Thursday, September 04, 2008

China Plays Both Sides in Sudan

China Plays Both Sides in Sudan (NSI News Source Info) September 4, 2008: The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) has been increasingly pursuing its own regional foreign policy. Now China is solidifying its political relationship with South Sudan. China is opening a consulate in South Sudan's capital, Juba. On September 1, a senior Chinese foreign ministry officer met with the president of South Sudan (who is also the First Vice President of Sudan). Now a consulate is not an embassy, but China may be looking toward 2011 when the referendum promised by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement is supposed to take place. South Sudan could become a separate country. Yes, it would have oil. September 3, 2008: The Darfur rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) Minnawi faction has opened a new political front in its war with the government of Sudan. The SLM announced that it will back South Sudan's leader, Salva Kiir, in the next presidential election (scheduled for July 2009). September 2, 2008: UNAMID forces in Darfur depend on truck convoys to bring in basic operating equipment. The last major UNAMID support convoy collected at El Obeid (capital of North Kordofan state). El Obeid is in central Sudan – meaning that UNAMID relies on the Sudan government (the chief prosecutor of the war in Darfur) to allow it to receive equipment. From El Obeid the convoy travelled around 600 kilometers to reach the UNAMID forces deployed in Darfur. August 27, 2008: Hijackers took control of an airliner that took off from an airfield in south Darfur. The plane was supposed to fly to Khartoum but was diverted to the Libyan oasis of Kufra. The passengers were released in Kufra August 26, 2008: UNAMID reported that a Sudanese security force (likely a police unit) raided the Kalma refugee camp (South Darfur). At least 30 people died in the attack. Sudan said that the security personnel were "looking for suspects." The Sudanese government is also building a base near the camp. Rebels often use refugee camps as rest and recuperation areas. August 24, 2008: UNAMIS (UN Mission in Sudan) police trainers are conducting a ten-day long training program for a special joint police unit in the town of Abyei (which lies in the oil-rich zone disputed by Sudan and South Sudan). UNAMIS is the peacekeeping force created after South Sudan and Sudan signed the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The joint police unit has 63 Sudanese policemen and 105 members of the South Sudan Police Service. Abyei isn't the only problem area. The situation in the Nuba Mountains remains unstable. The Nuba Mountains are a "transitional area" that is part of Sudan (ie, north Sudan) has been promised local autonomy.

Taiwan: Fighter Pilot Shortage Sells F-35s

Taiwan: Fighter Pilot Shortage Sells F-35s (NSI News Source Info) September 4, 2008: The on-again/off-again U.S. sale of 66 late model F-16 fighters to Taiwan has hit another obstacle. Taiwanese Air Force officers are pointing out that a growing shortage of fighter pilots makes it a better strategy to wait a bit longer, and pay 50 percent more, to get F-35s instead of the F-16s (which would have cost about $75 million each). Any new U.S. warplanes for Taiwan is strongly opposed by China. The U.S. justified its recent refusal to sell the jets by pointing out that a newly elected, more pro-China government, in Taiwan, diminished the threat of a Chinese invasion. It's also possible that the U.S. is rewarding China for help in negotiations with North Korea over the North Korean nuclear weapons program. Then again, whoever really knows, isn't talking. Meanwhile, Taiwan has put seven of its Mirage 2000 fighters into storage, because of a lack of spare parts to keep them flying. Meanwhile, Taiwan will upgrade its current fighter fleet. Taiwan has a world class electronics industry, and can more easily import key electronics components, or military electronics.

LHTEC to Provide Engines for Turkish ATAK Helicopters

LHTEC to Provide Engines for Turkish ATAK Helicopters (NSI News Source Info) September 4, 2008: The Turkish Army announced that it has selected the AgustaWestland T129 helicopter, powered by two Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC) CTS800-4A engines, as part of the Tactical Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter (ATAK) Program for the Turkish Land Forces Command. LHTEC is a 50:50 partnership between Honeywell and Rolls-Royce that forecasts the lifetime revenue potential for CTS800 engine applications to be over $1 billion, including aftermarket sales. Under the agreement, 50 helicopters and 100 engines including spares have been ordered in a deal valued at around USD $96 million. The contract provides options for an additional 40 engines. Production of ATAK T129 helicopters will begin in 2011 and continue to 2018. Ben Driggs, Honeywell Vice President Marketing of Propulsion Marketing and Product Management and LHTEC board member, said: “The Turkish Army selection of the CTS800-4 powered AgustaWestland T129 underscores the benefits this engine provides to our customers. “The state of the art design and technology result in world-class performance and reliability, along with reduced operating and maintenance costs. These features will meet the needs of our customer over the life of the ATAK program. LHTEC looks forward to being a part this exciting program.” Ken Roberts, President of the Rolls-Royce Helicopters business and LHTEC board member, added: “This award further illustrates the strength of the LHTEC engine series. Already in service powering the Super Lynx 300 for the Royal Malaysian Navy, the Royal Thai Navy, the Royal Air Force of Oman and the South African Air Force, the CTS800 has also been selected to power the UK Ministry of Defence’s Future Lynx helicopter program.” The CTS800 also provides the boundary layer control system for the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibian aircraft, currently in development by the Japanese Navy, and is the prototype engine for the Sikorsky X2 high-speed technology development rotorcraft that made its maiden flight in August 2008. NOTE TO EDITORS The CTS800 family of engines, which have accumulated over 35,000 flight hours, range from 1,360 to 1,700 shp with the CTS800-4N equipped with a full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) that reduces pilot workload and facilitates the engine’s on-condition maintenance program. Low engine removal rates, excellent “hot and high” performance and best in class fuel burn levels all characterize the CTS800. Growth versions of the T800/CTS800 engine include a 1,680 shp class version being offered for emerging civil and military applications.

