Sunday, July 27, 2008

Australia’s Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock

Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock
July 27, 2008: In May of 2006, “Australia Issues Official Tender for A$ 2.0B Large Amphibious Ships Program” covered Australia’s decision to expand its naval expeditionary capabilities. HMAS Manoora and Kanimbla would be replaced with substantially larger and more capable modern designs, featuring strong air support. Navantia and Tenix offered a 27,000t LHD design that resembled the Strategic Projection Ship (Buque de Proyeccion Estrategica) under construction for the Spanish Navy. The DCNS-Thales Australia team, meanwhile, proposed a variation of the 21,300t Mistral Class that is serving successfully with the French Navy. Navantia’s larger design eventually won, giving the Spanish firm an A$11 billion clean sweep of Australia’s “Air Warfare Destroyer” and LHD programs. These 5 ships will be the core of Australia’s future surface navy. The LHDs will be able to serve as amphibious landing ships, helicopter carriers, floating HQs and medical facilities for humanitarian assistance, and launching pads for UAVs or even short/vertical takeoff fighters.
The Canberra class Landing Helicopter Dock are new amphibious assault ships being developed for the Royal Australian Navy. The Australian Government has approved a AU$3 billion project to build two LHDs, which will have air support, amphibious assault, transport and command centre roles. They are planned to replace in turn HMAS Tobruk and one of the RAN's two current Kanimbla class vessels.
The Australian government's requirements include the capacity to transport up to 1,000 troops and 150 vehicles, including the new M1A1 Abrams tank in service with the Australian Army, have six helicopter spots on a full length flight deck for a mix of both transport and battlefield support helicopters, and a fully equipped hospital. On 20 January 2006, it was announced that the two ships would be named Canberra and Adelaide.


U.S. MARINES CROSS AN EXPANSION BRIDGE WHILE ON PATROL. - U.S. Marines, NATO, International Security Assistance Force cross an expansion bridge while on patrol in the Helmand province of Afghanistan on July 1, 2008.

Pakistan govt puts ISI under civilian control

Pakistan govt puts ISI under civilian control 27 July 2008, ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani put the military's main spy agency under the control of the interior ministry, a move seen as asserting civilian authority over the intelligence network. "The prime minister (has) approved the placement of Intelligence Bureau and Inter Services Intelligence under the administrative, financial and operational control of the Interior Division with immediate effect," the Pakistani government said in a statement on Saturday. The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency is known to have wielded great influence on foreign and security policies, especially towards India and Afghanistan. Critics say it played a major role in the creation of the Taliban movement which took control of Afghanistan in the 1990s and harboured al-Qaida until it was forced from power by US-led forces. The decision was aimed at keeping the army out of the diplomatic line of fire, the head of the ruling party said. Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower and leader of Pakistan People's Party, hoped the "historical" decision would yield positive results for the country as well as the army. "In future, enemies of Pakistan will not be able to defame the ISI; nobody will say that this agency is not under the control of an elected government," the daily News quoted him as saying from Dubai. "The interior ministry will be responsible for responding to allegations against the ISI." Last month, Pakistan denied accusations by Afghan authorities that the ISI was behind an attempt by Taliban militants to kill Afghan President Hamid Karzai in April. The government announcement came hours after Gilani embarked on his first official visit to US. Zardari's opponents dubbed the decision an attempt to politicise the ISI and hoped it would be reversed soon. "It's an absolutely wrong decision from every prospective," said Mushahid Hussain Sayed, secretary general of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League. Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Sunday, the government said its decision regarding control of the ISI was being "misinterpreted". "ISI will continue to perform its functions under the prime minister," a government spokesman said. He said the government's decision "only re-emphasises more coordination between the ministry of interior and ISI in relation to war on terror and internal security".

