Sunday, November 01, 2009

DTN News: NATO 'Making UK Attack More Likely'

DTN News: NATO 'Making UK Attack More Likely' *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) BRUSSELS, Belgium - November 2, 2009: Nato's strategy in Afghanistan is increasing the likelihood of terrorist attacks in Britain, a Tory MP has claimed. Adam Holloway, a former Grenadier Guard, called for a new focus on reconciliation with Afghan insurgents rather than more intense fighting.Tory MP warned Nato's strategy in Afghanistan is making terror attacks in UK more likely ~ An RAF Chinook helicopter lands during a re-supply of ground forces during operation "Panther�s Claw", in Helmand province in Afghanistan in this July 13, 2009 handout photograph received in London on July 16, 2009. President Hamid Karzai has promised to provide extra Afghan security forces to reinforce British soldiers battling Taliban insurgents, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Wednesday. The troop surge proposed by top US commander General Stanley McChrystal would only fuel the difficulties facing Nato troops, he warned. Mr Holloway, a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee, said Nato was "on the brink of failure" as Afghan support for its work nose-dived amid deteriorating conditions. His comments came in a wide-ranging paper on Afghanistan, published by the Centre for Policy Studies, which also addressed resources provision for British troops. It included the disclosure that Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe sent a memo less than a month before his death complaining about the lack of helicopters. In the paper, Mr Holloway insisted that Al Qaeda could be prevented from regaining its foothold in the country without the presence of tens of thousands of foreign troops. "Put starkly, our current situation is working against the West's security interest and is making attacks on the streets of Britain more, not less, likely," he wrote. He said that the war in Afghanistan was playing into the hands of Al Qaeda propaganda. "Al Qaeda needs Nato in Afghanistan, more now when western troops are out of Iraq," he wrote in the Centre for Policy Studies paper. "Before 2006 who had heard of Musa Qala, Sangin or Kajaki? Today they are global rallying cries across the websites of global jihad. Places like Helmand are, for Al Qaeda, a gigantic film studio. "For them, Afghanistan is the best place in the world to generate video footage of 'Mujahadeen' attacks on 'infidel forces', which in turn supports both fundraising and recruiting. Al Qaeda needs pictures of 'heroic martyrdom operations' and mutilated children."

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY November 2, 2009 ~ Pakistan's Capital Now Resembles Besieged City

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY November 2, 2009 ~ Pakistan's Capital Now Resembles Besieged City *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - November 2, 2009: An onslaught of militant violence has transformed Pakistan's capital from a sleepy oasis to something of a city under siege, with its tree-lined streets barricaded, schools shuttered and jittery residents wondering when the next attack will come.Abshin Pegam, 8, center left, helps her father, a street vendor, in a market in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009. An onslaught of insurgent violence has transformed Pakistan's capital from a sleepy oasis of calm to something of a city under siege, with its tree-lined streets barricaded, schools shuttered and jittery residents wondering when the next attack will come. The fear shows how Taliban and al-Qaida-led insurgents based along the Afghan border have brought the war into Pakistan's political and diplomatic heart, something they hope will force the government to halt a new army offensive into their stronghold. The unease has been heightened by the range of targets attacked despite a nationwide security clampdown. Suicide bombers hit the International Islamic University and a U.N. office in Islamabad; militants took officers hostage for 22 hours at army headquarters in the neighboring city of Rawalpindi; commando-style raids paralyzed the eastern city of Lahore; and bombs have ripped through markets in the northwest. More than 300 people have been killed, most of them Pakistani civilians. And no one expects the attacks to end soon. "The feeling is that things have degenerated terribly," said Javeed Akhtar, a corporate lawyer. "The university bombing (on Oct. 20) sent a chill through everyone. There is now a realization that targets are unrestricted. It is no holds barred." Islamabad once was sheltered from the militant, separatist and gang violence that was a feature of life in other cities in Pakistan. Visitors were typically amazed at how quiet, well-ordered and wealthy it was compared with other South Asian cities. That began changing in mid-2007, when the army besieged and then stormed the city's Red Mosque after militants inside refused to surrender. Gunshots and explosions rang out for days across the most exclusive suburbs, and around 100 people were killed.Men, who were fleeing a military offensive in South Waziristan, walk in a queue at a distribution point for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Dera Ismail Khan, located in Pakistan's restive North West Frontier Province November 1, 2009. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by an army offensive against Taliban militants in South Waziristan. The siege is now widely considered to be the starting point of the insurgency. Vowing vengeance, militants based in the lawless, tribally controlled region along the Afghan border began a vicious campaign against targets associated with the government, security forces and Western interests. While Islamabad was occasionally hit, its 900,000 people and several thousand foreign residents still considered themselves largely untouched by the war. But just over a year ago, a truck bombing devastated the J.W. Marriott Hotel and showed the city was well and truly in the militant cross hairs. "Every morning as we leave our houses we pray, and we ask our family members to pray that we get back safe and sound," said Mohammad Rahim, who runs an electronics business in the city center. "That is what every Pakistani does." With many people choosing to stay at home, owners of restaurants and shops popular with foreigners and wealthy Pakistanis say their earnings have dropped by 50 percent in the two weeks since the start of the latest government offensive. Many schools remain closed following the university attack, while principals try to secure them against possible future attacks. Workers are busy building thick concrete barriers to stop suicide car bombers. Many parents have chosen to keep children at home even when their schools reopened. "As soon as there is an explosion, things come to a standstill for a day or two, but life must go on," said Najmi Rizvi, the head of a preschool where attendance was down 50 percent. "We have to live in this situation," she said, as toddlers in Halloween costumes ran around the yard. The city's foreigners are especially at risk, given popular anger at the U.S.-led war in neighboring Afghanistan and the government's close ties with Washington. Fears have risen further amid hostile media reporting of the major expansion of the U.S. embassy, and reports — denied by American officials — that members of the tarnished security company once called Blackwater are present in the city. Islamabad's main diplomatic enclave, which is fenced off from the rest of the city, has become a neighborhood of fortresses, with compounds sealed off behind concentric rings of barbed wire, blast walls and heavy metal gates. Armed men — whether from government security forces or the small armies of private guards at each compound — are everywhere. In the face of the attacks, the resolve of the country's politicians, army generals and people to take the fight to the militants in their border sanctuary of South Waziristan appears to be holding. But unqualified support for the offensive is complicated by the unpopularity of the government and a belief that the violence would stop if America pulled out of Afghanistan. In more than a dozen interviews Thursday and Friday, conspiracy theories alleging the involvement of neighboring India or the United States in the attacks were frequently aired. "We want to see a normal life, so for God's sake, listen to what the (militants) are saying. They are against American forces in Afghanistan," said Imran Ali, a 32-year-old carpet dealer. "What America is doing is illegal, and that is the root cause of all evils."

