Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NATO countries should resume military ties with Russia - assembly

NATO countries should resume military ties with Russia - assembly (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 20, 2008: NATO member countries should restore relations with Russia, including in the military sphere, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly has said in a resolution. The 54th Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly was held in Valencia, Spain, on November 14-18. Russia and NATO froze cooperation after a five-day war between Russia and Georgia in August over the South Caucasus state's breakaway republic of South Ossetia. "The resolution passed by the Plenary Session held on 18 November urged governments and parliaments of NATO member countries to re-establish wide-ranging co-operation, particularly in the military sphere, and to improve and expand public diplomacy efforts with Russia," the alliance said in a press release. A separate resolution on August's conflict calls on governments and parliaments of NATO member states to contribute to an independent international inquiry to determine the chain of events which led to the outbreak of war. "Members of the Russian parliamentary delegation told the Valencia session that their country had not started the conflict. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer described the Russian use of force as 'disproportionate' and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told the NATO PA Plenary Session that he had been faced with the bad choice of a Russian military invasion and the worse choice of occupation," the release said. The NATO PA resolution on the Georgia-Russia conflict calls on alliance governments and parliaments to support the current Geneva talks on the security situation in the Caucasus "to find an enduring solution to the conflicts over South Ossetia and Abkhazia without taking steps that could lead, contrary to international law, to the de facto or de jure recognition of the independence of either region." Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov called on Tuesday for a resumption of dialogue with NATO, but the alliance indicated there would be no major compromise. Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday that ambassador-level consultations between Russia and NATO could take place before the end of the year. In an indication that dialogue is possible, an alliance spokesman said earlier on Tuesday that the foreign ministers of 26 NATO member countries may decide to resume the work of the Russia-NATO Council at their meeting in early December. However, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the alliance would support efforts by former communist nations to join the military alliance regardless of opposition from Russia. He added that NATO was not prepared to sacrifice the alliance's enlargement for good relations with Russia. "NATO will continue to work with all countries that aspire to join our alliance," he said. "Do we have to choose between good relations with Russia and further enlargement? My answer is no - we will not choose, will not sacrifice one for the other." Scheffer said he would like to like to meet with Russian officials to straighten out their differences. "I am ready to go to Moscow to talk to the Russian leadership. I am ready for it, and I think NATO allies are ready for it. I hope I am welcomed there soon," he said. He also backed calls for an independent inquiry into the Russia-Georgia conflict, while condemning Russia's recognition of Georgia's separatist provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and saying Moscow had used "disproportionate force." "I support those that want an independent inquiry into what happened exactly. But independently of who fired the first shots, the use of force by Russia was disproportionate and the subsequent recognition of parts of Georgian territory cannot in any possibility be considered legal," he said.

Belarus receives $1 billion tranche from Russia

Belarus receives $1 billion tranche from Russia (NSI News Source Info) MINSK - November 20, 2008: One billion dollars has been transferred to Belarus's National Bank as part of the first tranche of a $2 billion stabilization loan issued by Russia, the bank's spokesman said on Wednesday. "The funds have been transferred in line with an agreement between Belarus and Russia signed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Kudrin and Belarusian Finance Minister Andrei Kharkovets," the spokesman said. The second tranche is due to be transferred in 2009. The deal was signed last Thursday, when the parties agreed to switch to rubles when trading in oil and gas. In late 2007, Russia and Belarus signed an intergovernmental agreement to grant Minsk a $1.5 billion stabilization loan for 15 years. Belarus requested the loan from Russia to pay for energy supplies.

South Korea launches tanker for Russian Far East shipping company

South Korea launches tanker for Russian Far East shipping company (NSI News Source Info) VLADIVOSTOK - November 20, 2008: South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries has launched a new 104,000-dwt oil tanker ordered by Russia's Primorsk Shipping Corporation (PRISCO), the PRISCO press office said on Wednesday. The launch ceremony was held in the South Korean port of Ulsan. "The assembly of seaborne machinery, navigation and other systems has begun on board the new tanker built by the shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries. It is planned that the tanker, to be named Lake Baikal, will be transferred to the customer in two months," the press office said. South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), the world's largest shipbuilder, is building six giant tankers for the Primorsk Shipping Corporation, based in the Russian Far East, with deadweight of 104,000 tons each. The Lake Baikal will be the third tanker to be built by the South Korean company. The vessel's double hull and ice-class category will enable it to ensure the safe transportation of oil cargoes.

11 Russian companies participate in Indo Defense 2008

11 Russian companies participate in Indo Defense 2008 (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 20, 2008: Eleven Russian defense companies will exhibit 450 types of weaponry at a biennial arms exhibition in Indonesia, the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said on Wednesday. Indo Defense 2008 Expo & Forum, which follows similar events in 2004 and 2006, opened on Wednesday to host over 500 exhibitors from 40 countries until Saturday. "The Russian companies will present models and information on 450 types of export weaponry, including Su-35 and Su-30MK2 multirole fighters, Mi-35 attack helicopters, BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles, T-80 and T-90 main battle tanks, and BMD-3 airborne infantry fighting vehicles," the service said in a statement. By participating in the exhibition, Russia is hoping to strengthen military-technical ties with traditional partners in the Asia-Pacific region, including Indonesia. In an April 2003 treaty, Russia and Indonesia established the principles for their mutually beneficial cooperation, which is a priority of Russia's multi-faceted policy in the Asia-Pacific region. Moscow and Jakarta have developed close military-technical cooperation in recent years. In 2003, Indonesia bought two Su-27SK Flanker fighters, two Su-30MK Flanker fighters, two Mi-35P Hind attack/transport helicopters, and six Mi-172 Hip multi-purpose helicopters, as well as armored personnel carriers and Kalashnikov assault rifles. Russia's state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, announced on November 12 it had signed deals to sell six Su-30 fighters and 18 BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles to Indonesia, and in 2007, it signed a contract on the design and construction of Project-20382 corvettes for the Indonesian navy.

