Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DTN News: QinetiQ Sells TALON Robots To Australian Defence Force

DTN News: QinetiQ Sells TALON Robots To Australian Defence Force
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK - August 25, 2009: QinetiQ Group PLC, a leading international provider of technology-based services and solutions, has secured a AUS$23m contract from the Australian Department of Defence for TALON robots and replacement parts to support Australian Defence Forces deployed on operations. Developed by QinetiQ North America in Waltham, Massachusetts, TALON robots can be configured for specific tasks including the disposal of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), reconnaissance, the identification of hazardous material, combat engineering support and assistance to police units engaged in SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) operations. 2,800 TALON robots are deployed around the world - more than any other military robot. "The TALON robot is an excellent example of the world-leading technology that QinetiQ is able to deliver to our clients within Australia and the region," said Mike Kalms, CEO of QinetiQ Australia. "We continue to work closely with our UK and US colleagues to ensure QinetiQ is able to offer an increasing portfolio of leading technology and service solutions to our Australian defence customers." QinetiQ also provides a repair and maintenance facility for TALON robots in Australia and the region through its partner company, Pacific Security and Environmental Solutions.

DTN News: Northrop Grumman Successfully Demonstrates Interoperability Between Manned And Unmanned Platforms

DTN News: Northrop Grumman Successfully Demonstrates Interoperability Between Manned And Unmanned Platforms
*Source: DTN News / Northrop Grumman Corporation
(NSI News Source Info) BETHPAGE, N.Y., - August 25, 2009: A leader in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) successfully demonstrated Joint STARS and E-2 Hawkeye interoperability between manned and unmanned platforms during a recent virtual joint military demonstration involving U.S. and coalition forces. One key element to the success of this interoperability was an E-2 Hawkeye developmental test bed. The test bed is based on the robust capability of the U.S. Navy's E-2 Hawkeye mission computing system which enabled it to successfully operate the Electrical Optical (EO) sensor onboard both manned and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in response to requests from ground commanders. The demonstration, Empire Challenge 09 (EC09), was executed by U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and aimed at demonstrating how U.S. and coalition forces can better work together to collect, analyze and share relevant reconnaissance information. "The ability to collect and share real-time ISR at the theatre and the tactical level quickly and accurately is crucial to ensuring battle commanders have the enhanced situational awareness required for successful mission completion," said Tom Vice, vice president of Battle Management and Engagement Systems division for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. "During Empire Challenge, we successfully demonstrated how manned command and control aircraft can direct and manage unmanned aircraft to enhance image collection and target identification. We will take what we've learned through this collaborative exercise to continue to mature our ISR capabilities to ensure our warfighters have the mission critical information they need when they need it." During the month-long exercise, virtual physics-based and operational flight program simulations of multiple Northrop Grumman platforms, including the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) and E-2 Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft, worked collaboratively to achieve interoperability between multiple manned and unmanned aircraft via an airborne Web services architecture. One key element to the success of this interoperability was an E-2 Hawkeye developmental test bed. The test bed is based on the robust capability of the U.S. Navy's E-2 Hawkeye mission computing system which enabled it to successfully operate the Electrical Optical (EO) sensor onboard both manned and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in response to requests from ground commanders. Using machine-to-machine command interfaces, the E-2 test bed was able to cue each UAV simulator to provide imagery of both static and dynamic ground tracks for target identification. The image request messages were transmitted via machine-to-machine interfaces, replacing the need for voice and manual chat resulting in an increased response time. The virtual Joint STARS integrated the Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) architecture providing constellation management along with UAV control and multi-level security capability sets which enabled the platform to demonstrate an expansion of its current ISR role to include automated UAV image collection and development of target quality solutions to support strike engagements. Sensor imagery received from the UAVs via Joint STARS was provided to an image analyst who examined each image and determined which should be included in the image product library (IPL). Images in the IPL were used to populate the Global Command and Control System (GCCS). Once threats were identified, the E-2 test bed managed airborne attack assets, including F-18s and EA-6Bs, to conduct precision strike missions against those threats, based on Joint STARS ground tracks and correlated imagery supporting threat identification. The net effect of this ISR sensor tasking and command and control network was a reduction in both the 'kill-chain,' the time it takes to find, identify, and engage a target, and the operator workload required to accomplish the task. In addition to the virtual Joint STARS and E-2 Hawkeye platforms, other Northrop Grumman assets participating virtually in Empire Challenge 09 included the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft reconnaissance system, MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing unmanned system, and the MQ-5B Hunter medium altitude unmanned aerial system. The virtual, human-in-the-loop wargaming environment utilized in Empire Challenge was built by Northrop Grumman and developed with the company's Cyber Warfare Integration Network (CWIN). Based at the USJFCOM Joint Intelligence Laboratory (JIL) in Suffolk, Va., the virtual platforms were linked to the "live-fly" exercise at the Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) in China Lake, Calif., as well as the Combined Air Operations Center-Experimental at Langley Air Force Base, Va. "By providing this virtual modeling and simulation environment, Northrop Grumman added an increased level of complexity to the demonstrations," said Chris Frangos, chief architect, Systems Engineering Integration & Test (SEIT) director for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "The ultimate goal of the exercise was to gain a better understanding of the challenges that irregular warfare brings to our warfighters and how Northrop Grumman platforms, technologies and architectures provide solutions to these challenges." Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
Kirsti Dunn Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (301) 373-2388, x2722 Kirsti.dunn@ngc.com

DTN News: India rolls out locally-built Russian tanks

DTN News: India rolls out locally-built Russian tanks *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - August 25, 2009: India on Monday unveiled a first batch of 10 tanks built locally under licence from Russia and said it planned to manufacture 100 such units every year. India has already acquired nearly 700 T-90 tanks as part of a 2001 deal with Russia that also included local production of more units through a technology transfer pact. The T-90S entered service with the Russian Army in 1992. In February 2001, the Indian Army signed a contract for 310 T-90S tanks. 124 were completed in Russia and the rest are being delivered in 'knocked down / semi-knocked down' form for final assembly in India. The first of these was delivered in January 2004. The locally assembled tanks are christened 'Bhishma'. The tanks are fitted with the Shtora self-protection system and Catherine thermal imagers from Thales of France and Peleng of Belarus. "The T-90S Russian tank represents an increase in firepower, mobility and protection." In January 2005, it was announced that a further 91 T-90S tanks would be procured for the Russian Army, although this number was later reduced. Deliveries are underway. By November 2007, it has been estimated that the Russian Army has around 200 T-90 tanks. In August 2007, Thales was awarded a contract to supply 100 of these with the Catherine FC thermal imager. In March 2006, Algeria signed a contract for the supply of 180 T-90S tanks from Uralvagonzavod, to be delivered by 2011. In November 2006, India ordered a further 300 T-90 tanks, to be licence-built by heavy vehicle factory (HVF), Avadi. Production has been delayed due to technology transfer problems but is expected to begin by the end of 2008. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said each of the Indian-built tanks would cost up to 150 million rupees (three million dollars). “The tank has advanced protection system to protect crew and equipment from chemical, biological and radioactive nuclear attack,” a DRDO statement said after the rollout from a state-run facility in southern Chennai city. Junior Defence Minister Pallam Raju hailed the deliveries as an “important milestone”, the Press Trust of India reported. “The overall objective is to ensure self-sufficiency in defence preparedness to the maximum possible extent,” Raju added. Russia, which supplies 70 percent of India’s military hardware, has also helped its long-time ally to locally build a nuclear-powered submarine which was put on sea trials last month.

