Thursday, July 17, 2008

Russian Arms in Latin America

Russian Arms in Latin America U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice raised the issue of large-scale Russian weapons exports to Venezuela during her recent visit to Moscow. But the Kremlin says arms deals with Caracas are in keeping with international agreements. More and more Russian weaponry goes to Latin AmericaRussia has bolstered its position in Latin America's arms market in recent years. State-controlled arms exporter Rosobornoexport, which accounts for 85 percent of Russia's weapons sales, says Latin America is its third largest market. And company officials say they are working to expand their business in Latin America. According to the U.S. Congressional Research Service, between 1998 and 2001, Russia supplied $300 million worth of arms to the region. Between 2002 and 2005, that amount doubled. Last year, Russian arms transfers to Venezuela alone topped $3 billion dollars. Russia's other arms clients in the region include Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay. The Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs says Moscow's military sales to Venezuela include air-defense systems and fighter aircraft, along with a joint-venture weapons factory to produce up to 50-thousand rifles a year. The Council's director, Larry Birns, says Russia's emergence as a major arms supplier to the region coincides with efforts by some Latin American countries to modernize their arsenals. Venezuela bought Sukhoi SU-30MK fighters to replace aging F16s"In the aftermath of the military regimes in Latin America, the military needs of these countries suffered periods of plummeting budgets and marginal status within society. Now the time has come in a number of Latin American countries to renew their military arsenals. And here is Russia with top-of-the-line military equipment, which is much cheaper than [arms] available from the United States or other international arms suppliers," says Birns. Birns says increased arms exports will likely provide Moscow with greater influence over a number of militaries in the region. At the same time, he says, the United States is being pushed out of an arms market it once dominated. "What we are seeing here is an unprecedented and unanticipated undermining of the privileged status that the United States traditionally has occupied in Latin America. The United States has been distracted from Latin America by Iraq. This distraction [has] allowed Latin American countries to diversify their relationships in terms of their trade and political associations," says Birns and argues this shift will likely last for years. But Riordan Roett, Director of Western Hemisphere Studies at The Johns Hopkins University in Washington, points out that 80 percent of Russia's recent arms sales have been to Venezuela. He says Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, is trying to boost his standing at home and abroad. Venezuela bought Russian transport helicopters Mi-26, here seen lifting a U.S. Chinook in Afghanistan"Chavez sees a build up of arms as a way of consolidating his position within Venezuela because he is able to win favor with the armed forces, which were divided at the beginning of his term of office, which appears less so at the present time. Second, [this is intended] to intimidate or impress his neighbors [so] that Chavez and Venezuela will be the dominant sub-regional power. And third, what it actually does is reach out and establish ties with important countries like Russia," says Roett. The Russia-Venezuela arms trade has generated criticism from the United States. Late last year, the Bush administration lodged a formal complaint with Russia for agreeing to provide Venezuela more than 100-thousand Kalashnikov rifles that U.S. officials say could be used to aid guerillas such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or the National Liberation Army -- the United States calls terrorists. Mark Bromley with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pursued these concerns during her recent talks in Moscow with Russia's defense and foreign ministers. "The U.S. argument is [that] this is completely disproportionate to Venezuelan military needs. And there is a strong likelihood that the weapons being imported or the weapons they're replacing will either deliberately or through omission cross the border and fall in the hands of, for instance, guerillas in Colombia," says Bromley. "The second set of concerns, which the U.S. has raised, has been about the hardware sales, particularly the SU-30 fighter aircraft. This is a much more advanced system than Venezuela needs and will destabilize the military balance in the Andean region." Most experts agree that Russia's arms trade policy in Latin America is not ideologically driven. On the contrary, it is merely business, says political scientist Riordan Roett. "I don't think Russians have any particular foreign policy interest in the Western Hemisphere. I think Russia and China are both moving very carefully in the Western Hemisphere precisely so as to not further complicate the bilateral relationship with Washington," says Roett. Arms transfer specialist Mark Bromley says, "If you look at the relationship Russia has with Venezuela, it is built on natural resources and arms sales. There is not much of an ideological affinity." Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez before the United Nations General Assembly, in September 2006"I think [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin doesn't really support Chavez when he goes off on these anti-U.S. tirades. There is no shared agenda between Putin and Chavez. Chavez wants to get away from the United States. Russia, unlike any other country in the world, has the technology and is not under the influence of the United States and is willing to sell to Venezuela," says Bromley. Some analysts say Venezuela's growing military ambitions could drive more U.S. arms sales to the region. And Bromley warns of a possible regional arms race. "A number of countries in South America fund their military acquisitions from the sales of raw materials and, with the price of those commodities on the rise, those countries have a lot more to spend on purchasing military equipment. You put those two things together - - willing suppliers and ample funds - - you could get into a situation where more advanced technologies are being imported into South America than is necessarily in the best interest of countries there," says Bromley. Despite the risk of an arms race, Bromley says relations among Latin American states are stable. These ties, he adds, have been reinforced by bilateral agreements between countries, including Venezuela, to exchange information about their arms acquisitions.

U.S. May Buy Shorter, Lighter MRAPs

U.S. May Buy Shorter, Lighter MRAPs 17 July, 2008: Some of the Pentagon's final batch of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles could be several tons lighter and one or two feet shorter in length, an effort to reduce deadly rollovers and increase mobility, a senior Pentagon official said. "We will study engineering change proposals over the next four to six weeks, looking to improve mobility requirements and develop a better turn radius for the MRAPs," the official said.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates responded favorably when presented with the plan on July 9 by defense acquisition undersecretary John Young, the official said. The idea is to increase stability while preserving the vehicles' survivability - their V-shaped hull, ground clearance and armor, the official said. Today's fully loaded MRAPs are about 12 to 14 feet long and weigh from 15 to 22 tons, depending upon armor options. "The roads are caving in. If we could have all the survivability that an MRAP gives you at a lighter weight, the roads would not cave in. We want it to weigh less than it weighs now," the official said. DoD plans to buy roughly 1,600 MRAPs by the end of the year, completing the planned purchase of up to 15,000 MRAPs, said Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin. These will include standard MRAPs, plussed-up MRAPs with extra armor, and the new shorter, lighter MRAP, the official said. On July 17, the Pentagon announced the first part of the 1,600: 773 General Dynamics Canada RG 31 MRAPs for $552 million. Buyers chose the RG 31, slated to go to Afghanistan, because it was smaller than other entries, the official said. The Army also placed a $60 million order for 36 BAE Systems RG 33 MRAPs to replace other vehicles for U.S. Special Operations Command. The Pentagon will not purchase the 30-ton MRAP II vehicles, despite spending more than $25 million over a year to develop them, because of mobility and safety concerns, he said.

