Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pakistan: A Possible Kashmir Solution / Pakistan's Economy Has Been Held Hostage To Kashmir Factor

Pakistan: A Possible Kashmir Solution / Pakistan's Economy Has Been Held Hostage To Kashmir Factor
Analysis: Every ruler of Pakistan (military or democratically elected) has been obsessed for past 62 years to take over Indian held Kashmir in spite of Pakistan occupied Kashmir PoK is far behind economically from Indian Kashmir. Pakistan's economy has been held hostage to Kashmir factor. Time has shown no UN Resolutions or super power intervention can resolve Kashmir issue. It is high time and would be good for India and Pakistan, if Kashmir issue is resolved amicably and treating LoC as an international border between both countries and live in peace as a good neighbor, example like USA and Canada.
(NSI News Source Info) March 10, 2009: I have seen some reports in the American press detailing how India and Pakistan, working through back channels, were close to an agreement on solving the long-enduring Kashmir problem. It appears that the two countries were about to reach an understanding on creating a new legal and political entity covering the entire state of Kashmir, the parts being currently administered by both Pakistan and India. The state would have been given a fair degree of autonomy and would have been governed by a body with membership drawn from both India and Pakistan. A sort of Kashmir Commission would have been created to manage the state. Open trade and free movement of the people of Kashmir could be the basis of an agreement since both sides have paid a heavy economic cost keeping the issue for so long. The Line of Control, the current border between the Indian-occupied Kashmir and the Pakistani-held Kashmir, would have been turned into a soft border, open to unconstrained trade. The movement of people across this quasi-border would have been free. People’s movement beyond the established borders of the two countries would have been regulated according to the laws of the two states. Although the press reports did not indicate what kind of passports and citizenship the Kashmiri people would have carried, I presume that a separate national identity would have been created. This near-agreement collapsed after President Pervez Musharraf was forced to leave office. The terrorist attacks on Mumbai last November dealt another blow to the developing understanding. It is presumably lying on a shelf in diplomatic cold storage in New Delhi. Will it ever see the light of day? The current political turmoil in Pakistan has contributed if not to the demise of the agreement then at least to a considerable delay in its possible adoption. Pakistan today is politically and economically a much weaker state than it was in the early 2000s. It was then that much of the backchannel negotiations were conducted. Especially when long-enduring disputes are being looked at for finding possible solutions, progress can not take place when one side has been considerably weakened compared to the other. This has happened to Pakistan. A government that does not have a sense of a security cannot negotiate when the workable agreement involves moving back from the positions that have been taken for a long time. The solution of the Kashmir problem of the type revealed by the American press would have resulted in Pakistan giving up its long-standing claim to the entire state of Kashmir. Not only that, it would have also agreed to Azad Kashmir to be governed by a joint commission. Only a strong and secure administration could sell this change in posture to the population which continues to be emotionally involved in the Kashmir issue. India, too, has been weakened by the Mumbai attacks. The government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has come under heavy criticism for not being able to defend its borders. That a small group of men could penetrate the defence perimeters of such a well-protected city as Mumbai was seen a sign of weakness, particularly on the part of a country that claims superpower status. That it took so long for the members of the special forces to reach the scene of carnage did not provide comfort to a population that was being fed the slogan of ‘incredible India’. Weak governments don’t settle old and difficult disputes. This does not augur well for the settlement of the Kashmir problem anytime soon. That said, it gives some hope that at least at the official level the contours of a possible settlement have begun to take shape. A couple of years ago I was commissioned to do a study on Kashmir by the Washington-based United States Institute of Peace. The study was published by the USIP and became the subject of a conference hosted by Pugwash in Colombo in 2007. The conference was well attended by non-government representatives from both India and Pakistan as well as by some functionaries from the US think-tank industry. The conclusions I had reached in the study were similar to those that formed the basis of the informal dialogue between the governments of India and Pakistan. I had suggested that open trade and free movement of the people of Kashmir could be the basis of an agreement since both sides had paid a heavy economic cost keeping the issue on the front burner for so long. This was the case especially for Pakistan. Using a simple economic model I estimated the economic costs for Pakistan of the continuing dispute, arguing that the country’s economy would have been a couple of times larger had so much not been invested in the Kashmir dispute. It was an economist’s way of arguing that letting Kashmir go unresolved was a tenable proposition for the people of Pakistan. The costs incurred came not only in the form of large military expenditures that a country at Pakistan’s stage of development could not afford. They also resulted from smaller flow of foreign capital, the closure of large Indian markets for Pakistan’s exports, and periodic troop mobilisations that were costly. Pakistan also allowed Kashmir to become a cause célèbre for Islamic extremism. Once equilibrium has been restored to Pakistani politics and once general elections in India have produced a new government in New Delhi, the two countries may be able to revisit the problem of Kashmir, continuing the dialogue where they left it when Pervez Musharraf departed from the political scene. A nudge may be needed by both capitals to get back to the table, formally or informally, and begin to lay the ground for moving forward. The nudge may come from Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama’s special representative to the region. Although India was able to exclude Kashmir from the Holbrooke mission at New Delhi’s insistence, this may not prevent the emissary from informally pressing the two governments to move ahead towards resolving the dispute. If further evidence is needed about the way various conflicts around Pakistan are destabilising the country, it was provided by the terrorist attacks on Lahore on March 3. The Americans must be concerned that unless progress is made in removing the causes that motivate the jihadi groups, this part of Asia will not be stabilised. Wise leadership on both sides of the border should recognise that persistence on Kashmir and the reluctance to move away from established positions comes with very high costs.

