Friday, February 13, 2009

The North Korea Deploys Artillery On Coast Of The Yellow Sea

The North Korea Deploys Artillery On Coast Of The Yellow Sea
(NSI News Source Info) February 14, 2009: South Korea’s military has recently upgraded its manuals to counter increased threats by North Korea’s coastal artillery systems on the western side of the peninsula, military sources said yesterday.
“Coastal artillery pieces are normally hidden in caves, but the North’s military has recently brought them outside along the western coastal line,” a South Korean military source said. Although Park Sung-woo, public affairs chief of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said such activity could prove to be inconsequential, the military has heightened its readiness against the potential emerging threat.
Tension between the two Koreas escalated in recent weeks following Pyongyang’s repeated warnings that it would void all non-aggression accords and the maritime border in the Yellow Sea. Signs of the North’s preparation to fire a long-range missile aggravated matters.
The North’s recent placement of artillery along the Yellow Sea coast will not improve matters. “When the artillery systems are moved out from the underground position, it is possible for the North to shoot without warning,” said another military official. “And that will be a threat to South Korean vessels on patrol.”
According to the military officials, 100 artillery pieces are deployed in caves along the western coast line. The artillery systems are not precision weapons, but firing tens of rounds at once can be a great threat to South Korean naval ships. Military sources said the North has upgraded the coastal artillery systems over the past few years by replacing some of the 75-millimeter and 100-millimeter guns with 122-millimeter and 130-millimeter guns.
That allowed the weapons’ range to increase from 10 kilometers to more than 20 kilometers. Last March, the North Korean military conducted firing practice of the coastal artillery systems on a large scale along the Yellow Sea.
“The North’s Navy has learned that it has no chance of winning a sea skirmish against the South after its two defeats in 1999 and 2002 on the Yellow Sea,” a retired general said. “South Korean vessels have automated guns and radars that are far more accurate, so the North will probably prefer a provocation of firing coastal artillery systems or anti-ship missiles rather than engaging in a sea battle.”
A source with the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Navy and the military upgraded its operations manual against the North’s coastal artillery systems. A North Korean attack by the coastal artillery systems will be countered with South Korea’s K-9 self-propelled guns deployed at Yeonpyeong Island.
South Korean ships are also ready to counter the North’s anti-ship missiles which have up to 95-kilometer range.
The North will have to operate its radar first before firing its ship-to-ship, ground-to-ship or air-to-ship missile to attack a South Korean ship.
As soon as the radar is turned on, the South will use jamming signals or use chaff, a radar countermeasure to deceive the radar, military sources said.

India, Israel To Expand Defence Ties

India, Israel To Expand Defence Ties
(NSI News Source Info) BANGALORE - February 14, 2009: Away from prying eyes, kickback allegations and political sensitivities, India and Israel continue to quietly expand their already expansive defence ties, with joint R&D projects ranging from missile systems to ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) platforms as well as arms deals. "We have a very special defence relationship with India.
It's now moving towards joint development of equipment. There are several new projects in the pipeline,'' Major-General Ehud Shani (retd), the chief of Israeli defence export and cooperation agency Sibat, told TOI on Thursday. India is already the largest customer of Israeli weapon systems, notching up imports worth over a whopping $8 billion since the 1999 Kargil conflict.
From UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and anti-missile defence systems to night-vision capabilities and advanced radar systems, India has bought them all from Israel.
So, it's no wonder that Israeli companies are present in full strength in the ongoing Aero India-2009, displaying even their latest offerings like the G-550 "conformal'' AWAC (airborne warning and control system) at the show here. But with both India and Israel careful about keeping their defence ties under wraps, the Israeli companies are not conducting high-voltage publicity campaigns like others to grab eyeballs. The third-generation G-550 AWAC, however, is one of the main attractions of Aero India.
Only two of these AWACS, with a Gulfstream business jet as the basic platform, have so far been inducted into the Israeli air force, said Yair Ramati of the Israel Aerospace Industries. India, in turn, will get the first of its three `Phalcon' AWACS, ordered for IAF under a $1.1-billion deal in March 2004, before the middle of this year, said Israeli officials.
The AWACS, coupled with the nine more Israeli EL/M-2083 Aerostat radars being ordered to add to the two already inducted, will give India potent "eyes in the skies'' to detect enemy air intrusions much earlier than ground-based radars.
"Israel specializes in ISR platforms, the need for which has become even greater after 26/11. It is one of the few countries which gives us top-notch defence technology without strings attached, even though it charges quite a bit,'' said an Indian defence ministry official.
Major examples of the increasing focus on the joint Indo-Israeli projects are the ones to develop a supersonic 70-km range Barak-2 medium range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) for the Indian Navy at a cost of Rs 2,606 crore and its longer range 120-km variant (LR-SAM) for IAF for Rs 10,000 crore.
IAF, incidentally, plans to induct nine air defence squadrons of LR-SAM initially. The two projects had run into some rough weather because of the kickbacks case being investigated by CBI into the original Rs 1,160-crore Barak-I deal.
Though the Left has been demanding scrapping of the two projects, the UPA government has pushed ahead with the projects.

China: World-wide Recession Has Affected Economy Growth And Trying To Resolve Its Unrest Factors

China: World-wide Recession Has Affected Economy Growth And Trying To Resolve Its Unrest Factors
(NSI News Source Info) February 14, 2009: China keeps badgering the United States to halt high-tech weapons shipments to Taiwan, or else relations, especially military-to-military cooperation, will suffer. China is hoping the new American president will be more sensitive to these threats than previous presidents. But Taiwan is seen as less a problem right now than the global recession. After two decades to spectacular growth, a year or two of no growth won't kill the economy (many Chinese banking officials welcome it, for providing an opportunity to get things in order).
But security officials point out that unemployed and poorly treated (by employers and government officials they sought help from) workers are the source of over half the demonstrations and riots the police have to deal with. The government has ordered officials to keep these outbursts to a minimum, throwing money (paying off the demonstrators) is need be (and cash is available).
Chinese officials are very well versed in Chinese history. They know that a common cause of mass uprisings in the past have been sudden changes in economic conditions. This is especially true if the people are harboring other grudges against the government. These are the kinds of "interesting times" that Chinese proverbs advise people to avoid. February 10, 2009: China is executing another senior official for corruption. But, as is usually the case, the guilty official is "administrative" (a manager), not "political" (in the government chain of command). Li Peiying, formerly in charge of 30 of the largest air ports in the country, was convicted of stealing $3 million between 1995-2003.
While the government seeks to terrorize government managers into being less corrupt, they try to persuade political operatives to clean up their act. There is some success with this approach, but usually in the form of officials being more moderate in terms of how much they plunder. Too many Chinese take it as a given that, if you get a government job, you have a license to steal. In the military, this means weapons are built in substandard ways, and equipment is not properly maintained. Military corruption is an ancient Chinese custom, and accounts for most of the poor military performance in the past. Corruption is less of a priority to government officials now. Unemployment, and increased civil disorder because of it, is the new item all officials are ordered to concentrate on. The government admits to losing 20 million jobs because of the global recession.
But it is much worse than that. While the official unemployment rate approaches five percent, that does not count the rural "migrant workers." This is a force of over a hundred million "temps" who are the last hired and first fired. Count them, and the overall unemployment rate is closer to ten percent, and rising. This is a major problem, because many Chinese only tolerate the continued rule of the corrupt Communist Party, because the government allows people to be economically free, and get rich.
Take that away, and you have a lot of angry Chinese. The government still predicts economic growth this year. But 2008 growth was ten percent less than expected, and the fourth quarter was off by 40 percent. If the economy stalls this year, the government is going to have to deal with millions of very unhappy Chinese (who are already troubled about the corruption and pollution). February 8, 2009; South Korea has completed delivery of its first nuclear power reactor to China. Doosan Heavy Industries will have the 600 megawatt reactor on line in two years, after completing construction and testing. Firms like Doosan have been selling China power plant components for years, but this was the first sale of a complete nuclear power plant.
China already has eleven reactors producing electricity, with another 17 planned or under construction. Existing nuclear plants only provide about two percent of electricity, and China wants to increase that in order to reduce pollution (80 percent of current electricity is produced by burning coal.) February 1, 2009: The Chinese government has admitted what a lot of Chinese have suspected; the increased pollution from the booming economy has led to an increase in birth defects. The government says the increase is about ten percent (about five percent of Chinese births involves some form of defect.) This is a particularly touchy subject, because urban couples are limited by law (one of the few that is strictly enforced) to one child. The pollution caused defects are the result of toxic materials getting into the air, water and food supply. This is a touchy subject, because many cases of large-scale pollution can be traced back to officials taking bribes to look the other way. January 31, 2009: In Tibet, Chinese soldiers and police are on alert for violence directed against Chinese New Year celebrations. At least that's the word on the street. Tibetans are still angry over the violent way the government put down separatist demonstrations last year. Then there's the 50th anniversary, next month, of the Dai Lama fleeing Tibet, and its Chinese occupiers, for exile in India.

