Sunday, December 07, 2008

Pakistan Army Raids Suspected LeT Compound In Azad Kashmir

Pakistan Army Raids Suspected LeT Compound In Azad Kashmir (NSI News Source Info) MUZAFFARABAD - December 8, 2008: An operation was launched by army personnel on the outskirts of the Azad Kashmir (AK) capital on Sunday, on a site housing some infrastructure currently used by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (Jud), an organisation headed by Hafiz Mohammad Saeed. Sources said over 20 members of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), including its AK chief were arrested. The wanted LeT commander, Zakiur Rehman Lakhwi was also reportedly amongst those arrested. There were reports that such action has also been planned in major cities in the Punjab Province. However, there was no official confirmation from the Interior Ministry or the Inter Services Public Relation (ISPR) on the crackdown, despite frequent requests by the media. Local police and civil administration officials were completely in the dark about the operation and did not hide their ignorance in this regard. However, residents said that they saw army personnel taking control of the area along Shawai Nullah, some 5 kilometres northwest of Muzaffarabad, where JuD owns a sizeable piece of land and several buildings. Earlier, before being the ban was imposed, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), founded by Hafiz Saeed, occupied this area. ‘I saw an army helicopter hovering over the area and later at around 5 pm I heard two to three loud bangs,’ a housewife told Dawn from the area by telephone. Another witness said: ‘The helicopter landed at one spot and may have airlifted the people detained or injured during the operation.’ There were unconfirmed reports of an exchange of fire between the two sides. The army personnel had also called ambulances from the city hospitals to the area, but witnesses said they returned without any casualties. According to witnesses, army personnel were also intercepting and checking public transport vehicles at Chehla Bandi, bound for the Neelum valley. A JuD official denied any knowledge of an operation against the organisation.
Additional Info: Related Topic
Pakistan Denies US, India Deadline Agreement
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD - December 8, 2008: Islamabad on Sunday denied reports it has agreed to a 48-hour timetable to take action against Pakistanis accused of involvement in the Mumbai attacks. The Washington Post reported that Pakistan had agreed to a deadline imposed by the United States and India to arrest three people and formulate a plan to take action against a militant group accused of involvement in the attacks. Indian National Akali Dal activists burn a Pakistani national flag during a protest in New Delhi The US daily quoted an unnamed Pakistani official saying India had asked Pakistan to hand over a leader of the group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, as well as a former director of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Some Indian papers allege the powerful spy agency trained the attackers. But Pakistan's foreign office on Sunday denied any such deadline had been set. 'There is no deadline, India has not set any deadline, this is all rubbish,' foreign office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told AFP. The 60-hour Mumbai siege by Islamic militants has badly affected relations between India and Pakistan, the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours who have fought three wars since independence from Britain. India says all 10 gunmen involved in the assault came from Pakistan, and has handed Islamabad a list of 20 terror suspects, with demands for their arrest and extradition. Suspicion has focused on Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based militant group which has fought Indian control of divided Kashmir. Lashkar was blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 which pushed the two nations to the brink of war.

Russian Topol-M strategic missile....The Invincible

Russian Topol-M strategic missile....The Invincible (NSI News Source Info) December 8, 2008: Russia is working on a new ICBM (the RS-24), with an emphasis on equipping it with decoys and other deception measures to get past U.S. anti-missile systems.
This new missile is believed to be an upgrade of the existing Topol-M. The new Bulava is also a modified version of the land based Topol-M, which was the last new ICBM Russia developed before the Cold War ended in 1991. The RS-24 has been tested three times in the last two years. Russia plans to put the RS-24 in service next year. The new Bulava SLBMs (Sea Launched Ballistic Missiles) has also finally gone into production. The Bulava will equip the new Borei class SSBN (nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine). The Borei class boats replace the aging Cold War era SSBNs, which are being retired because of safety and reliability issues and the high expense of running them. Nuclear submarines are one area of military spending that did not get cut back sharply after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Despite several test failures, the Russians were confident in the basic technology in the Bulava. The Russians knew there would be failures, and knew that the two most recent U.S. SLBMs had a 13 percent (23 tests of the Trident I) and two percent (49 tests of Trident II) failure rate. What did make many Russians nervous was the fact that the Bulava is replacement for an earlier SLBM that had to be cancelled during development because of too many test failures. The Bulava is basically a navalized version of the successful Topol ICBM. This is the primary reason the Russians moved forward with Bulava. The 45 ton Bulava SCBM is a little shorter than the Topol M, so that it could fit into the missile tube. Thus Bulava has a shorter range of some 8,000 kilometers. Bulava has three stages and uses solid fuel. Currently, each Bulava carries a single 500 kiloton nuclear weapon, plus decoys and the ability to maneuver.
The warhead is also shielded to provide protection from the electronic pulse of nearby nuclear explosions. Take away all of these goodies, and the Bulava could be equipped with up to ten smaller (150 kiloton) warheads. But the big thing is still trying to defeat American anti-missile systems. Russia is paranoid about their nuclear missiles, as the rest of their armed forces are a shambles, and only the ICBMs and SLBMs really provide any clout.