Pakistan, UK agree to curb extremism, terrorism

Pakistan, UK agree to curb extremism, terrorism Sunday, July 27, 2008 - BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan and the United Kingdom have commonality of interest on a range of issues to tackle extremism and terrorism through economic and social development and uplift of the tribal areas.Addressing a joint press conference after meeting members of the British Muslim community here on Friday evening, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his British counterpart David Miliband noted the complexity of the issue and said it could be settled through sustained efforts by all the stakeholders.Miliband said the UK supported the comprehensive multi-pronged strategy of Pakistan based on economic, political and social issues."We stand united in our determination against the danger posed by terrorism not only to the UK but also to Pakistan," said Miliband.He said the tragic death of Benazir Bhutto was terrorism striking at the heart of the Pakistani society."We need to make sure that we work bilaterally as well as to recognise that we shared interest within the borders of Afghanistan and outside," he added.Miliband dispelled the impression that the UK was lacking in any support for democracy in Pakistan, saying Britain backed its support not only with political statement but also with a very large economic package.Qureshi informed the media of his deep and substantive interaction with Miliband earlier on a number of bilateral issues and ways and means of strengthening the ties.He said the new democratic government needed space and time to settle down.Qureshi said both countries had shared a consensus and were keen on addressing these concerns.The foreign minister said Pakistan needed action plan to implement its strategy. To achieve this objective, he said, the country required international support and assistance to deal with the menace of extremism and terrorism.Replying to a question, Qureshi said the government was not holding talks with militants but with tribal elders and elected representatives of Fata.He said the objective was to wean off those with extremist tendencies through talks and uplift of the underdeveloped areas.Miliband said the democratic government in Pakistan had the support of both the UK and the US as well as other Western countries and all of them were keen on seeing strengthening of democratic institutions in Pakistan.Qureshi said the million-strong Pakistani community based in the UK could play a very important role by serving as a bridge between the two cultures and societies.He said in his discussion with Miliband, they shared commonality of interest and views and there was a desire on both sides to work together.Miliband said Britain remained a good friend of Pakistan and held it important for the two countries to work together to address global concerns on security and economic issues. Later, the two leaders had a lively interaction with young members of the British Muslim community.Qureshi left for the US on Saturday at the conclusion of his first official visit to the UK. High Commissioner to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan and other senior officials of the chancery were also present on the occasion.

Iran has up to 6,000 centrifuges, says Ahmadinejad

Iran has up to 6,000 centrifuges, says Ahmadinejad Sunday, July 27, 2008 - TEHRAN: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday that Iran has boosted the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges to up to 6,000, in an expansion of its nuclear drive that defies international calls for a freeze. “Today they (the West) have agreed that the existing 5,000 to 6,000 centrifuges do not increase and that there is no problem if this number of centrifuges work,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by state radio. Ahmadinejad said in April that Iran was working to install 6,000 more centrifuges at an underground hall in a plant at its nuclear facility in Natanz, where it already had 3,000 running. It is a major expansion of Iran’s nuclear programme, which the West fears could be aimed at making atomic weapons. Iran is already under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which makes nuclear fuel as well as the fissile core of an atomic bomb. World powers, seeking to resolve the standoff, have offered to start pre-negotiations during which Tehran would add no more uranium-enriching centrifuges and in return face no further sanctions. Iran was given a two-week deadline to give a final answer to world powers seeking a breakthrough in the crisis after talks a week ago in Geneva with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana ended in stalemate. The United States, which took the unprecedented step of sending a top diplomat to meet Iran’s chief negotiator at the Geneva talks, has warned Tehran of “punitive measures” if it spurns the offer and presses on with enrichment. Ahmadinejad said the US presence in at the Geneva talks was a “success” for Iran regardless of its outcome, state radio reported. “They said a few years ago that talks without a US participation has no results and the US condition is suspending enrichment but it has happened today without satisfying the US condition.”Ahmadinejad had vowed on Wednesday that Iran would make no concessions and that further sanctions would not force it to back down. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, insisting that its programme is designed to provide energy for its growing population when the leading OPEC member’s reserves of fossil fuels run out. Permanent Security Council members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany have made Iran an offer, which includes trade incentives and help with a civilian nuclear programme in return for suspending enrichment.The New York Times on Tuesday released what it said was a two-page informal document that outlined Tehran’s approach to talks in Geneva and was distributed by Iranian negotiators.

