World Will Tremble If Pakistan Falls
(NSI News Source Info) Washington - Oct 22, 2008: The global financial crisis is close to knocking out its most important and potentially most dangerous victim yet: Pakistan needs a financial support package of $10 billion to $15 billion to avoid collapse.
The stakes could not be higher: With a rapidly increasing population of more than 150 million -- larger than that of Russia -- Pakistan is also the world's only Muslim nuclear power. But since the fall of President Pervez Musharraf earlier this year, the bitter regional, social and religious disputes that have been building for decades have exploded in public. The current government of pro-American President Asif Ali Zardari is struggling to maintain any effective presence at all in the vast North-West Frontier Province, which covers one-quarter of the country.
If the government in Islamabad goes bankrupt, then the extreme Islamist forces spearheaded by the Taliban of Afghanistan, who already enjoy broad support among the Pashtun tribes of the NWFP, will have a far greater chance to turn the great cities of Pakistan, especially giant Karachi, into chaos.
As American military analyst and UPI columnist William S. Lind has warned, Fourth Generation war -- 4GW -- non-state forces like al-Qaida benefit from undermining the structures of established states and can metastasize rapidly if a state structure collapses, especially in a vast nation like Pakistan.
The Taliban and their fellow Islamists, aided by al-Qaida, already have stepped up their guerrilla operations against the Pakistani army and police.
On top of all this, Pakistan is now on the verge of default. It needs $3 billion within a month to maintain its debt service schedule and $10 billion over two years. This seems peanuts compared with figures thrown around in the United States recently. The U.S. Congress approved a $700 billion bailout, and critics charged that even this huge sum would prove to be insufficient to restore investor confidence.
Precisely because major governments around the world feel under pressure, however, Pakistan is currently struggling to get a financial support package put together. Pakistani officials are meeting International Monetary Fund representatives in Dubai Tuesday to craft a rescue -- they hope.
But there have been some ominous signs: Apparently traditional supporters of Pakistan -- China and Saudi Arabia -- have shown no willingness to step up to the plate. Ironically, they are two of the handful of nations that do, in fact, have enormous financial reserves. But the plunging global oil price has spooked the Saudis, and the Chinese know their economic stability is dependent on the U.S. economy staying afloat and continuing to provide them with their most important export market.
Overall the Pakistani economy is in a desperate state, and the causes are long term, structural and not at all conducive to any "quick fix": The new Zardari government in Islamabad has inherited high inflation, large income inequality and a chronic lack of spending for infrastructure and education.
The caution and preoccupations of other countries around the world, however, do not diminish the threat to global and regional peace if Pakistan should default. The Zardari government -- already unpopular with the Islamists, the urban poor and its own military establishment, especially the officers of the Inter-Service Intelligence agency -- could hardly survive such a catastrophe. And if the Zardari government fell, the impact on regional stability would be dire.
Neighboring India, fearful of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal -- conservatively estimated at 30 nuclear weapons but possibly considerably larger -- might be spooked into considering some kind of pre-emptive intervention. Even if it did not, the threat would be real that in the chaos following default and the fall of the Zardari government, extremist forces could gain control of one or more nuclear warheads.
Also, if Zardari fell, the impact on Pakistan's relations with the United States and on Washington's ability to effectively prosecute the war on terror could be dire. Currently, U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan -- around 50,000 in number overall -- are supplied by air along transport corridors over Pakistani territory. If a future Pakistani government should close those corridors, the already embattled U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan would find their situation deteriorating rapidly.
Pakistan's leaders are also understandably reluctant to put their political future and their country's fate in the hands of the International Monetary Fund, for they realize that IMF aid is usually tied to draconian conditions requiring the slashing of government spending. In a country like Pakistan, that means cutting social programs to support the poor, including subsidizing food prices.
Zardari government officials are now pinning their hopes on the recently created "Friends of Pakistan" group of nations that is led by the United States and also numbers Britain, Canada, France and Germany among its members. And Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is rushing to put together an economic package to attract international investment -- something Musharraf disastrously neglected during his nearly nine years in power.
The odds against Pakistan escaping economic meltdown are daunting. But the consequences of that happening are too frightful to contemplate.
UP-DATED NEWS: Pakistan talks with IMF on $10-$15 bln package
SINGAPORE: Pakistan is in informal discussions with the International Monetary Fund and other bodies over a $10-$15 billion package designed to stabilise its economy and avoid a balance of payments crisis, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. A little over half the total would come in the form of an IMF loan and the balance would be provided by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and bilateral donors, potentially including Saudi Arabia, the report said. Pakistan is also seeking funds from China, it said.
India Details Defense Equipment Importation....Procurement of Defence Equipment
(NSI News Source Info) October 22, 2008: Procurement of defence equipment is made by the Government from various indigenous as well as foreign sources to meet the requirements of the Armed Forces. The import option is exercised when it is necessary to procure the items within a definite timeframe on operational grounds to bridge the capability gaps and normally when such equipment cannot be sourced indigenously within a specified timeframe.