DTN News: Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno Gets Temporary Reprieve On Caning Sentence ~ Caning Of Malaysian Woman Who Drank Beer Postponed

DTN News: Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno Gets Temporary Reprieve On Caning Sentence ~ Caning Of Malaysian Woman Who Drank Beer Postponed *DTN News: Singaporean Model Gets Caning / Muslim Woman To Be Flogged In Malaysia Over Beer....DTN Defense-Technology News July 21, 2009 (Click here for link) *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - August 25, 2009: The first woman in Muslim-majority Malaysia to face caning for drinking beer was reprieved Monday because of the holy month of Ramadan. Her family said she would rather get the thrashing with a rattan cane now and put the ordeal behind her. Muslim model Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, 32, who will be caned for drinking beer, holds the hand of her daughter Kaitlynn as she is escorted by Islamic religious officers to a waiting van to be taken away at her father's home in Karai, 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. Kartika will become the first woman in this Muslim-majority country to be flogged under Islamic law after she was arrested in a raid and sentenced by a Shariah court for drinking alcohol at a hotel lounge last year. Islamic officials had taken Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old mother of two, into custody and were driving her to a women's prison for the caning when they abruptly turned around and sent her back to her family home in northern Malaysia. "She feels like a football being kicked around," Kartika's father, Shukarno Abdul Muttalib, told The Associated Press. "She's so exhausted and unhappy with the delay. She would prefer to just receive the six strokes and have everything finished." Amnesty International, Malaysian lawyers and some politicians have condemned the sentence, while other critics have warned it would tarnish Malaysia's image as a moderate country. Islamic officials have defended it as necessary to uphold Islamic values _ underscoring tensions between religious conservatives and more liberal and secular elements in society. Beer, wine and liquor is widely available at shops, bars and restaurants in Malaysia, unlike in more austere Islamic nations such as Iran and Pakistan. Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities in Malaysia are free to consume alcohol but its Shariah law forbids Muslims who make up 60 percent of the 27 million population from drinking, although a minority of Muslims still indulge despite the religious stricture. Islamic morality police enforcement officials of the Islamic Religious Department arrested Kartika in a raid for drinking beer at a hotel lounge at a beach resort in Cherating in Pahang state in December 2007. Kartika was sentenced to six lashes of a rattan cane by the Shariah court last month in what was considered a warning to other Muslims to abide by religious rules. Islamic law provides for a three-year prison term and caning for Muslims caught drinking. Most previous offenders were fined and no woman has ever been caned. The morality police are not a pervasive force in Malaysia, and most citizens were surprised at the verdict against Kartika. Mohamad Sahfri Abdul Aziz, a state legislator in charge of religious affairs, said Monday the Attorney General's office advised that Kartika's caning should be delayed for compassionate reasons until after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which began Saturday. "The sentence is not being canceled," Mohamad Sahfri said, without specifying exactly when it would be carried out. In an interview with the AP last week, Kartika said she regretted drinking and was even willing to be caned in public in order to send a clear message to other Muslims to avoid alcohol. Authorities said the caning had to be done at a prison. Government officials have remained silent on the issue even though the local media have reported on it extensively. The only prominent personality to comment has been former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. On Monday, he urged authorities to check Islamic teachings to determine whether it would be appropriate to cane Kartika for drinking. Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno walks at her father's house in Sungei Siput, about 300km (186 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia's state of Perak August 21, 2009. Shukarno, who will be caned next week for drinking beer, is insisting her punishment be carried out in public as a lesson to all Muslims. "Is it possible that a judge may have been unfair or mistaken in his consideration? Is there no room in Islam for mercy toward those who commit an error for the first time?" Mahathir wrote on his widely read blog. Chandra Muzaffar, president of the Malaysian think tank, International Movement for a Just World, said the international attention on Kartika's case could "provide ammunition" for some people to criticize Malaysia's capacity for religious tolerance. "She should not be caned in the first place," Chandra said. "What we should do is advise her. This punitive psychology is a bane for Muslim societies, and we should get away from it." Islamic officials had insisted that the caning's purpose is to educate rather than punish. They say the rattan cane supposed to be used on Kartika would be smaller and lighter than the one used for men, and that she will remain clothed. Men convicted of crimes such as rape and bribery in Malaysia are caned on their bare buttocks, breaking the skin and leaving permanent scars. Rattan canes used in the punishment are made from palm plants common in tropical parts of Asia. They have been used for decades for corporal punishments in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Separately Monday, officials in the central state of Selangor near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's largest city, stepped up efforts to deter drinking by empowering mosque officials to arrest Muslims who consume liquor in public places, The Star newspaper's Web site quoted state lawmaker Hassan Ali as saying.

DTN News: China TODAY August 25, 2009 ~ 200 To Face Trial In China For Xinjiang Unrest