China to build world-class space industry in 7 years

China to build world-class space industry in 7 years Sunday, July 27, 2008 - BEIJING: China aims to attain the world level in space technology development by building a comprehensive aerospace industry by 2015, said the Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC).According to a blueprint the CASTC was to set up four more scientific research and production bases including Tianjin, Inner Mongolia and Hainan. The move would enable China to have eight space industry bases nationwide. At present, it has four bases respectively in Beijing, Shanghai, Shanxi and Sichuan. CASTC’s chief goal was to provide a package of service to its customers, including research, production, testing and other technology and services. “By 2015, the CASTC would take up 10 percent of the international commercial satellite market, and 15 percent of the world commercial space launch service market,” the blueprint said. Founded in 1999, CASTC has served as the leading research and production group to build up the country’s aerospace and missile systems. Through last year, it had carried out 50 successful spacecraft launches via its Long March series of rocket carriers, sending 43 domestically-developed satellites, six spaceships and one lunar probe into orbit. Upon the completion of two manned space trips in 2003 and 2005, respectively, the next trip, the Shenzhou VII, is expected to be launched in October.

Afghanistan: Allied forces claim to kill 100 Taliban

Allied forces claim to kill 100 Taliban in Afghanistan Sunday, July 27, 2008 - KABUL: Up to 100 Taliban were killed in Afghanistan early Sunday when helicopter gunships and ground fighting retaliated an attack by about 100 rebels.The Taliban fighters had tried to capture the Spera district centre, 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the border with Pakistan, opening fire on police at about 2:00 am with guns and rocket-propelled grenades, the NATO force said.Police and soldiers from NATO's International Security Assistance Force surrounded the attackers and called air strikes consisting of heavy machinegun fire from helicopters, an ISAF statement said."Some insurgents attempted to take cover in a nearby building that helicopters then struck with missiles. "ANP (Afghan National Police) and ISAF continued to engage the insurgents in a firefight from the ground and air until the early morning hours," it said.The number of insurgents killed was in the "double-digit figures," ISAF said.The provincial governor of Khost, which includes Spera, put the attackers' death toll at between 50 and 70."They had killed one policeman in the initial attack and had captured another officer who was later beheaded," governor Arsala Jamal said."As they retreated, international military air forces came in and bombed them. Fifty to 70 Taliban have been killed," Jamal said.The rebels were able to get "very close" to the district headquarters in Spera before the air forces arrived, the governor said.The air strikes were later halted to avoid civilian casualties after the militants moved into villages, he said."We could have killed more Taliban if they had not entered the villages. Those of them killed were targeted while massing in an area outside the villages," he said.

KC-45 Tanker Boom Completes Contact With AWACS Aircraft

KC-45 Tanker Boom Completes Contact With AWACS Aircraft
Washington DC - Jul 27, 2008: The advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS) for Northrop Grumman's KC-45 Tanker has performed multiple aerial contacts with an operational Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, confirming its ability to support large aircraft in U.S., NATO, and allied air forces. The test mission fulfilled several key flight and program milestones for the KC-45's all-electric, fly-by-wire Aerial Refueling Boom System, including sustaining one of the tanker-to-receiver aircraft contacts to simulate large offloads. The continued successful testing of the ARBS is further indication of the boom system's maturity and readiness for the U.S. Air Force's next generation KC-45 Tanker. "The accomplishment of yet another key ARBS test program milestone is proof of the maturity of our aerial refueling capability and of the KC-45's readiness to fulfill our promise to the U.S. Air Force and the joint warfighter," said Paul Meyer, Northrop Grumman vice president and general manager of air mobility systems. "The Air Force has clearly stated they need this capability as soon as possible to replace the aging KC-135 fleet, and we offer the lowest risk, most capable solution now." The July 18 test used the exact ARBS configuration proposed for the KC-45. It was controlled by a former U.S. Air Force boom operator. The KC-45's all-electric ARBS provides highly accurate, reliable in-flight refueling, with a maximum nominal fuel flow rate of 1,200 U.S. gallons per minute. Because this boom has the largest envelope of any available in the industry, both the AWACS crew and the boom operator were impressed with the relative ease and efficiency of the refueling operation -- which replicated conditions of operational mission scenarios with the KC-45 boom and the large receiver aircraft. This follows previous in-flight evaluations that confirmed the ARBS' excellent handling qualities with large receiver platforms along with smaller and faster combat aircraft that has included the F-16, F-1, F/A-18 and C101 in previous testing. Modern fly-by-wire technology incorporated in the ARBS provides enhanced controllability and includes an automatic load alleviation system that greatly aids the boom operator -- as well as the receiver aircraft's pilot -- during refueling operations. "The ARBS is the cornerstone of the most advanced and mature Tanker in the world today and that's exactly what we must provide to our American men and woman in uniform," said John Young, CEO of EADS North America Tankers.

