(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL – February 9, 2009: The US military chief in South Korea told North Korea Monday to stop provocations and "act like a responsible country," amid reports the communist state is preparing a long-range missile test. US and South Korean forces are prepared for any contingency, General Walter Sharp said in reference to reports of a possible launch. "Many, many countries around the world are watching North Korea right now to see if it will act responsibly or not," Sharp told a press conference. "We call on North Korea to stop provocations and act like a responsible country." South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak said earlier his government's policy will not change, despite increasingly strong threats from the communist state. South Korean protesters burn North Korean flags, with pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and US and South Korean forces are prepared for any contingency, General Walter Sharp said in reference to reports of a possible launch. "I am very aware there are people who are concerned about the recent series of North Korean threats. But you do not need to worry too much," the president said in his regular radio address. Lee said his government was ready for dialogue but would not rush into negotiations. "I believe it is better to start off with a little difficulty, but ensure things are set right to reach a positive outcome, instead of trying to figure out what North Korea wants while saying all is well that ends well," he said. "We are ready to work with North Korea. North Korea, too, must realise the South is the only country in the entire world that is sincerely concerned for its future and willing to help it." North Korea has said it is scrapping peace accords with the South, including a 1991 pact recognising their Yellow Sea border as an interim frontier. The announcement fuelled fears of clashes in the area, the scene of bloody naval battles in 1999 and 2002. The North's military has said it is adopting "an all-out confrontational posture to shatter" Seoul's government. Last week US and South Korean officials said the North appeared to be preparing to launch its Taepodong-2 missile, which could reach Alaska. US academic Selig Harrison, who recently visited Pyongyang, said last week that hawks had come to dominate defence policy since leader Kim Jong-Il's reported stroke last August. Sharp said US and South Korean forces have contingency plans for any instability in the North "from the entire range of humanitarian disaster, to major civil war and potential loose nuclear weapons." He gave no details. Cross-border relations have worsened since Lee, a conservative, took office in February last year. Lee rolled back his liberal predecessors' decade-long engagement policy towards Pyongyang, and said major economic assistance would depend on the North's willingness to scrap its nuclear weapons programme. He also vowed to review summit deals signed in 2000 and 2007 between the North and his predecessors. The policy has enraged the North, which has suspended dialogue and imposed tight border controls. On Sunday it said Lee's choice of Hyun In-Taek as new unification minister would cause relations to collapse. Hyun, an architect of Lee's tougher policy, defended it at a parliamentary confirmation hearing Monday. The previous government, he said, failed to dissuade Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons. The North conducted its first atomic test in 2006. Hyun said Lee's policy is not hardline but one of "co-existence and co-prosperity for both South and North Korea."
Sunday, February 08, 2009
No Plans For Military Base In Bangladesh: US
(NSI News Source Info) Dhaka - February 9, 2009: The US has expressed its willingness to assist Bangladesh in maritime patrol and secure its unprotected territorial sea lanes, but has said that it has no plan to set up a military base. Richard Boucher, the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia on Sunday clarified this point while winding up his two day visit here. Boucher told the media: "I think there are some interests in maritime patrol so you can protect your sea areas better. We can help their (border security agencies') activities but the modalities will depend on what Bangladesh wants." The Bangladesh Navy originally under Bangladesh Forces was created during the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971 against Pakistan. Its official creation was established in July 1971 during the historic Bangladesh Sector Commanders Conference. In 1971, with West Pakistan imposing a military rule in East Pakistan, the Bangladesh War of Independence also known as Bangladesh Liberation War was truly underway. Many Bengali sailors and officers in the Pakistan Navy defected to form the Bangladesh Navy. On 9 November 1971, the first naval fleet consisting of six small ships was inaugurated. Initially, there were two ships and 45 navy personnel. These ships tried to carry out raids on the Pakistani fleet and later were mistakenly hit and sunk by Indian fighter planes on December 10, 1971. A major attack was launched on Mongla seaport. According to official figures from Bangladesh Navy, a total of 334 sailors were involved with the newly created navy with 22 being killed. These sailors were mostly Pakistan Navy trained divers who were absorbed into regular navy after the war ended. He brushed off a suggestion that the US might be planning to set up a military base in Bangladesh. "We do not have any intention for a permanent presence (in Bangladesh)," New Age quoted him as saying on Monday. A military base is a sensitive issue in Bangladesh and it goes back to the cold war era. Boucher said: "The US has a lot of cooperation with different countries, different governments and different agencies. Some are with civilian agencies, like police, and some are with military agencies." Boucher, who interacted with Bangladesh's top leadership, including opposition leader Khaleda Zia, ended his visit even as Dhaka, in the midst of diplomatic activities, prepared to receive Indian Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee. Mukherjee is due in Dhaka later on Monday. Boucher said his talks explored areas of cooperation between the new governments in Dhaka and Washington headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Barack Obama. The US official identified new areas like climate change, agriculture and health-care and assured continuation of US support to Bangladesh. The issue of cooperation in marine patrols came in the backdrop of a row over oil and gas exploration between Myanmar and Bangladesh in waters claimed by Dhaka in the Bay of Bengal. Both Bangladesh and Myanmar have deployed warships in the Bay of Bengal to establish their claims. Diplomatic efforts involving China and South Korea by Bangladesh's then military-backed government of Fakhruddin Ahmed apparently put to an end the row. There was a stand-off with India last November when Bangladesh Navy confronted an Indian survey ship backed by a naval vessel. The row was sorted out through diplomatic talks.
