Thursday, December 11, 2008

U.K. Puts FRES Utility Vehicles on Hold

U.K. Puts FRES Utility Vehicles on Hold (NSI News Source Info) LONDON - December 12, 2008: The British government has terminated negotiations with General Dynamics UK over the provisional selection of its Piranha V armored vehicle to meet the utility variant element of the Future Rapid Effects Systems (FRES) program and switched its procurement priority to other vehicles.
The Piranha 5. (GENERAL DYNAMICS UK VIA MOD SITE) In a written Dec. 11 statement to Parliament outlining changes to the equipment program, Defence Secretary John Hutton said he was withdrawing the company's provisional preferred bidder status as the two sides had been unable to reach commercial agreement on a deal to supply the Piranha V design under the current procurement strategy. In other major developments, Hutton also announced the MoD is to delay delivery of two aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy by between one and two years pushing back the in-service dates of the first vessel to no earlier than 2015 and 2017. The British have been reviewing their equipment program commitments in the face of a yawning gap in the defense budget particularly in the early years of the spending plans for the next 10 years. Hutton, who has only been in his job since early October, also revealed that he had ordered a review of the progress in implementing the MoD's 2006 acquisition change program in order to seek recommendations to "secure better value for money in delivery of major acquisition programs." On the armored vehicle front, the defence secretary said the government now intends to restructure the FRES program to give priority to the introduction of a new tracked scout vehicle and the upgrade of the in-service Warrior infantry fighting vehicle. "We have concluded that, in the context of current operations, and bearing in mind the considerable recent investment in protected mobility, the highest priority should be accorded to delivering the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme and the FRES scout vehicle as quickly as possible," he said. The scout vehicle program is currently in the assessment phase to replace the aging CVR (T) vehicle. An in-service date is not expected until 2013 at the earliest. No vehicle has yet been selected, although MoD officials have looked at potential contenders from BAE Systems and General Dynamics. The British have acquired hundreds of heavily armored MRAP-type vehicles from the United States over the last two years to better protect British troops fighting in Afghanistan. The MoD and the Treasury reckon the purchases reduce the immediate need for a mobile, highly protected, vehicle like Piranha V. The minister said they were now looking at the best way to take the utility procurement forward. "General Dynamics [UK] will have an opportunity to compete in any future utility vehicle competition," he said. The British Army had intended to field the Piranha V in 2012 or 2013. General Dynamics was appointed as provisionally preferred bidder in May and has been in negotiations ever since to meet the terms of a complex MoD acquisition strategy that required the company to hand over the Piranha V design to a third-party vehicle integrator to complete development work and build the vehicle. From the outset, the company refused to hand over its design to potential rivals unless it received a continuing substantial role in the program. Rival companies BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin were vying with a General Dynamics team for the integrator role. In a statement, BAE, Britain's biggest land systems supplier, said the FRES move posed questions about the future size of its armored vehicle business here. "We are disappointed that the FRES utility vehicle will not be going ahead as planned and that we and our partners will not now have the opportunity to perform the integration and manufacturing roles," the company said. "We will clearly have to consider what this means for the size and shape of the Land Systems business in the near future, and we will want to engage with MoD to understand their plans for the armored vehicle sector in the longer term. We wish to achieve a mutual understanding with MoD about a coherent strategy for the sector, so we can deliver the capability our customer requires and sustain a profitable business in the sector for the long term." Last month, the company's land systems operation here laid off 200 people. Other Delays, Cuts As for the aircraft carriers, industry executives have been saying for months that the agreed in-service dates of 2014 and 2016 were hopelessly optimistic anyway. Hutton said the delays were being implemented to better bring into line the introduction of the aircraft carriers with the yet-to-be-purchased Joint Strike Fighters that are scheduled to deploy on them. He said it would have minimal impact on industry and jobs in the warship-building sector. BVT Surface Fleet, the lead company in the alliance created to build the two 65,000-ton warships, said the delay would not affect jobs at the company's yards in Glasgow and Portsmouth. Rather than stop work on the 3.9 billion pound ($5.8 billion) program, it seems the alliance will spin out construction to meet the new dates. It's also likely that plans to recruit large numbers of shipyard workers to meet carrier-building requirements will be put to one side. In a second change in naval procurement plans, Hutton announced that the MARS program to build a fleet of new tankers for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary have been deferred while the MoD looks at alternatives. BAE, along with design partners BMT Defence Services and the South Korean yard Daewoo Shipbuilding, had been competing with overseas yards to build a new fleet of tankers. Other changes included a cut of eight helicopters in the AgustaWestland program to build 70 Future Lynxes for the Army and the Navy. Those minor cuts are being offset by a 70 million pound urgent operational requirement program to upgrade 12 Mk9 Lynxes with a new engine to improve hot-and-high-altitude performance of the helicopter in Afghanistan. The first four upgraded Mk9s will be delivered in 2009 and the remainder in 2010. The British government has been criticized for its lack of helicopter lift in Afghanistan. Hutton said he was further boosting resources by moving AgustaWestland Merlins to Afghanistan once they had completed their mission in Iraq. The MoD announced earlier this week it expected to have substantially withdrawn its forces from Iraq by midyear. General Dynamics officials were unable to comment by press time.

