Sunday, November 09, 2008

Indian Air Force Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) in China

Indian Air Force Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) in China (NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: Indian Air Force Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) conduct sky manoeuvres at the 7th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition on November 7, 2008 in Zhuhai of Guangdong Province, China. The event, also known as 'Airshow China', is scheduled to run from November 4 to 9, 2008 in Zhuhai, attracting nearly 600 exhibitors from over 30 countries and regions.
People look up in surprise as they watch the Indian Air Force Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) conduct sky manoeuvres at the 7th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition on November 7, 2008 in Zhuhai of Guangdong Province, China.

Iraq Attacks Include One on Oil Official

Iraq Attacks Include One on Oil Official (NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: Firefighters tried to extinguish a fire in Baquba, Iraq after a car bomb exploded in a parking lot. The bomb, one of a series that was detonated Monday, exploded across the street from the Diyala provincial council headquarters, killing two policemen and a 10-year-old girl and wounding nine others, including three policemen, the police said.
Iraqi forces secured the area around a parking lot where a car bomb exploded in Baquba, Iraq, on Monday.

U.N. Aid Convoy Crosses Into East Congo Rebel Zone

U.N. Aid Convoy Crosses Into East Congo Rebel Zone (NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: United Nations peacekeepers on patrol passed a dead Congolese man while escorting a convoy heading to Rutshuru, Congo, to begin operations again in the area north of the provincial capital of Goma. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France said the United Nations needs new soldiers and tougher rules of engagement after rebels overran government troops on their march to Goma last week.
United Nations peacekeepers patrolled near Rutshuru, in eastern Congo, on Monday, inside territory held by Laurent Nkunda's rebel movement.

Boeing Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of First Avenger Delivery To US Army

Boeing Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of First Avenger Delivery To US Army (NSI News Source Info) Huntsville AL - November 9, 2008: Boeing has announced that Nov. 1 marked the 20th anniversary of its first Avenger fire unit delivery to the U.S. Army. Developed and produced in Huntsville, Avenger is the Army's premier short-range air defense system, and has been used effectively in tactical defense and convoy-protection operations with U.S. units around the world. "Boeing in Huntsville has a long legacy of providing our nation's military with reliable, effective weapons systems," said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. "The Avenger team deserves our sincere gratitude for their commitment and dedication delivering a system designed to help ensure our men and women in uniform return home safely." "Boeing's dedicated work force in Huntsville has been a significant contributor to our national defense, and their work on the Avenger program is no exception," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. "As we mark the 20th anniversary of the first Avenger fire unit's delivery to our armed forces, I would like to commend the Avenger team for their hard work on this important air defense system." "I am proud of Boeing and its entire work force in North Alabama on this significant milestone," said Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala. "The Avenger has performed successfully for the past 20 years and continues to provide the necessary short-range air defense needed for our service members. I look forward to the Avenger's continued success and development." Since the first delivery, Boeing has produced more than 1,100 Avenger systems for the Army, Army National Guard and U.S. Marine Corps. The system also is in production for international customers through U.S. Foreign Military Sales contracts. "The 20th anniversary of the Boeing Avenger marks an important milestone in a program that has been employed by the Army and Army National Guard since 1988," said Phil Hillman, the Avenger program manager for Boeing. "Avenger performs a very important security role by providing warfighters with unmatched short-range air defense capability through improved situational awareness and rapid target acquisition. Because Boeing and the Army are committed to warfighter safety and mission effectiveness, we have incorporated enhanced capabilities based on operational needs and lessons learned from current and previous conflicts to ensure its continued relevance on the battlefield." Armed with Stinger missiles in two launch pods that hold four missiles each, and a .50-caliber machine gun on a gyro-stabilized turret, the Avenger was deployed to the Middle East in 1991 to support NATO troops during Operation Desert Storm and again in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