U.S.A. President Barack Obama And Iran
(NSI News Source Info) February 9, 2009: President Obama has set a constructive new tone for trying to engage Iran. He told an Arabic-language TV network: “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.” And he showed refreshing humility after the Bush administration’s arrogance: “Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes.” President Bush’s failed policies have left Iran both frighteningly close to mastering the skills needed to build a nuclear weapon and with enormous regional influence. The new administration will have to deal with Iran in a broader context, not just on the nuclear issue but also on Afghanistan and Iraq. We don’t know if there is any mixture of incentives or sanctions that can wean Iran of its nuclear ambitions. But we are certain that the Bush administration never tried to find it. This means not only direct talks, but also far more persuasive diplomatic incentives, including a credible offer of improved relations and security guarantees. Cooperation with Britain, France and Germany remains essential — and a much stronger push to try to bring the Russians and Chinese along. We are not going to minimize the difficulties. Iran’s scientists are working aggressively to master nuclear fuel production — the hardest part of building a weapon. They just put a satellite in orbit, a sign that their ballistic missile program is also moving ahead. It is difficult to read the politics in Tehran, but we are certain that hard-liners will try to sabotage any opening that would require making concessions on either program. There will also be strong voices in Washington arguing against any compromise and some even for military action — a disastrous course. Iran’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah, its threats against Israel and its abysmal treatment of its citizens will only amplify those voices. But we have seen the results of the Bush administration’s refusal to engage. It is time to at least test Tehran’s intentions on all fronts. That may be easier if the agenda for talks is broadened to include Afghanistan and Iraq. In 1998, Iran’s fundamentalist Shiite-led government nearly went to war with Afghanistan’s Sunni fundamentalist Taliban. After the United States ousted the Taliban in 2001, Tehran played a constructive role, helping Washington and others establish a new government in Afghanistan. That limited collaboration quickly soured and Iran has been accused of providing some support for the Taliban in an attempt to keep the Americans off balance. Mr. Obama needs to remind Iran that it is in its clear interest for the Taliban to be defeated and Afghanistan stabilized. Iran’s relationship with Iraq — where Shiites allied with Tehran hold key leadership positions — is much more complicated. Analysts debate how much control Iran is seeking there and how much effort it is currently making to constrain extremists. But like the United States, Iran cannot possibly want Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other neighbors grabbing for pieces of Iraq when American troops leave. Mr. Obama can make a compelling argument that it is in Iran’s strategic interest to join regional negotiations intended to guarantee Iraq’s long-term stability and sovereignty. Mr. Obama is not presuming Tehran’s good will. Aides say he personally persuaded the Treasury Department’s Stuart Levey, who looked for creative ways to implement Mr. Bush’s sanctions policy, to stay on. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to name Dennis Ross to oversee the Iran effort and integrate it with a broader strategy for Iraq, Afghanistan and the region. Mr. Ross, who spent years trying to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian peace, has a deep appreciation for history and a reputation for never giving up. All that and more will be needed to try to make this work.
Iran's China Option By: Roger Cohen
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN - February 9, 2009: What Iran fears most is a Gorbachev figure, somebody from within the regime who in the name of compromise with the West ends up selling out the revolution and destroying its edifice of power. The jostling for influence ahead of the June 12 presidential election - the world's most important vote since America's - must be viewed through this prism. The core debate is: Can Iran manage a Chinese-style reform where its 30-year-old Islamic hierarchy endures through change, or does opening to the United States equal Soviet-style crash and burn? The "Death to America" chants at religious rallies, often twinned with a punchy "Death to Israel," seem answer enough. The regime prefers and will stick to the game it knows. But Iran is rarely what it seems. It goes out of its way to mask its sophistication. The other day, Jahangir Amirhosseini, a veteran lawyer once imprisoned by the mullahs, told me, "To create trust, deception is necessary." He was serious. What he meant was politics is about artful gambits. The United States has favored the sledgehammer. This has proved a lousy instrument. Iranian ascendancy has coincided with American difficulty. Under President Obama, U.S. policy toward Iran should be rooted in convincing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, that the price of engagement is not extinction. Herein resides the key to the Persian theocracy over which Khamenei presides. But his rule is less than absolute. An opaque man, Khamenei is the largest minority shareholder (albeit one with God-given preferred stock) in a system where repression and hard-won freedoms vie, as do authoritarianism and democracy. Which brings us to the critical June election and former President Mohammad Khatami, the reformist politician once viewed as Iran's Gorbachev-in-waiting. He wasn't. His 1997-2005 presidency left many Iranians disappointed. At the breach, Khatami retreated. Student protests against the clerical establishment in 1999 and 2003 died before they gained traction. Still, liberalizing economic reform and dialogue were as much the Khatami hallmark as bombast and mismanagement have been that of his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As tumbling oil compounds the cost of Ahmadinejad's crony-rewarding profligacy, and Iranians wonder where on earth (or beyond) the billions went, rumors of a Khatami candidacy swirl. One day Khatami has told clerics in Qom he's running. The next Khamenei has "advised" him to stay out. On the third, noblesse oblige, he's back. His former interior minister, Mostafa Tajzadeh, told me unequivocally Khatami will be a candidate. That must be America's working assumption. No such doubts surround the candidacy of the incumbent, Ahmadinejad. He is the favorite. His unlikely success in projecting