Sunday, November 23, 2008

North Korea vows to go ahead with border closure

North Korea vows to go ahead with border closure (NSI News Source Info) SEOUL - November 24, 2008: North Korea on Monday said that it would go ahead with its threat to effectively close its land border with the South, including expelling South Korean managers from an industrial site just inside its border, from Dec. 1. The reclusive state first warned nearly two weeks ago it would end traffic across the heavily armed border with its wealthy neighbour but this is the first time it has given details of the action it would take. North Korea's KCNA news agency said the measures were the first steps "to be taken in connection with the evermore undisguised anti-DPRK (North Korea) confrontational racket of the south Korean puppet authorities." It will also suspend all tours to its border city of Kaesong, near the industrial park run by a South Korean firm, and halt rail traffic across the border. The Kaesong industrial park is the only significant commercial relationship between the Koreas, divided for more than half a century. KCNA said North Korea would selectively expel South Koreans from the industrial park. The site is home to nearly 90 South Korean companies which operate there to make use of cheap North Korean labour. The North has notified companies operating in Kaesong that it would allow some personnel to remain so that the plants can keep running, South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon later told reporters. The move follows the end of a decade of unconditional aid from the South since conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office early this year with promises to invest heavily there only if Pyongyang moved to disable its nuclear weapons programme. Lee made clear at the weekend he would not back down in the face of mounting tension with the North which accuses him of trying to reignite war on the Korean peninsula. Last month, it threatened to reduce the South to rubble unless it stopped civic groups sending the anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border. Regional powers plan to resume talks in Beijing next month with the North on a deal to dismantle its atomic weapons programme in exchange for aid and a chance to end its international isolation.

Force Protection Selected for United Kingdom Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle

Force Protection Selected for United Kingdom Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle (NSI News Source Info) Ladson, SC - November 24, 2008: Force Protection Inc.’s speed of response and ability to perform to customer requirements is playing a key role in winning new orders for its range of survivability solutions. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Moody, pointed to Force Protection’s selection by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence as the preferred bidder for the Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle (Heavy) program as an example of the way his company is strengthening its capability to respond to urgent operational requirements, “We completed design work and built two prototypes for Wolfhound, which is based on our highly successful Cougar vehicle, in just 90 days. During this time we also carried out blast tests and mobility trials.” Executive Vice President for Customer Operations Damon Walsh stated, “The selection of Force Protection to produce the Wolfhound confirms our responsiveness to customer needs. We offer our customers, including the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, the flexibility to set aggressive production schedules to meet their unique requirements. In addition, our vehicles, once delivered, continue to demonstrate an operational readiness rate exceeding 90 percent. Many truck manufacturers worldwide offer the capability to deliver large quantities; what sets Force Protection apart is having both delivery performance capability and the most survivable, sustainable vehicles in the field.” Force Protection proposes to deliver these vehicles in conjunction with their UK integration partner, NP Aerospace. Two customised Cougar variants are already featured in major United Kingdom Ministry of Defence programs. The Mastiff 6x6 is in service with British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Deliveries of the Ridgback 4x4 began in August of this year. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence has also recently ordered 24 more Mastiffs together with 14 Force Protection Buffalo route clearance vehicles. Michael Moody said that the increasing adoption of Force Protection vehicles by the UK, the United States, Italy, France, Canada and Iraq was evidence that the company had, “The right technology at the right time. Cougar and Buffalo continue to prove their worth as the most survivable, sustainable vehicles on the battlefield.”