Expenditure incurred on import of defence equipment during the last three years is as follows:
Year/Expenditure Incurred On Import Of Defence Equipment
(Rupees in Crores)
Major countries from which the imports are made include Russia, the USA, the UK, France, Germany and Israel. Divulging further details with regard to import of defence equipment will not be in the national interest.
Steps taken to encourage indigenous manufacturing include:
(a) rationalization of offset policy to include offset credit banking to enable creation of offset programmes by foreign participants in anticipation of future obligations;
(b) products developed by the respective Workshops of the Armed Forces for ‘in house’ requirements can be procured from these agencies under `Buy (Indian)’ category;
(c) provision of Transfer of Technology, if required, to an Indian public/ private firm for providing maintenance infrastructure to be applicable for `Buy’ category cases, where equipment is being bought from foreign vendors; and
(d) procurement under `Buy’ (Indian) category to have minimum 30% indigenous content if the systems are being integrated by an Indian vendor.
On an average, the expenditure on capital acquisition from indigenous sources has been above 71% during last three years.
This information was given by Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to Shri Sunil Khan and Dr. Dhirendra Agarwal in Lok Sabha today.
Improved Armor & IED Protection for British Army Units
(NSI News Source Info) October 22, 2008: Among the vehicles currently operating in theater were the Viking, Challenger Armored Repair and Recovery Vehicle (CRARRV) and the new Engineers Terrier Vehicle.
Many of these armored combat vehicles, from the heavily armored Mastiff patrol vehicle to the challenger tank and swift Panther command vehicle were recently fitted with Enforcer type Remote Weapons Systems (RWS), mounting a remotely controlled day/night thermal sight and automatic weapon (mostly 12.7/7.62mm machine gun).
The vehicles displayed was the new Ridgeback Personnel Protected Vehicle, which is a smaller version of the popular Mastiff that is already in used in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The mobility of troops and supplies is improving with the introduction of better protected logistical vehicles and dedicated vehicles designed for mobility cross-country and in urban terrain. The new Snatch-Vixen (above), an upgraded version of the armored LandRover uses heavier axels to carry additional armor and more payload in theatre. The vehicle also has better mine protection.
The new command vehicle 'Panther', was also on display. Panther is completing acceptance tests and will soon be delivered to deployed units. There was also the 3 variants of the new Man Trucks on the Demonstration.
Other up-armored configurations of weapon systems on display included the AS90 Self Propelled Gun, the Multi Launch Rocket System (MLRS), the upgraded Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) Scimitar and Spartan.
The Bulldog Armored personnel Carrier also uses advanced hybrid armor suit, already proven in theater. The Challenger tank and Warrior uses add-on armor to protect from IEDs, as well as electronic jammers to disrupt command signals.
Among the vehicles currently operating in theater were the Viking, Challenger Armored Repair and Recovery Vehicle (CRARRV) and the new Engineers Terrier Vehicle.
UK Defense Minister Says Afghan Army To Expand
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON - October 22, 2008: British Defense Secretary John Hutton made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday, visiting a former Taliban stronghold where he praised the work of the Afghan army.
A British military vehicle drives past an Afghan man in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province October 20, 2008.
Hutton, appointed three weeks ago in a reshuffle of the British government, traveled to Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, a restive region where the Taliban remain strong and where around 8,100 British troops are based.
"It is a vital sign of improving security conditions that I have been able to stand in Musa Qala district center today," Hutton said in a statement, referring to a town in northern Helmand that late last year was still in Taliban hands.
"Afghan security forces, supported by international forces, are becoming more capable and increasingly able to plan and head operations effectively. The Afghan National Army has been a considerable success story and I welcome plans to expand it."
Afghanistan's army currently stands at about 70,000 soldiers but there are plans to expand it to around 135,000 in the coming years and gradually give it more responsibility for security, taking over from the 70,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Despite the steps the army has taken, however, security analysts say a major problem remains the Afghan National Police, which is widely regarded by Afghans and foreign officials to be corrupt, inefficient and poorly trained.
Because the police have much closer daily contact with the population, there are fears corrupt policing will turn Afghans against the government and toward the Taliban, which remains strong in the south and east of the country.
As well as those fears, there is also a pressing need to deliver aid and reconstruction throughout Afghanistan, a country that remains sorely underdeveloped more than seven years after U.S.-led troops invaded to overthrow Taliban rule.
Hutton acknowledged that reconstruction and development were lagging, and said more would be done to try to improve government amid allegations of corruption at the highest levels, including links to the heroin poppy and drug trade.
"I am realistic ... that there is still much to do and we remain understandably focused on providing the security conditions to allow reconstruction and governance to take place," Hutton said.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Britain's top priority should be to do everything we can to aid the improving reach of the government of Afghanistan across Helmand."
