Thursday, July 16, 2009

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY July 16, 2009 - Seven Killed In Waziristan Air Strike, Rocket Attacks

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY July 16, 2009 - Seven Killed In Waziristan Air Strike, Rocket Attacks
*Source: DTN News
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - July 16, 2009: Five militants and two civilians were killed and seven others injured in air strikes and rocket attacks in South Waziristan and the adjacent Jandola region on Wednesday. According to security officials, planes shelled two compounds occupied by militants in Sararogha and Laddha areas of South Waziristan, killing five militants and injuring six others. A Pakistan Military patrol travel past an army tank destroyed by Taliban militants during the recent battle for control of the village of Sultanwas on July 16, 2009 near Dagar in Buner, Pakistan. Thousands of IDPs have started their journey to their homes, under encouragement of the Pakistan government. The Pakistan military is playing a large role in screening returning IDPs and ensuring their safety in the areas that have now been cleared. The village of Sultanwas was the Taliban stronghold in Buner, which according to the Pakistan Military, the scene of a 3 day bloody clash between Pakistan Army and the Taliban. Militants fired several rockets in the village of Khechi in Frontier Region of Jandola. Two women were killed and one child was injured when one of the rockets hit the house of a tribesman. Our Correspondent in Miramshah adds: Columns of infantry units with tanks moved into North Waziristan and a curfew was clamped on several parts of the agency. Witnesses said that hundreds of troops had reached their base in Miramshah, the headquarters of the agency, from Mirali, along with 25 tanks and armoured personnel carriers and over 100 other vehicles. All bazaars and markets in the two towns remained closed. Fifteen tanks were deployed in Mirali. The heavy movement of troops sparked fear in the area. ‘Two helicopter gunships flew over the area and troops fired at every suspected location on their way,’ local people said. According to officials, one soldier was injured when a bomb exploded near the Banda checkpost. Troops defused four improvised explosive devices planted on the Mirali-Miramshah road. The situation in North and South Waziristan agencies started deteriorating after militant groups scrapped peace agreements with the government. Militant commanders Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazir, who were in the good books of the authorities, have also severed relations with the government. Our Correspondent in Bannu adds: Two security personnel were killed and seven injured when a joint police and FC patrol hit an explosive device near Bakakhel Mandi in Bannu on Wednesday. According to officials, one FC man was killed on the spot and other died in the district headquarters hospital. They were identified as Rayatullah Khan and Khalid Khan. The security personnel who were injured are: Sher Ayaz, Mohammad Rehman, Ihsanullah, Riffatullah, Shafiq, Munsif Shah and Fahimullah. Three of them were shifted to Peshawar in critical condition. The officials said that security forces had cordoned off the area and launched a search for militants. It may be mentioned that the local administration and the Bakakhel tribe signed an agreement a few days ago to maintain peace and security and prevent attacks on security forces in the area. Tribal elders said the attack on the FC-police patrol was a conspiracy to sabotage peace efforts. Meanwhile, the Bannu DCO and the assistant political agent convened a jirga of the Bakakhel peace committee to review the situation arising out of the attack. They told the elders that the attack was a violation of the peace agreement.

DTN News: NAM Declaration Vows To Combat Terrorism

DTN News: NAM Declaration Vows To Combat Terrorism *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt - July 16, 2009: Taking India's concern on board, the Non-Aligned Movement countries on Thursday vowed to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, while making it clear that terror should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani shake hands during a meeting on the sidelines of the 15th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh on July 16, 2009. The meeting between the premiers is the second high-level encounter since November's attacks in Mumbai which killed 166 people and were blamed by New Delhi on the banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The 118-member grouping pledged to strengthen NAM solidarity by combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law and relevant international conventions. The Sharm El-Sheikh Summit Declaration stressed that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation or ethnic group, and that further progress was required taking into account the positions and views of NAM members on issues like formulating a joint organised response of the international community to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The document takes on board the call made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to NAM countries -- that it was time they agreed on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. In his forthright speech at the plenary session of the two-day summit, Dr Singh made it clear that terrorists and those who aid and abet them must be brought to justice. Though he did not name Pakistan, it was clear from Dr Singh's remarks which country it was aimed at. Dr Singh said the terror infrastructure must be dismantled and there should be no safe havens for terrorists because they do not represent any cause, group or religion. The declaration said the NAM countries stood together with China and the Group of 77 countries, to press for fundamental reform of the international economic and financial systems and architecture, to address its flaws that have come into the spotlight in the wake of the global financial crisis. "We commit further to enhance the voice and participation of developing countries in international decision making and norm setting, including in international financial institutions," it said. The document said in all such steps taken to respond to the crisis, it must be ensured they were not taken at the expense of developing countries. On the expansion of the Security Council, the declaration sought the 'expeditious' reform of the top UN body. "The expeditious reform of the Security Council through its expansion and improvement of its working methods should continue to be a priority for NAM, taking duly into consideration the views of all NAM member states," it said. On sanctions imposed on some NAM countries, the declaration rejected them as 'unilateral', which also was in contradiction with international law and the purposes andprinciples of the UN Charter. The declaration sought to ensure food security for all the member states of the NAM and promised to work with the UN and its agencies to decisively deal with the short, medium and long term actions needed, including the need to address trade and agricultural related aspects within the current negotiations in the Doha round. On the issue of climate change, it vowed to strengthen the political momentum in preparation for the Copenhagen conference in December in a manner that reflected the views of the NAM countries with regard to issues like mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer, capacity building and shared vision. To shape a comprehensive UN energy agenda, the document said the NAM countries would work for the creation of an effective mechanism to transfer advanced energy technologies to developing nations, with the aim of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and dealing effectively with the challenge of climate change.

