Sunday, June 21, 2009

DTN News: Iraqi Navy Takes Delivery Of 1st Patrol Ship

DTN News: Iraqi Navy Takes Delivery Of 1st Patrol Ship *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) UMM QASR, Iraq - June 21, 2009: Iraq took delivery June 20 of the first of four Italian-made patrol ships it has ordered, as part of a plan to treble the country's naval forces in the coming years. In 2006, the new Iraqi Navy signed a contract with the Italian Government to purchase 4 modified Diciotti class vessels to patrol its 58kilometre coast line. The vessels are to be built by Fincantieri at Riva Trigoso, with modifications including increased crew capacity of 38. The contract also comprises the provision of logistical support and crew training with each crew completing a 7 week training course. In cooperation with the Marina Militare (Italian Navy), each commissioning crew is provided with a week’s bridge simulator course at the Academy in Livorno. *In May 2009, the first vessel, Patrol Ship 701 named Fatah, was handed over at the Muggiano, La Spezia shipyard. The crew hand been training since January 2009, and would now be heading for Umm Qasr, a 20 day/5,000 nautical miles journey via the Mediterranean, Suez Canal and Red Sea. There, additional training will be completed, before the vessel takes over duties from the British Royal Marine patrols, who will then revert to a training role of new crew. Iraq's navy is rebuilding itself after being destroyed in the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 US-led invasion. It now has about 2,000 sailors, and defense chiefs have said they aim to boost its manpower to 6,500 in the next two to three years. The Fatah, which can mean to conquer or victory in Arabic, is a Saettia MK4-class fast patrol ship that will be used to patrol Iraq's economic zone and in search-and-rescue missions. It set sail after its completion at the Fincantieri shipyard in La Spezia, Italy, a month ago, with three other such fast patrol boats due to be delivered at a rate of one every three months. The four ships are worth $110 million, with each measuring some 177 feet (54 meters) long, weighing 390 tons, and attaining a speed of 23 knots with crews of 38. The Fatah was escorted variously by Italian, American and British warships during its journey through the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, the pirate-filled waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Hormuz, officials said. The long voyage from Italy was be the first time the new navy has traveled outside Arabian waters, and is the first such journey for the force in decades.

DTN News: UPDATE 2 ~ Nigeria Militants Say Attack Shell Oil Pipelines, Field

DTN News: UPDATE 2 ~ Nigeria Militants Say Attack Shell Oil Pipelines, Field
*Sources: DTN News / Reuters By Nick Tattersall
* Militants say attack two pipelines in eastern Niger Delta * Shell says investigating * Militants also claim strike on shallow offshore field (NSI News Source Info) LAGOS, Nigeria - June 21, 2009: Nigeria's main militant group said on Sunday its fighters had attacked two Royal Dutch Shell oil pipelines in Rivers state and a shallow-water offshore field, widening a month-old offensive.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta ("MEND") is a militant indigenous people's movement dedicated to armed struggle against what they regard as the exploitation and oppression of the people of the Niger Delta and the degradation of the natural environment by foreign multinational corporations involved in the extraction of oil in the Niger Delta and the Federal Government of Nigeria. MEND has been linked to attacks on foreign-owned petroleum companies in Nigeria as part of the Conflict in the Niger Delta. MEND's stated goals are to localize control of Nigeria's oil and to secure reparations from the federal government for pollution caused by the oil industry. In an interview with one of the group's leaders, who used the alias Major-General Godswill Tamuno, the BBC reported that MEND was fighting for "total control" of the Niger Delta's oil wealth, saying local people had not gained from the riches under the ground and the region's creeks and swamps." The Economist has described the organization as one that "portrays itself as political organisation that wants a greater share of Nigeria’s oil revenues to go to the impoverished region that sits atop the oil. In fact, it is more of an umbrella organisation for several armed groups, which it sometimes pays in cash or guns to launch attacks." In a January 2006 email MEND warned the oil industry, "It must be clear that the Nigerian government cannot protect your workers or assets. Leave our land while you can or die in it.... Our aim is to totally destroy the capacity of the Nigerian government to export oil." Additionally MEND has called upon President Olusegun Obasanjo to free two jailed ethnic Ijaw leaders — Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who is jailed and charged with treason, and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa State charged with corruption. Obasanjo's successor, President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua authorised the release of Dokubo-Asari and Alamieyeseigha in 2007. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it had attacked Shell pipelines at Adamakiri and Kula, both in Rivers in the eastern Niger Delta, early on Sunday as part of a campaign it has dubbed "Hurricane Piper Alpha". "Piper Alpha unleashed its fury in Rivers state today... leaving in its wake two battered oil installations," the group said in a statement. It said it had also later attacked an offshore Shell oilfield in shallow water between the states of Bayelsa and Delta further to the west. Shell said it was investigating reports of the two pipeline attacks on its eastern operations in the Niger Delta and was assessing any impact on output and the environment. It could not confirm MEND's claim of an attack on the shallow-water facility. The attacks are the first to strike Rivers state, the easternmost of the three main states in the Niger Delta, since the militants launched their latest campaign of sabotage following a military offensive in the western delta last month. Persistent acts of sabotage by MEND over the past three years have cut oil output in the OPEC member, the world's eighth biggest crude oil exporter, to less than two thirds of its installed capacity of 3 million barrels per day (bpd). The group first burst onto the scene in late 2005, knocking out more than a quarter of Nigeria's oil output -- then around 2.4 million bpd -- in a matter of weeks. But the latest campaign has nibbled further at production levels in a country that relies on oil for around 90 percent of its foreign earnings. Italian energy firm Agip said on Friday an attack claimed by MEND on one of its oil and gas pipelines in Bayelsa state had halted production of around 33,000 barrels of oil and 2 million cubic metres of gas per day. Shell said on Thursday some oil production had been halted following an attack on the Trans Ramos pipeline late on Wednesday at Aghoro-2 community in Bayelsa.
U.S. energy firm Chevron shut down its operations around Delta state after MEND's first pipeline attack in its latest campaign on May 24, halting around 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of output.
Security sources say some oil firms have been removing non-essential personnel from some offshore sites. MEND has dubbed its offensive "Hurricane Piper Alpha" after the North Sea oil platform that blew up in July 1998, the worst ever offshore oil disaster, and warned that it might attack deep-water facilities off the Nigerian coast. The militants say they are fighting against the militarisation of the Niger Delta and for a fairer share for local communities of the region's natural wealth, but the line between militancy and criminality is blurred. The leaders of armed gangs in the Niger Delta have grown rich from a lucrative trade in stolen oil and from ransoms paid for the release of hundreds of oil workers who have been kidnapped in recent years.