Iran’s Jet Fighters Armed With Missiles

Iran’s Jet Fighters Armed With Missiles
(NSI News Source Info) Tehran - March 10, 2009: Defense experts have managed to install missiles with a range of 100 km on the fighter jets and test fire them successfully.With the endeavors of defense specialists and conduction of various tests, Iran’s jet fighters have now acquired a new capability in meeting the military threats of hostile powers, Fars News Agency reported on Sunday.
Implemented with the help of local universities, the air-to-surface missiles have been mounted on fighter jets that can specifically hit naval targets at a distance of 110 km.
The air-to-surface missiles have been mounted on fighter jets that can specifically hit naval targets at a distance of 110 km.
A modern radar and launching system were also designed indigenously and mounted on the planes to help the missiles operate with enhanced precision.
Another feature of the project is that the missiles, which are capable of carrying warheads, can be guided automatically. The new missile weighs over 500 kg.
The news comes days after the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander said all Israeli nuclear facilities are within the range of Iranian missiles.
Responding to speculations about Israeli military action against Iran’s nuclear sites, IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari on Wednesday dismissed the threats as “talk without any military backing.“
He said that the capabilities of the Iranian Army are high and it is unlikely that the US or Israel would try military aggression against the Islamic Republic.
“The occupied lands (Israel) in their entirety along with all the nuclear facilities in Israel’s possession are within the range of our missiles,“ the senior officer was quoted as saying.
Iran has declared that its long-range Shahab-3 missile can hit targets up to 1,250 miles away.
Tel Aviv lies is hardly about 650 miles from Iran’s western frontier.

Dutch Cabinet Feels the Heat Over JSF / Politically And Public Opinion Favour Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen To F-35 JSF: Analysis