Iran as the voice of the world's disinherited, his fast-forwarding of the nuclear program and his popular touch have all impressed Khamenei. But the wasteful impetuosity that has made Ahmadinejad the Unidentified Flying Object of Iranian and global politics has also given the guardian of the revolution - and millions of voters - pause. One theory holds that Ahmadinejad would favor Iranian Glasnost in response to Obama because he believes it's not Iranian theocracy that would collapse, but America! True, the president could be justified in detecting signs of capitalism following communism onto history's trash heap. But I'm not convinced. No, the West's strong interest lies in avoiding a second Ahmadinejad term. Given that Ahmadinejad thrives on confrontation, this is not what Obama should dish out. Vice President Joseph Biden's patronizing tone this weekend in Munich - "Continue down your current course and there will be pressure and isolation" - was exactly wrong. Tajzadeh told me: "Bush did a lot of damage to the reform movement. We would welcome an immediate calming of the atmosphere from Obama, with the military option set aside." When I asked Kazem Jalali, the spokesman for the parliamentary national security committee, what America should do, he shot back, "Stop looking down from a domineering viewpoint." Before the election, Obama must declare that the United States does not seek Iranian regime change. He should take steps to demonstrate that America is seeking an "honest broker" role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to supplant George W. Bush's Israel-can-do-no-wrong policy. Such measures would help Khatami, or perhaps a conservative pragmatist like Tehran's mayor, Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf, by undermining Ahmadinejad's tirades. A moderate president would not solve the nuclear issue - Khamenei tends to be intransigent - but would help. I wish Obama could visit the splendid British ambassador's residence here to view the table-setting for the dinner on Nov. 30, 1943, (Churchill's 69th birthday) of the British prime minister, Roosevelt and Stalin. As every Iranian knows, not one Iranian was among the dozen or so officials at the table reviewing the fate of a war-torn world.
The Islamic Revolution, at 30, has independence at its core. The satellite launch, like the nuclear program, is about national pride, a subject Americans should understand. To open the system, without overthrowing it, which must be the U.S. aim, requires ingenious indulgence of that pride rather than finger-wagging. The time for change young Iranians can believe in is well before June 12.
UK Under Attack From Global Spy Agencies: Report
(NSI News Source Info) London - February 9, 2009: Britain has become a top target of global spy agencies, particularly those from China and Russia, seeking to steal its most sensitive secrets and cutting edge technologies, a government document has revealed.
The report, which was drawn up by an Army intelligence cell inside Whitehall, warns that foreign spies are trying to steal secrets related to the military, optics, communications, genetics and aviation industries.
Russia and China have been identified as having the most active spy networks from 20 foreign intelligence agencies, who are targeting Britain for cutting edge technologies and other most sensitive secrets, The Sunday Telegraph reported on Sunday.
"Whilst our primary threat would seem to come from international terrorism, it is important that we do not lose sight of another omnipresent threat. Espionage against UK interests continues to come from many quarters," warned the security document obtained by British daily.
"In the past, espionage activity was typically directed towards obtaining political and military intelligence. In today's high-tech world, the intelligence requirements of a number of countries now include new communications technologies, IT, genetics, aviation, lasers, optics, electronics and many other fields. Intelligence services, therefore, are targeting commercial enterprises far more than in the past," said the report.
In a speech in November 2007, Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, said that foreign intelligence services were active in the UK, with the Russians at the forefront of covert operations, the British report said.
Indian Armed Forces Acquiring Large Numbers Of Helicopters
(NSI News Source Info) February 9, 2009: Major helicopter acquisitions planned by the Minisry of Defense are challenging Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. to expand its helicopter production capacity, in preparation of initial deliveries of locally produced helicopters by the year 2015.
The Indian Army and Air Force are panning to acquire 384 Light Utility Helicopters (LUH), of which 187 are expected to be locally built at HAL.A Dhruv Helicopter of India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) (C) lifts off in front of a group of photographers at The HAL helicopter division in Bangalore, 16 August 2007. India has carried out the first flight of a weaponised combat helicopter it is developing to equip its own armed forces as well as potential overseas customers including Turkey. State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) said the Dhruv, as the advanced light helicopter is known, was a "birthday gift" to the nation that 15 August, celebrated 60 years of independence from British colonial rule.
The helicopter is intended to replace the ageing Chetak and Cheetah (locally built Alouette II and III) helicopters in use by Indian army and air force since the mid 70s. Agusta/Westland, Bell Helicopter of the US, Eurocopter, and the Russian Kamov and Sikorsky are among the companies competing for the LUH program. The Indian aerospace company is expected to conclude talks about foreign participation in both programs during the Aero-India airshow. ‘We have already started preliminary work to design, develop and produce indigenous light utility helicopters (LUH) and medium lift helicopters for the three services,’ said HAL chairman Ashok Baweja. Apart from the 3 ton LUH, the company plans to introduce a new Medium Lift Helicopters, a 10-15 ton class, to fit the requirements of the Indian Navy, for combat, and search and rescue (SAR) missions. The same platform could also be utilized by the Indian Coast Guard, challenged with heightened security concerns in Indian waters. Another helicopter, already operating with the Indian Navy is the Dhruv. This helicopter will soon receive a more powerful engine. HAL is considering the EJ-200 engine. Another derivative of the platform. The prototype of the long delayed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is expected to be ready by the second half of 2009.
