Thursday, January 26, 2012

DTN News - UKRAINE DEFENSE NEWS: Ukraine Boosts Military Budget By 30%

DTN News - UKRAINE DEFENSE NEWS: Ukraine Boosts Military Budget By 30%
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Ria Novosti
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 26, 2012: Ukraine’s 2012 military spending will increase by around 30 percent, to about $2 billion or 1.1 percent of GDP, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s financial department said on Wednesday.

The ministry expects to spend about $120 million for purchases and modernization of military equipment, as well as scientific and military design projects, including the production of L-39 Albatros jet trainers and MiG-29 fighter jets. Ukraine’s existing fleet of MiG-29, L-39 and Su-25 close air support aircrafts will also be modernized.
Head of Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s Financial Department Lt. Gen. Yvan Marko said 21 jets, five helicopters and 612 vehicles will be repaired and modernized this year.
Ukraine’s 2012 state defense order will stand at $184 million, four times more than last year, including $54 million to build a corvette-class ship and $13 million for the construction of the Sapsan multifunctional missile system.
Ukraine’s military budget amounted to 0.8 percent of GDP on average over the past few years, substantially less than the average 1.3 percent of other Eastern European states.

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*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Ria Novosti
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*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - DRONES DEFENSE NEWS: New Drone Has No Pilot Anywhere, So Who's Accountable?

DTN News - DRONES DEFENSE NEWS: New Drone Has No Pilot Anywhere, So Who's Accountable?
*The Navy is testing an autonomous plane that will land on an aircraft carrier. The prospect of heavily armed aircraft screaming through the skies without direct human control is unnerving to many
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times    
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 26, 2012: The Navy's new drone being tested near Chesapeake Bay stretches the boundaries of technology: It's designed to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier, one of aviation's most difficult maneuvers.

What's even more remarkable is that it will do that not only without a pilot in the cockpit, but without a pilot at all.

The X-47B marks a paradigm shift in warfare, one that is likely to have far-reaching consequences. With the drone's ability to be flown autonomously by onboard computers, it could usher in an era when death and destruction can be dealt by machines operating semi-independently.

GRAPHIC: How the X-47B lands

Although humans would program an autonomous drone's flight plan and could override its decisions, the prospect of heavily armed aircraft screaming through the skies without direct human control is unnerving to many.

"Lethal actions should have a clear chain of accountability," said Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist and robotics expert. "This is difficult with a robot weapon. The robot cannot be held accountable. So is it the commander who used it? The politician who authorized it? The military's acquisition process? The manufacturer, for faulty equipment?"

Sharkey and others believe that autonomous armed robots should force the kind of dialogue that followed the introduction of mustard gas in World War I and the development of atomic weapons in World War IIThe International Committee of the Red Cross, the group tasked by the Geneva Conventions to protect victims in armed conflict, is already examining the issue.

"The deployment of such systems would reflect … a major qualitative change in the conduct of hostilities," committee President Jakob Kellenberger said at a recent conference. "The capacity to discriminate, as required by [international humanitarian law], will depend entirely on the quality and variety of sensors and programming employed within the system."

Weapons specialists in the military and Congress acknowledge that policymakers must deal with these ethical questions long before these lethal autonomous drones go into active service, which may be a decade or more away.

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said policy probably will first be discussed with the bipartisan drone caucus that he co-chairs with Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita). Officially known as the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, the panel was formed in 2009 to inform members of Congress on the far-reaching applications of drone technology.

"It's a different world from just a few years ago — we've entered the realm of science fiction in a lot of ways," Cuellar said. "New rules have to be developed as new technology comes about, and this is a big step forward."

Aerial drones now piloted remotely have become a central weapon for the CIA and U.S. military in their campaign against terrorists in the Middle East. The Pentagon has gone from an inventory of a handful of drones before Sept. 11, 2001, to about 7,500 drones, about one-third of all military aircraft.

Despite looming military spending cuts, expenditures on drones are expected to take less of a hit, if any, because they are cheaper to build and operate than piloted aircraft.

All military services are moving toward greater automation with their robotic systems. Robotic armed submarines could one day stalk enemy waters, and automated tanks could engage soldiers on the battlefield.

"More aggressive robotry development could lead to deploying far fewer U.S. military personnel to other countries, achieving greater national security at a much lower cost and most importantly, greatly reduced casualties," aerospace pioneer Simon Ramo, who helped develop the intercontinental ballistic missile, wrote in his new book, "Let Robots Do the Dying."

