Tuesday, June 15, 2010

DTN News: Lockheed Martin Team Reaches 50 Percent Completion in Construction Of Nation’s Third Littoral Combat Ship

DTN News: Lockheed Martin Team Reaches 50 Percent Completion in Construction Of Nation’s Third Littoral Combat Ship
Source: DTN News / Lockheed Martin
(NSI News Source Info) MARINETTE, Wis., - June 16, 2010: The Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT]-led industry team recently accomplished a key milestone by reaching the 50-percent completion mark in the construction of the nation’s third Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). LCS 3, named Fort Worth, is on track for delivery to the U.S. Navy in 2012. Fort Worth is being built by Marinette Marine Corporation and is scheduled to be launched later this year. All of the ship’s major equipment has been installed and 100 percent of its modules are under construction. “Lockheed Martin and its teammates have demonstrated strong performance in constructing LCS 3,” said Joe North, Lockheed Martin LCS program manager. “We are on schedule and on cost under a fixed-price contract. This performance proves our ability to deliver a low-risk solution that will meet the Navy’s need for a class of affordable and survivable warships.” Marinette Marine constructed and launched the nation’s first LCS, USS Freedom. USS Freedom’s capabilities have been demonstrated since its commissioning in 2008. The ship has been operational for 18 months and successfully completed its first deployment in April. Throughout the deployment, the crew completed four drug interdictions, in which more than five tons of cocaine were seized in the U.S. Southern and U.S. Pacific Command areas of responsibility. In addition to Marinette Marine Corporation, a Fincantieri company, the Lockheed Martin-led team for LCS 3 includes naval architect Gibbs & Cox as well as best-of-industry domestic and international companies. In late 2009 and early 2010, the team installed Fort Worth’s main propulsion equipment, including the 16-cylinder diesel engines, produced by Fairbanks-Morse, as well as two Rolls-Royce MT30 gas turbines. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 136,000 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 2009 sales of $45.2 billion. Media Contact: Kim Martinez, (202) 863-3491; e-mail: kimberly.martinez@lmco.com

DTN News: Force Protection Receives $10.8 Million Award For Additional Modernization Of Cougar Fleet

DTN News: Force Protection Receives $10.8 Million Award For Additional Modernization Of Cougar Fleet
Source: DTN News / Force Protection, Inc
(NSI News Source Info) LADSON, South Carolina - June 16, 2010: Force Protection, Inc. (NASDAQ: FRPT), a leading designer, developer and manufacturer of survivability solutions and provider of total life cycle support for those products, today announced it has received a modification to contract M67854-07-D-5031 from the United States Marine Corps Systems Command for additional modernization of the U.S. military’s Cougar fleet. The approximate $10.8 million firm, fixed price contract modification includes the design and purchase of 2,654 570-amp alternator kits and related materials. Work will be performed in Ladson, SC, with deliveries scheduled to begin in October 2010 and be completed by March 2011.
Randy Hutcherson, Chief Operating Officer of Force Protection, commented, “Complementing our June 7 announcement of a $46.1 million contract modification for the design and purchase of 2,451 enhanced Automated Fire Extinguishing Systems (“AFES”), this award represents another component of our customer’s broader program to secure additional modernization of its Cougar fleet. Driven by the enhanced level of survivability and sustainability provided by the vehicle, we expect the Cougar will retain its critical role in the U.S. military’s long-term operational strategy. As such, we plan to continue to aggressively pursue incremental opportunities for this program and future initiatives, as well as the related installation for these modernization projects.”
About Force Protection, Inc.
Force Protection, Inc. is a leading designer, developer and manufacturer of survivability solutions, including blast- and ballistic-protected wheeled vehicles currently deployed by the U.S. military and its allies to support armed forces and security personnel in conflict zones. The Company’s specialty vehicles, including the Buffalo, Cougar and related variants, are designed specifically for reconnaissance and urban operations and to protect their occupants from landmines, hostile fire, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs, commonly referred to as roadside bombs). The Company also develops, manufactures, tests, delivers and supports products and services aimed at further enhancing the survivability of users against additional threats. In addition, the Company provides long-term life cycle support services of its vehicles that involve development of technical data packages, supply of spares, field and depot maintenance activities, assignment of highly-skilled field service representatives, and advanced on and off-road driver and maintenance training programs. For more information on Force Protection and its products and services, visit www.forceprotection.net.
Safe Harbor Statement
This press release contains forward looking statements that are not historical facts, including statements about our beliefs and expectations. These statements are based on beliefs and assumptions of Force Protection’s management, and on information currently available to management. These forward looking statements include, among other things: the growth, demand and interest and demand for Force Protection’s vehicles, including the Cougar; expectations for future modernization and related contracts for the Cougar; the benefits and suitability of the Cougar; the ability to meet current and future requirements the Company’s execution of its business strategy and strategic transformation, including its opportunities to grow the business; and the Company’s expected financial and operating results, including its revenues, cash flow and gross margins, for future periods. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update any of them publicly in light of new information or future events. A number of important factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Examples of these factors include, but are not limited to, ability to effectively manage the risks in the Company’s business; the ability to develop new technologies and products and the acceptance of these technologies and products; the other risk factors and cautionary statements listed in the Company’s periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the risks set forth in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2009 and as updated in the Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2010.