RAF Details Purchase Plans

RAF Details Purchase Plans (NSI News Source Info) LONDON - September 4, 2008: Britain's Royal Air Force will more than double its fleet of armed MQ9 Reaper UAVs by next year, according to Air Marshal Sir Barry Thornton, the Ministry of Defence's Chief of Material (Air). The British will add a third Reaper to their fleet next January and have agreed to purchase two more vehicles next year, Thornton told a Sept. 4 meeting of the Air Power Association here. Two vehicles are currently operated from a base in Kandahar in Afghanistan, purchased as an urgent operational requirement. The Reapers are operated by personnel from the RAF's 39 Squadron situated at Creech Air Force base in Nevada, where a combined U.S./U.K. task force has been in existence for several years. The third Reaper will replace one lost earlier this year when it suffered a mechanical failure during an operation over Afghanistan. Thornton said the Reaper had become a vital asset and was in constant demand by NATO forces operating in Afghanistan. In January, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a potential sale of up to 10 Reapers to the British. Thornton said Britain expected to spend 900 million pounds ($1.6 billion) on urgent operational requirements (UORs) this year. Earlier in the summer, government ministers said Britain had spent more than 3.6 billion pounds on UORs since its current round of overseas deployments had gotten underway. The Air Material chief said managing the coherence of the urgent equipment procurements ordered by the armed forces was posing "quite a challenge." Thornton also said the RAF's intelligence surveillance target acquisition and reconnaissance capability would get a further boost in November with the start of operational trials of the new Raytheon-supplied Sentinel ground surveillance aircraft. The aircraft, which sports synthetic aperture and moving target indicator radars, is the British equivalent of the U.S. E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System. Three of the five aircraft, based on the Bombardier Global Express business jet, have now been delivered to the RAF base at Waddington, in eastern England. Thornton said the MoD is reviewing its options on the provision of future signals intelligence aircraft to replace the current Nimrod R1 capability. Options on the table include the U.S. Rivet Joint, installing SIGINT equipment on the new Nimrod MRA4 and installing new internals on the R1, he said. On Europe's stalled A400M airlifter program, Thornton said the British were looking at ways to plug the capability gap if the aircraft was delayed beyond its current delivery date of 2011. Extending the life of its C-130K fleet, leasing aircraft or chartering capacity were three possible options, he said. The Airbus airlifter development program has been dogged by problems with the Europrop International-developed TP400-D6 turboprop. An engine fitted to a C-130 test-bed aircraft modified by Marshall Aerospace in the U.K. has yet to fly even though the A400M itself has been rolled out. Thornton said the C-130 was expected to fly in October. One industry executive said he thought that was optimistic.

U.K., U.S. Seek To Resolve BAE Tornado Probe

U.K., U.S. Seek To Resolve BAE Tornado Probe (NSI News Source Info) LONDON - September 4, 2008: British and American officials are attempting to negotiate a settlement to end a U.S. Justice Department corruption investigation into BAE Systems' sale of Tornado jet fighters to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. U.S. congressional approval of U.S. components that would be fitted to Eurofighter jets the British government has sold to Saudi Arabia is on hold because of the investigation. U.S. officials have been in London this week, although who exactly is involved in the talks remains unclear. The Justice Department has accused the British defense giant of violating U.S. laws by passing bribes to Saudi officials through an American bank. Sources say the two allies are working on how they can close the affair with a negotiated settlement. U.K. officials want to put the issue to rest, but not at the expense of admitting to wrongdoing. U.S. officials maintain that if U.S. laws were broken, violators should be held accountable. One option the officials may be looking at is to have the issue resolved as a civil rather than as a criminal case. That would significantly reduce any potential damage to BAE or the British government. The Justice Department investigation followed a long-running British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) inquiry into allegations of Saudi corruption against Europe's leading defense company. The SFO investigation was eventually blocked by the British government in the face of Saudi threats that the inquiry would damage relations between the two countries. A spokesman for BAE said it was "inappropriate to say anything. It's a matter for the Justice Department." Justice Department officials declined to comment. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was unable to respond in time. At one point earlier this year, then-BAE CEO Mike Turner and another top executive of the British company were detained by Justice Department officials as they entered the United States. The executives had their computers and mobiles phones examined. Five executives in the United States and the United Kingdom were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in July. Turner retired at the end of August to be replaced as CEO by Chief Operating Officer Ian King. The British government and BAE have consistently denied wrongdoing, but the company worries that a prolonged Justice Department investigation would derail its global prospects. For example, U.S. congressional approval of U.S. components that would be fitted to Eurofighter jets the British government has sold to Saudi Arabia in a multibillion-pound deal is on hold because of the investigation. In February, the chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sens. Joseph Biden, R-Del., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey that didn't object to the retransfer, and asked whether doing so would either impede Justice's investigation or future prosecution of BAE. The State Department is expected to formally notify the Foreign Relations Committee of its intention to approve the sale of the Eurofighter to Saudi later this month. Eurofighter contains more than 2,000 components supplied by US companies.

