Sunday, February 12, 2012

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: U.S. Navy says Iran Prepares Suicide Bomb Boats In Gulf

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: U.S. Navy says Iran Prepares Suicide Bomb Boats In Gulf
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources  By Warda Al-Jawahiry Manama  - Reuters
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - February 12, 2012: Iran has built up its naval forces in the Gulf and prepared boats that could be used in suicide attacks, but the U.S. Navy can prevent it from blocking the Strait of Hormuz, the commander of U.S. naval forces in the region said on Sunday.

Iran has made a series of threats in recent weeks to disrupt shipping in the Gulf or strike U.S. forces in retaliation if its oil trade is shut down by sanctions, or if its disputed nuclear program comes under attack.
"They have increased the number of submarines ... they increased the number of fast attack craft," Vice Admiral Mark Fox told reporters. "Some of the small boats have been outfitted with a large warhead that could be used as a suicide explosive device. The Iranians have a large mine inventory."

"We have watched with interest their development of long range rockets and short, medium and long range ballistic missiles and of course ... the development of their nuclear program," Fox, who heads the U.S. Fifth Fleet, said at a briefing on the fleet's base in the Gulf state of Bahrain.

Iran now has 10 small submarines, he said.

Military experts say the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet patrolling the Gulf - which always has at least one giant supercarrier accompanied by scores of jets and a fleet of frigates and destroyers - is overwhelmingly more powerful than Iran's navy.

But ever since al Qaeda suicide bombers in a small boat killed 17 sailors on board the destroyer U.S.S. Cole in a port in Yemen in 1996, Washington has been wary of the vulnerability of its huge battleships to bomb attacks by small enemy craft.

Asked whether the U.S. Navy was prepared for an attack or other trouble in the Gulf, Fox said: "We are very vigilant, we have built a wide range of options to give the president and we are ready... What if it happened tonight? We are ready today."

Iranian officials have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the outlet to the Gulf through which nearly all of the Middle East's oil sails.

Asked if he took Iran's threats seriously, Fox Said: "Could they make like extremely difficult for us? Yes they could. If we did nothing and they were able to operate without being inhibited, yeah they could close it, but I can't see that we would ever be in that position."

He added that diplomacy should be given priority in resolving the tension.
"So when you hear discussion about all this overheated rhetoric from Iran we really believe that the best way to handle this is with diplomacy... I am absolutely convinced that is the way to go. It is our job to be prepared. We are vigilant."

Contacts between the U.S. Navy and Iranian craft in the Gulf region were routine, Fox said, referring to cases where his sailors helped Iranian ships that were in distress or threatened by pirates.

In addition to commanding the Fifth Fleet, Fox is also the commander of a multinational naval task force charged with ensuring Gulf shipping routes stay open. Although most of its firepower is American, the task force also includes other Western countries and the Gulf Arab states.

The European Union slapped an embargo on Iranian oil last month, which is due to kick in completely by July 1. The United States and EU have both imposed new sanctions on Iran's central bank which make it difficult for countries to pay Tehran for oil and for Iran to pay for the goods it imports.

(Editing by Firouz Sedarat and Peter Graff)

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources  By Warda Al-Jawahiry Manama  - Reuters
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - GREECE FINANCIAL CRISIS: Greece Set To Defy Protesters And Accept Eurozone Bailout Deal

DTN News - GREECE FINANCIAL CRISIS: Greece Set To Defy Protesters And Accept Eurozone Bailout Deal
*Violence erupts in Athens as MPs debate package of austerity cuts worth €3.3bn as country seeks to avoid defaulting on debt
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Ian Traynor, Europe editor, and Helena Smith in Athens -, Sunday 12 February 2012 
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - February 12, 2012: Greece's parliament was expected to defy angry protesters on the streets of Athens and endorse a deeply unpopular package of savage austerity measures in order to try to avoid a sovereign default and retain the euro as its currency.

With eurozone leaders declaring it was time for Greece to put up or shut up and that Athens' promises could no longer be believed, Greece's two main political parties and the caretaker prime minister invoked apocalyptic scenarios for the country if the €3.3bn (£2.76bn) of cuts ordained by the eurozone were not supported.

Street battles between police firing rounds of tear gas and demonstrators hurling firebombs and marble slabs left Syntagma Square, the plaza in front of the parliament building, resembling a war zone. Rubbish bins burned as plumes of smoke and asphyxiating clouds of toxic chemicals filled the air.