Khan Has No Access To Pakistan Nuclear Secrets: Govt

Khan Has No Access To Pakistan Nuclear Secrets: Govt
(NSI News Source Info) Islamabad - February 14, 2009: Pakistan said Thursday that nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan had no access to atomic facilities after Washington expressed concern he could become a renewed proliferation threat. A Pakistani court declared Khan a free man last week, five years after the man reputed to be the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb was effectively put under house arrest for allegedly operating a proliferation network. "Doctor Khan has no access to strategic facilities -- he has nothing to do with the nuclear programme," foreign office spokesman Abdul Basit told reporters in Islamabad. The 72-year-old Khan, revered by many Pakistanis as a national hero, was effectively put under house arrest in February 2004 when he confessed on television to leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. Then president Pervez Musharraf pardoned Khan in 2004, but he was kept at his Islamabad residence, guarded by troops and intelligence agents. "Our position on the issue is very clear and I think the US understands and accepts it," Basit said. A US official said Monday that Washington wanted more than just "solid" assurances from Pakistan that Khan will not be a threat following his release.

NATO And U.S. Forces New Strategy: Engaging Afghans To Resolve Local Dispute, Manage Own Affairs & Intelligence Gathering

NATO And U.S. Forces New Strategy: Engaging Afghans To Resolve Local Disputes, Manage Own Affairs & Intelligence Gathering
(NSI News Source Info) February 14, 2009: NATO and U.S. forces have developed a playbook for how new replacement and reinforcing units can best fight the pro-Taliban militias in southern Afghanistan. These tips and tricks will get a lot more use soon. By the end of the year, three additional U.S. brigades will enable a new strategy, going after the heroin trade, to be implemented. The playbook, created using years of experience, exploits how the Afghans operate. For example, there are always opportunities to use tribal politics. So officers have to sit down and negotiate with likely tribal allies (usually long time foes of the drug gang leaders). This can lead to an intelligence bonanza, because lots of people know where the Taliban and drug gangs hide their assets (money, heroin and opium, safe houses). Make the right deal, and all (or at least lots) will be revealed. Without a local patron, most rural Afghans won't even be motivated by cash rewards to provide information. But if someone higher up the food chain says it's OK, you'll have more intel than you can act on at once. The decision to go after the drug trade is a big deal, because it strikes at the heart of Taliban power, and is unpopular with many in the Afghan government and media. That's because the drug trade is a huge fraction (about a third) of the Afghan economy. It's concentrated in southern Afghanistan, especially in Helmand province.
Drug money pays for most of the Taliban violence (even those Taliban fighters who volunteer to fight for free, and few do, have to be fed, armed and otherwise supported via cash). Drug money pays Afghan officials (including president Karzai's brother, and other kin) and many local journalists, to safeguard drug gang operations (poppy crops, importation of chemicals to refine poppy sap into opium, morphine and heroin, and smuggling these products out of the country). Journalists are paid to keep drug gang stories out of the media, and criticize foreign troops. Afghan officials cannot officially oppose anti-drug operations, so they must do it indirectly, by making a big deal about any Afghan civilian casualties (which are historically quite low, despite the regular Taliban use of civilians as human shields). The Taliban consider this a very effective tactic, because they can always get a local journalist, who is on their payroll, to get the initial story out. Who's going to question a local reporter's accuracy. Well, actually, many in Afghanistan do, but the farther away from Afghanistan you get, the less people know about how drug money operates in a poor country. While the Afghan government will not be enthusiastic about the new war on the drug gangs, the governments of neighboring countries, especially Iran and Pakistan, are. Most of the drugs are smuggled out via Iran and Pakistan, and a lot of the cheaper stuff (opium) is sold off to the locals (to keep them happy, and raise some operating cash). This has created millions of addicts in Iran and Pakistan, and caused major social problems.
The U.S. hopes to turn this cooperation opportunity into a relationship that will improve communications with Iran (which has been isolated for the last three decades, because Iran is run by a religious dictatorship dedicated to establishing Islamic domination of the entire planet). Iran has been fighting a low level war against drug smugglers, along its Afghan border, for over a decade.
There are hundreds of casualties and thousands of arrests there each year. But the Afghan smugglers keep coming. The money's too good, and there are over two million addicts in Iran who are really eager to stay high. There are millions more addicts in the Persian Gulf, North America and Europe as well. The drugs must get through. But the U.S. makes the case that the heroin trade has been chased out of several regions in the past half century. It can be done again. All it requires is a little international cooperation and military muscle.
British Marine, advises Afghan Army soldiers during a patrol in Kajaki, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Afghan troops, along with British Marine trainers, patroled through the area near the Kajaki hydroelectric dam. NATO and Afghan forces are battling Taliban in the area, as part of Operation Achilles, trying to enlarge the safety zone near the dam so that a USAID project to upgrade the facility can begin. The military operation, involving 4,500 NATO forces, is the largest NATO offensive yet in Afghanistan. The Taliban are led by religious fanatics (many of the armed followers are in it mainly for the paycheck), and that continues to be a major liability for them. Once the Taliban have driven police out of an area, or become the largest armed group in an area where there are no police (very common in rural Afghanistan), they begin to impose lifestyle rules that most Afghans hate. In short; no music, no videos, no dancing (even traditional Afghan stuff), and no entertainment in general.
This sort of behavior made the Taliban extremely unpopular in the 1990s, and that has not changed a decade later. Some of these Taliban religious fanatics sin on the side, but they are discrete about it. This belief in old-school religious practices is actually a new thing in this part of the world, imported by Saudi Arabian missionaries in the last three decades.
There have always been Islamic conservatives among some of the Pushtun tribes, but not as hard core as the Wahhabi brand of Islam pushed by the Saudis. But it's basically a foreign import, and disliked by most of the locals.
But if a bunch of heavily armed pro-Wahhabi guys come around, you are going to listen, and obey, at least until the bastards turn their backs. The larger number of U.S. troops will force many more Taliban enforcers to turn away from the Afghans they are tormenting, giving their victims an opportunity to fight back. This gives many Afghans a sense of déjà vu (been there before…). But that's the way it is in Afghanistan. The same thing over and over again. Despite the change in strategy, many officials in Europe and America believe that more troops are not needed. The generals point out that all that drug money is buying a lot of armed men to help spread Taliban control, and eventually you have to deal with that. Negotiations will only get you so far in the face of armed and aggressive tribesmen. This dispute is being fought out in the media and Western capitals. February 11, 2009: The Taliban carried out an elaborate suicide bomb attack in the capital, against three government ministries (Prisons, Justice and Education). Such attacks in the capital are mainly for the benefit of the media, particularly foreign media. This attacks involved at least eight suicide bombers and several dozen gunmen. At least 26 people were killed, including five suicide bombers who were shot before they could detonate their explosives. Another 55 people, mostly civilians and government employees, were wounded.
Most of the dead were terrorists. Cell phones taken from dead and captured terrorists indicated that the attack had been planned in Pakistan. Most of the suicide bombing cells operating in and around Kabul have been destroyed in the last few months, forcing the Taliban to do all the preparations in Pakistan. The terrorist intelligence was apparently faulty, as the attacks were unable to get past security. Read this article from The Star.

