DTN News: President Barack Obama Slips Into Afghanistan To Voice US ResolveSource: DTN News / By Jennifer Loven, AP White House Correspondent
(NSI News Source Info) KABUL, Afghanistan - March 29, 2010: Under elaborate secrecy, President Barack Obama slipped into Afghanistan on Sunday near the front lines of the increasingly bloody 8-year-old war he is expanding and affirmed America's commitment to destroying al-Qaida and its extremist allies in the land where the 9-11 plot was hatched.
Obama's six-hour visit was conducted entirely under the shroud of nightfall, after Air Force One's unannounced flight from the U.S. Obama defended his decision to escalate the fight, telling troops whose numbers he is tripling that their victory is imperative to America's safety.
His bid to shore up faith in the struggle was aimed both at the troops who cheered him and Americans back home. And, he demanded accountability from Afghan authorities to make good on repeated promises to improve living conditions, rein in corruption and enforce the rule of law to prevent people from joining the insurgency.
"Your services are absolutely necessary, absolutely essential to America's safety and security," the president told a lively crowd of about 2,500 troops and civilians at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul. "Those folks back home are relying on you. We can't forget why we're here."
It was Obama's first trip as president to Afghanistan, where the number of U.S. troops killed has roughly doubled in the first three months of 2010 compared with the same period last year as Washington has added tens of thousands of additional soldiers to reverse the Taliban's momentum.
"We did not choose this war," Obama reminded the troops, recalling the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and warning that al-Qaida was still using the region to plan terrorist strikes against the U.S. and its allies. "We are going to disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al-Qaida and its extremist allies."
Obama had gone Friday afternoon to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., from which unnoticed departures are easier because of its secluded mountain location. The small contingent of White House aides and media brought on the trip were sworn to secrecy. Obama arrived in Kabul just two days after a threatening new audio message from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, believed to be hiding along the ungoverned border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"I thought I'd come over and say hello," Obama told the troops in a jaunty remark that set the stage for stark reminders of the terrorist threat that rose from this soil.
"If this region slides backwards," he said, "if the Taliban retakes this country, al-Qaida can operate with impunity, then more American lives will be at stake, the Afghan people will lose their opportunity for progress and prosperity and the world will be significantly less secure. As long as I'm your commander in chief, I'm not going to let that happen."
That resolve was meant just as surely for stateside citizens as for the people who heard it face to face. Polls find that Americans are divided on the war if, more recently, favorable to Obama's handling of it.
Obama's dark suit was soiled with dust when he stepped off his helicopter at the presidential palace in Kabul. White House officials said Obama, in private talks, wanted to drive home the point that Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Cabinet must do more to battle corruption and cronyism in government.
Karzai "needs to be seized with how important that is," said Jim Jones, Obama's national security adviser. Karzai has raised eyebrows in Washington with recent trips to Iran, China and Pakistan and his welcoming Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Kabul this month.
In public remarks,Obama told Karzai and his cabinet that he was pleased with progress made since their last discussion by secure videoconference on March 15. Obama invited him to visit Washington on May 12. He also praised recent steps in the military campaign against insurgents. But he stressed that Afghans need to see conditions on the ground get better.
"Progress will continue to be made ... but we also want to continue make progress on the civilian front," Obama said, referring to anti-corruption efforts, good governance and adherence to the rule of law. "All of these things end up resulting in an Afghanistan that is more prosperous and more secure."
Karzai promised that his country "would move forward into the future" to eventually take over its own security, and he thanked Obama for the American intervention in his country.
He told Obama he has begun to establish more credible national institutions on corruption and made clear he intends to make ministerial appointments more representative of the multiple ethnic and geographic regions of the country, according to a U.S. account of the meeting.
The White House insisted that Karzai's Cabinet participate in most of the meetings with Obama. The Cabinet includes a number of ministers favored by the U.S., including the heads of finance, interior and defense, whom the Obama administration wants to empower as a way of reducing the influence of presidential cronies. Some talented Afghan administrators have complained that Karzai marginalized them in an attempt to solidify his powers.
