Saturday, June 20, 2009

DTN News: Latvia To Focus Foreign Troops On NATO Afghanistan Mission

DTN News: Latvia To Focus Foreign Troops On NATO Afghanistan Mission *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media / AFP (NSI News Source Info) RIGA, Latvia - June 20, 2009: Latvia will focus its troop missions abroad on the NATO's operations in Afghanistan, a senior defence official told AFP Thursday, as deputies voted to pull troops out of two European missions. A Latvian army soldier observes his surroundings during a military exercise in Adazi, about 32 km (20 miles) from the capital Riga May 11, 2009. A unit of Latvia's soldiers, due to be deployed to Afghanistan to serve with the NATO-led ISAF force, complete their preparations for the mission with a military exercise that will their tactical skills. "Our absolute priority is Afghanistan and we want to focus all our resources there," the ministry's chief of staff Airis Rikveilis told AFP Thursday. Rikveilis was speaking as Latvian deputies voted to pull its troops out of the NATO missions in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina later this year. Seventeen Latvian troops will withdraw from the NATO-led Kosovo Force by August 14, 2009 and another two soldiers will pull out of the EU-led mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina by October 9, 2009. Some 160 Latvian troops are currently stationed in the NAT0-led ISAF mission in Afghanistan. An ex-Soviet republic of 2.3 million, Latvia joined the NATO Western military alliance and the EU in 2004, but is suffering worse than any other EU country, with GDP expected to contract by 18 percent this year. Facing bankruptcy, the government of Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis slashed spending to meet the terms of a multi-billion dollar bailout package agreed with the IMF, EU and other international lenders. Observer, Mentor, Liaison Team members, Maj. Jim Hickman and Latvian army Maj. Juris Abolins, patrols through the village of Nishagam, in Konar province, Afghanistan alongside members of the Afghan national army, March 18. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew Moeller) Rikveilis said the decision on the troops was not directly related to austerity measures adopted by parliament this week, but admitted that the overall budget strictures had influenced their thinking. Earlier this year, Latvia's National Security Council decided in principle to end the Latvian troop presence in the European missions in 2009 because of the spending cuts.

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY June 20, 2009 - Baffling Indifference To Pakistani 'Exodus' Trauma