DTN News: MBDA Demonstrates VL MICA In Coastal Defence Role

DTN News: MBDA Demonstrates VL MICA In Coastal Defence Role
*Source: DTN News / MBDA Systems ~ By Jean Dupont July 15, 2009
(NSI News Source Info) BISCAROSSE, France - July 16, 2009: Deployed for the first time in a ground-to-air, area defence configuration, VL MICA has intercepted a low signature target flying just a few metres above the surface of the sea.
Test firing of a Vertical Launch MICA missile against a missile target in early July. (MBDA photo)
The test firing was carried out on Wednesday, 8th July at the DGA (Délégation Générale pour l’Armement) Centre d’Essais de Lancement de Missiles (CELM) test range in Biscarosse (S.W. France). Following its firing from a vertical launcher, the MICA missile registered a direct hit against the intended target flying at a range of approximately 15km. The intercepted target was representative of a missile flying at about 10 metres above the surface of the sea.
The purpose of this test, jointly organised by the DGA, the French Air Force and MBDA under the aegis of the SALVE programme (Sol-Air à Lancement Vertical – or Ground–Air Vertical Launch), was to show the VL MICA system’s capabilities in protecting littoral zones against an enemy attack launched from the sea.
The missile used for the test was equipped with an imaging infrared seeker and was fired from a vertical launcher in which MICA was housed in its CLA (Conteneur Lanceur Autonome – or Autonomous Launch Container) which will equip both the ground and naval versions of the system. The CLA was installed in a vertical launch vehicle which was operated under the control of a system command module (Tactical Operation Centre). A distance of 6km separated the two elements, replicating the operational deployment of VL MICA in a ground-to-air, area defence configuration.
Representing the 15th consecutive successful firing of MICA from a vertical launcher, this latest firing demonstrates the great reliability of the missile as well as its high precision guidance. The intercept confirmed VL MICA’s unique capabilities such as its terminal guidance mode, its seekers – both infrared and electromagnetic – and its proximity fuze in intercepting low signature targets at very low altitudes, even above the surface of the sea.
The presence of six foreign delegations during the test firing attests to the high level of interest inspired by this innovative weapon system. VL MICA has already been ordered in its naval configuration by two export clients and by one other in its ground variant.
Notes to editors
With industrial facilities in four European countries and within the USA, MBDA has an annual turnover of €2.7 billion and an order book of €11.9 billion. With more than 90 armed forces customers in the world, MBDA is a world leader in missiles and missile systems. MBDA is the only group capable of designing and producing missiles and missile systems that correspond to the full range of current and future operational needs of the three armed forces (land, sea and air). In total, the group offers a range of 45 missile systems and countermeasures products already in operational service and more than 15 others currently in development. MBDA is jointly held by BAE SYSTEMS (37,5%), EADS (37,5%) and FINMECCANICA (25%).

DTN News: Israel Tests Anti-Rocket System

DTN News: Israel Tests Anti-Rocket System
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM, Israel - July 16, 2009: Israel has successfully tested a system that intercepts and destroys rockets such as those fired by militants from the Gaza Strip or from south Lebanon, the defence ministry said on Wednesday. Iron Dome is a mobile system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. designed to intercept short-range rockets with a range less than 70 km. Rafael presents the system as an effective solution to short range rockets (such as Qassam rockets) and 155mm shells, capable of operating both during the day and at night, under various weather conditions, and able to confront multiple simultaneous threats. The system is composed of a radar, a control center, and interceptor missiles. Very limited information has been made available about the system in the Israeli media, but from this information it is known that the interceptor missile (named Tamir) is equipped with electro-optic sensors and several steering fins, providing it with high maneuverability. The system's radar identifies the rocket launch, extrapolates its flight path and transfers this information to the control center, which then uses this information to determine the projected impact location. If the projected target justifies an interception, then an interceptor missile is fired. In February 2007, the system was selected by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak as the Israeli Defense Force's defense system against short range rockets. On July 7 2008, the first test of the system was completed successfully, and the system is scheduled to be operational in 2010. The increasing danger of rocket and missile fire against the State of Israel (namely, Qassam rocket fire from Gaza, Katyusha rocket fire from South Lebanon, and Iran's ballistic missile arsenal) has led to the development of defense systems to counter this threat. In addition to the Iron Dome system, which is designed to intercept short range rockets, the David's Sling system has also been developed in order to intercept medium and long range rockets, while the Arrow missile, designed to intercept ballistic missiles, is already in use. Missile system was successfully tested in March 2009; Defense Ministry of Israel expects fully operational system by 2010.* The "Iron Dome" system developed by public armaments firm Rafael was tested successfully in recent days and destroyed an unspecified number of incoming rockets, the ministry said in a statement. More tests are expected in the next few months before the defence system is deployed in southern Israel to counteract rockets fired by Palestinian militants based in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The military commentator of private television Channel 10 said meanwhile the defence ministry wants to deploy the system near the southern Israeli border town of Sderot by the beginning of 2010. Iron Dome is expected to be able to intercept rockets with a range from four kilometres to 70 kilometres (2.5 to 44 miles). "This system is a new defence element against rockets and will allow the Israeli army to better carry out its supreme duty which is to protect, in the best way, our civilian population," Defence Minister Ehud Barak said. The Israeli military says militants have fired more than 200 rockets and mortar rounds at Israel since the January 18 end of the Jewish state's 22-day military offensive against Gaza. Israeli areas near the Palestinian enclave have been the target of homemade Qassam rockets fired by Palestinian militants since the start of the intifada in September 2000. The militant Shiite group Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 Katyusha rockets at Israel during the 2006 summer war between the two sides, forcing one million residents to flee homes in north Israel or hide in shelters.

