(NSI News Source Info) April 7, 2009: A team of RAF ground crew with a whole range of specialist skills are currently deployed to Kenya where they are supporting a Puma helicopter Force on a British Army training exercise. 230 Squadron who are known as "The Tigers", are based at RAF Aldergrove in Northern Ireland. They have taken three of their Puma helicopters to Kenya for Exercise Grand Prix 6 which sees the 1st Battalion the Grenadier Guards carry out training in preparation for a future deployment to Afghanistan. The squadron is based at a private airfield right on the Equator, a ten minute drive from the town of Nanyuki where British forces control the exercise. The airfield sits on the border between the Rift Valley and Central Province of Kenya at an altitude of 6,000 feet (1,829m) and with Mount Kenya towering some 16,000 feet (4,877m) above as a backdrop. The Squadron's main role on the exercise is to support the Grenadier Guards with casualty evacuation. The main Exercise area, Archers Post, is a five-hour drive from Nanyuki and with soldiers on the ground for weeks at-a-time it is inevitable that some will need medical treatment that cannot be dealt with in the arid bush conditions where temperatures reach up to 50 degrees. A Puma from 230 Squadron RAF engaged in underslung load training. The Ground Crew conduct safety checks on a Puma before flying takes place. The Puma force is there to fly the casualties either to base camp at Nanyuki or on to a hospital in Nairobi. The Squadron also helps with troop movement to and from the exercise area. This allows the aircrew to test their flying skills and aircraft capability in a completely different flying environment and to gain further flying qualifications and experience for future deployments. On a visit to the squadron in Kenya Wing Commander Richard Madison, Commanding Officer, said: "The training in Kenya is very different to the training we do in Northern Ireland. At home our training takes pilots up in their core skills of low, night and instrumental flying. In Kenya they are flying at 6,000 feet and above in really hot conditions pushing the aircraft to the edge of its performance - it's much more advanced flying." The aircrew are important to the exercise, but their job would be impossible without a highly trained and skilled ground crew. To get the Puma off the ground takes personnel skilled in various avionic trades and other skills, so a team of 45 from 230 Squadron are deployed to keep the crew and aircraft ready for any eventuality. Among them are Acting Warrant Officer Kevin Sturdy who is detachment engineering officer for the Exercise and is in control of the engineers doing maintenance for the Puma. He said: "I work with roughly ten engineers per shift, they have different trade disciplines, mechanical which covers the airframe engines aspect of the aircraft and avionics which covers the electrical and avionics equipment on the aircraft. "I also have armourers, ground equipment fitters, safety equipment fitters and suppliers. I'm here to manage the team and see the Exercise through to the end and to get the aircraft back to Aldergrove." Corporal Shaun Miles has been stationed in RAF Aldergrove for over two years and is a weapons technician. During the exercise he manages weapons on the aircraft. He said: "The aircraft is fitted with a general purpose machine gun, the loadmaster, that is the crew member in the back of the aircraft, mans the gun. It's there for the sole purpose of protection against wild animals, so if there's a fault with the aircraft and they have to land somewhere where there is no support they have protection. There are some pretty big cats out there! "Back at home in Northern Ireland there is little need for weapons technicians so it's good to brush up on my skills." Cpl Miles has been working with Pumas for five years and is confident with the aircraft: "When an aircraft lands it's all hands on to do an after flight servicing which takes two guys about an hour. The main checks are on consumables, that's the oil and hydraulic fluids and the rotor tail is greased after every flight. Landings out here are very dusty and that erodes all the blades and our most time consuming job is changing, tuning and balancing the blades. "It's like your car when you've got your new tyres on you need to balance the wheels, we have to put weights on the blades to make them smooth. There's quite a lot to getting the aircraft in the air!" Senior Aircraftman Jay Thompson is a survival equipment fitter. He said: "What I do is look after pilots flying helmets, clothing, night vision goggles, infrared equipment, life support jerkins and life rafts. Everything they might need if they end up in the worst situation and the aircraft comes down, our kit keeps them alive. We check the equipment before and after flying, there are routine services carried out and items fixed and changed regularly. "I did nine months training specifically for my trade. The equipment differs for different types of aircraft, I have worked with Hercules, fast jets and I did a year with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on their 50th anniversary and have flown on the Lancaster and the Dakota, it's a great job." Senior Aircraftman Darren Bain is an Avionic Technician, he has been in the RAF for eight years and stationed at RAF Aldergrove for the last 18 months. He said: "My job is to service avionic and electrical systems of the Puma which are mainly to do with navigation and communications, that kind of thing. It can be a challenge to chase down faults in these areas but that keeps it interesting. I did a 14-month electrical course to specify in my trade". As well as the highly skilled ground crew preparing and maintaining the aircraft and equipment on Exercise with 230 Squadron are communications, operations, transport and administration staff and chefs. Lance Corporal Leba Draunidalo is a chef normally based at RAF Aldergrove. She is on Exercise cooking for the Squadron in a joint Army and RAF kitchen: "We can be feeding up to 350 people for lunch and up to 250 at dinner time," she said. "We prepare similar food to home but the conditions are not as good. We don't have as much equipment out here and everything has to be done from scratch, there is no air conditioning so it's really hot. I would love to try some of the local dishes but time doesn't really allow for it. "I work alongside some locally employed civilian staff, one guy, Daniel, had worked in the kitchen at a local five-star hotel but finds the working conditions and pay is better with us. He is giving us some idea of local cuisine." Nanyuki is a market town with most of the members of the population earning their money through trade. Shops in the town supply many farms, ranches and game parks in a wide circle. The presence of the Military at the Nanyuki Show Grounds (NSG) has brought employment to some 2,000 locally employed civilians who fulfil various roles at the NSG. The jobs here are highly sought after and bring benefits both financially and educationally to the area. 230 Squadron have also become involved in supporting Nanyuki Children's home during their time in Kenya. The home has 120 full time residents with various backgrounds. The staff also work in the community running, health and sex education programmes and supporting vulnerable children within extended families. Hellen, the manager of the Children's home, said: "We are very grateful for all the work the RAF are doing for us, they have already negotiated payment for a new kitchen and got it up and running for us, they come on their days off, work and paint, clean and clear up what they can. "We rely totally on donations to keep running and any help is most appreciated. We spend so much money on medication, food and keeping the children in school, it's hard to get the more practical stuff done. It's also great to see the children joining in football games with the RAF guys, it gives them contact with adults and a real sense that someone cares enough to spend some time with them."
