Monday, August 04, 2008

16 Police Killed In Attack In China Muslim Region: State Media

16 Police Killed In Attack In China Muslim Region: State Media
Mon Aug 4, 2008: BEIJING (AFP) - Sixteen policemen in China's Muslim-majority northwest were killed on Monday in a suspected terrorist attack, state media said, raising security fears four days before the Beijing Olympics.
In one of the deadliest reported attacks in China in years, two men aimed a lorry at police officers jogging near their barracks in Kashgar, a city in the Xinjiang region, the Xinhua news agency said. After the lorry hit a roadside pole, the two got off and threw home-made explosives at the barracks, moving in to hack at police officers with knives, the agency reported. It said 14 police were killed on the spot and two died from their wounds on the way to hospital, while 16 others were injured. Both attackers were arrested, one of them with a leg injury sustained during the raid, according to the news agency. Xinhua said debris from five explosives was found near the barracks. "The raid... was suspected as a terrorist attack," the agency said, citing local police in the city, which is close to the Tajikistan border and around 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) from Beijing. The incident threw a shadow over the Olympic countdown, after government warnings that members of Xinjiang's Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people, were planning to stage attacks to wreck the Games. Dilxat Raxit, a Sweden-based spokesman for the World Uighur Congress, said he had been in touch with several people in Kashgar who confirmed an attack had taken place. Anger was rising among the Uighurs about a pre-Olympic crackdown by Chinese authorities, involving numerous arrests, he said, but he could not confirm if the attack was carried out by Uighurs. "The police and soldiers just arrest them without any rules," he told AFP by telephone. Beijing Olympic organisers said it did not know yet if there was a direct connection to the showpiece sporting event, which begins on Friday. "We have to check," spokesman Sun Weide said. In line with the flow of information in China surrounding security issues, reports were released only through official channels, while local authorities denied any knowledge of the event. "Everything has returned to normal," an official with the Kashgar People's Armed Police said by telephone. He declined any other comment. China has said repeatedly that a major terrorist threat emanates from Xinjiang. "The Beijing Olympics is facing a terrorist threat unsurpassed in Olympic history," the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, said in an editorial last month. China has deployed more than 100,000 security personnel to provide security for the Games, which run from August 8 to 24. A senior official said last week the main Olympic threats were from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement in Xinjiang, forces seeking Tibetan independence, the banned Falungong spiritual group and overseas pro-democracy forces. China's state media carries only sporadic reports about violence in Xinjiang, making it difficult to determine the extent of the terrorist threat in the region. Rights groups and members of the ethnic Muslim Uighur population in Xinjiang have accused the government of exaggerating the terrorist threat as a cover to crack down on all forms of dissent. It was thought to be one of the deadliest such attacks ever reported in Xinjiang. "If 16 people died, I would think that this is the highest casualty ever reported for an incident," said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch and an expert on Xinjiang. Xinjiang, a vast area that borders Central Asia, has about 8.3 million Uighurs, and many are unhappy with what they say has been decades of repressive Communist Chinese rule. Two short-lived East Turkestan republics emerged in Xinjiang in the 1930s and 1940s, at a time when central government control in China was weakened by civil war and Japanese invasion.

Bangladesh: Tata's exit 'a wakeup call for Dhaka'

Tata's exit 'a wakeup call for Dhaka' Monday, August 04, 2008 News Source Info NSI (New Delhi): The scraping of $3 billion investment plans for Bangladesh by Indian conglomerate Tata Group is likely to deter investors and should be "a wake up call" for Dhaka, that must update its energy security plans, a leading financial daily has said. "The Tata Group deserves appreciation for displaying the utmost patience and keenness to invest in Bangladesh in the face of the government's usual foot-dragging on the issue for the past four years. "The group, which has spent a good amount of money in maintaining a resident office to help get its investment plan through, has finally decided to call its investment plan off, possibly, in the backdrop of deteriorating gas situation in Bangladesh," the Financial Express said in an editorial. Supporting Dhaka's contention that it does not have gas to spare for the Tata projects, a line that differs from the findings of the US-sponsored geological survey and of the American multinationals engaged in gas exploration in Bangladesh, the newspaper said neither the Bangladesh government nor Tata had done their 'homework' before beginning the negotiations four years ago. "It remains a puzzle as to why the government has kept the Tata waiting for such a long time when the domestic industries and power plants have been suffering due to short supply of gas," it said. It was time for Dhaka to decide on its course for energy security, both on oil and gas fronts, without which future investments could be affected, the newspaper said in an editorial, wondering why top authorities in Dhaka were "putting up a brave face" in the face of the Tata exit. While the government has justified its lack of decision on the proposal - the biggest ever Bangladesh has received - made in 2004, captains of trade and industry have been critical and have feared a slow-down in foreign investments. They have also lamented the 'politics' behind the virtual rejection of the Tata plans. The last elected government of prime minister Khaleda Zia shelved them saying they were "politically sensitive". "Tata's withdrawal would surely send a negative signal to other prospective foreign investors," the newspaper said, unless the government worked on its long term energy plans "without wasting time."

