Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Second Tejas aircraft breaks sound barrier on maiden flight

Second Tejas aircraft breaks sound barrier on maiden flight Tuesday, June 17, 2008 (Bangalore) The second indigenously developed light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas flew at supersonic speed on its maiden test flight over Bangalore skies on Monday evening. ''This is the second time a Tejas aircraft has flown at a speed of 1.1 Mach (1,320 km per hour) up to an altitude of 9.5 km in a maiden flight lasting 43 minutes,'' the state-run Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) said in a statement late Monday.The limited series production aircraft (LSP2) was flown by ADA's national flight test centre (NFTC) pilot Wing Commander N. Tiwari. As is the practice, the multi-role fighter aircraft was chased by another Tejas prototype version three (PV-3) piloted by Wing Commander R.R. Tyagi.The flight test was monitored from NFTC's telemetry station at the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) airport in the eastern suburb of the city.''The maiden flight of LSP2 is significant on several accounts. This is the second limited series production aircraft that rolled out of the LSP hangar of HAL. It is also the first aircraft powered by the new GE404-IN20 engine and has a new ejection seat version - the Martin Baker Mk 16LG,'' the aerospace agency said.The first eight Tejas aircraft is to be delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy between 2010 and 2012 and will be fitted with the IN20 engines from the US-based General Electric.

Boeing, Malaysia Airlines Announce Order for 35 Next-Generation 737s

Boeing, Malaysia Airlines Announce Order for 35 Next-Generation 737s FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom, July 16, 2008 -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] and Kuala Lumpur-based Malaysia Airlines today announced at the Farnborough International Airshow the airline has ordered 35 Next-Generation 737-800 airplanes. The order is valued at more than $2.6 billion at current list prices. The airline also has acquired purchase rights for an additional 20 Next-Generation 737-800s.

China, Thai Spec Ops Forces Train

China, Thai Spec Ops Forces Train 16 July, 2008: TAIPEI - Several dozen Chinese and Thai special operations forces began an anti-terrorism training exercise in Thailand's northern province of Chiang Mai on July 11 at the 5th Special Forces Regiment base. The 20-day exercise, called Strike-2008 and involving 24 troops from each country, follows Strike-2007, conducted in China's Guangdong Province last July. "This combat training exercise is an elevated part of an ongoing trend in Thai-Chinese relations," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. "It is part and parcel of China's charm offensive and soft power in ASEAN, particularly in mainland Southeast Asia. Previously, the mil-mil component did not receive as much attention and resources, but Beijing has recently stepped up its military and defense cooperation with Thailand," he said. "Senior Thai military sources have indicated that there are now more mid-level Thai military officers being trained in China than ever, and the PLA [People's Liberation Army] offers to take in more." China has been making itself increasingly "accommodating to the point where they have pledged to their Thai colleagues that they will provide all necessary facilities and support for greater intakes of Thai military officers for training in China." Growing Sino-Thai mil-to-mil relations has made many in the U.S. military nervous. Since the Vietnam War era, the U.S. has maintained close military relations with Thailand. Things changed after the military coup in September 2006 when the United States suspended $24 million in military aid and canceled military education programs. Even though the annual joint U.S.-Thai Cobra Gold exercises continued, Washington pressure on the junta leaders continued until the December 2007 elections. However, China showed little interest in who was in charge in Bangkok. Thai coup leader Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin received a red carpet welcome in Beijing just four months after the coup and the junta received $40 million in Chinese military aid. "In absolute terms, the U.S. is still the most important, but China is gaining ground relatively speaking in being a training ground for up-and-coming Thai military officers. The combined combat exercise is just a small reflection of this broader trend," Pongsudhirak said. China has also been very accommodating in working with Thailand to procure arms. In 2005, Thailand procured 96 Chinese NORINCO WMZ-55B1 six-wheel-drive armored personnel carriers at $300,000 apiece in a deal involving 100,000 tons of dried logan fruit. Russia made a similar deal with in 2005 for $25 million in rice for four Mi-17 transport helicopters.

Oboronprom Corporation and AgustaWestland Sign Heads of Agreement for AW139 Helicopter Final Assembly in Russia at Farnborough-2008