Dutch Cabinet Feels the Heat Over JSF / Politically And Public Opinion Favour Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen To F-35 JSF: Analysis
(NSI News Source Info) March 10, 2009: Ask anyone in the Netherlands to react to the words Joint Strike Fighter and there is a good chance he or she will say 'expensive'.
The money set aside for the Joint Strike Fighter is more than the Netherlands spends on development aid on a yearly basis. It is also more money than was spent on the Betuwelijn, the new freight railway line from Rotterdam to Germany that went so much over budget that it will now never make a return on investment.
The Netherlands has plans to acquire 85 F-35As and options on another 15 F-35A for the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The aircraft will replace an aging fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16AM. The Dutch government expects the costs to be €5.5 billion for the initial purchase and €9.1 billion for 30 years of service. On 19 November 2007, in the Dutch Parliament, the Secretary of Defence was questioned about the JSF delay, technical problems and rising costs. However, on 29 February 2008, the executive council of the Dutch government decided to go ahead with the purchase of two test aircraft and a MOU was signed. September 7 2008 Dutch television show "Reporter" reports that counter orders are lagging behind compared to promises and that an active lobby by the Royal Netherlands Air force has manipulated the Dutch government into participating in the project.
It is the uncertainty over what the Joint Strike Fighter will eventually end up costing that makes its critics draw a parallel with the Betuwelijn. The Netherlands have so far invested more than 1 billion euros in the development of the American fighter plane. But since no fixed price has been set for the JSF it is unclear if the current budget of 5.7 billion euros will suffice for the planned purchase of 85 planes. In 2010, the Dutch government will decide on the purchase of only a first batch of probably 55 planes.
There is another parallel between the JSF - or the F-35 Lightning II, as Lockheed Martin is calling it now - and the Betuwelijn: both projects came about after successful lobbying work by the industries involved. The Betuwelijn was pushed by the Rotterdam port industry; the JSF by a coalition of the Netherlands air force and Dutch defence companies united in the Netherlands Industrial Fighter Aircraft Replacement Platform (NIFARP). It was with the interests of the Dutch defence industry in mind that the second cabinet of prime minister Wim Kok in 2002 decided to invest 800 million dollars in the development of the JSF. At the time, the cabinet said the investment would pay off "to the very last cent" - but only on the condition that the Netherlands would buy the JSF for its own armed forced.
Too late to quit?
Over the next few years the Netherlands became more and more involved with the JSF. In 2006, it signed a memorandum of understanding about the production and further development of the fighter plane. According to the MoU, the Netherlands would pay a maximum of 359 million euros. Last year, the Dutch parliament agreed to Dutch participation in the 'operational test phase' of the JSF for an amount of 274 million euros. Before the end of April, parliament has to agree to the purchase of the first two JSF planes, a condition for participation in the test phase. One could argue that this is a mere formality. After all, the Netherlands could hardly get out of the JSF project at this late stage. The defence ministry estimates that getting out now would cost the Netherlands 500 million euros.
But the JSF has nevertheless found itself at the centre of a political storm. Labour, a government coalition party, has been waging a guerrilla war against the JSF in the defence subcommittee of the Dutch parliament. And Labour's member of parliament Angelien Eijsink's stubborn fight to obtain more information about the defence ministry's handling of the JSF has gained her the respect of erstwhile sceptical colleagues. There has been increasing irritation among the members of the defence subcommittee about the way deputy defence minister Jack de Vries, a Christian Democrat, has been 'pushing' the JSF.
"The past year has been a real eye-opener for me," Hero Brinkman of the populist Party for Freedom (PVV) recently told this newspaper. "We are being taken for a ride."
Support eroding
The support of the PVV, an opposition party, means that Eijsink now has a majority in parliament behind her. This has allowed the defence subcommittee to demand that De Vries get a fixed, binding price offer for not just the JSF but also for the Swedish Saab Gripen, cheaper at 4.8 billion euros for 85 planes, and the Advanced F-16.
Last week, De Vries informed parliament that he is ignoring its demands. According to De Vries, it is customary to ask for a fixed price only from manufacturers who can deliver a product that meets the requirements. And according to a recent ministry comparison of the JSF with the Saab Gripen 'Next Generation' and the Advanced F-16, the latter two fighter planes are "unsuitable for the Netherlands".
De Vries is increasingly at odds with parliament over the JSF. Even the orthodox Christian party ChristenUnie, the government's junior coalition partner that has always supported the JSF, is now openly voicing doubt. During a recent visit to the US, ChristenUnie spokesperson Joël Voordewind hinted at the possibility of buying just one test plane this year instead of two.
The question is what the cabinet's next move will be now that the decision to buy the test planes is likely to be rebuffed by parliament. The 2007 coalition agreement between the Christian Democrats, Labour and ChristenUnie merely said that the cabinet has to take a final decision about the JSF no later than 2010. Labour leader and finance minister Wouter Bos doesn't seem very interested in the JSF; he has his hands full with the recession. By the end of April we should find out if Bos is willing to risk confronting the Christian Democrats over the JSF in order to please his own rank and file.
One thing is for sure: the decision over the purchase of the test planes is more than just another step on the way to the JSF. If the Netherlands decide to buy the JSF test planes, Saab has threatened, it will withdraw the last serious contender for the F-35 from the race.