DTN News: China TODAY August 25, 2009 ~ 200 To Face Trial In China For Xinjiang Unrest
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - August 25, 2009: China will this week put more than 200 people on trial over last month's deadly ethnic unrest in Xinjiang, with security tight due to fears of fresh violence, state media said Monday. An ethnic minority Chinese resident walks past a checkpoint with heavily armed paramilitary police along a street of Urumqi, northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. More than 200 people are expected to go on trial this week for their involvement in sectarian riots last month that killed nearly 200 people in China's western region of Xinjiang. The trials will take place in the Intermediate People's Court in Urumqi, the capital of the mainly Muslim northwest region where violence in early July left at least 197 people dead, the China Daily reported, citing unnamed officials. The more than 200 defendants will face charges ranging from disrupting traffic to murder, the paper said, meaning that some of them could be given the death penalty. Authorities had previously announced only 83 formal arrests. Armed police have started around-the-clock patrols in the area near the courthouse, in a massive security build-up ahead of the hearings, the paper said. Local residents have voiced concerns that the trials will rekindle the same raw emotions among the city's different ethnic groups that fanned the deadly street clashes less than two months ago. "Many bereaved Han families will come to wait for the verdicts, and the authorities fear they may clash with any Uighur in their presence," Guo Mei, a saleswoman who works near the court, told the China Daily. The violence that broke out in Urumqi on July 5 pitted Han Chinese against Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking and predominantly Muslim people, in the worst ethnic unrest to hit the country in decades. The paper reported intense public interest in the trials, which will all be public, except from those dealing with "splitting the state". "I'd be very angry if those rioters receive light sentences or escape justice," said an unnamed worker. "They should be given harsh penalties for causing the loss of so many innocent lives." One Han shopkeeper told the China Daily that Han Chinese who "overreacted" when seeking out Uighurs in retaliatory mob violence following the initial riots "should be granted leniency by the judge". Both court officials and prosecutors declined to comment when contacted by AFP. A city government official surnamed Ma said he had "no information so far" about the trials. With doubts remaining over who was to blame for the violence, the future of ethnic relations in volatile Xinjiang hinges to a large extent on how the Chinese government handles the aftermath, observers said. "There is profound distrust on both sides in terms of Han Chinese and the Uighurs," Phelim Kine, an Asia researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, told AFP. "The Chinese government can make a huge advance in terms of bridging that divide, in terms of bringing the two sides together, by allowing an independent investigation that all sides can point to as impartial and objective." The paper did not say how many of the defendants were Uighurs. However, it reported that more than 170 Uighur and 20 Han lawyers had been assigned, suggesting that the bulk were members of the minority group. Prosecutors have prepared more than 3,300 items of physical evidence for the trial, including bricks and clubs stained with blood, 91 video clips and more than 2,150 photos, the paper said. Kine said HRW was concerned that the Urumqi trials "will follow the same abuses of international process that we saw in the trials of suspects detained following the unrest in Tibet in March 2008."

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY August 25, 2009 ~ Relatives Accuse Pakistan Forces In Swat Killings

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY August 25, 2009 ~ Relatives Accuse Pakistan Forces In Swat Killings
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) MINGORA, Pakistan - August 25, 2009: Nearly three months after Pakistan retook the Swat Valley from the Taliban, bloodied corpses are still turning up on the streets. This time, the victims are suspected militants and the killers are alleged to be security forces. Pakistan army troops patrol in Mingora, capital of Pakistan's troubled Valley of Swat, after a suicide attack on troops on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2009. A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a security checkpoint in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley on Saturday, killing at least three soldiers, police said. The army and the police deny the accusations, which the leading Pakistani human rights watchdog says are credible. The killings are a sign of the troubles still facing the valley, even as U.S. officials cite the offensive which is now winding down as a success in Islamabad's campaign against al-Qaida and Taliban militants threatening both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The bloodshed comes as many of the two million people who fled the fighting are now returning to rebuild their lives. Last week, two suicide blasts rocked the main town of Mingora in another deadly reminder of the threat the militants still pose. The corpses began appearing several weeks ago, residents say. On Monday, 15 bodies were found in a town east of Mingora, local TV stations reported, although authorities would not confirm that. Another 18 were recovered from different parts of Swat on Aug. 15, authorities said. The killings are a grim echo of Taliban rule over the valley, when militants dumped bodies of alleged spies or government collaborators on the streets to terrify people into submission. Residents recalled public beheadings and of decapitated bodies being left in Mingora's main square so regularly that it earned the nickname, 'Bloody Square.' "Previously we were afraid of the Taliban. Now, we're afraid of the army," one man said, standing at the site where the bodies of two people, 35-year-old butcher Gohar Ullah and his younger brother Zahoor, 30, were found last Friday. Like many in Mingora, he would not give his name for fear of reprisals. About seven hours after their relatives carried the brothers' corpses away, blood was still pooled in the dusty back alley where they were slain. Brain and blood splatter on a wall and wooden door indicated the men had been brought there alive and shot. "More than a month ago, they were arrested on the charge of militancy involvement," during a police raid on their home, said relative Habib Ur-Rehman, as he helped clean and shroud his cousins' bodies for burial in a small courtyard not far from where they were found. Four other brothers were taken at the same time, along with their father, Rahim, whose corpse turned up three weeks ago in the same area, Ur-Rehman said, as the women of the family gathered in another courtyard nearby, wailing and crying in grief. Police and the army in Swat denied having had the two men in custody, or holding their other four brothers or father. "No, I don't know about them," said Swat District Police Officer Ghulam Farooq Qazi. "They are not in my custody." But like the army, Qazi said he thought that the bodies turning up on the streets belonged to militants. "The militants, they did many crimes ... they are fighting each other now," he said. "Another (reason) is, the people who are suffering because of these criminals, they are also trying to take their revenge." Local residents found the bodies of the Ullah brothers. One man, who gave his name only as Liaqat, said he heard between four and six shots fired at around 4 a.m. Friday, but didn't leave his home due to a nighttime curfew. Other locals gathered at the site nodded in agreement. Like many of the corpses discovered on the streets, they were blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs, said one relative. One had been shot in the head and the other just below the eye, he said. "My sons had nothing to do (with the Taliban). They had no fight, they were innocent," said Bakht Begum, the men's mother, as she wiped away tears. "Even my husband had no fault. They killed my husband and my two sons, and now they should release the others." Militants began asserting their influence in Swat in 2007 part of a wave of al-Qaida and Taliban expanding their reach from safe havens near the Afghan border. By April, they controlled much of the one-time tourist retreat, just four hours' drive from the capital, Islamabad. The army launched a major operation in April that it claims killed more than 1,600 militants. While the insurgents have undoubtedly been pushed back, their top leadership escaped, keeping many of the valley's residents on edge. Most Swat residents interviewed said they were unconcerned if Taliban were indeed being killed. They said they felt no pity for those who had sown terror and misery and that the killings might be what is needed to stop the insurgents from returning. "Look at what they have done to innocent civilian people," said Shahed Javed, a restaurant owner in central Mingora who opened shop again in the past few days. "In such a situation, it's a good thing." The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a recent report it had received "credible reports of numerous extrajudicial killings and reprisals carried out by security forces" in Swat. "It is vital for the success of the military operation against terrorists that the security forces' actions are distinguishable from the atrocities committed by the Taliban," the commission said. "'Taliban justice' has been rightly condemned for its brutal and arbitrary nature. Treatment of individuals by government must aspire to a higher standard."