Oboronprom Corporation and AgustaWestland Sign Heads of Agreement for AW139 Helicopter Final Assembly in Russia at Farnborough-2008 July 16, 2008: FARNBOROUGH, UK --- Oboronprom Corporation and AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, have signed a Heads of Agreement at Farnborough-2008 to set up an industrial Joint Venture for the final assembly of the AgustaWestland AW139 civil helicopter in Russia. The agreement has been signed within the framework of the large-scale & long-term co-operation between Oboronprom Corporation and AgustaWestland in the helicopter business, which was announced during the Moscow International Exhibition HeliRussia-2008 in May 2008. The initial step of such co-operation was the signing of a Distribution Agreement between AgustaWestland and Oboronprom Corporation, together with Loyd’s Investments Corp., for AgustaWestland civil helicopters in Russia and CIS countries. A second stage is the joint activity of Oboronprom Corporation and AgustaWestland to establish a network of maintenance centres for AgustaWestland products in Russia. The industrial Joint Venture will be set up on a parity basis between the parties involved. The civil AW139 Final Assembly project foresees that the production line will be built in a green-field location in the Moscow area. The civil AW139 produced in Russia will be primarily used to satisfy the requirements of the markets in Russia and CIS countries and - through the AgustaWestland network – for the rest of the world. “We highly appreciate the outcome of our collaboration with Oboronprom, which has enabled the signing of the Heads of Agreement at Farnborough” said Giuseppe Orsi, Chief Executive Officer, AgustaWestland. “Establishing an AW139 Final Assembly line in Russia will allow us to better satisfy the constantly growing AW139 demand in the commercial market for this helicopter and to further expand our presence in the Russian and CIS civil markets.” ”Signing of this Agreement features consolidation of the Russian position in the world co-operation system in the aviation sphere. In the framework of this mutually beneficial co-operation the Russian helicopter engineering sector can gain access to the advanced production technologies and high quality standards of the product support. We will strive to expand our collaboration, and by means of localization of production in Russia as well” said Andrey Reus, Director General, Oboronprom. AW139 – a medium twin helicopter of 6400kg take-off weight, is capable to carry up to 15 passengers. It is used as a corporate-transport and VIP helicopter as well as for offshore, in emergency situations, for rescue and fire-fighting operations. AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is a major force in commercial and military helicopter markets around the world and offers an unrivalled range of helicopters, training and support solutions to satisfy customer's mission requirements. AgustaWestland's main facilities are located in Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Oboronprom Corporation is multi-profile industrial investment group, founded in 2002. Major activities of the corporation: helicopter production, engine production, air-defenсe systems and complex radio-electronic systems, leasing.

DTN News: Aircraft Lessor DAE Capital Signs Firm Order for 100 Airbus Aircraft

DTN News: Aircraft Lessor DAE Capital Signs Firm Order for 100 Airbus Aircraft (NSI News Source Info) PARIS - July 16, 2008: DAE Capital, the aircraft leasing and financing division of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), has signed a firm contract for the purchase of 30 Airbus A350-900 and 70 Airbus A320 aircraft.
The contract follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed at the Dubai air show in November 2007.
DAE Capital aims to become a leading lessor based in the Middle East. DAE Capital’s parent company DAE is a fast developing global aerospace company with activities including airport development and operations, engineering, manufacturing and services.
“DAE Capital has built a business from ground-up and has made impressive progress since its launch. With our industry-experienced management team and well-defined road map DAE Capital will become one of the top leasing companies globally,” stated Bob Genise, CEO of DAE Capital.
“DAE’s order is a tremendous endorsement of our aircraft products and in Airbus and we thank them for this. The A350 XWB and the A320 products are leaders in their class. Airbus looks forward to building on this partnership in the years to come,” said Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO.
The A320 Family, which includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321, is recognized as the benchmark single-aisle aircraft family. Each aircraft features fly by wire controls and all share a unique cockpit and operational commonality across the range.
Around 6,200 Airbus A320 Family aircraft have been sold and more than 3,500 delivered to some 280 customers and operators worldwide, making it the worlds best selling commercial jetliner ever.
With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single aisle aircraft. Uniquely, the A320 Family offers a containerized cargo system, which is compatible with the world-wide standard wide-body system.
The A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) Family is Airbus’ response to widespread market demand for a series of highly efficient medium-capacity long-range wide-body aircraft.
With a range of up to 8,300 nm / 15,400 km, it is available in three basic passenger versions: the A350-800 accommodating 270 passengers, the A350-900 seating 314, and the A350-1000 for 350 passengers in a typical three-class layout.
The A350 has the widest fuselage in its category, offering unprecedented levels of comfort, the lowest operating costs and lowest seat mile cost of any aircraft in this market segment.
Powered by two new generation Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines delivering each up to 92,000 lbs of thrust, the A350 XWB Family is designed to confront the challenges of high fuel prices, rising passenger expectations, and environmental concerns.
Orders for the aircraft stand at more than 350 from over 20 customers. Airbus is an EADS company.

US: Israel May Buy 4 Lockheed Littoral Combat Ships For $1.9 Billion

US: Israel May Buy 4 Lockheed Littoral Combat Ships For $1.9 Billion July 16, 2008 - WASHINGTON: The Pentagon said on Wednesday that it has notified Congress of a possible sale of four littoral combat ships (LCS) to Israel valued at up to 1.9 bn dollars. The LCS is a new generation of fast, maneuverable surface warship designed for coastal waters. The US Navy has built two of the vessels, but cancelled contracts to build two more because of cost overruns. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Israel "has rquested a possible sale of up to four Littoral Combat ships (LCS-1 variant)," which is built by Lockheed Martin. "The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as 1.9 bn dollars," the agency said. It said the proposed sale would not affect the basic military balance in the region.