Boeing To Offer Super Hornet For Greece's Next-Generation Fighter Program

Boeing To Offer Super Hornet For Greece's Next-Generation Fighter Program
(NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS - March 10, 2009: Boeing announced today that it will promote the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet as the next-generation fighter for the Hellenic Republic (Greece). The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a supersonic carrier-capable fighter/ground-attack aircraft. The F/A-18E single seater and F/A-18F two-seater are larger and more advanced derivative of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet entered service with the United States Navy in 1999, replacing the F-14 Tomcat since 2006 and will serve alongside the original Hornet. In 2007, the Royal Australian Air Force ordered Super Hornets to replace its aging F-111 fleet. "We are pleased to offer the Hellenic Air Force the advanced combat capability of the Block II Super Hornet," said Dan Korte, vice president and general manager of Global Strike Systems for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. "In addition, we look forward to furthering long-term partnerships with the Hellenic government and aerospace industry." The Super Hornet, with core strengths in both performance and technology, is the most advanced multipurpose strike fighter in production today, with a proven performance record through more than 500,000 hours of flight time. It is operated by the U.S. Navy and is currently being built for the Royal Australian Air Force. The aircraft is the first operationally deployed strike fighter to incorporate next-generation capabilities, such as the Raytheon APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar integrated with advanced electronic-warfare systems. The Super Hornet program has continued to add capability to the aircraft while decreasing cost over its lifetime. Boeing has delivered more than 380 Super Hornets to the U.S. Navy, all on or ahead of original production schedule. Australia is procuring Super Hornets to bolster its fleet of F/A-18 Hornets. Boeing is in discussions with several other international customers about their interest in procuring the Super Hornet.

Boeing, Mexicana Group Agree To 25-Airplane 717 Leasing Deal

Boeing, Mexicana Group Agree To 25-Airplane 717 Leasing Deal
(NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE - March 10, 2009: Boeing and Mexicana Group today announced a lease agreement for 25 Boeing 717-200 airplanes to be used by Mexicana's Click operation. Under a multi-year arrangement, MexicanaClick will begin receiving the 717s from Boeing Capital Corporation in March, making Mexicana the first North American 717 operator outside the U.S. Boeing Capital is the world's largest lease provider of the modern, fuel-efficient twin jet. A Boeing 717-200 is depicted here in the paint scheme of Mexicana's Click operation. Mexicana becomes the ninth active 717 operator with today's announcement by Boeing Capital Corporation of a multi-year leasing deal with the carrier for 25 of the modern and fuel-efficient twinjet. Boeing will also provide training and spare-parts support in a comprehensive customer solution. Boeing Capital is the largest leasing provider of the717, which entered service in 1999. In addition to the airplanes, Boeing through its Commercial Aviation Services group will provide training for flight crew, cabin crew and maintenance staff as well as spare parts provisioning. In total this approach represents a comprehensive Boeing solution to Mexicana Group's fleet renewal needs. "With these 25 airplanes, we give a strong boost to MexicanaClick and a better way to improve the passengers' experience and the airline's operating efficiency to maintain its leadership both in quality of equipment as well as on-board services," said Manuel Borja, Mexicana Group director general. The Boeing 717 has distinguished itself in service to nine airlines on four continents. Designed for quick turnaround, high-frequency and short- range markets (up to 1,500 nautical miles), the 717 offers big-jet passenger comfort with the lowest noise and emissions in its class. The Rolls Royce-powered 717s will replace Fokker F-100s operated by the airline. "At a time when economic conditions pose challenges to airline operators and travelers, the 717 offers a wealth of value--greater fuel efficiency, lower maintenance costs, a modern flight deck and spacious interior," said Tim Myers, Boeing Capital Corp. vice president for structured financing. "We're pleased to join forces with Mexicana to bring the 717 to the region." Click's 717 fleet will be configured to carry 104 passengers with 20 in Mexicana Elite class, with two-by-two seating, allowing all passengers to enjoy either aisle or window seats, and 84 in tourist class where the five-abreast, wide leather seats will appeal to travelers. Boeing and Mexicana have worked together for decades. The airline was among the world's largest operators of the Boeing 727 and its current long-haul routes depend on the Boeing 767. "We congratulate MexicanaClick on joining the ranks of airlines that depend on the 717's high dispatch reliability and low maintenance costs to compete successfully," said Ihssane Mounir, vice president for Latin American sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Add to that a quiet and fuel-efficient airplane, with great comfort and passenger appeal and an average fleet age of less than five years, and the result is a great platform to grow Click's market success."

India: Islamic Militants Are Recruiting Internet Hackers For Cyberwar

India: Islamic Militants Are Recruiting Internet Hackers For Cyberwar
(NSI News Source Info) March 10, 2009: A month before the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, the counter-terror police in that city arrested some key members of the Indian Mujahedeen (IM) organization.
One of the three men taken was Mohammed Mansoor Asghar Peerbhoy, who turned out to be the chief hacker for the IM. Peerbhoy is the 31 year old son of a wealthy Moslem family, with a university degree from one of India's top schools (VIT), who had a highly paid job with Yahoo in India.
Facing life in prison, Peerbhoy has been trying to gain leniency by cooperating. To that end, he has been demonstrating to the police the hacking techniques he used. In doing this, he has impressed the police with his ability to break into networks and manipulate what's there. Fortunately, Peerbhoy only used his Internet skills for the IM for distributing information about the group. He belonged to a "media cell" of the terrorist organization. But the police expect to find out what, if any, Internet based attack plans the IM, and other Islamic terrorist, organizations might have had.
Peerbhoy is one of the most skilled Internet specialists to be found working for an Islamic terrorist organization, and he is believed to have been consulted by the IM, and other Islamic terrorists, on the potential for Islamic terrorist attacks via the Internet.