Auto News: Hydrogen Vehicles

Hydrogen Vehicles Making Impressive Progress Toward Commercialization
Washington DC - July 27, 2008: A transition to hydrogen vehicles could greatly reduce U.S. oil dependence and carbon dioxide emissions, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council, but making hydrogen vehicles competitive in the automotive market will not be easy. While the development of fuel cell and hydrogen production technology over the past several years has been impressive, challenges remain. Vehicle costs are high, and the U.S. currently lacks the infrastructure to produce and widely distribute hydrogen to consumers. These obstacles could be overcome, however, with continued support for research and development and firm commitments from the automotive industry and the federal government, concluded the committee that wrote the report. Light-duty vehicles, such as cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks, are responsible for 44 percent of the oil used in the United States and over 20 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted. Concerns over climate change, oil imports, and recent spikes in gasoline prices have spurred interest in the development of alternative fuels. In 2003, President Bush announced a $1.2 billion initiative to encourage development of hydrogen production technology and fuel cell vehicles, which are powered through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen and emit only water and heat as exhaust. The committee estimated the maximum number of hydrogen vehicles that could be on the road in the coming decades, assuming that practical technical goals are met, that consumers want hydrogen cars, and that government policies are in place to help drive the transition from oil to hydrogen fuel. The findings therefore represent potential best-case scenarios rather than predictions. According to the committee, it will take many years before hydrogen vehicles will significantly penetrate the light-duty fleet, even though technological developments have been progressing rapidly. Production of hydrogen vehicles could increase significantly by 2015. At this stage, their cost -- although dropping rapidly -- would still need to be heavily subsidized for consumers. The maximum practicable number of hydrogen vehicles that could be on the road by 2020 is 2 million, says the report. By 2023, the total cost of fuel cell vehicles, including the cost of hydrogen fuel over a vehicle's lifetime, could become competitive with conventional vehicles. At that point, the number of hydrogen vehicles on the road could grow rapidly, to nearly 60 million in 2035 and 200 million by 2050. The committee also calculated the investments, both public and private, that would be needed to make a complete transition from oil to hydrogen fuel. These costs include research and development, vehicle deployment, and establishing infrastructure. According to the committee, government support via strong policy initiatives as well as funding would be needed until at least 2023. The cost to the government would be about $55 billion between 2008 and 2023; private industry would be expected to invest $145 billion over that same time period. To put these numbers into perspective, the government subsidy for ethanol fuel could grow to $15 billion per year by 2020. The shift toward hydrogen fuel would not have a large impact on oil usage or greenhouse gas emissions until hydrogen vehicles make up a significant portion of the market. If hydrogen vehicles eventually took over the market, there would be great decreases in both, although the overall effect on greenhouse gas emissions would depend upon how the hydrogen fuel was produced. The committee compared these reductions with those that might be achieved by either improving the fuel efficiency of conventional vehicles or by converting to biofuels. Because they can be implemented more rapidly, both of these options could produce reductions in oil use and emissions faster than hydrogen, but after about 2040, hydrogen would become more effective. The greatest possible reductions would occur if biofuels, fuel-efficient conventional vehicles, and hydrogen vehicles are all pursued simultaneously, rather than seen as competitors. This "portfolio approach," if accompanied by government policies driving a transition toward reduced oil use and low-carbon fuels, could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks to less than 20 percent of current levels and could nearly eliminate oil demand for these vehicles by 2050, the committee said.

