30 Jul 2008, NEW YORK: The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), US has confronted Pakistan with new evidence about ties between the country's spy service with some militant groups responsible for rising violence in Afghanistan, possibly including suicide bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul earlier this month. A top official of CIA secretly travelled to Islamabad this month and confronted Pakistan's senior officials with new information about deepening ties between the ISI and the militants operating in tribal areas, the New York Times said quoting American military and intelligence officials. CIA's deputy director Stephen R Kappes’ secret visit to Pakistan on July 12, along with Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, was described by several American military and intelligence officials in interviews to the daily, who made it clear that they welcomed the decision by the CIA to take a harder line toward the ISI's dealings with militant groups. The meetings took place days after a suicide bomber attacked the Indian embassy in Kabul, killing dozens. Afghanistan's government has publicly accused the ISI of having a hand in the attack, an assertion American officials have not corroborated, the paper said. The decision to have Kappes deliver the message about the spy service could be a sign of deteriorating relationship between the CIA and the ISI, which has long been marked by mutual suspicion and dependence, the report said. The CIA has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan, despite longstanding concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with Taliban in Afghanistan before the September 11 attacks.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
CIA confronts ISI for alleged links with militants
AH-1W / AH-1Z Super Cobra Attack Helicopter, USA July 30, 2008: The AH-1W Super Cobra is the US Marines' attack helicopter. It is supplied by Bell Helicopter Textron, and entered service in 1985. As well as the US Marine Corps, the Super Cobra is operational with the Turkish Land Forces and the armed forces of Taiwan. The AH-1W was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. SUPER COBRA UPGRADE PROGRAMMEA major upgrade of the Bell Super Cobra known as the H-1 Programme is underway. The programme calls for the remanufacture of the US Marine Corps fleet of 180 AH-1W Super Cobra and 100 UH-1N utility helicopters to an advanced four-bladed configuration. "The Super Cobra AH-1W is the US Marines' attack helicopter." The existing two-bladed semi-rigid, teetering rotor system is being replaced with a four-bladed, hingeless, bearingless rotor system. The improvement in flight characteristics provided by the four-bladed configuration has led to increases in flight envelope, maximum speed, vertical rate-of-climb, payload and rotor vibration level. The USMC subsequently decided on new-build rather than remanufactured UH-1Y helicopters and, in February 2008, awarded Bell a contract for the new build of 40 of the proposed 180 AH-1Z helicopters. The new-build AH-1Z will be fitted with the uprated T700-401C engines, also fitted on the UH-1Y. First flight of the AH-1Z took place in December 2000. The AH-1W entered Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) in October 2003. Five AH-1W helicopters were remanufactured to AH-1Z standard and took part in flight testing at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Sea trials in May 2005 included the first shipboard landing on USS Bataan, Wasp Class amphibious assault ship. Developmental testing was completed in February 2006 and two test aircraft began Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) with the USMC in May 2006. The first production AH-1Z helicopter was delivered to the USMC in January 2007. Phase II of OPEVAL began in February 2008. A full-rate production decision is expected in August 2008. Initial operating capability is scheduled for 2011. The Turkish Army selected the AH-1Z King Cobra in July 2000 with a request for 50 out of a total requirement for 145 helicopters. In May 2004, it was announced that the acquisition was to be cancelled. The helicopters were to be built in Turkey by Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI). COCKPIT Northrop Grumman has developed the integrated avionics systems for the AH-1Z. The systems include two mission computers and an automatic flight control system with four-axis stability ontrol augmentation system. Each crew station has two 8in x 6in multifunction displays and one 4.2in x 4.2in dual function display, based on active matrix liquid crystal colour technology. The displays are supplied by L-3 Ruggedised Command and Control Solutions. Smiths Aerospace supplied the weapon stores control and data transfer system. "The AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003." The communications suite combines the new US Navy RT-1824 integrated radio, UHF/VHF, COMSEC and modem in a single unit. The navigation suite includes an Embedded GPS Inertial (EGI), a low-airspeed air data subsystem, which allows weapons delivery when hovering and a digital map. In June 2002, Thales Avionics' TopOwl helmet-mounted display system was chosen for the USMC AH-1Z. The first system was delivered in January 2003. TopOwl, also fitted on Tiger, NH90 and Rooivalk helicopters, has integrated Gen IV image intensifier and FLIR capability and