DTN News: International Forces Train Afghans In Critical Care

DTN News: International Forces Train Afghans In Critical Care *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, - November 2, 2009: U.S. and other international troops in Afghanistan recently provided training in critical patient care and blood processing to Afghan doctors that they hope will spread throughout the country. An Afghan doctor with the National Military Hospital in Kabul preps an Afghan soldier to donate blood at the Kandahar Regional Military Hospital in Afghanistan, Oct. 21, 2009. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tyrona Pearsall Afghan and coalition mentors from the National Military Hospital in Kabul provided the first-of-its-kind training here Oct. 19-22. The two courses were designed to fill shortfalls in health care provider training, as well as strengthen the Afghans’ ability to provide quality care within the critical moments after an incident occurs. “It’s very important to have this kind of training because of the sustainment aspect,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Lorn Heyne, chief of the medical embedded training team at Kandahar Regional Military Hospital. “As these young providers grow in their ability to provide care to the wounded soldiers here, they will eventually move on. They will have the opportunity to train other providers and they will go on and they will treat civilians. Having this basic critical care knowledge is invaluable to the sustainment of the medical care system in all of Afghanistan.” The importance of the training also was underscored by the Kandahar hospital’s commander. "This training is very important for us,” said Col. Abdul Baseer. “About two years ago when we started our hospital here, our doctors were not as strong in their practice as they could have been. Since then, mentors and doctors came from the capital, from other provinces, to help train our hospital staff, and the staff’s [capability] kept growing better … it’s very good." In addition to the critical combat care, hospital staff were trained on blood component processes, as well. "Basically, what we did was work on some blood component production, which is essentially the collection of whole blood, the centrifugation and splitting of the plasma and red cell portions into separate components," said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Leslie Riggs, medical embedded team mentor for the National Military Hospital. "Essentially what that does is it allows for better transfusion therapy for the patient.” Another benefit of the training was to implement an Afghanistan-wide standardization of how to treat and store blood and associated components. "We want to organize all regional hospital blood banks to work the same way," said Dr. Mohammad Sakhi, blood bank supervisor and quality control manager for the National Medical Hospital. Although the success of most training is not measurable until a crisis occurs, the training did have some tangible results. "I think, so far, the training is a success. The proof of that is in the refrigerator and in the freezer right now," Riggs said. "The blood units and the plasma are ready when needed. We don't like to have to use those products, but they're there if needed." Riggs also commented on one aspect of the training he finds most important. "The important thing I think that we've seen from this visit is Afghans teaching Afghans, which has been one of the most important things," Riggs said. "I've come down to help arrange the visit, provided some background knowledge, but my mentee was able to sit this morning and teach one-on-one with his Afghan counterparts here in Kandahar how to do the job … essentially they did it themselves."

DTN News: Force Protection To Announce Third Quarter Fiscal 2009 Results

DTN News: Force Protection To Announce Third Quarter Fiscal 2009 Results *Source: DTN News / Force Protection (NSI News Source Info) LADSON, South Carolina - November 2, 2009: Force Protection, Inc. (NASDAQ: FRPT) today announced that it will release financial results for its third quarter ended September 30, 2009 on Monday, November 9, 2009 after the market close. A conference call to discuss those results will be held at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time that same day and will include comments from Michael Moody, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Charles Mathis, Chief Financial Officer and Randy Hutcherson, Executive Vice President, Programs, Global Sales and Business Development.

