Thursday, February 05, 2009

Taliban Trains Its Fighters In Pakistan's Swat Valley

Taliban Trains Its Fighters In Pakistan's Swat Valley
By Nadeem Sarwar and Aqeel Yousafzai
(NSI News Source Info) Peshawar - February 6, 2009: Peuchar is a little-known place high up in restive Swat Valley in Pakistan's part of the Koh Hindu Kush range, but its rugged mountain terrain and dense pine forests make it a perfect hiding place for local Taliban fighters and their occasional Al Qaeda visitors. Maulana Fazlullah, a radical cleric whose followers have waged a war for the enforcement of Taliban rule, controls almost the entire Swat district from this remote area, located at an altitude of more than 8,500 metres, via aides issuing instruction to the helpless local population through a pirated radio frequency.
Some locals even say that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden's 16-year-old son, Hamza bin Laden, was seen here late last year with around a dozen of his guards.
Though the claim could not be confirmed independently, there are strong indications that Al Qaeda has assisted local militants to run a training camp near Peuchar village - otherwise known for its wild, juicy apples - for several years.
"We have a lot of evidence that hundreds of foreign and local militants are present in Peuchar camp. They plan operations there and dispatch suicide bombers for attacks," said Ayub Khan Ashari, provincial minister for science and technology in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP), of which Peshawar is the capital.
"Since 2005 I have informed the military and civilian officials in NWFP that militant activities at Peuchar are increasing and that they should do something about it. But no one took me seriously," he said.
According to locals and some visitors, there are two small clearings in the pine forests just a few hundred metres up from the village, each of the size of a football field, where militants train their fighters and suicide bombers for attacks on Pakistani security forces and political leaders or US-led international forces in Afghanistan.
Not far from there are two big natural caves that were modified into a cave complex like Tora Bora in Afghanistan, where bin Laden hid before reportedly later escaping to north-western Pakistan in 2002.
"With some construction work the militants have improved ventilation in the caves which are so big that scores of people, supplies and vehicles can be concealed there," said a local who recently fled the area.
According to intelligence sources, local residents and militant supporters, the camps were initially set up between 1988 and 1990 mainly by Pakistani mujahideen (holy warriors) who returned from Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal and prepared to start Pakistan's proxy war in the Indian part of the disputed Kashmir region.
Al Qaeda operative Abu Abdullah, the co-founder of the Peuchar camp, initially provided technical assistance to establish the terrorist infrastructure. He died in the Afghan province of Khost in 1991.
"Some mujahideen who were trained here were dispatched to Kashmir through the Shangla and Mansehra areas," said Qari Farmanullah, a local member of militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad.
According to Farmanullah, who claims to have visited the camp several times, dozens of militants involved in an Islamic insurgency in China's southern province of Xinjang also trained in Peuchar.
When the 2001 US invasion turned Afghanistan into an unsafe place for Al Qaeda, at least some of its fighters moved to Peuchar and used the terrorist infrastructure to train their operatives from Central Asia, Sudan, Egypt, Somalia and Bangladesh.Among the known Al Qaeda visitors was Khalid al-Suleman, a Sudanese operative who died in a missile attack in South Waziristan in 2007.
The camp was later taken over by Fazlullah who launched an Islamic rebellion against the Pakistani government in late 2007 and joined the local Taliban movement. He appointed Ibn Amin, a hard-headed militant from Swat, as the chief trainer.
Amin, in his late 30s, walks around the camp dressed in a Muslim shroud, a white un-sewn sheet, which symbolises his desire for so-called martyrdom.
Peuchar seems to be ideal for Al Qaeda because of its favourable geography. It is outside Pakistan's tribal region where US-led forces have focussed their attention since 2001 to hunt down Al Qaeda's leadership.
The militants, believed to number between 400 and 600, can use the difficult terrain and the forests to turn the area into a killing field for Pakistani foot soldiers, a fact which might have kept government forces away from Peuchar.
Ashari, who is on Fazlullah's hit list, believes the government was not serious in eliminating the terrorist camp.
"After becoming a minister last year, I provided the details of the camp even to President Asif Ali Zardari, the NWFP governor and the corps commander in Peshawar. We were assured that effective action will be taken to close the camp but the administrative and operational structure of the camp still stands intact and active."
A military spokesman in Swat admitted that militant activities at Peuchar have intensified because of years of negligence, but warned that a battle in that area could be very bloody.
"The miscreants have made the local population hostage and a full-force military action might result in huge collateral damage. To avoid this we hit the selective targets and such actions have killed numerous terrorists," he added.
In October, when a Chinese engineer escaped from Peuchar after one-and-a-half months of Taliban captivity, Pakistani jets and artillery pounded the place, leaving dozens of militants dead.
The strike forced Hamza bin Laden to leave Peuchar immediately and move to possibly Kunar or Nooristan provinces, said a local source whose claim could not be confirmed.