BAE Systems Awarded New $1.6 Billion U.S. Army Contract for 10,000 Additional Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles

BAE Systems Awarded New $1.6 Billion U.S. Army Contract for 10,000 Additional Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (NSI News Source Info) SEALY, Texas - November 20, 2008: BAE Systems has been awarded a $1.6 billion contract from the U.S. Army to build another 10,000 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) and trailers for delivery during 2009 and 2010. Earlier this year, BAE Systems received two contracts totaling nearly $2.1 billion for 10,000 vehicles, and to provide program support, engineering, integrated logistics support, configuration management and field service support. This latest contract brings the total award value for FMTVs in 2008 to $3.7 billion. BAE Systems will manufacture the FMTVs in the Long Term Armor Strategy (LTAS) configuration, which is designed to accept an adaptable armor system allowing protection to be increased or decreased based on the threat. Vehicle variants to be built will include cargo trucks, wreckers, expansible vans, shop vans, tractors, load handling systems, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System support vehicles and Low Velocity Air Drop configured trucks. "This award will boost FMTV production to record rates,” said Chris Chambers, vice president of Medium/Heavy Vehicles for BAE Systems in Sealy, Texas. “It introduces the advanced LTAS FMTV configuration at high numbers, rapidly equipping the U.S. Army with the very latest adaptive, protection technology.” More than 48,000 FMTV trucks and trailers are in service with the U.S. Army. The commonality of parts among FMTVs includes shared engines, transmissions, power trains, tires and cabs. This commonality significantly reduces the logistics burden, and operating and support costs for the U.S. Army. FMTVs have set new tactical vehicle standards for capability, reliability, mobility, protection and transportability. Production of the LTAS cargo vehicles will be performed at BAE Systems’ facilities in Sealy, Texas, and Cincinnati, Ohio. Deliveries of the base contract are expected to be complete by February 2010, and deliveries of the option would be complete by November 2010. “The announcement that BAE Systems’ Sealy Tactical Vehicle division has landed a new contract to produce over 18,000 FMTV trucks is welcome news for Sealy, the State of Texas, and the fine soldiers of the U.S. Army. It is another testament to the important role Sealy and BAE Systems play in the production of critical military equipment for our troops. The work under this new contract, to build over $2.2 billion worth of new Army trucks, will directly support the war on terror by providing equipment that our soldiers need to take the fight to the enemies of freedom and succeed. At the same time, it will sustain jobs for residents in the Sealy area and continue to grow the Texas economy,” said U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Air Land Subcommittee. BAE Systems employs more than 2,500 people in Sealy, Texas and has nearly 900,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space on approximately 200 acres. The location has a long history with wheeled vehicle products. It has established itself as a world-class designer, volume manufacturer and through-life supporter of high-quality, best value, military tactical trucks and wheeled vehicle systems with payload capacities from 2.5 to 18 tons. Today, BAE Systems is the exclusive manufacturer of FMTVs and the producer of three Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) variants, the Caiman, the RG33 and the RG31. The Caiman is manufactured in Sealy. In Cincinnati, Ohio, BAE Systems employs more than 2,000 people and has about 900,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space. The Cincinnati operations has played a vital role in both the Caiman and RG33 MRAP programs by providing armor systems for both vehicles, as well as the FMTV. Other products include up-armored vehicles, commercial armored vehicles, integrated armor kits and accessories for a full range of tactical wheeled vehicles, combat vehicles and construction equipment. The Cincinnati operations also include a state-of-the art ballistic glass plant. BAE Systems is the premier global defense and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With approximately 100,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £15.7 billion (US $31.4 billion) in 2007.

Otokar Received $43,2 M Contract For Cobra

Otokar Received $43,2 M Contract For Cobra (NSI News Source Info) Turkey - November 20, 2008: Otokar, celebrating its 45th anniversary, has been awarded a $43,2 million contract to deliver the COBRA armored wheeled tactical vehicle. Delivery is scheduled to be in 2009. The leading designer and exporter of military vehicles in Turkey, Otokar continues to grow in defense industry with local and international orders. Representing the Turkish defense industry in world arena with its well-known armored vehicle COBRA, Otokar continues to execute contracts abroad. Stating that the user expectations are met with the most suitable solutions through research and development, General Manager of Otokar, Serdar Görgüç evaluated the contract: "The COBRA armored vehicle has become a product widely preferred in various territories by various users. Performance of the vehicle impresses its users. Therefore, countries that are already using this vehicle prefer the COBRA again on their new requirements. This situation makes us proud, and shows that we are in the right direction as well. With its capabilities and its characteristic of providing different solutions in one platform, The COBRA proves itself standing out amongst its competitors. The COBRA is now widely being used in many countries, and positive experiences and opinions about it from these countries cause the vehicle to be accepted by the other countries." About COBRA Project Throughout the COBRA project that was started by Otokar in 1997, significant technological, engineering and marketing investments were made. Having been tested for durability in many locations in and out of Turkey and in many climatic and geographic conditions in design phase, the COBRA has proven itself taking into consideration the knowledge and experience of Otokar in the field of military and armored vehicles. An armored tactical wheeled vehicle, the COBRA draws attention with its superior terrain performance and superior survivability. Coming into prominence among its competitors against explosives and mines with its armored monocoque hull structure, the COBRA has the feature of being a unique armored wheeled tactical vehicle with many specifications like run-flat tires, permanent four wheel drive, independent suspension. It allows full control to the personnel with its wide angle of visibility while it can serve in narrow and local areas with its compact and low silhouette. With its features of high maneuverability, superior engine performance, doors that allow fast and easy access, both day and night mobility, and with convenience for air transport, the COBRA has the features that can meet the needs and tasks of armies of many countries.

Syria site hit by Israel resembled atom plant: IAEA

Syria site hit by Israel resembled atom plant: IAEA (NSI News Source Info) By Mark Heinrich, VIENNA - November 19, 2008: A Syrian complex bombed by Israel bore multiple features resembling those of a nuclear reactor and U.N. inspectors found "significant" traces of uranium at the site, a watchdog report said on Wednesday. But the International Atomic Energy Agency report said the findings from an inspectors trip to the site in June were not enough to conclude a covert reactor was there. It said further investigation and greater Syrian transparency were needed.
An undated image released by the U.S. government shows the suspected Syrian nuclear reactor building under construction in Syria. A Syrian complex bombed by Israel bore features resembling those of an undeclared nuclear reactor and U.N. inspectors found "significant" traces of uranium at the site, a watchdog report said on Wednesday
Obtained by Reuters, the nuclear safeguards report said Syria would be asked to show to inspectors debris and equipment whisked away from the site at Al-Kibar in the country's eastern desert after the September 2007 Israeli air raid. The United States gave intelligence to the IAEA last April that Washington said indicated the site was a reactor that was close to being built with North Korean assistance and designed to produce plutonium for atomic bombs. Syria, an ally of Iran whose disputed uranium enrichment program has been under IAEA investigation for years, says the site destroyed was a conventional military building and the uranium traces must have come from munitions used to bomb it. Damascus has dismissed as fabricated the satellite imagery, ground pictures of the site taken before Israel's attack and other intelligence underpinning the investigation. "While it cannot be excluded that the building in question was intended for non-nuclear use, the features of the building, along with the connectivity of the site to adequate pumping capacity of cooling water, are similar to what may be found in connection with a reactor site," said the IAEA report, sent to its 35-nation board of governors ahead of a November 27-28 meeting. It said photographs also revealed a containment shield similar in dimension and layout to those of atomic reactors. It said Syria had not provided requested documentation to back its declarations about the nature of the building nor granted repeated IAEA requests for visits to three other sites seen as harboring possible evidence linked to Israel's target. Satellite pictures show Syria carried out landscaping of these sites to change their look and took away large containers after the IAEA asked for access to those areas, the report said. Other aerial imagery revealed Syria swept the Al-Kibar site clean after the attack and erected a new building on the spot. The IAEA will ask Syria to let inspectors take swipe samples from rubble, shrapnel and any equipment removed from Al-Kibar. SYRIAN TRANSPARENCY NEEDED It said IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei had urged Syria to "provide the necessary transparency including allowing visits to the requested locations and access to all available information for the agency to complete its assessment." U.N. officials said the uranium contamination that turned up in soil samples collected at the site was a "chemically processed" form of the mineral that was not the enriched variety used to run nuclear power plants or as fissile bomb material. But the element found was not depleted uranium either, the type used to boost the penetrating power of munitions. "There's enough uranium here to raise questions. The onus of this verification is on Syria," said a senior U.N. official, who like others asked for anonymity due to political sensitivities. The uranium element in question was not in Syria's declared nuclear inventory. Syria's only official nuclear site is an old research reactor. It has no known nuclear energy capacity. The IAEA also intends to ask Israel for information addressing Syria's remarks about the origin of the uranium. Israel has remained silent on the matter since the air raid. ElBaradei said on Monday the uranium traces could have come on clothing of workers who had been in contact with nuclear materials somewhere, or from stored equipment. The report said Syria had told inspectors the site could not have been a nuclear facility because of unreliable, insufficient electricity supplies locally, limited available manpower and the lack of large quantities of treated water. But the report said inspectors saw enough electrical grid to power reactor pumps. Another senior U.N. official said the investigation had urgent need of high-resolution pictures of the site he said must have been taken in the immediate aftermath of the bombing. He said eight countries, which he declined to identify, had access to such imagery but had not turned it over to date. The report complained that the investigation had been "severely hampered by (Israel's) unilateral use of force" and by a U.S. failure to hand over relevant intelligence until seven months after the bombing. "In light of (that), the agency's verification of the situation has been made more difficult and complex, as well as more time- and resource-consuming," the report said. (Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Lithuania To Buy Long-range Radars

