Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DTN News: BAE Challenges Safety Of Lockheed Turret In Warrior Bid

DTN News: BAE Challenges Safety Of Lockheed Turret In Warrior Bid *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) DUBAI, UAE - November 19, 2009: BAE Systems has questioned the safety of a rival turret design being bid by Lockheed Martin UK in a 1 billion pound ($1.7 billion) competition to upgrade the British Army's Warrior infantry fighting vehicle. BAE Systems attacked the Lockheed design for Warrior just hours after bids had been submitted for the update. (LOCKHEED MARTIN) The British armored vehicle maker is offering a new turret based on its MTIP2 development for the Warrior Capability Sustainment program (WSCP), while arch rival Lockheed is bidding an adaptation of the existing turret. The attack on the Lockheed design was made just hours after bids had been submitted for the Warrior update. "As the manufacturer of Warrior, we took the view that modifying the existing turret was not a satisfactory solution as it could raise safety issues. Instead, we have developed a completely new design which fully meets the U.K. MoD protection requirements," BAE said in a statement. A spokesman for BAE said a modified turret posed safety questions in areas such as "structural integrity, protection and crew exit, as well as workload and fightability." One industry executive said he was "stunned by the decision to go public with accusations of this kind against a rival bidder. It's unprecedented in my experience and takes bidding to a new low. If I was the customer I would be pretty angry." The BAE statement took a further swing at its rival, implying that troops would not be able to evacuate the Warrior quickly in an emergency because hatches in existing turrets are becoming too small for the modern soldier. "Large hatches [of the BAE design] are designed to accommodate today's and tomorrow's soldier wearing full Osprey body armour," the statement said. "Soldiers are getting bigger and crew positions in many existing vehicles are becoming too cramped to accommodate them or allow easy exit from the vehicle in an emergency," it said. The accusation that the Lockheed design would put British soldiers' lives at risk threatens to spark a major row. Wrapping your bid in the national flag or raising the emotive issue of job losses if an overseas bidder wins a competition has been a regular part of the procurement lobbying process for years. Attacking a rival bid on the grounds that it is unsafe is probably unheard of. A second industry executive described BAE's move an "act of desperation, it shows how important the bid is to the survival prospects of the land systems business in the U.K." Lockheed strongly refuted the allegation in a statement released Nov. 18. "LMUK and its Warrior Transformation Team partners are committed to putting the soldier first. We have created a solution that increases the soldier's safety and increases mission effectiveness. "We have conducted finite element analysis, which proves the structural integrity of our solution. We have upgraded the turret to include mine blast seats with five point harnesses," the statement said. "We have worked with the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory and Cranfield on our integrated protection solution, which is fully compliant with the highest requirements in the [MoD's] Systems Requirement Document. We have worked with small and medium size companies throughout the development process to ensure that our solution significantly increases soldier safety," said Lockheed. Both companies submitted their bids to the MoD by today's deadline for the WCSP. The program covers a new turret, electronic architecture, a modular protection system and other improvements. Assuming the program doesn't fall foul of upcoming cuts in defense spending, a decision is expected early next year with an in-service date possibly as early as 2013. Warrior, and a battle with General Dynamics to supply the platform for the special vehicles element of the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES), have assumed critical importance to BAE as their other work in the sector dwindles. The company has announced the closure of three land vehicles facilities along with several hundred job losses in the United Kingdom in the last few months. Even if BAE wins one, or possibly both competitions, the future of its main armor manufacturing site in Newcastle will remain uncertain. Much of the work on the Warrior upgrade likely will go to the U.K. government-owned Defence Support Group regardless of whether BAE or Lockheed win the Warrior work. CTA International's CT 40mm cannon has been mandated by the MoD for the Warrior and FRES scout element of the special vehicles purchase. For the FRES requirement BAE is bidding the CV-90 machine built by its Swedish operation. General Dynamics recently signed up Lockheed as its turret design partner for the FRES special vehicles requirement. This time, though, Lockheed has designed a new turret. Bids for FRES were submitted at the end of October.

