Monday, October 20, 2008
Russian Helicopters Bright Export Future (NSI News Source Info) Moscow (UPI) October 21, 2008: Russian military operations against the former Soviet republic of Georgia in August have shown that communications and reconnaissance are the Russian army's weak spot.
Smart Bombs Score Another Hit In Extended Range Tests (NSI News Source Info) Canberra, Australia (SPX) Oct 21, 2008: The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, has announced the successful testing of the Joint Direct Attack Munition - Extended Range (JDAM-ER) weapon which will enable the RAAF to deploy strike weapons more safely and effectively.
DRS Awarded Contract For M1200 Armored Knight Fire Support Vehicles (NSI News Source Info) Parsippany NJ (SPX) October 21, 2008: DRS Technologies has announced that it completed definitization of an award for $29 million as part of a contract from the U.S. Army's Tank-Automotive Armaments Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) in Warren, Michigan, to manufacture and integrate M1200 Armored Knight Precision Targeting Systems.
AAI Receives Contract For Additional Shadow TUAS (NSI News Source Info) Hunt Valley MD (SPX) October 21, 2008: AAI has announced that it has received a contract totaling $242.1 million for 17 additional Shadow Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems (TUAS). Thirteen systems will be delivered to the U.S. Army and four to the U.S. Marine Corps.
This contract comes as Shadow TUAS achieved 350,000 total flight hours. The vast majority of the systems' flight hours have been in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Shadow TUAS reached this milestone a mere four months after achieving 300,000 total flight hours in May 2008.Deliveries on this award are expected to begin in December 2009 and end in November 2010. Up to two systems are planned to be delivered per month. To date, AAI has contracted for a total of 113 Shadow TUAS and delivered a total of 71. Several Shadow systems under this contract have been ordered with two new capabilities -- a laser designator and a tactical common data link (TCDL). A laser designator places a concentrated laser spot on a target, enabling precise tracking by a missile to the target of interest. The TCDL is a secure, wide-band datalink that transmits digital data to and from the aircraft. It serves as a common communication link between AAI's One System(R) Ground Control Station and many UAS -- including Shadow, the extended range/multi-purpose Sky Warrior, and Hunter -- as well as the Apache helicopter. The four new Marine Corps systems, as well as previously procured U.S. Army and Marine Corps systems, are expected to be retrofitted with these features at a later date. This contract comes as Shadow TUAS achieved 350,000 total flight hours. The vast majority of the systems' flight hours have been in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Shadow TUAS reached this milestone a mere four months after achieving 300,000 total flight hours in May 2008. "This new contract and milestone reflect how important unmanned assets have become to our Army and Marine Corps customers," explained Steven Reid, AAI's vice president of UAS. "They rely upon Shadow systems for critical reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting information to keep warfighters safe; that is why we continue to develop and field enhancements to make them more robust and capable. Laser designation and TCDL are just two of the new technologies we are integrating to increase our customers capability to conduct new missions safely and effectively."
France May Buy Reaper UAVs (NSI News Source Info) PARIS - October 21, 2008: French officials are talking with General Atomics about buying the Reaper UAV, also known as the Predator B, as part of their search for a surveillance system to back up combat troops deployed in Afghanistan, sources familiar with the talks said.
Indian Navy Project-75A: RFIs Issued for Six Advanced Submarines; Rosoboronexport, Armaris, HDW in the Fray
Indian Navy Project-75A: RFIs Issued for Six Advanced Submarines; Rosoboronexport, Armaris, HDW in the Fray
(NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: With the Rs 18,798-crore project to construct six French Scorpene killer submarines at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai finally gaining momentum, Indian Navy is now on the look out for six next-generation submarines in a project worth over Rs 30,000 crore. The Navy has clearly specified that under this second line of diesel-electric submarines, called Project-75A, all the six vessels will be equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems to significantly boost their operational capabilities. "They will also have high degree of stealth, land-attack capability and ability to incoporate futuristic technologies. Like the Scorpenes, they will be built in an Indian shipyard, public or private, with special emphasis on full transfer of technology," said a source. "After we issued RFIs (request for information) to Russian (Rosoboronexport), French (Armaris) and German (HDW) firms, among others, two rounds of discussions have already taken place. Another round will be held soon before we issue the RFP (request for proposal) or global tender in late-2008 or early-2009," he added. Conventional diesel-electric submarines have to surface or snorkel every few days to get oxygen to recharge their batteries. If equipped with AIP systems, they can stay submerged for much longer periods, narrowing the gap with nuclear-powered submarines which can operate silently underwater for virtually unlimited periods. Pakistan, incidentally, commissioned its first Mesma AIP-equipped submarine PNS Hamza last month, the third of the French Agosta-90B submarines it has inducted since 1999. China, of course, is leagues ahead. To China's 57 attack submarines, a dozen of them nuclear ones, India has only 16 diesel-electric submarines — 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW and two virtually-obsolete Foxtrot submarines. Unlike China, which is now also getting ready to induct the new Shang-class (Type-093) nuclear-powered attack submarines, the Indian Navy neither has nuclear submarines, nor SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) capabilities at present, leaving a big hole in India's quest for "a nuclear weapon triad".