DTN News: China Eats Russia Alive

DTN News: China Eats Russia Alive
Source: Strategy Page
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 16, 2010: After years of having their military technology blatantly stolen by China, Russia is no longer selling them much of anything. In addition, the state controlled Russian media is now featuring lots of pundits deploring the low performance of the Chinese arms industry, and how poorly they have copied Russian military technology.
A recent flurry of reports disparaged Chinese attempts to copy the Russian Su-33 (an aircraft carrier version of the Su-27). This all rings hollow when you consider how the Chinese have already caught up with a lot of Russian military manufacturers, and are driving them out of business in some areas. For example, using stolen Russian technology, China is driving Russia out of the low-end weapons business. In turn, Russian attempts to maintain their status as a major developer of military technology are fumbling, largely because of the sales stolen by China. Increasingly, China is undercutting Russian sales efforts with similar weapons containing lots of stolen Russian technology. The Chinese won't invest as much in developing new technology, and the Russians can no longer afford to. So the second tier weapons markets slide further into mediocrity. Through most (1960s-80s) of the Cold War, Russia (Soviet Union) had a well financed arms industry. Many innovative weapons were developed, but all this effort was hobbled by the fact that the Russian economy as a whole was very inefficient, and Russian industry could not build high tech as well, or reliably, as Western firms. Thus Russian high-tech gear always came in second to Western counterparts. When the Cold War ended, so did the lavish spending on the Russian defense industries. Many, actually over half, of these weapons manufacturers went bankrupt, or converted to non-military production. Those that survived, did so by exporting weapons. Throughout the 1990s, the Russian armed forces could not afford to buy much new stuff. China came to the rescue in the 1990s, and over the next decade, bought nearly $20 billion in Russian arms. But China also began to blatantly copy lots of the Russian tech, and build their own. Thus, not surprisingly, for the last five years, Chinese orders have shrunk, while production of copies of Russian tech have increased. In some cases, Russia has simply refused to sell China high tech stuff, to avoid having it copied. In the 1990s, Chinese manufacturing capabilities were so far behind that Russia believed their lead would never disappear. But with Russian military manufacturing largely stalled for the last two decades, and the Chinese economy booming (over 10 percent growth per year), the Russians are horrified to realize that the Chinese are catching up, and fast. For example, China believes it will be free from dependence on Russia for military jet engines within the next five (or so) years. Currently, China imports two Russian engines, the $3.5 million AL-31 (for the Su-27/30, J-11, J-10) and the $2.5 million RD-93 (a version of the MiG-29s RD-33) for the JF-17 (a F-16 type aircraft developed in cooperation with Pakistan.) But in the meantime, Chinese engineers have managed to master the manufacturing techniques needed to make a Chinese copy of the Russian AL31F engine. This Chinese copy, the WS10A, is part of a program that has also developed the WS13, to replace the RD-93. China has long copied foreign technology, not always successfully. But in the last decade, China has poured much money into developing a jet engine manufacturing capability. The Chinese encountered many of the same problems the Russians did when developing their own engine design and construction skills. But China has several advantages. First, they knew of the mistakes the Russians had made, and so were able to avoid many of them. Then there was the fact that China had better access to Western manufacturing technology (both legally and illegally). Finally, China was, unlike the Soviets, able to develop their engine manufacturing capabilities in a market economy. This was much more efficient than the command economy that the Soviets were saddled with for seven decades. It is true, as the Russians like to point out, that the Chinese have taken a long time to develop some of their latest high-tech weapons (like the J-10 and JF-17 jet fighters, jet engines and many missile and electronic systems). But that's because the Chinese regarded these projects as learning exercises, and have not produced the resulting aircraft in large numbers. The Chinese use what they have learned for the next project, and they have made a lot of progress in two decades. China has already demonstrated an ability to build (and copy) world class technology. They now have the largest automobile industry on the planet. China can build things, and build them well. They learn from their mistakes, and they are surpassing their long time Russian mentors. The Russians know this is true, but they don't want to admit it.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact: dtnnews@ymail.com 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.
Various Topics On Strategy Page

DTN News: PAF To Get F-16s With Tough Stipulations

DTN News: PAF To Get F-16s With Tough Stipulations
Source: DTN News / The Nation (Pakistan)
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - June 16, 2010: Despite being a key ally in the war against terrorism in which Pakistan have rendered innumerable sacrifices, the United States is extending military assistance to Islamabad under strict conditions and stipulations, reflecting the nature of relations between the two countries.
According to sources, Washington will deliver 18 F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan Air Force (PAF) by the end of this month under a series of conditions including an assurance from Pakistan that aircraft would not be used in any conflict with India.
During last week’s strategic dialogue between India and the US, the Indian leaders had conveyed to their counterparts in Washington their concerns over the US military assistance to Pakistan. Besides assuring Indian side, Washington for the first time came out open to state that it was taking steps to ensure that its military aid to Pakistan would not be used against India.
Sources said the US Air Force engineers would accompany the delivery of the F-16s and supervise not only the airbase but also the operations to be carried out by the PAF against Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Though the PAF pilots will fly the jets, the logistics, management and control is stated to remain with the US engineers.Sources said the Block 50/52 Model F-16 jets equipped with latest missiles would land at Shahbaz Airbase in Jacoabad.
It is said that around US$500 million were spent to upgrade the airbase to make it conducive to the new F-16s.

