French Deploy Counter-IED Vehicles In Afghanistan / Afghanistan: Arrival Of The Buffaloes
(NSI News Source Info) April 8, 2009: On Saturday April 4, 2009 three Buffalo and two Souvim (Système d’ouverture d’itinéraires minés, or route-opening system in mined terrain) arrived at Kabul airport by Antonov 124 transport aircraft. A Buffalo anti-IED vehicle being unloaded from an Antonov An-124 transport aircraft at Kabul airport.The Buffalo MPCV is the most advanced mine resistant vehicle in the world. It can be configured for multiple missions and is specifically designed to be repaired in the field. Cutting-edge technology combined with the best American automotive components give this vehicle the maximum visibility, load carrying capacity, interior space and parts availability of any vehicle in its class.
These vehicles will be operated in support of all French detachments in Afghanistan, and mainly OMLT, BATFRA (French battalion) or GTIA Kapisa, under the responsibility of combat engineer detachment commanders.
Their mission consists in opening road itineraries used by French troops in theatre. These detachments, operating in close coordination with mine disposal specialists belonging to the NEDEX (Neutralisation, enlèvement et destruction d’engins explosifs, or explosive ordnance disposal) teams that accompany the convoys.
The two types of vehicle work together as a team. Once improvised explosive ordnance is detected and marked by a Souvim, the Buffalo uses its articulated arm to uncover the device, allowing the NEDEX team to neutralize under the most favorable safety conditions.
The arrival of the Buffaloes in theatre will allow French troops to cope with an increase in the number and frequency of IED attacks that threaten Coalition forces. As for the remote-controlled weapon stations fitted to the VAB wheeled armored vehicles, this program is part of the “urgent operational requirements” acquisitions.
President Barack Obama In The White House On April 8, 2009
(NSI News Source Info) April 8, 2009: President Barack Obama arrives (Photo: below) on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 in Washington after returning from an eight-day European trip and a five-hour visit to the Iraq war zone.
U.S. President Barack Obama arrives (Photo: above) to speak to troops at Camp Victory in Baghdad, April 7, 2009.
South Korea Approves 15-Year Defense Technology Plan / South Korea To Secure Indigenous Weapons Technology By 2024
(NSI News Source Info) April 8, 2009: The Ministry of National Defense plans to bring up the country’s weapons technology to the world class by 2014 while working to develop the country’s indigenous technologies by 2024. Simulation-based acquisition system will also be introduced.
At the 34th Defense Project Execution Committee meeting chaired by Defense Minister Lee Sang Hee, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) reviewed and approved the plans in a Defense Technology Development Plan that outlines the country’s goals between 2011 and 2025.
The Defense Technology Development Plan is a set of bold plans that include a roadmap for the development of new weapons technologies based on the country’s future needs in future warfare.
The plan consists of eight main objectives under a vision to secure ‘world class defense technology capabilities’ that include the establishment of a defense research and development system to develop indigenous weapons technology by 2024, improving the efficiency of investment on defense research and development and reinforcing research and development infrastructure.
It especially aims to diversify research and development systems by introducing Simulation Based Acquisition (SBA) and Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) systems to help establish a consolidated management system.
The SBA is a system where a new weapon or equipment will be tested under simulated environments from the very development stage to the actual deployment stage to verify the need for the new weapons and to help reduce the time and resources required to develop them. The ACTD is a system designed to help quickly introduce existing technologies of the civilian sector to the military, and has been put to use by the United States since 1994 and our military has also been applying the system since 2007 in its development of new portable tactical computer workstations.
The Defense Technology Promotion Plan also outlines plans for the development and improvement of eight major weapons systems, including command and communications systems, while also calling for improving the competitiveness of the defense research and development sector by securing new infrastructure and strengthening cooperation between the civilian and military sectors.
Meanwhile, the Defense Project Execution Committee decided to replace the presidential plane with a new plane to be purchased from a foreign manufacturer as the existing one introduced in 1985 is limited to flying only short distances.