The Air Force wrote in an 82-page report that outlines the future usage of drones, titled "Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan 2009-2047," that autonomous drone aircraft are key "to increasing effects while potentially reducing cost, forward footprint and risk." Much like a chess master can outperform proficient chess players, future drones will be able to react faster than human pilots ever could, the report said.

And with that potential comes new concerns about how much control of the battlefield the U.S. is willing to turn over to computers.

There is no plan by the U.S. military — at least in the near term — to turn over the killing of enemy combatants to the X-47B or any other autonomous flying machine. But the Air Force said in the "Flight Plan" that it's only a matter of time before drones have the capability to make life-or-death decisions as they circle the battlefield. Even so, the report notes that officials will still monitor how these drones are being used.

"Increasingly humans will no longer be 'in the loop' but rather 'on the loop' — monitoring the execution of certain decisions," the report said. "Authorizing a machine to make lethal combat decisions is contingent upon political and military leaders resolving legal and ethical questions."

Peter W. Singer, author of "Wired for War," a book about robotic warfare, said automated military targeting systems are under development. But before autonomous aerial drones are sent on seek-and-destroy missions, he said, the military must first prove that it can pull off simpler tasks, such as refueling and reconnaissance missions.

That's where the X-47B comes in.

"Like it or not, autonomy is the future," Singer said. "The X-47 is one of many programs that aim to perfect the technology."

The X-47B is an experimental jet — that's what the X stands for — and is designed to demonstrate new technology, such as automated takeoffs, landings and refueling. The drone also has a fully capable weapons bay with a payload capacity of 4,500 pounds, but the Navy said it has no plans to arm it.

The Navy is now testing two of the aircraft, which were built behind razor-wire fences at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s expansive complex in Palmdale, where the company manufactured the B-2 stealth bomber.

Funded under a $635.8-million contract awarded by the Navy in 2007, the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program has grown in cost to an estimated $813 million.

Last February, the first X-47B had its maiden flight from Edwards Air Force Base, where it continued testing until last month when it was carried from the Mojave Desert to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in southern Maryland. It is there that the next stage of the demonstration program begins.

The drone is slated to first land on a carrier by 2013, relying on pinpoint GPS coordinates and advanced avionics. The carrier's computers digitally transmit the carrier's speed, cross-winds and other data to the drone as it approaches from miles away.

The X-47B will not only land itself, but will also know what kind of weapons it is carrying, when and where it needs to refuel with an aerial tanker, and whether there's a nearby threat, said Carl Johnson, Northrop's X-47B program manager. "It will do its own math and decide what it should do next."

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources 
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - AFGHAN WAR NEWS: Afghan-Led Combined Force Captures Taliban Leader

DTN News - AFGHAN WAR NEWS: Afghan-Led Combined Force Captures Taliban Leader
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources - International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases - American Forces Press Service
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 26, 2012: An Afghan-led and coalition-supported security force captured a Taliban leader during an operation in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province today, military officials reported.

The leader coordinated roadside bomb and ambush attacks against Afghan forces along Route 1 in Helmand province, officials said.

The security force also seized 15 pounds of opium and detained an additional suspected insurgent.

In other Afghanistan operations today:
-- A combined patrol seized about 500 pounds of marijuana and about 45 pounds of marijuana seeds in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province.

-- In the Zharay district of Kandahar province, a combined force seized 300 pounds of marijuana and detained several suspects while searching for a Taliban facilitator who plans attacks against coalition forces and moves weapons and ammunition throughout Kandahar.

-- A combined force captured a Taliban leader and detained another suspect in the Sayyidabad district of Wardak province. The leader planned assassinations and direct-fire attacks against Afghan government officials.
In Afghanistan operations yesterday:
-- A coalition airstrike killed an insurgent after he attacked coalition forces with small-arms fire in the Alishing district of Laghman province.
-- Coalition forces arrested six people found with Afghan army uniforms and weapons in the Alingar district of Laghman province.
-- Coalition troops detained three people suspected of being bomb makers in the Terezaki district of Khost province.
-- Afghan police detained a man who had two assault rifles and ammunition in the Zurmat district of Paktia province.
-- Coalition troops detained a man for having bomb-making materials Khost’s Khost district.
-- Afghan border police detained a man as a person of interest in Paktia’s Jaji district.
-- A combined patrol found about 550 pounds of hashish and multiple 82 mm mortar rounds in Kandahar’s Panjwai district.