$48.8M Buys 6 King Air 350s for US Marines

$48.8M Buys 6 King Air 350s for US Marines
16 July, 2008: Hawker Beechcraft Corp. in Wichita, KS received an estimated $48.8 million firm-fixed-price contract from the US Navy for 6 C-12 replacement aircraft. Work will be performed in Wichita, KS and is expected to be completed in February 2011. This contract was competitively procured via electronic request for proposal by the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-08-C-0057). The aircraft are actually destined for the US Marines, as the replacement contract for a UC-12 fleet that’s more than 25 years old. See also NAVAIR release. The old C-12/UC-12 is also known as the Huron, and was derivative of the civilian Beechcraft King Air 200. It can land on airfields under 3,000 feet in length, and is used for VIP and light transport duties. These short-field capabilities, coupled with the small size of many urgent needs on the front lines, have pressed many of these aircraft into service in theater. Hawker Beechcraft has confirmed that the Marines’ new light utility aircraft will be variants of the new King Air 350C, however, a slightly larger aircraft with 23.5% more engine power, improved speed and rate of climb, and slightly more load-carrying capacity. The Australian RAAF and the Iraqi Air Force have also bought the new King Air 350; Iraq ordered it for light transport duties (1 plane), and as a specialized intelligence & surveillance platform (4 planes). The new King Air 350Cs do not yet have a formal military designation, but one thing they will have is protective systems. In contrast, American UC-12s have often had their in-theater flights limited or at risk due to their their lack of protection against shoulder fired ground-air missiles like the SA-7. Fortunately, Iraqi flights have become much less dangerous these days. Tribal revolts against al-Qaeda, the corollary improvements in local intelligence, and a strategy of targeting Iranian operatives in theater, have combined to put a strong crimp in key sources of missiles and trained manpower that contributed to this threat.

NH90: Europe’s Medium Helicopter Contender

NH90: Europe’s Medium Helicopter Contender
16 July, 2008: The NH90 helicopter emerged from a NATO requirement that created NATO’s own helicopter development and procurement agency in 1992 and, at almost the same time, the consortium to build the hardware – NHIndustrie (62.5% EADS Eurocopter, 32.5% AugustaWestland, and 5% Stork Fokker). It was originally developed to fit between light naval helicopters like AW’s Lynx and Eurocopter’s Panther, and medium-heavy naval helicopters like the European EH101. A quick look at the NATO Frigate Helicopter design showed definite possibilities as a troop transport helicopter, however, and soon the NH90 project had branched into 2 versions, with more to follow. The nearest equivalent would be Sikorsky’s popular H-60 Seahawk/ Black Hawk family, but the NH90 includes a set of innovative features that give it some distinguishing selling points. While battlefield damage to composite airframes can be more difficult to repair in the field, the combination of corrosion-proofing, lower maintenance, greater troop or load capacity, and the flexibility offered by that rear ramp have made the NH90 a popular global competitor. Orders currently stand at 507 machines, on behalf of 14 nations. This is DID’s FOCUS Article, offering an in-depth look at the multi-national NH90 program, its customers, and its chronology from 1995 to the present day. During that time, the NH90 has become a sales success – but as many business people discover the hard way, success can be almost as dangerous as failure. NH Industries has had great difficulty ramping up production fast enough to meet promised deliveries, which has left several buyers upset at their lack of operational helicopters. The most recent announcement involves engine choices by 3 of the helicopter’s new orders…

India Plans to Cap Arjun Tank Production

India Plans to Cap Arjun Tank Production 16 July, 2008: India’s indigenous Arjun tank project began in 1974, and originally aimed to replace the Russian T-54 and T-72 tanks which made up the bulk of that country’s armored firepower. As has often been the case in India, its DRDO government weapons development agency sought an entirely made in India solution, even though this would require major advances on a number of fronts for Indian industry. As has often been the case in India, the result was a long and checkered history filled with development delays, performance issues, mid-project specifications changes by India’s military, and the eventual purchase of both foreign substitutions within the project (now 58% of the tank’s cost) and foreign competitors from outside it (the T-90S). As of July 2008, the 58.5 tonne Arjun tank still hasn’t been fielded with the Indian Army. In contrast, Pakistan’s much more time-limited, scope-limited, and budget conscious approach in developing and successfully fielding its T-80UD “Al-Khalid” tank is often cited by Arjun’s detractors. Now reports from India indicate that the Russian T-90S will form the mainstay of its future force, despite that tank’s performance issues in hot weather. At the same time, the Indian Army wants to cap production of indigenous Arjun tanks… Production of the Arjun will be capped at the already-committed total of 124 vehicles. Instead, development will begin on a new next-generation tank, which will be able to serve the Indian Army over the next 20-30 years. Opinion in India appears to be sharply split. Many observers are citing this as the final failure that will close the book on a failed project. Other are noting the problems with the T-90s, and the Army’s refusal to conduct side-by-side tests, alongside recent test successes that are earning the Arun some military fans. DRDO has made allegation of sabotage involving the Arjun’s engine, and insists that a 500 vehicle order will give it the volume needed to iron out all production difficulties and provide a platform for future development. In contrast, the Army’s plan calls for 1,657 T-90S “Bhishma” tanks at about 12 crore (currently $2.78 million) each if prices remain stable, about 1,000 of which are slated to be built in India. They will be joined by just 124 Arjuns at about 16.8 crore (currently $3.92 million) each, as well as 692 older T-72 tanks upgraded to the T-72M1 “Ajeya” standard.