DTN News: Singapore TODAY August 25, 2009 ~ Three Singaporeans Share Writing Experiences At Edinburgh Book Festival

DTN News: Singapore TODAY August 25, 2009 ~ Three Singaporeans Share Writing Experiences At Edinburgh Book Festival
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) EDINBURGH, Scotland - August 25, 2009: At the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Scotland’s capital, bookworms are getting their literary fill. Edinburgh is well—known for its literature. In 2004, Edinburgh was named the world’s first City of Literature by The United Nations’ Cultural Organisation, UNESCO. The city also hosts literary bus tours and pub tours regularly. So it came as no surprise that the annual book festival, now in its 26th year, drew authors from 45 countries, and a diversity of readers who came to see famous scribes, or to discover the next generation of them. Over the course of two weeks, the fair hosted more than 700 writers and thinkers and drew crowds of more than 200,000. This year, the festival added three Singaporean writers to its lineup. Suchen Christine Lim, Simon Tay and poet Edwin Thumboo shared their work and spoke about the challenges of being a writer in Singapore. Lim is a descendant of illiterate Chinese immigrants from Malaysia. She moved to Singapore with her family when she was 15 and became the first woman to win the Singapore Literature Prize for her novel, Fistful of Colours. She said she struggled at first being a female writer of controversial topics in a conservative society. She said: "Previously, I wouldn’t even be published, but now... I’ve written about a mother whose son is gay. This is a great improvement and I’m here to celebrate that." A central theme of Singapore writing is the question of the "Singapore identity". Award—winning poet and professor Edwin Thumboo explored those issues in his work. The product of a Chinese mother and an Indian father, Thumboo grew up under British rule. That experience inspired him to write nationalistic poetry. But he said writings of any theme are essential to shaping a nation’s identity, especially a young nation like Singapore. He said: "How long are we going to be in the grip of our colonial experience? That’s precisely the experience you are moving away from. We want to bring in our own experience, our own release from colonialism." The reading drew about 50 people, not a large crowd, but enough to put the island—nation on the literary map.

DTN News: Norwegian Air Shuttle Completes Milestone With First Direct Purchase And Delivery Of A Boeing 737-800

DTN News: Norwegian Air Shuttle Completes Milestone With First Direct Purchase And Delivery Of A Boeing 737-800
*Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE, USA - August 25, 2009: Boeing [NYSA:BA] and Norwegian Air Shuttle management and airline staff celebrated Friday as the low-cost airline completed its first direct purchase and delivery of a new 737-800 at Boeing Field in Seattle, Wash. Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, trading as Norwegian, is the fifth-largest low-cost airline in Europe, and the second-largest airline in Scandinavia. In 2008, it transported 9.1 million people on 150 routes to 82 destinations, covering across Europe into North Africa and the Middle East. As of October 2008, Norwegian operates 41 Boeing 737 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80 aircraft. The main hub is Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, but Norwegian also has Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Moss, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Warsaw as focus cities. It offers a high-frequency domestic operation in Norway, combined with a low-frequency service to international destinations from its focus cities. Norwegian was founded in 1993 as a regional airline taking over routes in Western Norway after the bankruptcy of Busy Bee. Until 2002, it operated Fokker 50 aircraft on wet lease for Braathens. Following the two domestic incumbents Braathens and Scandinavian Airlines merger, Norwegian took the opportunity to establish a domestic low-cost carrier. It has since expanded quickly, establishing itself in Warsaw and purchasing Swedish airline FlyNordic in 2007, and entering the Copenhagen market in 2008. The same year it delivery of its first brand new Boeing 737-800. Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjorn Kjos said the delivery of the 737-800 marks an important milestone in the Oslo, Norway-based airline’s history. “Having already leased 13 Boeing 737-800s, we know there are good reasons why the Next-Generation 737 is the best-selling airplane in the world,” said Kjos. “It’s because Boeing is constantly improving the 737 family of airplanes. It’s the right answer for a point-to-point airline like Norwegian Air Shuttle.” Kjos said Norwegian Air Shuttle’s 737-800 features new more comfortable seats and increased legroom for passenger comfort. Major improvements to the Next-Generation 737 include the creation of the new Boeing Sky Interior, modeled after the 787 Dreamliner's cabin architecture, and the addition of Blended Winglets, which enhance the airplane’s environmental performance. All Norwegian Air Shuttle 737s feature Blended Winglets. All Norwegian Air Shuttle 737 orders will include the Boeing Sky Interior upon its introduction in 2010.