"We have to have the strategic rapport with President Karzai and his Cabinet to understand how we are going to succeed his year in reversing the momentum the Taliban and the opposition forces have been able to establish since 2006."
The Afghan government has tried to tackle corruption in the past with little success but Karzai pledged after fraud-marred August elections to rein in graft by making officials declare their assets and giving the country's anti-corruption watchdog more power to go after those accused of misusing their office. This month he gave more powers to an anti-corruption body, including the authority to refer cases to court and act as prosecutor.
Initially, the White House said Karzai had been informed of Obama's impending visit just an hour before his arrival. But Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said later that the Afghan government was told about the trip on Thursday.
At least 945 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan since the U.S. campaign started in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.
Obama, speaking to troops in a cavernous tent known as the "clam shell," said, "We know there's going to be some difficult days ahead, there's going to be setbacks. We face a determined enemy, but we also know this: the United States of America does not quit once it starts on something. We will prevail, I am absolutely confident of that."
In December, Obama ordered 30,000 additional forces into the fight against the Taliban. Those new U.S. troops are still arriving and most are expected to be in place by summer, for a full force of roughly 100,000 U.S. troops. There were about 34,000 when Obama took office.
DTN News: Eurosatory 2010 Preview ~ World's Defense Industries Set Course Toward ParisSource: Defense-Update March 26, 2010
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 29, 2010: The world's premier land warfare event, Eurosatory 2010 will take place near Paris from 14 to 18 June 2010. Highlighting all aspects of air-land warfare, security and force protection, Eurosatory provides the hub of defense industries presenting hardware and services for the military, defense ministries and primes. The bi-annual event attracts tens of thousands of visitors, from five continents, assembling here to learn about the latest trends in defense and security. The last event, held in 2008 attracted over 52,000 visitors (about half of them came from abroad). 117 official delegations from 75 countries attended the show. The event hosted 1,210 exhibitors, with over 800 were international, from 52 countries.
The global economic crisis and industries conglomeration has made its mark on the defense market. As of March 2010 the exhibitor's list includes 710 international and 335 domestic companies, commercial and government. In total, more than 1,070 exhibitors are planning to participate, representing about 10% drop from the 2008 all-time peak. The organizers expect the list to increase as the deadline draws to a close.
In total, 335 French defense companies and organizations are expected to participate (not including media and event organizers). The three leading NATO members will lead the international participation, with Germany (112 trade exhibitors), the USA (111) and the UK (71). Israel will be the largest non-NATO exhibitor, with 52 companies exhibiting; the Israeli national pavilion is expected to be the largest pavilion ever established at an international defense show, hosting 23 exhibitors. Other large national exhibits will highlight Italy, the Czech Republic (33), Spain (21), Netherlands (20) and Belgium (19). Three European nonaligned countries will muster one of the largest segments at the show - 77 exhibits, including Austria (29), Sweden (25) and Switzerland (23), underlining the significance of arms industries among their economies. The organizers also expect a large Russian exhibit, to be managed by state operated defense export monopoly Rosoboronexport. Smaller participation is expected by developing countries from the Balkans, including Slovenia, Croatia and Bulgaria, even Serbia will send one exhibitor. Four will come from Greece and nine from Turkey.
In addition to the large exhibition hall and large outdoor exhibit hosting over 1,500 defense systems on static display, the adjacent 50,000 M2 proving grounds and obstacle course, is where these systems will be demonstrating in live action - combat vehicles, combat support and combat service support equipment negotiating obstacles under simulated live conditions. Adjacent group displays will also highlight specific themes covering command posts, medical facilities, field deployed, maintenance and field repair shops.
This year's exhibition highlights several 'technology clusters', covering unmanned systems, associated with conferences organized by the Unmanned Vehicles Systems International association and operational medicine, associated with the international conference on operational medicine, organized by the French armed forces. The unmanned systems group display was first launched in 2008 and is expected to be even bigger this year, featuring live demonstrations of robotic vehicles performing certain tasks such as manipulation, indoor exploration, surveillance, checkpoint activities and even indoor flight by mini and micro rotary-wing drones.