Spain Budgets EUR 22M for Afghan Army Battalion

Spain Budgets EUR 22M for Afghan Army Battalion
July 16, 2008: Operations in Afghanistan have featured difficulties among NATO allies due to some members who will not commit their forces to combat situations, forces not delivered as promised, and shortages of critical assets like helicopters. It has also featured some innovations, such as ISAF’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams. PRTs combine military force with direct aid delivery, acting as a key aid supplement to civil groups, and reaching areas where wealthy non-governmental organizations will not operate due to risk aversion or political issues. Spain operates a PRT at Qal-i-Naw in Afghanistan’s northwestern Baghdis province, about 100 km NNE east of Herat and near the border with Turkmenistan. Baghdis falls under ISAF’s West Regional command, and is not a major conflict zone like the souteastern provinces along Pakistan’s border. Even so, it will require a long-term security presence in order to remain stable, and to slowly expand the central government’s authority. Recent Spanish expenditures are helping to prepare that next step, by raising, accommodating, and training an Afghan National Army force that can secure this area over the longer term. In September 2007, Spain earmarked EUR 4.5 million to equip and train a company of 100 ANA soldiers, then added another EUR 2.5 million to build them appropriate barracks and facilities. A Spanish “operational team of instruction and link” team of 52 is working to train the Afghans, and costs EUR 200,000 initial investment plus about EUR 200,000 per month in ongoing funds. Now Infodefensa reports that Spain will spend EUR 22 million (currently $35 million) over the next 2 years to train, equip, and house an Afghan Army battalion of 600 men, which is to be based in Baghdis and operational by Spring 2009.

IISS study highlights inefficiencies in European armed forces

IISS study highlights inefficiencies in European armed forces
July 16, 2008: Europe's armed forces are underperforming, inadequate, disorganised, and will need Franco-British impetus in order to play an effective role in addressing international crises, according to a new report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Entitled 'European Military Capabilities', it said the 27 European countries spent EUR204 billion (USD325 billion) on defence in 2006 and have deployed and sustained between 55,000 and 79,000 troops abroad each year since 1999. However, in 2007 this represented only 2.7 per cent of around two million active service personnel. "The requirement for more deployable forces is unlikely to be temporary," said the co-author of the report Alexander Nicholl. "Both NATO and the European Union are planning on the basis that in the future there will be an even greater number of limited but demanding operations", he said. Yet, "most European forces are unable to live up to their own targets for availability. "The NATO goal - that 40 per cent of land forces should be deployable - seems much too low. We don't see why it should be acceptable that any part of a nation's armed forces cannot be put to use ... targets for deployability should be much higher," he said.

Apache Helicopters upgrade

Block 3 Upgrade Offers Networked Apache 16 July, 2008: FARNBOROUGH, England - Boeing is in talks with the U.S. government over low-rate initial production of a Block 3 upgrade to the AH-64D Apache attack helicopter, intended to deliver networking capabilities and a more powerful aircraft, a company executive said. "We are working on preparation for low-rate initial production," Al Winn, vice president of Apache programs, told journalists at the Farnborough Airshow. Winn declined to give financial details of upgrading the U.S. Army's 634-strong Apache fleet to the Block 3 standard but said it would probably cost a little less than bringing the Apache A model to the more advanced D version. "It is within the Army budget numbers," he said. Some of the changes of the Block 3 include a more powerful T700 engine, new power transmission and a complete change of avionics architecture to allow the aircraft to collect data from different networks, and analyze, fuse and transmit to other networks. Boeing is about halfway through the system design and development of the Block 3 upgrade, and so far the program is on cost and on schedule. The development contract was signed in July 2006 and was worth about $600 million. Part of the upgrade's aim was to allow the Apache to operate in hot temperatures and high altitudes, similar to the performance available to Apaches flown by the British Army, which are equipped with the RTM322 engine. Those British helicopters are deployed in Afghanistan.

France Completes Test of Smart Bomb

France Completes Test of Smart Bomb 16 July, 2008: FARNBOROUGH, England - The Délégation Générale pour l'Armement procurement office has completed a third and final test fire of the AASM precision bomb in its 1-meter accuracy version, Safran group's Sagem Défense & Securité division said at the Farnborough Airshow. A Mirage 2000 launched the smart bomb at the DGA's Cazau test ground earlier this month, the French procurement office said in a separate statement. In this version of the AASM, the weapon is equipped with an infrared seeker for terminal guidance, in addition to the inertial/GPS guidance kit fitted on an earlier model of the bomb. The INS/GPS system has a claimed accuracy of within 10 meters. The last test fire was intended to show the IR imaging system that allowed the bomb to hit a target that had moved 80 meters after the target's coordinates had been loaded into the bomb at the time of launch. The IR terminal guidance made it possible for the munition to identify the target seconds before strike and correct the trajectory, Sagem said.

