Thursday, November 06, 2008

Whiskey Class Soviet Submarine As Christmas Gift

Whiskey Class Soviet Submarine As Christmas Gift (NSI News Source Info) November 6, 2008: Shopping for a unique holiday gift? How about a submarine. There are several Whiskey Class Soviet subs available. Decommissioned in 1991, and built in the 1950s, these boats have sound hulls and are insurable. The price is right; $497,000 (delivery extra). Additional details at Discounts are available if you buy more than one.
Whiskey Class Soviet submarine
The Whiskey class boats are basically modified versions of the German Type XXI U-boats. The German subs were 1,600 ton craft, and actually more capable than the 1,100 ton Whiskeys. But that's because the Russians just wanted a good, basic diesel-electric submarine for post World War II use. They got it with the Whiskey, and built 236 of them. The Whiskeys offered here are demilitarized (torpedo tubes sealed and torpedo handling gear removed, along with other military equipment.) That leaves a lot of room for entertaining. Normally, a crew of 54 runs a Whiskey class boat, but about half as many would be required for a civilian version. While it is possible to refurbish a Whiskey as a pleasure craft, you would still end up with a boat that provided a rough ride on the surface. Running submerged gets old real quick. Perhaps you could just tie it up at a dock, gut the interior, and turn it into a party room. Not much chance of criminals buying one of these for use as a smuggling craft. The Whiskeys are notoriously noisy and easy for warships and anti-submarine aircraft to detect.

Iran army warns US forces to steer clear of borders

Iran army warns US forces to steer clear of borders (NSI News Source Info) Tehran - November 6, 2008: Tehran's military on Wednesday urged US forces to steer clear of Iran's borders with neighbouring Iraq and warned it would respond "to any invasion," the official IRNA news agency reported. Iran will "take down" any overflying aircraft which fails to respond to warnings, a high-ranking Iranian air force commander was quoted by Fars newsagency as saying. The armed forces headquarters said in a statement carried by IRNA: "Recently US army helicopters have been spotted flying close to the borders of Iraq with the Islamic republic. "Given the risk of their invasion... the Islamic republic's defence forces will respond to any invasion." The statement also urged US commanders in Iraq to keep their forces a secure distance from the borders to avoid any risks. The unidentified air force commander said his country's reaction to any incursion would go beyond warnings. "If something happens, we will carry out all the steps from giving a warning to taking down the detected (foreign) airplanes according to regulations," the commander told Fars. "Due to the threats posed by enemies in recent months, the armed forces are at the highest level of preparation and all of our warnings will be definitely doable," he said. The commander also said that in the past month the country's forces have dealt with two foreign aircraft that entered Iran's air space without permission. On October 7, Iran said it had forced down in its territory a Hungarian aid plane, contradicting earlier reports it was carrying US soldiers. US forces launched a helicopter raid on a Syrian border village with Iraq on October 26 in which according to Damascus eight civilians including children were killed. A US official in Washington has said the operation targeted a top militant who smuggled arms and fighters into Iraq but officially the State Department and Pentagon declined to comment. Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Monday during a visit to the Syrian capital denounced the raid and expressed "the solidarity of the Iranian people with the Syrian people after the American raid." The US accuses Tehran of training and arming so-called "special groups" who then launch attacks on American troops inside Iraq. Iran vehemently denies the allegations and says ongoing violence in its war-torn neighbour is due to the presence of American forces. In October, General Ray Odierno, who commands US forces in Iraq, accused Iran of trying to bribe Iraqi lawmakers in the hope of undermining an agreement that would allow US troops to remain in Iraq after the end of this year.

Oshkosh Defense Contract To Provide Next-Gen FHTV

Oshkosh Defense Contract To Provide Next-Gen FHTV (NSI News Source Info) Oshkosh WI - November 6, 2008: Oshkosh Defense will add more than 6,000 upgraded vehicles to the U.S. Army's Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicle (FHTV) fleet under a new three-year contract from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM). The vehicles include increased horsepower and performance features due to power-train and suspension upgrades. The first order is valued at $1.2 billion and delivery will start in November. The FHTV III program will be awarded in increments and calls for Oshkosh to manufacture and deliver more than 6,000 of the upgraded and more-powerful variants of heavy tactical vehicles and accompanying trailers. This includes the Oshkosh Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT), Palletized Load Systems (PLS) and PLS trailers (PLST), and Heavy Equipment Transporters (HET). As part of the contract, Oshkosh Defense will supply the U.S. Army with the next-generation HEMTT, the HEMTT A4, and will soon introduce the A1 models of the PLS and HET. Available to Army forces worldwide, these new next-generation vehicles will feature increased horsepower and performance features due to power-train and suspension upgrades. In addition, all three vehicle families will be Long Term Armor Strategy (LTAS) compliant and come off the assembly line fitted with upgraded suspensions and integral composite ("A" kit) armor. They also will be ready to receive an add-on ("B" kit) armor applique. "No other manufacturer makes heavy tactical vehicles like Oshkosh. And the announcement confirms the strong confidence the U.S. Army has in our Oshkosh Defense battle-tested and mission-ready fleet of vehicles and their capabilities to meet the in-field demands of tomorrow," said Robert G. Bohn, Oshkosh Corporation chairman and chief executive officer. "The vehicle enhancements are designed to improve troop safety for our brave men and women serving in the military, and boost vehicle performance on the battlefield."