GE Signs Nearly $4 Billion in Aviation Deals at Air Show

GE Signs Nearly $4 Billion in Aviation Deals at Air Show Aircraft engines, systems, and services sold at 2008 Farnborough International FARNBOROUGH, UK, Jul 17, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- This week, GE (GE: General Electric Company GE 28.00, +0.32, +1.2%) Aviation tallied nearly $4 billion (list price value) in aviation products and services at the Farnborough International Air Show. The sales span across the jet engine product lines of GE and CFM International, the 50/50 joint company of GE and Snecma (SAFRAN Group), as well as aircraft systems products from GE Aviation's Systems business. The $4 billion tally comprises GE's products and services, as well as 50 percent of the value of the CFM orders. "GE Aviation is coming off its three strongest order years in recent memory," said David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. "2008 has continued to be remain strong on aviation expansion spread rather evenly across the world. Farnborough is a great stage for celebrating this fact." GE and CFM announced key strategic agreements: *GE launched a new engine core program, called "eCore," as the technology cornerstone for a new generation of jet engines for narrow-body, regional, and business jets. *GE and Snecma (SAFRAN Group) extended the CFM International partnership to the year 2040, and CFM launched LEAP Demo, an entirely new baseline turbofan engine. *GE and SAFRAN announced agreement on a new joint venture company to cooperatively develop, produce and support engine nacelles for the next-generation single-aisle commercial airliners. *CFM International launched the TRUEngine(TM) designation to help the industry more accurately appraise used CFM56 engines and to enhance resale value. Orders for GE and CFM jet engine orders and values based on list prices: *Arik Air: GEnx engines for seven Boeing 787s, and GE90 engines for five Boeing 777s. Engine value to GE: $500 million. *FlyDubai: CFM56 engines for 50 Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 and 737-900 aircraft. *China Southern Airlines: CFM56 engines for a new fleet of 20 Airbus A320 aircraft. Engine value to CFM: $700 million. *AWAS: CFM56 engines to power 45 firm, and up to 55 option A320 family aircraft. Engine value to CFM: $600 million. *Saudi Arabian Airlines: CFM56 engines for 22 Airbus A320s. Engine value to CFM: $300 million. *AirBlue: CFM56 engines for 14 Airbus A320s. Engine value to CFM: $185 million. *British Airways: CFM56 engines for two Airbus A318s. Value to CFM: $25 million. *Felix Airways: CF34 engines for eight Bombardier CRJ700s. Engine value to GE: $90 million. *China Southern Airlines: CFM56 engines for a new fleet of 20 Airbus A320 aircraft. GE Systems orders: *Bell Boeing: Five-year contract for integrated systems and equipment for 167 of the V-22 aircraft. Value to GE: $190 million. *Gulfstream Aircraft Corporation: secondary power distribution system and APU door actuation system for new G650 business jet. Value to GE: $100 million. *AgustaWestland: 10-year contract for Integrated Cockpit Display System on 70 Future Lynx and 30 Merlin Capability Sustainment Plus (MCSP) aircraft for UK Ministry of Defense. Value to GE: $55 million. *Lockheed Martin: open systems avionics solution for C-130J aircraft. Development for more than 230 aircraft operated by USAF and international air forces. Value to GE: $30 million. *BAE Systems: five-year agreement for spares inclusive repair and overhaul of Royal Air Force VC-10 Powered Flight Control Units (PFCU). Value to GE: $14 million. GE Aviation's Services: *Southwest Airlines: 10-year OnPointSM solution agreement for maintenance and overhaul of all current and future CFM56-7B engines. Covers more than 660 engines in operation and 200 engines on order. This $2 billion deal is part of GE Aviation's 50-50 CFM International partnership with France's Snecma. *Singapore Technologies Aerospace: 10-year comprehensive materials for maintenance, repair and overhaul provider with parts and support services for CFM56-3, CFM56-5B, and CFM56-7B engines. This $1.5 billion deal is part of GE Aviation's 50-50 CFM International partnership with France's Snecma. *Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc.: Tech CF6 upgrade kits for CF6-80C2 engines powering Boeing 747-400F fleet. Order value not disclosed. About GE GE is Imagination at Work -- a diversified technology, media and financial services company focused on solving some of the world's toughest problems. With products and services ranging from aircraft engines, power generation, water processing and security technology to medical imaging, business and consumer financing, and media content, GE serves customers in more than 100 countries and employs more than 300,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit the company's Web site at About GE Aviation GE Aviation, an operating unit of General Electric Company (GE: General Electric Company is a world-leading provider of commercial and military jet engines and components as well as integrated digital, electric power, and mechanical systems for aircraft. GE Aviation also has a global service network to support these offerings. For more information, visit us at

Bombardier unlikely to win more orders at Farnborough for CSeries: analyst

Bombardier unlikely to win more orders at Farnborough for CSeries: analyst July 17, 2008: FARNBOROUGH, England — Aviation analyst Jacques Kavafian says he no longer believes that Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) will announce more orders for its newly launched CSeries at this week's Farnborough Air Show in England. The Toronto-based analyst had previously expected that more than 200 aircraft could be ordered by up to five launch customers for the Montreal company's new fuel-efficient narrow body aircraft. But pronouncements from two of them has caused him to change his assessment. International Lease Finance Corp. and Qatar Airways announced Tuesday that they aren't yet prepared to order the 110-to 145-seat jets, even though they remain interested. "As a result of ILFC and Qatar's pronouncements, we are no longer expecting any CSeries orders at this air show," he wrote in a report Wednesday following the show's second day. Lufthansa became the first CSeries customer when Bombardier announced Sunday that the German airline had signed a letter of interest for up to 60 aircraft, at a price of US$46.7 million each. The deal is worth more than $2.8 billion if firm and optional orders are exercised. Kavafian had predicted that Shanghai Airlines and China Southern would also place orders at the show. Bombardier has said that discussions with a number of airlines worldwide "are progressing well." Other airlines that have been mentioned as potential customers down the road are Malaysian Airlines and U.S. airlines Northwest and Delta. Leasing is believed to be an attractive option for some airlines because of the recent credit turmoil. But ILFC said it will wait to see how the U.S. industry restructures before committing to an order. Qatar Airways said it will make a decision "in the not too distant future." "We continue to remain confident that the airline will select the CSeries aircraft, whether for the full number of aircraft required or a partial order," Kavafian said. While Bombardier's early buzz at the air show has faded, Chicago-based Boeing Inc. (NYSE:BA) and Europe's Airbus Industries have generated strong orders. Airlines have placed orders for a record 313 aircraft by the show's second day, up from 89 when the show was held two years ago. Air China ordered 45 Boeing aircraft, Avia Leasing Ltd. signed up for 24 Sukhoi Superjet 100s and Aviation Capital Group ordered 23 Airbus A320s. Airbus has captured 43 per cent of orders at the show in the first two days, compared to 32 per cent for Boeing and 25 per cent for other manufacturers. Bombardier shares lost 27 cents, or 3.89 per cent, to $6.67 in trading Wednesday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

HAL hopeful of further sales of Dhruv ALH in South American countries

HAL hopeful of further sales of Dhruv ALH in South American countries 17 July 2008 - Farnborough: Having secured a contract for seven 'Dhruv' advanced light helicopters (ALH) from the South American Republic of Ecuador last month, Indian aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is now in talks with other countries in the region for further orders. HAL chairman, Ashok Baweja, confirmed that HAL was in negotiations with other South American nations for sale of the Dhruv ALH and that the company hoped to finalise deals in a month's time. He was hopeful that two or three South American nations would soon be on HAL's export list. The Dhruv is a 5.5-tonne weight class multi-role, multi-mission, advanced light helicopter and is turning out to be a favourite at recent international air shows with the Indian Air Force (IAF) 'Sarang' formation flying team receiving a lot of attention. HAL is negotiating with Bolivia and Venezuela for the sale of five and seven Dhruv choppers respectively. These would be configured mainly in the transport role. In the European region, HAL is in talks with Turkey for the supply of around 17 Dhruv helicopters configured in the ambulance role. HAL won the $51 million ALH order from Ecuador in the face of intense competition from other helicopter majors, such as Elbit, Eurocoptor and Kazan. With the order, India joins a select group of countries with the capability to bid for international helicopter contracts in a market so far dominated by US, European and Russian manufacturers.

