Tuesday, January 05, 2010

DTN News: Boeing Laser Demonstrator Program Accepts Oshkosh Military Truck, Enters Fabrication Phase

DTN News: Boeing Laser Demonstrator Program Accepts Oshkosh Military Truck, Enters Fabrication Phase *Source: DTN News / Boeing (NSI News Source Info) HUNTSVILLE, Ala., - January 06, 2010: Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced today that it has accepted the Oshkosh Defense military truck that will carry a Boeing-built laser beam control system for the U.S. Army's High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD) program. Boeing received the Oshkosh Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) on Dec. 17 at the Oshkosh facility in Oshkosh, Wis. "This demonstration program has successfully transitioned from the design phase to the fabrication phase," said Gary Fitzmire, vice president and program director of Boeing Missile Defense Systems' Directed Energy Systems unit. "This transformational, solid-state laser weapon capability will provide speed-of-light, ultra-precision capability that will dramatically improve warfighters' ability to counter rocket, artillery and mortar projectiles." The eight-wheel, 500-horsepower HEMTT A4, a widely used military tactical vehicle, will be shipped to Boeing's facility in Huntsville this spring for integration with the laser's rugged beam control system (BCS). The program has already begun receiving BCS components from suppliers. "These hardware deliveries show that the program is making great progress and getting closer to demonstrating its revolutionary capability," said Blaine Beardsley, Boeing HEL TD program manager. The BCS will acquire, track and select an aimpoint on a target during the same time frame in which the system also will receive the laser beam from the laser device, reshape and align it, and focus it on the target. The system includes mirrors, high-speed processors and high-speed optical sensors. HEL TD testing against real targets, but using a low-power surrogate for the high-energy laser, is scheduled for fiscal year 2011 at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. HEL TD is a cornerstone of the Army's high-energy laser program and will support the transition to a full-fledged Army acquisition program. Boeing is developing laser systems for a variety of U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy warfighter applications. Besides HEL TD, these systems include the Airborne Laser, Free Electron Laser and Tactical Relay Mirror System. Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, is an industry-leading global designer and manufacturer of tactical military trucks and armored wheeled vehicles. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.

DTN News: Boeing, United Arab Emirates Announce Order For 6 C-17s

DTN News: Boeing, United Arab Emirates Announce Order For 6 C-17s *Source: DTN News / Boeing (NSI News Source Info) -ST. LOUIS, January 06, 2010: Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force and Air Defence today announced that the UAE has signed a contract for the acquisition of six Boeing C-17 Globemaster III advanced airlifters. The UAE, which announced in 2009 that it would modernize its airlift capabilities with the C-17, is the second Middle East nation to order the airlifter. "The C-17 will give the UAE the ability to perform a variety of humanitarian and strategic lift operations around the world in support of both national and international missions," said Major General Staff Pilot Faris Mohamed Al Mazrouei. "These missions require us to be ready for any contingency at any time and any place, and the C-17 meets our requirements." Under the agreement, the UAE will take delivery of four C-17s in 2011 and two in 2012. Financial terms are not being disclosed. "Boeing is pleased that the UAE Air Force has selected the C-17 to meet its airlift requirements for the 21st century," said Jean Chamberlin, Boeing vice president, Global Mobility Systems. "The C-17 consistently posts mission capability rates that are among the best in the world, earning it high marks for its industry-leading quality and reliability." Boeing will provide support for the UAE C-17s through the C-17 Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership, an agreement under which Boeing is responsible for all C-17 sustainment activities, including material management and depot maintenance support. "As a tactical and strategic airlifter, the C-17 is a perfect fit for the requirements of the United Arab Emirates Air Force," said Tommy Dunehew, Boeing Global Mobility Systems vice president of Business Development. "In addition to being able to land and take off on short, unimproved runways, it has the highest mission capability rate of any airlifter." The C-17 can carry large combat equipment and troops or humanitarian aid across international distances directly to small austere airfields anywhere in the world. With a full payload of 170,000 pounds, the C-17 can fly 2,400 nautical miles and land in 3,000 feet or less. There are currently 212 C-17s in service worldwide -- 19 with international customers. The U.S. Air Force, including active Guard and Reserve units, has 193. International customers include Qatar, the UK Royal Air Force, the Canadian Forces, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.