The UK’s FRES Transformational Armored Vehicles (NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: Many of Britain’s army vehicles are old and worn, and the necessities of hard service on the battlefield are only accelerating that wear. The multi-billion pound “Future Rapid Effects System” (FRES) aims to recapitalize the core of Britain’s armored vehicle fleet over the next decade or more, filling many of the same medium armor roles as the Stryker Family of armored wheeled vehicles and/or the Future Combat Systems’ Manned Ground Vehicle family. Current estimates indicate a potential requirement for over 3,700 FRES vehicles, including utility and reconnaissance variants. Even so, one should be cautioned that actual numbers bought usually fall short of intended figures for early-stage defense programs.
India readies large-scale UAV procurement programme
(NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: India is planning to significantly upgrade its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capability over the next decade in order to enhance situational awareness along its land and maritime borders. Official sources said the army was planning to procure a large number of manportable mini- and nano-UAVs with short-range intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and laser-designation capabilities, as well as the ability to detect nuclear, biological and chemical weapons inside enemy territory. The army also intends to acquire weaponised UAVs similar to the General Atomics RQ-1 Predator, which can be armed with Hellfire missiles. These will be deployed largely along the disputed borders with Pakistan and China. At present, India operates around 70 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-built Searcher Mk 1 and Mk 2 and Heron UAVs, as well as 30 Harpy ground attack drones designed to detect and destroy enemy radars. "A larger number of UAVs would constitute an integral ingredient of the burgeoning network-centric warfare capability that all three Indian services are seeking to execute the full spectrum of war," a three-star Indian Air Force officer told Jane's. Image: India operates around 70 UAVs, including the Harpy, but is now planning to significantly augment its UAV fleet (IAI)
Chinese-made jet MA-60 ready for service October 20, 2008 NSI News Source Info The Chinese-made regional jet, Modem Ark (MA) 60, was launched for the first domestic commercial flight in Tianjin on Oct. 19, 2008. MA 60 was launched for the maiden domestic commercial flight in the northern port city of Tianjin on Sunday.
Military Generals Are Evergreen And Secured In Their Jobs (NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: They don't hardly fire generals any more. Some have noted that it's been over half a century since the U.S. last fired generals during wartime. That was during the Korean War, when seven of them were dismissed. During World War II, 95 were fired during their first three months of combat. In World War I, 21 got tossed. In both World Wars, France fired at least a hundred generals in the first three months of combat. Russia was even worse, and they also shot some of the dismissed commanders. Until a few centuries ago, it was quite common to behead unsuccessful generals. But not so much anymore. Part of that is because there have not been that many big wars since Korea. There were big wars in India (with Pakistan), between the Arabs and Israel, and between Iraq and Iran, where there have been generals dismissed. But not as much as in the past (with the exception of Iraq, where Saddam fired most of his generals eventually, but that had more to do with loyalty, than competence, issues.) Generals were selected more carefully, at least in the West, during the past half century. There's been a lot more care all around. That, combined with fewer large wars, results in fewer generals getting tossed. Oh, generals still get the sack, but it's done differently. Early retirement and lack of promotion is another way of firing someone, and it is used a lot. These days, the most common cause of generals getting into trouble is "zipper control" (sex with the wrong person). It's an old problem. Back in 1912 a U.S. admiral suddenly resigned because, it was later found out, he was forcing his affections on a comely cabin boy.
