Tuesday, August 05, 2008

China rolls out naval variant of Z-9 helo armed with new anti-ship missile

China rolls out naval variant of Z-9 helo armed with new anti-ship missile
(NSI News Source Info) August 5, 2008: A new armed naval variant of China's Z-9 helicopter has been rolled out, fitted with a new anti-ship missile. Developed from Harbin's Z-9C shipboard helicopter, already in service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, the latest aircraft is designated Z-9D. An image taken recently at the Harbin Aircraft Industry Group facility in the northeastern city of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, shows what appears to be the prototype Z-9D armed with a Hongdu radar-guided TL-10B (KJ-10B) missile. This is the first time that an anti-ship missile has been seen on a Chinese naval helicopter. The image also confirms that the air-launched TL-10 programme is moving forward to deployment. The TL-10 missile family first appeared in public as a ship-launched weapon (JJ-10) in 2004. In 2006, its manufacturer, the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group, showed the air-launched version (KJ-10). The TL-10 series is a modern, lightweight anti-ship missile system with a 30 kg armour-piercing warhead. It is a rocket-powered, relatively high speed (M0.85) weapon with a maximum range of about 18 km when air launched. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the TL-10 programme is that it has been developed in co-operation with Iran. Image: The newly rolled out Z-9D shipboard helicopter seen at the Harbin plant with a TL-10B (KJ-10B) anti-ship missile. (Via Chinese internet)

Iran again fails to give final nuclear reply: EU source

Iran again fails to give final nuclear reply: EU source BRUSSELS (NSI News Source Info) August 5, 2008 — Iran promised in a letter Tuesday a final response to an offer from six world powers relating to its nuclear programme but said it first needed some clarifications about the proposals, an EU source said. Earlier the United States said that world powers would discuss their next move on Wednesday and indicated that Tehran faced a fourth set of UN Security Council sanctions if it failed to give a positive response. Iran's demand for more information came in the form of a letter to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, which was also circulated late Tuesday to the five UN Security Council permanent members and Germany who are seeking to persuade Tehran to end its uranium enrichment programme. The Iranian authorities "say there will be a response but that clarification is needed on certain points of the offer," the European source told AFP. "They've hit the ball back. We must analyse whether it's just another way to gain time or if it's serious," she added. A source with Iran's Supreme National Security Council told AFP that a message had been handed over to Solana, who has been leading negotiations on behalf of the six -- Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. But the source, who asked not to be identified, confirmed that the message did not contain the final response that world powers had been awaiting. "The message delivered today is not Iran's response to the six countries," the source said. The six world powers had offered Iran negotiations on a package of technological incentives if it suspends the sensitive process of uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to make nuclear weapons. Tehran has steadfastly refused to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, which it says are only aimed at producing fuel for nuclear power for a growing population. The United States said Iran faced "additional measures" if it did not respond clearly, indicating it risked further UN Security Council sanctions. "If we are not going to receive a clear response, a clear message from them, we are going to have no choice but to pursue additional measures," US State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said. Negotiators from the six powers have scheduled a conference call for Wednesday, the spokesman said. Along with the threat of further sanctions, Washington has warned that the option of military action against Iran remains open if Tehran sticks to its defiant line. Amid the continued tensions, Iran said on Monday it had successfully test-fired an anti-ship missile with a range of 300 kilometres (180 miles) that would allow it to close the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman. "Given the equipment our armed forces have, an indefinite blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be very easy," said the commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari. But Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said that any move by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz would be "self-defeating" because its economy is so heavily dependent on oil revenues. "They have a very weak economy at this point which depends almost entirely on their oil revenue," he noted. Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, who has sought closer relations with the West after abandoning his own nuclear ambitions in 2003, described Iran as "arrogant" and predicted it would not withstand any US attack. OPEC member Iran is the world's fourth-biggest crude oil producer and traders fear supply disruption from the Islamic republic if tension is further heightened. However world oil prices -- which have been driven to record levels by worries over a possible military strike on Iran -- slumped beneath 119 dollars a barrel on US economic news.

