Monday, December 29, 2008

India: Tensions with Pakistan Subsiding / Pakistan Army: We Must 'Avoid Conflict' With India / Pakistani Army Continues To Withdraw From NWFP

India: Tensions with Pakistan Subsiding / Pakistan Army: We Must 'Avoid Conflict' With India / Pakistani Army Continues To Withdraw From NWFP (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - December 30, 2008: High-level military contacts between India and Pakistan are defusing tensions in the wake of the Nov. 26 terror attacks in Mumbai, Indian Defence Ministry sources said. The two countries' directors-general for military operations talked at length over the military hot line on Dec. 28 to clarify the reasons behind the two armies' troop movements, the sources confirmed. A senior Foreign Ministry official said New Delhi will use diplomatic efforts and international pressure to persuade Islamabad to take action against terrorists operating from that country, not any military option. The official dismissed a report by the Stratfor global intelligence service last week that said India was preparing surgical strikes inside Pakistan. According to media reports, Stratfor's report said, "These most likely would take the form of unilateral precision strikes inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir, along with special forces action on the ground in Pakistan proper." A Defence Ministry official said India is not mobilizing its land forces, which are on a general alert only. Defence Ministry sources said India will not put large amounts of troops "eyeball to eyeball" with Pakistan as was done in 2002 in the wake of the December 2001 attacks on the Indian Parliament by Muslim terrorists. But sources said Indian forces remain capable of quick air attacks on terrorist camps.
Pakistan Army: We Must 'Avoid Conflict' With India
(NSI News Source News) December 30, 2008: Pakistan said Tuesday that India had moved troops toward their shared border, following Islamabad's own redeployment of forces toward the frontier amid tensions over the Mumbai attacks. Indian officials would not comment on the claim, but denied another allegation that they had activated forward air bases. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made the claims in a televised address that included overtures toward India to help improve the frayed ties between the nuclear-armed neighbors, who have already fought three wars in the past six decades. In this handout photo released by Inter-Services Public Relations department of Pakistan, Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, right, Chief of Pakistan army meets visiting Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Monday, Dec. 29, 2008. Pakistan's army chief stressed Monday the need to "avoid conflict" with India, days after he began moving troops toward the rivals' shared border as tensions rose over last month's terror attacks on Mumbai "I understand India has activated their forward air bases, and I think if they are deactivated, then it will be a big positive signal," Qureshi said. "Similarly, as far as their ground forces are concerned and which have been deputed and deployed, if they relocated to their peacetime positions, then it will also be a positive signal." Qureshi further offered to send a high-level delegation to New Delhi to help investigate the November assault in Mumbai, which killed 164 people. The foreign minister, who was among several Pakistani leaders who have been calling for calm in the region, reiterated that India had not turned over any evidence backing up its claims that Pakistani militants had staged the Mumbai assault. However, he noted that Indian officials had said that was because their own investigation was not over. "And the government of Pakistan wants to assure them that when the evidence will come to us, our thinking from day one was constructive and peaceful and we will do our best to reach the bottom of the matter," Qureshi said. An Indian military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, denied that key air bases had been activated. "We have not activated any of our forward air bases," he said. There was no immediate comment by India's defense ministry on the statement that the South Asian giant had moved some troops to forward positions. Intelligence officials said last week that Pakistan is shifting thousands of troops away from its militant-infested northwest regions bordering Afghanistan and toward India. Witnesses in towns along the Indian border have reported seeing more troops than usual, but there have been no signs of a massive buildup on the Pakistani side.
Pakistani Army Continues To Withdraw From NWFP
(NSI News Source Info) December 30, 2008: The Pakistani military continues to withdraw forces from the troubled Northwest Frontier Province and the adjacent tribal areas. Another division is believed to be leaving the region to return to the eastern frontier and bolster Pakistani forces facing India during rising tensions over last month's terror attack in Mumbai. Witnesses in Pakistan's tribal agencies of Bajaur, Mohmand, and North and South Waziristan said large, heavily armed columns have been leaving the region, The News reported. A 200-truck convoy with accompanying artillery and tanks was seen withdrawing from the town of Miramshah in North Waziristan.
A Pakistani Army soldier sits on an armored vehicle as he patrols in Matta in Swat, where the Taliban has effectively taken control of the settled district and neighboring Shangla Hundreds of soldiers were seen leaving the military base at Ramzak in North Waziristan. Ramzak borders South Waziristan. Operations against Baitullah Mehsud's forces in early 2008 were launched from Ramzak. Other witnesses said more than 20 military trucks left Ghalanai, the main town in Mohmand. The Pakistani military began moving troops from the insurgency-riddled Northwest Frontier Province on Dec. 26. The 14th Division began withdrawing from the Bajaur-Dir region and was moved back to its assigned area of operations in the Bahawalpur region in southeastern Punjab province. The 14th Division was one of two divisions assigned to reinforce the counterinsurgency operation in Bajaur. A second Pakistani Army division is expected to be pulling out of the northwest. The headquarters element of the 23rd Division along with the attached brigade is thought to be moving out of the Northwest Frontier Province, according to Ravi Rikhye, the editor of Pakistan may remove most of the units assigned to reinforce the Northwest Frontier Province, Rikhye told The Long War Journal. An estimated 14 to 15 brigades were assigned to Pakistan's northwest as the Taliban insurgency grew over the past several years; this number may be reduced to five brigades. "We are approaching the point where two-thirds of the reinforcements sent west are in the process of withdrawing," Rikhye said. Pakistan's redeployment of troops is strictly a defensive move, according to Rikhye and several US officials. The Pakistani military basically stripped the eastern front of units over the course of the past several years to bolster its forces in the northwest. The move is designed to counter a feared Indian strike, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. "The Pakistanis are terrified the Indians may launch an attack, and have to reinforce [their] eastern front," the official said. "What they are doing is prudent from a military perspective, but it is raising alarm bells in India and in the West." The Pakistani military has built a complex system of fixed defensive positions to blunt an Indian attack, Rikhye said. "The essence of Pakistan's defense strategy is to man several lines of very extensive fortifications, usually built on their irrigation canals," he told The Long War Journal. Canals have been built to prevent amphibious assault vehicles from crossing, and the military can flood the canals as well as plains to slow down an armored attack. "These canal defenses are combined with extensive earthworks, pill boxes, minefields, etc." Rikhye said. "It's not easy to get through these defenses," he noted, explaining that one armored and one infantry brigade held off eight strike brigades from the Indian Army in the Shkaergarh salient during the 1971 war. The deployment of forces to the northwest has compromised the effectiveness of the defensive positions. "If the defenses are not manned then they're no use," Rikhye said. "That's why the Pakistani infantry has to come back from the NWFP [Northwest Frontier Province]. It is completely expected for them [the Pakistani Army] to man their defenses at this time, and that they do not want to be in the NWFP [fighting the Taliban] is perfect." The regular Pakistani Army has not aggressively fought the Taliban in the northwest. The task has been left to the poorly armed and trained paramilitary Frontier Corps. Occasionally, as in the case of the Bajaur offensive in the Loisam region this fall, or the offensive in South Waziristan in January, a Pakistani unit is assigned to combat duty. But the regular Army largely sits in garrison while the Taliban consolidate power in the region.

