Thursday, November 20, 2008
A-10s Equipped With New LJDAM (NSI News Source Info) November 21, 2008: The U.S. A-10C has successfully dropped its first JDAM (Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition). The main difference between JDAM and LJDAM is the sensor unit. The GPS sensor on JDAM is replaced with a laser seeker sensor, turning the JDAM into the LJDAM. The aircraft dropping the bomb uses its laser designator to track the moving target, and the LFDAM bomb hits the moving target. LJDAM can hit a vehicle moving at about 60 kilometers an hour. LJDAM entered service two years ago. It will be useful against enemy convoys of moving vehicles, since the smallest LJDAM uses a 500 pound bomb. A-10Cs will begin using LFDAM next year. The A-10C began operating in Iraq and Afghanistan last year. This is a version of the A-10 with upgraded electronics. The A-10 can fly low and slow, and is designed, and armored, to survive lots of ground fire. The troops trust the A-10 more than the F-16, or any other aircraft used for supporting the ground troops. The new goodies for the A-10C equip the pilot with the same targeting and fire control gadgets the latest fighters have. The new A-10C cockpit has all the spiffy color displays and easy to use controls. The basic A-10 is a three decade old design, so the new stuff is quite spectacular in comparison. New commo gear is installed as well, allowing A-10 pilots to share pix and vids with troops on the ground. The A-10 can now use smart bombs, making it a do-it-all aircraft for troops support. While newly equipped A-10s showed up last year, it will take four more years to upgrade all 350 aircraft in service. Beyond that, the air force is upgrading the engines and structures of the 1970s era aircraft. All the upgrades will cost about $13 million per aircraft. The air force has been trying to retire the ugly, and elderly, aircraft for over a decade. But the A-10s are just too damn effective, and popular, when there's actually a war on. The A-10 could always take out moving vehicles with its 30mm automatic cannon. But this requires getting down and within a few hundred meters of the target. The LJDAM enables the A-10 to stay out of range of ground fire to do the job, and also deliver a bigger bang to the target.
Russia approves rail transit for German arms to Afghanistan (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 20, 2008: Russia has given Germany the go-ahead to use its rail network to transport weapons, military equipment and supplies to Afghanistan, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Thursday. "On November 10, the Federal Customs Service issued general permission for rail transit of Bundeswehr arms, military equipment and supplies to Afghanistan," Andrei Nesterenko said. He said the decision was unprecedented in Russia's relations with foreign states, and was made due to its "close cooperation with Germany in countering shared security threats and challenges." Russian President Dmitry Medvedev earlier on Thursday signed a decree allowing logistics supplies for Spanish troops in Afghanistan to pass through Russian territory. A document posted on the Kremlin website said the decree concerned an agreement "between Russia and Spain on the transit of military supplies and personnel through Russian territory to support the Spanish military contingent as part of a security and development mission in Afghanistan." NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has about 53,000 troops in Afghanistan under a UN mandate to help give security support to the Afghan government and stop the flow of drugs from the country. As of October 2008, Spain had contributed 780 personnel to the ISAF. The Taliban, ousted from power in Afghanistan after a U.S.-led military operation in 2001, has been stepping up their activities in recent months. Despite the recent deterioration of relations with NATO, Russia continues to support the military alliance's operations in Afghanistan, and has said it shares NATO's concerns over the worsening security situation in the country.
Japan Says Missile Defense Test Failed (NSI News Source Info) TOKYO - November 20, 2008: Japan said Nov. 20 that a test of a missile shield being developed with the United States to protect against possible attacks from North Korea had ended in failure. A Japanese warship failed to shoot down a dummy missile during the test off Hawaii on Nov. 19 using the U.S.-developed Standard Missile 3 (SM-3), the defense ministry said in a statement. Washington and Tokyo have been working jointly to install a shield against attacks from North Korea, which fired a missile over Japan's main island in 1998 and tested an atom bomb in 2006. Officials said they were still investigating what went wrong in the test, which cost 6.2 billion yen ($63 million), excluding the missile, the value of which is secret. "According to officials from the test site, the SM-3 missile was on track until only a few seconds before it was due to hit," a ministry official told reporters. "Because of some problem it missed the target. We still don't know what happened in those few seconds," the official said. An earlier test of the SM-3 interceptor by Japan in December high above the Pacific Ocean off Hawaii was successful. Officials said the latest test from the Chokai destroyer was more challenging because the vessel was not notified in advance when the dummy missile would be launched. They said that U.S. forces had also conducted 15 similar tests, of which 12 were successful. In September Japan successfully tested the new U.S.-developed Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3), a surface-to-air missile that tracks and hits incoming targets. Japan plans to complete its missile shield by early 2011, deploying the PAC-3 missiles at 11 bases and setting up SM-3 missiles on several warships. Despite its pacifist constitution and heavily reliance on the U.S. military for protection, Japan has the world's fifth biggest military budget.
Chinese Cyber Attacks On Rise: U.S. Report (NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: Cyber attacks on U.S. military and defense industry computer systems are increasing, and many of the attacks are coming from China, a U.S. government commission says. "China has recognized the importance of cyber operations as a tool of warfare," the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission says in a report released Nov. 20. "China is targeting U.S. government and commercial computers for espionage," and has developed cyber espionage capabilities so advanced that the U.S. "may be unable to counteract or even detect the efforts," the commission said in the 2008 edition of a report it sends annually to Congress. Such capability makes the U.S. highly vulnerable. U.S. government, military, business and economic institutions "are completely dependent on the Internet," the commission said. So are the nation's electric grid, distribution systems for fuel, water supplies, sewage treatment plants air traffic control and banking. "A successful attack on these Internet-connected networks could paralyze the United States," the report says. In 2007, the 10 most prominent U.S. defense companies, including Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, were victims of cyber espionage, the commission reports. Chinese hackers have been able to steal data as diverse as NASA files on the Mars orbiter's propulsion system, solar panels and fuel tanks, Army helicopter mission planning systems and Air Force flight planning software. China has been able to break into the U.S. military's non-classified NIPRNet, which could give it "the potential capability to delay or disrupt U.S. forces without physically engaging them," the commission says. And China continues to strengthen its cyber warfare capabilities. "Many individuals are being trained in cyber operations at Chinese military academies," the commission report says. Chinese-made cyber hardware is a threat, too. Computer and network components made in China could be implanted with malicious code that can be activated later to steal, manipulate or destroy critical data, the commission says. What can Congress do about it? It should consider spending more money on military, intelligence and homeland security programs that protect critical U.S. computer networks and sensitive information, the commission said. The U.S. should also consult with allies about mounting a joint response to Chinese cyber attacks. And Congress should consider additional funding to ensure that critical computer components can be acquired from trustworthy sources, the commission said.