Indian Government, Opposition Dub Pakistan 'Epicentre Of Terrorism'

Indian Government, Opposition Dub Pakistan 'Epicentre Of Terrorism' (NSI News Source Info) December 12, 2008: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and opposition leader L.K. Advani Thursday joined hands in a rare show of national unity in India's parliament to dub Pakistan as the 'epicentre of terrorism' for the Mumbai carnage and vowed to bring to justice the killers and their patrons.Pakistani police officers are seen next to a Jamaat-ud-Dawa office before sealing its door in Quetta, Pakistan, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008. Pakistan detained the leaders of a charity linked to militants suspected in the Mumbai attacks, banned the group and ordered its assets frozen Thursday. Authorities said they had closed nine premises associated with Jamat-ud-Dawa after it was declared a front for terrorists by the United Nations
A fortnight after 10 ruthless and well-armed terrorists sneaked into India's financial capital through the sea and ravaged Mumbai killing over 170 people, the Lok Sabha unanimously passed a resolution to denounce the 'terrorist elements from Pakistan' and declared that 'India shall not cease her efforts until the terrorists and those who have tained, funded and abetted them are exposed and brought to justice'. The mood of the lower house was clear from the time it convened in the morning to discuss the horrendous Mumbai terror attacks that killed 26 foreigners as well besides leading to the death of nine of the terrorists and the dramatic capture of one of them. Hours after Advani called upon the government not to shy away from naming Pakistan as the 'epicentre' of global terror, Manmohan Singh -- born in that country when it was still a part of India -- obliged. One political leader after another urged Indians to set aside their differences to take on and defeat terror. In his speech that was heard in rapt attention in the house, Manmohan Singh said: 'We have to galvanise the international community into dealing sternly and effectively with the epicentre of terrorism which is located in Pakistan.' 'The infrastructure of terrorism has to be dismantled permanently. This is for the good of the entire world community including the well being of the people of Pakistan themselves,' he added, his words betraying the continuing national anger and disgust over the Mumbai terror and killings. Both the prime minister and the new Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who earlier on gave a detailed account of the terrible agony Mumbai underwent, announced a slew of steps India has taken since the Nov 26-29 mayhem to beef up its security and intelligence machinery. These include a national investigation agency, new counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism schools as well as a coastal command for an effective monitoring of the 7,500 km of the country's winding coastline. And while Chidamabaram made it clear that it could not be 'business as usual' with Pakistan after the Mumbai siege, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee outlined New Delhi's diplomatic moves and options. He too maintained that the terrorists did come from Pakistan. 'We expect Pakistan to take some positive steps. It is for the Pakistan government to decide,' Mukherjee said. He said Pakistan needed to hand over 40 people New Delhi believes are behind militant attacks and other crimes in India but ruled out military action as a solution. India has blamed the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which experts say enjoys close ties with the Pakistani intelligence, for the Mumbai attacks. The Lashkar has resurrected itself as the Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD), which hours before the Indian parliament met was declared a terrorist outfit by the UN Security Council. Mukhejee asked Pakistan to move beyond 'mere expressions of intent' and dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism in its territory. 'Issues can't be ducked. Issues can't be sidelined.' He challenged the argument of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari that the Mumbai gunmen were 'non-state actors' over whom he had no control. 'Are non-state actors coming from heaven? Did they come from another planet?' Underlining global solidarity with India, the minister underlined that the Mumbai attack was part of global terror as it targeted and killed 26 foreigners. 'We should build up a campaign. This is not an India-Pakistan problem. This is part of global terrorism.' In his first speech since taking over as home minister Dec 1, Chidambaram, who is overseeing the investigation into the terror strike, said: 'Given the nature of the (terrorist) threats, we cannot go back to business as usual... The finger of suspicion unmistakably points to the territory of our neighbour Pakistan.' He emphasised the need to make the intelligence machinery 'effective' and 'result oriented'. In his speech, Advani -- who too was born in Pakistan -- cautioned the government against relying fully on the UN Security Council to bring the Mumbai killers to justice. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi said Mumbai was 'an attack on our nation'. 'It was an attack on the idea of India. They attacked the freedom of our people. They have attacked all of us.'
Additional Info: Related Topic
Crackdown hints at Faridkot-Mumbai link Dawn Special Report (NSI News Source Info) KARACHI - December 11, 2008: The targeting of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaatud Dawa and the rounding up of the activists belonging to the two jihadi organisations appear to have been triggered by information originating in India following the capture of one of the 10 men who attacked several targets in Mumbai towards the end of last month.