DTN News: Pakistan Army Make Gains In Swat And South Waziristan

DTN News: Pakistan Army Make Gains In Swat And South Waziristan
*Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - June 21, 2009: The army claimed that 38 militants had been killed and six captured during operations in different areas of Malakand division and South Waziristan on Friday and Saturday. A Pakistani soldier takes aim in a hilly area of the Biha valley in upper Swat on June 20, 2009 where the military launched an operation against Taliban militants. At least 38 militants were killed in fierce clashes in northwest Pakistan's Swat valley and the tribal region of South Waziristan, the military said on June 20 as troops continued an offensive against the Taliban. Six soldiers, including an officer, lost their lives. Seventeen soldiers, a junior commissioned officer among them, were injured. According to the ISPR, security forces secured Kotlai, Chungai and Zara Khela areas of Swat and launched an operation in Dagai. Three terrorists, including a brother of militant commander Yousaf, were arrested near Peochar. A complex of four tunnels was destroyed. Troops cleared the villages of Babu and Shakardarra, captured three terrorists and defused three improvised explosive devices. Militants ambushed a vehicle of security forces on Udigram-Akhun Kalle road in Swat. Three soldiers lost their lives and seven suffered injuries in the attack. Terrorists fired rockets in Shahdand Banda, Devolai and Totan Banda areas and injured three soldiers. Six militants were killed in the exchange of fire with security forces. One soldier lost his life during a clearance operation from Malakand to Thana. An army major and a soldier were killed and six injured when militants ambushed a convoy of security forces in Hilal Khel area of Bajaur. Our Correspondent in Wana adds: Security forces made further inroads into Mehsud territory in South Waziristan on Saturday. The Army claimed that 32 militants had been killed in the offensive. According to sources, reinforcements reached Serwekai Fort from Madejan, a Mehsud territory secured on Friday. Troops have secured hilltops and key locations between Madejan and Serwekai. Helicopter gunships shelled suspected militant hideouts in Barond, Serwekai and Gul Serai areas. The sources said that security forces were trying to take control of the Wana-Jandola Road to establish link with Wana, the regional headquarters. Pakistani army soldiers react for TV cameras, not seen, in a military base on top of a hill in Chupria, in the upper Swat Valley, Pakistan, Saturday, June 20, 2009. Pakistani troops backed by jet fighters and artillery have killed about 50 militants in a volatile northwestern tribal region near Afghanistan where the country's top Taliban leader is believed to be entrenched with thousands of his fighters, officials said Saturday. A soldier was killed and seven others were injured when their vehicle was hit by a rocket in Bakakhel area of Bannu. Our Correspondent in Khar adds: Seven militants were killed and five injured during an operation in Charmang area of Bajaur tribal region. Security forces, backed by helicopter gunships and artillery, pounded militants’ positions in the villages of Babara, Kohi, Chinar, Matak and Manogai. Six explosive devices were defused. According to sources, troops arrested Gul Zarin, a militant commander of Taliban’s Bajaur chief Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, during search at a checkpost in Omarai area of Mamond tehsil. Weapons and explosive devices were recovered from him.Security forces demolished a number of houses of suspected militants in the villages of Kotkai, Tangai, Chinar and Asghar in Charmang.