Norway Chooses F-35 To Replace F-16s (NSI News Source Info) OSLO - November 20, 2008: Norway has agreed on a multi-billion euro deal to buy jet fighters from the U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin, the government announced Nov. 20. Norway chose to order an unspecified number of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) plane, also known as the F-35, instead of the Swedish-built Gripen jet, which was also under consideration. "The JSF is the only one of the two candidates to fulfill the operational requirements that the government set out for Norway's new fighter planes," a government statement said. The JSF order cost six billion kroner (6.7 billion euros, $8.4 billion) less than its Swedish competitor, the Norwegian government said without giving precise figures on the total value of the deal. Norway wants to replace its aging fleet of U.S. F-16 warplanes over the next decade. The Eurofighter consortium, a joint venture between Britain, Germany, Spain, and Italy, pulled out of talks at the start of the year. The group claimed Norway was biased in favor of Lockheed Martin.
NATO Secretary General arrives in Ghana
(NSI News Source Info) GNA - November 20, 2008: Mr Jaap De Hoop Scheffer, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), arrived in the country last night at the invitation of President John Agyekum Kufuor. During his visit, Mr Scheffer would attend a dinner to be hosted by Mr Albet Kan-Dapaa, Minister of Defence, call on President Kufuor, and also visit the Asantehene.
Mr James Appathurai, NATO Spokesperson, told journalists at the Kotoka International Airport, that with President Kufuor's experience with the African Union (AU), the visit was expected to afford NATO the opportunity of learning from the President, how best he would be of assistance to the AU.Mr Scheffer is expected to leave on Friday. At the airport to meet the NATO General Secretary, was Mr Kan-Dapaa.
India praised for sinking pirates
(NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: An anti-piracy watchdog has welcomed the destruction of a suspected Somali pirate vessel in the Gulf of Aden by an Indian navy warship. INS Tabar sank the pirate "mother ship" after it did not stop for investigation and instead opened fire, an Indian navy statement said on Wednesday. There has been a surge in piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia.
The latest attack came days after the Saudi-owned Sirius Star supertanker and its 25 crew were seized by pirates. The supertanker is now anchored off the Somali coast. 'Heartened' "If all warships do this, it will be a strong deterrent. But if it's just a rare case, then it won't work," Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, told Associated Press. Mr Choong said he was heartened by the Tabar's success. "It's about time that such a forceful action is taken. It's an action that everybody is waiting for," he said. India is among several countries patrolling the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes which connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. "The United Nations and international community must decide how to solve this grave problem (of piracy). They must be more forceful in their action," Mr Choong said. He said that action should have been taken "years back or even last year when piracy was just starting - it's clearly getting worse and out of control".
On Wednesday, the Indian navy said the Tabar spotted the pirate vessel while patrolling 285 nautical miles (528km) south-west of Salalah in Oman on Tuesday evening. The navy said the pirates on board were armed with guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers. When it commanded the vessel stop for investigation, the pirate ship responded by threatening to "blow up the naval warship if it closed on her", the navy statement said. Pirates then fired on the Tabar and the Indians retaliated. There was an explosion and the pirate vessel sank. Some of the pirates tried to escape on two speedboats. The Indian sailors gave chase and one boat was later found abandoned, while a second boat escaped. INS Tabar has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden since 23 October, and has escorted 35 ships safely through the "pirate-infested waters", the statement said. Last week, helicopter-borne Indian marine commandos stopped pirates from boarding and hijacking an Indian merchant vessel. More than 90 vessels have been attacked by pirates this year. Piracy off the coast of East Africa and the Gulf of Aden - an area of more than 1m sq miles (2.6m sq km) - is estimated to have cost up to $30m in ransoms this year, a UK think tank has said.
EADS Comments C-295 Delivery to Portugal
(NSI News Source Info) MADRID - November 20, 2008: EADS Military Transport Aircraft has delivered today the first of twelve (12) military transport aircraft C-295 to Jorge Rolo, Chairman of DEFAERLOC (State owned company in charge of procuring defence material for Portugal) ordered by the Portuguese Air Force in February 2006. The Portuguese Defence Minister, Nuno Severiano Teixeira, and the Spanish Defence Minister, Carme Chacón, attended the ceremony.
Seven of the aircraft will have military transport configuration and five will be equipped for maritime surveillance missions (VIMAR version) with FITS, a mission system entirely developed by EADS CASA. The VIMAR aircraft can be rapidly adapted to the transport configuration.
These twelve aircraft will replace the fleet of Aviocar C-212, also supplied by former CASA, which have been operating satisfactorily since the 1970’s.
Starting today, one aircraft will be delivered every one and a half month approximately, until the total of 12 units is reached. The transport aircraft will be supplied first and the maritime surveillance aircraft thereafter.
EADS MTAD will also provide “Full In-Service Support” for these aircraft, for a minimum period of 5 years.
Likewise, an industrial cooperation agreement between EADS MTAD and the CPC (Permanent Counterparties Committee) was signed in February 2006, by means of which EADS MTAD will provide support to Portugal's aeronautical industrial development.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2007, EADS generated revenues of EUR 39.1 billion and employed a workforce of about 116,000. The Group includes the aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the world's largest helicopter supplier Eurocopter and EADS Astrium, the European leader in space programmes from Ariane to Galileo. Its Defence & Security Division is a provider of comprehensive systems solutions and makes EADS the major partner in the Eurofighter consortium as well as a stakeholder in the missile systems provider MBDA. EADS also develops the A400M through its Military Transport Aircraft Division.
EADS Delivers Sixth HC-144A MPA to US Coast Guard
(NSI News Source Info) ARLINGTON, VA - November 20, 2008: The U.S. Coast Guard has accepted the sixth HC-144A Ocean Sentry aircraft platform from EADS. This new medium-range surveillance maritime patrol platform significantly enhances the mission execution capability of Coast Guard aircrews.
The latest Ocean Sentry is among eight HC-144As ordered to date as part of the Coast Guard's Deepwater program. The Coast Guard plans to purchase up to 36 total aircraft.