Lithuania To Buy Long-range Radars (NSI News Source Info) HELSINKI - November 19, 2008: Lithuania has approved $44.6 million in initial funding to cover the cost of bolstering the country's national air surveillance capability through the acquisition of two long-range radar systems. The planned equipment purchase will replace the technically obsolete Soviet-manufactured P-37 and P-18 long-range radars currently in use with the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The purchase is being arranged through the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A), which invited bids from producers in NATO member and nonmember countries on Nov. 17. The successful bid will be selected and contracts signed in 2009. "We expect that the new radar systems will be installed and communication infrastructures built by the end of 2015," Defense Minister Juozas Olekas said. "The further improvement of air surveillance and defense remains a top priority goal within the national defense system. The new capability is required to ensure reliable air surveillance, as well as to ensure the joint control and defense of NATO airspace," Olekas said. The radar systems will be installed on existing Lithuanian Air Force radar sites, said Brig. Gen. Arturas Leita, Air Force commander. "The final acquisition costs will become known when the contract with the manufacturer is signed. The cost will come out of the annual defense budget," Leita said. The NC3A will procure and install the radars under a contract signed with the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense in December 2007, which will commission the radar equipment to NATO standards and procedures.

Newer Russian Nuclear Attack Sub Sought for 2010

Newer Russian Nuclear Attack Sub Sought for 2010 (NSI News Source Info) PARIS - November 19, 2008: The first of a new class of multipurpose Russian nuclear attack submarines currently in construction will be operational by 2010, a Russian news agency reported Nov. 19.
Russian nuclear attack submarines
The Severodvinsk "will be operational in 2010," Ria Novosti said citing naval official Nicolas Kalisstratov. Named after the White Sea port that houses the main Russian nuclear submarine base, the Severodvinsk is about 390 feet long and can navigate at a depth of about 1,970 feet. It "will be able to perform every mission that could be asked of it by the state: attacking different targets when under water, on the surface or (by) land," according to a naval admiral.

1 British, 2 U.S. Firms To Supply U.K. Vehicles

1 British, 2 U.S. Firms To Supply U.K. Vehicles (NSI News Source Info) LONDON - November 19, 2008: U.S. manufacturers have been named preferred bidders to supply two armored support truck vehicle types destined for British forces in Afghanistan while a local British company was named as the winner to supply a third vehicle type. The flatbed version of the Force Protection six-wheel-drive Cougar mine-protected vehicle, known the Wolfhound, will meet the requirement for a mine-protected truck with a cargo capability in excess of 4.5 tons. (Force Protection Industries) The British are buying more than 400 tactical support vehicles in three vehicle types as part of a 350 million pound ($524.9 million) procurement effort to better protect troops and others against Taliban insurgents in the south of Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defence announced Nov. 19 that subject to contract negotiations, Force Protection will supply a flatbed version of its six-wheel-drive Cougar mine-protected vehicle to meet the requirement for a mine-protected truck with a cargo capability in excess of 4.5 tons, known here as the Wolfhound. Local company NP Aerospace will undertake the integration work. The company is currently upgrading basic Cougar six- and four-wheel-drive vehicles to meet British requirements for patrol vehicles. The British already have several hundred Force Protection vehicles in service or on order. Navistar Defense will secure its first deal with the U.K. military supplying its International MXT-MVA vehicle. Cargo capability will be in excess of 1.5 tons. The vehicle, to be called the Husky, will form the bulk of the procurement and feature utility, ambulance and command post variants. Local company Supacat will supply a version of its high-mobility Jackal vehicle for what the British call the Coyote. The six-wheel-drive vehicle will also be able to carry more than 1.5 tons of cargo and a four-man crew. The Husky and Coyote carry similar loads, but the MXT-MVA vehicle is more heavily armored. The vehicle will operate where the heavyweight Wolfhound cannot be used. Two hundred of the new Jackal vehicles are either in service with British forces or on order. Contract negotiations are scheduled to be completed in early 2009 with the first deliveries taking place later in the year. The Husky and Coyote bidders were recently short-listed for a larger, longer-term British tactical support vehicle program known as the Operational Utility Vehicle System. The tactical support vehicle program is part of a 700 million pound urgent operational requirement for some 700 vehicles announced in late October by the MoD. Included in the requirement were upgrades to Panther liaison and command vehicles, Snatch Land Rover vehicles, and a new all-terrain vehicle to replace up to 100 tracked Vikings used by the Royal Marines and other British military units.