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY June 20, 2009 - Baffling Indifference To Pakistani 'Exodus' Trauma
*Sources: DTN News / Irish Times By PAUL O'BRIEN
*OPINION: An unprecedented human drama is unfolding in Pakistan and yet few in the wider world are paying attention. Why?
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - June 20, 2009: THE STORY is there is no story. The question is “why?” As I remember the destruction and death in north western Pakistan after the earthquake in October 2005, an event that attracted huge international attention and propelled frontline international aid agencies like Concern Worldwide to begin their rapid response emergency work, little did I know then that some four years later over two million people would be on the move in this part of the country, internally displaced by a sustained and ferociously intense military conflict between the Pakistani army and Taliban insurgents. Pakistani police officers beat people who are displaced from Pakistan's troubled areas of Swat and Buner due to fighting between the government forces and Taliban militants, as they rush to get food relief in Yar Hussain camp in Swabi, Pakistan on Friday, June 19, 2009. Over two million people fled their homes and are living in camps. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres has said of the current situation that he doesn’t recall “any internal displacement crisis in which so many people have moved in such a short amount of time”. Since early May, these two million people have felt compelled to leave their homes, farms, communities and villages. Few of the Swat Valley’s residents were prepared for the intensity of the military operation, which involved the use of heavy artillery and aerial bombardment from helicopter gunships and fighter jets. They were fearful enough for their very lives in the midst of a conflict not of their making that they had to uproot and take what little they can carry. They need food and water. They have children and elderly and the unwell amongst them to be cared for. They have feelings, emotions and relationships just like you and me. In Western jargon, we used to call the involuntary movement of two million people a human tragedy of “biblical proportions”. This exodus is bigger and faster than the movement of people following the Rwandan genocide in 1994 when pictures were constantly on our TV screens showing the plight of the displaced and the efforts of the international community to deliver aid. So why are we not hearing much about the Pakistan humanitarian crisis on the radio or television, in the newspapers or even on the web? As overseas director for Concern, I find this lack of interest frustrating and hugely disappointing. We have tried to raise the Irish public’s awareness of this tragic movement of people in Pakistan by drawing attention to this story and we have had little or no success, and not from want of trying. Our London office is experiencing similar reactions and indeed a multi-agency fundraising appeal in the UK has been “iced” due to lack of interest. The United Nations launched an overall appeal for Pakistan last month for $543 million but has a 75 per cent shortfall. Why is this? It seems highly unlikely that the public in Ireland or international donors worldwide, who donated to, and empathised so strongly with, the people of Pakistan in the wake of the 2005 earthquake, have now suddenly lost their spirit of solidarity and support for their fellow human beings. Is it the political background to the military offensive that is colouring reaction to it? Perhaps it is simpler, people are unaware of what is going on because they do not see pictures on the news or hear about this on the radio. During the response to the earthquake in 2005, RTÉ’s Charlie Bird and other TV correspondents reported daily live from the scene. They told the human story of survival. A particular aspect of the current mass movement of people is the role of so-called host communities as much as the internally displaced people (IDPs) themselves, with over 90 per cent of them staying with these host communities, reflecting the Pashtun tradition of treating guests with honour. In Mardan district, one area where we work, the number of IDPs now outnumbers the number of residents. Adding to the situation are daytime temperatures reaching 45° Celsius. After six weeks, the IDPs are still there – in the homes of strangers and public buildings and they are likely to be so for months to come. The fact is the international humanitarian response is a drop in the ocean compared to the effort the locals have mounted. If the international community does not step up to the mark soon by making funds available, we may find that both the hosts and their guests are going without. Then we would have a disaster of epic proportions. This is the story that needs to be told. Even amongst another small Concern team, in Islamabad, we have one staff member who is “managing” an IDP site in a half-built health clinic with his friends and relatives. He is Pashtun. They are funding it, co-ordinating and managing the site with the IDPs and he is using the skills he learned from Concern to do it. Other Concern Pakistani staff travel to the IDP sites where we are working. They give to the host communities from their own pockets as part of the national effort to care for one’s countrymen and, for the Pashtuns, this is to meet their greater social obligations. Contributing your time and energy through working for Concern is not enough for them – especially as we all know that our response is so limited. Against this background, I am facing the difficult decision of having to close our emergency response programme in Pakistan in mid-July as funds will have run dry, just as the health risks will escalate and add to the current plight of millions with the onset of monsoon rains. Concern is among nine major international aid agencies which face closure of projects as money fails to arrive, in what is proving to be the worst case of funding in a decade. Let’s put this in perspective: Concern has put €300,000 of our publicly-raised emergency response fund into coping with this emergency while we have received €100,000 from Irish Aid, the aid distribution arm of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Concern has provided thousands of families, who were forced to abandon their homes and belongings, with essential items such as cooking equipment, kitchen utensils, toiletries, mosquito nets and floor mats. In 2005, in the first month following the Pakistan earthquake we received €1,104,616 from the public in donations and €2 million from Irish Aid. Our total income for Pakistan over the last few weeks has been minuscule by comparison. Does the media matter in heightening public awareness, interest and support when countless lives are at stake? The answer is clear. Besides the little money going into the UN appeal, even less money is being dispersed to frontline agencies. In a humanitarian crisis, speed of delivery is vital. Previously, donor governments would give part of their aid money directly to frontline agencies. The UN system can improve co-ordination and reduce duplication of effort but the allocation of money to frontline agencies takes far too long. The anomaly here is that 80 per cent of any aid in an emergency is delivered by frontline agencies like Concern, not the UN itself. On Thursday, the EU announced it is to give €100 million to Pakistan but EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner added: “In exchange, we want Pakistan to take the fight against terrorism very seriously and that they do a lot on their home front. Interesting. Being in the position of having to pull out of such an international emergency situation is a tough call. It is an action with consequences I believe the Irish people, even amidst our own worrying economic situation – and, indeed, the Irish media – would find troubling and morally questionable. It’s a call I hope I’m not forced to make. Paul O’Brien is Concern Worldwide’s overseas director;

DTN News: Iran TODAY June 20, 2009 - Iran Leaders Raise Pressure ~ Rally By Foes Said To Be Off / Iranian Opposition May Rally Despite Ban