Another focus area will be Training and Simulation (T&S), which was a real success in 2008, when the cluster concept was launched. In the current fragile economy situation, Armed Forces tend to reduce their training budgets and turn to the so effective but less expensive solutions of training through simulation. Two years ago more than 140 exhibiting companies, among the most important of the sector, where present at the exhibition, addressing specific interests stated by visitors and delegations. This year the T&S cluster will include specific features as conferences and workshops dedicated to the field.
This year soldier systems and night vision exhibits will also be formed in clusters, as well as Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) and homeland defense and security, addressing requirements for dual capabilities of military equipment, stemming from an actual security and defense continuum. Embedded electronics and 'industrial subcontracting' will also be highlighted in clusters. Eurosatory will provide a 'business week' for many executives from mid-size companies, gaining access to world markets, especially for Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), who will benefit from the Eurosatory One-to-one Business Meetings. This new concept generated some 4,900 business meetings in 2008.
Defense Update will keep updating you on the upcoming event, as well as during the exhibition. We'll also publish a comprehensive summary of the show, highlighting new products, programs trends. We invite you to subscribe to our free news service, updating you daily or weekly email updates, providing current news, including the upcoming Eurosatory reports. Exhibitors and visitors interested in sponsoring our service are invited to contact our sales department for details on our sponsorship packages.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
DTN News: Thailand's Televised Protest Talks End Without ResolutionSource: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) BANGKOK, Thailand: - March 29, 2010: Live televised talks between Thailand's embattled Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and anti-government protesters ended Sunday without resolution, failing to end two weeks of street demonstrations.
The premier refused to bow to the red-shirted demonstrators' demand to call snap elections, but both sides agreed to meet the next day at 6:00 pm (1100 GMT) to continue discussions.
"House dissolution can only happen if we see it is not only the way out for the Reds but for the whole country also," Abhisit told three Red Shirt leaders across a meeting table as he sat flanked by two of his senior staff.
The Reds' Jatuporn Prompan, one of the leaders of the movement that backs deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra, said they would return to the table on Monday, but pressed the prime minister to meet their request within a fortnight.
"We ask you to dissolve the house within two weeks. Whatever your decision should be, if we talk tomorrow, I want you to consider this condition," Jatuporn told Abhisit.
The Reds have staged a series of mass dramatic stunts over the past two weeks in their bid to force Abhisit to call snap elections, picketing the army barracks where he is holed up and throwing their own blood at his office gates. Key dates: Thailand unrest
Abhisit had ruled out talks earlier Sunday, but made an about-face later in the day and looked visibly uneasy throughout much of the three-hour meeting with the Red Shirt leaders, held at a Bangkok educational institute.
The Red Shirts are opposed to Abhisit's Democrat-led government, accusing it of being undemocratic as it came to power on the back of a parliamentary vote that followed a controversial court ruling ousting Thaksin's allies from power.
They seek the return of the twice-elected populist Thaksin, a former telecoms tycoon, saying that the coup that ousted him in 2006 was illegal.
"If you are confident of winning an election, you should return power to the people," Jatuporn told Abhisit. Polls are due to be held by December 2011.
Tens of thousands of protesters sat at their rally ground in Bangkok's government quarter Sunday to watch the televised talks on a giant screen.
Thaksin later addressed them by video link, urging them to unite behind the Red leaders who he said had been downbeat following the televised talks.
"Some say it was negative for the Reds because Abhisit is a good speaker but he lacks all sincerity," said Thaksin, who is staying in Dubai to avoid a jail sentence for corruption and regularly addresses his supporters via videolink.
"We have to unite, keep fighting and stay to help each other," he told them.
The Reds upped the pressure on Abhisit during the weekend, threatening to march in their tens of thousands on the military barracks where he has been holed up.
