Sunday, September 07, 2008

Russia To Carry Out Naval Maneuvers off Venezuela

Russia To Carry Out Naval Maneuvers off Venezuela (NSI News Source Info) CARACAS - September 8, 2008: In a military first certain to raise eyebrows in the United States, Russia will carry out joint naval maneuvers in the Americas with Venezuela, the Venezuelan navy said Sept. 6. Four Russian ships with almost 1,000 sailors aboard will carry out joint maneuvers with the navy of Caracas' leftist government in Venezuelan territorial waters November 10-14, the navy said in a statement. "This is of great importance because it is the first time it is being done" in the Americas, Venezuela's navy joint chiefs strategic intelligence director, Rear Adm. Salbatore Cammarata Bastidas, said in a statement obtained by AFP. Leftist-populist President Hugo Chavez is a harsh critic of the U.S. government. Moscow has been clashing with Washington over formerly Soviet Georgia. Chavez, who has forged closer ties with Moscow including arms supply and production deals, is proud to claim a "strategic alliance" with Moscow. Chavez has supported Moscow in the Georgia conflict, and stressed that: "Russia is rising up again as a global power." Cammarata Bastidas said the joint maneuvers also would include Venezuela's air force, and submarines. Meanwhile in the U.S. administration's most hawkish remarks since Russia's five-day war with Georgia last month, Vice President Dick Cheney, traveling in Italy, reminded the West of its "responsibilities" and criticized Russia for its "chain of aggressive moves." Cheney's tough talk came hours after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that Moscow was a "force to be reckoned with," as tensions between Russia and the West soared to heights unseen since the Cold War. Medvedev accused the United States of rearming Georgia under the guise of humanitarian aid, after the arrival Sept. 5 of the U.S. Navy's Mediterranean flagship at a key Georgian port close to where Russian troops are patrolling. "I wonder how they would like it if we sent humanitarian assistance using our navy to countries of the Caribbean that have suffered from the recent hurricanes," Medvedev said. Russia's defense ministry in July denied a report it was considering basing bomber aircraft in Cuba in retaliation for U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe. "We regard these sorts of reports from anonymous sources as disinformation," RIA Novosti quoted defense ministry spokesman Ilshat Baichurin as saying.

Anti Missile Showdown Building Between East And West

Anti Missile Showdown Building Between East And West
(NSI News Source Info) Moscow - September 8, 2008: The year 2008 has been the most productive for American missile shield plans since President Ronald Reagan launched his famed Strategic Defense Initiative in the 1980s. But the 1980s are also remembered for an unprecedented level of military confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States. On Aug. 20 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed a U.S.-Polish agreement on a third positioning area for the American missile system in Europe. It looks as if this situation is pushing Russia into another confrontation with the West and could reignite the nuclear missile threat on the European continent. Today is not an occasion to argue whether Iran's missiles threaten Western Europe, though it is true that an Iranian rocket launched Aug. 18, as part of preparations for orbiting Iran's first satellite, points to a possible threat in the future. But whether there is a threat from Iran, the Russian military and political establishment is convinced that American anti-missiles in Poland are only part of a plan to build up a U.S. nuclear potential in Europe directed against Russia. Naturally, Moscow is considering retaliatory options. Russian three-star Col.-Gen. Viktor Yesin, first vice president of the Academy for Security, Defense and Law Enforcement in Moscow, thinks that "in reply, Russia could reinforce its air grouping in the Kaliningrad region to neutralize missile silos in Poland." Another Russian general, Leonid Ivashov, who heads the Academy of Geopolitical Problems in Moscow, believes that "in response, Russia could site Iskander theater missile systems and high-precision cruise missiles in the Kaliningrad region, western Russia, and Belarus." The generals are right. All this could be done, and perhaps with a measure of success. But there are two factors that not only reduce the military effect of the proposed measures but also make them very dangerous for Western Europe and European Russia. Under a clause in the agreement, the United States undertakes to provide Poland with 96 Patriot missile systems to modernize and strengthen its air defenses. Another clause of the agreement declares that the United States will render Poland military assistance if it is threatened by a third state. Should Russia start acting strongly in the Western sector, Poland at once would remind the United States of that point. The Czech Republic and the Baltic states also would demand more guarantees for their security. That could mean only one thing: an immediate appearance near Russian borders of modern conventional weapons capable of hitting targets within European Russia. On the other hand, such a buildup in areas bordering on Russia, which could tip the balance of strength in the West's favor, is well capable of burying the main instrument of European security -- the 1987 Treaty on Shorter and Medium Range Missiles. The military, including Russia's former chief of the General Staff, four-star army Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, time and again has paraded reasons for returning these missiles to Russia's arsenal. If this happens, or rather if Moscow decides to withdraw from the treaty, the United States -- unlike Russia -- will not take long to restart production. The Tomahawk BGM-10G ground-based nuclear cruise missiles that were destroyed under the 1987 IMF Treaty are basically similar to sea- and air-launched cruise missiles currently in service with the U.S. air and naval forces. Nor do things augur well for a new Russian-American document on strategic weapons limitation. Moreover, any moves to pull out of the treaty will put nuclear non-proliferation on the back burner for a long time. Does Europe need to be "mined" once again to assuage fears of Iran?
Czechs say basic agreement reached on US staff at anti-missile baseThe Czech Republic and the United States have basically agreed on conditions for US forces to be sited at a US anti-missile base in the country, a defence ministry spokesman said on Friday. "During negotiation yesterday and today, a text was basically agreed upon," ministry spokesman Jan Pejsek told AFP. "There are still some details which have to be sorted out. We expect that to happen within the next days." Sealing the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agreement would clear the way for Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek's fragile government to seek the required parliamentary approval for the US anti-missile package. The centre-right Czech government can be expected to discuss the proposed SOFA in September, the defence ministry said late last month when announcing that major issues around the second main Czech-US anti-missile agreement had been thrashed out. The main diplomatic deal on the base, justified by Washington as a shield against attack from "rogue" states such as Iran but vigorously opposed by Moscow as a threat to its own security, was signed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg in Prague last July. A few weeks later, Poland inked a deal with the United States to host 10 interceptor missiles, its contribution to the missile defence shield, sparking anger and threats of retaliation from Russia. However Topolanek's government is far from certain of winning a vote for the US base. Members of the junior coalition party, the Greens, have spoken out against it and the third coalition party, the Christian Democrats, are also cool to the idea.

