Wednesday, September 16, 2009

DTN News: Pentagon Presses UTX To Cut F-35 Engine Costs

DTN News: Pentagon Presses UTX To Cut F-35 Engine Costs
* Lift fan variant blamed for significant past cost growth
* Pratt offers to assume liability for some cost growth
* Pentagon still opposes GE-Rolls alternate engine project
* Recent damage to Pratt engine being investigated
*Source: DTN News / Reuters By Andrea Shalal-Esa (NSI News Source Info) NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland, USA - September 16, 2009: The Pentagon is pressing United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) to cut costs on the engine it builds for Lockheed Martin Corp's (LMT.N) F-35 fighter, but said problems with that engine do not justify spending billions on an alternate F-35 engine.
The stealthy, supersonic multi-role fighter was designated the F-35 Lightning II in July 2006. The JSF is being built in three variants: a conventional take-off and landing aircraft (CTOL) for the US Air Force; a carrier variant (CV) for the US Navy; and a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft for the US Marine Corps and the Royal Navy. A 70%-90% commonality is required for all variants. The requirement is for: USAF F-35A air-to-ground strike aircraft, replacing F-16 and A-10, complementing F-22 (1763); USMC F-35B – STOVL strike fighter to replace F/A-18B/C and AV-8B (480); UK RN F-35C – STOVL strike fighter to replace Sea Harriers (60); US Navy F-35C – first-day-of-war strike fighter to replace F/A-18B/C and A-6, complementing the F/A-18E/F (480 aircraft). Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said a mishap that damaged an F135 engine built by United Technologies unit Pratt & Whitney during testing last Friday raised questions about Pratt's work, not the single-engine approach. "It's a concern with regards to how Pratt & Whitney is developing this engine and with regards to, frankly, how the program office is managing that development," he told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday. "We have all got to focus harder on getting this engine to perform to the level that we know it can," he said. Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter initiated a high-level independent review of Pratt's cost structures that is due to report back early next month. The group visited Pratt's Connecticut facility last Thursday and Friday. Air Force Major General C.D. Moore, the program's deputy executive officer, told Reuters the Pentagon was pressing Pratt for a reduction comparable to the 30 percent cut it achieved for the related F-22 fighter engine. He said work on the short-takeoff, vertical-landing (STOVL) version of the F-35 accounted for a significant part of the $1.9 billion in cost overruns already seen on the engine. The STOVL version includes a lift fan built by Britain's Rolls Royce Group PLC (RR.L), which has experienced significant challenges, Moore told Reuters on the sidelines of the Air Force Association annual conference. Rolls is a supplier to United Technologies' Pratt & Whitney unit for the F135 engine, the primary engine for the F-35. It is also part of a team with General Electric Co that is developing the alternate F-35 engine that the Obama administration wants to terminate. Lawmakers have repeatedly defied the wishes of past administrations to continue funding the project, but President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have dug in their heels on what they call wasteful spending. Congressional aides said the Pratt engine incident could spur support for the second engine. Officials expect to have answers soon, possibly by Friday. Moore said the investigation was ongoing, but initial indications were that the problem did not appear to be caused by a design defect.
William Begert, head of business development for Pratt, told reporters on Tuesday that Pratt had proposed a cost-plus contract for 37 engines that trimmed the cost of the F135 engines from the last batch by at least 10 percent. "This is a major step in the direction of getting down the cost curve to where we want to be," Begert said. Under the proposal, Pratt would also assume responsibility for part of any further cost growth on the program, he said. He said Pratt had offered the F-35 program fixed-price terms in July, but officials opted for a cost-plus structure at this stage of the engine's development. Pratt said it remained ready to offer a firm, fixed-price bid if the program wished. Moore said cost-plus contracts give the Pentagon more insight into a company's cost structure, and that was important at this point, given efforts to get Pratt's engine costs under control. He did not comment on the GE-Rolls bid. GE and Rolls-Royce began discussing a fixed-price proposal with the Pentagon in April and submitted that kind of bid for their next batch of F136 engines on Sept. 1. Officials had been cooperating with the GE-Rolls team and actually initiated daily meetings at one point to help the team structure its proposal, said Jean Lydon-Rodgers, president of the joint fighter engine team, in an interview. She said the Pratt proposal had clearly been sparked by the debate over the second engine: "The fact that they are working to lower their costs is a big victory for competition." Begert said Pratt had invested heavily to drive costs lower and reach a "learned out" cost by 2014 at the 250-engine mark. Begert said Pratt continued to work very closely with Rolls-Royce, whose work on the lift fan has contributed heavily to the cost overruns, on the STOVL version. "That's the part that we continue to struggle with," Begert added.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by Tim Dobbyn and Andre Grenon)