Their movement is drawn largely from the country's rural poor who say the British-born Oxford-educated Abhisit is only able to lead the government's fragile six-party coalition with the powerful military's backing.
Thailand political analyst and Thaksin biographer Chris Baker said Abhisit's decision to enter talks revealed more about the feelings of other establishment figures who back the weakened premier.
"How do the military and various other people think they can best manage the situation?... I think they're likely to think Abhisit's quite simply expendable," he said.
"I don't think these talks will be over so quickly," Baker said.
The Reds are riding high after a rally Saturday that drew 80,000 people and forced troops to retreat from security posts in the heart of the capital where they have been stationed since the demonstrations began.
The military has mounted a massive security operation for the demonstrations, which began on March 14 after a court ruling that seized 1.4 billion dollars of Thaksin's fortune.
Street demonstrations have passed off peacefully but the capital has been hit by a series of explosions at government and army buildings.
A dozen people were injured over the weekend when grenades were lobbed at the gate of the barracks where Abhisit has been forced to live and work since the protests began.
DTN News: Robots, Space Technology Run Australia's Mining MiracleSource: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) DAMPIER, Australia - March 29, 2010: The heavy clank of machinery rings out across a seemingly deserted Outback mine site as an invisible satellite signal fires Rio Tinto's production line into motion.
Massive stackers and reclaimers begin the task of sifting through rust-coloured piles of rich iron ore, readying them for the rail journey hundreds of kilometres from mine to port.
It's an industrious scene -- with hardly a living being in sight.
"People frequently ask whether we have anyone working here at all," one miner at Rio's Dampier operations told AFP.
"Due to automation and stuff most people are pretty well tucked away from the heat. There's not a lot of manual workers."
Automation has long been a part of the mining industry, but advances in satellite, motion-sensor technology and robotics have made the stuff of science fiction a fact of everyday life.
Machines which scoop the ore, dump it on a conveyor belt and hose it down are now controlled from the air-conditioned comfort of Rio Tinto's Perth operations centre, 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) away from the arid mine pit.
Hundreds of specially trained operators who once directed machines from on-site offices watch and direct the action from afar using satellite technology, with surveillance cameras feeding into some 440 monitors.
Once fully operational -- currently scheduled for June -- the operations centre will allow all of Rio's rail, mine and port systems to be coordinated from one place.
Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto is one of the world's biggest mining companies, with aluminium, copper, diamonds, gold and iron ore among its major products.
"Process plants have long been managed from a console -- its just as if this task is now performed with a much, much longer extension cord," Rio said in its latest innovations update.
"But never before, on anything like this scale, has the huge number of tasks been accomplished in full view and full knowledge of everyone else involved."
The operations centre in Perth is central to Rio's "Mine of the Future" programme, which aims for driverless trucks and trains, and sensor-fitted "smart drills" that can be operated remotely.
Since December 2008 it has been trialling automation technologies at a test site called "A-Pit", where robotic trucks with artificial intelligence "learn" the layout of the mine and use sensors to sense and avoid obstacles.
Australian government scientists are working closely with the mining industry, drawing inspiration from space exploration to troubleshoot, explains researcher Ian Gipps.
"It sounds crazy but quite a few of the problems in space and in remote mining can be similar," said Gipps, from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
"You don't necessarily want to have people there... so a lot of exploration on planets requires automated and remote operating systems, particularly automated."
Current research was focusing on the use of robots fixed with radar and light-spectrum technology to detect and gauge the quality of minerals, he added. It could be available in as little as two years.
"We want to be able to put sensors on machines that can look at the (rock) face and say, 'the ore's on one half of the face and not the other half of the face and the ore's of a particular grade'," Gipps said.
"You can't just take a sample and send it off to a lab and get it back in 24 hours or 48 hours and say, 'ok, we want to mine that area'. We want to know that within a couple of seconds of being there," said Gipps.
The shift to automation is not without its challenges -- chief among them securing vast satellite networks against cyber-attacks -- but Gipps said it was critical to addressing chronic labour shortages.