US Ponders Whether To Arm And Support Local Afghan Militia Forces

US Ponders Whether To Arm And Support Local Afghan Militia Forces (NSI News Source Info) Washington - September 8, 2008: Experts are warning that it might prove counterproductive to extend to Afghanistan the U.S. strategy of forming and paying tribal militias to improve security -- though it has been credited with great successes in Iraq. The U.S. military in Afghanistan denied such a move was being considered by senior officials, but the possibility is being discussed by officers on the ground. "People are talking about it," said Vickram Singh, an expert with the centrist Center for a New American Security who returned recently from Afghanistan and told United Press International the idea of extending the strategy there had come up in briefings from the U.S. military. He said detailed discussions about possibly supplying weapons and money were taking place "at an operational and tactical level -- identifying people who we (coalition military forces) could work with." A spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan denied that extending the strategy of arming and paying tribal militias was on the table. "We are not considering that," said Capt. Christian Patterson. But it is being advocated, at least by some now outside the government. Recently retired U.S. Army counterinsurgency expert Col. John Nagl welcomed the idea, saying that "buying off your enemies is ¿¿ a time-honored tactic in counterinsurgency with a proven track record of success." "Over time, you try to incorporate those people into the government security organizations," Nagl added. "I absolutely think that there are tribal organizations in Afghanistan who could be incorporated. ¿¿ It would be a way to rapidly increase the size of (the Afghan National Police and National Army) with cohesive units." But as UPI reported last month, the strategy of forming and paying Sunni tribal militias -- known variously as Awakening Councils or the Sons of Iraq -- to maintain security has run into trouble in Iraq, where efforts to integrate them into the nation's security forces have been stymied by the sectarian concerns of the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. And several Afghanistan experts with whom UPI spoke said they had grave doubts about expanding the practice there, warning it would risk the fragile gains of the state-building strategy that the international community has been pursuing. "At best, it would be a tactical gain, but also an immense strategic loss," said Ali Jalali, a former Afghan interior minister and now a visiting professor at the National Defense University, noting that by fragmenting power and undermining the authority of the central government, the strategy in the long run could actually worsen the instability it sought to ameliorate. He called this "effort to gain peace through manipulating tribal dynamics" a "colonial approach." Levels of corruption and instability were already much too high in the volatile border regions of the country, said retired Marine Col. Daniel Curfiss, also a professor at the National Defense University. "My concern is, it would be throwing kindling on this (fire) ¿¿ to pay people who are already unwilling to relinquish power," he said. "There are precedents, and the precedents are not terribly hopeful," said former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Dobbins, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and author of a recent study of state-building efforts in the war-ravaged country. In the period immediately after the ouster of the Taliban government at the end of 2001, Dobbins said, the United States and its allies attempted to limit their military commitment by restricting peacekeeping troops to Kabul and using "tribal militias and warlords" to maintain security in the rest of the country. "Over time it was found that that was not an adequate policy," said Dobbins. Jalali said continuing efforts by coalition nations to work directly with tribal and other local leaders had been "one of the problems when I was interior minister" from 2003 to 2005. "They gave them weapons, money and vehicles." In 2006, he said, the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai tried itself to use tribally based militias -- with unhappy results. Most of the 12,000 members of the militias, formally titled the Afghan National Auxiliary Police, "either deserted with their arms and equipment or were more or less forced to join the insurgents," he said, adding that the force was scheduled to be finally phased out of existence by the end of the current year. He also pointed out that years of war and insurgency in the tribal areas of Afghanistan had physically decimated the tribal leadership and eroded their influence. "Over the past 30 years, the influence of the traditional leaders has waned," he said, adding that it was warlords and extremists who had replaced them. Even those who think the idea is worth considering are keen to stress the differences between the two theaters. The political dynamic is different in Afghanistan, said Singh, because there, you would not be buying off enemies, but arming your friends. "The people that we'd start working with are people that already support the government," he said. "They are aware of what's happening in Iraq and they are saying, 'You should do it here.'" Many local leaders were "all too eager to get in the game," Jalali said. He said he had met a delegation of two dozen tribal elders who had come to town to petition the government about security in their remote border region. They were saying, in effect, "If you can't take care of the border, give us the weapons and we'll do it," he said. Jalali said a strategy of working through local militias was putting the cart before the horse. "The tribes will only stand up (against the extremists) if they see that the government had authority in their areas ¿¿ that is not the case today." The priority should be building the capacity of the central government, Jalali said. "Capacity-building is the central challenge in Afghanistan today." Singh said that was one of his concerns about the proposal, too. "No one is thinking at the strategic level ¿¿ if this is the right answer," he said, adding there was "no analysis by the coalition of how this would play out." "There's a lot of downside," he concluded.

