Friday, January 30, 2009

France To Pull 2,100 Troops From Africa

France To Pull 2,100 Troops From Africa
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS - January 30, 2009: France will withdraw 2,100 troops from Ivory Coast and Chad this year, out of a total 13,290 personnel deployed overseas, intending to save from 100 million euros to 150 million euros ($130.0 million to $196.3 million), the government said. Foreign deployments cost 857 million euros last year, up from 685 million euros in 2007, Defense Ministry figures show. French Prime Minister François Fillon told the lower house National Assembly in a Jan. 28 debate on foreign military operations that "at least 1,000" of 1,650 French soldiers deployed in the European Union Eufor contingent would be pulled out by the summer. The United Nations takes over the mandate for the multinational force deployed on the border of Congo and Chad on March 15. France was a prime mover in getting the European Union to commit troops alongside African Union forces along the Chadian border to protect refugees from the Darfur province. Reduced conflict and the prospect of elections in Ivory Coast meant France could pull some troops out of the West African country, Fillon said. Defense Minister Hervé Morin said in an interview with daily newspaper France Soir on Jan. 28, "The idea in 2009 is to move toward a 20 percent reduction. We could cut numbers from 13,000 to 10,000," he said. Lower numbers abroad could save from 100 million euros to 150 million euros a year, he said. Troop strength in Afghanistan would be maintained, and Morin ruled out a force increase as requested by U.S. President Barack Obama. "This subject is not up for debate," Morin said. "There is no plan to send new French troops to Afghanistan." Other withdrawals could come from Bosnia and Kosovo, he said. The white paper on defense and national security set out the guidelines for foreign intervention, including: * Seriousness of threat to national security or international peace and security. * Consideration of other measures. * Respect for international rule of law. * Sovereign appreciation by French political authorities, freedom of action and capacity to assess the situation at all times. * Democratic legitimacy, implying transparency of goals and support of the nation, as expressed by parliament. * Capacity to commit French troops at a sufficient level, national control and a political strategy seeking a lasting settlement of the crisis. * Definition of the commitment in space and time, with a precise evaluation of cost. Because the deployments are not fully funded by the general budget, money has traditionally been used from the equipment investment account.

Pakistani PM: Most Of Tribal Areas 'Cleared Of The Terrorists'