1-Lockheed touts jets to Israel, flush with U.S. aid

1-Lockheed touts jets to Israel, flush with U.S. aid
(NSI News Source Info) Source: By Dan Williams TEL AVIV, November 9, 2008 (Reuters): Lockheed Martin Corp, the U.S. maker of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, is lobbying Israel, which has largely weathered the global financial crisis and has ample U.S. defence aid, to close a deal for the jet. Israel is not a full partner-nation in the production of the F-35, but is among U.S. allies slated to have first pick of the radar-evading, multi-purpose planes early next decade. The F-35 could be a key Israeli bulwark against Iran and other enemies. U.S. officials have predicted a sale to Israel may be clinched early next year. Funding for the jets, which will cost $40 million a piece, would come mainly from U.S. defence grants to Israel, which will total $30 billion between 2007 and 2017. Israeli officials have quietly voiced reluctance to be rushed into a deal given discussions on how many Israeli technologies could be incorporated on the Lockheed planes, their delivery schedule, and pricing. Lockheed Chief Executive Robert Stevens, in a visit to Israel on Sunday, said such concerns could be better addressed by finalising a sale. "The earlier one can participate in a programme, the greater the amount of participation," he told reporters. A Lockheed source said seven Israeli companies had already been contracted to contribute to the project. Robert Trice, a Lockheed senior vice president who accompanied Stevens on the trip, said they had urged their Israeli hosts to speed up proceedings on the F-35. Asked if Lockheed was attracted by the fact that Israel has a large budget available and has managed, so far, to avoid the fiscal crunches of the financial meltdown, Trice said: "Yes." Stevens said Lockheed's financial prospects looked good thanks to Washington's awareness of ongoing military needs and the fact that the U.S. defence budget has been set through October 2009, with talks under way about the next fiscal year. "Our business remains competitive, and it's healthy and it's strong," he said. There might be some creaks in the international coalition of F-35 production partners. An early order by Italy, Trice said, was scrapped as not affordable. And Norway may see domestic political opposition to going through with the F-35, Trice said. An Israeli defence official said Israel planned to place an order for the plane, anticipating its delivery by 2014. But he said there were also discussions in Israel on alternatives, such as buying more of the mainstay F-16 jets. Israel's last major order of American warplanes was for 102 of the custom-built Lockheed F-16I jets. The last four of that batch are due to arrive in Israel in January, Stevens said. (Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Louise Ireland and Tova Cohen)

Lebanon Leader Says Russia Will Sell Arms: Reports

Lebanon Leader Says Russia Will Sell Arms: Reports (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 9, 2008: The leader of Lebanon's Western-backed parliamentary majority told a Russian news agency Sunday that Moscow is willing to sell it military hardware at "advantageous prices." Russia will "help the Lebanese army, which needs heavy weapons," Saad Hariri was initially quoted as saying by Vremia Novosti newspaper after a visit to Moscow. Hariri told Interfax news agency separately that current American military aid is "limited to light weaponry," stressing that the Lebanese army also needs "tanks and artillery equipment. "These needs will be addressed when the Lebanese defense minister visits Moscow this month or at the latest in December," he added. Shiite militant group Hezbollah's weaponry is an explosive issue that bitterly divides the country's political leaders, with Hariri's grouping insisting that the state should have sole authority in taking decisions on war and peace. The Syrian- and Iranian-backed Shiite group and its allies say that the militant group's weapons are necessary to protect Lebanon from Israeli aggression

U.K. monitors say Georgia attacked first - paper

U.K. monitors say Georgia attacked first - paper (NSI News Source Info) LONDON - November 9, 2008: Two former British military officers are expected to provide crucial evidence that the conflict in South Ossetia was unleashed by Georgia, a British newspaper said on Sunday. Georgia launched an attack on South Ossetia to seize control of the breakaway republic on the night of August 7-8, sparking a five-day war with Russia. Russia then recognized South Ossetia, along with Georgia's other separatist republic, Abkhazia, as independent states. Georgia claims the conflict was provoked by Russia. "Ryan Grist, a former British Army captain, and Stephen Young, a former RAF wing commander, are said to have concluded that, before the Russian bombardment began, Georgian rockets and artillery were hitting civilian areas in the breakaway region of South Ossetia every 15 or 20 seconds," The Sunday Times reported. According to the paper, the accounts by the two former British officers, who were senior figures in the mission deployed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the conflict area, seem likely to undermine the U.S.-backed claims of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili that his little country was the innocent victim of Russian aggression. According to the paper, the British officers are expected to give their account of the war in South Ossetia when an international inquiry is convened to establish who started the five-day armed conflict. "The inquiry comes as the EU softens its hardline position towards Russia amid mounting European scepticism about Saakashvili's judgment," the paper said.