"As demonstrated by this latest HC-144A platform delivery, EADS continues to meet -- and exceed -- its commitments in supplying the most capable aircraft and systems for U.S. homeland security and defense," said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., the chairman and CEO of EADS North America. "The Ocean Sentry is the first all-new aircraft developed in the Deepwater effort, and it offers a significant increase in capabilities and interoperability for Coast Guard crews."
The Coast Guard will use its HC-144As for a wide variety of missions, including Homeland Security Search and Rescue (SAR), Marine Environmental Protection, National Defense, international ice patrol missions, and the enforcement of laws and treaties including illegal drug interdiction and the enforcement of domestic and international fisheries laws. In addition, the aircraft's large cargo bay and rear loading ramp allow the Ocean Sentry to perform multi-role transport missions.
The HC-144A already has demonstrated its capabilities as a search and rescue system. During a training mission in February, an HC-144A played a key role in recovering a downed U.S. Air Force pilot from the Gulf of Mexico, during which it served as an on-scene SAR coordinator platform.
Contributing to the Ocean Sentry success in this operational mission were the aircrew's enhanced situational awareness with the HC-144A's Flight Management System, the improved visibility from its bubble search windows, and the use of an on-board Automatic Identification System (AIS) that allows the aircrew to identify and then coordinate with civilian vessels -- including the fishing boat that subsequently was vectored to pick up the downed airman.
The HC-144A aircraft platform is based on EADS CASA's CN-235 transport, which is part of a family of twin-engine multi-role airlifters that also includes the C-295 and C-212. U.S. customer support for these aircraft is provided at EADS North America's facility at Mobile Regional Airport in Alabama. The Mobile site is supporting the HC-144A program by providing technical assistance on the Ocean Sentry's airframe and mission systems; supplying spare parts and related services; delivering specialized ground support equipment; and developing computer-based training programs for Coast Guard personnel.
EADS North America is the North American operations of EADS, the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $10 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 190,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.
Lion Air Signs MoU for 20 ATR Turboprops
(NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: ATR and Indonesia’s carrier LION AIR today inked an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) for 10 firm ATR 72-500 with options for 10 additional aircraft. The deal, announced on the occasion of the Indodefence Air show in Jakarta, is valued at more than US $ 380 million, including options, and was inked in the presence of His Excellency Bapak Yusuf Kalla, Vice-president of the Republic of Indonesia, and Juwono Sudarsono, Minister of Defense. These aircraft will be the first new ATR 72-500s to fly the Indonesia’s skies.
These 72-seat aircraft will be operated by LION AIR’s subsidiary WINGS AIR, and will be equipped with the “Elegance” cabin, higher power rated PW 127M engines and the latest technological innovations in navigation aid and communications tools. Aircraft deliveries will start in 2009. LION AIR is the leader in domestic traffic in Indonesia.
Commenting on the signature, Rusdi Kirana, LION AIR CEO, said: “These aircraft are for our subsidiary WINGS AIR and the reason we want these aircraft is for our feeder service to support our Boeing 737-900ER operations. With our brand new fleet of ATR 72-500s, we will be able to develop a strong low-cost network, feeding LION AIR’s major hubs.” He concluded: “LION AIR has chosen ATR because they have a big support network, which was a very important issue for us. This is coming from the presence of their Support Center in Singapore, the strong presence of ATR aircraft in the South East Asia, and the well-known and recognized support provided by the manufacturer to its regional operators.”
Stéphane Mayer, ATR CEO, stated: “We are pleased to ink this agreement with LION AIR and to include such a prestigious carrier as a new ATR operator in Asia. With its brand new fleet of ATR 72-500s, LION AIR will operate the most fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly regional aircraft, while providing its passengers with the most advanced comfort.” He added: “Today’s deal with LION AIR is also very important for us in order to increase our presence in the expanding Indonesian market and continue the growth of our large fleet in South East Asia, which has become a real booming market in the last three years.”
Including the 10 firm orders of today’s MoU, ATR has sold, since the beginning of the programme, 968 aircraft (419 ATR 42s and 549 ATR 72s), and has delivered 799 (401 ATR 42s and 398 ATR 72s), thus posting a current backlog of 169 aircraft.
The ATR –500 series:
With its ATR 42-500 and ATR 72-500, ATR supplies state-of-the-art aircraft with the highest standards of comfort. The advanced six-blade propeller provides remarkably low noise levels. All ATR models are compliant with noise regulations and have a large margin with regard to Chapter IV (ICAO) noise regulations, effective 1st January 2006. The ‘-500 series’ feature the lowest fuel consumption per passenger and CO2 emissions of the regional aviation, thus contributing to make ATR the “Green Player” of the regional aviation.
LION AIR: Launched in 2000 with a single aircraft, LION AIR has emerged as Indonesia’s leading airline. Today, the airline operates 37 planes flying to not only all of Indonesia’s major cities and wondrous tourist destinations, but to Singapore, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh as well. Since 2005, LION AIR has the biggest market share in Indonesia, while plans to expand in position both in the domestic market and throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Toulouse, Southern France-based regional aircraft manufacturer ATR is the world leader in the 50 to 74-seat turboprop market. ATR is an equal partnership between Alenia Aeronautica (a Finmeccanica company) and EADS.
Army-Developed Vertical Launcher for LCS Ships
(NSI News Source Info) MILWAUKEE - November 20, 2008: The Non-Line of Sight Launch System, being developed as part of the Army's Future Combat Systems, has been selected for use aboard the first of the U.S. Navy's Littoral Combat Ships, the USS Freedom.
USS Freedom was commissioned Nov. 8 during a ceremony in Milwaukee in which the ship's sponsor was Birgit Smith, the widow of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith who was killed in Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division.
The 378-foot Freedom -- along with its sister ship, Independence, being built in Mobile, Ala. -- represents a new class of ship for the Navy. These Littoral Combat Ships are designed to operate quickly in shallow water to counter threats in coastal regions, known as littoral areas, Navy officials said. They said the ships are specifically designed to counter mines, submarines and fast in-shore attack craft.
At the core of the new ship's capability to counter the coastal threats is the NLOS-Launch System, said Allan Ashley, the Navy liaison at the NLOS-LS Project Office. He said the launch system is scheduled to be evaluated aboard the new ship during tests set for early 2009.