DTN News: Slovakia To Add 250 NATO Troops To Afghan Mission

DTN News: Slovakia To Add 250 NATO Troops To Afghan Mission *Source: DTN News / Int'l News (NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK- November 19, 2009: Slovakia pledged about 250 extra soldiers Tuesday to the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, the first of what British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said would be a series of international reinforcements. The central European country will double the size of its 246-strong contingent in Afghanistan, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said in a joint statement with Brown following talks in the British capital. Brown, who has said he is lobbying allies in Europe and elsewhere for as many as 5,000 extra soldiers, said more such announcements were on their way. "We will be approaching other countries and I believe that, including Britain, maybe 10 countries will be prepared to give extra support in Afghanistan," he said. NATO's Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in the Scottish city of Edinburgh on Tuesday for an address to the group's parliamentary assembly, has so far steered clear of saying how many extra reinforcements the trans-Atlantic alliance was willing to send to Afghanistan. He told delegates Tuesday that NATO was leaning toward adopting a new counterinsurgency strategy that would include a substantial number of extra troops — but he did not elaborate. David Miliband, Britain's foreign minister, told the same meeting that military action must be accompanied by a political surge to restore Afghans' faith in their corruption-scarred government — something he said would include appointing senior Taliban commanders to the government in Kabul. Miliband acknowledged that persuading top Taliban fighters to lay down their arms and join government would be "far from straightforward" but said it would have to happen sooner or later. "The historical lessons are clear," he said. Blood enemies from the Soviet period and the civil war now work together in government. Former Talibs already sit in the parliament. It is essential that, when the time is right, members of the current insurgency are encouraged to follow suit." Miliband's comments are stronger than those of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who said last week that talking to the Taliban is "not our strategy," although he acknowledged that members of the Taliban prepared to renounce violence will be part of the reconciliation process. Britain has 9,000 troops in Afghanistan, the largest international contingent after America's 68,000 troops, but public support for the conflict has fallen as casualties have risen. Slovakia's modest new commitment was welcomed by Brown, who has been appealing to the 43 other nations involved in Afghanistan's International Security Assistance Force to help share the burden of the fighting. Still, neither he nor the Slovak leader said when or where the Slovaks might be deployed. They currently serve in the Afghan province of Kandahar and in Uruzgan alongside Dutch soldiers, but the statement said they could be relocated to "other territorial parts of Afghanistan." Britain's NATO allies have been under pressure to move their troops away from relatively safe parts of Afghanistan to more dangerous areas where U.S. and U.K. forces are grappling with Taliban insurgents. Calls seeking clarification from the NATO alliance in Brussels and Slovakia's defense ministry were not immediately returned. Slovakia's pledge also comes as President Barack Obama's administration nears a decision on whether or by how much to boost the number of American troops there. In all, the international force in Afghanistan is currently about 100,000 strong. Fico was in London for a meeting with Brown on Tuesday — the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in what was then known as Czechoslovakia. Associated Press Writer Karel Janicek in Prague contributed to this report.