“Under the decision, the DAPA will review all the aircraft that can be used as a command aircraft and submit its purchase plan to the Defense Project Execution Committee by August,” a DAPA official said, noting the country will be able to announce its contract for bids in January once it secures the necessary funds in next year’s budget.
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 8, 2009: Cyber attacks pose an increasingly serious and costly threat to U.S. government and commercial networks, a U.S. general warned on April 7.
The attacks range from relatively simple attempts by teenagers to highly sophisticated cyber assaults, said Gen. John Davis, deputy commander of the joint task force for global operations.
Although there were safeguards for military networks, attacks on commercial networks also were cause for concern, Davis said.
"Even the indirect threat is of concern to us because a lot of our systems in the military ride over the commercial infrastructure," he said.
The Pentagon several months ago was faced with "a particular worm that was concerning us that intruded into our military networks," Davis said.
Last year the Defense Department prohibited the use of external computer flash drives to counter a virus threat.
The Defense Department spent more than $100 million in the past six months repairing the damage done by the cyber attacks, said Davis by telephone from a conference in Nebraska.
The money was spent on technology and technicians - including contractors - to respond to the cyber attacks, he said.
As an example, he said cleaning up a single affected computer cost between $5,000 to $7,000.
But Davis said it was crucial to invest in preventing the cyber attacks instead of spending money afterward.
"It would be a much wiser investment of resources to do that in a pro-active manner so we were preventing these things from being able to get into our networks."
Davis welcomed plans presented April 6 by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to fund an increase in cyber experts with stepped-up training efforts.
Under the secretary's recommendations, the Pentagon would aim to train 250 cyber experts a year instead of the current 80 students.
U.S. President Barack Obama has put a priority on cyber security and ordered an elaborate review of the issue.
A top U.S. cybersecurity official quit last month, complaining in a resignation letter that U.S. cyber protection efforts were flawed and dominated by the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA).
Russia Makes Year's First Uranium Shipment To U.S.
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - April 8, 2009: Russia's Techsnabexport shipped on April 7 the first batch of low-enriched uranium to the United States in 2009 under a bilateral agreement, nuclear-power corporation Atomenergoprom said on Wednesday.
Techsnabexport, a Russian company that exports goods and services produced by the nuclear power sector, is integrated into Atomenergoprom.
"This shipment has initiated the schedule of deliveries in 2009, which will be carried out at a new price approved by the governments of both countries," Atomenergoprom said in a statement.
Russia and the United States are cooperating in the nuclear sphere on the HEU-LEU project. The HEU-LEU contract, also known as the Megatons to Megawatts agreement, was signed in February 1993 and expires in 2013.
It aims to convert 500 metric tons of high-enriched uranium (HEU), the equivalent of approximately 20,000 nuclear warheads, from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium (LEU), which is then converted into nuclear fuel for use in U.S. commercial reactors.
Fidel Castro Hails 'Great Meeting' With U.S. Lawmakers
(NSI News Source Info) HAVANA - April 8, 2009: Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has said his meeting with a group of U.S. lawmakers in Havana, his first with senior U.S. officials in years, was a "great meeting" that held "particular importance for me."
Cuba's longtime communist leader, 82, met with seven members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday, a day after their meeting with his brother, President Raul Castro, amid signs that the countries could normalize relations.
In an article in the ruling Communist Party's Granma newspaper, Castro said: "Our meeting lasted one hour and 45 minutes, judging by the clock, but in fact just half a minute, in terms of how quickly it flew by, and how I wanted to listen to them," he said.
He said the sides discussed U.S. President Barack Obama's proposal on lifting the trade embargo on Cuba. "We expressed our view that the objective realities in the U.S. have been stronger than Obama's most sincere intentions," he said.
After their return to the U.S., the caucus members said Washington must consider ending the trade embargo on Cuba, along with the diplomatic restrictions that have been in place for half a century.
California Representative Laura Richardson said: "The point is, it's history, and we need to move forward."