NLOS-LS is being developed as part of the Army's FCS program to provide Soldiers with a rapidly deployable precision-fires delivery system. NLOS-LS is one of the first FCS components slated to be fielded, and is scheduled for delivery to Infantry brigade combat teams in 2011.
The NLOS-LS consists of a rapidly deployable networked container launch unit that houses 15 Precision Attack Missiles. Through the network, NLOS-LS can accept remote mission commands and conduct firing operations without the use of an attendant crew and attack a variety of targets. The unit is platform independent, officials said, and can quickly be installed on ground, manned and unmanned vehicles.
In the Navy application, four 15-missile NLOS-LS Container Launch Units are integrated together into one 60-missile mission module. Littoral Combat Ships will have weapons zones for up to three mission modules per ship. Therefore, depending on the operation, as many as 180 NLOS-LS Precision Attack Missiles may be available to the ship's captain to counter the threat of fast inshore attack craft.
Adapting the NLOS-LS for Navy use represents commitment among military services to ensure warfighting success by continuing to develop the joint warfighting force concept and building jointness in early, FCS officials said. They said in the case of NLOS-LS, this is being done at the system development and demonstration phase of acquisition.
"The US Navy is moving toward using a sea base approach -- being able to deploy and control enough resources from an offshore location that we will not need to rely on a foreign country to establish a base of operations," said Ashley, the NLOS-LS Navy Liaison. Ashley said the NLOS-LS is critical to protecting the Littoral Combat Ship itself. He said it is also crucial to counter a range threats, including Marine landing operations, maritime special operations missions, and counter-piracy activities. "
In short, NLOS-LS not only protects our ship and sea base assets," Ashley said, "but our Marines and Navy SEALS as they go ashore and conduct other operations in the littoral battlespace."
Although the ship was formally commissioned this month, it was actually launched in September 2006. The first testing to determine the system's ability to track against fast in-shore attack craft was completed in August in the waters off Eglin Air Force Base on the Florida panhandle. Prior to the ship's launching, Mrs. Smith participated in the "stepping of the mast" ceremony for the USS Freedom. She placed two coins at the base of the mast. The first was a coin minted from the metal of her and her husband's wedding bands. The second was Sgt. 1st Class Smith's Saint Christopher Medal.
During the commissioning of the USS Freedom Nov. 8 in Milwaukee's Veterans Park, in front of a crowd of 10,000 spectators, Birgit Smith was presented the first American flag that flew over the vessel. That same flag had also previously flown over Baghdad, where her husband was killed in action. Clutching the flag and flanked by the ship's leaders, Smith tearfully gave the order to the crew: "man our ship and bring her to life."
Eurocopter Establishes Fully-Owned Indonesian Unit
(NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: In line with its strategy to be a multi-local player with its own facilities in all its key markets, Eurocopter is pleased to announce the setting-up of Eurocopter Indonesia. This brings the number of its subsidiaries and participations to a total of 18 subsidiaries worldwide and enforces the Group’s footprint in Asia-Pacific where there are presently 6 subsidiaries in Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore.
Eurocopter strengthens its cooperation programmes in Indonesia with PT. Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI)
Eurocopter has been present in the country for more than 30 years through a partnership with PTDI which began in 1976, with the licensed manufacturing of 118 BO 105 helicopters. This first joint cooperation was followed in the 1980s by a full licensed production of 11 Puma SA330 and 19 Super Puma AS332 helicopters.
On 21st October 2008, Eurocopter and PTDI signed once again a partnership agreement which aims to set up a local assembly line for the manufacturing of Super Puma MK helicopter airframes. The new role played by PTDI in Eurocopter’s Global Supply Chain network directly derives from the lengthy and successful cooperation between the two entities.
All the above has contributed to building a strong brand name for Eurocopter in the country. The creation of this subsidiary increases proximity with customers thereby guaranteeing a customized service and reduced reaction time. It is also a proof of the company’s readiness to support the Indonesian authorities and industry for their present and future operations.
Based in Jakarta, the subsidiary aims to have a staff-strength of 70 – 100 employees by end of 2009. The subsidiary is in charge of all sales and customer support activities in Indonesia, in cooperation with PTDI for the governmental operators.
Eurocopter presently holds a 50% market share in the civil and military markets in Indonesia with a total Eurocopter fleet close to 150 aircraft ranging from Lama or BO105 to the most advanced EC155 or Super Puma AS332.
Today, the Indonesian Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies as well as major governmental and commercial operators all fly Eurocopter helicopters. With ageing fleets in the country, Eurocopter anticipates numerous perspectives of helicopter acquisitions in the near future in order to modernise the existing fleets.
Eurocopter established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace, defence and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approx. 14,000 people. In 2007, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in the civil and parapublic market, with a turnover exceeding 4 billion Euros, orders for 802 new helicopters, and a 53 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors. Overall, the Group’s products account for 30 percent of the total world helicopter fleet. Its strong worldwide presence is ensured by its 17 subsidiaries on five continents, along with a dense network of distributors, certified agents and maintenance centres. More than 10,000 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in service with over 2,800 customers in 140 countries. Eurocopter offers the largest civil and military helicopter range in the world.
More Cougar Mastiff MRAPs on the Way to UK
(NSI News Source Info) LADSON, S.C. - November 20, 2008: Force Protection, Inc. Nov. 19 announced that it has received a modification under contract M67854-06-C-5162 from Marine Corps Systems Command for the delivery of 24 additional Cougar Mastiffs to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence. The undefinitized contract modification carries a dollar value not to exceed $15 million and includes vehicles and spare parts. The vehicles are scheduled for delivery in 2009.
Michael Moody, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Force Protection, said “We are very appreciative of this order for additional vehicles for the United Kingdom. The Mastiff has performed extraordinarily well for the British Army in support of its missions in the extremely rugged environment of Afghanistan. Our vehicles continue to be the most survivable, sustainable vehicles on the battlefield and we are delighted that we have the opportunity to continue to strengthen our partnership with the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence. The Mastiff has proven to be a life saver. Soon the Ridgback and Buffalo will join Mastiff in Afghanistan to provide excellent service to British Soldiers in harm’s way.”
Force Protection, Inc. is a leading American designer, developer and manufacturer of survivability solutions. The Company’s specialty vehicles, the Cougar, the Buffalo and the Cheetah, are designed specifically for reconnaissance, forward command and control, and urban operations and to protect their occupants from landmines, hostile fire, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs, commonly referred to as roadside bombs). The Company is one of the original developers and primary providers of vehicles for the U.S. military’s Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicle program.