Pakistani PM: Most Of Tribal Areas 'Cleared Of The Terrorists' Author: Bill Roggio
(NSI News Source Info) January 30, 2009: Pakistan's prime minister and his closest adviser have claimed success against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal areas. Both men also vowed to wrest control of the district of Swat from extremist control. But reports from the region paint a less optimistic picture. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani said the Taliban and al Qaeda have largely been driven from much of the tribal areas. “We are genuinely attacking the targets and the most areas have already been cleared of the terrorists,” Gilani told the international media at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He also claimed al Qaeda operatives are no longer present inside Pakistan. Rehman Malik, Gilani's adviser on internal Pakistani security issues, also provided an upbeat assessment of the situation in the tribal areas. He claimed the Pakistani military has been successful in driving the Taliban from much of the tribal areas, including the Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold of Bajaur. "We took action against them and in Bajaur, we arrested dozens of Afghan Taliban, Uzbek and Chechen nationals from there and succeeded to retake about 98 percent control of the area,” Malik said during a briefing to the Pakistani Senate. Malik also claimed the Taliban would soon be driven from the settled district of Swat, where Mullah Fazlullah's forces are in control and have declared a radical version of sharia, or Islamic Law. The “situation in Swat would be resolved soon and we would soon get deliverance from terrorists,” Malik said. Earlier this week, the Pakistani military launched its third attempt to drive off the Taliban from Swat in two years. Malik claimed that the military has executed a "strategy shift" and now controls Swat's main town of Mingora "and some important pockets." Malik would not provide details on this shift in strategy.
Taliban presence, by district and tribal agency, the Northwest Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies. Information on Taliban presence obtained from open source and derived by The Long War Journal based on the presence of Taliban shadow governments, levels of fighting, and reports from the region. Map created by Bill Raymond for The Long War Journal. While Gilani and Malik touted the successes in the tribal areas and Swat, the situation in these regions is far worse than portrayed. The tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan remain Taliban bastions, dotted with al Qaeda training camps. The military has negotiated peace agreements with the powerful Haqqani, Mehsud, Bahadar, and Nazir Taliban factions in these agencies. The Taliban recently declared sharia law in the agencies of Bannu and Arakzai, where they run effective parallel governments. The military has recently fought heavy battles with the Taliban in Arakzai and Mohmand but have failed to dislodge the extremist forces. The Taliban and allied anti-Shia terror groups also control much of the Kurram tribal agency. The Shia are located in pockets in and around the town of Parachinar. Military forces based there will not intervene to end the sectarian wars. In Khyber, Taliban forces have laid siege to NATO's supply lines moving through the Khyber Pass. The attacks have forced the government to shut down the strategic road to Kabul four times over the past five months. Three military operations have failed to dislodge the