Helicopters Are Durable Machine

Helicopters Are Durable Machine (NSI News Source Info) December 8, 2008: In the 1980s, the UH-60 began replacing the Vietnam era UH-1 "Huey" transport helicopter, while the AH-64 replaced the AH-1 helicopter gunship. Not only were these two new designs more effective, they were a lot safer, and expensive.
By 2005, the U.S. Army had retired all of its UH-1s. The results of this shift were dramatic. The number of accidents went from over a thousand a year in the early 1990s, to less than 200 a year now. The accidents were more expensive, because the AH-64 and UH-60 were more expensive (costing more than three times as much.) But a lot of that money went into making the new choppers safer, and more survivable, for their crews, when they did get into trouble. The new choppers are also safer, and sturdier, in combat. Since 2003, the United States has lost about 70 helicopters in Iraq. Most of them belonged to the U.S. Army, the rest were marine or civilian (mainly security contractors.) During the peak period of combat (2005-2007), helicopters were fired on about a hundred times a month, and about 17 percent of the time, the helicopters were hit.
But few of the helicopters hit were brought down, much less destroyed. Contrast this with Vietnam (1966-71). There, 2,076 helicopters were lost to enemy fire (and 2,566 to non-combat losses). In Vietnam, helicopters flew 36 million sorties (over 20 million flight hours). In Vietnam, helicopters were about twice as likely to get brought down by enemy fire. As in Iraq, the main weapons doing this were machine-guns.
Today's helicopters are more robust, partly because of Vietnam experience, and are more likely to stay in the air when hit, and land, rather than crash. The 1960s was also a period of learning how to use helicopters on a large scale, in a combat environment. That experience also went into developing safer ways to fly, and use, helicopters in combat. For example, in Iraq, aircraft losses to ground fire have been declining every year, since 2003, mainly because of improved defensive tactics. Moreover, the most vulnerable aircraft, helicopters, have been spending more time in the air. In 2005, U.S. Army aircraft (mainly helicopters) flew 240,000 hours over Iraq. That increased to 334,000 hours last year, and went to over 400,000 hours in 2007. The more time helicopters are in the air, the more opportunities someone has to shoot at them.

Iran Tests Medium-Range Missile in Naval Exercise

Iran Tests Medium-Range Missile in Naval Exercise (NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN - December 8, 2008: Iran said that it has test fired on Dec. 7 a surface-to-surface missile during maneuvers in the Sea of Oman, the Fars news agency reported. A missile-launcher warship fired the medium-range, surface-to-surface Nasr 2 (victory) missile which hit its target at a 30-kilometer (18 miles) distance, according to the report. The news agency did not elaborate on the specific range of the missile, only adding that it was tested for the first time. Iran has test fired missile weaponry several times in the past few years. The country has always warned of a dire response in the event that it comes under attack by the United States or Israel. The United States and a number of its allies, including Israel, fear that Tehran is using its civilian nuclear program as cover for developing atomic weapons. Iran insists it wants to develop nuclear power for civilian purposes only in the knowledge that its huge oil and gas reserves will eventually run out. It claims a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) for its liquid propellant-fuelled Shahab-3 ballistic missile, a derivation of North Korea's No-Dong missile. Many experts cast doubt on the country's capabilities because medium- and longer-range missiles normally only work with composite solid fuel - a very difficult product to manufacture.