Barbara Lee, who led the delegation visit, said: "Our conclusion is, given the new direction in our foreign policy, that it's time to look at a new direction in our policy toward Cuba... The 50-year embargo just hasn't worked."
Fidel Castro had not met with American officials since he underwent intestinal surgery in July 2006.
Lee also said Castro seemed "energetic," and in good health.
"We met at his house, a house of very modest means. His wife was there, his son was taking photographs of us."
During their five-day visit, which started on Friday, the delegation also met with National Assembly speaker Ricardo Alarcon and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
U.S. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, commenting on her colleagues' visit, admitted on CNN that the embargo "has not accomplished much."
The U.S. trade embargo on Cuba has been in force since 1962, and has since been reinforced by several legislative acts.
President Obama has said he will maintain the embargo until Cuba shows progress on human rights and democracy. However, The U.S. Congress is currently considering lifting the ban on Americans visiting Cuba, and U.S. media have said Obama could soon lift a number of restrictions, including limits on money transfers between the countries.
Russia Testing New Armored Vehicles For Military And Export: Reports
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW - April 8, 2009: The BTR-90 is intended for the transport of a section of infantry, and is a further development of the line of wheel BTR with increased firepower, mobility, passability/trafficability, maneuverability and protection.
In 1994 the Russian Army publicly displayed the BTR-90 [BTR = Bronyetransporter - Armored Transporter]. This vehicle has a slightly larger and higher hull than the previous BTR-80, with a pointed nose resembling LAV-25.
Testing the new Russian BTR-90 wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC) with the Berezhok weapons complex at the Arzamas Engineering Plant, part of the Defense Industry Company.
It is unclear if the BTR-90 will be produced for the Russian Army or for export only. While it has the same turret as the BMP-2 , production vehicles (assuming it is accepted into service) are almost certain to have a different turret. The armored personnel carrier APC-90 has the highest benchmarks of flotation ability (all-wheel drive, independent suspension, swimming ability, low ground pressure), of mobility (high cross-country and highway speeds, offhand overcoming of water obstructions), of maneuvering capabilities (small turning radius and the ability to move forward and backward at equal speeds), of survivability (the ability to move even with all the four wheels damaged, bulletproof tires).
An armored personnel carrier of the new generation- BTR-90, has four types of weapons installed in one and the same section. These are an automatic gun, a machine-gun, a grenade launcher and an anti-tank missile complex. The equipment makes it possible to wage a fight against tanks, artillery pieces, mechanized infantry combat vehicles, helicopters and manpower of the enemy at a distance of over 4 kilometers both from a position and in movement. The high weight-carrying capacity and considerable inner capacity (12 cubic meters) of the eight-wheel BTR-90 allow to transport heavier weapons, such as an anti-tank gun, a 120-millimetre artillery piece and anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles. BTR-90 can move at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour on motorways and over 50 kilometers per hour on highly-broken ground. It can move even if its four wheels have been damaged. Despite a relatively big weight (about 21 tons) BTR-90 can without any preparations move across water obstacles due to two water-jet propellers. The machine can sail at under three-point weather and can easily travel aboard and off a landing ship. BTR-90 is the first of the armored personnel carriers which can be equipped with an automatic control system to carry out an effective control of the transmission and engine and other vitally-important parts of the machine. Testing the new Russian SPM-3 Medved (Bear) armored car at the Arzamas Engineering Plant. Armoring and bulletproof shields protect the crew and systems from the bullets of heavy machine guns and splinters of projectiles.On BTR can be established additional armoring and systems of passive (dynamic) and active protection. The devices of collective protection provide protection of combat crew from the action of shock wave and penetrating radiation during the nuclear explosions, from the radioactive dust, bacteriological, chemical weaponry during the application of a machine in contaminated area.
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 8, 2009: Actor Kal Penn, who stumped around the country for the Obama presidential campaign, is going to leave Hollywood to work in the Obama White House.