Laskhar As Big A Threat As Al Qaeda: Former CIA official
By Dipankar De Sarkar
(NSI News Source Info) London, England - February 9, 2009: The Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistan-based terrorist network blamed for the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, now constitutes as big a threat to the US and Britain as Al Qaeda, a former CIA official who has advised President Barack Obama was quoted as saying Sunday. The comment, made to the Sunday Telegraph, comes after Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told his British counterpart Sir Philip Rickett in London talks Friday that Pakistan must take immediate steps to 'wind up' the terrorist infrastructure that continues to operate from its soil. Informed sources told IANS that India told Britain squarely that Pakistan had to take immediate steps to do two things: First, punish those responsible for the Nov 26-29 Mumbai outrage, and second, dismantle the entire infrastructure that arms, finances and abets terrorism from Pakistani soil. Meanwhile, Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official who has advised Obama, told the Sunday Telegraph that the attacks in Mumbai made the LeT as big a threat as Al Qaeda. 'In the aftermath of the Mumbai attack, the US and the UK intelligence services now have to regard Lashkar-e-Taiba as just as serious a threat to both of our countries as al-Qaeda,' he said. 'They have a much more extensive base among Pakistani diaspora communities in the UK than al-Qaeda.' Riedel has told Obama that British-born Pakistanis, among whom the LeT and Al Qaeda have made extensive inroads, are today the biggest security threat to the US. 'The British Pakistani community is recognised as probably al-Qaeda's best mechanism for launching an attack against North America,' Riedel said. 'The American security establishment believes that danger continues and there's very intimate cooperation between our security services to monitor that.' 'President Obama's national security team are well aware that this is a serious threat,' Riedel told the paper. Riedel's warning comes after the head of Britain's spy agency said in January that the terrorists who attacked Mumbai had 'indirect connections' with individuals in Britain and that Mumbai could become an 'iconic' model for future terror attacks around the world. MI5 Director General Jonathan Evans said that billing records have been uncovered revealing telephone calls between the LeT members and other countries, including Britain. British government ministers say more than 70 percent of terrorist cases investigated in Britain have their roots in Pakistan, including the 7/7 terrorist attacks which killed 52 civilians and wounded 700 in London in 2005. Riedel's comments come amid a reported surge in American intelligence operations in Britain, home to the largest Pakistani population settled outside the home country after Saudi Arabia. The Sunday Telegraph said intelligence briefings for Obama have detailed a dramatic escalation in American espionage in Britain, where the CIA has recruited record numbers of informants in the Pakistani community to monitor the 2,000 terrorist suspects identified by MI5. A British intelligence source told the paper a staggering four out of 10 CIA operations designed to thwart direct attacks on the US are now conducted against targets in Britain.
DR Congo Urges Rwandan Rebels To Disarm Before Talks
(NSI News Source Info) KINSHASA - February 9, 2009: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) is urging Rwandan rebels holed up in the east of the central African country to lay down arms before negotiating for a way out, a government official has announced. Communication Minister Lambert Mende Omalanga made the remarks on Friday after the rebel leader called for negotiations and a halt of the Congolese-Rwandan military operation that was launched on Jan. 20. "No serious government could negotiate with armed foreigners on its territory," Mende said, adding that the negotiations in question could be held in Rwanda rather than in DR Congo, and between the rebels and Kigali rather than Kinshasa. Rwandan and Congolese forces are hunting down thousands of Hutu rebels in rural eastern Congo in an operation intended to address the root cause of 15 years of conflict in Congo. A Congolese fighter from the pro-government Mai-Mai militia was one of those searching in the village of Kalenge near the front line. The minister also said Rwandan Hutus wishing to stay in DR Congo must seek a refugee status "without arms." Earlier in the day, Ignace Murwanashyaka, president of the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), appealed to both DR Congo and Rwanda to stop the joint operation, saying he was ready to negotiate with them. In his statement, Murwanashyaka demanded guarantees for the security of the FDLR combatants in Rwanda. The FDLR is linked to the 1994 massacre in Rwanda in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Rwandans were killed. The perpetrators fled to DR Congo's North Kivu province afterwards. The rebels have since become a root cause of DR Congo's internal conflicts and tensions with Rwanda, which sent troops twice in the 1990s in cross-border attacks on the FDLR fighters. In a turnaround from the two countries' long-standing hostilities, Kinshasa and Kigali began to seek the normalization of ties late last year and decided to join hands in a military operation in North Kivu against both Congolese Tutsi and Rwandan Hutu rebels.