Russian leader blasts US, vows to deploy missiles near EU

Russian leader blasts US, vows to deploy missiles near EU (NSI News Source Info) Moscow - November 6, 2008: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced plans Wednesday to deploy missiles on the EU's doorstep in a warning shot to US president-elect Barack Obama and Washington's allies in central Europe. Just hours after Obama's presidential election victory, Medvedev rounded on the United States for ills ranging from the global financial crisis to the recent war in Georgia in his debut state-of-the-nation speech. He announced the deployment of Iskander short-range missiles in the western Russian territory of Kaliningrad, wedged between Lithuania and Poland, in response to US plans to site missile defence bases in eastern Europe. Addressing hundreds of dignitaries in the Kremlin, Medvedev detailed a litany of complaints against Washington, including enlargement of the NATO alliance and US support for Russia's southern Caucasus foe Georgia. "What we've had to deal with in the last few years -- the construction of a global missile defence system, the encirclement of Russia by military blocs, unrestrained NATO enlargement.... The impression is we are being tested to the limit," he said. He also blamed Washington for the global financial crisis. "The economy of the United States dragged down with it into recession the financial markets of the whole planet," he said. His comments contrasted sharply with the euphoric mood in many Western countries in response to Obama's victory after eight years of rule by George W. Bush. Medvedev later sent a congratulatory telegram to Obama, but the tone remained chilly. "Russia is convinced of the need for the gradual development of cooperation between our countries," the telegram said, according to a Kremlin transcript. "I count on constructive dialogue with you on the basis of trust and taking into account each other's interests." Medvedev said the Iskander missiles were being deployed to "neutralise" the threat from planned US missile interceptors in Poland and radar facilities in the Czech Republic. Russia says the US plans threaten Russian security and dismisses claims they are directed against "rogue states" such as Iran. The Czech foreign ministry later described Medvedev's move as "unfortunate" although Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said it should be seen as more of a political message. "In the event that the situation gets bad, the balance of power is already well known," said Tusk. "So we should consider the announcement as a new political step, not a military one." Medvedev said the US had sped up its missile-defence plans in reaction to August's war in Georgia, in which Russia clashed with its southern neighbour over the Moscow-backed breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russia's military onslaught, condemned by the West, was "a consequence of the presumptuous policies of the US administration," Medvedev said. "We will not back down in the Caucasus," he added. In his first state-of-the-nation speech since taking over from Vladimir Putin in May, Medvedev also announced plans to extend presidential terms from four to six years. Analysts question how much Medvedev really controls policy, with many affirming that Putin, who holds the office of prime minister and heads the country's dominant political party, remains in control. Both Putin and Medvdedev have repeatedly blamed the US for the global financial crisis, which has hit Russia's economy hard. Russia's stock markets have plunged more than two-thirds since May and its banking sector has been thrown into turmoil. Analyst Maria Lipman, of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said a pause in the current hostility between the Bush administration and the Kremlin would be welcome under Obama but that long-term problems would remain. "There are deep problems dividing the two countries and they will not disappear because there is a new president," she said.

GD Wins $58M to Upgrade Saudi M-1 Tanks

GD Wins $58M to Upgrade Saudi M-1 Tanks (NSI News Source Info) November 6, 2008: General Dynamics Land Systems, Sterling Heights, Mich., was awarded on Oct. 31, 2008, a $58,340,939 cost/plus/fixed/price contract for engineering service for Saudi Arabian government update to convert the M1A2 Abrams tank into Saudi, M1A2S configuration. Work will be performed in Sterling Heights, Mich., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-C-0095).