U.S. Army Upgrading The Last Hummer

U.S. Army Upgrading The Last Hummer (NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: The U.S. Army is equipping all its existing M1151 hummers (about 5,000 of them) with Vehicle Emergency Escape (VEE) Windows, at a cost of about $3,700 per vehicle. The new window takes about an hour to install, and replaces the existing bulletproof window with one that has a latch system. It takes about five seconds to turn the latches and push the window forward. This enables troops to get out of vehicles that have rolled over, or gone into the water, and jammed the doors. If the vehicle catches fire, either from an accident or roadside bomb, the VEE has already proved to be a lifesaver since it was introduced last year. The U.S. Army is in the process of replacing about 40 percent of its 115,000 hummers with a new model, the M1151, that is built to handle the additional weight of armor protection. The key changes in the M1151 are a stronger suspension and a larger engine (a 6.5 liter turbo-diesel). This allows the vehicle to easily handle an additional 1,500 pounds of armor. More importantly, the armor is easily installed, or taken off. This allows the hummers to operate more efficiently, most of the time, without the armor. For the last three years, the army has been buying 14,000 M1151s, and another 8,000 M1114s (with permanent armor installed). One major problem with the armored hummers is that they have more difficulty operating in mountainous areas like Afghanistan and Korea. Iraq is largely flat, at least the areas where armored hummers are needed. The M1151 has removable armor. The M1151 will also have some armor underneath, but will otherwise look exactly like the M1114. The armor in the M1114 is added at the end of the production process, and requires special skills and tools to remove. Currently, the U.S. Army has over 10,000 M1114s. But the M1151 began replacing the M1114 last year. The M1114 has been around since the 1990s. Originally designed for peacekeeping operations, it was meant for dangerous places like the Balkans. In 1998, only about 200 M1114s a year were being produced. The M1114 was based on a earlier armored hummer, that had served in the 1991 campaign in Kuwait. The M1114 is basically an armored car, with a crew of four and a payload of one ton (plus two tons that can be towed.) A 190 horsepower engine gives it a top speed of 80 kilometers an hour and a max range (on one tank, on roads) of 480 kilometers. All the armored protection (against 7.62mm machine-guns and rifles, bombs, landmines and nearby bursting shells of up to 155mm) has more than doubled the cost of the M1114 ($165,000 compared to $65,000 for an unarmored model.) The problem with putting two tons of armor on a hummer is that is causes more wear and tear to the vehicle, and they burn more fuel as well. This is especially true for a vehicle that is used day after day, in hot and dusty conditions. The extra weight is also in places that the vehicle designers did not plan on having additional weight. So the vehicles ride differently when armored. Drivers have to get used to it. The army would like to get rid of the armored hummers, and is working a new vehicle design to replace the hummer.

North Korea Remain A Puzzling Block

North Korea Remain A Puzzling Block (NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: South Korean intelligence officials are uncertain who is in charge up north. There is general agreement that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is, or was, quite ill earlier this year. He appears to have had a stroke, but recovered. Maybe. There is some belief that Chang Sung Taek, the head of the secret police and Kim Jong Ils brother-in-law, is actually running things. But then, that has long appeared to be the case. The problem has always been that there was no one in charge up north, or at least that was the impression diplomats and negotiators got. For decades, there has been a small group of paranoid communist bureaucrats and military officers, trying to survive amid self-inflicted economic decline. Decisions appear to be made at random. This is, has and continues to be a