Saturday, November 22, 2008

India's first indigenous attack chopper to fly in March, 2008

India's first indigenous attack chopper to fly in March, 2008 (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - November 23, 2008: India's first indigenous dedicated attack chopper, the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), is finally slated to take to the skies in March next year after a few false starts over the last couple of years.
"After the first prototype's maiden flight in March 2009, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) says LCH should be ready for the initial operational clearance (IOC) by December 2010," a senior defence ministry official told TOI.
With the final operational clearance (FOC) a year or so after that, the newly revised timeframes hold that the 5.5-tonne LCH should be ready for induction into IAF by 2012-2013. The project development cost of LCH is currently pegged at only Rs 376.67 crore since it's basically a derivative of the Dhruv ALH (advanced light helicopter) already being inducted into the armed forces.
The twin-engine LCH will be armed with a 20mm turret twin-barrel gun, cluster bombs, rocket pods as well as air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. Designed for anti-tank and anti-infantry roles with a maximum speed of 275 kmph, it will also be capable of high-altitude warfare since its operational ceiling will be 16,000 to 18,000 feet.
"The LCH will incorporate a number of stealth features and crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability. The LCH will have a narrow fuselage, with two crew stations," said an official. IAF has projected an initial requirement of 65 LCHs, also fitted with helmet-mounted targeting systems, electronic warfare equipment and electro-optics, to bolster its attack helicopter fleet.

Sudan Deals With Religion and MiG-29s

Sudan Deals With Religion and MiG-29s (NSI News Source Info) November 22, 2008: Sudan has bought another dozen Russian MiG-29 fighters. Sudan already has 12 MiG-29s from an earlier purchase. Both Russia and Sudan have played down the earlier (2002) sale. Deliveries for that were completed in 2004, around the same time the UN arms embargo on the Darfur region of western Sudan went into effect. Earlier this year it was discovered that a Russian fighter pilot had died while flying a Sudanese MiG-29. This brought to light the fact that Russian pilots, both active duty and retired, have been flying Sudan's MiG-29s. This is because it has proven more difficult than expected to train Sudanese to do the job. One reason for this is that Sudan doesn't have many pilots to begin with, so the Sudanese MiG-29 pilots had to be recruited and trained from scratch. Sudan is a religious dictatorship, and the leadership selected pilot trainees more for their loyalty than for their piloting potential. Many of these trainees proved inadequate as pilots, at least of high performance fighters like the MiG-29 (which is similar in size and capabilities to the U.S. F-16). Rather than have these expensive fighters sit around unused, the government hired more Russian "instructors" to not only devote more time to getting the Sudanese trainees in shape, but also to operate the MiG-29s. Mercenary Russian (and Ukrainian) fighter pilots have shown up in Africa before. Over the last few decades, wherever there are Russian warplanes (and the list of African users is long), and a need for them to be used, there have usually been "foreign pilots" hired to make things work, or at least fly and fight. Russians were often hired to maintain the aircraft (the mercenary pilots often insisted on this.)

Russian truck maker Kamaz considering production in Cuba

Russian truck maker Kamaz considering production in Cuba (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 22, 2008: Kamaz is considering setting up an assembly line to produce 500 trucks annually in Cuba, Russia's largest truck maker said Friday. "To further develop the automobile business in Cuba and strengthen Kamaz's place on the country's market, we and the Cuban side are considering the possibility of establishing a trade and service company to sell, service and repair Kamaz trucks, as well as an assembly facility with a production capacity of 500 trucks a year," Kamaz said in a press release. Over 200 Kamaz trucks have been delivered to Cuba in 2008 as part of a Russian loan to the country. Kamaz, based in the Volga Republic of Tatarstan, produces more than 30 models of trucks, as well as trailers, buses, tractors and spare parts. It also manufactures engines, power units, and components. The company has assembly facilities in Poland, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Ukraine.