U.K. MoD Selects Navistar for Mission Specific Tactical Support Vehicle

U.K. MoD Selects Navistar for Mission Specific Tactical Support Vehicle (NSI News Source Info) WARRENVILLE, Ill. - November 24, 2008: Navistar Defense, LLC today expanded its worldwide customer list to include the United Kingdom through the Ministry of Defence’s Tactical Support Vehicle (TSV) program. The United Kingdom announced in late October that it had earmarked £350 million (~US$525 million) for 400 TSV units. Navistar has formally entered into contract negotiations to provide 260 TSV Husky units based off its International® MXT™ platform to meet an urgent need. The company anticipates that the contract will be ratified in early 2009. The Husky, which is the medium TSV variant, will be procured for specific missions in three vehicle types: utility, ambulance and command vehicle. Currently, delivery of the vehicles is scheduled to begin in the first half of the 2009 calendar year. “Navistar is proud to participate in the TSV program and offer the U.K. a flexible MXT platform that can be rapidly modified to meet urgent requirements,” said Robert Puhalovich, sales director, Navistar Defense. “We will continue to deliver on our commitment to provide a comprehensive value solution that includes military vehicles, and worldwide parts and field service support.” The MXT is designed to fill a gap that exists between the smaller traditional armored 4x4’s that may be payload challenged, and the larger class of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles that may be mobility restrained for certain mission requirements. "Leveraging our current commercial capabilities and assets allows Navistar Defense to rapidly respond," said Archie Massicotte, president, Navistar Defense. "Providing the International MXT for the TSV program is another example of how Navistar Defense is not only supporting the U.S. military, but NATO allies." Final assembly of the MXT TSV units will occur at the company’s West Point, Miss., assembly plant, which has produced more than 5,300 International® MaxxPro™ MRAP vehicles. MXT Husky units will be powered by MaxxForce D 6.0 L V8 engines. The TSV contract award follows Navistar’s selection in October as one of nine finalists to compete to replace the U.K.’s light tactical wheeled vehicle fleet in the highly-competitive Operational Utility Vehicle Systems (OUVS) program. Navistar will provide vehicles for testing and trials in 2009 to replace a portion of the army’s fleet, which includes Land Rover, Wolf, Reynolds Boughton RB-44 and Pinzgauer vehicles. Current estimates place the opportunity at greater than 4,000 units. Vehicles submitted for the OUVS program will also be based on the MXT platform.

BAE Systems Completes Production Of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles

BAE Systems Completes Production Of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (NSI News Source Info) ARLINGTON, Virginia - November 24, 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. 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.

General Dynamics Awarded $64 Million for Tank Upgrades

General Dynamics Awarded $64 Million for Tank Upgrades (NSI News Source Info) STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – November 24, 2008: The U.S. Army TACOM Lifecycle Management Command has awarded $63.7 million to General Dynamics Land Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics, to upgrade 180 tanks under the Abrams Improved Systems Enhancement Package (SEP) Reset (ISR) program. As part of the reset program, M1A2 SEP Version One tanks are upgraded to the SEP Version Two configuration, which includes improved displays, sights, power, and a tank-infantry phone. The M1A2 SEP Version Two is the most technologically advanced Abrams tank and can accommodate future technology improvements to ensure compatibility with the Army’s Future Combat Systems. Work will be performed in Anniston, Ala.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Sterling Heights, Mich.; and Scranton, Pa. Work is expected to be completed by September 2010.

Maryland keen to further trade ties with India

Maryland keen to further trade ties with India (NSI News Source Info) Washington - November 23, 2008: The life sciences hub of Maryland is keen to expand ties with India that presents great opportunities for trade and attracting new investment, particularly in cutting edge fields, says the US state's governor Martin O'Malley. 'We believe that India presents Maryland with some of our greatest opportunities for developing new trade partnerships and attracting new direct investment across a variety of sectors,' O'Malley said in the keynote address at the 4th Annual Maryland-India Business Roundtable. 'Today, Maryland and India already are conducting a considerable amount of trade. We export products like electronics, pharmaceuticals and aircraft and aviation products, and we import hundreds of millions of dollars from India as well,' he said at the event in Greenbelt Saturday. 'The very good news is that our exports to India are growing,' said O'Malley noting, 'In all of 2006, our exports to India totalled $103 million. By July of this year, we had already reached $113 million.' Maryland, surrounding the capital city of Washington on the south and west, is home to some 50,000 Indian-Americans. With the highest median household income of any state at $68,080 in 2007, Maryland is a life sciences hub with over 350 biotechnology firms, making it the third largest such cluster in the US. Institutions and agencies located throughout Maryland include the University System of Maryland, The Johns Hopkins University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Celera Genomics, Human Genome Sciences (HGS), the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Maryland also welcomed in July five Indian technology companies, which established pilot offices at the Rockville Innovation Centre - beating out New York, Virginia and New Jersey, O'Malley said. 'For both India and Maryland, the life sciences present a panoply of vast opportunity, both in terms of our ability to compete in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy,' O'Malley said. They also provide a chance to 'offer some moral leadership in our world, to develop and proliferate these cures, these treatments, these technologies which can heal both our own neighbours here at home and our global neighbours across a world that's growing ever more flat and interdependent by the day', he added. 'Because both Marylanders and Indians recognise that our greatness isn't about how many smart bombs we can drop, we can continue to strengthen our ties with India and develop new opportunities to expand our partnerships in cutting edge fields like the life sciences and information technology,' O'Malley said. Stressing the importance of strengthening ties with countries beyond national borders in order to compete in this global economy, O'Malley noted a number of Maryland counties have have organised delegations of business executives to China, India, Europe and South Korea. To attract Indian companies to Maryland, the state plans to focus on industry sectors in which both Maryland and India are strong: biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and health care management, information technology and engineering services, and aerospace and defence. India's recent decision to allow foreign direct investment in the defence sector has created an ongoing modernization plan of its armed forces, and enormous new investment opportunities in the civil aviation sector, the governor's office noted. Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development plans to attend the AERO India Conference in February to help attract foreign direct investment and help Maryland businesses expand their business in India. Founded in 2004, the Maryland-India Business Round Table Inc. (MIBRT) aims to foster cooperation and promote trade and investment between businesses operating in India and Maryland.