US-India nuclear accord approved

US-India nuclear accord approved (NSI News Source Info) September 8, 2008: India would get access to US civilian nuclear technology. The group of nations which regulates the global nuclear trade has approved a US proposal to lift restrictions on selling nuclear technology to India. The controversial deal now needs to be ratified by the US Congress before it can be implemented. India says the deal is vital for it to meet its civil energy demands. The approval came after India pledged to keep its nuclear non-proliferation commitments and to uphold a voluntary moratorium on testing atomic weapons. 'End of isolation' It took the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) nearly three days of protracted negotiations in Vienna to reach agreement. Critics of the deal say it creates a dangerous precedent - effectively allowing India to expand its nuclear power industry without requiring it to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as other nations must. They say the deal would undermine the arguments for isolating Iran over its nuclear programme and be a disaster for international non-proliferation efforts. Indian PM Manmohan Singh described the deal as "momentous". But US and Indian officials hailed the agreement as one that would help limit the unregulated spread of nuclear technology and material while allowing India to meet its energy demands with a "clean and reliable" supply. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the NSG decision "marks the end of India's decades-long isolation from the nuclear mainstream and of the technology denial regime". Austria, New Zealand and Ireland lifted their objection to the US proposal after India made a formal pledge to not share sensitive nuclear technology or material and to uphold its moratorium on testing nuclear weapons. The breakthrough reportedly came after US President George W Bush lobbied members of the NSG. "This is a critically important moment for meeting the energy needs in India, and indeed dealing with the global need for clean and reliable energy supplies," said John Rood, acting US undersecretary of state for arms control. 'Huge difference' The US restricted nuclear co-operation with India after it tested a nuclear weapon in 1974. The current deal is the centrepiece of US efforts to bolster ties with India. However, the Bush administration must attempt to rush it through Congress before legislators break to prepare for November's elections - held at the same time as the presidential vote. India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the communists - former allies of the governing Congress party who withdrew support for the government over the nuclear deal - have accused the government of "deceiving" the country. "There is a huge difference between what the US government is telling its Congress and what our government is telling us," BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters. Under the terms of the deal, India would open 14 civilian nuclear facilities to inspection - but its nuclear weapons sites would remain off-limits. Critics fear assistance to India's civil programme could free-up additional radioactive material for bomb-making purposes.

Mi-24P (Mi-25 and Mi-35) Hind Attack / Transport Helicopter, Russia

Mi-24P (Mi-25 and Mi-35) Hind Attack / Transport Helicopter, Russia (NSI News Source Info) September 7, 2008: The Mi-24 attack / transport helicopter is manufactured by the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, based in Moscow, Russia. It entered service with the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, and more than 2,500 have been produced. The Mi-24 has been deployed in a number of conflicts including Afghanistan and in Chechnya. The original model (NATO codename Hind-A), designed to carry eight combat troops, was later reconfigured to take on the gunship role (Hind-D). Later versions, Mi-24P and the export Mi-35P, are also armed with anti-tank missile systems for the engagement of moving armoured targets, weapon emplacements and slow-moving air targets. All versions retain the troop transport capability. The Mi-24 is in service with Russia and countries of the ex-Soviet Union and has been exported to Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bulgaria, Cuba, Czech Republic, East Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, the Ivory Coast, Libya, Mozambique, Nicaragua, North Korea, Peru, Poland, Vietnam and South Yemen. Ten Mi-35 helicopters were delivered by Russia to the Czech Republic in 2005/2006 as part of a debt repayment. In 2005, ten Mi-35M helicopters were ordered by Venezuela. The first batch of four was delivered in July 2006, the second four in December 2006. Indonesia placed an order for six additional Mi-35s in late 2006. Deliveries are due to begin in July 2008. UPGRADES Russian Army Mi-24s are being upgraded with new avionics including thermal imagers. Other upgrade packages are available, including that of Denel / Kentron of South Africa which includes Eloptro infrared sighting systems and Kentron Mokopa anti-tank missiles, and IAI Tamam which has HMOSP (Helicopter Multi-mission Optronic Stabilised Payload) with FLIR, TV and autotracker, embedded GPS (Global Positioning System) and cockpit multi-function displays. "Later versions of the Mi-24P are armed with anti-tank missile systems." The 'Visegrad Four' - Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - signed an agreement in February 2003 to jointly upgrade up to 105 Mi-24D/V helicopters to NATO standards. This agreement has been abandoned. However, two Polish Mi-24s are being upgraded to NATO standard as prototypes. In February 2004, BAE Systems was selected as integrator for the avionics systems, which will include an integrated electronic warfare suite. In December 2005, Bulgaria signed a contract for the upgrade of 12 Mi-24 helicopters to a team led by Lockheed Martin and Elbit. However the contract was subsequently cancelled in February 2007.
The Mi-24 attack / transport helicopter. Over 2,500 Mi-24 helicopters have been produced.
DESIGN The design of the Mi-24 is based on a conventional pod and boom, with a five-blade main rotor and three-blade tail rotor. It has retractable tricycle nose-wheel landing gear. The two crew (pilot and weapons operator) are accommodated in tandem armoured cockpits with individual canopies and flat, bulletproof glass windscreens. The main cabin can accommodate eight troops or four stretchers. WEAPONS The helicopter has six suspension weapon units on the wingtips. The Mi24D (Mi-25) and the Mi-24V (Mi-35) are equipped with a YakB four-barrelled, 12.7mm, built-in, flexibly mounted machine gun, which has a firing rate of 4,000-4,500 rounds a minute and a muzzle velocity of 860m/s. The Mi-24P is fitted with a 30mm, built-in, fixed gun mount; the Mi-24VP with a 23mm, built-in, flexibly mounted gun. The Mi-24P and Mi-24V have four underwing pylons for up to 12 anti-tank missiles. The Mi-24V (Mi-35) is armed with the Shturm anti-tank guided missile system. Shturm (NATO designation AT-6 Spiral) is a short-range missile with semi-automatic radio command guidance. The 5.4kg high-explosive fragmentation warhead is capable of penetrating up to 650mm of armour. Maximum range is 5km. "Russian Army Mi-24s are being upgraded with new avionics including thermal imagers." The Mi-24V can also carry the longer-range Ataka anti-tank missile system (NATO designation AT-9), as can the Mi-24P. The Ataka missile's guidance is by narrow radar beam, and the maximum range of the missile is 8km. The average target range is between 3-6km. The target hit probability of the Ataka missile is higher than 0.96 at ranges 3km-6km. The missile has a shaped-charge 7.4kg warhead, with a tandem charge for penetration of 800mm-thick explosive reactive armour. All Mi-24 helicopters can also be armed with rockets and grenade launchers. AVIONICS The Mi-24D is equipped with the KPS-53A electro-optical sighting pod. The most recent Mi-24V and P variants have a digital PNK-24 avionics suite and multifunction LCD cockpit displays, and Geofizika ONV1 night-vision goggles, along with NVG-compatible cockpit lighting. They are fitted with the Urals Optical and Mechanical Plant GOES-342 TV/FLIR sighting system and a laser rangefinder. Countermeasures include infrared jammer, radar warner and flare dispensers. ENGINES The helicopter is powered by two Isotov TV3-117VMA turboshaft engines, developing 2,200shp each. The air intakes are fitted with deflectors and separators to prevent dust particle ingestion when taking off from unprepared sites. An auxiliary power unit is fitted. The internal fuel capacity is 1,500kg, with an additional 1,000kg in an auxiliary tank in the cabin or 1,200kg on four external tanks. The fuel tank has self-sealing covers and porous fuel tank filler for increased survivability, and the exhaust is fitted with infrared suppression systems.