Musharraf Has No Regrets About Any Of His Post-Coup Actions

Musharraf Has No Regrets About Any Of His Post-Coup Actions By Shahzad Raza
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD - February 6, 2009: Retired general Pervez Musharraf was in a relaxed and calm mood.
The latter half of the nine years he was in power was full of trouble. But now he seems to be enjoying a peaceful life, though he must be missing what he perceives as his days of glory.
He has just returned from a two-week lecture tour to the United States.
Not only did he attract droves of American listeners on the lecture circuit, he is said to have also made a fortune for himself.
In an informal chat with Dawn, the former president expressed his views on a range of contemporary national issues.
While he stood down as army chief in November 2007 and resigned as president in August 2008, he occupies the well-guarded Army House.
And adjacent to the sprawling lawns of the Army House is his favourite room with glass windows, expensive furniture, a collection of antiques, and an LCD television set with a sound system.“I love this life. I am relaxed and satisfied. And I am enjoying my lecture tours. Next month I am going to India for the same purpose. Let’s counter the Indians on their own home ground,” said the former general.
Clad in a purple pullover and brown trousers, former president Musharraf said he had no regrets about any of his actions since the military coup of October 1999. He argued that politicians were equally responsible for the state Pakistan was in.
He explained that the reason he resigned as president — a difficult decision — was that Pakistan faced what he described as critical circumstances.He offered his oft-repeated assertion that while democracy was the only system of government that must continue, its British model was not suitable for Pakistan. What the country needed instead, he continued, was a democratic model tailored to its specific needs.
During his recent US visit, the retired general held separate meetings with former US vice-president Dick Cheney, former secretary of state Colin Powel and Senator John Kerry.
He attended receptions hosted in his honour by former caretaker prime minister Moin Qureshi and former US ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain. He found the meetings interesting and productive.
“I made it clear to the Americans that Pakistan is doing enough in the war against terror. I warned them not to distrust the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) which has played a key role in breaking Al Qaeda networks in Pakistan.”
ISI’s role
The former general was annoyed with those who believed the ISI had been double-crossing the Americans.
“How can one assume the ISI is playing a double game? It was, in fact, the ISI that captured hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives from Pakistan,” he said.
He rejected allegations that he had been showing leniency towards Taliban militants.
Referring to abortive assassination attempts on his life, he wondered how he could have taken those elements lightly who wanted to kill him and destroy Pakistan.
Many believe that his downfall began on March 9, 2007, the day he decided to get rid of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. The subsequent events merely hastened his decline.
While the former president defended all the steps he took and the decisions he made in the final year in power, he refused to indulge in debate, saying he would talk about the issues in detail at an appropriate time in future.
In the past, retired General Musharraf repeatedly claimed that Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto had no role in the 2007 general elections. But he was proved wrong. Despite his reported arrangements with Ms Bhutto, she came back before the elections. It forced the Saudis to allow Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan as well.From his take on the events, it appears that the former president wanted both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to return after the general elections. If his plan had succeeded, it would have allowed the PML-Q to win the election and him to complete his second five-year tenure.
It also appears that the former president did not want to enforce the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). But he did so “under pressure” from his political aides, who begged him to sign the NRO instead of allowing Ms Bhutto to become prime minister for a third time.
While he was reluctant to talk about national politics, Mr Musharraf spoke extensively on the war against terror and Pakistan’s relations with India.
He believed that a half-hearted operation in the tribal areas and Swat would serve no purpose. He claimed that during his tenure the militants were on the run, but they took undue advantage of the recent peace initiatives of the incumbent government.
The former general proposed a sizeable increase in the strength of the Frontier Corps (FC). He said the FC should be provided with tanks and the latest weaponry to take on the militants.
His critics blamed him for secretly allowing the United States to carry out drone attacks in the tribal areas. He dismissed as untrue such allegations, though he admitted that he was under strong American pressure to allow the drone strikes.
“I made it clear to them that only Pakistani security forces had the authority to operate in the tribal areas.”
The former president expressed no desire to enter politics in the near future. In 2009, he said, he would deliver lectures in different parts of the world.