USMC Spending Millions To Up-Armor Cougar MRAPs

USMC Spending Millions To Up-Armor Cougar MRAPs (NSI News Source Info) December 30, 2009: Responding to the continued threat posed by armor-melting explosively formed penetrators, the U.S. Marine Corps will add thousands of pounds of scalable bolt-on plates to some Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.Marine Corps Systems Command has purchased $30 million in new add-on armor kits from Force Protection Inc., the Ladson, S.C.,-based company announced Dec. 17. It will pay for kits to be used on 196 Cougar MRAPs, which the company manufactures, said Damon Walsh, a vice president at Force Protection. "This is one step toward enabling commanders to dial the threat-protection level up or down to meet operational requirements," Walsh said. "Ultimately, as [MRAPs] get smaller, the idea is that you could still use it on different platforms." The Corps asked for 3,600 MRAPs in 2006 to eventually replace Humvees in the fleet, but it cut the order to about 2,200 last year amid concerns about mobility and how many vehicles were needed. In November, the Defense Department began fielding the first wave of smaller MRAPs in Afghanistan. The Corps bought kits for 192 six-wheel Category 2 Cougars and four, four-wheel Category 1 Cougars, Walsh said. He estimated the armor will add about 5,000 pounds to a Category 2 vehicle and 3,500 pounds to a Category 1 vehicle. SysCom deferred comment to officials with the Pentagon's Joint Program Office on MRAPs, who could not be reached. U.S. forces have weighed options to mitigate EFP blasts since insurgents first began using them in Iraq in 2006. They are usually caused by a steel cylinder filled with explosives that turns a concave plate inside into a molten copper slug that can penetrate most armor. The Force Protection kits have 11¾-inch thick plates that can be cut to fit any vehicle capable of carrying the weight, Walsh said. Officials declined to disclose what the plates are made from, but Walsh said it comprises "layers of metals and nonmetals" designed to slow the blast. Per square foot, it weighs about 102 pounds and costs about $2,000. It was blast-tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in the fall, Walsh said. While Defense Department studies have shown that MRAPs and up-armored Humvees are susceptible to rollovers, Walsh said that won't be the case with the up-armored Cougar. Depending on where Marines choose to bolt the plates, they will lower the vehicle's center of gravity, he said. But a June 13 report by the Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned raised other concerns about the weight of MRAPs. In one example cited in that report, two soldiers drowned April 23 after a road in Iraq collapsed under the weight of the vehicle, causing it to roll over into a canal. "Road shoulders in the Middle East do not meet U.S. standards and may collapse under the weight of the MRAP, especially when the road is above grade and can fall to lower ground [ditches and canals]," the report states. A Category 2 Cougar has a curb weight of 19½ tons and can handle a payload of an additional 6½, Force Protection officials said. Walsh said even with bolt-on armor, crew and equipment aboard, the vehicle payload would still fall under 6½ tons. The Corps' deal with Force Protection follows an April contract between the Defense Department and Navistar International, worth $261 million, for more armor. Navistar provides most of the military's smaller four-wheeled MRAPs.