provides transition from day to night use at the push of a button. WEAPONS AND MISSILES The Super Cobra can carry both TOW and Hellfire anti-armour missiles and is being qualified to carry the Maverick missile. The Raytheon BGM-71 TOW missile has a range of more than 3km and semi-automatic command-to-line- of-sight guidance. The AGM-114 Hellfire missile is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. It is equipped with a semi-active laser seeker and has a range of 7km. The Super Cobra has fire-and-forget capability when firing the Hellfire missile in co-operative mode with laser target illumination. The Super Cobra was the first attack helicopter to qualify both the Sidewinder air-to-air missile and the Sidearm anti-radiation missile. Both missiles can use the same LAU-7 rail launcher. Sidearm has a range of more than 15km. AIM-9L Sidewinder is an all-aspect, short-range, air-to-air missile produced by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. The missile has a range of 15km. The Super Cobra can fire the Hydra family of unguided 70 mm rockets or the larger 127 mm Zuni rocket bombs. From 2008, it will be armed with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), a guided version of the Hydra. The US Army re-opened the competition for the APKWS in September 2005 and a decision on contractor is expected in March 2006. The Super Cobra carries a three-barrel, 20mm Gatling gun for close range (up to 2km) engagement and 750 rounds of ammunition. With the gun in a fixed forward position, the pilot can aim by manoeuvring the helicopter. Either crew member can slave the turret to the helmet-mounted sight and aim the gun by looking at the target. "The Super Cobra carries a three-barrel, 20mm Gatling gun for close range engagement." The AH-1Z for the USMC will be armed with: 16 Hellfire missiles, six AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, 70mm rocket pods (7- and 19-shot), and a 20mm gun. SENSORS Targeting for the AH-1W is provided by the Night Targeting System (NTS), jointly produced by Tamam Division of Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd and Kollsman. NTS integrates a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) which provides automatic target tracking with a laser designator / rangefinder and video recorder. Lockheed Martin has developed a longer range AN/AAQ-30 target sight system (TSS) for the AH-1Z to replace the NTS. TSS includes a third-generation four field-of-view FLIR based on a 3-5 micron staring array, CCD colour TV, Kollsman eyesafe laser rangefinder/designator and multi-target autotracker. L-3 Communications Wescam supplies the turret assembly. Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract to supply the first 16 systems to the USMC in March 2008. Longbow International (a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman) is developing the Cobra Radar System for the AH-1Z, based on the Longbow millimetre wave radar on the AH-64D Apache. Cobra is a pod-based radar that can be mounted on a wingtip or in a stores position. Cobra can automatically search, detect, classify and prioritise multiple moving and stationary targets. It has a range of 8km against moving and 4km against stationary targets. COUNTERMEASURES The H1 Super Cobra upgrade includes provision of a new electronic warfare suite. A new radar warner, the AN/APR-39(XE2) from Lockheed Martin, replaces the Lockheed Martin AN/APR-39(V)2 pulse radar warner and the AEL Industries AN/APR-44 continuous-wave radar warner. The ATK AN/AAR-47 missile warning system has been included in the upgrade suite. AN/AAR-47 uses infrared detectors to detect the missile plume. The Goodrich (formerly Raytheon) AN/AVR-2A laser warning receiver has also been added. The infrared countermeasures system is the AN/ALQ-144A developed by BAE Systems IEWS (formerly Sanders, a Lockheed Martin company). "Super Cobra is armed with TOW missiles." The helicopter is also equipped with the AN/ALE-39 chaff and infrared flare dispenser manufactured by BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions (formerly Tracor) and Lockheed Martin Tactical Defense Systems. ENGINES Twin General Electric T700-GE-401 turboshaft engines provide a total of 2,410kW or 3,380shp. In standard conditions, with an air-to-air ordnance load, the SuperCobra can take off and climb out at more than 4.1m/s on only one engine. It can hover out of ground effect (OGE) at 914m, with a load of four TOW and four Hellfire missiles, full turret ammunition and rockets.
Bush expresses concerns over ISI’s alleged role: Ahmed Mukhtar
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 - WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s Minister of Defence, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Wednesday said that US President George W. Bush had expressed concerns over the role of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI.In an exclusive interview with Geo News, Mukhtar said President Bush had expressed reservations on the role of “elements at some level in the ISI.”Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said a number of significant matters came under discussion during the meeting with President Bush.“President Bush had complained that actionable intelligence shared with Pakistan got leaked much before its due time,” he said adding that President Bush also questioned as to “who is in control of ISI.”