Iraq Price Tag Won’t End With Withdrawal : Analysis

Iraq Price Tag Won’t End With Withdrawal : Analysis
(NSI News Source Info) March 10, 2009: Financial, logistical and political costs of leaving expected to be high. Measured in blood, the price tag in Iraq is absolute: 4,238 Americans have died during America's six-year war. For Iraqis, the toll is far greater.
One of the many large U.S. military bases in Iraq, Forward Operating Base Remagen is seen in a photo relased by the U.S. military in March 2006.
Icasualties.org, which tracks body counts reported by the media, notes nearly 45,000 civilians have been killed since Iraq's Shiite-led government was formed in April 2005; another Web site puts the tally since 2003 close to 100,000. Yet as the Pentagon prepares its exit strategy in line with President Barack Obama's announced plans to end the war by 2012, a wholly different calculus is emerging. With the end of combat rhetorically on the horizon, the cost of leaving is now measured in financial, logistical and, above all, political terms. Obama told Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C., that while the United States would leave Iraq "sovereign, stable and self-reliant," the price of staying had become too great. "What we will not do is let the pursuit of the perfect stand in the way of achievable goals," the president said. "We cannot sustain indefinitely a commitment that has put a strain on our military and will cost the American people nearly a trillion dollars."

Pakistan: Has Kayani Put Zardari On Notice? / Worsening Pakistan Situation Making A Ground For Army

Pakistan: Has Kayani Put Zardari On Notice? / Worsening Pakistan Situation Making A Ground For Army
(NSI News Source Info) March 10, 2009: Will Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani dislodge Pakistan’s civilian government with tacit approval from the US? There are reports in the Pakistan media to suggest that Kayani, who has so far diligently maintained a low profile, has warned President Asif Ali Zardari that he should either clear the mess in the country soon or be ready to face the consequences.
Kayani is said to have hardened his position immediately after his return to Pakistan from the US last month, said the reports, speculating that Kayani has got the go-ahead from US authorities to assert himself in the face of the deteriorating law and order situation in the country.
Sections of Pakistani media have it that Kayani put Zardari on notice during his two visits to the Pakistani president this month. Speculation that army might step in to deal with the increasingly anarchic situation started soon after the terrorist attack in Lahore. Though Pakistan foreign office rubbished these reports as ‘‘not credible’’, this has not tamped down the guessing game about the future moves of Pakistan army.
The army returned to barracks after it appeared to have lost legitimacy during the helmsmanship of General Pervez Musharraf. But the rapid deterioration in security situation with the political leadership unable to get its act together appear to have created a windown of opportunity for it to step out and assume the reins once again.
Zardari is increasingly being looked upon in Pakistan as a leader driven by his personal agendas against rivals like PML (N) leader Nawaz Sharif. He has steadfastly refused to bring back Iftikhar Chaudhary as the chief justice of supreme court fearing that Chaudhary might roll back amnesty provided to him by Musharraf in cases of corruption.
This issue is now all set to culminate in the long march organised by lawyers and leaders like Sharif, his brother and ousted Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif and Imran Khan who has threatened that revolution will flow from guns and blood in Pakistan if Zardari uses state machinery to prevent the march.
The lawyers will march to Islamabad, starting March 12. The sit-in in Islamabad on March 16, according to lawyers and leaders, will continue till Zardari appoints Chaudhary back as chief justice. Apart from the disqualification of Sharif brothers, carried out allegedly at the behest of Zardari, he is now seen as appointing his associates as judges in Punjab and Sind. Kayani, according to media reports, has told Zardari that the situation is explosive that he would be held responsible if something untoward happens.
According to Asia Times Online Pakistan’s Bureau chief Syed Saleem Shahzad, Kayani’s trip to US ‘‘appears to have acted as a catalyst for change’’. ‘‘The ongoing strife in the country, with militants and al-Qaida steadily gaining ground in the tribal areas, and the government busy settling scores with opposition parties, has compelled Washington and its prime contractor in the region, the Pakistan military, to rewrite the political scenario,’’ says Shahzad in a column.