"If the industry wants to keep on advancing then it has to make employment more attractive," he said.
In the cyclone-prone and brutally hot Pilbara, the "A-Pit" trial is due to finish later this year. Its findings will form the basis for an operations-wide rollout of remote and driverless technologies.
Chief executive Tom Albanese hopes to position Rio as the world's most technologically advanced mining company, describing it as key to the company's ambitions to boost annual iron ore production above 600 million tonnes.
"Rio Tinto is changing the face of mining," he said at the Mine of the Future's 2008 launch.
But will humans ever be removed entirely from the equation? Gipps is sceptical.
"A lot of the challenge is getting machines to understand what's happening around them," he said. "It's remarkable how clever a human is in doing that."
DTN News: Philippine Troops Capture Key Abu Sayyaf Camp
Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) MANILA, Philippines - March 29, 2010: Philippine troops, backed by artillery and helicopter fire, have captured a key jungle camp of the Abu Sayyaf extremist group and may have killed several militants during a two-day assault, military officials said Sunday. Philippine police chief Director General Jesus Verzosa crosses out the picture of Mujibar Alih Amon, an alleged member of Abu Sayyaf, from a roster of wanted persons during a news conference in main police headquarters Camp Crame in Manila's suburban Quezon city February 25, 2010. Verzosa announced on Thursday the arrest of Amon who was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of 19 foreigners in Sipadan, Malaysia and the abduction of American Jeffrey Schilling in 2000.
Marines and army troops captured the jungle encampment in Jolo island's mountainous Patikul township Friday with the help of U.S. military intelligence, regional military chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino said. About 50 Abu Sayyaf fighters led by ailing commander Radulan Sahiron fled and were pursued by troops, he said.
Two marines were wounded and several Abu Sayyaf fighters were believed killed as troops pursued the militants in an offensive that ended Sunday. At least one body of an Abu Sayyaf fighter killed in the assault was dug up by troops, he said.
Dozens of army scout rangers were flown aboard air force helicopters to help pursue the militants, who were also targeted by artillery and helicopter fire, he said.
Sahiron, a one-armed commander who suffers from diabetes and other ailments, apparently survived. Washington has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture or killing.
Dolorfino said the camp, which was ringed with foxholes, may have also housed members of the Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiyah because of the unusually tight security.
"They were frisking even their own members before being allowed entry there," Dolorfino said, citing military intelligence. "We believe many of them were killed in the pursuit operation."
Troops recovered a homemade bomb and assorted ammunition in the camp and destroyed its foxholes, the military said.
The Philippine army believes that up to 25 foreign militants may be hiding in Abu Sayyaf strongholds on jungle-clad Jolo, a predominantly Muslim island 590 miles (950 kilometers) south of Manila.
Newly appointed military chief Gen. Delfin Bangit has ordered renewed offensives against the Abu Sayyaf in the next two months in a bid to wipe it out.
The Abu Sayyaf, founded in 1991, has been blamed for bombings, kidnappings for ransom and beheadings. It has reportedly given sanctuary to Indonesian terror suspects, including Dulmatin, a key suspect in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings who was recently killed by police in Indonesia. Washington has listed the Abu Sayyaf, which has nearly 400 fighters, as a terrorist organization. U.S.-backed offensives have killed or captured many of its commanders in recent years, leaving the group without an overall leader to unify its factions on Jolo, nearby Basilan island and the Zamboanga peninsula.
DTN News: Airlines News March 29, 2010 ~ No End In Sight To BA Strike As Row Becomes PoliticalSource: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK - March 29, 2010: British Airways (BA) cabin crew entered the second day of a four-day strike Sunday, bringing further travel disruption with no end in sight for a dispute that has become increasingly political.
The Unite trade union, which represents 12,000 BA cabin crew, is staging its second walkout in a week and says there are likely to be more strikes ahead unless BA makes them an acceptable offer.
