Saturday, April 24, 2010

DTN News: Iran Displays Military Muscle, Future Hints

DTN News: Iran Displays Military Muscle, Future Hints Source: DTN News / Aviation Week (NSI News Source Info) NEW YORK, U.S. - April 24, 2010: Iran has packed its “Army Day” parade displays with new equipment, fantasy forces and some worrying hints at the development of advanced capabilities. “Both the surface-to-air missile equipment and stealth aircraft mock-ups [in the parade] are judged to be bogus,” a senior Pentagon official says. “During the parade they displayed two stealth aircraft mock-ups, one manned and one remotely piloted aircraft. They are likely [variants of] the Safreh Mahi (Flatfish or Stingray) [design], which Iran announced it was testing last February. “The TELs [transporter, erector and launchers] and radar are also very poor mock-ups,” the official says. “The Iranians have traditionally used the Army Day Parade to display concept projects for public consumption and disinformation.” The idea of Iran developing a stealth fighter or UAV is considered unlikely given the difficulties the country has supporting its dwindling force of U.S.-built F-5s, F-4s, F-14s and former Iranian fighters, U.S. Air Force specialists say. Iran held its Army Day parade in Tehran on April 18. Included in the display were troops and equipment painted all in white and black — “asymmetric force white [and] black” — and examples of Iran’s full range of tactical ballistic missiles. In addition to the stealthy aircraft models, there was an improved, Iranian-made version of the U.S.- designed Hawk air defense missile. The biggest surprise was trucks loaded with what appeared to be several canisters carrying Soviet-built S-300 advanced, long-range air-defense missiles. Russia had contracted for, but not delivered, a number of the NATO-designated SA-20 weapons. An unclassified version of a classified Pentagon report to Congress on Iran’s military was released the following day. It contends that Iran could develop, build and test a ballistic missile with enough range to hit the U.S. by 2015. But the report also notes that the project would require substantial foreign assistance, and contends that Iran’s motivation for pursuing parallel nuclear and missile programs is to create a military deterrent against attack. “Iran continues to develop ballistic missiles that can [reach] regional adversaries, Israel and central Europe, including … an extended range variant of the Shahab-3 and a 2,000-km. medium-range ballistic missile, the Ashura,” the report says. The U.S. has had on-again, off-again success with intercepting long-range ballistic missiles. The cost and reliability of such interceptors is driving the Pentagon to quietly start looking at pairing advanced, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars — capable of finding small targets at long range — with new variants of longer-range air-to-air missiles. One possibility is Raytheon’s development of the NCADE (Network-Centric Airborne Defense Element) missile, which is a variant of the AIM-120 Amraam. It could be carried by upgraded Air National Guard F-15Cs assigned to the Homeland Defense mission.

DTN News: US Military Commander Will Not Promise Not To Down IAF Jets Heading To Iran

DTN News: US Military Commander Will Not Promise Not To Down IAF Jets Heading To Iran Source: DTN News / Yechiel Spira – Yeshiva World News YWN Israel (NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - April 24, 2010: Perhaps highlighting the unprecedented breakdown in relations between Israel and the United States, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff evaded responding to a question if the United States would shoot down an IAF fighter jet heading to Iran to attack that country’s nuclear facilities. According to the Virginia Weekly Standard, the American military commander appeared at a town hall meeting at the University of West Virginia, a young airman was quoted as asking if Israeli jets entered a US no-fly zone, would America down the jet(s). His response was anything but direct, avoiding the question by stating “We have an exceptionally strong relationship with Israel. I’ve spent a lot of time with my counterpart in Israel. So we also have a very clear understanding of where we are. And beyond that, I just wouldn’t get into the speculation of what might happen and who might do what. I don’t think it serves a purpose, frankly”. The airman was somewhat persistent, then asking if he or his colleagues might be ordered to fire at Israeli Air Force jets. Once again, the response was far from expected, seeking to sidestep the question. “Again, I wouldn’t move out into the future very far from here. They’re an extraordinarily close ally, have been for a long time, and will be in the future”.