DTN News: US Hands Over Sadr City Base To Iraq

DTN News: US Hands Over Sadr City Base To Iraq *Source: AFP (NSI News Source Info) BAGHDAD, Iraq - June 21, 2009: The US army handed over a base in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Sadr City, once a bastion for anti-US insurgents, to Iraqi forces on Saturday as the deadline nears for its pullout from Iraq's cities. Iraqi Army soldiers stand guard during a handover ceremony of a US military outpost to Iraqi control in the Sadr City area of Baghdad on June 20, 2009. The US army handed over a base in the Baghdad neighbourhood of Sadr City, once a bastion for anti-US insurgents, to Iraqi forces as the deadline nears for its pullout from Iraq's cities. The transfer of the Joint Security Station (JSS) comes barely more than a week before a June 30 deadline for US forces to pull out of Iraq's urban centres as required by a security accord signed between Baghdad and Washington in November. "Today this base returns to its true owner," said US Major General Daniel Bolger, the commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division. "This land has been bought with a very high price -- 136 US soldiers and 184 Iraqi soldiers shed their blood to protect Sadr City (between January 2006 and present)." He added: "We Americans did not give you this place -- you have earned it, paid with Iraqi blood, sweat and tears." A JSS is a small urban military base in which US and Iraqi soldiers work together, which operates under an Iraqi flag, and from which US and Iraqi troops carry out joint patrols. In the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, American forces were welcomed in Sadr City, a sprawling, predominantly Shiite neighbourhood in northeastern Baghdad that is home to around 1.3 million people. But soon after, it became a base for radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army militia was repeatedly accused of sectarian violence against Sunnis and attacks against US forces before it was routed by US-backed Iraqi forces in March, April and May 2008. "The activities of the enemy were much higher in the past years and as the enemy activity has dropped and the Iraqi Army has gone stronger, and the Iraqi people have grown more secure, it's a good time for the United States to step back and to take more of a supporting role," Bolger said. Saturday's handover marked the third base in Sadr City previously held by the Americans that had been transferred to Iraqi control this month, with a fourth and final handover to occur on June 29. "US troops will continue to provide support our Iraqi security partners, as requested, under the articles of the Security Agreement," Master Sergeant Nicholas Conner told AFP earlier. Meanwhile, some Iraqis acknowledged that more work needed to be done in the area. "The situation is not perfect, outlaws are trying to commit crimes," said local cleric, Sheikh Qasim al-Qureshi. "But I hope that the area will remain secure after the departure of American troops."

DTN News: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Meeting Philips CEO And Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende In Amsterdam

DTN News: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Meeting Philips CEO And Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende In Amsterdam *Source: DTN News (NSI News Source Info) AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands - June 21, 2009: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev shakes hands with the chief executive officer of Dutch electronics group Philips, Gerard Kleisterlee, as Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende smiles on June 20, 2009 in Amsterdam.Medvedev said ahead of scheduled talks with US President Barack Obama that Russia was ready to significantly reduce its nuclear arms. The number of warheads should be "lower than in the Moscow agreement" he said, referring to a 2002 treaty that requires each side to limit its arsenal to a maximum of 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads by 2012. Medvedev is on a two-day visit to the Netherlands.

DTN News: Airbus To Deliver First China-Made Airplane

DTN News: Airbus To Deliver First China-Made Airplane *Source: AFP (NSI News Source Info) - BEIJING - June 21, 2009: European aviation giant Airbus is set to deliver the first A320 airplane assembled at its factory in China, in a symbolic event further marking the nation's global rise. European aviation giant Airbus is set to deliver the first airplane assembled at its plant in China The first plane to be made at plant in northern Tianjin, the only Airbus factory outside Europe, will be delivered to Dragon Aviation Leasing and will be flown by Sichuan Airlines, a regional Chinese air carrier. A grand ceremony is expected to be held for the roll out, but so far Airbus has remained discreet about who has been invited to the event which will take place with no minister-level officials from Germany or France, sources said. The plane took its first test flight last month with the first Chinese test engineer trained by Airbus. Ten middle-distance A319/320 aircraft will be delivered by the end of the year, before the factory starts to churn out up to four planes a month before the end of 2011. The Tianjin plant, modelled on Airbus' factory in Hamburg, Germany, has an investment of nearly 10 billion yuan (1.47 billion dollar) and went into operation in September in the presence of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. The joint venture factory, about 120 kilometres (72 miles) southeast of Beijing, is 51 percent owned by Airbus, subsidiary of the European group EADS, and 49 percent by a Chinese aviation consortium. Unions raised concerns when the deal was struck, but the aviation giant insisted orders would not fall at its European plants and that it had worked to minimise technology transfers to China. The venture has also revealed the extent that Airbus has gone to get a foot hold in one of the world's most dynamic markets. At the inauguration Airbus chief-executive-officer Thomas Enders said the company's "new house" would become "the jump off point for the future development of Airbus in China and in the region." China's air market, the second biggest in the world, makes up 15 percent of sales at Airbus, which sold its first plane here -- an A310 -- in 1985. The decision to build the China plant was based on strong growth estimates that expect the nation to buy up to 2,800 passenger and transport planes over the next 20 years. These planes, of which 190 are expected to be jumbo jets, are valued at about 329 billion dollars. In the next two decades, passenger travel is also expected to increase five-fold, according to industry estimates. Airbus' goal is to gain half of the China market from now until 2012, compared with a 39 percent market share in mid-2008 and up from a seven percent share in 1995. Its main rival is current global market leader Boeing. Coinciding with Tuesday's roll out, China Eastern Airlines, the nation's third largest air carrier, signed an order last week at the Le Bourget Air Show in France for 20 Airbus A320s to be delivered between 2011 and 2013. The order is part of a deal for 160 jets -- 110 A320s and 50 A330s -- that China said it would buy in 2007 during a visit to Beijing by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In September, Chinese air carriers had signed agreements and memoranda for the purchase of a total of 280 planes, Airbus said. Tuesday's delivery and the China Eastern order will be a boost for Airbus as it tries to weather the recent fatal accident of the Air France jet over the Atlantic, as well as a market still reeling from the global financial downturn.