Amid conflicting reports about the impact of the walkout, Unite claimed more than 130 flights had been cancelled by mid-morning. BA has said it expects 75 percent of passengers booked during the strike period to fly.
Just weeks before an election expected on May 6, opposition Conservative leader David Cameron has used the strike to attack Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose Labour party receives much of its funding from Unite.
Cameron told the BBC Sunday that Brown had displayed "weakness" in his response to the BA dispute and another planned strike by railway workers, saying this was "partly because he's hocked to the unions".
"The unions have scented weakness in the government and that's one of the reasons why were seeing quite so many strikes," he added.
Brown hit back in a separate BBC interview, saying there had been "far greater industrial peace" in the past 13 years of the Labour government than there had been in the previous 18 years of Conservative rule.
"We have been very tough about this British Airways strike, we've said its not in the public interest, it's not in British Airways' interest and we've said we don't think it's in the workers' interest," he said.
"But we also want to make it possible for arbitration and negotiation to take place," the prime minister added.
Talks between BA and Unite, Britain's largest trade union, broke down on the eve of the first strikes on March 20 and there is no date for them to resume.
"Until such time as a sensible proposal comes on the table, this dispute will continue," Unite's Steve Turner told the BBC on Saturday, adding: "There are no talks that are scheduled right now."
The strikes centre on what the union says is BA chief executive Willie Walsh's "slash and burn strategy" to cut costs, which Unite claims would lead to a two-tier workforce and damage standards of customer service.
But Walsh has warned the loss-making airline could fold in a decade unless the changes he wants are carried out.
"We are trying to transform the way we operate because the industry is changing and the economic conditions have changed so radically that we've got to change," he told the Daily Telegraph Saturday.
He added: "If we don't do this, BA won't exist in 10 years."
Striking cabin crew set up picket lines outside Heathrow on Sunday, waving flags and banners and singing derogatory songs about Walsh, who the union has accused of bully tactics.
"He wants to make it into a premium company with cheap staff but it just won't work," one cabin crew member said, asking not to be named.
On Saturday, the picketers were joined by staff from Iberia, the Spanish airline which is in talks to merge with BA, wishing to show their solidarity.
BA said it had achieved its target on the first day of the strike to fly more than 75 percent of customers, and said services had got off to a similarly good start Sunday. London's Gatwick and City airports were operating as normal.
Walsh visited London Heathrow's Terminal 5 to talk to passengers Saturday and said he found customers "very positive", but said he was "deeply sorry" for the disruption caused.
Unite claims six Heathrow flights were loaded with passengers then unloaded Saturday because of lack of crew and that many long-haul services were leaving 30 percent below capacity. This is denied by the airline.
DTN News: Russia May Unveil New 'Super-Tank' In Summer 2010Source: DTN News / Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - March 29, 2010: Russia's new main battle tank (MBT), the T-95, could be exhibited for the first time at an arms show in the Urals Region this summer, the developer and future manufacturer of the tank has said.
The development of the new tank dubbed "Item 195" began at the Uralvagonzavod design bureau in the early 1990s. Russia will become the first country in the world to have the 5th-generartion MBT if the military commissions the vehicle.
"The work on the project has been conducted for many years. If the government gives us a 'green light' we will exhibit the tank at the [Russian Expo Arms 2010] arms show in Nizhny Tagil this summer," general director of the Uralvagonzavod plant Oleg Siyenko told RIA Novosti in an exclusive interview.
"I cannot disclose the characteristics of the tank, but I can assure you that we have met all the requirements put forward by the military," he said.
According to unofficial sources, the T-95 will feature better firepower, maneuverability, electronics and armor protection than Russia's latest T-90 MBT or comparable foreign models.
It will weigh about 55 tons and its speed will increase from 30-50 kph to 50-65 kph (19-31 mph to 31-40 mph).
The new tank may be equipped with a 152-mm smoothbore gun capable of firing guided missiles with a range of 6,000-7,000 meters.