DTN News: Iran TODAY June 20, 2009 - Iran Leaders Raise Pressure ~ Rally By Foes Said To Be Off / Iranian Opposition May Rally Despite Ban
*Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - June 20, 2009: One day after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sternly cut off any compromise over the nation’s disputed elections, the authorities piled on pressure for an end to street demonstrations on Saturday, and a group of reformist clerics was reported to have withdrawn from a major rally. Media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to report, film or take pictures in Tehran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiles as he talks to Judiciary Chief Mahmood Hashemi Shahroodi during Friday prayers in Tehran June 19, 2009. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday demanded an end to street protests that have shaken the country since a disputed presidential election a week ago and said any bloodshed would be their leaders' fault. With the police threatening to arrest and prosecute organizers of unauthorized protests, and opposition leaders facing an excruciating choice between conciliation and an ever-greater risk of reprisals and possible bloodshed, the fate of the opposition movement seemed to have reached a pivotal phase after a week of protests. State television reported that a reformist group called the Combatant Clerics Assembly had called off a rally planned for Saturday, saying that “permission was asked to hold a rally, but since it has not been issued, there will be no rally held.” The clerics’ statement was also posted on a Web site linked to the main opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi. But it remained unclear whether people would mass again in the huge numbers protesters have deployed over much of the past week since the election results were announced. A reporter from an American news organization said she had been called by a member of the paramilitary Basij militia warning her not to go to the venue for the Saturday rally because the situation would be dangerous and there could be fatalities. In a long and hard-line sermon on Friday, Ayatollah Khamenei declared the elections on June 12 valid and warned of violence if demonstrators continue, as they have pledged, to flood the streets in defiance of the government. Iran’s National Security Council reinforced the warning Saturday, Iran’s Labor News Agency, or ILNA, and other state media reported, telling Mr. Moussavi, to “refrain from provoking illegal rallies.” The demand came in a letter from the head of the council, Abbas Mohtaj, following a formal complaint by Mr. Moussavi that law enforcement agencies had failed to protect protesters. “It is your duty not to incite and invite the public to illegal gatherings; otherwise, you will be responsible for its consequences," the letter said, according to state media. Ahmad Reza Radan, a senior police officer, warned on state television that the police “will act with determination against all illegal demonstrations and protests.” Unidentified opposition officials were quoted in news reports Saturday as saying protest would be held as planned, despite the authorities’ thinly-veiled warnings that their response would be more forceful than previously. In his sermon on Friday, Ayatollah Khamenei said opposition leaders who failed to halt the protests “would be responsible for bloodshed and chaos.” The tough words seemed to dash hopes for a peaceful solution to what defeated candidates and protesters call a fraudulent election last week, plunging Iran into its gravest crisis since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Regional analysts said that, by calling for an end to the demonstrations, Ayatollah Khamenei had raised the stakes significantly, invoking his own prestige and that of Iran’s clerical regime. In a measure of the scale of the opposition’s complaints, one losing candidate in the June 12 election, Mohsen Rezai, a conservative former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, claimed to have won between 3.5 and 7 million votes compared to the 250,000 accorded to him in the first announcement of results a week ago, state-run Press TV reported Saturday. And, in a sign of mixed signals emerging from the authorities, the English-language network also reported Saturday that Ibrahim Yazdi, a former foreign minister who leads an organization called Freedom Movement, had been released after being detained in hospital earlier in the week. Several opposition figures, journalists and analysts were detained during a week of defiance that brought forth an array of official measures — part conciliatory, part repressive — to try to stem the protests. There was no ambiguity in Ayatollah Khamenei’s sermon Friday. “Flexing muscles on the streets after the election is not right,” he said, before tens of thousands of angry supporters at Tehran University. “It means challenging the elections and democracy. If they don’t stop, the consequences of the chaos would be their responsibility.” The sermon put Ayatollah Khamenei, who prefers to govern quietly and from behind the scenes, at the forefront of a confrontation not only among factions of the government but among Iranians themselves. It also presents Mr. Moussavi, whom the opposition says was the real winner of last Friday’s elections, with a fateful choice. The former prime minister and long-time insider must decide whether to escalate his challenge to Iran’s supreme leader and risk a bloody showdown, or abandon his support for a popular uprising that his candidacy inspired. On Saturday, the authorities have invited the three opposition candidates to attend a meeting with the 12-member Guardian Council, an authoritative panel of clerics which oversees and certifies election results. The panel has been presented with 646 complaints of electoral irregularities, the authorities have said.
Iranians demonstrate near the Iranian embassy in Paris, Friday June 19, 2009 protesting the outcome of the presidential election in Iran. Iran's supreme leader sternly warned Friday of a crackdown if protesters continue their massive street rallies, escalating the government's showdown with demonstrators demanding a new presidential election. The inscriptions on the photos read "Change for Iran", left, and "No to police violence in Iran".
Mr. Moussavi has expressed mistrust of the panel, accusing some of its members of campaigning before the election for Mr. Ahmadinejad. And it is not clear what the panel would discuss since Ayatollah Khamenei has already endorsed the legitimacy of the ballot. On Saturday, Press TV quoted the Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, the Council’s spokesman, as saying the body was investigating complaints including shortages and delays in the supply of ballot papers, the denial of access to polling stations by candidates’ representatives and intimidation and bribery of voters. During the tough sermon on Friday, Ayatollah Khamenei tried to tamp down factional disputes among the elite, at one point even chastising pro-government militias and President Ahmadinejad for their role in the crisis. But he hardened his stance on the election results. On Monday, a crowd that the mayor of Tehran estimated at three million rallied for the first of four days, and Ayatollah Khamenei ordered an investigation into the election results, which declared Mr. Ahmadinejad the winner, with 63 percent to Mr. Moussavi’s 34 percent. But the ayatollah said Friday that there was nothing to discuss, as he again endorsed the victory of Mr. Ahmadinejad, seated in the audience, and called the elections “an epic moment that has become a historic moment.” He dismissed allegations of fraud. “Perhaps 100,000 votes, or 500,000, but how can anyone tamper with 11 million votes?” he asked as the crowd burst into laughter. “If the political elite ignore the law — whether they want it or not — they would be responsible for the bloodshed and chaos,” he said. He added that foreign agents were behind the street unrests and that there were efforts to stage a “velvet revolution.” “They thought Iran is Georgia,” he said, adding, “Their problem is that they don’t know this great nation yet.” Tens of thousands of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s supporters gathered for the sermon. Television showed the streets filled with people near Tehran University. Newspapers said Thursday that a group of members of Parliament reported that the forces of the Basij militia were responsible for the attack on a dormitory in Tehran and a housing complex called Sobhan this week. Students said that five students — two women and three men — were killed in the attack. In his sermon, Ayatollah Khamenei criticized those who carried out the attack. “Have you calculated the impact of going to the dormitories in the name of the leader?” he asked. “Muscle-flexing after elections is not right. Put an end to this.” There was no immediate reaction from Mehdi Karroubi, another presidential candidate who accused the government of fraud. Many analysts and aides to Mr. Moussavi have been arrested and were not available for comments. In a letter on Friday, Mr. Karroubi urged the Guardian Council to nullify the elections. “This is not the demand of an individual, it is the demand of the people,” he wrote in a letter posted on his Web site. “I warn you that insulting people would only intensify their rage.”