Bangs could be heard inside parliament and the tear gas drifting across square reached the debating chamber. Last night several buildings has been set on fire, including a cinema, bank and a number of shops, and Greek television reported that dozens of citizens and at least 40 police officers had been injured.

Under a sea of banners denouncing further wage, pension and job cuts, tens of thousands of protesters chanted against "the occupation" of the country by foreign lenders keeping Greece afloat.

"The rebellion has begun," the veteran leftist Manolis Glezos told TV reporters. "These measures will never pass. They are a breach of our democracy," he spluttered, holding a surgical mask to his face against the fumes.

The prime minister, Lukas Papademos, warned ahead of the vote that wages and pensions would go unpaid, hospitals and schools would be devoid of funding, banks would collapse and people's savings would be lost if the 300 MPs rejected the terms set by the eurozone for receipt of a €130bn bailout.

Without the bailout – the second in two years – bankrupt Greece will be insolvent and have to default on its debt next month when it needs to redeem €14.5bn of loans.

"A disorderly default would throw the country into a disastrous adventure. It would create conditions of uncontrollable economic chaos and social eruption," Papademos said in a television address.

Despite six government resignations in recent days and the departure of the small extremist Laos party from the caretaker coalition, the two main parties – the Pasok socialists and the centre-right New Democracy – can muster a comfortable majority, although analysts predicted dozens of defections to the rejectionist camp. But in fiery exchanges in the chamber, finance minister Evangelos Venizelos warned: "If the law is not passed, the country will go bankrupt."

George Papandreou, the former socialist prime minister felled by the crisis last year, declared that Greece was at war and that it had to win. Antonis Samaras, the centre-right leader tipped to be prime minister after elections expected in April, also sought to rally his MPs behind accepting the deal after rejecting key details of the cuts for weeks.

With trust between Athens and its eurozone creditors, led by Germany, at an all-time low, the Greek government was told the time for pledges had run out.

"Greece's promises are no longer enough for us," said Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's finance minister, who also spoke of the possibility of Greece leaving the euro.

"The Greeks have not quite managed to form a government supported properly by all the parties and therefore have not been able to tackle the necessary reforms as decisively as we would all like," said Schäuble.
While eurozone finance ministers are expected to agree to the €130bn bailout on Wednesday provided Greece meets its end of the bargain, Berlin is insisting that most of the money does not actually go to Greece but is held in a separate account and is used purely to service the country's debt.

EU ministerial sources said that account could hold up to 70% of the bailout funds. Such a move would be unprecedented and is likely to be contested. But the German proposal is also supported by France. By guaranteeing that Greece's creditors are repaid, there would be no default.

As part of the €3.3bn in savings ordered by the eurozone, the Greeks have to specify how a €325m overspend will be resolved. While the parliament was due to vote through the measures, it remained unclear where these extra savings were coming from.

A particularly neuralgic point in the savings has been the requirement to slash the minimum wage by 22%. "It's a big problem in Greece that the minimum wage is so high," said Schauble. "That's why there are so many black [illegal] workers. That wouldn't happen if they had a functioning administration."

As Greece's MPs prepared to vote on the austerity package, thousands of protesters remained on the streets of Athens denouncing the Germans and the EU. The demonstrations against austerity also spread to Portugal, the second of three eurozone countries trading hairshirt economics for a eurozone bailout, where tens of thousands came out in protest against collapsing living standards.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Ian Traynor, Europe editor, and Helena Smith in Athens -, Sunday 12 February 2012 
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Pentagon Budget Eyes $178.8 Billion For R&D, Procurement

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Pentagon Budget Eyes $178.8 Billion For R&D, Procurement
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Andrea Shalal-Esa ~ Reuters
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - February 12, 2012: The Pentagon's fiscal 2013 budget plan calls for spending of $178.8 billion to develop and buy new warships, fighter jets and other major weapons, a 7.5 percent drop from the level initially projected for the coming year, according to a detailed budget document obtained by Reuters.

The total acquisition amount, which includes $9.1 billion in war-related funding, is down about 12.2 percent from the level requested in last year's budget, the document shows. The fiscal 2012 acquisition request included $15.4 billion in war funding.