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
France Finishes Deal To Build 3rd Command Ship
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS - April 7, 2009: The government soon will order a third large command-and-projection ship as negotiations with industry have now been completed, French Defense Minister Hervé Morin said April 7. Morin told a defense conference here he had reached agreement with industry "yesterday evening" for the third batiment de projection et commandement, and that an order would be signed in the next few days, two defense executives present at the conference said. The third ship, classed as Landing Helicopter Dock, is part of a 2.3 billion euro ($3.1 billion) defense stimulus plan announced in December.The Mistral LHD is a multimission force projection and commandement vessel. An instrument of crisis management in times of conflict, it offers in times of peace a platform to support civilian populations in the event of a humanitarian crisis. Transformed into a veritable floating hospital, it can then provide medical care equivalent to a 40,000 people city. The military at the service of civiliansIn the 21st century, naval defense is playing new roles, with operations that are both more complex and more geographically remote. Humanitarian and/or inter-allied missions call for greater maximum payloads, the ability to reconfigure vessels when they are already underway depending on changes in the situation in the field and, consequently, a vastly increased adaptability.Thanks to its ability to adapt to different payloads, the Mistral LHD is capable of rising to these new challenges. Its ultra-modern hospital, equipped with two operating theaters, boasts the highest standards currently in force within NATO. The Mistral is also an efficient commandement and control center. With its powerful communications system, its fully redundant equipment and excellent maneuvering capabilities, it plays a pivotal role in the deployment of peacekeepers, in deterrence or the projection. Features Two adjustable pods equip the propulsion system of the Mistral LHD, providing it with outstanding maneuvering capability. The first “all electric” ship in the French Navy, it distinguished itself in the Lebanon in 2006 by allowing the evacuation of several thousand civilians in the space of just a few days during the so-called Baliste operation, while providing logistics support to the NATO force committed to a peacekeeping mission. Negotiations between naval systems company DCNS and commercial shipyard STX France over how the work should be shared out have been tough, a third official familiar with the talks said. DCNS is unlikely to make much money on the third ship as the main aim of the reflation package is to maintain jobs, but the defense budget is tight so margins will be squeezed. The naval company, however, is under pressure to lift profitability. The chief executive of the Délégation Générale pour l'Armement (DGA) procurement office, Laurent Collet-Billion, recently said most of the labor will be employed on building the ship's hull at STX France's St. Nazaire yard on the Brittany coast, eastern France. DCNS will handle system integration and militarization of the platform. The naval company used its Brest site to integrate the weapon systems on the first two ships of this type. The government is a majority shareholder in DCNS and holds a third of STX France's capital. A DCNS spokesman said, "We are waiting for further communication from the ministry before we communicate." STX France declined to comment. According to a DGA 2006 press release, the program cost for the first two ships of this class, the Mistral and Tonnerre, was 570 million euros, including development and production. The DGA says the two ships cost about 30 percent less than their predecessors, Sirocco and Ouragon, because of use of commercial shipbuilding. The government obliged DCNS to share the Mistral and Tonnerre work with STX France to keep the commercial yard afloat. On top of the 570 million euro figure was a further amount for a five-year service contract and a guarantee on readiness from DCNS, a government official said. DCNS was the prime contractor for the Mistral and Tonnerre and shared half the work with the then-Chantiers de l'Atlantique, owned by the Alstom engineering group. Chantiers de l'Atlantique was renamed STX France after being bought by the STX South Korean group. The French government bought 33.34 percent of STX France in November 2008. Under the 2009-14 military budget law, two more command-and-projection ships were due to be built, but the collapse of work led the government to advance the third vessel under the defense reflation package.
Russian Military Inducting Hi-Tech Israeli UAVs
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - April 7, 2009: Russia has purchased its first unmanned drones from Israel after its own manufacturers turned out to be ineffective at making the high-tech reconnaissance aircraft, a newspaper reported April 7. The IAI Searcher is a reconnaissance UAV developed in Israel in the 1980s. In the following decade, it replaced the IMI Mastiff and IAI Scout UAVs then in service with the Israeli Army. The Searcher looks almost identical to the Scout and Pioneer, but is scaled up, and in fact is well over twice the size of the Scout. The Searcher is powered by a 35 kW (47 hp) piston engine. It not only features updated avionics and sensor systems as well as greater endurance, but increased redundancy for improved survivability. It is also used by Thailand, Turkey and the Republic of Korea. The Israelis are now using the further improved "Searcher II", yet another scale-up of the basic Scout design with improved endurance. The deal for an initial purchase of $50 million worth of drones was concluded in early April with Israel Aerospace Industries, the Kommersant daily said, citing a Russian defense industry source. "The value of the first deal is not so large ... [but] what is important is not the size, but the fact that domestic military customers have turned to a foreign supplier. This will not end with a single purchase," Kommersant said. Russia decided to purchase the Israeli company's Bird-Eye 400, I-View MK150 and Search MK II drones, the newspaper reported, without specifying when the first drones would be delivered. A Defense Ministry spokesman declined to comment about the report. An intelligence mini-UAV that began its service in 1992, and has since participated in routine security operations in Lebanon. It serves to locate terrorist targets and aids IAF planes while they carry out their attacks. In June of 1998, the IAF's Mini-UAV Squadron received improved 'Searcher 2' UAVs. The Searcher 2s have backswept wings, a new engine, a new navigation system and advanced communications systems.
Moscow began shopping for foreign unmanned aircraft after last year's war in Georgia. Defense analysts say Georgia made effective use of its Israeli drones in the conflict, while Russia's home-made drones turned out to be inferior. Russia is in the midst of an ongoing effort to modernize its military and equip its armed forces with up-to-date technology.
Isreal Tested Arrow Interceptor Successfully: Reports
(NSI News Source Info) JERUSALEM - April 7, 2009: Israel successfully tested its Arrow ballistic missile interception system April 7, a costly project launched two decades ago aimed at countering strikes mainly from Iran. Diagram showing stages of missile interception by the Arrow ATBM System. The picture shows a hostile missile trajectory and that of the Black Sparrow air-launched target missile used in firing tests. The Arrow (Hetz in Hebrew) intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile comparable to Iran's Shahab-3, which can reach the Jewish state, that was fired by an Israeli fighter plane over the Mediterranean, a defense official said. "This morning, the Arrow system performed a successful test," the defense ministry said in a statement. "The success of the project marks a key step in its development plan and the improvement of the operational systems to offer a response to the growing threat of ballistic missiles in the region." Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who watched the test from a helicopter, said that together with a number of other rocket and missile interception systems being developed, the Arrow project "will offer optimal protection from near and immediate strategic threats," the ministry statement said. An Arrow Weapon System battery has four or eight launch trailers, each with six launch tubes and missiles, a Launch Control Centre, a communications centre, a fire control centre and the units of a mobile Green Pine radar system. It was the latest successful test of the Arrow, a project launched in 1988 during the now-defunct Star Wars program under then-U.S. President Reagan. Arrow was stepped up after Israel was hit by 39 Iraqi Scud missiles during the Gulf War. Development of the Arrow is now half-funded by the United States. Israel has carried out more than a dozen successful tests of the Arrow under various conditions. Israel considers Iran to be its arch-foe following repeated statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map. Israel, widely considered to be the Middle East's sole nuclear armed state, and Washington suspect Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of its civilian nuclear program, a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied.