Boeing, Air China Announce Agreements for Boeing 777s and 737s

Boeing, Air China Announce Agreements for Boeing 777s and 737s FARNBOROUGH, United Kingdom, July 17, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has signed an order with Air China, the flag carrier of the People's Republic of China, for 15 777-300ER (Extended Range) and 30 Next-Generation 737-800 jetliners. "These airplanes are the most fuel efficient in their classes," said Kong Dong, Chairman of Air China Limited. "The 777-300ER will be the backbone of our long-haul international fleet and the new 737-800 will support our hub build-up and our company's domestic strategy." Air China operates international and domestic scheduled passenger and cargo services and will use the airplanes to expand its international and domestic routes. The carrier is based in Beijing, the home of the 2008 Olympic Games, and is the only Chinese airline selected as a 2008 Beijing Olympics partner. The airline is one of the latest air carriers to become a full member of Star Alliance. "Our long-standing and productive partnership with Air China goes back to the airline's beginning and we're proud to be part of their success," said Rob Laird, vice president, China & East Asia Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Air China's expansion and renewal program demonstrates their commitment to improving fuel efficiency and reducing environmental impact, a commitment that Boeing shares." The order, worth approximately $6.3 billion at average list prices, was previously posted to the Boeing Orders and Deliveries Web site and attributed to an unidentified customer. The 777 family of airplanes is the market leader in the 300-to-400-seat segment. Since the first 777 went into service in June 1995, Boeing has continually grown the 777 family to include five passenger models and a freighter version. To date, 56 customers around the world have ordered more than 1,080 777s, making it the most successful twin-engine wide-body airplane on the market. Currently, Boeing has more than 350 unfilled orders for the 777. To date, 115 customers have ordered more than 4,800 Next-Generation 737s. Boeing has more than 2,200 unfilled orders for the Next-Generation 737 valued at more than $160 billion at current list prices.

Iran's Air Force to stage large-scale war games

Iran's Air Force to stage large-scale war games TEHRAN: July 17, 2008 - Iran's military will hold a major air exercise soon to demonstrate its military and defense capabilities, the commander of Iran's Air Force said on Tuesday. Ahmad Mighani said the war games, dubbed Protectors of Velayat Air, "will demonstrate our strength and will send the message to our enemies that if they contemplate an attack, they will meet a powerful blow." He said the Air Force was operating at full combat readiness and claimed that Iran had developed aircraft that were capable of evading radar detection, which "would increase the country's air strength." Iran successfully launched last week an upgraded Shahab-3 ballistic missile as part of the Great Prophet III military exercise in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, drawing a new wave of international criticism. The Iranian missile tests came after the Israeli Air Force conducted military exercises involving over 100 fighters in early June. The exercises were widely seen as a 'dress rehearsal' for an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. The United States has also not ruled out a military strike against Iran if the Islamic Republic refuses to halt its nuclear program, which Western countries believe is a cover for a weapons program. Iran says it needs the program to produce electricity. Iran has reacted to rumors of an imminent attack by Israel and/or the U.S. by promising to deliver a "powerful blow" to any aggressor. A senior military official said on Saturday Iran's armed forces would launch devastating strikes against Israel and 32 American bases in the Middle East if those countries dared to attack.

Russian warship arrives in Norway for Northern Eagle 2008 exercise

Russian warship arrives in Norway for Northern Eagle 2008 exercise MOSCOW: July 17, 2008 - A Russian ASW ship, the Severomorsk, arrived on Thursday in Norway's main naval base of Haakonsvern on its way to participate in a joint U.S.-Russian naval exercise in the Barents Sea, a Navy spokesman said. Northern Eagle 2008 is an annual naval exercise involving U.S. and Russian anti-submarine warfare ships. The ships practice maritime interdiction operations and search and rescue maneuvers. This year the exercise will also include two coast guard ships from the Norwegian navy. "The Severomorsk ASW ship has accomplished its patrol mission in the Arctic and will participate in the Northern Eagle joint annual exercise with the U.S. navy," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said. The U.S. Navy is represented by the guided-missile frigate USS Elrod, and a P-3 Orion aircraft, originally designed for anti-submarine warfare, but also used for search and rescue missions. The active stage of the exercise will be held in the Barents Sea on July 21-25. Later on Thursday, the Marshal Ustinov, a Russian Slava-class missile cruiser, will take over patrols in the area around the Arctic Ocean archipelago of Spitsbergen, which belongs to Norway. Russia said on July 14 the Russian Navy had resumed a military presence around the Arctic Ocean, including the area of Spitsbergen.

German Air force to Get 54 New Dingo Armored Vehicles

German Air force to Get 54 New Dingo Armored Vehicles Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) will produce 50 new Dingo 2 all-protected vehicles and remote controlled weapon stations, under contract awarded by the German Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB). The contract includes the manufacture and delivery of a total of 50 DINGO 2 patrol and backup vehicles, four DINGO 2 GSI (battle damage repair) vehicles, to be delivered to the German Air Force by the end of 2008. The contract includes options for 44 optional DINGO 2 GSIs. The contract also covers 230 light and 190 heavy remotely operated weapons stations (FLW).
Dingo 2, is a 12 ton, four-wheel drive, all-round protected vehicle. It has been used for several years by the armed forces of Germany, Belgium, Austria and the the Czech Republic. Luxembourg has recently placed an order for 48 DINGO 2. The vehicle is used in deployments worldwide, including in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Lebanon. Like all other new Armored Command and Control Vehicles (German: Geschützte Führungs- und Funktionsfahrzeuge =GFF) of the German Armed Forces under the GFF procurement program for self protection, the DINGO 2 is equipped with light and heavy weapon stations. The armored transport vehicle BOXER is also equipped with similar weapon stations for self-defense. The FLW systems can be remotely controlled and operated by the crew from inside the vehicle, under armor protection. The weapon stations carry optronic systems providing the operators with visibility and aiming by means of video monitoring, under daylight and night time conditions. The weapon mount is gyro-stabilized, improving aiming and firing stability while on the move. The ballistic computer is automatically set to identify and function with the type of weapon mounted - machine gun or automatic grenade launcher. In 2007 the German Army evaluated several types of weapon stations and favored the two modular weapons stations from KMW - FLW 100 and FLW 200. According to the manufacturer, both systems offer low weight (100 and 200 kg respectively).