Russia Offers India 320 Combat Helicopters

Russia Offers India 320 Combat Helicopters (NSI News Source Info) BANGALORE, India - February 14, 2009: Russia is ready to provide India with a total of 320 military helicopters and hopes to expand cooperation, an executive of a Russian helicopter making plant said on Friday. "We have presented to the Indian Defense Ministry, as well as to other government agencies, our line of new models and modernized helicopters," said Igor Pshenichny, deputy general director of the Helicopters of Russia holding. The Mil Mi-28 is a Russian all-weather day-night military tandem two-seat anti-armour attack helicopter. It is a dedicated attack helicopter with no intended secondary transport capability, better optimized than the Mil Mi-24 for the anti-tank role. It carries a single gun in an undernose barbette, plus external loads carried on pylons beneath stub wings. Speaking at the Aero India 2009 show, he added that his company, in conjunction with Russia's state-controlled arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, was participating in a number of tenders, in particular involving the Ka-226T multirole helicopter and the Mi-28H Night Hunter helicopter gunship. He said the company was also in talks with the Indian Defense Ministry on the modernization of radar systems installed on Ka-31 helicopters used by the Indian Navy. Pshenichny also said Helicopters of Russia would invest $1.5-2 million in building a helicopter maintenance and service center in northern India.

Russia, Armenia To Set Up Joint Air Defense Network

Russia, Armenia To Set Up Joint Air Defense Network
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - February 14, 2009: Russia and Armenia will set up an integrated air defense network similar to recently announced Russian-Belarusian air defenses, the head of a post-Soviet security bloc said on Friday. "The so-called Russian-Belarusian integrated air defense network is just a part of the cooperation within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO)," Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha said. "We are expecting Russia and Armenia to set up a similar joint [air defense] network," he said at a news conference in Moscow. According to Bordyuzha, the CSTO, which comprises Russia, Belarus, the Caucasus republic of Armenia and four Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, will set up three regional air defense networks - in Eastern Europe (Belarus), in the Caucasus and in Central Asia. "After that we will advance to a higher level of cooperation, coordinating the activity of all regional networks and introducing common rules of engagement and information exchange," the official said. Russia announced last year it was planning to expand military-technical cooperation with CSTO members and build a CSTO integrated air defense network. Russia and Belarus signed on February 3 an agreement on the joint protection of the Russia-Belarus Union State's airspace and the creation of an integrated regional air defense network. The network will comprise five Air Force units, 10 anti-aircraft units, five technical service and support units and one electronic warfare unit, and will be placed under the command of a Russian or Belarusian Air Force or Air Defense Force senior commander. Kazakhstan announced on Wednesday that Russia would deliver the latest version of the S-300 air defense missile system, called S-300PMU2 Favorit (SA-20 Gargoyle), to the Central Asian state in the near future.

General Dynamics Awarded $27 Million For RG-31 MRAP Spare Parts

General Dynamics Awarded $27 Million For RG-31 MRAP Spare Parts
(NSI News Source Info) Ontario - February 14, 2009: The Marine Corps Systems Command has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada a $27.2 million contract modification for spare parts in support of RG-31 Mk5E vehicles under the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) program. General Dynamics Land Systems, the Canadian company's parent corporation, is a business unit of General Dynamics. These parts will be used to support vehicles that were manufactured under a delivery order awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada in July 2008 for 773 RG-31 Mk5E vehicles for the MRAP program. In total, 1,397 General Dynamics RG-31 vehicles have been ordered under the MRAP program. Both contracts were signed through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government. General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, located in London, Ontario, Canada is a business unit of General Dynamics Land Systems of Sterling Heights, Michigan. For over 30 years, more than 1900 highly skilled technical employees have designed, manufactured, delivered and supported to global customers a unique family of light armoured vehicles (LAV). General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 92,300 people worldwide. The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies.