major problem. The recent release of photos showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is alive and well, are either undated or photoshopped (digitally altered). At best, Kim is alive and well enough to be briefly shown at a few public events. At worse, he's completely out of it and his henchmen are unwilling to publicly admit it, or deal with the public reaction. North Korean propaganda has elevated Kim Jong Il to the level of a deity, whose demise is unthinkable, and unsurvivable (since no heir has been appointed.) In North Korea, police have been ordered to find and confiscate all illegal cell phones. Police are being told to do this, and control communications in general, to halt the spread of "rumors" about food shortages. Foreign aid agencies, that have some knowledge of conditions inside the country, believe that over half the population will be starving this Winter. Recent deserters from the army (who have escaped to China), report that the military still has food, but less of it than in the past. Malnutrition is common in the military, and morale is low. Potentially disloyal families are being expelled from the capital, increasing the fear and paranoia. A new legal cell phone service will begin next year. Those few allowed to have cell phones, will only be able to operate them on a state controlled network that does not allow calls outside the country. The news inside North Korea is universally grim. Social order is breaking down, and crime is on the rise. Soldiers and police, who are now on short rations, increasingly steal from civilians, as a way to get more food. It's difficult to maintain discipline when the guards are hungry. However, it appears that there will not be as many starvation deaths as there were in the 1990s (when up to two million died in the great famine). That's because there is now better food distribution, and legal food markets (where those with anything to sell can buy food.) But this time around, more people will be hungry, and not happy about their condition. The United States is trying to persuade South Korea to do some serious planning for various forms of collapse (economic, political, social) up north. The United States has long worked on such plans, but because less than five percent of the troops available in South Korea are American, it's really up to the South Koreans to carry out any operations in a North Korea that has slipped into turmoil. South Korean media are increasingly full of reports from recent North Korean escapees who have witnessed growing disorder and social collapse up north. There are more public executions and roundups by the secret police up there, and more people who suffer the lethargy of malnutrition and fear. In the south, there is growing agreement that the situation in the north is approaching that point where it all falls apart. At that point, South Korea will have to do something, and doing nothing is not among the better options. North Korea is not giving up its nuclear weapons, and has demonstrated that it will not allow the kind of inspections needed to insure that the weapons are gone, and their development is halted. But by delaying negotiations in order to get that concession, the new famine has had more time to spread. Hunger has now spread to the cities and military units, and there are a growing number of starvation deaths in the countryside. North Korea is still making mysterious shipments, often by air, to Iran. Is this nuclear technology, or ballistic missile assistance? The U.S. is so anxious about this cooperation, that it convinced India to refuse over-flight permission to a North Korean cargo airliner last Summer. The North Korean aircraft had landed in Myanmar, and asked permission to fly over India to Iran. At the urging of the United States, India refused, and the North Korean cargo had to find another way to get to Iran. October 24, 2008: North Korea admitted to China, last June, that it had produced 68 pounds of plutonium, and used 4.5 pounds of that for the bomb it tested two years ago. Given the primitive state of North Korean bomb design, they could produce about eight nuclear weapons with what plutonium they have.

