(NSI News Source Info) March 5, 2009: Kyrgyzstan's president has told the BBC "the doors are not closed" concerning talks over the US airbase which is due to close. The Manas base is critical to US and Nato operations in Afghanistan. Kurmanbek Bakiyev said negotiations with Washington would have to take a different format, and cover new conditions of use. His latest remarks, the first since announcing the closure last month, have yet to draw an American response. President Bakiyev said the old agreement on the use of the base was no longer valid but Kyrgyzstan was open to negotiation. "We are ready for any new proposals from the US government aimed at stabilising the situation in Afghanistan." Our partners - be it the United States or Russia - should listen to what we have to say President Kurmanbek Bakiyev The US has already said that it would look at what it could offer to keep the base open - but was not prepared to pay any price. Kyrgyz MPs have already passed a bill on the closure, and the US is actively exploring alternative supply routes. Kyrgyzstan's parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of closing the strategic US air base. President Bakiyev has suggested that peace talks be held in Kyrgystan under the auspices of the United Nations between President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Taliban leaders. "We should be respected more," he said in his BBC interview. "Our partners - be it the United States or Russia - should listen to what we have to say." "We decided to close the base because our proposals have been ignored for years and I don't consider such relations as being equal." Mr Bakiyev said at the time of the announcement that the base would be closed because Washington had refused to pay more rent for it. Militant threat Thousands of US soldiers pass through the Manas base every month on their way in and out of Afghanistan. It is also home to the large tanker aircraft that are used for airborne refuelling of fighter planes on combat missions, and it serves as a key supply hub. MANAS AIRBASE IN FIGURES Two hours' flight time from Kabul 15,000 US soldiers pass through every month on their way in and out of Afghanistan Houses 1,000 US soldiers alongside 100 Spanish and French troops Home of large tanker aircraft used for in-air refuelling of fighter planes 3,294 refuelling missions flown in 2008 providing 11,419 aircraft with fuel over the skies of AfghanistanFor the US, the decision comes at a critical moment, as the new administration of President Barack Obama plans a sharp rise in the number of its troops in Afghanistan. With supply lines to Afghanistan via Pakistan increasingly threatened by militant attacks, Washington has intensified talks with other countries in the region. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has said the US will be allowed to transport non-military supplies through his country, which has rail links with Afghanistan. The US has also reached similar deals with Russia and Kazakhstan. Washington used to have an air base in Uzbekistan that served troops operating in Afghanistan. But Uzbek authorities closed it in 2005 after criticism from the US and EU over a crackdown on a mass protest in the town of Andijan.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
DTN News: Kyrgyz U-Turn On US Base Mooted / Green Notes Dollars Are The Magic Words To Reopen Gates Of US Base In Kyrgystan
DTN News: Kyrgyz U-Turn On US Base Mooted / Green Notes Dollars Are The Magic Words To Reopen Gates Of US Base In Kyrgystan
First Superjet 100 Plane To Be Delivered To Aeroflot In Dec.
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - March 5, 2009: Russia's Sukhoi Civil Aircraft company will deliver its first Superjet 100 medium-haul airliner to the country's flagship carrier Aeroflot in December, the SCA president said on Wednesday. The Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a modern, fly-by-wire regional jet in the 75- to 95-seat category. The Superjet 100 will be produced by Russian aerospace firm Sukhoi's civil division, of which Finmeccanica of Italy owns 25%. The jet is being developed in collaboration with Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia Aeronautica. Italian design group Pininfarina will design optional interiors. The Superjet 100 project is a family of medium-haul passenger aircraft developed by Sukhoi in cooperation with U.S. and European aviation corporations, including Boeing, Snecma, Thales, Messier Dowty, Liebherr Aerospace and Honeywell. Viktor Subbotin said a total of 30 airplanes were to be supplied to Aeroflot. The company had initially been scheduled to deliver the first plane in November 2008. He said the next consignment of Superjet 100s would be provided to the Rosavia airline, a successor to the now defunct AiRUnion. The plane manufacturer earlier said the first Superjet 100 aircraft had made 40 test flights, clocking a total of 100 hours, and that a total of four planes would take part in the certification program, which should be completed in the third quarter of 2009. Sukhoi earlier said there were at least 100 orders for the aircraft. Sukhoi, part of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), plans to manufacture at least 700 Superjet 100s, and intends to sell 35% of them to North America, 25% to Europe, 10% to Latin America, and 7% to Russia and China.