US Navy, Russians Seize 26 Pirates Off Somalia

US Navy, Russians Seize 26 Pirates Off Somalia
(NSI News Source Info) ABOARD THE USNS LEWIS AND CLARK — February 14, 2009: U.S. Navy and Russian warships arrested 26 suspected Somali pirates this week, while a maritime watchdog warned on Friday that pirates are stepping up attacks as weather improves in the waters off East Africa. The latest arrests came Thursday, when an American helicopter from the USS Vella Gulf fired warning shots at gunmen in two skiffs that had opened fire and tried to board the Indian-flagged vessel Premdivya. U.S. forces searched the skiff and found weapons including rocket-propelled grenades, then took nine suspected pirates aboard the American ship, the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said. U.S. Marines transfer suspected pirates, seated, to a processing area on the USNS Lewis and Clark in the Gulf of Aden, Thursday Feb. 12, 2009. The U.S. Navy Wednesday seized seven suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden after a merchant ship sent a distress call saying gunmen had tried to board it from a skiff. On Wednesday, the same American ship detained seven other suspected pirates — the Navy's first arrests since it established an anti-piracy task force this year. The suspects, armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, had tried to board the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel Polaris using a ladder from their skiff. The pirates were transferred via helicopter to the USNS Lewis and Clark on Thursday, according to Lt. Nathan Christensen, a 5th Fleet spokesman. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said they could be handed over to Kenya, after the United States last month agreed to hand pirate suspects to the east African nation. Associated Press Television News footage from aboard the Lewis and Clark showed some of the men, handcuffed and wearing leg shackles and white jumpsuits, being escorted from helicopters onto the ship. They were given a meal, a blanket, a towel and a bar of soap, but they were not allowed to talk to each other. U.S. forces assisted by a translator were trying to get information from the men, such as their ages and nationalities. The men were then taken to a holding area surrounded by razor wire and guarded. Separately, the Russian navy said Friday its nuclear-powered heavy missile cruiser Peter The Great detained 10 Somali pirates closing in on an Iranian-flagged fishing trawler. Russian military prosecutors were questioning the men, who were caught on Thursday with rifles, grenade-launchers, illegal narcotics and a large sum of money, the navy said. Piracy off Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since 1991, reached record levels last year. Somali pirates, seeking multimillion-dollar ransoms, launched 111 attacks and seized 42 vessels last year, mostly in the Gulf of Aden, with attacks peaking between September and November. Somali piracy accounted for the bulk of the 49 vessels hijacked and 889 crewmembers taken hostage around the world in 2008 — the highest worldwide figures since the London-based International Maritime Bureau began keeping records in 1991. The increased danger led the United States, India, Britain, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and other countries to send warships to the area to protect commercial vessels and more quickly rush to their aid. Still, attacks have continued, and the maritime watchdog warned on Friday ships plying the popular trade route off eastern Africa to be more vigilant. Noel Choong, chief of the bureau's reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, said six ships were attacked on Wednesday and Thursday alone. "We haven't seen such an increase in attacks for some time," said Choong. Since the beginning of January, 22 vessels had been attacked, and three were hijacked. Choong said favorable weather made it easier for the smaller pirate boats to ambush ships. He also said seven ships have been released over the past month, likely pushing pirates to try to replenish their stocks. In the latest release, pirates freed a Japanese-owned cargo ship and its 23 crew members after nearly three months in captivity, a diplomat based in Nairobi, Kenya, said Friday. The MV Chemstar Venus, owned by a Japanese shipping company and registered in Panama, was seized by armed Somali gunmen on Nov. 15 in the Gulf of Aden. On board were five South Koreans and 18 Filipinos. The diplomat, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the ship carrying unidentified chemicals was released Thursday night. There was no immediate word if a ransom was paid. In the aftermath of what was one of the most dramatic pirate heists, Ukrainian sailors returned home after four months in captivity after the seizure of their cargo ship, MV Faina, which was loaded with tanks and heavy weapons. The sailors stepped off a plane in Kiev, tanned but exhausted-looking for a tearful reunion with their families on the tarmac. Faina's ordeal began in September, when scores of heavily armed Somali pirates swarmed onboard as it carried 33 Soviet-designed tanks and crates of small arms headed to Kenya. The pirates released the vessel last week, reportedly after receiving a $3.2 million ransom. The Faina, with its cargo, docked on Thursday at the Kenyan port of Mombasa. Foreign governments had feared the Faina's weapons might fall into the hands of Somali insurgents, who the U.S. State Department says are linked to al-Qaida.

Saab Delivers Erieye AEW&C Aircraft to Greece / Erieye Officially Introduced in Greece

Saab Delivers Erieye AEW&C Aircraft to Greece / Erieye Officially Introduced in Greece
(NSI News Source Info) February 13, 2009: The Saab Airborne Early Warning and Control radar Erieye was officially introduced into operational service by the Hellenic Air Force today. The ceremony, including a fly-by formation, was held at the 112 Combat Wing at the Elefsis Air Force Base.
In 1999 Saab Microwave Systems (at that time Ericsson Microwave Systems) signed a contract with the Hellenic Armed Forces to provide four Erieye AEW&C systems with Embraer 145 aircraft as platform. The fully NATO interoperable Erieye AEW&C systems for the Hellenic Armed Forces (HAF) provide situation awareness of borders and economic zones over both land and sea. Among the comprehensive on-board systems, including data links, is an active phased array radar for long range accurate target information in large air volumes. One of two Erieye airborne early warning aircraft, consisting of an Embraer 145 fitted with a Saab radar, at Elefsis air base during the hand-over to the Greek air force.
“This is a new and advanced system concept but built on proven subsystems from the main suppliers Embraer, Thales and Saab but it also includes co-operation with Hellenic defence industry as e. g. ISI Hellas and Intracom”, says Kenth Börjesson, Sales Director Southern Europe at Saab.
A spirit of co-operation Formally accepting the aircraft on behalf of the Hellenic Air Forces was Lt Gen Ioannis Giagkos, Chief of the Hellenic Air Forces General Staff, at the ceremony together with Gen Dimitrios Grapsas, Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff and Gen Dimitrios Voulgaris Chief of the Hellenic Army General Staff.
“The Hellenic Air Forces has been a very demanding customer but always acted in a spirit of openness and fairness. We have listened and also taken HAF's views into account in the implementation programme. This spirit of co-operation has led to that HAF now can take into service a vital new asset in the defence of the Hellenic republic. A system that everyone that has participated in the program shall be proud of”, concludes Kenth Börjesson.
Operational in several countries
It is over 25 years ago since Saab Microwave Systems delivered the Super GIRAFFE air defence radars in use by HAF. The recent deliveries of Erieye and also of the Arthur anti artillery radars make Greece one of Saab Microwave Systems most important customers.
Erieye is already operational in Sweden, Brazil and Mexico and has been sold to Pakistan.

Navantia Launches Final Norwegian Frigate / The Frigate F-314 “Thor Heyerdahl” Is The Fifth And Last Of The Series That Navantia Has Built......

Navantia Launches Final Norwegian Frigate / The Frigate F-314 “Thor Heyerdahl” Is The Fifth And Last Of The Series That Navantia Has Built For The Royal Norwegian Navy
(NSI News Source Info) February 13, 2009: Navantia has launched on 11st. February, at 17:12 p.m., in the Fene-Ferrol shipyard, the fifth frigate for the Royal Norwegian Navy, the F-314 frigate “Thor Heyerdahl”, named after this famous XX centuryNorwegian explorer.
HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl, the fifth and final frigate built by Navantia for the Norwegian navy, is launched was Feb. 12, 2009.
The launching has taken place as an internal work milestone, after the cancellation of the official ceremony, scheduled for 9th. February, due to the worst weather conditions. The Godmother has been Miss Elisabeth Heyerdahl Lampe, great grandaughter of the explorer, and has been attended by NDLO General Director, General Trond Karlsen, as most relevant participant from the Royal Norwegian Navy. As an internal event, Navantia has been represented by the Fene-Ferrol shipyard, Angel Recamán Rivas.
The keel of this frigate was laid last March and the ship is expected to be delivered in September 2010, finalising the programme for the construction of 5 F-310 class frigates. The contract was signed in June 2000, after an international tender, in which Navantia competed with the most important european shipyards, and was until the contract with Australia, the biggest exportation contract in the history of naval construction in Spain.
Main characteristics:
-- Length overall: 123.25 m.
-- Maximum beam: 16.80 m. -- Depth to main deck: 9.50 m.
--Full load displacement: 5,130 t.
-- Design draught: 4.90 m.
-- Crew: 146 people