RG33 Mine-Resistant Ambush Vehicle (MRAP), USA

RG33 Mine-Resistant Ambush Vehicle (MRAP), USA (NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: The RG33 is a family of mine-protected vehicles manufactured by BAE Systems. The RG33 4×4 and 6×6 are in production in the United States for the US Marine Corps mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle programme. BAE Systems manufactures three of the US Marine Corps' five variants of MRAP vehicles: the Caiman, the RG31 and the RG33.
The BAE Systems RG33 6×6 and 4×4 mine-protected vehicles are in production for the US Marine Corps mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle programme
The RG33 is manufactured in several configurations including the category I 4×4, category II 6×6, the heavy armored ground ambulance (HAGA) and the special operations command (SOCOM) vehicle. The RG33 series is in the medium weight class, providing survivability, advanced mobility, mission flexibility, rapid availability and vehicle commonality. The initial contract for the USMC was placed in January 2007 for two 4×4 and two 6×6 RG33 vehicles. In February 2007, the USMC ordered 15 RG33 category I 4×4 and 75 category II MRAP vehicles. In June 2007, BAE Systems was awarded a contract for 425 category I and 16 category II. In October 2007, the USMC ordered 399 category II MRAP, 112 category II ambulances and 89 SOCOM vehicles. In August 2008, the US Marine Corps placed a $43.5m contract on BAE Systems for 40 RG33 MRAP vehicles: 36 special operations command variants, two RG33 MRAP category II 6×6 variants, and two category II HAGAs. In June 2008, BAE Systems was awarded a $53m contract for 40 SOCOM MRAP vehicles. The RG33 vehicle hull production is being carried out at BAE Systems' York, Pennsylvania, facility and final assembly, integration, and test is carried out at the Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Survivability RG33 series vehicles provide survivability against improvised explosive devices (IEDs), medium machine gun or small arms fire and mine blast protection at a level equal to or exceeding currently fielded mine-protected vehicles. The vehicle incorporates a monocoque V-shaped hull incorporating design features based on leveraging knowledge gained in recent and ongoing conflicts. The crew and passenger survivability features include blast-resistant seats, transparent armour and protected interior stations. The vehicles can be equipped with additional armour packages. Mobility The RG33 series provides a large volume under armour to provide maximum troop-carrying capacity and to give troops the optimum manoeuvrability on the battlefield. The RG33 is manufactured in several configurations including the category I 4×4 and category II 6×6. The platform's advanced power train enables the vehicle to safely operate on any terrain and also to maintain pace with other high-speed combat vehicles. They have the speed and manoeuvrability to keep pace with the Stryker brigade combat team. The power train is of sufficient capacity to allow upgrades and enhancements. Both 4×4 and 6×6 vehicles are transportable by land, rail, sea and air. Mission flexibility The RG33 series provides flexibility by being configurable for missions such as infantry carrier, ambulance, command and control, convoy escort, explosive ordnance disposal and other roles and is recoverable by another RG33. The vehicle features on-board exportable power for a range of mission equipment such as command, control, communications, computers and information (C4I). Commonality The RG33 series of vehicles (4×4 and 6×6) have a commonality of parts of more than 90%, which provides saving in acquisition costs, operations, maintenance and program management. RG33 6×6 mine-protected vehicle The RG33 6×6 is a proven, survivable, blast-protected vehicle that can operate in explosive hazardous environments, carrying out missions such as route and area clearance, explosive hazards reconnaissance and explosive ordnance disposal operations. Troop-friendly features include large ballistic windows, a rear ramp for rapid entry and exit of the crew and robotic systems. A common weapon ring may be mounted to the rooftop for integration of a wide variety of weapon systems, to include the army's gunner protection kit. The modular RG33 6×6 vehicle is mission adaptable, with roles including infantry carrier, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), convoy protection, weapons carrier, utility, command and control, communications shelter and ambulance. Optional equipment for the RG33 6×6 includes add-on armour, hydraulic rear ramp, medical equipment, explosives ordnance disposal arm, 6kW auxiliary power unit, 120/240 AC import / export power, secondary battery suite, thermal driver's vision enhancer, tail-light camera, central tire inflation system, transparent armour gun shield and a remote weapons station. RG33 4 × 4 mine-protected vehicle The RG33 4×4 mine protected vehicle transports up to eight personnel with the same troop-friendly features as the 6×6 version. The RG33 series provides a large volume under armour to provide maximum troop-carrying capacity. A common weapon ring is mounted to the rooftop for integration of a wide variety of weapon systems, including the army's gunner protection kit, or remote weapon systems. The modularity allows the vehicle to be adaptable for multiple missions including reconnaissance, tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided weapon systems (TOW ) / improved target acquisition system (ITAS) / long-range acquisition / surveillance system (LRAS), weapons carrier, utility and convoy protection. Optional equipment is the same as for the 6×6, with the exception of the ordnance disposal arm. Mine-resistant recovery and maintenance vehicle (MRRMV) A new variant of the RG33 is the mine-resistant recovery and maintenance vehicle (MRRMV) for retrieval and repair of disabled mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, medium mine-protected vehicles and other medium tactical vehicles in combat situations. The MRRMV has a two-man crew and carries equipment and spare parts to conduct on-site vehicle repairs. The vehicle supports field maintenance tasks that require lifting, welding, cutting and heating and has the capacity to carry two recovered crew and combat spares. The MRRMV was first shown at the Association of the US Army's (AUSA) winter symposium in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, in February 2008.

Merkava 4 Main Battle Tank, Israel

Merkava 4 Main Battle Tank, Israel
(NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: The 65t Merkava 4 main battle tank entered full production in 2001 and began operational training with the Israel Defence Force in July 2003. The first battalion of Merkava Mk 4 tanks entered service with the Israel Defence Forces in 2004. The Ministry of Defence plan to manufacture between 50 and 70 Merkava 4 tanks a year and up to 400 tanks may be manufactured in total, although budgetary constraints put these numbers in doubt. The Merkava 4 has been extensively improved including new armour protection and gun and electronics systems.