DTN News: U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Dated June 15, 2010

DTN News: U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Dated June 15, 2010 Source: U.S. DoD issued June 15, 2010 (NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - June 15, 2010: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) Contracts issued June 15, 2010 are undermentioned; CONTRACTS AIR FORCE General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., Poway, Calif., was awarded a $24,044,533 contract which will provide for a quantity of four MQ-9 Reaper aircraft (two production aircraft and two ground maintenance trainers). At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 703 ASG/PK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio,is the contracting activity(FA8620-05-G-3028). TASC, San Bernardino, Calif., was awarded a $20,000,000 contract modification to the contract ceiling for an existing contract (FA8818-06-D-0020) for continued performance of the incumbents highly specialized launch integration and mission assurance services. The original award was for a five year ordering period. At this time, no money has been obligated. SMC/SDTW/PKN, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., isthe contracting activity (FA8818-06-D-0020). DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY EA Industries, Inc.*, San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, is being awarded a maximum $13,610,305 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract for Marine Corps combat utility uniform. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Marine Corps. The original proposal was Web solicited with 10 responses. The date of performance completion is June 18, 2011. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SP0100-06-D-0361). NAVY ~Converteam, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., is being awarded a $9,900,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-4203) for long-lead materials for the DDG 1002 integrated power system high voltage subsystem including the baseline tactical advanced induction motor and its associated VDM25000 motor drive, and the main turbine-generator and auxiliary turbine-generator harmonic filters. Work will be performed in Pittsburgh, Pa., and is expected to be completed by December 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity. ARMY ~Alliant Techsystems, Inc., Plymouth, Minn., was awarded on June 11, a $ 8,967,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is for the production of the 120mm accelerated precision mortar initiative (APMI). The goal of the APMI is to field a 120mm precision guided mortar cartridge in order to satisfy operational needs statement (ONS-09-7722). The APMI cartridge shall be designed to meet the requirement specified in the performance specification for the cartridge, 120mm APMI XM395 mortar cartridge. This effort will encompass all activities necessary to produce approximately 1,310 APMI cartridges, at an estimated value of $18.3M, using fiscal 09 through fiscal 11 funding. The period of performance will be 10 months, from the anticipated date of contract award. The contract type contemplated is firm-fixed-price. The government will utilize PAA funding to support this effort. Work is to be performed in Plymouth, Minn., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 1, 2010. One sole-source bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Contracting Command, Joint Munitions and Lethality Contracting Center, Picatinny, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15QKN-10-C-0059). ~BAE Systems Land & Armaments, Ground Systems Division, York, Pa., was awarded on June 11 an $8,700,584 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This contract is for the scope line replaceable units for the Paladin integrated management program. Work is to be performed in York, Pa., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2012. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-0550). ~Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on June 11 a $6,175,370 firm-fixed-price contract. This delivery order is being awarded to add additional vehicle and carwell to the contract. The vehicles and carwell being added to the contract and procured on the DO are as follows: five Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) M984A4 wrecker without winch, five Carwell Rust proofing for the (HEMTT) M984A4 wrecker without winch, 15 HEMTT M983A4 tractor with winch, and 15 Carwell Rust proofing for the HEMTT M983A4 tractor with winch. Work is to be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0024). *Small Business