-- A combined patrol found and destroyed about 1,000 pounds of hashish in Kandahar’s Zharay district.

-- A combined force found and destroyed about 660 pounds of hashish in Helmand’s Musa Qalah district.
In other Afghanistan news, Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, International Security Assistance Force commander, joined Afghan President Hamid Karzai in condemning a recent insurgent rocket attack on a home in the Allasai district of Kapisa province that killed a woman and a child and injured seven other people.
"Continued deliberate attacks on the people of Afghanistan that result in the brutal murder of defenseless women and children clearly show that this heartless insurgency has no moral compass whatsoever," Allen said. "I join President Karzai in extending my deepest sympathies to the families of those who were killed, and in praying for the fastest recovery of those who were injured in this needless tragedy.”
Allen added that Taliban leader Mohammed Omar's “deafening silence and inaction in stopping these ongoing attacks against innocent Afghan civilians shows that his foot soldiers are now giving the orders while he and his inner circle reside in comfort, allowing the killing of their own brothers and sisters."

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases - American Forces Press Service
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - IRAN NEWS: Iran Defiant As EU Imposes Oil Embargo

DTN News - IRAN NEWS: Iran Defiant As EU Imposes Oil Embargo
*Tehran accuses EU of waging "psychological warfare" as Washington threatens further measures over nuclear programme.
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Al Jazeera
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 26, 2012: Iran has accused the European Union of waging "psychological warfare" after the bloc banned imports of Iranian oil over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.

The oil ban, which was approved at a meeting in Brussels on Monday, along with sanctions against Iran's central bank and other measures, came as Western powers stepped up pressure on Iran to return to negotiations amid concerns that it is moving closer to building nuclear weapons.

In Video

Al Jazeera talks to Iranian writer and journalist Hooman Majd about the EU oil embargo on Iran
"The method of threat, pressure and unfair sanctions against a nation that has a strong reason for its approach is doomed to fail," Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, told the state broadcaster.

"European Union sanctions on Iranian oil is psychological warfare," Mehmanparast said. 

"Imposing economic sanctions is illogical and unfair but will not stop our nation from obtaining its rights."

Iran's oil ministry issued a statement saying the sanctions did not come as a shock. "The oil ministry has from long ago thought about it and has come up with measures to deal with any challenges," it said, according to the IRNA news agency.

Mehmanparast said: "The European countries and those who are under American pressure, should think about their own interests. Any country that deprives itself from Iran's energy market, will soon see that it has been replaced by others."
Washington welcomes sanctions
Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, said that global powers involved in negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme were still waiting for Tehran to resume talks stalled since January last year.

"The pressure of sanctions is designed to try and make sure that Iran takes seriously our request to come to the table," she said.

The EU action was welcomed in Washington where US President Barack Obama said officials would impose more sanctions to address the "serious threat presented by Iran's nuclear programme."

Washington also announced new sanctions against Iran's third largest state-owned bank, Bank Tejarat, and the Trade Capital Bank, an affiliate. Both are still accessing the international financial system.

Under Monday's embargo decision, all new contracts for crude oil and petroleum products between Iran and any of the EU's 27 member states, will be forbidden. Existing contracts have to be suspended by the end of June.

There will be a review of the embargo on May 1, a month before all oil contracts cease.
The EU is the second biggest importer of Iranian oil, after China, while the US banned imports in 1979 [Al Jazeera]
Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer, reporting from the sidelines of the meeting in Brussels, said: "The reason for that is so that countries heavily dependent on Iranian oil, namely Greece, Italy and Spain, some of the most ailing members of the eurozone, can find new sources of supply, and secondly, to see what steps Iran is taking to come back to the negotiating table."

Describing the EU measures as part of "an unprecedented set of sanctions", William Hague, the British foreign minister, said: "Today's sanctions show how serious EU member states are about preventing nuclear proliferation and pressing Iran to return to the negotiating table," he said.

France, Britain and Germany said, just hours after the decision on Monday, that they were willing to negotiate with Iran if it was ready to talk seriously about its nuclear programme.

"We call on Iran's leadership immediately to suspend its sensitive nuclear activities and abide fully by its international obligations," the three countries said in a joint statement by their leaders.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also confirmed on Monday that a high-level visit to Iran would take place from January 29-31 for talks on Tehran's nuclear activities.