Russia may answer Western pressure with bases in Cuba - analyst

Russia may answer Western pressure with bases in Cuba - analyst MOSCOW, August 4, 2008 (RIA Novosti) - Russia may resume a military presence in Cuba in response to growing military-political pressure from the West, a Russian political analyst said on Monday. Moscow has strongly opposed the possible deployment by the U.S. of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying tracking radar in the Czech Republic as a threat to its national security. Washington says the defenses are needed to deter a possible strike from Iran, or other "rogue" states. Moscow has also expressed concern over NATO's expansion to Russia's borders and pledged to take "appropriate measures." "It is not a secret that the West is creating a 'buffer zone' around Russia, involving in the process countries in central Europe, the Caucasus, the Baltic states and Ukraine," said Leonid Ivashov, the former head of the Russian Defense Ministry's department for international cooperation, and currently president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems. "In response, we may expand our military presence abroad, including in Cuba," Ivashov said, commenting on the recent visit of Russian Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin to Cuba on July 30-31. He said during the visit Patrushev had most likely discussed the possibility of a renewed Russian military presence in Cuba with the Cuban defense and interior ministers. "Cuba has convenient harbors which may host Russian reconnaissance and combat ships, and a network of forward landing airfields. With the Cuban leadership's consent and our own political will we may also consider resuming the work of an electronic listening post in Lourdes," the general said. However, a high-ranking Cuban diplomat said on Saturday that the Cuban leadership had no intention of resuming military cooperation with Russia, especially after the surprise closure of the Lourde's listening post. The electronic monitoring and surveillance facility near Havana at Torrens, also known as the Lourdes facility, the largest Russian SIGINT site abroad, was shut down in October 2001 by then- president Vladimir Putin. "We were not even notified about the decision [by the Russian leadership]," the diplomat said. The Lourdes facility reportedly covered a 28 square-mile area, with 1,000-1,500 Russian engineers, technicians, and military personnel working at the base. The complex was capable of monitoring a wide array of commercial and government communications throughout the southeastern United States, and between the United States and Europe. Lourdes intercepted transmissions from microwave towers in the United States, communication satellite downlinks, and a wide range of shortwave and high-frequency radio transmissions. Russia reportedly paid a yearly rent of $200-million for the facility.

Russians may buy Hummer brand

Russians may buy Hummer brand August 4, 2008: U.S. automobile giant General Motors is to sell its famous Hummer brand. Russian, Indian and Chinese automakers may bid for the brand.

Israel seeks more talks with Syria

Israel seeks more talks with Syria
Aug 4, Israel has called for more negotiations with Syria after the fourth round of the indirect talks between the two sides ended fruitlessly. Israel's deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said that Tel Aviv should continue its negotiations with Damascus without preconditions. "We have to negotiate with Syria but without preconditions," Mofaz told a gathering at an American think tank, during a visit to Washington DC for talks with US officials. The fourth round of Israeli-Syrian talks with the mediation of Turkey was focused to decide whether to move to direct talks starting in August, but it failed to put an end to a standoff between the two sides. Israel has called on Syria to enter direct talks over the Syrian Golan Heights, occupied by Israel in 1967, but Syria has so far rejected. Israel and Syria have been conducting Turkey-brokered indirect talks since May after an eight-year freeze in their ties. Syria has long demanded that Israel withdraw fully from the Golan Heights but Israel has refused. On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said if Syria was serious in peace talks it must choose between breaking its relations with Iran and suffering international isolation. The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, however, has rejected the proposal, saying, "Israel's demand would be as if Syria asked Israel to break its relations with the United States."

India, Pakistan agree to give peace a chance

India, Pakistan agree to give peace a chance Colombo (AFP) Aug 4, 2008: Tensions between India and Pakistan overshadowed a South Asian summit that ended in Sri Lanka Sunday, but the two nuclear-armed rivals vowed to work together and save a tenuous peace process. In the highest level talks between New Delhi and Islamabad in over a year, Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani agreed to look into allegations his spy service was behind last month's suicide bombing of India's embassy in Kabul. US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher, who is attending the summit as an observer, said he believed Gilani was determined to "conquer the problems of extremism and terrorism." "We welcome the statement he made about looking into the causes and sources of the Kabul bombing," Boucher told reporters, adding that Pakistan's new government needed more time to tackle terrorism. "I do remember it's a new government. There are enormous challenges," he told reporters on the sidelines of the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in the Sri Lankan capital. On Saturday the Indian and Pakistan premiers agreed that the bombing of India's embassy in the Afghan capital, plus a string of clashes along the Line of Control dividing the Himalayan region of Kashmir, had "cast a pall" on the four-year-old peace drive, Indian foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who met Gilani at a luxury hotel overlooking the Indian Ocean, "was relatively frank in expressing his views," said Menon. But "both prime ministers said we need to overcome these (problems) and move forward," Menon told reporters, adding Gilani had "stressed that across the board in Pakistan, all political parties want improved relations." The summit is routinely eclipsed by tensions between India and Pakistan, who have fought three wars since the post-colonial partition of the subcontinent. Gilani also met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday, and "the two sides agreed to coordinate their efforts to stop cross border terrorism," a joint statement said. Foreign ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan would meet soon "to prepare grounds for a framework for close and constructive engagement between (the) two countries to build confidence and develop a common strategy at the political, military and intelligence levels," the statement added. Karzai accuses Islamabad of backing Taliban militants, and Afghan officials have also linked Pakistan's shadowy Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to the Indian embassy bombing -- a charge Islamabad has denied as "rubbish." At the end of the summit, Singh shook hands with Gilani and Karzai besides other leaders before leaving in a bullet-proof car he brought with him from India despite Sri Lanka saying it was offering "ultimate" security. Karzai said terrorism was the most "menacing" challenge faced by SAARC, which groups Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. A draft summit declaration called for collective action to combat "all forms of terrorist violence" that was threatening their "peace, stability and security." The leaders agreed to implement a regional trade pact -- signed in 1995 but never fully implemented -- "in letter and in spirit" to ensure a free flow of goods and services between the region of 1.5 billion people. SAARC members also noted the urgent need to develop energy and food security, and to look at cutting international telephone call charges within the region to foster closer economic ties. The summit was held under unprecedented security in insurgency-hit Sri Lanka, which deployed 20,000 additional police and troops to guard delegates.