A400M Delay Forces RAF To Seek Stopgap

A400M Delay Forces RAF To Seek Stopgap (NSI News Source Info) London - September 4, 2008:The United Kingdom is considering contingency options to cover the risk of an increasing capability gap in tactical airlift as Airbus Military partner nations wait to find out the actual extent of delays to the A400M tactical military airlifter. Airbus and the European partner nations are trying to determine "what is a realistic delivery time for the aircraft," according to Air Marshal Barry Thornton, chief of material (air) within Britain's Defense Equipment and Support organization. "We are already looking at what we might do", says Thornton. He suggests options include further extending the life of some of the Royal Air Force's C-130K Hercules, now due out of service in 2012, or a possible lease deal. The United Kingdom's tactical and strategic airlift capacity continues to be stretched by the ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. European defense management agency Occar and Airbus officials are due to meet shortly to try to determine a delivery schedule for the aircraft, according to Thornton. The A400M first-flight test program continues to slip later, with the engine test-bed aircraft, a modified C-130 now expected no earlier than next month. The TP400M engine for the A400M was originally due to be flown on the C-130 test aircraft at the end of 2006 or the beginning of 2007. Around 50 flight hours are meant to be accumulated on the engine using the test aircraft prior to the A400M first flight. The A400M was due to be flown in November 2007, but this target has had to be repeatedly re-scheduled as snags delayed the program. The most recent target date was next month, but this will now also be missed. TP400 qualification testing was due to be completed in January 2009, based on a November 2007 first flight. As well as the engine hold-up, there are also issues with some of the mission systems, according to industry sources close to the program. The RAF is notionally now due to see the A400M enter service in 2011.

Lockheed Martin Receives Contract For Guided MLRS Unitary Rockets

Lockheed Martin Receives Contract For Guided MLRS Unitary Rockets (NSI News Source Info) Dallas, TX - September 4, 2008: Lockheed Martin has received a $61 million follow-on contract for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) Unitary rockets. To date, more than 850 GMLRS rockets have been fired in the Global War on Terror. Work on the contract will be performed at the company's facilities inCamden, AR, and Dallas, TX. Deliveries will begin in May 2010 and conclude in July of that year. "GMLRS delivers precision when Warfighters need it most, especially effective in urban areas," said Lt. Col. Drew Clanton, the GMLRS product manager at the U.S. Army's Precision Fires, Rockets and Missiles program management office in Huntsville, AL. "The system's readiness rates support the consistent quality we expect, and its accuracy helps keep civilians out of harm's way." GMLRS provides the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and the United Kingdom Defense Forces with a persistent, responsive, all-weather, rapidly-deployable, long range, surface-to-surface, precision strike weapon. Reliability of U.S. Army GMLRS missions exceeds 98 percent. "Soldiers continue to tell us how satisfied they are with GMLRS, because it's ready when it needs to be and can hit precision targets from 85 kilometers away, a new distance record recently recorded at tests at White Sands Missile Range," said Scott Arnold, vice president for Precision Fires and Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "Just as in previous orders, we are committed to delivering GMLRS to the quality and dependability on which our customers have come to rely." The GMLRS and High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) government/industry teams were the recipients of the William J. Perry Award for Precision Strike in 2007. The Perry Award recognizes public or private sector achievements that result in significant contributions to the development, introduction or support of precision strike systems. The GMLRS/HIMARS team was recognized for outstanding contributions by providing revolutionary surface-to-surface precision engagement capability to joint and coalition combat commanders. GMLRS is an all-weather, precision strike, artillery rocket system that achieves greater range and precision accuracy requiring fewer rockets to defeat targets and limiting collateral damage. GMLRS is a Future Force system that provides the joint Warfighter with immediate, precision fires to engage, destroy and deny terrain to the enemy. GMLRS is also effective against counter-fire, air defense, light materiel and personnel targets. The system incorporates a GPS-aided inertial guidance package integrated on a product improved rocket body. Additionally, small canards on the guided rocket nose add maneuverability to further enhance the accuracy of the system. HIMARS can accommodate the entire family of MLRS munitions, including all variants of the GMLRS rocket and Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles. Designed to enable troops to engage and defeat artillery, air defense concentrations, trucks, light armor and personnel carriers, as well as support troop and supply concentrations, HIMARS can move away from the area at high speed following missile launch, well before enemy forces are able to locate the launch site. Because of its C-130 transportability, HIMARS can be deployed into areas previously inaccessible to heavier launchers and provides a force multiplier to the modular brigade. It also incorporates the self-loading, autonomous features that have made MLRS the premier rocket artillery system in the world. HIMARS carries a single six-pack of MLRS rockets, or one ATACMS missile. HIMARS is currently employed in support of the Global War on Terror.