WH Accused of Faking Iraq-al Qaida Letter

WH Accused of Faking Iraq-al Qaida Letter August 05, 2008 Associated Press WASHINGTON - The White House and the CIA on Tuesday adamantly denied a report that the Bush administration concocted a fake letter purporting to show a link between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaida as a justification for the Iraq war. The allegation was raised by Washington-based journalist Ron Suskind in a new book, "The Way of the World," published Tuesday. The letter supposedly was written by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, director of Iraqi intelligence under Saddam Hussein. "The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001," Suskind wrote. "It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq thus showing, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al-Qaida, something the vice president's office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification to invade Iraq. There is no link." Suskind said the letter's existence had been reported before, and that it had been treated as if it were genuine. Denying the report, White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said, "The notion that the White House directed anyone to forge a letter from Habbush to Saddam Hussein is absurd." Fratto and former CIA Director George Tenet also rejected Suskind's allegation that the U.S. had credible intelligence, before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, that Saddam did not possess weapons of mass destruction. It was supposedly British intelligence, based on information from a senior Iraqi official. Fratto said U.S. and other intelligence agencies believed Saddam harbored such weapons and that Saddam had tried to make his neighbors believe he had them. In the end, no such weapons were found, undercutting Bush's main reason to go to war. "We know now that those estimates were wrong, but they were the estimates we all relied on," Fratto said. "Regardless, military force in Iraq was used because Saddam Hussein defiantly failed to comply with the 17 UN Security Council resolutions Iraq was subject to." Tenet, in a statement distributed by the White House, also issued a denial about the supposedly fake letter. "There was no such order from the White House to me nor, to the best of my knowledge, was anyone from CIA ever involved in any such effort," he said. "It is well established that, at my direction, CIA resisted efforts on the part of some in the administration to paint a picture of Iraqi-al-Qaida connections that went beyond the evidence," Tenet said. "The notion that I would suddenly reverse our stance and have created and planted false evidence that was contrary to our own beliefs is ridiculous." Tenet also challenged Suskind's assertion that the U.S. ignored intelligence that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction. "As Mr. Suskind tells it," Tenet said, "the White House directed (and CIA allegedly went along with) burying that information so that the war could go ahead as planned. This is a complete fabrication. In fact, the source in question failed to persuade his British interlocutors that he had anything new to offer by way of intelligence, concessions, or negotiations with regard to the Iraq crisis and the British on their own elected to break off contact with him." Tenet said that "there were many Iraqi officials who said both publicly and privately that Iraq had no WMD but our foreign intelligence colleagues and we assessed that these individuals were parroting the Baath party line and trying to delay any coalition attack. The particular source that Suskind cites offered no evidence to back up his assertion and acted in an evasive and unconvincing manner." The Associated Press and other major news organizations widely reported in November 2003 details of last-ditch efforts by a frantic Iraqi regime to avert war just days before the U.S. invasion by sending messages to the Pentagon that Iraq had no mass weapons. At the time, senior U.S. defense and intelligence officials dismissed the effort as a stalling tactic.

Asiana Airlines orders 30 Airbus A350 aircraft

Asiana Airlines orders 30 Airbus A350 aircraft
(NSI News Source Info) 05 August 2008: Asiana Airlines of South Korea has signed a contract with Airbus for the purchase of 30 A350 XWB aircraft, plus 10 options. Delivery of the aircraft will begin in 2016 and the airline will take a combination of all three variants of the A350. The carrier will operate the aircraft on its regional and long haul routes. “The A350 will play a key role in the Asiana fleet of the future,” said Park Chan-Bup, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Asiana Airlines. “In placing this order today, we are ensuring that we will remain at the forefront of the airline industry, offering our passengers the very highest levels of comfort while operating only the most modern, fuel-efficient aircraft.” “We are pleased that Asiana has become the latest airline to select the A350 XWB, further strengthening the global customer base for this all-new aircraft family,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “With a fast-growing order book, the A350 is set to shape efficiency in the mid-size widebody category, with a step reduction of 20 per cent in fuel-burn and the lowest operating costs of any aircraft in its class. This will translate into very real economic advantages for operators such as Asiana, while at the same time reducing further the impact of aviation on the environment.” 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.