BAE Completes Production of MRAP Vehicles

BAE Completes Production of MRAP Vehicles (NSI News Source Info) ARLINGTON, Va. - November 22, 2008: BAE Systems has completed production of more than 5,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles under existing contracts with the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. Ceremonies to commemorate this milestone were held this week at BAE Systems MRAP-related sites in Charlotte, Michigan and Sealy, Texas.
MRAP – the Caiman
The events celebrate the completion of a 22-month production run for two BAE Systems variants of the MRAP – the Caiman and the RG33; the U.S. Government has purchased 2,868, and 2,182 of those vehicles, respectively. The final Caiman rolled off the assembly line this week, and the RG33L was delivered to the government on Wednesday. Additional RG33 and Caiman variants will be delivered to the government in coming months. “The BAE Systems' Team has excelled in its support of our Armed Services in its time of urgent need. Caiman has been On Time-On Target,” said Chris Chambers, Vice President, Medium/Heavy Vehicles at BAE Systems. “By any measure Caiman is a success: contract award to production deliveries in 43 days; an unmatched, exemplary delivery to contract and a vehicle protection and reliability record that has enabled our troops to complete their vital mission.” “The RG33 represents an unprecedented story of success that reflects industries unsurpassed rapid response to the Department of Defense’s immediate requirement to defeat an ever evolving threat,” said Matt Riddle, Vice President, Wheeled Combat Vehicles at BAE Systems. “From design to fielding in less than six months, the RG33 has proven itself worthy in combat and has well earned the respect and accolades of its U.S. military crewmen.” The Caiman and RG33 were developed in 2006 to provide U.S. warfighters in Iraq a vehicle that would protect them against rocket-propelled grenades, roadside bombs and explosively formed projectiles. Prototypes of both vehicles were delivered in January 2007; the first production contracts were awarded to the RG33 in February 2007 and to the Caiman in July 2007. The Caiman, RG33 and other MRAP models have since replaced many of the unarmored or lightly armored vehicles used for combat-related missions in Iraq. The Caiman: As a member of the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV), the Caiman shares many features and components, vastly reducing current and future logistic and training loads and allowing sharing of technology advancements such as stability control, on/off-board power or diagnostic/prognostic systems. Additionally, it offers an adaptable, applique-based protective system allowing rapid future transformation to match changing threats or removal to vastly reduce the vehicle weight and a high volume under armor with leading payload capacity. The Caiman continues to achieve a sustained operational readiness rate average of 95 percent and has been utilized throughout the spectrum of operations. Manufacturing of the Caiman is coordinated between six of BAE Systems’ facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Phoenix, Arizona; Monroe, North Carolina; Sealy, Texas; and Orangeburg, South Carolina. RG33: The RG33 sets the standard for mine-protected vehicles in the 20 to 40-ton weight class, providing superior performance through enhanced survivability, advanced mobility, mission flexibility, rapid availability and vehicle commonality. It features a state-of-the art v-shaped hull that provides superior blast protection against symmetrical, asymmetrical and unconventional explosive hazards. With its large modular interior, high-mobility chassis and extensive equipment options, the RG33 is an integrated, proven, survivable, blast-protected vehicle. The versatility of the RG33 is represented in the many variants of the vehicle – 4x4 and 6x6 configurations, an armed utility variant, a variant designed for Special Operations Command, an ambulatory variant and a command and control variant.