Eurofighter Typhoon

Eurofighter Typhoon Eurofighter Typhoon is an agile, highly maneuverable, twin-engine strike fighter, designed primarily for air superiority and air supremacy missions, with secondary attack capability. The aircraft's ability to gain air superiority beyond visual range (BVR) and in close combat, and at the same time deliver high sortie rates against air, naval and ground targets in all weathers with a variety of weapons, demands close attention to pilot workload. In Eurofighter the pilot flies through use of a computerized flight control system, which offers full carefree handling. The Saudi Typhoon order is now secured. Eurofighter GmbH has signed a contract with its shareholder BAE Systems acting as the industrial prime contractor on this government to government contract for the supply of 72 aircraft to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The contract represents the second and most significant export order for the Typhoon, first was the sale of 15 fighters to Austria. Saudia is expecting the first Typhoons delivered by 2009. Including the recent order, the Typhoon order book now totals 707 Eurofighter aircraft. The four Partner nations ordered 620 aircrat: 180 for Germany, 121 for Italy, 87 for Spain and 232 for the United Kingdom. Austria placed an order of 15 aircraft, the first two were delivered in July 2007. To date, 137 Series Production Aircraft, including six Instrumented Production Aircraft operated by industry, have been delivered to the customer Nations: 48 Royal Air Force, 37 German Air Force, 26 Italian Air Force, 18 Spanish Air Force and 2 to Austria. Thirty Tranche 2 aircraft are already in final assembly. Avionics and engine testing has already started for Type Acceptance of Block 8, to be achieved in Spring 2008, with deliveries scheduled to begin in Summer next year. By the end of December 2007, 135 Eurofighter Typhoon have been delivered to seven units in four nations. The nations’ fleets have accumulated over 30,000 flight hours by that date, additon to over 5,600 test flight hours accumulated by the industry fleet. Typhoon units began assuming responsibility for NATO air defence operations in 2007, beginning in Italy and the United Kingdom. Germany has followed since January 2008, commencing Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) operations with Eurofighter Typhoon at Neuburg. Spain is expected to follow soon. The aircraft is developed and produced by the Eurofigther consortium, which includes Alenia Aeronautica, BAE SYSTEMS, EADS Germany and EADS CASA., of the four partner countries, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany and Spain. 105 production aircraft have been delivered to date including five Instrumented Production Aircraft operated by industry and owned by the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency NETMA. The Typhoon began its air force career as an air superiority fighter, but in recent months it is beginning to unlock its multi-role potential. NATO Eurofighter Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) has committed to the first phase of the Tranche 2 forward development program providing for precision attack capability for the Typhoon, introduction of Paveway IV and Enhanced GBU-16 alongside work to integrate a Laser Designator Pod. Combined with the Type Acceptance of the Block 5 aircraft, the enhanced ground equipment for use with the Block 5 standard is now cleared for use, including a more capable version the Ground Support System. Folowing a successful test program seven Typhoons from RAF XI Squadron, based at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire participated demonstrated their operational capabilitiesthe at the Green Flag exercise at Nellis AFB in the USA. XI squadron's Typhoons are expected to be declared 'combat ready' by the target date of 1 July 2008. Over the two-week period the Typhoons dropped a total of 67 munitions, comprising 43 Paveway II bombs, eight enhanced Paveway IIIs and 16 1,000 lb (454kg) free fall weapons. Exercise Green Flag West is a joint USAF and Army exercise in which close air support for ground forces is a crucial element aimed at preparing air and ground forces for deployment to overseas operational areas. It is played out in scenarios which simulate the sort of asymmetric combat experienced in conflicts such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Block 5 Capabilities Block 5 supports full air-to-air and initial air-to-ground capabilities. The aircraft is cleared for the 9g envelope as intended, with additional features such as sensor fusion, the full Direct Voice Input, enhanced GPS, and Defensive Aids Sub-System (DASS) countermeasures including automatic chaff and flare dispensers. The radar air-to-surface modes are enhanced with ground mapping, and the aircraft also provides initial FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) capability. Block 5 Eurofighter Typhoon is cleared to carry AMRAAM, ASRAAM, IRIS-T and AIM-9L air-to-air missiles, as well as Paveway II laser-guided bombs and GBU-16s. External fuel tanks are certified for supersonic flight, while air-to-air refueling is cleared for all customer specified tanker types. The British RAF and Italian Air Force received its first Block 5 aircraft in August 2007. Tranche 2 Production Phase: 251 of the total 620 production Typhoons will be "Tranche 2" standard. Additional aircraft are expected to be delivered to Saudi-Arabia under a recently agreed arms procurement program. Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft production will soon progress to the next stage, with the first flight of the Tranche 2 Typhoon which took place at EADS Military Air Systems' site in Manching on January 16, 2008, piloted by EADS Test Pilot Chris Worning. The significant Tranche 2 capabilities focus mainly on the new mission computers which deliver the higher processing and memory capacity required for the integration of future weapons such as Meteor, Storm Shadow and Taurus. Differences in the build standard to Tranche 1 are related to changes in production technology or obsolescence. The first aircraft fitted with full Tranch 2 avionics is Instrumented Production Aircraft Seven (IPA7), is a German single seat variant, representing the full Tranche 2 build standard. The aircraft will be used to test and certify 'Type Acceptance' for Typhoon Block 8 - the first capability standard of Tranche 2, anticipated for April 2008. This work will be carried out together with the BAE Systems-operated IPA6 Tranch 1 Typhoon fitted with Tranche 2 mission computer suite and avionics features. The first series of EJ200 engine flight testing for Tranche 2 was successfully concluded at the end of November with IPA2 in Italy. Deliveries of Tranche 2 Eurofighter Typhoons to all four Partner Nations will begin in Summer 2008 starting with the British RAF. Deliveries are scheduled to run until 2013. At present, 32 aircraft are in final assembly. Further enhancements are currently considered within the Main Development Contract (MDC), currently in final negotiation, formulating the roadmap for the integration of future capabilities. Another future enhancement will include the fielding of the e-scan AESA radar capability. Recently, the Euroradar consortium conducted the first flights of the CAESAR (Captor Active Electronically Scanning Array Radar) antenna on DA5 at Manching, Germany. Tranche 1 Upgrades: The R2 Retrofit program is intended to bring all the earlier Typhoons up to the Block 5 standard. All 115 Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft will be standardized through a series of "Capability Upgrade" projects. Aircraft in Blocks 1, 2 and 2B, are now being upgraded to Block 5 capability, also known as Final Operational Capability (FOC), in order to maximize the aircraft capability at the national fleet level. Upgrades will be included in scheduled maintenance activities to enhance overall fleet availability. The first non-Block 5 aircraft to be brought to FOC standard is BS021, the 21st single seater of UK production. Only a few days later, German aircraft GS019 joined the program. Both are Block 2B aircraft. This functionality standard represents the full air-to-air functionality, whereas Block 5 includes this plus the enhanced carefree handling air-to-ground capability to drop laser guided bombs. As of February 2007, six aircraft are undergoing retrofits (three in Germany, two in the United Kingdom and one in Spain) with a seventh aircraft soon to join the project in the UK. Priority in the R2 programme is on the upgrade of Block 2B aircraft, as less work is required to bring these aircraft to the higher performance level. By the end of 2007, the combination of Block 5 new aircraft deliveries and upgraded R2 aircraft will enable the Partner Air Forces to meet their NATO commitment goals. Following on from Block 2B aircraft, Block 2 Eurofighter Typhoons with the initial air-to-air capability will be upgraded. Finally early Block 1 aircraft (all of them twin seaters) will enter the program. All Tranche 1 aircraft are scheduled to complete upgrade to Block 5 FOC standard by early 2012. The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Defense has agreed an industrial participation program with Eurofighter GmbH for the future enhancement of the weapon system. With the evolving role of aerial attack in modern combat, Typhoon's strike capability is also being enhanced, with inclusion of relevant weapon systems, sensors, targeting and communications packages as part of the baseline aircraft. An important Typhoon feature is its capability to operate from hastily prepared bases and small runways for worldwide operations. The aircraft is equipped with an advanced multi-mode radar and an extensive range of sensors and electronic countermeasures.

Sri Lanka fighting kills 34

Sri Lanka fighting kills 34
July 17, 2008: COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - A wave of battles across Sri Lanka's embattled northern region has killed 32 ethnic Tamil rebels and two government soldiers, the military said Friday. Fighting has escalated on the Indian Ocean island in recent months.

Indian Kashmir Police and rebels battle for 22 hours

Indian Kashmir Police and rebels battle for 22 hours
17 July, 2008 - Srinagar: The police claimed to have gunned down a militant in a 22-hour long Kashmir shootout during which a special police officer (SPO) was killed and 13 security men, including a paramilitary of SPO was wounded.

Russia offers India to sell state-of-the-art strike fighter

Russia offers to sell state-of-the-art strike fighter 17 July, 2008 - NEW DELHI: Russia is ready to export state-of-the-art Su-35 air superiority-cum-strike fighter to India, said officials of Rosoboronexport, the country’s sole arms exporting company. The fourth generation plus (4 +) fighter is rated next to the fifth generation American F-22 Raptor, which, however, is not for export. Till now, the Russians were also not keen on selling the fighter. Su-35 has larger wings and more powerful engines than the Sukhoi-30 MKI, which is in service with the Indian Air Force, with more fighters being added at one a month. It also uses more advanced materials for the airframe and incorporates a new-generation radar which allows the pilot to detect and track up to 30 aerial targets while engaging up to eight of them at the same time. Russia intends exporting at least 160 Su-35 to customers of its Su-30 series. Although India has tendered for 126 medium multirole fighters worth $10.2 billion, the offer for this aircraft, heavier in weight than the requirement, would be looked upon with interest. For, Su-35 would give the IAF a clear edge over the fighters being operated by other countries in the region. Superior engines According to the company, the fighter is powered by engines that are much superior to those fitted on Su-30. It is equipped with a 30-mm cannon with 150 rounds and can carry up to eight tonnes of combat payload. If the offer is accepted, Russia will be prepared to export the fighters in 2011, ahead of the timeline envisaged by India for the 126 medium multirole fighters.