The Buffalo MPCV is the most advanced mine resistant vehicle in the world. It can be configured for multiple missions and is specifically designed to be repaired in the field. Cutting-edge technology combined with the best American automotive components give this vehicle the maximum visibility, load carrying capacity, interior space and parts availability of any vehicle in its class. While the question-and-answer session of the call will be limited to institutional analysts and investors, retail brokers and individual investors are invited to listen to a live webcast. The webcast can be accessed via the home page of the Company’s website at Please visit the website at least 15 minutes prior to the call to register for the webcast and download any necessary software. The replay of the call will be available on the Company’s website for approximately one year. About Force Protection, Inc. Force Protection, Inc. is a leading American designer, developer and manufacturer of survivability solutions, predominantly blast- and ballistic-protected wheeled vehicles currently deployed by the U.S. military and its allies to support armed forces and security personnel in conflict zones. The Company’s specialty vehicles, the Cougar, the Buffalo,the Cheetah and the Ocelot, are designed specifically for reconnaissance and urban operations and to protect their occupants from landmines, hostile fire, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs, commonly referred to as roadside bombs). The Company also is the developer and manufacturer of ForceArmor™, an armor package providing superior protection against explosively formed projectiles (EFPs), now available for a wide range of tactical-wheeled vehicles. The Company is one of the original developers and primary providers of vehicles for the U.S. military’s Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicle program. For more information on Force Protection and its vehicles, visit Force Protection, Inc. Safe Harbor Language This press release contains forward looking statements that are not historical facts, including statements about its beliefs and expectations. These statements are based on beliefs and assumptions of Force Protection’s management, and on information currently available to management. These forward looking statements include, among other things: the ability of Force Protection to implement the Cost Reduction Program and realize the anticipated cost savings, increasing growth and demand for the Company’s Total Life Cycle services, increasing capability and opportunities for the Kuwait facility growth and demand for Force Protection’s vehicles, including the Buffalo vehicle and related deliveries of the Buffalo vehicle; the rate at which the Company will be able to produce these vehicles; its expected work completion dates for the vehicles and the Company’s ability to meet current and future contract requirements; and the Company’s expected financial and operating results, including its revenues and cash flow, for future periods. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update any of them publicly in light of new information or future events. A number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Examples of these factors include, but are not limited to, the ability to effectively manage the risks in the Company’s business; the ability to develop new technologies and products and the acceptance of these technologies and products; the ability to obtain and complete new orders for its vehicles and products; the Company’s ability to identify and remedy its internal control weaknesses and deficiencies; and other risk factors and cautionary statements listed in the Company’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the risks set forth in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008, as updated in the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2009.

DTN News: BAE Systems Acquires VT Group’s Stake In BVT - BAE Systems

DTN News: BAE Systems Acquires VT Group’s Stake In BVT - BAE Systems *Source: DTN News / BAE Systems (NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK - November 2, 2009: BAE Systems has announced on October 30., that it has acquired VT Group's 45% shareholding in BVT Surface Fleet Limited (BVT). BVT is now wholly owned by BAE Systems and will be renamed BAE Systems Surface Ships Limited. Nigel Whitehead, BAE Systems' Group Managing Director, Programmes & Support, said: 'Bringing BVT into full ownership of BAE Systems further strengthens our global maritime business and is consistent with our strategy to establish a sustainable and profitable through life business in air, land and sea. 'Surface Ships has a solid order book, a clear strategy to transform the UK maritime sector and a commitment to deliver existing and future programmes. 'Our 15 year Terms of Business Agreement with the UK Ministry of Defence will sustain key industry capabilities in the UK and provides a strong platform on which to build future domestic and international business.' About BAE Systems BAE Systems is the premier global defence, security 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 £18.5 billion (US $34.4 billion) in 2008. For further information please contact: John Neilson, BAE Systems Tel: +44 (0)1252 384795 Mob: +44 (0)780 2 337704
Lindsay Walls, BAE Systems Tel: + 44 (0) 1252 383074 Mob: 44 (0) 7793 427582 Issued by: BAE Systems, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 6YU, UK Tel: +44 (0) 1252 384710 Fax: +44 (0) 1252 383947 24hr media hotline: + 44 (0) 7801 717739

DTN News: General Dynamics Awarded $13 Million By U.S. Army To Produce MK19 Grenade Machine Guns

DTN News: General Dynamics Awarded $13 Million By U.S. Army To Produce MK19 Grenade Machine Guns *Source: DTN News / General Dynamics (NSI News Source Info) CHARLOTTE, N.C. - November 2, 2009: General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products has been awarded a $13 million order by U.S. Army TACOM-ARDEC for the production of MK19 grenade machine guns. Deliveries are expected to begin in June 2010 and will be completed by late 2011. The order was made under a contract initially awarded in September 2008, and brings the total contract value to date to approximately $81 million. General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products is a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD).The MK19 Mod3 40mm Grenade Machine Gun was first developed by the Navy in the early 1960's. TACOM-ARDEC has since suggested modifications to this system which has enabled the Army to deploy the MK19 in the harsh environments encountered during world-wide operations and has therefore enhanced its performance. The MK19 firing rate is over 350 grenades per minute and it is effective to ranges of over 2200 meters. The system was deployed in Southwest Asia during Operation Desert Storm and devastated enemy infantry. According to General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products gun systems program manager, Jeffrey Gramse, “The MK19 has been in service for over 20 years, providing lethal fire against a variety of targets. The weapon’s accuracy and versatility provides the U.S. Armed Forces options for use in both offensive and defensive operations.” Production work will be performed at General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products’ Saco, Maine, facility using its existing workforce. Program management will be performed in Saco with support from the company’s Burlington, Vt.-based Technology Center. The General Dynamics facility in Saco is the company's production site for single- and multi-barrel aircraft and crew-served weapon systems. The site provides complete production capabilities, from design and development to manufacturing, testing and integration. General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 92,300 people worldwide. The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies. More information about General Dynamics is available online at