DTN News: Boeing Still Hopeful On Brazil Fighter Jet Deal

DTN News: Boeing Still Hopeful On Brazil Fighter Jet Deal
* Boeing to meet, discuss deals with Brazil parts makers * Hopes to beat French, Swedish to clinch Brazil jet order
*Source: DTN News / Reuters By Eduardo Simoes (NSI News Source Info) SAO PAULO, Brazil - September 16, 2009: Boeing Co still hopes to woo Brazil away from buying 36 French Rafale fighter jets in favor of its own planes, dangling supply deals with around 150 Brazilian parts makers and suppliers as a sweetener.
The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a combat-proven strike fighter with built-in versatility. The Super Hornet's suite of integrated and networked systems provides enhanced interoperability, total force support for the combatant commander and for the troops on the ground. Brazil's Defense Ministry said last week it had not yet chosen a manufacturer for the multibillion dollar deal for which France's Dassault Aviation, seen as favorite up to now, and Sweden's Saab are also competing. The North American firm is holding conferences with the Brazilian firms this week, to prod them to aim for a bigger slice of its annual $45 billion in purchases from other firms in the manufacture of its planes. "That is why the (deal) is important to change this," said Michael Coggins, who heads customer relations and new business at Boeing, at a press conference the firm held in Sao Paulo. Separately from the jet deal, Boeing is planning to provide Brazilian airplane manufacturer Embraer with a platform from one of its own models to use in a Brazilian cargo plane, the KC-390. France, whose bid for the contract was bolstered by an official visit by President Nicolas Sarkozy last week, had previously said it intended to buy some of these cargo planes if Brazil chose its Rafale jets over competing designs. The United States government has also thrown its weight behind Boeing's bid, through its representatives in Brazil. "What is being offered here ... is a relationship with the largest defence company in the world, which is acting in the largest economy in the world, in the largest defence market in the world," said Sao Paulo-based U.S. consul general Thomas White. "That's a package that Rafale and (Saab's) Gripen can't touch," he said, Bob Gower, a senior developer of Boeing's F-18, said the jet competed favorably with the Rafale, which has never been sold abroad, on price and technological advancement, while France in turn has promised it would offer Brazil more generous transfer of technology through the sale. (Writing by Peter Murphy; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

DTN News: US Air Force Chief Wary Of Raptor F-22 Fighter Export Project

DTN News: US Air Force Chief Wary Of Raptor F-22 Fighter Export Project * General Schwartz says diverts talent from other projects * Will talk to lawmakers to gauge their intent *Source: DTN News / Defense News (Click here for link) (NSI News Source Info) NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland, - September 16, 2009: A top U.S. Air Force official expressed doubts on Tuesday about diverting service personnel toward developing an export version of Lockheed Martin Corp's (LMT.N) F-22 fighter. The F-22A Raptor advanced tactical fighter entered service with the US Air Force in December 2005. The USAF requirement is for a fighter to replace the F-15, with emphasis on agility, stealth and range. An export version could keep the production line going even as the Obama administration seeks to end purchases of the advanced combat jet during fiscal 2010, that begins Oct. 1. But Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz said personnel were needed to focus on what he described as higher-priority programs, including a new aerial refueling tanker and a new long-range strike capability. He termed the proposed F-22 for export as more of a commercial issue than a government issue. "I personally don't see it as being the best use of our acquisition talent," Schwartz told reporters after a speech to the annual meeting of the Air Force Association. Schwartz, the service's top uniformed officer, said he would talk to members of Congress and their staff to make sure the Air Force understood their intent. Japan, Israel and Australia have shown interest in buying the supersonic, radar-evading F-22 Raptor, manufactured by Lockheed as its top dogfighter. Foreign F-22 sales have been banned by a 1998 law aimed at protecting the "stealth" technology and other high-tech features said to make the fighter too good for money to buy. In its version of a defense spending bill for fiscal 2010, the Senate Appropriations Committee included a provision that, if enacted, would clear the way for an export version "that protects classified and sensitive information, technologies and U.S. warfighting capabilities." President Barack Obama's 2010 budget request, now moving through Congress, asked to end F-22 production. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week for a $636.3 billion defense spending bill that would cap the U.S. F-22 fleet at 187, down from a Cold War-era plan to buy as many as 750. For years, Japan has sought to buy two squadrons of the F-22, possibly 40 planes, a request that has become more compelling due to tensions with neighboring North Korea.

DTN News: Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy Sets World Aviation Records

DTN News: Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy Sets World Aviation Records
*Source: DTN News / Lockheed Martin (NSI News Source Info) DOVER AFB, Del., USA - September 16, 2009: A joint U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT - News) flight crew flying a C-5M Super Galaxy strategic transport claimed 41 world aeronautical records in one flight on September 13. The C-5 has been the backbone of strategic airlift in every engagement since it entered service. It is the only aircraft capable of carrying 100 percent of certified air-transportable cargo, with a dedicated passenger compartment enabling commanders to have troops and their equipment arrive in an area of operation simultaneously. The C-5 can carry twice the cargo of other strategic airlift systems. With more than 70 percent of its structural service life remaining, Lockheed Martin is committed to sustaining the C-5 fleet throughout its lifecycle. The C-5M Super Galaxy will continue to be a force enabler through 2040. The flight from Dover AFB broke eight existing world marks and established standards in 33 other categories where there had been no previous record attempt. The records were set in the Class C-1.S, Jet category for altitude in horizontal flight, altitude with payload, time-to-climb, time-to-climb with payload and greatest payload to 2,000 meters. The aircraft carried a payload of more than 80,000 kg (the actual measured payload weight was 176,610 lb) to an altitude of more than 41,100 feet in 23 minutes, 59 seconds. "These records are simply a reflection of the capability of the Super Galaxy," said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin C-5 Program vice president. "These records are not just for show. They demonstrate conclusively the C-5M's ability to quickly get the warfighter out of harm's way while carrying a larger payload than any other U.S. airlifter. This flight also showed the Super Galaxy can operate with that payload at operational altitudes. The C-5M is strategic airlift redefined." The Class C-1.S Jet category is for aircraft weighing from 250,000 kilograms (551,155 pounds) to 300,000 kg (661,386 lb). The C-5M had a takeoff weight of 649,680 lb, which included fuel, crew weight, necessary equipment, and the payload, which was loaded on 29 standard U.S. military 463L cargo pallets. All C-5s are capable of carrying 36 pallets. The flight set a new record for altitude with payload of 41,188 feet. It also set marks for time-to-climb and time-to-climb with 35,000 kg (77,162 lb), 40,000 kg (88,185 lb), 45,000 kg (99,208 lb), 50,000 kg (110,231 lb), 60,000 kg (132,277 lb), 70,000 kg (154,323 lb), and 80,000 kg payload. The flight took 4 minutes, 13 seconds to reach 3,000 m (9,843 ft) altitude; 7 min., 27 sec to get to 6,000 m (19,685 ft); 13 min., 8 sec. to fly to 9,000 m (29,528 ft); and 23 min., 59 sec to fly to 12,000 meters (39,371 ft). The flight also broke existing class records for altitude in horizontal flight (41,116 ft) and altitude with 35,000 kg, 40,000 kg, 45,000 kg, 50,000 kg, 60,000 kg, and 70,000 kg payload (41,188 ft). The mission broke the record for greatest payload (80,036 kg/176,610 lbs) to 2,000 meters (6,562 ft) as well. All of the records will first be certified as United States national records by the National Aeronautic Association, the nation's oldest aviation organization. The NAA, based in Arlington, Va., is the U.S. representative to the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), the sanctioning body for all world aviation records. Formal approval of the C-5M records by the Lausanne, Switzerland-based FAI is expected to take several weeks. The C-5M is the product of two major upgrade programs. The Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) modifications replace the C-5's analog avionics in the Galaxy with a commercially available, digital avionics suite along with an integrated architecture that allows for upgrades. The entire system is designed to increase safety, ease crew workload and enhance situational awareness. The second phase is the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP). The RERP modifications consist of more than 70 improvements and upgrades to the C-5 airframe and systems, and include installation of higher-thrust, more reliable, more environmentally friendly F138-GE-100 turbofan engines. This engine is the military version of the CF6 engine that has recorded hundreds of millions of hours on commercial airliners all over the world and that serves on Air Force One. When a Galaxy has been through both AMP and RERP, it is redesignated a C-5M. Current Air Force plans call for Lockheed Martin to deliver 52 C-5Ms (modification of 49 C-5Bs, two C-5Cs, and one C-5A) by 2016. Three C-5Ms have been redelivered to the Air Force. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.