Britain has gradually increased its focus on Afghanistan in recent months as it seeks to draw down its forces in Iraq, where around 4,000 troops remain. Those forces are expected to be pulled out next year, opening the way for a bolstering of forces in Afghanistan.
Pakistani Legislators Show Little Appetite for a Fight
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - October 21, 2008: An unusual parliamentary debate organized to forge a national policy on how to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda has exposed deep ambivalence about the militants, even as their reach extends to suicide attacks in the capital.
Pakistani Army forces in a village in the Swat region on Oct. 6 after securing it from militants.
In one of his first initiatives as president, Asif Ali Zardari called the session in an effort to mobilize Pakistan’s political parties and its public to support the fight against the militants, which he has now called Pakistan’s war.
But instead, the nearly two weeks of closed sessions have been dominated by calls for dialogue with the Taliban and peppered with opposition to what lawmakers condemned as a war foisted on Pakistan by the United States, according to participants.
The tenor of the debate has highlighted the difficulties facing Mr. Zardari and Washington as they urgently try to focus Pakistan’s full attention on the militant threat at a time when the Pakistani military is locked in heavy fighting in the tribal areas.
Mr. Zardari’s predecessor, Pervez Musharraf, who was long both president and leader of the army, never consulted Parliament, and he as well as the fight against the militants came to be seen as tools of American policy and grew increasingly unpopular.
By contrast, Mr. Zardari, as the newly elected leader of Pakistan’s fledgling civilian government, will need the backing of Parliament and the public if he is to live up to his pledge to fight terrorism, which he made during a visit to Washington this month.
But the parliamentary proceedings, which included criticism of a lengthy military briefing by a senior general on the conduct of the war, showed that the political elites had little stomach for battling the militants.
In one sign, Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, sent a letter on Monday to the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, calling for dialogue with the militants. The letter suggested a halt in military operations while negotiations were given a chance, according to Ahsan Iqbal, an aide to Mr. Sharif.
In an interview last week, Mr. Sharif said, “What is wrong with talking?”
He said a distinction had to be made between the Taliban, whose members could be talked to, and Al Qaeda, whose adherents could not. A national committee should be formed to decide whom Pakistan should negotiate with, Mr. Sharif said.
Differentiating between the two groups was one of the themes of the debate, according to participants, on the grounds that Qaeda members are outsiders to Pakistan and the Taliban are mostly Pashtuns living in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Even the suicide bomb attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, which killed more than 50 people last month, did not provide much of a call to arms. “I thought the Marriott would change everyone’s attitude, but it has not,” said Farook Saleem, a newspaper columnist who supports fighting the militants.
The speeches in Parliament expressed so much opposition to fighting the militants that it was doubtful that the governing Pakistan Peoples Party could engineer an “appropriate resolution,” said Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali, a senior member of the party and a former foreign minister.
A religious party, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, part of the coalition with the Pakistan Peoples Party, voiced particularly strong opposition to the war against the militants, Mr. Ali said.
“They want the army to pull out of everything and start talks with the militants in North and South Waziristan, in Swat,” Mr. Ali said. The army is fighting the Taliban in Swat, a settled region of the North-West Frontier Province, and has fought the Taliban in Waziristan, an area of the tribal belt, which borders the province.
It is possible, Mr. Ali said, that the divergent opinions within the coalition will produce a parliamentary resolution that is “so hugely diluted that the whole exercise is left futile.”
Behind the scenes, the idea of a parliamentary debate was encouraged by the leader of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, as a way to garner political support for the military efforts, according to two Pakistanis familiar with his thinking.
The Pakistani military began a campaign against the Taliban and its Qaeda backers in the tribal area of Bajaur two months ago, an effort that American commanders have applauded as a way to stop the militants from crossing into Afghanistan and attacking American forces.
At a news conference in Islamabad on Monday, the assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, Richard A. Boucher, called the “tough actions” of the Pakistanis “very impressive.”
At a cabinet meeting attended by General Kayani in late July, the civilian government gave the military permission for operations against the militants.
But General Kayani was eager for a parliamentary debate that would show that the army was responding to civilian government, according to the Pakistanis who spoke to General Kayani.
In that vein, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the director general of military operations for the Pakistani Army, who has been selected to lead the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, briefed a joint session of Parliament two weeks ago. The presence of a senior general before Parliament was viewed in much of the Pakistani news media as an encouraging, if small, sign of civilian control of the military.
Over four hours, General Pasha described what the army had done in campaigns against militants over seven years, showed images of militants slaughtering civilians, and said more than 1,500 Pakistani soldiers had died in the operations, according to Parliament members.
But the briefing was poorly received by politicians, who said it revealed little that was new. Lawmakers also criticized General Pasha for not offering a strategy for the future.
Attendance was also poor. The Senate and the National Assembly comprise 442 members, but on one day last week only 40 were on hand, and the speaker, Fahmida Mirza, admonished the politicians for being so desultory.