Rosoboronexport Sets Priorities for PacRim Markets
(NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: The 3rd International Tri-Service Defence Event, INDO DEFENCE 2008 EXPO & FORUM, is held in Jakarta, Indonesia, since 19 till 22 November 2008 at Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force base.
Since its very inception in 2004 “Indo Defence” became one of the largest and authoritative defence shows in the Asian Pacific region. The event is hosted biannually by the Indonesian Ministry of Defence and is seen as a bridge for military-technical cooperation between European and South-East Asian countries.
The previous show attracted more than 400 exhibitors from 37 countries of the world. The most representative and spacious national expositions were those of Russia, Korea, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Holland, India, Singapore and Malaysia. At the Russian exposition 18 enterprises showcased their products. That show saw 12,000 visitors including members of official delegations from ministries and agencies of 45 countries in the whole world.
This year’s exhibition promises to be even more impressive. According to its organisers, 20,000 delegates and traders representing more than 500 world-famous enterprises and companies from 40 countries are planning to come to Jakarta.
The federal state unitary enterprise “Rosoboronexport” will organise, as usual, the Russian exposition for 11 enterprises developing and producing arms and military equipment. The 245-sq.m exposition will display models, posters, booklets and other types of advertising matter on about 300 samples of the most advanced military hardware promoted now to South-East Asian markets.
During the exhibiting days the Russian delegation plans to meet with a number of high-ranking officials of defence ministries from Indonesia and other countries. Presentations of weapon systems in great demand in the region, will be made.
These systems include, first of all, the Mi-35 attack helicopters, Su-30MK2 super-manoeuvrable multi-role fighters and Su-32 fighter-bombers for Air Force, Project 636 diesel-electric submarines for Navy, and armoured vehicles for Marines. Delivery of new Russian military equipment to Indonesia is a priority line of the military-technical cooperation between the two countries.
“Indonesia is in good relations with its neighbours, this is why it does not seek to build up super-strong armed forces,” Minister of Defence of Indonesia Juwono Sudarsono said at the previous exhibition. “It is the reason why we adhere to the concept of minimal requirements, wishing to obtain maximally balanced sources of arms supplies to our country on the best favourable terms,” he underscored.
The present exposition of Rosoboronexport is built in accordance with these guidelines.
Traditionally, potential customers show interest in new information on ground forces equipment. First of all, it concerns armour and artillery: T-90S, BMP-3F, BMD-2, BMD-3, BTR-80, BTR-80A, BTR-90, 152-mm 2S19 Msta-S self-propelled howitzer, Grad and Smerch multiple launch rocket systems.
Export versions of Sukhoi type aircraft are displayed, including the Su-30MK multifunction fighter, Su-39 attack aircraft, Su-32 fighter-bomber. Guests and exhibitors will be able to familiarize themselves with the unique performance of the Yak-130 combat trainer.
A prominent place in the exposition is taken by attack, combat transport and scout helicopters of the world-renowned brands “Mil” and “Kamov”, such as Mi-35, Mi-35P, Mi-35M combat transport helicopters, etc.
Specialists will undoubtedly be interested in unique operational capabilities of the Mi-26 transport helicopter designed to transport troops together with their materiel in support of combat manoeuvres, as well as heavy cargos weighing up to 20 tonnes in total.
Given Indonesia’s geographical position, naval systems and weapons are widely represented. The centrepieces of the exposition are Project 20382 corvette and Gepard-5.9 multipurpose frigate. Project 12322 Zubr and Project 12061E Murena air cushion ships, Molniya missile boat and Mangust, Svetlyak and Mirage patrol boats retain great export potential for the region. These ships and boats are justly considered the world’s best because of high-speed performance. Project 636 submarines are also actively promoted.
Foreign military specialists show great interest in the unique Club-N integrated shipborne missile system, Club-M mobile multifunction coastal missile system, and Uran-E shipborne missile system as well as Rif-M, Shtil-1 and Klinok air defence missile systems. The 100-mm A-190E Universal artillery mount and Paket-E/NK small-size anti-submarine warfare system are being promoted to the Indonesian Navy. The Laguna-type versatile simulator is offered for training ship’s commanding officers, control and steering operators.
Rosoboronexport’s exposition shows a wide range of air defence systems and equipment. Visitors will get full information on short and medium-range air defence missile systems - Buk-M2E, Tor-M2E and Pechora-2ME, Igla man-portable air defence system, and Nebo-SVU and Protivnik-GE radars. Experts of the Enterprise will provide detailed information on the Zoopark artillery and missile positions reconnaissance system, Fara-1 portable group target reconnaissance and weapon aiming system, and Credo-1 moving target detection radar.
“For the world defence industries this exhibition has become an important indicator of new technology developments and expansion into new markets by major arms developers and manufacturers,” says special projects director Nikolai Dimidyuk, the head of the Rosoboronexport's delegation. “The Russian exposition is presenting combat equipment for all armed services. It means that our country is in position to export to Asia the whole range of armaments, and help countries of the region to effectively develop their own defence industries. At the same time we are prepared to upgrade equipment including NATO-standard systems, procured earlier by the states of the region, as well as engage in joint development and production,” he stresses.
UK Unveils New £350M Armored Support Vehicles (NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: Troops on operations in Afghanistan will benefit from further improvements in safety and protection following the announcement, by Defence Secretary John Hutton, of Preferred Bidders for three new classes of armoured support vehicle. In October, John Hutton announced moves to acquire some 700 new armoured vehicles in a package worth £700 million, of which £350 million will pay for around 400 brand new armoured support trucks. The trucks will be used to accompany patrols and carry essential supplies such as water and ammunition. Yesterday, 19 November 2008, Mr Hutton announced the three distinct categories of Tactical Support Vehicles (TSV) and their Preferred Bidders: --Wolfhound TSV (Heavy) - Based on the Cougar 6x6 flatbed made by Force Protection Industries Inc; will support and re-supply our Mastiffs in the highest threat areas. These vehicles will have the highest levels of mine blast protection. --Husky TSV (Medium) - Based on the International MXT-MVA made by Navistar Defence ; will carry out the support roles in areas where heavy vehicles, like Mastiff, cannot be used. HUSKY will come as three variants; utility, ambulance and command post. --Coyote TSV (Light) - Based on a 6x6 derivative of the Jackal designed by Supacat Ltd, Devon ; will support our go-anywhere, high-mobility Jackals across the harsh terrain in Afghanistan. Defence Secretary John Hutton said: "Our new breeds, WOLFHOUND, HUSKY and COYOTE will give the troops in Afghanistan the additional bite they need in the fight against the enemy. They do a formidable job and deserve nothing but the best. "I look forward to the vehicles being on contract and arriving in the new-year."