India, Pakistan trade blame on Kashmir clash
Srinagar, India (AFP) July 30, 2008India and Pakistan traded blame Tuesday for a ceasefire violation along the Line of Control in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir that left an Indian soldier dead. Pakistan's military rejected Indian accusations that it had broken the ceasefire, saying Indian troops had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) overnight and opened fire first. India had accused Islamabad of a "serious violation" of the truce, but Pakistan countered that New Delhi had engaged in "unprovoked fire." "No Pakistani soldier had crossed the LoC," a Pakistan military spokesman said in a statement. Pakistan also denied Indian media reports that four of its troops were killed in the fierce gunbattle in the region, which has triggered two of the three wars between the nuclear-armed neighbours. The clash comes amid growing tensions between the South Asian rivals following a suicide bombing outside the Indian embassy in Kabul earlier this month, which Afghanistan and India have both blamed on "elements" in Pakistan. Last week, Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said the India-Pakistan peace process was "under stress," citing incidents along the LoC and in Kashmir. On Tuesday, Pakistan rejected the Indian army's "claim that Pakistani troops had crossed 200 metres (yards) on the Indian side of the LoC... which resulted in an exchange of fire." "Indian soldiers wanted to establish a forward post in the area on the Pakistani side of the LoC, which was objected to by our soldiers," the Pakistan military statement said. "Indian troops opened indiscriminate and unprovoked fire. The Indian fire was immediately responded to." Pakistan said it had "material evidence" of the Indian incursion in the form of weapons left behind by fleeing Indian soldiers. According to India, the fighting was sparked by an incursion and killing of an Indian soldier by a small unit of Pakistani troops in the mountains north of Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's summer capital. "The fighting lasted for 13 to 14 hours," Indian army spokesman Anil Kumar Mathur told AFP, calling it a "serious violation of the ceasefire." "It is a very serious issue. The Pakistanis have been violating the ceasefire over the past few months, but this is the first time they physically moved in and killed a colleague of ours." Army officers from the two sides on Tuesday held a "flag meeting" -- or formal meeting at which they presented their versions of the incident. In 2002, India and Pakistan came to the brink of war, massing troops along their de facto border, in the wake of an attack on the Indian parliament that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based rebel groups fighting its rule in Kashmir. They agreed to a ceasefire along the LoC in November 2003 and launched a peace process in January 2004, with Pakistan pledging to prevent militant infiltrations. Since then, the heavy guns have fallen mostly silent, but there have been sporadic small clashes. Still, India has made repeated complaints that Pakistani troops have been helping Islamic militants infiltrate Indian territory. India's Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in a statement that the Pakistanis had violated the LoC ceasefire as many as 19 times. "The increase in ceasefire violations and firings across the LoC is a matter of concern to India," Antony said. There was no immediate response from Pakistan. An insurgency against Indian rule over a part of Muslim-majority Kashmir has raged since 1989, although Islamabad denies it is supporting the Muslim rebels. Pakistan also has regularly complained that talks on Kashmir's future have gone nowhere. Levels of violence had been steadily declining since 2004, but the region has witnessed a sharp upsurge in violence in recent weeks, including a bomb attack on an Indian army bus this month that killed nine soldiers. Indian and Pakistani leaders are slated to meet at an upcoming South Asian summit in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo this weekend.
