Saturday, July 26, 2008

Russia: Sukhoi Su-35

Russia's Sukhoi Su-35
July 26, 2008: Su-35 is considered to be one of the world's most advanced fighters. The first prototype of the Su-35 was completed last year (2007) at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aviation Production Association (KnAAPO) and was displayed in public for the first time during the MAKS 2007 airshow. The aircraft is equipped with two AL-37F (Saturn 117S) engines, designed as modern derivatives of the AL-31F. The new engine is developing 16% increase in power (14,500 kg maximum thrust) it is fitted with independent (asymmetric) thrust vectored nozzles, a new fan, high and low pressure turbines and improved digital controls. The new engines are also more robust, offering lower maintenance requirements and longer lifespan (up to 4,000 hours between main overhaul). The aircraft uses a triple-redundant 'fly by wire' flight control; compared to its predecessors, Su-35 has an improved, integrated aerodynamic and propulsion control enabling the flight control system to perform acceleration, deceleration, roll, pitch and yaw utilizing thrust vectoring in addition to classic aerodynamic control, alleviating the need for the super-sized air-brake and canards used in previous models. Availability of improved controls enabled the designers to reduce the aircraft radar signature (radar cross section RCS), particularly in head-on engagement pattern. (± 60° off axis). The aircraft is fitted with 12 hardpoints for external loads weighing a total 8,000 kg. Advanced Avionics: The cockpit has a 'glass cockpit' design, utilizing two large 15" multi-function color LCD displays, a head-up display and full HOTAS functionality. The main sensor is an X-band E-Slavia radar allowing detection and tracking up to 30 air targets while scanning a wide sector (track while scan). The radar and fire control can simultaneously engage up to eight targets. Production models will be fitted with the Tikhomirov NIIP Irbis radar, capable of detecting and tracking aerial targets with average radar cross-section of three square meters, operating at ranges of up-to 400 km (216nm). Irbis offers a wide area coverage of Irbis 70 to 120° with azimuth resolution of (in 2 -2.5 times), increased range, and better ECCM compared to its predecessors. The development of this radar began in 2004. The system completed ground tests in the lab and is preparing for the initial test flights on a Su-30MK2 testbed.

Auto News: Jaguar sales in top gear; Land Rover softens

Jaguar sales in top gear; Land Rover softens 26 July, 2008 - NEW DELHI/LONDON: When Tata Motors bought Jaguar and Land Rover, conventional wisdom was that Jag was a drag and Land Rover the deal steal. A month down the road, things have changed dramatically. Jaguar sales, based on the XF, have been in top gear, but Land Rover is now hitting skid row. The problem: while the Jag is a small-volume brand, Land Rover is the brand that brings in the numbers and a reversal in the latter’s fortune could spell trouble. Sources say there could be pressure on JLR pension schemes if the current market volatility continues. According to a study by Pension Protection Fund-a British body that helps protect employees of bankrupt companies-final-salary pension schemes saw their surplus shrink from £53 billion to just £8 billion due to stock market skids between end-May and end-June. The deficit of loss-making schemes jumped from £46 billion to £63 billion during the period. However, the official JLR spokesperson explained that “as of now JLR pension plans are okay. We can’t comment on specific monthly performance of pension schemes, but at the time of the deal the pension plans were stabilising and Ford put in $600 million”. Land Rover has had a bumpy ride ever since the American market for gas-guzzling SUVs started softening. Its June sales in the US tumbled more than 40% to 2,200 units, down from 4,160 units last June. Cumulative American numbers in the first six months of 2008 came down to 16,492 from 22,842 in 2007. Back home too it hasn’t had a great run, with fortunes fluctuating since March. In June, its west Europe sales dropped 36% as the craze for fuel-efficiency gripped both sides of the Atlantic.

Nigeria: Oil workers kidnapped

Oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria July 26, 2008: Eight foreign oil workers have been kidnapped by Nigerian militants. In the early hours of Saturday, a group of gunmen in a speed boat attacked a petroleum tanker on the Bonny river in the south of the country. Two people were shot and injured while eight oil workers, believed to include a number of Russians, were kidnapped. More than 200 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped in the Niger Delta over the past two years but often released after payment of ransom. It is believed the tanker belonged to Global Gas and Refining Ltd, a Nigerian subsidiary of US-based Global Energy Inc, which has been stationed along the Bonny river for more than two years. Lt Col Sagir Musa, military spokesman in the eastern Niger Delta, said: "Around six heavily armed bandits attacked an LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) tanker, shot two civilians and abducted eight of the expatriates, whose identity is not yet ascertained." He said the two civilians had been wounded but not killed during the attack, which took place between 0100 and 0400 (0000-0300 GMT). Lt Col Musa said no group had claimed responsibility, but the motive was believed to be financial. Late on Thursday, 12 people were kidnapped from a boat near the Niger Delta. Seven of them were later freed but five people remain captive.