Analysis: Germans targeted in Afghanistan

Analysis: Germans targeted in Afghanistan
(NSI News Source Info) Berlin - September 4, 2008: The security situation in Afghanistan's northern provinces and around Kabul has deteriorated, which means trouble for the roughly 3,500 German soldiers stationed there.No wonder Germans are increasingly wary of the mission in Afghanistan: Since the start of the Afghanistan mission, 28 German soldiers have been killed; that's a small figure compared with the U.S. (580) or British (116) death toll, but for a country that had its first post-World War II fighting experience in 1998, when a handful of German bombers took part in NATO's Balkans campaign, it poses a significant public problem.
The situation in Afghanistan's northern provinces is tense: Last week two cars approached a roadblock secured by German Bundeswehr troops. A pair of soldiers stopped both cars with laser pointers and fired warning shots. All of a sudden, one car accelerated and started heading for the roadblock. After a series of warning shots, the German soldiers, expecting a terrorist attack, fired into the car, killing three people inside -- a woman and two children. This is the official account by German authorities of an incident that happened Thursday near Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan. It could be a sign that nerves are shot with German soldiers, who, once in charge of a relatively harmless region, are now securing provinces where the Taliban has regrouped and increasingly become a serious threat to ISAF troops. Before and after the roadblock incident, a series of terrorist attacks targeted Germans in northern Afghanistan. Three weeks ago three German troops were severely injured in a terrorist attack. On Aug. 22 a group of insurgents attacked a German patrol near Fayzabad, but the Germans were able to ward off the ambush, killing one terrorist. On Aug. 27 one German soldier was killed and three injured when a Bundeswehr convoy of eight vehicles was bombed near Mazar-i-Sharif. It was the first German casualty in Afghanistan in more than a year. Insurgents attacked German patrols twice again, on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, both times near Kunduz, but no one was injured. No wonder Germans are increasingly wary of the mission in Afghanistan: Since the start of the Afghanistan mission, 28 German soldiers have been killed; that's a small figure compared with the U.S. (580) or British (116) death toll, but for a country that had its first post-World War II fighting experience in 1998, when a handful of German bombers took part in NATO's Balkans campaign, it poses a significant public problem. The German contribution to ISAF is up for parliamentary renewal in October, and parts of the opposition have long called for Germany to pull out its troops. The increasingly volatile security situation hands the opposition further arguments. Of course German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung doesn't see it that way. While he admits that the security situation in northern Afghanistan has "deteriorated," Jung is a strong proponent of Germany's Afghanistan mission, and he has the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. On Tuesday Jung in a surprise visit traveled to Afghanistan to meet with soldiers on the ground and get a firsthand update on the situation in Kunduz, Mazar-i-Sharif and Kabul, where the German are stationed. Kabul is being increasingly threatened by the Taliban, who are apparently closing in on the capital, according to observers' statements. On Aug. 18-19, a group of insurgents attacked a French military unit in the Surubi district of Kabul province, killing 10 and wounding 21. The proximity of such a major Taliban operation to the capital has officials concerned. The German defense minister has advocated beefing up the German mandate from 3,500 to 4,500 troops to help defeat the Taliban and prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists once again. That's why by securing Afghanistan, the Bundeswehr is also securing Germany, Jung was quoted as saying by German daily Die Welt. He added that the increased number of terrorist attacks was geared at influencing the German parliamentary decision this fall -- that's why he was "shocked by those who are now calling to pull out from Afghanistan."