Japan party boss says tough to continue Iraq mission
Tokyo (AFP) July 30, 2008: A senior Japanese politician said Tuesday it would be tough to continue the country's mission flying personnel and goods into Iraq beyond this year, amid opposition at home. An end to the air mission would bring a close to the last of Japan's military operations in Iraq, which have been a watershed for a country that has been officially pacifist since the end of World War II. Domestic legislation expires in July next year that allows the mission, under which Japanese airplanes based in Kuwait bring supplies and people into Iraq on behalf of the US-led coalition and the United Nations. Bunmei Ibuki, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, noted UN Security Council resolution 1790 allows foreign troops to operate in Iraq only until the end of this year. "After the existing UN resolution expires, I think it would require a serious effort if you were to take the current rationale and continue the mission," said Ibuki, the party's number two after Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. Ibuki, who said he was offering his personal view, was reacting to a newspaper report that the ruling party had decided to end the mission by the end of the year. The conservative Sankei Shimbun, which did not identify its sources, said the Liberal Democrats believed it would be difficult to win the support of the opposition, which controls one house of parliament. The opposition has flexed its muscles since its historic win last year, hoping to scuttle the government's agenda in anticipation of general elections. Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba denied a decision has been taken to end the air mission, saying a new UN resolution could extend the mandate of multinational forces. "At this point, it's extremely difficult to say conclusively what will happen in the future," Ishiba told reporters. "For now, we'll simply carry out our mission." Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki this month voiced support for the departure of US combat troops by the end of 2010, a deadline similar to one proposed by US presidential candidate Barack Obama. Japan's opposition was sharply critical in 2003 of then prime minister Junichiro Koizumi's strong backing for the US-led invasion of Iraq that removed Saddam Hussein from power. Koizumi took the landmark decision of sending troops to southern Iraq on a non-combat humanitarian mission. It was the first Japanese military deployment since World War II to a country where fighting was underway. Koizumi brought the troops home on leaving office in 2006 after a two-and-a-half-year mission in which the forces did not suffer any casualties. Japan's opposition last year forced a temporary suspension of a separate military mission that provides fuel and other logistical support in the Indian Ocean to US-led forces engaged in Afghanistan. "We are very appreciative of what Japan has done both in Iraq and Afghanistan," Thomas Schieffer, the US ambassador to Japan, said after meeting with Fukuda on Tuesday. "We are hopeful that they are able to continue making contributions to the realisation of both a peaceful Iraq and peaceful Afghanistan," he said.
Korea Signs $400 Million Contract with Turkey on Transfer of Tank Technology
July 30, 2008: The Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Wednesday (July 30) that Korea has signed a $400 million deal with Turkey to help develop a new tank by 2015, using over 50 percent of Korea's indigenous technology on the armored vehicle. The deal was signed between Korean tank manufacturer Hyundai Rotem and Turkish carmaker Otokar in a ceremony attended by Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. The contract also includes the transfer of technology owned by Korea's state developer, the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), according to the Korean defense procurement office. The contract is very significant in that Korea is now exporting not only defense goods, but also defense technology, the defense procurement office said in a media release. Korea competed against Germany for the $400 million project to help develop Turkey's new main battle tank, which will be the country's first-ever indigenous tank, according to the defense procurement office. Turkey plans to produce some 200 units of the next generation tank, provisionally named Turkey National Main Battle Tank, upon completion of its development. Turkey is one of the largest purchasers of Korean defense articles and is set to buy some $100 million worth of weapons, including 155mm self-propelled artillery, from Korea this year alone, according to the defense procurement office. Korea developed its first indigenous tank, the K-1, in 1988 and is set to replace the main battle tank with the next generation K-2 tanks starting 2010. Seoul exported some $850 million worth of defense articles last year, with the export expected to grow to over $1 billion this year for the first time in history, the defense procurement office said in the media release.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Korean press reports say that South Korea will transfer key technologies regarding engine, gunnery and snorkeling systems to Turkey, which initially wants to build about 250 advanced main battle tanks, totaling about 60% of the technology required to build the Turkish tanks. Turkey will develop a fire control system on its own. Korea’s $400 million technology transfer fee includes production costs for four prototype tanks and components, and expenses for about 20 Korean engineers seconded to Turkey for the program.)