DTN News: Otokar Launches Arma 6x6 Armoured Vehicle At Eurosatory 2010

DTN News: Otokar Launches Arma 6x6 Armoured Vehicle At Eurosatory 2010
Source: DTN News / Otokar, Turkey Dt. June 14, 2010
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - June 15, 2010: Otokar, the leader armoured tactical vehicle designer and manufacturer of Turkish Defence Industry, unviels its new ARMA 6x6 tactical wheeled armoured vehicle at Eurosatory. Otokar also displays its worldwide known armoured vehicle "COBRA" and its mine protected armoured "KAYA" vehicle at the show in Paris, France, between 14th and 18th June. The ARMA is the latest product of Otokar's design and development studies and a proof of Otokar's ability to leverage its engineering, manufacturing and expertise across a large portfolio of armoured tactical vehicles. ARMA is a new product family within the Otokar's the tactical wheeled armoured vehicle range with modular multi-wheel configuration. ARMA vehicle platform with superior tactical and technical features will be an outstanding and cost effective product among competitive products. Thanks to the high level of ballistic and mine protection as well as, the outstanding design allowing the integration of various types of weapon stations and mission equipments, ARMA will be an adaptable platform for evolving mission needs in a modern battlefield. The 6.4 m long, 2.7 m wide and 2.2 m high ARMA has an 18,500 kg combat weight and a payload of 4,500 kg and carries a driver, commander and eight dismounts in its fully NBC protected hull. The vehicle is C-130 air transportable in standard configuration. ARMA's front two axles are steerable enabling it to make a turning radius of 7.85 m and the vehicle rides on independent hydropneumatic suspension, offering respectable off-road mobility and comfort. Tyre run flat capability and Central inflation system is supplied as standard. It can negotiate a 45-degree approach and departure angles leading onto 60 per cent inclines and 30 per cent side-slopes. It can also cross 1.2 m wide trenches and climb over 60 cm obstacles. A 450 hp water-cooled turbo diesel capable of running on F-34 or F-54 fuel drives the wheels through an automatic gearbox and single-speed transfer box, giving it a top speed of 105 km/h and a power/weight ratio of 24.3 hp/tonne. This also powers the onboard 24 V DC electrical system, which incorporates two maintenance-free 125 Ah batteries and a 3.3 kW converter. The engine is located at the right front of the vehicle, allowing a comparably high internal volume to be efficiently and ergonomically used. With this internal layout, all the personnel especially the commander can keep eye contact continuously among each other. ARMA can be driven in 6x6 or 6x4 modes depending upon the terrain conditions. The vehicle is amphibious and driven by 2 hyraulically driven propellors in water allowing a high seagoing performance with a pivot turn capability. ARMA's ballistic and anti-mine protection is provided by high hardness monocoque steel hull and all personnel is seated on anti- mine seats . ARMA vehicle's development started in 2007 as a company funded development project for home and export markets. Development studies from concept design till the end of test phases including qualification and validation processes, detailed design, computer aided engineering studies, are performed by Otokar. ARMA 6x6 is ready for full scale production and the family will be complemented by an 8x8 version late in 2010. 4x4 ARMOURED VEHICLES The vehicles on display at Otokar booth, Hall 6, G351, highlight Otokar's expertise and capability in armoured vehicle design, engineering and manufacturing. Otokar's products are widely known with their effectiveness through better mobility, higher protection as well as being affordable and capable solutions to meet the demands of modern warfare. Other highlights of Otokar's presence at Eurosatory 2010 include: COBRA : Otokar's worldwide known armoured vehicle COBRA is exhibited with remote controlled weapon station at Eurosatory. The demand to Otokar's 4x4 COBRA had increased in recent years. The COBRA is in duty in various countries including the European countries. The 4x4 COBRA armoured vehicle provides superior mobility, a high level of protection, adaptability to various missions and a low logistic footprint. KAYA: Otokar showcases KAYA mine Resistant Troop Carrier at Eurosatory 2010. Kaya is designed to provide not only superior mine and ballistic protection but also high levels of cross country capability. KAYA provides mine and ballistic protection for the troops on all terrain conditions, while offering high mobility, ease of handling and outstanding crew comfort. Otokar's know-how and experience in mine protected vehicles gained with the COBRA, played an important role in the design and development process of the KAYA. In order to provide excellent cross country capabilities, the KAYA was developed on the Daimler Chrysler Unimog 5000 running chassis. Armored Cab and Crew Compartment are designed as two separate units to utilize and maintain the Unimog 5000's ultimate cross country capability. KAYA 4x4 mine resistant vehicle with its flexible body configuration can easily be configured for different missions along with varying user needs.

DTN News: Boeing 737 Production Rate Increases To 35 Per Month

DTN News: Boeing 737 Production Rate Increases To 35 Per Month
Source: DTN News / Boeing
(NSI News Source Info) SEATTLE, - June 15, 2010: Boeing (NYSE: BA) today announced a second production rate increase on the Next-Generation 737 program, taking the rate from the previously announced 34 airplanes per month to 35 in early 2012. In May, Boeing cited continued strong demand for the Next-Generation 737 as reason to ramp-up production from 31.5 to 34 airplanes per month and indicated plans to study further increases. Today's announcement acknowledges the anticipated long-term growth in this market segment and the continued pressure to raise airplane output to match expected market demand.
"Our customers continue to show their preference for the Next-Generation 737 by exercising order options as well as by placing new orders," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh. "We've managed our current backlog efficiently and increasing rate is the product of our comprehensive planning and preparation. We will continue to monitor demand as we go forward." Boeing and its suppliers will prepare for the rate increase over the next 18 months, assessing readiness and ensuring an orderly ramp-up from the current 31.5 airplanes per month. The rate increase is not expected to have a material impact on 2010 financial results. The Next-Generation 737 program continues to innovate in the areas of improved navigation, performance and passenger comfort. The program will deliver its first 737 Boeing Sky Interior in October and is progressing with its implementation of a package of performance improvements by early 2012 that are expected to reduce fuel consumption by 2 percent. Forward-Looking Information Is Subject to Risk and Uncertainty Certain statements in this report may be "forward-looking" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "expects," "intends," "plans," "projects," "believes," "estimates," "targets," "anticipates," and similar expressions are used to identify these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based upon assumptions about future events that may not prove to be accurate. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Actual outcomes and results may differ materially from what is expressed or forecasted in these forward-looking statements. As a result, these statements speak to events only as of the date they are made and we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by federal securities laws. Specific factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements we make regarding our guidance relating to future financial and operating performance, the effect of economic conditions in the United States and globally, and general industry conditions as they may impact us or our customers, as well as the other important factors disclosed previously and from time to time in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Contact: Vicki Ray Airplane Programs Communications +1 206-852-3319 vicki.l.ray@boeing.com