DTN News: President Barack Obama's Foreign Policy ~ The End Of The Beginning

DTN News: President Barack Obama's Foreign Policy ~ The End Of The Beginning
*Source: By George Friedman STRATFOR
(NSI News Source Info) - August 25, 2009: As August draws to a close, so does the first phase of the Obama presidency. The first months of any U.S. presidency are spent filling key positions and learning the levers of foreign and national security policy. There are also the first rounds of visits with foreign leaders and the first tentative forays into foreign policy. The first summer sees the leaders of the Northern Hemisphere take their annual vacations, and barring a crisis or war, little happens in the foreign policy arena. Then September comes and the world gets back in motion, and the first phase of the president’s foreign policy ends. The president is no longer thinking about what sort of foreign policy he will have; he now has a foreign policy that he is carrying out. We therefore are at a good point to stop and consider not what U.S. President Barack Obama will do in the realm of foreign policy, but what he has done and is doing. As we have mentioned before, the single most remarkable thing about Obama’s foreign policy is how consistent it is with the policies of former President George W. Bush. This is not surprising. Presidents operate in the world of constraints; their options are limited. Still, it is worth pausing to note how little Obama has deviated from the Bush foreign policy. During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, particularly in its early stages, Obama ran against the Iraq war. The centerpiece of his early position was that the war was a mistake, and that he would end it. Obama argued that Bush’s policies — and more important, his style — alienated U.S. allies. He charged Bush with pursuing a unilateral foreign policy, alienating allies by failing to act in concert with them. In doing so, he maintained that the war in Iraq destroyed the international coalition the United States needs to execute any war successfully. Obama further argued that Iraq was a distraction and that the major effort should be in Afghanistan. He added that the United States would need its NATO allies’ support in Afghanistan. He said an Obama administration would reach out to the Europeans, rebuild U.S. ties there and win greater support from them. Though around 40 countries cooperated with the United States in Iraq, albeit many with only symbolic contributions, the major continental European powers — particularly France and Germany — refused to participate. When Obama spoke of alienating allies, he clearly meant these two countries, as well as smaller European powers that had belonged to the U.S. Cold War coalition but were unwilling to participate in Iraq and were now actively hostile to U.S. policy. A European Rebuff Early in his administration, Obama made two strategic decisions. First, instead of ordering an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, he adopted the Bush administration’s policy of a staged withdrawal keyed to political stabilization and the development of Iraqi security forces. While he tweaked the timeline on the withdrawal, the basic strategy remained intact. Indeed, he retained Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, to oversee the withdrawal. Second, he increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Bush administration had committed itself to Afghanistan from 9/11 onward. But it had remained in a defensive posture in the belief that given the forces available, enemy capabilities and the historic record, that was the best that could be done, especially as the Pentagon was almost immediately reoriented and refocused on the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Toward the end, the Bush administration began exploring — under the influence of Gen. David Petraeus, who designed the strategy in Iraq — the possibility of some sort of political accommodation in Afghanistan. Obama has shifted his strategy in Afghanistan to this extent: He has moved from a purely defensive posture to a mixed posture of selective offense and defense, and has placed more forces into Afghanistan (although the United States still has nowhere near the number of troops the Soviets had when they lost their Afghan war). Therefore, the core structure of Obama’s policy remains the same as Bush’s except for the introduction of limited offensives. In a major shift since Obama took office, the Pakistanis have taken a more aggressive stance (or at least want to appear more aggressive) toward the Taliban and al Qaeda, at least within their own borders. But even so, Obama’s basic strategy remains the same as Bush’s: hold in Afghanistan until the political situation evolves to the point that a political settlement is possible. Most interesting is how little success Obama has had with the French and the Germans. Bush had given up asking for assistance in Afghanistan, but Obama tried again. He received the same answer Bush did: no. Except for some minor, short-term assistance, the French and Germans were unwilling to commit forces to Obama’s major foreign policy effort, something that stands out. Given the degree to which the Europeans disliked Bush and were eager to have a president who would revert the U.S.-European relationship to what it once was (at least in their view), one would have thought the French and Germans would be eager to make some substantial gesture rewarding the United States for selecting a pro-European president. Certainly, it was in their interest to strengthen Obama. That they proved unwilling to make that gesture suggests that the French and German relationship with the United States is much less important to Paris and Berlin than it would appear. Obama, a pro-European president, was emphasizing a war France and Germany approved of over a war they disapproved of and asked for their help, but virtually none was forthcoming. The Russian Non-Reset Obama’s desire to reset European relations was matched by his desire to reset U.S.-Russian relations. Ever since the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine in late 2004 and early 2005, U.S.-Russian relations had deteriorated dramatically, with Moscow charging Washington with interfering in the internal affairs of former Soviet republics with the aim of weakening Russia. This culminated in the Russo-Georgian war last August. The Obama administration has since suggested a “reset” in relations, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually carrying a box labeled “reset button” to her spring meeting with the Russians. The problem, of course, was that the last thing the Russians wanted was to reset relations with the United States. They did not want to go back to the period after the Orange Revolution, nor did they want to go back to the period between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Orange Revolution. The Obama administration’s call for a reset showed the distance between the Russians and the Americans: The Russians regard the latter period as an economic and geopolitical disaster, while the Americans regard it as quite satisfactory. Both views are completely understandable. The Obama administration was signaling that it intends to continue the Bush administration’s Russia policy. That policy was that Russia had no legitimate right to claim priority in the former Soviet Union, and that the United States had the right to develop bilateral relations with any country and expand NATO as it wished. But the Bush administration saw the Russian leadership as unwilling to follow the basic architecture of relations that had developed after 1991, and as unreasonably redefining what the Americans thought of as a stable and desirable relationship. The Russian response was that an entirely new relationship was needed between the two countries, or the Russians would pursue an independent foreign policy matching U.S. hostility with Russian hostility. Highlighting the continuity in U.S.-Russian relations, plans for the prospective ballistic missile defense installation in Poland, a symbol of antagonistic U.S.-Russian relations, remain unchanged. The underlying problem is that the Cold War generation of U.S. Russian experts has been supplanted by the post-Cold War generation, now grown to maturity and authority. If the Cold warriors were forged in the 1960s, the post-Cold warriors are forever caught in the 1990s. They believed that the 1990s represented a stable platform from which to reform Russia, and that the grumbling of Russians plunged into poverty and international irrelevancy at that time is simply part of the post-Cold War order. They believe that without economic power, Russia cannot hope to be an important player on the international stage. That Russia has never been an economic power even at the height of its influence but has frequently been a military power doesn’t register. Therefore, they are constantly expecting Russia to revert to its 1990s patterns, and believe that if Moscow doesn’t, it will collapse — which explains U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s interview in The Wall Street Journal where he discussed Russia’s decline in terms of its economic and demographic challenges. Obama’s key advisers come from the Clinton administration, and their view of Russia — like that of the Bush administration — was forged in the 1990s. Foreign Policy Continuity Elsewhere When we look at U.S.-China policy, we see very similar patterns with the Bush administration. The United States under Obama has the same interest in maintaining economic ties and avoiding political complications as the Bush administration did. Indeed, Hillary Clinton explicitly refused to involve herself in human rights issues during her visit to China. Campaign talk of engaging China on human rights issues is gone. Given the interests of both countries, this makes sense, but it is also noteworthy given the ample opportunity to speak to China on this front (and fulfill campaign promises) that has arisen since Obama took office (such as the Uighur riots). Of great interest, of course, were the three great openings of the early Obama administration, to Cuba, to Iran, and to the Islamic world in general through his Cairo speech. The Cubans and Iranians rebuffed his opening, whereas the net result of the speech to the Islamic world remains unclear. With Iran we see the most important continuity. Obama continues to demand an end to Tehran’s nuclear program, and has promised further sanctions unless Iran agrees to enter into serious talks by late September. On Israel, the United States has merely shifted the atmospherics. Both the Bush and Obama administrations demanded that the Israelis halt settlements, as have many other administrations. The Israelis have usually responded by agreeing to something small while ignoring the larger issue. The Obama administration seemed ready to make a major issue of this, but instead continued to maintain security collaboration with the Israelis on Iran and Lebanon (and we assume intelligence collaboration). Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has not allowed the settlements to get in the way of fundamental strategic interests. This is not a criticism of Obama. Presidents — all presidents — run on a platform that will win. If they are good presidents, they will leave behind these promises to govern as they must. This is what Obama has done. He ran for president as the antithesis of Bush. He has conducted his foreign policy as if he were Bush. This is because Bush’s foreign policy was shaped by necessity, and Obama’s foreign policy is shaped by the same necessity. Presidents who believe they can govern independent of reality are failures. Obama doesn’t intend to fail.
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DTN News: Boeing Next-Generation 737s To Enhance WestJet Fleet Plans