Lockheed to Extend Canadian CP-140 Service Life
(NSI News Source Info) MARIETTA, Ga. - November 20, 2008: Lockheed Martin has received a $156 million contract to provide the P-3 Aircraft Service Life Extension Program (ASLEP) for the Canadian Forces' CP-140 aircraft fleet. Under this contract, 10 Canadian CP-140 Aurora aircraft will receive Life Extension Kits consisting of all-new outer wings, center wing lower surface assemblies, horizontal stabilizers, wing and horizontal stabilizer leading edges, and various items to be installed on a conditional basis. Lockheed Martin Life Extension Kits will provide, on average, an additional 20-25 years of service life for the world's Orion and Aurora fleets and will greatly reduce maintenance costs over the aircraft's service life.
"Lockheed Martin Life Extension Kits will give the Canadian Forces an additional 15,000 flight hours of service life from their Auroras," said Ray Burick, Lockheed Martin vice president of P-3/S-3 programs. "The ASLEP solution leverages the knowledge and experience of Lockheed Martin as the original equipment manufacturer to support the P-3 and CP-140 aircraft."
Canada becomes the fourth customer under the Lockheed Martin P-3 ASLEP program. Other customers for the Life Extension Kits are the Royal Norwegian Air Force and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The U.S. Navy is under contract for 13 sets of new outer wings. A proposal for the Taiwan P-3 fleet is also in work. "Lockheed Martin's ASLEP solution is the most cost-effective, lowest risk choice for long-term P-3 or CP-140 sustainment," said Burick. "As the P-3 original equipment manufacturer, Lockheed Martin is uniquely qualified to sustain and support the world's P-3 fleets."
Lockheed Martin is a major supplier of logistics systems and lifetime support and performance-based logistics services to military and civil government customers. The corporation provides solutions for platform maintenance, modifications and repair, material readiness and distribution, and global supply chain command and control.
Sri Lanka Army Facing Uphill Battle In LTTE Territory (NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: The army has six divisions fighting in the north against the LTTE. In the west, the 58th divisions advances along the coast. Next to it, inland and advancing on the LTTE capital of Kilinochchi, is the 57th division. Two Task Forces from the 58th division, are to the right of the 57th, covering large areas of front. Coming up from the south, in the center of the island, is the 56th division. On the east coast is the 59th division. In the Jaffna peninsula, which is cut off from the rest of the island by LTTE territory, are the 53rd and 55th divisions. The 57th and 58th divisions have made the greatest gains this year, liberating nearly half (the western half) of LTTE held territory in the north.
U.S. Navy Ordered (JHSV) Joint High Speed Vessels (NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: The U.S. Navy has ordered the first of ten new Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) transports. These 320 foot long, $160 million ships are refined versions of the HSV 2 ship. All this began seven years ago, when the U.S. Navy began leasing a high speed (60 kilometers an hour) catamaran, the Westpac Express, from an Australian firm, to move U.S. Marine Corps equipment around the Pacific. In this it was very successful, and this has served to prove the ability of such a catamaran design to serve in a military role. This led to a new class (HSV, or High Speed Vessel) of transport ships. In 2003, the navy leased an improved design, to further test the concept. The USS Swift (HSV 2), was a twin hulled catamaran, designed and built in Australia. Based on that very successful experience with the Westpac Express, many modifications were made and the Swift was built in ten months. The HSV is actually a small ship, 320 feet long and displaces 1900 tons. It can carry up to 800 tons of cargo and has airline style seating for 300 troops, although up to 600 can be carried. The cargo can include vehicles of up to 70 tons each, including M-1 tanks. Vehicles are driven on and off. There is a tradeoff between tonnage carried, and speed and range. The twin hull design is also slowed down quite a bit in rough seas. This is not the kind of ship you can use much in the north Atlantic or Pacific. There is also a helicopter pad and space for two UH-60 or CH-46 class choppers. The basic crew is only 20, but there are crew quarters for 51 and the galley can feed up to 150. The important aspect of the HAV is speed. The Swift maintained a speed of 83 kilometers an hour for four hours during sea trails. The ship can cruise at 63 kilometers an hour for 2,000 kilometers, or 7,200 kilometers at 36 kilometers an hour before it has to be refueled. The HSV has four water-jets, making it very maneuverable. The Swift is going to be used mainly as a mine warfare support ship, but additional HSVs will serve as high speed transports. Weapons can include manned 25mm automatic cannon and remote controlled 12.7mm machine-gun or 40m grenade launchers. The HSV design is also being studied as the basis for a new class of coastal warships. The first JHSV will enter service in three years.