Kyrgyzstan Says No Proposals From Pentagon On U.S. Airbase

Kyrgyzstan Says No Proposals From Pentagon On U.S. Airbase
(NSI News Source Info) BISHKEK - February 6, 2009: Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov dismissed on Friday media reports that his country had received a set of new proposals from Washington concerning the closure of a U.S. airbase on its territory. U.S. soldiers patrol the air base during American-French joint exercises at the U.S. Manas Air Base, located near the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. "I neither met nor talked to representatives of the U.S. embassy. I have received no new proposals," he said. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev announced plans to close down the U.S. Manas base, used to support NATO operations in nearby Afghanistan since 2001, after talks on Tuesday in Moscow, where he secured substantial financial aid from Russia. Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov said on Thursday the decision to close the airbase was not connected to the aid. Russia is to write off Kyrgystan's $180 million debt and give the country a $2 billion discounted loan and $150 million in financial assistance. The Kyrgyz government submitted on Wednesday a bill to gain the parliamentary approval needed to proceed with the closure of the base. The parliament, dominated by the pro-presidential Ak Zhol party, is expected to consider the bill next week.

Africa: The Continent With Never-Ending Civil Unrest, Conflicts And Wars

Africa: The Continent With Never-Ending Civil Unrest, Conflicts And Wars
(NSI News Source Info) February 6, 2009: A Rwandan soldier carried his weapon through the village of Pinga, in eastern Congo. Several thousand Rwandan troops are spearheading a joint Congolese-Rwandan operation to hunt down Hutu extremist rebels in an effort to address the root cause of 15 years of conflict.

Israel And Gaza: Some Peaceful Moments....Good Friday!!!!!

Israel And Gaza: Some Peaceful Moments....Good Friday!!!!!
(NSI News Source Info) February 6, 2009: An Israeli soldier carried a large photograph from the recent military operation in Gaza past a campaign billboard for Benjamin Netanyahu.Benjamin Netanyahu opposition leader of the right-wing Likud Party, who is likely to prevail in Israeli elections scheduled for Feb. 10. The Hebrew text reads: "Big Likud, stable government."

China's Economy Is Suffering

China's Economy Is Suffering
(NSI News Source Info) February 6, 2009: Thousands crowded the first job fair in Beijing since a week-long holiday for the Lunar New Year.China's economy is suffering from a collapse in global demand for Chinese textiles, toys and other goods and from a downturn at home in real estate, auto sales and other industries. The government says some 20 million migrant workers have lost their jobs.

France May Take NATO Command Post In U.S.

France May Take NATO Command Post In U.S.
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS - February 6, 2009: France is in talks on taking control of two NATO command posts, including a prestigious one in the United States that has never been led by a foreign commander, defense officials said Thursday. Such a move could also be accompanied by the injection of hundreds more French troops into NATO, a European defense official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no deal had been finalized. President Nicolas Sarkozy has been looking to tighten France's links with NATO, particularly ahead of the defense alliance's April summit meeting in Strasbourg and Kehl, Germany, that will celebrate its 60th anniversary. The European official and a French military official said France was in talks to put a French general in charge of two command posts: one in Norfolk, Virginia, responsible for laying out the long-term vision of the Atlantic alliance, and the other an operational command based in Lisbon. The French official also spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are still under way. The Norfolk command, known as the Allied Command Transformation, is particularly prestigious. It is responsible for helping lay out the alliance's doctrine and for training and preparing for future scenarios, among other duties. News reports in France on Thursday said Sarkozy had won U.S. approval for the proposal for French generals to run the posts. The European official said France could accompany control of the Norfolk post with devoting up to another 800 troops to the NATO umbrella. President Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from NATO's military command in 1966 as he sought to reassert France's independence after the grueling post-World War II years. The decision has hurt trans-Atlantic ties for decades, and France remains outside the alliance's nuclear group and its planning committee. Sarkozy contends that new threats like terrorism are moving the alliance farther away from its original Cold War mind-set, and that it is in France's interest to move toward greater international cooperation.
But he has had to fend off political opposition at home from those who fear he would give up too much of France's freedom of decision-making on military matters. France is deeply involved in nearly all NATO operations.
But its absence from the integrated military command exposes a lack of unity in the alliance. France has tried in the past - and failed - to increase its ties to NATO, including an effort in the mid-1990s by President Jacques Chirac for France to run an operational command of the alliance in Naples.