Penn had a recurring role on the Fox TV show "House," but his character killed himself in Monday's episode. The character's reasons were left a mystery to the show's fans, but Penn explained his own decision to EW.com. Kal Penn's character in "House" was just killed off. Penn was one of the stars in "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle." (FOX/AP)
"I thought this might be the right time to go off and do something else," Penn said. "The ultimate irony, of course, is that I love being on 'House.' "
Penn also starred as Kumar in the drug- and raunch-soaked "Harold and Kumar" movies.
Penn, whose parents are Indian-American, will work with the Asian-American and arts communities in the White House Office of Public Liaison.
"They do outreach with the American public and with different organizations," he told EW. "They're basically the front door of the White House. They take out all of the red tape that falls between the general public and the White House."
PUMA News Automobile Technology By Segway Inc. And General Motors Corp.
(NSI News Source Info) April 8, 2009: Mike Gansler, Director of Core Technology with Segway Inc., drives a Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, or PUMA, project prototype vehicle in New York's Times Square on Sunday, April 5, 2009.
Segway Inc. and General Motors Corp. announced Tuesday that they are working together to develop the two-wheeled, two-seat electric vehicle designed to be a fast, efficient, inexpensive and clean alternative to traditional cars and trucks in an urban environment.
Pakistan: ISI Chief Pasha Snubs US Special Representative Richard Holbrooke And Admiral Mike Mullen
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 8, 2008: Apparently upset with their remarks over alleged link between ISI, Taliban and Al-Qaeda, the Pakistani spy agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha refused to meet visiting US Special Representative Richard Holbrooke and American military commander Admiral Mike Mullen. In this Aug. 27, 2008 photo released by the U.S. Department of Defense, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen and Navy Rear Adm. Scott van Buskirk, from left, talk with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, center, and Director General, Military Operations, Major Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, on the flight deck aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, in the Gulf. Pasha, the new chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, oversaw military offensives against militants in Pakistan's restive northwest tribal areas.
"Islamabad carefully stage-managed this unprecedented snub by the ISI chief as a means of telegraphing its resentment over a number of issues brewing between Washington and Islamabad," Stratfor, a US think-tank, reported.
This sudden display of confidence on the part of Islamabad will complicate the Obama administration's strategy on the Taliban, the think tank said on Tuesday.
Among the issues of resentment by ISI include, criticism from Mullen and US Central Command chief Gen David Petraeus, who said the intelligence agency was still dealing with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and the increasing US unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in the Pakistani tribal belt.
The ISI and its support base in Pakistan establishment is also upset with American strategy of treating Afghanistan and Pakistan as one theatre and the US's move to involve India in Afghanistan, Stratfor said.
"The snub is also part of an emerging consensus between Pakistan's military and civilian government that Islamabad needs to increase its bargaining power with the US as an ally in the war against militant Islamists," the report said.
Obama Team Warns U.S. Lawmakers: Expect Confrontation With Israel
*It is confusing to understand American foreign policy, which fluctuates and changes with a blink of an eye lid. Firstly, U.S. has cordial relations with communist countries namely China, Vietnam, Laos and contacts with North Korea, some of aforementioned countries have worse Human right issues. But U.S. has maintained 50 years embargo with communist Cuba, which makes no sense.
Secondly, U.S. Defense manufacturers are pursuing for military orders from India and able to secure billion dollars worth of orders. Boeing for the supply of eight P-8I Poseidons at a total cost of US$2.1 billion and Indian Air Force purchased six C-130Js from Lockheed Martin in early 2008 at a cost of up to US$ 1.059 billion. GE has secured orders to provide engine for indigenous built Indian Navy's frigates, but suddenly stopped by Obama administration to proceed further due to some export policy clause. The question is, are the Americans a reliable source of supply?
Thirdly, the change of political climate towards Israel makes no sense. Lastly, I am sure the U.S. Lawmakers are confused themselves like we are!!!! (DTN Defense-Technology News)
(NSI News Source Info) April 8, 2009: In an unprecedented move, the Obama administration is readying for a possible confrontation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by briefing Democratic congressmen on the peace process and the positions of the new government in Israel regarding a two-state solution.