The Merkava 4 has been extensively improved, in particular with new ballistic armour protection and new gun and electronics systems The Merkava 4 is slightly larger than the Merkava 3 Baz, which has been in service with the IDF since 1990. The Merkava 3 is offered for export by SIBAT based in Tel Aviv. The Merkava 4 is not offered for export but the systems and components are exported. The tank is capable of carrying eight infantry soldiers, a command group or three litter patients (stretcher casualties) in addition to the tank crew of commander, loader, gunner and driver. The tank is capable of firing on the move at moving targets and has demonstrated high hit probability in firing against attack helicopters using conventional anti-tank munitions. Major contractors include: the El Op Electro-Optic Industries subsidiary of Elbit Systems which is responsible for the fire control system; the Israel Defence Force which carries out main construction and system integration and testing; Israel Military Industries for the supply of the main gun, ballistic protection and munitions; Imco Industries for the electrical systems; Urdan Industries for the hull, main turret and castings; and IAI Ramta for protection components. The main part of the tank production, the construction of the hull and integration of all the systems is carried out in the Israel Defence Force workshop. Merkava 4 battle tank weaponry The Merkava 4 has a new all-electric turret developed by Elbit and subsidiary El-Op. Only one hatch is installed in the turret, the commander's hatch. The improved 120mm smooth-bore gun has been developed by Israel Military Industries. The improved Merkava 4 battle tank gun can fire higher power munitions including new 120mm high-penetration projectiles and guided shells. The new gun is an advanced generation of the gun developed for the Merkava 3. A Vidco thermal shroud on the gun reduces bending of the barrel resulting from environmental and firing conditions. The gun can fire higher power munitions including new 120mm high-penetration projectiles and guided shells. The loader can select semi-automatically the ammunition type. The tank carries 48 rounds of ammunition each stored in a protective container. An electrically operated revolving magazine contains 10 ready-to-fire rounds. The range of ammunition includes APFSDS-T M711 (CL 3254), the HEAT-MP-T M325 (CL 3105) and the TPCSDS-T M324 (CL 3139) supplied by the Ammunition Group of Israel Military Industries. The gun is also capable of firing French, German or US 120mm rounds. The tank is fitted with 7.62mm machine guns and an internally operated 60mm mortar system developed by Soltam Ltd. The mortar can fire explosive and illumination rounds to a range of 2,700m. The protection suite includes an advanced electromagnetic threat identification and warning system. El Op fire control The new fire control system, developed by El Op, includes very advanced features including the capability to acquire and lock onto moving targets, even airborne helicopters, while the tank itself is on the move. The computer-controlled fire control system includes line-of-sight stabilisation in two axes, a second-generation television sight and automatic thermal target tracker, a laser range finder, an improved thermal night vision system and a dynamic cant angle indicator. The commander's station is fitted with a stabilised panoramic day and night sight. The integrated operating system includes advanced data communications and battle management. Tadiran developed the Merkava's communications system, the inter communication system and the VRC 120 vehicular transceiver radio with embedded auxiliary receivers . The Merkava 4's sensors include radar with four antennas placed around the vehicle. Countermeasures The tank is fitted with the Amcoram LWS-2 laser warning system, with threat warning display installed at the commander's station. This links to the Israel Military Industries POMALS (pedestal-operated multi-ammunition launching system) decoy launcher. One launcher is fitted on either side of the tank, which can launch smoke grenades and decoys. A Merkava 4 has also been fitted with the Rafael Trophy Active Protection System. Trophy provides 360° coverage against anti-tank rockets, anti-tank missiles and tank HEAT (high-explosive anti-tank) rounds. Once Trophy has detected a threat, it is tracked and classified and the optimal intercept point is computed, prior to launching a countermeasure. Sensors include radar with four antennas placed around the vehicle. The system development was completed in April 2007 and the IDF has approved production for fitting on new Merkava tanks. The Trophy system entered low-rate initial production (LRIP) in June 2008 and is planned to achieve initial operating capability in late 2009. GD 883 V-12 diesel engine The Merkava 4 is powered by a V-12 diesel engine rated at 1,500hp. The engine compartment and one fuel tank are at the front of the tank and two fuel tanks are at the back. The new engine represents a 25% increase in power compared to the 1,200hp powerpack installed on the Merkava 3. The German company MTU manufactures the engine components and the GD 883 engine is manufactured under licensed production by General Dynamics Land Systems in the USA. The engine is transferred to Israel for installation and integration with the automatic transmission and with the engine computer control system. The tank has automatic five-gear transmission rather than four gears as in the Merkava 3. The transmission system is manufactured by Renk. The single position rotary shock absorbers are installed externally. Hull The redesign of the hull around the installation of the new powerpack has provided improved frontal armour protection and improvement to the driver's field of view. For improved reverse driving the driver uses a camera. The Merkava 4 is powered by a V-12 diesel engine rated at 1,500hp. A new feature of the tank is that the fitted modular special armour covers the turret. The tank is protected against a range of threats, including air-launched precision-guided missiles and advanced and top-attack anti-tank weapons. Automatic fire detection and suppression has been installed. The underside of the hull has been fitted with additional armour protection against mines. The driver and crew compartments are equipped with heating and cooling air conditioning and a Shalon Chemical Industries combined individual and overpressure protection systems against contamination by NBC warfare.

