Australia Buying 24 Super Hornets As Interim Gap-Filler to JSF
(NSI News Source Info) September 27, 2008: Recent controversies over Australia’s involvement in the F-35 Lightning II program, amid criticisms that the F-35A will be unable to compete with proliferating SU-30 family aircraft in the region, lacks the required range or response time, and will either be extremely expensive at $100+ million per aircraft in early (2013-2016) production, or will not be available until 2018 or later. The accelerated retirement of Australia’s 22 long-range F-111s in 2010 sharpened the timing debate in particular, with a recently retired Air Vice-Marshal and the opposition (now governing) Labor Party both weighing in with criticisms and alternative force proposals.
In December 2006, The Australian reported that Defence Minister Brendan Nelson was discussing an A$ 3 billion (about $2.36 billion) purchase of 24 F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet aircraft around 2009-2010. A move that came as “a surprise to senior defence officials on Russell Hill”; but is now an official purchase as requests and contracts work their way through. Australia’s new Labor government’s later decided to keep the Super Hornet purchase, cementing the deal.
(NSI News Source Info) September 27, 2008: Travis crew delivers 10,000th MRAP
Travis members unload the 10,000th mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle from a C-5 Galaxy in Southwest Asia recently. The delivery was a milestone for Air Mobility Command Airmen who have worked to deliver the vehicles since their introduction in 2007.
A crew of Team Travis members prepare to unload the 10,000th mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle in Southwest Asia recently. Since the MRAPs introduction in 2007, Air Mobility Command Airmen have worked continuously to deliver the vehicles to troops supporting Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
Team Travis members unload the 10,000th mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle in Southwest Asia recently. Since April 2007, the Pentagon has deployed 10,000 MRAP vehicles to South-West Asia, and deliveries. The 10,000th vehicle, a Cougar, is seen being unloaded from a C-5 Galaxy.
Indian Navy Seeks Six More Diesel Submarines After Scorpene
(NSI News Source Info) September 27, 2008: India has initiated the process of acquiring six more submarines on the lines of the under-construction Scorpenes to augment its underwater warfare capabilities. "The Navy has initiated the process of acquisition of six more diesel-electric submarines and has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to major manufacturers across the globe," top Defence Ministry sources told a news agency on Friday. "The Defence Ministry will now await responses from these companies and will follow it up with global tenders or Request for Proposals (RFP) next year," they said. In all, Navy plans to procure 30 new submarines to have formidable underwater fighting capabilities. India already has 16 submarines of the Russian Kilo and German HDW Shishumar Class. Among the countries from where India is seeking information are France, Russia and Italy, all with major submarine manufacturing capabilities. The new submarines would be procured as a follow-on of the six Scorpene submarines being built at the Defence Public Sector Undertaking shipyard, Mazagon Dockyards Limited (MDL), in Mumbai. "The additional six submarines will start joining the Indian Navy fleet after all the first set of six Scorpenes have joined the naval fleet," the sources said. The Navy would continue to place orders for new submarines after the completion of procurement of these new submarines, which is expected to take at least three to four years. The Navy intends to build 30 new submarines under Project-75 and all of them would be constructed in India. The future submarines to be built under the project would be added with latest armament, sensor and other essential hi-tech equipment, sources said. Interestingly, the new submarines construction order may not go to MDL this time, as the Navy would like to develop another shipyard with submarine-building capabilities within the country, sources said. India signed the Rs 16,000-crore contract for six submarines in October 2005. New Delhi had to upgrade the MDL infrastructure and facilities for constructing the six Scorpenes in collaboration with French consortium, DCNS. The first Scorpene from MDL is expected to join the Indian Navy by the end of 2012. The remaining five would join the Navy at the rate of one each per year from 2013. All the six submarines would add lethal power to the Indian Navy by year 2018, sources said.
Medvedev observes missile test-launch in Urals
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - September 27, 2008: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev observed the test launch of a tactical missile in a command and staff exercise in the southern Urals on Friday, a senior military commander said.
A Tochka-U (SS-21 Scarab) short-range tactical ballistic missile was launched at 3:10 p.m. Moscow time (11:10 GMT) at the Donguz proving ground in the Orenburg Region as part of a 74-day exercise, Ground Forces Commander Gen. Vladimir Boldyrev said.
He said a total of 40,000 servicemen were taking part in the exercise in the Volga-Urals Military District, named Tsentr-2008, and that it was the largest exercise of its kind in 20 years.
The drills involve motorized rifle, tank, artillery, antiaircraft, missile, and support units with over 700 armored vehicles (tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and self-propelled artillery systems) and more than 40 combat aircraft and helicopters.
The Tochka-U is a 1989 modification of the Tochka missile system that went into service with the Soviet military in 1976. It has an effective range of 120 km.