Iraq arms sales request worth over nine billion dollars: Pentagon

Iraq arms sales request worth over nine billion dollars: Pentagon Washington (AFP) Aug 4, 2008: The Pentagon said Friday it has notified Congress of proposed military sales to Iraq valued at more than nine billion dollars, including helicopters, tanks and armored vehicles. The biggest proposed sale was for 392 Light Armored Vehicles, radios and anti-tank weapons at an estimated cost of three billion dollars, the Defense Security and Cooperation Agency said. Congress also was notified of a possible sale of 140 upgraded M1A1 Abrams tanks as well as armored Humvees, tracked logistics vehicles, armored ambulances, vehicles to carry shelters and command posts, and trucks to transport heavy equipment. It was valued at 2.16 billion dollars. A separate 2.4 billion dollar helicopter deal would provide the Iraqi government with 24 Bell Armed 407 helicopters or 24 Boeing AH-6 helicopters, along with engines, missiles, mortars, machineguns, and rocket launchers. Another proposed sale involved technical assistance in the construction of garrisons, training areas and operational facilities for the Iraqi security forces. "The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as 1.6 billion dollars," the DSCA said. On Monday, the DSCA announced a possible contract to sell Iraq six C-130J aircraft, with engines and other equipment, which it said was worth 1.5 billion dollars if all options were exercised.

Boeing Submits Combat Aircraft Industrial-Participation Proposal to Indian Government

Boeing Submits Combat Aircraft Industrial-Participation Proposal to Indian Government NEW DELHI, Aug. 04, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today submitted a comprehensive Industrial Participation (IP) proposal to the government of India in support of the company's Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) offer to the Indian air force of 126 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. The proposal was submitted in response to the MMRCA Request for Proposals, which asked all competitors to provide an IP plan as part of their offering. Boeing's proposal firmly supports the Indian government's goal of a vibrant indigenous aerospace industry. It also foresees India playing a key role in enhancing Boeing's global competitiveness and growth through a series of strategic partnerships with Indian industries. "The Boeing Company has been, and will continue to be, a true partner to India," said Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Military Aircraft. "To that end, our IP proposal draws upon the company's vast pool of human talent, technical expertise and aerospace and defense resources, to both support India's defense modernization drive and to help spur growth of a world-class Indian aerospace industry." To help meet the MMRCA IP requirements, Boeing assembled a formidable industrial lineup that includes the Super Hornet industry supplier team (16 leading aerospace and defense companies with combined revenues of over $454 billion), and Boeing's Indian IP partners (37 public- and private-sector Indian companies). "We are already establishing the groundwork that will lead us to success in this large undertaking through early engagement of Indian industry, both public and private," said Vivek Lall, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems vice president and India country head. The alliances began forming in earnest in November 2006, when Boeing hosted a conference in Bangalore at which 25 of its key suppliers were introduced to more than 25 India-based aerospace and engineering services companies. "Boeing is proud of its record of successfully implementing IP programs in excess of $29 billion in more than 30 countries," said Ian Thomas, president of Boeing India. "These have brought long-term economic and industrial benefits to our customers around the world, and created jobs and growth opportunities for Boeing. And many of the companies that helped Boeing meet those IP obligations have evolved to become enduring partners in the global Boeing supply chain." Earlier this year, Boeing reached an agreement to form a joint venture with Tata Industries Limited, part of the Tata Group, one of India's largest business conglomerates. In December 2007, Boeing signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which is adopting Boeing's Lean and best-management practices. Boeing has also signed an MOU with international engineering firm Larsen & Toubro for joint exploration of business opportunities in the Indian defense market.

Korea F-15K Aircraft

Northrop Grumman Receives Contract to Provide Electronic Combat Systems for Republic of Korea F-15K Aircraft ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill., August 4 , 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has won a $74.6 million contract to provide 21 ALQ-135M electronic combat systems for the Republic of Korea Air Force F-15K. "The selection of the ALQ-135M affirms Northrop Grumman's position as the supplier of electronic warfare solutions for the worldwide F-15 fleet," said Mark Kula, vice president of Northrop Grumman's Radio Frequency Combat and Information Systems business unit. "The ALQ-135M is key to maintaining the F-15's unparalleled air dominance record." Northrop Grumman's AN/ALQ-135M is a fully automatic, internally-mounted electronic combat system that prioritizes, manages, and defeats multiple threats simultaneously. The latest configuration improves on heritage ALQ-135 systems by replacing multiple processors with a new PowerPC(tm)-based system that offers significant speed and memory enhancements. The ALQ-135M also makes use of sophisticated microwave power module (MPM) transmitter technology to reduce weight and boost performance. Deliveries will start in February 2010 and be completed by October 2011.

Taiwan: Mirage readiness rate higher than standard: MND

Mirage readiness rate higher than standard: MND ROC Central News Agency - Taipei, Aug. 4, 2008 (CNA) The readiness rate of Mirage jet fighters has consistently stood above the standard set by the Ministry of National Defense (MND), the military said Saturday. The Military Spokesman's Office (MSO) issued the statement after a local evening paper reported earlier in the day that the Combined Logistics Command was negligent and slack in carrying out its Mirage spare parts procurement mission. According to the United Evening News, the logistics command spent six months procuring just 41 of the more than 400 Mirage spare parts that the air force needed to meet it emergency demand. The shortage embodied the command's serious dereliction of duty. In response, the MSO said in the statement that the average delivery period for overseas procurement ususally needs 22 to 24 months. The statement further said the Combined Logistics Command has never been lax in fulfilling its duty. Noting that the command has categorized the air force's spare parts procurement into three classes -- principal, urgent and crucial importance, the statement said the command has often nudged foreign contractors or suppliers to deliver on Taiwan's orders on schedule. With an above-standard availability rate, the statement added that the air force's Mirage fleet can effectively implement their mission of combat preparedness. Taiwan now has 57 French-made Mirage flighters. (By Sofia Wu) enditem