DTN News: Israel TODAY June 20, 2009 - Jerusalem Post Poll Published Israelis View President Barack Obama As Pro-Palestinian

DTN News: Israel TODAY June 20, 2009 - Jerusalem Post Poll Published Israelis View President Barack Obama As Pro-Palestinian *Source: DTN News (NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - June 20, 2009: West Bank Jewish settlement of Elazar, about 20 kms south of Jerusalem, on June 19, 2009. Israelis increasingly view US President Barack Obama as pro-Palestinian as Washington has begun ramping up pressure on the Jewish state to halt settlement growth, according to a poll published in the Jerusalem Post. Only six percent of Israelis view the newly elected president as pro-Israel, while 50 percent believe he is pro-Palestinian and 36 percent see him as neutral, according to the poll.A couple walks next to sign hung by an extremist right wing group depicting US President Barack Obama wearing a traditional Arab headdress, next to the settlement of Efrat, seen in the background, in the West Bank, Friday, June 19, 2009. A new poll shows 50 percent of Israeli Jews see President Barack Obama's administration as pro-Palestinian and only 6 percent see it as pro-Israel.

DTN News: Italian AF To Order Six Aermacchi M-346 Jet Trainers; 9 More To Follow

DTN News: Italian AF To Order Six Aermacchi M-346 Jet Trainers; 9 More To Follow *Sources: FINMECCANICA / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) Le Bourget, Paris - June 20, 2009: At the 48th International Air Show at Le Bourget, Paris, the Italian Defence Ministry and Alenia Aermacchi, a Finmeccanica company, announced that the agreement to supply six M-346 Master aircraft and an integrated training service to the Italian Air Force is in the process of being finalised. An Italian Alenia Macchi M346 fighter jet performs its demonstration flight, at Le Bourget, north of Paris, during the 48th Paris Air Show, Wednesday June 17, 2009. The agreement foresees the acquisition of a further nine aircraft, for a total of 15 M-346s Master. The agreement confirms the close partnership between the Italian Air Force and Alenia Aermacchi, and means that the former will be the first user of the M-346 Master, the most advanced trainer aircraft on the market today, which is aimed at military pilots flying 4th- and 5th-generation combat aircraft.
The agreement also includes a series of joint initiatives between Alenia Aermacchi and the Italian Air Force to develop international training support capabilities for the Air Forces of other countries through flight simulators, GBTS (Ground Based Training System) and integrated logistics. The Italian Defence Ministry was an effective supporter of the M-346 during the recent tender process held in the United Arab Emirates, which selected 48 Alenia Aermacchi trainer aircraft afterreceiving several competitive bids. The contract is currently being negotiated. This important success came following major investment begun by Alenia Aermacchi in 2000 in the field of advanced trainers, thanks to the significant support from the Italian Ministry for Economic Development. The Aermacchi M-346 is the only next-generation trainer aircraft currently in production in Europe. The aircraft can train pilots of future combat planes and can be used in all phases of advanced and pre-operational training, thus reducing flight hours in more costly aircraft. Currently the trainer program has achieved a comprehensive level of maturity, demonstrating its amazing capabilities and performance and delivering speeds which reached the sound barrier at the end of 2008. Aggressive development and test activities are underway to deliver the capabilities required by the Italian Air Force on time.