Technological Innovations Fuel Production Of Advanced Biofuels In Latin America

Technological Innovations Fuel Production Of Advanced Biofuels In Latin America Buenos Aires, Argentina: Jul 16, 2008 - Latin America, with its abundant natural resources for biofuel production, has become a hot destination for biofuels suppliers and end users. This region is all set to benefit from the increasing need for alternative, sustainable, and environment-friendly fuels, since rising oil prices and stringent environmental regulations have made the use of biofuels imperative. New analysis from Frost and Sullivan, Latin American Market for Second and Third Generation Biofuels, finds that the biofuels market in Latin America could witness a significant boost due to the development of alternative technologies such as the second and third generation biofuels. Fuel consumption has been rising in many countries around the world, irrespective of their economic performance. It is vital for suppliers to maintain the ongoing supply, while lowering costs and minimizing negative social, economic, and environmental impacts. Novel biofuel technologies, such as the second and third generation (2G and 3G), should be explored as potential solutions to these requirements. "2G and 3G biofuels could greatly help diminish the risk of food-biofuel competition," says Jorge De Rosa, Industry Analyst at Frost and Sullivan. "New biofuel technologies, employing alternative inputs, create opportunities for utilizing other sources and inputs for biodiesel production." Domestic biofuel production could eliminate or reduce issues related to vegetable oil unavailability and price volatility and thereby stabilize trade balance. Additionally, biofuel production can also alleviate the economic situation in Latin America by creating employment opportunities and lowering energy prices. Although biofuel production has several benefits, manufacturers are under pressure to increase yields, while avoiding the negative fallouts of high water usage and eventual competition with food crops farmers for land. In this sense, biofuel companies are looking for a way out of this situation by constantly developing production techniques that will help them comply with sustainable development requirements, diminish production costs, increase efficiency and moderate the food-biofuels competition. 2G and 3G technologies are expected to greatly help in this endeavor. "For instance, in the case of sugarcane ethanol, the lignocellulosic process can increase productivity by 25 to 35 percent," notes De Rosa. "Therefore, using the same plantation area and sugarcane tonnage, the biofuel producer will be able to produce a much higher volume of fuel." While traditional biofuels are made from feedstock crops, 2G and 3G are produced using non-food crops such as the stalks of wheat and corn, special biomass crops, and waste biomass. "These processes could utilize the waste products of current food-based agriculture to manufacture fuel in a sustained manner," observes De Rosa. "Pilot plants have already been established for the production of ethanol from wheat straw and syn-diesel from wood chippings."

Pakistan tells court it wants more restrictions on A.Q. Khan

Pakistan tells court it wants more restrictions on A.Q. Khan Islamabad: July 16, 2008 - Pakistan's government on Tuesday sought to tighten restrictions on nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan in response to a court challenge by his wife seeking his release from house arrest. Khan, the father of the country's atomic bomb, has been effectively under house arrest in Islamabad since February 2004, when he confessed on television to transferring nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. The scientist's wife earlier this month lodged a court challenge against the restrictions on her husband, who had cancer surgery in 2006, encouraged by a brief relaxation in recent months which allowed him to meet family and friends. But Khan has angered the authorities with a series of recent media interviews, including several in which he alleged that President Pervez Musharraf knew he was taking centrifuges to North Korea in 2000. "The government does not accept meeting of friends and well-wishers with Abdul Qadeer Khan after his irresponsible statements implicating institutions of the state," authorities said in a statement filed at Islamabad High Court. Pakistan could suffer "sanctions and threats" from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Security Council as a result of Khan's comments, said the statement, which was lodged in response to an appeal by Khan's wife. "Anti-state elements in the garb of friends and well-wishers may want to manoeuvre to access him to extricate highly secret and confidential information," it added. Khan's lawyer, Javed Iqbal Jaffery, told reporters outside the court that the government's statement was "defamatory and insulting". "The reply filed by the government is a pack of lies, false and irresponsible," he said. "We have mistreated our heroes in the past and now the government wants to punish Khan." He also accused Pakistani authorities of changing their stance, after insisting for years that he was not under detention. Khan was pardoned by the US-backed Musharraf in 2004 but has been kept at his Islamabad villa ever since, guarded by troops and intelligence agents. Musharraf has rejected international pleas to be allowed access to Khan. Government lawyer Ahmar Bilal Sufi said that Pakistan had resisted international pressure to prosecute Khan for nuclear proliferation. "The state is facing a difficult situation but at the same time it does not remain oblivious of its duty to provide security and protection to the scientist," Sufi told reporters. Earlier this month the government's top nuclear authority, the Strategic Plans Division, rejected Khan's claims that Musharraf and the army had given him tacit approval to take nuclear equipment to Pyongyang.

US missile defense test delayed until December

US missile defense test delayed until December Washington: July 16, 2008: A missile defense test that was supposed to have included an attempted intercept of a long-range missile Friday has been delayed until December because of a technical problem, the general in charge said Tuesday. Lieutenant General Henry Obering, head of the Missile Defense Agency, said the attempted intercept was postponed following the discovery of a flaw in a device designed to measure the interceptor missile's performance. "I could have elected to go ahead and fire on Friday, but we had at least a 20 percent change that we would lose all data in a test," he told reporters. "Even if it were successful, we don't want to do that because these tests are expensive," he said. The flight tests cost about 80 to 100 million dollars apiece, officials have said. The development of the mid-course missile defense system has been plagued by gaps in flight testing over the years due in part to breakdowns resulting from the sheer complexity of the system. Obering, however, insisted that there have not been "major design flaws or major functional flaws" in the missile defense programs. "The failures were a component broke or if this particular component had a malfunction that we had to replace, but we have not had any major show-stoppers in our overall program," he said. The latest problem is a device in the interceptor missile used only in tests that is designed to gather all its telemetry data. He said all the devices produced have the same flaw, and it could not be fixed in time for Friday's test. Obering said a test will still be conducted Friday only without the interceptor missile. A variety of sea- and ground-based targeting radars will track a long range target missile but the intercept will be simulated. In December, the full test will be repeated with the interceptor missile, he said. Friday's test was to have been the first since 2002 to involve a target missile with counter-measures such as a decoy balloon.