DTN News: A Terrorist Trial In New York City

DTN News: A Terrorist Trial In New York City *Source: By Ben West and Fred Burton STRATFOR (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - November 19, 2009: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Nov. 13 that the U.S. Justice Department had decided to try five suspected terrorists currently being held at Guantanamo Bay in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, located in lower Manhattan. The five suspects — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarek bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi — are all accused of being involved in the 9/11 plot, with Mohammed describing himself as the mastermind in a 2003 confession. The announcement follows from U.S. President Barack Obama’s first executive order, which he signed on Jan. 22, to close the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and another executive order to suspend the military tribunals set up under the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists. Holder’s decision has generated much debate and highlighted the legal murkiness concerning the status of Guantanamo detainees and how best to bring them to justice. Beyond this murkiness is the perceived security threat of bringing five suspected terrorists accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to trial in New York City. Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he thought holding the trial in New York would put residents at risk. And Andrew McCarthy, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote in The New Republic that the trial will “create a public-safely nightmare for New York City.” Numerous other observers and media outlets around the world have voiced similar security concerns about the New York trial. Although there has been much criticism of the decision to hold the trial in New York City, when it comes to prosecuting terror suspects, the Southern District of New York knows what it’s doing. The staff of the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York has gained considerable knowledge and expertise prosecuting terror cases over the years, just as the U.S. Marshal Special Operations Group (SOG) has gained much experience providing security for those trials. It was in the Southern District of New York in 1995 that Omar Abdel Rahman, aka the Blind Sheikh, was tried for the so-called Landmarks Plot of 1993 and received a life sentence. In 1996, Abdel Basit (aka Ramzi Yousef) and two co-conspirators were also tried in the Southern District and sentenced to life in prison for their roles in the Bojinka Plot, which also included an indictment for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the staff of the Southern District has been familiar with Mohammed for some time now). The attackers behind the 1998 attacks against the U.S. embassies were also prosecuted in the Southern District of New York and sentenced to life imprisonment. Few other courts have so much experience handling and prosecuting high-profile terrorism cases, so it should have come as no surprise that Holder named the district as the venue for the upcoming trial. On top of all this, the World Trade Center towers were also in the Southern District of New York, putting the deadliest site of the 9/11 attacks under the Southern District’s jurisdiction. The case will be prosecuted jointly by the offices of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, led by Preet Bharara, and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, led by Neil H. MacBride. The Eastern District of Virginia has also successfully prosecuted several terrorism cases, including those of John Walker Lindh in 2002, the Virginia Jihad Network in 2005 and Zacarias Moussaoui in 2006. While some believe that trying the so-called “Gitmo Five” in New York City will result in more terrorist attacks in the city, STRATFOR does not anticipate a marked increase in the number of plots or attacks. New York City has long been a popular target for radical Islamists — there have been nine known plots involving targets in New York uncovered since the 9/11 attacks, including two in the past six months. In May 2009, four men were arrested for attempting to detonate explosives outside a synagogue in the Bronx, and in September, Najibullah Zazi was arrested for plotting to detonate backpack explosives on trains in New York City. Other plots have included a 2007 plan to detonate fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy International Airport, a 2006 plot to detonate explosives in the Holland Tunnel and a 2004 plot to attack a subway station near Madison Square Garden. New York City remains an alluring target for jihadists because of its symbolism. Home to more than 8 million people, it is the largest city in the United States and a global financial and media center. Whatever happens there gets more exposure and publicity than virtually anywhere else in the world. It is also a perceived center of Jewish wealth and culture (New York has the second-largest Jewish population behind Tel Aviv), compounding the threat from Islamist radicals. New York City will remain a terrorist target for many reasons other than the Gitmo Five trial. It is also interesting to note that none of the city’s other high-profile terrorism trials has ever resulted in a retaliatory attack against the city. In addition to the federal prosecutors who will be involved in the trial having experience dealing with terrorism cases, the New York Police Department has the training, manpower and focus to provide effective physical security. Federal agents, including those of the U.S. Marshal SOG, will be primarily responsible for handling the five suspects and providing security inside the federal courthouse. The building is one of the most secure federal courthouses in the country, equipped with anti-vehicle borne explosive device barricades, 24-hour guard posts and high-resolution video cameras. The U.S. marshals will be augmented by NYPD “Hercules” teams (designed to provide a surge of police presence in an area to prevent or disrupt criminal and terrorist operations) and will likely place sniper teams on nearby rooftops for added security. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic around the courthouse will be severely limited, with nearby streets closed to traffic and nearby subway entrances closed to riders. During the trial, the five defendants will be held at the Metropolitan Correctional Complex, which is connected to the courthouse via a third-of-a-mile-long underground tunnel. This significantly reduces the threat of terrorist attack or a disruption of the proceedings by allowing security forces to control the geography of the trial venue and spot unusual activity. Another geographic benefit is the fact that Manhattan is an island with limited access points (bridges and tunnels), which makes it easier to seal off the area and control who or what gets in or out. These factors do not necessarily preclude an attack, especially a suicide attack in which the perpetrator is undeterred by the risk of death, but do decrease the options of an attacker and increase the options of law enforcement personnel in dealing with the potential risks. Because the courthouse will be under such tight security, any attacker able to penetrate the island cordon and slip into the area would likely go after softer targets surrounding the building. The NYPD will be responsible for protecting areas outside the courthouse and will probably create a secure buffer around the complex, the depth of which will depend on the severity of any given threat. Police would have the wherewithal to put whole sections of the city under heavy lockdown and provide a level of physical security designed to thwart terrorist activities that have reached the latter stages (deployment, attack and escape). This buffer would both protect softer targets nearby and make it that much harder for would-be attackers to infiltrate the courthouse. The NYPD also has the intelligence-collecting capabilities (informants, undercover officers, surveillants, analysts, etc.) to keep a close eye on any potential threat in the area leading up to and during the trial. The NYPD developed these capabilities with a vengeance following the 9/11 attacks, and in the years since it has become quite adept at conducting preventative counterterrorism investigations rather than just reactive ones. In addition to the NYPD, other first-responders in New York — the fire department, emergency medical services and transportation agencies — are experienced and well-trained in dealing with terrorist attacks and can support security efforts surrounding the trial. Given the 9/11 experience, Manhattan residents and workers are also well-versed in emergency action plans and preparations. Certainly, the fact that such a high-profile trial will be held in New York City will temporarily add to the workload of federal and municipal security and emergency personnel, but in some ways it will be little more than a routine effort. The city is used to high-profile events, regularly hosting such events as the U.N. General Assembly, with its attendant flow of international VIPs. New York City has been and will remain a prime terrorist target, and the people responsible for maintaining security in the city are very good at what they do. Indeed, Manhattan — given its recent history of civic trauma and intense focus on counterterrorism — may very well possess the safest civilian court in the country. This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to
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DTN News: Lockheed Martin Poised To Sell F-16 In Middle East, Besides Egypt

DTN News: Lockheed Martin Poised To Sell F-16 In Middle East, Besides Egypt *Source: DTN News / Defense Media (NSI News Source Info) DUBAI - November 19, 2009: Lockheed Martin has strong hopes of clinching a sale of the F-16 fighter with an undisclosed Arab country in the near future, said Rick Groesch, regional vice president for the Middle East. “We have very, very good prospects of selling more in the region,” Groesch told journalists Nov.17 at the air show here. The deal, which could be sealed by the end of the year, would be for the block 50 version of the F-16 aircraft, he said. The mystery buyer is not Egypt, where Lockheed is in detailed negotiations for a sale. Iraq, Oman and Jordan are seen as potential buyers, a French aerospace executive said. A Lockheed team is currently in Egypt for “final discussions” for a prospective purchase of 24 F-16s, Groesch said. The U.S. Congress has cleared the way for a sale with a notification and the present talks were aimed at finalizing contract details. Lockheed sees potential sales of 100 to 200 F-16s around the world until the F-35 becomes available for export. That market estimate excludes the Indian competition for 126 fighters. As part of the Indian tender process, Indian officials will be invited to the U.S. to see live weapons firing by the F-16 at a number of sites in the last week of January and first week of February. A production backlog of 76 F-16s is expected is expected to the line busy until 2012. Countries which have bought the aircraft in the past couple of years include Greece with 30 units, Pakistan (18), Morocco (24) and Turkey (30). A number of countries are upgrading their F-16s to the more capable block 50/52 version, a modernization program expected to keep the aircraft in service to 2040, Groesch said. In the Indian tender, the contenders are Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, F-16, MiG 35 and Saab Gripen NG.