U.S. Army Unable To Proceed On New XM1203 NLOS-C Big Guns, As Too Much Sentiments Are Attached To Old M-109 (Old Is Gold)
U.S. Army Unable To Proceed On New XM1203 NLOS-C Big Guns, As Too Much Sentiments Are Attached To Old M-109 (Old Is Gold)
(NSI News Source Info) February 9, 2009: The U.S. Army continues of have doubts about when to use the new XM1203 NLOS-C self-propelled howitzer to replace the half century old M-109. The NLOS-C will be the first of the eight MGV (Manned Ground Vehicle) systems to enter service as part of the FCS (Future Combat System) program. A variant of the NLOS-C is armed with a 120mm mortar. The BAE Systems Land and Armaments XM1203 Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS Cannon) is a 155 mm cannon intended to provide improved responsiveness and lethality to the "Unit of Action" (UA) commander as part of the US Army's Future Combat Systems project. This mobile armored artillery piece provides networked, extended-range targeting, and precision attack of point and area targets in support of other combat units with a suite of munitions that include special purpose capabilities. The Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon provides sustained fire for close support and destructive fire for tactical standoff engagement. The NLOS Cannon uses technology from the canceled XM2001 Crusader. The new FCS brigades have fewer troops (2,500) than the current (and newly implanted) combat brigades (3,500 troops). The FCS brigades depend on automation and more electronics to make up for manpower. If that worked, many in the army believed that the NLOS-C would quickly replace the M-109, especially in the newly reorganized Brigade Combat Teams. But there is resistance to this vision of the future, resistance based on some very practical considerations. Six years ago, the prototype NLOS-C was cobbled together in six months, after the new (and very high tech and high priced) Crusader SP artillery system was cancelled. The current self-propelled system, the M-109, is a fifty year old design. Although the M-109 has been frequently updated, the NLOS-C incorporates many new technologies.
This includes an auto-loader (from the Crusader) and a more modern 155mm gun and an APC chassis with a hybrid-electric engine (to reduce fuel consumption.) This all weighs 23 tons, about the same as the M-109. But the NLOS only has a two man crew, compared to five in the M-109. The M109 is an American-made self-propelled 155 mm howitzer, first introduced in the early 1960s. It has been continually upgraded and improved to today's current version, the M109A6 Paladin, currently only used by the United States Army. The U.S. still maintains a number of M109A5s in its forces. The M109 family is the most prevalent Western indirect-fire support weapon of maneuver brigades of armored and mechanized infantry divisions. The final version of the NLOS-C will be heavier (about 27 tons), because more defensive systems have been added, to reflect experience in Iraq. The NLOC-C also got a lot of new electronics. The vehicle carries 24 rounds of 155mm ammo. Congress originally demanded that NLOS-C be in service by 2008, but it appears that 4-5 years from now seems more likely. Field testing (operating as one would in combat), begins this year with the six prototypes. One problem the brass are already concerned about is the ability of the two man crew to hold up during 24/7 operations.
The M-109, with a five man crew, has enough people to take care of maintenance, standing guard and, basically, always having one or two people rested and alert. Not so easy when you only have two guys.
One solution is to have two or more crews per vehicle, as combat aircraft (and some warships) have done for years. The off-duty crews would be back with the support troops. The army also wants to test various bits of new equipment. One of the most important items to test is the new GPS guided Excalibur shell. The Excalibur shell entered service last year, and changed everything. Excalibur appears to work in combat, and this is radically changing the way artillery operates. Excalibur means 80-90 percent less ammo has to be fired, meaning less wear and tear on NLOS-C (and less time needed for maintenance), and less time replenishing ammo supplies, and more time being ready for action.
The NLOS-C uses GPS and networked computers to take care of navigation, fire control and communicating with its customers (the infantry and armored vehicles of the combat brigade it supports). Each battery (4-6 guns) has several support vehicles with ammo resupply, maintenance and such.
Thus while each NLOS-C only has a crew of two, there are additional support personnel available to help with maintenance. This is another new development, a crew too small to do all its own maintenance, that will require a lot of testing. But if the new self-propelled gun works out, the M-109s may disappear a lot more quickly. Currently, the army plans to keep M109s around until 2050, just in case. You never know, and it pays to be careful.
EADS North America Receives U.S. Army Contract For Five Additional UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters
EADS North America Receives U.S. Army Contract For Five Additional UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters
(NSI News Source Info) ARLINGTON, VA - February 9, 2009: The U.S. Army awarded EADS North America a contract for five additional UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) Jan. 15, 2009, bringing the total number of aircraft on contract to 128. The UH-72 Lakota is a United States Army light utility helicopter that entered service in 2006, built by the American Eurocopter division of EADS North America. The Lakota is a militarized version of the Eurocopter EC145 modified to the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) requirements. In June 2006, the US Army selected it as the winner of its LUH program with a 345+ aircraft fleet planned.
Production of the UH-72A at the American Eurocopter facility in Columbus, Miss. continues to meet U.S. Army and Army National Guard requirements for a highly capable, multi-role helicopter in missions that range from homeland security and medical evacuation to drug interdiction, support and logistics operations. The Army expects to acquire a total of 345 Lakotas through 2016.
More than 54 UH-72As have been delivered by EADS North America, all which have been provided on time or ahead of schedule in one of the most rapid introductions of a new aircraft in the U.S. Army's history.