DTN News: Boeing Next-Generation 737s To Enhance WestJet Fleet Plans *Source: DTN News / Boeing (NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE, USA - August 25, 2009: Boeing (NYSE: BA) and Canadian airline WestJet today announced an order for 14 additional Next-Generation 737-700s. The airline currently flies an all-Boeing fleet of 81 Next-Generation 737s.WestJet Airlines Ltd. is a Canadian low-cost carrier based in Calgary, Alberta that flies within Canada and to the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. WestJet is the second largest Canadian carrier behind Air Canada. WestJet is a rarity in the airline industry in that it is non-unionized. Profit-sharing is credited for this fact. WestJet plans to be one of the world's top five most profitable international airlines, by 2016. WestJet is a public company with over 7,500 employees and 1.2 billion USD market capitalization. "WestJet pioneered low-cost flying in Canada with a growing fleet of the world's most popular jetliner and has emerged as a leader among the world's airlines," said Kevin Schemm, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president, North America Sales. "We value our partnership with WestJet and its continued endorsement of the Next-Generation 737." WestJet also has announced a plan to reschedule 16 leased and direct-purchase airplanes. "The new order of Boeing 737-700s will enable us to continue serving our guests with one of the most modern fleets in the air," said Sean Durfy, WestJet president and CEO. "At the same time, we'll have enhanced flexibility to deliver on our vision of becoming one of the top five airlines in the world by 2016." Including today's order, WestJet has 54 additional Next-Generation 737s scheduled for delivery. Nearly 120 customers around the world have ordered more than 5,000 Next-Generation 737s. Boeing has more than 2,100 unfilled orders for the Next-Generation 737 valued at more than $158 billion at current list prices. Earlier this year, Boeing announced performance enhancements to the Next-Generation 737, which will reduce fuel consumption by 2 percent by 2011 through a combination of airframe and engine improvements.

DTN News: SIPRI Cautions On Arms Exports To Chad

DTN News: SIPRI Cautions On Arms Exports To Chad *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA - August 25, 2009: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) is warning defence equipment manufacturers to be careful when exporting to Chad as the country does not always honour end user certificates (EUC). SIPRI, in a new research paper, “Arms flows to the conflict in Chad”, finds that the disorderly north-central African state armed a Pilatus PC9 light aircraft, and last year employed it in combat against insurgents despite “written assurances that it would be used only for training purposes...” The detailed SIPRI report also notes that weapons delivered to the Government of Chad have found their way into the hands of rebels in neighbouring Darfur. “The UN panel of experts investigating the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Darfur was told by a number of governments that some of the weapons found in Darfur had been supplied from their countries to the Government of Chad.” This included examples of Israeli Galil and Tavor assault rifles supplied in July and September 2006. “Although the UN panel could not determine how these weapons had made their way from the arsenals of the Chadian Government to Darfur, it was established that close relations exist between the Government of Chad and the main rebel group in Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement. “The panel concluded that (Chadian President Idriss) Déby’s half-brother, Daoussa Déby, played a central role in providing support to rebel groups in Darfur, including by facilitating the provision of or directly providing weapons and military vehicles and it recommended that Daoussa Déby should be subject to UN sanctions for violating the arms embargo on Darfur,” SIPRI said. Despite this and several insurgencies in the country, SIPRI notes there is no UN arms embargo “on any entity or region in Chad.” On the contrary, “in reaction to a February 2008 rebel attack on N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, the Security Council ‘called upon Member States to provide support, in conformity with the United Nations Charter, as requested by the Government of Chad’. Even though this statement did not explicitly mention military aid, it could be interpreted as legitimising arms transfers,” SIPRI avers. “…violence in Chad is characterized by intermittent short periods of intense fighting and is closely linked to the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. “A relatively small number of heavy weapons are used in the conflict in Chad and the weapons that are used are not technologically sophisticated. Both government and rebel forces in Chad are comprised mainly of infantry who are armed with SALW (small arms and light weapons) and use general-purpose four-by-four vehicles, such as Toyota Land Cruisers, for troop transport. “Heavy machine guns and light multiple rocket launchers are often mounted on these vehicles. The government forces also use light armoured vehicles, old tanks, small numbers of armed helicopters and combat aircraft. SIPRI adds that tanks and combat aircraft, including three Ukranian-supplied Sukhoi Su 25 Frogfoot ground attack jet fighters played a significant role in government attacks on rebel forces and bases in both Chad and Sudan this year and last. “Thus, small supplies of major arms or of small arms and light weapons (SALW), such as a few second-hand armed helicopters or a thousand rifles, can have a significant impact on the course and intensity of the conflict. Such weapons may provide sufficient incentive for the recipients of them to try to reach their goals via violence instead of dialogue,” SIPRI explains. The well-respected Swedish-based think-tank adds that it estimates arms imports by Chad was five times higher in the period 2004–2008 than in the preceding five years (1999–2003). “Weapons were delivered to Chad from countries including Ukraine, France, Libya, Belgium, China, the USA, Israel, Switzerland, Serbia and Portugal.” The report details some of these imports, including the three Su 25 in 2008, for which cites as source the Ukrainian Government’s detailed public submission to the UN Register of Conventional Arms. The Ukraine has also supplied Chad four Mil Mi 24 Hind attack helicopters and 80 BMP-1 armoured personnel carriers in addition to eight BTR-3E armoured personnel carriers and 12 000 rifles. “Additionally unofficial sources reported that Chad received unspecified ammunition from Ukraine to Chad in 2008 and would receive three more Su-25s in 2009. The Su-25 aircraft, in particular, were a significant addition to Chad’s military capabilities because they are more capable than the combat aircraft that Chad previously possessed. In May 2009 these aircraft were used to attack rebel forces inside Sudanese territory.” French arms exports to Chad amounted to €100 000 in 2006 and orders for military goods to €3.2 million. In 2007 Chadian orders from France were valued at €11.2 million and deliveries at €5.4 million. “The delivery value for 2007 may include 40 [ex-South African AML90 armoured cars] and 45 machine guns…” Elsewhere the report puts the figure at an “estimated 82” Eland Mk7, upgraded in Belgium and exported to Chad via France. Arms deliveries from France in 2008 also included 25 VAB wheeled armoured personnel carriers. “Unofficial sources have reported that Chad ordered 100 Milan anti-tank missiles from France in late 2007.” SIPRI adds that unofficial sources also report that Libya actively supports Chad, including by supplying military aid. “In 2006 two Chadian (Aermacchi) SF-260 light aircraft that Chad has used for ground attacks were overhauled in Libya. “During the fighting in N’Djamena in February 2008 Libya also sent emergency supplies, including ammunition for T-55 tanks and rockets for use on Mi-24 combat helicopters.” In addition to small arms, Israel has delivered RAM-2000 light armoured vehicles in 2006 as well as late last year. Bulgaria delivered SALW or SALW components worth €208 125 and ammunition, possibly for SALW, worth €588 959 in 2006. In 2004 Serbia exported $379 148 worth of small arms ammunition. The Balkan state’s annual arms export report for 2006 listed the delivery of military goods, including small arms and ammunition, via Israel to a number of countries including Chad. This included ammunition worth $873 168. “In 2008, in response to an inquiry by the UN panel investigating the UN embargo on Darfur about Serbian ammunition found in Darfur, Serbia provided information that it had supplied four million rounds of 5.56-mm ammunition for Galil rifles to Chad. Even China, a major supplier to Sudan, has delivered arms to Chad. In 2007 it reported the supply of 10 unspecified light armoured vehicles to Chad. “Unconfirmed reports claim that Chinese military advisors were present in N’Djamena in early 2008 and that in late 2008 a Chinese shipment of armoured vehicles together with 50 containers of arms and ammunition arrived in Cameroon for further delivery to Chad."