Japan Warned of Radioactive Leak

Japan Warned of Radioactive Leak August 04, 2008-Associated Press: TOKYO - The U.S. Navy has warned that a nuclear submarine may have had radioactive leaks during recent port calls in Japan's south, the country's Foreign Ministry said Saturday. Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was informed by the U.S. Navy that a small amount of radiation might have leaked from the nuclear-powered USS Houston as it traveled around the Pacific. The news could cause a stir in Japan, where both the U.S. military presence and its nuclear subs are controversial. The Houston made calls in March and April in the southern Japanese naval ports of Sasebo and Okinawa. The ministry said leaked radioactive cooling water was detected during routine maintenance on the Houston in Hawaii in June and it was believed to have posed no threat to humans or the environment. Sasebo city official Akihiro Yoshida said the government monitoring during the submarine's port calls showed no abnormal increase of radioactivity in the area's waters. "Still, we are rather concerned," Yoshida said. The incident comes just weeks ahead of the arrival of the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington in Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo. The ship's arrival was originally set for August under a Japan-U.S. security alliance, but is being delayed until late September because of a fire aboard the vessel in May. The George Washington is relieving the soon-to-be decommissioned USS Kitty Hawk and will be the first U.S. Navy nuclear powered vessel to station permanently in Japan. The George Washington's deployment had already triggered protests and the fire escalated concerns that many Japanese have about nuclear power. Masahiko Goto, a lawyer representing a citizens' group opposing the George Washington's deployment in Yokosuka, sharply criticized the U.S. Navy for withholding the problem for weeks. "They had discovered the radiation leak weeks ago and did not inform the Japanese government immediately," he said in a statement. "The U.S. Navy's handling of the accident and lack of transparency showed there is no way we can trust them." The Foreign Ministry said the U.S. Navy informed them of the leak Friday but waited a day to announce it because the amount was negligible, stirring a flurry of criticism. Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura called the delay "no good," and Defense Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said "We'd have liked to hear from the Foreign Ministry earlier." The delay also embarrassed Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, who admitted learning about the leak through local media reports Saturday morning. "We should have made the announcement sooner," he said. In Honolulu, U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Scott Gureck said Friday the amount of radioactivity released into the environment from the USS Houston at each stop was less than one half a microcurie - a negligible amount equivalent to the radioactivity of a 50-pound bag of fertilizer. The Navy discovered the leak July 17 when a gallon of water spilled on a shipyard worker's leg from a valve while the submarine was in dry dock for routine maintenance at Pearl Harbor. An investigation showed water may have been slowly leaking from the valve since March as the Los Angeles-class submarine traveled around the Pacific. But the Japanese Foreign Ministry said it was not known how long the USS Houston had been leaking the cooling water. The Houston is based at Apra Harbor in the U.S. territory of Guam in the Western Pacific. The submarine sat in Pearl Harbor for about three weeks before it was dry-docked in mid-July.

Russia counts on U.S. help in Georgia-S.Ossetia standoff

Russia counts on U.S. help in Georgia-S.Ossetia standoff MOSCOW, August 4, 2008: - Russia counts on the United States to exert a positive influence on Georgia following the latest surge in violence in the breakaway province of South Ossetia, a Russian diplomat said on Monday. Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin's statement follows a warning from the Russian ministry that South Ossetia is on the brink of a large-scale military conflict, and Moscow's claim that Georgia is aggravating the situation through excessive use of force. At least six people were killed late on Friday and early on Saturday in clashes between South Ossetian and Georgian forces. Karasin, speaking after a phone conversation with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried, said: "The Russian side expressed deep concern over the latest surge in tensions around South Ossetia, the unlawful buildup of Georgia's military presence in the region, and the intensive construction of fortifications." "Russia has already urged Tbilisi to take a responsible approach, and it also counts on constructive cooperation from Washington," he said. Last month, U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice visited Georgia, and assured President Mikheil Saakashvili that Washington would help the country resolve its tensions with South Ossetia and Georgia's other rebel region, Abkhazia. The U.S. will be joining Russia and Germany at UN-mandated peace talks in Berlin on August 15 on the Abkhazian and South Ossetian conflicts. South Ossetia has evacuated more than 1,000 children across the border into Russia since violence broke out on Friday. The separatist authorities say six people were killed and 15 injured in mortar and sniper attacks from Georgian forces. Georgia had denied using snipers, and says it only retaliated against South Ossetian grenade attacks. On Sunday, a total of 543 evacuees arrived in Russia's North Ossetia, and over 500 are expected to arrive by Monday evening. South Ossetia's Interior Ministry said on Monday that Georgia had deployed a howitzer battalion and two mortar batteries along the border over the weekend, while police posts on the southern outskirts of the separatist republic's capital, Tshinvali, had come under sniper fire. South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity said on Sunday that the province was prepared to announce a general mobilization to repel Georgian attacks. Russia has stepped up its support for Georgia's rebel provinces in recent months, angering Georgia's pro-Western leadership, which has set bringing the regions back under central control as a priority task. South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Hundreds died in the conflict that followed.

