Sunday, January 31, 2010

DTN News: Experts ~ US Arms Deal Won't Hurt Taiwan-China Ties

DTN News: Experts ~ US Arms Deal Won't Hurt Taiwan-China Ties *Source: DTN News / AP By DEBBY WU (NSI News Source Info) TAIPEI, Taiwan- February 1, 2010: Despite a furious denunciation of U.S. plans to sell $6.4 billion of arms to Taiwan, Beijing is unlikely to lash out at the democratic island, because it fears undermining its China-friendly president, Taiwanese analysts say. The weapons deal, announced Friday, includes missiles, Black Hawk helicopters, information distribution systems and two Osprey Class Mine Hunting Ships. The package, however, dodged a touchy issue: F-16 fighter jets, which Taiwan covets, are not included. Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949. The communist government in Beijing continues to regard the island as part of its territory and reserves the right to use force to bring it back under its control-Washington's main reason for continuing to sell it arms. On Sunday, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said the planned weapons sale was a "crude interference in China's internal affairs" and would hurt its national security. Beijing had already suspended military exchange visits with the United States and threatened unprecedented sanctions against U.S. defense companies over the deal. Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt, northeast Asia project director for the International Crisis Group, said it was the strongest such reaction from China in recent years. But Taiwanese analysts said the island's rapidly improving relations with the mainland were not likely to be a victim of the Chinese anger. "Beijing knows that if it tries to spoil cross-strait relations, it will hurt the standing of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou," said international relations specialist George Tsai of Taipei-based Chinese Culture University. "If Ma's domestic standing is weakened, it will only strain cross-strait relations further." Since Ma took office in May 2008, he has jettisoned his predecessor's pro-independence policies, reducing cross-strait tensions to their lowest level in 60 years. Besides agreeing to the launching of regular air and maritime services across the 100-mile- (160-kilometer-) wide Taiwan Strait, he is also pushing a partial free trade agreement that will allow the free flow of many goods, services and capital between the sides. Negotiations on the deal opened last week in Beijing. Wang Kao-cheng of Taipei-based Tamkang University said these talks are unlikely to be affected. "Despite the arms deal, Taiwan is continuing on the path of reconciliation with China," he said. "Beijing has also made it clear that it will push cross-strait relations forward as much as possible when Ma is still in power."
However, in Beijing, Yu Wanli, a professor from the Center for International and Strategic Studies of Peking University, said the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan could hurt cross-strait relations, because it gave impetus to supporters of formal independence for the island. "The arms sale to Taiwan by the U.S. sends the wrong signal to Taiwan, that is, that America supports the democratic system in Taiwan which may eventually lead to independence," Yu said. He added that he believed a big proportion of Taiwanese were independence supporters. Niu Jun, a Peking University international relations specialist, said the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan will have little effect on the military balance between the sides, which most analysts see as now trending strongly in China's favor. "Ultimately, the mainland will have advantages in terms of military strength" over Taiwan, Niu said. Tamkang University's Wang agreed. "The package will redress the imbalance but not in a significant way," Wang said. "Taiwan's air force will face a serious gap in the long term if they need to retire aging planes without F-16 fighter jet replacements." ___ Associated Press researcher Henry Hou contributed to this story from Beijing.

DTN News: Northrop Grumman Redelivers USS George H.W. Bush Following Successful Modernization And Maintenance Work

DTN News: Northrop Grumman Redelivers USS George H.W. Bush Following Successful Modernization And Maintenance Work *Source: DTN News / GLOBE NEWSWIRE (NSI News Source Info) NEWPORT NEWS, Va., - February 1, 2010: Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) returned the nation's newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), to the U.S. Navy following the completion of modernization and maintenance work accomplished during the ship's post shakedown availability and selected restricted availability (PSA/SRA). Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding returned the nation's newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Jan. 28, to the U.S. Navy following the completion of modernization and maintenance work accomplished during the ship's post shakedown availability and selected restricted availability (PSA/SRA). Photo by John Whalen The company's Shipbuilding sector in Newport News, Va., was the prime contractor for the work. A PSA/SRA is a typical availability in the early life of a carrier that allows the Navy and Northrop Grumman team to resolve any items that came up during trials and delivery and make fleet modernization upgrades. Work performed during the PSA/SRA included compartment reconfigurations, combat system and radar equipment upgrades, and minor repairs. "Bush is a testament to the teamwork between the Navy and Newport News," said Mike Shawcross, vice president for Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding's aircraft carrier construction programs. "We worked closely with one another during this availability to return the ship with high quality and within budget. This is a proud and historic moment for our shipbuilders as our 10th and final Nimitz-class carrier joins the Navy's fleet, where she will serve for the next 50 years." Named after America's 41st president, USS George H. W. Bush is the 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Its keel was laid Sept. 6, 2003; it was christened Oct. 7, 2006; commissioned Jan. 10, 2009; and delivered May 11, 2009. At 1,092 feet in length, USS George H. W. Bush is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall. It weighs 97,000 tons, is powered with two nuclear reactors, and operates for more than 20 years without refueling. Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY January 31, 2010 ~ Army Investigates Reports Of Hakeemullah Mehsud's Death