"EADS North America remains committed to excellence in program management and execution for the UH-72A, which has received high marks from the U.S. Army," said EADS North America Chairman and CEO Ralph D. Crosby, Jr. "We understand the Lakota's importance to the Army's helicopter fleet modernization, and our top priority continues to be providing America's warfighters with the very best equipment to accomplish their important mission."
More than 8,000 flight hours have been logged by the Army's UH-72A fleet to date, and the Lakota is now in service at bases and facilities across the nation, including the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (EAATS) in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.; Fort Eustis, Va.; Fort Polk, La.; Fort Irwin, Calif.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Morrisville, N.C.; Pineville, La.; Tupelo, Miss.; and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
In addition to the 128 Lakotas ordered to fulfill Army and National Guard missions, five Light Utility Helicopters have been ordered by the U.S. Navy for pilot training at the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md.
UH-72A production averages three to four helicopters per month -- with the capability of reaching five aircraft monthly at the Columbus, Miss. production facility of American Eurocopter, an EADS North America business unit. This state-of-the-art production site is a 220,000 sq. ft. addition to American Eurocopter's Mississippi rotary-wing aircraft center of excellence, which is located adjacent to the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. The facility has brought high-value jobs into the region with total program employment planned to surpass 200 as the UH-72A program reaches its full production and final assembly capability.
NATO Commander Says Afghan Drug Raids Imminent; Expects Allies To Commit More Troops Soon
(NSI News Source Info) MUNICH - February 9, 2009: In an effort to strike at a key income source for Taliban militants, the top NATO commander said Sunday that operations to attack drug lords and labs in Afghanistan will begin within the "next several days." Gen. John Craddock, who also heads the U.S. European Command, also said that the U.S. and its allies are making progress in their efforts to fill the need for more troops, equipment and intelligence gathering in Afghanistan. He, however, would not disclose any specific commitments he got this weekend as world leaders met at a security conference here. NATO defense ministers, during a meeting last fall in Hungary, authorized troops in Afghanistan to launch the drug attacks, but there had been questions about whether allies would be willing to follow through. Money from Afghanistan's booming illicit drug trade has been blamed for pumping up to $100 million a year into the coffers of resurgent Taliban fighters. "Activities and actions will occur soon that will be helpful," Craddock told reporters. "We've got to get started." The U.S. delegation to the security conference, led by Vice President Joe Biden, was expected to talk to allies this weekend about the ongoing need for support in Afghanistan. Craddock said he still needs about 5,000 NATO troops to bolster Afghan forces during the coming elections, and he is confident he will get them from other NATO nations. At the same time, he said he still has a critical need for trainers that he has yet to fill, and the expected announcement about a forthcoming build-up in U.S. forces has been delayed as the Pentagon juggles the numbers in the face of an ongoing review by the new Obama administration. Allies, said Craddock, "expected they would be asked to step up and do more. Now it's a matter of political will."
Iran Working Over Creation Of Four New Satellites: Report
(NSI News Source Info) TEHRAN - February 9, 2009: Iranian scientists are working over the creation of four new satellites for their placement into a near-Earth orbit, Iranian Communications Minister Mohammad Soleimani said on Sunday. Iran put its first communications satellite, Omid (Hope), into a low Earth orbit on Monday. The research satellite, which contains communications and digital equipment, was carried into orbit by a home-made launch vehicle, Safir (Messenger). The United States, France, Israel and Britain have already expressed concern over the launch. They have said that Tehran may be developing long-range ballistic missile technology that could be used to launch nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its space program is of an entirely peaceful nature. Iran is currently under three sets of relatively mild sanctions over its controversial nuclear program, which it insists is purely civilian but the West, led by the United States and Israel, maintains is aimed at developing nuclear weapons.
Hamas Delegation Arrives In Egypt For Talks On Ceasefire
(NSI News Source Info) CAIRO - February 9, 2009: A delegation from the radical Palestinian movement Hamas arrived in Egypt on Saturday for the final round of talks on a possible ceasefire with Israel, the Islamist group said on its website. The delegation, led by a senior Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, is expected to learn Israel's response to the group's ceasefire proposals and to give its final response on the 18-month ceasefire deal. Hamas insists on an end to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, in place since the radical Islamist group seized the territory of the Palestinian enclave in June 2007, and an opening up of crossing points for normal traffic. Hamas left the talks in Cairo on Wednesday with no agreement in place, blaming "Israel's stubbornness in lifting the blockade of the Gaza Strip and opening the border crossings." Egypt mediates talks between Israel and Hamas, who do not communicate directly. Both Israel and Hamas announced a ceasefire on January 18, shortly after Israel concluded its three-week military operation in Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead.