Russia sends warship to fight piracy near Somalia
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - September 27, 2008: Russia's Navy has sent a missile frigate to waters off the Somali coast to fight piracy in the region, a Navy spokesman said on Friday. "The Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate from the Baltic Fleet left the main naval base in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad on Wednesday to ensure security in several regions of the world oceans," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said.
He added that Russia had decided to periodically send its warships to regions plagued by sea piracy to protect its citizens and commercial vessels.
Pirates are increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, which has no effective government and no navy to police its coastline. The International Maritime Bureau said more than 30 incidents of piracy were registered in the region in 2007. According to UN data, 26 attacks have been committed so far this year off the coast of the East African nation.
Russian nationals are frequently among the crews of civilian ships hijacked by pirates off the Somalia coast. In the most recent case pirates off the coast of Somalia seized a Ukrainian ship en route to Kenya with three Russian, 17 Ukrainian and one Latvian national on board.
"We are planning to participate in international efforts to fight piracy off the Somalia coast, but the Russian warships will conduct operations on their own," Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky earlier said. At the beginning of June, the UN Security Council passed a resolution permitting countries to enter Somalia's territorial waters to combat "acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."
The Neustrashimy is the only Project 1154 Yastreb class missile frigate in active service with the Russian Navy to have been built before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is designed as a general purpose ASW ship to follow on from the Krivak class frigates and incorporates some 'stealth' technology.
The ship's armament includes SS-N-25 Switchblade anti-ship missiles, SA-N-9 Gauntlet SAM, a 100-mm gun, torpedoes and depth charges.
The frigate also carries a Ka-27 ASW helicopter.
Venezuela to spend $1 bln Russian loan on air-defense systems
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - September 27, 2008: Venezuela plans to use most of the $1 bln loan granted by Russia to buy air-defense systems, a Russian military analyst said on Friday. Russia announced the loan offer earlier on Friday, during a visit by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
"Venezuela needs primarily Tor-M1 surface to air systems to protect the airfields where the 24 Su-30 MK2 jet fighters it bought from Russia are based," said Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy director of the Center for Strategic Analysis, a Moscow based think tank.
"Twenty Tor-M1 complexes will cost $600 mln, and the portable SAM systems approximately $70-80 mln," he said.
Caracas is likely to buy Igla-S portable SAM systems, and will also want Il-78 aerial tankers and Il-76 military freight aircraft. The tankers and freight planes for the Venezuelan Air Force will cost around $300 mln, Makiyenko said.
Between 2005 and 2007 Russia signed 12 contracts worth more than $4.4 billion to supply arms to Venezuela, including fighter jets, helicopters and Kalashnikov assault rifles.
Russian aircraft leasing company Ilyushin Finance said on Friday it would deliver several passenger planes to Venezuela. The deal was reached earlier this month during a visit to Venezuela by a Russian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, the company said in a press release. The contracts could be signed before the end of this year.
(NSI News S0urce Info) September 27, 2008: U.S. European Command (EUCOM) has deployed to Israel a high-powered X-band radar and the supporting people and equipment needed for coordinated defense against Iranian missile attack, marking the first permanent U.S. military presence on Israeli soil.
More than a dozen aircraft, including C-5s and C-17s, helped with the Sept. 21 delivery of the AN/TPY-2 Transportable Radar Surveillance/Forward Based X-band Transportable (FBX-T), its ancillary components and some 120 EUCOM personnel to Israel's Nevatim Air Base southeast of Beersheba, said sources here and in Stuttgart, Germany.
Among the U.S. personnel is at least one representative from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), though officials said the agency had little to no say in the deployment decision. MDA involvement has been confined to providing equipment and advice on technical aspects of its deployment, one official said.
The Raytheon-built FBX-T system is the same phased-array radar that was deployed to northern Japan with the U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) in 2006. The high-powered, high-frequency, transportable X-band radar is designed to detect and track ballistic missiles soon after launch.
Its ancillary gear included cooling systems, generators, perimeter defense weaponry, logistics supplies and dozens of technicians, maintenance specialists and security forces to operate and defend the U.S. installation.
EUCOM has repeatedly deployed troops and Patriot air defense batteries for joint exercises and Iraq-related wartime contingencies, but has never before permanently deployed troops on Israeli soil.
A EUCOM spokesman declined to comment. MDA officials referred to the U.S. State Department, which did not provide comment by press time.
An Israeli military spokesman said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) enjoys longstanding strategic cooperation with all branches of the U.S. military.
"This cooperation is varied and comes in multiple forms, and it is not our practice to discuss details of our bilateral activities," he said.