DTN News: The Kyrgyzstan Crisis And The Russian Dilemma

DTN News: The Kyrgyzstan Crisis And The Russian Dilemma
Source: By Peter Zeihan Stratfor
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 15, 2010: STRATFOR often discusses how Russia is on a bit of a roll. The U.S. distraction in the Middle East has offered Russia a golden opportunity to re-establish its spheres of influence in the region, steadily expanding the Russian zone of control into a shape that is eerily reminiscent of the old Soviet Union. Since 2005, when this process began, Russia has clearly reasserted itself as the dominant power in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Ukraine, and has intimidated places like Georgia and Turkmenistan into a sort of silent acquiescence.

But we have not spent a great amount of time explaining why this is the case. It is undeniable that Russia is a Great Power, but few things in geopolitics are immutable, and Russia is no exception.

Russian Geography, Strategy and Demographics

Russia’s geography is extremely open, with few geographic barriers to hunker behind. There are no oceans, mountains or deserts to protect Russia from outside influences — or armies — and Russia’s forests, which might provide some measure of protection, are on the wrong side of the country. The Russian taiga is in the north and, as such, can only provide refuge for Russians afterthe country’s more economically useful parts have already fallen to invaders (as during the Mongol occupation).

Despite its poor geographic hand, Russia has managed to cope via a three-part strategy:

  1. Lay claim to as large a piece of land as possible.
  2. Flood it with ethnic Russians to assert reliable control.
  3. Establish an internal intelligence presence that can monitor and, if need be, suppress the indigenous population.

Throughout Russian history, this strategy has been repeated until the Russian state reached an ocean, a mountain chain, a desert, or a foe that fought back too strongly. In many ways, the strategies of the Kremlin of 2010 are extremely similar to those of Catherine the Great, Ivan the Terrible or Joseph Stalin.

But it is no longer the 17th century, and this strategy does not necessarily play to Russia’s strengths anymore. The second prong of the strategy — flooding the region with ethnic Russians — is no longer an option because of Russia’s demographic profile. The Russian birth rate has been in decline for a century, and in the post-Cold War era, the youngest tranche of the Russian population simply collapsed. The situation transformed from an academic debate about Russia’s future to a policy debate about Russia’s present.

The bust in the birth rate in the 1990s and 2000s has generated the smallest population cohort in Russian history, and in a very few years, those post-Cold War children will themselves be at the age where they will be having children. A small cohort will create an even smaller cohort, and Russia’s population problems could well evolve from crushing to irrecoverable. Even if this cohort reproduces at a sub-Saharan African birthrate, even if the indications of high tuberculosis and HIV infections among this population cohort are all wrong, and even if Russia can provide a level of services for this group that it couldn’t manage during the height of Soviet power, any demographic bounce would not occur until the 2050s — once the children of this cohort have sufficiently aged to raise their own children. Until 2050, Russia simply has to learn to work with less. A lot less. And this is the best-case scenario for Russia in the next generation.

The Kyrgyzstan Crisis and the Russian Dilemma

Simply put, Russia does not have the population to sustain the country at its present boundaries. As time grinds on, Russia’s capacity for doing so will decrease drastically. Moscow understands all this extremely well, and this is a leading rationale behind current Russian foreign policy: Russia’s demographics will never again be as “positive” as they are now, and the Americans are unlikely to be any more distracted than they are now. So Russia is moving quickly and, more important, intelligently.

Russia is thus attempting to reach some natural anchor points, e.g., some geographic barriers that would limit the state’s exposure to outside powers. The Russians hope they will be able to husband their strength from these anchor points. Moscow’s long-term strategy consistently has been to trade space for time ahead of the beginning of the Russian twilight; if the Russians can expand to these anchor points, Moscow hopes it can trade less space for more time.

Unfortunately for Moscow, there are not many of these anchor points in Russia’s neighborhood. One is the Baltic Sea, a fact that terrifies the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Another is the Carpathian Mountains. This necessitates the de facto absorption not only of Ukraine, but also of Moldova, something that makes Romania lose sleep at night. And then there are the Tien Shan Mountains of Central Asia — which brings us to the crisis of the moment.