President Zardari was away on a trip to China last week, and his absence appeared, symbolically at least, to undermine the debate.
Also absent were the minister of defense, Ahmad Mukhtar, and the senior adviser to the Interior Ministry, Rehman Malik, both major figures in the effort against terrorism, who accompanied Mr. Zardari in China. The national security adviser, Mahmud Ali Durrani, was on a trip to India.
In their speeches, the politicians stressed the need for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban, said Jehangir Tareen, the leader of a faction of the Pakistan Muslim League.
In its precarious economic situation, with dwindling foreign exchange reserves and high inflation, Pakistan cannot afford a continuing battle against the militants, which has driven away foreign investment, he said.
“The sense of the house is that there is no military solution to this,” Mr. Tareen said. “This is not a war we want to be part of. There is a sentiment that we are being pushed to do all this by the United States. We want this war to end.”
Russia Fires Long Range Missiles
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - October 21, 2008: Russia fired three long-range missiles and pronounced its nuclear deterrent strong in an extraordinary show of force experts said had not been seen anywhere since the days of the Cold War.
Two of the missiles were fired Sunday from nuclear submarines in the Asian and European extremes of the sprawling country while a third was watched by President Dmitry Medvedev on land in northwest Russia, news agencies reported.
It was the second Russian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in as many days and the latest in a series of high-profile military exercises of conventional land, sea and air forces as well as strategic nuclear units.
"This shows that our deterrent is in order," Medvedev was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying after Sunday's missile launches.
"We will of course be introducing new types of forces and means into the military," he added, without elaborating.
Independent military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said the exercises reflected Russia's determination to prepare for major military conflict.
"This was a dry run for a war with the United States," Felgenhauer said of the missile launches, part of major military manoeuvres billed "Stability 2008" involving all military branches.
"These are the biggest strategic war games in more than 20 years. They are on a parellel with those held in the first half of the 1980s. Nothing of the sort has been seen either in Russia or the United States since then," he said.
Russian navy spokesman Igor Dygalo confirmed the near-simultaneous ICBM test-launches from submarines in the Sea of Okhotsk north of Japan and the Barents Sea northeast of Norway, saying they had been planned well in advance.
Speaking to AFP from northwest Russia, Dygalo admitted it was unusual for the navy to conduct three ICBM test launches in two days - a submarine in the Barents Sea also fired a missile Saturday - and called the tests successful.
"The missiles hit right on target," he said. News agencies said the missiles launched from the Barents Sea and the secret base at Plesetsk hit targets on the Kamchatka peninsula thousands of kilometres (miles) to the east.
The missile fired from the Sea of Okhotsk hit on target near Kanin Nos, a finger of land jutting into the White Sea in extreme northwest Russia, the reports said.
The Sineva missile launched Saturday - an exercise also watched by Medvedev from aboard an aircraft carrier - travelled more than 11,500 kilometres (7,145 miles) in what the Russian president claimed was an all-time distance record.
The Kremlin, alarmed and angered over new US missile defence plans in eastern Europe and the expansion of the US-led NATO alliance has stressed for a year that it will respond in kind. Washington has shrugged off Russian moves over the past 18 months to resume strategic bomber patrols around the world and reactivate use of its navy to project power on the seas, questioning if the hardware was up to the task.
Russia Denies Talks On Purchase Of Missile Cruiser From Ukraine
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - October 21, 2008: Russia is currently not involved in talks with Ukraine over the purchase of an unfinished missile cruiser for the Russian Navy, Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said on Tuesday.
The Ukrainian government ordered Ukrspetsexport, the state-owned arms trader, to look for potential buyers of the Slava-class Ukraina missile cruiser back in 2005. Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov mentioned the potential purchase of the vessel by Russia in June this year.
"Rosoboronexport has no instructions to buy the cruiser [from Ukraine], although I cannot deny that we were interested in this ship," said Ivan Goncharenko, Rosoboronexport's first deputy general director.
He added that to hold talks on the potential purchase of the cruiser Rosoboronexport must receive relevant instructions and sufficient funds.
Construction of the Slava-class Admiral Lobov cruiser (Project 1164) was launched in 1984 at the Nikolayev shipyard in Ukraine but stalled at the final stage, when it was more than 90 % ready, in late 1980s due to a sharp reduction in military expenditures.
The cruiser was renamed the Ukraina in 1992. The government of Ukraine initially planned to complete construction of the cruiser for its own Navy but later decided it would not fit the country's naval strategy.
In June 2002, Anatoly Kinakh, Ukraine's prime minister at the time, and Russia's ambassador to Ukraine, Viktor Chernomyrdin, discussed an acceptable agreement on the missile cruiser, as a Russian-Ukrainian agreement of 1993 stipulated that both parties should make joint decisions on military facilities and equipment that had not been completed in the Soviet era.