The Russian Cyber War attacks On Georgia
(NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: Georgia was not just invaded by Russian troops last August, it was also hammered on the Internet, with the same Cyber War techniques used against Estonia last year. An investigation by a large team of Internet experts concluded that, as with the attacks on Estonia, the Russian government was not directly involved in the Georgia attacks. The Cyber War attacks on Georgia were coordinated from a non-government web site. If there was any Russian government involvement, it was indirect. For example, the attacks on Georgian web sites began with a very complete list of targets. Not that any of the Russian civilian volunteers couldn't have put such a list together, but this one appeared "general staff" thorough. In the wake of last year's attacks, Russia was accused of causing great financial harm to Estonia, and Estonia wants this sort of thing declared terrorism, and dealt with. NATO agreed to discuss the issue, but never took any action against Russia. But as a result of that incident, NATO did establish a Cyber Defense Center in Estonia earlier this year. That is one tangible result of the 2007 Cyber War attacks. The Center will study Cyber War techniques and incidents, and attempt to coordinate efforts by other NATO members to create Cyber War defenses, and offensive weapons. Also earlier this year, Estonia concluded that the weeks of Cyber War attacks it endured last year were not an act of war. Or, rather, the attacks were not carried out by the Russian government, but at the behest of the government by Russian hackers angry at Estonia. Some Internet security researchers believe that the attacks were the result of efforts by a small number of hackers, who had access to thousands of captive (or "zombie") PCs. Some of the zombies were located in Russian government offices. But that's not unusual, as government PCs worldwide tend to be less well protected than those in large corporations. It is believed that other governments are behind similar attacks that temporarily shut down politically embarrassing web sites. This is becoming very common, and often the attacks are ones where only a particular government would benefit. Last year's attacks were the result of Estonia moving a statue, honoring Russian World War II soldiers, from the center of the capital, to a military cemetery. The Estonians always saw the statue as a reminder of half a century of Russian occupation and oppression. Russia saw the move as an insult to the efforts of Russian soldiers to liberate Estonia, and enable the Russians to occupy the place for half a century. The basic problem here is that most Russians don't see their Soviet era ancestors as evil people, despite the millions of Russians and non-Russians killed by the Soviet secret police. The Russians are very proud of their defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, ignoring the fact that the Soviet government was just biding its time before it launched its own invasion of Germany and Europe in general. Georgia has been occupied by the Russians for over a century, and were never really very comfortable with it. While many Russians would have backed a military attack on Estonia, to retaliate for the insult by an ungrateful neighbor, this approach was seen as imprudent. Estonia is now part of NATO, and an attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all. It's because of this Russian threat that Estonia hustled to get into NATO. The Russians, however, believed that massive Cyber War attacks would not trigger a NATO response. Meanwhile, Russian language message boards were full of useful information on how to join the holy war against evil Estonia. There's no indication that any Russians were afraid of a visit from the Russian cyber-police for any damage done to Estonia. And the damage was significant, amounting to millions of dollars. While no one was injured, Estonia insisted that this attack, by Russia, should trigger the mutual defense provisions of the NATO treaty. It didn't, but it was a reminder to all that Cyber War is very real. The same patterns were repeated with the attacks directed at Georgia. Again, the Russian government denies any involvement. Estonia sent two Cyber War exerts to Georgia, to help in dealing with the Internet based attacks coming out of Russia. In addition, Georgia is trying to join NATO.