Ukraine Improved Variation Of BTR-80, The New BTR-94

Ukraine Improved Variation Of BTR-80, The New BTR-94
(NSI News Source Info) March 10, 2009: Ukraine is now offering another variation of the Cold War era BTR-80 wheeled armored personnel carriers that were built on its territory. The new model is the BTR-4, which is a slightly larger version of the earlier BTR-3. The BTR-4 is a 25 ton vehicle that is safe from RPG rockets. It is armed with a 30mm autocannon, a 7.62mm machine-gun, and a 30mm grenade launcher (or two anti-tank missiles).
The BTR-94 Armored Personnel Carrier (on the basis of BTR-80 armored carriers) is an amphibious multipurpose armored vehicle, which has effective missile-gun and machine gun armament and heavy-duty power unit. The BTR-94 is intended for accompishment of the delivery of mechanized infantery personnel to the battle field; provision of fire support with personnel small arms. It can destroy with turret weapons ground targets such as artillery batteries, armored vehicles, field fortifications, strong points and launchers. It can also combat enemy living force who disperse on large area of plain or highlands, and low-flying air targets. It can conduct radar and optronic reconnaissance of ground and air targets by its own instruments. The BTR-90 is for use as a combination armored personnel carrier and scout vehicle. In this role, the BTR-94's turret is somewhat larger and armed with a ZU-23-2 twin 23mm autocannon and a coaxial PKT machinegun. In addition, the turret has mounted on it a combination ground surveillance/air surveillance radar with a range of up to 20 km against ground targets and 30 km against aerial targets. The night vision suite has been improved, and a video camera system with a data link to higher headquarters has been added. The guns are equipped with a laser rangefinder that also doubles as a laser designator. The engine has been upgraded to a multifuel type. The multipurpose armament provides heavy destruction ability of personnel, armored and fortified land-based sites and low-flying air-borne targets. The heavy-duty power unit on the base of the multi-fuel diesel engine provides high speed and manoeuvrability of the combat vehicle. The internal hull and turret Kevlar liner provides the additional protection of crew, troops and internal equipment against bullets and fragments, ensures high temperature proof even being attacked by enemy with incendiary ammunition and mixtures. In 1997, Jordan purchased Ukrainian armored personnal carriers from Jordan. They consisted of an order of 50 BTR-94 armored vehicles. The contract to supply the weaponry was signed early 1999 with Ukrspetsexport mediation and completed in February 2000. Ukraine supplied 50 BTR-94 personnel carriers to Jordan in February of 2000, and has recently signed a contract to supply spare part for this equipment. In mid-2000 the state-run Bronetechnika Ukrayiny (Ukraine's Armor) concern was negotiating with Jordan to set up a joint company for the production, modernization and repair of military equipment in the countries of the Middle East. The proposed Ukrainian-Jordanian JVC may open the door for the Malyshev Plant's entry to Middle Eastern markets
It also has smoke grenade launchers. There is a three man crew, and space for seven troops or passengers in the back. There are firing ports and bullet-proof windows in the passenger compartment. The vehicle is air conditioned and amphibious. If you take away the anti-RPG armor, the vehicle only weighs 17.5 tons and can carry eight troops in the back. The heavier version costs about $1.7 million each. After the Cold War ended, Ukraine became independent and inherited the BTR factories on its territory. The updated BTR vehicles have proved to be popular export items. The BTR-3 has been sold to half a dozen countries. The BTR-3 is a 17 ton vehicle armed with a 30mm autocannon, a 7.62mm machine-gun, a 30mm grenade launcher and smoke grenade launchers. There is a three man crew, and space for six troops or passengers in the back. There are firing ports and bullet-proof windows in the passenger compartment. The BTR-3 sells for about $1.3 million each. The BTR-3 is air conditioned and amphibious. For both vehicles, max road speed is 110 kilometers an hour, and 10 in the water. Range, via road, on internal fuel, is about 600 kilometers.