The Ukrainian defense ministry was instructed in 2005 to take the Ukraina and pay for its maintenance.
The cruiser is 96 % ready but has passed no sea trials yet and has not been fitted with missile systems. About $30 million is needed to complete its construction.
Slava-class cruisers were designed as surface strike ships with some anti-aircraft and ASW capability. They carry 16 SS-N-12 Sandbox nuclear-capable supersonic anti-ship missiles, with launches mounted in four pairs on either side of the superstructure.
In addition, the cruiser is reportedly armed with 64 SA-N-6 Grumble long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and 40 SA-N-4 Gecko short-range SAMs.
NATO experts had dubbed Russian combat ships of this class "the killer of aircraft carriers," as they can launch 1,000kg of high-explosives, or a tactical nuclear warhead, out to a range of 300 nautical miles.
Russia has three Slava-class cruisers in service with its Navy.
Russia Has Over $5 Billion In Foreign Naval Orders
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - October 21, 2008: Foreign orders for Russian naval hardware for the next three years exceed $5 billion, a state arms export monopoly senior official said on Tuesday.
"The portfolio of orders, namely contracts signed and in force, is estimated at over $5 billion, with different deadlines up to 2011," said Ivan Goncharenko, first deputy general director of Rosoboronexport.
In 2007 the share of naval equipment in Rosoboronexport's portfolio of export orders was 9% or $600 million, the official said, adding that India, China, Algeria, Vietnam and Indonesia remained key buyers of Russia's naval armaments.
India and China have purchased submarines, frigates and destroyers. Vietnam has ordered Svetlyak-class fast attack boats and frigates, while Indonesia will receive corvettes built in Russia in cooperation with Spanish firms.
Speaking about the naval orders from Venezuela, Goncharenko said Russia had not signed any contracts with Caracas to supply submarines, as some media sources had speculated.
"We discuss arms deals with many countries, but as of today Rosoboronexport has no submarine contracts signed with that country," he said.
Venezuela's vice president, Ramon Carrizales was earlier quoted as saying that the Latin American state planned to buy Amur-class diesel submarines from Russia.
(NSI News Source Info) October 21, 2008: A hundred years ago, the French Breguet brothers, borrowing a page the Wright brothers across the ocean, lifted off in a flying apparatus for the first time, thus marking the birth of the ‘vertical ascent plane.'
In Russia, it was Nikolai Kamov and Alexander Mil who designed helicopters. Kamov's company marks its 60 anniversary this year, while Mil is just one year older.
By competing and vying with each other, the two design bureaus have gained world fame: their 5,200 helicopters have flown in more than 80 countries; they also sport the flags of the UN and the Red Cross. The Mil outfit has produced 15 basic models and more than 200 versions. The Mi-28N Night Hunter is not an upgrade, but the first military helicopter on the post-Soviet space and the main combat vehicle for Russia's Defense Ministry.
The Kamov firm, starting with systems for the navy, has become the only company in the world to launch a serial production of ‘co-axial helicopters' (two counter-rotating blades give increased maneuverability and stability to the craft). And now recall the killing ability of Black Sharks, and the two-seater Alligator, which has a strike potential unequalled anywhere else in the world. It has an onboard digital computer, while pilots are provided with helmet-mounted target designators, thermal imagery technology.
In the post-Soviet period, the two firms experienced nasty bumps on the road to the free market. They paid exorbitant prices for materials and parts, and suffered arrears from customers. Meanwhile, the profit-bringing export flow must never flag, and besides Russian oil workers, rescue services, businesses and the military also need helicopters as good as those supplied to the West. The current demand for civilian helicopters alone is more than 2,000 units. But the industry has its specifics, Mikhail Kazachkov from the Helicopter Industry Association told RIA Novosti in an interview. Its bane is the lengthy production time: an idea to finished product takes, on average, 12 years.
The authorities have decided to restructure the helicopter industry, to optimize its cash flows and make it more competitive. For that purpose they brought its separate branches under one umbrella, called Helicopters of Russia. Reformers from the Industry and Trade Ministry and the Oboronprom Corporation are currently integrating the design bureaus, manufacturing facilities, and service centers more vigorously than in aircraft building. Things are moving toward the unification of research, technical and production policies. And in order to lay a good groundwork for continued efforts, a unified scientific and engineering council, and an innovation engineering center have been set up. According to Sergei Mikheyev, Kamov's general designer, a competitive and creative spirit, emphasis on extra-corporate aims, and the merging of the two teams, although seemingly paradoxical, have produced excellent results.
The reform pursues strategic aims: to make Russia the world leader in seven years, bring the output of helicopters to 450-500 units per year by 2015 (the current figure is 120), and to corner 15% of the world market, while increasing sales to 400 billion rubles. Asset concentration, effective management, and optimization of intellectual resources, production facilities and costs are the overriding objectives.