South Korean Army hopes for 400 new Tanks K-2 Black Panther

South Korean Army hopes for 400 new Tanks K-2 Black Panther
(NSI News Source Info) November 23, 2008: The current global recession has hit the South Korean defense budget. One of the biggest hits is a one third cut in the budget for producing the new K-2 tank. These cost $5.7 million each. Two years ago, South Korea completed building the K-2 tank prototype and production was to begin about now.
The K-2 will replace older American M-48 tanks. The army still hopes to get at least 400 of the new K-2s.
A major problem with this is not economic recession, but the continued decline of the North Korean armed forces. Since the 1990s, North Korea has lacked the money to upgrade its forces, or even to enable the troops to train as much as they should. During the same period, South Korea has made great strides in upgrading its equipment and training. Two decades ago, South Korea developed, and built, its own K1 tank. The 51 ton K1 is based on the American M1 design, but is somewhat smaller and equipped with the same 105mm gun used by the U.S. M60 tank.
The K1 has a 1,200 horsepower diesel, instead of a 1,500 horsepower gas turbine engine in the M1. Production of the K1 ended in 1997, with about a thousand built. There have been some upgrades to the fire control and communications systems, as well as the development of the K1A1, which has the same 120mm gun as the M1, along with other equipment used by the M1, but not the K1. The K1A1 is apparently part of the K2 development project, as only two K1A1 prototypes were built, and successfully tested. There were plans to build 300 K1A1s by 2010, but this appears to have changed.
The new K2 is to have an improved 120mm gun, capable of firing an anti-tank missile, as well as the usual gun munitions. The K2 will weigh 55 tons and will outclass anything North Korea, Japan or China have. The K2 will have a number of new electronic defenses. It will have a laser detector that will instantly tell the crew the direction the enemy laser beam is coming from.
A tank uses its laser range finder before it fires its main gun. The K2 fire control system will also enable the main gun (120mm) to be used to hit low flying aircraft. There are also numerous improvements to the K1 mechanical and electronic systems, as well as more armor (both composite and ERA). This will make the K2 easier to use and maintain. An autoloader will reduce the crew to three men.

Israel says IAEA report proves Tehran wants nukes

Israel says IAEA report proves Tehran wants nukes (NSI News Source Info) Jerusalem - November 23, 2008: A report by the UN atomic watchdog stating little progress in its investigation into Iran's nuclear efforts proves Tehran is concealing ambitions to acquire an atomic bomb, Israel said on Thursday. "Iran is continuing its deception and evasion tricks. Iran's reaction can not remove the international community's fears and concerns over the real aim of its nuclear programme," Israel's foreign ministry said in a statement. The International Atomic Energy Agency said in its report on Wednesday that it was no closer to determining whether Iran's disputed nuclear drive is entirely peaceful as Tehran claims But the Israeli foreign ministry said "the report highlights military aspects in Iran's nuclear activity." "Israel reiterates its call for the international community and organisations to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime to abandon its intimidating programme to acquire nuclear weapons," the statement said. The IAEA report also said that the Islamic republic was continuing to defy UN demands to suspend uranium enrichment -- a process used to make both nuclear fuel and the fissile material for an atom bomb. Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear armed state, considers Iran its main strategic threat because of its nuclear programme, which Israel and its staunch US ally suspect is aimed at developing weapons. Israel has repeatedly stated it preferred the use of diplomatic and economic pressure to persuade Iran to abandon its programme, but has not ruled out a military strike.