Taliban, who control nearly all of the agency. And in Bajaur, where Rehman claimed the government has defeated the Taliban, after six months of brutal fighting reminiscent of World War I trench warfare, the Taliban remain active. Some of the Taliban forces simply withdrew to the neighboring Mohmand tribal agency, the settled districts of Dir, Malakand, and Swat, or across the border in Afghanistan's Kunar province. Taliban commander Faqir Mohammed and his senior commanders have evaded the operation. Outside of the tribal agencies and Swat, the Taliban control or have a strong influence in 15 of the Northwest Frontier Province's settled districts. The Taliban run the show in Tank, Bannu, and Hangu. The government negotiated peace deals with the Taliban in Lakki Marwat, Malakand, and Dir. The Taliban have savaged shipping terminals that serviced NATO supply convoys in the provincial capital of Peshawar. The military has launched multiple operations to eject the Taliban since September, but these have been unsuccessful. The Taliban have murdered and kidnapped foreign dignitaries and aid workers in the city. Last week, Qari Hussain, a Taliban commander who runs suicide camps for children in South Waziristan, openly held a press conference in Peshawar. The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan's main council appointed a commander for Peshawar and nearby Mardan. Charsadda and Kohat have been the scenes of violent battles and devastating suicide attacks. The Taliban laid siege to the Kohat Tunnel, the vital north-south link between Peshawar and the southern districts and agencies, several times during 2008. The tunnel was shut down for more than one month late last summer. One of the largest suicide attacks in Pakistan took place in a mosque in Charsadda. The Taliban have also crushed tribal opposition in Dir, Buner, Swat, Khyber, Aurakzai, and Mohmand. Meanwhile, the Taliban and al Qaeda operate more than 150 terror camps in the northwest. Covert US airstrikes have killed seven senior al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan's tribal areas since January 2008. Senior al Qaeda operatives and leaders remain in the northwest despite the US airstrikes and the uncoordinated Pakistani military operations that have failed to put pressure on the Taliban's stranglehold of the northwest.

Russian, Italian Navies Hold Exercises In Ionian Sea

Russian, Italian Navies Hold Exercises In Ionian Sea
(NSI News Source Info) SEVASTOPOL - January 30, 2009: Russia's Black Sea Fleet flagship the guided-missile cruiser Moskva and Italy's destroyer the Andrea Doria held one-day drills in the Ionian Sea in the Strait of Messina on Friday, the Black Sea Fleet said. On Thursday all details of the joint exercises were coordinated on board the Russian cruiser. "The ships practiced elements of joint maneuvering, signaling, communications and joint actions on detecting surface targets. Ship-based helicopters from the two vessels were used in the exercises," the fleet press service said. The Russian cruiser's three-day unofficial visit to Messina port that ended today was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Messina earthquake and Russia's participation in the international relief efforts. The Messina quake with an estimated magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale was followed by a tsunami that struck many coastal cities with 40-foot (12-meter) waves, causing more destruction. The earthquake and tsunami killed two-thirds of the city's then-150,000 population.