The Crisis in Kyrgyzstan

The former Soviet Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan is not a particularly nice piece of real estate. While it is in one of those mountainous regions that could be used to anchor Russian power, it is on the far side of the Eurasian steppe from the Russian core, more than 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) removed from the Russian heartland. The geography of Kyrgyzstan itself also leaves a great deal to be desired. Kyrgyzstan is an artificial construct created by none other than Stalin, who rearranged internal Soviet borders in the region to maximize the chances of dislocation, dispute and disruption among the indigenous populations in case the Soviet provinces ever gained independence.

Stalin drew his lines well: Central Asia’s only meaningful population center is the Fergana Valley. Kyrgyzstan obtained the region’s foothills and highlands, which provide the region’s water; Uzbekistan gained the fertile floor of the valley; and Tajikistan walked away with the only decent access to the valley as a whole. As such, the three states continuously are jockeying for control over the only decent real estate in the region.

Arguably, Kyrgyzstan has the least to work with of any of the region’s states. Nearly all of its territory is mountainous; what flat patches of land it does have on which to build cities are scattered about. There is, accordingly, no real Kyrgyz core. Consequently, the country suffers from sharp internal differences: Individual clans hold dominion over tiny patches of land separated from each other by rugged tracts of mountains. In nearly all cases, those clans have tighter economic and security relationships with foreigners than they do with each other.

The Kyrgyzstan Crisis and the Russian Dilemma
(click here to enlarge image)

A little more than five years ago, Western nongovernmental organizations (and undoubtedly a handful of intelligence services) joined forces with some of these regional factions in Kyrgyzstan to overthrow the country’s pro-Russian ruling elite in what is known as a “color revolution” in the former Soviet Union. Subsequently, Kyrgyzstan — while not exactly pro-Western — dwelled in a political middle ground the Russians found displeasing. In April, Russia proved that it, too, can throw a color revolution and Kyrgyzstan’s government switched yet again. Since then, violence has wracked the southern regions of Jalal-Abad, Batken and Osh — strongholds of the previous government. In recent days, nearly 100,000 Kyrgyz residents have fled to Uzbekistan.

The interim government of Prime Minister Roza Otunbayeva is totally outmatched. It is not so much that her government is in danger of falling — those same mountains that make it nearly impossible for Bishkek to control Osh make it equally difficult for Osh to take over Bishkek – but that the country has de facto split into (at least) two pieces. As such, Otunbayeva — whose government only coalesced due to the Russian intervention — has publicly and directly called upon the Russians to provide troops to help hold the country together. This request cuts to the core weakness in the Russian strategy.

Despite much degradation in the period after the Soviet dissolution, Russia’s intelligence services remain without peer. In fact, now that they have the direct patronage of the Russian prime minister, they have proportionally more resources and influence than ever. They have proved that they canrewire Ukraine’s political world to expunge American influence, manipulate events in the Caucasus to whittle away at Turkey’s authority, cause riots in the Baltics to unbalance NATO members, and reverse Kyrgyzstan’s color revolution.

But they do not have backup. Were this the 19th century, there would already be scads of Russian settlers en route to the Fergana to dilute the control of the locals (although they would certainly be arriving after the Russian army), to construct a local economy dependent upon imported labor and linked to the Russian core, and to establish a new ruling elite. (It is worth noting that the resistance of Central Asians to Russian encroachment meant that the Russians never seriously attempted to make the region into a majority-Russian one. Even so, the Russians still introduced their own demographic to help shape the region more to Moscow’s liking.) Instead, Russia’s relatively few young families are busy holding the demographic line in Russia proper. For the first time in Russian history, there is no surplus Russian population that can be relocated to the provinces.

And without that population, the Russian view of the Fergana — to say nothing of Kyrgyzstan — changes dramatically. The region is remote and densely populated, and reaching it requires transiting three countries. And one of these states would have something to say about that. That state is Uzbekistan.

The Uzbek Goliath

After the Russians and Ukrainians, the Uzbeks are the most populous ethnicity in the former Soviet Union. They are a Turkic people who do not enjoy particularly good relations with anyone. Uzbekistan’s ruling Karimov family is roundly hated both at home and abroad; the Central Asian country boasts one of the most repressive governing systems in modern times.

Uzbekistan also happens to be quite powerful by Central Asian standards. There are more Uzbeks in Central Asia than there are Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Tajiks and Russians combined. The Uzbek intelligence services are modeled after their Russian counterparts, interspersing agents throughout the Uzbek population to ensure loyalty and to root out dissidents. It is the only country of the five former Soviet states in the region that actually has a military that can engage in military action. It is the only one of the five that has most of its cities in logical proximity and linked with decent infrastructure (even if it is split into the Tashkent region and the Fergana region by Stalinesque cartographic creativity). It is the only one of the five that is both politically stable (if politically brittle) and that has the ability to project power. And it is also the only Central Asian state that is self-sufficient in both food and energy. To top it all off, some 2.5 million ethnic Uzbeks reside in the other four former Soviet Central Asian states, providing Tashkent a wealth of tools for manipulating developments throughout the region.