The Obama administration is expecting a clash with Netanyahu over his refusal to support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
In this photo released by the Israeli Government Press Office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes the first cabinet meeting of his new government in Jerusalem Sunday, April 5, 2009. Netanyahu says his new government will soon present its agenda on Mideast peace talks and defense issues.
In recent weeks, American officials have briefed senior Democratic congressmen and prepared the ground for the possibility of disagreements with Israel over the peace process, according to information recently received. The administration's efforts are focused on President Barack Obama's Democratic Party, which now holds a majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The preemptive briefing is meant to foil the possibility that Netanyahu may try to bypass the administration by rallying support in Congress.
The message that administration officials have relayed to the congressmen is that President Obama is committed to the security of Israel and intends to continue the military assistance agreement that was signed by his predecessor, George W. Bush.
However, Obama considers the two-state solution central to his Middle East policy, as he reiterated during a speech in Turkey on Monday, and he intends to ask that Netanyahu fulfill all the commitments made by previous governments in Israel: accepting the principle of a Palestinian state; freezing settlement activity; evacuating illegal outposts; and providing economic and security assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
Administration officials made it clear to congressmen that the Palestinians will also be required to fulfill their obligations in line with the road map and the Annapolis process.
According to the reports received in Israel, the U.S. administration is not concerned about recent statements by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman calling for a rejection of the Annapolis process or overtures made by Netanyahu during the election campaign.
U.S. officials say they will wait and hear Netanyahu's position from the prime minister himself when he meets Obama in Washington next month.
No hurry to play mediator
The Obama administration is also not opposed to the resumption of negotiations between Israel and Syria but will insist that the Syrian track not be used in Jerusalem as a way of evading obligations undertaken by Israel as part of the Annapolis process.
Obama is in no hurry to bring the U.S. in as lead mediator between Israel and Syria. American involvement, which both Israel and Syria consider essential for substantive progress, will remain conditional on progress in the dialogue between Washington and Damascus.
Regarding Iran, the Obama administration is preparing the ground for a policy distinguishing between Iran's right to have nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment done under international supervision, and the actual building of a nuclear weapon.
U.S. Air Force Selects Raytheon To Improve Mission Coordination Under Electronic Warfare Battle Management Contract
(NSI News Source Info) MARLBOROUGH, Mass. - April 8, 2009: The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon Company a $3.5 million Electronic Warfare Battle Management (EWBM) system design contract.
Under the award from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Raytheon will spend three years conducting a series of EWBM system experiments and demonstrations in the Air Force Research Laboratory's virtual combat laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Through these experiments, the Air Force will be able to apply EWBM to a variety of scenarios to determine the best use of electronic warfare assets on the battlefield.
Electronic warfare is the use of electronic attack, support and protection during military operations. Battle management focuses on the command and control of forces in the battle area. In joining these two solutions, commanders and warfighters will dramatically improve mission coordination and significantly enhance the common operating picture of the battlefield.
"This EWBM award provides a roadmap on how to best control and synchronize all available electronic warfare resources," said Jerry Powlen, vice president, Integrated Communications Systems. "Raytheon's solutions in electronic warfare and command and control will dramatically change the way we arm our warfighters to engage in combat."
Raytheon will work with Sierra Nevada Corporation, AEA Technology, Inc. and Bonn Corporation to provide this solution.
Raytheon Company, with 2008 sales of $23.2 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 87 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 73,000 people worldwide.
Iveco To Unveil New Brazilian Armored Vehicle / World Preview Of Iveco’s New Military Vehicle At Next LAAD - Latin America Aero & Defense In Rio
(NSI News Source Info) April 8, 2009: IVECO will present the mock-up of the new Brazilian 6x6 armoured personnel carrier (VBTP-MR in Portuguese) at the forthcoming LAAD (Latin America Aero & Defense) Exhibition that will open on April 14th.
The mock-up is part of a contract signed in December 2007 between IVECO L.A. and the Brazilian MOD to co-develop a project which has been called Wheeled Medium Armoured Personnel Carrier– Basic Platform (VBTP-MR). The project will be supported by IVECO Defence Vehicles, situated in Northern Italy, which is dedicated to designing and manufacturing vehicles for military applications.