U.S. To Develop Missile Shield In Europe, Consult Russia - Biden
(NSI News Source Info) MUNICH - February 9, 2009: The United States will continue to work on a planned missile defense system in Central Europe, but it will consult Russia, Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday. "We will continue to develop missile defenses to counter a growing Iranian capability, provided the technology is proven to work and cost effective," Biden said at the 45th Munich Security Conference, adding: "We will do so in consultation with our NATO allies and Russia." Russia has consistently opposed the missile shield as a threat to its national security and officials have repeatedly expressed the hope that President Barack Obama would not follow through with his predecessor's missile defense plans. Washington has agreed with Warsaw and Prague plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic by 2013. The United States says the defenses are needed to deter possible strikes from "rogue states" such as Iran. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said at the conference on Friday that the shield is aimed at Russia's nuclear deterrent, but added that Moscow would not follow through with its threat to deploy Iskander missile systems in the Kaliningrad Region if the United States gave up its missile shield plans. Biden's message to Russia was mixed, suggesting more effort at engagement but giving little sign of movement on the core issues, such as the missile shield and NATO expansion. "It is time to press the reset button and to revisit the many areas where we can and should work together," he said, identifying Afghanistan as an area for greater cooperation between NATO and Russia. The vice president said the United States was willing to receive "ideas and consultations" from foreign partners during the conference about how to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. Biden was unequivocal on the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia - two separatist Georgian republics recognized by Russia following a five-day war with Georgia sparked by Tbilisi's invasion of South Ossetia. "The United States will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states," he said. "We will not recognize a sphere of influence. It will remain our view that sovereign states have the right to make their own decisions and choose their own alliances." Under President George Bush, Washington was a staunch supporter of Georgia and Ukraine in their bids to join NATO, which was vehemently opposed by Moscow.
Russian Frigate Returns Home After Anti-Piracy Duty Off Somalia
(NSI News Source Info) KALININGRAD - February 9, 2009: The Russian missile frigate Neustrashimy, which took part in the anti-pirate operations in the Gulf of Aden, returned to its home port of Baltiysk on Sunday. The Pacific Fleet's Admiral Vinogradov destroyer replaced the Baltic Fleet frigate in the Gulf of Aden in January and is now escorting civilian vessels through areas where Somali pirates are active. The Neustrashimy was met in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad by Governor Georgy Boos, Baltic Fleet Commander Viktor Mardusin and government officials from Moscow and St. Petersburg. The Neustrashimy entered service 16 years ago and since last September has been on duty in the Mediterranean and Red seas, escorting over 50 commercial vessels through the Gulf of Aden since joining international anti-pirate operations off the coast of Somali in late October. It is the only Project 1154 Yastreb class missile frigate in active service with the Russian Navy to have been built before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is designed as a general purpose ASW ship to follow on from the Krivak class frigates and incorporates some stealth technology. The Neustrashimy'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.
Worst Job In the World
By Lally Weymouth NEWSWEEK....Published Feb 7, 2009 - From the magazine issue dated Feb 16, 2009
(NSI News Source Info) February 8, 2009: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani insists his country isn't failing, but needs international help.
Pakistan's Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, leads a fractious Parliament that is facing at once a major economic crisis, a spreading border insurgency and still-tense relations with his country's powerful military. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Lally Weymout at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Excerpts:Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani insists his country isn't failing, but needs international help.
Weymouth: I had dinner with Benazir Bhutto before her death, talking about the penetration of Al Qaeda and other terror groups into Pakistan, and she said, "I knew it was bad, but I didn't know how bad it was until I came back here." Do you share her fear?
Gilani: She had a concern about the country because she knew the government was not in safe hands and democracy is the real answer. On the 18th of February last year, when the election took place, it was the pro-democratic forces that won the election in Pakistan. What about Al Qaeda's penetration of the tribal areas, North-West Frontier province, Swat and Baluchistan?
In earlier days … there was no real action taking place in those areas. This time the government is taking serious action against the militants who are coming from Uzbekistan [and] Chechnya, and Arabs and the Taliban. We are fighting them and they are feeling the heat. Even so, aren't you concerned about the lack of government control in certain areas of Pakistan, like Swat? Certainly not. I know U.S. officials are concerned.
We have the will and we have the ability. We don't have the capacity. The capacity I am talking about is the law-enforcement agencies like the Frontier Corps or the police because the Army is not a permanent solution for anything. Therefore we have appealed to the world and to the Americans that they should strengthen the capacity of our law-enforcement agencies. How do you feel about President Obama's election?
We are positive about his election. We think that he will go for a change because military action is not the only solution to the problem. Some new strategy should be evolved. I agree with Obama and I support him nominating an envoy, Richard Holbrooke, for this region because he realizes it is a regional problem. How do you feel about the U.S. raids being conducted from Afghanistan into Pakistan?
My plea would be—as we have a multi-dimensional cooperation with the United States and a strategic partnership—that we should have more intelligence sharing between the two countries. So when actionable and credible information is shared with us, we would be allowed to hit [targets] ourselves instead of the Americans.
It appeared that former President Pervez Musharraf was riding a tiger with Pakistani-based terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ul-Dawa. He would promise senior U.S. officials that he would control such groups, but he did not do enough. Can your government do more?Certainly, yes. We have already arrested the main leaders of Jamaat-ul-Dawa and Lashkar-e-Taiba. We have frozen their accounts and put them in jail and are investigating their affairs. But can the civilian government overcome the Army's sympathy for these groups?
The military and the civilian governments … are totally in line with each other and there is no difference of opinion. They are one and the same.
You are having trouble with your economy, aren't you?
Certainly, yes. When the oil prices went up and the food commodities also went up, we had problems … We are a frontline state fighting against terrorism and extremism, and we are paying a heavy price for that … One suicide-bomb attack creates a flight of capital, and no investment. The world should look after us, and the world should know that we are catering to the needs of 3.5 million Afghan refugees. What do you need from America?