DTN News: NASA Successfully Launches Lunar Impactor

DTN News: NASA Successfully Launches Lunar Impactor
*Source: NASA
(NSI News Source Info) MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - June 21, 2009: NASA successfully launched the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, Thursday June 18, 2009 on a mission to search for water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the moon's south pole. The Mission Objectives of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) include confirming the presence or absence of water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the Moon’s South Pole. The identification of water is very important to the future of human activities on the Moon. LCROSS will excavate the permanently dark floor of one of the Moon’s polar craters with two heavy impactors in 2009 to test the theory that ancient ice lies buried there. The impact will eject material from the crater’s surface to create a plume that specialized instruments will be able to analyze for the presence of water (ice and vapor), hydrocarbons and hydrated materials. LCROSS will also provide technologies and modular, reconfigurable subsystems that can be used to support future mission architectures. Ames Research Center (ARC) is managing the mission, conducting mission operations, and has developed the payload instruments, while Northrop Grumman designed and built the spacecraft for this innovative mission. Ames mission scientists will spearhead the data analysis. This is a fast-paced, low-cost, mission that will leverage some existing NASA systems, Northrop-Grumman spacecraft expertise, and Ames’ Lunar Prospector experience. Scheduled for launch no earlier than June 17, 2009, LCROSS will travel to the Moon as a co-manifested payload aboard the launch vehicle for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). LRO is designed to map the lunar surface and characterize landing sites for future missions.
The satellite lifted off on an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 2:32 p.m. PDT, with a companion mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. LRO safely separated from LCROSS 45 minutes later.
LCROSS then was powered-up, and the mission operations team at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., performed system checks that confirmed the spacecraft is fully functional.
LCROSS and its attached Centaur upper stage rocket separately will collide with the moon at approximately 4:30 a.m. PDT on Oct. 9, 2009, creating a pair of debris plumes that will be analyzed for the presence of water ice or water vapor, hydrocarbons and hydrated materials. The spacecraft and Centaur are tentatively targeted to impact the moon's south pole near the Cabeus region.
The exact target crater will be identified 30 days before impact, after considering information collected by LRO, other spacecraft orbiting the moon, and observatories on Earth. "LCROSS has been the little mission that could," said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
"We stand poised for an amazing mission and possible answers to some very intriguing questions about the moon." The 1,290-pound LCROSS and 5,216-pound Centaur upper stage will perform a swing-by maneuver of the moon around 6 a.m. on June 23 to calibrate the satellite's science instruments and enter a long, looping polar orbit around Earth and the moon.
Each orbit will be roughly perpendicular to the moon's orbit around Earth and take about 37 days to complete. Before impact, the spacecraft and Centaur will make approximately three orbits. On the final approach, about 54,000 miles above the surface, LCROSS and the Centaur will separate.
LCROSS will spin 180 degrees to turn its science payload toward the moon and fire thrusters to slow down. The spacecraft will observe the flash from the Centaur's impact and fly through the debris plume.
Data will be collected and streamed to LCROSS mission operations for analysis. Four minutes later, LCROSS also will impact, creating a second debris plume. "This mission is the culmination of a dedicated team that had a great idea," said Daniel Andrews, LCROSS project manager at Ames. "And now we'll engage people around the world in looking at the moon and thinking about our next steps there."
The LCROSS science team will lead a coordinated observation campaign that includes LRO, the Hubble Space Telescope, observatories on Hawaii's Mauna Kea and amateur astronomers around the world.
Ames manages LCROSS and also built the instrument payload. Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, Calif., built the spacecraft.