India, Russia To Float $600 Million JV To Develop New Aircraft

India, Russia To Float $600 Million JV To Develop New Aircraft
(NSI News Source Info) Bangalore - February 13, 2009: With defence sector being open to foreign direct investment, the ongoing modernisation plan of Armed Forces and enormous new opportunities in the civil aviation sector have opened innumerable new avenues for investment. India companies, making the most of the opportunity of sharing the expertise in the fields of R&D production and product support with other global players at the Aero India 2009, inked a few pacts on Thursday to give a boost to the aviation sector. The country's Bird Group announced an agreement with the Switzerland-based business jet company-VistaJet Holding SA-to market the Vistajet in India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Russian MIG-35 fighter, bidding to supply 126 multi-role combat aircraft to IAF, has a good chance to win the deal as it was a strong product to meet India's defence needs, Mikhail Pogosyan, CEO RSK MIG and Sukhoi, said here on Thursday. In yet another deal, India and Russia will establish a 50:50 joint venture in the next few months to develop a multi-role transport aircraft at a cost of $600 million, a top Russian official said. While Bangalore-headquartered Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) would be the Indian partner, the Russian side would identify its partners, likely to be United Aircraft Corporation's (UAC's) transport and cargo divisions, in the next few weeks, president and chairman of UAC, Alexey I Fedorov said. The jointly developed transport aircraft would be inducted into the Russian and Indian Air Force, he said on the sidelines of the ongoing South Asia's biggest airshow 'Aero India-2009'. Meanwhile, global leader in aerospace and defence related services European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company ( EADS) said it has signed 25 agreements in India since August last year to enhance cooperation with the country's aerospace and defence industry, company officials said. “A competitive Eurofighter Typhoon bid proposal and a comprehensive offset offer were submitted to the Indian authorities in (August) 2008 (in response to bids for medium multi role combat aircraft (MMRCA) programme”, Bernhard Gerwert, CEO of military air systems, an integrated business unit of EADS defence and security said. Since then, 25 MoUs have already signed to enhance industrial cooperation with India's aerospace and defence industry, he said. The Eurofighter Typhoon partner companies are confident of fulfilling the 50% offset obligation (under which 30% of the contract amount has to be invested in India) of the Request for Proposals (RFP) (in connection with MMRCA) and would offer India access to an international.
Bird Air Services Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bird Group, signed a comprehensive marketing agreement with Pacific Propeller Intl (PPI), a global repair and overhaul services provider to several regional airlines and military aircrafts. Under the agreement, PPI would provide its services and products through Bird Air within the Indian subcontinent, executive director of Bird Group Ankur Bhatia said. It would also help facilitate MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) services for propeller based engines for aircrafts in India at PPI prop shops.

Afghanistan May Need Larger Troop Increase

Afghanistan May Need Larger Troop Increase
(NSI News Source Info) February 13, 2009:WASHINGTON – The United States may need a military buildup in Afghanistan larger than the one President Barack Obama is considering, experts said on Thursday. The analysts, in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives, said a larger U.S. force could be necessary to turn the tide against the Taliban so long as reluctant NATO allies and a nascent Afghan army are unable to field major reinforcements. Afghan National Army (ANA) - RAG TAG ARMY, soldiers listen to a speach in Nadi Ali district, one of the Afghanistan's top opium producers in Helmand province. In the heart of Afghanistan's opium-farming area, police use red tractors to churn up a small field of young green opium plants in a large sandy desert. Such action would have been inconceivable a year ago because of attacks from Taliban-linked gunmen protecting their share of the impoverished nation's illegal four-billion-dollar-a-year opium trade. "We must provide most of the additional troops, advisers and resources to reverse the situation," Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told the House Armed Services Committee in written testimony. "It may well be that the current proposals for 30,000 more U.S. troops are the bare minimum necessary," he said. Obama, who has made Afghanistan the U.S. military's top priority, is expected to decide soon how many extra forces to send to a combat zone where commanders face an intensifying insurgency from the Taliban and other militant groups. The Pentagon has proposed increasing the current U.S. presence of 37,000 troops to about 60,000 in coming months in a bid to improve security and facilitate long-term development. There are also about 30,000 troops from other NATO countries in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has warned that a larger military presence could backfire if Afghans view Western troops as an occupying force. But he told reporters on Tuesday there was no cap on the number of troops that could be sent. Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations also said higher U.S. troop levels may be necessary in Afghanistan and warned the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy could mean heavy casualties early on. "Even when (counterinsurgency) works, it looks bad early. And this will promote a growing debate over the wisdom of the U.S. commitment," Biddle said in written testimony. "It would be prudent to assume that fatality rates of perhaps 50-100 per month could persist for many months, if not years," he said. There have been 576 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the former Taliban government. U.S. military deaths hit a high of 26 last September. There were 12 deaths in January. Cordesman did not say how large a force might ultimately be needed in Afghanistan. Biddle said Afghanistan might need a combined Afghan and Western force of 300,000 troops in southern and eastern provinces where the Taliban is strong. "If any significant fraction of this total must be American, then the resources needed will be very large," he said.

US Military Base In Bishkek Airport Kyrgyzstan....CHAPTER CLOSED

US Military Base In Bishkek Airport Kyrgyzstan....CHAPTER CLOSED
(NSI News Source Info) February 13, 2009: At Manas US military base in Bishkek airport Kyrgyzstan, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev last week announced the closure of the base, which is a crucial staging post for coalition operations in Afghanistan. The US began using the Manas base in December 2001.
US military personnel board a military plane at Manas US military base in Bishkek airport Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009.

China Military Eyes Global Role, Says US Intel Chief

China Military Eyes Global Role, Says US Intel Chief
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - February 13, 2009: China's military remains primarily focused on recapturing Taiwan but the country's naval and missile build-up portends a global role for the Asian giant, the head of US intelligence said.
"China's desire to secure access to the markets, commodities, and energy supplies needed to sustain domestic economic growth significantly influences its foreign engagement," retired admiral Dennis Blair told Congress.
The priority of Chinese diplomacy is to remain on friendly terms with other major powers, especially the United States given the primacy of US demand to China's own economic growth, he said. "But Beijing is also seeking to build its global image and influence in order to advance its broader interests and to resist what it perceives as external challenges to those interests or to China's security and territorial integrity."
Blair, the new director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama, was presenting the US intelligence community's annual "risk assessment" to a Senate select committee.
He noted that under President Ma Ying-jeou of the nationalist Kuomintang party, Taiwan has resumed dialogue with China after a nine-year hiatus, and there is cautious optimism "for a period of less confrontational relations."
But Beijing's communist leadership sees eventual reunification with Taiwan to mend the rival Chinas' 60-year-old split as "vital to regime legitimacy," the US official stressed. "Preparations for a possible Taiwan conflict continue to drive the modernisation goals of the People's Liberation Army and the Chinese defence-industrial complex," Blair said. "At the same time, we judge that China over the past several years has begun a substantially new phase in its military development by beginning to articulate roles and missions for the PLA that go well beyond China's immediate territorial interests."
Blair cited China's development of a blue-water navy that can range far afield from East Asia, highlighting its decision in December to start anti-piracy patrols in the lawless waters off Somalia.
Chinese infantry troops were also extending their international presence through a higher peacekeeping profile, and may take on combat missions beyond their current role in logistical support for the United Nations.
Blair said China's space programmes, including anti-satellite weapons, "also rank among the country's highest military priorities." Of most immediate concern to far-flung US forces in the western Pacific and Asia is China's refinement of ballistic and cruise missile capabilities, while its nuclear weapons capability will increase over the coming decade.
"China also is developing conventionally armed short- and medium-range ballistic missiles with terminally guided manoeuvrable warheads that could be used to attack US naval forces and airbases," Blair said. "In addition, counter-command, control, and sensor systems, to include communications satellite jammers, are among Beijing's highest military priorities."