Iran, EU to decide on further nuclear talks

Iran, EU to decide on further nuclear talks TEHRAN, August 4, 2008 - Iran's top nuclear negotiator will speak to the European Union's foreign policy chief over the phone on Monday to discuss further negotiations on the country's nuclear program, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said. The statement comes two days after a deadline set by six world powers for Iran to respond to proposals designed to persuade Tehran to halt nuclear activities and avoid further international sanctions. "Mr. Jalili will contact Mr. Solana by phone today. We maintain a serious, strategic approach to the talks and therefore will continue discussions on the Iranian nuclear issue," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said, adding Iran would not give up its right to pursue a civilian nuclear program. Javier Solana has represented the six nations - the five permanent Security Council members and Germany - at the long-running nuclear talks with Iran. Saeed Jalili, head of the Supreme National Security Council, negotiates on Iran's behalf. Iran failed to give its reply on Saturday to a package of trade and nuclear technology incentives in exchange for agreement to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can be used in nuclear weapons production. Tehran also dismissed the United States' warning that Iran could face tougher UN Security Council sanctions, saying Russia and other countries would not support such measures. Russia has opposed any deadline for a reply from Iran, while calling on the country to respond swiftly, and resisted tougher sanctions. The Islamic Republic is already under three sets of UN sanctions imposed since 2006. The U.S. and Israel have refused to rule out military action against Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, if diplomacy fails to end the dispute. Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari reiterated a threat in comments quoted by Fars news agency on Monday to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which about 40% of global oil shipments pass, in the event of aggression against the country. Iran has recently conducted a series of missile test launches in the strait, which is located at the southern end of the Gulf.

The Su-27 Flanker among the best military aircraft of the 20th century. INFOgraphics

The Su-27 Flanker among the best military aircraft of the 20th century. INFOgraphics 04, August, 2008: The Russian Su-27 is recognized as one of the best combat aircraft of the 20th century, an online poll by Flight International magazine shows

Chavez warns U.S. after getting Russian warplanes

Chavez warns U.S. after getting Russian warplanes MOSCOW, August 4, 2008 - President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela had taken delivery of 24 Russian Sukhoi fighter jets, and warned the U.S. Fourth Fleet that his country is ready to defend itself. "We've received the 24 Sukhoi aircraft," he said Sunday. "They're for defensive purposes; we're not going to attack anybody." The deal included training for pilots and crews, as well as missiles for the fighters. Chavez said the Sukhoi missiles have far greater range than those of the U.S. F-16 fighter jet, and warned the U.S. Fourth Fleet to keep out of Venezuelan waters. "Any gringo ship that sails into brown waters [river waters] will itself turn brown and go to the bottom, because they'll not get through," he said. The jets are part of a recent $4 billion deal with Moscow, including tanks, transport planes, air-defense systems and AK assault rifles. In 2005-2006, Venezuela signed a deal to buy more than 50 combat helicopters, 24 Su-30MK2 fighters, 12 Tor-M1 air defense missile systems and 100,000 AK-103 rifles from Russia. Chavez, an outspoken critic of Washington since coming to power nine years ago, has focused his foreign policy on bolstering ties with countries outside the U.S. sphere of influence.

Iraq Seeks Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters

Iraq Seeks Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters 04-Aug-2008: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Iraq’s formal request for 24 helicopters. Based on the request, Iraq seems to be interested in Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters that act as scouts, perform light close air support, and escort other helicopters on dangerous missions. The IqAF currently relies on a small force of Russia’s popular Mi-8/17 and refurbished Bell “Huey II” helicopters. While the Russian helicopters can be armed, their status as Iraq’s only medium utility helicopters makes them a poor fit for an ARH role. Instead, Iraq looks set to choose between 2 competitors. One is the Bell 407, whose derivative ARH-70A won the competition in America but has run into trouble. The other is Boeing’s AH-6 “Little Bird” light attack helicopters used by US Special Forces, which provided critical fire support during the 1991 “Backhawk Down” incident. The complete request also includes mortars for land use, but also adds airborne weapons – something the nascent post-Saddam IqAf has not really had to this point. The entire request, which could be worth up to $2.4 billion, includes: The Request: Helicopters and Armament 24 Bell Armed 407 Helicopters, similar to the American AH-6 “Little Bird” Helicopters. The AH-6 is the specialized attack version of the MH-6, designed to mount missiles, guns, and/or 7-tube rocket launchers. 24 Rolls Royce 250-C-30 Engines. Interestingly, this engine powers the H-6 Little Bird – but not Bell’s 407. 24 of Lockheed Martin’s M299 Guided Missile Launchers. Can launch Hellfire missiles, or DAGR laser-guided 2.75” rockets 200 of Lockheed Martin’s AGM-114M Hellfire II missiles. Laser-guided, which means the helicopters will either need a sensor/targeting turret, or be forced to rely on ground troops “painting” the target with systems of their own. Standard blast/fragmentation warhead. 16 M36 Hellfire Training Missiles 24 “M280 2.75-inch Launchers.” This may be a typo The usual launchers are the 7-rocket M260 or the 19-round M261. Helicopters in this class are more likely to use the M260. 15,000 2.75-inch/70mm Rockets. Standard unguided rockets. 24 XM296 .50 Cal. Machine Guns with 500 Round Ammunition Box 24 M134 7.62mm Mini-Guns Land Systems 565 M120 120mm Mortars. General Dynamics makes most of these for the US armed forces. Unspecified 120mm ammunition 665 M252 81mm Mortars Unspecified 81mm ammunition Support Plus test measurement and diagnostics equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support. The principal contractors will be Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. in Hurst, TX or Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in Seattle, WA. U.S. Government and Contractor technical assistance will be required but cannot be fully defined at this time. The DSCA adds that: “The proposed sale of these helicopters, missiles, and mortar systems will be used to develop new Iraqi Air Force (IAF) squadrons and/or wings, and to enhance the ability of the IAF to sustain itself in its efforts to bring stability to Iraq.” DJ Elliott, who is the prime author of the Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle at the respected Long War Journal, believes that these helicopters are destined for Iraqi Special Operations support alongside the 26 Mi-17v5s of 15th Special Operations Squadron. He also points to rumors of interest in up to 50 used SA 341/342 Gazelle helicopters from France or Britain, however, which could change the wider implications of this purchase from “likely special forces support” to “the beginning of a wider push to deploy close support aviation.” Saddam’s armies used the French Gazelle helicopters in an ARH/light attack role from the 1970s onward, and Britain has deployed SA 341 utility variant Gazelles to Iraq since 2003.