Boeing to submit detailed proposals for development of Indian aerospace industry news

Boeing to submit detailed proposals for development of Indian aerospace industry news 17 July 2008 - New Delhi: US aircraft manufacturer Boeing is all set to submit a detailed proposal to the Indian government by 4 August aimed at developing the country's aerospace industry and transferring defence technologies which will meet government conditions for defence contracts. Boeing has said that it aims to bid for around $20 billion worth of Indian defence projects over the coming decade. Under current Indian regulations, 30 per cent of all defence deals valued over Rs300 crore must necessarily be reinvested in the country by way of an offset arrangement. The offsets may materialise either through the purchase of components from Indian companies, or by establishing joint ventures to make parts in India. Vivek Lall, country head for India for Boeing's Integrated Defence Systems (IDS) was quoted by the media as saying that the opportunity "in terms of partnership is tremendous" over the next few years, and that it could be a "win-win" situation for both India and Boeing. India is one of the biggest arms importers in the world, with a projected spending of around $50 billion over the coming decade aimed at modernising its military hardware. The attempt is to upgrade or replace Soviet-era arms. India is also looking to beef up its aerospace industry and is actively seeking technology transfers, specially pertaining to defence, from major weapon exporting countries. Over the last three years, Boeing has sold $25 billion in civilian aircraft to India. The company has also submitted a bid for a 126 multi-role fighter jet contract for the Indian Air Force. The MMRCA contract is estimated to be worth over $11 billion over its lifetime. Boeing says it is willing to meet India's conditions regarding manufacturing and research programmes, and will be willing to set up a technological base in the country that will allow the development of indigenous platforms. The company has also put in a proposal to market its P-8I anti-submarine and anti-surface ship maritime reconnaissance planes. The company is also mulling offering its AH-64D Apache helicopters to India. It has also offered the CH-47 Chinook helicopters to the Indian army, as well as its latest cargo plane, the C-17 Globemaster III.

'Bold' Taliban raid on base could mark new stage in war

'Bold' Taliban raid on base could mark new stage in war July 17, 2008: THE dawn raid by about 200 militants on a US base in eastern Afghanistan at the weekend could be the harbinger of a dangerous new phase in the war there, according to Joel Fitzgibbon. The Defence Minister told The Australian the attack, in which nine US soldiers were killed, reinforced the message that Afghanistan "remains a dangerous place and our work there is far from complete in a military sense". He added he was also a "bit curious about that attack" and he was going to discuss it with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Robert Gates in meetings he was due to hold overnight. Mr Fitzgibbon said he was worried it could have been a cross-border attack by al-Qa'ida insurgents out of Pakistan. The US base near the village of Wanat is close to Pakistan's border, and where al-Qa'ida has been attempting to rebuild its strength. It has long been assumed that Osama bin Laden is also holed up in the region. "It was a very bolshie and bold offensive in which the insurgents would have seen significant casualties on their own side and it's the sort of boldness we don't see," Mr Fitzgibbon said. "It will be interesting to know where they were from and what generated such boldness." The attack was the deadliest incident for US forces in Afghanistan since June 2005, when 16 American soldiers died in a rocket-propelled grenade attack on their helicopter. Mr Fitzgibbon yesterday spoke about the US and Australian alliance, and the Asia-Pacific, at a joint forum hosted by Washington think tank the Brookings Institution and Sydney's Lowy Institute. Explaining the Rudd Government's decision to draw down combat forces in Iraq, he told the 100 or so gathered that Australia's combat forces were needed in the Asia-Pacific. Mr Fitzgibbon said that about half of the army's infantry and cavalry were tied up in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, and a sustained period of high operational tempo had placed strains on other parts of the Australian Defence Force. "It is the new Government's view that restoring our capacity to play a lead role in maintaining peace and stability in Melanesia is more important than an overwatch role in Iraq where really our work was done," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

India blames Pakistan for Kabul embassy attack

India blames Pakistan for Kabul embassy attack July 17, 2008: MUMBAI - India's national security adviser has said Pakistan's ISI intelligence service was behind a suicide car-bomb attack on the Indian embassy in the Afghan capital of Kabul last week that killed 41 people.
"We have no doubt that the ISI is behind this," M.K. Narayanan told NDTV late on Saturday, referring to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. He told another news channel India had a "fair amount" of evidence linking the ISI to Monday's car bomb. Among the dead were an Indian defence attache and a diplomat. An Afghan spokesman said after the attack that it bore the "hallmarks of a particular intelligence agency". Pakistan has denied any involvement in the embassy attack. "We have already stated that in no way were Pakistan's security agencies or anyone from Pakistan involved in any incident in Afghanistan," said Information Minister Sherry Rehman. Rehman said it was unfortunate the accusations were being made when Pakistan was seeking to move forward with a peace process with India. Narayanan told NDTV he hoped the peace talks, which the nuclear-armed rivals resumed in 2004, would continue. "We are in the favour of the peace process, but the ISI is not in any way part of it. The ISI is playing evil. The ISI needs to be destroyed," he said, according to a transcript of the interview on the NDTV Web site. India has close ties with Afghanistan, where it has pledged about $750 million towards reconstruction of the war-ravaged country. Some political analysts think Pakistan is increasingly wary of losing influence in Afghanistan to India. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence in 1947, and they nearly went to war a fourth time in 2002.

Rolls Royce Locks in Alenia for C-27J Engines

Rolls Royce Locks in Alenia for C-27J Engines Rolls-Royce has announced a 9-year, $900 million agreement with Alenia Aeronautica that makes them the exclusive provider of engine and propeller assemblies for these light transport aircraft. The C-27J uses Rolls Royce’s AE 2100D2 turboprop engine, and Dowty’s 6-bladed propellers. These 6,000 shp engines benefit from over 80% parts commonality with the Rolls Royce AE family of engines which includes the AE 2100D3 that equips the 4-engine C-130J Hercules, and the AE 1107C-Liberty that currently quips the USA’s V-22 Osprey tilt-rotors. A 2006 contract between Alenia Aeronautica and Rolls Royce already covered 42 systems, which would be enough to equip 21 of the twin-engine C-27Js. The new contract raises that number, guaranteeing a new total of 155 systems. In addition, 78 C-27J aircraft and up to 180 engines were placed under contract by the US Armed Forces’ Joint Cargo Aircraft program, with potential volumes of up to 145 aircraft and a correspondingly higher number of engines. Rolls Royce release.

US Army in Flight on Production of (Re)New H-47 Chinooks

US Army in Flight on Production of (Re)New H-47 Chinooks
July 17, 2008: Trying to make sense of government releases and contracts is challenging at the best of times. Trying to make sense of defense-related contracts takes the challenge to a whole new level. Research quickly revealed that the scattered CH-47F contracts we’ve been seeing were part of a much larger effort to recapitalize America’s CH-47 Chinook helicopter fleet. The USA expects to be operating Chinooks in their heavy-lift role past 2030, and the history and structure of that effort is detailed below thanks to some help from Boeing. This is DID’s FOCUS Article for the CH-47F/MH-47G helicopter programs, in the USA and abroad. While the forced re-compete of the HH-47’s $10-15 billion CSAR-X program win goes on, Boeing has completed operational testing of the CH-47F, and delivery orders are in for CH-47Fs and MH-47G Special Forces configuration helicopters. The latest news involves a joint agreement to build CH-47Fs for Italy, and other countries as well…

Panhard fills gaps in PVP range

Panhard fills gaps in PVP range 17 July 2008: Panhard General Defense is expanding its product range to include two new variants of the Petit Véhicule Protégé (PVP) for the French Army: the PVP HD (Heavy Duty) and the PVP XL (Extra Large). Both of these are based on a larger chassis than the original PVP, fitted with a body that gives a greater payload and volume. In addition to the door in the rear, they have two side doors to enable the crew to embark and disembark rapidly. They also embody a higher level of ballistic protection (STANAG 4569 Level 3) in the crew and engine compartments. The PVP HD is powered by a 163 hp IVECO diesel engine meeting Euro IV emission requirements, coupled to a ZF 6HP 260 automatic transmission. This gives the vehicle a maximum road speed of up to 105 km/h and an operating range of 700 km. Gross vehicle weight (GVW), including a payload of 2,000 kg, is currently being quoted as 7,000 kg with an internal volume of 6.5 m3.