DTN News: Airbus Logs $12.9 Billion In Aircraft Commitments At Paris Air Show

DTN News: Airbus Logs $12.9 Billion In Aircraft Commitments At Paris Air Show
*Sources: DTN News
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 21, 2009: Airbus said Friday that it had logged $12.9 billion in new aircraft commitments at the Paris Air Show. "Airbus' commercial performance shows that the airline industry continues to invest in the most fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly aircraft," Airbus Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said in a statement. "Our customers are addressing both the long-term industry growth as well as the necessary replacement of older less efficient aircraft." The commitments break down into firm orders for 58 airplanes and "memoranda of understanding" agreements for 69 planes. Here's a breakdown: Firm Orders: 58 aircraft worth $6.4 billion: *Qatar Airways placed an order for 24 single-aisle aircraft valued at $1.9 billion, comprising the purchase of 20 A320s and four A321 aircraft. *Vietnam Airlines signed a $1.4 billion firm order for 16 A321s. *Air Asia X expressed confidence in Airbus' newest aircraft product with a firm order for 10 A350-900s valued at $2.4 billion. *Cebu Pacific ordered five A320s *Aigle Azur ordered one A319 *Zest Air of the Philippines became a new Airbus customer with an order for one A320. *A private customer ordered one Airbus Corporate Jet A320 Prestige Agreements to buy: 69 aircraft worth $6.5 billion *Wizz Air plans to buy 50 A320s worth $3.8 billion; *India-based Paramount Airways plans to buy 10 A321s worth $900 million *Turkish Airlines plans to buy two A330-200s plus five A330-300s, altogether worth $1.4 billion *Vietnam Airlines plans to buy two A350-900s worth $480 million Rival Boeing says that Airbus saves up orders to announce at the air show. The company recorded one order for two 737-800 aircraft from Japan's MC Aviation Partners, which is worth $153 million. The companies report the value of the aircraft ordered, but that does not translate to actual revenue because the list price of an airplane is often different from what airlines pay. Both companies work out deals with customers regarding prices.

DTN News: Germany Is Poised to Sell Submarines to Pakistan

DTN News: Germany Is Poised to Sell Submarines to Pakistan *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media *Analysis: Amazing and unbelievable for Germans are facing is how sensible it is to sell Pakistan high tech weapons when Pakistan is surviving on international aid and loan waviers. At the same time millions of people who are displaced in NWFP and the government can hardly maintain the cost! *DTN News: Pakistan Wants US To Write Off $1.35 Billion Loan....June 6, 2009 (Click here) *DTN News: Pakistan Asks World To Write Off All Loans Since 2005....June 4, 2009 (Click here) *DTN News: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Urges World To Fulfil Aid Pledges Of Half A Billion Dollars To Pakistan....May 30, 2009 (Click here) (NSI News Source Info) BERLIN, Germany - June 21, 2009: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition will probably go ahead with the sale of three submarines to Pakistan, ignoring opposition concerns about the delivery of military hardware to the nuclear-armed state, two German government officials said. The Pakistan Navy is reportedly negotiating for the purchase of 3 Type 214 submarines, all of which to be built in Pakistan. During the IDEAS 2008 exhibition, the HDW chief Walter Freitag told “The commercial contract has been finalised up to 95 per cent,” he said. The first submarine would be delivered to the Pakistan Navy in 64 months after signing of the contract while the rest would be completed successively in 12 months. The Federal Security Council, a body made up of ministers that vets all military hardware sales, is prepared to back the sale of the Class 214 submarines made by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems AG, the officials said on condition of anonymity because the decision is not yet final. A Pakistani delegation including army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is in Berlin today for meetings with German officials. Opposition lawmakers are wary of sales to Pakistan as it struggles with Islamist radicals along the border with neighboring Afghanistan. “We have to ask ourselves whether such an unstable country really needs such submarine technology,” said Alexander Bonde, a Green Party lawmaker leading opposition to the sale in the lower house of parliament in Berlin. Bonde said a final decision will probably be made after German national elections Sept. 27. Taliban Offensive Pakistan has struggled in a seven-week campaign to push back radicals after Taliban fighters advanced to within 100 kilometers (60 miles) of the capital, Islamabad. The army is preparing to mount an offensive in South Waziristan to drive out militants from its northwest tribal areas. A Pakistani delegation visited Berlin several weeks ago to express interest in the submarines, said Muhammad Azam, a spokesman for the Pakistani embassy in Berlin. No official orders have yet been tendered, he said. A preliminary inquiry from Pakistan has been “positively assessed” by the German government, though no official request yet been processed, Economy Ministry spokesman Steffen Moritz said in a phone interview. Andrea Wessel, a spokeswoman for ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, a unit of Dusseldorf-based ThyssenKrupp AG, said the company wouldn’t comment on “ongoing projects.” “Pakistan’s interest in these submarines shows it still sees India as the traditional enemy, even though bilateral tensions have eased somewhat since 2004,” Christian Wagner, an analyst at the Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said in an interview. “The money would be better spent on equipping and training its land forces to combat terrorist insurgents.” The 65-meter (213-foot) submarines, non-nuclear vessels equipped with eight torpedo tubes, rely on a fuel-cell system to remain silent beneath the water for longer periods than previous models. ThyssenKrupp describes the vessels as having “extraordinarily developed stealth characteristics and an impressive weapon and sensor payload.”