During the course of Dawn’s own investigations last week our reporters were able to locate a family who claimed to be the kin of the arrested young man in Mumbai.The sole survivor among the 10 attackers was named as Ajmal Kasab and was supposed to belong to the village Faridkot in the Punjab. Media organisations such as the BBC and now the British newspaper Observer have done reports trying to ascertain the veracity of claims appearing in the media that the young man had a home there.
On Friday last, the BBC reported unusual activity in Faridkot near Deepalpur. A BBC correspondent located a house in the village, the then inhabitants of which carried the surname of Kasab (or Qasab as the word is often spelt here). But the residents denied any link with either Ajmal or with any Amir Kasab, the name of Ajmal’s father as reported by some of the media.
At the weekend, the Observer in England claimed that it had managed to locate the house everyone was looking for so desperately. Its correspondent said he had got hold of the voters’ roll which had the names of Amir Kasab and his wife, identified as Noor, as well as the numbers on the identity cards the couple carried.
Even though the news stories by both BBC and the Observer made a mention of the LeT, some television channels in Pakistan suggested that a connection between Mumbai and Faridkot could not be established beyond a shadow of doubt.
However, the man who said he was Amir Kasab confirmed to Dawn that the young man whose face had been beamed over the media was his son.For the next few minutes, the fifty-something man of medium build agonized over the reality that took time sinking in, amid sobs complaining about the raw deal the fate had given him and his family.
“I was in denial for the first couple of days, saying to myself it could not have been my son,” he told Dawn in the courtyard of his house in Faridkot, a village of about 2,500 people just a few kilometres from Deepalpur on the way to Kasur. “Now I have accepted it.
“This is the truth. I have seen the picture in the newspaper. This is my son Ajmal.”
Variously addressed as Azam, Iman, Kamal and Kasav, the young man, apparently in his 20s, is being kept in custody at an undisclosed place in Mumbai.
Indian media reports ‘based on intelligence sources’ said the man was said to be a former Faridkot resident who left home a frustrated teenager about four years ago and went to Lahore.
After his brush with crime and criminals in Lahore, he is said to have run into and joined a religious group during a visit to Rawalpindi.Along with others, claimed the Indian media, he was trained in fighting. And after a crash course in navigation, said Amir Kasab, a father of three sons and two daughters, Ajmal disappeared from home four years ago.
“He had asked me for new clothes on Eid that I couldn’t provide him. He got angry and left.”
While Amir was talking, Ajmal’s two “sisters and a younger brother” were lurking about. To Amir’s right, on a nearby charpoy, sat their mother, wrapped in a chador and in a world of her own. Her trance was broken as the small picture of Ajmal lying in a Mumbai hospital was shown around. They appeared to have identified their son. The mother shrunk back in her chador but the father said he had no problem in talking about the subject.
Amir Kasab said he had settled in Faridkot after arriving from the nearby Haveli Lakha many years ago. He owned the house and made his earnings by selling pakoras in the streets of the village.
He modestly pointed to a hand-cart in one corner of the courtyard. “This is all I have. I shifted back to the village after doing the same job in Lahore.
“My eldest son, Afzal, is also back after a stint in Lahore. He is out working in the fields.”
Faridkot is far from the urbanites’ idea of a remote village. It is located right off a busy road and bears all the characteristics of a lower-middle class locality in a big city.
It has two middle-level schools, one for girls and the other for boys which Ajmal attended as a young boy. For higher standards, the students have to enroll in schools in Deepalpur which is not as far off as the word remote tends to indicate.
It by no means qualifies as Punjab’s backwaters, which makes the young Ajmal’s graduation to an international “fearmonger” even more difficult to understand. The area can do with cleaner streets and a better sewage system but the brick houses towards the side of the Kasur-Deepalpur road have a more organised look to them than is the case with most Pakistani villages.
The Observer newspaper reports that some locals seeking anonymity say the area is a hunting ground for the recruiters of LeT and provides the organisation with rich pickings.
The approach to Faridkot also points to at least some opportunities for those looking for a job. There are some factories in the surroundings, rice mills et al, interspersed with fertile land. But for the gravity of the situation, with its mellowed and welcoming ambience, the picture could be serene.
It is not and Amir Kasab repeats how little role he has had in the scheme since the day his son walked out on him. He calls the people who snatched Ajmal from him his enemies but has no clue who these enemies are. Asked why he didn’t look for his son all this while, he counters: “What could I do with the few resources that I had?”
Otherwise quite forthcoming in his answers, Amir Kasab, a mild-mannered soul, is a bit agitated at the mention of the link between his son’s actions and money. Indian media has claimed that Ajmal’s handlers had promised him that his family will be compensated with Rs150,000 (one and a half lakh) after the completion of the Mumbai mission.
“I don’t sell my sons,” he retorts.Journalists visiting Faridkot since Dawn reporters were at the village say the family has moved from their home and some relatives now live in the house. Perhaps fearing a media invasion, nobody is willing to say where the family has gone.