DTN News: Portuguese Type 209PN Submarine Is Quick Off The Mark With Harbour Trials

Portuguese Type 209PN is quick off the mark with harbour trials 17 July 2008: The first of two Type 209PN submarines for the Portuguese Navy was named and launched at ThysssenKrupp Marine Systems' Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard (HDW) in Kiel, Germany, on 15 July.
Tridente began harbour trials immediately following the ceremony and the 68 m-long boat is due to commence sea trials early in 2009, with delivery to the customer by the end of that year.
A procurement contract for Tridente and sistership Arpao - worth around EUR800 million (USD958 million), including offset agreements - was signed by the Portuguese government and the German Submarine Consortium (consisting of HDW, Nordseewerke and trading house MAN Ferrostaal) in April 2004.
Construction of Arpao is running to schedule, according to HDW, and is expected to start sea trials in early 2010, with delivery later that year. The two units will form the 5th Submarine Squadron based in Lisbon.
The boats will replace three ageing Albacora-class submarines built for Portugal in the 1960s, only one of which - NRP Barracuda - remains in service. It is due to decommission in December 2009, leaving the country temporarily without an underwater capability.

NASA Researchers Evaluate Sensor Technology

NASA Researchers Evaluate Sensor Technology
Jul 17, 2008: NASA researchers are evaluating an advanced, fiber optic-based sensing technology that could aid development of active control of wing shape. Controlling a wing's shape in flight would allow it to take advantage of aerodynamics and improve overall aircraft efficiency. The Fiber Optic Wing Shape Sensor system measures and displays the shape of the aircraft's wings in flight. The system also has potential for improving aircraft safety when the technology is used to monitor the aircraft structure. Flight tests on NASA's Ikhana, a modified Predator B unmanned aircraft adapted for civilian research, are under way at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center here. The effort represents one of the first comprehensive flight validations of fiber optic sensor technology. "Generations of aircraft and spacecraft could benefit from work with the new sensors if the sensors perform in the sky as they have in the laboratory," said Lance Richards, Dryden's Advanced Structures and Measurement Group lead. The weight reduction that fiber optic sensors would make possible could reduce operating costs and improve fuel efficiency. The development also opens up new opportunities and applications that would not be achievable with conventional technology. For example, the new sensors could enable adaptive wing-shape control. "Active wing-shape control represents the gleam in the eye of every aerodynamicist," Mr. Richards said. "If the shape of the wing can be changed in flight, then the efficiency and performance of the aircraft can be improved, from takeoff and landing to cruising and maneuvering." Six hair-like fibers located on the top surface of Ikhana's wings provide more than 2,000 strain measurements in real time. With a combined weight of less than two pounds, the fibers are so small that they have no significant effects on aerodynamics. The sensors eventually could be embedded within composite wings in future aircraft. To validate the new sensors' accuracy, the research team is comparing results obtained with the fiber optic wing shape sensors against those of 16 traditional strain gauges co-located on the wing alongside the new sensors. "The sensors on Ikhana are imperceptibly small because they're located on fibers approximately the diameter of a human hair," Mr. Richards explained. "You can get the information you need from the thousands of sensors on a few fibers without the weight and complexity of conventional sensors. Strain gauges, for example, require three copper lead wires for every sensor." When using the fiber optic sensors, researchers do not require analytical models for determining strain and other measurements on the aircraft because data derived with the sensors include all of the actual measurements being sought. Another safety-related benefit of the lightweight fiber optic sensors is that thousands of sensors can be left on the aircraft during its lifetime, gathering data on structural health and performance. By knowing the stress levels at thousands of locations on the aircraft, designers can more optimally design structures and reduce weight while maintaining safety, Mr. Richards said. The net result could be a reduction in fuel costs and an increase in range. Further, intelligent flight control software technology now being developed can incorporate structural monitoring data from the fiber optic sensors to compensate for stresses on the airframe, helping prevent situations that might otherwise result in a loss of flight control. By extension, the application of the technology to wind turbines could improve their performance by making their blades more efficient. "An improvement of only a few percent equals a huge economic benefit," Mr. Richards said. "The sensors could also be used to look at the stress of structures, like bridges and dams, and possibilities extend to potential biomedical uses as well. The applications of this technology are mind-boggling." NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is supporting algorithm and systems development, instrument and ground test validation of the new sensor system.

Russian Army Officers Visit Mountain Combat Center In India

Russian Army Officers Visit Mountain Combat Center In India Moscow - Jul 17, 2008: A delegation of Russian Ground Forces officers will learn about training troops for mountain warfare during a two-week trip to India that started on Monday, a spokesman for the Russian military said. Deputy commander Lt. Gen. Valery Yevnevich, along with officers from Russia's mountain brigades and the Far Eastern Military Command officer training school, will visit a training center in Jammu and Kashmir, India's northernmost state, "to see how the Indian troops train for mountainous operations," Col. Igor Konashenkov said. The visit, which runs until July 30, was agreed in Moscow on June 24 by India's Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor, and Russia's Ground Forces commander, Gen. Alexei Maslov, as part of an extensive military cooperation program. Russia began deploying two mountain brigades in the North Caucasus last year, near the mountainous border with Georgia. The two brigades are made up of contract soldiers, totaling about 4,500 personnel. The Indian Army has 10 divisions dedicated to mountain warfare and another infantry division earmarked for high-altitude operations. They are deployed in strategically important areas along the borders with its traditional rivals, Pakistan and China. India and Russia have a long history of military cooperation, which goes back almost half a century. The existing Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation program, which lasts until 2010, includes up to 200 projects worth about $18 billion in all, according to Russia's Defense Ministry.

Nuke sub dispo

Nuke sub disposal
Moscow - Jul 17, 2008: Russia's main partners in the process of dismantling old Soviet navy nuclear submarines are Britain, Germany, Norway, Sweden and France. The program was supported by the Northern Dimension fund, the TACIS program -- an EU program for technical assistance -- and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Today Russia has agreements with the United States, Canada, Italy and Japan. Rosatom reports that in the past six years foreign partners have financed the complete dismantlement of 26 submarines, and 14 more vessels are in the line. The bulk of the costs, however, are borne by Russia, which is financing the dismantlement of 70 vessels. The mass of metal that was once Russia's nuclear navy totals 1.5 million tons. The special trains will have to run at least 100 journeys to transfer that daunting mass from Russia's northwest to the Mayak chemicals plant near Chelyabinsk in the Urals, which holds the monopoly on recycling nuclear waste. However, the trains are capable of running only 10-15 journeys a year. This means no rapid evacuation is possible, and the remnants of nuclear submarines will remain on Russia's shores for a long time to come. Theoretically, dismantlement is considered complete after all the nuclear materials and equipment of a submarine are recycled. However, because of a high level of residual radiation, a submarine's reactor plant takes 50-70 years before it can safely be dismantled, unless young physicists invent something new in the meantime. Reactor compartments are therefore extracted from submarine hulls, isolated and put into storage areas. Yet there is a shortage of storage space, and some of these compartments are kept afloat. These "floating coffins" worry Russia's European neighbors most, though the situation is improving. With Germany's financial assistance, a long-term storage facility for reactor compartments from all over the northwestern part of Russia is being built at the Sayda Bay on the Kola Peninsula. Experts urge people not to yield to radiophobia, as fears of environmental disaster at the dismantlement site are almost baseless. Experts at the All-Russian Scientific Research and Development Institute of Energy Technology in St. Petersburg say that even in a worst-case scenario the expected radiation level will not exceed the current sanitary standards. A gas-aerosol fallout is also possible, but its effect would be insignificant and would pose no threat to the population. The density of fallout on the ground would be low, and no disposal of contaminated water is done at the storage facility. Security of the facility is guaranteed by innovative technologies and well-qualified personnel. (Tatyana Sinitsyna is a commentator for RIA Novosti. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.) (United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