Sikorsky Sales in China Continue to Grow

Sikorsky Sales in China Continue to Grow (NSI News Source Info) STRATFORD, Conn. - November 22, 2008: China Southern Airlines' Zhuhai Helicopter Company this week accepted two Sikorsky S-76C++ helicopters to support offshore oil projects in the South China Sea and Bohai Bay. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.
S-76C++ helicopters
The acceptance follows a trend of civil aircraft sales into the region for Sikorsky. Last month, Sikorsky signed an agreement with the Rescue and Salvage Bureau of China's Ministry of Transport (MOT) for four S-76C++ helicopters to enhance the MOT's maritime and search and rescue capabilities, bringing the fleet's total to eight and making it one of the largest operators of Sikorsky S-76 SAR helicopters in the world. "Sikorsky Aircraft has been busy in China for the past few years," said Scott Pierce, Vice President, Sikorsky Asia. "In early 2007, we delivered the first S-92 helicopter to China, and soon afterwards, sold another S-92 helicopter in the region. Following that, Sikorsky experienced unprecedented growth in China with the sale of six S-76C++ helicopters. The trend is sound evidence of the popularity of Sikorsky products among Chinese customers, and is strong affirmation of our strategy for this region." Two of the three licensed offshore oil helicopter operators in China fly Sikorsky helicopters. In addition, two multibillion-dollar Chinese private enterprises have chosen the S-76 C++ helicopter as their corporate aircraft, making the S-76C++ helicopter the first VVIP helicopter of intermediate class introduced into China. Sikorsky has further invested in the region through a collaboration with Aviation Industry of China (AVIC), which is producing civil S-76 and S-300 airframes and parts. AVIC also has invested in Shanghai Sikorsky, Sikorsky's joint venture in China. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

Bombardier Sells Eight Q400s to Ethiopian Airlines

Bombardier Sells Eight Q400s to Ethiopian Airlines (NSI News Source Info) November 22, 2008: Bombardier Aerospace announced today that Ethiopian Airlines has signed a contract to purchase eight Q400 NextGen turboprop airliners, and has taken options on four additional Q400 NextGen aircraft. Including this transaction, the Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft program has recorded firm orders for a total of 1,001 aircraft. Based on the list price of the Q400 NextGen airliner, the value of the Ethiopian Airlines firm order contract is approximately $242 million US, and could increase to approximately $366 million US if the four options are exercised. Ethiopian Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, made its first flight between Addis Ababa and Cairo via Asmara on April 8, 1946. Today, it operates a fleet of jet and turboprop aircraft to 33 African cities and a total of 20 international points in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North America. Ethiopian Airlines won the Brussels Airport Marketing Award for long-haul operations in October, 2008. In the same month the airline also won the 2008 Best Airline in Africa Award from the Akwaaba Travel Market Organization and the 2008 Corporate Achievement Award in Johannesburg in August, 2008. “The 360-knot speed, low operating costs and environmental credentials of the Q400 NextGen aircraft will enable us to maintain the high standards for which we have received numerous awards,” said Girma Wake, Chief Executive Officer, Ethiopian Airlines. “The aircraft’s excellent range and payload capability will allow us to deploy it on domestic routes within Ethiopia, as well as on regional routes up to 1,000 nm (1,850 km) from Addis Ababa. “Another key reason for our selection of the Q400 airliner is its exceptional performance in terms of climb rate, single-engine ceiling and higher take-off weight, and thus greater payload, from hot and high elevation airfields,” Mr. Wake added. “Ethiopian Airlines will utilize all of the extensive qualities of the Q400 aircraft,” said Gary R. Scott, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “And we welcome this award-winning airline to the growing Q400 airliner family.” The transaction announced today increases Q400/Q400 NextGen aircraft firm orders to 330 aircraft, with 210 delivered as of July 31, 2008. The Dash 8 turboprop program was launched in 1980. With the introduction of the Noise and Vibration Suppression (NVS) system in 1996, the name was changed to the Q-Series aircraft program, reflecting the aircraft’s quiet cabin amenities. The aircraft are in service with more than 100 operators around the world. In addition to their role in commercial airline service, Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft are also operating in coastal surveillance, firefighting, navigator training, medical evacuation, mixed passenger/cargo configurations, laser depth sounding of the ocean floor, resource exploration and many other special mission roles.

