Monday, October 19, 2009

DTN News: Indonesia Plans To Launch Surveillance Drone

DTN News: Indonesia Plans To Launch Surveillance Drone *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) JAKARTA, Indonesia - October 20, 2009: Indonesia plans to launch a drone plane called "Puna" next year to support national defence and monitor extremist activity, an official said Sunday. "Puna, an unmanned small aircraft, can safely observe hard-to-reach areas. It has been tested and we'll launch it next year," said Surjatin Wiriadidjaja, deputy chairman of the government's Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology. "We equipped Puna with a camera and the military and the police can use it for surveillance," he told AFP. Wiriadidjaja said Puna could be used "to observe terrorist activities" and for other tasks such as monitoring forest fires. Indonesian authorities are on guard against new Islamist attacks after the killing and arrests of extremists led by slain Malaysian Noordin Mohammed Top. Noordin, blamed for a string of suicide blasts across Indonesia since 2003 including July hotel attacks in Jakarta, was gunned down in a police raid in September in Central Java. Several of his alleged accomplices have been killed or arrested in the probe into the July hotel blasts, which killed nine people.

DTN News: RAF Typhoons On First Operational Deployment

DTN News: RAF Typhoons On First Operational Deployment
*Source: DTN News / Defense Media
(NSI News Source Info) MOUNT PLEASANT COMPLEX, Falkland Islands - October 20, 2009: The first Typhoons to be deployed overseas have touched down in the Falkland Islands. The aircraft, from RAF Coningsby, flew into the South Atlantic Islands to take over Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duties from the Tornado F3s that will return to Britain later this year. The Typhoon has taken on the QRA duties for the British Forces South Atlantic Islands and police the skies above the Falkland Islands. The first Typhoons to be deployed overseas have touched down in the Falkland Islands. The aircraft, from RAF Coningsby, flew into the South Atlantic Islands to take over Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duties from the Tornado F3s that will return to Britain later this year. Squadron Leader Rich Wells and Flight Lieutenant James Bolton made RAF history by flying the state-of-the-art high tech jets for 18 hours from the UK to the Mount Pleasant Complex (MPC), stopping off at Ascension Island located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. During the trip the pair were accompanied by air-to-air refuelling tankers (VC10s and a TriStar), and as they flew into the MPC were joined by two F3s from 1435 Flight and a Hercules. Sqn Ldr Wells, the first to land, said: "I think both of us are incredibly proud especially as it was a Typhoon first." Two more Typhoons will be flown in to join the first two, to take over from the four Tornados of 111 Squadron based at RAF Leuchars. The Tornado F3 fleet is to be taken out of service in 2011. A Typhoon advance party was flown into the Falklands prior to the aircraft's arrival and engineers drawn from the Typhoon squadrons at RAF Coningsby are also now at the MPC ready to look after the aircraft. The Typhoon has taken on the QRA duties for the British Forces South Atlantic Islands and police the skies above the Falkland Islands. Officer Commanding 905 Expeditionary Air Wing, Wing Commander Dick Knight, said: "The challenges have been making sure we have got it right for when Typhoon arrived. We will find out whether we have done that in the next few months. There has been a lot of planning in getting Typhoon down here, and the crews from Coningsby, and working through that process. "It is basically four aircraft in and four out. We hope to get through the transitional process as quickly as possible. "The RAF prides itself on getting to a location, setting up rapidly and flying in an expeditionary nature."