India Successfully Test Fires BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI - March 5, 2009: India has successfully tested the latest land attack version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile at a firing range in Pokhran in the Rajasthan Desert, a source in the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday. The source said that the weapon was fired in a vertical-launch configuration and the missile had successfully hit its designated target. Officials at India's Defense Research and Development Organization, who has developed the missile together with Russia's NPO Mashinostroyenia, were cited by The Times of India daily as saying it "took two and a half minutes to strike its target at the Pokhran firing range in Rajastahan." The first successful test launch of the supersonic cruise missile from a vertical launcher was conducted last December from a mobile platform in the Bay of Bengal. All previous missile launches were carried out from inclined launchers. The BrahMos missile has a range of 290 km (180 miles) and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg (660 lbs). It can effectively engage ground targets from an altitude as low as 10 meters (30 feet) and has a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the U.S.-made subsonic Tomahawk cruise missile. The last test launch of the BrahMos land attack version was carried out in January at the Pokhran firing range, but the missile failed to hit the target, flew off course and later self-destructed. Analysts estimate that India could purchase up to 1,000 BrahMos missiles for its armed forces in the next decade, and export 2,000 to other countries during the same period. During a recent visit by Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to India, the two sides agreed to develop a hypersonic version of the missile to be known as BrahMos-2.
Peru Orders Israeli, Russian Anti-Tank Missiles
(NSI News Source Info) March 5, 2009: Forecast International relays a report from Chile’s El Mercurio newspaper, which reports that Peru has signed $73 million in contracts for 488 Israeli and Russian anti-tank missiles to equip its armed forces, replacing or supplementing existing wire-guided Russian AT-3B/ 9M14M Sagger and German/Swiss Cobra 2000 missiles.
The Cobra 2000 was a more modern variant introduced in 1968, but the type did not have a good record in combat.
The 1960s-70s era AT-3 Sagger may be the most widely produced anti-tank missile of all time. It had some initial success in Vietnam and the Middle east, but basic countermeasures like suppressive fire spoil its effectiveness. Its most recent revival took place during the 2006 Lebanon War, when it found a more suitable niche with Hezbollah as a cheap, infantry-portable, close-range substitute for precision artillery. Peru’s recent purchases are reportedly an even split. They will buy 244 of Russia’s laser-guided AT-14/ 9M133 Kornet for $25 million. Another 244 of RAFAEL’s dual-mode wire-guided or IIR fire-and-forget Spike missiles will bought for $48 million.
Both missiles are considered to be effective against even modern tanks like Chile’s new Leopard 2A4s, but the Spike missiles have more advanced CLU electronics with built-in training capabilities, and also use an optional fire-and-forget mode. These purchases are part of a larger military modernization plan that plans to invest $650 million through 2011. El Mercurio also reports that Peru’s Army is exploring the option of overhauling its fleet of Russian-built T-55 tanks, which were modern in the early 1960s. New fire control systems and engines were to be installed in 2004 under Proyecto Arrascue, which appears to have re-started.
Israel has considerable experience refurbishing older Soviet tanks, and there are Eastern European, Ukranian, and Russian firms who could all compete for that contract when the time comes.