Iran Says Shahab-3 Missile Has Longer Than Reported Range

Iran Says Shahab-3 Missile Has Longer Than Reported Range Tehran, Iran: Jul 16, 2008 - Iran's Shahab-3 missiles have a range greater than the reported 2,000 km (1,240 miles), Iran's Fars news agency said on Monday, quoting the country's deputy defense minister. Iran successfully launched last week an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile as part of the Great Prophet III military exercises in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, drawing a new wave of international criticism. "The recently tested Shahab-3 ballistic missile has a flight range of over 2,000 kilometers and features a high kill probability," Brig.-Gen. Nasrollah Ezzati said. "Our rockets could be a factor in preventing possible aggression from Iran's enemies, and also level out the balance of power in the region," he added. He did not specify the range of the rocket. The earlier reported 2,000 km would mean that Iran could strike at Israel, and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian missile tests came after the Israeli Air Force conducted military exercises involving over 100 fighters in early June. The exercises were widely seen as a 'dress rehearsal' for an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. The United States has not also ruled out a military strike against Iran if the Islamic Republic refuses to halt its nuclear program, which Western countries believe is a cover for a weapons program. Iran says it needs the program to produce electricity. Iran has reacted to rumors of an imminent attack by Israel and/or the U.S. by promising to deliver a "powerful blow" to any aggressor.

Afghanistan to look into Pakistan nuclear dumping claims

Afghanistan to look into Pakistan nuclear dumping claims KABUL, Jul 16, 2008: President Hamid Karzai appointed Wednesday a team of experts to investigate allegations that Pakistan had dumped nuclear waste in southern Afghanistan, his office said. In April, an Afghan minister told the BBC that his government had evidence Pakistan had buried its nuclear waste in the southern Afghan provinces of Helmand and Kandahar during the 1996-2001 Taliban regime. But the minister for parliamentary affairs, Farouk Wardak, later denied he had said this. Pakistan has also rejected the claim. Karzai however has now set up, through presidential decree, a team of experts to investigate "rumours" of nuclear dumping, a statement from his office said. "The delegation is assigned to thoroughly investigate the possible burying of nuclear waste using scientific, technical and residents' observations in suspected areas," it said. The team was comprised of experts, security forces and intelligence agents, the decree said. Relations between the neighbours are at a new low after Karzai directly accused Pakistan's intelligence agency of having a hand in a wave of bloody attacks, notably the suicide bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul last week. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday condemned Afghanistan's president for the remarks, saying they "will hamper the development process in the region."

Obama targets Pakistan with new anti-terror policy

Obama targets Pakistan with new anti-terror policy Washington July 16, 2008: White House hopeful Barack Obama Tuesday promised to shift the "single-minded" US focus on Iraq to a threatening "terrorist sanctuary" in tribal Pakistan, in a broad new blueprint for US foreign policy. Setting the stage for a major foreign tour designed to bolster his commander-in-chief credentials, Obama called for tough, principled US diplomacy, rooted in his vow to get most US troops home from Iraq in 16 months. He promised to make Iraqis provide for their own security, to strike at Al-Qaeda in Pakistan if Islamabad would not, to secure loose nuclear weapons, combat climate change and end the "tyranny" of US reliance on foreign oil. "Iraq is not going to be a perfect place, and we don't have unlimited resources to try to make it one," Obama said in the speech in Washington. "I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war," Obama said, ahead of an expected visit to Iraq and Afghanistan soon, and talks with the leaders of European powers, Israel and Jordan. Obama's Republican opponent, Senator John McCain argues that Obama would squander gains from last year's troop surge strategy by withdrawing troops, and accuses the Democrat of having a closed mind on Iraq strategy. But Obama, who also promised to use diplomacy to end Iran's nuclear program and renew US alliances, promised to switch the focus of US military action overseas from Iraq, to Afghanistan and Pakistan. "As should have been apparent to President Bush and Senator McCain -- the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was," he said. "Al-Qaeda has an expanding base in Pakistan that is probably no farther from their old Afghan sanctuary than a train ride from Washington to Philadelphia," Obama said in excerpts released by his campaign. "If another attack on our homeland comes, it will likely come from the same region where 9/11 was planned. And yet today, we have five times more troops in Iraq than Afghanistan." "By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe," Obama said. Obama said the greatest threat came from tribal regions of Pakistan. "We cannot tolerate a terrorist sanctuary, and as president, I won't," he said. "We must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like (Osama) bin Laden if we have them in our sights." McCain scathingly joined the fight, the latest episode of an intensifying and long-running campaign debate over war policy. "Senator Obama is departing soon on a trip abroad that will include a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan," McCain said in remarks released by his campaign. "I note that he is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left, before he has talked to General Petraeus, before he has seen the progress in Iraq, and before he has set foot in Afghanistan for the first time. "In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: first you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy." A poll Monday underlined why Obama needs to improve his standing on national security issues, and why McCain's team senses he is vulnerable. Some 72 percent of the 1,119 adults surveyed by telephone in the July 10-13 ABC News/Washington Post poll said McCain, a Vietnam War veteran would be a good commander in chief. Only 48 percent thought the same of Obama. Both candidates garnered equal support for their Iraq proposals. Obama pledged to pursue a tough and smart new national security strategy, focusing not just on Baghdad, but on Kandahar and Karachi, Tokyo, London, Beijing and Berlin. He promised to concentrate on five main goals: "ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century." The Obama foreign policy would also include an initiative to tackle the long-term danger of climate change, which he said eclipses short term security dangers. "Never again will we sit on the sidelines or stand in the way of global action to tackle this global challenge," Obama said, attacking the Bush administration's attitude on global warming.