DTN News: Patria’s AMVs 8x8 Still Causing A Stir In Slovenia

DTN News: Patria’s AMVs 8x8 Still Causing A Stir In Slovenia *Sources: DTN News / Defense Media (NSI News Source Info) LJUBLJANA, Slovenia - June 20, 2009: After nearly two years of going back and forth with the officials, the story of Patria’s AMVs 8x8 seems far from over as allegations of corruption reach Slovenia in what may well be the final chapter of this Slovene-Finnish military saga. Defense Minister Erjavec at Patria’s presentation in january At the end of May 2006 the Slovene Army concluded its testing of two AMV (armoured modular vehicle) 8x8 models. The decision had to be made between the Finnish manufacturer Patria and the domestic Sistemska tehnika. While the latter were absolutely convinced that the job would go to them, it quickly became obvious that not everyone shared their opinion.
At first the Ministry of Defence did not wish to reveal the official results of the tests, which led many to believe that it would favour the domestic producer, yet what followed next surprised everyone. The Ministry refused the offer of the domestic provider and opted for the Finnish Patria, represented by a Slovene company Rotis. The decision was a true shock, nay, a major earthquake that has made Slovene ground shake ever since and has recently witnessed some major aftershocks coming all the way from Finland. On 12th June 2006 the Slovenian Ministry of Defence announced that Patria’s armoured modular vehicle (AMV) had been selected as the preferred vehicle for its armoured vehicle program. The order, negotiated at around EUR 278 million, included 135 8x8 armoured personnel carriers in 4 different versions, including one variant with Patria’s new unmanned NEMO 120mm mortar turret. Ten days later Patria announced the formation of a joint venture company for the Slovenian AMV programme with partners in Slovenia – the Gorenje Group, a household appliance manufacturer and Slovenia’s largest net exporter, and Rotis, a pipe, steel, and machine selling company. The AMVs 8x8 were to replace the old tanks of the Slovene army. The Ravne-based manufacturer Sistemska tehnika, which had already been supplying the army with AMV 6x6 Valuk models, thought their product – an AMV 8x8 Krpan had the unquestionable advantage over the Finnish Patria.
It was supposedly superior in terms of having the technical, economic and logistics edge over the former (not to mention that Valuk and Krpan have 40% of their parts mutually exchangeable, which could mean a significant advantage in the vehicle’s two-decade-long lifespan). Yet the government’s decision went the other way and left Sistemska tehnika livid with rage; the ground has not yet stopped shaking even after nearly two years of going back and forth with the officials. The minister responds The Minister of Defence Karl Erjavec justified the decision by saying that the offer of Rotis (representative of the Finnish Patria) was between 10-18% lower than the offer of Sistemska tehnika. Also the Ministry’s criteria, which included the price range, technical and commercial efficiency, long-term benefits for the Slovene economy in the form of offsets and the participation of the Slovene industry in the purchase of arms, were said to be better met by the Finnish manufacturer than the domestic one. Patria was thus chosen because it offered a lower price and benefits for the Slovene economy, since the whole deal was tied to industrial offsets. Sistemska tehnika, having lost the job for the purchase of AMVs for the Slovene Army, publicly revealed the details of the allegedly disputable offer of their Finnish counterparts, saying that their tender had procedural mistakes.
In the same breath they also talked about the financial and technical characteristics of their product, which supposedly were much better than those of their competition, and expressed their doubts that collaboration with the Finnish Patria would have benefits for the Slovene economy. Sistemska tehnika also questioned whether or not the commission adequately assessed their revised 1,400-page-long offer sent on 29th May 2006, since on that date the commission made its final decision, feeling that their supplemented offer was glossed over, yet their biggest complaint was made against Erjavec’s statement that Patria offered a lower price by some 10-18%. Rekindled doubts In March 2007, 38 delegates from the opposition filed a demand for the start of a parliamentary probe into the purchase of Patria’s AMVs 8x8. The investigation was aimed at discovering the links between the involvement and political responsibility of certain individuals, since there was a hint of corruption and clientelism in the whole deal.
A Patria AMV 8x8 vehicle exhibited by the Slovenian Army at a public display earlier this year.
It was thus not clear whether or not the contract was signed in terms with the actual tender conditions since it was revealed later on that the ministry did not purchase 135 AMVs with all the pertaining equipment but only 110, and it was not clear how the remaining 25 would be equipped and how much that would cost. The commission discovered that there existed indices that the actual offer of the Finnish Patria was actually different from the contract itself, since the offsets were not included in the contract. The Minister of Defence Karl Erjavec was not against the parliamentary commission, saying that all the arms purchases of the Slovene Army since the time directly following the independence should also be revised.
The parliamentary commission could probe into the suspicious arms purchases dating in the years just after the independence, since there are some who are said to be involved in these most recent purchases and the purchases made in the past. The opposition thinks that we are talking about the “arms connections” that were active in the past and have come back to haunt the arms commerce once again. Recent aftershocks The matters do not look as though they would settle down anytime soon. Just last month the Finnish police revealed that it had arrested two people under suspicion that Patria bribed certain officials to gain contracts with Slovenia and Egypt.
Patria categorically denied all charges made against them. Since corruption is a serious offence in both countries, Slovenia will annul the contract if these allegations are proved in court, thereby putting an end to this exhaustive military saga that has been going along for nearly two years. These recent irregularities in the purchase of arms have been very resounding and have re-opened many weapon-laden closets; needless to say, old skeletons re-surfaced with a bang. This recent affair is by far not the only of its kind in Slovenia; the one that is especially unpleasantly ringing in the back of everyone’s minds – “the mother of all affairs” – is the arms commerce that followed the independence and which is still a major stain of that period.
In the early 1990s Slovenia sold a lot of arms to Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were wrapped in an on-going military conflict with Serbia, yet it was never fully revealed what really went on and what the exact numbers were, both in terms of quantity and the revenue received. There were many initiatives to probe into all this, yet all attempts were shut down and the general public never found out what exactly went on. Hopefully the deal with Patria does not follow suit.

