Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Israel’s Skyhawk Scandal

Israel’s Skyhawk Scandal (NSI News Source Info) October 9, 2008: McDonnell Douglas’ A-4 Skyhawk, aka. “Scooter,” has a long and storied career as a carrier-based attack aircraft with the US Navy. It’s old enough that Sen. John McCain was flying one when he was shot down over North Vietnam. It also has a storied land-based career with the Israeli Air Force, however, which used it from late 1967 onward as a versatile attack aircraft with surprising air-air teeth. In one engagement during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, an Israeli A-4 Skyhawk found itself facing 3 MiG-21s. The maneuverable little Skyhawk turned on them and brought 2 of them down, and was reportedly on the 3rd Fishbed’s tail when an IAF Mirage IIIC zipped through and blasted the MiG out of the sky. The A-4’s surprising maneuverability was coupled with an equally surprising ability to take battle damage, but the type took heavy losses in the 1973 war: of 102 aircraft lost, 53 were Skyhawks.
Israeli A-4Ns
Per mission losses in 1973 were just 0.6%, a lower figure than the previous 1970 War of Attrition with Egypt. Nevertheless, the writing was on the wall. When the F-16 was made available to Israel, the A-4s began to take a back seat. Some did participate in the 1982 Lebanon War, and one even scored a MiG-17 kill. By that time, however, squadron migrations to the F-16 had already begun, and 33 of the Skyhawks had been sold to Indonesia. By the mid 1990s almost all of Israel’s fighter squadrons had migrated, and 2000-2001 saw a handful of Israeli Skyhawks sold to corporate operators in BAE and ATSI. A number of A-4E/H/N aircraft are currently stored at Ovda Air Base, and the “Flying Tigers” of 102 Squadron at Hatzerim Air Base still use their A-4Ns and 2-seat TA-4Js for advanced IAF pilot training.
These surviving aircraft require maintenance, which was being provided by the contractor Kanfei Tahzuka via Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Unfortunately, the little plane that could appears to have finally met its match – thanks to a scandal that has grounded Israel’s Skyhawk fleet.

H-92 Helicopter Finishes European Tour in Greece

H-92 Helicopter Finishes European Tour in Greece (NSI News Source Info) ATHENS, Greece - October 9, 2008: The H-92 SUPERHAWK helicopter demonstrated its mission capabilities in nine countries throughout Europe over the last several weeks and will complete its tour this week on static display at the biannual Defendory international exhibition, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. announced today. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.
H-92 Superhawk Multi-Mission Helicopter
Among the countries visited by the H-92 helicopter during the tour were Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Greece. Key officials were invited to observe the helicopter's demonstration flights. "Sikorsky Aircraft is committed to its European business activities and to being an active, strong participant in the industry's growth in the region," said Bruce McKinney, Vice President, Sikorsky Europe. "Those who have had the opportunity to see the H-92 helicopter these last few months in Eastern and Central Europe have been impressed by its unique combination of a large cabin, robust mission capabilities and low operating cost. The response has been very positive, and we invite visitors to Defendory to see the aircraft and learn more about what this proven helicopter can do." The search-and-rescue mission-equipped H-92 helicopter offers a robust menu of optional equipment that provides mission flexibility and off-the-shelf customization. In addition to its suitability for the SAR mission, the H-92 helicopter is a safe, technologically advanced solution for disaster relief, troop transport, VIP transport, special operations and naval missions. The H-92 helicopter is the militarized version of Sikorsky's S-92 helicopter, which has been successful in a number of mission configurations including offshore oil operations and Head of State. Currently, the S-92 helicopter is in service with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in the U.K., performing search and rescue operations under the operation of CHC Helicopter Corp. The aircraft has logged more than 150 rescues in the challenging conditions of the North Sea and North Atlantic since its introduction into service in March 2007. The S-92 helicopter offers technological advantages of safety, reliability and life-cycle cost efficiency. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., USA, is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., USA, provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

Turkey extends mandate on Iraq operations for one year

Turkey extends mandate on Iraq operations for one year (NSI News Source Info) ANKARA - October 9, 2008: The Turkish parliament on Wednesday extended for one year a mandate to conduct cross-border operations in northern Iraq against the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants. The parliament gave the government the mandate last October and since December 2007 the Turkish army has carried out a total of 29 airstrikes and cross-border military operations in northern Iraq, targeting suspected PKK bases. An overwhelming 511 lawmakers in the 550-seat legislative body backed the motion to extend the mandate, which expires October 17. Despite Iraqi protests, Ankara insists that the strikes are only aimed against the terrorist PKK group, not against "the territorial unity and stability of Iraq." According to the Turkish General Staff data, there are some 3,500 Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq. The Turkish leadership is set to meet Thursday to discuss further measures against the rebel group. The opposition earlier proposed to set up a military buffer zone inside northern Iraq along the border to stop rebel infiltrations. The PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the EU, the United States, and many other countries, has been fighting for an autonomous ethnic Kurd state in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years. The conflict has claimed over 40,000 lives.