Brazil Like India Interested To Make Russian New-Generation Fighters Under License: Report
(NSI News Source Info) April 7, 2009: Russia may allow Brazil to produce its fifth-generation fighters under a license in the future, a senior Russian government official said in an interview with reliable media sources. "We are discussing with the well-known Brazilian company Embraer the transfer of technology and the construction of facilities for the future licensed production of the aircraft, including the fifth-generation fighter," said Alexander Fomin, deputy director of the Federal Service on Military-Technical Cooperation. Su-35 multi-role fighter: On the world fighter market Russia’s Sukhoi is pinning its hopes, in the near future, on a substantially modernized Su-35 multi-role fighter. The model must be an interim type between today’s Su-30MK in various configurations and a prospective fifth-generation fighter, whose deliveries may start in the second half of the next decade. The Su-35 is a 4++ generation aircraft employing technologies of the fifth generation. They make it superior to all other 4th generation fighters now under development worldwide. In 2009-2015, thanks to these technologies, the Su-35 will dominate the world market, outperforming other proposed multi-role fighters. The first experimental Su-35, completed in summer 2007 at Komsomolsk-na-Amure Aviation Production Association (KnAAPO) first appeared at Russia’s MAKS-2007 air show. The Su-35 has long been a brand name in the aviation world. Since 1992, an export version of the Su-27 fighter (created under the order of the Russian Air Force) has been demonstrated at international air shows. At the turn of the millennium, Su-35 fighters participated in the tenders of Korean and Brazilian air forces. By the mid-decade of the new century, a general concept emerged of a considerably modified Su-27 fighter, which retained the name of Su-35. What is new in the Su-35? First off, the fighter will get an improved airframe, which will dramatically increase its service life to 6,000 hours, 30 years of operation (the time before the first test and recondition and the between-repairs period has been increased to 1,500 hours, or 10 years of operation). Aerodynamically it is similar to the Su-27. But unlike the Su-30MKI it will feature no canard fins. All the three channels will have electrically signaled control without mechanical cabling. The use of a new integrated control system (developed by MNPK Avionika Moscow-based Research and Production Association) simultaneously performing functions of several systems – remote control, automatic control, limiting signals system, air signals system, chassis wheels braking system – will enhance the fighter’s handling capability and maneuverability. Russia's advanced multirole fighter is being developed by the Sukhoi aircraft maker, part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), along with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), under a preliminary intergovernmental agreement signed in October 2007. The first prototype is scheduled to make its maiden flight before the end of 2009. Last November, Russia and Brazil signed a series of agreements on military technology cooperation which emphasize the protection of intellectual property rights and technology secrets. The agreements will facilitate the transfer of technology and the licensed production of the Russian aircraft in Brazil if Moscow decides to sign a contract with the South American country. Meanwhile, Russia's Su-35 jet fighter is participating in an ongoing tender for the delivery of over 100 fighters to the Brazilian Air Force. "We are actively participating in the Brazilian tender, which has been reopened. It involves over 100 fighter planes. Russia has made a bid in the tender with its Su-35 multirole fighter. The tender has stiff requirements, involving not only the sale, but also the transfer of technology. It is a key condition of the deal and Russia is ready to satisfy it," Fomin said. Brazil wants a multirole fighter to protect its national airspace as well as to keep track of smugglers in the Amazon basin and guard the country's offshore oil rigs. However, it also wants the multi-billion dollar contract to reenergize the domestic defense industry through home-grown production and as much technology transfer as can be afforded.
North Korea Launches Rocket 'Failed' - Update # 6 / First Picture Of North Korean Rocket – But No Sign Of Satellite
North Korea Launches Rocket 'Failed' - Update # 6 / First Picture Of North Korean Rocket – But No Sign Of Satellite
(NSI News Source Info) TOKYO - April 7, 2009: It isn’t a bird, it isn’t a plane, and it’s certainly not Superman – but is it a satellite? Two days after North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket rattled the rest of the world, there is still no agreement on what it was actually doing. A US research institute has released the first photographs of Sunday’s launch of the Musudan-ri launch site in the north-east of North Korea. They clearly show the rocket’s smoke trail across the forested hills and the fiery trail of the projectile itself. But where did it end up? Satellite image released late April 06, 2009 by the Institute for Science and International security (ISIS) and taken by the commercial satellite imagery service Digitalglobe on April 05, 2009 showing what appears to be the Musudan-ri North Korean rocket or missile in flight. The secretive North Korean stated claimed it had launched a satellite on April 05 that was now circling the globe, transmitting data and patriotic songs praising secretive leader Kim Jong-Il. But the United States and South Korea said the launch had failed to get anything into orbit, and experts said the rocket's second and third stages apparently failed to separate over the Pacific. The North Korean state media repeated their claim yesterday that the launch had been a complete success, pitching into orbit the Kwangmyongsong 2, or ‘Lodestar’, satellite. The name is one of the titles awarded to the country’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Il, who witnessed the launch and reportedly expressed great satisfaction with what sounds less like a communications beacon than a giant musical box. “Our satellite is transmitting the immortal revolutionary paeans The Song of General Kim Il Sung and The Song of General Kim Jong-il as well as measured information to the earth,” the Korean Central News Agency reported. Both are hymns to Mr Kim and his father, the founding president of North Korea. “Liberator of the working people,” goes The Song of General Kim Il Sung. “Democratic new Korea, great Sun/ We rally around the twenty principles/ Everywhere in North Korea is spring.” But four of the countries monitoring the skies for the signs of the warbling space vehicle – the US, Russia, South Korea and Japan – report no sign of it, or its music. Far from being entertained, the US, Britain and France, with vigorous lobbying by Japan, are pressing for stern action in the UN Security Council – although their efforts have so far been blocked by North Korea’s former Cold War allies, China and Russia, who can veto any resolution. “We are actively involved in consultation with partners at the United Nations, members of the Security Council,” Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said. “We know that working out the exact language is not easily done overnight, but we remain convinced that coming out with a strong position in the United Nations is the first and important step that we intend to take.” But Moscow and Beijing wish to avoid alienating North Korea and to continue the six way negotiations on the future of its nuclear programme which have made slow progress in Beijing. “The core element in this situation is the six-party talks," said Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the UN, in New York yesterday. “The key thing is to make sure that we do not confine ourselves to an emotional knee-jerk reaction because what we do need is a common strategy and not losing sight of the goal - and this is the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.” According to the US military, the rocket flew safely over Japan and ditched its final stage – and, apparently, its satellite payload – into the Pacific Ocean after a journey of 3,200 km (1,990 miles). However unsuccessful the satellite launch, this is further than any North Korean missile has flow before. But, according to reports in a South Korean newspaper yesterday, the North will rely on reports from its enemies, because it lacks radar powerful enough to track the flight of its own missile all the way to the end. The Chosun Ilbo newspaper also claimed that a North Korean ship dispatched to monitor the flight had to turn back because of mechanical problems and that an air force plane crashed because of poor maintenance. In North Korea, today’s Rodong Sinmun (Worker’s Newspaper) quoted Mr Kim making a point that many of his enemies also have – that, with regular famines which may have killed as many as several million people, North Korea can hardly afford an expensive space programme. “While preparing for this proud victory, the General felt regret that more resources could not be used for the people's livelihood but said the people would understand him,” the paper reported. “Our hearts are rent by the General's remarks.”