DTN News: Former U.S. President George Bush Backs India's Nuclear Role In Last Week Visit To New Delhi

DTN News: Former U.S. President George Bush Backs India's Nuclear Role In Last Week Visit To New Delhi *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - November 2, 2009: Former U.S. President George Bush said Oct. 31 that the Indo-U.S. nuclear civil cooperation agreement is "India's passport to the world." Former U.S. President George W. Bush delivers a speech Oct. 31 during a leadership summit in New Delhi. Speaking in New Delhi as chief guest at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Bush said, "[By signing the deal] the U.S. recognized India's nuclear weapons program. "It is India's passport to the world, a sign that India has taken its rightful place as a great nation on the global stage." Bush's statement comes as the Obama administration wants India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a senior official of the Indian Foreign Ministry said. The Indo-U.S. civil nuclear cooperation deal was finally concluded between Bush and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh shortly before Bush's term ended. The countries agreed to the framework of the accord in 2005, and it went through a politically arduous route in India before it was passed in 2008. In the process, India's Communist Party pulled support to Singh's government, which barely survived a vote of confidence. To resounding applause, Bush also said he wants a seat for India at the United Nations Security Council. On Afghanistan, Bush warned that Afghanistan should not be allowed to go back in the hands of Taliban and the al-Qaida, otherwise "the world would face serious threats," he said. "If the Taliban, al-Qaida and their extremist allies were allowed to take over Afghanistan again, they would have a safe haven and the Afghan people, particularly the Afghan women, would face a return to a brutal tyranny," Bush said.

DTN News: Indian Navy Mulls Induction Of 5 Midget Submarines

DTN News: Indian Navy Mulls Induction Of 5 Midget Submarines *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - November 2, 2009: The Indian Navy is mulling the procurement and induction of five midget submarines into its force in a bid to bolster its underwater capabilities, Defense Ministry sources said on Sunday. "The plans to procure the midget submarines, which weigh less than 150 tons, came in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks last November, in which the militants used sea route to enter India. The vessels will be inducted into the Marine Commandos force to carry out surveillance as well as attack operations," the sources said. The Indian Navy currently maintains a fleet of diesel-electric submarines. India signed a deal for six Scorpene submarines which will join the Indian Navy from 2012 onwards. The country's indigenously designed and built nuclear-powered submarines of the Arihant class are expected to be commissioned starting in 2011. India is purchasing from Russia the Kiev class aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov which will be delivered to India by 2012. The force is also negotiating with Russia for the acquisition of further Advanced Talwar class frigates, and six conventional submarines. India is also said to have paid two billion U.S. dollars for the completion of two Akula II class submarines. Three hundred Indian Navy personnel are being trained in Russia for the operation of these submarines. India has finalized a deal with Russia, in which at the end of the lease of these submarines, it has an option to buy them.

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY November 1, 2009 ~ How U.S. President Barack Obama's Afghan Strategy Is Shaping Up

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY November 1, 2009 ~ How U.S. President Barack Obama's Afghan Strategy Is Shaping Up *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, DC /KABUL, Afghanistan - November 1, 2009: U.S. President Barack Obama's advisers appear to be laying the ground for a hybrid war strategy combining both counterinsurgency with counterterrorism in Afghanistan that would entail a troop increase next year.Two men pull a carriage down a street in the old city of Kabul on November 1, 2009. Abdullah announced on November 1 that he was pulling out of this week's run-off presidential election in Afghanistan.'The decision which I am going to announce was not an easy one. It was a decision that I have taken after wide-ranging consultations, with the people of Afghanistan, my supporters and influential leaders,' Abdullah told supporters.'In protest against the misconduct of the government and the Independent Election Commission (IEC), I will not participate in the election,' he added. The biggest question, officials say, is how many more troops and trainers Obama will decide to deploy. STRATEGY Support within the administration is growing for continuing a counterinsurgency strategy with a greater focus on protecting major Afghan population centers. Counterinsurgency advocates include Defense Secretary Robert Gates and military leaders, including General Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. An Afghan policeman searches a man on a street in Kandahar on November 1, 2009. Challenger Abdullah Abdullah on November 1 pulled out of Afghanistan's run-off election, plunging the war-torn country into fresh political chaos less than a week before the scheduled contest. After President Hamid Karzai snubbed a series of demands promoted as a bid to avoid a repeat of massive first-round fraud, Abdullah said he saw no point in standing in the second round, but stopped short of calling for a boycott. Officials said this strategy could be combined with a stepped up counterterrorism campaign, advocated by Vice President Joe Biden, using unmanned aerial drones and special operations forces to combat Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in the Afghan countryside and near the border with Pakistan. TROOPS Officials say Obama has ruled out a troop reduction and will, at a minimum, need to send large numbers of military trainers to Afghanistan if he hopes to accelerate the expansion of the Afghan army, a top priority for his Democratic allies in Congress. McChrystal has recommended deploying an additional 40,000 troops next year, a figure that includes trainers. Another option, and one that may be more politically palatable for Obama and his allies, would add about 10,000 to 15,000 troops, a large portion of whom would be dedicated to training. But officials said Obama may opt for a number in between 15,000 and 40,000. Military commanders and lawmakers have said discussions were focused on sending two additional brigades, totaling between 10,000 to 15,000 troops, to southern Afghanistan, a key Taliban stronghold. Another brigade also may be added in eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan. Brigades range in size but generally include 3,500 to 4,000 troops. They can swell to over 5,000 troops if other units are attached to them. Marine brigades can be larger. Currently, there are about 67,000 U.S. troops and 42,000 allied forces in Afghanistan. TALIBAN U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Taliban-led insurgency includes an estimated 25,000 full-time fighters, up from 7,000 in 2006. That would suggest that international troops currently outnumber insurgents 4-to-1. The Afghan army has about 100,000 troops. A U.S. troop increase could give Western forces a greater numerical advantage, provided Taliban growth slows. But U.S. officials and experts said such comparisons were suspect in guerrilla warfare since the Taliban mainly operate in small units using hit-and-run tactics.