DTN News: MRAP's Pro & Con, Armored Fighting Vehicle Designed To Survive IED Attacks And Ambushes, Driving Is Not Cosy And Comfy - Part #2
DTN News: MRAP's Pro & Con, Armored Fighting Vehicle Designed To Survive IED Attacks And Ambushes, Driving Is Not Cosy And Comfy - Part #2
(NSI News Source Info) March 5, 2009: The first MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) wrecker has appeared. Navistar, which makes the MaxxPro MRAPs, now provides a variant equipped with a 50 ton capacity boom and the ability to haul just about any MRAP out there, back to base. The MaxxPro Wrecker needs a 2-3 man crew. MRAPS break down or get damaged in combat, and they need a tow. But these heavy vehicles are a bit much for most wrecker vehicles designed for trucks, and there aren't that many tracked wreckers (designed for use with tanks) around. Until the MaxxPro wrecker showed up, troops had to improvise, depending on what was wrong with the distressed vehicle. This often involved one or more MRAPs providing a tow, perhaps in cooperation with a heavy truck wrecker. MRAPS are basically 7-25 ton trucks that are hardened to survive bombs and mines. They are built using the same construction techniques pioneered by South African firms. The vehicle uses a capsule design to protect the passengers and key vehicle components mines and roadside bombs. The South African technology was imported into the U.S. in 1998, and has already been used in the design of vehicles used by peacekeepers in the Balkans and elsewhere. There have been some problems with the MRAPs. First, they are, after all, just heavy trucks. And the capsule design produces a high center of gravity, that makes the vehicles prone to flipping over easily. They are also large vehicles, causing maneuverability problems when going through narrow streets. Most MRAPs don't have a lot of torque, being somewhat underpowered for their size. And, being wheeled vehicles, they are not very good at cross country movement (especially considering the high center of gravity.) The U.S. is shifting its MRAP vehicle deliveries from Iraq (where nearly 10,000 have been delivered) to Afghanistan (where nearly 1,500 have been flown in so far). In the face of increasing Taliban use of roadside bombs, MRAPs are seen as a way to keep U.S. and NATO casualties down. Some MRAPs originally headed for Iraq, are being diverted to Afghanistan. The main delivery limitation is the need to fly the MRAPs in, and that requires a large aircraft (C-17, C-5 or leased Russian equivalents.)
Catch F-22 for Obama....A Cut In Weapons Like The F-22 Jet Fighter Will Also Cut Jobs. But That's Not Really The Point.
Catch F-22 for Obama....A Cut In Weapons Like The F-22 Jet Fighter Will Also Cut Jobs. But That's Not Really The Point.
In comparison USAF B-2 Spirit is almost eightfold costly to F-22: The cost of each B-2 air vehicle averaged US$737 million per plane in 1997 dollars. Total procurement costs averaged US$929 million per plane, which includes spare parts, equipment, retrofitting, and software support. The total program cost, which includes development, engineering, and testing, averaged US$2.1 billion per aircraft in 1997 dollars.
(NSI News Source Info) March 5, 2009: The most advanced warplane in history, the F-22 Raptor, is on Barack Obama's chopping block. Yet the president faces a no-win situation. If somehow he gets Congress to stop paying for more of the stealthy jets – whose full cost is $354 million a plane – thousands of defense workers will quickly lose their jobs in a recession. As a Democrat more interested in spending money on butter than guns, Mr. Obama does not see guns as butter. His priorities are healthcare, energy, and education. Some Democrats even want a 25 percent cut in defense spending. But Obama may not win the coming political dogfight with Congress over reducing production of the F-22, which the Air Force sees as its crown jewel in commanding the skies in a conflict. The plane is manufactured by some 1,000 companies in 44 states. That's created a powerful lobby. But this debate should go beyond the question of where and whether government should create jobs. The military's whole future is wrapped up in the F-22 question and shouldn't be hijacked by short-term interests. Originally designed to fight Soviet jets, the F-22 is seen by its critics as a relic of a bygone era. Or as Obama put it, the US should not keep "paying for cold war-era weapons systems we don't use." Not so fast, say F-22 defenders. Yes, the military's tasks in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are not traditional warfare and do reflect a new era of nonstate fighters. But how will the US win a war with, say, China over Taiwan, or with Russia if it again invades a neighbor like Georgia? Who's to say what war might look like in 20 years? And some weapons, like the F-22, may do their job simply by deterrence rather than actual use. Obama's proposed spending for the Pentagon won't be public until April, when he delivers a full budget to Capitol Hill. But his preliminary budget issued last month warns of "scarce resources" for defense. In inflation-adjusted dollars, he wants only a 2 percent increase for the Pentagon, much less than his overall budget increase. High-priced weapons, often burdened with cost overruns and technical problems, will receive serious scrutiny. Their usefulness will be weighed against a coming Defense Review that will reflect Obama's ideas on security and potential threats. Those ideas include using "soft power" to resolve possible conflicts, such as with Iran. (The US has more members of military bands than it does diplomats.) Obama is asking allies to spend more on defense. He may put more money into building up faltering states that may harbor terrorists than, say, the US Navy. Obama appears to want military spending to fall as a percentage of the economy, perhaps down from 4.2 percent to 3 percent, even as he expands the number of troops. Such shifts would redefine the US as a superpower. "The categories of warfare are blurring and no longer fit into neat, tidy boxes," Defense Secretary Roberts Gates wrote in a January article. He says "the spigot of defense funding opened by 9/11 is closing." Congress will need to look beyond the issue of jobs and recession if it is to properly judge Obama's military agenda with the perspective of safeguarding the US – and the world – for an unknown future with unknown enemies.