West Bank And Gaza Politically Unresolvable Disputes

West Bank And Gaza Politically Unresolvable Disputes
(NSI News Source Info) December 12, 2008: Hamas and Fatah are increasing persecution of their political opponents in the West Bank (where Fatah is dominant) and Gaza (where Hamas is in control). Getting the two factions to reconcile is getting nowhere. Israel is moving towards sending troops back into Gaza, as Hamas is building up a stockpile of long range rockets that could kill dozens of Israelis if ever fired.
This plan would involve handing control of Gaza over to Fatah, with Israeli troops available as back up. More Israelis are giving up on efforts to work out a peace deal with the Palestinians, who show no sign of backing off from their "Israel must be destroyed" attitudes (reinforced by decades of propaganda within the Palestinian community in particular, and the Arab community throughout the region in general.) This has led to Israeli extremists getting more violent.
This is most visible with the 300,000 Jewish settlers, who have established about a hundred communities in the West Bank, and are determined to drive the Arabs out of the area, which they believe to be part of "Greater Israel." This does not have popular support among a majority of Israelis, but the settlers and "Greater Israel" fans are carrying out more attacks on Palestinians and trying to terrorize the Arabs in the West Bank.
This is becoming an embarrassment for Israel, although the settlers point out that, no matter what you do, the Palestinians will never accept Israel. But the increased settler violence has forced the government to use more force to contain the more radical and out-of-control settlers. Since this sort of thing tends to make some of the radicals more radical, the prospect of Jewish terrorists becomes more of a reality. Already, the government is working on how to protect senior officials from Jewish radical assassins. Israel is trying to establish better relations with the West Bank Palestinians, despite the risk of creating more terrorists among Jewish settlers there. Thus the program of granting pardons to West Bank Palestinian terrorists continues, including the release of some terrorists from jail. But this is only going to work if the increasingly violent Jewish settlers can be curbed. Palestinian terrorists continue to violate the Gaza ceasefire, although Israeli countermeasures are catching more of the rocket launchers in the act, and killing some of them. Israeli keeps constant patrols of UAVs over northern Gaza, watching the most likely launching areas, and firing rockets at any Palestinian rocketeers they catch in the act. The rocket attacks have increased in the last month, with more than 200 fired.
This began in early November, when Gaza based terrorists responded violently to Israeli efforts to destroy tunnels the terrorists were digging under the security fence. These tunnels were to be used to ambush and kidnap Israeli soldiers. This is a major objective of the Gaza terrorists, as they know the Israelis will pay a huge ransom in these cases.

U.S. Army's CROWS Unbeatable Intelligent

U.S. Army's CROWS Unbeatable Intelligent
(NSI News Source Info) December 12, 2008: The remote control turret changed the battlefield more than you might think. It all began three years ago, when the U.S. Army realized that new remote control gun turret designs actually worked, and suddenly they could not get enough of them. The army ordered over 9,000 CROWS (common remotely operated weapon stations), but for a while could only get 15 a month. By the end of 2006, there were about a thousand CROWS in service by the end of the year. The main issue was that the enemy was no longer able to knock out the turret gunner, early in a firefight, and take away a lot of the vehicles firepower. Because of that, once the enemy opens fire, they are in trouble. The remote turret tends to begin delivering accurate fire right away, and is much more immune to enemy fire than a human gunner. If the vehicle is a Stryker, the enemy will soon find themselves dealing with half a dozen or so heavily armed infantry, who get out of the vehicle and come at the ambushers. Iraqis don't like that. They also don't like how some of the CROWS turret equipped vehicles will come after them. All those accurately aimed bullets coming their way, and no enemy soldiers in sight, is demoralizing. The idea for CROWS has been around for nearly half a century. Years of tinkering, and better technology, eventually made the remote control gun turret effective and dependable. CROWS is a real lifesaver, not to mention anxiety reducer, for troops who drive through bandit country a lot, and have a turret mounted gun (usually in a hummer). The guy manning the turret mounted machine-gun is a target up there, and too often, the bad guys get you. Not with CROWS. The gunner is inside the vehicle, checking out the surroundings on a computer monitor (with night vision and telephoto capabilities). CROWS also has a laser rangefinder built in, as well as a stabilizer mechanism to allow more accurate fire while the vehicle is moving. The CROWS systems cost about $260,000 each, and can mount a variety of weapons (M2 .50 caliber machine-gun, MK19 40-mm automatic grenade launcher, M240B 7.62mm machine-gun and M249 5.56mm squad automatic weapon). The accuracy of the fire, and uncanny speed with which the CROWS gun moves so quickly and deliberately, is due to something few officers expected. The guys operating these systems grew up playing video games. They developed skills in operating systems (video games) very similar to the CROWS controls. This was important, because viewing the world around the vehicle via a vidcam is not as enlightening (although a lot safer) than having your head and chest exposed to the elements, and any firepower the enemy sends your way. But experienced video gamers are skilled at whipping that screen view around, and picking up any signs of danger. Iraqis are amazed at how observant CROWS is. Iraqis tend to just wrote this off as another example of American "magic." Many Iraqis, especially the bad guys, get distressed while watching a CROWS turret being exercised by some video game addict inside the vehicle. That's because the most noticeable part of CROWS, as it swivels and "looks" around, is the machine-gun. Many Iraqis don't even recognize the vidcam and other sensors. They think the machine-gun is, well, sort of R2D2 with a bad attitude and a license to kill. Meanwhile, inside vehicles like the Stryker, the troops do feel like they are in another world. The Stryker is air conditioned, well equipped with electronics (including a sound system you can plug an iPod into) and a lot nicer than the nastiness outside.