DTN News: Pakistan TODAY January 31, 2010 ~ Army Investigates Reports Of Hakeemullah Mehsud's Death *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - January 31, 2010: The Pakistani Taliban on Sunday denied fresh rumours that their chief Hakeemullah Mehsud is dead, while the army said it was investigating as reports re-emerged that he was killed by US drone missiles. In this picture taken on November 26, 2008, Pakistani Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud (L) poses and fires a weapon for a group of media representatives in the Mamouzai area of Orakzai Agency. Speculation about the warlord's death first surfaced after a January 14 bombing by unmanned US spy planes in Taliban stronghold North Waziristan, but within days Mehsud released two audio statements denying his demise. Security sources said at the time that he may have been wounded, and on Sunday local television stations carried a report that he had been buried. “I don't have the confirmation, my sources have not confirmed it, whether he is dead or alive,” chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told AFP, adding that they were investigating the report. Taliban spokesmen had earlier this month admitted that Mehsud was in the Shaktoi area where the drones hit, but said he left about an hour before the strike. US officials said they had no information about his reported death. The chief Taliban spokesman again Sunday dismissed the reports. “Hakimullah is alive and safe. The purpose of stories regarding his death is to create differences among Taliban ranks, but such people will never succeed,” Azam Tariq told AFP by telephone from an unknown location. “People who are saying that Hakimullah has died should provide proof of it - we have already proved that he is alive and we have provided two audio tapes of him to all the media.” Mehsud assumed leadership of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), blamed for the deaths of thousands of people in attacks, after his predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a US drone strike in August last year. The TTP denied Baitullah Mehsud's death for weeks, apparently amid fierce infighting over who would succeed him.

DTN News: Al-Qaeda's Growing Arc Of Terror

DTN News: Al-Qaeda's Growing Arc Of Terror *Source: By Richard Spencer Sunday January 31 2010 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 31, 2010: BORED, depressed, and stuck in a dead-end job, Khaled al-Bawardi convinced himself that he wanted to die for militant Islam after spending just a few hours watching jihadi videos. It took another six years in Guantanamo Bay, plus a year in religious rehab in Saudi Arabia, to realise there might be better career options. "When I was young, I thought these people were angels and we had to follow them," said Mr Bawardi, formerly Inmate 68 at Guantanamo and one of hundreds of Saudi al-Qaeda suspects arrested after the US invasion of Afghanistan. "Now I can see between right and wrong." Quietly spoken and dressed in traditional Arab robe and keffiya, Mr Bawardi is an alumnus of the Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Centre for Counselling and Care outside Riyadh, where for the past two years, batches of former Guantanamo inmates have undergone religious "deprogramming" in exchange for their liberty. With its swimming pool, games rooms and therapy courses such as '10 Steps Toward Positive Thinking', it resembles a jihadist's version of a posh rehab clinic. Yet like any rehab programme, it also has its recidivists -- and Batch 10, to which Mr Bawardi belonged, is a case in point. In the 10th group of Saudis to be flown back from Guantanamo Bay, no less than five of the original 14 who passed through the programme absconded to Yemen to re-embrace terrorism. To the embarrassment of their mentors, and the dismay of Washington, one Batch 10 member, Said al-Shihri, has since resurfaced as deputy leader of al-Qaeda in the movement's Yemen-based branch. The group last month claimed to have groomed the so-called Detroit 'Underpants Bomber". Such relapses show how, more than eight years since September 11, al-Qaeda has confounded its doomsayers. When Batch 10 first arrived at Riyadh airport two years ago, Western diplomats and intelligence officials were confident that the movement was on its back foot. Last week, though, as diplomats gathered in London for crisis meetings on the future of Afghanistan and Yemen, the mood was rather less upbeat. Like a global franchise, outlets of al-Qaeda have mushroomed across a giant arc through Africa and the Middle East. In the Sahara and north Africa, militants blooded in Iraq have kidnapped diplomats, aid workers and tourists. In pirate-infested Somalia, little government exists. And in Pakistan and Iraq, al-Qaeda continues to strike. And on the outer rims of the Muslim world, from war-ravaged Chechnya to mountainous Tajikistan and beyond, its operatives come and go. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden remains as free as ever, and Mr Obama has decided to halt the release of Guantanamo Bay inmates to Yemen. Of greatest immediate concern is Yemen. The ancestral home of the Bin Laden family before they moved north to Saudi Arabia, the rugged, poverty-stricken nation is a prime contender to become another Afghanistan. Its government is notoriously weak and corrupt, and its security forces exercise little control over a gun-loving population of 20 million that own some 60 million weapons. One of the reasons men like Mr Bawardi are persuaded to stay on the straight is the programme's generous perks: since leaving, he has been given a free car, a €600-a-month stipend, and a job with the Chamber of Commerce, giving him enough money to marry and settle down. Such generosity would be totally unaffordable in Yemen or Somalia -- and, most likely, politically unacceptable in Western countries. All the same, nobody is more aware than the programme's sponsors of the threat that al-Qaeda's latest Yemen venture poses, and the difficulty of identifying the genuinely contrite. Last August, the programme's chief patron was nearly killed when he granted a personal audience to a would-be repenter who then detonated a suicide bomb in his underwear. Four months later, passengers on a flight to Detroit had a similarly narrow escape. It may be only a matter of time before someone gets it right. And across the arc of terror there are still many more disaffected young men and women willing to give it a try. Disclaimer statement Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information supplied herein, DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Unless otherwise indicated, opinions expressed herein are those of the author of the page and do not necessarily represent the corporate views of DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News.