Pakistan Navy To Acquire UAVs, Early Warning Aircraft

Pakistan Navy To Acquire UAVs, Early Warning Aircraft
(NSI News Source Info) KARACHI - January 30, 2009: Pakistan Navy will soon acquire Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to strengthen its air fleet, according to Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir.
Speaking on Thursday at a ceremony marking the induction of a Fokker aircraft and commissioning of the T-56 Engine Test Bench at the Pakistan Navy Aviation Base, PNS Mehran, Admiral Bashir described the induction of Z-9 helicopters, AEWs, UAVs and P-3Cs as a “force multiplier” for the navy’s fleet of aircraft.
The Harbin Z-9 is a Chinese military utility helicopter. It is a license-built version of the French Eurocopter Dauphin, and is manufactured by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation. The first Z-9 flew in 1981, and was built in China from components supplied by Aérospatiale, but by the early 1990s the Z-9B was being built from over 70% indigenous Chinese components. On 16 January 1992, indigenous variant Z-9B was constructed with 70% Chinese-made parts flew successfully. The flight test completed in November 1992, with design certificate being certified later next month. The Z-9B production began in 1993, entering PLA service in 1994.
To enhance the “subsurface defence capability”, he said, a contract would be signed soon for the German-origin Type-214 submarines.
Commander of Naval Aviation Commodore Adnan Nazir said the Fokker, being a versatile aircraft, would serve to augment the operational capabilities of the fleet. The setting up of the T-56 Engine Test Bench was a step towards self-reliance as it would be used for overhauling and maintaining P-3C aircraft, he added.
Admiral Bashir, who is Pro-Chancellor of the Bahria University, formally launched the varsity’s medical and dental college.
The college is affiliated with the PNS Shifa hospital and is recognised by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council. The college will initially admit 100 students on merit.Admiral Bashir thanked the administration of Altamash Dental Institute for their cooperation in establishing the college. He expressed the hope that the college would impart quality education, thereby helping to improve medical facilities in the country.
The rector of the university, Vice-Admiral (retd) Farooq Rashid, spoke about the teaching methods adopted by the college.
The principal of the college, Dr Tipu Sultan, said the country only had 79 medical colleges and universities, of which 50 were in the private sector. He said his college would soon have its own campus near PNS Shifa hospital.

Bombardier Delivers First Bombardier 415MP Amphibious Aircraft To Malaysia

Bombardier Delivers First Bombardier 415MP Amphibious Aircraft To Malaysia
(NSI News Source Info) January 30, 2009: Bombardier Aerospace announced that Malaysia’s coast guard agency, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), has taken delivery of the first of two Bombardier 415MP amphibious aircraft ordered by the Malaysian government in June 2008. The Malaysian government is the launch customer in Asia for the specialized Bombardier 415MP aircraft. Present at an official ceremony held in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, was Datuk Seri Najib, Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia; Datuk Amdan, Director General, MMEA; and Mr. Michel Bourgeois, President, Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft, Bombardier Aerospace. The Bombardier 415 is a Canadian amphibious aircraft purpose-built as a water bomber. It is the only aircraft designed and built specifically for aerial firefighting and is based on the company's CL-215. It is marketed in the United States as the "Superscooper." A variant of the rugged Bombardier 415 amphibious aircraft – the only aircraft specifically designed for aerial firefighting – the Bombardier 415MP amphibious aircraft will be modified for maritime surveillance capabilities to meet the specialized needs of the MMEA. The first Bombardier 415MP aircraft delivered to Malaysia will be equipped with a state-of-the-art surveillance suite that includes two side-looking airborne radars, one forward-looking infrared radar, an airborne maritime surveillance system and other avionics and communications equipment. “Bombardier Aerospace is proud to deliver its first Bombardier 415MP aircraft to Malaysia. We are confident this hardworking aircraft, with its multi-purpose capabilities, will prove a worthy tool in Malaysia’s efforts to patrol its extensive waterways and to enhance its search and rescue missions,” said Michel Bourgeois, President, Specialized and Amphibious Aircraft, Bombardier Aerospace. “The aircraft’s ability to fly at low speed and low altitude with great maneuverability, and to execute direct interventions on water, makes it an ideal aircraft for coastal patrol missions. It is a very capable and cost-effective aircraft, able to carry out a multitude of specialized missions that previously required dedicated vessels and aircraft.” The multi-purpose Bombardier 415MP aircraft can be used in a variety of specialized missions such as search and rescue, environmental protection, coastal patrol and transportation. It is fitted with sophisticated sensors to locate and identify vessels, people in distress and pollutants. Since delivery of the first Bombardier 415 aircraft in 1994, Bombardier Aerospace has delivered 69 Bombardier 415 aircraft, including three Bombardier 415MP aircraft, to Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Ontario, Québec and Spain, with 42 aircraft in operation in the Mediterranean region alone. About BombardierA world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2008, were $17.5 billion US, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at Bombardier, Bombardier 415 and Bombardier 415MP are registered and/or unregistered trademarks of Bombardier Inc.,or its subsidiaries.