Pakistan tribesmen say NATO forces mass on Afghan border

Pakistan tribesmen say NATO forces mass on Afghan border Miranshah, Pakistan (AFP) July 16, 2008: Pakistani tribal elders Tuesday raised the alarm over a build-up of hundreds of NATO-led troops on the Afghan side of the border, but the military downplayed fears of any intrusion. The gathering of foreign troops came as Islamabad was under growing pressure from the United States to curb cross-border attacks by Taliban militants, with the US military chief flying into Pakistan at the weekend for urgent talks. "We have heard there is a build-up of foreign troops," said Malik Mohammad Afzal Khan Darpakhel, a local tribal leader in North Waziristan who is not affiliated with the Taliban. "We want to warn them that three million tribesmen will rise against them if they try to move in," Darpakhel told a news conference held by five elders in Miranshah, the main town in the region. Intelligence sources said some 300 NATO soldiers equipped with tanks, armoured vehicles and heavy weaponry have been moved very close to Lwara Mundi, a border village in North Waziristan. The village is also close to Camp Tillman, a US forward operating base in Afghanistan's Paktika province named after American footballer-turned soldier Pat Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire in 2004. "They have not crossed into Pakistan but this is the first time that such a large number of foreign troops have come so close to the border," Darpakhel said. A Pakistani military spokesman denied there was any unusual troop movement on the border. The spokesman said the NATO forces may be gathering for an operation on the Afghan side. "There may be some operational movement of these forces in Afghanistan," the spokesman said. Later US President George W.Bush said at a White House press conference that he was "troubled" by Islamic extremists moving from Pakistan to Afghanistan but said the new Pakistani government understands the danger. He said there was "no question" that extremists are moving across the border. "That's troubling to us. It's troubling to Afghanistan. And it should be troubling to Pakistan," he said. "We share a common enemy." "I certainly hope that the (Pakistani) government understands the dangers of extremists moving in their country. I think they do," Bush said. A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said there was no question of troops entering Pakistan. "Our mandate stops at the border," spokesman Captain Mike Finney said. There was some "extra activity" on the border with troops searching for surviving insurgents after Sunday's attack that killed nine US troops, he said. But Pakistani tribal elders vowed to support the army in case of any incursion. "We will protect every inch of our territory and we will support our army in fighting these foreign forces," said Darpakhel. "We urge the tribesmen to clean up their weapons and be ready for jihad if foreign forces enter our area."

Raytheon Completes ASTOR Capabilities Testing With UK MoD

Raytheon Completes ASTOR Capabilities Testing With UK MoD
Dallas TX Jul 16, 2008: Raytheon Systems and the U.K. Ministry of Defence have successfully completed capabilities assurance mission (CAM) testing of the Airborne Stand-Off Radar system. A team from Raytheon and the U.K. Royal Air Force 5 Squadron conducted six CAM tests to assess and prove the operational capabilities of the ASTOR system. The tests built on one another in complexity to demonstrate how the system would work in an actual mission scenario. "The system will provide vital information and intelligence on the modern battlefield," said Bill Chrispin, leader of the defence ministry's ASTOR integrated product team. "The results emerging from the CAM tests have boosted confidence that the system will provide the ground surveillance capability required by our commanders in the field." The team tested airborne components of the system on the ASTOR Sentinel aircraft. The team also tested tactical ground station aspects within the defence ministry infrastructure and rated the overall performance of the surveillance system. "Our objective is to provide the Royal Air Force, the Army and the Ministry of Defence with the confidence that the ASTOR system is ready for operational deployment," said James Klein, acting vice president for the Raytheon Mission Systems Integration group. "The successful CAM tests signify a culmination of industry and customer efforts to develop and mature ASTOR." Klein said the testing not only verified the operational capabilities of ASTOR "but also helps us stretch the limits of the technology, ultimately allowing higher performance and raising the capability of the system." "ASTOR provides the Royal Air Force and the British Army with world-class capabilities: near real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and a net-enabled capability to disseminate the information to warfighters," said Brian McKeon, chief executive and managing director of Raytheon Systems Limited, the company's U.K. subsidiary. "The timely and successful completion of the CAM tests reflects the team's dedication and commitment to execute on this program." The ASTOR system employs five Bombardier Global Express airplanes. Dubbed Sentinel R Mk 1 in ASTOR service, each is equipped by Raytheon with dual-mode (synthetic aperture and ground moving target indicator) radars. Integrated platform workstations aboard each aircraft permit mission management, imagery exploitation, and transmission of the imagery by secure data link to the brigade and divisional/joint level ASTOR ground stations. The system includes eight ground stations -- six for tactical purposes and two at the operational level -- and full mission support capability from Raytheon Systems Limited. Raytheon Systems Limited is a prime contractor and major supplier to the U.K. Ministry of Defence and is involved in numerous, high-priority programs for the U.S. Department of Defense. RSL designs, develops and manufactures a range of high technology defense and commercial electronic systems at its facilities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

A SU-27 fighter aircraft shown in action.