China Anxious For Space Rocket Technology By Any Means / Physicist admits sending China technical US space data
China Anxious For Space Rocket Technology By Any Means / Physicist admits sending China technical US space data (NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: A Chinese-American scientist pled guilty to providing China with U.S. rocket technology. Quan-Sheng Shu, a 68 year old naturalized citizen who was born in China, was president of AMAC International Inc., a technology company with offices in the United States and China. Shu bribed Chinese officials to award a $4 million contract, for rocket technology, to his company. Shu was attempting to export technology to China without the required permits (that he knew he would not get.) Shu could receive up to ten years in jail, plus millions of dollars in fines. But he has a plea bargain agreement which prevented his wife from being prosecuted for her part in the transaction. The plea deal will probably get Shu a shorter jail term. The Shu case is another example of the Chinese effort to use industrial espionage to turn their country into the mightiest industrial and military power on the planet. For over two decades, China has been attempting to do what the Soviet Union never accomplished; steal Western technology, then use it to move ahead of the West. The Soviets lacked the many essential supporting industries found in the West (most founded and run by entrepreneurs), and was never able to get all the many pieces needed to match Western technical accomplishments. Soviet copies of American computers, for example, were crude, less reliable and less powerful. Same with their jet fighters, tanks and warships. China believes they can avoid the Soviet error by making it profitable for Western firms to set up factories in China, where Chinese managers and workers can be taught how to make things right. At the same time. China allows thousands of their best students to go to the United States to study. While most of these students will stay in America, where there are better jobs and more opportunities, some will come back to China, and bring American business and technical skills with them. Finally, China energetically uses the "thousand grains of sand" approach to espionage. This involves China trying to get all Chinese going overseas, and those of Chinese ancestry living outside the motherland, to spy for China, if only a tiny bit. This approach to espionage is nothing new. Other nations have used similar systems for centuries. What is unusual is the scale of the Chinese effort. Backing it all up is a Chinese intelligence bureaucracy back home that is huge, with nearly 100,000 people working just to keep track of the many Chinese overseas, and what they could, or should, be to trying to grab for the motherland. It begins when Chinese intelligence officials examining who is going overseas, and for what purpose. Chinese citizens cannot leave the country, legally, without the state security organizations being notified. The intel people are not being asked to give permission. They are being alerted in case they want to have a talk with students, tourists or business people before they leave the country. Interviews are often held when these people come back as well. Those who might be coming in contact with useful information are asked to remember what they saw, or bring back souvenirs. Over 100,000 Chinese students go off to foreign universities each year. Even more go abroad as tourists or on business. Most of these people were not asked to actually act as spies, but simply to share, with Chinese government officials (who are not always identified as intelligence personnel) whatever information they obtained. The more ambitious of these people are getting caught and prosecuted. But the majority, who are quite casual, and, individually, bring back relatively little, are almost impossible to catch. Like the Russians, the Chinese are also using the traditional methods, using people with diplomatic immunity to recruit spies, and offering cash, or whatever, to get people to sell them information. This is still effective, and when combined with the "thousand grains of sand" methods, brings in lots of secrets. The final ingredient is a shadowy venture capital operations, sometimes called Project 863, that offers money for Chinese entrepreneurs who will turn the stolen technology into something real. No questions asked. If you can get back to China with the secrets, you are home free and potentially very rich. Shu was just trying to do some business, but he was also ensnared by this enormous Chinese espionage operation that has had far more successes than failures.
Iran Assembling Russian Helicopters Ka-32 (NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: After over two years of negotiations, Iran has convinced Russia to provide a license to build fifty (or more) Ka-32 helicopters. This is the civilian version of the military Ka-27, and is a 12 ton aircraft than can carry up to four tons. It can stay in the air about four hours per sortie and cruises at 205 kilometers an hour. The Ka-27 has been used by the Russian navy since the 1970s.
With the ability to manufacture the Ka-32, Iran could easily convert them back to their original Ka-27 military configuration. Iran would have to import most of the Ka-32 components from Russia, and the license would basically allow them to assemble the helicopters in Iran. This would provide Iranians an opportunity to gain experience assembling and maintaining helicopters. Three years ago, Iran began production of the type of engines used in the Ka-32 (but not the specific type needed for a helicopter the size of the Ka-32). Recently, Iran delivered the first license built turboprop transport (a twin engine, 21 ton Antonov 140). There have been quality control problems with this project, but this is the price you pay to acquire high tech manufacturing capabilities.
Nato Troops In Afghanistan Requires Beer To Avoid Boredom (NSI News Source Info) November 20, 2008: Last year, Germany shipped about a million liters (equal to nearly three million 12 ounce bottles) of beer to its 3,600 troops in Afghanistan. About 70,000 liters of wine were sent as well. Each German soldier is allowed nearly a liter of beer a day. This is believed to be good for morale. In a further boost to German troop morale, their government will not allow them to be sent to any area experiencing heavy combat. Germans also believe that beer confers certain health benefits. Other NATO troops also get some alcoholic beverages sent in. U.S. troops, since the 1990s, have been forbidden access to alcoholic beverages in combat zones.
Russia's Aftermaket Sale Services Beyond Customers Pocket
Screwing Russia In The Aftermarket November 19, 2008: Malaysia is playing hardball with Russia when it comes to after-service sales for the 18 Su-30 aircraft it bought five years ago. The first twelve were delivered last year, Malaysia went to India for training and maintenance services, and is now seeking to buy spare parts from China. Both China and India are major users of the Su-30, and China builds it under license. Aftermarket sales (training, maintenance, spare parts) are a major part of the total market for any jet aircraft. Moreover, most of the profits are made in the aftermarket (once the aircraft is sold). Russia is not amused.
India Plans Regional Action Against Somali Pirates (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - November 20, 2008: India is initiating a regional maritime cooperation plan in the wake of a wave of piracy incidents in the Gulf of Aden. A senior Indian Defence Ministry official said the plan will involve navies of several countries. Five vessels reportedly were hijacked off the coast of Somalia in one week, including Saudi-owned supertanker Sirius Star, which was seized Nov. 15. Meanwhile, Defence Ministry sources here said the Indian warship INS Tabar destroyed the pirate vessel involved in the hijacking of the Saudi tanker. The Tabar, one of dozens of warships from several countries protecting shipping lanes in the area, attacked the Somali pirate ship late Nov. 18 after coming under fire, Indian Navy spokesman Nirad Sinha said, according to an Agence France-Presse report. "INS Tabar is on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden since Nov. 2," the Defence Ministry said in a Nov. 19 statement. "The operation is being controlled by Western Naval Command since mid-October. 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 Nov. 11. "The Indian Navy has been patrolling the piracy-infested water in keeping with the government guidelines to protect our seaborne trade [and] instill confidence in our seafaring community, as well as function as a deterrent for pirates." Navy officials confirmed that the regional maritime cooperation plan will include several countries. In January, India hosted an exercise that drew naval participation from Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The biennial event took place at Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Indian Ocean, which is a new base housing India's Tri-Command. India and the United States in a joint statement in 2006 reaffirmed their commitment to protect the free flow of commerce and the safety of navigation, and agreed to the conclusion of a Maritime Cooperation Framework to enhance maritime security, prevent piracy and other crimes at sea, carry out search-and-rescue operations, fight marine pollution, respond to natural disasters, address emergent threats and improve cooperative capabilities, including through logistics support.
Hu, Castro celebrate China-Cuba ties (NSI News Source Info) HAVANA - November 20, 2008: China’s President Hu Jintao met Cuban leader Fidel Castro — who is also the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba — in Havana on Tuesday. Mr. Hu said he was delighted to see Mr. Castro again. The comrades of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China “have all cared about your health and I brought their sincere greetings to you,” he said.