Obama Takes Aim At Costly U.S. Defense Contracts
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - March 5, 2009: President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the U.S. government was paying too much for things it did not need and ordered a crackdown on spending he declared was "plagued by massive cost overruns and outright fraud." Obama said wasteful spending was a problem across the whole government but he zeroed in on the defense industry after earlier citing a project to build a new presidential helicopter fleet as an example of the procurement process "gone amok." "The days of giving defense contractors a blank check are over," Obama told reporters. He ordered a reform of the way the government did business, a move he said would save taxpayers $40 billion a year and help cut the budget deficit, which he has forecast will hit $1.75 trillion for the 2009 fiscal year. Obama, who inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit when he took office on Jan. 20, has sought to show his determination to apply fiscal discipline even as he ratchets up government spending to try to jolt the economy out of recession. Republicans support procurement reform but say his $3.5 trillion budget proposal for the 2010 fiscal year is part of a "tax-and-spend" onslaught. Obama, a Democrat, says the spending is necessary to tackle the worst economic crisis in decades. "Far too often spending is plagued by massive cost overruns, outright fraud and the absence of oversight and accountability," Obama said. "We are spending money on things we don't need and we are paying more than we need to pay and that is completely unacceptable." He said there was influence peddling and a lack of oversight in contracts awarded to the defense industry, whose weapons projects were too often hit by delays and cost overruns. "We will end unnecessary no-bid and cost-plus contracts that run up a bill that is paid by the American people," Obama said. Critics say cost-plus contracts invite abuse because they allow companies to charge the government costs plus a fixed profit no matter how poor their performance. "I reject the false choice between securing this nation and wasting billions of taxpayers' dollars," he said. Elected on campaign promises of sweeping change and greater accountability in Washington, Obama said he would sign a presidential memorandum seeking to "reform our broken system of government contracting." He said he had instructed White House budget director Peter Orszag to start working immediately with Cabinet officials and agency heads to develop tough, new guidance on contracting by the end of September.
Indonesian Aircraft Company To Complete 3 Super Pumas For Indonesian Air Force (NSI News Source Info) JAKARTA - March 5, 2009: Indonesia's state-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia (DI) will soon complete production of three Super Puma helicopters ordered by the Air Force, a spokesman said. PT DI had previously finished the production of seven out of 16 Super Puma helicopters ordered by the Air Force, said Budi Santoso, PT DI president director, here Monday. Indonesian Aerospace (IAe) (Indonesian: PT. Dirgantara Indonesia (DI)) was an Indonesian aerospace company in Asia with core competence in aircraft design, development and manufacturing of civilian and military regional commuter aircraft. The company formerly known as Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantara (IPTN) or Industri Pesawat Terbang Nurtanio (IPTN). Indonesian Aerospace covers an area of 86,98 ha. The backbone of the production are sustained by 232 high tech machineries and equipments. Apart from these, there are other minor high-tech equipments spread over in various assembly lines, laboratories, and service & maintenance units. They are located mainly in Bandung. "Of the remaining nine units, three are in the process of completion, one is 90 per cent completed and is expected to fly in the next two months, and two units are 60-70 per cent completed," Santoso said. The orders for 16 Super Puma NAS 332 helicopters and their spareparts were formlaized in purchase contract No. 1010 made in 1998. The completed seven helicopters had been delivered to the Air Force but production of the remaining nine units had been hampered by a shortage of funds. With the planned completion of three Super Puma NAS 332 helicopters, the Indonesian Air Force would get 10 units of its 16 orders. "The remaining (6 helicopters), will be modified into Super Puma II or Cougars which have newer technologies," the PT DI chief said. The modifications, to be made in cooperation with Eurocopter of France, would enable the Super Puma II to dominate the military helicopter market in the Asian region, he said.