And manipulate it does. In addition to the odd border spat, Uzbekistan intervened decisively in Tajikistan’s civil war in the 1990s. Tashkent is not shy about noting that it thinks most Tajik, and especially Kyrgyz, territory should belong to Uzbekistan, particularly the territory of southern Kyrgyzstan, where the current violence is strongest. Uzbekistan views many of the Russian strategies to expunge Western interests from Central Asia as preparation for moves against Uzbekistan, with the Russian-sponsored coup in Kyrgyzstan an excellent case in point.

From March through May, Uzbekistan began activating its reserves and reinforcing its Fergana border regions, which heightened the state of fear in Bishkek from shrill to panic mode. Given Uzbek means, motive and opportunity, Moscow is fairly confident that sending Russian peacekeepers to southern Kyrgyzstan would provoke a direct military confrontation with an angry and nervous Uzbekistan.

In STRATFOR’s view, Russia would win this war, but this victory would come neither easily nor cheaply. The Fergana is a long way from Russia, and the vast bulk of Russia’s military is static, not expeditionary like its U.S. counterpart. Uzbek supply lines would be measured in hundreds of meters, Russian lines in thousands of kilometers. Moreover, Uzbekistan could interrupt nearly allCentral Asian natural gas that currently flows to Russia without even launching a single attack. (The Turkmen natural gas that Russia’s Gazprom normally depends upon travels to Russia via Uzbek territory.)

Yet this may be a conflict Russia feels it cannot avoid. The Russians have not forward-garrisoned a military force sufficient to protect Kyrgyzstan, nor can they resettle a population that could transform Kyrgyzstan. Therefore, the Russian relationship with Kyrgyzstan is based neither on military strategy nor on economic rationality. Instead, it is based on the need to preserve a certain level of credibility and fear — credibility that the Russians will protect Kyrgyzstan should push come to shove, and Kyrgyz fear of what Russia will do to it should they not sign on to the Russian sphere of influence.

It is a strategy strongly reminiscent of the U.S. Cold War containment doctrine, under which the United States promised to aid any ally, anytime, anywhere if in exchange they would help contain the Soviets. This allowed the Soviet Union to choose the time and place of conflicts, and triggered U.S. involvement in places like Vietnam. Had the United States refused battle, the American alliance structure could have crumbled. Russia now faces a similar dilemma, and just as the United States had no economic desire to be in Vietnam, the Russians really do not much care what happens to Kyrgyzstan — except as it impacts Russian interests elsewhere.

But even victory over Uzbekistan would not solve the problem. Smashing the only coherent government in the region would create a security vacuum. Again, the Americans provide a useful corollary: The U.S. “victory” over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the Taliban’s Afghanistan proved that “winning” is the easy part. Occupying the region over the long haul to make sure that the victory is not worse than the status quo antebellum is a decade-to-generational effort that requires a significant expenditure of blood and treasure. Russia desperately needs to devote such resources elsewhere — particularly once the United States is no longer so preoccupied in the Middle East.

Russia is attempting to finesse a middle ground by talking the Uzbeks down and offering the compromise of non-Russian troops from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-led military organization, as an alternative to Russian forces. This may resolve the immediate crisis, but neither the Uzbeks nor the challenges they pose are going anywhere. And unlike Russia, Uzbekistan boasts very high demographic growth.

The bottom line is this: Despite all of Russia’s recent gains, Moscow’s strategy requires tools that the Russians no longer have. It requires Moscow delving into the subregional politics of places that could well bleed Russia dry — and this is before any power that wishes Russia ill begins exploring what it and the Uzbeks might achieve together.

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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact: dtnnews@ymail.com 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: BAE Systems And Iveco Defence Vehicles Pursue Marine Corps Personnel Carrier

DTN News: BAE Systems And Iveco Defence Vehicles Pursue Marine Corps Personnel Carrier
Source: DTN News / BAE Systems
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - June 15, 2010: BAE Systems and Iveco Defence Vehicles have signed a licensing agreement to form the basis of a business arrangement for the pursuit of the U.S. Marine Corps Personnel Carrier (MPC) program, with a vehicle based on the SUPERAV 8x8. In 2009, Iveco Defence Vehicles unveiled the SUPERAV 8x8 as the newest MPC candidate. The SUPERAV has capabilities based on previously fielded vehicles that include enhanced survivability, mobility performance, and amphibious capability with growth potential. The MPC is designed to fill the medium-armor ground vehicle gap and complements the capabilities of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). It will be a flexible and highly mobile asset for the Marines that will be well protected, sustainable, networked and include a strong swimming capability. Both BAE Systems and Iveco Defence Vehicles have extensive experience across a range of mine-protected and armored vehicles, including several 8x8 models. This breadth of experience positions the team to jointly address the specific requirements of the MPC program. About BAE Systems BAE Systems is a global defense, security and aerospace company with approximately 107,000 employees worldwide. The Company delivers a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. In 2009 BAE Systems reported sales of £22.4 billion (US$36.2 billion). About Iveco Defence Vehicles Iveco Defence Vehicles has established an outstanding reputation for the practical application of innovative automotive and protection solutions, drawing heavily on the company’s underpinning expertise in the commercial vehicle sector. The result is a full range of logistic, multirole, protected and armoured vehicles which together enable the military user to meet the most exacting of operational demands. Contact: BAE Systems
Kelly Golden, +1 703 894 3569
Mobile: +1 717 818 7400
Iveco Defence Vehicles
Anna Anesi, +39 0471 905 314
Mobile: +39 331 6920895