Somali pirates transform villages into boomtowns (NSI News Source Info) MOGADISHU, Somalia - November 20, 2008: Somalia's increasingly brazen pirates are building sprawling stone houses, cruising in luxury cars, marrying beautiful women - even hiring caterers to prepare Western-style food for their hostages. And in an impoverished country where every public institution has crumbled, they have become heroes in the steamy coastal dens they operate from because they are the only real business in town. "The pirates depend on us, and we benefit from them," said Sahra Sheik Dahir, a shop owner in Harardhere, the nearest village to where a hijacked Saudi Arabian supertanker carrying $100 million in crude was anchored Wednesday. These boomtowns are all the more shocking in light of Somalia's violence and poverty: Radical Islamists control most of the country's south, meting out lashings and stonings for accused criminals. There has been no effective central government in nearly 20 years, plunging this arid African country into chaos. Life expectancy is just 46 years; a quarter of children die before they reach 5. But in northern coastal towns like Harardhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the pirate economy is thriving thanks to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have reached $30 million this year alone. "There are more shops and business is booming because of the piracy," said Sugule Dahir, who runs a clothing shop in Eyl. "Internet cafes and telephone shops have opened, and people are just happier than before." In Harardhere, residents came out in droves to celebrate as the looming oil ship came into focus this week off the country's lawless coast. Businessmen gathered cigarettes, food and cold bottles of orange soda, setting up kiosks for the pirates who come to shore to resupply almost daily. Dahir said she even started a layaway plan for them. "They always take things without paying and we put them into the book of debts," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "Later, when they get the ransom money, they pay us a lot." Residents make sure the pirates are well-stocked in khat, a popular narcotic leaf, and aren't afraid to gouge a bit when it comes to the pirates' deep pockets. "I can buy a packet of cigarettes for about $1 but I will charge the pirate $1.30," said Abdulqadir Omar, an Eyl resident. While pirate villages used to have houses made of corrugated iron sheets, now, there are stately looking homes made of sturdy, white stones. "Regardless of how the money is coming in, legally or illegally, I can say it has started a life in our town," said Shamso Moalim, a 36-year-old mother of five in Harardhere. "Our children are not worrying about food now, and they go to Islamic schools in the morning and play soccer in the afternoon. They are happy." The attackers generally treat their hostages well in anticipation of a big payday, hiring caterers on shore to cook spaghetti, grilled fish and roasted meat that will appeal to Western palates. And when the payday comes, the money sometimes literally falls from the sky. Pirates say the ransom arrives in burlap sacks, sometimes dropped from buzzing helicopters, or in waterproof suitcases loaded onto skiffs in the roiling, shark-infested sea. "The oldest man on the ship always takes the responsibility of collecting the money, because we see it as very risky, and he gets some extra payment for his service later," Aden Yusuf, a pirate in Eyl, told AP over VHF radio. The pirates use money-counting machines - the same technology seen at foreign exchange bureaus worldwide - to ensure the cash is real. All payments are done in cash because Somalia has no functioning banking system. "Getting this equipment is easy for us, we have business connections with people in Dubai, Nairobi, Djibouti and other areas," Yusuf said. "So we send them money and they send us what we want." Despite a beefed-up international presence, the pirates continue to seize ships, moving further out to sea and demanding ever-larger ransoms. The pirates operate mostly from the semiautonomous Puntland region, where local lawmakers have been accused of helping them and taking a cut of the ransoms. For the most part, however, the regional officials say they have no power to stop piracy. Meanwhile, towns that once were eroded by years of poverty and chaos are now bustling with restaurants, Land Cruisers and Internet cafes. Residents also use their gains to buy generators - allowing full days of electricity, once an unimaginable luxury in Somalia. There are no reliable estimates of the number of pirates operating in Somalia, but they number in the thousands. And though the bandits do sometimes get nabbed, piracy is generally considered a sure bet to a better life. NATO and the U.S. Navy say they can't be everywhere, and American officials are urging ships to hire private security. Warships patrolling off Somalia have succeeded in stopping some pirate attacks. But military assaults to wrest back a ship are highly risky and, up to now, uncommon.
Pakistani army chief meets with NATO commanders (NSI News Source Info) BRUSSELS, Belgium - November 20, 2008: Pakistan's army chief urged NATO commanders to focus on winning the population's backing in areas bordering Afghanistan to prevent Taliban and al-Qaida militants from using them as safe havens, an alliance official said Wednesday. Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met with a committee of NATO commanders in Brussels on Wednesday - the first time Pakistan's military leader met with the group. He did not speak to journalists after the meeting. "Gen. Kayani said very clearly that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan is in the vital interest of Pakistan," NATO's top military officer Italian Navy Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola said. Di Paola described the Pakistani approach to pacifying the lawless tribal areas as "the same way the alliance is approaching it, which is a comprehensive approach." NATO says this involves combining military action with development aid and support for building up local authorities. Fighting along the mountainous regions that straddle the border has intensified over the past year. There has been a surge of cross-border attacks in the last three months that have killed scores of suspected al-Qaida and Taliban militants, but have enraged local communities and Pakistan's civilian leadership. Earlier Wednesday, a suspected U.S. missile strike hit a village well inside Pakistani territory killing six alleged militants. Di Paola spoke to reporters after chairing a session of NATO's Military Committee, a body made up of the chiefs of staff of all 26 member nations and partner nations. Di Paola said that Kayani had told the defense chiefs that "because of the nature of the border, because of the nature of geography, history and culture, there is no force that can physically block that border." "The border is unsealable. ... you need the understanding of the people living there, to separate themselves from the bad guys, from the terrorists. You can achieve this by working with the people of the tribal areas," Di Paola said. Di Paola also said that NATO was seeking to set up alternate supply routes for its 54,000-strong International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. In recent months, pro-Taliban guerrillas have ambushed a number of convoys coming from the Pakistani port of Karachi and moving through the Khyber Pass on the border with Afghanistan. In April, Russia offered the use of its national rail network to transport military supplies to the NATO-led force via the so-called Northern Route. Di Paola said the alliance was already using Russian air space for this purpose, but that it had not yet reached agreement with all the Central Asian nations bordering Afghanistan from the north to allow the military trains to make their way from Russia to the Afghan border. "It makes good sense to have more than a single line of logistic support," Di Paola said, noting that for now the route through Pakistan was still functioning reasonably well.