Boeing Opens New Mission Control Center to Support Satellite Customers

Boeing Opens New Mission Control Center to Support Satellite Customers (NSI) ST. LOUIS, Aug. 05, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced the completion of a $10 million, 20,500-square-foot satellite Mission Control Center (MCC) in El Segundo, Calif. The MCC can manage up to four commercial or government satellite missions at the same time. The MCC replaces another Boeing facility in El Segundo that was smaller and had limited capacity. "The MCC is an integral part of our customer service and support operations," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Space and Intelligence Systems, a division of Boeing Network and Space Systems. "Our satellite mission experts at the center monitor the health of a spacecraft from the time it is mated to the launch vehicle through in-orbit testing. Over the past 26 years, more than 120 missions have been operated at Boeing MCCs, and we continue to invest in this service so that we are prepared to support any customer -- commercial, civil or government." The U.S. Air Force is expected to be the first customer of the new center and will use it to manage an element of the military's Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) mission. Boeing has a long history of proven performance for the Air Force and is currently manufacturing satellites for the WGS mission, the Global Positioning System and the Space-Based Space Surveillance system. A Boeing-led team is also competing to build the Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT) Space Segment, which will provide military users with proven networked packet-switching technology for breakthrough mobile communications. Boeing's Team TSAT, which includes Cisco Systems, Hughes, IBM, Harris Corp., Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., LGS Innovations, Raytheon, General Dynamics C4S, L-3 Communications, BBN Technologies, EMS Technologies and SAIC, is under contract for the TSAT risk reduction and system demonstration phase. The Air Force is expected to announce the winner of the multibillion-dollar TSAT Space Segment contract later this year. The new MCC is located next to Boeing's satellite factory and features more than 100 engineering workstations that will be used for satellite operations. From these consoles, satellite operators and other experts can monitor a satellite's health and safety, conduct satellite maneuvers for placement into proper orbit, send software updates and provide other support throughout the life of the spacecraft. Boeing has developed a new computer network architecture for the center's four control suites that allows engineers to change the configuration from one unique mission to another in as little as a few days. At the old center, such reconfigurations would have taken much longer. The new MCC was designed with the flexibility to add additional control suites to respond to market needs.

Boeing Awarded Shipboard Network Communications System Contract

Boeing Awarded Shipboard Network Communications System Contract (NSI) ST. LOUIS, Aug. 05, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has been awarded a $5.4 million firm, fixed-price contract by the U.S. Navy to produce an updated shipboard network communications system for the USS Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer (DDG). The contract is part of the Navy's DDG modernization program, under which new shipboard network communications technologies will be retrofitted in DDG 51-class destroyers during service overhauls and installed as new destroyers are constructed. The contract for USS Arleigh Burke is the second awarded to Boeing this year by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Va., to install the Gigabit Ethernet Data Multiplex System (GEDMS) on destroyers. In January, Boeing won a contract to supply the GEDMS system for DDG 111 and 112, which are under construction. As the Navy's design and production agent for the GEDMS system, Boeing has developed a complete information-transfer system that enhances reliability, maintainability and survivability by managing data from the ship's navigation, steering-control, damage-control, machinery-control, combat and internal-communications systems. It was designed to replace the miles of point-to-point cabling, signal converters, junction boxes and switchboards associated with conventional cabling. The Boeing design is used for all GEDMS production. Boeing's C3 Networks division will manage the two contracts and work will be performed in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Boeing Awarded Contract for GPS Enhancement Demonstration

Boeing Awarded Contract for GPS Enhancement Demonstration (NSI) ST. LOUIS, Aug. 05, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has been awarded a $153.5 million U.S. Naval Research Laboratory contract to demonstrate High Integrity Global Positioning System (GPS) technology concepts. The contract is expected to run through 2010. The High Integrity GPS effort combines satellite signals from the Iridium Low Earth Orbit telecommunications system and GPS Mid Earth Orbit navigational satellites to enhance navigation availability, integrity, accuracy and jam-resistant capabilities for warfighters. "High Integrity GPS is an effective near-term tool that will augment GPS satellites to provide critical new capabilities, including aggressive levels of additional anti-jam protection," said David Whelan, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems chief scientist and vice president/deputy general manager, Advanced Systems. "Our research concluded that significant low-cost improvements to GPS can be achieved by using existing signal platforms and systems such as the Iridium constellation." The need to provide a more capable GPS for warfighters stems from the increasing sophistication of hostile jamming capabilities. GPS supports numerous military and civil applications, so the ability to jam the system presents a grave threat. "Boeing has been working over the years to find new ways to maximize the effectiveness of the GPS constellation," said Alex Lopez, vice president, Advanced Network and Space Systems. "With this integrated approach, we can increase the value of the current system by improving its operational mission-assurance capabilities." Based on its years of experience supporting the operation of the Iridium system, Boeing is able to integrate the system with GPS in a manner to create the first such combined navigation and communication "system-of-systems." The High Integrity GPS team includes Boeing Advanced Systems and Phantom Works, Iridium LLC, Rockwell Collins, Coherent Navigation and experts from academia. Iridium LLC, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., operates the Iridium constellation to provide worldwide voice and data satellite communications services for the private sector and the U.S. government. Boeing has provided Iridium with systems engineering and constellation management functions since the system became operational in 2000. Phantom Works is the advanced research and development unit of Boeing. Its charter is to provide innovative technology solutions that reduce cycle time and cost of aerospace products and services while improving their quality and performance.