DTN News: Russian Military Considers Armored Trains For Railroad Defense

DTN News: Russian Military Considers Armored Trains For Railroad Defense *Source: DTN News / RT (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - January 06, 2010: Russia’s Defense Ministry may deploy in the Caucasus two armored trains, which were withdrawn from Chechnya two years ago. This is linked to the aggravation of the security situation in Russia’s southern republics of Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia, Interfax reports, citing its sources in law-enforcement bodies. The trains have not been used since their withdrawal and are currently stationed in the neighboring Stavropol region. They are equipped with special devices for the removal of landmines and heavy weapons capable of countering an attack by armed militants along the railways. On Monday a cargo train was blasted in Ingushetia near the city of Nazran. There were no casualties according to the republic’s Interior Ministry.

DTN News: Lockheed Martin Awarded $6.3 Million For C-5 Maintenance

DTN News: Lockheed Martin Awarded $6.3 Million For C-5 Maintenance *Source: U.S. Department of Defense dated January 05, 2010 (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - January 06, 2010: Lockheed Martin Corp., Marietta, Ga., was awarded a $6,319,488 contract to provide for C-5 Reliability Enhancement and Re-engineering Program engine maintenance training device, integration effort, and contract change proposal. At this time, $3,857,161 has been obligated. 716 AESG/SYK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (33657-02-C-2000, P00207).

DTN News: Boeing CH-47F Chinook Helicopter Fielded By 5th US Army Unit

DTN News: Boeing CH-47F Chinook Helicopter Fielded By 5th US Army Unit
*Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) RIDLEY TOWNSHIP, Pa., - January 06, 2010: Boeing [NYSE: BA] yesterday (Jan. 5) announced that a fifth U.S. Army unit has fielded the CH-47F Chinook helicopter. The 6th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., completed all required training and officially assumed operation of 12 CH-47F Chinooks on Dec. 8. "I am proud of B Company for completing the CH-47F New Equipment Fielding and Training Program. Together, the Pachyderms and Boeing worked extremely hard to accomplish all the required tasks to make this happen in preparation for our next deployment," said Lt. Col. Brad Ninness, Commander, 6th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. "The technological advantages and improvements in the CH-47F increase our capabilities and allow us to better support the soldier on the ground." The Army certified the CH-47F as combat-ready in 2007. The first four units equipped with the new Chinook have deployed in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and the aircraft continues to perform as an asset for the Army. "The CH-47F is proving its exceptional capability every day in combat operations," said Leanne Caret, vice president, Boeing H-47 Programs. "This advanced aircraft significantly increases the unit's capability in harsh environments and high-altitude operations to meet a growing range of mission demands." The CH-47F, built at Boeing's Rotorcraft Systems facility in Ridley Township, features a newly designed, modernized airframe, a Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) cockpit and a BAE Digital Advanced Flight Control System (DAFCS). The CAAS greatly improves aircrew situational awareness, while DAFCS provides dramatically improved flight-control capabilities through the entire flight envelope, significantly improved performance, and safety in the harshest of environments. CAAS also incorporates an advanced digital map display and a data transfer system that allows storing of preflight and mission data. Improved survivability features include the Common Missile Warning and Improved Countermeasure Dispenser systems. Powered by two 4,733-horsepower Honeywell engines, the new CH-47F can reach speeds greater than 175 mph and transport more than 21,000 pounds. The CH-47F, with its Robertson Aviation Extended Range Fuel System, has a mission radius of more than 400 nautical miles. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32 billion business with 70,000 employees worldwide.

DTN News: Financial News TODAY January 06, 2010 ~ Auto Sales, Good End To Terrible Year