New projects have great importance as well. According to Andrei Shibitov, the head of Helicopters of Russia, the first project in the development program through 2015-2020 will be a basic high-speed helicopter: "Its concept is not just high speed, it is a combination of many new features." The second project will be a light helicopter in the weight class of 1.5 to 2.5 tons. "Today we are working on the Mi-34, but it is not a helicopter of the future. Western equipment compels us to go one better," he said. Designers are not going to catch up with the Robinson company, but are aiming at an entirely new product with an advanced Russian engine. The third project concerns helicopter gunships. Russia is not going to upgrade the Night Hunter or Alligator, but will develop whole new systems of the fifth generation. Finally, there will be a project to develop a multi-role unmanned aerial vehicle.
Different versions of the Ka-32 successfully operate in Canada, Korea, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Japan and China. Contracts have been signed to supply Mi-24NPs to the Russian air force and Mi-35Ms to Venezuela. Work is under way on secret projects for security agencies.
Helicopters in Russia are a must, they provide transport services where there are no roads or waterways. According to the Industry and Trade Ministry, Russia has less than 14 civilian helicopters per one million of population, while in Canada the figure is 56; in the U.S., 40; and in Japan, 15.
Indonesia Navy Chief To Discuss Military Ties In Moscow
(NSI News Source Info) JAKARTA - October 21, 2008: Indonesia's navy chief of staff will start an official visit to Russia on Wednesday to discuss bilateral military-technical cooperation.
"The main purpose of my visit is to study Russia's shipbuilding capacity, both in terms of surface ships and submarines," Fleet Admiral Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno said Tuesday on the eve of his visit to Moscow.
Jakarta became a major weapons customer for Russia eight years ago when the United States slapped an arms embargo on the country over alleged human rights violations.
Washington has since lifted the ban, but Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, continues to turn to Russia for its military hardware imports.
In the fall of 2007, then Russian president Vladimir Putin reached an agreement with Indonesia's leadership on a $1 billion Russian loan for Indonesia to buy 22 helicopters, 20 tanks and two Kilo-class attack submarines from Russia. In addition, Jakarta said it would buy six Sukhoi aircraft worth a total of $335 million.
In late August, 2008, Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport and the Indonesian Defense Ministry had signed a $40 million contract for the delivery of 20 BMP-3F infantry fighting vehicles, to be made in 2010.
Indonesia is also negotiating a deal to buy Russian amphibious tanks.
"In addition, the Indonesian navy would like to make a separate purchase of Russian-made Yahont anti-ship missiles, which I hope will happen in the near future," Purdijatno said.
The admiral stressed the importance of strengthening military ties with Russia including in the sphere of naval cooperation.
"Our navies have developed good relations, but we would like to strengthen these ties with joint naval exercises and sending our naval personnel to study in Russia," he said.
Russian Warship Passes Through Suez On Way To Somalia Coast
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - October 21, 2008: A missile frigate from Russia's Baltic Fleet will pass through the Suez Canal on Tuesday en route to the Somalia coast to join an international naval group fighting sea piracy in the region, a senior Navy official said.
The Neustrashimy (Fearless) missile frigate left the main naval base in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad in late September and participated in joint drills with a Russian naval task force in the Mediterranean.
"The ship's task is to escort and protect Russian vessels or ships with Russian crewmembers on board from pirate attacks [off the Somali coast]," the source said.
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.
In the beginning of October, Somali Ambassador to Russia Mohamed Handule said his country's president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, had given permission for Russia's military to tackle pirates both 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. According to foreign estimates Somali pirates have seized more than 60 ships so far this year off the coast of the east African nation demanding a ransom in exchange for their release.
They recently hijacked a Ukrainian ship, the MV Faina, carrying at least 33 tanks and other heavy weaponry. Six U.S. warships are currently in the area around the Faina and are monitoring the situation.
Iranian Pilots Show Off Dogfighting Skills In War Games
(NSI News Source Info) Tehran, Iran - October 21, 2008: The Iranian Air Force started on Friday large scale combat drills in the northwest of the country with simulated dogfights, the IAF press service said in a statement.
Iran's domestically developed Saegheh fighter jet takes off for a test flight from Tehran's Mehrabad airport recently.
"Iranian fighters and bombers took off early on Friday from various airfields throughout the country and conducted a number of simulated dogfights. All the missions were well-organized and were performed successfully," the statement said.
Friday's war games also included missions performed by domestic Saegheh fighters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and reconnaissance aircraft.
The exercises are being held near Tabriz in Iran's East Azerbaijan Province to "demonstrate the might and combat readiness of Iran's Air Force."
They involve the entire range of Iran's fighter fleet, including U.S.-made F-4, F-5, F-7 and F-14 fighters and domestic Saegheh fighters. Mid-air refueling is provided by Boeing 707 aerial tankers.
The aircraft are flying simulated combat missions from air fields in Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz and Hamadan.