DTN News: U.S. Navy USS John McCain 'Preparing To Intercept North Korean Ship'

DTN News: U.S. Navy USS John McCain 'Preparing To Intercept North Korean Ship' *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) NEW YORK - June 21, 2009: A U.S. navy destroyer is getting into position to intercept a flagged North Korean ship suspected of carrying weaponry or nuclear materials in defiance of a UN ban, Fox News said on Friday.The U.S. Navy commissioned the guided missile destroyer JOHN S. McCAIN on Saturday, July 2, 1994 at Bath Iron Works Corporation, Bath, Maine, commencing at 10 a.m. USS JOHN S. McCAIN was in the Persian Gulf in late 1996 in support of Operation Southern Watch, where it took part in maritime inderdiction operations as part of a force augmentation in the region.
Citing a senior U.S. defense source, the news channel also said that the USS John McCain would cut off the Kang Nam as soon as it left the area off the coast of China.If the ship is carrying weaponry or nuclear material then this would be a violation of UN Resolution 1874. The ship is believed to be heading to Singapore.
The UN imposed sanctions on North Korea last week that forbid the import and export of nuclear material, missiles and all other weapons, with the exception of small arms. It has authorized the world's navies to enforce the ban. The sanctions came in response to a North Korean nuclear test on May 25.
However, the sanctions do not allow navies to forcibly board North Korean ships, only to halt them and request access.
North Korea has said that any attempt to board its ships would be taken as an act of war, which would be met with "one thousand-fold retaliation."
Tensions were further heightened on Thursday when a Japanese paper reported that North Korea was planning to fire a long-range ballistic missile in the direction of the U.S. state of Hawaii.
Japan's Yomiuri daily said, citing Defense Ministry analysis and U.S. intelligence, that the launch was most likely to take place between July 4 and July 8. However, it also said that the missile would be unable to reach the state's main islands.

DTN News: Russian Military Plane Violates Indian Airspace / US-Hired Aircraft Flouts Airspace, Forced To Land

DTN News: Russian Military Plane Violates Indian Airspace / US-Hired Aircraft Flouts Airspace, Forced To Land
*Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) MUMBAI, India - June 21, 2009: In a major violation of Indian airspace, a Russian aircraft hired by the US military which was overflying India on Friday evening was instructed by the defence ministry to change its flight path mid-way and head for Mumbai airport.
The Ukrainian-make AN-124 aircraft, owned by Russian private airline Volga-Dnepr, "would be allowed to get airborne again today" after the External Affairs Ministry gives the Air Operations Routing (AOR) authority to fly over Indian airspace, said IAF spokesperson Wg Cdr T K Singh on Saturday.
The Antonov 124, which intelligence sources said had 18 Russians on board, was on its way from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean — where the US has a base — to Kandahar in south Afghanistan when it was intercepted by Mumbai ATF on orders from the defence ministry. The defence ministry’s public relations official, Captain M Nambiar, confirmed that a foreign aircraft was instructed to divert to Mumbai airport.
"There has been a violation of our airspace by a civilian aircraft," he said. However, he denied that any IAF aircraft had escorted the US aircraft even as sources maintained that two IAF jets had indeed escorted the aircraft to Mumbai airport.
"An aircraft belonging to the US defence landed in Mumbai airport at 10.35 pm," said M G Junghare, general manager of Mumbai airport. The Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) spokesperson also confirmed the development, saying the aircraft was temporarily parked near runway 14.
According to the sources, the aircraft while seeking permission from the defence ministry to fly over Indian airspace had identified itself as a civil aircraft doing a non-scheduled (charter) operation.
All foreign aircraft doing non-scheduled or defence flights are required to submit their flight plans to obtain permission from Indian authorities to overfly Indian airspace. "This aircraft had asked for the status of a non-scheduled aircraft and it flew over Indian flight information region as such.
But to enter Pakistani airspace, it identified itself as a defence aircraft. It was still in Indian territory when this happened. The ambiguous status of the aircraft forced the defence ministry to issue orders to divert it to Mumbai," said the source.

DTN News: Iran TODAY June 21, 2009 - Gunfire, Euphoria ~ Opposition Protesters Clash With Riot Police And Week Of Turmoil Unrest Ahead