Suspected US missiles strike deep inside Pakistan

Suspected US missiles strike deep inside Pakistan (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - November 19, 2008: A suspected American missile bombarded a village deep inside Pakistani territory Wednesday, officials said, marking what appears to be the first time the U.S. has struck beyond the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. Six alleged militants were killed. Hours after the strike, a large Islamist political party warned it would block two major supply routes for U.S and NATO forces in Afghanistan that run through Pakistan unless the attacks ended.
Local residents examine a demolished house hit by suspected U. S. missiles strike in Indi Khel village near Bannu, Pakistan on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2008. A suspected U.S. missile strike hit a village well inside Pakistani territory Wednesday, officials said, killing six alleged militants and indicating American willingness to pursue insurgents beyond the lawless tribal regions
The attacks have killed scores of suspected al-Qaida and Taliban militants in the tribal regions that are a rumored hiding place of Osama bin Laden, but have enraged the country's civilian leadership. "If these missiles attacks continue, then we will ask the people to create hurdles in the way of supplies for NATO," Qazi Hussain Ahmed, chief of Jamaat-e-Islami, told reporters. The party has shown it can easily mobilize thousands of supporters at short notice. The supply lines have never been blocked by protests but militants and criminals often attack trucks traveling with them. Two missiles destroyed a house in Indi Khel village in Bannu district, Javed Marwat, a local government official, told The Associated Press. Two Pakistani intelligence officials said their agents reported that militants from Central Asia were among the six killed. The U.S., which says Taliban and al-Qaida militants use pockets of northwest Pakistan to plan attacks on foreign troops in Afghanistan, has been blamed in about 20 cross-border missile strikes since August. The U.S. rarely confirms or denies the strikes, which are believed to be carried out mainly by the CIA. The missiles are apparently fired from unmanned planes launched in Afghanistan, where some 32,000 U.S. troops are fighting the Taliban and other militants. Pakistan has protested the strikes as violations of its sovereignty and international law but the attacks continue, leading analysts to speculate that the two nations may have a secret deal. Until Wednesday, all the attacks since August were in North and South Waziristan, two tribal regions where the government has ceded much of its limited control to militants. U.S. officials say they want to help Pakistan regain sovereignty over such areas. The Bannu district, which falls under the control of the regional government, begins roughly 18 miles away from the border with Afghanistan. Two other intelligence officials, both based in Bannu, said militants had begun moving farther away from the border, including to their district and other settled areas, in an apparent bid to avoid the missile strikes. All the intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to news media. Pakistani officials says they are rarely warned of such attacks, and have demanded the U.S. share intelligence so that Pakistan can go after targets on its own. Even as the U.S. strikes have picked up, American officers in Afghanistan have stressed improved day-to-day Pakistani cooperation in squeezing militants nested along both sides of the lengthy, porous border. U.S. military officials said troops in Afghanistan coordinated with Pakistan on Sunday in shelling insurgents inside Pakistan who were launching rockets at the foreign troops. Pakistan's official statement on the matter referred only to militant activity in Afghanistan. In the past month, NATO and Pakistan also have cooperated in so-called Operation Lion Heart - a series of complementary operations that involve Pakistani army and paramilitary troops, and NATO on the Afghan side, said Col. John Spiszer, U.S. commander in northeast Afghanistan. "What we have done is worked very hard to refocus our ... intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance assets to do everything we can to identify transiting across the border," he told a Pentagon news conference in Washington via teleconference from Afghanistan on Tuesday. Commanders hope pressure on both sides of the border will eventually mean militants will be "running out of options on places to go," Spiszer said. U.S. officials have praised Pakistani military offensives against militants in its border region, including an operation in the Bajur tribal area that the army says has killed some 1,500 alleged insurgents. Besides questions of sovereignty, Pakistani officials say the U.S. missile strikes are counterproductive because they often kill civilians and deepen anti-American and anti-government sentiment along the border. But Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, has defended the missile strikes, saying at least three top extremist leaders, whom he did not identify, have been killed in recent months in the attacks. Also Wednesday, gunmen shot and killed a retired Pakistani army general who had led military operations against insurgents in the tribal regions. The attack occurred on the outskirts of the capital, Islamabad. Ameer Faisal Alvi was in his vehicle when the assailants opened fire, killing him and his driver before fleeing, police official Mohammed Tariq said. The motive was unknown, he said.

UK MoD confirms Apache helicopters are not being deployed at sea

UK MoD confirms Apache helicopters are not being deployed at sea (NSI News Source Info) November 19, 2008: The UK military is not currently deploying its Westland/Boeing WAH-64D AH.1 Apache attack helicopters to sea due to their commitment in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed to Jane's on 12 November. The British Army Air Corps (AAC) and Royal Navy (RN) had conducted Apache shipborne trials aboard the helicopter assault ship (LPH) HMS Ocean in 2005 with a mind to providing UK amphibious forces with an additional aerial attack and close combat attack (CCA) capability. The trials, which were based around achieving ship helicopter operation limitations (SHOL) clearance and proving an initial AH (Army Helicopter) operating capability in the maritime environment for the Apache, progressed to the stage where the type had successfully achieved its initial operating capability (maritime) (IOC(M)) certification. Trials included operating alongside other aircraft types such as the Boeing Chinook HC.2, Westland Sea King HC.4/HAS.5U and Westland Lynx HAS.3/6, as well as understanding issues associated with the support, communications and training for AH operations whilst embarked on a maritime platform. An element of live firing was also completed.

Al Jaber Aviation orders more Airbus ACJ family aircraft

Al Jaber Aviation orders more Airbus ACJ family aircraft
(NSI News Source Info) November 19, 2008: Al Jaber Group's new aviation division, Al Jaber Aviation (AJA) , has placed a new firm order for two Airbus Corporate Jetliners (ACJs) and revealed a previously undisclosed order for two A318 Elites, adding to a previous deal for two A318 Elites.
The order makes AJA the largest single customer for the Airbus ACJ Family in the Middle East, with total orders for six aircraft. "Our Airbus ACJ Family aircraft will offer private travel in unprecedented comfort and style, providing families and companies with a new way to fly," says Al Jaber Group Chief Executive Officer Mohammed Al Jaber. "
In addition to the huge improvement in space and comfort, high-end travellers in the Airbus ACJ Family will also benefit from separate cabin-zones and unmatched freedom of movement in flight," he adds. "The Al Jaber group has a proven track record of success in construction, logistics, manufacturing and shipping, and is well placed to extend this into business aviation by combining its entrepreneurial skills with the modern Airbus corporate jet family" says Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers, John Leahy. "Al Jaber Aviation is also the first Middle East-based company to offer Airbus corporate jet travel to the VVIP market," he adds. Airbus' A318 Elite is the newest and most affordable Airbus corporate jet, and features a stylish and practical cabin created by Lufthansa Technik, with seating for up to 18 passengers.
The Airbus ACJ is derived from the popular A319 airliner, and can be equipped with seating and facilities tailored to customer needs. Both aircraft feature the widest, tallest and most spacious cabin of any single-aisle corporate jet - their cabin cross-section is almost twice as wide as that of traditional business jets - making them the new top-of-the-line in high-end travel. And because the A318 Elite and Airbus ACJ are part of the world's most modern airliner family, they also deliver a stream of benefits to customers. These include a robust long-lasting airframe that holds its value well, modern and reliable systems proven in millions of hours of airline service, and an advanced aerodynamic design powered by modern and efficient engines.
The ACJ Family, which comprises the A318 Elite, ACJ and A320 Prestige, also delivers many benefits to the pilots and mechanics that fly and maintain them. These include a modern and user-friendly cockpit with practical pull-out tables, modern fly-by-wire controls, Category 3B autoland as standard, centralised maintenance linked to every aircraft system, and large outward-opening cargo doors.
Airbus corporate jetliners have won more than 150 orders to date, comprising more than 100 Airbus ACJ family aircraft and around 50 VIP widebodies. They are flying on every continent in the world, including Antarctica.