U.S. training Iraqi police officers in Baghdad, Iraq.

(NSI News Source Info) August 5, 2008: U.S. service members conduct police transition training with Iraqi police officers in Baghdad, Iraq, on July 31, 2008.

Germany – Five MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Aircraft

Germany – Five MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Aircraft (NSI News Source Info) Aug. 5, 2008: WASHINGTON - The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Germany of five MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Aircraft as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $205 million. The Government of Germany has requested a possible sale of 5 MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), 4 Mobile Ground Control Stations, one year of maintenance support, engineering support, test equipment, ground support, operational flight test support, communications equipment, technical assistance, personnel training/equipment, spare and repair parts, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $205 million. Germany is a major political and economic power in NATO and the Atlantic and a key democratic partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability in this region and around the world. Germany requests these capabilities to provide for the defense of deployed troops, regional security, and interoperability with the United States. This program will increase Germany’s ability to contribute to future NATO, coalition, and anti-terrorism operations that the U.S. may undertake. Germany is a staunch supporter of the Global War on Terror and has over 3,000 military participating in coalition operations in Afghanistan with the U.S. By acquiring this capability, Germany will be able to provide the same level of protection for its own forces as those of the United States. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not affect the basic military balance in the region. Germany will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces. The principal contractors will be: --General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. San Diego, California --Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems El Segundo, California --General Atomics Lynx Systems San Diego, California There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Germany. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. This notice of a potential sale is required by law; it does not mean that the sale has been concluded.

Russia to conduct military exercises in Indian Ocean this fall

Russia to conduct military exercises in Indian Ocean this fall MOSCOW, August 5, 2008 (NSI News Source Info) - Russian Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers will join the Russian navy in a series of exercises in the Indian Ocean, the Air Force commander said on Tuesday. "We are preparing the flights of our strategic aircraft to the Indian ocean to practice interoperability with the Russian navy task force in the region," Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said. A Defense Ministry source later confirmed that a joint exercise involving Russian strategic bombers and combat ships had been scheduled for the fall 2008. The AF commander said that the Air Force had received orders to increase joint training with the Navy and the number of patrol flights across the world's oceans to ensure the security of Russian shipping in strategically and economically important zones. Russia resumed strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans last August, following an order signed by former president Vladimir Putin. "Since August 2007, Russian strategic bombers have carried out about 150 patrol flights with tactical interference of foreign aircraft, which accompanied our planes on their missions and in some instances jeopardized the success of these missions," Zelin said. The patrols allowed the crews of Russian strategic bombers and aerial tankers to gain experience in mid-air refueling, flights in northern latitudes and the use of forward landing airfields, the general said.