DTN News: Iran TODAY October 19, 2009 ~ Iran Says U.S., Britain Behind Attack

DTN News: Iran TODAY October 19, 2009 ~ Iran Says U.S., Britain Behind Attack *Source: DTN News / The New York Times By Michael Slackman (NSI News Source Info) RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - October 19, 2009: Iranian officials claimed Monday that they had evidence of American and British involvement in the country’s worst suicide bombing attacks in years, raising tensions as Iran meets with Western nations for another round of delicate talks on its nuclear program. Iranian medical personnel bring an injured person to a medical facility in the Pishin district in Iran in this image taken from TV Sunday Oct. 18, 2009. A suicide bomber killed five senior commanders of the powerful Revolutionary Guard and at least 26 others Sunday near the Pakistani border in the heartland of a potentially escalating Sunni insurgency. The attack which also left dozens wounded was the most high-profile strike against security forces in an outlaw region of armed tribal groups, drug smugglers and Sunni rebels known as Jundallah, or Soldiers of God. ** TV OUT IRAN OUT. Iran’s Arabic-language network showed a man arriving at a hospital in the southeastern city of Pishin, which is near the attack. At least five commanders of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps were killed and dozens of other people were left dead and wounded on Sunday in two bombings in the restive southeast along Iran’s frontier with Pakistan, according to Iranian state news agencies. The coordinated strike, one of the largest against the Guards in the region, appeared to mark an escalation in hostilities between Iran’s leadership and the Baluchi ethnic minority. Iranian officials accused foreign enemies of supporting the insurgents, singling out the intelligence agencies of United States, Britain and Pakistan. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Guards’ commander in chief, told the semiofficial ISNA agency on Monday: “Behind this scene are the American and British intelligence apparatus, and there will have to be retaliatory measures to punish them,” adding that Iran had documents proving their and Pakistani involvement. The Baluchi insurgent group Jundallah — or Soldiers of God — took responsibility for the bombings, which included a suicide attack on a community meeting led by Revolutionary Guards and a roadside attack on a car full of Guards, both in the area of the city of Pishin. Jundallah, whose members are Sunni Muslims, has claimed responsibility for other attacks in the region in recent years, and is believed to have killed hundreds of Iranian soldiers and civilians. The southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan has been the scene of attacks in the past, and in April the government put the Guards Corps in control of security there to try to stop the escalating violence. The official Fars news agency reported Monday that the attacks killed 42 people and wounded 28 others. It was unclear how many civilians were killed, but several tribal leaders were among the dead, other official media reports said. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised “that those who committed such criminal and inhuman acts will receive their response soon,” the state-run Press TV reported. Iranian officials said they had evidence the attack was launched from within Pakistan, where Jundallah is based, and the Foreign Ministry late Sunday summoned Pakistan’s chargé d’affaires, Press TV said. A Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abdul Basit, told the Daily Times newspaper: “Pakistan is not involved in terrorist activities,” adding, “We are striving to eradicate this menace.” Ali Larijani, the speaker of Parliament, said the United States bore some responsibility for the attacks. “If they want relations with Iran, they must be frank,” he said, according to the semiofficial ISNA news service, adding, “We consider the recent terrorist measure the outcome of the U.S. measures.” In the past, Iranian officials have accused the United States of financing and arming Jundallah. The United States condemned the bombings and denied any connection with them. “We condemn this act of terrorism and mourn the loss of innocent lives,” said Ian C. Kelly, a State Department spokesman. “Reports of alleged U.S. involvement are completely false.” The British government rejects “in the strongest terms” allegations that it aided rebels, a foreign office spokesperson told Reuters Monday. The bombers struck early Sunday as the Guards prepared to bring regional Shiite and Sunni leaders together for a conference in Pishin to try to improve relations among the different communities, according to the Iranian news reports. In one attack, a suicide bomber wearing a military uniform and an explosive belt entered a mosque where Guard commanders were organizing a reconciliation meeting, according to the semiofficial ILNA news service. In the second attack, a car carrying a group of Guards members was bombed, state news agencies said. According to the Fars News Agency, which is affiliated with the Guards, those killed included the lieutenant commander of ground forces, Brig. Gen. Nourali Shoushtari, as well as the commanders of Sistan-Baluchistan province, the Iranshahr Corps, the Sarbaz Corps and the Amiralmoemenin Brigade. The Baluchis, who are mostly Sunni, are one of many ethnic and religious minorities who have complained of discrimination in Iran, a predominantly Shiite Muslim and ethnically Persian nation. Jundallah, which says it is fighting for greater autonomy for Baluchis in Iran and Pakistan, bombed a Shiite mosque in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchistan, in May, killing 25 people. Jundallah rebels abducted and killed 16 Iranian soldiers late last year, and bombed a bus carrying Guards members in 2007, killing 11. Iranian authorities hanged 13 members of the group in May, and have executed others previously. Mustafa El-Labbad, director of the East Center for Regional and Strategic Studies in Cairo, said ethnic and sectarian divisions made the region particularly volatile. “There is the Baluchi versus Persian, and there is Sunni versus Shiite,” he said. “It also lies on the border with Pakistan, which is not totally secured — weapons can come through. So there is a very explosive blend there.” The Guards have emerged as the most powerful political, social and economic bloc in the nation, eclipsing even the clergy and the conservatives. In the aftermath of Iran’s contested presidential election, the Guards took control of national security, overseeing a violent crackdown on protests as well as mass arrests of protesters and critics. In this context, Mr. Labbad said, an attack on the Guards — no matter the motivation — has symbolic resonance. “It is designed to affect the image of Iran,” he said. Iranian officials are due to meet Monday in Vienna with officials of several countries to discuss an accord to ship uranium to Russia for enrichment, part of an effort by the West to try to halt Iran’s nuclear program. Reporting was contributed by Mona El-Naggar from Riyadh, Sharon Otterman from New York and Nazila Fathi from Toronto.