Pakistan's ISI Has Contacts With Extremists: US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates *ISI has contacts with extremists: Gates By Anwar Iqbal DAWN NEWS Pakistan *Pakistan calls for trust with US By BBC News (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 7, 2009: The ISI’s contacts with the Hekmatyar, Haqqani and the Nazir groups are a real concern for the United States, says US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates. In a recent interview to an Afghan television channel, Mr Gates also expressed concern over Pakistan’s agreement with the militants in Swat saying that such deals only allow the militants to reassemble and revive their strength. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates listens to a reporter's questions at the Pentagon in Washington,DC. ‘The ISI's contacts with some of these extremist groups —with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Haqqani network, Commander Nazir (sp) and others —are a real concern to us,’ said Mr Gates. ‘We have made these concerns known directly to the Pakistanis. And we hope that they will take action to put an end to it.’ ‘Are US drones flying from Afghanistan to hit militant hideouts in the Pakistani territory?’ he was asked. ‘I can't talk about our military operations, obviously. But the president (Obama) has made clear that we will go after al Qaeda and their planning cells and their training centres, wherever they are in the world.’ The journalist reminded him that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had assured Pakistan he respects the country’s sovereignty. ‘So if the drones hitting targets inside Pakistan fly from Afghanistan, will not be disrespect to the sovereignty of another country?’ the journalist asked. ‘Well, all I can say, again, is that our priority is going after al Qaeda. And we will go after them wherever they are,’ Mr Gates replied. Talking about US concerns over the Swat peace deal, Secretary Gates said that similar agreements in 2005 and 2006 led to an increase in the number of violent extremists coming across the border into Afghanistan. The militants, he said, no longer had to worry about Pakistani troops because of the deals that were made under President Musharraf. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, right, gestures as U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, left, and U.S. envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, center, look on during their joint press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, April 7, 2009. Pakistani and U.S. officials emphasized the need for trust between their countries to counter the al-Qaida and the Taliban threat, even as Pakistan's foreign minister complained Tuesday about American missile strikes on his nation's soil. Mr Gates said he believed the Pakistani government was coming to understand that the militancy in the NWFP was as great a danger to the government in Islamabad as it’s to Afghanistan. The Pakistani army, he said, was now fighting the militants and thousands of Pakistani soldiers had died while combating these extremists. ‘One of our goals in this new strategy is to see how we can improve cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, who have a common interest in getting rid of these extremists.’ Asked what the US could do to persuade Pakistan to adopt a more effective policy against the militants, Mr Gates said Pakistan was a sovereign country, and so the US could only encourage it to fight the militants as a partner in this war. ‘What we are doing is making clear to them that we are prepared to be a long-term ally and partner of Pakistan; that we will help them deal with their security problems.’ The United States, he said, was prepared to provide gear and training to enhance Pakistan’s counterinsurgency capabilities. ‘We're also prepared to try and provide additional economic assistance to Pakistan because they face a number of challenges in that area as well.’
Kazakhstan Proposes Hosting Nuclear Fuel Bank (NSI News Source Info) ASTANA - April 7, 2009: Kazakhstan has offered the UN nuclear watchdog its territory to set up a nuclear fuel bank, the president said on Monday at a joint press conference with Iran's leader. "If a nuclear fuel bank is created for the nuclear power industry, Kazakhstan could consider the possibility of placing it on our territory, as a country that signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and voluntarily gave up nuclear weapons," Nursultan Nazarbayev said. In September 2008, the United States said it would allocate $50 million to create a nuclear fuel bank under the International Atomic Energy Agency, and called on all countries to invest funds for the purpose. Some countries have already made the decision to allocate $5-10 million for this task. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he backed Nazarbayev's idea, saying: "We believe Nazarbayev's proposal to create a nuclear fuel bank in Kazakhstan is a very good proposal."
North Korea Launches Rocket 'Failed' - Update # 5 / Chinese Border Patrol Guards On Guard At North Korea Border
North Korea Launches Rocket 'Failed' - Update # 5 / Chinese Border Patrol Guards On Guard At North Korea Border
(NSI News Source Info) April 7, 2009: Chinese border patrol guards train along the Yalu river that divides China from North Korea in Dandong, northeastern China's Liaoning province, Tuesday, April 7 , 2009. Sunday's rocket launch has rattled North Korea's neighbors and countries around the globe, with the U.S. and its allies pushing for quick punishment at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting held hours after liftoff.
Defense Chief Robert Gates To Propose Weapons Cuts - Update # 2 / Defense Secretary Robert Gates Reveals DoD Program Overhaul
Defense Chief Robert Gates To Propose Weapons Cuts - Update # 2 / Defense Secretary Robert Gates Reveals DoD Program Overhaul
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 7, 2009: The Pentagon should kill the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) armored vehicle program and launch a new competition for ground vehicles, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters April 6. (Photo: A U.S. Army Non-Line-of-Sight-Cannon fires at the Yuma, Ariz., test range.) (ARMY) Gates revealed his FCS recommendation amid a slew of others for cuts and changes to weapons programs that will go to the White House as it shapes the 2010 budget request to Congress.The plan signals the Obama administration's desire to stop production of several platforms, such as the F-22 fighter; terminate others, such as the Transformational Satellite initiative; limit several, such as FCS and the DDG 1000 destroyer; and put off a final decision for others, such as a new Air Force long-range bomber, pending the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review. The 2010 budget also will seek to buy more existing weapons such as F/A-18 fighters, Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites and DDG 51 destroyers. Just before Gates began his hour-long session with reporters, Defense officials informed key lawmakers of his plans for the 2010 spending request. And even before the media briefing had concluded, lawmakers were issuing statements defending programs important to their districts and states. Several lawmakers who chair important defense committees on Capitol Hill said some of Gates' changes might not stick. "Secretary Gates has set out major changes to the defense budget based on changed assumptions about the wars our military must be prepared to fight. This is a good-faith effort, and I appreciate the hard work and thoughtful consideration Secretary Gates and his staff put into these proposals," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., said in a statement. "However, the buck stops with Congress, which has the critical Constitutional responsibility to decide whether to support these proposals," Skelton said. "In the weeks ahead, my colleagues and I will carefully consider these proposals and look forward to working with Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen as we prepare the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization act." Gates said the 2010 budget request will recommend that: * The Air Force cap its F-22 Raptor program at 187 jets. Gates said "all the military advice," including from the Air Force, he received over the past few months indicated that "there is no requirement for more than 187" Lockheed Martin-made Raptors. Under its now-replaced Bush-era leadership, the Air Force had long said it needed 381 of the stealthy fighters. The budget will propose retiring 250 "of the oldest Air Force tactical fighter aircraft in FY-10," Gates said. * The Pentagon accelerate the Lockheed-made F-35 Lightning II strike fighter program, and purchase a total of 2,443 for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. The decision to speed the F-35 program, Gates said in his opening statement, was his desire to build "a fifth-generation tactical fighter capability that can be produced in quantity at sustainable cost. The Pentagon's budget plan will propose buying 513 Lightning IIs over the next five years, aiming to keep overall program costs down, including costs for Washington's international F-35 partners, Gates said. * The VH-71 Presidential Helicopter program be canceled and work begins with the White House this summer on a new program, with a new competition. Gates said the existing fleet "has some life left," giving officials time to reshape the program and field a new fleet before the existing