Cobra Gold Military Exercise - Joint Forces #3

Cobra Gold Military Exercise - Joint Forces #3
(NSI News Source Info) February 13, 2009: Thai marines walk up to the shore during an amphibious assault exercise as part of the Cobra Gold 09 joint military exercise at a military base in Chonburi Province, east of Bangkok February 13, 2009. Thailand launched its annual war games on February 4 with troops from the United States, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia linking up with Thai forces for two weeks of joint military exercises.

Boeing Delivers EA-18G Maintenance Trainer / Boeing Delivers EA-18G Maintenance Trainer Ahead Of Schedule

Boeing Delivers EA-18G Maintenance Trainer / Boeing Delivers EA-18G Maintenance Trainer Ahead Of Schedule
(NSI News Source Info) February 13, 2009: ST. LOUIS --- The Boeing Company delivered its first EA-18G Growler maintenance trainer to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Wash., on Nov. 21 -- two weeks ahead of an already tight schedule.
"I'm honored to lead such a complete Integrated Product Team. As usual, they all stepped up and teamed to deliver this important Growler maintenance trainer two weeks ahead of schedule," said Capt. Darryl "Spike" Long, Aviation Training Systems program manager for the U.S. Navy.
The Navy plans to procure 88 carrier-based EA-18G airborne electronic attack (AEA) aircraft to replace the EA-6B Prowler. Boeing delivered the first fleet EA-18G and an EA-18G aircrew trainer to the Navy's Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 at Whidbey in June 2008.
The EA-18G Maintenance Trainer (EAMT) is a set of three devices used to train Navy maintenance technicians to support the EA-18G's unique systems, primarily the AEA avionics. The majority of these avionics are installed on a pallet in the gun bay and in two wingtip pods. "With the Growler aircraft scheduled to become operational in 2009, Boeing's timely delivery of the maintenance trainer is crucial to keeping our warfighters and their aircraft safe," said Mark McGraw, vice president for Training Systems and Services, a division of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems Global Services and Support.
Two of the three EAMT devices are mockups of aircraft hardware: One represents the gun bay and pallet, and the other a wingtip pod. The mockups are used to support training on installation and removal procedures.
The third device in the set, the Visual Environment Maintenance Trainer, consists of a fully replicated cockpit, an instructor/operator station, and two touch-screen displays that provide graphical representations of the aircraft and support equipment. The student interacts with the trainer via the cockpit and displays to test and troubleshoot. The trainer simulates a variety of maintenance situations and provides realistic feedback to students' actions.
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.

Thales Wins Radar Contract For New British Carriers / United Kingdom Selects Thales’s S1850M Radar For New Aircraft Carriers

Thales Wins Radar Contract For New British Carriers / United Kingdom Selects Thales’s S1850M Radar For New Aircraft Carriers
(NSI News Source Info) HENGELO, Netherlands - February 13, 2009: Thales Nederland has formalised a contract with BAE Systems Integrated System Technologies Limited for two S1850M Long Range Volume Search Radars to be installed on the new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy.
The carriers are being built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance comprising the UK Ministry of Defence, BVT Surface Fleet, Babcock Marine, BAE Systems and Thales.
The first radar system is scheduled to be delivered during 2011 and the second radar system in 2013. The scope includes minor enhancements to the earlier Type 45 design to meet the specific needs of aircraft carrier operation.
The S1850M surveillance radar is based on Thales's SMART-L radar and was previously delivered to the Type 45 vessels for the UK Royal Navy and the Horizon class vessels of the French and Italian Navies, in a collaboration between BAE Systems Integrated System Technologies Limited and Thales Nederland.
The system is capable of 3D long range automatic detection, track initiation and tracking of air targets. Its performance has been demonstrated in many tests and the system has proven to be capable of detecting stealth targets in high clutter environments.
Thales is a leading international electronics and systems group, addressing defence, aerospace and security markets worldwide.
Thales’s leading-edge technology is supported by 22,000 R&D engineers who offer a capability unmatched in Europe to develop and deploy field-proven mission-critical information systems. Thales employs 68,000 people in 50 countries with 2007 revenues of EUR 12.3 billion. Thales Nederland, established in 1922, is one of the leading companies in integrated naval systems for surveillance, weapon control, combat management and system integration worldwide.

Iran To Launch First Manned Spaceflight By 2021 - Space Agency - 2

Iran To Launch First Manned Spaceflight By 2021 - Space Agency - 2
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN - February 13, 2009: Iran will send its first man into space on board its own spacecraft by 2021, the head of Iran's Aerospace Agency announced on Thursday. "Scientific research has already begun in Iran," Reza Tagipur was quoted by Iranian media as saying. "According to our plans, a successful Iranian manned spaceflight will be carried out before 2021." "India and China were able to send their astronauts into space after 15 years of research and preparations. We will also go the same route, but believe we will achieve our goal in a shorter period," he said. Iran's Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies Mohammad Soltani told journalists on Thursday that "another seven satellites are being developed in Iran." According to the minister, four of the satellites have a payload of up to 100 kilograms (220 lbs) and are meant for a low-Earth orbit. "Iran's young scientists are working shoulder to shoulder to conquer space, that is why they are now building seven more satellites," Soltani said. Iran put its first communications satellite, Omid (Hope), into a low Earth orbit on February 2. The research satellite, which contains communications and digital equipment, was carried into orbit by a domestically-made launch vehicle, Safir (Messenger). With the February launch, Iran became the eighth country in the world able to independently put satellites into space, after Russia, the U.S., France, China, India, Japan, and Israel. The United States, France, Israel and Britain have already expressed concern over the launch, voicing suspicions that Tehran may be developing long-range ballistic missile technology that could be used to launch nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its space program is of an entirely peaceful nature.

Russian Destroyer Escorting 4 Ships Through Gulf of Aden

Russian Destroyer Escorting 4 Ships Through Gulf of Aden
(NSI News Source Info) VLADIVOSTOK - February 13, 2009: Russia's Admiral Vinogradov destroyer is escorting four vessels through waters off the Horn of Africa to protect them against Somali pirates, Navy Capt. 1st Rank Roman Martov said on Friday. A Ka-27 Helix helicopter from the Russian destroyer Admiral Vinogradov (DDG 572) on counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The Pacific Fleet destroyer is escorting three foreign vessels and one Russia container ship through the Gulf of Aden. Once safely in the Arabian Sea, the ships will continue their individual courses and the Admiral Vinogradov will return to the Gulf of Aden with another group of foreign ships in its charge. Pacific Fleet spokesman Martov said this is the fifth group of ships the warship has escorted in the pirate-infested waters since it replaced the Baltic Fleet frigate Neustrashimy in January. The Admiral Vinogradov is operating within the framework of an EU anti-piracy operation, dubbed Atalanta, to protect shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa from pirates. Up to 20 warships from the navies of at least 10 countries are patrolling the area, where pirates based in Somalia seized around 40 ships last year.