DTN News: Gulf Air May Cut Plane Orders Amid Strategy Review

DTN News: Gulf Air May Cut Plane Orders Amid Strategy Review
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - August 25, 2009: Gulf Air, Bahrain’s struggling national carrier, may review its aircraft orders from manufacturers Boeing and Airbus in the face of mounting losses, its new CEO said on Sunday.
Samer Majali, the airline’s fourth chief executive in three years, said the review could see changes to aircraft types and delivery schedules to bring them in line with the company’s requirements, part of a wider restructuring aimed at returning the airline to profitability. But there is no plan to cancel existing orders, Majali said, adding that the new planes have to match the airline’s route and capacity needs.
Gulf Air last year signed an agreement with Boeing for up to 24 787 Dreamliners in a deal valued at nearly $6 billion and ordered 35 single-aisle and wide-body Airbus aircraft worth around $5 billion.
"All of these contracts will be honoured. (But) we are going look at the fleet composition and the network we are going to come up with,” Majali told Maktoob Business in an interview.
“We will re-engage with the manufacturer to discuss our requirements," he said, adding that the contracts allowed for such adjustments.
Majali did not specify a timeframe for when Gulf Air plans to told talks with Boeing and Airbus.The delivery of Boeing planes is to start in 2016, while Airbus aircraft are scheduled to be delivered between 2009 and 2012.
The airline currently has a fleet of around 30 planes serving a network of 40 destinations.
Majali succeeds Bjorn Naf, who resigned on July 2 amid criticism from Bahraini lawmakers who threatened yet another probe into corruption at the airline.
A former Royal Jordanian CEO, Majali is credited with transforming his previous company.
However he faces an uphill battle to turn around the fortunes of Gulf Air, which continues to haemorrhage cash, has witnessed countless management upheavals and is subject to constant scrutiny by Bahraini MPs.
The airline is still losing around $700,000 a day, according to a senior MP, despite major restructuring in 2007 that included destination, fleet and employee cutbacks.
Majali said he has held meetings with senior management to come up with a concrete plan to revive the airline.
"We will put a new strategy in place to compete effectively in the market and open new markets. The idea is to commercialise the airline as soon as possible," he said.
Bahrain trade unions have said Gulf Air plans to axe around 270 jobs in the restructuring.
Asked if the restructuring will involve job losses, Majali said he will “try my best" to protect jobs.
"That is the policy moving ahead," he said.
The new chief executive earlier outlined his strategy to employees, telling them that "we cannot rely on government subsidy indefinitely so we also need to build a self-sufficient and commercially successful airline".
Established in 1950 as a pan-Gulf venture, Gulf Air was the region's first airline. But rather than dominating the region's aviation industry, the airline was overtaken as Gulf states such as the UAE and Qatar exited the venture to create their own national carriers.
Majali said he does not intend to try to emulate the growth of Emirates and Qatar Airways.He said the airline will focus on within two to three hours of flying time from Bahrain, widening its scope to destinations such as former Soviet republics in the future.
"We will grow selectively and rationally. We do not have resources as others around us. We are not going to mirror their growth," he said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been corrected to clarify that Gulf Air has not given a timeframe as to when it plans to hold talks with Boeing and Airbus over the review of its aircraft orders.

DTN News: BAE Systems Receives $89 Million Contract For Vehicle Emergency Escape Windows

DTN News: BAE Systems Receives $89 Million Contract For Vehicle Emergency Escape Windows *Source: DTN News / BAE Systems (NSI News Source Info) MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota - August 25, 2009: BAE Systems will supply Vehicle Emergency Escape (VEE) windows for new production M1151 Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) under a contract with AM General. The patent-pending VEE Window technology enables soldiers to quickly exit the vehicle in the event of an emergency, such as a rollover or accident, by releasing and pushing out the front window. The simplicity of the design requires no additional training for soldiers. The total potential value of this indefinite deliver/indefinite quantity contract is up to $89 million. "For the first time the VEE Window will be incorporated into AM General’s M1151 HMMWV production line," said Mark Signorelli, vice president and general manager of New Vehicles & Amphibious Systems. "This life-saving technology is standard on the HMMWV platform is another step in our commitment to Warfighter safety in an unpredictable environment." The VEE Window is part of the Army’s Fragmentation Kit Seven (FRAG 7), which is a set of survivability upgrades to already fielded M1151 HMMWVs. This contract raises the total orders for VEE Window kits to more than 29,000, with more than 10,000 kits already shipped for the up-armored M1114 and M1151 HMMWVs. The VEE Window technology is adaptable to many tactical up-armored combat vehicles, including Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles or Marine Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacements. Work on the VEE Window order will be performed at BAE Systems and industrial partner facilities in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Butler, Pennsylvania. About BAE Systems BAE Systems is the premier global defense and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. With approximately 105,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded $34.4 billion in 2008.