Taliban Making Crude Bombs In Afghanistan

Taliban Making Crude Bombs In Afghanistan (NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: In Afghanistan, the Taliban have apparently run out of munitions left over from the 1980s war with Russia, and are increasingly using fertilizer based explosives for their roadside bombs. Mix fertilizer with the right amount of diesel or gasoline, use a detonator to set it off, and it goes off like second rate explosives. Fertilizer explosives are bulkier than the kind of military explosives found in 1980s era bombs and shells. The explosive power varies with the skill of whoever is mixing the fertilizer and fuel. Thus the roadside bombs are often less powerful than the ones using military or commercial explosives, and often much larger and easier to spot. NATO troops, learning from their Iraqi experienced U.S. counterparts, are getting more effective at spotting these bombs. Currently, about 90 percent of the roadside bombs are detected and disarmed or destroyed before they can hurt anyone. A lot of these bombs are found because local civilians tip the troops off. While the civilians risk retaliation from the Taliban, it is civilians who suffer the most casualties from these devices. The troops increasingly travel in well protected vehicles, and the explosion tends to hurt any unprotected civilians within range. The Taliban don't try too hard to avoid civilian casualties.

Nato Covered Eastern Europe Skies

Nato Covered Eastern Europe Skies (NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: For the last ten years, Western firms have been installing modern air defense communications systems all over Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania.) In addition, dozens of new Western surveillance radars have been installed as well. The communications systems enable air defense commanders to see a complete picture of what all the radars military (and many civilian) surveillance radars can see. These systems also provide voice and data links, as well as integrating air defenses (both ground based and aircraft.) For the new NATO members in Eastern Europe, these systems also enable them to plug into the NATO air defense system. This sort of thing doesn't get much publicity, but it is very important in terms of safe air travel (especially when military aircraft are training) and in keeping track of intruders. The Western systems are much superior to the stuff the Russians developed during the Cold War. This was made clear in 1987, when a German teenager flew a single engine civilian aircraft through Russia and landed in Red Square in Moscow. Several Russian generals and defense officials were fired, but the damage was already done to the reputation of Russian air defenses.

M-109 Design Is Fifty Years Old But Still Going Strong

M-109 Design Is Fifty Years Old But Still Going Strong (NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: Although several countries are building new self-propelled 155mm artillery vehicles, there are still over three thousand 1960s era U.S. M109 guns out there. Most are not going to be replaced any time soon, so there is an active market for upgrades. The most famous upgrade is the M109A6 Paladin version, which was introduced in the 1990s (nearly a thousand so far). The A6 features improved mechanical, electrical and electronic components. Many non-U.S. users are now introducing some of these improvements. The most useful changes are new engines, GPS navigation systems and new electronic fire control systems (that work with GPS to enable the gun to open fire more quickly and accurately.)
M109A6 Paladin
The U.S. is working on a replacement (NLOS-C) for the half century old M-109 design. The prototype of the 155mm NLOS-C, cobbled together in six months, after the new Crusader SP artillery system was cancelled in 2002, fired several thousand rounds in three years of field tests. The NLOS-C incorporates many new technologies. This includes an auto-loader (from the Crusader) and a more modern 155mm gun (the M-777, a towed, British designed system) and an APC chassis with a hybrid-electric engine (to reduce fuel consumption.) This all weighs 27 tons, about the same as the 32 ton M-109. But the NLOS only has a two man crew, compared to five in the M-109. Congress originally demanded that NLOS-C be in service by 2008, but now 2010 or '11 seems more likely. Meanwhile, the new Excalibur GPS guided shell, which entered service in the past year, could change everything. Excalibur appears to work in combat, and this is radically changing the way artillery operates. Excalibur means 80-90 percent less ammo has to be fired, resulting in less wear and tear on artillery systems (M-109 or NLOS-C), less time needed for maintenance, less time replenishing ammo supplies, and more time being ready for action. The NLOS-C uses GPS and networked computers to take care of navigation, fire control and communicating with its customers (the infantry and armored vehicles of the combat brigade it supports). Each battery (4-6 guns) has several support vehicles with ammo resupply, maintenance and such. Thus while each NLOS-C only has a crew of two, there are additional support personnel available to help with maintenance. This is another new development, a crew too small to do all its own maintenance, that will require a lot of testing. If the new NLOS-C self-propelled gun works out, the M-109s may disappear a lot more quickly. But maybe not. Currently, the army plans to keep M109s around until 2050, just in case. With cheaper and easier to replace electronics, and the GPS guided shells, the M-109s appear perfectly capable. You never know, and it pays to be careful.