DTN News: Russia Outwitted U.S. Strategic Defenses With Missile Test

DTN News: Russia Outwitted U.S. Strategic Defenses With Missile Test
*Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - July 16, 2009: The United States was unable to detect the presence of Russian strategic submarines in the Arctic before they test-launched two ballistic missiles, a Russian intelligence source said on Wednesday. Russia carried out test launches of two Sineva intercontinental ballistic missiles from two Delta IV class nuclear-powered submarines, located near the North Pole, on July 13-14. "The American radars certainly detected the missile launches but their location took them by surprise," the source said. The first missile, flying a ballistic path, hit its designated target at the Kura testing grounds on the Kamchatka Peninsula, while the second, fired with a flat trajectory, destroyed a target at the Chizha testing site on the White Sea. The source said that the launch area, covered by ice floe, was heavily patrolled by Russian attack submarines and the Americans were unable to detect the arrival of two strategic submarines before the launch. "At the same time, U.S. reconnaissance satellites are unable to detect submarines under thick ice floe in the Arctic," he said. The region around the North Pole is a perfect place for launches of ballistic missiles because it allows the submarines to arrive in a designated area undetected and to shorten the missile flight time to the target. The RSM-54 Sineva (NATO designation SS-N-23 Skiff) is a third-generation liquid-propellant intercontinental ballistic missile that entered service with the Russian Navy in July 2007. It can carry four or 10 nuclear warheads, depending on the modification. Russia plans to equip its Delta IV class submarines with at least 100 Sineva missiles.

DTN News: Asian Customer Orders Airbus A320 Prestige

DTN News: Asian Customer Orders Airbus A320 Prestige *Source: DTN News (NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - July 16, 2009: A private Asian customer has placed a firm order for an Airbus A320 Prestige, becoming the first to order the type in the region.
Based on the modern A320 airliner, but featuring a customised cabin, extra fuel-tanks for intercontinental range, and a host of other features, the Airbus A320 Prestige has the largest cabin in its class, making it the new top-of-the-line in business jets.
Airbus' ACJ Family, which comprises the A318 Elite, Airbus ACJ and A320 Prestige, represents the new standard in space and comfort for customers wanting to trade up to something better than traditional business jets.
Airbus A320 Prestige customers have the freedom to outfit their cabin to suit their individual tastes and, with more than 96 m2/1,030 ft2 of floorspace at their disposal, are well placed to extend into the air the comfort and space that they already enjoy in their accommodation on the ground.
The size of the Airbus A320 Prestige's cabin also means that it is able to carry larger groups - corporate colleagues, families and government delegations - than traditional business jets.
In addition to the comfort, space and ease-of-movement around the cabin that the Airbus ACJ Family brings, it also delivers all the benefits that come from a really modern transport aircraft, such as industry standard fly-by-wire controls, time and cost-saving centralised maintenance, and unmatched use of weight-saving materials such as carbonfibre.
Total sales of the Airbus ACJ Family now stand at more than 100 which, together with the 50 or so VIP and government widebodies also in service, make up an increasingly popular part of the modern Airbus product line.