DTN News: Pratt & Whitney Stands Behind Cost Commitment On F135 Engine For F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

DTN News: Pratt & Whitney Stands Behind Cost Commitment On F135 Engine For F-35 Joint Strike Fighter *Source: DTN News / Defense News (Click here for link)
(NSI News Source Info) EAST HARTFORD, Conn., USA - September 16, 2009: Pratt & Whitney's F135 engine powering the F-35 Lightning II aircraft continues to realize production cost reduction benefits, and Pratt & Whitney has offered to provide the F-35 Joint Program Office with a firm fixed price proposal for the F135 engine if requested. Pratt & Whitney is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX - News) company. The F-35 is the result of the Defense Department's Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, which sought to build a multirole fighter optimized for the air-to-ground role with secondary air-to-air capability. The JSF requirement was to meet the needs of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allies, with improved survivability, precision engagement capability, and reduced life cycle costs. By using many of the same technologies developed for the F-22, the F-35 has the opportunity to capitalize on commonality and modularity to maximize affordability. "The F135 program has reached a level of maturity where we've been able to work aggressively to reduce costs through more efficient manufacturing processes and improved supplier performance," said Warren Boley, vice president, Pratt & Whitney F135 programs. "Working closely with the Joint Program Office, we have made significant progress over the last several months in reducing costs. The company's F135 engine Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 4 contract proposal reflects confidence in the aggressive cost reductions actions underway by providing the Joint Program Office special protections against cost growth and incentives for significant cost reduction. In fact, Pratt & Whitney stands ready to offer a firm fixed price to the JPO at their request," Boley said. Pratt & Whitney's LRIP 4 contract proposal covers production, sustainment, spare parts and engineering support for 37 F135 engines, consisting of 20 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL)/carrier variant (CV) and 17 short-takeoff/vertical-landing (STOVL) engines for F-35 aircraft. The same methodology that Pratt & Whitney and the U.S. Government used to achieve a 30 percent cost reduction on the F119 engine is being employed on the F135 engine. This aggressive approach was successfully used in the early days of the F119 engine program and provides confidence that similar results can be achieved on the F135. "We continue to work in close cooperation with the Joint Program Office to reach our cost goals. Our LRIP 4 offer demonstrates our confidence in our cost reduction plan," Boley said. "This will also give our customer confidence in our processes and progress in reducing the future unit recurring flyaway costs for the F135 engine." Pratt & Whitney has designed, developed and tested the F135 to deliver the most advanced fifth generation fighter engine for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as eight international partner countries. The F135, which has logged 12,000 test hours, is derived from proven technology of the only operational fifth generation fighter engine, the Pratt & Whitney F119, which has more than 100,000 operational flight hours. It has been further enhanced with technologies developed in several Air Force and Navy technology programs. The F135 is the only engine powering the F-35 Lightning II flight test program. The F135 propulsion system has proven it can meet diverse aircraft requirements, and the ground-and-flight-test experience demonstrates the maturity and the associated reliability of the F135 engine for armed forces around the world. Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and building industries. This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning future business opportunities. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in funding related to the F-35 aircraft and F135 engines, changes in government procurement priorities and practices or in the number of aircraft to be built; challenges in the design, development, production and support of technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in United Technologies Corp.'s Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

DTN News: Bombardier Celebrates Groundbreaking For New CSeries Aircraft Manufacturing Site