Boeing CAPPS Program Attains Environmental Certification

Boeing CAPPS Program Attains Environmental Certification (NSI News Source Info) KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - November 19, 2008: Boeing Nov. 18 announced that its Checkout, Assembly and Payload Processing Services (CAPPS) program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center has earned International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 certification -- making it the most recent Boeing site to validate its environmental management system. Boeing is working to have all of its major manufacturing facilities certified to the ISO 14001 standard by the end of 2008. ISO 14001 is considered a global benchmark of an organization's commitment to understand and continuously improve its environmental performance. Independent auditors from DNV, an accredited certification body of quality, environmental and safety management systems, audited the program on Oct. 1-3 to ensure an established environmental management system exists and that employees understand their roles in protecting the environment. "This certification further demonstrates our commitment to continuous environmental improvement," said Mark Jager, Boeing program manager for CAPPS. "I'm pleased with our efforts to increase recycling and efficient energy use on our program." The auditors commended the CAPPS program for the pristine condition of its hazardous waste storage area, employee use of "stop cards" to halt operations to correct safety or environmental issues, and its efforts to reduce the amount of paper used in daily business activities. Kennedy Space Center joins Auburn and Everett, Wash.; Exmouth, Bankstown and Fishermans Bend, Australia; Huntsville, Ala.; Long Beach, Calif.; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City; San Antonio; St. Louis; and Winnipeg, Canada as Boeing sites that have achieved ISO 14001 certification. The Boeing Company is committed to pioneering environmentally progressive technology and relentlessly reducing its environmental footprint. Since the introduction of the first Boeing jetliner, airplane emissions of carbon dioxide have been reduced by around 70 percent and noise footprints have been reduced by approximately 90 percent. Boeing targets improving fuel efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions of each new generation of commercial airplane by at least 15 percent compared with the airplanes they replace. Boeing has set aggressive targets to increase solid-waste-recycling rates and energy efficiency by 25 percent and to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions intensity by 25 percent at its major manufacturing facilities by 2012, with a comparable goal for hazardous-waste reduction.

Boeing CH-47F Chinook Helicopter Fielded by US Army's 1st Cavalry Division

Boeing CH-47F Chinook Helicopter Fielded by US Army's 1st Cavalry Division (NSI News Source Info) RIDLEY TOWNSHIP, Pa. - November 19, 2008: Boeing announced Nov. 18 that its CH-47F Chinook helicopter has been fielded by Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas. This is the third U.S. Army unit to field the CH-47F since the aircraft was certified combat-ready in July 2007. The 4th Infantry Division fielded the F model earlier this year. "There are few times in the history of a unit when its troopers see tangible proof that a new era in its equipment and mission capability has arrived," said Bravo Company Commander Capt. Kevin Consedine. "But such an era has arrived with the CH-47F Chinook, and there is no question that the troopers of Bravo Company will remain true to their legacy and ready for any future mission." Bravo Company was among the first responders conducting rescue and relief missions in the United States during hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and has deployed twice on humanitarian efforts in Pakistan. In combat, it has conducted air assault, resupply and transport operations. Since receiving the CH-47F, it has successfully conducted extensive exercises under night-vision goggles to simulate those same missions. The advanced features of the new aircraft significantly increase the unit's mission capability. "Our 'soldiers first' focus represents our individual commitment to the quality of each and every CH-47F," said Tommy Filler, director, Boeing CH-47F Program. "This advanced aircraft provides greater capability and performance to meet our soldiers' needs today and well into the future." Built at the Boeing Rotorcraft Systems facility in Ridley Township, Pa., the CH-47F helicopter features a newly designed, modernized airframe, a Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) cockpit and a BAE Digital Advanced Flight Control System (DAFCS). The CAAS greatly improves aircrew situational awareness and DAFCS provides dramatically improved flight-control capabilities through the entire flight envelope, significantly improved performance, and safety in the harshest of environments. CAAS also incorporates an advanced digital map display and a data transfer system that allows storing of preflight and mission data. Improved survivability features include the Common Missile Warning and Improved Countermeasure Dispenser systems. Powered by two 4,733-horsepower Honeywell engines, the new CH-47F can reach speeds greater than 175 mph and transport more than 21,000 pounds. The CH-47F, with the Robertson Aviation Extended Range Fuel System, has a mission radius of more than 400 nautical miles.