DTN News: European Missile Shield Not Set In Stone ~ Pentagon Says

DTN News: European Missile Shield Not Set In Stone ~ Pentagon Says
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 16, 2009: A senior Pentagon official said Tuesday the Obama administration may be open to tweaking its plans for a missile-defense system in Eastern Europe.
The missile shield, proposed under President Bush to counter a threat from Iran, would locate 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and a series of missile radar sensors in the Czech Republic.
The move has long angered Moscow, which perceives the development of the missile shield in its backyard as a hawkish move on the part of the US. Meanwhile, American officials have long maintained that the missile system is designed to defend the region against an Iranian missile threat.
But Mr. Obama has said that differences between Moscow and Washington over the European missile-defense system may be worked out through compromise.
That could mean that the architecture or location of the missile-defense system could look different if it is ever completed.
On Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said that alternatives to the current plan are under consideration as part of an overall review of ballistic missile defense.
General O'Reilly says the US would work "very closely" with the Polish and Czech governments to make any potential changes to the current plan. "There would not be any surprise," he told reporters.For their part, the legislatures of Poland and the Czech Republic have yet to ratify the plan.
Obama has said the US review should be complete by the end of summer. It will look at "different courses of action," O'Reilly added Tuesday.
American officials could alter the current plan that relies on the ground-based interceptors in Poland, potentially exchanging them for sea-based interceptors or other kinds of missile-defense technology, defense officials said.
But critics of the plan say the issue goes beyond technology to the more fundamental issue of arms control.
"Missile defense has always been an issue for a small cadre of ultraconservative, ultraparanoid people who see the threat of ballistic missiles from places like Iran as a real threat to US security interests," says Chris Hellman, an analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington.
Recent saber rattling by North Korea has brought missile defense to the fore, forcing the Obama administration to grapple with the European missile-defense plan.So far, Obama has resisted the effort to link negotiations about the missile-defense system to arms-control talks. He has said he believes the US and Russia can find common ground in defending against missile strikes from a "third source" - namely Iran.
"I think we can arrive at those kinds of understandings, but it's going to take some hard work because it requires breaking down some long-standing suspicions," Obama said at a news conference with President Medvedev July 6 in Moscow.
Obama and Russian Mr. Medvedev issued a joint statement July 6 indicating the two countries were prepared to work with one another on missile defense.
Obama has said he wishes to "reset" US-Russian relations that have, he has said, "suffered from a sense of drift."

DTN News: India May Allow U.S. To Build Nuclear-Power Plants

DTN News: India May Allow U.S. To Build Nuclear-Power Plants
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 16, 2009: India may make two announcements next week paving the way for more than $20 billion in contracts for U.S. companies building nuclear-power plants and selling defense technology, said Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hopes to unveil the agreements that would help American firms sell sophisticated arms and nuclear power plants to India when she visits next week.
One would be an "end-use monitoring" agreement under which the United States would have the right to make sure American arms sold to India are used for their intended purpose and that the technology does not leak to third countries. Under U.S. law, such a pact is necessary for U.S. firms to bid on India's plan to buy 126 multirole fighters, one of the largest arms deals in the world and a potential boon to Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co.
"We hope to be able to sign that," Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said, previewing Clinton's trip to India. She arrives in Mumbai on Friday for a two-night visit and then goes to New Delhi for Monday talks. The visit is Clinton's first to India as secretary of state. Congress last year gave final approval to a pact opening the Indian market to U.S. nuclear power companies.

DTN News: Dassault Delivers Its 2000th Falcon To Koç Holding

DTN News: Dassault Delivers Its 2000th Falcon To Koç Holding
*Source: DTN News / Dassault Aviation (NSI News Source Info) Bordeaux-Mérignac, France - July 16, 2009: On July 10, Dassault Falcon celebrated a major milestone in the history of the Falcon aircraft family with the delivery of its 2000th Falcon at the Bordeaux-Mérignac facility.
The Dassault Falcon 20 is a French business jet and was the first of a family of business jets built by Dassault Aviation. Since the first delivery of the Falcon Mystère 20 in 1965, the Falcon fleet has logged more than 14 million flight hours and 17 different versions of the Falcon aircraft have been designed, produced and delivered in 67 countries.
"Delivering our 2000th Falcon is more than a celebration of success," declared John Rosanvallon, President and CEO of Dassault Falcon. "It's a confirmation that all the qualities we've been building on since the Falcon Mystère 20 are essential to great flying. July 10, Falcons are recognized worldwide for their spacious comfort, unbeatable performance and unsurpassed value. And they are, by far, the most fuel efficient in their class which means lower emissions". The 2000th Falcon, a 2000LX was delivered to Koç Holding. Based in Istanbul, Koç Holding is the largest company in Turkey and a leader in both domestic and international markets. The company is among the top 50 companies in Europe and a member of the Fortune Global 200. The group focuses its operations on four core industries: energy, automotive, durable goods and finance and is active in 24 countries, in Turkey, Europe, the Middle East, and China. "We could not grow our business without our airplanes," declared Mustafa V. Koç, Chairman of Koç Holding. "The Koç Group of companies is spread out with production facilities and dealer networks throughout the world. The business demands fast and efficient travel and our airplanes represent indispensable assets to our company growth." The 2000LX is the newest member of the Falcon family of business jets. Koç Holding also owns a Falcon 2000 and holds an order for a Falcon 900LX, to be delivered at the end of 2011. "The Falcon 2000LX offers the lowest operating costs of any airplane in the large cabin class and is an ideal business tool for global companies like Koç Holding," said John Rosanvallon. "Sharing this occasion with Koç Holding is remarkable not only because they are among our most faithful customers but they are also a highly respected member of the business community." The 4,000 nm range 2000LX offers the same spacious, quiet interior as the 2000EX EASy but has the capability to serve a more extensive list of city pairs. The 2000LX can connect New York to Moscow; Mumbai to London; Paris to Delhi and Hong Kong to Brisbane non stop. It also offers a 10 to 15% climb speed improvement (over the Falcon 2000EX) allowing it to reach 41,000 ft in just 18 minutes. The Falcon 2000LX comes standard with the award-winning EASy flight deck which has won high marks and praise for its integrated features and intuitive displays. The Falcon 2000LX is powered by the same highly reliable Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308C engines as the 2000EX. The PW308C is rated at 7,000lbs thrust (ISA + 15C) and recently passed 220,000 flight hours on the Falcon fleet. Dassault Falcon Backgrounder: Dassault Falcon is responsible for selling and supporting Falcon business jets throughout the world. It is part of Dassault Aviation, a leading aerospace company with a presence in over 70 countries across five continents. Dassault Aviation produces the Rafale fighter jet as well as a complete line of Falcon business jets. The company has assembly and production plants in both France and the United States and service facilities on multiple continents. It employs a total workforce of over 12,000. Since the rollout of the first Falcon 20 in 1963, 2000 Falcon jets have been delivered to 67 countries worldwide. The family of Falcon jets currently in production includes the tri-jets-- the Falcon 900DX, 900LX, and the 7X--as well as the twin-engine Falcon 2000DX and 2000LX.