DTN News: Bombardier Celebrates Groundbreaking For New CSeries Aircraft Manufacturing Site *Source: DTN News / Defense News (Click here for link)
(NSI News Source Info) MONTREAL, QUEBEC, Canada - September 16, 2009: Yesterday Sept 15, marked a major achievement for the CSeries aircraft program as Bombardier Aerospace celebrated the groundbreaking of the first CSeries aircraft building in Quebec, Canada. Located at Mirabel, 45 minutes north of Montreal, the Complete Integrated Aircraft Systems Test Area (CIASTA) is a testing and systems-proving facility that will house a virtual CSeries test aircraft. The CIASTA will test aircraft systems for reliability and functionality one year before the first prototype aircraft flies. Attended by Bombardier's employees, suppliers, partners, customers and the media, the groundbreaking lays the path for the new aircraft's entry into service in 2013. "It's a red-letter day for the program and an important day for Bombardier Aerospace," noted Guy Hachey, President and Chief Operating Officer, Bombardier Aerospace in his remarks to the assembled guests. "Today we begin work on the facilities that will be the site of the first CSeries test aircraft. Eventually we will erect a complex of buildings here that will total 860,000 square feet - that's the size of 15 football fields - to produce the CSeries family of aircraft." The CIASTA will be constructed as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building, the first such building for Bombardier Aerospace in the world. LEED is a third-party certification program and an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. The design and construction of the CIASTA is on track and is expected to be ready for test rig assembly next year. Wieland-Dafco Quebec Inc. and Ghafari Associates LLC have been contracted to construct the building. As part of Bombardier's mandate to contribute to a more sustainable future for aviation, the company's priority is to design and manufacture the most fuel-efficient aircraft with the lowest gas and noise emissions in their category. The mandate also extends to Bombardier's manufacturing processes and facilities. Making effective use of existing resources where possible, the CIASTA will be reconstructed from an existing fuel-flow building. "We seek consistency and uniformity when it comes to being greener whether it's our aircraft or the facilities in which they are tested and built," said Mr. Hachey. The CIASTA will house, among other things, the CSeries aircraft Integrated Systems Test and Certification Rig (ISTCR) or Iron Bird as it is usually called. This will be the first complete test vehicle enabling earlier product maturity. Flight control systems, avionics, electrical and environmental controls will be tested one year ahead of the actual flight test program. Other test articles will include an Interiors Rig, a Systems Integration Test Stand (SITS), an Engineering Simulator (ESIM) and Flight Controls Integration Lab (FCIL). Bombardier achieved another milestone for the CSeries aircraft program recently when the first test article - a fuselage test barrel - arrived ahead of schedule at its Saint-Laurent, Quebec site from China on August 19, 2009. The test barrel is now being prepared for fatigue testing including pressure cycle testing representative of the life of the aircraft. The test barrel will be used to demonstrate manufacturing and engineering structural concepts before the CSeries aircraft's final design phase begins in 2010. Earlier this year, the CSeries aircraft program officially transitioned from the Joint Conceptual Definition Phase (JCDP) to the Joint Definition Phase (JDP). The latter phase will bring with it greater product definition and is expected to close with the preliminary design freeze. Since launching the CSeries family of aircraft at the Farnborough Air Show in July 2008, Bombardier has recorded firm orders for 50 CS100 and CS300 aircraft from Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Lease Corporation International Group. The CSeries aircraft which are optimized for the longer range, single-aisle 100- to 145-seat market will deliver the lowest operating costs in their class, exceptional operational flexibility, widebody comfort and an unmatched environmental scorecard. About Bombardier A world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2009, were $19.7 billion US, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at

DTN News: Hunt For Sea Minerals Drives Indian Navy

DTN News: Hunt For Sea Minerals Drives Indian Navy
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - September 16, 2009: India's ambitious plans to modernise its navy are being driven by a scramble for mineral wealth on the floor of the sea leagues away from the mainland, according to the country's military strategists. The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. It currently has approximately 55,000 personnel on active duty, including 5,000 members of the naval aviation branch and 2,000 marine commandos, making it the world's fifth largest navy. The Indian Navy currently operates more than 155 vessels, including the aircraft carrier INS Viraat, along with operational jet fighters. Though the primary objective of the navy is to secure national maritime borders, India also uses its navy to enhance its international relations through joint exercises, port visits and humanitarian missions, including disaster relief. In recent years, the Indian Navy has undergone extensive modernization and expansion with an intention to increase its capabilities as a recognized blue-water navy. India has one of the world's fastest-growing navies, with 120 vessels. It plans to add almost 100 warships to its fleet over the next decade. Strategists foresee Indian firepower protecting commercial drilling sites in the southern Indian Ocean. Senior Indian officers, such as Admiral Sureesh Mehta, retired head of the navy, have spoken publicly about the inevitability of scouring the seabed for oil and gas and other minerals as land-based re-sources are depleted. According to the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography, India has surveyed an area of nearly 4m sq km in the central Indian Ocean basin that has led to findings of "significant commercial grades" of copper, nickel, iron and cobalt deposits. The assessment of India's strategic needs comes as China likewise extends its naval might into the Indian Ocean. Beijing is seeking to protect the supply of oil to its fast-growing economy and shipments of minerals from its mines in Africa.