Somali Pirates Nab $3.2 Million Ransom, Free Ship As US Navy Watches Helplessly

Somali Pirates Nab $3.2 Million Ransom, Free Ship As US Navy Watches Helplessly
(NSI News Source Info) February 6, 2009: Somali pirates freed a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and other heavy weapons Thursday after receiving a $3.2 million ransom. The U.S. Navy watched the pirates go but didn't act because the pirates still hold almost 150 people from other crews hostage.
The seizure of the MV Faina was one of the most brazen in a surge of pirate attacks on shipping off the Somali coast. Vessels from the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet quickly surrounded it after it was seized in September, to make sure the cargo did not get into the hands of Somali insurgent groups believed to have links to al-Qaida. In this Sept. 29, 2008, file photograph originally provided by the U.S. Navy, the pirated merchant ship MV Faina is seen from a U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser in the Indian Ocean. A ransom has been...paid amounting $3.2 Million. U.S. seamen were inspecting the pirates' departing boats to make sure they weren't taking weapons from the Faina's cargo, Mikhail Voitenko, a spokesman for the ship's owners, said Thursday. But the Navy was not taking action against the pirates because it did not want members of other crews still in captivity to be harmed, said Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the 5th Fleet in Bahrain. "Even when you release Faina, there are still 147 mariners held hostage by armed pirates," Campbell told The Associated Press. "We're concerned for their well-being." The captain of the MV Faina, Viktor Nikolsky, said later Thursday the ship was under the protection of the U.S. Navy and will head to Mombasa, Kenya. He said all crew members need medical attention. Pirate spokesman Sugule Ali told the AP by satellite phone that the pirates were leaving the ship slowly because the waters are "a bit turbulent." He spoke from the central Somali coastal town of Harardhere, near where the MV Faina had been anchored. Ali said his group was paid a ransom of $3.2 million, which he said was dropped by plane. Voitenko said the ransom was far below the pirates' original demand of $20 million. The MV Faina was loaded with 33 Soviet-designed battle tanks and crates of small arms. In the past, diplomats in the region have said the cargo was destined for southern Sudan, something the autonomous region has denied. Spokesman Alfred Mutua repeated the Kenyan government's claim to the cargo Thursday. Nina Karpachova, Ukraine's top human rights official, said MV Faina crew is comprised of 17 Ukrainians, two Russians and a Latvian. "It's understandable that their health is poor and they are psychologically exhausted," she said. Piracy has taken an increasing toll on international shipping in the key water link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. Pirates made an estimated $30 million hijacking ships for ransom last year, seizing 42 vessels off Somalia's 1,900-mile (3,000-kilometer) coastline. Although attempts to hijack ships remain steady at around 15 a month, analysts say the pirates are proving less successful. The pirates took two ships in December and three ships since the beginning of this year, compared with seven in November and five in October. The lower rate of success follows the move by several countries to send warships to deter pirate attacks, said Graeme Gibbon Brooks, managing director of the British company Dryad Maritime Intelligence Service Ltd. The unseasonably bad weather was also a factor, he said. But Brooks said the pirates were showing a worrying new sophistication, jamming emergency frequencies with Arabic music or sending out false distress calls to lure warships away. Somalia does not have a coast guard or navy because it has not had a functioning government since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. They then turned on each other, reducing Somalia to chaos.

India And Russia Aim To Fly Joint Fifth-Generation Fighter By 2017

India And Russia Aim To Fly Joint Fifth-Generation Fighter By 2017
(NSI News Source Info) February 6, 2009: India and Russia hope to induct their joint fifth-generation stealth fighter by 2017, with officials from both countries hoping to iron out their differences in the coming months and sign a development contract by mid-2009.
"There have been differences between the two air forces, as both have specific requirements," says M Fakruddin, director for corporate planning and marketing at Hindustan Aeronautics. HAL will lead the Indian side of the programme.
Russia and India agreed in early 2007 to jointly study and develop a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft Programme, FGFA. On October 27, 2007, NSI quoted Sukhoi's director, Mikhail Pogosyan, "We [India and Russia] will share the funding, engineering and intellectual property [of the new project] in a 50-50 proportion." The Indian version, according to the deal, will be different from the Russian version and specific to Indian requirements. While the Russian version will be a single-pilot fighter, the Indian variant will have a twin-seat configuration based on its operational doctrine which calls for greater radius of combat operations. The wings and control surfaces need to be reworked for the FGFA. Although, development work has yet to begin, the Russian side has expressed optimism that a test article will be ready for its maiden flight by 2012 induction into service by 2017.
"These issues will be sorted out soon and by the middle of the year we expect to start work so that the aircraft is inducted by 2017."
The countries began talks in 2007 to develop a fifth-generation fighter based on the Sukhoi PAK-FA, which Russia hopes will have its first flight by the end of 2009 and is pegged as a challenger to the Lockheed Martin F-22 and Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Last year HAL and Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport agreed to study the joint development of a fighter. Since then, however, there have been differences over the aircraft's design and New Delhi's level of involvement in the project.
"Two major issues must be resolved. India was asked to invest a lot of money, but is unhappy with the level of access to sensitive technology that the Russians plan to give in return.
In addition, the Indian air force is keen on a two-seat fighter, while Russia prefers to focus on a single-seater," says a New Delhi-based observer.