Western countries believe Iran's uranium enrichment programme is part of an effort to build a nuclear bomb, but Iran says the programme is to generate electricity.

Diplomatic push

Nick Spicer reports on the meeting from Brussels
Issues of concern before Monday's meeting included the impact and costs of the ban for countries such as Greece, which relies on financial help from the EU and the International Monetary Fund to stay afloat, and received Iranian crude on preferential financing terms.

A diplomatic push is under way, officials say, to secure supplies from other producers. Saudi Arabia, the world's top producer, said this month it would increase production by about two million barrels per day.

The effort to take Iran's 2.6 million barrels of oil per day off international markets has kept global prices high, pushed down Iran's rial currency and is causing a surge in the cost of basic goods for Iranians.

Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Tehran, said the Iranian government believed that the EU sanctions would not really affect their oil revenues, with rising oil prices making up for a loss of revenues.
Our correspondent said the impact of the sanctions would be felt by ordinary Iranians by increasing the price of the US dollar against the Iranian rial, she said, noting that the dollar rose by about 10 cents after the EU sanctions announcement.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of political science at Tehran University, said that EU sanctions would not "terribly affect" Iran.

"The real problem for Iran comes [from] Asia and not from Europe," Zibakalam said. "That is to say if China, South Korea, Japan ... and India move towards ... reducing their oil from Iran, that will create a serious problem for Iran."

The four Asian nations purchase about 59 per cent of Iran’s oil each year, while EU countries account for 18 per cent.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Al Jazeera
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - AIRLINES NEWS: Norwegian Carrier Aims High With 222 Aircraft Orders

DTN News - AIRLINES NEWS: Norwegian Carrier Aims High With 222 Aircraft Orders
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Andrew Parker in London FT
 (NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - January 26, 2012: Norwegian Air Shuttle plans to buy 222 new aircraft worth $21.1bn from Boeing and Airbus in a move that heralds its ambition to become one of Europe’s leading low-cost airlines. Boeing secured its largest ever European deal through a firm order by the Oslo-based airline for 122 737 narrow-body aircraft, worth $11.4bn at list prices.
Norwegian also departed from its previous policy of only operating Boeing aircraft by making a commitment to purchase 100 A320 narrow-body aircraft from Airbus, worth $9.7bn at list prices.

Analysts said Norwegian’s orders looked like a bet on the demise of SAS, the struggling Scandinavian carrier.

Norwegian’s shares closed up almost 13 per cent at NKr74.5. Shares in SAS dropped 1 per cent to SKr9.

Bjorn Kjos, Norwegian’s chief executive and one of its founders, told the Financial Times that the airline would focus its expansion on Nordic countries, although he highlighted plans to open a new operating base this March in Malaga, Spain.

“If we have the newest equipment and one of the best cost bases in the world, we can more or less set up operations wherever we want,” said Mr Kjos, a former fighter pilot in the Norwegian air force, who is also a lawyer and author of a spy thriller.

Mr Kjos also highlighted Norwegian’s plans to begin long-haul operations next year, with flights linking Scandinavia with Asia and the US.

Norwegian started its low-cost carrier operations in 2002. It has operating bases in Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, although Norwegian’s routes reach beyond Europe into north Africa and the Middle East.

Its fifth-largest shareholder is Finnair, Finland’s flag carrier.

Aircraft financing has become more difficult to obtain since the financial crisis, but Mr Kjos expressed confidence that Norwegian’s orders with Boeing and Airbus would secure loan guarantees from European and US export credit agencies.

Norwegian’s orders should increase its fleet from the current 64 to between 150 and 200 by 2020, because some of the new aircraft will replace existing ones.

Ryanair, Europe’s leading low-cost airline by passenger number, has 277 aircraft, while EasyJet, the second largest, has 204.

Andrew Lobbenberg, analyst at RBS, said Norwegian’s orders looked like “a gamble on SAS failing”.

The deals with Boeing and Airbus underline how airlines are keen to buy fuel-efficient aircraft because of high oil prices.

Norwegian is buying planned new aircraft that should burn between 10 and 15 per cent less fuel than existing ones.

Airbus will start delivering its A320neo aircraft to Norwegian in 2016, and Boeing will begin supplying its 737 Max jets in 2017.

Boeing on Wednesday announced strong fourth-quarter results, although it said profitability would be dented in 2012 by higher pension costs.

*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources By Andrew Parker in London FT
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News