DTN News: AIRSHOW-FACTBOX-Civil Aircraft Orders At Paris Air Show

DTN News: AIRSHOW-FACTBOX-Civil Aircraft Orders At Paris Air Show *Sources: Reuters / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - June 20, 2009: Following is a summary of firm orders and commitments for planemakers during the first four days of the Paris Air Show. As expected, orders have fallen sharply since last year as airlines struggle with lower traffic and tightened credit. A C17 takes off as the Airbus (from L to R) A320, A340 and A380 line up on the tarmac on June 17, 2009 at the 48th international Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport prior a special Airbus 40th year anniversary flight. The biennial Paris Air Show, first held in 1909, got under way Monday 15 and will be opened to the public starting Friday. AIRBUS Hungary-based low-cost carrier Wizz Air signed a letter of intent to buy 50 additional A320s worth around $3.8 billion. Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia ordered 10 A350-900s worth $2.4 billion, with an option for five more worth $1.2 billion. Qatar Airways signed an order for 24 A320-family aircraft from Airbus worth about $1.9 billion at list prices. The contract includes four orders for A321 planes announced last year and 20 new orders for A320 aircraft. Vietnam Airlines made a firm order for 16 A321s worth $1.4 billion and a provisional order for two A350-900s worth $480 million. Cebu Airlines of the Philippines ordered five Airbus A320s worth $385 at list prices. Zest Airways, also of the Philippines, placed a firm order for one A320 aircraft worth $77 million at list prices. French private airline Aigle Azur placed a firm order for one A319 aircraft worth $70 million. India's Paramount Airways signed a memorandum of understanding to buy 10 A321 aircraft. Airbus said THY Turkish Airlines had signed a preliminary agreement to buy seven Airbus A330 widebody aircraft -- two of the increased take-off weight version of the A330-200, which offers an extended flying range of up to 7,200 nautical miles, and five A330-300s. THY said the same deal was for 10 aircraft, indicating there were 3 options, which Airbus does not publish.
SUKHOI Avialeasing firmed up orders for 24 Superjet 100s in a deal worth about $715 million. Russian planemaker Sukhoi has 122 firm orders for its Superjet 100 so far. Hungarian national carrier Malev signed a letter of intent for 30 Superjet 100 aircraft, a contract worth up to $1 billion. EMBRAER Dutch regional airline KLM Cityhopper firmed up seven options to buy 190 jets from the Brazilian planemaker. Japan's Fuji Dream Airlines, part of Suzuyo Group, ordered an Embraer 175 jet to add to two Embraer 170s ordered in November 2007.
BOEING Boeing Co said MCAP finalised an order for two 737-800 aircraft worth $153 million. THY Turkish Airlines said it was buying seven Boeing 777s. ATR Vietnam Airlines signed an agreement with regional turbo-prop planemaker ATR, co-owned by EADS and Finmeccanica, to buy two ATR 72-500 aircraft worth $41 million. Nigerian carrier Afrijet Airlines signed a contract to buy four ATR 72-500 planes worth $80 million. Royal Air Maroc agreed to buy four ATR 72-600s and two ATR 42-600s, with options for two more ATR 72-600s.
Spanish carrier Air Nostrum signed a contract to buy 10 ATR 72-600 aircraft, plus options for 10 more aircraft. The order is worth $425 million.

DTN News: Hamilton Sundstrand Awarded Bombardier CSeries Aircraft Electrical Power System