DTN News: A380 Still A Big Headache For Airbus

DTN News: A380 Still A Big Headache For Airbus ~Analysis by: GLG Expert Contributor ~Analysis of: Airbus may delay A380 deliveries ~Published at: *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA - November 1, 2009: Analyses are solely the work of the authors and have not been edited or endorsed by GLG. Summary There’s no question that the A380 is an engineering feat. However, its market prospects have been diminishing all the time, and the concerns at Airbus continue to grow, particularly financially. Analysis The A380 has had a challenging 2009. 2010 looks just a difficult, if not worse. With over half the backlog from over half the customer base deferring deliveries against a backdrop of devastating traffic and yield evaporation, it is of little surprise that Lufthansa is now going to push back its A380 deliveries. This lands Airbus with an almighty headache as to what its FY10 output should be on the big, unloved quadjet.Aside from the traffic issues and the reality that no A380 can break-even at 65% (as Airbus would have some believe), getting credit to pay for the big airplane has proved equally difficult. Critics have been quick to predict production rate cuts on the Boeing 737, ranging from a single unit adjustment to ridiculous “analyses” of 40% or more being lopped off of current rates. Of course that hasn’t happened, largely because the double-booked slots have meant where one customer defers, another is waiting in the wings to take up an earlier delivery position. The same rings true on the A320 lines in Toulouse and Hamburg too. In contrast, Boeing’s low rate, coupled with the (relative) ease of finance for a sub-$90m airplane is far simpler to arrange in contrast to an A380 (not least because of the variable discounting Airbus provided to entice orders in the first place). The engineering challenges have also hampered Airbus’ ability to stabilise production. Based on the original plan, Airbus had hoped to produce 45 A380s by 2010. In a way, the deferrals have certainly aided longevity into the A380 because had Airbus managed to get to that goal, the backlog would have been completed in a record five years or so. As it is, deferrals have added significant costs to that longevity. Battling with wiring redesigns, cabin customisation costs through lack of standardised features alongside performance enhancements and tackling the additional several ton weight excess has proved more costly than envisaged. The business proposition for the A380 was never a good one when the idea was first drummed up in the mid-1990’s. It’s even worse today. There is a low prospect of break-even (some bizarrely suggest), no chance of profitability and now lacks new orders while entering its third year without a new customer. Boeing’s 747-8 family hasn’t had much luck either, but thus far aside from one VIP cancellation, the program has not seen wide-scale deferrals, despite 78 of the firm orders being for the 747-8F in a freight market that is worse than passenger traffic. Of course, it’s very easy to shout out about cancelling the 747-8 program just because it’s entered a forward loss position when the A380 has been sat in that quagmire since day one! The financial drain across EADS is also a big concern. Significant cost overruns on the A330MRTT and A400M, a multi-billion dollar black hole in the A350XWB and penalty payments to consider for a range of delays across the EADS businesses – the pressure next year will be to maintain delivery rates and thereby maintain revenue. The A320 production rate is all but a certainty to come down next near from its current inflated rates – big customers like AirAsia seem to be deferring swathes of airplanes every few months and that trend will continue until a rebound occurs. The A330 too is on a knife-edge despite its brief sales surge in the wake of the 787 delays. Critically, Airbus has adjusted rates four times in 2009. What does that tell you about the business proposition of this airplane? It certainly puts the delays of the 787 into a bit of perspective when that is the much sought-after airplane, not the A380. From a planned 18 deliveries at the start of 2009, it now concedes that “one or two” will slip into next year. Only seven deliveries have been made in ten months thus far this year. If Airbus delivers just twelve units next year it will be nothing short of a miracle. 2010 is the year of pain, waiting to hit airlines, passengers and airplane manufacturers. Credit will be hard to come by, passenger traffic will continue to wane and oil price volatility will continue to erode the business model of every customer that has signed the dotted line for the inflexibility of the A380. Further deferrals of the A380 are probably more of a certainty than deliveries are for next year and that has to be of paramount concern – because its upon delivery when money changes hands and EADS/Airbus need every centime they can get a hold of to plug the financial hole that is getting bigger, not smaller.