Japan Ends Iraq Mission

Japan Ends Iraq Mission (NSI News Source Info) BAGHDAD - December 8, 2008: The Japanese contingent in Iraq on Dec. 7 wound up its mission during a ceremony at a coalition base in one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Baghdad, the U.S. military said. "The members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force have been with the coalition forces since the onset of the conflict," said Maj. Gen. Michael Ferriter, deputy commanding general for operations.
Japan has said wants to withdraw its remaining military personnel from Iraq by year’s end, wrapping up an overseas mission that had pleased Washington but divided this pacifist nation With a small contingent left to carry out an air support mission, Japan flew in goods and personnel in support of the U.S.-led coalition. "This was a very valuable experience," said Sgt. Maj. Takeshi Yamada, Japan's operations coordinator, also quoted in a U.S. military statement. "This is a good experience for young soldiers who will be deploying overseas again." The departure ceremony took place at Faw palace, one of executed dictator Saddam's former palaces, at Camp Victory near Baghdad international airport. The Japanese contingent on the ground was last deployed in Samawa, southern Iraq, where it supplied water, rebuilt schools and roads, and provided medical aid up until 2006. Japan's logistics mission then carried out 800 flights, transporting 46,000 passengers and 600 tons of goods between Baghdad and southern Iraq, according to the U.S. military. Troops were sent to Iraq in 2004 by then prime minister Junichiro Koizumi after the March 2003 invasion, marking the first time that Japan deployed armed forces to a country where fighting was underway since 1945. Japan has been officially pacifist since its defeat in World War II. The end of the air mission in Iraq was ordered on November 28, winding up a four-year deployment which involved 600 troops. The mission, which was deeply unpopular with the Japanese public, was Japan's last remaining military operation in Iraq after the country ended its landmark ground deployment in 2006. "Japan will continue to support Iraq through measures such as yen-denominated loans and technological cooperation," Prime Minister Taro Aso has said. The government is now expected to focus on extending an Indian Ocean naval mission providing refueling support to the U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan.

Pakistani Militants Torch Humvees For Western Forces

Pakistani Militants Torch Humvees For Western Forces (NSI News Source Info) PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) December 7, 2008: Hordes of Pakistani militants set on fire 96 trucks carrying Humvees and military vehicles for Western forces in Afghanistan in a raid in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Sunday, police said. Security guards said they were overpowered by more than 200 militants who attacked two terminals on Peshawar's ring road, where trucks carrying Humvees and other military vehicles were parked.A security official stands among burnt military vehicles on the outskirts of Peshawar December 7, 2008. Hordes of Pakistani militants set on fire 96 trucks carrying Humvees and military vehicles for Western forces in Afghanistan in a raid in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Sunday, police said
"It happened at around 2.30 a.m.. They fired rockets, hurled hand grenades and then set ablaze 96 trucks," senior police officer, Azeem Khan, told Reuters. Most supplies, including fuel, for U.S. and NATO forces in landlocked Afghanistan are trucked through Pakistan, much of it the fabled Khyber Pass that runs through the mountains between Peshawar, capital of North-West Frontier Province and the border town of Torkham. Khan said one private security guard was killed in an exchange of fire between police and militants. "They were shouting Allah-o-Akbar (God is Great) and Down With America. They broke into the terminals after snatching guns from us," said Mohammad Rafiullah, security guard of a terminal. Last month, the government closed the main supply route to Western forces in Afghanistan for a week after militants hijacked more than a dozen trucks on the road through Khyber Pass. There have been worrying signs this year that Islamist militancy has spread to the area from more distant tribal regions where the Taliban and al Qaeda have taken root. Peshawar city police chief, Safwat Ghayyur, said the government planned to launch an operation against "miscreants" in near future. "Certainly, a plan of operation is in place as we have crafted a strategy in which we will have to go after them," he said. The other main land route to Afghanistan runs from the southwestern city of Quetta through the border town of Chaman to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Russia To Deliver Up To 30 Superjet 100 Planes To Indonesia

Russia To Deliver Up To 30 Superjet 100 Planes To Indonesia (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - December 7, 2008: Russia's Sukhoi Civil Aircraft and the Indonesian regional air carrier Kartika have signed an agreement on the delivery of up to 30 Superjet 100 passenger aircraft worth $448 mln, the company said on Friday.
The Superjet 100 project is a family of medium-haul passenger aircraft developed by a leading Russian manufacturer, Sukhoi, in cooperation with U.S. and European aviation corporations, including Boeing, Snecma, Thales, Messier Dowty, Liebherr Aerospace and Honeywell. "The agreement outlines the basic terms for the delivery of 15 Superjet 100 aircraft in the basic configuration and provides an option for 15 additional planes. The order is worth $448 million," the company said in a statement. The Indonesian airline became the first customer of the Superjet 100 in Southeastern Asia and first deliveries are due to start in 2011. Kartika will use the 95-seat passenger plane for domestic and international flights. "Sukhoi Superjet 100 will become a perfect addition to the Kartika fleet," the statement quoted Sukhoi Civil Aircraft President Viktor Subbotin as saying. Sukhoi said earlier there were at least 100 firm orders for the aircraft, which are due to complete certification flights in the second half of 2009. Sukhoi, which is part of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), plans to manufacture at least 700 Superjet 100s, and intends to sell 35% of them to North America, 25% to Europe, 10% to Latin America, and 7% to Russia and China.