Hamas spokesman says truce with Israel could continue

Hamas spokesman says truce with Israel could continue (NSI News Source Info) GAZA - November 6, 2008: A spokesman for the military wing of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic group that controls the Gaza Strip, said on Thursday that a truce with Israel could be maintained if observed by Israel. "We will stick to the truce as long as our enemy observes it," said Abu Obeida. "On our part, this is not a sign a weakness or defeat, but a demonstration of respect for the needs of our people." He said any new aggression against Gaza would bring a response deep into Israel. Obeida said the six-month truce, which expires in December, could be extended with the lifting of Israel's blockade of Gaza and the re-opening of border crossings to let commercial and humanitarian supplies into the 1.5 million-strong Palestinian enclave. The Israel-Hamas truce was put into jeopardy late on Tuesday when Israeli troops went into the enclave to destroy a border tunnel which they said had been dug as part of planned operations to abduct Israeli soldiers. A Palestinian militant was killed in the clash that followed, prompting a mortar barrage of Israel by militants. Israeli airstrikes subsequently killed another six militants launching mortar and rocket strikes on Israel. The attacks subsided on Thursday. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said his country did not intend to violate the truce, but would act to eliminate threats to Israeli soldiers.

One Small Step for a UAV, One Big Step for FCS Class I

One Small Step for a UAV, One Big Step for FCS Class I (NSI News Source Info) November 6, 2008: New American Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) designs and contracts tended to focus on the larger Class II company and Class III battalion-level options, while our FOCUS Article covering the MQ-8B Fire Scout addressed the Class IV brigade-level UAV for the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. The smaller “Class I” platoon-level UAV options were addressed only in passing, largely because that aspect of the program wasn’t yet at the same level of development.
Class 1 MAV
The FCS Class I UAV will be used for reconnaissance, security and target acquisition operations in nearly all terrain, including urban environments. Each system of two vertical take-off and landing air vehicles, a dismounted control device, and associated ground support equipment will be carried by selected platforms and dismounted soldiers, and will use autonomous flight, navigation, and recovery.

Sweden, Norway to Cooperate on Archer Artillery Project

Sweden, Norway to Cooperate on Archer Artillery Project (NSI News Source Info) November 6, 2008: BAE Systems Bofors’ Archer is a light, air-portable, and highly automated 155/52 light mobile artillery system that can hit targets with great accuracy at ranges up to 50km/ 30 miles. Automation ensures that the crew can fire the gun within 30 seconds of arriving in position, and without leaving the cabin. Archer belongs in the same class as Nexter’s Caesar (France), Denel’s G6 (South Africa), and Soltam’s Atmos-2000 and Rascal (Israel).
Bofors Archer System
To this point, Archer has been a Swedish project, administered by their FMV procurement agency. Funding has been provided for system development and some initial production, but the project’s future has been shadowed by anemic Swedish defense budgets. In May 2007, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Norway’s FLO procurement agency. Now, it has evolved into joint development of the Archer artillery system, and an agreement to add the popular Kongsberg M151 Protector RWS as Archer’s close-in surveillance and defense system… The intensified cooperation agreements were signed at the end of October by FMV’s Hakan Espmark and the FLO’s Asle Kjelsberg. Sweden’s FMV adds that additional joint agreements are in the pipeline for 2009: one for Archer procurement, one regarding a joint control and management system for indirect fire, one for joint maintenance approaches, and one in the field of artillery ammunition. Archer is designed to fire the Excalibur GPS-guided shell, as well as Bofors and Nexter’s BONUS anti-tank submunitions. System Design and Development is scheduled to continue until until 2010, with the first serial delivery planned for autumn 2011. FMV and FLO will begin joint negotiations with BAE Systems Bofors on the assignment to complete development and delivery. FMV release.

“Bushmaster Bonanza at Bendigo”