Saab Happy Days Ahead....Gripen Acceptable Babe

Saab Happy Days Ahead....Gripen Acceptable Babe (NSI News Source Info) November 19, 2008: The floodgates are about to open on billions of dollars of global military spending on new combat aircraft. With several hundred fighter purchases up for grabs, the stakes are high for all the entrants. The issues differ somewhat for each company. Boeing and Lockheed Martin would like to prolong the production lives of their F-15 and F-16 lines, respectively; Dassault wants to finally secure its first export order, and Eurofighter Typhoon is trying to expand its base to compensate for potential cuts from core customers. So it's hard to pinpoint any one contender that has the most riding on the contests now unfolding from Brazil to Japan. Clearly, though, the stakes for Saab and its Gripen are formidable. Lockheed Martin is poised to transition to the F-35 from F-16 production; Dassault will be building Rafales for the French government, albeit at paltry rates, for some time; and the Typhoon should be in production for the next decade. However, Saab lacks a strong domestic customer base, so its situation is more uncertain than its rivals'. Although the Swedish government supports the company's overseas ambitions, domestic procurements are hardly enough to sustain Gripen in the long term. As a result, Saab has opted for a two-pronged strategy - on the one hand, using its existing product to satisfy countries with immediate needs and, on the other, devising a completely new version, the Gripen Next Generation. The NG boosts the fighter's range and payload, while offering an updated combat suite with the addition of an active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The NG also features an enhanced missile warning system using ultraviolet sensors with 5-km. (3.1-mi.) detection range. Other specifications include a high-data-rate communications system (being integrated by Saab and Thales), a low-rate data terminal and an image-transmitting wideband link offering 250-Kbps. throughput. Furthermore, the system allows for the eventual installation of directed infrared countermeasures. Aircraft designers considered future needs looming on the horizon, rather than the goals of a particular customer, says Pierre Gauffin, Gripen International's head of product capabilities. To allow for a higher maximum takeoff weight, the main landing gear was strengthened and relocated. The change opened up space for extra fuel, thereby increasing range. This approach also avoided major outer mold-line alterations, which had been considered to achieve the range increase. Moreover, Gripen NG embodies a new business model that aims to cut costs even with low production rates. "The market is extremely price-sensitive," and the build approach for the new version reflects this, says Bob Kemp, marketing director for Gripen International. In the past, Gripen embraced technologies that designers modified to fit specific needs - as was the case with the General Electric F404 engine that Volvo turned into the fighter's RM12 powerplant. For the Gripen NG, Saab went directly to GE and asked for an F414, the latest version of the F/A-18E/F's engine with minimal changes. The F414G features some adjustments to the full-authority digital engine control and power supply, largely because Gripen is a single-engine fighter (whereas the F/A-18E/F has two engines). This seemingly innocuous change allows Saab to reduce engine costs 20%, even though the F414 is a higher thrust engine with a greater sticker price than the F404. This design approach permeates the Gripen NG, says Kemp. Suppliers such as Honeywell and Rockwell were asked to provide their latest product and let Saab worry about integrating them, rather than devising tailor-made derivatives for the Gripen NG. To keep costs low, the NG may embrace the same pilot helmet used on the F-35. Meanwhile, the Gripen NG's future could come into focus soon: Norway and Brazil are the first countries expected to pass verdict in the international marketplace. The Norwegian government is in the final throes of completing its fighter assessment, in which Gripen is vying against the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, in which Oslo invested heavily during the American program's development phase. Norway anticipates buying 48 aircraft. A government recommendation to the Norwegian parliament on a type selection could occur before year-end. To bolster the NG's chances, the Swedish government has promised it would speed its plans to buy the fighter (becoming a co-launch customer), thus reducing the risk for Norway. Originally, Sweden had not intended to field the aircraft until the end of the decade. In Brazil, a type selection could follow in April; 36 aircraft are up for grabs. Both Norway and Brazil want to field the fighter around 2014-15. Brazil's acquisition schedule is driven by elections in 2010; the government wants to complete negotiations before then. Saab says it can have the first Gripen NG ready for 2014, and other nations could be involved in the development program. Production of the first prototype could start early next year. Saab has issued several tenders - including one for the AESA radar - to ensure that it has its supply base ready for the production go-ahead. While Thales is providing the radar for a demonstration program, the production contract could use a different partner. The active array is paired with the signal and data processor and exciter/receiver of the baseline PS05/A radar. The AESA has around 1,000 transmit/receive modules. The NG's exact technical configuration could still evolve, however, either in the short term or as product upgrades emerge. For instance, the missile warning system now baselined will still use UV sensors, but Saab is closely tracking the maturation of IR technology, which would improve the detection range. Technically, the two near-term campaigns may not be "make-or-break" events for the Swedish aircraft: In 2010, India is due to decide on 126 or more fighters. But early success would provide a sound footing and position the aircraft to be a more respectable entrant in other markets. On the other hand, failure could leave the stigma of a "paper airplane" hovering over the Gripen NG. To help the company counter such a perception, Saab has built the Gripen Demonstrator, which is now in flight trials. The first phase is evaluating the aircraft's handling qualities and modified flight control system. So far, more than 20 flights have been conducted, and the testing pace at Saab's Linkoping site will be intense before year-end, says Gauffin. "We are very happy with the configuration," and test personnel have not identified any major changes that would be required, he adds. The second phase of the demonstration program will start next year, when the two-seat aircraft is grounded for installation of the radar, missile warning system, satellite communications and broadband close-air support data link. Company engineers hope to have the aircraft flying again before the end of 2009. Flight trials would run the bulk of 2010. Saab is still evaluating whether to pursue a third phase for the demo program. This would involve installing and testing the avionics system; flight tests would occur around 2011. The company already has an extensive avionics ground test rig to reduce the NG's development risk. A big problem with the Gripen Demonstrator, however, is that some of the NG's core features - such as the radar and other elements of the mission system - will not begin trials until next year at the earliest. New weapons could also be part of the demo program, and both the Boeing Small-Diameter Bomb and Sagem AASM air-to-ground modular weapon are seen as candidates. Clearly, Saab has a lot riding on a successful Gripen NG. The goal is to sell 200 aircraft on the global market," says Saab CEO Ake Svensson. The company also is chasing potential orders in the Netherlands (85 aircraft), Denmark (48), Bulgaria (16) and Croatia (12). All this activity has driven up Saab's marketing costs, which has been a near-term drag on earnings margins. As for projects other than the Gripen NG, Saab officials are optimistic. In Switzerland, the company is still offering the C/D model that's now in production. Bern's requirement is more "near term," and the country has indicated that it's looking for an F-5 replacement, rather than chasing new combat aircraft technology. After withdrawing the F/A-18E/F from the Swiss contest, a Boeing official said Bern's approach means the Gripen is in the best position to win. However, representatives for the Typhoon and the Rafale, which remain in the running, dismiss Boeing's view. Around 30 fighters are at stake. Romania also is expected to make a procurement decision soon, with fielding planned around 2010. For small air forces, Gripen proponents are trying to make the case that they can give them what they need without the burden of supporting multiple aircraft. In particular, they are highlighting the Swedish air force's recent participation at the Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nev. Despite their first appearance at the event - Gripen had previously been at an Alaskan version - Swedish air force pilots were given the role of leading multi-ship raids, which was seen as an endorsement of both their skills and the attributes of their aircraft. To keep the basic Gripen relevant, block upgrades occur about every three years. The latest, Block 19, is due next year. It adds the capability to fire the Diehl BGT Defense IRIS-T dogfight missile, Link-16 data link and RVSM (reduced vertical separation minimums) ATC enhancements, as well as the Cobra helmet-mounted sight. Block 20, which is still being defined, is expected to include enhanced functions on the PS-05/A radar and the L-3 Communications Rover close-air-support imagery data link (AW&ST June 30, p. 42). Failure overseas would not shutter the Gripen production line immediately, but the existing order book alone is not enough to sustain Sweden's fighter ambitions for long. South African deliveries will run out in 2012, and Thailand has committed only to six aircraft, with deliveries to start in 2010 - although six more are almost assured, and the total program could reach 36 units. Additionally, the company is beginning to upgrade Sweden's Gripen A/Bs to the C/D configuration, as part of a Swedish air force plan to standardize its fleet to 100 aircraft of the same type. The overhaul basically replaces the existing fuselage (because of cockpit changes and the installation of an air-to-air refueling probe), while the A/B's wing and other structures are retained.