Money No Constraint for India’s Arms Purchases: Official

Money No Constraint for India’s Arms Purchases: Official
(NSI News Source Info) New Delhi - November 22, 2008: There is no lack of funds for modernization of the armed forces, the Financial Advisor (Defence Services) said here today. Inaugurating a day-long national seminar on “Defence Budget,” Smt. HK Pannu said the three Services, in fact, have been unable to spend the money earmarked for purchases or capital expenditure. Denying funds shortage, she said it was a myth that current outlays on defence were not sufficient.
Though outlay on capital expenditure in the budget has swelled from less than 30 percent in 1989-90 to a little over 45 percent in the current financial year, a major chunk of this has remained unutilized. A study shows that the share of the Air Force, during the period, has risen from 34.3 percent to just over 40 percent of the total capital expenditure, mainly on account of some recent big ticket purchases.
In the last eight years, the Services have been unable to spend between 1,490 crore rupees to 6,500 crores, amounting to 4-31 percent of total budgeted capital expenditure, said IDSA scholar Shri Laxman Kumar Behera.
CAG, in its report for 2005-06, cites delay in approval of plans and qualitative requirements, plethora of agencies involved, improper vendor identification and lack of objectivity and fairplay in technical evaluation for the bottlenecks in the long-drawn out acquisition process.
In 2007 India continued to be among the top ten military spenders in the world with a budget of $24.2 billion but in the last two decades the share of defence budget has shrunk from 2.96 percent of the country’s GDP in 1989-90 to 1.99 percent in 2008-09.
Smt. Pannu said India’s defence spending, in real terms, is much lower than reflected in the defence budget. She proposed that it was high time funds for organizations and schemes like the NCC, ex-servicemen welfare and Sadbhavana programme be taken out of the defence allocation. This would give an impetus to reforms in the colossal defence budgeting and help better plan social sector and welfare schemes. The country still spends just a tenth of the money on health than it spends on defence, she noted.

Brazilian Marines Order 18 More Piranha IIICs

Brazilian Marines Order 18 More Piranha IIICs (NSI News Source Info) RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – November 22, 2008: General Dynamics European Land Systems has received a contract from the Brazilian Navy for 18 PIRANHA IIIC 8x8 armored personnel carrier (APC) vehicles for use by the Brazilian Marine Corps.
PIRANHA IIIC 8x8 armored personnel carrier (APC) vehicles
The newly-signed contract calls for vehicles to be manufactured in three amphibious configurations: Armoured Personnel Carrier, Ambulance and Command. This contract is a follow-on order to the 12 vehicles ordered in 2006 and 2007 (11 APCs and 1 Recovery Vehicle). The PIRANHAs will start to be delivered in 2010 and will be used primarily within the framework of international United Nations mission of the Brazilian Marines in Haiti and will be seen in other UN missions in the future. General Dynamics European Land Systems believes that its products will appeal to many other customers in South America because of those countries’ interoperability requirements with NATO and/or UN forces, in light of joint peace keeping operations. The threat situation in such missions specifically calls for a high level of vehicle crew protection against mines, ballistic weapons and IEDs. With the PIRANHA IIIC 8x8 in worldwide operation, the technology-driven company from Kreuzlingen-Switzerland offers a proven product that fulfils this high-ranking requirement of protection, comfort and mobility. The PIRANHA IIIC 8x8 – a well-proven platform The PIRANHA IIIC amphibious has a length of 7.57 m, a width of 2.71 m, and a GVW of 18.5 t. The vehicle reaches a speed of up to 100 km/h on the road. The PIRANHA IIIC easily manages gradients of up to 60%, fording depths of up to 1.50 m and is able to swim up to a speed of 10 km/h. The 400 HP engine, together with the 7-speed automatic transmission, the modern independent wheel suspension, the tire pressure control system, and the disengageable all-wheel drive, give the PIRANHA IIIC a high degree of mobility even in difficult terrain. Moreover, the protection against ballistic threats and against mines provides the crew with a maximum degree of protection in a mission. The vehicle is equipped with all necessary features (NBC system, autonomous power supply, A/C system, etc.) that are required for the 24-hour operation of the integrated systems. MOWAG GmbH of Kreuzlingen develops, designs, and manufactures technologically advanced special vehicles for military use. More than 13'500 armoured and non-armoured wheeled vehicles of the MOWAG PIRANHA, MOWAG EAGLE, and MOWAG DURO series are in service worldwide. Since October of 2003, MOWAG is part of the General Dynamics European Land Systems group, and employs a qualified staff force of more than 700 at its Kreuzlingen site General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS), headquarter in Vienna (Austria), is a business unit of General Dynamics Corporation, and conducts its business through European operating sites located in Spain, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. With more than 3,250 highly skilled technical employees, General Dynamics European Land Systems companies design, manufacture and deliver to global customers Land Combat Systems, including wheeled, tracked, and amphibious vehicles, armaments and munitions.