“Bushmaster Bonanza at Bendigo” (NSI News Source Info) November 6, 2008: Australia’s “Hardened and Networked Army” push led them to adopt the v-hulled, mine resistant Bushmaster vehicles long before allies like the USA and Britain awoke to the need; Bushmasters have been deployed to East Timor, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
ADF Bushmaster, Afghanistan
“Bushmaster Bonanza at Bendigo” read the August 2007 DoD headline, as Liberal Party Minister for Defence Dr. Brendan Nelson announced that Australia would buy at least 250 more Bushmaster vehicles. That order has now been finalized, under the Labor Party successor government. As announced by the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, the contract actually covers 293 Bushmasters, in order to meet Protected Mobility Medium requirements for Project Overlander’s Phase 3. The October 2008 DoD release adds that: “These vehicles will provide protection by replacing trucks where troops are required to travel in the rear of the vehicle. The Overlander Phase 3 requirement also includes additional vehicles to enable the Enhanced Land Force. These additional Bushmasters will increase the total number of vehicles being acquired under Land 116 Project Bushmaster Phase 3 to 737.” No prices were announced, but the Aug 18/07 announcement set an expected figure of over A$ 300 million (then about $240 million) fully equipped. This order joins the original order for 299 vehicles, 25 of which were sold back to Thales in order to meet an emergency order from the Dutch in July 2006. They were later replaced by another 26 vehicles, bringing the ADF fleet to 300. Another 143 vehicles were bought under the A$ 99 million follow-on Enhanced Land Force (ELF) purchase in June 2007; and DoD will receive 1 additional vehicle from Thales, in compensation for “schedule relief on Australian deliveries in order to meet a Dutch follow-on purchase. With these 293 vehicles added under Project Overlander, the total now stands at 737. Though Thales Australia (formerly ADI) does have a partnership with Oshkosh Truck in the USA, all Australian vehicles will be built at Thales’ Bendigo, Australia facility. The Bushmaster mine-resistant vehicle received no orders under the USA’s MRAP program, for reasons which remain unclear to this day. Reports from the front lines indicate satisfaction with the vehicle’s protection and mobility, and both existing customers have placed repeat orders.

U.S. Navy Commissions First Littoral Combat Ship Freedom

U.S. Navy Commissions First Littoral Combat Ship Freedom (NSI News Source Info) November 6, 2008: U.S. Navy’s first littoral combat ship (LCS) Freedom will be commissioned Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, during a 10 a.m. EST ceremony at Veterans Park, Milwaukee, Wis. Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Birgit Smith, the ship’s sponsor, is the widow of Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, who was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The commissioning ceremony will be highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Smith gives the first order to “man our ship and bring her to life!”
U.S. Navy’s first littoral combat ship (LCS) Freedom will be commissioned Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, during a 10 a.m. EST ceremony at Veterans Park, Milwaukee, Wis.
The name of the new ship acknowledges the enduring foundation of our nation and honors all American communities which bear the name Freedom to include towns in California, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Wyoming. As the initial LCS, the 378-foot Freedom will be the first to carry this class designation. Freedom (LCS 1) is one of two LCS seaframes being produced. Independence (LCS 2) was christened by the Navy on Oct. 4, 2008. A fast, agile, and high-technology surface combatant, Freedom will be a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. Its modular design will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. The LCS will be able to swap out mission packages pierside in a matter of days, adapting as the tactical situation demands. These ships will also feature advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units. Freedom is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft. The LCS is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep. Freedom will be manned by one of two rotational crews, Blue and Gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. The crews will be augmented by one of three mission package crews during focused mission assignments. The Blue Crew commanding officer is Cmdr. Donald Gabrielson, a native of Hibbing, Minn. The Gold Crew commanding officer is Cmdr. Michael Doran, a native of Harrisonville, Mo. Freedom will be homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif., as part of the Pacific Fleet. In May 2004, the Department of Defense awarded both Lockheed Martin Corp., Maritime Systems & Sensors in Moorestown, N.J., and General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, separate contract options for final system design, with options for detail design and construction of up to two flight 0 LCS ships. In December 2004, the Navy awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. the contract for detail design and construction of the first LCS. Lockheed Martin’s teammates include Gibbs & Cox in Arlington, Va.; Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wis., where the ship was built; and Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La.

Sukhoi Superjet 100 Fatigue Tests in Siberia

Sukhoi Superjet 100 Transported to SibNIA (the Siberian Aeronautical Research Institute in the City of Novosibirsk) for Fatigue Tests (NSI News Source Info) NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia - November 6, 2008: Today Sukhoi Superjet 100 # 95006 was transported from Komsomolsk-on-Amur to the Novosibirsk Aviation Production Association. The test plane traveled all the way from KnAAPO (Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association) aboard the An-124 Rouslan heavy-lift transport aircraft.
The Superjet 100 or Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) being developed by Sukhoi Civil Aircraft company
Soon after, the aircraft was transferred to the Siberian Aeronautical Research Institute located in the city of Novosibirsk for fatigue tests. These tests will confirm the increased operating life of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 airframe amounting to 70,000 flight hours. In the closest time SibNIA will see the aircraft fuselage, wings and tail jointed. Further, the aircraft will be fitted with loading units and measurement sensors. In the course of these tests all primary structural components of the aircraft will be examined and trialed at all flight modes including turbulence. Along with the confirmation of the aircraft safe life declared earlier, test results should also validate the existing program on maintenance checks when operating the aircraft within our customer fleets. Sukhoi Superjet 100 joined hands with SibNIA in 2003. This country’s major research center hosted a series of tests on static strength regarding particular units of the aircraft (these tests were monitored by TsAGI as well) and plane aerodynamics – specifically, to test its aerodynamic behavior at takeoff and landing modes.