DTN News: U.S. 5th Fleet Executes Maritime Strategy

DTN News: U.S. 5th Fleet Executes Maritime Strategy
*Source: DTN News / US Navy Today ~ By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Schaeffer, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs
(NSI News Source Info) MANAMA, Bahrain - August 25, 2009: In the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility, more than24,000 Sailors are operating on the ground and at sea and carrying out a full spectrum of missions that support the U.S. maritime strategy.
An F/A-18F Super Hornet, assigned to the "Fighting Redcocks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22, launches off of the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan is currently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Amanda L. Ray/Released)
"A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower," is a unified maritime strategy among the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard that recognizes the economic links of the global system and how any disruption due to regional crises - manmade or natural - can adversely impact the U.S. economy and quality of life.
The strategy charts a course for the sea services to work collectively with each other and international partners to prevent crises from occurring and reacting quickly should one occur to enhance global security.
U.S. 5th Fleet is committed to executing all six core competencies of the maritime strategy which include power projection, forward presence, sea control, maritime security, deterrence and humanitarian assistance/disaster response.
"The maritime strategy raises the importance of working with international partners as the basis for global maritime security," said Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5thFleet/Combined Maritime Forces. "U.S. 5th Fleet conducts operations that are focused on reassuring regional partners of the United States' commitment to security, which promotes stability and global prosperity."
Approximately 10,000 Sailors are serving at sea aboard more than 30 U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and fleet auxiliary ships and conducting combat and maritime security operations to forward U.S. interests, deter and counter disruptive countries, defeat violent extremism and strengthen partner nations' maritime capabilities in order to promote a secure maritime environment. U.S. 5th Fleet is supporting both Operations Enduring and Iraq Freedom and helping to provide an opportunity for the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan to establish secure foundations for democracy.
More than 5,300 Sailors are serving in Iraq and 3,100 Sailors in Afghanistan in riverine squadrons, explosive ordnance disposal platoons, Seabee naval construction forces, provincial reconstruction teams, Navy expeditionary logistics support groups and as individual augmentees.
Currently operating in the Gulf of Oman, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 are providing 30 percent of close air support for Coalition troops on the ground in Afghanistan."Ronald Reagan and its carrier air wing have the highest operational tempo in the Navy," said Gortney aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier inthe Gulf of Oman. "You're setting the standard; you're the critical part of fighting and winning today's wars; you're saving American lives every day,and that's the most important thing you can do."
In the North Arabian Gulf, Sailors are conducting operations as part of Commander Task Force Iraqi Maritime (CTF-IM) to provide maritime security,infrastructure protection and training to the Iraqi Navy. U.S. forces operate jointly with Iraqi Navy sailors and marines, training them in point-defense force protection and visit, board, search and seizureoperations.
The U.S. Navy has maintained a presence in the North Arabian Gulf since 2003, assisting the Iraqi Navy by helping provide security to their oil platforms, which account for approximately 70 to 85 percent of Iraq's revenue.
The U.S. Navy also leads the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a coalition of 22 nations that conducts MSO throughout the region and are assigned toCMF's three principle task forces - Combined Task Forces (CTF) 150, 151 and 52.CMF is committed to defeating terrorism, preventing piracy, reducing illegal trafficking of people and drugs and promoting the maritime nvironment as a safe place for mariners with legitimate business.
In response to the increase in piracy off the coast of Somalia, the U.S. Navy is leading a multinational effort to patrol the waters in the Gulf ofAden and off Somalia's eastern coast. Established in January 2009, the counterpiracy task force CTF 151 actively deters, disrupts and suppresses piracy in order to protect global maritime security and secure freedom of navigation for the benefit of allnations. It operates in the Gulf of Aden and the eastern coast of Somalia, covering an area of approximately 1.1 million square miles.Piracy impacts less than one percent of shipping with more than 33,000 vessels transit the Gulf of Aden annually. In 2009, there have been 136 attempted attacks - of which, 28 were successful and 103 were unsuccessful.
CTF 151 and other cooperating naval forces have encountered more than 527 pirates; 282 were disarmed and released, 235 were turned over for prosecution.
"While the ultimate solution to the problem of piracy is ashore in Somalia, the Combined Maritime Forces made the decision to focus maritime efforts onsecurity and stability at sea in order to create a lawful maritime order and deter acts of piracy on the high seas while giving the internationalcommunity time to address the long-term solution of piracy," said Gortney.
As part of Joint Task Force Crisis Response (JTF-CR), the U.S. Navy is also trained and prepared to respond to any disaster or humanitarian contingency in the region. In December 2008, Sailors participated in Exercise Internal Look 2009, a crisis response exercise that measured and enhanced the capabilities of U.S. forces to respond to a natural disaster in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility.
In December 2004, U.S. and coalition maritime forces were called on to support tsunami relief efforts both within the region and outside after a catastrophic tsunami struck parts of Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, India, Seychelles and Somalia Dec. 26, 2004. Coalition maritime assets were flexible enough to continue the maritime operation mission while simultaneously equipped to help deliver relief supplies, provide medical support and assist with clean-up efforts.
"U.S. Naval forces are ready and capable across the full range of maritime operations... right now and right here," said Gortney. "But our perspective is for the long term. We have been here almost 60 years, and we will continue to work with regional nations to enhance cooperation, ensure maritime security and promote stability for years to come." For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/cusnc//.

DTN News: RAF Mildenhall Serves As Base For Turkish C-130 Engine Replacement

DTN News: RAF Mildenhall Serves As Base For Turkish C-130 Engine Replacement *Source: DTN News / U.S. Air Force in Europe By Staff Sgt. Austin M. May (NSI News Source Info) RAF MILDENHALL, England - August 25, 2009: A team of 13 Turkish air force mechanics arrived here Aug. 17 to repair one of their C-130s after a maintenance inspection revealed problems with one of the aircraft's engines.Turkish air force maintainers work with U.S. Air Force Airmen to remove a damaged engine from a Turkish C-130 Aug. 17. Airmen from the 100th Maintenance Squadron lent their facilities and equipment to the maintainers, who were flown in from Turkey after a post-flight inspection revealed problems with the engine, temporarily grounding it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May) The 100th Maintenance Squadron was able to lend support of its facilities and equipment to the team while they swapped out the airplane's engine. The engine problem was discovered during a post-flight inspection Aug. 16, and the repair team was flown in the following morning. According to Turkish air force 1st Lt. Mustafa Erbay, the mission the plane was flying was in support of U.S. forces. Once the logistics of billeting and transportation were taken care of, the aircraft and the maintainers were set up in one of the largest hangars on base, usually reserved for KC-135 maintenance, said 1st Lt. Zach Harris, Maintenance Flight officer in charge. The lieutenant said the constantly changing English weather could have worked against maintainers attempting to make repairs out in the open air. In addition to the hangar space where the Turkish maintainers could work without worrying about exposure to the elements, they were allowed use of a crane to lift the crippled aircraft's engine. Because they didn't have a qualified crane operator, members of the 100th Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Repair and Reclamation team, also known as the Crash Recovery Team, stepped in to lend a hand. Lieutenant Harris said the experience, while mainly observation on the part of the American maintainers, was beneficial for everyone involved, especially the crash recovery team members. "They were able to get some experience using the crane, which is always useful," he said. The maintenance required to get the plane working again were routine, and Lieutenant Harris said the Turkish maintainers demonstrated rapid proficiency acquired from years of experience. During the first day of repairs, the Turkish maintainers removed the prop and engine from the plane and prepared to install a new one, which was flown in with them on a replacement aircraft. That plane was flown out of England by the original aircrew to complete their mission. Day two saw the replacement engine hung on the C-130 wing and the prop reinstalled, and the third day ended with the engine successfully tested and the airplane restored to flying condition. Master Sgt. Mike Denoncour, 100 MXS lead production superintendent, said it felt good to be able to step up and assist an allied country when they needed it. "That's what NATO's all about," he said.