From the U.S., I can say that the Biden-Lugar bill should be expedited. It provides funds for development assistance to troubled areas of the world.
Is there anything you have to say about the attack on Mumbai?
We were having excellent relations with India. We were on good terms with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But with this incident all of our confidence-building measures became futile. Now you can imagine who is the beneficiary of this—the terrorists. Therefore, I assure you and I assure India and I assure the world that whatever information has been given to us, we will probe into it and whoever was involved we will try according to our laws, and we will not allow our territory to be used for terrorism.
Russia Is Lacking In UAVs Technology, Compensating With Isreali UAVs
(NSI News Source Info) February 8, 2009: Russia will receive one Tipchak UAV system a year over the next three years. Each system consists of six UAVs, plus ground control and maintenance equipment. Unhappy with the abilities of the Tipchak, and the lack of speed in producing them, Russia is negotiating to purchase more capable Israeli UAVs. Russia originally developed the Tipchak for use by artillery units, but now plans to also use it for battlefield reconnaissance in general. The Tipchak weighs 132 pounds, has a payload of 32 pounds and can stay in the air for two hours per sortie. The Tipchak can operate as high as 10,000 feet. The day/night cameras enable the operator to spot targets up to 40 kilometers away, and provide accurate location information for guns or rocket. The original plan was that each artillery brigade (with three or four gun or rocket battalions) would have a Tipchak unit attached. But now the Tipchaks will be used wherever needed. Western armies use a different approach to finding targets for artillery, relying on observers and UAVs belonging to infantry and armor units, rather than the artillery units themselves having their own aerial spotters. However, back in World War II, Western armed forces used a system similar to Russian one. In the West, things evolved. In Russia, not so much. The Tipchak probably won't get many export sales, even if sold at a very low price, because of the short duration of each sortie for a UAV of that size. If the Tipchak has an endurance of six hours or more, its sales prospects would increase considerably. With that in mind, Russia is developing a larger version of the Tipchak, with longer endurance and the ability to launch missiles (similar to the 106 pound U.S. Hellfire.) But Russian UAV development moves too slowly, which is another reason Russian wants to buy some Israeli UAVs, and see up-close what the state-of-the-art looks like.
Boeing Completes Critical Design Review For FAB-T Software-Defined Radio
(NSI News Source Info) February 8, 2009: The U.S. Air Force is installing a high-speed satellite communications terminal in its heavy bombers. This FAB-T (Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals) enables the aircraft to communicate at broadband Internet rates (8 megabits a second). The FAB-T can also communicate with other ground and airborne radios that can share data files (video, pictures, audio). The point of all this is to enable aircraft to share all useful data with nearby aircraft and ground troops, and enable the bomber to drop its smart bombs faster and more accurately. Speed is often critical, as ground targets are frequently enemy gunmen or vehicles, who can quickly move. Since FAB-T can also handle highly encrypted messages, which makes it is useful for messages to and from bombers carrying nuclear weapons. The U.S. Air Force is again interested in the nuclear weapons capabilities of its 162 heavy bombers (19 B-2s, 67 B-1s and 76 B-52s). Unlike ballistic missiles, heavy bombers carrying nukes can be recalled or switch targets at the last minute. But you want those messages to be heavily encrypted, and FAB-T can handle that.
The Boeing Company has successfully completed the systemwide Critical Design Review (CDR) for its Family of Advanced Beyond line-of-sight Terminals (FAB-T) satellite communications program, paving the way for implementation of a new data capability. The CDR, which was conducted Oct. 28-30 for senior military, government and industry officials, demonstrated that the program's requirements are well defined and understood, as required in the FAB-T contract managed by the U.S. Air Force. The Boeing Terminal Test team established log on, downlink, and uplink connections with a Milstar 6 satellite -- a first step toward implementing Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite Extended Data Rate (XDR) capability. "Our design solution and program management have been validated as we've successfully executed this contract and completed this systemwide design review," said Jim Dodd, FAB-T program director for Boeing. "Formal qualification testing will further validate the terminals' interoperability and satellite interfaces." The FAB-T system includes software-defined radios, antennas and user-interface hardware that will enable the government to host numerous waveforms that accommodate data rates in excess of 300 megabits per second. Once operational, FAB-T will provide critical, secure beyond line-of-sight communications capability for warfighters via several satellites that support military forces. Boeing expects to begin deliveries of engineering development modules to the Air Force this year for FAB-T Increment 1, which incorporates airborne operational requirements for the Milstar and AEHF satellite systems. These units will be deployed to the various airborne users for integration with onboard mission systems. Flight testing of these modules is currently planned for mid-2009. FAB-T Increment 1 is a key enabler of network-centric communications. It will provide strategic forces with a multi-mission-capable family of software-defined radios that use common open system architecture to link to different satellites and enable information exchange between ground, air and space platforms. FAB-T represents a key building block in Boeing's vision of the integrated battlespace of the future, where networked information and communications systems provide a competitive edge to decision-makers and military personnel. In the next phase, Increment 2, Boeing will develop terminals to support Wideband Global SATCOM satellite operations on surveillance aircraft such as Global Hawk, with other platforms expected to follow.