Stiletto Stealth Ships: Look Different. Ride Different. Buy Different 30-Jul-2008: M-Ship Stiletto The late Vice-Admiral Cebrowski’s legacy at the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation. With the formal roll-out of the 88-foot Stiletto stealth ship and its cutting-edge “M-Hull” wave-damping design, that legacy takes another step forward. The Stiletto is part of Project WolfPac, which aims to test new concepts of shallow-water and riverine warfare organized around swarms of smaller, affordable ships linked by communications. The Stiletto can slip into shallow waters, launching inflatable boats and even UAVs while serving as a communications hub via its “electronic keel.” Best of all, the M-Hull significantly reduces the pounding its occupants take from waves – poundings that often result in back injuries that cut careers short, or leave sailors with lingering disabilities in later life. After a long, drawn-out testing period, the ship is finally being given a chance to silence doubts about its ability to stand up to open sea conditions. It has been deployed – with a crew of Army mariners to operate it… The Stiletto Program Contracts and Key Events Appendix A: M-Hull Technology – From Venice to Victory Appendix B: Additional Readings The Stiletto Program Rear w. inflatables well Stiletto program manager US Navy Commander Greg Glaros’ entry in the DefenseTech.org comments section provided the best window into the thinking behind Stiletto, whose technology may migrate to other platforms as well: “Stiletto was constructed in 15 months starting Oct 04. She is made completely out of Carbon fiber. Her purpose is to insert emerging technology at little cost due to her Electronic Keel and to provide a venue for operational experimentation. It is not perfect, nor is she designed to solve everyone’s needs (no she does not submerge – we left that to the Billion $ club). What she is designed to do is expand our technical competence against an elusive adversary and learn operationally in a very short period of time. With regards to its survivability or operational relevancy we will all learn by her mere existence. Easy to kill??? – We seem to easily lose sight that most military systems are all easy to destroy by a willing enemy. Stiletto & ScanEagle launcher Our objectives should be focused on matching our adversaries at scale with an ability to cope and adapt – surely the Stark, Cole, M-1 ABRAMS, and Hummers have taught us how easy it is to kill systems designed to survive everything our engineering imagined – unfortunately what our engineer imagine often do not align with what our enemy intends… During the last two weeks Stiletto out performed our expectations – with advanced speeds in calm waters and not so calm…and out performing in other areas in a time frame and within a cost that seems to be out of the reach of our requirements procss and acquisition system. Time to operational market matters…” The Stiletto will cost about $6 million to build, while the overall costs of the experiment are expected to reach about $12 million. DefenseTech’s main coverage of the Stiletto ship is a good article with a number of valuable links, but the key issue for the ship will be its composite hull’s ability to stand up to the sea’s inevitable pounding. Contracts and Key Events June 30/08: Stiletto makes a refueling stop at the American territory of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The ship has been moved to NAVSOUTH’s area of responsibility, where it will support the Coast Guard’s efforts and participate in anti-drug operations around the Caribbean. The ship is actually operated by a small crew of Army mariners from the 7th Sustainment Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division. They can also deploy a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) with 7 fully armed Coast Guardsmen from the ship, in order to conduct ground operations. July 2008: A National Defense Magazine article says that Stiletto has been in use as a test bed ship, courtesy of the Pentagon’s rapid reaction technology office. The office inherited the ship when the Office for Force Transformation was disbanded, and needed a maritime test bed for the concepts companies brought to it. Since Stiletto was designed from the outset to accept new technologies quickly and easily, it was a natural fit. May 9/06: M Ship Co. announces that the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research has awarded the firm a $750,000 contract, including options, to validate the potential of the innovative M-hull technology. The Navy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract calls for tank testing and sea trials for the M-hull technology, and the development of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools for quantifying the hull’s performance. This seems arcane, but it’s vital if one wishes to model the hull’s performance in a variety of sea conditions. Existing ship hull designs have undergone extensive modeling, as well as real life use, allowing certification agencies to declare them safe within a certain range of conditions. New hull technologies need this, too, but the cost burden for the inventor can be crushing without funding like this. Jan 31/06: M Ship Co. announces the launch of the M80 Stiletto, designed as an operational experiment for the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation (OFT). The vessel combines carbon fiber construction with a networked architecture and a revolutionary M-hull. The release also discusses Cebrowski’s legacy. Appendix A: M-Hull Technology – From Venice to Victory Interestingly, the M-hull evolved from a challenge to help solve the serious problem of wave erosion to the ancient buildings of Venice, Italy. Since the streets of this city are water, the authorities were faced with the unique problem of reducing waves created by motorboats to protect the foundations of the buildings along the canals. Chuck Robinson, who lives in the USA but has an apartment in Venice, decided that he had to do something. The result of this effort was the M-hull. This patented hull form exhibits the shock mitigation features of the deep-V hull with the roll stability of a multihull. In addition, the hull form creates a natural surface effect that not only enhances top speed performance, but actually uses the bow wave energy to reduce the overall wake signature. Current M-Hull products include water taxis, the EcoBarca environmentally sensitive tourism ship, and a sport fishing vessel in addition to the Stiletto. Other proposed variants include cargo, commercial shipping, Coast Guard, and larger military applications like the MS 120 and MS 200 Littoral. Perhaps the most interesting potential for the M-Hull, however, may lie in its promise as a component of seabasing. As this M-Ship Co. press release notes, its co-founder Bill Burns says: “I think there could be some opportunity for seabasing using the M-hull technologies, not only for the connectors but also for the seabase itself,” he said. “And we are developing some conceptual designs where we can actually build square ships that can link together and break apart based on the mission needs.”