DTN News: China ~ Steal The Best Hardware, Not The Best Ideas

DTN News: China ~ Steal The Best Hardware, Not The Best Ideas
*Source: Strategy Page
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - October 19, 2009: Only five years ago, it was believed that Chinese UAV designs were a decade or more behind the West. But recent (unofficial) photos have shown China testing local designs that look like clones of the Israeli Heron and the U.S. Predator. There are also persistent rumors that China is also building a clone of the American Global Hawk. Currently, China considers all UAVs to be "strategic assets", and their existence, and development, are kept top secret. The Chinese military has apparently been copying American UAV designs for a while now. After they got bored simply rebuilding Uncle Sam's models, they decided to design a few of their own. And they blow ours out of the water. Above is the Dark Sword, the Chinese military's newest drone. Not only does it look a lot cooler than any American model, it's apparently much more maneuverable and highly capable in air-to-air combat. This is on top of the Chinese having carbon copies of the Predator and Global Hawk UAVs ready to go in their arsenal. But there are some less advanced UAVs in use by army combat units. The most common of these is the ASN-105, a 374 pound aircraft with a payload if 88 pounds. Each UAV unit has six of these, and half a dozen trucks to carry the aircraft, radio control equipment and even a film processing lab. The film lab is apparently gone, in most ASN-105, with digital cameras replacing them. The Chinese army is still a low budget operation, and old equipment is kept in service a lot longer than in the West. Even when older gear, like UAVs, are retired from military service, they are usually handed over to civilian or paramilitary organizations. Older UAVs are being used for border patrol and land survey (checking on crops and infrastructure.) For the moment, the Chinese treat UAVs like pilotless reconnaissance aircraft. But senior officers are aware of Israeli and American troops using them in real time, with infantry and tank crews getting overhead real time video from UAVs above. It will be a while before the Chinese can afford that. The army is in big trouble, as the government has ordered a lot more of the military budget to be shifted from the army to the air force and navy. Despite the success of the U.S., and other Western armies, with UAVs in the combat zone, this technology is not a high priority item to Chinese army leadership. While the Chinese are spending heavily on strategic UAVs, there does not appear to be much new available for smaller units (divisions, brigades, battalions and so on). While the U.S. provides UAV capability to infantry companies and platoons, China seems to be dedicating most of their UAV effort on longer range, and endurance, aircraft. They got started in this direction, when they worked closely with Israeli companies in the 1990s. The U.S. pressured Israel to stop that, but the Chinese have been caught buying, or stealing, Israeli UAV technology regularly in the last decade.
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