DTN News: Kazakhstan Not Against 2nd Russian Base Opening In Kyrgyzstan

DTN News: Kazakhstan Not Against 2nd Russian Base Opening In Kyrgyzstan *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ASTANA, Kazakhstan - July 16, 2009: Kazakhstan is not opposed to the possible opening of a new Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan and welcomes measures to strengthen security in the region, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said Monday. A Russian government delegation visited Kyrgyzstan last week, holding closed meetings with the republic's leadership. A source in the Kyrgyz government said the expansion of Russia's military presence was discussed, in particular, the opening of a military base in the south of the country. "The opening of a Russian base on Kyrgyz territory is an issue of purely bilateral relations," ministry spokesman Yerzhan Ashikbayev told an Astana briefing. He said that if there were plans to discuss multilateral interaction, Kazakhstan would have been informed of that and taken part in the discussions. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday neither confirmed nor denied reports that Russia was holding talks with Kyrgyzstan on a new military base. Russia has since 2003 operated an airbase in the city of Kant, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside the capital, Bishkek. A high-ranking source in the government of Uzbekistan told RIA Novosti on Sunday that his country was against establishing new bases in neighboring countries. The U.S. State Department said it was up to Kyrgyzstan to decide.

DTN News: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Inspects Reconstruction Of Moscow Mosque

DTN News: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Inspects Reconstruction Of Moscow Mosque *Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - July 16, 2009: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paid a visit on Wednesday to the country's central mosque in Moscow, to see ongoing reconstruction work. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev poses for a group photo with members of the Russian Council of Muftis in Moscow on July 15, 2009 during a tour of the city's main mosque and the construction site of new mosque. The Moscow Congregational Mosque, built in 1904, has been undergoing restoration and extension work for several years. After being shown around the historical part of the mosque and a section under construction, Medvedev met with muftis. "We realize how important it is for our religious Muslim organizations to have their own system of training imams and teachers. The government will continue to assist in this work," the president told the religious leaders. When current building work is complete, the mosque will be able to accommodate several thousand worshipers. A hotel, along with food and book stores and an underground parking lot are also planned. No timeframes for completing the construction have been announced yet. Under a 2002 census, there were around 20 million Muslims in Russia.

DTN News: RAAF C-17 Lands On Dirt Strip In Combat Mission At Tarin Kowt In Afghanistan

DTN News: RAAF C-17 Lands On Dirt Strip In Combat Mission At Tarin Kowt In Afghanistan
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - July 16, 2009: The Royal Australian Air Force’s giant C-17 heavy air lift aircraft based at Amberley have achieved a major milestone in support of Australian Defence Force operations in Afghanistan with the first landing on the remote air-strip at Tarin Kowt to deliver vital stores and equipment.
The Royal Australian Air Force received the first of four C-17 Globemaster heavy transports in December 2006 and the second in May 2007. The Globemaster is operated by No 36 Squadron from RAAF Base Amberley, near Brisbane. The C-17 Globemaster is a high-wing four-engine heavy transport. It has three times the carrying capacity of the C-130 Hercules, allowing Australia to rapidly deploy troops, combat vehicles, heavy equipment and helicopters anywhere in the world. The Globemaster is large enough to transport the M1A1 Abrams tank, Black Hawk, Seahawk or Chinook helicopters, three Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters or five Bushmaster infantry vehicles. It significantly enhances our ability to support national and international operations, and major disaster relief efforts.
“What made the mission a significant milestone for this aircraft was the fact the airstrip at Tarin Kowt is a dirt strip and this was the first ever landing and take-off by an Australian C-17 on dirt in a war zone, which presents a whole range of new challenges for jet aircraft,” the Air Component Commander of the Joint Australian Task Force in the Middle East Group Captain Gary Martin said.
The Commander of Australian forces in the Middle East, Major General Mark Kelly said the arrival of the aircraft at Tarin Kowt was a significant achievement for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the coalition mission in Afghanistan.
“The aircraft’s first mission to where our soldiers are operating on the ground with their Afghan National Army and Coalition colleagues - and landing on a dirt strip for the first time – has demonstrated not only the capability of the aircraft and the skills of the aircrew, but also our intent to do all we can for those taking the fight up to the insurgents who are trying to destabilise the country,” Major General Kelly said.
The C-17, which only started flying with the RAAF in December 2006, delivered its first load to Australian Army personnel serving with the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force-Two (MRTF-2) based at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan Province, southern Afghanistan.
The RAAF’s four C-17 aircraft, part of No.36 Squadron at Amberley, are capable of carrying almost four times the load, over twice the distance, of the RAAF’s transport workhorse, the C130 Hercules, which have been supporting Australian forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan since 2002.
Mission Loadmaster Warrant Officer John Maddigan described the operation as a key moment in the RAAF’s ability to get heavy loads to where they were needed most.
“While we have done missions to the Middle East before, being able to take the next step and get bulk stores and equipment into Afghanistan itself is extremely satisfying,” he said.
The RAAF’s C-17s will continue to play a key role in the logistic sustainment effort in support of Australian and Coalition forces in Afghanistan during the upcoming Afghan national elections.