Oshkosh Names BAE Exec As Defense Unit President
(NSI News Source Info) March 5, 2009: Oshkosh Corp., a manufacturer of specialty trucks and truck bodies, said Monday that former BAE Systems Inc. executive R. Andy Hove has been hired to take over Oshkosh's defense business. Hove has joined the company as executive vice president and president, Defense. He succeeds W. John Stoddart, who retired in February after 14 years with the company. Hove will be responsible for all aspects of the Oshkosh-based company's approximately $2 billion defense business segment, including tactical wheeled vehicle programs, technology development and aftermarket parts and service. He most recently served as BAE Systems' vice president, combat systems programs, where he was responsible for a portfolio of domestic and international ground vehicle programs at the defense supplier. "He is a strong relationship builder with extensive experience in ground systems and strategic business development, which aligns well with our company’s growth strategies,” said Robert Bohn, Oshkosh Corp. chairman and chief executive officer.
HAL Delivers First Dornier 228 NG Ship-Set
(NSI News Source Info) March 4, 2009: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) in Kanpur (India), most important partner of RUAG Aerospace under the Dornier 228 NG (New Generation) relaunch programme, has supplied the first set of structural parts (ship-set) to RUAG Aerospace Services GmbH in Oberpfaffenhofen (Germany). Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Kanpur (India) is the supplier for the structural components of fuselage, wing and tail. HAL has been building Dornier 228 aircraft under license for the Indian market for many years, and is the most important partner of RUAG for the "Dornier 228 New Generation" project. Final assembly and equipping of the new aircraft will take on the site at Oberpfaffenhofen / Germany. This ship-set was handed over mid-February, less than one year after contract signing. The ship-set consists of fuselage, wings and tail unit and will arrive mid-April 2009 in Oberpfaffenhofen where the final assembly of the first Dornier 228 NG aircraft starts. First delivery of a Dornier 228 NG to a customer is scheduled to take place early in 2010.
The main changes against the previous Dornier 228-212 model are a new 5-blade propeller made of composite material with enhanced performance, as well as an advanced glass cockpit and new digital avionics.
A handover ceremony together with approx. 1500 invited guests from politics and economy took place mid-February 2009 to celebrate supply of the first ship-set in India. Ashok Baweja, Chairman of HAL and Wolfgang Neumann, managing director of RUAG Aerospace Services in Oberpfaffenhofen, underlined the strategic importance of this project for both companies and praised the reliable cooperation.
Certification obtained in January by HAL as a manufacturer meeting the EASA requirements is a great step toward future development of the HAL company in India. HAL as licensee has already built and sold more than 80 Dornier 228 aircraft.
Current orders and options on hand are 10 aircraft.
"We are very proud of the good order situation, which reflects the result of our market study and the demand for a niche product like the Dornier 228 NG. Our customers who still prefer not to be mentioned by name come from Japan, Australia, Mexico and Argentina. The aircraft will be used in regional transport, in particular from STOL runways, with special equipment for coast, environment and border control tasks", says Wolfgang Neumann.
The Dornier 228 NG excels by its high mission flexibility, reliability and economic efficiency in operation.
Lockheed Wins 10-Year, $5 Billion Contract To Support Special Forces
(NSI News Source Info) March 4, 2009: Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services of Gaithersburg, Md., is being awarded a potential $5 billion indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with mixed payment provisions including firm fixed price, incentive arrangements and cost reimbursable arrangements for contractor logistics support services in support of U.S. Special Operations Command worldwide.Lockheed has won a contract to support US Special Operations Command, which develops capabilities such as these riverine combat boats on Iraq’ river Euphrates.
The minimum amount guaranteed under the contract is $2.5 million. The work will be performed at Special Operations Forces Support Activity in Lexington, Ky., and other locations across the globe, and is expected to have a period of performance from Mar. 2, 2009, to Mar.1, 2018. This contract was awarded through full and open competition. The contract number is H92254-09-D-0001.