one wears out. * The Navy proceed with acquiring more Boeing-built F/A-18 fighters. The sea service has talked about a "fighter gap," which naval officials say would be partially filled by acquiring more F/A-18s. The 2010 budget will propose buying 31 more. * The Navy cap its DDG 1000 program at three ships to be built at Bath Iron Works in Maine, while restarting DDG 51 efforts by Northrop Grumman at its Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi. He did not put a number on how many additional DDG 51s the Pentagon will aim to purchase. Gates was clearly worried about the ability of the Navy and industry to "smoothly" hammer out the contractual details of making this plan work. "Even if these arrangements don't work out, the DDG 1000 program would end with the third ship and the DDG 51 would continue to be built in both yards," Gates said. If the Pentagon and industry are unable to turn Gates' plan into contractual reality, he said, "the department will likely build only a single prototype DDG 1000 at Bath and then review our options for restarting production of the DDG 51." The latter, Gates warned, would limit the number of ships the Navy could buy "and cut workload in both shipyards." * The Air Force put off a program to build a new long-range bomber until, as the secretary said, "more is known" about the operational requirement for it and the technologies needed to meet the full slate of requirements. * The Air Force kill the Transformational Satellite program and instead buy two more Extremely High Frequency communications satellites. * The Air Force cancel the long-stalled CSAR-X search-and-rescue helicopter program. Gates said he is interested in studying whether the program should be revived as a joint program, aiming to purchase one new platform to be used by several services instead of multiple helicopters for multiple services. * The Air Force kill the second Airborne Laser airplane while keeping the first one for research-and-development work. * The Army cap its Brigade Combat Teams at 45, not 48. * The Defense Department reduce the proportion of its work done by contractors from 37 percent to the mid-20s. * DoD convert 11,000 acquisition contracting jobs to Defense Department civilians, then hire 9,000 more acquisition officers, while also hiring as many as 30,000 new civil servants over five years to replace so-called "support contractors" from the private sector. Gates said the 2010 budget will propose hiring 13,000 of those next year. Gates also said he plans to re-open bidding this summer for a multibillion contract to build a new fleet of aerial refueling tankers, and that he opposed a split buy. "I still believe that it is not the best deal for the taxpayer to go with a split buy," he said. As for FCS, the secretary said the vehicles, which are being designed to avoid attacks instead of withstand them, were not geared to address combat of the sort taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan. Several prototypes of the eight planned Manned Ground Vehicles (MGVs) have been built featuring lightweight composite armor, active protection systems, hybrid-electric propulsion systems and rubberlike band tracks. In total, the Army had planned for eight variants. The MGVs were slated to begin fielding in 2015. Gates did, however, leave the door open for redesigned FCS armored vehicles to emerge in the months and years ahead. The secretary said the FCS spin-out technologies would remain on schedule for a 2011 delivery. The spinouts include communications for individual soldiers, small robots, small UAVs, small sensors and guided rockets. At least $87 billion had been planned for the FCS vehicles, which were a centerpiece of the $160 billion effort run by Boeing and SAIC.
Pakistan’s Top Judge Rebukes Officials
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - April 7, 2009: The newly restored chief justice of Pakistan displayed his reputation as a human rights advocate and a prod to the government on Monday, when he hauled the attorney general and other officials before the Supreme Court and rebuked them over the flogging of a 17-year-old woman in the Taliban-controlled area of Swat. The chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, assailed the officials for laziness and self-importance, and challenged them for not taking up the case until it became a national scandal in recent days, when a video showing the woman pinned to the ground and repeatedly whipped by a Taliban commander was broadcast on Pakistani television. Students in Lahore, Pakistan, protested against the flogging of a 17-year-old woman in the Taliban-controlled area of Swat. “Before the video became public, what were you doing, why couldn’t you find out what had happened?” Mr. Chaudhry asked the attorney general, Sardar Latif Khosa. By choosing to highlight the terror in Swat, Mr. Chaudhry, who has been back on the bench about two weeks after two years of enforced limbo, immediately returned to his role of shaming an acquiescent government and military into acting in the face of wrongdoing. Last week, Mr. Chaudhry and his seven fellow judges demanded that the officials bring the woman, known as Chand, before the court as part of an investigation into what had happened. When the officials failed to produce her Monday, the hearing turned into a critical public airing of the government’s decision to enter a peace deal in February that effectively gave the Taliban control over Swat, just 100 miles from the capital, Islamabad. The attorney general, Mr. Khosa, aware that the situation was embarrassing for the government, asked at the outset that the hearing be held behind closed doors, a request Mr. Chaudhry batted away. From the volley of exchanges between the judges and the officials, and an impassioned account by a prominent lawyer before the court of the terror in Swat, it became clear that the Taliban ran the area with impunity. Chand was singled out for the punishment after she declined a Taliban fighter’s proposal for marriage, the head of the Peshawar Bar Association, Abdul Latif Afridi, said after the hearing. After her refusal to marry, an electrician visited the family home, and, according to Mr. Afridi’s account, the scorned Taliban suitor saw her leave the house with the workman. She was flogged on March 7, accused of consorting with the electrician as an unmarried woman, the lawyer said. Since the video was first shown on Pakistani television stations last Thursday, it has set off an emotional national debate. Some commentators and political leaders have defended the flogging as being within the bounds of Islamic law. The leader of the right-wing Islamist party Jamaat Islaami said the flogging was unimportant compared to the missile strikes against militants in the tribal areas by American drones. Samar Minallah, a rights activist, distributed the video to news outlets after receiving it from a contact in Swat, where it is available in markets. Ms. Minallah said she wanted the nation to know what was going on in the area that federal and provincial officials had been too afraid to visit since the February peace deal. The atmosphere of fear and the absence of law was most vividly described to the judges by Mr. Afridi, the Peshawar lawyer, who appeared separately from the government officials. A seven-month operation by the Pakistani Army against the Taliban from last July until February had resulted “in a total surrender” and the killing of hundreds of people by Pakistani soldiers, he said. Now, he said: “The most fundamental rights are violated every second of every day. People are being ejected from their houses, courts are closed, 300 schools have been demolished.” More than 900 police officers had deserted the force of 1,600 in Swat, and now the Taliban were on the verge of taking over the neighboring area of Dir, Mr. Afridi said. After listening to the grim assessment, Mr. Chaudhry asked the attorney general what he was doing about Swat. A “high-powered committee” had been appointed, the nation’s senior lawyer replied. “We are trying to retrieve the writ of the government,” he said. Mr. Chaudhry complained that the police, instead of filing a formal complaint on the flogging the same night the video had first been shown, had waited several days. Had the woman appeared before any court, he asked. “If she has, it’s in front of a kangaroo court,” replied Malik Naveed Khan, the inspector general of police in the North-West Frontier Province. Then Mr. Chaudhry turned his attention to the senior official in the Interior Ministry, Kemal Shah, who reached retirement age two years ago but was given an indefinite extension by Pervez Musharraf, the president at the time, to serve as secretary of the Interior Ministry. Why had the secretary not been to Swat, the chief justice asked, a question that was a clear challenge to the government’s impotence in an area where even the military fears to operate. Faced with silence, the judge ordered: “You go to Swat yourself. You must be very bright. You go yourself. We command you do it and report to us what is happening.” After the hearing, a journalist from Swat, Ehsan Haqqani, who reports for The Associated Press of Pakistan, said he was pleased that the Supreme Court had brought attention to a situation most others had ignored. “We were the forgotten people,” said Mr. Haqqani, who has edited a collection of essays, “The Plea of Swat,” published by Shoaib Sons Publishers in Mingora, Swat. “The government was only a silent spectator. Now the Supreme Court is forcing the government to take notice. That is encouraging for us.”