DTN News: Financial News TODAY January 06, 2010 ~ Auto Sales, Good End To Terrible Year *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media By Chris Isidore (NSI News Source Info) NEW YORK - January 06, 2010: The auto industry ended its worst year in memory with one of its best sales months of the year. Overall industrywide U.S. sales soared 15% compared to a year ago, the biggest percentage gain since July 2005. Total sales topped the 1 million mark for only the second time this year, trailing only August. Sales spiked that month thanks to the federal government's Cash for Clunkers program. Most of the automakers posted better than expected results as five of the seven largest automakers reported increases of 18% or more from a year earlier. But the boom in December wasn't enough to lift the industry out of its year-long slump. Last year was a tumultuous one for the industry to say the least as GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy and many auto plants and dealerships closed. Most major automakers reported sales increases in December. But only one posted a gain for all of 2009. Full-year sales fell 21% from 2008 to 10.4 million, a 27-year low. Last year's sales are also far below the 16.7 million annual average during the 10 years before the start of the recession. "I think December was a decent end to a year to forget," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends for auto price tracker TrueCar.com. "We've reached the point when year-over-year comparisons should start to look pretty good. But we shouldn't lose sight that these are still weak numbers by historic standards." Better sales outlook. Automakers said they were hopeful that the strong sales in December, which came without the help of the Clunkers program or large incentives, might give them some momentum heading into 2010. They said they were particularly encouraged by stronger sales at the end of the month, coupled with steady improvement during the fourth quarter. "Clearly, December came in stronger than we thought, and strengthened for both ourselves and our competitors at the end of the month," said Mike DiGiovanni, GM's executive director of industry analysis. DiGiovanni added that he was encouraged by signs of a recovery in the economy, but he was not ready to suggest that auto sales have a smooth road ahead in 2010. "People took advantage of the fact that they're increasingly feeling more confident about their jobs and their income," DiGiovanni said. "What we have to ask ourselves is, 'Is this going to be a continued upward trend?'" GM said it now forecasts full-year industrywide sales in the 11 million to 12 million range, while Ford raised its forecast to 11.5 million to 12.5 million. Ford officials said they were particularly pleased by the 1 percentage point improvement in their market share, the first gain since 1995. But executives said despite that momentum, they are still only cautiously optimistic going into 2010. "I'm leaving my seat belt on because I think that volatility is an element of the new norm," said Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president in charge of U.S. sales. Encouraging December numbers. Ford Motor's U.S. sales in December soared 34% from a year-ago, much better than U.S.-based rival GM, which reported a 6% decline, and Chrysler, where sales slipped 4%. But much of GM's decline was due to a 55% plunge in sales at the company's discontinued brands -- Saturn, Hummer, Pontiac and Saab. Sales at the company's four core U.S. brands -- Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac -- were up a combined 2% compared to a year ago. Sales at Japanese automaker Toyota Motor shot up 32% compared to a year ago while Honda Motor's sales were up 24% and Nissan said sales were up 18%. Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Group, which includes both the Hyundai and Kia brands, continued to make inroads in the U.S. market. Combined sales at the two brands were up 42%. But the full year numbers were as bad as December's were encouraging. Ford's sales for the full year fell 15% from 2008, while GM suffered a 30% drop. Chrysler's full-year sales plunged 36% and the company sold fewer than one million vehicles for the first time since the 1960's. Full-year sales fell 19% at both Honda and Nissan and 20% at Toyota. The only major automaker with a gain in sales for the year was Hyundai, which reported a 9% increase. "Many of the automakers can celebrate a bright ending to a tough year this holiday season," said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com. "However, the industry is still far below its comfort zone in terms of sales volume."