F-16 Seen As Still Competitive, Has Backlog Of 215 Orders / Lockheed Martin's F-16 Still Competitive In Fighter Market

F-16 Seen As Still Competitive, Has Backlog Of 215 Orders / Lockheed Martin's F-16 Still Competitive In Fighter Market
(NSI News Source Info) NEWTOWN, Conn. - January 30, 2009: The Lockheed Martin F-16 has been continually upgraded since production began decades ago, and the latest Block 50/52 and Block 60/E/F variants remain highly capable and affordable multirole fighters. Lockheed Martin received an order from Morocco at the end of 2007, snatching the 24-aircraft order away from Dassault's Rafale in a last minute effort.
Lockheed Martin is able to be aggressive on pricing the F-16, and as in prior years the purchase of F-16s is one way of increasing a nation’s ties with the American defense establishment.
The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force. Designed as a lightweight fighter, it evolved into a successful multirole aircraft. The Falcon's versatility is a paramount reason it has proven a success on the export market, having been selected to serve in the air forces of 25 nations. The F-16 is the largest Western jet fighter program with over 4,400 aircraft built since production was approved in 1976.
Other recent customers include Turkey, which executed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for 30 aircraft during 2007 (consisting of 14 single-seat C models and 16 two-seat Ds). The Turkish aircraft will be assembled and delivered by TUSAS beginning in 2011. The new aircraft will replace about half the TuAF's elderly F-4 fleet in the near term as the service waits for the new Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II to arrive on the scene.
Greece ordered 30-unit Block 52+ F-16s in December 2005, but the Greek government later announced that it would not be exercising a 10-aircraft option under the deal and would be looking elsewhere to fill an ongoing requirement for another 30 fighters.
The Pakistani Air Force has ordered 18 new fighters through the Pentagon's Foreign Military Sales program at the end of 2007. The order is part of a bigger deal to upgrade the PAF's existing fleet of A/B model F-16s. Pakistan took an option to purchase an additional 18 fighters under the deal. Pakistan may exercise these options, but funding the purchase will be difficult at the same time the PAF is purchasing large numbers of Chengdu FC-1s. Ongoing political turmoil in the country could also cause further deliveries of F-16s to be blocked by the U.S. government. Israel noted back in mid-2005 that it was considering additional purchases F-16 fighters if the F-35 program were to suffer further delays. Israel has also made noises about cutting its requirement for F-35s than expected.
Taiwan has long been expected to order 66 F-16s as part of an effort to recapitalize a portion of its fighter fleet, but domestic political wrangling has held up the process, along with the Bush administration's seeming ambivalence to the deal. Washington is currently looking to China to cooperate on a number of security issues, including efforts to end the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. The Taiwanese Air Force's plan to order 66 new F-16s will likely never reach fruition.
The F-16 also is in the running for a potentially huge order by the Indian Air Force, which issued a long-awaited Request for Proposals in August 2007 to fill a requirement for 126-200 new multirole fighters. The Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft program is intended to replace many of the service's elderly MiG-21s. Competing against the F-16 are the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the Dassault Rafale, the MiG-35, and the Saab Gripen. Among the Western-built aircraft, the F-16 and Gripen are single-engined fighters that provide a “low-cost” alternative to the heavier, twin-engined Super Hornet and Rafale. The MiG-35 is a follow-on to the MiG-29, which is already in service with the IAF.
The RFP was not made available to the public, and it is not clear from the outside what factors the IAF considers most important in selecting a new fighter. In making its selection, India can be expected to be wary of offending long-time supplier Russia, but the nation is currently in a period of warming relations with the U.S. government, and U.S. recognition of India's right to develop its nuclear facilities may be rewarded by a large aircraft purchase.
Elsewhere, Lockheed Martin notes that “several customers” are showing high interest in the F-16E/F (formerly the Block 60 model developed for the United Arab Emirates), but many nations that would offer the best prospects for a new order are the same nations Lockheed Martin believes will be drawn to the F-35.
The F-35 was designed with the idea of supplanting the F-16 as the pre-eminent “affordable” multirole fighter in the western and Asian defense markets. Looking ahead, and Lockheed Martin may find itself in the same position as Dassault when the latter was offering customers both the Mirage 2000 and Rafale at the same time. Offering two aircraft that compete against each other may become an undesirable position for Lockheed Martin, or the F-16 may continue to be offered to customers that cannot afford the expected higher cost of the F-35.
Forecast International's projections call for production of the F-16 out to 2016, but additional orders could well extend production out several more years.
Eastern Europe has shown an affinity for cheap, single-engine fighters in recent years as countries in the region look to meet NATO responsibilities without breaking their limited defense budgets. Romania and Bulgaria is reported to be interested in acquiring 16 fighters, and the F-16 and Gripen are prime contenders for orders from these nations. Romania is looking for 48 fighters to replace 100 MiG-21s in its inventory. Funding is an obstacle, however. The near-term costs of the acquisition could be reduced by purchasing a mixture of new and refurbished aircraft or signing a lease deal.
The continuing interest in Lockheed Martin's F-16 is keeping GE and Pratt & Whitney busy building F110 and F100 engines for export orders, while both companies are developing engines for 5th generation fighters like the F-22 and F-35.
Overall, production during the 2009-2018 forecast period is projected to total 215 aircraft.