Order Of Battle Missiles War
(NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: The biggest question mark in any future air-to-air battle between roughly equal opponents is counter-measures. This became an issue half a century ago, as the United States introduced the first effective air-to-air missile; the heat seeking Sidewinder (AIM-9). This simple missile eclipsed the earlier concept for air-to-air guided missiles, best exemplified by the Sidewinder's contemporary, the radar guided AIM-7 Sparrow. Eventually, Sparrow was replaced by a seemingly much more effective AIM-120 AMRAAM. Meanwhile, Russia developed apparently inferior copies of the AIM-9, AIM-7 and AMRAAM. A few years ago, China introduced the PL-12 air-to-air radar guided missile. U.S. Air Force lobbyists claimed that the PL-12 was superior to the similar American AMRAAM missile, and that Chinese Su-30 fighters carrying the PL-12 would be superior to the current top-dog combination of American F-15Cs carrying AMRAAM. The air force claims that only the faster, stealthier F-22, carrying AMRAAM, can clear the skies of Chinese Su-30s armed with PL-12s. All that depends on how good the two missiles actually are, and how effective each sides countermeasures are. AMRAAM entered service in 1992, more than 30 years after the first radar guided air-to-air missile (the AIM-7) entered service. Vietnam provided ample evidence that AIM-7 wasn't really ready for prime time. Too many things could go wrong. Several versions later, the AIM-7 got another combat test during the 1991 Gulf War. While 88 AIM 7s were launched, only 28 percent scored a hit. The AIM 9 Sidewinder did worse, with 97 fired and only 12.6 percent making contact. That said, most of these hits could not have been obtained with cannon, especially when the AIM 7 was used against a target that was trying to get away. AMRAAM was designed to fix all the reliability and ease-of-use problems that cursed the AIM-7. But AMRAAM has only had a few opportunities to be used in combat, although 77 percent of the 13 launched have hit something. The Chinese PL-12 is based on the Russian AA-12, which is regarded as the Russian attempt to produce a missile equal to AMRAAM. The AA-12 is similar in size and weight, weighing 385 pounds (versus 335 for AMRAAM) , 11.9 feet long (12 feet), 200mm in diameter (178mm). The AA-12 has a max range of 90 kilometers (compared to 70 for AMRAAM). The AA-12 has yet to be used in combat. Russian missiles, historically, have been less reliable and effective than their Western counterparts. The Russian missiles are not worthless, they are just less likely to knock down aircraft they are aimed at. The Chinese obviously see flaws in the AA-12 and want to improve that design so that it is more competitive with AMRAAM. The Chinese are eager to create an effective competitor for AMRAAM that they can export (they are already offering the export version of the, the SB-10, for sale.) The PL-12 has, so far, not demonstrated an extraordinary abilities. But it takes more than a reasonably reliable clone of AMRAAM to threaten sixty years of U.S. Air Force air superiority. As the United States discovered during World War II, pilot quality and tactics were more important than spiffy hardware. The greatest danger to American air superiority is an opponent who spends a lot of effort, and money, on pilot training. China is showing signs of moving in that direction, but is a long way from getting there. Pilot quality aside, there is the issue of countermeasures. Some of these are involved with pilot training and capability. Countermeasures are much more effective when used by a more capable pilot. But countermeasures are mostly about technology. This ranges from sensors that will detect incoming missiles, to electronic devices that will deceive the rapidly approaching missiles. How countermeasures work is kept secret, more so than how the missiles themselves operate. Both the Chinese and the American missiles and countermeasures work differently, sometimes only slightly. If either side finds out more about how the others missiles and countermeasures, they can tweak their own missiles to be more lethal, and their aircraft to be less vulnerable. China has been making vigorous efforts to obtain U.S. military secrets, with some success. Exactly how much success won't known until there is a war. So when U.S. warplanes go up against their Chinese counterparts with radar guided missiles, all will be revealed. If it's a short war, there won't be much time to make changes. A longer war will be different, and the greater technological and industrial resources of the United States will prevail. But a short war, over the defense of Taiwan against a Chinese invasion, is more likely. This keeps a lot of U.S. Air Force generals awake at night.