First Type 45 Destroyer Handed Over to Britain's Ministry of Defence

First Type 45 Destroyer Handed Over to Britain's Ministry of Defence
(NSI News Source Info) December 12, 2008: Daring, the first of the Royal Navy's new powerful Type 45 class destroyers, was formally handed over to the MOD in a ceremony at the Scotstoun shipyard on the Clyde, Wednesday 10 December 2008.
The 7,500-tonne ship has now completed a range of stringent trials and tests and is due to sail to her home port of Portsmouth in January 2009 to undertake several months more of exhaustive trials and training before she is declared ready for operational service.
The construction of Daring has involved thousands of people at shipyards on the Clyde in Scotland and at Portsmouth, using factories and businesses across the UK.
Accepting the first-of-class from Prime Contractor, BVT Surface Fleet Ltd, MOD's Defence Equipment and Support Type 45 programme director, Dave Twitchin, said: "The Acceptance-off-Contract today of HMS Daring is by far the most exciting and formative milestone of the year. It is the culmination of an incredible amount of hard work by all those who have been involved in the programme, particularly in the past two years. HMS Daring has proved herself to be a highly capable ship and has delivered on all of her promises and more. The final phase of her sea trials under MOD control will test her even further".
"I have no doubt that she will come through with flying colours, and will become the hallmark of the modern Royal Navy and will go on to provide great service for many years to come."
Since being launched by the Countess of Wessex in 2006, Daring has been fitted with the world-beating Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS), designed to deal with multiple attacks by anti-ship missiles, and her long range and multi-function radars.
The ship is extremely versatile and a number of helicopters, including the Chinook, will be able to operate from her deck. As part of today's handover ceremony, Daring's Commanding Officer, Captain Paul Bennett OBE Royal Navy, raised the White Ensign as the ship's company marched on board. Captain Bennett said:
"Anyone who has sailed on HMS Daring will tell you that she is a truly magnificent ship.
"The Type 45 is an incredibly complex warship using cutting-edge technology throughout; around 80 per cent of the equipments used are new to service. It will provide a positive step-change in the UK's air defence capability and will be a vital part of the Royal Navy's future armoury."
Daring will be capable of undertaking a wide range of missions from combat to humanitarian and will be able to carry a significant number of extra people such as troops or evacuated personnel on board.
Top quality accommodation has been fitted so the crew can live and work in comfort. The ship also has her own hospital facilities complete with operating table.
The ship is powered by the WR21 Gas Turbine, enabling her to reach speeds of up to 29 knots (54 kilometres per hour). She has already successfully completed an extensive programme of rigorous sea trials demonstrating her capability as a world class air defence destroyer.
Daring will leave her home on the Clyde with a fully-trained crew, arriving into Portsmouth for the first time in January 2009.
-- Milestones for the Type 45 programme this year (2008) include:
1. In March the steel was cut on the sixth and final ship Duncan;
2. In June the first test-firing of the PAAMS successfully took place;
3. In November the fourth ship Dragon was launched on the Clyde;
4. The second ship, Dauntless, is currently at sea undergoing her first set of sea trials - her performance is promising to exceed that of her sister ship Daring. -- Other milestones in the Type 45 programme planned for 2009 are:
5. Daring's formal commissioning is planned for summer 2009;
6. Further sea trials for Dauntless;
7. Inaugural sea trials for the third Type 45, Diamond;
8. Final test-firings of PAAMS;
9. Launch of the fifth Type 45, Defender.
-- Interesting facts:
* Daring is affiliated with Birmingham and Guernsey.
* Two-and-a-quarter-million man-hours have been spent fitting out Daring.
* The hull structure is made of 2,800 tonnes of steel which is more than the weight of the Blackpool Tower. Approximately 40 tonnes of paint will have to be applied to cover an area of 100,000 square metres of steel.
* The PAAMS air defence missile is the size of a public telephone box, weighs two thirds as much as a small car, and from launch accelerates to a speed twice that of Concorde in under ten seconds. The missile's flight manoeuvres as it closes in on a target are ten times more severe than a human could withstand.
* Her 152-metre length is equivalent to more than 16 double decker buses and she is as high as an electricity pylon.
* Her onboard power plant can supply enough electricity to light a town of 80,000 people. Her fuel tanks have a volume equivalent to approximately half that of an olympic swimming pool.
* She contains 220 beds, 26 sofa beds, 22 single beds and has her own hospital facilities complete with operating table. She is fitted with one bath, 44 showers, 54 toilets and 100 wash basins.
* She is fitted with enough carpet to cover nearly two five-a-side football pitches.
* She has 404 phones (mainly internal) and is fitted with enough electrical cable to circle the M25 three times.