NATO Repeating Soviet Mistake In Afghanistan

NATO Repeating Soviet Mistake In Afghanistan
(NSI News Source Info) Moscow - September 4, 2008: The recent events in Afghanistan have again called into question the effectiveness and professionalism of NATO and the anti-terrorist coalition in that country. First, a French task force from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was ambushed, and lost 10 soldiers. Last Friday, on August 22, more than 70 civilians were killed during an operation in the Shindand District in the Herat Province. The media reported that this operation was conducted by the coalition forces, that is, the U.S. Air Force. This event set the whole country in turmoil. Now Afghan President Hamid Karzai insists on revising the status of international forces in the country. They are represented in Afghanistan by the U.S.-led international anti-terrorist coalition and the UN-mandated ISAF mission under NATO's general command. The goal of the former is to destroy al-Qaeda and Taliban commandos, while the latter is designed to guarantee stability on the territories from which they are ousted. Operations conducted by these two missions are incomparable. The coalition is much more prone to make mistakes, and it has to prepare thoroughly for each operation. But what prevents the United States from doing so, all the more so since it already has some bitter experience? During a similar operation in the Deh Raud District in the Uruzgan Province in July 2002, a U.S. aircraft bombed a wedding. Ironically, the bomb hit the house where Karzai had once taken shelter from the Taliban. This was the first blunder, and the sides did not give it too much publicity. But this time, Karzai has expressed strong displeasure with the U.S. army and accused it of inability to coordinate its actions with the Afghan army. In turn, the U.S. command blamed the Afghan army for insisting on the bombing and indicating targets. This is a familiar situation. Actions seem to have been coordinated but there is no one-man rule, or responsibility. The Afghan government is certainly right in insisting on a change in the status of the coalition troops. Judging by everything, it would like the coalition not only to coordinate its operations against al-Qaeda with the Afghan side, but have them endorsed by the latter. What happened with the French soldiers is quite different. They were ambushed some 50 km (31 miles) from Kabul. Never before has NATO sustained such losses in a single combat, especially near the capital. The French public had a predictable and immediate reaction. One French newspaper put it bluntly: "Faut-il partir?" (Is it time to leave?). It is also alarming that Kabul was rocketed for the first time in nearly five years. Perhaps the central government is losing its contacts with the population in the Kabul Province. This is all but the only province where NATO more or less controls the situation. But Herat was also considered a safe province until recently. Maybe, it is indeed time to go. But then what was the point of going into Afghanistan? It seems that NATO has been extremely unlucky in Afghanistan recently, and I feel sorry for the troops. I remember the appearance of the first ISAF units in that country in early 2002. Without any delay, NATO started persistently building the Afghan National Army (ANA). I spent almost 15 years in Afghanistan in the field of military-technical cooperation alone and took direct part in the Afghan army's development, and I can spot the difference. I think that NATO is conducting its mission in Afghanistan professionally. The current trouble was easily predictable. The two international missions consist of 60,000, which is obviously not enough to destroy al-Qaeda commandos, guarantee reliable stability in the entire country, and actively contribute to the recovery effort. However, both NATO and the United States repeated the Soviet mistake in Afghanistan by carrying out missions that should be fulfilled by the Afghans themselves. They planned a 70,000-strong ANA, which is not adequate at all. Now they are talking about 120,000 and even more, but the time has been lost. Meanwhile, the current Russian Ambassador Zamir Zakirov emphasized many times that stability in Afghanistan directly depends on its army and that its strength was obviously inadequate. Now the United States and NATO will probably change their attitude to Russia's Afghan experience and advice. After all, cooperation with Moscow on Afghanistan should not be limited to the transit of NATO cargoes through Russian territory.

U.S. Special Forces....Task Force Black

U.S. Special Forces....Task Force Black (NSI News Source Info) September 4, 2008: One important component of the U.S. "Surge Offensive" in Iraq last year was actually a three year old, generally discreet, commando operation. This was Task Force Black (TFB). Composed of only a few hundred troops, the core of this force was operators from the British SAS and the U.S. Delta Force. Task Force Black was assigned to go after the Islamic terrorists who were actually planning and carrying out the suicide bombings that were killing thousands of Iraqi civilians a month until last year. TFB tactics were bold and dangerous, as they went after terrorists who were on their way to an operation (either on foot with explosive belts, or suicide car bombers.) These attacks were are the most carefully planned and executed terrorist operations, and the objective of TFB was to take down the attackers before they could detonate their explosives. This is easier to do if you catch them before they are close to their target, because the bombers are not poised to set off their explosives on short notice. Some suicide bomber teams do not rig their detonators to work until they are close to the target. They have good reason for this, for there have been accidental detonations, which kill the support staff as well as the suicide bomber. This is not good for the morale of the escorts, security detail and bomb technicians that make all the preparations for these attacks. The bombers themselves only do it once, and are not as highly trained and difficult to replace. Without the support people, who are harder to recruit than suicide bombers, these attacks are much less effective. When Israel began going after the support staff five years ago, the Palestinian suicide attacks on Israel greatly diminished, and there were more accidents from poorly made bombs, and more bombers were caught before they could reach their targets. TFB often brought along American and Iraqi troops to make a follow up sweep to grab as many of the support staff as possible. TFB used all available intelligence resources to find terrorist gangs that were making the suicide attacks. Most of these terrorists worked for "al Qaeda in Iraq," but some were run by various Sunni Arab groups trying to get a civil war going between Sunni and Shia Arabs. The terrorists believed that such a conflict would result in a Sunni Arab victory. Three years ago, realizing that an outcome like that was highly unlikely, some of the terrorist gangs began shutting down, and there was a decline on terrorist attacks because of it. But the attacks continued, and in 2006, they increased as Shia death squads proliferated. TFB had a rough time of it for over a year, as Shia terrorists now began setting off bombs in Sunni Arab neighborhoods. But throughout that period, the intelligence picture kept getting better. The TFB operators spent much of their time among Iraqis, so when the Surge Offensive kicked off in early 2007, there was an opportunity to hit many of the suicide bomber support groups hard. By the time the Surge Offensive wound down earlier this year, TFB had taken down (killed or captured) nearly 4,000 Islamic terrorists. Most of them were the hard to replace support staff. This was reflected in the sharp decline in the number of terror bombs going off. From a peak of over a hundred bombs a month going off in Baghdad, to as little as two. TFB suffered about 20 percent casualties through all this. After the Surge Offensive, many surviving terrorists fled north, to Mosul and surrounding areas. The terrorists still being hunted there, mostly by Iraqis soldiers and police.