The U.S. Special Operations Command has awarded Lockheed Martin a 10-year, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract potentially worth $5 billion to provide full-scope logistics support to Special Operations troops around the globe. The Special Operations Forces Support Activity Contractor Logistics Support (SOFSA CLS) contract provides a wide range of mission-critical services, from aircraft and vehicle maintenance to IT and electronics support. Commenting on the announcement, Linda Gooden, Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Services, said, "We appreciate the vital role of this support to the men and women of the Special Operations Command and to our nation. We are committed to providing those war fighters with the support and services they need, and honored to be aiding their crucial missions."
SOFSA CLS has three primary components: aircraft, vehicle and equipment maintenance, critical infrastructure support, and business process transformation. Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will repair and maintain the fleet of Special Operations aircraft, ground vehicles, weaponry and electronics equipment, to include managing a global supply chain of parts, warehouses, and depots.
The company will also manage and upgrade the Command's critical infrastructure, from secure IT networks to worldwide facilities. Finally, Lockheed Martin will work with SOFSA to implement leaner, more efficient business processes that will deliver more reliable, responsive support at lower costs and on shorter timelines.
The minimum amount guaranteed under the ID/IQ contract is $2.5 million.
"Our first priority is ensuring a smooth and seamless transition of services to the Lockheed Martin team, so that the warfighter does not miss a beat," noted John Surdo, Lockheed Martin's SOFSA CLS Program Director and General Manager. "We have a robust transition plan already in motion. Once the transition is underway, we'll partner with SOFSA to implement a continuous improvement program that will streamline and transform logistics and business operations, helping provide even more effective and efficient support to the warfighter."
Lockheed Martin provides logistics and sustainment services to military and government agencies worldwide, and has a global network of people, facilities, suppliers and partners supporting 24x7 operations.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 146,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.
South Korean Navy To Deploy For Somalia Mission
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL - March 4, 2009: South Korea's Navy will send an anti-piracy unit to the Somalia littorals within weeks, its first overseas combat deployment, service officials said March 3. The announcement followed the National Assembly's March 2 endorsement of a motion for deployment. It also followed days of rehearsal operations by the new unit, named Cheonghae, in the waters off the southern port city of Busan. Chungmugong Yi Sunshin class destroyers are multipurpose destroyers of the Republic of Korea Navy. The lead ship of this class, ROKS Chungmugong Yi Sunshin, was launched in May 2002 and commissioned in December 2003. Chungmugong Yi Sunshin class destroyers are a part of the Republic of Korea Navy's shipbuilding program named "KDX-II", which paved the way for becoming a blue-water navy. The design of the hull was designed by Hyundai Heavy Industries and the first ship built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. The Korean contingent includes a 4,500-ton KDX-II destroyer, a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter, rigid inflatable speedboats and 300 personnel, including 30 Underwater Demolition Team/SEAL forces. An explosive ordnance disposal team will also join the contingent. During its planned six-month deployment, the unit will focus on escorting South Korean commercial ships through the Gulf of Aden, an effort to protect the nation's economic interests, said Cmdr. Yoo Young-shik, chief of the Navy's public affairs office. If required, it will also monitor, inspect, stop and seize pirates' vessels as part of the Combined Task Force 151, a multinational naval task force with logistics facilities at Djibouti under the command of the Combined Forces Maritime Component Command based in Bahrain, Yoo said. The task force is responsible for maritime security from the Red Sea down the east coast of Africa and into the Arabian Sea toward Pakistan and India. Currently, the efforts to clamp down on piracy in the troubled waters include about 21 warships and five aircraft from Britain, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Greece, Germany, India, Malaysia, and the United States. South Korean officials express confidence in the Navy's counterpiracy operations, citing the service's close-range combat skills accrued from decades of training to thwart North Korean ships. The KDX-II destroyer is equipped with an Mk. 45 127mm gun, Harpoon ship-to-surface missiles, RAM Mk 31 ship-to-air guided missiles, a 30mm Goalkeeper system for engaging sea-skimming anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. Built in 2003, the 150-meter-long, 17-meter-wide ship has a top speed of 29 knots. South Korean cargo ships have also been hijacked in recent years. Somali pirates held eight crewmembers of two Dongwon Fisheries tuna ships for four months before releasing them in 2006 for a ransom