Somali Pirates Give Russia Chance to Flex Muscles

Somali Pirates Give Russia Chance to Flex Muscles (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - November 22, 2008: The rise in piracy off the coasts of Somalia is giving Russia a chance to flex its muscles, with plans to dispatch several warships to the region and even ex-KGB commandos volunteering their services. The Russian frigate Neustrashimy (Fearless) is already patrolling the coastline, and there is talk of Russia reopening a Soviet-era naval base on an island belonging to Yemen in the Gulf of Aden just across from Somalia. Russia's increasingly active role against piracy in Somalia marks its "return to the ranks of world powers," said Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin analyst and a member of parliament from the ruling United Russia party. Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo was quoted by Interfax news agency on Nov. 21 as saying that the navy would have either "one warship or a flotilla of warships" in the Horn of Africa region "on a regular basis." Nikolai Makarov, the head of Russia's general staff, was quoted as saying that Moscow was preparing "a detailed plan for anti-pirate operations in the Gulf of Aden" with naval ships from the Black Sea and Baltic Sea fleets. During a visit to Yemen last month, Sergei Mironov, speaker of Russia's Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, even said that Moscow was considering resuming a Soviet-era naval presence in the country. The Pacific fleet of the Soviet navy maintained a naval base on Yemen's Socotra island, which lies off the Horn of Africa. The capture of a Saudi supertanker this week has cast an international spotlight on the piracy problem and redoubled efforts by international powers to combat it. Dozens of vessels have been hijacked so far this year. "It's the chance to show that Russian forces can play a positive role and a more useful role" rather than "showing off on the ocean," said Russian military analyst Alexander Golts, referring to naval exercises carried out by Russia. Also on Nov. 21, KGB-trained commandos from the secret service's feared Vympel division, many of whose members are now private security guards and mercenaries, said they could defeat Somali pirates. "If there is a political will to achieve this aim, we can accomplish it," said Felix Makiyevsky, a former commando with Vympel. Valery Kiselyov, another ex-commando, said former KGB mercenaries could do the job. The Neustrashimy is escorting cargo vessels and chased away pirates on at least two occasions, once jointly with the British frigate Cumberland, officials said. The warship was dispatched in September after pirates seized a Ukrainian vessel, the Faina, laden with dozens of T-72 battle tanks and rounds of ammunition, as well as three Russian nationals among the crew members. But Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to NATO, said this week: "It's up to the European Union, NATO and others to launch a coastal land operation to eliminate the pirates," adding that this "should be coordinated with Russia." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has also called for the U.S., the European and Russia jointly to prevent "lawlessness" by pirates. The U.N. Security Council in October adopted a resolution calling on all countries to use all "necessary means" to fight piracy in the Horn of Africa "in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft."