India’s HAL to Deliver First Export Dhruv Helicopter / From HAL To Ecuador: 7 Choppers

India’s HAL to Deliver First Export Dhruv Helicopter / From HAL To Ecuador: 7 Choppers
(NSI News Source Info) BANGALORE - January 30, 2009: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which will be showcasing wide array of its Research and Development (R&D) capabilities along with current and new products during Aero India 2009 will hand over a Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to the Ecuadorian Air Force.
HAL which has bagged a contract to supply seven ALHs to the South American country will hand over its first chopper during the biennial airshow which is to be held at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka, from February 11 to 15.
Sources said that the Bangalore- based defence public sector undertaking, which clinched the $51 million deal with Ecuador to supply seven of its 5.5 tonne class helicopter will supply the first Dhruv during the airshow.
The HAL Dhruv is a multi-role helicopter developed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is being supplied to the Indian Armed Forces, and a civilian variant is also available. The type was first exported to Nepal and Israel, and is on order by several other countries for both military and commercial uses. Specialized military variants include anti-submarine warfare and helicopter gunship versions.
Foreign sales: In June 2008, the government of *Peru ordered two air ambulance Dhruvs for use by the Peruvian health services. Peru has also shown interest in the military version Dhruv. HAL also secured an order from the *Ecuadorian Air Force for seven Dhruvs. HAL has gained this order amidst strong competition from Elbit, Eurocopter and Kazan. HAL’s offer of $ 50.7 million for seven helicopters was about 32% lower than the second lowest bid from Elbit. The first helicopter will be delivered within six months. Dhruv also participated in a Chilean tender for 8-10 5.5 tonne, twin engined new generation helicopter, but lost to the Bell Helicopters Bell 412 amid allegations of arm-twisting by the US Government. The evaluation included flights at high altitudes, hot and desert conditions, ship deck landing, search and rescue at 12,500 ft MSL at a temperature of 2°C as well as long distance ferry flights, clocking 107 flying hours. *On August 10, 2008 HAL chairman confirmed it had finalized a deal with Turkey to supply 3 Dhruvs for $20 million. Turkey is planning to buy as many as 17 helicopters in medical assistance role. *India is also reportedly planning to transfer several Dhruvs to Myanmar. This led to protests from Amnesty International, who pointed to the use of components sourced from European suppliers as a possible violation of the EU Arms Embargo of Myanmar. In a letter to the President of the EU Council of Ministers, Amnesty stated that it had evidence that India planned to transfer two Dhruvs (with European components) to Burma. These reports have been denied by the Indian Government. *HAL is negotiating with Bolivia for delivery of five Dhruvs and with *Venezuela for seven of the choppers in transport roles, and in Europe. The Dhruv is also being offered to *Malaysia. *Indonesia is also evaluating Dhruv helicopters for the Indonesian Army. *Flight certification for Europe and North America is also being planned, in order to tap the large civilian market there.
“HAL will hand over one ALH and will line up five brand new ALH choppers during Aero India as per the contract signed with the Ecuador Aviation Authority,” said sources. The deal envisages the supply of seven helicopters in semi knock-down conditions to Ecuador in a time-frame of 15 months to two years. HAL bagged the order from the South American country last year after fierce bidding, which also involved Israel firm Elbit, Eurocopter, subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company’s, Kazan, Russia.
“A team from HAL has already visited Ecuador and a team from there has visited our facilities to gain first hand expertise. The HAL will also set up a base at Ecuador for maintenance of the ALHs,” said sources.
During Aero India, the aircraft and helicopters of HAL that would be on display are : one Hawk in flying display, Intermediate Jet Trainer, ALHs (one in flying display, one with glass cockpit in static display and one civil ALH) and one DO-228 in Maritime Reconnaissance and Intelligence Warfare (MRIW) role.

Boeing Receives STOC II Training Contract From US Army

Boeing Receives STOC II Training Contract From US Army
(NSI News Source Info) ST. LOUIS - January 30, 2009: The Boeing Company announced it has received the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation's Omnibus Contract II (STOC II). STOC II is a multiple-award, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract with a $17.5 billion cap over as many as 10 years. As awardees, Boeing and wholly owned subsidiary Tapestry Solutions are eligible to bid over the life of the program on a variety of delivery and task orders, depending on the Army's needs. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems' Training Systems and Services business unit will manage the STOC II program from St. Louis. Tapestry Solutions will manage its portion of the program from its facility in San Diego, focusing on simulation and exercise support. "This contract allows us to provide a wide array of services for the warfighter, as well as expand further within the training and simulation markets," said Training Systems and Services Vice President Mark McGraw. "Boeing is uniquely qualified to respond to the quick turnaround time required by ID/IQ contracts." Boeing uses a Streamlined Management and Response Tool to reduce response time on ID/IQ requests by quickly matching contract requirements to a database of suppliers. The company also can provide the high levels of technology and integration required to respond to all areas of STOC II: Boeing will use its Contractor Integrated Technical Information Service to provide a common, secure and controlled process of sharing data, applications and Web sites with external customers, suppliers and partners. "Boeing's management organization is key to keeping costs down while enhancing our 'performance to plan,'" said McGraw. "We strive for continuous improvement, and our quality-management systems will help us meet the customer's schedule and cost requirements." Boeing will work in close partnership with the Army Program Executive Office to provide management and oversight of all delivery and task orders awarded to the company within the STOC II environment.