British Army Showed Off The Full Array Of Firepower
(NSI News Source Info) April 7, 2009: With a barrage of ear-shattering bangs, the British Army showed off the full array of firepower it has at its disposal during a Land Combat Power Display on Salisbury Plain last week. Report by Danny Chapman.Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank and an Apache Longbow helicopter during the firepower demonstration at Warminster [Picture: Corporal Ian Forsyth RLC] The procession of explosions created at the display were provided by a whole range of military weapons and equipment and, during a twenty minute finale when each piece of kit was shown working in unison to attack a pretend enemy compound in the distance, there was no doubt that the British Army packs a serious punch and that no enemy, pretend or not, was coming out of there alive. The display was conducted by the 3rd Battalion (Staffords) The Mercian Regiment (3 MERCIAN) with support from Royal Engineers and Royal Artillery. 3 MERCIAN are currently the Land Warfare Centre Battle Group who assist and support the training of all Army units on Salisbury Plain Training Area. The primary aim of the display was to help educate recently promoted majors in the Army who are currently attending the Intermediate Command and Staff Course at the Defence Academy. It is a major who leads a battalion on the battlefield and, by attending the Land Combat Power Display, they can develop an understanding of how a Land formation is deployed to achieve full operational effect and see the full range of support they have at their disposal. Around 400 majors on the Staff Course attended the display last Thursday, 2 April 2009, including Major Darren Cook, who also happens to be from 3 MERCIAN. He said: An eight-man infantry section displays the range of current weapons it would use in battle [Picture: Cpl Russ Nolan RLC] "We're moving onto the operations phase of the Staff Course and the planning of operations. This display is really good in terms of understanding what we have and allows us to put into context what resources we have." As well as the main display of firepower itself, numerous vehicles, weapons and other resources such as Explosive and Ordnance Disposal teams, available to commanders on operations were shown in a static display where the majors could walk around and talk to soldiers with experience of operating them. Major Cook continued: "The course builds on our experience. All majors here have at least nine years experience in the Army and have all been to Iraq or Afghanistan. "I've not been to Afghanistan so I'm particularly interested in seeing the kit that's operating out there. I particularly thought the Mastiff was good. I've not seen it before as it doesn't operate in Iraq where I have deployed, so it stood out for me." Next to the Mastiff was the new Ridgback vehicle which is due to be deployed to Afghanistan later in 2009. Trooper James Hawley from the Household Cavalry who worked alongside the Mastiff in Afghanistan, described the Ridgback: "It's a new variant on the Mastiff. It's exactly the same as the Mastiff just smaller which allows more manoeuvrability. It's an Armoured Personnel Carrier for dropping troops off as close to the fighting as possible. It's also mine proven." 81mm Mortars firing from the rear of a Bulldog infantry fighting vehicle [Picture: Cpl Russ Nolan RLC] Trooper Hawley was deployed to Helmand last year where he went out on reconnaissance patrols for up to three weeks at a time using Jackal vehicles, also on display. He added: "The Jackal is an awesome bit of kit. The speed and ground you can cover makes it ideal for reconnaissance. You can only have so much protection before you loose manoeuvrability but they do offer a lot of protection." The Land Combat Power Display is not just for majors on the Staff Course. Lieutenant Colonel Richard Spiby, the Commanding Officer of 3 MERCIAN, explained: "The course is designed for majors on promotion to show them all the equipment in the British Army, but there are also Cadet Forces here, people from Defence Industry and across the MOD. It's important that people know how all the things come together." After time looking around the static display, the visitors - which numbered 1,500 - made their way to a grandstand overlooking a swathe of countryside with the odd rusty tank or car and a couple of compounds on a ridge in the distance. In a surreal show reminiscent of a Royal Tournament each element of a Battle Group was brought out individually as a running audio commentary described its uses and firepower, before treating the crowd to a practical demonstration using live (and very loud) ammunition. Multiple explosions as Python clears a minefield [Picture: Corporal Ian Forsyth RLC] An Infantry Dismounted section was first up where the eight-man unit stood on a small stage in front of the main firing area and showed off the individual soldier's range of personal kit, from Osprey Body Armour, Personal Role Radios and SA80 A2 Rifles, to General Purpose Machine Guns and Light Machine Guns. The unit then ran into trenches and gave its audience a display of how it uses its weapons to suppress enemy activity. Next up were snipers with their L115A3 Long Range Rifle - "The best in the world" claimed the commentator - before support weapons were displayed and the bangs started getting louder. A Jackal-mounted Heavy Machine Gun sent bright orange flashes across the countryside as the bullets flew and mortar and Javelin teams showed the crowd what could be achieved with some metal tubes carried on soldiers' backs. The Javelin was especially impressive. Its mini, very dangerous, and state-of-the-art-looking missile, rose into the air and seemed to hover slightly before darting across the landscape, hitting its target bang on and destroying it completely. With Guns N' Roses music coming from loud speakers in the grandstand, out came the Armoured Fighting Vehicles. Skidding around in the gravel with their drivers encased within their heavily armoured bodies so that no human presence was visible, the vehicles looked like Transformers from another planet as their gun turrets menacingly surveyed the audience and the undercarriages danced around in a mechanical ballet. One by one out came the Scimitar reconnaissance vehicle, the Warrior Infantry Fighting vehicle - speeding into the frame and quickly delivering it's soldiers to the scene of battle, and finally, the demonic Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank - spewing black smoke as it moved into position and began a fearful assault on the surrounding hills with its 120mm gun. The weird and wonderful Engineering and Logistics vehicles followed, including the huge Titan bridge-laying vehicle, the dinosaur-like Trojan with its excavator arm, dozer blade and mine plough allowing it to breach obstacles, and the Python whose dragon-like launcher lit up a trail of flames to neutralise minefields. Finally, to the music of 80s TV show Airwolf, an Apache attack helicopter descended in front of the grandstand before most of the audience jumped out their skins as a Tornado jet screeched across the skies from behind, dropping its explosive payload onto the hills and sending shock waves heavenwards. The combined use of all this equipment during the final live ammunition "attack" on enemy compounds was ferocious and frightening, as well as deafening!