DTN News: Hamilton Sundstrand Awarded Bombardier CSeries Aircraft Electrical Power System *Sources: DTN News / Defense Media (NSI News Source Info) WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn., - June 20, 2009: Bombardier Aerospace has selected Hamilton Sundstrand to supply the electrical power system for the Bombardier CSeries* family of commercial aircraft. Hamilton Sundstrand is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. The Bombardier CSeries is a family of narrow body, twin-engined, medium range jet airliners being developed by Bombardier Aerospace. Models are the 110-seat CS100 (previously called the C110), and the 130-seat CS300 (previously called the C130). The Hamilton Sundstrand Electric Power Generation and Distribution System (EPGDS) performs power generation, power distribution and load management functions for the CSeries aircraft. The EPGDS generates electrical power via two variable frequency generators and provides necessary interfaces with avionics and member systems to convey data and serve embedded utility loads throughout the aircraft. The EPGDS provides secondary load management through its five secondary power distribution assemblies, which receive alternating or direct current (AC/DC) power inputs from power centers, then manage and distribute the power to load equipment. Hamilton Sundstrand also provides emergency power, via an electric air-driven generator. "Hamilton Sundstrand is proud to play a key role with Bombardier in the CSeries aircraft program," said Joe Triompo, president, Hamilton Sundstrand Aerospace Power Systems. "Our experience and proven systems integration capabilities will be instrumental in supporting Bombardier's performance and operating cost objectives for this new commercial family of aircraft." Hamilton Sundstrand projects the program value to be in excess of $2 billion over the life of the program. The Electrical Power System for the CSeries aircraft will be primarily designed and manufactured in Hamilton Sundstrand's Rockford, Ill., facility. Bombardier also recently selected Kidde Aerospace & Defense, a subsidiary of Hamilton Sundstrand, to supply the CSeries aircraft's integrated fire protection system. Hamilton Sundstrand was previously selected by Pratt & Whitney to provide the control system -- including the electronic, fuel, pneumatic and thermal management systems -- for its PurePower(TM) family of engines for the Bombardier CSeries aircraft. With 2008 revenues of $6.2 billion, Hamilton Sundstrand employs approximately 18,000 people worldwide and is headquartered in Windsor Locks, Conn. Among the world's largest suppliers of technologically advanced aerospace and industrial products, the company designs, manufactures and services aerospace systems and provides integrated system solutions for commercial, regional, corporate and military aircraft. It also is a major supplier for international space programs. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the building and aerospace industries worldwide. This release includes "forward looking statements" concerning business opportunities and other matters that are subject to risks and uncertainties. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated or implied in forward looking statements include changes in economic conditions and airline flight hours; challenges in the design, development, production and support of advanced technologies and new products; and delays and disruption in delivery of materials and services from suppliers. For information identifying other important legal, technological, competitive and other uncertainties, see UTC's SEC filings as submitted from time to time, including but not limited to, the information included in UTC's 10-K and 10-Q Reports under the headings "Business," "Risk Factors," "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and "Cautionary Note Concerning Factors that May Affect Future Results," as well as the information included in UTC's Current Reports on Form 8-K. *CSeries is a trademark of Bombardier Inc. or of its subsidiaries.

DTN News: Boeing, Raytheon Take Aim At Drone Market Dominated By Northrop

DTN News: Boeing, Raytheon Take Aim At Drone Market Dominated By Northrop *Sources: Bloomberg By Edmond Lococo and Susanna Ray (NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - June 20, 2009: Boeing Co. and Raytheon Co. aim to challenge Northrop Grumman Corp. in unmanned aircraft, a market it pioneered since World War II when an as-yet-undiscovered Marilyn Monroe worked at one of its plants. A Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned high-altitude surveillance airplane sits on display at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, June 17, 2009. Photographer: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg News “We clearly want to have a significant position,” Jim Albaugh, who leads Boeing’s defense unit, said in an interview at the Paris Air Show. “This is going to be a growing area and we want to play.” Global unmanned aircraft sales are estimated to almost double in the next decade because of rising needs for surveillance of threats including terrorists and pirates, according to aviation consultant Teal Group. Boeing announced a new division at the show to help win orders for unpiloted aircraft like its A160T Hummingbird and ScanEagle. Raytheon is developing a new drone called KillerBee it aims to sell to the Navy and Marine Corps. Los Angeles-based Northrop has produced more than 100,000 unmanned aircraft in the past 60 years and is ready for the challenge, Chief Executive Officer Ronald Sugar said in an interview at the show. “In any good market that has growth characteristics you are going to see new entrants,” Sugar, 60, said. “We’re not resting. We now do in fact enjoy a premier position in the market and we know we have to continue to innovate and perform.” Annual worldwide spending on unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, will increase within a decade to $8.7 billion, from $4.4 billion, with more than $62 billion spent over the period, according to estimates released this week by Fairfax, Virginia- based Teal Group. Northrop Drone Sales Boeing now has about $400 million to $500 million in annual sales of unmanned systems, and the business has doubled in size over the past 10 years, Albaugh said. That’s still only about half of the $1 billion in annual sales Northrop gets from drones, Sugar said. Northrop’s presence in Paris included a full-scale model of its Global Hawk unmanned spy plane and a video screen at its corporate chalet touting little-known facts about its business, such as Monroe’s work on the company’s drones in the 1940s. Through acquisitions, Northrop was present in the field of unmanned aircraft from the beginning. The first target drone flight in the U.S. occurred in 1935 when actor and model- airplane enthusiast Reginald Denny demonstrated a radio- controlled target to the U.S. Army. Marilyn Monroe Work Denny later founded Radioplane Co. in 1939, and sold the company to Northrop in 1952, according to a history on Northrop’s Web site. Monroe was working at Radioplane as a glue sprayer in the 1940s when she was discovered by David Conover, the photographer who helped her become a model, according to a biography co-written by her half-sister, Berniece Baker Miracle. From those beginnings, Northrop has evolved to dominate the top end of the unmanned aircraft market with its Global Hawk drone flown by the U.S. Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the invasion of Iraq, the plane supplied 55 percent of the target data used to destroy air defenses while flying only 5 percent of the surveillance missions, Northrop said. Global Hawk can fly at altitudes up to 65,000 feet (19,810 meters) for more than 31 hours powered by a single Rolls-Royce Group Plc engine. “The Global Hawk sensor suite is eye watering and very impressive in terms of day and night surveillance,” said Ron Stearns, research director at G2 Solutions, an aviation consulting firm in Seattle. “For high-altitude long endurance, Global Hawk is basically it right now.” Smaller Aircraft It’s not feasible for companies like Boeing or Raytheon to try to do a clean-sheet design to compete against the Global Hawk, so they will likely have to put their energies elsewhere, including smaller tactical aircraft, Stearns said. Raytheon CEO William Swanson said his company provides some of the sensors on Global Hawk, and licenses technology from Northrop for its own KillerBee aircraft. Waltham, Massachusetts- based Raytheon’s experience as the world’s largest missile maker is applicable to building UAVs, he said in an interview. “Raytheon’s strength is its versatility,” Swanson said. “We try to come at you many different ways.” To stay competitive, Northrop is also moving from the top end of the line to expand into smaller aircraft with planes such as its Fire Scout, a helicopter-style aircraft, Sugar said. It’s not too late for Chicago-based Boeing to catch up, Albaugh, 59, said. “Our offerings are pretty broad,” Albaugh said. “We have top end and bottom end and some very unique capabilities. The question is where we don’t have programs of record, how you work with capabilities and turn them in.” To contact the reporter on this story: Edmond Lococo in Paris at; Susanna Ray in Paris at