A SU-27 fighter aircraft shown in action.

Russian Tank....Fire power

An MSTA-S self-propelled gun mount: 152mm MSTA-S guns and 155m howitzers can fire NATO-type shells.

US, Russia, China in Dogfight Over Jet Sales

US, Russia, China in Dogfight Over Jet Sales July 16, 2008: WASHINGTON - The United States is bracing for tough competition from Russia and China as cash-flush Asian economies look up to the trio for a new breed of fighter jets to beef up their air forces, experts say. Japan, India, Australia and South Korea are keen to have the most modern, fifth generation, jet fighters while Southeast Asian nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia are reportedly eyeing fourth generation fighters from China. With Asia powering ahead with military modernization and capability growth, the United States wants to maintain leadership in defense sales in the region attracted by low cost offerings from Russia and China, experts said. "The Americans and Russians are competing hard for the Asian fighter aircraft market, but everybody is also watching to see how aggressively the Chinese will be entering this market," Richard Fisher, an expert with the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, said. The tight competition comes as Asian economies move ahead "much more aggressively" to upgrade their air defense capabilities, he said. "It's not quite right to say an arms race, but there is an arms jog in Asia," Fisher said. The United States is currently the sole producer of fifth generation fighters - the F-22s and F-35s. Export of F-22s is barred by law while the lower cost F-35s have just started flight testing ahead of deployment around 2012. Russia and China's fifth generation fighter offerings could well be on the market between 2015 and 2020, a time frame experts say is not very far away in terms of defense planning. "I don't want to get into the numbers because they were given to me in confidence but the price the Russians are estimating for their fifth generation fighter is substantially less than the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) and substantially less than F-22," U.S. aviation expert Reuben Johnson told a Washington forum last week on "challenges to the Asian air power balance." He said the Russian arms industry was grappling with high production costs. Russian weapon exports to China have also plunged as Beijing became more wary over Moscow's sales of its most advanced weaponry to neighbor India, Johnson said. "What is really the challenge is we have two very large countries, China and India, whose economies are booming and who are buying lots of hardware and we are looking at a situation down the road where they are going to have very, very sophisticated air forces," he said. Russia had already teamed up with India to co-develop and co-produce a version of Moscow's fifth generation fighter, but Fisher said that given the Indian preference of diversifying its weapons sources, it was possible New Delhi could purchase a U.S. fifth generation fighter at some point. The United States is also vying with Russia and others for a 12-billion-dollar contract to sell 126 fourth generation fighter jets to the Indian air force. The competition from Russia could prod the Americans to lift an export ban on F-22s, eyed by Australia and Japan, top U.S. allies in the region, experts said. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates hinted during a recent Australian visit that Congress may be asked to reconsider the ban. "It is imperative that the United States consider selling some version of the F-22 to maintain a strong deterrent posture in Asia," Fisher said. "I would say categorically that Japan requires a capability of the level of the F-22 in order to sustain a sufficient position to deter China," he said.

Russia may export new Su-35 fighters to India, Malaysia, Algeria

Russia may export new Su-35 fighters to India, Malaysia, Algeria FARNBOROUGH, July 16, 2008 - Russia is ready to export the new state-of-the-art Su-35 Flanker multirole air superiority/strike fighter to India, Malaysia and Algeria, Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport said on Tuesday. "Algeria, Malaysia and India are our partners and if they express an interest, we will offer them the Su-35 fighter while fulfilling our current obligations," Alexander Mikheyev, head of the air force department at Rosoboronexport, said in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti at the Farnborough International Air Show in England. In 2007, Sukhoi, which is part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, exported about 50 Su-30MK2, Su-30MKM and Su-30MKI aircraft under contracts with a number of countries, including Algeria, India, and Malaysia. The company is planning to export at least 160 Su-35 fighters in the future, Sukhoi's deputy head Sergei Korotkov said at a news conference in Farnborough on Tuesday. "The [Su-35] aircraft has attracted a lot of attention," Korotkov said. "As part of our business plan, we expect to sell about 160 planes." The Su-35 fighter, powered by two 117S engines with thrust vectoring, combines high maneuverability and the capability to effectively engage several air targets simultaneously using both guided and unguided missiles and weapon systems. The aircraft features the new Irbis-E radar with a phased antenna array, which allows the pilot to detect and track up to 30 air targets, while simultaneously engaging up to eight targets. It is equipped with a 30-mm cannon with 150 rounds and can carry up to eight tons of combat payload on 12 eternal mounts. Sukhoi earlier said it plans to start deliveries of the new aircraft, billed as "4++ generation using fifth-generation technology," to foreign clients in 2011 and produce Su-35s over a period of 10 years up to 2020.