DTN News: Japan TODAY January 06, 2010 ~ Fresh Setback For Battered DPJ

DTN News: Japan TODAY January 06, 2010 ~ Fresh Setback For Battered DPJ *Source: DTN News / Int'l News By Michiyo Nakamoto (NSI News Source Info) TOKYO, Japan - January 06, 2010: The Democratic Party of Japan faces its severest test just four months on from making history and winning the reins of power. The decision by Hirohisa Fujii, the finance minister to quit is the latest in a string of setbacks that have undermined the government of Yukio Hatoyama. Japanese Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii (L) stands next to Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama before a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's official residence in Tokyo January 5, 2010. Japan's aged finance minister offered to quit on Tuesday after weeks of exhausting debate over the budget, media said, a fresh blow for Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama as he wrestles with a stubbornly frail economy and huge public debt. Ever since his DPJ stormed to a landslide victory last summer, the government has stumbled from one predicament to another. On the diplomatic front, the DPJ has strained relations with the US, due to its dithering over a bilateral agreement to relocate US marines from the Futenma Airbase in Okinawa to a more remote site. The agreement, which was made under the previous government, is unpopular in Okinawa itself and Mr Hatoyama faces staunch opposition to the bilateral agreement from the DPJ’s coalition partner, the Socialists. Mr Hatoyama has postponed a decision on the issue until May, raising the ire of the US – which has insisted that there is no alternative to the current plan – and making him look indecisive at home. Meanwhile, the DPJ has been battling two political funding scandals that have tarnished its image and threaten to bring down one or both of its top leaders. Mr Hatoyama himself is under pressure over revelations that political donations registered under the names of a large number of individuals were actually from his wealthy mother. Ichiro Ozawa, DPJ secretary-general, is also under a cloud due to alleged political donations to his party from a construction company which he claims he knew nothing about. While these scandals have led to double-digit declines in Mr Hatoyama’s popularity, the DPJ and its leader also face public disillusionment due to their poor handling of Japan’s economic woes and other matters. The Japanese economy has been battered by a strong yen, which has hit exports, and persistent deflation. The DPJ’s initial failure to come up with an economic growth strategy – the government only unveiled a growth plan late last month – and the record Y92,300bn ($1,009bn, €700bn, £630bn) budget for 2010, have given it a reputation for lacking economic expertise and being fiscally irresponsible. But perhaps almost as damaging to its image has been growing signs that it is Ichiro Ozawa, DPJ secretary-general, who is calling the shots rather than Mr Hatoyama. Mr Ozawa, who has long been known as the “shadow shogun,” is credited with having masterminded the DPJ’s landslide victory in Lower House elections last summer. Until he was forced to resign as head of the DPJ due to the fundraising scandal that still haunts him, Mr Ozawa was said to rule the party with an iron hand. Although Mr Ozawa’s primary role as secretary-general is to ensure the DPJ wins a majority in Upper House elections this summer, he has been seen on several occasions to impose his views on the prime minister, to the anger of many ministers, including Mr Fujii. The two senior politicians, who were once close, have clashed over the budget and other matters recently and this time Mr Fujii just had enough, he said. The crucial question is whether Mr Hatoyama appoints Yoshihiko Noda, deputy finance minister and Mr Fujii’s protégé, when the latter steps down. Mr Ozawa is known to dislike Mr Noda. “If Hatoyama does not appoint Mr Noda, that will be a clear indication that the government is being ruled by Ozawa,” Mr Toshikawa says.

DTN News: Financial News TODAY January 06, 2010 ~ Dubai's Mark Of Dependence

DTN News: Financial News TODAY January 06, 2010 ~ Dubai's Mark Of Dependence *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media By Andrew Critchlow (NSI News Source Info) DUBAI, UAE - January 06, 2010: Just five days before the opening of the world's tallest skyscraper in Dubai, organizers were informed of the shock decision to rename the building after the ruler of Abu Dhabi. For five years, as the project climbed toward its ultimate height of 2,732 feet, it was known as the Burj Dubai. A handout from Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum's media office shows Sheikh Mohammad, the ruler of Dubai, inaugurating the Burj Dubai tower, the tallest skyscraper in the world, during its opening ceremony in Dubai January 4, 2010. Dubai opened the world's tallest structure on Monday, and a statement said it was 828 metres (2,717 ft) high. Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed renamed the tower Burj Khalifa after the president of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of the neighboring emirate of Abu Dhabi.
But Dubai's ruler, who took a personal interest in what was to be the ultimate symbol of the city-state's independence, has made the very public sacrifice of naming the tower after his cousin, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Fireworks explode around Burj Dubai, the world's tallest tower, during the opening ceremony in Dubai January 4, 2010. Dubai opened the world's tallest structure on Monday, and a statement said it was 828 metres (2,717 ft) high. Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum renamed the tower Burj Khalifa after the president of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of the neighboring emirate of Abu Dhabi. The newly named Burj Khalifa is now a symbol of Dubai's loss of independence. But by swallowing his pride, Dubai's Sheik Mohammed may have guaranteed his emirate's economic future, and given anxious investors owed more than $80 billion by the city-state reason to breathe easier. Dubai came close to default last month until Abu Dhabi stepped in with a $10 billion bailout. Bankers are being asked to agree to a standstill on $22 billion of debt owed by government-owned conglomerate Dubai World. Now, Dubai seems to have acknowledged reality: The United Arab Emirates is one country, dependent on Abu Dhabi and its vast oil wealth. Investors must hope that Sheik Khalifa, in allowing his name to be attached to the new tower, also has acknowledged Abu Dhabi's new reality, and that his support for his troubled neighbor is now nailed down.