Iran has conducted several high-profile war games this year. The United States and Israel have consistently refused to rule out the possibility of military strikes against Iran over its refusal to halt its nuclear program.
Raytheon Receives Contract For Production Of Towed Decoys
(NSI News Source Info) Goleta CA - October 21, 2008: Raytheon has received a $24.3 million contract for continued production of its ALE-50 line of towed decoys.
The award by the U.S. Air Force Warner Robins Air Logistics Center represents the 12th production lot of ALE-50 equipment ordered for the Air Force and Navy.
The contract calls for 799 decoys for the Air Force and 249 for the Navy to be delivered through October 2010.
"The tradition of success of our towed decoy product line continues," said Roy Azevedo, manager of Raytheon's Electronic Warfare business area.
"Not only is ALE-50's operational performance unequaled, our record of on-time production is a model for program execution."
Russian Military Spending To Hit 50 Billion Dollars In 2009
(NSI News Source Info) Russia - October 21, 2008: Russia's military spending will reach 1.3 trillion rubles ($50 billion) in 2009, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Thursday.
Medvedev said that military spending should be maintained, adding that the defense budget been increased in accordance with his instructions.
Ivanov met with President Dmitry Medvedev ahead of the State Duma's second reading of the 2009-11 draft state budget.
"This is the total aggregate amount (1.3 trillion rubles) for 2009. I hope that the State Duma will approve this sum in its second reading tomorrow," Ivanov said.
He also said that following the events in the Caucasus, the targets had been reviewed and the defense budget for 2009 had been increased by 60 billion rubles ($2.3 billion), "in addition to the 20 billion rubles allocated for the establishment of two new military bases in South Ossetia and Abkhazia."
Medvedev said that military spending should be maintained, adding that the defense budget been increased in accordance with his instructions.
Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in August after Georgia launched a military offensive against South Ossetia in an attempt to regain control over the republic, which split from Georgia in the early 1990s.
Russia expects access to US defence shield in Czech Republic: reports
(NSI News Source Info) Moscow - October 21, 2008: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that Moscow expects to be given permanent access to parts of a US anti-missile shield to be installed in the Czech Republic, Russian news agencies said.
Last month Prague and Washington signed an agreement clearing the way for stationing US missile defence radar in the Czech Republic by around 2012.
"A non-permanent presence, meaning limited visits, changes nothing except to reinforce our suspicions," Lavrov said on arriving at the Armenian capital of Yerevan, where the Russian president is on a visit, the Ria Novosti news agency reported.
"We welcome the idea of a permanent Russian presence and a permanent check, both physical and technical, and this would assuage our fears," Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying.
Last month Prague and Washington signed an agreement clearing the way for stationing US missile defence radar in the Czech Republic by around 2012.
The radar would be paired with 10 interceptor missiles stationed in Poland with the aim of countering any missile threat from a "rogue" country, such as Iran.
Moscow has vehemently objected to the stationing of the missile defences in the former Soviet bloc countries, insisting that it could one day be turned against
(NSI News Source Info) October 21, 2008: Piasecki is preparing to modify the X-49A SpeedHawk for high-speed flight testing under a second phase, and the firm indicates that Capitol Hill and the Pentagon are signaling their support to keep pursuing the unique rotorcraft.
The company’s confidence has grown recently after a period of ambiguity over the sole prototype. CEO John Piasecki says U.S. Army funding is in place to begin work on Phase 2, while the Navy has signaled that it will allow Piasecki to push the X-49A beyond the SH-60F’s approved flight envelope (Aerospace DAILY, June 11).
According to the chief executive, lawmakers and defense officials have lined up at least $7.8 million for the effort in the near future - although the CEO maintains more will be needed. The company is aiming to exceed 200 knots once a third engine has been installed and the helicopter “cleaned up” by retracting the gear and fairing the rotor hub to cut drag.
The goal of Phase 1 was to validate that the X-49A was structurally capable of flying beyond the SH-60F’s approved limits, as well as initial verification of the performance benefits claimed for the compound helicopter. Piasecki says both objectives were met with a 47 percent speed increase on the same power and up to 50 percent lower vibration because lift and thrust is off-loaded from the rotor to the wing and Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP). (Video is available online at AviationWeek.com/ares.)
Piasecki estimates a production SpeedHawk - with its VTDP, wing and 650 shaft horsepower supplementary power unit - would weigh 1,750 pounds more empty than a UH-60L, but have a 500-pound greater useful load and almost three-times the combat radius. Cruise speed would be 205 knots compared with 140 knots for the UH-60L, while dash speed would reach 222 knots compared with 150 knots.