U.S. Navy Frigate Arrives In Georgia On Two-Day Visit

U.S. Navy Frigate Arrives In Georgia On Two-Day Visit (NSI News Source Info) TBILISI - December 29, 2008: A U.S. frigate arrived in the Georgian port of Poti on Monday as part of a two-day visit, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Georgia said. The USS Taylor (FFG-50) guided missile frigate would make a two-day regular port call the spokesman said, adding that no drills were planned during the stopover. The 20-member crew will be met by representatives of the local administration and the Georgian Coast Guard, and a number of cultural events have been scheduled, he said. U.S. warships have made similar visits to the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi since 2001. The USS Barry (DDG-52) guided missile destroyer visited Georgia in late November. The U.S. supported its ally Georgia throughout the August conflict with Russia over Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Sikorsky Wins $85M Order for six MH-60Rs / Pentagon Contract Announcement

Sikorsky Wins $85M Order for six MH-60Rs / Pentagon Contract Announcement (NSI News Source Info) December 29, 2008: Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Stratford, Conn., was awarded on Dec 23, 2008 an $84,988,629 firm/fixed/price contract to exercise option for six (6) Navy MH-60R helicopters.
Work is to be performed in Stratford, Conn., with an estimated completion date of Dec 31, 2012. One bid was solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).
The Sikorsky SH-60/MH-60 Seahawk (or Sea Hawk) is a twin turboshaft engine, multi-mission United States Navy helicopter based on the airframe of the United States Army UH-60 Black Hawk and a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family. The U.S. Navy uses the H-60 airframe under the model designations SH-60B, SH-60F, HH-60H, MH-60R, and MH-60S. Able to deploy aboard any air-capable frigate, destroyer, cruiser, fast combat support ship, amphibious assault ship, or aircraft carrier, the Seahawk can handle antisubmarine warfare (ASW), undersea warfare (USW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), naval special warfare (NSW) insertion, search and rescue (SAR), combat search and rescue (CSAR), vertical replenishment (VERTREP), and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). All Navy H-60s carry either the Lucas Western or Breeze Eastern rescue hoist for SAR/CSAR missions.

Boeing Wins $621M Order for CH-47F Production / Pentagon Contract Announcement

Boeing Wins $621M Order for CH-47F Production / Pentagon Contract Announcement (NSI News Source Info) December 29, 2008: The Boeing Company, Ridley Park, Pa., was awarded on Dec 19, 2008, a $620,744,955 firm/fixed/price contract for CH-47F Multiyear contract for second year Production Lot 7, 16 each CH-47F new build aircraft, 15 each CH-47F remanufacture aircraft, over and above, Production Lot 8 Long Lead Items. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, Pa., with an estimated completion date of Sept 30, 2013. One bid was solicited and one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (w58rgz-08-c-0098). The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is a versatile, twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicpter. Its top speed of 170 knots (196 mph, 315 km/h) was faster than utility and attack helicopters of the 1960s and even many of today. Its primary roles include troop movement, artillery emplacement and battlefield resupply. There is a wide loading ramp at the rear of the fuselage and three external-cargo hooks. Chinooks have been sold to 16 nations; the largest users are the U.S. Army and the Royal Air Force, see Boeing Chinook (UK variants). The Chinook is now produced by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.