Experts Tell Congress Iraq, Afghanistan May Cost $860 Billion By 2019

Experts Tell Congress Iraq, Afghanistan May Cost $860 Billion By 2019 By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes Mideast Edition
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON — February 6, 2009: Ongoing combat operations overseas could cost the United States more than $860 billion over the next 10 years, further ballooning the defense budget, experts told Congress on Wednesday. That total includes plans to dramatically draw down the number of troops in Iraq in the next few years, according to officials from the Congressional Budget Office. Even with reducing the number of deployed combat troops to 75,000 worldwide, the CBO estimates that the Defense Department faces recurring personnel costs of at least $69 billion a year, coupled with other equipment repair costs. Lawmakers on the House Budget Committee said those estimates will only increase the pressure on budget planners to make difficult choices in how to properly fund the department. "Let there be no mistake: We’ll spend whatever we need to make sure our national security needs are met," said committee Chairman John Spratt Jr., D-S.C. "But now more than ever, with the budget that we have, we must make sure that we so do in a fiscally sound manner." The Pentagon has spent $864 billion on combat operations since 2001, with more than three-fourths of that going into Iraq. Supplemental war costs for fiscal 2007 and 2008 alone topped more than $350 billion. J. Michael Gilmore, assistant director for the CBO, said that helped push fiscal 2008 defense spending to nearly $800 billion, its highest levels since the end of World War II when adjusted for inflation. To keep up with long-term defense goals, he said, the department may need to consider scaling back or dropping major weapons systems in order to balance capabilities with affordability. In addition, the budget office found $18 billion in savings for fiscal 2010 with personnel cuts such as a reduction in Army combat brigades ($7.7 billion), a drop in Marine Corps end-strength ($2.3 billion) and an increase in enrollment fees for Tricare ($2.1 billion), although officials said they were not necessarily recommending any such moves. Ranking committee member Paul Ryan, R-Wis., noted that the Defense Department remains on the Government Accountability Office’s list of "high risk" agencies because of continued concerns about wasteful or negligent spending. Fixing those problems, he said, is crucial to solving the funding issues. "While we must ensure our troops are fully funded, we cannot simply throw money at the Pentagon without the proper oversight or accountability," he said.

Boeing Wins $250M to Support Missile Defense / Boeing Awarded $250 Million Missile Defense Support Contract

Boeing Wins $250M to Support Missile Defense / Boeing Awarded $250 Million Missile Defense Support Contract
(NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS - February 6, 2009: Boeing has been awarded a one-year, $250 million Missile Defense Agency (MDA) contract for Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) maintenance and operations support, ensuring the United States' only defense against long-range ballistic missiles remains ready for operational service.
The contract, awarded Feb. 2, includes an option for 2010 and covers operator and maintainer training, supply chain services, on-site engineering support and technical data development. "Boeing has led the missile defense industry team from inception to operation," said Terry Kunkel, director, GMD Operations and Sustainment for Boeing. "This contract recognizes the GMD team's unmatched performance and builds upon the progress of this vital national security program."
GMD, an integral element of the global ballistic missile defense system, consists of interceptors in underground silos, radars, command and control facilities, communications terminals and a 20,000-mile, fiber-optic communications network. The program has more than 400 partners and suppliers with operations in 36 states and operational sites in Alaska, California and Colorado, as well as the Sea-Based X-Band (SBX) radar system.
MDA recently announced it will solicit competitive bids for future GMD operations and sustainment support no later than 2011. As an industry leader in performance-based logistics, Boeing is well positioned to compete for and win additional GMD support contracts.
"We rely on talent from across Boeing and our industry teammates to bring the best value, the lowest risk and highest performance to our customer," said Kunkel. "With 11 performance-based logistics programs currently under contract, we have the necessary experience to support the Missile Defense Agency today and in the future."
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide

US Army Extends Lockheed's M299 Launcher Contract / U.S. Army Extends Lockheed Martin's M299 Launcher Contract