North Korea Assembling Long-Range Missile: South Korea

North Korea Assembling Long-Range Missile: South Korea
(NSI News Source Info) February 13, 2009: SEOUL - North Korea has apparently started assembling its longest-range missile and it could be ready for launch late this month, a South Korean news report said Feb. 13. Chosun Ilbo newspaper, quoting an unidentified South Korean government official, said the first and second stages of the Taepodong-2 missile had been transported by train to the launch site at Musudan-ri on the northeast coast. The Taepodong-2 is a designation used to indicate a North Korean three-stage ballistic missile design that is the successor to the Taepodong-1. Very little is currently known about the missile design; on July 5, 2006, one was reportedly tested and, according to preliminary reports, failed around 35-40 seconds after launch, crashing into the ocean. "The Taepodong-2 missile has not been seen around the launch pad. It seems that the first- and second-stage rockets are now being assembled," the official was quoted as saying. When assembled, the missile is expected to be moved to the pad, put in an upright position and fueled for test-firing, the official said, adding that the earliest it could be launched is Feb. 25. That is the first anniversary of the inauguration of South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak. The North views Lee as a bitter enemy because he has taken a firmer stance on cross-border relations than his predecessors. It was not possible to confirm the report. South Korean authorities refuse comment on intelligence matters. Analysts say a missile launch would be intended to put pressure on Lee to drop his harder line, and to persuade U.S. President Barack Obama to make the North one of his policy priorities. Chosun said increased activities by vehicles and people had been spotted at Musudan-ri but the missile is out of sight of satellites in a covered plant. It said the components were transported in a 40-meter (132-foot) covered rail wagon from a military plant near Pyongyang, denying U.S. satellites an opportunity to photograph them. U.S. and South Korean officials have previously said the hard-line communist state seems to be preparing for another test of the Taepodong-2. An earlier missile blew up just 40 seconds it was first launched from Musudan-ri in July 2006. At maximum range the missile could theoretically target Alaska. South Korea has said that any such launch would bring the North increased isolation and added sanctions, while the United States has said it would be provocative.

Russia Delivers 4 MiG-29 Fighters To India

Russia Delivers 4 MiG-29 Fighters To India
(NSI News Source Info) BANGALORE, India - February 13, 2009: Russia has delivered the first four MiG-29 Fulcrum-D naval fighters to India and will supply the remaining 12 aircraft by the end of 2009, the head of Russia's MiG aircraft maker said on Thursday. Russia and India signed a contract on January 20, 2004, stipulating the supply of 12 single-seat MiG-29K and four two-seat MiG-29KUB to New Delhi as part of a $750 million deal to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian Navy. "The first four aircraft have been inspected by Indian technical experts and the [Indian] pilots are taking a five-month flight training course," Mikhail Pogosyan said at a news conference on the sidelines of the Aero India 2009 show in the southern city of Bangalore. Pogosyan also said the remaining fighters would be delivered to India by the yearend, as stipulated by the contract. The aircraft will be later deployed on board the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, which is due to enter service in the Indian navy in 2012 as the INS Vikramaditya.

MiG Corp. Orders Hit $2.8 Billion, To Grow By $1.5 Billion - CEO

MiG Corp. Orders Hit $2.8 Billion, To Grow By $1.5 Billion - CEO
(NSI News Source Info) BANGALORE -February 13, 2009: MiG's portfolio of orders is worth over 100 billion rubles ($2.8 billion) and will grow by another 50 billion rubles ($1.5 billion) in the near future, the Russian aircraft maker's head said on Thursday. Mikhail Pogosyan said new contracts, coupled with support from the state, would help the company significantly reduce its current 44 billion-ruble ($1.25 billion) debt. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the MiG corporation will receive 11 billion rubles ($308 million) in the first quarter of the year as part of a 17.3 billion-ruble ($485 million) state defense contract. He also said the company had losses of some 11 billion rubles in 2008, and announced that he had signed a resolution allocating a further 15 billion rubles ($417 million) in federal budget funds to the corporation. Apart from the ongoing financial crisis, the MiG corporation has been hit by Algeria's decision to tear up a $1.28 billion contract to buy 34 MiG-29s, signed in 2006, over the airplanes' "inferior quality." The 15 planes delivered were sent back to Russia. The corporation also has a substantial debt to suppliers, in particular engine makers and missile manufacturers - reportedly more than $80 million. Last year, MiG, along with other "strategic" companies, was promised funding through the government's anti-crisis package, specifically firm production orders from the Russian Air Force.

Indian Air Force To Receive BrahMos Cruise Missiles In 2012

Indian Air Force To Receive BrahMos Cruise Missiles In 2012
(NSI News Source Info) BANGALORE, India - February 13, 2009: The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile will be commissioned by the Indian air force in 2012, the head of the BrahMos Aerospace company said on Thursday. Established in 1998, BrahMos Aerospace, a joint Indian-Russian venture, produces and markets BrahMos supersonic missiles, whose sea-based and land-based versions have been successfully tested and put into service with the Indian army and navy. "The [BrahMos] missile will be put in service in 2012," the company's CEO, Sivathanu Pillai said, presenting the airborne version of the missile at the Aero India-2009 air show in India. The BrahMos missile has a range of 290 km (180 miles) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg (660 pounds). It can effectively engage ground targets from an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and has a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the U.S.-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. "For the airborne version...we had to reduce the mass of the missile and to ensure aerodynamic stability after its separation from the aircraft. The air-launched platform has its own initial speed during the launch of the missile, so we have reduced the size of the booster. Now the missile is ready," Pillai told RIA Novosti in an exclusive interview last year. The Indian Air Force had chosen Russian-made SU-30 MKI Flanker-H multirole fighter as a trial platform for the missile, but it will take up to four years to complete the upgrade of the aircraft so that it can carry and launch BrahMos missiles, the official added. India is planning to produce at least 140 Su-30MKI fighters by 2014 under a Russian license with full technology transfer rights. Analysts estimate that India could purchase up to 1,000 BrahMos missiles for its armed forces in the next decade, and export 2,000 to other countries during the same period. During a visit by Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to India last year, the two sides agreed to develop a hypersonic version of the missile, to be known as BrahMos-2.