Canada Accepts 2-Year Delay for S-92 Deliveries / Canadian Forces to Receive Helicopter Fleet with Leading Edge Technology

Canada Accepts 2-Year Delay for S-92 Deliveries / Canadian Forces to Receive Helicopter Fleet with Leading Edge Technology
(NSI News Source Info) GATINEAU, Quebec - December 29, 2008: The Minister of Public Works and Government Services, the Honourable Christian Paradis, and the Minister of National Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, today announced amendments to the contracts with Sikorsky International Operations, Inc., for the Maritime Helicopter Project.
“These amendments represent a significant accomplishment in getting compliant maritime helicopters with a minimum of delay, while protecting the investment of Canadian taxpayers,” said Minister Paradis. “They will ensure that the Canadian Forces receive the new leading-edge helicopters that they need.”
“The Canadian Forces will now receive their first Cyclone helicopter in November 2010, a date that will allow our men and women in uniform to continue their outstanding work,” stated Minister MacKay. “We’re getting a great aircraft and we have come to the best agreement possible for the Canadian Forces members and for the Canadian public.”
In November 2004, the Government of Canada signed contracts with Sikorsky International Operations Inc. for the Maritime Helicopter Project, to provide 28 helicopters to replace the Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter fleet, as well as 20 years of in-service support and a training facility. In January 2008, Sikorsky formally advised the Government of delays in the original schedule. As a result of in-depth negotiations, these contract amendments were made to minimize the schedule changes, and add valuable cost-effective improvements to the helicopters within the original budget of the project.
This project is a large and complex procurement with many factors affecting the delivery schedule. The government has determined that the delays experienced were largely outside the control of the Contractor. The contract amendments provide the best option to the replacement of the Sea King Fleet with new, state of the art, enhanced capability Cyclone helicopters.
This will ensure that Sikorsky and its major Canadian subcontractors continue to perform work to provide the Canadian Forces with a helicopter that meets the needs of Canada—helicopters that will have the capacity to operate effectively aboard our Navy ships during military roles and missions both at home and abroad.
The Canwest News Service reported Dec. 29 that the “Conservative government has decided that U. S. aerospace giant Sikorsky will not have to pay $36-million in late penalties even though the maritime helicopter it is building for the Canadian Forces is being delivered two years late. The penalties were put in place when the contract was signed in 2004 as a way to ensure the aircraft would arrive on time. The original contract called for the first Cyclone helicopter to be delivered to Canada last month but now that won't happen until November 2010. Instead, the government has cut a new deal with Sikorsky, resetting the clock on when the firm would be liable for late penalties, if at all. The U. S. company has been given another two years before facing any sanctions.

Iraqi Air Force Maturing As An Establishment

Iraqi Air Force Maturing As An Establishment (NSI News Source Info) BAGHDAD — December 29, 2008: A $4.7 million project is ongoing to improve the Iraqi Air Force infrastructure and facilities at New al-Muthana Air Base here. Two barracks buildings and associated facilities will be constructed as part of the project, also slated to repair eight generators and water and wastewater distribution systems. Once repaired, these systems will have the capacity to support the growth of each Iraqi Air Force squadron at NAMAB. The C-130E's of 23sq moved from Al Ali to Baghdad-Muthenna in early 2006 and have since been operated by Iraqi flight crews The Iraqi Air Force’s Squadron 23’s fleet of C-130Es provides tactical airlift support of distinguished visitors, passengers, Army troops, patients, prisoner transfers, and cargo. Squadron 87’s fleet of King Air 350s provide reconnaissance and light transportation. Despite very different missions, these squadrons face the same problem—a lack of adequate housing for personnel and base infrastructure. U.S. Air Force Maj. Craig Thomas, Base Transition Engineer for Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq’s Coalition Air Force Training Team, said, “NAMAB has currently exceeded available capacity … until new dorms are complete, the Iraqi Air Force (IqAF) does not have the capability to grow at NAMAB. [Without these facilities,] force generation for training and operational missions will cease and decisive points to establish the foundation for a credible and enduring IqAF will not be reached.” To overcome the housing shortage and dilapidated infrastructure, CAFTT worked with the IqAF to determine their facility requirements. These requirements evolved into a project spearheaded by CAFTT and MNSTC-I’s J7 (Engineer) directorate. The NAMAB Vice-Commander said, “Thank God for these dorms. We can now quit living like sardines in a can. Overcrowding is a real problem here and we can’t wait for these dorms to allow us to spread out. Thank you for what you are doing to help us.” Housing and facility improvements for Squadron 23 are scheduled to be complete by May 2009.