Analysis: Chinese Navy East Fleet

Analysis: Chinese Navy East Fleet Hong Kong - Jul 17, 2008: Over the past 15 years, the Chinese navy's East Sea Fleet has been fortifying its military hardware in preparation for a fight against Taiwan. Along with the steady expansion of the fleet, huge investments have gone into modernizing and upgrading navy bases. In particular, submarine bases and airport facilities have undergone major revamping. Satellite photos have confirmed that the Hainan Sanya Base of the No. 2 Submarine Flotilla of the navy's South Sea Fleet and the base of the No. 1 Submarine Flotilla of the North Sea Fleet all have gone underground. Underground facilities are under construction for the East Sea Fleet as well, where additional 039A, Kilo 636 and Kilo 636-M diesel submarines are entering service. Similar underground facilities also have been detected at Daxie Island in Zhejiang province, where 039A and 035G diesel submarines are based. At the Xiangshan Naval Base on the island, where Kilo 636 submarines are anchored, underground ammunition depots or fuel depots may have been constructed right in the middle of the hills. Some Russian experts confirmed to the author that they helped China construct the first maintenance center for its Club-S submarine-launched missiles and repair facilities for Kilo diesel submarines in this area. The People's Liberation Army navy built its Kilo submarine base at Xiangshan because the island has a quiet harbor surrounded by mountains, making it easier for the submarine fleet to hide. The Dinghai and Zhoushan naval bases, with four 956-E/EM DDGs and four 054/054-A FFGs entering service in the East Sea Fleet, also have undergone expansion. A new No. 3 Destroyer-Frigate Flotilla has been established, and two broad docks have been constructed specifically for the 956-E/EM DDGs. The new flotilla also includes the newly commissioned No. 525 and No. 526 Type 054 class FFG and the last batch of Type 053-H3 class FFGs (No. 527 and No. 528). This deployment is in line with the navy's principle of centralizing its crack forces and weapons. This new flotilla has become the most powerful frigate unit of the East Sea Fleet. The Zhoushan and Dinghai bases are extremely large, with fuel depots, gigantic hoister cranes and dry berths already in place on site, indicating that basic repair services for surface warships and dock landing ships also can be done there. At the Dinghai Base, five large dock bridges have been identified, which are used mainly to accommodate missile frigates and destroyers, each of which can anchor two to four surface warships. At this particular base, the port is at least 5 miles long. The East Sea Fleet is armed mainly with 053-H3 FFGs and Luda class DDGs, and the expansion of its submarine fleet has been a top priority over the years. At Daxie Island, seven dock bridges are used to anchor the 039As and 035Gs. Each of them can accommodate two to four submarines. Some of these submarines have been heard starting their diesel engines at around 7 a.m. to warm them up. When setting out on a voyage, if two submarines are anchored parallel at the dock, the one on the outer side will sail out first and return to position after the submarine on the inner side has left the dock.

NATO denies Afghan troop buildup, urges Pakistan action

NATO denies Afghan troop buildup, urges Pakistan action
Brussels - July 17, 2008: The NATO military alliance denied Wednesday that it was massing troops on the Afghan side of the border with Pakistan but urged Islamabad to do more to stop Taliban militants taking refuge. "There is not, nor is there going to be, an incursion of NATO troops into Pakistan. There is no planning for that, there is no mandate for that, and there is no troop movement in that direction," a spokesman said in Brussels. Pakistani tribal elders raised the alarm Tuesday over what they said was a build-up of hundreds of NATO-led troops on the Afghan side of the border. It came as Islamabad was under growing pressure from the United States to curb cross-border attacks by Taliban militants, with the US military chief flying into Pakistan at the weekend for urgent talks. Reports said some 300 NATO soldiers equipped with tanks, armoured vehicles and heavy weaponry had been moved very close to Lwara Mundi, a border village in North Waziristan. "There is no unusual military activity in that region," said the NATO spokesman, James Appathurai. While he insisted that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was not gathering at the border, he underlined that they did have permission to shoot into Pakistan if fired upon. "They have the right to fire back if they are fired upon, and there should be no doubt that they do it," he said. ISAF, made up of some 53,000 troops drawn from around 40 nations, is trying to spread the influence of the weak centralised Afghan government across the country, but it is struggling to end a Taliban-led insurgency. The task has been made more difficult by the fact that the Taliban, backed by al-Qaeda fighters and drug runners, has been using the lawless areas in Pakistan near the border as a rear base. "There is not enough pressure on militants in the frontier provinces in Pakistan and as a result they are using these areas as safe havens in which to rest, reconstitute and then launch attacks into Afghanistan," Appathurai said. "That is a concern for us," he said. related reportEight Afghan civilians killed in US-led air strikesThe US-led coalition in Afghanistan admitted Wednesday to killing eight civilians during an air strike against militants, as an Afghan official said nine women and a boy had died. A convoy had come under heavy attack from several houses during a routine patrol on Tuesday in the volatile Bakwa district of the southwestern province of Farah, the coalition said in a statement. "The coalition convoy returned fire and called for close air support on the enemy positions. A house was hit; eight civilians were killed, two others injured," it said. The deputy provincial governor Mohammad Younus Rasouli told AFP that a civilian house had been struck in the raid. "Information from the area is that 12 civilians have been killed: nine women, two men and a boy," he said. He said the international forces had been targeting "a large number" of Taliban from neighbouring Pakistan who had recently entered the area. The coalition said it never intentionally targeted non-combatants and "deeply regret" any time civilians become casualties in action against insurgents. The coalition and separate NATO-led International Security Assistance Force are also investigating official Afghan reports that 64 civilians were killed in two strikes in northeastern Afghanistan early this month. Civilians are regularly caught in the crossfire of an insurgency launched after the hardline Islamic Taliban regime was removed from power in late 2001 in a US-led invasion. Most are killed in rebel attacks but dozens have also been killed in military action this year.

US move on Iran a big shift from 'axis of evil' days, analysts say

US move on Iran a big shift from 'axis of evil' days, analysts say Washington - July 17, 2008: The Bush administration's move to join Iran at nuclear talks echoes its pragmatic steps toward North Korea and shows how far it has come from the "axis of evil" days, analysts said Wednesday. William Burns, the third-ranking US diplomat, is due to meet Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in Geneva Saturday on a mission to bolster international demands for Tehran to halt uranium enrichment, US officials say. Having long insisted that Iran suspend enrichment before meeting its nuclear envoys, officials from President George W. Bush's administration have effectively dropped their pre-conditions, according to analysts. "This is a dramatic reversal for the Bush administration. It's similar to the switch they made in 2006 with the North Koreans," non-proliferation expert Joseph Cirincione told AFP. In October 2006, the United States announced a return to six-country negotiations with North Korea after taking a hard line that failed to prevent North Korea from staging its first nuclear test. In both cases "the administration had refused to have direct talks with their adversary," according to Cirincione, the president of the peace-promoting Ploughshares Fund. "But once they did with North Korea, it led to the breakthrough that is now reversing perhaps permanently North Korea's nuclear program." Following a landmark deal last year, North Korea last month moved to dismantle its weapons-grade plutonium program when it gave a partial accounting of its atomic programs and promised to finish disabling its reactor. Although the administration admits North Korea still has a long way to go toward total denuclearization, it no longer bows to US conservatives who demand Pyongyang's isolation. "From the beginning of the administration there has been a struggle between the pragmatists who have been willing to negotiate with both North Korea and Iran and hardliners who are trying to overthrow those regimes," Cirincione said. "The pragmatists have finally won on North Korea in the last couple of years, and now their position seems to be prevailing on Iran," he added. US officials said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice consulted with Bush before deciding to send Burns to Geneva. Yet, in January 2002, Bush accused Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, of forming an "axis of evil." Suzanne Maloney, a former State Department policy expert on Iran, told AFP the new US diplomatic move was significant but in line with a long, tortured series of steps to engage Iran in nuclear negotiations. "I don't know we're at that conclusive a shift at this stage," the Brookings Institution expert said when asked if Washington was about to engage Tehran the way it has dealt with Pyongyang. For one thing, Washington's decision to send Burns to Geneva and yet prevent him from negotiating with Iran "appears to me to be sort of a ludicrous hedge on the part of the administration" that may block results, Maloney said. "That said, having direct exposure to an Iranian diplomat is a huge improvement," she added. Washington-based analyst Trita Parsi said the administration has realized its strategy of "insisting on preconditions has been utterly counterproductive and has only made a bad situation worse." At the same time hardline political appointees "are one by one leaving the administration, creating space for career diplomats to start running the show," he said. "That's part of the reason why we have seen a shift in America's policy toward North Korea and we're starting to see a shift in its position toward Iran as well," said Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council. While hailing the US move, Parsi doubted Iran would agree to negotiate a full suspension of its uranium enrichment if the US continues to aim at eliminating rather than limiting Iran's nuclear enrichment program.