DTN News: Attack Becomes Defence In Helmand

DTN News: Attack Becomes Defence In Helmand
(NSI News Source Info) Helmand - July 26, 2008: At 3.30am, lit by a three-quarter moon, a line of heavily armed men filed out of their British Army base. Just a few hours earlier their Helmand camp had been attacked by mortars and rockets, but now they were preparing to take the fight back to the Taleban. The notorious "green zone" of trees and fields is just a few hundred metres from forward operating base Inkerman in the Helmand river valley, but it's where the insurgents fight from. The mission was using darkness to push deep into their territory and then strike at first light. They expected to meet heavy resistance, but they couldn't have predicted that their well-planned offensive would turn into a race back to camp within hours. It's been a hot, dusty and already bloody summer for the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment. Their base is a northern buffer to stop attacks on Sangin - an important town where a fragile bubble of security has been created to try and win people over by improving their lives. And the Taleban now have an arsenal of weapons to throw at UK forces: rockets and mortars fired into the camp, ambushes with small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades, booby traps or roadside bombs, and suicide bombers. Just a few weeks earlier three British soldiers were killed within sight of their base after a suicide bomber rushed a patrol and blew himself up. Thoughts of that attack and of the bombs now so regularly planted for them would have been in the troops' minds as they took up their positions and waited for sunrise. A look at the scene of a battle in AfghanistanBefore they left news had come in of another British serviceman being killed and two badly injured further up the valley. By first light they had overheard the Taleban who had been taken by surprise and they started to move quickly through the compounds looking for weapons. Then word came back to the commanding officer, Maj Stuart McDonald who had come to Inkerman base with reinforcements from 3 Para, that they had seen Taleban fighters, and he gave the order to open fire. A rattle of a machine gun was heard from just ahead and using a remote controlled spotter plane to identify insurgent positions he called in mortar fire and artillery. The troops cheered and laughed as the bombs struck and the smoke rose. As we pushed forward, one soldier we saw on the patrol grinned and said: "At least we got them first this time." For once Maj McDonald and British troops here were on the offensive. With the cover of tree lines, high-walled mud compounds, two-metre high corn and deep irrigation ditches the Taleban are difficult to fight on their own territory. They have a network of spies, or "dickers" as they are known, who watch British movements and report back to the fighters. It's the same tactic that was used in Northern Ireland and it's very effective for planning ambushes or laying improvised bombs in the path of the soldiers. But this time they were caught out. A sniper moved forward to watch a tree line just a few hundred metres ahead. We moved up next to him as more mortars were called in. We felt them overhead, there was a eerie whizzing sound and then the fields shook with smoke and dust. But amid the explosions, shouts from behind to "check fire" - stop firing - were heard. The first mortar had fallen short and landed where we had been sitting amid the command group. The soldier we had been chatting to had been hit by shrapnel. It wasn't life threatening, but he'd lost a lot of blood when an artery in his arm was punctured. The second in command, Capt Sean Williams, had also been hit in the knee by shrapnel. It was surprising more troops were not injured or even killed in the blast. The mortar bomb had been faulty - it had not been human error - but a week after a British Apache helicopter fired on friendly forces in the same valley, it was a reminder of how risky fighting these operations can be. Suddenly the operation went from offensive to defensive - they were a kilometre and a half (about a mile) from base and the Taleban had the advantage. Through the thick mud of irrigated fields and over open ground the stretcher bearers moved as fast as they could, finally reaching the safety of camp and a medical helicopter. Maj McDonald was expecting to be ambushed, but the Taleban "dickers" were not quick enough. Following the patrol for a few hours was just a snapshot of a typical day in Helmand - moving a short distance from a base, clashing with the Taleban and then pulling back into camp. It's a strange war where neither side seems to gain much ground, and it was amazing how one small incident changed the whole dynamic - from attacking to defending. Commanders say more troops would mean they could hold the gains they make and stop this cycle of taking and re-taking ground, but Helmand is a very big place and would need thousands more troops to make that difference.

DTN News: India HAL To fly Into Latin America Market With Cheetah

DTN News: India HAL To fly Into Latin America Market With Cheetah
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - July 26, 2008: After tasting success with its Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv’ helicopters, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is poised to make further inroads into the Latin American market with its light helicopter Cheetah. According to highly placed sources in the ministry of defence (MoD), “Surinam and Colombia have expressed interest in the ‘Cheetah’ helicopters.” These countries have seen the performance of these helicopters and a team will probably travel there for the display, sources said. The Cheetah is a multi-functional, simple, light-weight helicopters which has specially been designed for operations over long distances. The five-setter Cheetah, can be used for observation, surveillance, logistic support, earth research and rescue operations. “The Cheetah has been manufactured by the HAL for both military and civil purposes and is the version of the SA 315 Lama under licence of Turbomeca in France,” explained officials. “The queries that we have received for the Latin American countries are for the civilian usage,” said sources. These machines have the ability over the latest technologies like a hydraulic servo control, ultra sensitive constant speed indicator and a automatic start system so that the machine can be started in a very short time. Presently, the MoD is working on a plan to acquire 400 light helicopters for the armed forces to replace its ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleet, which the Army and Air Force have been using for more than three decades. India is expected to buy half of the helicopters from a yet-to-be decided foreign vendor and the state-run HAL will be asked to design and build the remaining. Also, for the India Navy’s rotary UAVs, an agreement has already been reached with IAI of Israel for joint development, under which the conversion of the Cheetah helicopter will be done with introduction of automated controls. “The choice of Cheetah was obvious as we have them in large numbers, all the three services use them and they are time-tested. While the contract has yet not been signed, we have started work on collection of aerodynamic data on Cheetah helicopter so that necessary flight control systems can be developed,” said officials of HAL. To start with, two Cheetah helicopters will be converted—one in India and another in Israel. Subsequently, HAL will produce fresh Cheetah helicopters with the automatic control system in place.