Saturday, February 20, 2010

DTN News: Iran launches Indigenous Missile Destroyer "Jamaran"

DTN News: Iran launches Indigenous Missile Destroyer "Jamaran" *Source: DTN News / AFP (NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN, Iran - February 20, 2010: The Iran Navy has launched in the Gulf its first domestically made destroyer in a ceremony attend by the supreme leader and the commander-in-chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the media reported.
"Iran's navy today took the delivery of the first indigenously designed and developed guided missile destroyer "Jamaran" in the Persian Gulf," Iran'sEnglish-language Press TV reported.
The vessel has a displacement of around 14,000 tonnes and is equipped with modern radars and electronic warfare capabilities, the report said.
"Jamaran, a multi-mission destroyer, can carry 120-140 personnel on board and is armed with a variety of anti-ship and surface-to-air missiles with a top speed of up to 30 knots and has a helipad," the report added.
"The vessel has also been equipped with torpedoes and modern naval cannons." State television also showed footage of the vessel and the ceremony at which it was launched by Khamenei flanked by the top Iranian military commanders.
Much of Iran's naval equipment dates from before the 1979 Islamic revolution and is US made. Since the revolution, Tehran has purchased a number of Russian-made submarines.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (C) visiting the country's first domestically-made destroyer Jamaran, which was launched in undisclosed waters of the Persian Gulf in south Iran February 19, 2010.
In the past year Iranian navy has carried out a number of missions in the Gulf of Aden and offshore Somalia where it was commissioned to escort Iranian merchant ships and oil tankers.

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY February 20, 2010 ~ Air Strike Kills 30 Militants In South Waziristan

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY February 20, 2010 ~ Air Strike Kills 30 Militants In South Waziristan *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - February 20, 2010: At least 30 militants were killed in an air strike by the Pakistani military on their hideout in a restive tribal area bordering Afghanistan on Saturday, the military said. The attack took place in South Waziristan district where the military in October launched an air and ground offensive to flush out Taliban militants. The Saturday air raid was in Shawal, a militant sanctuary near the border of the South and North Waziristan regions, where many militants are believed to have sought refuge from the October offensive.A Pakistani policeman takes up position on a rooftop at the site of a shooting at a police station in Mansehra, Pakistan's northwest frontier province, February 20, 2010. Police gunned down a would-be bomber as he tried to force his way into the police station. One policeman was killed and three wounded in another suicide attack in the nearby town of Balakot on Saturday morning. Al Qaeda militants are also known to operate in the area. “The hideout in Shawal was targeted after we were tipped off that terrorists were hiding in the mountains,” a military spokesman said, adding 30 of them had been killed.Pakistani policemen race to secure a position near the site of a shootout with a would-be bomber at a police station in Mansehra, Pakistan's northwest frontier province, February 20, 2010. Police gunned down the would-be bomber as he tried to force his way into the police station. One policeman was killed and three wounded in another suicide attack in the nearby town of Balakot on Saturday morning. There was no independent verification of the toll.

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 20, 2010 ~ Marines Do Heavy Lifting As Afghan Army Lags In Battle

