abides by all UN arms embargoes. China has said in the past that it told Sudan's government not to use Chinese military equipment in Darfur. Sudan's government, however, has told the UN that it will send military equipment wherever it likes within its sovereign territory. An international lawyer, Clare da Silva, says China's point that it has taken measures in line with the arms embargo's requirements to stop its weapons from going to Darfur is meaningless. "It is an empty measure to take the assurances from a partner who clearly has no intention of abiding by the resolution," she said. Ms da Silva said the BBC's evidence put China in violation of the arms embargo. The UN panel of experts on Darfur has said it wants to examine the BBC's evidence. Homes scorched The BBC found witnesses who said they saw the first Dong Feng which the BBC tracked down being used with its anti-aircraft gun in an attack in a town called Sirba, in West Darfur, in December. "When it is shooting or firing there is nowhere for you to move and the sound is just like the sound of the rain. Then 'Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!'" said Hamaad Abakar Adballa, a witness in the Chadian refugee town of Birak. The Chinese are accused of training pilots to use Fantan fighter jets The lorry's powerful anti-aircraft gun fired straight into civilian houses. The gun carries high calibre shells that explode on impact, spreading hot shards of metal and causing terrible wounds Witnesses saw one hut take a direct hit from the gun: "An intense wave of heat instantly sent all the huts around up in flames," one witness, Risique Bahar, said. "There was a lot of screaming." In the attack on Sirba one woman was burnt to death, another horribly injured. Genocide accusation Sudan's government has been accused by the United States of genocide against Darfur's black Africans. The terms of the embargo cover not only just the supply of weapons, military vehicles, paramilitary equipment. It also covers training any technical assistance, so the training of pilots obviously falls within the scope of the embargo International lawyer, Clare da Silva Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) say war crimes by Sudan's Arab-dominated government have included summary executions, rape and torture. Recently the conflict has deteriorated into more confused fighting, with rebel and militia groups also fighting each other. Two hundred thousand people have been displaced already this year. Malnutrition rates are set to soar in South Darfur later this year due to insecurity and drought. Darfur's landscape is spotted with blackened circles representing the hundreds of the villages that were burnt down by government forces and their Janjaweed allies. Air attacks In these attacks Darfur's civilians have been hunted not just from the ground, but from the sky. Most civilians who tell stories of aerial attacks talk about Russian made Antanovs and helicopter gunships. Many also talk about fighter jets being used, but no-one has ever answered the question of which type of fighter jets these are. President Bashir says facts have been distorted and exaggerated Kaltam Abakar Mohammed, a mother of seven, watched three of her children being blown to pieces as they were attacked by a fighter jet on 19 February in the town of Beybey in Darfur. The BBC has established that Chinese Fantan fighter jets were flying on missions out of Nyala airport in south Darfur in February. Panorama acquired satellite photographs of the two fighters at the airport on 18 June 2008, and its investigations indicate these are the only fighter jets that have been based in Darfur this year. When Kaltam heard the sound of fighting early that morning, she took her children and ran. "We start running near the well," she said. "We hid behind a big rock. Something that looks like an eagle started coming from over there. It looked like an eagle but it made a funny noise." Jem rebels used a BBC camera to film a truck fitted with an anti-aircraft gun When the plane unleashed two bombs Kaltam's five-year-old daughter, Nura, was dismembered from the chest up. Her eight-year-old son, Adam, was killed instantly, as was her 20-year-old daughter, Amna. Kaltam's 19-month-old grandson still has shrapnel in his head from the fighter jet bombing. He cries a lot and often calls out for his mother, but she was killed in the attack. Kaltam's 13-year-old girl, Hawa, cannot grasp what she saw happen that day to her brother and two sisters. She rarely speaks now. Pilot training The Chinese Fantan jets are believed to have been delivered to Sudan in 2003 before the current UN arms embargo was imposed on Darfur. But the BBC has been told by two confidential sources that China is training Fantan fighter pilots. Sudan imported a number of fighter trainers called K8s two years ago - they are designed to train pilots of fighters like Fantans. "Clearly this is what they used to train for operations with the Fantans," said Chris Dietrich, a former member of the UN panel on Darfur. This second truck also had plates identifying it as being from China International lawyer Ms da Silva says if China is training Fantan pilots, this represents another Chinese violation of the UN arms embargo. "The terms of the embargo cover not only just the supply of weapons, military vehicles, paramilitary equipment. It also covers training any technical assistance, so the training of pilots obviously falls within the scope of the embargo." There are strong economic ties between the China and Sudan. China buys most of Sudan's oil and believes that what Sudan needs is good business partners, help with development and a solid peace process in Darfur, instead of confrontation and sanctions from the West. So when China's President Hu Jintao visited Sudan in 2007 he wrote off millions of dollars worth of debt and donated a multi-million pound interest free loan for a new presidential palace to Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir. In April last year, China's military leaders pledged to strengthen co-operation with Sudan.