U.S. Navy is getting its fifth Virginia class SSN

U.S. Navy is getting its fifth Virginia class SSN (NSI News Source Info) September 4, 2008: The U.S. Navy is getting its fifth Virginia class SSN (nuclear attack sub) eight months ahead of schedule, and under budget. The SSN New Hampshire cost $2.21 billion and took 72 months to construct. The New Hampshire will be commissioned at the end of October. Another new Virginia class SSN was commissioned this year, the first time in twelve years that the navy put two nuclear subs of the same class into service in one year. The navy expects to be doing that regularly in four years, as many of the old Lost Angeles class SSNs reach the end of their useful lives and are replaced by the Virginias. The U.S. currently has three classes of SSN. Most are the 6,900 ton Los Angeles-class SSNs. Sixty-two of these submarines were built, and most are still in service. Armed with four 21-inch (533-millimeter) torpedo tubes, they carry twenty-six weapons for those tubes (either the Mk 48 torpedoes, UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, or BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles). The last 31 Los Angeles-class SSNs added the Mk 45 vertical-launch system (VLS), which carries another twelve Tomahawks. If built today, these late model Los Angeles class boats would cost about $1.5 billion each. The twenty-nine, 9,000 ton Seawolf-class SSNs were supposed to replace the Los Angeles boats, but they proved too expensive. Only three Seawolfs were built. The Seawolf was designed for the Cold War, carrying fifty weapons for its eight 26-inch (660-millimeter) torpedo tubes. Seawolf was fast (top speed of over 60 kilometers an hour), and much quieter than the Los Angeles boats. To replace the un-built Seawolfs, the 7,800 ton Virginia-class was designed. Think of it as a Los Angeles size hull with a lot of Seawolf technology installed. The Virginia-class boats ended costing about half as much as the Seawolfs. But that was largely possible because the Virginias used a lot of the new technology developed for Seawolf.

The T-34 Forever

The T-34 Forever (NSI News Source Info) September 4, 2008: In the early 1950s, the Soviet Union gave China 1,837 T-34/85 tanks. As of a few years ago, there are at least a hundred of them still in storage and these vehicles appeared to be in good shape (as judged by Chinese military buffs who had come across the storage area without getting arrested). The T-34 was one of the most successful tank designs of World War II. Over 84,000 were manufactured, 57,000 by the end of the war, and the rest from 1946-58. The first versions had a 76.2mm gun, but all built after 1944 had an 85mm gun. The four man crew also had two 7.62mm machine-guns, one mounted next to the driver in the hull, and the other one on the turret. The 27 ton tank had a top speed of 53 kilometers an hour, which was quite fast for World War II. It's 52mm (2 inch) armor was formidable in 1941, and the T-34 was quite a shock to the invading Germans that encountered it. The T-34/85 led the advance into Germany and Berlin itself in 1945. Russia exported over 10,000 T-34s, to at least 40 countries. North Korea used them to good effect against U.S. troops in 1950, during the Korean war. American tank crews were startled at how maneuverable and fast the T-34 was. When the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, at least two dozen nations still had the T-34 in service. The last known combat use of a T-34 was in 1995, when some Bosnian Serbs used one in an attack on UN peacekeepers. There are probably over a thousand T-34s that are still in running condition, or close to it. While inferior in protection and firepower to most modern IFVs (Infantry Fighting Vehicles like the U.S. M-2 Bradley), they can still be useful in keeping civilians in line. Which may be why the Chinese have not melted down all of theirs.