Raven UAVs Winning Gold in Afghanistan’s “Commando Olympics”

Raven UAVs Winning Gold in Afghanistan’s “Commando Olympics” 04-Aug-2008: Back on Feb 24, 2005, DID covered the success the RQ-11 Raven mini-UAV was enjoying in Iraq. In November 2005, StrategyPage reported that the RQ-11 Raven was also turning heads in what it calls “the commando Olympics” of Afghanistan: “In addition to all the cooperation, there’s also a lot comparing notes. One thing everyone has noted is the large number of useful gadgets American Special Forces troops have. The most envied item is the American Raven UAV.” Or at least, mini-UAVS like the Raven. This Spotlight article looks at Special Forces related mini-UAV buys from a number of countries, spurred by requests from troops in theater. The latest update involves a 3rd order from Australia for Skylark UAVs, and a report from the front lines that suggests progress for Britain’s Desert Hawk systems… RQ-11: Drawing Raves The Commando Olympics: Other Teams are Competing. Additional Readings & Sources RQ-11, Baghdad The Raven is a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched sensor platform that provides day and night, real-time video imagery for “over the hill” and “around the corner” reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. Each Raven system typically consists of 3 aircraft, a ground control station, system spares, and related services. As a measure of its success, The 3,000th RQ-11A Raven vehicle rolled of the production line back in March 2006. U.S. armed forces use Ravens extensively for missions such as base security, route reconnaissance, mission planning and force protection. According to the U.S. Army, Ravens were flown for approximately 150,000 combat hours in 2007. The same reasons behind the Raven’s Iraqi success also apply in CENTCOM’s first theater of war: Useful at the battalion level, but so simple to operate that one of the best pilots in the Iraqi theater was a cook. Ideal for quick peeks to see what’s on the other side of obstructed terrain – like a city block in Iraq, or Afghanistan’s hills and mountains. Switch-in IR cameras that some called better than an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter’s. Small and unobtrusive (wingspan just over 4 feet, weight just over 4 pounds), with low noise signature relative to larger UAVs. So small, in fact, that it can easily be carried by Special Forces scouts and squads. No letters to write if the aircraft goes down. While some Ravens have been shot down, StrategyPage says the most common cause of loss is losing the communications link or a software/hardware failure on the aircraft. It also reports that troops in Afghanistan have taken to putting a translated label on each Raven, noting that a reward will be given to anyone who returns them to the Americans. Several lost Ravens have actually been recovered this way. The Commando Olympics: Other Teams are Competing Skylark UAV launch Both American UAVs and American UAV doctrine are attracting interest from other Western Special Forces – and other branches of the US military. Nevertheless, American UAVs aren’t the only winners. Elbit’s Skylark, for instance, has emerged as a strong alternative… Australia: The Skylark system include 3 Air Vehicles, a Ground Control Station and the day and night payloads. The system can be carried in two back packs and operated in mission by two soldiers, but additional launch options are available – including by air from various manned or unmanned platforms, or ground launch by rail. The UAV is controlled through full, downsized or man-portable tactical miniature ground-control stations which draw from the Hermes UAV family heritage, and offers real time continuous video and telemetry data transmission via a new Spectralink-developed data link. It has been improved over the years. Aug 3/08: Australia places its 3rd Skylark UAV order, valued at “several million dollars.” Elbit Systems release [PDF]. Nov 3/05: Australia chooses Elbit’s Skylark as its mini-UAV, to complement Israel Aerospace Industries’ larger I-View 250 and some Boeing ScanEagles used at battalion and brigade levels. Britain: MiTex BUSTER The British SAS purchased a larger hand-launched UAV called BUSTER (backpack unmanned surveillance targeting and enhanced reconnaissance) in 2005, which is bigger than the RQ-11 Raven but has greater endurance, altitude, and range. While StrategyPage claims that the BUSTER is a derivative of the Raven’s AeroVironment FQM-151 Pointer predecessor, DID’s research reveals a very different vehicle with a biplane-like double wing, made by a different company who seems to have the applicable British contract. August 1/08: Rotorhub Magazine runs “REPORT FROM IRAQ: Royal Artillery’s mini and tactical UAVs tasked to counter indirect fire at Basra, Iraq.” The UAVs are Desert Hawk mini-UAVs and mid-size Hermes 450 aircraft, which indicates that some of the Desert Hawk’s technical issues with Iraqi mobile phone frequencies have been resolved. The same tactics and procedures would be used in Afghanistan, where surprise mortar and rocket attacks are also a feature of combat. Sept 27/06 A UK MoD release confirms that they’re using RQ-11 Ravens in Iraq via a partnership with the US Army. June 9/06: The British are also incorporating Desert Hawk mini-UAVs in Afghanistan. Canada: Skylark mini-UAV Back in 2005, Canadian Forces director of operational requirements for unmanned aerial vehicles, Maj. Keith Laughton, stated that they will be buying portable UAVs that are similar to the Raven, and that they will be deployed in Afghanistan by August 2006. “It has been identified as an operational requirement for Op Archer Roto 2 in August.” At the time, no specific UAV had been chosen to fulfill this role, though Canada has evaluated the Advanced Ceramics Research Silver Fox mini-UAV (see a more visual report via the CASR think tank). Canada joined Australia in choosing Elbit’s Skylark. The UAV was first ordered on a temporary basis, as part of the $200 million set of emergency purchases for Operation Archer in November 2005. It was picked more formally as Canada’s future mini-UAV in October 2006, following a competition that reportedly included IAI’s I-View 50 with its unique parafoil landing system, and Boeing’s larger ScanEagle UAV . Thales Canada will act as the prime contractor. Denmark: On Sept 11/07, Aerovironment announced that the Danish Army Operational Command had examined competing offerings, then placed a $2.4 million order