AW-Tata JV To Assemble AW119 Helicopter In India / AgustaWestland And Tata Sons Sign MoU For AW119 Helicopter Final Assembly In India

AW-Tata JV To Assemble AW119 Helicopter In India / AgustaWestland And Tata Sons Sign MoU For AW119 Helicopter Final Assembly In India
(NSI News Source Info) February 13, 2009: AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, and Tata Sons are pleased to announce the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the formation of an Indian joint venture company which will establish a final assembly line for the AW119 helicopter in India. The agreement was signed at the Aero India air show today by Mr. Giuseppe Orsi, CEO, AgustaWestland and Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons. The agreement was signed at the Aero India air show today by Mr. Giuseppe Orsi, CEO, AgustaWestland and Mr. Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons. The joint venture company will be responsible for AW119 final assembly, completion and delivery to customers worldwide while AgustaWestland will retain responsibility for worldwide marketing and sales.
The joint venture company will be responsible for AW119 final assembly, completion and delivery to customers worldwide while AgustaWestland will retain responsibility for worldwide marketing and sales. The first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered from the new facility in 2011 with production forecast to rise to 30 aircraft per year to meet worldwide demand.
Mr. Giuseppe Orsi, CEO, AgustaWestland speaking after the signing ceremony said "We are proud to have achieved this important agreement with such an important and strong industrial partner in India. Establishing an AW119 final assembly line in India will allow us to meet the growing demand in the world market for a modern single engine helicopter and to further expand our presence in India where we see strong future business opportunities."
The AgustaWestland AW119 Koala (Agusta A119 Koala prior to the Agusta-Westland merger) is an eight-seat utility helicopter powered by a single turboshaft engine and produced for the civil market. It is intended to appeal to operators for whom the lower running costs of a single-engine aircraft outweigh the redundancy of a twin.
He added, "AgustaWestland is also committed to offering the best and most cost effective solution for the Indian Armed Forces' Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter requirement. We will also work together with other partners in India to best serve the needs of the Indian market."
It is envisaged that the joint venture company would be a supplier for the current Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter (RSH) programme of the Indian Armed Forces, for which AgustaWestland has already proposed the AW119 to be manufactured in India. Additionally, AgustaWestland and Tata companies plan to explore additional commercial opportunities in India for AgustaWestland helicopters and the subsequent industrial co-operation.
Tata is a rapidly growing business group based in India with significant international operations. Revenues in 2007-08 are estimated at $62.5 billion (around Rs251,543 crore), of which 61 per cent is from business outside India. The group employs around 350,000 people worldwide. The Tata name has been respected in India for 140 years for its adherence to strong values and business ethics. The business operations of the Tata group currently encompass seven business sectors: communications and information technology, engineering, materials, services, energy, consumer products and chemicals.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Has Fallen Out Of Favour With The Obama Administration

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Has Fallen Out Of Favour With The Obama Administration
(NSI News Source Info) February 13, 2009: Relations between President Karzai's Afghan government and Washington are at an all-time low. As Richard Holbrooke - President Obama's envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan - prepares to make his first visit to the region since being appointed, the BBC's Ian Pannell in Kabul looks at why the relationship has soured. Mr Karzai has fallen out of favour. Hamid Karzai has become increasingly vociferous in his criticism of American military tactics and has been making half-hearted threats to shift his allegiance to Moscow if he does not get his way. Washington has yet to publicly declare its hand but a series of well-placed leaks, briefs and snubs have raised the prospect that it could move its support elsewhere in this year's presidential election. One Afghan newspaper spoke of "a new cold war". A senior Afghan government official says the new Obama administration has insulted President Karzai and one prominent MP accuses America of "running a shadow-government". 'Narco-state' The decline in relations began with a visit last year by Joe Biden, now the vice-president, to Kabul. At the time, as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, he attended a private meeting with Mr Karzai. A well-placed source describes Mr Biden, exasperated at not getting "straight answers" on drugs and corruption, launching into a verbal tirade and storming out of the meeting. In a country where honour and decorum are second only to God and country, this was less than tactful. On the campaign trail and more recently in confirmation hearings, senior members of President Barack Obama's team have questioned the effectiveness and honesty of Hamid Karzai's government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's written statement to Congress during her confirmation hearing called Afghanistan a "narco-state" that was "plagued by limited capacity and widespread corruption". She may have been wise enough not to use the phrase in her public testimony but by the time it was reported on the front page of the newspapers in Kabul, it did not really make much difference. 'Potential impediment' Earlier in January the Nato secretary-general wrote an opinion piece about the lack of leadership in the country, laying the blame not at the feet of the Taleban but the lack of governance.
(Photo/Image: Joe Biden's meeting with President Karzai reportedly did not go well)
Civilians need better protection, says Mr Karzai Then there was a recent article in the New York Times. Quoting anonymous "senior administration officials", it said Washington planned to take a tougher-line with Kabul and that Hamid Karzai was now regarded as "a potential impediment to American goals" in the country. Hamid Karzai is an avid reader of the Western press and is known to be highly sensitive to criticisms they may have of him. Publicly he has not responded but he is now under considerable pressure. His government's writ is limited to Kabul, the north and a few urban spots elsewhere in the country. His own popularity has fallen and some whisper privately and mischievously about his "state of mind". When asked whether the country was heading towards a crisis, one senior political figure responded that the country was already in one. Old Afghan hand President Karzai has been holding a series of meetings with former Mujahedeen commanders in the past few weeks amid suggestions that he is trying to align the country with Russia. The president wants new rules of engagement for Nato troops That has certainly been his public stance. As well as a deliberately leaked "letter of understanding" with Moscow, President Karzai publicly warned America that unless it supplied the military hardware he wanted, he would look to other countries for support. No-one was in a moment's doubt who this meant. The Russian ambassador, Zamir Kabulov, an old Afghan hand, was seen strutting around parliament last week. He has warned that the US and Nato are repeating the same mistakes of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. As he was posted to the Soviet Embassy at the time, his opinion is worth considering. Now President Karzai has sent a document to Nato outlining new "rules of engagement". If implemented they would substantially alter the mandate for foreign forces in the country. It seems inconceivable that there could be a real and lasting schism between Kabul and Washington. It will be the job of Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, to ensure that does not happen. But the date has been set for Afghanistan's presidential election and the West's disappointment with Hamid Karzai can no longer be disguised. A number of challengers are jostling for American support and in the current climate, their chances are starting to improve.

Thousands Of US Weapons Astray In Afghanistan: Auditors

Thousands Of US Weapons Astray In Afghanistan: Auditors
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON – February 13, 2009: Lax controls mean that tens of thousands of US weapons, including assault rifles and grenade launchers, risk ending up in the wrong hands in Afghanistan, congressional auditors warned on Thursday. The Pentagon has failed to track an estimated 87,000 weapons given to Afghan government forces by the United States, or a further 135,000 donated by NATO allies, a report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office said. US military officials' neglect to record serial numbers or conduct inventories once the weapons were shipped to Afghan forces risk them ending up in Taliban hands and being turned on NATO troops, the report indicated. "Given the unstable security conditions in Afghanistan, the risk of loss and theft of these weapons is significant," said the evaluation, which was submitted to a House of Representatives hearing taking place Thursday. GAO inspectors visited Afghanistan last August and found a worrying failure to conduct basic checks by US forces on the ground. "Lapses in accountability occurred throughout the supply chain," the report said. "This was primarily due to a lack of clear direction from (Department of) Defense and staffing shortages." Aside from weaponry including rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers and mortars, the report found inadequate oversight of night vision goggles issued to the Afghan National Army. There was no immediate comment from the US government but a senior Pentagon auditor, Thomas Gimble, was testifying at the hearing of the House subcommittee on national security and foreign affairs. The subcommittee's Democratic chairman, John Tierney, said the "disturbing" GAO report exposed the risk of US troops being killed by their own government's weapons.