U.S. MARINES PARTICIPATE IN AN AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT VEHICLE LANDING. - July 30, 2008: U.S. Marine and Indonesian Jaguar Company participate in an Amphibious Assault Vehicle landing as a part of their training during Rim of the Pacific 2008 at Pyramid Rock Beach at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, on July 27, 2008.
U.S. Offers Nicaragua Health Aid to Destroy Arms
MANAGUA, Nicaragua: July 30, 2008 - The U.S. has offered Nicaragua health care aid in exchange for the destruction of 657 Soviet-made missiles acquired to fight U.S.-backed rebels in the 1980s, the U.S. ambassador said here. Washington has long pressured Nicaragua to destroy the anti-aircraft missiles as part of a global effort to remove old weapons that could fall into the hands of terrorists. The exchange deal was prepared "by a team from the [U.S.] Department of Defense specialized in the administration of hospitals, medicines, and technical equipment," who recently visited the country, and the Nicaraguan health ministry, said U.S. ambassador Paul Trivelli on a television news program Aug. 27. It was now up to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who proposed the medical-missile exchange last year, to sign the deal to hand over 657 of some 1,000 missiles still held, Trivelli said, without detailing the medical aid. Ortega has said he would keep some 400 missiles for national security reasons. The SAM-7 missiles are remnants of the civil war between Ortega's Sandinista National Liberation Front and U.S.-backed Contra rebels in the 1980s. Former Nicaraguan president Enrique Bolanos destroyed 1,000 such missiles in 2004. Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla and Cold War-era foe of the United States, was elected for a second term in 2006.
Israeli Army Chooses Elbit Hand-Held Targeter
TEL AVIV: July 30, 2008 - Israeli infantry are slated to become the first operational users of a new, miniaturized targeting system custom-designed by Elbit Systems for close-in combat and urban battles. The Haifa, Israel-based firm announced July 28 that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had selected its MARS hand-held thermal imager and target acquisition system for use by Israeli land warriors. An initial order is expected in the next several weeks, with deliveries to commence by the end of this year, company executives said. Developed by Electro-Optics Elop Ltd., an Elbit subsidiary, MARS is an ultralight, uncooled infrared sensor weighing less than 2 kilograms, including the system's eight-hour rechargeable battery. The hand-held system allows for single-handed location, targeting and killing of close-in targets up to 1 kilometer away, regardless of cloudy, moonless or other environmentally challenging conditions. It incorporates an eye-safe laser rangefinder, digital magnetic compass and Global Positioning System receiver, and features the same image processing circuitry and software algorithms developed for the firm's larger, longer-range Coral system. "We take great pride in supplying the IDF with our advanced systems," said Haim Rousso, Elop general manager. "The unique imager answers the needs of the individual soldier and was developed according to the IDF's requirements, based on the extensive experience and knowledge accumulated at Elop." Adi Dar, Elop's vice president for business development and marketing, said the firm's MARS was selected following a nearly yearlong competition and operational assessment conducted by the IDF's Land Forces Command. "It's a badge of honor to have won this important competition and to have the IDF as our first operational customer," he said. He noted that the short-range, uncooled system was developed for lower-echelon field commanders and special mission squads who must engage enemies with precision, but not from the longer ranges covered by Coral and other cooled targeting sensors. He added that MARS feeds into existing wireless command, control and communications systems.