DTN News: Iran TODAY June 21, 2009 - Gunfire, Euphoria ~ Opposition Protesters Clash With Riot Police And Week Of Turmoil Unrest Ahead *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - June 21, 2009: Iranian police have used water cannon, batons, tear gas and live rounds to break up protests over the presidential election, witnesses in Tehran say. A BBC reporter said he saw one man shot and others injured amid running fights.Riot policeman gather on a street during clashes with supporters of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi in Tehran June 20, 2009. Mousavi said on Saturday he was "ready for martyrdom" in leading protests that have shaken the Islamic Republic and brought warnings of bloodshed from Iran's Supreme Leader. Defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi repeated calls for the election to be annulled on the grounds it was rigged. US President Barack Obama urged Iran's government "to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people", saying the "world is watching". TEHRAN EYEWITNESS Security forces were everywhere in central Tehran in the late afternoon and early evening. As I spent a couple of hours driving around in heavy traffic I could see thousands of men, some uniformed members of the military riot squads, some units of revolutionary guard, and everywhere basijis - militiamen who look like street toughs. The security men were deployed on every street corner, in long lines down the sides of the roads, and in all the main squares. The basijis wore riot helmets and carried big clubs. It was designed to intimidate, and while I was there, it was working. The country's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei had warned protesters on Friday not to continue their rallies, but they openly defied his words. President Obama said the US stood by all who sought to exercise their right to free speech and assembly. He added: "If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion."It was unclear if Iranian political leaders had backed their supporters continuing to march. In a letter to the electoral body, the Guardian Council, Mr Mousavi, who had not made a public comment for two days, reiterated his calls for the election to be declared void. He alleged the vote, held on 12 June, was rigged months previously. Official results of the presidential poll gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a resounding 63% of votes, compared to 34% for Mr Mousavi, his nearest rival. Media are subject to Iranian restrictions on leaving the office to report, film or take pictures in Tehran. Supporters of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi clash with riot policeman in Tehran June 20, 2009. Mousavi said on Saturday he was "ready for martyrdom" in leading protests that have shaken the Islamic Republic and brought warnings of bloodshed from Iran's Supreme Leader. In other developments: Thousands of police, militia and secret policemen blocked access to Enghelab and Azadi squares, and protesters were throwing stones in surrounding streets. A BBC correspondent saw one man shot in a crowd and another with injuries from a razor-wielding secret policeman. About 3,000 protesters were reportedly gathered at Enghelab Square, according to Associated Press news agency. They chanted "Death to the dictator" and "Death to dictatorship". One witness told Reuters news agency that protesters loyal to defeated candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi set fire to a building in southern Tehran used by backers of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. A column of black smoke is hanging over the city centre, our correspondent says. Two Iranian news agencies reported that the suicide bomber died and two people were injured in the bombing at the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 revolution. Some reports could not be independently confirmed. Foreign news organisations - including the BBC - have been subjected to strict controls which prevent reporters from leaving their offices. A BBC correspondent in Tehran says his impression is that the police have broken up large crowds into smaller groups to prevent them assembling. Confusing signals Early on Saturday, the wife of Mr Mousavi and an aide to another rival candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, said the rally would go ahead, although this was later contradicted by his party. Speaking on state TV, deputy police chief Ahmad Reza Radan warned police would "certainly fight against any form of illegal gathering and protest". He also said protest organisers would be arrested. The result triggered almost daily street protests - a challenge to ruling authorities unprecedented since the Islamic revolution of 1979. Mr Mousavi had been expected, along with fellow challengers Mr Karroubi and Mohsen Rezai, to discuss more than 600 objections they had filed complaining about the poll at a meeting of the Guardian Council, which certifies elections, on Saturday. Tehran map: The streets of Tehran and other major cities began exploding after dark with smoke rises from a fire on a streets June 20, 2009. Women became a driving force, emboldened by Mr. Moussavi’s ground-breaking decision to campaign alongside his wife, the distinguished political scientist Zahra Rahnavard. But neither Mr Mousavi nor Mr Karroubi attended the meeting - which suggests, our correspondent says, they have abandoned their legal challenge to the election results. State TV quoted the Guardian Council as saying it was "ready" to recount a randomly selected 10% of ballot boxes. It had previously offered a partial recount of disputed ballots from the election, rather than the full re-run of the election demanded by

DTN News: Indian Navy Seals Rs 45,000 Crore Deal For Seven Warships

DTN News: Indian Navy Seals Rs 45,000 Crore Deal For Seven Warships *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - June 21, 2009: India has cleared its largest ever indigenous defence contract worth Rs 45,000 crore to manufacture seven advanced stealth frigates for the Navy at shipyards in Kolkata and Mumbai. The Shivalik class frigates are a class of multi-role stealth frigates being built for the Indian Navy. Currently under construction at Mazagon Dock under Project 17 (P17), they are the first stealth warships to have been built in India. The leading ship of the class, INS Shivalik is scheduled to be commissioned into Indian Navy service in 2009. The Shivalik class will be the main frigates of the Indian Navy in the first half of the 21st century. A total of 12 ships are planned to be built in varied batches, with the second batch of four frigates being planned.* The P17A warship project, which will be India’s most advanced and stealthy frigates, has been cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on Friday. Sources said that brushing aside a request by the Navy that two of the indigenously designed frigates may be manufactured abroad, the DAC has decided that all seven warships will be manufactured in India by the Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai (MDL) and the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata. The Defence Ministry has allocated a budget of Rs 45,000 crore for the project and the work will be divided between the two shipyards. The P17A frigates will be even more advanced than the P17 Shivalik class warships that are currently being inducted by the Navy.