Iraq Buying Dozens Of Military Choppers From US, EU / Iraq Signs Weapons Deals With U.S., Europe
(NSI News Source Info) BAGHDAD - April 7, 2009: Iraq has signed deals with the United States and Europe to buy dozens of military helicopters that will be delivered over the next two years, the defence ministry spokesman said on Monday. The EC 635 is Eurocopter's powerful lightweight twin-engine army helicopter for air-to-air combat and ground support. It is also used as a utility helicopter and for training, search and rescue, and combat search and rescue. The helicopter is an armour-protected and armed version of the proven federal and civil EC 135 helicopter, of which more than 300 have been ordered. The first EC 635 of an order of nine was delivered to the Royal Jordanian Air Force in July 2003. An order for nine EC 635 helicopters for the Portuguese Army was cancelled in August 2002. In April 2006, Switzerland ordered 18 EC 635 helicopters for utility and advanced training missions. RUAG Aerospace is licence-building 16 of the helicopters. Europter delivered the first in March 2008, RUAG the third in August 2008. Deliveries are to complete in 2010. Iraq 24 EC 635 are planned for the Iraqi Air Force. Major General Mohammed al-Askari said the government had placed orders with US and European groups for what he described as ‘dozens’ of helicopters, but declined to give a precise number. A senior military source, however, told AFP that ‘Iraq has agreed with the United States and European countries to buy more than 40 helicopters.’ ‘We will receive all these helicopters in the next two years,’ the source said, noting that the US would supply 30 of the aircraft, mainly to be used in the fight against terrorism. Last month, French defence minister Herve Morin and his Iraqi counterpart Abdel Kader Obeidi announced the purchase by Baghdad of 24 multi-purpose Eurocopter EC 635 helicopters. The deal for the transport helicopters, which can carry up to seven soldiers and also engage in reconnaissance and search and rescue missions, is worth 360 million dollars. They form part of the order mentioned by the Iraqi security source. In addition, France is preparing to sell to Iraq six Gazelle helicopters to train Iraqi pilots, said a French source close to the deal.
U.K., U.S. Armored-Vehicle Firms Form Support Joint Venture
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON - April 7, 2009: U.S. armored-vehicle builder Force Protection has set up its first overseas joint venture, a 50-50 partnership with NP Aerospace that will support the growing Cougar-based fleet in operation with or ordered by the British military. The first task of the new company, known as Integrated Survivability Technologies (IST), will be to supply to the MoD 97 of Force Protection's new heavy tactical support vehicles, to be called the Wolfhound in British service. The Cougar is a family of armored vehicles produced by Force Protection Inc, which manufactures ballistic and mine-protected vehicles. The automotives are integrated by Spartan Motors. These specialty vehicles are protected against small arms, land mines and IEDs using a combination of design features and materials to protect both the crew and engine compartment against a wide range of attacks. A Monocoque type, V-shaped hull that extends to the engine bay and serves to direct the blast away from under the vehicle. The dual air-conditioners help keep heavily dressed troops from overheating in the 100+ degree F temperatures of Iraq. 4000 of these vehicles will have been fielded under the US military's MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) and other vehicle programs. US Defense secretary Robert Gates demanded that the vehicles be ordered in larger numbers after the Marines reported in 2004 that no troops had died in more than 300 IED attacks on Cougars. Since then, Cougars have been hit by IEDs many times in Iraq with few fatalities. Britain chose the Cougar over the RG-33 for their "Mastiff" APV. The Pentagon has future plans to add the Crows II remote weapon station, Raytheon Quick Kill active anti-RPG system, and the Frag Kit 6 anti-EFP armor. The armored truck is being purchased along with vehicles from Navistar Defense and local company Supacat to meet a 350 million pound ($522 million) upgrade of capabilities to support British troops fighting in Afghanistan. The new joint venture will subcontract Force Protection to supply the basic vehicles. NP Aerospace is undertaking the modifications required by the British. The order is to be delivered by the end of the year as part of an urgent operational requirement purchase. IST will assume design authority for the Cougar-based vehicles and will be the focal point for new orders and support with spares, upgrades and design modifications, according to the company's managing director, Mike Linton. Nearly 554 Cougar-based vehicles have been ordered or are in service with the British armed forces. The six-wheel-drive Cougar is known as the Mastiff and the four-wheel-drive version as the Ridgback in British service. Under previous arrangements, the MoD ordered the vehicles from Force Protection, then handed them as government-furnished equipment to NP Aerospace, which did the modifications that turned them into Mastiffs and Ridgbacks. Linton said the new relationship will result in a more "elegant and efficient solution." The MoD recently ordered 14 Force Protection Buffalo route-clearance vehicles to strengthen its anti-roadside-bomb capabilities. The support of those vehicles also will come under IST's umbrella, Linton said. The joint venture's horizons go beyond Britain, he said. "The aspiration is to start looking for business in Europe once the joint venture gets up and running. There is real opportunity there. It may be better for Cougar to be supported from the U.K. than the U.S.," he said. France and Italy are both Force Protection customers, and Poland has 40 Cougars on loan from the U.S. In a statement released to the stock exchange here, Morgan Crucible, the company that owns NP Aerospace, said it expected to generate more than 30 million pounds' revenue as its share of the 84 million pound Wolfhound deal secured with the MoD. Late last year, the MoD announced the Wolfhound would be part of a purchase of more than 400 new armored support trucks. Navistar Defense is supplying about 260 MXTs for a medium-weight vehicle called the Husky by the British. Local company Supacat will supply a variant of its Jackal vehicle known as the Coyote for the light support vehicle requirement. Last week, the MoD announced British-based firm Dytecna would be undertaking the modification of the Navistar vehicle.