Indian army orders additional BrahMos cruise missiles

Indian army orders additional BrahMos cruise missiles NEW DELHI, August 5, 2008 (NSI News Source Info) - The Indian army has ordered an additional batch of BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles from the Russian-Indian BrahMos Aerospace joint venture, the company's CEO said Tuesday. "The army leadership realizes that weaponry such as the BrahMos missiles will ensure victory to the country which posses it in any conflict," Sivathanu Pillai, who is also the managing director of BrahMos Aerospace, said without disclosing the exact size of the order. The BrahMos missile has a range of 290 km (180 miles) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg (660 pounds). It can hit ground targets flying at an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and has a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the U.S.-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. Pillai said the recent acquisition of an assembly plant in the state of Kerala from Kerala Hightech Industries Ltd in addition to the main plant in Hyderabad, would allow the company to increase production to 50 BrahMos missiles a year and fulfill the army orders on schedule. Established in 1998, BrahMos Aerospace designs, produces and markets supersonic missiles, whose sea-based and land-based versions have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian army and navy. Pillai said in June that the company had finished the development of the airborne version of the BrahMos missile and the Indian air force had chosen SU-30 MKI Flanker-H multirole fighter as a trial platform for the missile. Experts estimate that India could purchase up to 1,000 BrahMos missiles for its armed forces in the next decade, and export 2,000 to other countries during the same period.

Fincantieri Wins Order to Build Two New Submarines for the Italian Navy

Fincantieri Wins Order to Build Two New Submarines for the Italian Navy August 5, 2008 - (News Source Info NSI): TRIESTE, Italy --- Fincantieri will build a second pair of “Todaro” class Type U212A submarines. The order was awarded by NAVARM (Italy’s directorate-general for naval armament) for the Italian Navy. The cooperation programme developed together with the German Submarine Consortium has resulted, in recent years, in the construction of two vessels for Italy – the “Todaro” and the “Scirè”, delivered by Fincantieri in 2006 and 2007 respectively – and four for Germany. In recent weeks the “Todaro”, which sailed on 24 May from Taranto naval base, is undergoing an intensive training programme with the US Navy within NATO manoeuvres and, after stopping in Mayport (Florida) in July and today in Norfolk (Virginia), will be in New York in mid-October for the “Columbus Day” celebrations. The construction of the two new submarines will start in 2010, with deliveries scheduled for 2015 and 2016. The two new buildings will replace, within the Navy’s fleet, submarines “Prini” and “Pelosi” (“Sauro” class – third batch), built in the Monfalcone shipyard at the end of the 1980s. The two submarines will have a surface displacement of 1,450 tons, an overall length of 56 meters, a maximum diameter of 7 meters, a crew of 24, and will be able to reach a submerged speed of 20 knots. The two submarines will feature highly innovative technological solutions and will be entirely built employing amagnetic materials, applying the latest silencing devices in order to reduce their acoustic signature. They will employ a silent propulsion system based on fuel cell technology, producing energy through an oxygen-hydrogen reaction independently from external oxygen, ensuring a submerged range three to four times higher than the conventional battery-based systems. They will also feature a fully integrated electro-acoustic and weapon-control system, and a modern platform automation system. Commenting the award, Fincantieri’s Managing Director Giuseppe Bono said: “We are particularly satisfied, as the prosecution of this programme guarantees to our company the maintenance of the know-how developed in a century of activity in such a highly technological sector”. “This order,” Bono concluded, “testifies the results that may be achieved through the collaboration of the Defence authorities with the national industry when the nation requires highly effective operational means to act within the complex political international scenario. Besides, it consolidates the role of Fincantieri as a major player operating in all the most important European initiatives in the naval defence sector.”

Australia Buying 24 Super Hornets As Interim Gap-Filler to JSF

Australia Buying 24 Super Hornets As Interim Gap-Filler to JSF
August 5, 2008: News Source Info (NSI) has covered the recent controversies over Australia’s involvement in the F-35 Lightning II program, amid criticisms that the F-35A will be unable to compete with proliferating SU-30 family aircraft in the region, lacks the required range or response time, and will either be extremely expensive at $100+ million per aircraft in early (2013-2016) production, or will not be available until 2018 or later. The accelerated retirement of Australia’s 22 long-range F-111s in 2010 has sharpened the timing debate in particular, with a recently retired Air Vice-Marshal and the opposition (now governing) Labor Party both weighing in with criticisms and alternative force proposals. In December 2006, The Australian reported that Defence Minister Brendan Nelson was discussing an A$ 3 billion (about $2.36 billion) purchase of 24 F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet aircraft around 2009-2010. A move that came as “a surprise to senior defence officials on Russell Hill”; but is now an official purchase as requests and contracts work their way through. Australia’s new Labor government’s decided to keep the Super Hornet purchase, and has now issued a request for follow-on support worth over $1 billion.