DTN News: Northrop, EADS Claim U.S. Air Force Favoritism

DTN News: Northrop, EADS Claim U.S. Air Force Favoritism *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA - November 1, 2009: A European aerospace company and its American partner say the Air Force is stacking the odds against them and favoring the Boeing Co. as it prepares to seek bids on a $35 billion contract to start replacing the nation's fleet of aging aerial refueling tankers. The U.S. Air Force is already on the defensive about its plans for the KC-X competition, with a former top procurement official questioning the source-selection methodology and Northrop Grumman/EADS asserting it has been put at a disadvantage by the disclosure of its pricing data to rival Boeing. The Pentagon last week dismissed complaints from a Northrop Grumman executive on the pricing data claim. But the issue is already festering, potentially spoiling the Air Force’s hopes to have a KC-135 replacement on contract by mid-2010. Discussions continue between Northrop Grumman CEO Ronald Sugar and top Pentagon officials, according to Randy Belote, the company’s vice president for strategic communications. "This is tantamount to a cost shoot-out that accelerates the race to the bottom," said Mitchell Waldman, a Northrop Grumman vice president, arguing that the Air Force has decided that cost is the overwhelming factor and that it doesn't matter how good a plane is. In the last contract bid, he said, the Air Force indicated it wanted certain new capabilities in the new tanker; now it's just about price. Waldman refused to say whether the Northrop-Grumman-European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. team would pull out of the competition if changes weren't made. But Boeing backers on Capitol Hill say it's a replay of the previous competition, when Northrop-EADS, with the help of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., pressured the Air Force to change the ground rules by threatening not to bid. Northrop-EADS won that competition, but the award was overturned by the Government Accountability Office. "This is just posturing and an attempt to tilt the competition in their favor," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. "We have seen it before." Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., said it was all part of a Northrop-EADS public relations campaign. "They are repeating what they did last time," Tiahrt said. "They make complaints and threaten not to bid. I don't think the Air Force will fall in the same trap this time." Others whose states could benefit from Boeing winning the contract agreed with Roberts and Tiarht. "We saw what happened when EADS demanded changes to the request for proposals last time," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. "The changes that were made to keep a foreign competitor at the table eventually led to the GAO ruling that the competition was neither fair nor transparent. The military can't go down that road again." Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., said, "Let them pull out." For its part, Boeing said the last competition had been fought out "very publicly" and it wasn't going to engage in a public relations war this time. "Our preference is to allow the process to play out rather than work the requirements for the media," Boeing said in a statement posted on its tanker blog. The deadline for commenting on the Air Force's draft request for bids was last week. A final version of a request for proposals is expected to be released later this month. The contract is expected to be awarded sometime next year. The initial contract will be for 179 planes, though the Air Force needs to eventually replace its entire fleet of roughly 600 Eisenhower-era tankers. The deal could ultimately be worth $100 billion, one of the largest contracts in Pentagon history. The competition between Boeing and Northrop-EADS has been fierce. EADS is the parent company of Airbus, Boeing's chief rival in the commercial airplane market. Boeing would use its 767 model for its tankers' airframe. The 767s are assembled at the company's plant in Everett, Wash. They could be converted into tankers in Wichita, but a Boeing official previously said the company will consider other sites as well. The Northrop-EADS tankers would use an Airbus A330 airframe. The initial six or so Northrop-EADS tankers would be assembled in Toulouse, France, and the others at a new factory they have promised to build in Mobile, Ala. Construction on the new plant hasn't started. Though the largest part of the tanker will be the Airbus A330 airframe, Northrop, an American defense company, is the lead contractor on the team rather than EADS. It is now referred to as an American tanker from Northrop-Grumman, with no mention of EADS. This summer, the World Trade Organization, in a preliminary ruling, found Airbus had received illegal government subsidies to develop and launch the A330 and other aircraft it produces. The subsidies for the A330 have been estimated at about $5 billion In a letter to the director of defense procurement at the Pentagon, Dicks said the Air Force needed to take into account the subsidy issue in the tanker competition. The Air Force, so far, has declined. "In order to be fair, the request for proposals must be modified to neutralize the advantage that government subsidies give to one bidder," Dicks said. Boeing won the initial tanker contract, but that was thrown out following a Pentagon procurement scandal involving the tanker. Northrop-EADS won the second competition, but government auditors tossed that one out. Boeing has not said anything publicly about the comments it submitted on the draft request for bids. Waldman and other Northrop officials made clear at a press conference last week that they believed the Air Force had made critical changes in the request for bids this time that put their company at a disadvantage. The new request for bids is "vastly different" than the one in the last competition, he said. Among other things, Waldman said, bidders will have to meet 373 mandatory requirements that range from fuel off-load capabilities to the number of bathrooms and crew bunks on board. The problem, Waldman said, is that all of those requirements will be weighed equally, even though some are clearly more important than others. In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and seven other Alabama lawmakers said the Air Force's request for bids was "fundamentally flawed." Shelby said the Air Force apparently does not intend to do any risk analysis of the bidders' costs and schedules. Shelby also said the Air Force is no longer factoring in which plane can carry more cargo and passengers as it did in the previous competition. The A-330 is a bigger plane the 767. In addition, Northrop officials complained that the Air Force broke its own rules by releasing confidential pricing information to Boeing on the Northrop-EADS tanker during the earlier contract protest. The Air Force said it didn't break any rules and, anyway, the information is outdated. But Randy Belote, Northrop vice president for corporate communication, said the Air Force needs to release similar Boeing information. Belote said Northrop is considering taking legal action because of the release of its pricing information or filing a Freedom of Information Act request in an effort to force the release of the Boeing information. Belote and Waldman declined to speculate whether Northrop-EADS will pull out of the tanker competition if changes weren't made in the request for bids. "It's premature," said Belote. "This is a 50- or 60-step process and we are on step five."