SAS Group: No Buyers, Bankruptcy Looms

SAS Group: No Buyers, Bankruptcy Looms (NSI News Source Info) November 19, 2008: SAS Group is facing the daunting task of having to restructure on its own in the middle of a deep economic downturn after Star Alliance partner Lufthansa pulled out of talks to take over the Scandinavian airline group. Lufthansa had been quietly negotiating a takeover of SAS similar to the way it integrated Swiss International Air Lines and will include Brussels Airlines. SAS would have kept its own brand and management while taking advantage of group synergies and Lufthansa's sales and marketing power. The deal would have also enabled the governments of Sweden, Norway and Denmark gradually to shed their shareholdings in SAS. Today, they still control 50% of the Nordic region's largest carrier. But Lufthansa, Europe's No. 2 behind Air France-KLM, walked away from the talks, company executives say, largely because of the mounting losses at SAS's Spanish subsidiary, Spanair. Last year as part of a strategic rethinking, SAS's then new CEO Mats Jansson decided to focus on Scandinavia rather than keeping shareholdings in other European airlines. Spanair was put up for sale, but negotiations with a consortium led by Spain's biggest airline, Iberia, failed. Jansson then decided to forego the sale and initiated a tough restructuring at Spanair. The airline targets annual savings of €90 million ($112.5 million) from 2009 by cutting 15 aircraft and 1,000 workers, roughly a third of its staff. That turnaround has become much more difficult since the Aug. 20 crash of a Spanair MD-83 at Madrid-Barajas Airport in which 154 people were killed. Following the accident, Spanair's traffic instantaneously dropped off by 27% and has been recovering slowly, at far lower yields than usual. Spanair took an operating loss of 641 million kronor ($80 million) in the first nine months of the year, significantly exceeding the 91-million-kronor loss of a year earlier and in spite of savings measures. To make matters worse, SAS had to write off the value of Spanair on its balance sheet by more than $240 million, reflecting the unit's weaker performance. An SAS official nonetheless pointed out that the plan announced in the summer to seek a "structural solution" for the entire group is still valid. Analysts say selling the airline to a stronger partner is likely to be the only way to avoid bankruptcy in the longer term. Standard & Poor's cut SAS ratings on Nov. 6, and says a takeover "could potentially lead to an outlook revision or upward rating momentum." (Standard & Poor's, like Aviation Week & Space Technology, is a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.) However, Lufthansa was seen as the only reasonable buyer. Air France-KLM could theoretically be another investor with the financial wherewithal to acquire SAS, but the French-Dutch group has never shown much interest in the Scandinavian market, which is highly decentralized and deeply infiltrated by low-cost carriers. SAS's thin long-haul network is split up among three bases in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo, partly for political reasons. In the current global financial crisis, it is also tough to imagine a private equity investor risking purchase of a big asset with questionable commercial viability such as SAS. Indeed, while Spanair may be the biggest single issue at SAS, it is hardly the only one. In the first nine months of the year, SAS had an operating loss of 2.7 billion kronor, compared to a profit of 1 billion kronor a year earlier. Jansson cites "the economic trend that both impacts total demand and alters the behavioral patterns of business travelers and the continued high price of oil during the period." While he sees the recent drop in oil prices as good news, that effect is "offset by the rising dollar and the further deepening of the recession by the financial crisis." S&P writes that its rating downgrade reflects the "marked deterioration of the group's financial profile, its weakening liquidity position and the adverse effect of recessionary business conditions in many of the group's markets." Jansson says he is "focusing intensely on assessing various structural solutions and alternatives." But, regardless of those discussions, he urges that "it is of the utmost importance that we rapidly close the remaining cost gap that we have in relation to comparable competitors." SAS is therefore advancing measures of its Strategy 2011 program aimed at reducing annual costs by 3-4 billion kronor.

South Korea maintaining contacts with North amid cold spell

South Korea maintaining contacts with North amid cold spell (NSI News Source Info) SEOUL - November 19, 2008: Seoul is still continuing to cooperate with authorities in North Korea's capital despite recent frosty relations between the South and the North, Seoul's assistant mayor said on Tuesday. Relations between the two Koreas, which have not signed a peace treaty since the 1950-1953 war, worsened after recent protests by anti-Pyongyang organizations in Seoul that released balloons with propaganda leaflets over the demilitarized zone to the communist state in breach of bilateral agreements. "Contacts continue, though they represent unilateral aid - not only to Pyongyang but also to other North Korean cities - rather than equal cooperation," Sang Bum Kim told Russian journalists. The assistant mayor said that almost all major South Korean cities are involved in assisting North Korea, adding that the Gyeonggi-do Province in the country's northwest had offered its "highly developed experience in the agriculture sector." The North Korean government said last week that it would close its land border with the South, citing Seoul's confrontational attitude and failure to honor bilateral agreements. In response to Pyongyang's statement on the border closure, South Korea's Unification Ministry warned that it could harm bilateral relations. The move comes amid increasing speculation over the health of North Korean President Kim Jong-il. Reports say he may have suffered at least one stroke. North Korea has denied this. After coming to power in February, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said he would review agreements reached at the 2000 and 2007 inter-Korean summits, and demand more in return from the North for the economic support provided by Seoul.

Poland to get U.S. Patriot missiles in 2009 - defense minister

Poland to get U.S. Patriot missiles in 2009 - defense minister (NSI News Source Info) WARSAW - November 19, 2008: U.S. Patriot missiles will be dispatched in Poland in 2009, the country's defense minister said on Tuesday while on an official visit to Ukraine. "Patriot missiles will be in Poland in 2009, at first temporarily, and from 2012, permanently," Bogdan Klich said. The United States and Poland signed a formal agreement on the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles on Polish soil on August 20, which followed the signing on July 8 by the U.S. and Czech foreign ministries to station a U.S. radar in the Czech Republic as part of a planned missile defense shield in Central Europe. Washington had to commit to measures to ensure Poland's security, including the deployment of the Patriot missiles, before Warsaw would agree to host the interceptor base. Moscow has consistently expressed its opposition to the U.S. missile shield, saying it threatens its national security. The United States says the shield is designed to thwart missile attacks by what it calls "rogue states," including Iran.