DTN News: Afghan Mineral Wealth Could Top $1 Trillion According To Pentagon

DTN News: Afghan Mineral Wealth Could Top $1 Trillion According To Pentagon
Source: DTN News / Reuters David Alexander
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - June 15, 2010: Untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan may be worth more than $1 trillion, a finding that could reshape the country's economy and help U.S. efforts to bolster the war-battered government, Pentagon officials said on Monday. Afghanistan has significant deposits of copper, iron ore, niobium, cobalt, gold, molybdenum, silver and aluminum as well as sources of fluorspar, beryllium and lithium, among others, a task force studying the country's resources found. "It's certainly potentially good news, especially for Afghanistan," said Pentagon spokesman Colonel David Lapan. "If we can assist the Afghans in developing these resources, it certainly has the potential for adding a lot to their economy." Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Paul Brinkley, who headed the task force, said the findings showed Afghanistan a path "toward its own economically sovereign capability to finance its own human and security needs." Experts cautioned the challenge to exploiting Afghanistan's mineral wealth was huge and could take decades to overcome. The country has little mining infrastructure, is in the midst of a wrenching war and has a reputation for government corruption. Mineral wealth in Afghanistan is scattered throughout the country, including along the border with Pakistan, where the Taliban-led insurgency is the most intense. "This is an uphill climb for Afghanistan," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, adding the United States was helping Afghan officials develop a system to fairly distribute future revenues. "We're not underestimating the challenges involved here." The extent of Afghanistan's mineral wealth was identified by a task force that included members from the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Geological Survey working in conjunction with officials from the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines. A briefing paper released by the Pentagon said the main resources were iron ore with an estimated value of nearly $421 billion and copper deposits valued at $273 billion. The minerals survey was part of a broader effort to identify the economic potential of Iraq and Afghanistan and help the governments develop the international business relations to exploit their resources. "This really is part and parcel of Gen. (Stanley) McChrystal's counterinsurgency strategy," Lapan said. "This is that whole economic arm that we talk about but gets very little attention." The Afghan review was initially carried out in 2006 and 2007, but the task force focused primarily on Iraq. With the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq, the task force turned its attention back to Afghanistan and did a follow-up assessment. The assessment concluded the scale of Afghanistan's mineral wealth "was much bigger" than initially realized, Lapan said. An estimate based on mineral prices late last year concluded Afghanistan was sitting on mineral wealth of $1 trillion, a figure Afghan President Hamid Karzai mentioned at a news conference January 31. Lapan said that figure may be low. "There's ... an indication that even the trillion dollar figure underestimates what the true potential might be," Lapan told reporters at the Pentagon. Officials said the trillion dollar figure did not include known oil and gas reserves or the value of expected deposits of minerals like lithium that have not been verified scientifically to the point of being able to estimate a value. Brinkley said what was important was the mineral deposits were large enough to give Afghanistan its own economic sovereignty. "This is a country that has an $800 million annual budget, that depends on the international community for the vast majority for the cost of its security, its development," he said. "So what's relevant about the number ... is the Afghan people ... have a source of indigenous wealth that, properly developed, will enable them to be sovereign." But resources are likely to pose challenges as well. Robert Lamb, an expert in post-conflict reconstruction at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said if the minerals were to help produce a positive outcome to the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, their exploitation had to be managed carefully and ordinary Afghans needed to benefit. "This is one of those cases where U.S. interests are much more aligned with the interests of common Afghan citizens," he said. "Whatever system of revenue sharing is set up, people who live in the area where the mines are ... they should be seeing some of the financial benefits of those mines." News of the country's untapped wealth is likely to intensify competition among regional players such as China, India and even Russia for a greater role in exploiting those resources. Two Chinese firms have committed themselves to a $4 billion investment in the vast Aynak copper mine, south of Kabul, the biggest non-military foreign investment so far in the country. Another big contract to mine an estimated 1.8 billion tons of high-quality iron ore in the remote mountainous region of Hajigak is expected to open for international bidding this year. Firms from India and China are eyeing the contract, which the Afghan mines ministry says covers the largest unmined iron deposit in Asia. (Additional reporting by Sanjeev Miglani in Singapore, Andrew Quinn in Washington; Editing by Eric Walsh)