US Army Extends Lockheed's M299 Launcher Contract / U.S. Army Extends Lockheed Martin's M299 Launcher Contract
(NSI News Source Info) ORLANDO, Fla. - February 6, 2009: Lockheed Martin has received a $31.3 million contract modification to provide additional M299 Launchers and related equipment to the U.S. Army. The M299 is used aboard a variety of platforms to launch all variants of the HELLFIRE missile.
Under the modification to the $51.3 million Launcher Bridge 3 contract awarded in 2007, Lockheed Martin will supply an additional 298 M299 helicopter-mounted four-rail missile launchers, 134 launcher electronic assemblies (LEAs) and multiple spares. The original contract called for delivery of 430 launchers and 376 LEAs to U.S. and international forces, and it also included multiple spares, engineering services and depot support.
Deliveries under the original Bridge 3 contract are currently underway. Lockheed Martin is increasing the rate of production to accommodate the additional launchers, LEAs and spares. With the additional orders, deliveries are scheduled to be completed in 2011.
"The M299's versatility supports multiple missions in a single sortie by any of several platforms," said Ken Musculus, program director for Air-to- Ground Missile Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "Both the M299 and its modernized lightweight successor will accommodate the new JAGM [Joint Air-to-Ground Missile]. This will ensure seamless integration of JAGM into the tri-services arsenal."
Lockheed Martin produces the electronics for the M299 launcher at its facility in Ocala, FL. Marvin Engineering in Inglewood, CA, performs final assembly and test. This contract update will extend M299 production activity in Ocala and Inglewood until 2011.
The all-digital M299 "smart" launcher supports HELLFIRE II or LONGBOW HELLFIRE missiles. Its ability to fire multiple missile variants in any sequence provides maximum operational flexibility on the battlefield. The M299 is integrated on the AH-64D Apache LONGBOW, AH-1Z Cobra, Eurocopter Tiger, SH-60-B Seahawk and UK AH MK1 Apache helicopters.
More than 2,000 M299 launchers have been produced for the U.S. Armed Forces as well as international forces equipped with HELLFIRE weapon systems.
Lockheed Martin was awarded a $30 million contract last year to lead the U.S. Army's modernization of the M299 launcher family. Building on experience gained on producing and supporting the fielded and combat-proven M299, this next-generation lightweight launcher will carry HELLFIRE II and JAGM on attack and reconnaissance helicopters, with a growth path for the DAGR system and other manned and unmanned platforms. The modernized M299 launcher production is scheduled to begin in 2011.

DCNS to Upgrade Colombian Frigates / Colombian Navy Chooses DCNS

DCNS to Upgrade Colombian Frigates / Colombian Navy Chooses DCNS
(NSI News Source Info) February 6, 2009: The Colombian Ministry of Defence signed a 100 million euro contract with DCNS for the modernization of the combat management systems of its Almirante Padilla-class frigates.
The Almirante Padilla Class Frigate is a group of frigates operated by the Colombian Navy. The designation of this class is Type FS 1500 and there are 4 ships in service. The ships were built by Howaldtswerke in Kiel, Germany. Two similar ships operate in the Malaysian Navy as the Kasturi class frigates.
This contract, which is covered by a government-to-government agreement between France and Colombia, will see DCNS and Thales partnering for the modernization of the sensors and the Combat Management System of four Colombian frigates.
This latest success, obtained in the face of intense competition, again illustrates the know-how of French industry in the field of mid-life modernization and upgrade of major surface combatants.

Boeing Bids For $1.6 Billion A-10 Support Contract / Boeing Submits A-10 Sustainment/Integration Contract Proposal To US Air Force

Boeing Bids For $1.6 Billion A-10 Support Contract / Boeing Submits A-10 Sustainment/Integration Contract Proposal To US Air Force
(NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS - February 6, 2009: The Boeing Company today submitted a proposal to the U.S. Air Force to participate as an associate prime contractor in the projected $1.6 billion A-10 Thunderbolt Life-Cycle Program Support (TLPS) contract to support the sustainment of the A-10 Thunderbolt II weapon system and integration of current and future requirements.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II is an American single-seat, twin-engine, straight-wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic for the United States Air Force to provide close air support (CAS) of ground forces by attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets, with a limited air interdiction capability. It is the first U.S. Air Force aircraft designed exclusively for close air support.
"We are confident the Air Force will continue to recognize the resources and competencies that The Boeing Company brings to the warfighter," said Steve Waltman, director of Boeing Aircraft Sustainment & Maintenance, a subdivision of the company's Maintenance, Modifications & Upgrades division. "We are committed to the standard of excellence we have exhibited on the current A-10 Wing Replacement Program and, if selected, we will deliver the same outstanding level of customer satisfaction and performance on the TLPS contract."
Boeing won the $2 billion A-10 Wing Replacement Program contract in June 2007. The program includes engineering services and the manufacture of up to 242 wing sets for the Air Force's A-10 fleet. The program is on schedule as Boeing develops the 3-D models that provide the engineering foundation for current wing sustainment needs, design improvements to prevent cracking, and production of the enhanced wing sets.
"The Boeing solution for the A-10 Wing Replacement Program allows the A-10 fleet to fly for at least another 20 years, providing the close-air support our troops need," said Bill Moorefield, A-10 program manager for Boeing. "Our proposal for TLPS takes that one step further -- providing support for the aircraft fleet while ensuring relevance and viability through 2028 and beyond."
The Air Force will select up to three contractors to compete for individual task and delivery orders over the life of the contract. Work will include avionics, mechanical, structural, and propulsion system upgrade work and a program integration support task.
The A-10, also known as the Warthog, was first introduced into the Air Force inventory in 1976. The twin-engine aircraft provides close-air support of ground forces and employs a wide variety of conventional munitions, including general-purpose bombs. The simple, effective and survivable single-seat aircraft can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles. The aircraft is currently supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