Indian frigate sinks pirate ship off Somalia coast

Indian frigate sinks pirate ship off Somalia coast (NSI News Source Info) November 19, 2008: An Indian frigate has sunk a pirate "mother ship" in the Gulf of Aden after coming under attack, the Indian Navy said on Wednesday. "The pirates fired at the INS Tabar, which is patrolling the waters off the Somali coast. The ship retaliated and sank the pirate vessel," an Indian Navy official said. The Times of India said the pirate ship, accompanied by several speed boats, was sunk when it attempted to ram the Tabar. No casualties have been reported on board the Indian warship. It is not clear what happened to the pirates after their ship was sunk. Indian military vessels were dispatched to the Gulf of Aden on October 3. On November 11, the Tabar thwarted an attempt by pirates to capture the M V Jag Arnav, an Indian merchant vessel. Despite a large international naval presence in the region, at least two more seizures have been reported today. Pirates have hijacked a Thai fishing boat with 16 crew members onboard and a Greek bulk carrier. Somali pirates are currently holding at least 17 vessels, including the Saudi Arabian supertanker MV Sirius Star, which was seized on Tuesday hundreds of miles off the coast of Kenya in the most brazen attack by Somali pirates. The supertanker could hold up to 25% of Saudi Arabia's daily oil output, and the seizure caused world oil prices to rise slightly after the news was announced. Pirates have attacked around 83 ships so far this year, resulting in the seizure of around 33 vessels, including 200 crew members. The East African nation has been without a functioning government since 1991 and has no navy to police its coastline. The Russian frigate Neustrashimy (Fearless) recently joined an international naval group that has surrounded a Ukrainian ship, the MV Faina, seized by Somali pirates on September 25. The Faina's Russian captain died of a heart attack after the vessel was seized. The Russian frigate prevented on Sunday the seizure of the Rabikh vessel, flying the Saudi flag, by pirates off Somalia's coast. Additional Info New Delhi, Nov 19 (ANI): The Indian Navy Warship, INS Tabar, armed with supersonic BrahMos (PJ-10) anti-ship cruise missiles, sank a pirate vessel off the Somali coast after an exchange of fire on Tuesday evening. This is second successful operation of the naval ship against the pirates in Gulf of Aden within a week. The Indian Navy warship foiled an attempt by the pirates to hijack an Indian and a Saudi ship off the Somalian coast last Tuesday. The incident happened on November 11 when the pirates on powerboats attacked the Saudi Arabia-registered merchant vessel "MV Timaha," and half an hour later a second group tried to board the Indian merchant vessel MV Jag Arnav, owned by the Great Eastern Shipping Co Ltd. "INS Tabar, which is currently in the Gulf of Aden for Anti-Piracy Surveillance and Patrol Operations, encountered a pirate vessel, 285 nautical miles South West of Salalah (Oman) on the evening of November 18, with two speed boats in tow," said a Navy officer. "This vessel was similar in description to the 'Mother Vessel' mentioned in various Piracy bulletins," he added. "On repeated calls, the vessel's threatening response was that she would blow up the INS Tabar if it closed her. Pirates were seen roaming on the upper deck of this vessel with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers. The vessel continued its threatening calls and subsequently fired upon INS Tabar," the officer said. The INS Tabar retaliated in self-defence on being fired upon and destroyed pirates' mother vessel that was stacked with large amounts of ammunition. Almost simultaneously, two speedboats were observed breaking off to escape. The ship chased the first boat that was later found abandoned. The other boat made good its escape into darkness. INS Tabar, which is the third of the Talwar-class frigates of the Indian Navy, has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since October 23 as a sizeable portion of our country's trade flows through the area and there has been a quantum increase in the number of piracy attacks in this region over the last few months. During this period, she has successfully escorted approximately 35 ships, including a number of foreign flagged vessels, safely during their transit through pirate infested waters of the Gulf of Aden and also prevented two hijacking attempts on November 11. The Navy carries out these patrols in coordination with the Ministry of Shipping and is intended to protect Indian merchant vessels from being attacked by pirates and also to instill confidence in our large seafaring community. Meanwhile, another ship flying a Hong Kong flag but operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines has been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden waters. The status of the crew or its cargo remains unknown. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

Italy Receives First Tranche 2 Eurofighter

Italy Receives First Tranche 2 Eurofighter (NSI News Source Info) ROME - November 19, 2008: The Italian Air Force has taken delivery of its first second-tranche Eurofighter, manufacturer Alenia Aeronautica said Nov. 18. The aircraft was flown to the Air Force's Eurofighter base at Grosseto in central Italy by Maj. Marco Bertoli, deputy commander of the IX group of the 4th Wing of the Italian Air Force, Alenia said. Italy is due to acquire 47 second-tranche Eurofighters by 2013. Separately, Alenia said last week that a Eurofighter had completed the first in-flight refueling by an Italian Air Force C-130J in tanker version in Sardinia. The twin-seat Eurofighter, used by Alenia for tests, undertook the refueling while flying with and without supplementary tanks during five test missions, including one night mission. The Italian Air Force is aiming to give eight of its 22 C-130Js refueling capability. Additional Info: An important step for the Eurofighter Typhoon, the main European industrial collaborative programme: Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company, has officially delivered to the Italian Air Force the first Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoon produced in Italy. The aircraft - IS020 – taken in charge by Maj. Marco Bertoli, deputy-commander of the IX group of the 4th Wing of ItAF’s Grosseto base, is the first of a series of 47 enhanced-standard fighters which will be delivered to the Italian Air Force by 2013, as planned by the contract signed in 2004 by the Eurofighter consortium with the four-nation agency NETMA. The Eurofighter consortium, through its partner industries (Alenia Aeronautica, BAE Systems, EADS CASA and EADS Deutschland), will produce and deliver, in the next 5 years, a total of 323 Tranche 2 Typhoons (including 72 aircraft for Saudi Arabia) to be added to the Tranche 1 Typhoons already delivered. The Typhoon is today the most advanced defence aircraft available on the market and Tranche 2 planes, as compared to the previous standard, offer the aircraft, in addition to some structural changes, an enhanced software capacity and a substantial growth capability to take in all future developments. “Delivery of the first Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoon – said Col. Carlo Uberti, Director of the Ufficio Tecnico Territoriale Aeromobili of the Direzione Generale Armamenti Aeronautici – represents for the Italian Air Force a further meaningful step forward since it allows it to use new operational capabilities placing it in the vanguard within NATO. The Typhoon permits to accomplish always at best and with the best results our Nation’s air defence tasks”. “This important result that rewards the efforts of Alenia, of the other Finmeccanica companies involved and of our consortium partners –said Giancarlo Anselmino, Senior Vice President, responsible for Alenia Aeronautica’s Defence Aircraft Business Unit – represents a fundamental milestone for the programme, being the reference platform to be used as basis for the current and future aircraft development, like Tranche 3, whose contract in under negotiation, and to pursue any possible export opportunity”. With 620 Typhoons under contract for the programme’s four partner nations (Germany, Italy, United Kingdom and Spain), plus the 15 ordered by Austria and the 72 for Saudi Arabia, the Eurofighter programme can be considered the best ever technological and industrial success in the new-generation defence aircraft area. The Eurofighter Typhoon is a fundamental programme for the Italian aeronautical industry, which participates directly with 19% share of the programme, and particularly for the Finmeccanica companies which, with their 36% industrial participation, play an important role in the definition, design, development of the new airplane, frontier of the European industry’s technology. The Eurofighter Typhoon represents for the European aerospace industry a technological and job boost able to offer great development opportunities to the partners, assuring capability, good cost/effectiveness and global competitiveness. Currently, over 100.000 persons in the four partner nations, of which 24.000 in Italy, are involved in the programme. Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica Company, is the largest Italian aeronautic player which operates world-wide in the commercial and military aviation, unmanned aerial vehicles and aerostructures. With its joint ventures ATR and SuperJet International, Alenia Aeronautica is the world leader in the regional turboprop market and a top player in the regional jet sector. In 2007, Alenia Aeronautica reported revenues of 2,306 million Euros, backlog for 8,248 million Euros and orders for 3,104 million. The total workforce is 13.301.