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye completes operational assessment

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye completes operational assessment (NSI News Source Info) November 23, 2008: Northrop Grumman has completed the operational assessment (OA) phase of its E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) flight-test programme, the company announced on 13 November.
Northrop Grumman is hoping to get the okay from the U.S. government to export the Advanced Hawkeye E-2D airborne early warning and control aircraft. ( Northrop Grumman)
The OA, which took place at Northrop Grumman East Coast Manufacturing and Flight Test Centre in St Augustine, Florida, brings the number of flight hours accumulated during the flight-test programme to over 600, with more than half involving in-flight radar testing. Two test aircraft (Delta One and Delta Two), operated by the US Navy's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1, based out of Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River in Maryland, and the Carrier Airborne Early Warning Weapons School out of NAS Fallon in Nevada, were put through 10 flights over a period of four weeks to complete the assessment. During the OA the test team conducted a series of flight tests comparable to real-world scenarios likely to be encountered by the E-2D in operational service. Image: An E-2D test aircraft undergoing operational assessment trials at Northrop Grumman's St Augustine facility in Florida. The USN plans to introduce the Advanced Hawkeye into service in 2011

APEC leaders pledge to reform lenders, liberalize trade

APEC leaders pledge to reform lenders, liberalize trade (NSI News Source Info) LIMA - November 23, 2008: Leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries pledged measures to reform international financial institutions and liberalize trade in a bid to fight the ongoing global financial crisis. In a statement issued by the two-day summit of the 21-member APEC forum in Peru, the leaders said they would refrain within the next 12 months from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services and from imposing new export restrictions. The APEC leaders also said they would seek to reach agreement next month on a basic agreement on the Doha round of global free trade talks, which was stalled in July, and reform global financial institutions "to reflect the increasing voice and representation of emerging and developing economies and be more responsive to future challenges." The current global credit crunch started in the United States and quickly spread to Asia and Europe, leading to record losses on global financial markets and a liquidity shortage.

Pakistan's Gen. Ashfaq Kayani should command joint Pak-US-NATO force: Haroon

Pakistan's Gen. Ashfaq Kayani should command joint Pak-US-NATO force: Haroon (NSI News Source Info) By Khalid Hasan, WASHINGTON - November 23, 2008: Pakistan’s UN ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon has proposed that a joint Pakistani, NATO and US military force under the command of Gen Ashfaq Kayani should be set up to increase co-ordination and “curb terrorists across the Pak-Afghan border”. Haroon said in a speech at the US Army War College last week that he was making the proposal to “end complaints of mistrust among coalition partners and provide much needed local experience, essential for success in Afghanistan”. He also said that there was a better understanding between the leadership of Afghanistan and Pakistan today than in the past, and called on the incoming Obama administration to increase economic assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan so that economic activity can be generated and the basic needs of the people are addressed, adding that this “will not cost much”. The United States as a matter of policy does not permit US military personnel to serve under any non-US command. Ambassador Haroon also dated 1978 as the year of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, whereas it took place in 1979. He said the “amalgam of diverse interests under the nomenclature of Taliban has taken upon us, it is now Pakistan ’s war. If the Taliban are not defeated history is a witness that whenever Khyber has been breached, the battle has been fought in Panipat.” He said the void left by the United States after the Soviets were defeated was filled by the Taliban, who challenged the status quo and “provided the people of Afghanistan religious education and their brand of justice”. Underscoring the history of US-Pakistan relations, he said since Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan visited the US in 1950, Pakistan has maintained close relations with the United States and has been a member of CENTO, SEATO and Baghdad Pacts. The ambassador listed the number of defence pacts at three, whereas CENTO and Baghdad Pact refer to the same treaty. Haroon caused a bit of a surprise when he told his audience that Pakistan has spent $150 billion on the upkeep of Afghan refuges since their arrival in Pakistan more than 30 years ago. His precise words were, “Pakistan had to bear an expenditure of roughly 150 billion dollars for hosting three million Afghan refugees, 10 percent of the total population of Afghanistan for the past 33 years, equal to one year of Pakistan’s GDP and one percent of the savings where total savings rate is two percent”. Fleshing out his claim, he said that if the cost on food per person is taken as a dollar a day, it comes to $35 billion so far, and as food is 50 percent of living expenses, if another 50 percent is added for education, health and other things, the total goes over $72 billion spent over this period of time. He added, “And if you take the capital expenditure of housing and many other such things, you can practically double it again - over 150 billion over many years. If the ancillary costs of United States were three trillion on the war on Iraq where it spent 600 billion dollars, the ancillary costs incurred by Pakistan can be well imagined.” According to the Pakistan Mission, the ambassador’s speech received much applause.