DTN News: Piracy Off The Horn Of Africa

DTN News: Piracy Off The Horn Of Africa
*The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the US Government
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA - September 16, 2009: The Gulf of Aden, off the Horn of Africa, through which some 33,000 commercial ships pass each year, is one of the world's busiest seaways – and one of the most dangerous. Since the beginning of this year, there have been 138 reported pirate attacks on commercial vessels, of which 33 were successful. (Image: This Saudi Arabian supertanker was hijacked off the Kenyan coast)
The United States government, in concert with the U.S. maritime industry and other concerned nations and international organizations, continues to work to prevent pirates operating in the waters of the Horn of Africa from interfering with maritime commerce, endangering mariners, hindering the provision of humanitarian aid to East Africa, and further destabilizing the troubled region.
The U.S. believes that all commercial vessels should take self protection measures to reduce the risk of piracy. In order to successfully deter these criminal assaults on the high seas the commercial shipping industry should continue to provide input to, and follow, internationally recognized best management practices to avoid, deter, or delay acts of piracy. Pirates near Somalia's shore.
The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard have contributed ships and aircraft to NATO's counter-piracy operations and Combined Task Force 151, a multinational coalition whose mission is to protect against piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the eastern coast of Somalia. (Image: Pirates near Somalia's shore) The command rotates among partner navies regularly. The U.S. Navy and its task force partners actively coordinate with and support the anti-piracy operations of NATO's Operation Ocean Shield naval forces in the region, as well as those of the European Union's naval Operation Atalanta.
Despite the fact that over 1 million square miles of ocean are vulnerable to Somali piracy, the U.S. and other navies have succeeded so far in seizing or destroying 40 pirate vessels since August 2008, turning over 235 suspected pirates for prosecution in various countries, and confiscating numerous small arms and light weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades. Following the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1851 the U.S. helped to create the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to coordinate an effective response to piracy in that region. The U.S. is supporting international efforts to help build regional judicial, legislative, regulatory, and coastal defense forces to deal with the piracy problem.
The U.S. believes that pirates should be brought to justice and that the first option for prosecution should go to the state most concerned – be it the flag state or the state of the vessel's owner or crew.The United States is committed to work with its international partners to making the waters off the coast of Somalia safe for international commerce.

DTN News: Airlines News TODAY September 16, 2009 ~ Airlines May Lose $11 Billion, More Than Forecast

DTN News: Airlines News TODAY September 16, 2009 ~ Airlines May Lose $11 Billion, More Than Forecast
*Source: DTN News / Bloomberg By John Hughes (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA - September 16, 2009: Airlines worldwide may lose a combined $11 billion in 2009, $2 billion wider than a previous forecast in June, as fuel costs rise and carriers earn less on fares and cargo, the industry’s main trade group said. Airline losses will be $3.8 billion next year, with “limited revival of growth in traffic volumes,” the International Air Transport Association said today in Washington. The estimate was the first by the group for 2010. The forecasts suggest that signs of improvement in many economies may be slow to trickle through to airlines, which are paring jobs and shrinking capacity in response to a drop in first- and business-class travel. The Montreal-based IATA said passenger yields, or average fare per mile, will fall 12 percent this year, compared with the 7 percent drop estimated in June. “The global economic storm may be abating, but airlines have not yet found safe harbor,” Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general, said in a statement. “The crisis continues.” Revenue for the year is expected to fall 15 percent from 2008 to $455 billion, the IATA said in a statement. Oil prices are expected to average $5 a barrel more than in the group’s June forecast, adding $9 billion in costs for the industry, IATA said. The number of premium passengers paying higher-priced business fares will fall 20 percent, according to the IATA. Bisignani called the revenue drop “shocking” at a news conference, and said such a dramatic drop in yields would be the worst in IATA’s 65-year history. “We are in intensive care,” he said. Regional Forecasts European carriers will post the largest losses in 2009 at $3.8 billion, more than double the previous forecast, IATA said. A world-trade collapse hurt long-haul markets in Europe, and carriers were unable to cut capacity fast enough, the IATA said. North American carriers will lose $2.6 billion this year, also more than double the earlier forecast, the group said. In July, Continental Airlines Inc. said it plans to eliminate 1,700 jobs and Southwest Airlines Co. said 1,400 employees took voluntary buyouts, while United Airlines will shrink international capacity by an additional 7 percent. Delta Air Lines Inc. and the other big U.S. carriers are poised to make more cuts in available seats with the end of the summer travel season, capping the industry’s deepest retrenchment since World War II. Asia-Pacific carriers will post losses of $3.6 billion, in 2009, similar to the previous forecast, IATA said. Latin American carriers are expected to break even, and Middle East and African carriers will lose $500 million each, according to the group. Building ‘War Chests’ IATA revised its estimate of world airline losses in 2008 to $16.8 billion from $10.4 billion. The change was due to accounting differences, IATA said. Revenue isn’t likely to return to 2008 levels until at least 2012. Bisignani said. To sustain themselves for the coming winter, when traffic traditionally falls, airlines have raised $15 billion in cash as “a war chest, to fight the crisis,” he said. Airlines will see additional “casualties,” or bankruptcies, though Bisignani didn’t predict how many, or which airlines, may fail. Government should ease taxation on airlines and “consolidation is a must” in the industry, he said. The Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index, made up of 12 carriers, has declined 16 percent this year, compared with a 16 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Investors may be starting to look past this year to gradual improvement in 2010. The airlines index rose 4.6 percent at 12:40 p.m. New York time, and has gained 9 straight days. To contact the reporter on this story: John Hughes in Washington at