India Denies Chinese Submarine Reports

India Denies Chinese Submarine Reports
(NSI News Source Info) February 6, 2009: Indian naval officials have denied media reports that Chinese warships forced an Indian submarine to surface in a stand-off in waters off Somalia. Reports in China said that after the submarine was detected by sonar, it was pursued by two Chinese destroyers and an anti-submarine helicopter. The Chinese ships had been on passage to take part in anti-piracy patrols. The two sides were reportedly trying to test each other's sonar systems for weaknesses. However, the Indian navy says none of its submarines was forced to surface in the area. "None of our submarines surfaced in the Gulf of Aden region as reported in a section of the Chinese media," a naval official told Indian reporters. Several Indian newspapers reported the allegations, and cited Indian naval sources as admitting their submarine had tracked the Chinese warships. "Every nation does it," one was quoted as saying. Chinese submarines surprised the US navy in October 2006, by successfully tracking the USS Kitty Hawk in the Pacific Ocean. Stand-off? Several versions of one report on the incident were circulating on Chinese websites this week, including and QQ. These claimed that a tense stand-off occurred between Chinese warships and an Indian submarine on 15 January near the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, which separates Yemen and Djibouti, at the western end of the Gulf of Aden. The Chinese destroyers had picked up an unidentified submarine on their sonar, the reports said. The Chinese navy soon identified it as a 70m-long (230ft) vessel armed with 20 torpedoes. The Chinese reports said the Chinese ships had sent an anti-submarine helicopter to help track the submarine, which had tried to jam the Chinese warships' sonar system. But the two destroyers eventually cornered the submarine and forced it to surface, reports said. The Indian vessel then apparently left without further confrontation. Chinese media said the submarine had been trailing the Chinese ships since they had entered the Indian Ocean on the way to Somalia. But India has denied the reports, which have also not been carried by China's official news outlets, Xinhua and the China Daily. There were more than 100 pirate attacks in 2008 in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, in what is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. An EU anti-piracy task force set up in December was the first such naval operation of its kind. India, Iran, the US and China are among other nations with naval forces off Somalia.

South Korea: Christening T-50 Golden Eagle To A-50 Monster Eagle As Tank Killer

South Korea: Christening T-50 Golden Eagle To A-50 Monster Eagle As Tank Killer
(NSI News Source Info) February 5, 2009: South Korea is buying 82 U.S. 20mm automatic gun systems for the A-50 (the attack version of its T-50 jet trainer).
The three barrel rotating barrel 20mm gun carries 204 rounds and can fire them at the rate of up to 3,000 rounds per minute.
The T-50 Golden Eagle is a South Korean supersonic advanced trainer and light attack jet, developed by the Korean Aerospace Industries beginning in the late-1990s. The T-50 is South Korea's first indigenous supersonic aircraft and the world's only high-performance supersonic trainer in production. Currently, KAI is upgrading its four prototypes of the T-50 Golden Eagle trainer to advanced light fighters designated FA-50.
That provides the pilot with about four seconds worth of fire. The system experiences one jam every 9,000 rounds fired. The system weighs 300 pounds and the current model has been in service since 2004. The A-50 is a 13 ton aircraft that is basically an armed version of the T-50 supersonic jet trainer.
South Korea: Christening T-50 Golden Eagle to A-50 Monster Eagle as Tank Killer with 20mm automatic gun systems the attack version.
The T-50 was designed to service as both a trainer and a combat aircraft. Deliveries of the 20mm gun systems will begin next year.

Iran Receives Two Mi-171 Civil Helicopters / Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant Has Delivered To Iran Two Civil Mi-171 Helicopters

Iran Receives Two Mi-171 Civil Helicopters / Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant Has Delivered To Iran Two Civil Mi-171 Helicopters
(NSI News Source Info) ULAN-UDE - February 5, 2009: Within the framework of the Contract signed in the end of 2007, Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant has delivered to Iran two civil Mi-171 helicopters.
The helicopters will be operated by Red Crescent Society - nongovernmental organization, the main activity of which is carrying out of humanitarian missions. The Society has its own aviation department and successful experience in operation of Russian helicopters.Iran Receives Two Mi-171 Civil Helicopters / Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant Has Delivered To Iran Two Civil Mi-171 Helicopters.
The helicopters will be used for civil missions, particularly, for carrying out of search and rescue missions and transportation of people injured in natural calamities. As per the contract totally five Mi-171 helicopters are planned for delivery.
Delivery to the customer of the second batch of the Mi-171 helicopters in quantity of three pieces is planned for the end of February - beginning of March of this year.