Ultra Stealth

Ultra Stealth
July 27, 2008: NGB demonstrator may be a twin-engine aircraft resembling an X-47B. Initial version will be piloted, but an unmanned endurance version is a probable follow-on. Is Northrop Grumman building a secret bomber prototype? In late April, the company revealed first-quarter financial results. Data indicated $2 billion in new "restricted programs" contract awards at Integrated Systems, the aircraft division. This almost certainly confirms what DTI first reported earlier this year: Northrop Grumman has a classified, sole-source contract to build a demonstrator for the U.S. Air Force's Next-Generation Bomber (DTI March, p. 30). USAF budgets show no funding for the Next-Generation Bomber (NGB) itself in 2008, although documents show money for technology work in Fiscal 2008-10. Northrop Grumman CEO Ron Sugar said last year that Integrated Systems had made strides in black programs and identified restricted projects as the top new-business opportunity. Taken together, the evidence points to a single, very large contract win. Northrop Grumman also acquired Scaled Composites in 2007, a company that can develop large prototype aircraft quickly. The $2-billion contract casts new light on the decision in January by Boeing and Lockheed Martin to reveal their year-old collaboration on NGB. (Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman declined interview requests.) Hailed as an NGB "dream team" combining Boeing's bomber experience with Lockheed Martin's stealth technology, the teaming now looks like an effort to catch up with a rival that has a lead in the next major U.S. combat aircraft program. It is likely that the prototype will build on technology under development for the Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D), putting within reach USAF's goal of a 2018 initial operational capability date for the bomber. Industry and USAF sources have talked about a competition in 2010, leading to the start of systems development and demonstration in 2011. But it would be Northrop Grumman's to lose. Events since 2000 placed Northrop Grumman in pole position. USAF interest in a replacement bomber was rekindled after 9/11, but USAF Secretary Jim Roche and Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper focused on the Lockheed Martin FB-22, seeing it as a low-risk solution that bolstered the case for the embattled F-22. The departures of Roche and Jumper in 2005 coincided with a change in thinking. In October, USAF defined a three-stage Next-Generation Long-Range Strike program. Phase I would keep the force effective until 2018, with upgrades to aircraft. Phase II would be a new "2018 bomber," while Phase III encompassed hypersonic concepts. This was the end of the road for the FB-22, since nobody envisioned the F-22 remaining in production long enough to dovetail with Phase II. Late in 2005, at a conference on unmanned combat air vehicles in London, there were signs of convergence between the bomber requirement and the Joint UCAS project. J-UCAS had been kicked off as a major effort three years earlier, but USAF was interested in a platform larger than the Navy could accommodate. Northrop Grumman J-UCAS Program Manager Scott Winship said at the time that the company had proposed completing a third prototype as an X-47C with a 172-ft. wingspan and 10,000-lb. payload. J-UCAS leader Mike Francis stressed an advantage of the unmanned vehicle: an inherently lower radar cross-section (RCS) than conventional tailed aircraft. Despite the tension in J-UCAS, it was a surprise when an early-2006 high-level Pentagon review killed it, splitting resources into a white-world Navy effort and a classified USAF program, while endorsing a plan to field a bomber in 2018. It's now apparent, however, that USAF had already picked a primary approach to the NGB, and that the next two years of work, starting with the remaining Fiscal 2006 J-UCAS funding, are intended to validate that choice. This approach emerged from J-UCAS, and particularly from Northrop Grumman, which anticipated the J-UCAS split and was prepared to respond. The company believed that the basic 42,000-lb. J-UCAS was better suited to the Navy than to USAF, had focused on the carrier-based J-UCAS demonstration and picked a design that offered high lift and a simple wingfold. Northrop Grumman's proposal for a bigger X-47C also preceded -- and may have inspired -- USAF's switch to a larger long-range bomber. This meant, too, that the NGB program could get a running start because it would use aerodynamics and stealth technology that were in the works for J-UCAS. The X-47B was much more advanced, in aerodynamic terms, than it appeared (see sidebar), and the same is likely true of its low-observable (LO) qualities. The aircraft is one of the first to combine a highly blended tailless configuration with new materials developed since the 1980s. The NGB will be the same, if not more so. Northrop Grumman has stressed the "all-aspect, broadband" stealth inherent in the X-47B. Tailless shapes don't have the "bow-tie" RCS pattern, with the smallest RCS on the nose and tail and peaks on the beam configurations, which characterizes conventional aircraft. They are stealthier against low-frequency radars -- including updated, active-array VHF radars marketed by Russia -- because they do not have shape features which are so small that their RCS in the VHF band is determined by size, rather than shape or materials. It may be significant that John Cashen, leader of the B-2 signatures team, returned in 2006 after 10 years in Australia and is now a consultant for Northrop Grumman. RCS test facilities across the U.S. have been upgraded since the F-22 and B-2 were designed: USAF's range at Holloman AFB, N.M., was reequipped to handle bistatic measurements, and a sophisticated airborne RCS measurement program based on a modified 737 was delivered in 2001. How low can LO go? One paper, co-authored by a principal in DenMar Inc., the company founded by Stealth pioneer Denys Overholser, refers to the development of fasteners for a body with an RCS of -70 dB./sq. meter -- one-thousandth of the -40 dB. associated with the JSF, and one-tenth that of a mosquito. DTI queried RCS engineers who don't believe such numbers are possible; but then, when mention of a -30 dB. signature leaked out in a 1981 Northrop paper, nobody believed that either.