Navistar Wins Extra $362M for MRAP Vehicles

Navistar Wins Extra $362M for MRAP Vehicles
(NSI News Source Info) December 12, 2008: Navistar Defense LLC, Warrenville, Ill., is being awarded a $362,283,452firm fixed priced delivery order #0010 under previously awarded indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract (M67854-07-D-5032) for the procurement of Category I Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) vehicles with Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) upgrades for enhanced maneuverability with greater armor protection.
This delivery order will procure 400 Category I MRAP MaxxPro DASH vehicles to provide protection for U.S. Military personnel currently in theater. The MRAP vehicles are armored vehicles with blast resistant underbodies designed to protect the crew from mine blasts, fragmentary, and direct fire weapons.
Work will be performed in WestPoint, Miss., and work is expected to be completed by the end of May 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Analysis: Ukraine Aids China Carrier Plan

Analysis: Ukraine Aids China Carrier Plan
(NSI News Source Info) by Andrei Chang, Hong Kong - December 12, 2008: The People's Republic of China has been sending military personnel to the former Soviet republic of Ukraine to learn how the country trains its aircraft carrier pilots, in preparation for the aircraft carrier battle group it eventually plans to build. According to a source in the Ukrainian military industry, China first sent a large naval delegation, headed by the deputy chief of the People's Liberation Army navy, to visit the Ukrainian navy aviation force training centers in the southern port cities of Odessa and Sevastopol in October 2006.
The Chinese visited the Research Test and Flying Training Center at Nitka on the Crimean peninsula, and the two sides discussed the possibility of Ukraine helping to train China's navy aviation force and aircraft carrier pilots, the source said. Since then, Chinese engineers, pilots and naval technical experts have made frequent visits to Nitka.
The focus of much of China's current military cooperation with the Russian Federation and Ukraine is on producing large aircraft and an aircraft carrier. Ukraine has provided China with a prototype of its T-10K shipborne fighter. By dissecting the T-10K -- an earlier variant of the Sukhoi Su-33 fighter -- China hopes to acquire the capability to independently develop its own shipborne fighters.
The single T-10K that China purchased from Ukraine originally was based at the Nitka center, which is equipped with a range of simulators to train pilots in jump takeoffs, arresting landings and contingency responses. The training modules simulate the release of the arresting hook on takeoff and its use on landing at a speed of 155 miles per hour.
The Nitka center previously trained a generation of Soviet pilots on the Sukhoi Su-33 and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K fighters. Now the 297th Fighter Regiment of the Russian navy aviation force is undergoing training there.
As this author reported earlier for United Press International, China has imported four sets of aircraft carrier landing assistance equipment and arresting hooks. The Chinese are in the process of building their own aircraft carrier training base, which is why they have been so keenly interested in Nitka's simulators, training software, management procedures and technologies.
The training of aircraft carrier fighter pilots is a crucial step in putting together an aircraft carrier fleet. The training program is extremely harsh. According to the Ukrainian source, the most basic training for short-distance takeoffs, landings and ski-jumps would take at least six months.
Ukraine was once the main training center for the Soviet Union's aircraft carrier fighter pilots. It now intends to train navy pilots not only for China but also for India and other countries that aspire to possess aircraft carriers, a source from Nitka told United Press International.
The Indian navy is in the process of purchasing an aircraft carrier from Russia, as well as Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29K and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29UBK fighters, the first batch of which is expected to be delivered to India by the end of the year -- already a year later than scheduled. The pilots for those fighters most likely will be trained at Nitka.
China's dealings with Ukraine reconfirm that the People's Liberation Army navy is moving forward on its aircraft carrier project. The Chinese carrier apparently is based on a Russian design; otherwise China would not be interested in Ukraine's simulators. This means China's aircraft carrier very likely will adopt the Russian methods of ski-jump takeoff and landing.
China has also taken practical steps to build an aircraft carrier training base. The first step is to train shipborne fighter pilots at this base, followed by basic short-distance takeoff and landing training on the disabled Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag that China purchased in 1998.Sources from the Ukrainian military industry have confirmed to United Press International on several occasions that the Varyag is unlikely to be restored to an operational fighter aircraft carrier, and most likely will be used only as a training platform.
Although the ship was purchased by a Hong Kong company ostensibly to be converted into a casino, Ukrainian sources told United Press International that they were aware of China's intentions from the beginning to use it for military purposes. The aircraft carrier, repainted with the colors of the PLA navy, is now in the Chinese port city of Dalian.