A mock-up of the six-wheeled VBTP-MR armored vehicle that Italy’s IVECO designed for the Brazilian Army with a view to local production.
With this support, the VBTP-MR vehicle will be developed and manufactured at IVECO LA’s Sete Lagoas plant in Minas Gerais (Brazil).
The prototype of the new Brazilian 6x6 armoured personnel carrier (VBTP-MR) will be delivered by the end of 2009, and will be extensively tested by the Brazilian Army starting from April 2010.
16 additional units will be produced and tested up to 2011, when a decision will be taken on a final order for a VBTP-MR fleet for the Brazilian Army.
The vehicles will then replace the EE-11 Urutu VBTP-MR fleet currently in use by the Brazilian Army.
The first 16 vehicles will be manufactured principally using imported components, but local content will be gradually increased to over 60% in order to reduce production and maintenance costs. IVECO believes that this can be achieved through the integration of its growing supplier base in Brazil, where the company produces around 15.000 trucks per year plus diesel engines. IVECO’s new VBTP-MR is a 18-tonne vehicle, with amphibious capacity at 17.5 tonnes. It is powered by a FPT diesel engine coupled to an automatic gearbox, and can carry a crew of 10 dismounts plus the driver. Outline specifications include a length of 6.9m, a 2.7m width and a height of 2.34m. It can be fitted with a variety of remote-controlled weapon stations and is airportable by C-130 Hercules.
Pietro Borgo, General Manager of IVECO Defence Vehicles, stated “The aim of the project is to develop a highly specialized knowledge base in military vehicles at IVECO LA and to establish an IVECO Defence Vehicles presence in Brazil which can become a partner for the Brazilian Army.” Alberto Mayer, Institutional Relations Director of IVECO Latin America, stated that the project is running according to the original plan. “We are working very well with our partners from the Brazilian Army. We believe this is an important and very promising project not only to meet this local requirement but also because it offers great export potential”.
IVECO Defence Vehicles is well known for the application of advanced automotive innovations and leading edge protection solutions to purpose-built designs, resulting in a full range of trucks, armoured, protected and multirole vehicles. IVECO Defence Vehicles’ plant is situated in Bolzano in Northern Italy, the site of the factory originally housing the prestigious producer of military vehicles, Lancia, was founded in 1937. The company has developed a vast international network giving life to a technical and commercial expertise at a world-wide level. IVECO Defence Vehicles boasts an organisation of dedicated research and development, having available a pool of vehicle expert engineers in the IVECO HQ in Torino.
The marketing, production and aftersales organisation are also based within the Bolzano Facility. Supporting these activities is an additional factory, based in Vittorio Veneto, a centre of excellence for protection. In recent years, IVECO Defence Vehicles has focused on meeting the demands both of its domestic Italian market and of export customers, The company’s success in this latter area in particular has been dramatic, with export sales growing from 20% of the total in the mid 90s to a figure of 70% today. More than 30,000 IVECO vehicles are now in military service worldwide.
IVECO designs, manufactures, and markets a broad range of light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles, off-road trucks, city and intercity buses and coaches as well as special vehicles for applications such as fire fighting, off-road missions, defence and civil protection. IVECO employs over 24,500 people and runs 27 production units in 16 countries in the world using excellent technologies developed in 5 research centres. Besides Europe, the company operates in China, Russia, Turkey, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa. More than 4,600 service outlets in over 100 Countries guarantee technical support wherever in the world an IVECO vehicle is at work.
IVECO Latin America is the fastest growing truck company in South America. The company operates from industrial bases in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela and employs some 2.500 people in the region.
U.S. Navy Orders More H-1 Aircraft From Bell Helicopter
(NSI News Source Info) FORT WORTH, TEXAS - April 8, 2009: Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced that the U.S. Navy has awarded a new production contract to Bell for the purchase of Lot 6 of the H-1 Upgrade Program, an award worth $288 million.