Opinion: Gripen hard to beat in Indian MMRCA contest

Opinion: Gripen hard to beat in Indian MMRCA contest
News Source Info NSI-August 5, 2008: While there is no shortage of fighter aircraft procurement programmes currently under way, the most eagerly anticipated contest is undoubtedly India's medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) requirement for at least 126 aircraft. The six contenders have now submitted their proposals: Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault's Rafale, Eurofighter's Typhoon, Lockheed Martin's F-16, Russian Aircraft Corporation's (RAC's) MiG with the MiG-35 and the Saab JAS 39 Gripen. Arguably each aircraft stands a fighting chance of securing the lucrative USD10 billion contract. India continues to have a close relationship with Dassault, which supplied the Indian Air Force (IAF) with Mirage 2000 fighters in the 1980s. However, given the IAF's emphasis on future upgrades for its MMRCA aircraft, the lack of operators of the Rafale is likely to be seen as a significant issue. The Rafale and the Typhoon could also struggle with the issue of cost. Both are relatively large twin-engined platforms, which will significantly increase operating costs compared with the single-engined MiG-21 fleet it will replace. The MiG-35 is seen by many as a strong contender. India has a very close relationship with Russia, which has provided the majority of its equipment over the past 30 years. However, over the past year India's relationship with Russia with regards to arms contracts has soured. The two US contenders seem well placed in terms of price and capability as India seeks to establish closer military bonds with Washington. However the F-16 is hindered by the fact that Pakistan already operates the type. Furthermore the aircraft is already being phased out by the US Air Force. The Boeing Super Hornet does not suffer from these issues. However, one unresolved issue with regards to both US platforms is the authorisation of technology transfer. Saab holds a strong hand with the Gripen. The aircraft is single engined, which will keep operating costs low, upgrades are already being defined under the Gripen Demonstrator programme and acquisition costs are highly competitive. Image: The aircraft selected as India's MMRCA will replace its MiG-21s (pictured) (Patrick Allen/Jane's)

Italy's Fincantieri to Buy U.S. Warship Builder

Italy's Fincantieri to Buy U.S. Warship Builder News Source Info NSI-5 August, 2008: Wisconsin-based U.S. shipbuilder Manitowoc has agreed to sell its Marine segment - which includes Marinette Marine, builder of Lockheed Martin's Littoral Combat Ship - to a Fincantieri-led partnership in an all-cash deal worth $120 million, Fincantieri and Manitowoc announced Monday. Lockheed is a minority partner in the new deal, Manitowoc said. The first LCS, the USS Freedom,is conducting sea trials at a Manitowoc shipyard. (U.S. Navy) Fincantieri is a major Italian shipbuilder. The companies expect to close the deal at the end of this year, subject to U.S. antitrust and security clearances.
Manitowoc's Marine segment includes the company's Marinette, Wisc., shipyard, along with shipyards and repair facilities in Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., and Cleveland. The Marinette shipyard now is conducting sea trials of the first LCS, the USS Freedom. Lockheed Martin, prime contractor for the Marinette LCS, is in competition with a General Dynamics team. Mobile, Ala.-based Austal USA, the U.S. unit of Australian company Austal, is building another LCS for General Dynamics, the Independence. If the sale of Manitowoc's Marine segment goes through, both builders of the LCS will be subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies. "This transaction will allow Manitowoc to focus its financial assets and managerial resources on the growth of its increasingly global crane and foodservice businesses," Manitowoc President and CEO Glen Tellock said in a press release announcing the deal. The company plans to use expected after-tax proceeds from the sale of 60 cents a share for general corporate purposes, including paying down debt expected from Manitowoc's planned acquisition of Enodis, a British food and beverage equipment maker. The LCS is intended to fight in waters near shore and carry out a variety of missions, including fighting off surface ships, hunting submarines and clearing out mines.