Russia Explains Its Plan Of Conquest

Russia Explains Its Plan Of Conquest (NSI News Source Info) September 4, 2008: Russia has proclaimed five strategic operating principles for how it will operate in the future. First, Russia observes international law. Second, it rejects U.S. dominance of world affairs in what it calls a unipolar world. Next, it seeks friendly relations with other nations. Fourth, it will defend Russian citizens and business interests abroad. And fifth, it claims its own sphere of influence in the world. The idea of obeying international law would be commendable if Russia hadn't just invaded Georgia in August and asserted it was going to annex the Georgian separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Its cloak for the Georgian operation was to prevent "genocide" in the two regions. This shifted any blame of international law violation to the Georgian government. Such Russian doublespeak continued with its insistence that it seeks friendly relations with other nations. Such Russian platitudes reminds one of the constitution of the former Soviet Union. To a reader who didn't know about Soviet terror against its citizens, it might look just like the American Constitution wrapped in extra flowers of freedom. The old Soviet Constitution guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and the right to religious belief and worship. In addition, the constitution provided for freedom of artistic work, protection of the family, inviolability of the person and home, and the right to privacy. The document also granted the rights to work, rest and leisure, health protection, care in old age and sickness, housing, education, and cultural benefits. Of course it was all a sham. And it sprang from the same source as Russia's twenty-first century operating principles -- the Russian capital of Moscow. Americans might accept Russia's right to defend its citizens and business interests if the Russian policy wasn't coupled with a direct threat against American dominance on the world scene, and a statement by the Russian president that Russia reserves the right of privileged interests in nations within its sphere of influence, which it does not restrict to border states. The best that can be said about Russia's five points is that at least the West has been warned. On September 1, the leaders of the 27 European Union (EU) nations ended a three-hour special summit, and declared that relations with Moscow were at a crossroads because of Russia's invasion of Georgia. Despite pressure from Poland and other former Soviet bloc nations, the EU countries made no mention of diplomatic or economic sanctions against Russia. NATO also has dithered from the beginning. And the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have left America's armed forces too extended to move combat troops into Georgia. Because the United States and the world bodies are speaking in whimpers, the past is peeking over our shoulders and breathing heavily into our ears. It is reminding us of 1938 when the UK Prime Minister announced "peace for our time," while the Nazi army was carrying out his own strategic operating principles by overrunning Europe. -- Fred Edwards

Russian Navy aircraft test new equipment over the Arctic

Russian Navy aircraft test new equipment over the Arctic (NSI News Source Info) MURMANSK - September 4, 2008: Tu-142MK aircraft from Russia's Northern Fleet conducted on September 2-3 reconnaissance flights over the Barents and Laptev seas and successfully tested new electronic on-board equipment, the fleet's press service said Thursday. Tu-142 Bear-F is the maritime reconnaissance/strike version of the Tu-95 Bear strategic bomber, designed mainly for anti-submarine warfare. "The tests of new on-board electronic equipment and weapons-control systems showed their high effectiveness," the press service said in a statement. The flights have been conducted strictly in accordance with international agreements and the norms of international law, the statement said. Russia has recently stepped up regular patrols over the Arctic and said it may soon shift the focus of its military strategy toward the northern latitudes in order to protect its national interests in the Arctic, especially on its continental shelf, which may contain large deposits of oil and natural gas.

Ukraine to hold air defense drills with live firing in September

Ukraine to hold air defense drills with live firing in September (NSI News Source Info) SEVASTOPOL - September 4, 2008: Ukraine is planning to conduct large-scale air defense exercises with live firing on the Crimean peninsula at the end of September, a Ukrainian navy source said on Thursday. The exercises are part of a practical stage of the Sea Knot-2008 command-and-staff maneuvers that began in spring and involve units from all branches of the Ukrainian armed forces. The drills will involve about 350 air defense systems, including S-300, Buk-M1, Osa and Tunguska, and up to 30 combat aircraft. "In addition, the troops will practice an amphibious assault landing, an air assault operation and live firing drills involving naval and ground support aircraft at the Opuk training range in the Crimea," the source said. The Crimea, which has a predominantly Russian-speaking population, has been the focus of frequent disputes between the Russian and Ukrainian leaders, over the Russian Black Sea Fleet's lease of the Soviet-era Sevastopol naval base. During the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia that followed Tbilisi's August 8 offensive in breakaway South Ossetia, Ukraine threatened to bar entry to vessels from Russia's Black Sea Fleet that had been deployed near Georgia's coast.

Israel says stopped arms supplies to Georgia prior to conflict

Israel says stopped arms supplies to Georgia prior to conflict (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - September 4, 2008: Israel imposed an embargo on arms supplies to Tbilisi a week before Georgia attacked its breakaway region of South Ossetia, the Israeli ambassador to Russia said on Thursday. Russia's Defense Ministry earlier said Israel had sold unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, and electronic artillery systems to Georgia and planned to supply armored vehicles and small arms. Some reports claimed that Israeli military experts had been training Georgian reconnaissance units since the fall of 2007. "A week before the conflict we decided to halt all arms supplies to Georgia," Anna Azari said. She also stressed that Israel previously supplied Georgia only with non-offensive weaponry and refused to sell heavy armor to Tbilisi despite Georgia's request. "As an example, I can tell you that several months before the start of the conflict [in South Ossetia] the Georgian leadership insisted that we sell 300 Merkava tanks to Tbilisi, but we refused to do so," the Israeli diplomat said. South Ossetia was attacked by Georgian forces on August 8. The majority of residents of South Ossetia hold Russian citizenship, and Moscow launched a massive operation to expel Georgian troops from the region and to reinforce its peacekeepers. According to information provided last month by the Russian General Staff, since 2005, prior to August 8 Georgian tank numbers increased from 98 to 183, armored vehicles from 83 to 134, artillery weapons from 96 to 238, combat helicopters from three to nine, and warplanes from seven to nine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Moscow would like to see an embargo on arms supplies to Georgia introduced until a change of leadership takes place in the Caucasus state.