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY November 1, 2009 ~ Pakistan Doubles Down Against The Taliban

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY November 1, 2009 ~ Pakistan Doubles Down Against The Taliban *Source: DTN News / (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - November 1, 2009: The letter was simple and direct. "To the brave and honorable people of the Mehsud tribe," it started, in both Urdu and Pashtu, the two languages of Pakistan's troubled tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. "The operation [by the Pakistan army] is not meant to target the valiant and patriotic Mehsud tribes but [is] aimed at ridding them of the elements who have destroyed peace in the region." Dropped from helicopters above the mountain scrubland of South Waziristan the day before 28,000 Pakistani troops went in to wrest control of a militant stronghold, the letter was signed by General Ashfaq Kayani, chief of the Pakistani military. A Pakistani soldier in the tribal regions aims at hills where Taliban militants seek shelter in caves. To drive home the point that Pakistan's most powerful man was speaking directly to a people largely ignored by the country's laws and politics, his photograph, flanked by the Pakistani flag and the crossed-swords insignia of the military, was splashed across the top of the note. The unprecedented letter, along with an army operation in a part of the country that has seen little of the central government since Pakistan's birth in 1947, signals an extraordinary about-face for the nation's military establishment. For decades, Pakistan's armed forces have been obsessed with India, its foe in four wars, rather than the enemy within. But is the change of heart enough to stop Pakistan's endless death spiral toward becoming a nuclear-armed failed state? (See pictures of Pakistan's vulnerable North-West Frontier Province.) No general wants to take war to his own people. Kayani was forced to do so by a surge of violence radiating from the South Waziristan headquarters of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group of several militant organizations seething with grievances against the state and influenced in part by al-Qaeda. The 10,000-strong TTP, which was led by Baitullah Mehsud until he was killed by a U.S. drone in August, is largely made up of members of his Mehsud tribe, though an increasing number of militants from the Pakistani heartland of Punjab, along with an estimated 1,500 Uzbek and Arab fighters, have joined the force. Since Mehsud's deputy, Hakimullah Mehsud, assumed leadership in August, there has been an escalation of violence throughout the country that has seen dozens of suicide-bomb attacks, lethal raids on security installations — including the army headquarters — and more than 200 deaths. The attacks, which have targeted an Islamic university, shopping centers and police academies, have done the seemingly impossible: turned Pakistani public opinion against militants who had formerly been considered holy warriors fighting international forces in Afghanistan. That has allowed the army to go in with popular support. "This operation is not against an area or a tribe," says military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas. "The objective is to regain the space lost last year when Baitullah Mehsud declared war on the state of Pakistan." An Ideal Place for Jihad Truthfully, Pakistan never had that space to begin with. South Waziristan is part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which are governed by political officers rather than elected officials. The people of FATA have few constitutionally protected rights and privileges. Central government's presence is minimal; so is development. It is the ideal place for a militant group seeking to set up an Islamic caliphate from which to launch a global jihad. Three times, the army has gone into South Waziristan, only to be forced into ignoble retreat. But Kayani, 57, seems determined to win this time. He is leading his army into a war that is both guerrilla in nature — the militants know the terrain and have local support — and conventional in its goals. "For the military, the goal is limited: to degrade and destroy these elements and not let them use South Waziristan as a sanctuary from which to spread terrorism in the rest of Pakistan," says Rifaat Hussain, of Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University. "But for the TTP, it is a battle for survival. If they lose, the whole movement is finished." See pictures of a Jihadist's journey. See pictures from the suicide bombings in Islamabad. It is not the first time Kayani has led an operation against militants. This summer he fought an offshoot of the TTP in the Swat Valley, where a failed peace accord had encouraged the local Taliban to attempt a takeover of an entire district. That experience proved the turning point for the army. Intelligence operatives revealed the extensive links between the Swat militants and those fighting for Baitullah Mehsud, fueling fears of a nationwide insurgency. The army "realized that the gains they had made in Swat would not be sustainable unless and until they go after these guys in South Waziristan," says Hussain. "The government does not want to be in the position where these guys have made themselves so strong that the Taliban take root in Punjab, because then the game is up." For all its intentions to root out insurgency, the military has been forced to make risky deals. Most civilians have fled the area of fighting in South Waziristan, enabling the army to use extensive airpower against militants without fear of collateral damage. But there are only 28,000 ground troops in an area the size of Rhode Island, fighting a well-fortified enemy that has bunkers, ammunition depots, land mines and an extensive network of caves. To prevent TTP fighters from escaping over the border to Afghanistan, the army has reached out to what it perceives to be the lesser evil — militant groups that may have fought the government in the past but that detest the TTP more. (See pictures of Pakistan beneath the surface.) As recently as February, the leader of one such group, Maulvi Nazir of the Ahmedzai Wazir tribe, joined forces with Baitullah Mehsud and declared war on Islamabad, Kabul and Washington. The alliance ended with Mehsud's death, and Nazir resumed his tribe's long rivalry with the Mehsuds. Both Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur, another local militant, have entered into nonaggression pacts with the army and have been promised money and reconstruction projects in exchange for their neutrality. The Haqqani network, led by former Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani — one of the U.S.'s most-wanted militants, whose network has concentrated its efforts on attacking NATO forces in Afghanistan — is also expected to remain passive throughout the operation, military officials tell TIME. Army spokesman Abbas defends these agreements. "If you have to defeat the main serpent, would you like to isolate that from the others or deal with them all at once?" he asks. Hussain thinks the tactic makes sense in the short term but worries that in time, the groups that are neutral now may just become a new threat. Baitullah Mehsud, he points out, was once an ally of the Pakistani military. The Pakistani army's relationship with its lesser-evil militants is unlikely to please the U.S. These are groups that have trained their guns principally on U.S. and NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan and have assisted Afghan Taliban who have established bases on the Pakistani side of the border. But Shuja Nawaz, director of the Atlantic Council's South Asia Center, says the army is not strong enough to take on the Afghan Taliban based in Pakistan and their friends in the tribal regions. The army, he says, doesn't have "the numbers or the equipment to do that." (See pictures of a Pakistan police academy under fire.) It does, actually; it's just that most of Pakistan's army is still based far from its western border with Afghanistan, along its eastern frontier with India. The military establishment has belatedly recognized the threat posed by internal militants, but it is difficult to overestimate Pakistan's continuing paranoia about India. Many commanders serving today cut their teeth during wars with India and remain convinced that the country is bent on destabilizing Pakistan and taking back all the disputed territory of Kashmir. That is why analysts like Nawaz say the only real solution to Pakistan's militancy is a regional détente with India. That, he says, would allow "Pakistan to divert resources — not just troops but monetary resources — to the civil sector for better governance." Maybe. On the other hand, Pakistan's civilian officials have hardly done much to improve lives when they have had the chance. It was governmental neglect that enabled militants to establish a foothold in the tribal areas in the first place. Unless the government can follow the army's offensive with development, infrastructure, jobs and justice, extremist groups will always thrive in the tribal areas. Taking the battle to the militants in South Waziristan, says Lieut. General Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai, the former governor of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, "is a requirement, but not a solution — a first field dressing to a battle wound." The solution, as is usually the case in regions that breed insurgencies — and not just in Pakistan — is better governance. No sign of that yet.