DTN News: Misreading The Iranian Situation

DTN News: Misreading The Iranian Situation
*Source: By George Friedman STRATFOR (NSI News Source Info) - September 16, 2009: The Iranians have now agreed to talks with the P-5+1, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China) plus Germany. These six countries decided in late April to enter into negotiations with Iran over the suspected Iranian nuclear weapons program by Sept. 24, the date of the next U.N. General Assembly meeting. If Iran refused to engage in negotiations by that date, the Western powers in the P-5+1 made clear that they would seriously consider imposing much tougher sanctions on Iran than those that were currently in place. The term “crippling” was mentioned several times. Obviously, negotiations are not to begin prior to the U.N. General Assembly meeting as previously had been stipulated. The talks are now expected to begin Oct. 1, a week later. This gives the Iranians their first (symbolic) victory: They have defied the P-5+1 on the demand that talks be under way by the time the General Assembly meets. Inevitably, the Iranians would delay, and the P-5+1 would not make a big deal of it. Talks About Talks and the Sanctions Challenge Now, we get down to the heart of the matter: The Iranians have officially indicated that they are prepared to discuss a range of strategic and economic issues but are not prepared to discuss the nuclear program — which, of course, is the reason for the talks in the first place. On Sept. 14, they hinted that they might consider talking about the nuclear program if progress were made on other issues, but made no guarantees. So far, the Iranians are playing their traditional hand. They are making the question of whether there would be talks about nuclear weapons the center of diplomacy. Where the West wanted a commitment to end uranium enrichment, the Iranians are trying to shift the discussions to whether they will talk at all. After spending many rounds of discussions on this subject, they expect everyone to go away exhausted. If pressure is coming down on them, they will agree to discussions, acting as if the mere act of talking represents a massive concession. The members of the P-5+1 that don’t want a confrontation with Iran will use Tehran’s agreement merely to talk (absent any guarantees of an outcome) to get themselves off the hook on which they found themselves back in April — namely, of having to impose sanctions if the Iranians don’t change their position on their nuclear program. Russia, one of the main members of the P-5+1, already has made clear it opposes sanctions under any circumstances. The Russians have no intention of helping solve the American problem with Iran while the United States maintains its stance on NATO expansion and bilateral relations with Ukraine and Georgia. Russia regards the latter two countries as falling within the Russian sphere of influence, a place where the United States has no business meddling. To this end, Russia is pleased to do anything that keeps the United States bogged down in the Middle East, since this prevents Washington from deploying forces in Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltics, Georgia or Ukraine. A conflict with Iran not only would bog down the United States even further, it would divide Europe and drive the former Soviet Union and Central Europe into viewing Russia as a source of aid and stability. The Russians thus see Iran as a major thorn in Washington’s side. Obtaining Moscow’s cooperation on removing the thorn would require major U.S. concessions — beyond merely bringing a plastic “reset” button to Moscow. At this point, the Russians have no intention of helping remove the thorn. They like it right where it is. In discussing crippling sanctions, the sole obvious move would be blocking gasoline exports to Iran. Iran must import 40 percent of its gasoline needs. The United States and others have discussed a plan for preventing major energy companies, shippers and insurers from supplying that gasoline. The subject, of course, becomes moot if Russia (and China) refuses to participate or blocks sanctions. Moscow and Beijing can deliver all the gasoline Tehran wants. The Russians could even deliver gasoline by rail in the event that Iranian ports are blocked. Therefore, if the Russians aren’t participating, the impact of gasoline sanctions is severely diminished, something the Iranians know well. Tehran and Moscow therefore are of the opinion that this round of threats will end where other rounds ended. The United States, the United Kingdom and France will be on one side; Russia and China will be on the other; and Germany will vacillate, not wanting to be caught on the wrong side of the Russians. In either case, whatever sanctions are announced would lose their punch, and life would go on as before. There is, however, a dimension that indicates that this crisis might take a different course. The Israeli Dimension After the last round of meetings between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, the Israelis announced that the United States had agreed that in the event of a failure in negotiations, the United States would demand — and get — crippling sanctions against Iran, code for a gasoline cutoff. In return, the Israelis indicated that any plans for a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be put off. The Israelis specifically said that the Americans had agreed on the September U.N. talks as the hard deadline for a decision on — and implementation of — sanctions. Our view always has been that the Iranians are far from acquiring nuclear weapons. This is, we believe, the Israeli point of view. But the Israeli point of view also is that, however distant, the Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons represents a mortal danger to Israel — and that, therefore, Israel would have to use military force if diplomacy and sanctions don’t work. For Israel, the Obama guarantee on sanctions represented the best chance at a nonmilitary settlement. If it fails, it is not clear what could possibly work. Given that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has gotten his regime back in line, that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad apparently has emerged from the recent Iranian election crisis with expanded clout over Iran’s foreign policy, and that the Iranian nuclear program appears to be popular among Iranian nationalists (of whom there are many), there seems no internal impediment to the program. And given the current state of U.S.-Russian relations and that Washington is unlikely to yield Moscow hegemony in the former Soviet Union in return for help on Iran, a crippling sanctions regime is unlikely. Obama’s assurances notwithstanding, there accordingly is no evidence of any force or process that would cause the Iranians to change their minds about their nuclear program. With that, the advantage to Israel of delaying a military strike evaporates. And the question of the quality of intelligence must always be taken into account: The Iranians may be closer to a weapon than is believed. The value of risking delays disappears if nothing is likely to happen in the intervening period that would make a strike unnecessary. Moreover, the Israelis have Obama in a box. Obama promised them that if Israel did not take a military route, he would deliver them crippling sanctions against Iran. Why Obama made this promise — and he has never denied the Israeli claim that he did — is not fully clear. It did buy him some time, and perhaps he felt he could manage the Russians better than he has. Whatever Obama’s motivations, having failed to deliver, the Israelis can say that they have cooperated with the United States fully, so now they are free by the terms of their understanding with Washington to carry out strikes — something that would necessarily involve the United States. The calm assumptions in major capitals that this is merely another round in interminable talks with Iran on its weapons revolves around the belief that the Israelis are locked into place by the Americans. From where we sit, the Israelis have more room to maneuver now than they had in the past, or than they might have in the future. If that’s true, then the current crisis is more dangerous than it appears. Netanyahu appears to have made a secret trip to Moscow (though it didn’t stay secret very long) to meet with the Russian leadership. Based on our own intelligence and this analysis, it is reasonable to assume that Netanyahu was trying to drive home to the Russians the seriousness of the situation and Israel’s intent. Russian-Israeli relations have deteriorated on a number of issues, particularly over Israeli military and intelligence aid to Ukraine and Georgia. Undoubtedly, the Russians demanded that Israel abandon this aid. As mentioned, the chances of the Russians imposing effective sanctions on Iran are nil. This would get them nothing. And if not cooperating on sanctions triggers an Israeli airstrike, so much the better. This would degrade and potentially even effectively eliminate Iran’s nuclear capability, which in the final analysis is not in Russia’s interest. It would further enrage the Islamic world at Israel. It would put the United States in the even more difficult position of having to support Israel in the face of this hostility. And from the Russian point of view, it would all come for free. (That said, in such a scenario the Russians would lose much of the leverage the Iran card offers Moscow in negotiations with the United States.) Ramifications of an Israeli Strike An Israeli airstrike would involve the United States in two ways. First, it would have to pass through Iraqi airspace controlled by the United States, at which point no one would believe that the Americans weren’t complicit. Second, the likely Iranian response to an Israeli airstrike would be to mine the Strait of Hormuz and other key points in the Persian Gulf — something the Iranians have said they would do, and something they have the ability to do. Some have pointed out that the Iranians would be hurting themselves as much as the West, as this would cripple their energy exports. And it must be remembered that 40 percent of globally traded oil exports pass through Hormuz. The effect of mining the Persian Gulf would be devastating to oil prices and to the global economy at a time when the global economy doesn’t need more grief. But the economic pain Iran would experience from such a move could prove tolerable relative to the pain that would be experienced by the world’s major energy importers. Meanwhile, the Russians would be free to export oil at extraordinarily high prices. Given the foregoing, the United States would immediately get involved in such a conflict by engaging the Iranian navy, which in this case would consist of small boats with outboard motors dumping mines overboard. Such a conflict would be asymmetric warfare, naval style. Indeed, given that the Iranians would rapidly respond — and that the best way to stop them would be to destroy their vessels no matter how small before they have deployed — the only rational military process would be to strike Iranian boats and ships prior to an Israeli airstrike. Since Israel doesn’t have the ability to do that, the United States would be involved in any such conflict from the beginning. Given that, the United States might as well do the attacking. This would increase the probability of success dramatically, and paradoxically would dampen the regional reaction compared to a unilateral Israeli strike. When we speak to people in Tehran, Washington and Moscow, we get the sense that they are unaware that the current situation might spin out of control. In Moscow, the scenario is dismissed because the general view is that Obama is weak and inexperienced and is frightened of military confrontation; the assumption is that he will find a way to bring the Israelis under control. It isn’t clear that Obama can do that, however. The Israelis don’t trust him, and Iran is a core issue for them. The more Obama presses them on settlements the more they are convinced that Washington no longer cares about Israeli interests. And that means they are on their own, but free to act. It should also be remembered that Obama reads intelligence reports from Moscow, Tehran and Berlin. He knows the consensus about him among foreign leaders, who don’t hold him in high regard. That consensus causes foreign leaders to take risks; it also causes Obama to have an interest in demonstrating that they have misread him. We are reminded of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis only in this sense: We get the sense that everyone is misreading everyone else. In the run-up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Americans didn’t believe the Soviets would take the risks they did and the Soviets didn’t believe the Americans would react as they did. In this case, the Iranians believe the United States will play its old game and control the Israelis. Washington doesn’t really understand that Netanyahu may see this as the decisive moment. And the Russians believe Netanyahu will be controlled by an Obama afraid of an even broader conflict than he already has on his hands. The current situation is not as dangerous as the Cuban Missile Crisis was, but it has this in common: Everyone thinks we are on a known roadmap, when in reality, one of the players — Israel — has the ability and interest to redraw the roadmap. Netanyahu has been signaling in many ways that he intends to do just this. Everyone seems to believe he won’t. We aren’t so sure.
Tell STRATFOR What You Think This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to Please feel free to distribute this Intelligence Report to friends or repost to your Web site linking to