DTN News: Royal Air Force First Tanker Aircraft Delivered For Conversion

DTN News: Royal Air Force First Tanker Aircraft Delivered For Conversion *Source: DTN News / EADS North America
(NSI News Source Info) ARLINGTON, Virginia - July 16, 2009: The first Airbus A330 aircraft platform slated for the United Kingdom’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) program has arrived ahead of schedule to begin its conversion into a Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) at Airbus Military facilities in Madrid, Spain.
The first A330 aircraft platform slated for the United Kingdom's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft program arrives at the Airbus Military facilities where it will be converted into a Multi-Role Tanker Transport.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) tanker uses the same basic airframe as Northrop Grumman’s KC-45, which is proposed for the U.S. Air Force’s tanker fleet modernization. EADS North America is a principal subcontractor with responsibility for delivering the KC-45 aircraft platform, which will be produced at a new aviation center of excellence to be built in Mobile, Ala.
“This early delivery once again underscores EADS’ ability to provide the most capable platforms to meet the most demanding aerial refueling and airlift requirements of military services worldwide,” said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., EADS North America’s Chairman and CEO.
The United Kingdom’s FSTA program involves the acquisition of 14 A330 MRTT-based tanker/transports for the RAF. With a service entry planned for 2011, the new aircraft will progressively replace the country’s fleet of aging VC-10 and TriStar refueling aircraft.
In addition to its selection for the United Kingdom’s tanker requirement, the A330 MRTT has been chosen by the air forces of Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Three A330 MRTTs currently are in the military certification or conversion process for the Royal Australian Air Force. Australia is acquiring five of the aircraft, which will extend the range and endurance of its fighters with aerial refueling support, and provide long-range airlift for transportation of troops and cargo. The Royal Australian Air Force is to begin operational service in 2010 with the aircraft, which will be designated the KC-30 Tanker.
About EADS North America
EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, one of the two largest aerospace and defense companies in the world. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.