The fiscal 2013 plan foresees spending of $109.1 billion for procurement and $69.7 billion for research and development, compared with earlier projections of $117.6 billion for procurement and $75.7 billion for R&D.

The document shows that the U.S. military is maintaining high levels of spending on most aircraft and ships as it shifts its focus to the Asia Pacific region under a new military strategy announced last month by President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

At the same time, the Pentagon will spend $2 billion less on space programs funding for ground vehicle programs will be far lower as the U.S. military reduces the size of the Army and Marine Corps after 10 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"It doesn't look that bad for the Air Force and Navy procurement accounts, but the Army is clearly getting less money," said Virginia-based defense consultant Jim McAleese.

He said Boeing Co, the No. 2 U.S. weapons maker, fared well in the budget overall, especially given a sharp increase in funding for the KC-46 refueling tanker from $877 mln to $1.82 billion, as did Lockheed Martin Corp, the No. 1 supplier.

Huntington Ingalls Industries, the company spun out of Northrop Grumman Corp last year, also did better than expected, with the Navy adding $781.7 billion for initial construction funding of a new aircraft carrier, and $1.6 billion for the refueling of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier.

Truck maker Oshkosh Corp was hit hard by the Army's downsizing, losing about $600 million in funding for heavy trucks and a continued slowdown in a medium vehicle program.

Panetta last month gave highlights of the 2013 budget, his first as defense secretary and the first that takes into account a deficit-reducing measure passed by Congress that requires cuts of $487 billion from projected spending over the next decade.

It is also the first Pentagon budget since the September 11, 2001, attacks that requests less funding than the year before.

Weapons makers like Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp, Huntington Ingalls Corp and Raytheon Co have been anxiously awaiting details about their programs.

The Pentagon is due to formally release the details on Monday when Obama sends his 2013 budget request to Congress, which must approve the spending plan.


The plan for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins on October 1, requests $9.17 billion for the Pentagon's biggest weapons program, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, down slightly from $9.25 billion requested in fiscal 2012.

That includes $2.7 billion for ongoing development of the radar-evading supersonic jet, and $6.15 billion to pay for 29 jets, down from $6.33 billion for 31 jets in 2012.

Panetta announced last month that the Pentagon would slow the ramp-up in production of the new fighter to allow more time for testing and avert costly retrofits.

Overall spending on aircraft programs will drop 12 percent to $47.6 billion in fiscal 2013 from $54.2 billion in the fiscal 2012 budget request, mainly due to a 41 percent drop in funding for the Lockheed-built C-130J transport plane, and a 32 percent cut in funding for the V-22 Osprey.

The Pentagon proposed spending $835 million on seven more C-130J airlifters in fiscal 2013, down from $1.43 billion for 12 planes in fiscal 2012.

Funding for the V-22, a tilt-rotor aircraft built by Boeing and Bell Helicoter, a unit of Textron Inc, would drop to $1.91 billion for 21 aircraft, from $2.8 billion for 35 planes in fiscal 2012.

The plan foresees spending of $1.25 billion for six high-altitude unmanned Global Hawk spy planes built by Northrop Grumman - three for NATO and three for the Navy. Panetta announced last month that the Pentagon was cancelling work on the Air Force's Block 30 variant.

The plan would increase funding for the AH-64 Apache helicopter built by Boeing by 55 percent, funding 40 remanufactured helicopters and 10 new aircraft. Northrop Grumman and Lockheed also have a big role in the program.

Funding for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp, would continue a five-year procurement agreement with $1.3 billion for 59 of the twin-engine helicopters


The Pentagon's spending plan includes $10.9 billion for ground vehicles, 32 percent less than the $16 billion requested in fiscal 2012. The new request includes $117 million for continued development of a new light tactical vehicle for the Army and Marine Corps and a heavier new Ground Combat Vehicle.

Funding for the Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles built by Oshkosh Corp would drop to $58.1 million for 1,534 vehicles from $650 million for 9,336 vehicles funded in fiscal 2012.

Missile defense spending would remain fairly stable at $9.7 billion under the fiscal 2013 request, maintaining work on several air and missile defense capabilities such as the Patriot PAC-3 missile built by Lockheed.

It would fund the MEADS joint program with Italy and Germany at $400.9 million, completing development testing.