Turkish Warship From NATO Protecting Merchant Navy Ship From Piracy

Turkish Warship From NATO Protecting Merchant Navy Ship From Piracy (NSI News Source Info) November 22, 2008: The Turkish frigate Gokova escorts MV As Salaam, carrying 11,000 metric tons of aid to Somalia, in the Indian Ocean November 20, 2008. Rampant piracy off Somalia is forcing shipping companies to avoid the Suez Canal and send cargoes of oil and other goods on a longer journey around southern Africa, industry officials said on Thursday. Forces from NATO, the European Union and elsewhere are trying to protect vessels on one of the world's busiest shipping routes, linking Europe to Asia.
Turkish Navy escorting and protecting cargo ship from piracy

USA Planning Another 20,000 Troops For Afghanistan

USA Planning Another 20,000 Troops For Afghanistan (NSI News Source Info) CORNWALLIS, Nova Scotia— November 22, 2008: The Pentagon is considering a plan to send more than 20,000 troops to Afghanistan over the next 12 to 18 months to help safeguard elections and quell rising Taliban violence, officials said on Friday.
A US Army Humvee (R) drives past A French Army AMX-10 tank in Afghanistan's Kapisa Province on October 26, 2008
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he and top commanders had discussed sending five brigades to Afghanistan, including four brigades of combat ground forces as well as an aviation brigade, which a defense official said would consist mainly of support troops. An Army combat brigade has about 3,500 soldiers. Gates said much of the infusion could take place before Afghanistan holds elections by next autumn. "I think it's important that we have a surge of forces before the election," said Gates, who stressed no decision on troop deployments had been taken. "We've had some very preliminary discussions," he told reporters after meeting to discuss southern Afghanistan with his counterparts from NATO countries with troops deployed in the region. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said more support troops, also known as "enablers," could also head to Afghanistan as Gates considers a request by U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan, the top commander of NATO and U.S. forces in the country. "The commanders are looking for well north of 20,000 forces. Gates wishes to fulfill the commanders' request," Morrell told reporters as the U.S. defense chief returned from Cornwallis. Violence in Afghanistan has surged to the highest levels since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled the country's Taliban government. An Army combat brigade is already scheduled to arrive in eastern Afghanistan in January to begin training Afghan forces. Most of the remaining forces, which could begin deploying as early as next spring, would likely head to poppy-growing southern Afghanistan where commanders say the NATO force of 18,000 troops is too small to contend with an increasingly confident Taliban insurgency. There are now some 70,000 Western forces in Afghanistan, including 32,000 U.S. forces -- 14,500 under NATO command and 17,500 under a U.S. command. 'Surge' Gates' use of the term "surge" to describe the influx drew parallels with the 2007 U.S. force build-up that placed an extra 30,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and contributed to a sharp decline in violence there. "The key is how do we reverse the trends of the last couple of years or so in terms of rising violence and create a better security environment in which economic and civic development can go ahead and take place," Gates said. "We are clearly going to be putting more troops in and I think that the prospects for being able to have these elections successfully are good," he said. "We all recognize the need for the Afghan government—with our help—to demonstrate some progress over the course of 2009," he said. Gates rejected speculation Afghanistan could be heading for a dire situation. "The notion that things are out of control in Afghanistan or that we're sliding toward a disaster I think is far too pessimistic," he said. U.S. President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to focus more on the Afghan war and plans to persuade other nations to send more soldiers. But Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay said Obama should look to other NATO members first, rather than turning to the other seven states that took part in the Cornwallis meeting: Canada, Denmark, Britain, the Netherlands, Australia, Estonia and Romania. "The reality is there are other NATO doors that President-elect Obama should be knocking on first," he told the news conference. Canada has long complained that the nations with troops in southern Afghanistan are bearing a disproportionate share of the military burden. "There is an enormous amount of goodwill that has been engendered by President-elect Obama that he might be willing to spend for a cause that he clearly believes in," said MacKay. Many NATO countries insist on stationing their troops in quieter parts of Afghanistan and strictly limit what kind of combat activities they can carry out.