to supply with 12 RQ-11B Raven-B small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The RQ-11B is slightly larger than the original Raven; a Raven-B system typically consists of three aircraft, a hand-held ground control station, a remote viewing terminal, systems spares, and related services, which in this case include logistics support and training services. True to form, this is a “commando olympics” purchase: “Three of the Raven-B systems are planned for delivery to the Jaegerkorpset (Army Special Forces), with the remainder destined for troop testing by deployed units at the Danish Army’s Artillery Training Center.” France: DRAC/ Tracker July 10/08: EADS announces an order for 35 DRAC mini-UAV systems from the French DGA procurement agency, bringing France’s total to 60. DRAC operator training was completed at the end of June 2008. A DRAC system consists of 2 backpack-carried UAVs equipped with payloads, a compact 2-unit ground station and an automatic tracking antenna. DRAC is based on SurveyCopeter’s TRACKER system, and is partnership between EADS Defence & Security (marketing, ground station, high-speed secure data link) and SurveyCopter (UAV system and cameras). The EADS release adds that: “Numerous foreign customers have already expressed a strong interest in this system and a number of export systems have been delivered recently.” March 24/08: Elbit Systems Ltd. announces [PDF format] that it has won “a tender involving 10 of the leading UAV manufacturers worldwide,” and will supply Skylark I UAV systems to France’s Special Forces. This contract marks Elbit Systems’ first UAV contract with France. Netherlands: Aladin UAV full kit In April 2006, the Dutch bought 10 Aladin UAVs and 5 ground stations for their Uruzgan mission in Afghanistan; Dutch troops received a crash course from the German army, who have used the system in Northern Afghanistan. The very small size of this order strongly suggests special forces deployment. On May 30/08, AeroVironment, Inc. announced that The Netherlands Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), had awarded a $7.7 million contract for RQ-11B Raven systems as well as training, logistics support, and airworthiness certification. The release quotes Frans Klein, Head Section Unmanned Aircrafts for The Netherlands Defense Materiel Organisation: “We performed a thorough competitive selection process and the Raven came out as a clear winner…. Decisive elements in the selection were hand-launchability, reliability, ease of use, robustness, and proven, in-theatre operational performance.” Poland: Orbiter Launch July 27/07: Following an initial sale of Orbiter mini UAVs to the Polish Special Forces in 2006, “the customer’s high satisfaction with the Orbiter’s operational performance in Afghanistan over the past year has led to a sharp increase in Aeronautics’ activities in Poland (now a member of NATO), and to the decision by the Polish Ministry of Defense to equip its other land forces with a large number of similar systems.” The world-wide tender for the $3 million contract reportedly included 11 other companies, of which 6 made it to the final stage of the tender. Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd. will be the sole supplier of 6 Orbiter systems, each of which includes 3 mini air vehicles, day and night camera payloads, portable Ground Control Stations and data links for command and video transmission. Orbiter has a fully automatic flight control system that includes automatic launch and recovery. Spain: Jan 14/08: On Jan 14/07, El Pais reported that The Spanish Ministry of Defence has given the go-ahead to an urgent purchase of 9 RQ-11B Raven mini-UAV systems (27 UAVs) to strengthen the protection of Spain’s 742 soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and 1,100 in Lebanon. The contract amounts to EUR 3.1 million and has been awarded to the Spanish firm Aerlyper as an urgent acquisition “negociado sin publicidad.” To date, El Pais reports that the RQ-11’s manufacturer AeroVironment have sold more than 3,000 units. Thanks to DID reader Pedro Lucio for the pointer and translation assistance. This purchase is separate from, but linked to, Spain’s purchase of IAI/UTE Searcher MkII-J tactical UAVs. The Searcher UAVs will be used for for battalion-level reconnaissance in depth, as opposed to the Raven’s much shorter range and duration that gives it only squad/company-level utility. Unfortunately, the scheduled September 2007 delivery from the Spanish UTE consortium did not materialize until late December 2007, and the system will not be operational for several months. The Ravens, which are being produced in quantity, may well prove to be an immediately available front-line stopgap. USAF: Oct 15/07: The Air Force Association’s Oct 15/07 Daily Report says that: “The [USAF’s] 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron in Southwest Asia has a new asset: the 35-inch-long unmanned aerial vehicle called the Raven B. MSgt. Ruby Zarzyczny reports that airmen, who are using the 4.2-pound UAV, with a wing span of 65 inches, for reconnaissance, surveillance, force protection, battle damage assessment, and convoy security missions, adopted the small UAV from the Army. Previously the airmen used the slightly larger Desert Hawk, but “its capabilities far exceed the previous air frame,” said 1st Lt. Daryl Crosby, with the 380th ESFS. For one thing, operators can launch Raven B from moving vehicles, roof tops, or any open area, and it can go to war in a backpack. It takes both still photos and live video.” US SOCOM: July 1/08: US SOCOM issues a mini-UAV contract worth up to $200 million over 5 years – but it isn’t for the Raven. Read “Puma AE: An “All Environment” Mini-UAV” for more. Feb 6/08: AveroVironment, Inc. in Simi Valley, CA received a $45.9 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the SOCOM Raven Systems (newer RQ-11B) and initial spares packages. Work will be performed in Simi Valley, CA and is expected to be complete by Jan 31/09. One bid was solicited on Jan. 30, 2008, and 1 bid was received by the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command in Huntsville, AL (W58RGZ-05-C-0338). According to Aerovironment’s Feb 7/08 release, the option was submitted under the existing U.S. Army joint small UAS program of record for the RQ-11, which provides systems for the US Army and Marine Corps. The contract also allows for contract additions from US Special Operations Command and other U.S. military services.