China: New Chinese Weapons

China: New Chinese Weapons 27 July 2008: In 1966, Luo Ruiqing, the PLA's then chief-of-staff criticised the defence industry because it was concentrating on R&D rather than on production. He was accused in the official Report of Luo's Mistakes that, 'he still frantically attacked our national defence scientific research work as going from data to data, from design to design, without completing anything'. Luo believed China was in imminent war with the United States, and advocated Soviet assistance. His criticism of the Chinese defence industry could well have applied into the 1990s as well as today with too many designs that achieve little. A new 122mm self-propelled gun has been shown in the online version of PLA Daily. Titled 'Artillery troops enhance combat effectiveness with new equipment', it shows a battery of these guns. The vehicle uses the chassis from the new ZBD97 infantry fighting vehicle with a turret, most probably a modified version of the one used on the Model 89 122mm self-propelled gun. WZ731 Tracked Scout Vehicle Identified as a xinxihua zhanchang (Informationalised battlefield) system, the WZ731 tracked scout developed from the ZSD89 hull with a low profile turret mounting two armoured sights, one with a laser rangefinder and CCD daylight sight and the other a thermal imager. The WZ731 had a crew of up to six including a three man scout team. It was 6.62m long, 2.626m wide and 1.88m high at the hull and 2.556m at the top of the armoured sights. The combat weight was only 8.1t which gave it a maximum road speed of 80.5 km/hr. The armament comprised eight 76mm smoke grenade dischargers, four mounted in a row on each side of the turret and a pintle mounted Model 59 12.7 x 108mm heavy machine gun on the left side if the commander's cupola which is directly behind the driver on the left hand side. This single machine gun on its open pintle mount was deemed insufficient in the event of the vehicle coming under attack. The lack of an automatic cannon was one reason the vehicle was not introduced into service. The British Scimitar tracked reconnaissance vehicle is similar in weight, is better armoured, smaller in size, more mobile and m mounts a 30mm cannon. The basic design was sound and a new scout version of the ZSD89, using the enlarged rear hull of the ambulance version, with a modified low profile turret from the WZ731. This incorporates flat transmitter panels on the turret roof, and on top of this is a compressed gas catapult for a small UAV. New Unmanned Air Vehicle The Wenchuan Earthquake has seen the use of at least one Chinese developed and manufactured unmanned air vehicle (UAV). It was to survey the extent of the damage. It is only 2.1 m long and has a wingspan of 2.6m. It weighs 20kg and is of pusher configuration with twin booms connecting a 'V' shaped rear fin. It can travel at 110km/hr, reach an altitude of 3,500m and has GPS assisted guidance. Its photographic images are excellent.

China: New Type 054A Frigate Commissioned

China: New Type 054A Frigate Commissioned (NSI News Source Info) July 27 2008: A new Type 054A (NATO reporting name: Jiangkai-II class) missile frigate was commissioned by the PLA Navy South Sea Fleet on 9 July. The frigate, carrying hull number 568, was named Chaohu, after the city in the eastern Anhui Province. The commission ceremony was held at the Zhanjiang Naval Base, attended by the senior officials of the PLA Navy headquarters, the South Sea Fleet, as well as representatives from the Chaohu City council. The Type 054A Jiangjai-II class is the latest surface combatant introduced by the PLA Navy, featuring the a 32-cell vertical launch system (VLS) for the HQ-16 air defence missile, as well as modernised sensors and electronic systems developed from Russian designs. The first hull was launched in late 2006. Chaohu (568), constructed by the Huangpu Shipyard in Guangzhou, is the fourth hull of its class.