DTN News: Yemen Orders Troops Into al-Qaeda Strongholds

DTN News: Yemen Orders Troops Into al-Qaeda Strongholds *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) SANA'A, Yemen - January 06, 2010: The government announced the drive to tackle the Islamist group's mountain and desert bases in the wake of the failed Detroit bombing and threats to Western embassies.A Yemeni army patrol operates at a checkpoint on the main road leading to the diplomatic quarter where many foreign embassies are located, in San'a, Yemen, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010. Yemen showed signs of friction Tuesday with the United States over the fight against al-Qaida, insisting it has the terror group under control, as the U.S. Embassy in San'a ended a two-day closure. Government officials said security forces had been sent to Shabwa, Maarib and Abyan, lawless regions in the east and south where the presence of al-Qaeda's local affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, is strongest. The group has been the subject of increased international attention since taking responsibility for a failed attempt to blow a US airliner on Christmas Day. Security operations were also launched in the capital city, Sana'a, where the immediate threat of a terrorist strike against Western diplomatic missions appeared to have receded after two suspected al-Qaeda members were killed in a mission north of the city on Monday. The US embassy, which closed for two days after saying it had received credible information of an imminent terror attack, reopened. The British and French missions resumed work, although their doors remained closed to the public. Although the main target of Monday's operation escaped, the US embassy said it had "addressed a specific area of concern". But in a sign that concerns had not entirely dissipated, it added: "The threat of terrorist attacks against American interests remains high." Tuesday's decision to deploy troops into al-Qaeda heartland seemed partly designed to deflect growing international concerns that the Yemeni government was too frail, corrupt and inept to counter the growing terrorist presence in the country. That perception was heightened on Monday when Yemeni security forces surveillance teams lost track of six lorries filled with weapons as they entered Sana'a, although diplomatic sources suggested that the illicit cargo was probably not destined for al-Qaeda. Angered by the criticism, the Yemeni government has insisted that portrayals of the country as an increasing attractive haven for Islamist terrorists are "over exaggerated". It also attacked the decisions of Britain, France and the United States to close their embassies, saying "there is nothing to be worried about." Many observers have questioned the Yemeni government's ability to quash al-Qaeda's activities on its territory. In recent years, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, has centralised power in the hands of his family – his son, three nephews and a half-brother hold top positions in the security apparatus. But critics say that in doing so, he has sacrificed control of large swathes of his country to tribal leaders. The system of patronage he once wielded to control the more lawless parts of his country has all but disintegrated as oil reserves have dwindled, damaging his ability to purchase the loyalty of tribal regions. In the three provinces where Mr Saleh is now deploying troops, tribal leaders have switched their loyalty to al-Qaeda, which brought cash and teachers with it when it moved in. As a result, government security presence has been all but invisible in the past three years. At the same time, al-Qaeda's presence in Yemen has been bolstered by the arrival of Islamist extremists from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan following successful counterterrorism operations. With the Yemeni government also fighting rebels in the north and secessionists in the south, al-Qaeda has been able to take advantage of the lawlessness to entrench itself further. Observers say the United States has been unable take too visible a role in counterterrorism operations due to the risk of further increasing support for al-Qaeda in a country where distrust of the West runs high.