of $800. Two Daechang Fishing boats were hijacked in May last year, and their 25 crewmembers were released six months later. In September, pirates kidnapped a cargo vessel carrying eight South Korean and 13 Myanmar crewmembers, releasing them the following month after the ship's owner paid a ransom. The Somali pirates reportedly run sophisticated operations using high-tech equipment such as satellite phones and GPS receivers. They are known to receive information from contacts at ports in the Gulf of Aden and use speedboats with very powerful outboard motors to approach their targets. Sometimes the speedboats are launched from much larger "mother ships" on the high seas. Located along the route of a crude-oil pipeline connecting the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean and racked by civil war, Somalia's coastline has become infamous for piracy. Each year, about 20,000 ships sail throughout the Gulf of Aden headed for the Suez Canal, an important shipping route for international trade that links Europe to the Middle East and Asia. The International Maritime Organization counted 111 attacks in 2008 in the Arablic Sea near Somalia, the most notorious location for such activity. A March 3 ceremony in Busan marked the commissioning of the new unit, the service said in a news release. "The inauguration of the Cheonghae unit this year, which marks the 100th anniversary of the Navy's founder, the late Adm. Sohn Won-il, will serve as a starting point for our Navy to make history and build a naval power to sustain us over the next 100 years," Adm. Jung Ok-keun, South Korea's chief of naval operations, said in a speech at the ceremony at Naval Operations Command.
China Increases Defense Budget
(NSI News Source Info) March 4, 2009:China will increase its defense budget for 2009 to $70.2 billion, up 14.9 percent from 2008, said Li Zhaoxing, 11th National People's Congress spokesperson said on March 4. "Defense spending accounts for 6.3 percent of the country's total fiscal expenditure in 2009, slightly down from the level of previous years," Li said in the state-run China Daily. "The budget rise follows a 17.6 percent increase in 2008 compared with the previous year. The increased budget will also be spent on the purchase of equipment and construction of facilities to enhance the ability of the military force to defend the country in the age of information," Li said. Li said disaster relief and anti-terrorism operations would be enhanced, as well as rebuilding programs for military facilities destroyed during an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in Sichuan province in May. China and the U.S. just concluded its first Defense Policy Coordination Talks since Beijing severed military ties in October after Washington approved a $6.5 billion arms sale to Taiwan. "U.S. arms sales to Taiwan remain the main stumbling block, but the Chinese also continue to call for a change in the 2000 NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] legislation that places limits on U.S.-China mil-mil exchanges," Bonnie Glaser, Washington-based Strategic and International Studies. "It is unlikely that U.S. policy in either area will be altered in the near future. This is likely to have an influence on the mil-mil relationship, but exchanges are not likely to remain frozen." The NDAA 2000 restricts military exchanges with China's military that pose a national security risk. Restrictions include information exchanges on force projection operations, nuclear operations, complex joint combat operations and logistical operations, chemical and biological defense, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, military space operations, arms sales or military-related technology transfers, release of classified and access to a "Department of Defense laboratory." During the two-day meetings in Beijing, the U.S. asked for more transparency in China's defense budget and programs. However, Li said China had no "hidden military expenditure." "Well, it is consistent with past Chinese spending, but it is amazing that Beijing is continuing a trend of double-digit increases that extends back, without a break, for more than a decade," said Richard Bitzinger, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore. "It is also noteworthy that, amid a global economic downturn, Beijing has decided to make defense spending recession-proof. It may be true that off-budgetary spending add considerably to this figure, but even the official number is very significant, as it means that China now clearly outspends every other country in the world, save the United States," said Bitzinger. When China released its 2008 defense budget numbers last year, U.S. sources said China's defense budget was actually between $97 billion to $139 billion. Excluded figures were believed to be expenses for strategic forces, foreign acquisitions and secret build programs. There have been unconfirmed reports China has begun an aircraft carrier build program. Andrei Chang, China military analyst, Kanwa Defense Center, said China is now quietly constructing an aircraft carrier in modules at separate port facilities. China is also building an array of new missile systems, submarines, upgrading C4ISR capabilities, new fighter aircraft, such as the J-10, and increasing military aid to friendly countries. This year China also sent its first naval mission to the Gulf of Aden to conduct anti-piracy patrols.