Greece Alters Its Defense Spending Priorities, Plans
(NSI News Source Info) October 21, 2008: Greece’s about face on half of its future fighter order, switching from a EUR 4.9 billion contract (about $5.8 billion) for 60 EADS Eurofighters to a roughly $2 billion contract for 30 F-16C/D Block 50/52s as a partial replacement for its old A-7 Corsair and F-4/RF-4 Phantom jets. Even so, defense ministry spokesman Stefanos Gikas has said that their ”...next order [in 2009] for fourth-generation jets will be reviewed by another military council meeting. It does not exclude any company from Europe or the U.S.” Possible contenders like Dassault (Rafale), EADS (Eurofighter), Lockheed (F-35 Lightning II), and Saab/BAE (JAS-39 Gripen) were all looking forward to that next phase.
Saab/BAE (JAS-39 Gripen)
Exactly when those jets might arrive is a subject of some debate, because Greece’s plans seem appear to be vacillating. By July 2006, with orders for new F-16s and Leopard tanks in hand, Greece’s Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) approved a EUR 11.39 billion procurement program for 2006-2010… and new fighters aren’t on the list. Or weren’t. Could that be changing, now that Turkey has committed to 100 F-35s? And what about the rest of Greece’s aviation and modernization plans?
In July 2006, Defense-Aerospace.com reported that the new equipment approved for purchase during 2006-2010 included:
*20 transport helicopters (likely to be more NH90s),
*6 frigates (rumored to be the French-Italian FREMM design)
*5 maritime patrol aircraft
*400 armored troop transport vehicles (Contract issued, Russian BMP-3s won)
Reports indicate that these orders will consume EUR 2.9 billion, while EUR 8.43 billion euros will go to pay for equipment ordered by the previous government. That doesn’t quite add, with notional FREMM frigate prices hovering in the $400-500 million per ship range and 20 NH90s likely to cost about EUR 1 billion, thus breaking the declared procurement budget all by themselves.
What is clear is that the next-tranche purchase of fourth generation fighter jets is postponed until the 2011-2015 armament program, which projects a funding increase to about EUR 15 billion. Should note that planning forecasts of future defense budget increases from future political administrations rarely arrive anywhere; they are usually either wishful military thinking, or a politician’s trick. An aging population and correspondingly rising social welfare concerns makes such increases especially unlikely to arrive in European countries.
Turkey would begin receiving F-35A Lightnings as of about 2015 if it remains in the program, which will add some pressure to the Greek political equation after that date. Note, however, that this makes it easy for a future administration to put off the next-tranche fighter purchase again in the 2011-2015 plan.
Ultimately, however, the question is how much modernization Greece’s military can afford, given the steep decline projected in its budgets and the recent global downturn.
Oct 15/08: Flight International files a series of reports concerning Greece’s air programs. Their purchase of 30 new F-16C/Ds on track, but the next tranche purchase of another 30+ fighters is facing delays, despite the priority placed on A-7 Corsair and F-4 Phantom II fighter replacement by the HAF. A potential change of government if elections are held in 2009 adds further uncertainty.
Replacement of Greece’s ancient T-2 Buckeye advanced jet trainers, which made their very last US Navy flight in 2008, is also on hold and has reportedly dropped in priority. Greece flies modern T-6B Texan II turboprop trainers, which can be armed and used for weapons training as well as intermediate to advanced flight training. Even so, they are not full lead-in fighter trainers like the Aermacchi M346, BAE Hawk Mk 128, or KAI/Lockheed T-50 jets. The question is how long the T-2s can be kept flying, and whether the HAF will end up having to use its 2-seat F-16Ds and Mirage 2000BGs as final trainers beyond its T-6Bs.
New multi-role maritime patrol aircraft will also be needed to replace Greece’s 4 serving P-3B Orions, with reports of EUR 250 million allocated as a high priority item, and an RFP expected in 2009.
On the rotary end, limited funds have been released to bring Greece’s CH-47D heavy transport helicopters to CH-47F standard, and replacement for Greece’s old H-1 Huey and AS332/532 Puma family transport helicopters is also reportedly on request. More NIH NH90s, AgustaWestland’s EH101, and Sikorsky’s H-92 Superhawk are all listed as potential candidates, though the NH90 would be the expected favorite due to commonality and industrial opportunities. Greece is also being pushed to make a decision regarding its 20 AH-64A Apache attack helicopters, and to commit to modernizing them to the AH-64D Block II standard at least. Flight International adds, cryptically:
The Greek army is awaiting the availability of 12 new AH-64D Apache Longbows that have been shipped to the country, but are the subject of an ongoing procedural problem. Boeing declines to provide further details.
May 28/08: Analyst Ioannis Michaletos claims that Greece may increase spending in the wake of Turkey’s decision to buy 100 F-35s, and buy its air force 4+ generation fighter jets after all. France is courting Greece heavily as a potential Rafale customer:
“The most recent reports out of Athens indicate that the incumbent government is going to procure some 40 4th generation fighter jets, with the Eurofighter Typhoon topping the list, and the French Rafale, manufactured by Dassault, also being looked at. Moreover, after 2012 Greece will order some 60 American Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) planes.”
Buying 100 jets could easily amount to a $10 billion purchase. Time will tell.