Shipbuilding programs would get $22.6 billion in the fiscal 2013 request, down from $24 billion in the fiscal 2012 request. That will fund 2 Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines, 2 DDG-51 destroyers, and 4 Littoral Combat Ships.

Space programs would get $8 billion, a drop of 22 percent from the $10 billion requested in fiscal 2012, due to fewer satellites and launches, and the cancellation of Northrop's Defense Weather Satellite System.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Andrea Shalal-Esa ~ Reuters
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Italy Widely Expected To Scale Back F-35 Orders

DTN News - DEFENSE NEWS: Italy Widely Expected To Scale Back F-35 Orders
* Cabinet to review defence spending cuts Tuesday -govt source
* Italian defense minister to outline cuts to lawmakers Wednesday
* Italy to cut order to 100 from 131 -newspaper
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Steve Scherer - Reuters
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - February 12, 2012:  Italy seems certain to scale back its major investment in Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, heightening uncertainty over the troubled stealth jet's future.

Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola has said repeatedly since January that the country's originally planned order of the 131 supersonic warplanes by 2018 was being "reviewed" because military spending cuts were necessary as part of Prime Minister Mario Monti's austerity plan to shore up public accounts.

General Claudio Debertolis, secretary general of the Defence Ministry and the country's armaments chief, confirmed to lawmakers on Tuesday that cuts were expected.

"There will be a revision of this Joint Strike Fighter programme to align it with disposable resources," he said.

Italy will ask for about 30 fewer planes, Corriere della Sera daily reported on Friday, without citing its source. Panorama magazine gave the same number on Jan. 18.

Government sources and lawmakers told Reuters that it was premature to say how many of the F-35 fighters Italy will order because of uncertainty over the version of the aircraft designed for short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL).

This version is supposed to replace ageing Harrier jets on Italy's new hi-tech Cavour aircraft carrier.

On Tuesday Monti's Cabinet will examine the Defence Ministry's new spending plan that includes reducing F-35 outlays and personnel cuts, according to a government source. The minister will then detail the package to parliament on Wednesday.

The Pentagon's F-35 program office declined comment on Italy's plans, saying all of the partner countries would meet in Australia in March to discuss their production plans.


Uncertainty over the Pentagon's most expensive current arms programme is growing as participating countries cut or postpone orders, and flight testing continues.

Washington is expected to announce on Monday that it will postpone production of 179 planes over the next five years, bringing the total that would have been ordered between 2013 and 2017 down to 244 from 423.

In January the Pentagon announced $487 billion in defence cuts over the next decade.

"It's reasonable to do what the American government is doing, reduce the number of orders and spread them out over a longer time frame," said Federica Mogherini, secretary of the Italian Chamber of Deputies' defense committee and a member of the centre-left Democratic Party, the second-biggest bloc supporting Monti's technocrat government in parliament.

"It's not yet necessary to establish total number of planes we will order because costs are evolving, and all the technical problems have yet to be resolved," she told Reuters.

Some of the most significant technical problems concern the short take-off model, which has had engine trouble, and needed an early redesign due to excess weight. Recently, there were concerns about metal fatigue in a bulkhead, overheating of parts, and excess vibration in doors for an air input port.

Only the United States and Italy have so far said they plan to buy the STOVL version of the aircraft.

Australia has also said it is rethinking its plan to buy 12 of the radar-evading jets, and Turkey has put off buying two of them. Britain said earlier this month that it won't make a firm commitment on the number of planes until 2015. The other partners in joint construction of the plane are Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Canada.

Italy is the third investor in the programme after the United States and Britain. Italy is in the process of ordering its first three planes for $240 million, Debertolis said on Tuesday.

Centre-left lawmakers called for defence cuts as Monti's "Save Italy" austerity measures kicked in this year, hitting Italians with smaller pensions and higher fuel costs, property and sales taxes aimed at eliminating the budget deficit by 2013.

Two newspapers aligned with the centre-left Democratic Party criticized spending on the F-35 jet programme in a series of articles during the first half of January.

State-owned Finmeccanica is one of the subcontractors on the project. Finmeccanica's Alenia unit will assemble the planes purchased by Italy, the Netherlands and Norway.

"Even if the order we make is much lower than 131 we started with, Italy's work on the aircraft is still guaranteed," Debertolis told lawmakers. "We could have a significant decrease in orders and still keep Italy's industrial role intact."

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*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Steve Scherer  - Reuters
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News