Russia Fires Most Of Its Colonels (NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: The Russian armed forces lost 80 percent of its strength in the last 17 years, but a disproportionate number of officers remain. Now the government is planning a large scale purge of the bloated officer corps. Currently, the Russian military has about a million personnel (400,000 in the army itself, the rest in paramilitary units that are largely uniformed and armed like soldiers). But there are 355,000 officers in this force. That's more than one in three, and includes 1,107 generals, 25,665 colonels, 99,550 majors, 90,000 captains, and only 50,000 lieutenants. With all that, some 40,000 officers positions are still vacant. The proposed reorganization would eliminate 20 percent of the generals, 65 percent of the colonels, 75 percent of the majors, and 55 percent of the captains. The number of lieutenants would increase 20 percent. The number of military organizations (about 2,500) would also be cut (by 80 percent) over the next four years. Most of these are reserve units, Cold War relics, containing only a cadre of officers. In the event of a major war, reservists (who are no longer available) would be called up to use the stockpiled equipment (also now missing.) The Stavka (general staff) will have its personnel cut 61 percent (to 8,500). The senior officers (lieutenant colonel and above) will be retired, all others will be offered retraining. The money saved would go to training and promoting more NCOs, and enlisting more volunteer (or "contract") soldiers. The Russians want an all-volunteer forces, but have lacked the money to replace all conscripts with higher quality, and more highly paid, volunteers. Note that data on how many troops there are of each rank in the Russian military is still considered top secret stuff, and these numbers were recently released as a Defense Ministry official discussed reforms with the media. This was apparently done to reduce sympathy for the thousands of soon-to-be former officers who might go around complaining that the military is falling apart. After World War II, Russia deliberately avoided developing a professional NCO corps. They preferred to have officers take care of nearly all troop supervision. The NCOs that did exist were treated as slightly more reliable enlisted men, but given little real authority. Since officers did not live with the men, slack discipline in the barracks gave rise to the vicious hazing and exploitation of junior conscripts by the senior, or simply stronger and more ruthless, ones. This led to very low morale, and a lot of suicides, theft, sabotage and desertions. Long recognized as a problem, no solution ever worked. During the 1990s, when military budgets were cut by over two-thirds, most of the best officers got out, and went on to make their fortunes in the new market economy. That left a lot of career officers who saw no other job prospects. Many turned to corrupt practices to supplement their low military pay. Corruption got out of hand. The hazing and corruption in the military is a complex issue. For one thing, Russia does not have military police to deal with this sort of thing. During the Soviet period (1921-91), the KGB kept an eye on criminal activity in the military, but was more concerned with loyalty and espionage. The violence and hazing in the ranks was not seen as a big problem. It is now, because Russians can vote, and the parents of young men getting abused while doing their conscript service, are making a lot of noise over this issue. Taxpayers are more interested in what the military is doing with their money. For any meaningful change to occur in the military, there has to be a major upgrade in leadership throughout the force. The first step is to get rid of the most troublesome and least effective officers. Money for more NCOs and contract soldiers will have to come out of the existing personnel budget. Sacking most of the existing officers seems like the way to go for solving both of these problems.
North Korea Is Family Controlled Enterprise
(NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: During the recent harvest, troops were sent to all agricultural areas with orders to guard a special war reserve of food, even if this meant farmers would not have enough food to last them through the Winter. Farmers have been ordered to contribute to the war reserve before taking care of their own needs. In the past, this reserve was established during times when famine was the greatest, as a means of dealing with the worst cases of starvation. Before the troops arrived, many farmers went out at night and stole food from their own fields. Meanwhile, the North Korea media is reporting an increase in public executions of criminals. These are said to have been ordered by Kim Il Sung himself, who is supposed to have said that, "the people need to hear the sound of gunfire in order to restore discipline." While everything seems normal up north (the usual levels of fear and desperation, that is), there is a sense that no one is in charge anymore. Last week, North Korea announced that there would be major news released today. October 12, 2008: North Korea announced that it will resume dismantling its nuclear weapons production facilities. October 11, 2008: The U.S. has removed North Korea from the terrorist watch list. In return, North Korea has agreed to the inspections that the United States demanded. It remains to be seen if the North Koreans will live up to their side of the agreement. Past performance is not encouraging. But for the moment, the U.S. and South Korea will provide food and energy aid, which will help prevent another major round of famine and starvation in the north. October 10, 2008: North Korean TV broadcast pictures of ill leader Kim Il Sung inspecting troops. But this video could have been taken anytime in the last year or so. There's still no definitive proof that Kim is back in control of things. October 9, 2008: North Korea banned all UN (IAEA) nuclear weapons inspectors from its Yongbyon nuclear complex. This is part of the game North Korea is playing to force the U.S. to take North Korea off the international terrorist watch list (so that North Korea can resume some of its illegal moneymaking activities.) October 8, 2008: South Korean military analysts believe that North Korea is working on designs for a nuclear warhead that can be used in a ballistic missile. This is a formidable engineering undertaking. North Korea is a small country, with a tiny engineering community capable of undertaking this kind of work. South Korea gets a lot of information these days from South Korean businessmen working up north, and apparently information was received indicating some of the key people and organizations capable of this kind of work, are now involved in a new secret project. All this is an inexact science, and often these pronouncements by South Korean military officials turn out to be wrong. In this case, it could take at least 5-10 years for North Korea to produce a working nuclear warhead for ballistic missiles. October 7, 2008: North Korea fired two short range missiles into the Yellow Sea, after issuing a warning order to shipping to stay clear of the probable landing zone. North Korea fires these missiles periodically, mainly for propaganda purposes, and as an alternative to dismantling missiles that have reached the end of their shelf life and are about to become unreliable. October 6, 2008: Israel accused North Korea of selling nuclear weapons technology to six Middle Eastern nations. Israeli officials did not name them. It is known that North Korean weapons technology was sold to Iran, Syria, Libya and Iraq. The two unnamed nations are apparently among those that Israel is now developing better relations with (like Saudi Arabia, which has always been in the market for the best weapons available, no matter what the price or provenance.) October 4, 2008: North Korea media announced that leader Kim Il Sung attended a sporting event a few days ago, but provided no compelling proof. This would have been the first time in nearly two months.