DTN News: US May Sell 145 M777 Howitzers To India For $647 Million

DTN News: US May Sell 145 M777 Howitzers To India For $647 Million *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - January 31, 2010: The Pentagon has notified the US Congress of a possible sale of 145 state-of-the-art M777 155mm light-weight towed Howitzers to India worth $647 million. Describing India as an important force for "political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia", the Defence Security Cooperation Agency told the Congress: "India intends to use the Howitzers to modernize its armed forces and enhance its ability to operate in hazardous conditions." "The Howitzers will assist the Indian Army to develop and enhance standardisation and to improve interoperability with US soldiers and marines who use the M777 as their primary means of indirect fire," it said. The sale of Howitzers will also contribute to the US's foreign policy and national security by helping to strengthen the US-India strategic relationship, it said. India will have no difficulty absorbing these weapons into its armed forces, the agency said adding the sale will not alter basic military balance in the region. Besides the US Marine with 380 such systems and US National Guard with 273 of them, Australia (57 guns) and Canada (12) are the only other two foreign countries who have been supplied this state of the art military equipment by the US.

DTN News: Indian Air Force Plans To Acquire 75 Basic Trainer Aircraft

DTN News: Indian Air Force Plans To Acquire 75 Basic Trainer Aircraft *Source: DTN News / Int'l Media (NSI News Source Info) - January 31, 2010: Looking to acquire 75 basic trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Ministry of Defence has issued a request for proposal (RFP) to a dozen global aircraft manufacturers. The manufacturers including such global names as Embraer (aircraft name in brackets) (Tucano), Pilatus (PC-7 or PC-/9), Raytheon (T-6 Texan), Finmeccanica (M-311), Grob Aircraft Company (G-120TP), EADS PZL (PZL-130-TC-11 Orik) and Korea Aerospace Industries (KT-1) are required to submit their proposals by March 17. Officials in the Ministry told The Hindu that a pre-bidders conference would be held on February 2 during which clarifications if any would be entertained. The IAF would technically evaluate the aircraft once the proposals were received. The move to acquire the trainers comes in the wake of the grounding by the IAF of their 125-strong Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) designed and manufactured ab initio Hindustan Piston Trainer-32 (HPT-32) fleet after one of these aircraft crashed killing two instructors during a flight from the Air Force Academy (AFA) at Dundigal. As per the RFP the manufacturer will have to deliver the first 12 aircraft within 24 months of the contract. The remaining trainers will follow in batches. With the IAF looking to keep the chosen trainer in its inventory for at least 30 years the RFP specifies that the aircraft should have been “recently certified.” The 75 aircraft are part of the government’s go-ahead to the IAF for the acquisition of 181 basic trainers.