Pakistan Air Force Has Contracted With China For 300 JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jets Costing Almost $4 Billion,Can Pakistan Afford Mounting Cost Of Defence

Pakistan Air Force Has Contracted With China For 300 JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jets Costing Almost $4 Billion, Can Pakistan Afford Mounting Cost Of Defence
(NSI News Source Info) March 10, 2009: Pakistan received eight JF-17 fighters over the last two years, and has now signed a deal to buy the next 42, of 300, of these jets from China. These 42 will cost $14.3 million per aircraft. The final 250 will cost $12 million each. When the first JF-17 fighter arrived in Pakistan two years ago, it ended over twenty years of development for what was first called the Super 7 fighter. The JF-17 was developed by China in cooperation with Pakistan, which originally only wanted to buy 150 of them. All this came about because Pakistan could not get modern fighters from anyone else, and turned to China. The 13 ton JF-17 is meant to be a low cost alternative to the American F-16. The JF-17 is considered the equal to earlier versions of the F-16, but only 80 percent as effective as more recent F16 models.
The JF-17 uses the same Russian engine, the RD-93, that is used in the MiG-29. The JF-17 design is based on a cancelled Russian project, the MiG-33. Most of the JF-17 electronics are Western, with Italian firms being major suppliers. At one time, there was a serious a snag because the Russians did not want to allow the JF-17s to go to Pakistan with Russian engines. Negotiations resolved this problem, aided by the current peace talks between India (a long time Russian customer) and Pakistan. The JF-17 can carry 3.6 tons of weapons and use radar guided and heat seeking missiles. It has max speed of nearly 2,000 kilometers an hour, an operating range of 1,300 kilometers and a max altitude of 55,000 feet. It is arriving just in time to replace many aging MiG-21s that Pakistan is still flying.

Production Moves Forward on Australian Super Hornets / Production Moves Forward on Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet for Australia

Production Moves Forward on Australian Super Hornets / Production Moves Forward on Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet for Australia
(NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS - March 10, 2009: The outer skin of the first Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is fitted to its forward fuselage on a pulse assembly line in St. Louis. The aircraft is approximately three months ahead of schedule and set for an early delivery date in July.
(Photo/Image: Boeing says production of the first F-18F for Australia is three months ahead of schedule.)
The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, a multirole aircraft equipped with the APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, is able to perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum. The RAAF has 24 Super Hornets on order.
Each of the more than 380 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets Boeing has delivered to the U.S. Navy has been delivered on or ahead of the original delivery timeline.

Britain Pulls Nimrods For Safety Upgrades

Britain Pulls Nimrods For Safety Upgrades
(NSI News Source Info) March 10, 2009: Royal Air Force Nimrod surveillance aircraft are being withdrawn from overseas operations in order to have vital safety upgrades fitted, Britain's Ministry of Defence announced March 9. The upgrade was to have been fitted to all Nimrod MR2 and R1 aircraft by the end of March, but the program has been delayed by supply problems with the fuel seals that will replace existing equipment on the aging aircraft. Starting in 1975, 32 aircraft were upgraded to MR2 standard, including modernisation of the electronic suite and (as the MR2P) provision for in-flight refuelling and additional ESM pods on the wingtips. The in-flight refuelling capability was introduced during the Falklands War, as well as hardpoints to allow the Nimrod to carry the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile (giving rise to the aircraft being called "the largest fighter in the world"). Eventually all MR2s gained refuelling probes and the "P" designation was dropped. The Nimrod MR2 carries out three main roles. Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Unit Warfare (ASUW) and Search and Rescue (SAR). Its extended range enables the crew to monitor maritime areas far to the north of Iceland and up to 4,000 km out into the Western Atlantic. With Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR), range and endurance is greatly extended. The MR2 is a submarine killer carrying up to date sensors and data processing equipment linked to the weapon systems. In addition to weapons and sonobuoys, a searchlight can be mounted in the starboard wing pod for Search and rescue (SAR) operations. The crew consists of two pilots and one flight engineer, two navigators (one tactical navigator and a routine navigator), one Air Electronics Officer (AEO), the sonobuoy sensor team of two Weapon System Operators (WSOp ACO) and four Weapon System Operators (WSOp EW) to manage passive and active electronic warfare systems. Two of the WSOps will be used as observers positioned at the port and starboard beam lookout windows when flying in dense air traffic. The MR2 has the longest bomb bay of any NATO aircraft. The Nimrod MR2 is based at RAF Kinloss in Scotland and flown by 201, 120 and 42(R) Squadrons. First maintenance of the MR2 is carried out by the Nimrod Line Sqn. Software Support for the MR2 is carried out by the Nimrod Software Team also based at RAF Kinloss. The aircraft will be withdrawn from service on March 31 and returned to Britain for modifications. They will return to operation by early summer, an MoD spokeswoman here said. The ministry says other British and coalition surveillance assets will plug the gap while the aircraft are upgraded. The RAF is known to operate the aircraft over Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in the United Kingdom where it has homeland security, maritime surveillance and other duties. The upgrade follows the 2006 crash of a Nimrod in Afghanistan. The crew of 14 was killed when a midair fuel leak ignited a fire on the aircraft soon after it had completed air-to-air refueling. As a result, inflight refueling on the Nimrod has been banned. After a board of inquiry in late 2007, the MoD directed that the 18 Nimrods have their fuel seal and engine bay hot air ducting replaced by the end of the first quarter. That didn't happen, so the aircraft are being withdrawn from overseas service. About half a dozen of the MR2 and R1 intelligence aircraft have been modified with the new hot air ducting, but it is not clear how many of the revamped aircraft have had new fuel seals fitted. In a parliamentary statement, Bob Ainsworth, armed forces minister, said, "Problems with the provision of replacement fuel seals mean that both programs will be delayed beyond that date" of March 31. The minister said that while the hot air ducting changes were essential, the aircraft could continue to fly safely without the new fuel seals. "In order that the risks involved in operating the aircraft remain tolerable and as low as reasonably practicable, no Nimrods should fly after 31 March 2009, unless their hot air ducts have been replaced," Ainsworth said. "Delays to the replacement of fuel seals will, however, have no impact on flying since our experts assess that the risk is tolerable." BAE Systems is the contractor that is doing the work as part of a wider support deal it has on the Nimrod fleet. It is not clear whether the company or the government is responsible for supplying the fuel seals. One official with knowledge of the program said the seals were to be provided as government-furnished equipment. A spokesman for BAE said it was a matter for the MoD. It is "inappropriate for the company to comment," he said. The work is being undertaken at the RAF MR2 base at Kinloss in Scotland and the R1 base at Waddington in England. The minister said the work would temporarily reduce routine U.K.-based Nimrod flying. The MR2s were to have been replaced by the new Nimrod MRA4 surveillance aircraft being developed and built by BAE. The new aircraft should have been in service in 2003 but a series of delays mean the MRA4 is now not expected to be operational until 2010.