U.S. Successfully Tests Anti-Missile Shield

U.S. Successfully Tests Anti-Missile Shield (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - December 7, 2008: The Pentagon successfully intercepted a long-range missile target on Dec. 5 in a simulated attack to test the defense system it wants to expand in Eastern Europe to counter attacks from North Korea or Iran. "This was the largest, most complex task that we've ever done," said Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency. But the target missile's countermeasures, intended to simulate decoys from enemy missiles - precisely what critics of the defense shield doubt the system could overcome - failed to deploy, he said. "Countermeasures are very difficult to deploy," he said, adding that "there are many threats today that don't have countermeasures." The interception took place at 3:29 pm (2029 GMT), Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, making the effort the eighth successful intercept out of the 13 tests conducted since 1999, with the last successful test taking place in September 2007. Overall military chiefs approved of the effort. "I am extremely pleased," said O'Reilly at a press briefing. "All the systems were working together," he added, referring to the complex alignment of radars, sensors and timing to coordinate the high-octane missile. Brian Green, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategic capabilities, added that the effort was an "operationally realistic test." The effectiveness of the defense shield has been questioned by some scientists who claim the program would be unable to distinguish between a missile and a decoy - precisely what failed to be realized in the Dec. 5 effort.
The test is seen as a crucial step towards a controversial anti-missile shield Washington plans to base in Eastern Europe. The Bush administration wants to install a radar facility in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in neighboring Poland by 2014. The test of the project, which so far has cost the Defense Department about $100 billion, comes at a critical time before president-elect Barack Obama moves into the White House on Jan. 20. Obama has so far not committed to the missile defense shield. One of his senior foreign policy advisers, Denis McDonough, has indicated however that Obama would support the program if the technology proves viable. Moscow has repeatedly voiced strong objections to the shield plan, which Washington insists is not directed against Russia but at "rogue states" such as Iran and North Korea. In late November Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged Obama to drop the planned shield in Eastern Europe. "This project is aimed against the strategic potential of Russia. And we can only give it an adequate response," he said. Earlier last month Moscow raised alarm in Western capitals by warning it could place missiles in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, close to Poland, in response to the plan. On Friday the interceptor missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, as the target - a fake warhead mimicking long-range ballistic missiles from nations like North Korea - was set off from the Alaskan island of Kodiak.
Additional Info: Views from Readers
Kodiak Rocket Launch Information Group said... How Do We Define Success?
On December 5, a rocket launched from Kodiak, Alaska was intercepted by a rocket launched from Vandenburg AFB in California
1. It wasn't a resounding "success": According to Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the Missile Defense Agency, "...the target did not release planned countermeasures designed to try to confuse the interceptor missile. O'Reilly did not say what those countermeasures were, but they often include decoys or chaff to throw off shoot-down attempts." Apparently the technology to shoot down a real enemy missile which would have countermeasures is not yet working.
2.It wasn't a truly realistic test: The "test" was very tightly controlled - everybody knew when the interceptor would be launched and its probable path (they've launched targets from KLC before). One wonders what would happen if they actually had to scramble an interceptor with no prior warning. Now that would be a true test.
3. If the U.S. can't launch an ICBM that works the way it should, why do we think other countries can? Neither North Korea or Iran has ever successfully fired a missile that had any chance of landing anywhere near the U.S. Right now, if North Korea got really lucky, they might be able to hit the tip of the Aleutians. We are sure the folks out there appreciate the expenditure of ten billion dollars a year to help them sleep more soundly.
4. It's ALL about the money: Roughly $10 billion is spent per year on the program, which is run by defense contractor Boeing Co. but includes work by most of the nation's largest weapons makers. It is spread across three branches of the military and is composed of missiles, radar and satellites designed to intercept missiles during different stages of flight.
5. Fortunately, President-elect Barack Obama expressed skepticism about the capabilities of the system during his campaign, leading to speculation he may reduce the program's scope. Russia has strongly objected to plans to install missile interceptors in Eastern Europe.
6. At least the true character of the KLC has finally been admitted. According to the AP: "WASHINGTON - The Defense Department said today it shot down a missile launched from a military base in Alaska..."
7. Finally, Kodiak desperately needs a new high school and a new police station and jail. Our roads are a mess and infrastructure in Kodiak, Alaska and all across the United States is crumbling. Take a drive down Mission Road past the Salvation Army and ask yourself: Is Missile Defense worth it? Friday's test cost between $120 million to $150 million.