US Top Brass Fed Up With F-22 Problems

US Top Brass Fed Up With F-22 Problems (NSI News Source Info) Washington - December 12, 2008: The top US military officer raised doubts Wednesday over the future of the costly F-22 fighter jet program, noting that the economic downturn could force the Pentagon to make budget cuts. The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor, conceived during the Cold War, is considered by its critics -- including Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- to be ill-adapted for use in irregular conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan. "It's important for all of us -- in the Defense Department too -- to squeeze our budgets, to draw in where we can," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen told reporters at the Pentagon. "I'm obviously discouraged by the lack of cost control that we've got in so many of our programs," Mullen said. "We are going to have to get a grip on that or we will not be able to buy them." Concerning the F-22, "it's not a matter of, do we need it? We have it," said Mullen. "It's a question of, how many do we need for the future?" "I am concerned that it is such an expensive system," he said, adding that the Air Force is seeking another 60 above the 183 F-22s they currently have. The program has already cost more than 65 billion dollars -- each F-22 costs 350 million dollars. Top US air force officials however defend the program by saying the fighter jets are well adapted for use against potential US rivals such as China. Key members of Congress are also reluctant to end the program, as it is the source of thousands of jobs across the United States. "I think ... in the aviation world, our future is in the Joint Strike Fighter," Mullen said. He was referring to the Lockheed Martin F-35, designed to replace the F-16 fighter, widely used in the Air Force. But the program, which also involves several other countries, also suffers from delays and over costs. The Pentagon plans to buy some 2,400 Joint Strike Fighters through 2027.

Italy Plans Temporary Increase In Afghan Force

Italy Plans Temporary Increase In Afghan Force (NSI News Source Info) Rome - December 12, 2008: Italy will temporarily increase its number of troops in Afghanistan by 500 next year in the face of a "delicate operational situation" in western Herat province, the government said on Wednesday. "The commitments we have made within NATO demand that our contingent in Afghanistan reach the figure of 2,800 for six months in 2009," Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa told the Senate defence and foreign affairs committees. La Russa said the increase would respect the ceiling of 2,600 set by parliament for the deployment because it refers to an average over a 12-month period. The defence minister was speaking the day after meeting with visiting US General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, who said he favoured a US troop surge in Afghanistan. Petraeus said he had "already made recommendations" for an almost doubling of the US force based on requests from General David McKiernan, the top commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. NATO currently has some 50,000 troops in Afghanistan spread across the country with many of the Italians based in Herat which border Iran.

Charles de Gaulle....French Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier

Charles de Gaulle....French Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier
(NSI News Source Info) December 12, 2008: Charles de Gaulle (R91) is the only serving French aircraft carrier and is the flagship of the French Navy (Marine Nationale). She is the tenth French aircraft carrier, the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel, and the first nuclear-powered carrier built outside of the United States Navy. She is named after French statesman and general Charles de Gaulle. (The French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, is afloat again after undergoing a 15-month refit and upgrade) The ship carries a complement of Dassault Rafale M and E-2C Hawkeye, as well as modern electronics and Aster missiles. She is the second largest European carrier, after the Admiral Kuznetsov. It is a CATOBAR-type carrier that uses the same catapult system as that installed on the US Nimitz class carriers, the 75 m C13-3 steam catapult.

SOCOM to Mount Hellfire Missiles on Hummingbird

SOCOM to Mount Hellfire Missiles on Hummingbird (NSI News Source Info) December 11, 2008: U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is planning to mount Hellfire missiles on, strengthen the skin of, and add redundant flight controls to prototype versions of the A160T Hummingbird UAV, said U.S. Army Maj. Scott Beal, SOCOM Hummingbird program manager. Hummingbird maker "Boeing is completing a design to mount Hellfires on the rotocraft's stub wings at the beginning of January," Beal said at the 2008 Army Aviation Association of America Unmanned Aircraft Symposium in Arlington, Va. SOCOM is testing seven prototypes purchased in 2005 as part of a technology demonstration phase slated to continue through March. In August, officials tested the UAV's ability to exchange data with One System Remote Video Terminal, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, and Enhanced Position Location Reporting System, Beal said. The Hummingbird is a 35-foot, 5,500-pound UAV that can carry a 500-pound sensor payload and fly up to 142 knots. It has flown unrefueled for 18.7 hours with a 347-pound payload of electro-optical/infrared sensors, Beal said. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launched the program in 1998. In October 2007, DARPA awarded Boeing $6.3 million for additional Hummingbird development and testing. If the Hummingbird becomes an official program of record, it would enter service 2012, Beal said.