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 20, 2010 ~ Marines Do Heavy Lifting As Afghan Army Lags In Battle *Source: DTN News / By C. J. Chivers ~ The New York Times (NSI News Source Info) MARJA, Afghanistan- February 20, 2010: As American Marines and Afghan soldiers have fought their way into this Taliban stronghold, the performance of the Afghan troops has tested a core premise of the American military effort here: in the not-too-distant future, the security of this country can be turned over to indigenous forces created at the cost of American money and blood.U.S. Marine St SGT Christopher Whitman, from Clearwater FL, and from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment runs carrying an Afghan National Army soldier who was shot in the lower leg during a battle with the Taliban in Marjah in Afghanistan's Helmand province on Saturday Feb. 20, 2010. Scenes from this corner of the battlefield, observed over eight days by two New York Times journalists, suggest that the day when the Afghan Army will be well led and able to perform complex operations independently, rather than merely assist American missions, remains far off. The effort to train the Afghan Army has long been troubled, with soldiers and officers repeatedly falling short. And yet after nearly a decade of American and European mentorship and many billions of dollars of American taxpayer investment, American and Afghan officials have portrayed the Afghan Army as the force out front in this important offensive against the Taliban. Statements from Kabul have said the Afghan military is planning the missions and leading both the fight and the effort to engage with Afghan civilians caught between the Taliban and the newly arrived troops.In this Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010 image made from video, a U.S. Marine carries a wounded Afghan National Army soldier onto a Task Force Pegasus Black Hawk medevac helicopter, where U.S. Army flight medic Sgt. Michael G. Patangan, right, from Houston, Texas, waits for his patient, in Marjah, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan. Pegasus crews have come under fire daily in Marjah while on missions evacuating those wounded as U.S. and Afghan troops take part in an assault on the Taliban stronghold. But that assertion conflicts with what is visible in the field. In every engagement between the Taliban and one front-line American Marine unit, the operation has been led in almost every significant sense by American officers and troops. They organized the forces for battle, transported them in American vehicles and helicopters from Western-run bases into Taliban-held ground, and have been the primary fighting force each day. The Afghan National Army, or A.N.A., has participated. At the squad level it has been a source of effective, if modestly skilled, manpower. Its soldiers have shown courage and a willingness to fight. Afghan soldiers have also proved, as they have for years, to be more proficient than Americans at searching Afghan homes and identifying potential Taliban members — two tasks difficult for outsiders to perform. By all other important measures, though — from transporting troops, directing them in battle and coordinating fire support to arranging modern communications, logistics, aviation and medical support — the mission in Marja has been a Marine operation conducted in the presence of fledgling Afghan Army units, whose officers and soldiers follow behind the Americans and do what they are told. That fact raises questions about President Obama’s declared goal of beginning to withdraw American forces in July 2011 and turning over security to the Afghan military and the even more troubled police forces. There have been ample examples in the offensive of weak Afghan leadership and poor discipline to boot. In northern Marja, a platoon of Afghan soldiers landed with a reinforced Marine rifle company, Company K, Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, which was inserted by American Army helicopters. The Marine officers and noncommissioned officers here quickly developed a mixed impression of the Afghan platoon, whose soldiers were distributed through their ranks. After several days, no Marine officer had seen an Afghan use a map or plan a complicated patrol. In another indicator of marginal military readiness, the Afghan platoon had no weapons heavier than a machine gun or a rocket-propelled grenade. Afghan officers organized no indirect fire support whatsoever in the week of fighting. All supporting fire for Company K — airstrikes, rockets, artillery and mortars — was coordinated by Marines. The Afghans also relied entirely on the American military for battlefield resupply. Moreover, in multiple firefights in which Times journalists were present, many Afghan soldiers did not aim — they pointed their American-issued M-16 rifles in the rough direction of the incoming small-arms fire and pulled their triggers without putting rifle sights to their eyes. Their rifle muzzles were often elevated several degrees high. Shouts from the Marines were common. “What you shooting at, Hoss?” one yelled during a long battle on the second day, as an Afghan pulled the trigger repeatedly and nonchalantly at nothing that was visible to anyone else. Not all of their performance was this poor.
Sgt. Joseph G. Harms, a squad leader in the company’s Third Platoon, spent a week on the western limit of the company’s area, his unit alone with what he described as a competent Afghan contingent. In the immediacy of fighting side by side with Afghans, and often tested by Taliban fighters, he found his Afghan colleagues committed and brave. “They are a lot better than the Iraqis,” said the sergeant, who served a combat tour in Iraq. “They understand all of our formations, they understand how to move. They know how to flank and they can recognize the bad guys a lot better than we can.” Capt. Joshua P. Biggers, the Company K commander, said that the Afghan soldiers “could be a force multiplier.” But both Marines suggested that the Afghan deficiencies were in the leadership ranks. “They haven’t had a chance yet to step out on their own,” Sergeant Harms said. “So they’re still following us.” Shortfalls in the Afghan junior officer corps were starkly visible at times. On the third day of fighting, when Company K was short of water and food, the company command group walked to the eastern limit of its operations area to supervise two Marine platoons as they seized a bridge, and to arrange fire support. The group was ambushed twice en route, coming under small-arms fire from Taliban fighters hiding on the far side of a canal. After the bridge was seized, Captain Biggers prepared his group for the walk back. Helicopters had dropped food and water near the bridge. He ordered his Marines and the Afghans to fill their packs with it and carry it to another platoon to the west that was nearly out of supplies. The Marines loaded up. They would walk across the danger area again, this time laden with all the water and food they could carry. Captain Biggers asked the Afghan platoon commander, Capt. Amanullah, to have his men pack their share. He refused, though his own soldiers to the west were out of food, too. Captain Biggers told the interpreter to put his position in more clear terms. “Tell him that if he doesn’t carry water and chow, he and his soldiers can’t have any of ours,” he said, his voice rising. Captain Amanullah at last directed one or two of his soldiers to carry a sleeve of bottled water or a carton of rations — a small concession. The next day, the Afghan soldiers to the west complained that they had no more food and were hungry. It was not the first time that Captain Amanullah’s sense of entitlement, and indifference toward his troops’ well-being, had manifested itself. The day before the helicopter assault, at Camp Leatherneck, the largest Marine base in Helmand Province, a Marine offered a can of Red Bull energy drink to an Afghan soldier in exchange for one of the patches on the soldier’s uniform. Captain Amanullah, reclining on his cot, saw the deal struck. After the Afghan soldier had taken possession of his Red Bull, the captain ordered him to hand him the can. The captain opened it and took a long drink, then gave what was left to his lieutenant and sergeants, who each had a sip. The last sergeant handed the empty can back to the soldier, and ordered him to throw it away. The Marines watched with mixed amusement and disgust. In their culture, the officers and senior enlisted Marines eat last. “So much for troop welfare,” one of them said. Lackluster leadership took other forms. On Friday night, a week into the operation, Captain Biggers told the Afghan soldiers that they would accompany him the next day to a large meeting with local elders. In the morning, the Afghans were not ready. The Marines stood impatiently, waiting while the forces that were said by the officials in Kabul to be leading the operation slowly mustered. Captain Biggers, by now used to the delays, muttered an acronym that might sum up a war now deep into its ninth year. “W.O.A.,” he said. “Waiting on the A.N.A.”