Musharraf's nuclear sell-out Part I
By Asif Ezdi Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Since public attention has been focused on the havoc wreaked by eight years of the Musharraf dictatorship on the institutions of state, the dismal record of his foreign policy has largely escaped notice. The India-US nuclear deal, now in the final stages of its completion, is just one of the many foreign policy debacles that the country owes to Musharraf. When President Clinton visited India and Pakistan in March 2000 shortly after Musharraf's military coup, the British weekly Economist wrote: "Their new nuclear credentials apart, the two [countries] have never seemed more unalike." In the eight years since then, we have all but lost the parity of nuclear credentials that we then had with India. When the coup took place, both Pakistan and India were negotiating with the US for a lifting of the sanctions imposed on them following their nuclear tests in 1998. Today, India is about to be given full access to nuclear technology, while the worldwide ban on civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan remains. Once the deal is finalised, India will also stand admitted to the league of nuclear-weapon states, while Pakistan's nuclear programme will continue to be eyed with suspicion. The safeguards agreement to be concluded by India with the IAEA for its civilian nuclear reactors is expected to be approved by the agency's board of governors in early August. The next step – approval by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) – will take a little longer, but no serious opposition is expected. Major supplier countries like the US, the UK, Russia and France are openly backing the India-US nuclear deal. US officials have indicated that China will also be supportive. In an interview with The Times of India on March 2, 2008, Nick Burns, then Under-secretary of State for Political Affairs and the main architect of the new strategic relationship with India, named China as one of the "champions" of the nuclear deal and expressed the confidence that China would not block it. The nuclear deal has serious implications for Pakistan's security. The supply of imported fuel to India for its civilian nuclear reactors will free up more of its domestic uranium for the production of weapons material and allow for the rapid expansion of its nuclear arsenal. According to Rep. Edward Markey (D) of Massachusetts, the nuclear deal will boost India's bomb-making capacity perhaps sevenfold, to as many as 50 bombs a year. The access to advanced nuclear technology that India will get under the deal will also enable it to make qualitative improvements in its nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Although some concern was expressed in the US Congress that India might accelerate its nuclear weapons programme once it gets access to foreign nuclear fuel, Nick Burns said on July 27, 2007, that this was not a US concern. "[W]hat India does on the strategic side," Burns said, "is India's business."Although US domestic law (Atomic Energy Act) mandates an end to nuclear trade with a non-nuclear-weapon state that conducts a nuclear test, the bilateral "123 agreement" on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy concluded by India and the US in July 2007 is silent about consequences of a nuclear test by India. The Indian government maintains that it has not given up the right to conduct nuclear tests and is not bound by US legislation, only by its bilateral agreement with the US. The 123 agreement in fact pledges US help to India in the development of a strategic reserve of nuclear fuel to guard against "any disruption" of supply over the lifetime of India's reactors. This means that if the United States, under its domestic law, were to cut off nuclear supplies to India because it had conducted a nuclear test, Washington would be required to help India in pursuing a resumption of outside fuel supplies by other countries. If despite these arrangements, a disruption of fuel supplies to India occurs, the United States and India would jointly convene a group of friendly supplier countries to include Russia, France and the United Kingdom to pursue such measures as would restore fuel supply to India. In addition to fuel assurances, New Delhi secured a US commitment in the 123 agreement to permit India to reprocess US-origin spent fuel. The US has given this permission so far only to Japan and the European consortium EURATOM.The 123 agreement, as well as the safeguards agreement between India and the IAEA, also state that India may take unspecified "corrective measures" to ensure the uninterrupted operation of its civilian nuclear reactors in the event of disruption of foreign fuel supplies. This means that if there was a cut-off in the supply of nuclear fuel following an Indian nuclear test, India would have the right to withdraw its civilian nuclear facilities from safeguards and convert those sites to the production of fissile material usable in warheads.A safeguards agreement of this kind, which allows India to withdraw its nuclear facilities from IAEA inspection in case of a fuel supply cut-off should it resume nuclear testing – and divert safeguarded nuclear facilities and material to military use – makes it less likely that a cut-off would be imposed in the first place. The safeguards agreement thus virtually guarantees India continued fuel supply even if it carries out a nuclear test. As The New York Times wrote in its editorial on July 5, there is no promise from India to stop producing bomb-making material, no promise not to expand its arsenal and no promise not to resume nuclear testing. The whole world is these days moving ahead into expanding nuclear power because of skyrocketing oil prices and environmental concerns. Well over 100 reactors are either already under construction or in the planning stages. India, which currently has 17 reactors, is planning to dramatically increase that number. After the NSG lifts its restrictions on nuclear trade with India, Pakistan will be the only country in the world to which the supply of civilian nuclear technology is embargoed. That will seriously hamper our economic development, as we do not have sufficient oil and gas reserves of our own and our hydro-electric power resources will soon have been fully harnessed.The India-US nuclear deal, which was announced in July 2005, did not happen overnight. It had been under negotiation for two years. The Musharraf government was either not aware of it or it did not grasp its huge significance. Both are equally inexcusable. While conceding all of India's demands for access to nuclear technology, Bush and other US officials have rejected a similar deal for Pakistan in the most categorical terms. Bush made clear on March 4, 2006, at a joint press conference with Musharraf in Islamabad, that Pakistan should not expect a civilian nuclear agreement like the one with India. He said bluntly that the two countries could not be compared to each other. While Bush spoke so disparagingly about Pakistan, Musharraf simply stood by, looking every bit like the Bush flunkey that he is, and did not utter a word to contradict the US president. Not only that, in a meeting with the Pakistani press two days later, Musharraf faithfully echoed Bush's remarks that Pakistan could not claim the same rights as India. "We are not in competition with India," Musharraf said, as if reading from the same script as Bush. "India has global and regional aspirations. We do not have such aspirations. … [The Indians] are going in a different direction and we are going in a different direction." US officials have sought to justify their refusal to make a deal on civil nuclear cooperation with Pakistan because of proliferation and terrorism concerns. They cite Pakistan's "abysmal" record on export controls while that of India is said to be good. Moreover, India is a democracy and a highly stable country, while Pakistan is not. These arguments have a certain plausibility because of the activities of the A Q Khan network, but American officials conveniently ignore the fact that India is the only country in the world to have diverted nuclear fuel and technology received by it for peaceful purposes. Pakistan's record in this respect is impeccable. In India's case, it was the Indian government that broke solemn international agreements. A Q Khan, on the other hand, was acting as a freelancer and there was no breach of an international agreement or international law. Moreover, even Washington concedes that Pakistan has now instituted an effective export control system.