Russian naval task force to visit Libya on Saturday

Russian naval task force to visit Libya on Saturday (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - October 9, 2008: A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, led by the nuclear-powered missile cruiser Pyotr Veliky, will visit the Libyan capital October 11-13, an aide to the Navy commander said Wednesday. Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said the Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate from Russia's Baltic Fleet would call at Tripoli at the same time to replenish supplies. He added that the frigate would then continue its tour of duty via the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. "The Neutrashimy will go to Somalia where it will ensure the safety of Russian vessels passing through this area against pirate attacks," he said. Last Wednesday, Somali Ambassador to Russia Mohamed Handule said his country's President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed had authorized Russia's military to fight pirates off Somalia's coast and on land. 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. More than 30 attacks have been committed so far this year off the coast of the East African nation.

Russia to cut military personnel to 1 mln by 2012

Russia to cut military personnel to 1 mln by 2012 (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - October 9, 2008: Russia will cut military personnel numbers to 1 million by 2012, four years earlier than the initial target of 2016, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said on Wednesday. "It was planned that the Russian military would number 1 million by 2016," he told the press. "Our new task is to achieve this target by 2012." The number of officers will also be slashed to 150,000 by 2012 from the current 450,000, Serdyukov added. The minister said that the reduction of officer numbers would be mostly conducted by the "gradual retirement of officers whose service terms have expired." Russia has already downsized its Armed Forces from 4.5 million in the Soviet era to about 1.2 million personnel at present. The Russian General Staff is also facing an upcoming large-scale reshuffle aimed at optimizing the number of senior officers and generals serving at central headquarters in Moscow. The scale and the context of military reforms is believed to be the major source of a long-running conflict between the General Staff and the Ministry of Defense, which intensified after the appointment of Serdyukov as defense minister. According to some military analysts, the June appointment of Gen. Nikolai Makarov, former chief of Armed Forces Arms Procurement, as chief of General Staff, indicates that the Russian military leadership is attempting to "reverse the negative, destructive trends that are now plaguing the Armed Forces, and stop the technical degradation of the Army and Navy."

Russia, Belarus to set up regional air defense system

Russia, Belarus to set up regional air defense system
(NSI News Source Info)MOSCOW - October 9, 2008: Russia and Belarus will sign an agreement on November 2 to set up a joint regional air defense system, the state secretary of the Union State said on Wednesday.
The countries are developing a joint air defense system in line with Union State plans, which they have been working on since 1997, involving a common economic, customs, and political space. The Supreme State Council of the Russia-Belarus Union State is due to hold a meeting in Moscow on November 2. Asked if an agreement would be signed then on a regional air defense system, Pavel Borodin said: "I have no doubt of that." He added that the treaty was vital in the context of NATO's ongoing eastward expansion. "Military speaking, it is virtually a shield against NATO," Borodin said. Although talks on the Union State stalled recently over a host of issues, including natural gas prices, military cooperation between the countries is gaining momentum, bolstered by recent U.S. steps to deploy missile defense elements in Poland and the Czech Republic. The two countries also plan to hold a number of military drills, including a joint strategic command-and-staff exercise, Zapad-2009, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said. "The drills should become another practical step in training our armed forces and contribute to the creation of an actual security system for the Union state," the minister said. This October, Belarus will also host comprehensive operational exercises, Osen-2008, as part of the joint strategic command-and-staff exercise Stabilnost-2008. The minister added that Russia would meet its obligations in supplies of arms and military equipment on time. Belarus has several Russian-made S-300 air defense divisions on combat duty and is negotiating the purchase of advanced S-400 systems from Russia, which will be made available by 2010. Russia's defense minister said last year his country would continue to supply arms and military hardware to Belarus at subsidized rates and on a priority basis.

Tornado IDS of the Italian Air Force to Afghanistan

Tornado IDS of the Italian Air Force to Afghanistan (NSI News Source Info) October 9, 2008: The Italian air force will soon deploy four modernized Tornado IDS strike fighters to Afghanistan, where they will be used for reconnaissance missions in support of ISAF.
Tornado IDS of the Italian Air Force