The 16 aircraft in Lot 6 include five AH-1Z aircraft and 11 UH-1Y aircraft. All 16 aircraft will be built at Bell's Military Aircraft Assembly Center in Amarillo, Texas, with deliveries of completed Lot 6 aircraft scheduled to begin in 2011.
*The AH-1Z is a design for the 21st century. Produced to meet the stringent requirements of the USMC today – its aircraft design brings together proven AH-1W airframe reliability, a new composite four bladed rotor system and powerful T700-GE-401engines. With virtually identical front and rear cockpits, fully integrated weapons, avionics and communications systems the AH-1Z flies with the most advanced aircraft survivability equipment in the world. The AH-1Z is truly state-of-the-art.*Target identification is critical in the complex post-cold war and urban conflict environments. The AH-1Z Target Sight System (TSS) incorporates a third-generation FLIR and currently provides the longest range, lowest jitter and highest weapons' accuracy possible of any helicopter sight in the world. In addition, the completely passive and automatic system scans the battlefield without emitting trackable radar, positively identifying and tracking multiple targets at ranges beyond the maximum range of its weapons system.*The "Top Owl" Helmet Mounted Sight and Display (HMS/D) system supports improved communication and reduced cockpit workload. Manufactured by THALES Avionics, the TopOwl HMS/D is the most technically advanced helmet available. Upgradeable "in-service" and as additional requirements develop, it combines both avionics function with the aircrew life support and protection into a single unit.
Officials at Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., signed the new production contract Mar. 27. Bell is now on contract to produce a total of 65 upgraded H-1 aircraft for the Marines: 17 AH-1Z attack aircraft and 48 UH-1Y utility aircraft. So far, the company has delivered 23 upgraded H-1 helicopters: six AH-1Zs and 17 UH-1Ys.
A Viral Video Raises Fears of Taliban Power in Pakistan
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD - April 8, 2009: A viral video is raising an outcry in Pakistan — and highlighting the fact that in some parts of western Pakistan, the government is no longer in charge and the Taliban is.
Filmed in the Swat Valley, where the government recently signed a controversial peace deal with the Taliban, the video apparently shows a 17-year-old girl pinned down by as many as three men — among them her brother — while a fourth flogs her repeatedly, chastising her for having an alleged affair. She lets out a shriek with every lash, pleading for mercy.
Dozens of men look on, but nobody speaks out to stop the lashing. (See the video that has raised alarms in Pakistan.) Taliban Whip a Girl in Pakistan's Swat Valley
The government's agreement with the Taliban in Swat included the imposition of religious law in the area, a move many legal experts and women's-rights groups had cautioned against.
Apparently filmed on a mobile phone, the video image shows two men pinning down a burqa-clad woman as a bearded man in a turban flogs her with a whip.
The valley, was transformed in recent years into the front line of Pakistan's domestic war on terrorism. More than 1,500 people have been killed there, and at least 100,000 have fled. A cease-fire is now in place in exchange for the imposition of Shari'a law. But reports of the curtailment of women's rights and activities are now rampant; women have been barred from leaving their homes and simply walking on the streets in many towns.
Human-rights activists from the region insist that the girl in the video and the countless other victims in Swat are too helpless to speak out. "Who can stop the Taliban when they claim to be working in the name of Islam?" asked Yasmine Khan, program coordinator for the Female Human Rights Organization (FEHRO) for Swat, who recently fled to Islamabad after allegedly receiving death threats by Taliban militants. "Things are out of hand, and the government cannot control things."
However, the Swat-based Taliban denies that the incident took place in the valley. Several officials and commentators have expressed skepticism that the men performing the punishment in the video were Taliban militants. A local news organization noted that were it up to the Taliban, the victim "would have been shot." The 17-year-old alleged to be in the video now denies that she was the burqa-clad girl beaten in the footage. She failed to appear at Pakistan's Supreme Court for a hearing on Monday.