The Current Biofuel Market In India

The Current Biofuel Market In India Dublin, Ireland - Jul 17, 2008: The 'Indian Biofuel Industry' report analyzes the current biofuel market in India. It focuses on the causes for the growing demand of biofuels, the manufacturing technologies for the production of biofuels and government regulations. This report also enumerates the opportunities and challenges faced by the biofuel industry in India along with the current trends, addressing the client needs. Additionally, the report covers the future outlook of the industry. About the IndustryThe surge in crude oil prices is driving the demand for alternative energy sources such as biofuel across the world. Most of the countries have been focusing on the development of biofuels to negate the effects of rising crude oil prices apart from addressing vehicular pollution and global warming. India, being one of the developing countries with huge energy demand is increasingly focusing on an alternative source of fuel. The country started its biofuels journey in 2003 with an impressive growth rate until today. The output of ethanol, the chief biofuel, logged an impressive growth rate of 200% in 2005 (F.O. Licht, May 2006). India produces ethanol from molasses and biodiesel is produced from jatropha. In addition, possibilities are being explored to manufacture ethanol from sweet sorghum and maize. The Government is also actively taking interest to ramp up biofuel production. Research Methodology UsedInformation Sources: The information has been gathered from authentic and reliable sources like Government Agencies, Trade associations, Trade journals, Industry portals Newspapers, White papers and Books. The data is also sourced from paid databases. Analysis Method: The methods of Historical Trend Analysis, Ratio Analysis, and Cause and Effect Analysis have been used. Scope of the report- The report analyzes the current biofuel market in India. It focuses on the causes for the growing demand for biofuels, the manufacturing technologies for the two major types of biofuels namely ethanol and biodiesel and government regulations. - The report also lays out the possible opportunities and challenges for the biofuel industry. While growth of biofuels is expected to be beneficial for the Indian sugarcane industry and power mobile networks in electricity-starved rural areas, it might also create problems related to allocation of land and water resources. Moreover, fluctuations in the cost of molasses and ensuring proper pricing and supply of ethanol would have to be addressed. - The report further enumerates various corporate initiatives in the sector and describes the regulatory issues in key global markets such as the US, China and Brazil. The final section dwells on the future prospects of the biofuel industry. Prospective Target Audience- Players from the PE/VC industry - Consulting firms (looking for aggregated information that validates their own findings) - In-house strategy teams of companies that operate in the individual industry sectors or that seek to enter these sectors. Demand for alternative energy sources is rising rapidly all over the world. Government across the world have been focusing on the development of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel to mitigate vehicular pollution, address global warming and reduce dependence on hydrocarbons as the primary source of energy. In India, the output of ethanol, the chief biofuel, logged an impressive growth rate of 200% in 2005 (F.O. Licht, May 2006). India produces ethanol from molasses and biodiesel is produced from jatropha. In addition, possibilities are being explored to manufacture ethanol from sweet sorghum and maize. The government has also sought to frame enabling legislation to ramp up biofuel production. For instance, one policy decision that has been discussed in official circles has been to permit the usage low-grade sugar for ethanol production. Blending of 10% ethanol with petrol - as against optional 5% for individual states - is slated to be made mandatory from October 2008 to curb vehicular emissions. Various companies in the private corporate sector have embarked on a coordinated plan to expand production capacities. The state oil marketing companies have been looking to collaborate with Brazil, one of the largest producers and the largest exporter of ethanol in the world. The terms of collaboration include ownership or leasing of land acreages, production units and technological know-how. However, the Indian biofuel industry continues to face several challenges. Fast population growth, rising income levels, increasing demand for agricultural products and flawed government policies have been putting the country's land and water resources under enormous strain. The growing emphasis on expanding biofuel production capacity, primarily through the augmentation of ethanol output based on irrigated sugarcane, is expected to put further pressure on water resources. It might also lead to the diversion of land from food crops to sugarcane. An additional concern is the fluctuation in the cost and supply of molasses, the primary raw material for ethanol and itself dependent on the price of sugarcane. This leads to the issue of rationalization of ethanol pricing and supply and the need to stabilize the 5% ethanol blending programme to ensure the smooth transition to the 10% programme. Overall, the biofuel industry is expected to grow at a strong rate in the medium-term with the help of proactive government initiatives and mechanisms to expand production capacity and minimize price fluctuations of key raw materials. Moreover, the generation of biodiesel from jatropha is expected to increase and its usage in diesel cars leading to a reduction in emissions.

Chinese trade threatens Balkan economic growth: World Bank

Chinese trade threatens Balkan economic growth: World Bank Sarajevo - July 17, 2008: China's trade competitiveness is threatening to slow down economic growth in the Western Balkans, the World Bank warned on Wednesday. "China competes against the countries of the West Balkans ... in a very wide range of products," the bank's top economist for Europe and the Middle East, Sanjay Kathuria, told reporters in the Bosnian capital. "Against this, the exports of the countries in the region are not doing particulary well, and there are concerns about their sustainability," he warned. In its latest report, the World Bank recommended the small countries of the region seek to strengthen their fragile economies by boosting trade cooperation with each other. "This will make (the) effective market larger ... more competitive, and will improve the qualty and cost of goods and services," Kathuria said. He singled out a free trade agreement in force in the region since 2006 as a useful tool to achieve that. The World Bank report on the Western Balkans included the following countries: Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. Besides China, Kathura stressed trade preferences that have been enjoyed for several years by the countries of the former Yugoslavia were "now eroding." The bank also suggested that regional governemnts should start working on the issue of improving skills and wage competitiveness. "This will help for the countries to compete against low wages and very competititve Asian countries," Kathuria said. Other recommendations included the need to reduce the costs of telecommincation services and prevention of energy shortages, he added.

E-commerce in China soars: study

E-commerce in China soars: study Shanghai: July 17, 2008 - Commerce on the Internet in China is expanding rapidly, with spending rising 60 percent in the first half of the year, an industry body said Wednesday. China's Internet users spent 256.1 billion yuan (37.5 billion dollars) in the first six months of the year, up 58.2 percent from the same period in 2007, research institute Data Centre of China Internet said in a report. Spending online for all of 2008 is expected to hit 587.4 billion yuan, up 47.3 percent from the previous year, the Beijing-based agency said. "The growth is mainly attributed to fast expansion of China's Internet population and an increase in average online consumption," it said. During the first six months of the year, Chinese netizens spent an average of 211.8 yuan each month through the Internet, up 13.9 percent from a year earlier, the report said. China's online population became the largest in the world after it reached 221 million in February, outnumbering United States Internet users, according to reports in the Chinese press. The research institution said China's Internet population will reach 263 million by the end of 2008, representing a 25 percent increase from the 210 million in 2007.