General Dynamics Awarded 64.6 Million Euros for 100 RG-31 MK5E Vehicles by the Spanish Army

General Dynamics Awarded 64.6 Million Euros for 100 RG-31 MK5E Vehicles by the Spanish Army (NSI News Source Info) VIENNA – September 4, 2008: General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas has been awarded a 64.6 million Euro ($102 million) contract by the Spanish Government to supply RG-31 Mk5E mine protected vehicles for the Army. General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas is one of four companies that comprise General Dynamics European Land Systems.The contract calls for the delivery of 100 vehicles – 85 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), 10 Ambulances and 5 Command Post variants – plus integration of Remote Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) turrets and ongoing integrated logistic support (ILS). Work under the contract is expected to be completed by 2009. The contract includes an option for a second phase for 80 additional vehicles that will include some manufacturing in Spain.General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas, as prime contractor, will provide program management, engineering and logistic support. BAE Systems Land Systems OMC of South Africa will supply the vehicles as a subcontractor to General Dynamics. General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (Ottawa) has a similar program with BAE Systems Land Systems OMC for this vehicle. The RG-31 Mk5E is a 4x4 armored vehicle with a combat mass of up to 17,000 kg, including 3,500 kg of payload. In standard Armored Personel Carrier configuration, this air-conditioned vehicle carries a crew of 10 (driver plus nine). It is in service with many other countries including the United States and Canada and has been operating in Afghanistan and Iraq.About BAE SystemsBAE Systems is the premier global defence and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With 97,500 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £15.7 billion (US$31.4 billion) in 2007.About General Dynamics General Dynamics European Land Systems, headquartered in Vienna, Austria, is a business unit of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), and conducts its business through four European operating sites located in Spain, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. With more than 3,250 highly skilled technical employees, General Dynamics European Land Systems companies design, manufacture and deliver land combat systems, including wheeled, tracked, and amphibious vehicles, armaments and munitions, to global customers.General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Va., employs approximately 84,600 people worldwide and anticipate 2008 revenues of $29.5 billion. More information about the company is available online at

Kaman to Showcase Super Seasprite at Black Sea Defense & Aerospace Exposition

Kaman to Showcase Super Seasprite at Black Sea Defense & Aerospace Exposition (NSI News Source Info) BLOOMFIELD, CT - September 4, 2008: Kaman Helicopters will display an SH-2G(I) Super Seasprite helicopter for the first time at the Black Sea Defense & Aerospace Exposition Sept. 24-26 in Bucharest, Romania (U.S. Pavilion, C214). Company officials and suppliers will be in attendance to brief potential customers and the news media about the helicopter and its capabilities. The aircraft is one of 11 multi-mission maritime helicopters now available for immediate delivery. The SH-2G(I) is the latest and most capable variant of Kaman’s H-2 Series of maritime helicopters. It is fully equipped to perform a variety of naval and coast guard missions, including: -- Surface surveillance: Provide over-the-horizon surveillance, threat classification and targeting capability to the ship using Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR), FLIR, ESM -- Anti-ship weapon delivery: Deploy air-to-surface missiles to engage hostile vessels -- Deliver torpedo: On intelligence from other sources, drop anti-submarine torpedoes -- Boarding party deployment: Up to six fully-armed troops -- Search and rescue, medevac, disaster response -- Law enforcement, drug interdiction, pollution control -- Homeland security and counter-terrorism -- Transport, Vertrep, utility The 11 aircraft feature an advanced Integrated Tactical Avionics System (ITAS), which provides a high degree of autonomy, allowing a crew of two to effectively perform missions otherwise requiring a crew of three or four. They are also equipped with a fully digital automatic flight control system. Kaman is offering the helicopters with a three-year spares package, full crew and maintenance manuals, a validated training program, ground-based simulators, including desktop trainers, and a full motion flight simulator, software support center, and mission preparation and debrief facility. “These are fully-capable multi-mission aircraft,” said Kaman Helicopters President Sal Bordonaro. "We are proud to offer them to the international naval community.” The U.S. Delegation to NATO recently sponsored an initiative for the Baltic and Black Sea states to consider the SH-2G(I) for regional modernization, standardization and interoperability for joint exercises. This is one of several reasons Kaman is kicking off its marketing effort in Bucharest. Kaman Aerospace Corporation is a subsidiary of Kaman Corporation of Bloomfield, Conn. The subsidiary is a subcontractor for complex metallic and composite structures and components for commercial, military and general aviation aircraft; designs and manufactures fuzing devices for the U.S. and allied militaries; and markets and supports its SH-2G and K-MAX helicopters.