DTN News: Ornge Orders Ten AW139 Helicopters

DTN News: Ornge Orders Ten AW139 Helicopters (NSI News Source Info) October 9, 2008: AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company; is pleased to announce that Ornge of Ontario, Canada, has ordered ten AW139 medium twin helicopters with an option for two additional aircraft. The overall contract value is about US$120 million. The aircraft will be equipped with full aero-medical interiors and be equipped also with a full de-icing system for operation in adverse weather conditions. Ornge is a charitable organization that coordinates all aspects of Ontario’s aero-medical transport system. Ornge operates one of the largest aero medical and critical care land transport medicine programs in North America and currently has more than 300 employees in eight areas of operation.
This includes over 200 paramedics, pediatric transport nurses and transport medicine physicians. Ornge’s expertise in transport medicine lies in its ability to serve more than 12 million Ontarians throughout a geographic area of 1 million square kilometres, delivering its scope of services through comprehensive door-to-door acute care aero medical transport. Ornge utilises over 30 bases across the province, 9 of which are staffed 24 hours, 7 days a week. Designed with inherent multi-role capability and flexibility of operation, the AW139 is capable of carrying up to 15 passengers or six litters with two medical attendants or up to four litters and four medical attendants, in the most spacious cabin and with the best power reserve of any other helicopter in the medium twin-engine class. The internal dimensions of the large and unobstructed AW139 cabin make it an ideal choice for EMS and SAR applications. The flat floor and ceiling provide maximum cabin space and easy reconfiguration. An eight cubic meter cabin that is 1.42 meters high allows medical attendants easy access to casualties. Litter layout ranges from two to four in medevac configuration.
If cabin access to the large baggage compartment is utilized, litter capacity can be increased to six. The AW139 is the fastest helicopter in its class with a maximum cruise speed of 167 knots and has outstanding performance, even in hot and high conditions, thanks to the two powerful P&W PT6C-67C engines. More than 380 AW139 helicopters have been ordered so far by over 100 customers in over 40 countries to perform various roles including EMS, search and rescue, offshore transport, VIP/Corporate transport, law enforcement, fire fighting and utility.

Japan Fighters Scramble for Russian Bombers

Japan Fighters Scramble for Russian Bombers (NSI News Source Info) TOKYO - October 9, 2008: Six Japanese jets scrambled Oct. 8 as two Russian military planes came close to Japanese airspace, a defense ministry official said. The two Russian planes flew close to Japanese airspace over the Sea of Japan from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., a defense ministry official told AFP, confirming Russian media reports.
"The defense ministry decided to deploy six Air Self-Defence Force planes, including F-15s, for a scramble," she said, using officially pacifist Japan's name for its armed forces. "We dealt with it as we usually do," she said. Russian media said the Russian planes were on a training mission and spotted four Japanese fighters. "Four Japanese air force F-15 fighters escorted the strategic aviation crews as they flew over the Sea of Japan," Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik was quoted as saying by the Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies. Two Russian Su-27 fighter jets were sent up to join the bombers after the Japanese intercept to ensure that the Russian Tu-22 bombers, known in NATO parlance as "Backfire" bombers, completed their mission as planned, he said. He added that the two U.S.-made F-15 Japanese fighters had been scrambled from separate bases in Japan to keep an eye on the Russian aircraft. Japan, a close U.S. ally, has uneasy relations with Russia due to a dispute over four islands off Japan's northern coast seized by Soviet troops in 1945. Russian strategic bomber patrols stopped with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. After a 16-year gap, Moscow announced last year it would resume such flights around the world, citing a need to train crews and respond to similar U.S. flights near Russian borders that were never suspended. "All flights by air force planes have been, and are being, carried out in strict compliance with international law in airspace over neutral waters and not violating borders of other states," Drik said.

Qatar Buys 3 C-130Js

Qatar Buys 3 C-130Js (NSI News Source Info) OMAHA, Neb. - October 9, 2008: Lockheed Martin and Qatar have inked a $393 million contract for four C-130J Super Hercules transport planes, the company announced Oct. 7. Deliveries of Qatar's first C-130 cargo lifters are expected to begin in 2011; the deal includes training for air crews and maintainers, ground support, test equipment, forklifts, cargo pallets, spare parts and a temporary tech team to help the Qataris get up to speed on the "stretch" C-130 variant.
C-130J Super Hercules transport plane
"This acquisition of a fleet of C-130Js will provide our country with a highly flexible airlift capability," said Brig. Gen. Ahmad Ibrahim Al-Malki, chairman of the Qatar Emiri Air Force Airlift Evaluation Committee. "No other aircraft can do what a C-130J can do, and we are proud to join the many, many countries around the world that operate the world's most successful airlifter." Qatar is the latest addition to the long list of C-130J operators, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States. "We also are extremely proud to be selected to provide the world's most advanced tactical mobility aircraft to meet Qatar's operational airlift needs," said Jim Jamerson, Lockheed's Middle East/Africa regional president. "The C-130J Super Hercules will equip the Qatari Emiri Air Force with proven, modern, and effective tactical and strategic airlift to support a wide range of Qatar's national requirements."