Chinese Navy New Missile Frigate Under Construction

Chinese Navy New Missile Frigate Under Construction
(NSI News Source Info) November 9, 2008: A new missile frigate has been identified under construction at the Huangpu Shipyard in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. The vessel is thought to be a follow-up of the Type 054A(Jiangkai-II class) and may be designated Type 054B (Jiangkai-III class?). The vessel, currently in the dockyard of the Huangpu Shipyard, is expected to be completed in late 2009. At the moment it is not known how the new vessel differs to previous designs of the same class, but some improvements in sensor and possibly weapon system are expected.

At least 20 killed in Russian submarine accident - 2

At least 20 killed in Russian submarine accident - 2 (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 9, 2008: At least 20 people were killed and another 21 injured in an accident on a Russian Pacific Fleet nuclear submarine which was undergoing routine tests, an aide to the Russian Navy commander said on Sunday. "More than 20 people were killed during sea trials as a result of the accidental launch of the fire-extinguishing system on a nuclear submarine of the Pacific Fleet on November 8," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said. "Shipyard workers and service personnel are among the victims." Dygalo said 208 people, including 81 service personnel had been onboard the submarine at the time of the incident. He said the Navy commander-in-chief had ordered a halt to the trials and said the submarine is being escorted to a temporary base by the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs and the rescue vessel Sayany. He stressed that the sub's reactor had not been affected. All the injured have been evacuated on to the Admiral Tributs and will be taken to hospitals in Vladivostok. First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Kolmakov and Navy commander-in-chief, Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky are heading to the accident scene, Dygalo added. He did not give details of the type and name of the submarine. A source at the Amur shipyard, however, said the submarine was called the Nerpa and had recently started sea trials in the Sea of Japan. "The submarine is being moved to a temporary base in the Primorye Region, where a team from Moscow is heading and a Pacific Fleet commission and the military prosecutor are already located," the source said. A high-ranking source in the Pacific Fleet said the accident had occurred in the nose section of the submarine and confirmed that it had not damaged the submarine's reactor. The most serious accident on a Russian submarine occurred on August 12, 2000, when the nuclear submarine Kursk sank following an onboard torpedo explosion, killing all 118 crewmembers. The construction of the Akula II class Nerpa nuclear attack submarine started in 1991 but has been suspended for over a decade due to lack of funding. Akula II class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest of Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines. The Nerpa had started sea trials on October 27.

India, China to Hold Joint Army Exercise in December, 2008

India, China to Hold Joint Army Exercise in December, 2008 (NSI News Source Info) Source PTI - November 9, 2008: Taking the thaw in military-to-military relations between them a notch higher, India and China on Friday agreed to hold their next joint army exercise at Belgaum in Karnataka this December.The fortnight-long exercise, the first on Indian soil, comes a year after the Indian Army and the Peoples Liberation Army had conducted their maiden military counter-terrorism exercise on Chinese soil last December at Kunming in south west China. Army headquarters sources told PTI that though the dates and venue for the exercise were agreed to "tentatively," at the bilateral meeting in progress in Beijing at present, a final confirmation from the Chinese was expected soon.Belgaum has been suggested as the exercise venue by India, as it is home for its Army's Commando School. "December is when the school will be holding no courses and the campus would be available to host the Chinese troops," said an army officer who is closely associated with the talks in Beijing. India and China, which had fought a short war in 1962 that had strained relations for nearly four decades, had since the dawn of the 21st Century improved their defence ties.Mukherjee, who had this week named China as a futuristic threat to India's economic and strategic national interest, was the architect of the improved defence ties, which was firmed up when he as defence minister in 2006 signed agreements for greater military-to-military exercises between New Delhi and Beijing. Incidentally, Chinese navy chief Admiral Wu Sheng Li had visited New Delhi this week on a five-day visit to further strengthen navy-to-navy ties. Both navies have in the past held joint naval exercises too, particularly in 2007 as part of confidence building measures when Indian warships had visited the eastern coast of China and held naval war games.Also, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major is currently in China to meet his Peoples Liberation Army-Air Force counterpart and senior defence officials, apart from visiting air defence establishments in Beijing and Hanzhou, and attending the Zhuhai air show. The IAF has also loaned its Suryakiran aerobatics team for performing in the Chinese skies, for the first time, during the Zhuhai air show and it has already enthralled the audience there this week. Major also carried India's proposal for a joint air exercise between the IAF and PLAAF, which both sides are currently discussing.India has time and again expressed doubts over Chinese defence forces' expansion plans, particularly their deployment along the line of actual control along Tibet and the growing incursions by its navy in the Indian Ocean Region.