EA-18G Moves to Operational Evaluation

EA-18G Moves to Operational Evaluation
(NSI News Source Info) NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. - November 6, 2008: In a culmination of milestones over the past year and a half, the EA-18G Growler has moved to Operational Evaluation (OpEval). The Growler, replacing the EA-6B Prowler, has conducted its sea trials, tested missiles and surpassed more than 1,000 flight hours in the past several months. The Growler’s sea trials occurred July 31 through Aug. 5 on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. The combined efforts of the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) carrier suitability team, the F/A-18 and EA-18G program office, industry partners and crew members of the USS Eisenhower, resulted in 319 approaches, 62 catapult shots and 62 arrested landings. Originally, the squadron planned to use one EA-18G for 10 days to conduct the sea trials, which would have allowed for greater flexibility in weather and deck conditions. However, due to operational requirements of the Eisenhower, the squadron was required to qualify the Growler for the carrier in just five days, half of the initial allotted time. To achieve this, the squadron used one Growler and one F/A-18, configured as a Growler. “Most of those who saw our plan didn’t think it was executable because we had to go out to the ship, spend five days getting over 300 approaches, which was in the original plan as well as 62 arrested landings and 62 catapult shots. The team and the Eisenhower really pulled it through for us,” said Cmdr. Jaime Engdahl, VX-23 EA-18G department head. Engdahl described the integrated testing conducted throughout the sea trials as a combination of developmental testers and operational testers in the cockpit at the same time. The advantage being that the operational testers were given the ability to observe the aircraft all the way through the testing. “In OpEval, the operational testers already have hundreds of hours of flight testing, they know what the systems are like, they have input into design changes and potential problems. The real benefit is the Fleet gets a better product earlier,” said Engdahl. On Aug. 5, the AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) test was conducted on the Growler at NAWCWD, China Lake. The air-to-surface tactical missile is designed to seek and destroy enemy radar-equipped air defense systems. The AGM-88 can detect, attack and destroy a target with minimum aircrew input. Guidance is provided through reception of signals emitted from ground-based threat radar. “The successful HARM shot is another milestone accomplishment on the road to the EA-18G joining our carrier air wings. It demonstrates a key offensive capability of the Growler weapon system,” said Cmdr. Francis Morley, NAVAIR’s EA-18G program manager. Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Squadron 31 (VX-31) and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine (VX-9), both based at Naval Air Weapons Center, China Lake, tested the first AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) from the Growler July 23. “This AMRAAM shot is significant in that one, it is a key event in the progression and development of the Growler, and two, it is the first air-to-air missile shot from a Navy electronic attack aircraft. It represents the significantly enhanced capability and multi-role ability the Growler will bring to the Fleet,” said Morley. The Growler is now at VX-9, where its suitability and effectiveness as an airborne electronic weapon system is being assessed during OpEval. The first three aircraft built on the production line, G1, G2 and G3 are devoted to OpEval. Following the successful completion of OpEval, the Growler is scheduled for Full Rate Production and delivery in Initial Early Delivery to Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) in the spring of 2009. VAQ-129 is the Fleet Replacement Squadron charged with training all EA-18G aviators/aircrew and developing standard operating procedures for the maintenance and operation of the aircraft. Initial Operational Capability is scheduled for the fall of 2009, with a complete transition of 88 Growlers to the fleet by 2013.

U.S. warship sails near Ukrainian port but skips planned visit

U.S. warship sails near Ukrainian port but skips planned visit (NSI News Source Info) SEVASTOPOL - November 6, 2008: The USS Mount Whitney maneuvered for some three hours in the Black Sea near the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol on Thursday, but did not dock at the port as previously planned. There has been no official comment on why the warship did not dock at the port from either the city administration or the Ukrainian navy. However, sources in the municipal authority said that the visit of the USS Mount Whitney did not take place because of some problems with the documents it needed to cross the state border. Some, 200 people gathered at the port to protest the U.S. warship's arrival, saying that they were against NATO's presence in Sevastopol. The Blue Ridge class ship is a command and control vessel that coordinates a group of NATO ships now in the Black Sea, including two U.S., one Spanish, one German and one Polish ship.