DTN News: India, Russia Close To PACT On Next Generation Fighter

DTN News: India, Russia Close To PACT On Next Generation Fighter *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media By Ajai Shukla (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - January 05, 2010: Late last year, a defence ministry delegation to Sukhoi’s flagship aircraft facility in Siberia became the first Indians to set eyes upon the next-generation fighter that is slated to form the backbone of the future Indian Air Force (IAF). In that first meeting, carefully choreographed by Sukhoi, the new fighter, standing on the tarmac waved a welcome to the Indians, moving all its control fins simultaneously. Sukhoi/HAL T-50 PAK-FA FGFA The Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) being jointly developed by India and Russia will look substantially different for the two countries. While the Russian version will be a single-pilot fighter, the Indian variant will have a twin-seat configuration based on its operational doctrine which calls for greater radius of combat operations. The program is initiated to develop a fifth generation fighter aircraft to fill a role similar to that of Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II, the world’s first fifth-generation fighter jets. The effect, recounts one member of that delegation, was electric. The senior IAF officer there walked silently up to the aircraft and touched it almost incredulously. This was the Sukhoi T-50, the first technology demonstrator of what India terms the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). Senior defence ministry sources tell Business Standard that — after five years of haggling over the FGFA’s form, capabilities and work-share — a detailed contract on joint development is just around the corner. The contract, which Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will sign with Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), will commit to building 250 fighters for the IAF and an equal number for Russia. The option for further orders will be kept open. HAL and UAC will be equal partners in a joint venture company, much like the Brahmos JV, that will develop and manufacture the FGFA. The cost of developing the FGFA, which would be shared between both countries, will be $8-10 billion (Rs 37,000-45,000 crore). Over and above that, say IAF and defence ministry sources, each FGFA will cost Rs 400-500 crore. Sukhoi’s FGFA prototype, which is expected to make its first flight within weeks, is a true stealth aircraft, almost invisible to enemy radar. According to a defence ministry official, “It is an amazing looking aircraft. It has a Radar Cross Section (RCS) of just 0.5 square metre as compared to the Su-30MKI’s RCS of about 20 square metres.” [That means that while a Su-30MKI would be as visible to enemy radar as a metal object 5 metres X 4 metres in dimension, the FGFA’s radar signature would be just 1/40th of that.] A key strength of the 30-35 tonne FGFA would be data fusion; the myriad inputs from the fighter’s infrared, radar, and visual sensors would be electronically combined and fed to the pilots in easy-to-read form. The FGFA partnership was conceived a decade ago, in 2000, when Sukhoi’s celebrated chief, Mikhail Pogosyan, invited a visiting Indian Air Force officer out to dinner in Moscow. Boris Yeltsin’s disastrous presidency had just ended, and Russia’s near bankruptcy was reflected in the run-down condition of a once-famous restaurant. But, as the IAF officer recounts, the vodka was flowing and Pogosyan was in his element, a string of jokes translated by a female interpreter. Late that evening Pogosyan turned serious, switching the conversation to a secret project that, officially, did not even exist. Sukhoi, he confided to the IAF officer, had completed the design of a fifth generation fighter, as advanced as America’s F-22 Raptor, which is still the world’s foremost fighter. Russia’s economy was in tatters, but Sukhoi would develop its new, high-tech fighter if India partnered Russia, sharing the costs of developing the fighter at Sukhoi’s plant, Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Organisation (KnAAPO). Reaching out to India was logical for Russia. During the 1990s — when thousands of Russian military design bureaus starved for funds, and a bankrupt Moscow cancelled 1,149 R&D projects — India’s defence purchases had kept Russia’s defence industry alive, bankrolling the development of the Sukhoi-30 fighter; the Talwar-class stealth frigates; the Uran and Klub ship-borne missiles; and the MiG-21 upgrade. But co-developing a fifth generation fighter is a different ball game, financially and technologically, and India’s MoD hesitated to sign up. Meanwhile enriched by hydrocarbon revenues, Moscow gave Sukhoi the green light to develop the FGFA, which Russia terms the PAK-FA, the acronym for Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsy (literally Prospective Aircraft Complex of Frontline Aviation). Today, Russia is five years into the development of the FGFA. In November 2007, India and Russia signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement on co-developing the fighter, but it has taken two more years to agree upon common specifications, work shares in development, and in resolving issues like Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The prototype that Sukhoi has built is tailored to Russian Air Force requirements. But the IAF has different specifications and the JV will cater for both air forces, producing two different, but closely related, aircraft. For example, Russia wants a single-seat fighter; the IAF, happy with the Su-30MKI, insists upon a twin-seat fighter with one pilot flying and the other handling the sensors, networks and weaponry. Negotiations have resolved even this fundamental conflict. India has agreed to buy a mix of about 50 single-seat and 200 twin-seat aircraft. Russia, in turn, will consider buying more twin-seat aircraft to use as trainers. But even as both countries narrow their differences, fresh challenges lie ahead: preparing India’s nascent aerospace industry for the high-tech job of developing and manufacturing a fifth-generation fighter.