Nevertheless, in previous interviews, U.S. and Israeli officials confirmed that the X-band deployment plan was approved in July, first by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Israeli counterpart, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi; and then by. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Shaving Minutes From Reaction Time
The radar will be linked to the U.S. Joint Tactical Ground Station (JTAGS), which receives and processes threat data transmitted by U.S. Defense Support System satellites. According to U.S. and Israeli sources, JTAGS will remain in Europe, but its essential cueing data will stream into the forward-deployed X-band radar, where it instantaneously shares information with Israel's Arrow Weapon System.
Once operational, the combined U.S. and Israeli system is expected to double or even triple the range at which Israel can detect, track and ultimately intercept Iranian missiles, according to Lt. Gen. Henry Obering, director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency.
During a visit to Israel in early August, Obering said the X-Band radar could add precious minutes to the time in which Israel has to respond to incoming missile attacks.
"The missile threat from Iran is very real, and we must stay ahead of the threat ... that's why we're working so hard with all our allies to put the most optimized, effective, anti-missile capabilities in place," Obering said.
"In the context of Israel, if we can take the radar out here and tie it into the Arrow Weapon System, they'll be able to launch that interceptor way before they could with an autonomous system," he added.
Ilan Biton, a brigadier general in the Israel Air Force (IAF) reserves and former commander of the nation's air defense forces, could not comment on the latest developments associated with the X-band radar. However, he said that an IAF air defense brigade established during his 2003-2006 tenure has continuously demonstrated its ability to interoperate well with American forces.
"We advanced tremendously on multiple levels and have developed very impressive cooperation," Biton said at a Sept. 22 conference in Herzliya. Referring to bilateral Juniper Cobra air defense exercises and the 2003 deployment of Patriot batteries prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Biton noted: "At the human level, we've developed a common language and at the technical level, we've put in place the interfaces that allow our systems to speak to one another."
The end result, according to Biton, is a combined ability "to manage battles, execute debriefs and implement corrections, all in real time."
As U.S. public affairs officers last week mulled whether to publicly disclose the Israel deployment, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at a U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, continued to defend his country's nuclear enrichment and missile development program.
"Iran's [nuclear] activities are peaceful," Ahmadinejad said Sept. 23, adding that in Israel, "the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse."
A U.S. government source said the X-band deployment and other bilateral alliance-bolstering activities send parallel messages: "First, we want to put Iran on notice that we're bolstering our capabilities throughout the region, and especially in Israel. But just as important, we're telling the Israelis, 'Calm down; behave. We're doing all we can to stand by your side and strengthen defenses, because at this time, we don't want you rushing into the military option.'"
But in Israel, frustration is mounting at what is roundly perceived as a lack of international resolve to halt Iran's nuclear weapons drive. At a Sept. 21 meeting of the Israeli Cabinet, an Israeli military intelligence officer reported that Iran is accelerating the pace at which it enriches uranium, and that Tehran already possesses possibly half of the fissionable material needed to produce its first nuclear warhead.
Reflecting Israeli concern about the ineffectiveness of sanctions against Tehran, Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of Military Intelligence's research department, reported: "The international front against Iran is weak and not consolidated, and isn't putting enough pressure on the regime to stop enriching uranium."
According to selected excerpts from the briefing released by the Israeli Prime Minister's office, Baidatz warned that Iran is "galloping toward a nuclear bomb." He added, "The sanctions have very little influence and are far from bringing to bear a critical mass of pressure on Iran."
Vago Muradian contributed to this report from Washington, Barbara Opall-Rome from Tel Aviv.
First C-27s Delivered to Pentagon
(NSI News Source Info) September 26, 2008: The first C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft was delivered to the Pentagon on Sept. 25, on time and on budget, according to officials at L-3 Communications, the lead contractor on the Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) contract.
"We are very proud to have achieved this critical milestone in meeting our commitment to our customer," said Michael T. Strianese, president and CEO of L-3. "With Alenia, we have consistently performed well throughout all phases of the JCA program, and we look forward to continuing to lead this successful effort."
The $2 billion contract, awarded in June 2007, includes 54 twin-engine turboprop light cargo planes for the U.S. Army and 24 for the U.S. Air Force. Six planes for the Army have now been ordered, with Air Force orders expected to begin in 2010. The first 14 for the Army will be produced by Alenia, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica, in Turin, Italy.
"L-3, Alenia Aeronautica and Alenia North America have worked very hard to ensure that we present the C-27J on time to the U.S. Army," said Pierfrancesco Guarguaglini, chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica, parent company to aircraft manufacturer Alenia Aeronautica. "This event demonstrates our group's capability and our strong commitment to the U.S. market."
A formal delivery ceremony will be held in October at L-3's Waco, Texas, facility, where the Italian-built planes are modified and tested.
The C-27J will replace the Army's C-23 Sherpas and portions of the C-12 and C-26 fleets. For the Air Force, the mid-range multifunctional plane will extend the intratheater lift fleet, capable of handling logistical re-supply, medical evacuations, troop movement, airdrop operations, humanitarian assistance and homeland security missions.