DTN News: USAFE Chief, In Israel, Builds Interoperability

DTN News: USAFE Chief, In Israel, Builds Interoperability
*Sources: DTN News / Defense Media
(NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - June 20, 2009: Gen. Roger Brady, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), and Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, commander of the Israel Air Force (IAF), are reviewing a range of operational, training and technical options aimed at strengthening interoperability and cooperation among the two air forces, sources from both countries said. In a mid-June visit to Israel, the USAFE chief was briefed by Nehushtan and other Israeli defense officials on lessons learned from recent and ongoing combat operations, IAF modernization plans, and efforts to adapt U.S.-built platforms to unique Israeli requirements. Brady also met with U.S. Embassy officials charged with local management of the broad-based, bilateral, strategic cooperative agenda. "USAFE maintains a healthy Air Force-to-Air Force relationship with our Israeli ally [and] both countries benefit greatly from our interactions," said Susan Strednansky, director of USAFE public affairs. "Regional security cooperation is important to building interoperability and capabilities required to confront challenges before they become threats," she added.

DTN News: U.S. Senate OKs $106Billion For Wars, Equipment, Other Programs

DTN News: U.S. Senate OKs $106Billion For Wars, Equipment, Other Programs *Sources: DTN News / Defense Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - June 20, 2009: The U.S. Senate approved a $106 billion emergency spending bill to continue paying for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to fund an assortment of odds and ends, from paying consumers to ditch gas-guzzling autos to preparing for pandemic flu. US Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn, US Marine Corps General James Cartwright and vice chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and Army Lt. General Patrick O'Reilly testify before a full committee hearing on ballistic missile defense programs in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2010 and the Future Years Defense Program at the Dirksen Senate Office on the Captiol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 16, 2009. The biggest chunk of spending - $80 billion - goes to the Pentagon. Of that, $51 billion is for fighting the wars for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. President Barack Obama has said this will be the last "emergency" funding bill for the wars. In the future, war funding is to be included in the regular annual defense budget, where it will receive more scrutiny. So House and Senate members took a final opportunity to cram a war-funding bill with almost $7 billion worth of equipment that the military did not request. The biggest item: $2.2 billion for eight C-17 cargo planes that Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he does not want. Gates wants to end C-17 production. The Air Force has 205 of the giant planes. Lawmakers added $1.9 billion to the $2.6 billion the military requested for mine resistant vehicles to be used in Afghanistan, $500 million for seven C-130J cargo planes and another $500 million for National Guard equipment. There is also $600 million to buy four F-22 stealth fighters that Gates did request, and $332 million to buy UAVs and for other intelligence and reconnaissance initiatives. Another $1.1 billion is to be spent on efforts to counter roadside bombs. Lawmakers added $431 million to the Pentagon's request for $2.3 billion in military construction funding. Much of it is intended to support combat operations in Afghanistan. The bill includes $2.4 billion in aid for Pakistan, $1.4 billion for Afghanistan and $958 million for Iraq. The bill also includes $7.7 billion to develop and purchase flu vaccine and take other steps to prepare for a pandemic. And there's $1 billion for a "Cash for Clunkers" program that would provide consumers with up to $4,500 if they trade in old vehicles for more fuel-efficient ones. The bill adds $10.4 billion in aid for Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries. When sent to Congress in April, the war-funding bill was $83.4 billion. When it emerged two months later, it was $22.6 billion larger. The Senate passed the spending measure June 18 and sent it to the White House to be signed into law. The House passed it June 16.