DTN News: Dutch Order Additional Bushmaster Vehicles

DTN News: Dutch Order Additional Bushmaster Vehicles *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands - June 21, 2009: In a further boost for Bushmaster exports, the Netherlands Ministry of Defence has ordered 14 new vehicles.The contract will take the total of Bushmasters supplied to the Netherlands to 72. The Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle or Infantry Mobility Vehicle is an Australian-built wheeled armoured vehicle. It was originally designed by Irish company Timoney Technology Ltd under a licence agreement with Perry Engineering in Adelaide; that licence was sold, with permission granted by Timoney as required by the licence terms, to Thales Australia. Once the Bushmaster was selected by the Australian Army after trials in 1998 to meet the Bushranger project requirements, the range of variants was developed further by Thales Australia in Bendigo. Oshkosh Truck has a contract to provide support and would manufacture in the US if there was an American order. The Bushmaster is currently in service with the Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Netherlands Army and British Army. Production work on the new vehicles has already begun, with delivery to the customer to be completed later this year.In a demonstration of the Bushmaster's flexibility, Thales will supply internal modular kits to allow vehicle reconfiguration in theatre. Additional EOS-SRWS stabilized remote weapon stations, which Thales is providing in conjunction with Australian-based EOS Ltd., are also part of the order. "This order is yet a further confirmation of the Bushmaster's suitability for a variety of tasks, and as a platform for different systems to suit every user's specific requirements," said Ian Irving, Vice President of Land & Joint Systems at Thales Australia. "The Bushmaster has been very successful on deployment with Dutch forces, and we have an ongoing close working relationship with the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. Through life support for this contract will take place at Thales's local industrial presence in the Netherlands." "Our highly skilled workforce in Bendigo, Victoria, are Australia's leaders in delivering protected mobility solutions, with unrivalled local expertise along every stage of the process - from design and manufacturing to systems integration and through life support."

DTN News: Russia's Bulava Missile 'Will Fly' - Navy Chief Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky

DTN News: Russia's Bulava Missile 'Will Fly' - Navy Chief Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky *Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - June 21, 2009: Russia will carry out the next test of a Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile in late July, and will conduct a total of four or five launches this year, the Navy commander said on Friday. The "Bulava" is a submarine-launched ballistic missile under development in Russia. The Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology is chiefly responsible for the missile's design. The Bulava carries the NATO reporting name SS-NX-30 and has been assigned the GRAU index 3M30. In international treaties, the common designation RSM-56 is used.
"The next launch is planned for the second half of July, and a total of four or five launches are planned in 2009," Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said. Despite five failures in 10 trials, the last unsuccessful trial being in December 2008, Russia's Defense Ministry is planning to complete Bulava tests and put the ICBM into service by the end of 2009. "It will fly, it will definitely fly," Vysotsky told reporters. The Russian military says the Bulava, along with Topol-M ballistic missiles, will become the backbone of Russia's nuclear triad. The triad comprises land-based ballistic missile systems, nuclear-propelled submarines armed with sea-launched ballistic missiles, and strategic bombers carrying nuclear bombs and nuclear-capable cruise missiles. The Bulava-M (SS-NX-30) ICBM carries up to 10 nuclear warheads and has a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borey-class Project 955 nuclear-powered submarines. Currently, six types of silo-based and road-mobile ICBMs, including the heavy Voyevoda (SS-18 Satan), capable of carrying 10 warheads, and the Topol-M (Stalin), are in operational service with the Strategic Missile Forces. The SMF reportedly has a total of 538 ICBMs, including 306 SS-25 Topol (Sickle) missiles and 56 SS-27 Topol-M missiles.

DTN News: Russian Defense Industry On Track For Arms Contract

DTN News: Russian Defense Industry On Track For Arms Contract
*Sources: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - June 21, 2009: The Russian Defense Ministry has received three strategic missiles, 20 combat aircraft, 20 tanks, three spacecraft and other military hardware since the beginning of the year under government defense contract, a senior military official said on Wednesday. There are currently several upgrade programmes conducted by the Russian Air Force for MiG-29 fighters which envisage: upgrading of the avionics suite to comply with NATO / ICAO ( standards, extension of the aircraft service life to 4,000 flight hours (40 years), upgrading combat capabilities and reliability, safety enhancements. In 2005 the Russian Aircraft Corporation “MiG” started production of new unified family of multi-role fighters of the 4++ generation (aircraft-carrier based MiG-29K, front-line MiG-29M and MiG-35 fighters). "Under government defense contracts, we have taken delivery of eight Su-27 Flanker fighters, 12 MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters, 12 antiradar missiles, one Soyuz space rocket carrier, two spacecraft, three strategic missiles, 21 surface-to-air missiles, 20 tanks, over 100 armored vehicles and some 2,000 trucks, mainly KamAZ and Urals," said Vladimir Popovkin, a deputy defense minister and head of arms procurements. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said earlier this month that Russia's defense-related sectors increased production by 2.5% in the first quarter, year-on-year. Ivanov, who oversees the defense industry as part of his Cabinet tasks, said that defense contracts in 2011-12 would be funded at the same level as in 2009, adding that by then Russia would be in a position to commence full-scale production of new weapons. Some 1.3 trillion rubles ($41.7 billion) will be spent on arms production this year and a total of 4 trillion rubles ($128 billion) in the 2009-11 period. A federal official said in late May that Russia's foreign defense orders totaled $35 billion. Alexander Fomin, first deputy director of the Federal Service for Military Cooperation, which regulates Russia's cooperation in the military and technical sphere with other countries, said the Russian defense industry had effectively "reached its ceiling" and could not take on any more orders. Fomin said contracts signed for some weapon systems, especially long-range air-defense systems, stretched years into the future. Sergei Chemezov, head of the state-run Russian Technology Corporation, said in February that the orders would provide domestic defense industry firms with contracts to keep them going for the next four to five years. Russia's defense industry currently employs 2.5-3 million workers, or 20% of manufacturing jobs.