In contrast to existing designs, the gun will be located in a remotely-controlled turret to improve 3-men crew survivability.
Meanwhile, the T-90 MBT, developed in the 1990s on the basis of the T-72B tank, will be the backbone of the armored units until 2025, according to the Russian military.
Russia currently produces up to 100 T-90 MBTs annually and plans to have at least 1,500 vehicles in service with the Ground Forces.
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DTN News: Russia Will Only Buy Fully-Equipped Mistral From France - Gen. Staff ChiefSource: DTN News / Ria Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia- March 29, 2010: The chief of the Russian General Staff said Thursday that Russia would only buy a fully-equipped Mistral-class amphibious assault ship from France.
Russia is negotiating the purchase of a Mistral-class ship from France, worth 400-500 million euros (around $540-$675 million). Russia could also use French technology later to build another three such vessels in Russia in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS.
"Russia's leadership and Defense Ministry have a clear position on the issue. Should a final decision be made on Mistral, we will purchase this ship only if it is fully equipped - with all control and navigation means and armaments," Army General Nikolai Makarov told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta Nedelya government weekly.
"The only exception is helicopters. They will be domestically made. Everything else is to be made to their standards completely," he said.
But the French Defense Ministry on Thursday reiterated that if the deal is struck, Mistral-class vessels would be delivered without armaments.
"The president said publicly in front of his Russian counterpart what the scope for negotiations was," spokesman Laurent Teisseire was quoted by AFP as saying.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said March 1 at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev that Mistral is "a helicopter carrier we will create for Russia without military equipment."
A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 armored vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 personnel.
Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase, and some believe that Russia simply wants to gain access to advanced naval technology that could be used in the future in potential conflicts with NATO and its allies.
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DTN News: Boeing, RAAF Welcome Super Hornets To AustraliaSource: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) AMBERLEY, Queensland,- March 29, 2010: The first five Boeing [NYSE: BA] F/A-18F Super Hornets for Australia landed at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley on March 26, bringing the next generation in air combat capability to the multirole fighter's first international customer.
The Super Hornets, piloted by RAAF aircrews, departed U.S. Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., on March 18 and made scheduled stops in Hawaii, Pago Pago and New Zealand on the way to Amberley.
The Australian Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner, welcomed the RAAF Super Hornets to Australia at a ceremony on the base. Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, joined Faulkner at the event.
"The men and women of Boeing are honored to provide the next generation in air combat capability to the Royal Australian Air Force and proud to deliver it on time and on budget for all Australians," said Muilenburg. "The arrival of these Super Hornets marks a new chapter in a partnership between Boeing and Australia that has endured for more than 80 years. The exceptional collaboration and teamwork between Australia's Defence Materiel Organisation, the Royal Australian Air Force, the U.S. Navy and the Hornet Industry Team was the foundation that ensured these new Super Hornets are now ready to begin their RAAF service."
Among the other officials attending the event were Australian Defence Secretary Ian Watt; Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, Chief of the Defence Force; Air Marshal Mark Binskin, Chief of Air Force; and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Skinner.
Australia announced its intent to acquire 24 Super Hornets in March 2007. The remaining 19 aircraft, each equipped with the Raytheon-built APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, will arrive in Australia throughout 2010 and 2011.
"The on-schedule arrival of the new Australian Super Hornets marks the beginning of a new generation of air power for the RAAF," said Group Captain Steven Roberton, Officer Commanding the Super Hornet Wing. "The multirole Super Hornet is an advanced, networked weapons system that provides a major leap in capability for the RAAF.
"We are looking forward to the new operational capability," Roberton continued. "The Super Hornet employs advanced networked sensors that provide its two aircrew with total situational awareness, enabling them to conduct simultaneous air-to-air and air-to-ground operations."
The Boeing Super Hornet is a multirole aircraft, able to perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum, including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker missions. Boeing has delivered more than 420 F/A-18E/Fs to the U.S. Navy. Every Super Hornet produced has been delivered on or ahead of schedule and on budget.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.