Swedish Weapons Exports Up 32 Percent Last Year
(NSI News Source Info) STOCKHOLM - March 4, 2009: Swedish weapons and defense exports surged 32 percent in 2008 to 12.7 billion kronor ($1.4 billion, 1.1 billion euros), the Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP) said Tuesday. The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a 4.5 generation fighter aircraft manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. Gripen International acts as a prime contracting organisation and is responsible for marketing, selling and supporting the Gripen fighter around the world. The aircraft is in service with the Swedish Air Force, the Czech Air Force, the Hungarian Air Force and the South African Air Force, and has been ordered by the Royal Thai Air Force. A total of 236 Gripens have been ordered as of 2008. The increase was attributed mainly to several large sales such as deliveries of the JAS Gripen fighter jet to South Africa, tanks to the Netherlands and Denmark, and the Erieye airborne radar system to Greece and Pakistan. "Of Sweden's total defense materiel exports, about 87 percent went to well-established cooperation partners within the European Union, and to countries such as Australia and the United States," ISP director general Andreas Ekman said in a statement. Exports representing 13 percent of the total value went to about 20 countries, including Pakistan, India, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Chile and Saudi Arabia. According to Swedish news agency TT, Sweden's weapons exports make up almost two percent of the world's overall weapons sales.
Ex-Soviet States Plan Joint Air Defense Drills Aug. 7- Sept. 18
(NSI News Source Info) ASTANA - March 4, 2009: Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will conduct joint air defense exercises from August 7 until September 18, the first deputy commander of Russia's Air Force said on Wednesday. "The biennial Combat Commonwealth exercises will be held from August 7 until September 18," Vadim Volkovidsky told a news conference following a meeting of the coordinating committee for air defense under the CIS council of defense ministers. He specified that the exercises would be held in several stages and on the territory of each member state. The CIS, a loose alliance of former Soviet states, comprises Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Ukraine is a founding and participating country, but technically not a member state. Turkmenistan holds associate status. An integrated air defense network was set up by 10 CIS member countries on February 10, 1995. The main purpose of the network is to ensure the protection of the member-countries' airspace, early warning of missile attacks and coordination of joint efforts to neutralize potential air threats.
Israel Carries Out Airstrikes On Gaza Strip Tunnels
(NSI News Source Info) TEL-AVIV. - March 4, 2009: Israeli planes have carried out several airstrikes on tunnels in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants, the Israeli army's press service said on Wednesday. The airstrike targeted three tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The tunnels are used to smuggle goods and weapons into the enclave, the subject of an Israeli blockade. "In one of the tunnels, secondary explosions followed, indicating that it was used by militants to smuggle arms," an army spokeswoman said. On Tuesday evening, Palestinian militants launched two rockets at southern Israel after Israeli warplanes had bombed six tunnels. The Israeli military said militants had fired about 20 rockets into Israeli territory over the weekend. A three-week long Israeli attack on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip killed around 1,300 Palestinians and injured another 5,000 in December-January. Around 50,000 people were also left homeless by the ground and air assault, which was launched in response to the firing of homemade rockets at southern Israeli border towns by Palestinian militants.
Kazakhstan, Russia Sign Contract On S-300 Air Defense Systems
(NSI News Source Info) ASTANA - March 4, 2009: Kazakhstan has signed a contract with Russia on the purchase of S-300 air defense missile systems, the Kazakh defense minister said on Wednesday. "We have recently signed a contract with Russia and are buying S-300 systems," Danial Akhmetov said. Last month, Kazakhstan announced plans to equip 10 battalions with S-300 air defense missile systems bought from Russia, with deliveries to begin in 2009. The latest version of the S-300 family is the S-300PMU2 Favorit, which has a range of up to 195 kilometers (about 120 miles) and can intercept aircraft and ballistic missiles at altitudes from 10 meters to 27 kilometers. It is considered one of the world's most effective all-altitude regional air defense systems, comparable in performance to the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot system. Russia announced last year it was planning to expand military-technical cooperation with members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and set up an integrated air defense network with them. The CSTO is a post-Soviet security grouping comprising Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Akhmetov said in mid-February that the delivery of S-300 systems "would help the republic's integration into the CSTO and significantly enhance the protection of the country's airspace."