DTN News: Pyongyang Hackers Suspected In Fresh Wave Attacks Target U.S., South Korean Websites

DTN News: Pyongyang Hackers Suspected In Fresh Wave Attacks Target U.S., South Korean Websites *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SEOUL, South Korea - September 16, 2009: A fresh wave of cyber attacks that slowed U.S. and South Korean websites this week hit more targets Thursday, a Web security firm said, while the South’s spy agency has said the hacking may be linked to North Korea. The impact of the attacks, aimed so far at dozens of sites including the White House and the South’s presidential office, was seen as negligible, experts said, but served as a reminder that Pyongyang has been planning for cyber warfare. “The anticipated attack did take place, but considerable countermeasures were taken and it did act as a defense to some degree,” an official at the online security firm Ahnlab said. Some South Korean government websites, including the Defence Ministry and the National Intelligence Service, were affected. Access to some U.S. government sites, including the State and Defense Department, from South Korea appeared to be disabled. In Washington, U.S. government officials said all federal websites were up and running and there was no impact from any new attacks on Thursday. The Pentagon said it had experienced an increase in cyber activity for about 24 to 48 hours after the July 4 holiday but the upswing had no significant effect on operations. The Internet sites of some South Korean banks experienced a surge in access requests but a bank official said programs were run to disperse traffic and bring service back within an hour. If the North was responsible, it would mark an escalation in tension already high from Pyongyang’s nuclear test in May, a barrage of ballistic missiles in July and repeated taunts of long-time foes Seoul and Washington in its official media. But some analysts questioned the North’s involvement, saying it may be the work of industrial spies or pranksters. One online expert was quoted as telling a South Korean daily that tracking the spread of the malicious software showed it had originated from an IP address based in United States. The attacks will likely be regarded by the North’s leadership as a victory for Kim Jong-il — even if Pyongyang was not behind them — because they hurt the country’s traditional foes, adding a new dimension to the threat level posed by the reclusive state. The attacks saturated target websites with access requests generated by malicious software planted on personal computers. This has overwhelmed some targeted sites and slowed server response to legitimate traffic. The attacks did not lead to a breach of sensitive government material or damage online infrastructure in South Korea, the world’s most wired country, government officials said. But the National Intelligence Service said in a statement it was stepping up alert to monitor potential attacks against the network of energy and communications facilities. South Korean media quoted parliament members saying after an intelligence briefing on Wednesday that the spy agency believed “North Korea or pro-North elements” were behind the attacks. The defense ministry is allocating 26 billion won (US$20.33-million) to beef up security for its computer system, according to a budget request it released on Thursday. U.S. officials would not speculate on who might be behind the attacks but noted that U.S. government websites face attacks or scams “millions of times” a day. An expert on North Korea at the Heritage Foundation, Bruce Klingner, said the North had in operation a military unit with up to 1,000 skilled computer hackers created 10 years ago. “Pyongyang has an extensive and capable cyber terrorism effort to provide asymmetric attack capabilities,” he said. Internet access is denied to almost everyone in hermit North Korea, but intelligence sources said Pyongyang had placed a high priority on developing cyber attack skills. Last month, the North warned of “high-tech war” against the South for spreading what it said was false information about its involvement in cyber attacks.