Defense Chief Robert Gates To Propose Weapons Cuts / Defense Secretary Robert Gates To Reveal Plans To Reshape Military
Defense Chief Robert Gates To Propose Weapons Cuts / Defense Secretary Robert Gates To Reveal Plans To Reshape Military
(NSI News Source Info) April 7, 2009: Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday recommended halting production of the F-22 fighter jet and scrapping a new helicopter for the president as he outlined deep cuts to many of the military's biggest weapons programs. Gates said his $534 billion budget proposal represents a "fundamental overhaul" in defense acquisition and reflects a shift in priorities from fighting conventional wars to the newer threats U.S. forces face from insurgents in places such as Afghanistan. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates listens to a reporter's questions as he delivers remarks regarding his US Defense Department budget recomendation for 2010,on April 6, 2009 at the Pentagon in Washington,DC. Gates announced Monday that his recommended defense budget would "profoundly reform" military spending, calling for cuts to major weapons programs such as F-22 fighter jets. "If approved, these recommendations will profoundly reform how this department does business," Gates told a news conference. The department must ensure it has the right programs and money to "fight the wars we are in today and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years to come, while at the same time providing a hedge against other risks," Gates said as he revealed details of his budget for the next fiscal year. The promised emphasis on budget paring is a reversal from the Bush years, which included a doubling of the Pentagon's spending since 2001. Spending on tanks, fighter planes, ships, missiles and other weapons accounted for about a third of all defense spending last year. But Gates noted more money will be needed in areas such as personnel as the Army and Marines expand the size of their forces. Gates will likely face stiff resistance in Congress, where lawmakers are wary of losing defense contractor jobs with an economy in crisis. Some defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp. have warned of huge layoffs if programs are cut. Production of the F-22 fighter jet, which cost $140 million apiece, would be halted at 187. Plans to build a new helicopter for the president and a helicopter to rescue downed pilots would be canceled. A new communications satellite would be scrapped and the program for a new Air Force transport plane would be ended. Some of the Pentagon's most expensive programs would also be scaled back. The Army's $160 billion Future Combat Systems modernization program would lose its armored vehicles. Plans to build a shield to defend against missile attacks by rogue states would also be scaled back. Yet some programs would grow. Gates proposed speeding up production of the F-35 fighter jet, which could end up costing $1 trillion to manufacture and maintain 2,443 planes. The military would buy more speedy ships that can operate close in to land. And more money would be spent outfitting special forces troops that can hunt down insurgents. "It is important to remember that every defense dollar spent to over-ensure against a remote or diminishing risk - or in effect to run up the score in a capability where the United States is already dominant - is a dollar not available to take care of our people, reset the force, win the wars we are in and improve capabilities in areas where we are underinvested and potentially vulnerable," Gates said. The Government Accountability Office reported last week that 96 of the Pentagon's biggest weapons contracts were over budget by a "staggering" figure of $296 billion. A bill in Congress would require the Pentagon to do a better job of making sure proposed weapons are affordable and perform the way they should before the military spends big sums on them. The Defense Department has already adjusted its acquisitions policy to achieve some of those goals.
The Pentagon should kill the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) armored vehicles program and launch a competition to supply new vehicles, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters April 6. Gates revealed his FCS preference amid a slew of other recommendations for cuts and changes to weapon programs that will go to the White House as it shapes the 2010 budget request to Congress.
Gates also recommended that: * The Air Force cap its F-22 Raptor program at 187 jets. * The Pentagon accelerate the F-35 Lightning II strike fighter program. * The Navy cap its DDG 1000 program at three ships to be built at Bath Iron Works, while restarting DDG 51 efforts by Northrop Grumman. * The Air Force kill the Transformational Satellite Program and buy two Extremely High Frequency communications satellites instead. * The Air Force cancel the CSAR-X search-and-rescue helicopter program. * The Air Force kill the second Airborne Laser airplane while keeping the first one for research-and-development work. * DoD reduce the proportion of its work done by contractors from 37 percent to the mid-20s. * DoD convert 11,000 acquisition contracting jobs to DoD civilians, then hire 9,000 more acquisition officers. The secretary said the FCS vehicles, which are being designed to avoid attacks instead of withstand them, were not geared to address combat of the sort taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan. Several prototypes of the eight planned Manned Ground Vehicles (MGVs) have been built featuring lightweight composite armor, active protection systems, hybrid-electric propulsion systems and rubber-like band tracks. In total, the Army had planned for eight variants. The MGVs were slated to begin fielding in 2015. Gates did, however, leave the door open for redesigned FCS armored vehicles to emerge in the months and years ahead. Gates said the FCS spin-out technologies would remain on schedule for a 2011 delivery. The spinouts include communications for individual soldiers, small robots, small UAVs, small sensors and guided rockets. At least $87 billion had been planned for the FCS vehicles, which were a centerpiece of the $160 billion effort run by Boeing and SAIC.
Brazilian Air Force Will Induct Russian Mi-35 Helicopters: Report / Russia To Deliver Attack Helicopters To Brazil This Year
Brazilian Air Force Will Induct Russian Mi-35 Helicopters: Report / Russia To Deliver Attack Helicopters To Brazil This Year
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - April 7, 2009: Russia will start deliveries of Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters to Brazil by the end of 2009, a senior government official said on Monday. The Russian helicopter beat off fierce competition from the Augusta A-129 Mangusta and the Eurocopter AS-665 Tiger to win a Brazilian tender last fall. In NATO circles the export versions, Mi-25 and Mi-35, are simply denoted with a letter suffix as "Hind D" and "Hind E" respectively. Hinds passed on to pro-Soviet Afghan forces during the war remained in dwindling service in the grinding civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal. Some were flown by defectors to Pakistan, and a few of these machines apparently found their way into the hands of the US Army. Afghan Hinds in the hands of the ascendant Taliban gradually became inoperable, but a few flown by the Northern Alliance, which had Russian assistance and access to spares, remained operational up to the US intervention in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. In 2008, the Afghan National Air Corps took delivery of six refurbished Mi-35 Hind helicopters, purchased from the Czech Republic with US money. The Afghan pilots were trained by India and were due to begin live firing exercises in May 2008 in order to escort Mi-17 transport helicopters on operations in restive parts of the country. "We have recently signed a contract to deliver 12 Mi-35 helicopters to Brazil. The first deliveries will start by the end of this year or the beginning of 2010," said Alexander Fomin, deputy director of the Federal Service on Military-Technical Cooperation. The official said the contract was worth about $150 million. The Mi-35 Hind E is an improved export version of the famed Mi-24 attack helicopter, which combines high fire power with a troop transport capability. Fomin also said Russia's Su-35 fighter had a good chance of winning an ongoing tender for the delivery of over 100 fighters to the Brazilian Air Force. Brazil wants a multirole fighter to protect its national airspace as well as to monitor smugglers in the Amazon basin and guard the country's offshore oil rigs. However, Brasilia also wants the multi-billion dollar contract to reenergize the domestic defense industry through home-grown production and as much technology transfer as can be afforded. "We are actively participating in the Brazilian tender, which has been reopened. It involves over 100 fighter planes. Russia has made a bid in the tender with its Su-35 multirole fighter. The tender has stiff requirements involving not only the sale, but also the transfer of technology. It is a key condition of the deal and Russia is ready to satisfy it," the official said.