China's Carrier programme Takes Shape

China's Carrier programme Takes Shape (NSI News Source Info) September 7, 2008: The slower something moves, according to cognitive psychologists, the less likely people are to view it as a threat. Slow progress, however, is not no progress – even tiny movements can produce big results over a sufficiently long timeframe. A case in point is China's aircraft carrier programme. Observers following the saga of the Varyag, the partially built Soviet aircraft carrier purchased by China from Ukraine in 1998, have speculated for years about the vessel's ultimate purpose. Construction on the Varyag stopped with the ship only 60% complete, and lacking electronics and propulsion systems. Did the Chinese plan for, then abandon, a massive retrofit? In fact, the Varyag may already be performing its ultimate mission of training the next generation of Chinese sailors and naval aviators. More broadly, the Varyag is but one step in the proverbial thousand-mile journey, the outline of which is clearer with some long-term perspective.
Observers following the saga of the Varyag, the partially built Soviet aircraft carrier purchased by China from Ukraine in 1998, have speculated for years about the vessel's ultimate purpose. China reached a deal with Russia in late 2006 for up to 50 Su-33 fighter aircraft, which the Sukhoi aviation bureau designed specifically for carrier operations. The Varyag did not actually make it to China until 2002 because Turkey feared that the vessel, which required towing, could founder in the Bosphorus and impede shipping.
CHINESE CARRIER AMBITIONS Indeed, the first clear evidence of China's carrier ambitions emerged two decades ago. In 1985, China bought a decommissioned Australian aircraft carrier for scrap – but before it went under the torch, Chinese engineers apparently studied the ship's design and used the flight deck for pilot training. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Chinese companies bought two decommissioned Russian anti-submarine carriers, the Minsk and Kiev. China converted both to civilian purposes, but again, Chinese naval architects had the opportunity to study both. Sandwiched between these sales was the deal for the Varyag, which did not actually make it to China until 2002 because Turkey feared that the vessel, which required towing, could founder in the Bosphorus and impede shipping. After an extended drydock visit, the Varyag was moved to the northern Chinese port of Dalian, its current residence. Recent speculation over the uses of the Varyag has focused on the repainting of the ship in navy gray and its apparent inactivity in terms of civilian uses. Although these facts are suggestive, they are not as significant as the tight perimeter security surrounding the ship. Most significantly, China reached a deal with Russia in late 2006 for up to 50 Su-33 fighter aircraft, which the Sukhoi aviation bureau designed specifically for carrier operations. While some analysts believe that China wants to deploy a carrier by 2010, skeptics raise a number of questions that cast doubt on the existence of such a goal. However, alternative answers are available for these questions – and taken together, the 'column B' answers are even more worrisome for those nations, such as India, who fear China's regional ambitions. CARRIER PROGRAMME QUESTIONS Why was the Varyag was bought stripped? In an age of rapidly evolving technology, China may have believed that the original electronics suite was obsolescent anyway. Similarly, China may have felt that its own steam turbine technology would be an improvement on the earlier-generation Russian propulsion systems, which were never the most reliable to begin with. What mattered was the implementation and effectiveness of the Varyag's structural design – the element of the ship least sensitive to technological change. If seagoing aviation is so important to China, why did it scrap the Minsk and Kiev? Tellingly, the Soviets classified these ships as 'heavy aircraft-capable cruisers' primarily oriented toward anti-ship and anti-submarine operations. China does not want a carrier for these reasons: consistent with its vision of asymmetric warfare, China would attack US surface warships with subs and long-range missiles, and may regard US sub-hunting as an overly challenging and expensive proposition relative to the rewards it could plausibly bring. China wants a carrier for the same reasons that US war planners like them so much: flexible inshore and overland power projection in remote locations such as the Indian littoral and Persian Gulf, which carries an ever-increasing supply of inbound oil and outbound trade. "If seagoing aviation is so important to China, why did it scrap the Minsk and Kiev carriers?" Why did the Chinese reportedly decline French and Spanish offers to build carriers for them in the 1990s? Tellingly, the Chinese were least impressed by the French offer, which was contingent on Chinese purchases of the accompanying electronics and aircraft (unlike the Russian fire sales of stripped-down vessels). Given its great-power aspirations, China probably feels duty-bound to make rather than buy – and may believe the learning experience of building its own may be more beneficial in the long term. In this light the long gestation period of the Chinese aircraft carrier programme results neither from technological backwardness nor low prioritisation, but rather from a 'just-in-time' approach to assembling components of a grand maritime strategy. **Don't operate a carrier until US carriers can be neutralised **Don't subject a carrier to sea trials until the associated aircraft and pilots have been tested and trained – which can be done initially through simulated 'short runway, timed landing' training on land **Don't fit a carrier out until the last minute, to allow component technology to develop as much as possible. Patience, it seems, is not only a virtue, but good common sense as well.