Journalists in Swat speak of an atmosphere of fear in the valley; reporters say they are fearful of speaking out as well, afraid that they will be targeted by Taliban angry over the leak of the video. One journalist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, "We are the prime suspects." The Supreme Court and its Chief Justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, are not keeping silent, however. While Chaudhry says the authenticity of the video must be established (noting that it could be part of a scheme against those in Swat "demanding the application of Shari'a law"), he voiced outrage at what the footage appeared to portray. "[This] certainly constitutes a serious violation of law and fundamental rights of the citizens of the country," he declared on Monday during a hearing on the incident.
Chaudhry reprimanded several senior officials, including Pakistan Attorney General Sardar Latif Khosa, for failing to take immediate action: "Before the video became public, what were you doing?" Chaudhry has asked the court to reconvene following a 15-day investigation.
Pakistanis see Chaudhry's comments as his first act of political muscle-flexing since his dramatic restoration to power in late March.
The Chief Justice was dismissed two years ago by then-President Pervez Musharraf because he would not support Musharraf's assumption of dictatorial power. When Musharraf's successor, Asif Ali Zardari, reneged on an agreement to restore Chaudhry to the Supreme Court, widespread demonstrations a few weeks ago led to his reinstatement. Chaudhry has probably the highest reserve of moral authority in the country.
Pakistani pro-Taliban militants stand with their weapons on a street in Swat Valley in 2007 during Pervez Musharraf's era.
But is it enough to safeguard rights guaranteed by the country's secular constitution? Hours after the Chief Justice's calls for an inquiry, federal investigators were reported to have taken testimony from the alleged victim. However, she once again denied being the woman in the video. Sherry Rehman, a former Information Minister and member of the ruling Pakistan People's Party believes in Chaudhry's commitment to pursuing the case. "If anything like this surfaces again," she says, "it will not be tolerated." But Rehman notes that the government will proceed with caution for fear of disrupting the fragile cease-fire.
Khan, the women's-rights activist, however, is pessimistic that even Chaudhry can get anything done. She says the Supreme Court inquiry is merely smoke and mirrors and that it will take a "miracle" to bring justice to Swat. "Until now, nobody knows who murdered Benazir Bhutto," she says. "Where is that committee? Where are those results? Do you think anyone will investigate or help the poor people of Swat?"
(NSI News Source Info) April 8, 2009: Hackers reportedly sought access to Prime minister Rudd's emails last year, raising concerns about corporate takeovers.
Australia has tightened its security control on communication with Beijing after Chinese spies reportedly hacked the phone and computer of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during his trip to China, and targeted Rio Tinto in the early stage of Chinalco’s bid.
The invisible attacks from Chinese hackers will further intensify Sino-Australian tensions, sparked by Canberra’s moves to delay and oppose mutibillion-dollar Chinese investment proposals in Australia’s resources sector.
Chinese authorities had tried to access the laptop computers and mobile phones used by Kevin Rudd and other government officials during the Prime Minister’s trip to China in August last year, newspaper The Australian reported Friday, citing unnamed intelligence sources.
Beijing's electronic espionage as well as other repeated attempts to break into the internet networks of the Australian government, private businesses, and foreign embassies based in Canberra, led to a further tightening of communications security procedures for senior government figures travelling to China, the newspaper added.
Officials at the Chinese embassy in Canberra could not be immediately reached for comment, with phone calls unanswered.
The growing suspicion of Chinese espionage has triggered tightened scrutiny of recent Chinese investments in various Australian miners. Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board last month extended the investigation into Chinalco’s plan to purchase iron ore, copper, bauxite, alumina and aluminum assets from Rio Tinto for $12.3 billion, in addition to buying $7.3 billion worth of convertible notes that could double its equity stake in Rio Tinto to 18.0%.
Shortly after putting the Chinalco-Rio Tinto deal on hold, Australia’s Treasury last Friday rejected an $1.8 billion bid by Chinese state-owned Minmetals' for OZ Minerals because the company's prized Prominent Hill mine was near a military weapons-testing range in the deserts of outback Australia.