DTN News: Israel TODAY September 16, 2009 ~ We'll Be Ready For Any Turmoil On Lebanon Border Says IDF Chief

DTN News: Israel TODAY September 16, 2009 ~ We'll Be Ready For Any Turmoil On Lebanon Border Says IDF Chief
*Source: DTN News / By Eli Ashkenazi, Haaretz Correspondent (NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - September 16, 2009: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said during a tour of northern Israel on Tuesday that the military would be ready in the event that war breaks out along the Lebanese border. (Image: F16I Soufa fighter jet)
"All the sides are interested in quiet, which has prevailed here since the Second Lebanon War (in 2006). If there is no quiet, they will find us ready," Ashkenazi said, while referring to a Hezbollah rocket cache that exploded in southern Lebanon in July. "The explosions showed that Hezbollah is arming and getting stronger, but the IDF is organized and ready for everything." Ashkenazi added that he planned to spend the upcoming Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah in the north, to "celebrate, have a good time and enjoy the views that the Galilee offers."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that Israel holds the Lebanese government accountable for last week''s rocket attacks on northern Israel. Two rockets launched from Lebanon hit open areas in the Western Galilee on Friday.
An Israel Defense Forces artillery unit shot back at the launch area, firing some 12 artillery shells. No casualties or damage were reported on either side.

DTN News: Business TODAY September 16, 2009 ~ Kraft CEO Plans Further Deal Talk With Cadbury

DTN News: Business TODAY September 16, 2009 ~ Kraft CEO Plans Further Deal Talk With Cadbury
*Source: DTN News / Reuters
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - September 16, 2009: Kraft Foods (KFT.N), North America's biggest food group, plans to hold talks in coming weeks with British bid target Cadbury (CBRY.L) that may lead to a new bid offer for the global No.2 candy and chocolate maker. Cadbury's chocolate bars are seen in a shop in London in this June 23, 2006 file photograph. "In the weeks ahead we look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with the board and management of Cadbury as we continue to assess the opportunity and consider progressing to a final offer," Kraft's Chief Executive Irene Rosenfeld said in a speech to business students in Toronto. Kraft wants to buy the British company as it targets growth after revamping its operations in recent years. (Reporting by Pav Jordan)

DTN News: China J-10 Fighter Planes To Play Around With Japanese Reconnaissance Aircraft In The China East Sea

DTN News: China J-10 Fighter Planes To Play Around With Japanese Reconnaissance Aircraft In The China East Sea *Source: DTN News / China Tour (Click here for link)
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - September 16, 2009: On 16th, two China J-10 fighter planes intercepted the Japanese 5th Air Group P3C anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft in the East China Sea. The two sides flied parallel from the southeast towards the northwest, the Chinese planes "flying with" the Japanese reconnaissance plane for 20 minutes and after a full shift of 290 degree they returned. (Image: China J-10 fighter planes)
As this is the first time a Chinese fighter monitor the Japanese plane with an approach of "flying with" for the last few years. So an increasingly active intercept movement by the People's Liberation Army on the high seas has caused the concern of the United States, Japan and South Korea. Taiwan media reported quoted from military officials in Taiwan said that the Chinese fighter planes fly with to monitor the Japanese reconnaissance aircraft, military aircrafts from the two sides have remained at around 3000 meters, and has also taken a non-provocative action on the route to intercept.
It is clear that after the many years ago after China J-8 fighters collided with the U.S. military EP3 aircraft in the airspace over Hainan Island, the People's Liberation Army to intercept the aircraft from other countries had been "more mature." Taiwan military officials said the two Chinese J-10 fighters are planned to intercept, the People's Liberation Army sent its most advanced fighters to the high seas, and china’s attention on the defense is obvious.
Two J-10 warplanes maintained cruising speed the moment took off direct to the point of intercept. The Japanese reconnaissance aircraft is also in accordance with the well-established flight route, so it is relatively easy to calculate the intercept points. Taiwan military officials said that as this is the first time a Chinese fighter monitor the Japanese plane with an approach of "flying with" for the last few years. And an increasingly active intercept movement by the People's Liberation Army on the high seas has caused the concern of the United States, Japan and South Korea. However, Japan did not have any change so far. It is said that last week three Japanese Self-Defense Force aircraft, take turns to trace a Chinese ISR intelligence surveillance ship to, started from the East China Sea to the Yellow Sea, finally almost 80 nautical miles away from China's territorial waters scope and leave. But China did not send planes to intercept, and even did not open anti-aircraft missile guided radar; obviously China do not want Japan to get the frequency of guidance.