MiG-21 2000 Fighter Ground Attack, Russia

MiG-21 2000 Fighter Ground Attack, Russia (NSI News Source Info) September 7, 2008: The Lahav Division of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) has developed the MiG-21 2000 upgraded fighter and ground attack version of the MiG-21 fighter aircraft. The original MiG-21, a short-range interceptor, was manufactured by MAPO MiG (now RAC MiG) of Russia. Over 5000 MiG-21 aircraft have been manufactured, with more than 1000 operational with the air forces of at least 33 countries. The MiG-21 2000 upgrade provides modifications to the cockpit configuration, avionics architecture and weapons systems, enabling the MiG-21-2000 to compete with Western developed fighters and to make the transition to Western standards. Each modernisation programme is tailored to meet the customer's specific operational and budgetary requirements. The aircraft's original systems and components have been retained wherever mission effectiveness is not compromised. The first test flight of a Lahav upgraded MiG-21 took place on 24 May 1995, and the new advanced version of this aircraft completed its first test flight in April 1998.
The MiG-21 2000 upgraded fighter and ground attack version of the MiG-21 fighter aircraft. The MiG-21 2000 cockpit after upgrade and modernisation. Further development has afforded the MiG-21 2000 aircraft air-to-ground capabilities, extended range and more advanced sensors. The DASH helmet allows the pilot to fly head-up and off-boresight. The MiG-21-93 fighter is a derivative of the MiG-21bis.
COCKPIT The MiG-21 2000 cockpit features a new pilot-friendly layout, incorporating a head-up display (HUD), eye-level multi-function colour displays, hands on throttle and stick control (HOTAS), solid-state charge coupled device (CCD) camera, videotape recorder, and one-piece windshield. This design overcomes the shortcomings of the original cockpit layout, which is crowded and lacks most of the desired man-machine interface characteristics. The MiG-21 2000 can be equipped with a display and sight helmet (DASH) system, supplied by Elbit of Haifa, which enables the pilot to aim the weapons simply by looking at the target. The system works by measuring the pilot's line of sight relative to the aircraft, and transfers the information to the aircraft's sensors, avionics and weapon systems. The helmet displays vital information, such as the missile line of sight, missile status, flight information and warning data, on the visor. The DASH helmet allows the pilot to fly head-up and off-boresight and assists the pilot to detect, identify and shoot earlier. WEAPONS IAI Lahav has augmented the original weapons system by introducing a new armament interface and control unit, which enables computerised control and release of weapons, including third- and fourth-generation air-to-air missiles. This system also affords the pilot the ability to use blind attack as well as continuously computed impact point (CCIP) and dive-toss bombing techniques. CCIP bombing involves the deployment of air-to-ground weapons, using the HUD to indicate the impact point for release of the weapons. Dive-toss bombing involves the release of air-to-ground weapons at the end of a steep dive manoeuvre towards the target. The upgrade package for the MiG-21 gives the aircraft beyond-visual-range capability. The MiG-21 variants are capable of deploying a range of air-to-air weapons on the four underwing pylons, in addition to the AA-2 Atoll air-to-air missile or the anti-radar AA-2C Atoll missile. The Python missile, developed by Rafael in Haifa, is suitable for very close combat and medium-range interception. Python 4 incorporates digital electronics and an advanced multi-frequency seeker with powerful counter countermeasures (ECCM) and background rejection. In order to enhance the upgraded MiG-21's defensive capabilities, the electronic warfare systems have also been upgraded. AVIONICS The avionics system is based on Lahav's integrated modular avionics architecture, which uses a centralised mission and display processor, developed by IAI with the co-operation of Astronautics Co. Israel. In addition, the use of a new inertial navigation and global positioning system (INS/GPS) and air data computer ensures increased navigation and weapons-release accuracy. If required, the MiG-21 2000 can be fitted with an EL/M-2032 radar, developed by IAI Elta Electronic Industries, based in Ashdod. The radar, which uses a low sidelobe planar array antenna and pulse Doppler beam sharpening, provides all-altitude, all-aspect look-up/look-down and shoot-down capability.

The Brazilian Marines Order Further Five MOWAG PIRANHA IIIC 8x8 Vehicles

The Brazilian Marines Order Further Five MOWAG PIRANHA IIIC 8x8 Vehicles
(NSI News Source Info) September 7, 2008: General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) announces that on December 17, 2007 the Brazilian Navy and MOWAG GmbH signed a contract for a further batch of 5 PIRANHA IIIC 8x8 in amphibious version. The newly signed contract comprises 5 PIRANHA IIIC 8x8 APC vehicles in the configuration as delivered previously. The contract signed now is a follow-on order to the 7 vehicles ordered in 2006 (6 APCs and 1 Recovery Vehicle). The PIRANHAs will be used primarily within the framework of international UN mission of the Brazilian Marines in Haiti. MOWAG believes that its products will appeal to many other customers in South America because of those countries' interoperability requirements with NATO and/or UN forces, in the light of joint peace keeping operations. The threat situation in such missions specifically calls for a high level of protection for the vehicle crews against mines, ballistic weapons and IEDs. With the worldwide operating PIRANHA IIIC 8x8, the technology-advanced company from Kreuzlingen-Switzerland offers a proven product, which fulfils this high-ranking requirement of protection, comfort and mobility. The MOWAG PIRANHA IIIC 8x8 - a well-proven platform The PIRANHA IIIC amphibious has a length of 7.57 m, a width of 2.71 m, and a GVW of 18.5 t. The vehicle reaches a speed of up to 100 km/h on the road. The PIRANHA IIIC easily manages gradients of up to 60%, fording depths of up to 1.50 m and is able to swim up to a speed of 10 km/h. The 400 HP engine, together with the 7-speed automatic transmission, the modern independent wheel suspension, the tire pressure control system, and the disengageable all-wheel drive, give the PIRANHA IIIC a high degree of mobility even in difficult terrain. Moreover, the protection against ballistic threats and against mines provides the crew with a maximum degree of protection in a mission. The vehicle is equipped with all necessary features (NBC system, autonomous power supply, A/C system, etc.) that are required for the 24-hour operation of the integrated systems.