Pakistan, India trade fire along LoC

Pakistan, India trade fire along LoC ISLAMABAD, July 27, 2008: Pakistani and Indian soldiers traded fire across the Line of Control (LoC) on Saturday, Pakistan’s military said.Military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said the Indian army fired machinegun bursts and mortar bombs at the Pakistani side of the LoC in the Battal sector of Rawalakot district, where troops had a similar exchange of fire on July 10.“We immediately responded and fired into the area from where the fire was coming. They later stopped firing,” he told Reuters. He said there were no casualties on the Pakistani side.“We contacted the Indians and lodged a protest and asked for a flag meeting” of the local commanders, he added.The Indian army denied Pakistan’s claims. Brig Gopala Krishanan Murali, an army spokesman in occupied Kashmir, said the firing had come from the Pakistani side.“Some rogue elements, possibly infiltrators, fired rocket-propelled guns and quickly disappeared,” Murali claimed. “We didn’t return the fire.”The armies of the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours have frequently exchanged fire across the LoC in the past but such skirmishes became very rare after they agreed on a ceasefire in late 2003.The two countries went to the brink of their fourth war in 2002. The recent exchanges of fire on the LoC came as relations between the two countries have been strained by an attack outside the Indian embassy in Kabul earlier this month.---Reuters

Russia to have 5-6 aircraft carriers in Northern, Pacific Fleets

Russia to have 5-6 aircraft carriers in Northern, Pacific Fleets ST. PETERSBURG, July 27, 2008 - Russia will create 5-6 aircraft carrier groups in the Northern and Pacific Fleets, the Navy commander said on Sunday. Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said the Navy command had decided to build sea-borne aircraft carrier systems for these fleets instead of simply aircraft carriers. "Everything must work in a system, including aircraft carriers. We have called them sea-borne aircraft carrier systems, which will be based in the Northern and Pacific Fleets. The construction of such systems will begin after 2012," Vysotsky said before reviewing a military parade on the occasion of Navy Day in Russia. Vysotsky said new sea-borne aircraft carrier systems will operate in close contact with Russia's orbital group of military satellites, and also with the Air Force and air defense. At present, Russia has only one operational aircraft carrier, the Nikolai Kuznetsov, which was commissioned in the early 1990s and has recently re-entered service after a prolonged overhaul. The ship, also known as Project 1143.5 heavy aircraft carrier, is currently deployed with Russia's Northern Fleet and has recently participated in a two-month tour to the Mediterranean as part of Russia's plans to resume its continual presence in different regions of the world's seas.

China opens Olympic Athletes' village

China opens Olympic Athletes' village BEIJING, July 27, 2008 - The Olympic village, which will host athletes and officials during the Olympic Games due to start next month, was officially opened in Beijing on Sunday. The 66-hectare (163-acre) village will accommodate 16,000 athletes during the 29th Summer Olympic Games to be held from August 8 through 24. "We now welcome athletes from around the world to come to the Games," Chen Zhili, vice-president of the Beijing organizing committee said at the opening ceremony. "We will try to satisfy the needs of people from different cultural and religious backgrounds," said Chen who is also the so-called head of the Olympic village. China announced on Friday it would have the largest ever Olympic delegation at the Games. The 1,099-member delegation includes 639 athletes and ensures that China will be represented in all 28 Olympic events and 38 disciplines, the official site of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games said.

Iran executes 29 convicted criminals in jail hangings - TV

Iran executes 29 convicted criminals in jail hangings - TV TEHRAN, July 27, 2008 - Iran executed 29 people convicted of murder, armed robbery, drug trafficking and other crimes, national television said on Sunday. All the convicts were executed by hanging on Sunday morning in Tehran's Evin prison, the television said. Iran holds the second place in the world after China by the number of executions. Iran rejects accusations by the West that it is violating human rights. Last week, Iranian judicial authorities sentenced eight women and one man convicted of adultery to death by stoning.

Turkish planes strike Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq

Turkish planes strike Kurdish rebel targets in northern Iraq ANKARA, July 27, 2008 - Turkish bomber planes carried out strikes on Saturday night on Mount Qandil in northern Iraq, targeting bases of Kurdish separatists, the Turkish military announced on its website on Sunday. "The planes bombed 12 targets of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). All the targets were destroyed," the statement said. According to the statement, all the planes returned to their bases safely. The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the EU, the U.S., and many other countries, has been fighting for an autonomous ethnic Kurd state in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years. The conflict has so far claimed over 40,000 lives.