Russian mini-sub suffers minor damage on Lake Baikal
ULAN-UDE (Buryatia, Siberia) 30 July, 2008 - One of the mini-submarines being used for ongoing exploration in Siberia's Lake Baikal received minor damage while being lowered from a barge on Wednesday, an expedition member said. The accident occurred when the Mir-2 submersible, which along with Mir-1 descended to the depths of the world's deepest lake on Tuesday, was being lowered into the water near Olkhon island at around 12:00 p.m. local time (03:00 GMT), Yevgeny Chernyayev said. "Due to a sudden gust of wind, with a speed of 15 meters per second, Mir-2 struck the side of the barge with a grating sound; the propeller was damaged as a result," he said. The mini-sub is being taken to the Turka port on the lake's shore, where it can be fixed by tomorrow, he said. On Tuesday, Mir-1 and Mir-2 descended to one of the deepest points of what locals call the 'Sacred Sea', which holds around 20% of the planet's freshwater and is home to hundreds of unique species of fauna and flora. The crew initially claimed to have reached a depth of 1,680 meters (5,500 feet), which would have been a record for a freshwater dive, but after clarification said no records had been broken. The ongoing expedition is led by Artur Chilingarov, a Russian lawmaker who headed a symbolic dive beneath the North Pole last August, during which a Russian flag was planted on the seabed. The expedition is set to run for two years, during which the scientists will conduct around 160 dives in various areas of the lake. Research will include tectonic information-gathering and exploration for archeological artifacts.
Powerful explosion 'destroys' Hamas training camp in Gaza
GAZA, July 30, 2008 - An explosion has hit a Hamas training camp in southern Gaza, Palestinian health officials said on Wednesday. According to eyewitnesses, the explosion late on Tuesday completely destroyed the command center of Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the radical Islamic movement Hamas. The blast was heard all over the southern city of Khan Younis. A second, less powerful explosion followed some 15 minutes later. The exact number of casualties is currently unknown. According to Palestinian health officials, two people have been injured, while local media puts the number of casualties at five or six. The cause of the blast is as yet as unknown, and neither Hamas nor Israeli officials have commented. The training camp, located in a former Israeli settlement, had already seen a deadly explosion earlier this month. On July 8, a blast at the camp's training facility killed two militants and injured three. Izz el-Din al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement that the two victims had been preparing to carry out a "holy mission," but the explosives had detonated prematurely. Israel and Palestinian militants signed a Gaza Strip truce on June 19.
Russia's SS-18 Satan missile to stay in service for up to 8 years
MOSCOW, July 30, 2008 - The RS-20 Voyevoda (SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missile, adopted exactly 20 years ago, will remain in service until 2014-16, Russia's Strategic Missile Forces said on Wednesday. A spokesman for the forces said the missile remains the most powerful ICBM in the world. As of 1992, 88 SS-18 missile launchers had been deployed in Russia, most of them at the Dombarovsky missile base in the Orenburg Region, in the southern Urals. The missile is armed with a MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle) warhead with a yield of 550 to 750 kilotons. According to publicly available sources, the missile has a maximum range of 11,000 km (6,800 miles) with a launch mass of over 210 tons and a payload of 8.8 tons.