GDELS presents for the first time DONAR, the PIRANHA III HIGH PROTECTION and Modern Bridge Systems at EUROSATORY 2008

GDELS presents for the first time DONAR, the PIRANHA III HIGH PROTECTION and Modern Bridge Systems at EUROSATORY 2008 (NSI News Source Info) September 7, 2008: General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) will display for the first time during the EUROSATORY trade show in Paris (16th20th June, 2008) three new vehicle systems: DONAR, a new generation, air deployable (less than 32 tons), autonomous and remotely operated 155mm artillery system jointly developed with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), the PIRANHA III HIGH PROTECTION vehicle (the PIRANHA is no prototype) and the RAPIDLY EMPLACED BRIDGE SYSTEM (REBS). DONAR provides capabilities that will change conventional artillery doctrine because not only does it reduce crew and logistics requirements, but also provides for autonomous operations. The system is targeted to replace legacy systems (e.g., M109, AS90, K9, etc.) in service with modern armies. The DONAR is a joint European technology program of General Dynamics European Land Systems and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann that utilizes specific resources and shared skills between the companies, creating true value for European and international defense forces. The joint effort also follows the growing European trend towards enhanced multinational industry cooperation in the land systems sector. The system addresses the growing need for precise indirect fire capabilities that can augment or even replace close-air-support operations previously conducted by costly fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft (Press Conference, GDELS booth No.P030 Tuesday 11.00 hours).
The Piranha III has been ordered by Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Spain and Switzerland.
The PIRANHA III HIGH PROTECTION version provides excellent ballistic and mine protection levels for this vehicle class, while still maintaining a great payload and outstanding mobility in all terrains. The active protection system, type LEDS enhances in addition the survivability of the vehicle against omni-directional threats from symmetrical warfare, such as laser targeting, guided and unguided Rocket Propelled Grenades as well as different kinds of stand-off defeat (Press Conference Update Piranha Family, GDELS booth No. P030 Monday 14.00 hours). REBS is a light air-transportable bridge system for mechanized forces and provides crossing capability for vehicles up to MLC50 for dry and wet gaps up to 13 m (43 ft). Transport, launch and recovery is possible from any 10-15 tons PLS truck through a self-powered Bridge Adaptor Pallet. The launching and retrieving procedure itself needs less than 10 minutes. This bridge system has been designed for use by highly mobile mechanized infantry forces. It was successfully tested by the US Army, received Type Classification and Full Material Release in April 2007 and has already been successfully fielded to the first operational units of the US Army. The REB (RAPIDLY EMPLACED BRIDGE) shown is integrated on a wheeled armored vehicle (PIRANHA III) with the newly developed ADAPTABLE BRIDGE LAUNCHING KIT (ABLK), which enables mechanized infantry forces to operate the bridge under armor protection, without losing its fighting capability. (Press Conference GDELS booth No.P030 Wednesday 10.00 hours). GDELS will display also other products (Booth No. P030 in the exhibition hall of the Parc des Exposition Paris-Nord in Villepinte, north of Paris city center) such as: **the PIRANHA Evolution 8x8 (Selected for the British FRES UV Program) armed with the Rheinmetall LANCE 30 mm modular turret system **the M3 amphibious bridging and ferrying equipment which provides crossing capability for heavy combat vehicles with payloads of up to MLC85 (Tracked) and MLC132 (Wheeled) **the PANDUR II 6x6 equipped with a 12.7 mm KONGSBERG PROTECTOR remote weapon station, as offered to the Austrian Army **the EAGLE IV, selected by the German Army, in a reconnaissance version with a 10 m mast and sensor suite, equipped with a 12.7 mm BOFORS LEMUR remote weapon station **the DURO IIIP armored personnel transporter with a 12.7 mm KONGSBERG PROTECTOR remote weapon station, as selected by the Swiss Army **the ASCOD 2. Its original benefits have been improved, incorporating Battle Field Management, Vetronics, improved protection and the tactical communications system - C4I Bowman. This vehicle will be on display with GD UK as possible candidate for FRES SV. General Dynamics European Land Systems, headquartered in Vienna (Austria.) is a business unit of General Dynamics Corporation, and conducts its business through four European operating units located in Spain, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. With more than 3,250 highly skilled technical employees, GDELS companies design, manufacture and deliver Land Combat Systems to global customers, including wheeled, tracked and amphibious vehicles, armaments and munitions.

Turkey’s National Main Battle Tank Project (ALTAY) Starts With Ceremony Held at Otokar Factory