DTN News: Airlines News TODAY November 1, 2009 ~ Qatar Airways Seeks Revised Schedule For A380 Delivery

DTN News: Airlines News TODAY November 1, 2009 ~ Qatar Airways Seeks Revised Schedule For A380 Delivery *The New Doha International Airport is being built with facilities to accommodate Airbus A380s super jumbos *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) DOHA, Qatar - November 1, 2009: Qatar Airways has sought a revised schedule for the delivery of Airbus A380 super jumbos in view of the airline’s ‘performance requirements’, CEO Akbar al-Baker has said. “We don’t know when we will start receiving the A380s; we are waiting for Airbus to come back to us with the revised date,” al-Baker told Gulf Times.Qatar Airways, one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, was among the launch customers at the official unveiling today of the world’s newest and largest passenger jet, the Airbus A380-800 ‘super jumbo’ in Toulouse. Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker says the airlines is ‘contractually committed’ to orders for five Airbus A380s. He, however, said Qatar Airways would take delivery of the ‘contractually committed aircraft’. “We have placed orders for five Airbus A380s. These are firm orders and we have not gone for any other option,” al-Baker said. The four-engined Airbus A380 is the world’s largest passenger jet. Qatar Airways is a launch customer of the twin-deck super jumbos, capable of carrying 555 passengers in a luxurious configuration. As per the earlier schedule, the national carrier would have taken delivery of the A380s from 2012. The New Doha International Airport (NDIA) is being built with facilities that can accommodate the ‘super jumbos’. Qatar Airways plans to initially operate the A380 on its flagship European route between Doha and London Heathrow followed by other prime, high-density routes. Al-Baker said the delivery of Qatar Airways’ 32 Boeing B777s would be completed by 2011. The national carrier took delivery of its first Boeing aircraft-a Boeing 777-300 Extended Range aircraft-in November 2007. From only four aircraft in 1997, Qatar Airways has grown to a fleet size of more than 70 aircraft now. By 2013, the fleet size will reach 110 aircraft. Currently, Qatar Airways has more than 220 aircraft on order worth more than $40bn for delivery over the next few years. On the opening of the NDIA, al-Baker said the ‘contractual agreement’ was that the new airport should be handed over by 2011. Initially, the new airport will have a capacity of 24mn passengers a year. Once fully developed beyond 2015, the airport is expected to handle up to 50mn passengers a year. On the airline’s three new destinations he said, “This will happen in the current financial year.” Al-Baker did not disclose details on the two ‘unnamed destinations’ in Europe. “I cannot tell you, I cannot name them,” he said. Qatar Airways is set to fly to Melbourne in Australia on December 6. Sydney will be connected in early 2010. Currently, the national carrier flies to 84 destinations worldwide. 'No first-class seats on inter-continental flights' Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker says the airlines is ‘contractually committed’ to orders for five Airbus A380s. ‘No first-class seats on inter-continental flights’ Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker has said the airline will not have first-class seats on its inter-continental flights anymore. “But our product in business class is better than first class in most of the airlines,” he told Gulf Times. Qatar Airways has taken a decision not to unduly focus on first-class seats as premium travel by the global economic downturn, al-Baker said. “The demand for first-class seats has certainly come down because of the recession. However, there are many takers for our business class seats,” he said recently. Early this year, the airline decided to overhaul its A340s by removing the first-class lounge. The airline cited ‘low usage’ for removing the first-class lounge, which would provide room for many seats in the economy class.