Israel Orders ‘Special’ C-130J-30s

Israel Orders ‘Special’ C-130J-30s 03-Aug-2008: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Israel’s request for 9 stretched C-130J-30 aircraft, which will replace some of the aging C-130 aircraft that Israel made famous in its 1976 commando raid at Entebbe, Uganda. Appropriately, the new aircraft will also contain a number of features associated with the new HC/MC-130J Special Forces aircraft bought by India and the USA. The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, TX, and offset agreements are expected, but they will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and contractors. Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Israel involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews, support, program management, and training over a period of up to 5 years. The estimated cost is $1.9 billion, and the exact items will include: 9 Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 United States Air Force (USAF) baseline aircraft including USAF baseline equipment and Block 7.0 Software. This implies the inclusion of engines, defensive equipment, et. al. 6 Rolls Royce AE 2100D3 spare engines (implies 36 engines included in C-130J-30s) 9 of BAE’s AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Systems (includes 3 spares) 9 of BAE’s AN/ALR-56M Advanced Radar Warning Receivers (includes 3 spares) 9 of ATK’s AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing Systems (includes 3 spares) 9 of FLIR Systems’ AN/AAQ-22 Star SAFIRE III Special Operations Suites (includes 3 spares). This is a day/night surveillance and laser targeting turret. 4 spare AN/ARC-210 Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS) 10 spare Secure Voice Very High Frequency/Ultra High Frequency Radios 4 spare Secure Voice High Frequency Radios 3 spare AN/AAR-222 SINCGARS and Key Gen (KV-10) Systems 1 KIV-119 Non-standard Communication/COMSEC equipment 2 ARC-210 Non-standard Communication/COMSEC equipment 10 External Pylons and Fuel Tanks 5 Internal Israeli Tank Modification Kits The contract also includes defensive equipment, spare and repair parts, configurations updates, communications security equipment and radios, integration studies, support equipment, aircraft ferry and tanker support, repair and return, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support.

JHMCS: Fighter Pilot “Look & Shoot” Helmets’ Upgrade, Ups & Downs

JHMCS: Fighter Pilot “Look & Shoot” Helmets’ Upgrade, Ups & Downs
August 4, 2008: In the 1970s, fighter aircraft began to appear with Head-Up Displays (HUD) that projected key information, targeting crosshairs et. al. onto a seemingly clear piece of glass, so the pilot could keep his eyes on the sky instead of looking down at his instruments. We’ve been wondering when we’d see them in our automobiles ever since. In the 1990s, another innovation appeared: helmet-mounted displays put the HUD inside the pilot’s helmet, providing this information even when the pilot wasn’t looking straight ahead. The Israelis were already using a system called DASH when a set of former East German MiG-29s equipped with HMDs slaughtered USAF F-16s in exercises, and helmet-mounted displays suddenly became must-haves for modern fighters. The Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) projects visual targeting and aircraft performance information on the back of the helmet’s visor, including aircraft altitude, airspeed, gravitational pull, angle of attack, and weapons sighting, enabling the pilot to monitor this information without interrupting the field of view through the cockpit canopy. The system uses a magnetic transmitter unit fixed to the pilot’s seat and a magnetic field probe mounted on the helmet to define helmet pointing positioning. A Helmet Vehicle Interface (HVI) interacts with the aircraft system bus to provide signal generation for the helmet display. This provides significant improvement for close combat targeting and engagement. A September 2005 exchange with Boeing enabled the writer to gain insights into the rocky past, overall state, and future of a program that has experienced its share of snags and controversy – but gone on to become the #1 helmet-mounted sight in the world today. That information fits nicely with article expansion of the coverage to detail the JHMCS’ game-changing effects on air combat, its production sets and known customers, and all contracts since full-rate production began. The latest item is a contract from Boeing to provide the dual-seat version for use in USAF F-15Es.

U.S. Marine - An amphibious assault vehicle

Aug 4, 2008: An amphibious assault vehicle assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit prepares to board the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) while underway in the Atlantic Ocean on July 27, 2008.

Chavez Gets Russian Fighter Jets, Warns U.S. 4th Fleet

Chavez Gets Russian Fighter Jets, Warns U.S. 4th Fleet 4 August, 2008: CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez said on Aug. 3 that 24 missile-firing Russian Sukhoi fighter jets have been delivered to Venezuela, and he warned the recently reactivated U.S. 4th Fleet to steer clear of Venezuelan waters. "We've received the 24 Sukhoi aircraft" complete with pilots, crews and missiles, Chavez said on his weekly radio program. "They're for defensive purposes, we're not going to attack anybody," Chavez said, adding that missile test-firing had already begun. Chavez boasted that the Sukhoi missiles have far greater range than those of the U.S. F-16 fighter jet, and proceeded to warn the 4rth Fleet the U.S. reactivated in July to keep out of Venezuelan waters. "Any gringo ship that sails into brown waters (river waters) will itself turn brown and go to the bottom, because they'll not get through," Chavez said. The fighter jets were part of a $3 billion military deal with Moscow that include tanks and Kalashnikov assault rifles, which the U.S. has criticized because of concerns that some of the armament may end up in the hands of leftist Colombian guerrillas. Mothballed for nearly 60 years, 4th Fleet for Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Pentagon, has no aircraft carrier or large warships, lacks offensive capability and will not enter any river or maritime territorial limits. Chavez turned to Russia for military hardware after he was spurned by the U.S., who refused to provide spare parts for F-16 jets Caracas bought from Washington in the 1980s.