DTN News: Northrop Seeks Greenlight For E-2D Export

DTN News: Northrop Seeks Greenlight For E-2D Export *Source: DTN News / Defense News (NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - February 20, 2010: Northrop Grumman hopes to get U.S. authorizations by the end of the year to market its Advanced Hawkeye E-2D airborne early warning and control aircraft to a short list of interested countries, said international program manager Tom Trudell, speaking at the Singapore Airshow. Northrop Grumman is hoping to get the okay from the U.S. government to export the Advanced Hawkeye E-2D airborne early warning and control aircraft. ( Northrop Grumman) "We're hoping by the end of the year," said. "We see opportunities in the marketplace. We're assessing those now." The company looks to find new export clients for the Hawkeye, which is operated by Egypt, France, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. Only France and the U.S. Navy operate their E-2 planes from carriers, with the others working from shore-based facilities. The clearance process for exporting U.S. military technology is long and highly detailed, he said, and although the short list runs to single figures, Trudell said there is wide interest among foreign forces. The United Arab Emirates was one of the countries which has expressed interest. India asked for information on the Hawkeye 2000 around 2003. A third of the E-2 fleet flies under foreign flags, pointing up the importance of the international community of operators, Trudell said. The next international users conference is due to be held in April at St Augustine, Florida, where the aircraft is built. The program has met all major milestones so far. "The test program is on track," Trudell said. "This is unique for a program this sophisticated," he added. The two development aircraft are due to enter a six-month operational assessment in the autumn at the U.S. Navy test center at Patuxent River, Maryland. Clearing that hurdle allows production of the aircraft to continue. A next major "C" milestone is due in spring 2009. Under the 2003 contract worth $2.4 billion, Northrop Grumman signed up to develop and produce two development and three pilot production aircraft. The contract runs to 2012. The total buy is for 75 of the new aircraft for the U.S. Navy. An initial operating capability is scheduled in 2011, allowing the U.S. Navy to stand up a first squadron. Pilot production begins this year, followed by low rate initial production in 2009, and full production starts in 2013. To extend endurance of the new carrier-based E-2s to 12 hours, in-flight refueling tests have been done with C-130 and F-18 aircraft, although fuel transfers will only be made next year. For shore-based aircraft, extra fuel panels on the wings are planned, offering eight hours compared to the current six hours for the Hawkeye 2000, which is being phased out of production. For the new Hawkeye version, the airframe has been strengthened and a Lockheed Martin ADS-18 electronic scanned array radar replaces a mechanical rotating antenna, extending coverage. Other changes include more powerful Rolls-Royce T56-A-427A engines, six-bladed NP2000 Ratier-Figeac propellers, a glass cockpit and new mission systems computer. New communications and datalink gear and a fourth operator station have also been added.

DTN News: Indian Navy Inducts Its Most Modern Fighters

DTN News: Indian Navy Inducts Its Most Modern Fighters *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) DABOLIM (GOA), India - February 20, 2010: The Navy inducted its most modern fighter — the MiG-29 K — at a ceremony here on Friday but the fighting machines will remain landlocked for the next three years due to the massive delay in the Gorshkov aircraft carrier that was to arrive from Russia in 2008. While six of the modern fighters — which the Navy says with some justification are even more advanced than the IAF’s Su-30 MKI — have arrived in Goa and have been inducted into the Black Panthers squadron, they will remain confined to shore-based operations and training programme till 2013-14 when the aircraft carrier is finally expected to arrive. The aircraft were inducted at a ceremony at the Hansa airbase by Defence Minister A K Antony in the presence of Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma.
The sophisticated Russian-made MiG-29K maritime fighter aircraft, which will be based on under-construction aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, were on Friday formally inducted into the Navy by Defence Minister AK Antony. Four MiG 29Ks of the 'Black Panthers' squadron were inducted at a ceremony that was also attended by Navy chiefAdmiral Nirmal Verma. India had placed orders for 16 MiG-29K in 2004 along with Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier from Russia, four of which landed in India on December 4 last year. "After induction, the fighter jets would be operated for around two years from the under-development shore-basedtesting facility (SBTF) at INS Hansa till the actual delivery of Gorshkov, rechristened as INS Vikramaditya, slated for2012," a senior naval officer said. He said pilots will have to undergo training at the Intensive Flying and Testing Unit and a syllabus has beenevolved for all future pilots, who would fly the aircraft. For operating the fleet of MiG 29Ks, India had sent 10 pilots for training to Russia and also to the US for decklanding training and on board a French aircraft carrier for operations training, he said. India has only one aircraft carrier INS Virat but the MiG 29Ks can't be operated from it as they are too big to take off or land at the around 28,000-tonne warship. While the Navy is trying to make the most of the aircraft and is even setting up a land-based training facility — complete with aircraft carrier style ski jump and arrestor wires — at the Hansa airbase, the fact remains that the fighters will spend one tenth of their flying life — they have a shelf life of 30 years — flying only from land.