DTN News: India Light Combat Aircraft Ready Steady To Fly For Duty

DTN News: India Light Combat Aircraft Ready Steady To Fly For Duty Source: DTN News (NSI News Source Info) BANGALORE, India - April 24, 2010: Light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas took a significant step towards induction into the Indian Air Force on Friday afternoon. The third Tejas aircraft in the limited series production (LSP)-3 took to the skies carrying almost the complete and final configuration in terms of equipment fit, making it the first flight of a near-complete LCA. The equipment included new air-data computers, multi-mode radar (MMR), new communication and navigation apparatus and a radar warning receiver. The aircraft took off from the HAL airport in Bangalore and all objectives of the flight were met within 52 minutes, the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) said. ADA is the designer and developer of Tejas. This is the first time that a Tejas aircraft in the LSP line-up carried the MMR. “This is the culmination of the efforts of the Tejas team comprising members from HAL, IAF, the centre for military airworthiness and certification, directorate general of air quality assurance, the various DRDO labs and public sector undertakings,” ADA director PS Subramanyam said. ADA scientists said with the successful Friday flight of LSP-3, Tejas was very close to initial operations clearance, which is to be completed by December 2010.

DTN News: China Sets Sights On Enhanced Air, Sea Power

DTN News: China Sets Sights On Enhanced Air, Sea Power Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - April 24, 2010: China is in the midst of an ambitious bid to modernize its military by the middle of this century. A key part of this effort is to downsize its army -- the world's largest -- while beefing up its air force and navy. This will enable China to project military force farther beyond its borders. In an effort aimed to show transparency in this process, China recently opened up Yangcun air base outside Beijing to military attaches and foreign journalists. Pilots of the People's Liberation Army Air Force 24th fighter division barnstormed their fighter jets past the reviewing stand, before landing and taxiing down the runway. The planes are J-10s, a Chinese-built, multi-role fighter made to be roughly comparable to the American F-16. Division Commander Yan Feng has logged more than 600 hours flying them. China plans to export the planes, and Yan makes what sounds like a sales pitch. "As a pilot, I think the user interface is very good," he says. "It's highly maneuverable, has a good range, and its armaments and fire control systems are not bad. It's not like our old aircraft, which could easily go into a tailspin. Barring a major error, it's not easy to lose control of this plane." China's air force and navy have benefited from two decades of double-digit increases in defense spending. And because the air force and navy cost more to equip than the army, they're getting a bigger share of the defense budget than ever. "It's quite natural that we want to build up a streamlined military force, which has more focus on technologies rather than manpower," says Defense Ministry spokesman Senior Col. Huang Xueping. Changing Military Priorities The emphasis on air and sea power is part of a historical trend. Over the past century and a half, China has turned its attention from defending its land borders to its coastline. Roy Kamphausen, senior vice president of the National Bureau of Asian Research in Washington, D.C., notes that the collapse of the Soviet Union accelerated this shift. "Once that was accomplished, the traditional threats that China has faced from its north and west largely dissipated," Kamphausen says. "That coincided with the growth of China's economy and a more outward-looking approach and thus a need to be more of a maritime power in all its dimensions." To build up its air force and navy, China needs to reduce the size of its overall force. Xu Guangyu is a retired People's Liberation Army general, who is now with a government think tank called the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association. Xu figures that for a fairly modern military, China needs to spend about $100,000 per year on each serviceman, up from $30,000 now. Japan spends about $200,000, and the U.S. spends about $400,000. "Assuming we increase defense spending by 8 percent per year, and reduce our total forces from 2.3 million to 1.5 million troops, we'll be able to spend $100,000 on each soldier by 2019," Xu says. He points out that China's total spending is second only to that of the U.S. But it's low as measured by per capita spending. The argument is analogous to what the government says: Although China's overall economy is the world's third-largest, its people are still poor on a per capita basis. Expanded Global Role For China's Military? For the first time in about two decades, China's defense budget will grow at a single-digit clip -- roughly at the same rate as GDP growth. Xu explains that this is partly the effect of the economic recession, and partly to counter criticism that China is spending too much on military development. Xu says China's military is currently about 60 percent army, 20 percent navy and 20 percent air force. He says China can achieve its aims by going to 50 percent army, and 25 percent each for navy and air force. He says China's need to project air and sea power is limited, so there's no need to go to a 40-30-30 ratio. "China's land-based army will continue to be the main force," he predicts. "Our naval and air power will mostly be used to enhance the combat effectiveness of our ground forces." For now, Kamphausen says that China has invested very little in overseas bases and refueling capabilities that would really allow China to project force around the globe. "I'm beginning to conclude it's not that high a priority. And then, if it's not that high a priority, what does it say about how far they want Chinese air power to be able to reach? Still probably pretty close to home," he says. Kamphausen says analysts are encouraged because China can now project its force in support of international missions, such as patrolling for Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. But analysts are also concerned because China's newly acquired weapons could one day be used to target U.S. forces in the event of a conflict over Taiwan.