DTN News: U.S. ~ Reaction To the CIA Assassination Program

DTN News: U.S. ~ Reaction To the CIA Assassination Program
*Source: By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton STRATFOR
(NSI News Source Info) July 16, 2009: On June 23, 2009, Director of Central Intelligence Leon Panetta learned of a highly compartmentalized program to assassinate al Qaeda operatives that was launched by the CIA in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. When Panetta found out that the covert program had not been disclosed to Congress, he canceled it and then called an emergency meeting June 24 to brief congressional oversight committees on the program. Over the past week, many details of the program have been leaked to the press and the issue has received extensive media coverage. That a program existed to assassinate al Qaeda leaders should certainly come as no surprise to anyone. It has been well-publicized that the Clinton administration had launched military operations and attempted to use covert programs to strike the al Qaeda leadership in the wake of the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings. In fact, the Clinton administration has come under strong criticism for not doing more to decapitate al Qaeda prior to 2001. Furthermore, since 2002, the CIA has conducted scores of strikes against al Qaeda targets in Pakistan using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like the MQ-1 Predator and the larger MQ-9 Reaper. These strikes have dramatically increased over the past two years and the pace did not slacken when the Obama administration came to power in January. So far in 2009 there have been more than two dozen UAV strikes in Pakistan alone. In November 2002, the CIA also employed a UAV to kill Abu Ali al-Harithi, a senior al Qaeda leader suspected of planning the October 2000 attack against the USS Cole. The U.S. government has also attacked al Qaeda leaders at other times and in other places, such as the May 1, 2008, attack against al Qaeda-linked figures in Somalia using an AC-130 gunship. As early as Oct. 28, 2001, The Washington Post ran a story discussing the Clinton-era presidential finding authorizing operations to capture or kill al Qaeda targets. The Oct. 28 Washington Post story also provided details of a finding signed by President George W. Bush following the 9/11 attacks that reportedly provided authorization to strike a larger cross section of al Qaeda targets, including those who are not in the Afghan theater of operations. Such presidential findings are used to authorize covert actions, but in this case the finding would also provide permission to contravene Executive Order 12333, which prohibits assassinations. In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Bush and the members of his administration were very clear that they sought to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and the members of the al Qaeda organization. During the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections in the United States, every major candidate, including Barack Obama, stated that they would seek to kill bin Laden and destroy al Qaeda. Indeed, on the campaign trail, Obama was quite vocal in his criticism of the Bush administration for not doing more to go after al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan. This means that, regardless of who is in the White House, it is U.S. policy to go after individual al Qaeda members as well as the al Qaeda organization. In light of these facts, it would appear that there was nothing particularly controversial about the covert assassination program itself, and the controversy that has arisen over it has more to do with the failure to report covert activities to Congress. The political uproar and the manner in which the program was canceled, however, will likely have a negative impact on CIA morale and U.S. counterterrorism efforts. Program Details As noted above, that the U.S. government has attempted to locate and kill al Qaeda members is not shocking. Bush’s signing of a classified finding authorizing the assassination of al Qaeda members has been a poorly kept secret for many years now, and the U.S. government has succeeded in killing al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. While Hellfire missiles are quite effective at hitting trucks in Yemen and AC-130 gunships are great for striking walled compounds in the Somali badlands, there are many places in the world where it is simply not possible to use such tools against militants. One cannot launch a hellfire from a UAV at a target in Milan or use an AC-130 to attack a target in Doha. Furthermore, there are certain parts of the world — including some countries considered to be U.S. allies — where it is very difficult for the United States to conduct counterterrorism operations at all. These difficulties have been seen in past cases where the governments have refused U.S. requests to detain terrorist suspects or have alerted the suspects to the U.S. interest in them, compromising U.S. intelligence efforts and allowing the suspects to flee. A prime example of this occurred in 1996, when the United States asked the government of Qatar for assistance in capturing al Qaeda operational mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was living openly in Qatar and even working for the Qatari government as a project engineer. Mohammed was tipped off to American intentions by the Qatari authorities and fled to Pakistan. According to the 9/11 commission report, Mohammed was closely associated with Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, who was then the Qatari minister of religious affairs. After fleeing Doha, Mohammed went on to plan several al Qaeda attacks against the United States, including the 9/11 operation. Given these realities, it appears that the recently disclosed assassination program was intended to provide the United States with a far more subtle and surgical tool to use in attacks against al Qaeda leaders in locations where Hellfire missiles are not appropriate and where host government assistance is unlikely to be provided. Some media reports indicate that the program was never fully developed and deployed; others indicate that it may have conducted a limited number of operations. Unlike UAV strikes, where pilots fly the vehicles by satellite link and can actually be located a half a world away, or the very tough and resilient airframe of an AC-130, which can fly thousands of feet above a target, a surgical assassination capability means that the CIA would have to put boots on the ground in hostile territory where operatives, by their very presence, would be violating the laws of the sovereign country in which they were operating. Such operatives, under nonofficial cover by necessity, would be at risk of arrest if they were detected. Also, because of the nature of such a program, a higher level of operational security is required than in the program to strike al Qaeda targets using UAVs. It is far more complex to move officers and weapons into hostile territory in a stealthy manner to strike a target without warning and with plausible deniability. Once a target is struck with a barrage of Hellfire missiles, it is fairly hard to deny what happened. There is ample physical evidence tying the attack to American UAVs. When a person is struck by a sniper’s bullet or a small IED, the perpetrator and sponsor have far more deniability. By its very nature, and by operational necessity, such a program must be extremely covert. Even with the cooperation of the host government, conducting an extraordinary rendition in a friendly country like Italy has proved to be politically controversial and personally risky for CIA officers, who can be threatened with arrest and trial. Conducting assassination operations in a country that is not so friendly is a far riskier undertaking. As seen by the Russian officers arrested in Doha after the February 2004 assassination of former Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, such operations can generate blowback. The Russian officers responsible for the Yandarbiyev hit were arrested, tortured, tried and sentenced to life in prison (though after several months they were released into Russian custody to serve the remainder of their sentences). Because of the physical risk to the officers involved in such operations, and the political blowback such operations can cause, it is not surprising that the details of such a program would be strictly compartmentalized inside the CIA and not widely disseminated beyond the gates of Langley. In fact, it is highly doubtful that the details of such a program were even widely known inside the CIA’s counterterrorism center (CTC) — though almost certainly some of the CTC staff suspected that such a covert program existed somewhere. The details regarding such a program were undoubtedly guarded carefully within the clandestine service, with the officer in charge most likely reporting directly to the deputy director of operations, who reports personally to the director of the CIA. Loose Lips Sink Ships As trite as this old saying may sound, it is painfully true. In the counterterrorism realm, leaks destroy counterterrorism cases and often allow terrorist suspects to escape and kill again. There have been several leaks of “sources and methods” by congressional sources over the past decade that have disclosed details of sensitive U.S. government programs designed to do things such as intercept al Qaeda satellite phone signals and track al Qaeda financing. A classified appendix to the report of the 2005 Robb-Silberman Commission on Intelligence Capabilities (which incidentally was leaked to the press) discussed several such leaks, noted the costs they impose on the American taxpayers and highlighted the damage they do to intelligence programs. The fear that details of a sensitive program designed to assassinate al Qaeda operatives in foreign countries could be leaked was probably the reason for the Bush administration’s decision to withhold knowledge of the program from the U.S. Congress, even though amendments to the National Security Act of 1947 mandate the reporting of most covert intelligence programs to Congress. Given the imaginative legal guidance provided by Bush administration lawyers regarding subjects such as enhanced interrogation, it would not be surprising to find that White House lawyers focused on loopholes in the National Security Act reporting requirements. The validity of such legal opinions may soon be tested. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, recently said he was considering an investigation into the failure to report the program to Congress, and House Democrats have announced that they want to change the reporting requirements to make them even more inclusive. Under the current version of the National Security Act, with very few exceptions, the administration is required to report the most sensitive covert activities to, at the very least, the so-called “gang of eight” that includes the chairmen and ranking minority members of the congressional intelligence committees, the speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate. In the wake of the program’s disclosure, some Democrats would like to expand this minimum reporting requirement to include the entire membership of the congressional intelligence committees, which would increase the absolute minimum number of people to be briefed from eight to 40. Some congressmen argue that presidents, prompted by the CIA, are too loose in their invocation of the “extraordinary circumstances” that allow them to report only to the gang of eight and not the full committees. Yet ironically, the existence of the covert CIA program stayed secret for over seven and a half years, and yet here we are writing about it less than a month after the congressional committees were briefed. The addition of that many additional lips to briefings pertaining to covert actions is not the only thing that will cause great consternation at the CIA. While legally mandated, disclosing covert programs to Congress has been very problematic. The angst felt at Langley over potential increases in the number of people to be briefed will be compounded by the recent reports that Attorney General Eric Holder may appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogations and ethics reporting. In April we discussed how some of the early actions of the Obama administration were having a chilling effect on U.S. counterterrorism programs and personnel. Expanding the minimum reporting requirements under the National Security Act will serve to turn the thermostat down several additional notches, as did Panetta’s overt killing of the covert program. It is one thing to quietly kill a controversial program; it is quite another to repudiate the CIA in public. In addition to damaging the already low morale at the agency, Panetta has announced in a very public manner that the United States has taken one important tool entirely out of the counterterrorism toolbox: Al Qaeda no longer has to fear the possibility of clandestine American assassination teams.