Hugo Chavez Says Venezuela Ready For War With Colombia

Hugo Chavez Says Venezuela Ready For War With Colombia (NSI News Source Info) Caracas - March 10, 2009: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said the armed forces are ready for a war with Colombia should the country provoke it. "In case of a provocation on the part of Colombia's armed forces or infringements on Venezuela's sovereignty, I will give an order to strike with Su aircraft and tanks. I will not let anyone disrespect Venezuela and its sovereignty," Chavez said Sunday on his weekly TV show, "Hello, President." Chavez said this in response to Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos's recent statements, which said that Colombia's military will keep killing rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on the territory of other states. Bilateral relations sharply aggravated after Colombia's military bombarded a camp of Colombian rebels in Ecuador in March 2008, killing FARC leader Raul Reyes as well as another 16 rebels. In response, Chavez ordered to dispatch several thousand soldiers and tanks toward the border with Colombia. Chavez characterized Colombia's actions as violating Ecuador's sovereignty, and called Colombian President Alvaro Uribe "a criminal." This week, Colombia's National Radio said citing a high-ranking intelligence source that nine people from the FARC General Staff hide in Venezuela and another two in Ecuador. The top management of the staff includes 31 people. FARC is a Marxist-Leninist guerrilla group established in 1960s. It is considered a terrorist organization by the Colombian government, the U.S. and the EU. The rebels' revenues are believed to be partly obtained from drug trafficking and kidnapping.

North Korea Puts Armed Forces On Full Combat Readiness

North Korea Puts Armed Forces On Full Combat Readiness
(NSI News Source Info) Pyongyang - March 10, 2009: North Korea has put its armed forces on full combat readiness and cut off the only direct hotline with South Korea's military in response to plans of joint military exercises by South Korea and the U.S. "In the current serious situation in the country, all soldiers of the Korean People's Army (KPA) have to maintain full combat readiness," the KPA command said as quoted by the Korean Central News Agency. Pyongyang considers the plans by Seoul and Washington to conduct military exercises a preparation for a war. The U.S. and South Korea say the exercises, which are held annually, are purely defensive. The exercises codenamed Key Resolve/Foal Eagle will be conducted in South Korea. They will involve 26,000 U.S. servicemen and a U.S. aircraft carrier. The number of South Korean soldiers has not been announced. South and North Koreas are formally in a state of war, as the 1950-1953 conflict on the Korean Peninsula ended only in a truce agreement, not in a peace treaty.