Pentagon Approves Iraq Sales Worth Up To $6 Billion

Pentagon Approves Iraq Sales Worth Up To $6 Billion
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON – December 11, 2008: The U.S. Defense Department on Wednesday said it had approved the sale to Iraq of weapons valued at up to $6 billion, including 400 Stryker wheeled vehicles, military radios, training aircraft, 20 coastal patrol boats and 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks. The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees major foreign arms sales, said it had notified Congress this week about eight separate arms sales agreements with the Iraqi government.
Lawmakers now have 30 days to block the sales, although such action is rare since such large agreements are usually vetted well ahead of time. The largest of the agreements, valued at up to $2.16 billion, is for 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks, 8 M88A2 tank recovery vehicles, 64 armored Humvees, shelter carriers and other military vehicles. (400 Stryker wheeled vehicles ordered for Iraqi army) The prime contractors for the vehicle sales would be General Dynamics Corp (GD.N), Honeywell International (HON.N), and General Motors Corp (GM.N). The Iraqi government also requested the sale of 400 M1126 Stryker infantry carrier vehicles and associated equipment valued at up to $1.11 billion, the agency said. General Dynamics is the main contractor for that deal as well. Another big-ticket arms sale involves 20 30-35-meter coastal patrol boats and 3 55-60 meter offshore support vessels, a deal valued at up to $1.01 billion, if all options are exercised, the Pentagon agency said. It said no principal contractor had been identified yet for the patrol boats and support vessels, but the acquisition would be subject to U.S. defense sourcing requirements. Iraq also asked to buy 26 Bell Armed 407 Helicopters with engines built by Rolls-Royce (RR.L). DSCA said the principal contractors also had not been identified. The helicopters are built by Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron Inc (TXT.N). The arms sales also include up to $148 million in rifles, carbines and grenade launchers; and up to $210 million in 20 T-6A Texan training aircraft built by privately held Hawker Beechcraft, but including other equipment built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) and a unit of L-3 Communications Holdings Inc (LLL.N). Iraq had also requested the sale of 36 AT-6B Texan II aircraft and associated equipment, a deal valued at up to $520 million. Hawker Beechcraft, Pratt & Whitney and L-3 would be the prime contractors for that deal as well. The Pentagon also said it had approved the 64 deployable rapid assembly shelters and a wide array of military radio equipment under an agreement valued at up to $485 million, and for which the primary contractors would be ITT Corp (ITT.N) and Harris Corp (HRS.N).

VUIT-2 Connects Apaches, UAVs

VUIT-2 Connects Apaches, UAVs
(NSI News Source Info) December 11, 2008: U.S. Army Apache pilots can view video in real time from nearby UAVs, thanks to VUIT-2 (Video from UAS for Interoperability Teaming Level II), a new Lockheed Martin datalink that connects helicopter cockpits with ground terminals, service officials said at the 2008 Unmanned Aerial Systems Symposium in Arlington, Va. "I think this is an evolutionary step in the war fighting capability. The concept of VUIT-2 integrates with the OSRVT [One System Remote Video Terminal], so whatever that system can see, the Apache can now see inside the cockpit. The range we have now is 40-plus kilometers," said Lt. Col. Robert Johnston, project manager for Longbow Apaches. "Now with UAVs giving us constant situational awareness, we can own the day and night and not even be at the site where the enemies are. So guys are never going to know when they are going to get attacked."
A AH-64D equipped with VUIT-2 flies over Fort Rucker, Ala. UAS video is displayed in the cockpit on the Apache Longbow’s Multi-Purpose Display, and Apache Longbow sensor video can be transmitted to Soldiers on the ground
VUIT-2 also allows ground controllers to see imagery from the Apache's sensors, including the high-resolution infrared targeting sensor called Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight (MTADS). "The field likes the ability to have the MTADS video sent back to the TOC," or Tactical Operations Center, Johnston said. "Instead of an Apache trying to describe to a ground commander what he sees on the ground, he just shoots a picture of full motion video of what is going on. So you don't have to spend five or ten minutes getting a full situational brief." Army officers say the VUIT-2 is already making a difference. "It allows the person on the ground to receive a video feed from the gun camera and see what the Apache crew is seeing," said Maj. Hilton Nunez, aviation director.

Britain Deploys Paveway IV in Afghanistan

Britain Deploys Paveway IV in Afghanistan
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON - December 11, 2008: British Royal Air Force Harrier GR9s are using a new precision-guided bomb against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. The weapon has been operationally deployed since November, but the Ministry of Defence only officially declared the Raytheon-built Paveway IV as having entered service Dec. 10. At 500 pounds, the Paveway IV is half the size of the Enhanced Paveway II used by the British Harrier and Tornado GR4 fleets. The guided bomb has already been used against insurgent forces in Afghanistan, an MoD spokesman confirmed. Paveway IV is capable of being targeted by GPS or laser guidance. At 500 pounds, the warhead is half the size of the Enhanced Paveway II used by the British Harrier and Tornado GR4 fleets. The bomb should have been in service last year, but its introduction was dogged by problems in developing a new fuze. The U.K. arm of Raytheon was awarded a 140 million pound ($207.47 million) contract in December 2003 to develop and build Paveway IV. A further 150 million pounds is accounted for by integration work on the Harrier, Tornado and Typhoon. After several years of deployment, the Harriers are due to be replaced in Afghanistan next spring by Royal Air Force Tornado strike aircraft. Work is being accelerated via an urgent operational requirement to integrate Paveway IV onto the Tornado to ensure there won't be a gap in capability as the new aircraft type deploys. Originally, the MoD was aiming to have the weapon available on board the Tornado in 2011, followed by the Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft when it eventually comes into service. In a statement released Dec. 10, Defence Procurement Minister Quentin Davis said the weapon's "sophisticated guidance system and sensors will give new levels of flexibility to our pilots, allowing them to switch targets midflight and rapidly respond to changing factors on the ground."