DTN News: F-22s See Light At The End Of The Tunnel For Further Production, As Senator Temporarily Drops Bid To Kill Funds

DTN News: F-22s See Light At The End Of The Tunnel For Further Production, As Senator Temporarily Drops Bid To Kill Funds *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - July 16, 2009: Senator Carl Levin on Wednesday temporarily withdrew a bid to kill $1.75 billion in funding for more F-22 fighter jets in a massive defense spending bill but senators leading the charge vowed they would try again soon. A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor takes off at Kadena U.S. Air Force Base on Japan's southwestern island of Okinawa June 16, 2009. The aircraft, based in Langley, Virginia are being deployed in the region for four months. The Senate has been tied up in knots this week over Lockheed-Martin's performance-plagued F-22 as well as by a bid by Democrats to attach an unrelated amendment to the bill that would broaden hate crimes laws to address gender and sexual orientation. "That's going to have to be resolved and then we're going to come right back" to the amendment to eliminate funding for buying seven more F-22s, Levin, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman and a Michigan Democrat, told reporters. It was not immediately clear when a vote would occur on the F-22 money but Senate aides suggested it could be put off until next week. Lockheed's shares were up 39 cents to $81.58 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the annual defense bill if it includes the money to buy the extra F-22 jets. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has proposed stopping production at 187 jets. As of March, there 134 F-22s in service and the Air Force said they cost about $143 million each. Lawmakers from states like Connecticut and Georgia where the aircraft are produced have rebuffed Obama's veto threat and seek to protect well-paying jobs at a time when the economy is in a deep recession and unemployment is soaring. Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and others have criticized the F-22 for its performance problems and have pointed out that it has not been used in combat operations in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The F-22's critics point out that each hour of flight time requires 30 hours of maintenance and that the plane has had problems with its radar-absorbing metallic skin. Levin said Obama's veto threat coupled with comments by senior military officers in the Air Force and by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen had helped their cause to strike the F-22 funding but he was still not sure he had the votes. "It's going to be a close vote," Levin said. The overall defense authorization bill includes $550.4 billion for military operations and programs as well as $130 billion for the two wars for fiscal 2010 which begins October 1. Gates wants to cut back many of the military's weapons programs and transition from the F-22 to three models of Lockheed's Joint Strike Fighter F-35, co-developed with eight countries and built for export. Levin said he expected other big fights over $439 million to continue work on a second F-35 engine being built by General Electric Co. and Britain's Rolls-Royce Group Plc as well as potentially on dealing with detainees at the U.S. prison held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama's advisers said they would recommend that the president veto the bill if the engine effort disrupted the overall F-35 program.
Obama's advisers also objected to another provision in the legislation that would require the administration to report to Congress before using money to help Pakistan's counterinsurgency efforts as that country faces militant Taliban fighters spilling over the border from Afghanistan.