Lockheed Signs MoUs With 30 Indian Cos; Says Navy Interested In F-35 JSF News

Lockheed Signs MoUs With 30 Indian Cos; Says Navy Interested In F-35 JSF News (NSI News Source Info) New Delhi - February 5, 2009: America's biggest defence contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp, said it has signed about 30 initial agreements with Indian companies aimed at meeting the country's industrial and military offset requirements for an $11 billion, 126 medium range multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender for the Indian Air Force (IAF).C-130J HerculesUnder the offset provisions, the Indian government requires the winning bidder in a military tender valued at more than $300 million to source production and services of at least 30 per cent of the contract value through local vendors. In the case of the MMRCA contract the offset requirements are higher – at least 50 per cent. Lockheed has offered its scaled up Block 60 F-16IN fighter in the competition which also features Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company's Eurofighter Typhoon, the Swedish Saab Gripen's JAS-39, the French Dassault's Rafale and the Russian MiG-35. "We've signed these memorandums of understanding with the Indian industry in anticipation of the Indian Air Force's medium multi-role combat aircraft order," Orville Prins, Lockheed's vice-president for business development in India said.
Lockheed's agreements include developing a simulator for the C130J Hercules transport aircraft with Mumbai-based Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, a top Indian utility vehicle maker. The IAF has already contracted for the supply of six of these classic military transporters with options for at least six more.The $1 billion deal was of immense significance for the US government and contractors as it broke a decade's long drought of near-zero sales by American companies to this country.F 35B
Lockheed said it is also developing a flight refueling system with state-run Hindustan Aeronautic Ltd. Other foreign partners on this project are Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. and Sargent Fletcher Inc.
"In Asia, India is the most significant opportunity," said Ralph Heath, executive vice president at Lockheed Martin and president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co."The Border Security Force has expressed interest in one or two C130J planes," Heath added. He also said that the company was looking at partnering Indian companies in developing products for the global market. "There is technical expertise here that will add value to Lockheed Martin's we are seeking a two-way partnership to benefit all," Heath said."
In fact, the Indian Navy has expressed an interest in the F-35B which has short-takeoff and vertical-landing capability for aircraft carrier operations," Prins informed the media. "It (the F-16) is the bridge to the F-35 for India."
The fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter is currently being developed with first deliveries slated for 2010. Lockheed, Pentagon's biggest contractor by sales, is also looking at civil contracts from the Indian government.

United States, East Africa Allies Must Overcome Radical Islam

United States, East Africa Allies Must Overcome Radical Islam
To reshape the region's security, RAND study finds
(NSI News Source Info) February 5, 2009: While al Qaeda is the primary terrorist/extremist threat in East Africa, the region suffers more broadly from a danger of radical Islamist groups and organizations that the United States and its allies must address to reshape the region's security environment, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today. "The internal conflict and corruption enveloping weak African governments make it easy for terrorists to move, plan and organize," said Angel Rabasa, the report's author and a senior policy analyst at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "The United States and its allies in the region need an effective, long-term solution to rid the area of the extremist and terrorist elements that reside there." Rabasa writes that the most serious threat is al Qaeda, which has made East Africa a central part of its global strategy. But the terrorist organization is just one component of a much larger universe of radical Islamist groups and organizations. Numerous indigenous radical Islamist groups with varying degrees of affinity to al Qaeda's agenda also populate the region. Of particular concern is the radical Shabaab militia in Somalia that has regrouped and intensified its operations in the wake of the Ethiopian occupation of Mogadishu. Despite the inroads of radical groups, East Africa is not particularly fertile soil for radical Islam. "Although Salafism has made inroads among the educated elites, traditional and Sufi practices dominate the Muslim population," Rabasa said. "Despite the effects of proliferation of Gulf charities in the region, the strength of Islam rooted in local cultures acts to retard the spread of extremist ideas." He writes that existing counterterrorism programs in East Africa can help to lay the groundwork for stronger counterterrorism collaboration in the region. But this assistance alone is unlikely to provide the effective long-term solution of attacking the conditions that make the region open to extremist and terrorist elements. Among the report's key recommendations: *Establish a long-term U.S. military presence in East Africa by building the required infrastructure. *Use Defense Resource Management Studies program funds in East Africa to strengthen military and internal security structures in East African nations. *Take stronger steps to promote a political settlement among Somali factions that would permit the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from Mogadishu. *Consider diplomatic recognition for Somaliland (the region at the north end of Somalia) as an incentive to keep the region on a democratic track and secure effective cooperation in counterterrorism. *Assist cooperative regional governments in gaining better control of their land and maritime borders. "The aim should be to build sustained national resilience that is intolerant of terrorists and extremists," Rabasa said. "This will occur only if hard security measures are linked with a broader array of policies designed to promote political, social and economic stability. Otherwise, there is little chance that counterterrorist efforts will work."