Taliban & Drugs Go Side By Side (NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: The Taliban appear to have 20-30 percent more gunmen in operation this year, largely because of greater earning from the drug business. They have adopted new tactics that emphasize operating in smaller groups, and trying to avoid the foreign aircraft and UAVs that appear to be everywhere. This year, the Taliban are leaving attacks on foreign troops up to terrorists (al Qaeda and Taliban). However, only about four percent of the victims of these attacks are foreign troops. Some 80 percent are Afghan civilians, and the rest Afghan police and soldiers. So far this year, 5,100 people have died in Taliban related violence. Most of the dead were Taliban or al Qaeda, killed by foreign and Afghan forces..
Tamil Tigers hold off Sri Lankan military (NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: Resistance by Tamil Tiger guerrillas appears to have held up a Sri Lankan military offensive in the north.The government earlier this month said it was poised to capture the Tigers' Kilinochchi powerbase, 330 kilometres north of Colombo.But analysts and military sources say that it could take longer than anticipated with the separatist Tigers digging in and poor weather hampering operations.Security forces had planned on a quick fall of Kilinochchi, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's political capital.
Thai Army eyes Russian choppers
(NSI News Source Info) October 20, 2008: The army has decided to drop a project to repair helicopters built in the US and has approved the proposed purchase of three new helicopters from Russia, an army source said. The source said army commander Gen Anupong Paojinda had approved the proposed purchase of three MI-17 multi-role helicopters from Russia at a cost of about 950 baht million baht altogether or about 316 million baht each. The army chief, at the same time, decided to cancel the 999-million-baht repair and maintenance programme for 15 Bell 212-type helicopters bought from the US, the source said. According to the source, the army has more than 200 of the US-built helicopters However, more than half of them can barely function now because they have been in use for more than 20 years. The proposal has been submitted to Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, in his capacity as defence minister, the source said. The source added it would be the first time that the army would use the Russian-built helicopters. Until now, the army had used only US helicopters. The armed forces previously were interested in buying military armaments from Russia. The source said that when Sonthi Boonyaratkalin was coup leader and was in charge of the army in 2006, Russia offered to sell eight MI-17 type helicopters to the army for about 168 million baht each, lower than the present price quoted. Earlier, the air force also bought six Gripen fighters from Sweden for about 19 billion baht. When Thaksin Shinawatra was prime minister, he told the air force to procure SU-30 combat aircraft from Russia, but the air force showed no interest in buying them. The procurement programme was stopped when the 2006 coup took place. The same source said that before Samak Sundaravej was disqualified as prime minister by the Constitution Court, he approved a deal to buy 96 armoured personnel carriers costing 39 billion baht from the Ukraine. The deal was initiated by Gen Sonthi. However, the Office of the Auditor-General regarded the deal as non-transparent. It raised questions about the quality of the vehicles and and alleged irregularities in the bidding process, in which Ukrainian NGV Enterprise failed to submit a tender but won the Defence Ministry contract. The Samak government also approved a proposal to buy 15,307 shotguns from Israel worth about one billion baht. The armament procurement programmes are part of a plan to modernise sections of the armed forces, which has been stalled for more than a decade since the 1997 financial crisis.