Turkey’s National Main Battle Tank Project (ALTAY) Starts With Ceremony Held at Otokar Factory (NSI News Source Info) September 7, 2008: The Undersecretariat for the Defence Industries of Turkey (SSM) has contracted Otokar with the designing of the first National Main Battle Tank of Turkey. The signing ceremony for the ALTAY Project was realised at Otokar plant. A Koc Group company Otokar, is contracted as prime contractor for ALTAY Project, conducted by SSM. The Company shall be the exclusively responsible party to SSM regarding the design, development, integration, prototype production, testing, qualification of the first Turkish National Main Battle Tank (ALTAY Tank) and all activities contained in the Project. Prime Minister Erdogan attended the ceremony The signing ceremony was held with the attendance of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, M. Vecdi Gönül, the Turkish Minister of National Defence, Mustafa Koc, chairman of the Koc Holding, Kudret Önen, President of Koç Holding Defence Industry and Other Automotive Group and Chairman of Otokar, and Serdar Görgüç, General Manager of Otokar. Sanghee Lee, the Minister of National Defence, representing the Republic of Korea, the country to provide technical support and assistance for the Project and the upper management representatives of Aselsan, Hyundai-Rotem, Makine ve Kimya Endustrisi Kurumu and Roketsan were also present at the ceremony. Mr Kudret Onen, President of Koç Holding Defence Industry and Other Automotive Group and Chairman of Otokar, stated that backed with its engineering power, R&D facilities, experiences and technical facilities, Otokar is ready to design new generation tank which will fully meet the requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces, and said: "We pride ourselves on being charged for such a large-scale national project of strategic importance. As it was always the case, we will work hard to deserve this confidence in our Company, in order to attain the result befitting our country. For 45 years, we have introduced many firsts to the automotive industry. We have designed the first military armoured vehicle and we realised export of armoured vehicles for the first time. "Since 21 years we are operating in the defence industry. 25 thousand military vehicles we produced are being used by Armed Forces of more than 15 countries, primarily by the Turkish Armed Forces, and UN duty units in several regions of the world. With ALTAY Project, we will break new ground." Mr Mustafa V Koc, Chairman of Koc Holding, stated that he is pleased that an affiliate of the Koc Holding is preferred for the completion of ALTAY Project, which is of utmost importance for Turkey’s national defence industry strategy, and said: "It is certain that this Project will bring enormous acceleration to the land platform development and production field of the defence industry. In order to become leader in its region, Turkey requires stable government, growing economy and strong armed forces. Considering the prevailing threats and contemporary battle area conditions, it becomes evident that modern equipment, tools and devices which of hi-tech products and capable to dispose of potential threats must be available further to manpower in order to have contemporary and strong armed forces. We have to develop its own resources and capabilities and to develop our own technology also in this field. Only in this way we can cope with the modern era and attain sustainable growth in the national industry. "Our national defence industry will have great contributions to and responsibilities for enabling us to reach the targeted point, regarding the development of their competence and capacity. Long-term approach, vision and leadership are factors required to attain success. We, as the Koç Group of Companies, make great efforts and use large resources for the defence industry for a long time and consequently we accomplish very successful projects. With our companies Otokar, RMK Marine, Koç Bilgi and Defence Technologies we aim to be able to export our products to the geographical region in the long term, as part of the international competition, beyond being able to meet the requirements of the national defence industry." Murad Bayar, Undersecretary of SSM, talking at the ceremony, said that it’s very important that the ALTAY Project reached to the contract signing phase. He also added that this Project will supply Turkish Armed Forces, the third generation modern main battle tank. He said further: "The studies on the modern tank project firstly started on 1996 and was targeted on a production under licence of an existing tank in the world. But this project stopped on 2004 because of the high costs. In 2005, we started working on Turkish National Main Battle Tank Project and in 2007 Otokar had been chosen as the prime contractor of the Project. And the project is called ALTAY. The first 7 years of the Project will enclose the prototype production and testing functions. After the prototype tanks completed the serial production will start for the first 250 tanks." All intellectual and ownership rights of the ALTAY tank belongs to Turkey. As result of the contract signed, the ALTAY Tank to be developed under prime contractorship of Otokar will bring our country’s dependency on external resources to end. The Republic of Turkey shall own all design and intellectual property rights vested on the ALTAY tank. The technical data package, which contains all information and documents related with the design, development, integration, test and production of the ALTAY tank and which will constitute the basis for mass production, shall be owned by the Republic of Turkey, without any restriction and with all rights pertaining there to. The estimated budget for design, prototype production, tests and qualification of the ALTAY tank, which will provide new technologies and skills to the Turkish defence industry, is declared to amount to $500 million.

AFGHANISTAN: The Land Of A Thousand Scams

AFGHANISTAN: The Land Of A Thousand Scams ((NSI News Source Info) September 7, 2008: Rumors that Afghan president Karzai is on the drug gangs payroll has become more obvious, as he pushes for getting veto power over U.S. and NATO military operations. This came to a head recently, because of a battle in western Afghanistan two weeks ago. There, a U.S./Afghan raid on a village was met with fire from several dozen Taliban who had taken shelter there. Smart bombs were used, the U.S. and Afghan troops went in to search the ruins for Taliban documents and to count the bodies. There were 25 Taliban and five civilians dead. After the troops left, the Taliban began pushing the story that 70, or more, civilians, including fifty children, were killed. The number constantly changed. The reason was that, since the Moslem custom is to bury the dead immediately, and forbid exhuming bodies for any kind of examination, you can pull off this kind of scam if you have the locals terrified into keeping quiet. Then there's the "compensation" scam angle. Foreign troops will pay thousands of dollars (often over $5,000) in compensation for loss, per civilian killed during military operations. So Afghans have an incentive to claim as many dead as they can get away with. Afghan culture puts a premium on scamming foreigners. Any Afghan who doesn't try to hustle an outsider is looked down on. It's the ancient "us versus them" mentality, which applies even of the outsider is helping you. Afghans were quick to pick up on how all this plays in the West, and have learned how to manipulate foreign journalists and NGOs (who are often adjuncts of Western media). President Karzai knows of these scams and how Afghans regard foreigners, but he is under pressure to get the military heat off the drug gangs. Foreign troops, particularly British and Canadian, have done lots of damage to heroin production in Helmand province (where most Afghan heroin is produced), and the gangs are putting pressure on the senior Afghan officials on the payroll to do something. Karzai was told by his top military commander in the west, and the local commando commander, that the claim of 50 dead children was a scam, and Karzai reacted by relieving the two men and ordering them to Kabul for questioning. Kabul is not a safe place for those who oppose the drug gangs, as judge who could not be bribed was recently murdered there, as he was in the midst of dealing with drug cases. The drug gangs are hurting. In addition to increasing foreign military action in Helmand province, there has been a drought. This has cut this year's heroin production by about a fifth. Some serious money is being lost, and the drug warlords and tribal leaders who took the losses are intent on fixing the problem. Even with the drop, U.S. anti-drug experts expect the Taliban to net $70 million from their participation in the drug trade. This is three or four times the take in the second most popular Taliban money maker-kidnapping. Meanwhile, in areas, like Helmand, where the drug gangs are strong, the police either go along or get out. This means bandits are free to operate with few restrictions. This has led to an increase in highway robbery (often via a fake police checkpoint) and kidnapping. It's gotten so bad that deminers are again being grabbed, and being held for ransom. For over two decades, most Afghans have agreed to leave the deminers (who are largely Afghans by now) alone. But now that most of the mines have been cleared, the outlaws feel deminers are fair game. While the drug gangs are complaining of Western military pressure, the Taliban have more headaches across the border in Pakistan. There, a new government, and a new commander of the Pakistani army, have turned up the heat on the Taliban. Over a thousand Pakistani Taliban have been killed or wounded in the last few weeks, and Afghan Taliban leaders who are based in Pakistan, are no longer safe. Some have already been arrested, and most others are fleeing for the uncertain safety of Afghanistan. The Afghan Army currently has 68,000 troops, but 12 percent are in training. Current plans call for a 90,000 man force by the end of next year. New plans will expand that to 134,000 two or three years after that. Afghanistan can't afford an army much larger than 70-80,000 men, if paying the bills itself. The additional troops are being paid for by NATO and the United States, and when those subsidies go away, Afghan will have to shrink its force. September 4, 2008: The Taliban were heartened by a recent Canadian poll showing that 61 percent of Canadians believe the expense, in money and the lives of Canadian troops, is not worth it in Afghanistan. The Taliban have been concentrating on killing Canadian troops, for the purpose of influencing public opinion back home. The Taliban believe that this public opinion will cause Canadian troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Current Canadian public opinion is still willing to keep troops in Afghanistan through 2011, but not after that. The Taliban believe time is on their side. September 2, 2008: U.S. and Afghan troops killed 220 Taliban in Helmand province in the last week, and shut down more drug operations. What caused most of the Taliban losses was an elaborate British operation to truck in a 200 ton turbine, and other equipment, for a dam power plant in Helmand province. The Taliban have been trying to shut down this dam, and its partly completed power plant, for years. The Taliban believe that the electricity from the expanded power plant will give Afghans in the area less reason to support the Taliban.