Russia's Severstal closes $775mln deal to buy U.S.-based Esmark

Russia's Severstal closes $775mln deal to buy U.S.-based Esmark MOSCOW, News Source Info NSI-August 5, 2008 - Russian steel producer Severstal [RTS: CHMF] said on Tuesday it had finalized a $775 million deal to buy the U.S.-based steelmaker Esmark. The offering period for Severstal's tender offer for all outstanding shares in Esmark expired on Monday, with almost 39 million Esmark shares tendered in the offer and not withdrawn, representing around 94.17% of the outstanding shares of Esmark's common stock, Severstal said. Esmark, which is headquartered in Wheeling, West Virginia and produces about 750,000 metric tons of steel products a year, is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Severstal and has been renamed Severstal Wheeling Holding Company, the Russian steelmaker said. Severstal has recently been pursuing a strategy aimed at buying U.S.-based steel assets to strengthen its North American position in the high-quality flat-rolled steel segment for the automotive, appliance, furniture, construction and energy markets. In early July, Severstal finalized a deal to buy 100% of U.S.-based WCI Steel's shares for $140 million. In May, the company closed a deal to purchase the U.S.-based Sparrows Point steel mill from ArcelorMittal for $810 million.

Kyrgyz police seize arms from house rented by U.S. nationals

Kyrgyz police seize arms from house rented by U.S. nationals BISHKEK, NSI - August 5, 2008 - Kyrgyz police have seized a large stock of firearms and ammunition in a house being rented by U.S. nationals in Bishkek, the Interior Ministry press service said on Tuesday. The operation, carried out in a newly-built district of the Kyrgyz capital on Monday afternoon, uncovered a range of weapons and other equipment, including six heavy machine guns, 26 assault rifles, two rifle-attached grenade launchers, four sniper rifles, and night vision devices in a house owned by a 66-year-old Kyrgyz resident. The press service said several U.S. embassy employees holding diplomatic immunity and 10 U.S. servicemen ostensibly entrusted to train staff from a Kyrgyz special task unit were in the house during the search. A U.S. Embassy spokesperson said the weapons had been kept in the house with the permission of the Kyrgyz authorities, as the servicemen were in the country for anti-terrorist training exercises. The embassy called the seizure an "unpleasant incident." The press service of a U.S. military base at Bishkek's Manas airport, deployed to support anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan, refused to comment on the incident, referring journalists to the U.S. Embassy.

Israel sends Fatah members who fled Gaza to West Bank

Israel sends Fatah members who fled Gaza to West Bank TEL AVIV, NSI August 5, 2008 - Israel transferred 88 Fatah members who fled Gaza after clashes with militant group Hamas to the West Bank on Monday, the Israel army press office said. The men were taken in buses to a security compound controlled by President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah forces in the town of Jericho. Another 60 Fatah supporters are either in hospital in Israel or being questioned by Israeli security forces. Israel earlier said about 180 members of the Hilles clan, a powerful family in the Gaza Strip affiliated with the Fatah movement, had entered Israel on Saturday following an attack by Hamas on their neighborhood in the enclave, during which 11 people were killed and over 90 wounded. Hamas said it had attacked the clan's compound to arrest men involved in a bombing in Gaza on July 25 in which five Hamas members and a young girl died. Israel sent about 30 Fatah members back to Gaza on Sunday, following a request from Abbas, who had pledged security for his supporters in the Gaza Strip. However, several of them were immediately arrested by Hamas security forces, prompting Israel to end the process and transfer the fugitives to the Fatah-controlled West Bank. The Gaza Strip has been controlled by Hamas since June last year, leaving President Abbas in charge of only the West Bank. Fatah and Hamas have been bitterly divided since then.

India To Provide $450 Million Fresh Assistance For Afghanistan

India To Provide $450 Million Fresh Assistance For Afghanistan August 5, 2008: New Delhi, India (AHN) - India on Monday announced fresh assistance of $450 million for the reconstruction of Afghanistan as the two countries vowed to fight terrorism jointly. After his talks with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed the terror attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul last month as an attack on Indo-Afghan friendship. Afghan President Karzai arrived in the capital, New Delhi, on Sunday night for a two-day state visit from Colombo, where he attended the 15th SAARC summit. Singh reiterated India's commitment to Afghanistan's efforts to build a democratic and stable state and announced $450 million more for rebuilding the war-torn South Asian country. The additional assistance has taken India's total contribution to reconstruction of Afghanistan to $1.2 billion, making it one of the leading donors to that country. Condemning the embassy attack in Kabul as well as recent serial bombings in India's cities of Bangalore and Ahmedabad, Karzai said Afghanistan and India face the same challenge of terrorism and "cold-blooded murderous activities."