Israeli president opposes attack on Iran's nuclear sites

Israeli president opposes attack on Iran's nuclear sites (NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM - September 7, 2008:Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Sunday he opposes a military strike on Iran and prefers the use of international economic sanctions to persuade Tehran to halt its nuclear enrichment programme."A military operation is not necessary. I do not think the Americans think in these terms because they have many other cards to play," Peres told Israeli public radio after a meeting with US Vice President Dick Cheney in Italy."If the Americans manage to form a coalition to unify their positions with those of Europeans, they have sufficient means to exert pressure on the Iranians," Peres added.Peres had met Cheney on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti forum on Italy's Lake Como, an international gathering of leaders and experts focused mostly on economic issues.Israel and the West have repeatedly called on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment programme, which they fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons but which Tehran defends as part of a peaceful energy venture.Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, has considered Iran its main strategic threat after repeated predictions of its demise by senior Iranian leaders.Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said last month after a meeting with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel would not rule out any options to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.Tehran meanwhile risks a possible fourth round of UN sanctions after it failed to give a clear response to an incentives package offered by six major world powers in return for halting uranium enrichment, a process which makes nuclear fuel but also the core of an atomic bomb.

Russian Navy to adopt new carrier fighters after 2016

Russian Navy to adopt new carrier fighters after 2016 (NSI News Source Info) GELENDZHIK (South Russia) - September 7, 2008: Russia's new carrier-based fighters will replace the Su-33 naval fighter in service with the Russian Navy after 2016, a senior military official said on Sunday. The Su-33 (NATO reporting name 'Flanker-D') is a carrier-based multi-role fighter, which can perform a variety of air superiority, fleet defense, air support and reconnaissance missions. The aircraft entered service with the Russian Navy in 1995 and are currently deployed on board the Nikolai Kuznetsov aircraft carrier. "The Russian Navy will adopt new carrier-based aircraft after 2016," said Maj. Gen. Nikolai Kuklev, the deputy commander of Russia's naval aviation. "At present, we are considering modernization and extension of service life for the Su-33 aircraft. It will certainly stay in service until 2015," the general said. He said the Navy will hold a tender on the new carrier fighter after 2010, which will involve the Su-27KUB Flanker and MiG-29K Fulcrum fighters. "Both aircraft have advantages and disadvantages. For instance, the Su-27KUB is heavier, but has a longer flight range. MiG-29K is lighter but its combat range is shorter," Kuklev said, adding that a "golden average" has to be chosen. At present, Russia has only one operational aircraft carrier, the Nikolai Kuznetsov, which was commissioned in the early 1990s and has recently re-entered service after a prolonged overhaul. The ship, also known as Project 1143.5 heavy aircraft carrier, is currently deployed with Russia's Northern Fleet and has recently participated in a two-month tour to the Mediterranean as part of Russia's plans to resume its continual presence in different regions of the world's seas. "We are considering extending the service life of the carrier. It will stay in service until 2020 and may be even until 2025," Kuklev said. The general also confirmed that a decision to build new aircraft carriers for the Russian Navy had been adopted. Russia's Navy commander, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, said in July that the Navy command had decided to form in the future 5-6 aircraft carrier task forces to be deployed with the Northern and Pacific fleets.

Iran set to hold large-scale war games with air defense drills

Iran set to hold large-scale war games with air defense drills (NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN - September 7, 2008: Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and armed forces will begin on Monday a three-day military exercise to test new weaponry and practice repelling potential air strikes on its territory, the local media said on Sunday. "The main goal of the exercise is to evaluate the combat readiness [of the Iranian army], to test new weapons developed by Iranian scientists, and to practice defensive measures in case of a potential violation of the Iranian airspace by the enemy," the media said. International media have recently carried reports about a possible military attack by Israel and the United States on Iran's nuclear facilities. Iran has reacted to rumors of an imminent attack by Israel or the U.S. by promising to deliver a "powerful blow" to any aggressor. According to military experts Iran has relatively modest air defenses, which were recently strengthened with a delivery of 29 Russian-made Tor-M1 air defense missile systems under a $700-million contract signed in late 2005. Russia has also trained Iranian Tor-M1 specialists, including radar operators and crew commanders. Iran also successfully launched in July an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,240 miles) and several missiles with a range of 350 kilometers (217 miles) as part of the Great Prophet III military exercise in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, drawing a new wave of international criticism. Iran is currently under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions for defying demands to halt uranium enrichment, which it says it needs purely for electricity generation despite Western accusations that the program is geared toward weapon production.