Thursday, September 30, 2010

US Senate OKs transfer of two minehunters to India

The US Senate has approved the transfer of two Osprey-class minehunter coastal ships to India.

The two minehunter ships are Kingfisher (MHC-56) and Cormorant (MHC-57). Both were decommissioned in 2007 and now awaiting it’s to India.

Osprey-class coastal minehunters are designed to find, classify, and destroy moored and bottom naval mines from vital waterways. They use sonar and video systems, cable cutters and a mine detonating device that can be released and detonated by remote control.

Touted as world's second largest minehunters, they are constructed entirely of fibre-glass and are designed to survive the shock of underwater explosions.

Their primary mission is reconnaissance, classification, and neutralisation of all types of moored and bottom mines in littoral areas, harbours and coastal waterways. The ships are equipped with a high definition, variable-depth sonar, and a remotely-operated, robotic submarine used to neutralise mines.

Aviation Milestone Achieved By British Engineering

A British-designed unmanned air vehicle (UAV) which showcases a wide range of new technologies has successfully demonstrated 'flapless flight' in the UK. The UAV, called DEMON, made the historic flight from an airfield at Walney Island in Cumbria on Friday 17 September.

Developed by Cranfield University, BAE Systems, and nine other UK universities, DEMON is designed to be able to forgo the use of conventional mechanical elevators and ailerons which usually control the movement of an aircraft in favour of novel aerodynamic control devices using blown jets of air.

Such an approach offers several advantages over 'moving flap' technology which has been used since the early days of aviation, in that it means fewer moving parts, less maintenance, and a more stealthy profile for the aircraft. DEMON's trial flights were the first 'flapless flights' ever to be authorised by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

DEMON successfully demonstrated flapless flight when, for a planned portion of a test-flight, the conventional flap control system was turned off and the aircraft flew and manoeuvred using the new technology. BAE Systems is already recognised as a leader in the field of intelligent autonomy for unmanned aircraft. It promoted the development of the £6.2m FLAVIIR (Flapless Air Vehicle Integrated Industrial Research) programme which led to the DEMON demonstrator after laying down a 'Grand Challenge' to UK universities five years ago.

Richard Williams, BAE Systems programme director for Future Capability, said: "What the FLAVIIR Team have achieved in such a short time is nothing short of remarkable. I was in Cumbria to watch DEMON fly and I feel sure I have witnessed a significant moment in aviation history." He added: "What makes it even more poignant is that this is the result of British brains collaborating to produce world-leading technology. It, and other initiatives like it, will help ensure we maintain both a level of sovereign capability and a competitive edge."

Professor John Fielding, chief engineer and lead for the DEMON demonstrator team from Cranfield University, said: "To make an aircraft fly and manoeuvre safely without the use of conventional control surfaces is an achievement in itself; to do that while at the same time bringing together new construction techniques and new control mechanisms could be said to be over-ambitious - but we have done it.

The DEMON UAV has been developed within a research programme but it is a representative, complex, high technology aircraft. Gaining approval from the CAA and flying it successfully has required great skill, dedication and patience by the team and they should be very proud of their achievement."

The flapless system, developed around a concept called fluidic flight control, was the result of collaborative work between Manchester and Cranfield universities together with BAE Systems' Advanced Technology Centre and was tested in wind tunnels and on models before the full-scale trials on DEMON took place.

While Demon itself is not expected to become a production aircraft, a number of the technologies it contains have and will continue to filter through to a range of other aviation platforms.

The programme to develop the aircraft and its technologies has been jointly funded by BAE Systems and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). As well as the successful demonstration of flapless flight technology, the programme also showcases new methods of UAV construction, new control systems, and more advanced integration of technologies.

The FLAVIIR programme will help inform the development of affordable and low-maintenance UAVs for the future and provides valuable information on the fluid dynamics of flight and the potential for low observability. As well as Cranfield University and BAE Systems, DEMON was developed in conjunction with the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine; Leicester; Liverpool, Manchester; Nottingham; Southampton; Swansea; Warwick and York universities.

DEMON Key Facts:
-- Weight: 200 lbs (90 kg);
-- Dimensions: approximately 8-foot (2.5m) wingspan
-- Flight speed 70 -150kts.

It was developed by BAE Systems and Cranfield University in the UK. It incorporates fluidic flight controls developed at Cranfield and Manchester Universities and flight control algorithms developed at Leicester University and Imperial College.

The DEMON is designed to fly with no conventional elevators or ailerons, getting its pitch and roll control from technologies which rely on blown air and so requires much fewer moving parts, therefore making it a lot easier to maintain and repair.

DEMON can fly parts of its mission by itself but, as it is currently an experimental vehicle, is not fully autonomous unlike, for example, BAE Systems' MANTIS.

The shape of the DEMON aircraft is referred to as a "blended wing-body" configuration.

Norway Stops Testing of Israeli Subs

The Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs (UD) will no longer allow a German shipyard to test submarines built for Israel in Norwegian harbours and coastal waters, NRK reports.

“Norway has the strictest regulations possible on the export of goods and services in the defence field. And this means that we do not export materials or services to countries where there is war, or threat of war,” says Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

The German shipyard Thyssenkrupp has since 1997 rented a former naval base near Kristiansand for the purpose of testing new-built submarines.

The testing of subs for the Israeli Nay will now have to be carried out somewhere else.

Indian Officers To Join USMC Exercise

India's decision to participate in upcoming exercises at the U.S. Marine Corps base at Okinawa, Japan, is a clear signal that New Delhi will not go out of its way to please Beijing, a defense analyst here said.

Analyst Nitin Mehta said the move also proves that India is taking seriously the prospect of a future threat from China.

About 14 senior Indian Army and Navy officers will take part in the Habu Nag exercise, which will begin by the end of the month and continue until mid-October.

More joint Indian-U.S. military exercises are planned in the future, including one in Alaska next month and a special forces exercise in India.

Exercise Habu Nag, held annually since 2006, is a bilateral tabletop exercise that focuses on operating skills based on exercise scenarios, to test the theoretical ability of Indian and U.S. forces to jointly respond to specific situations.

Last year, when the exercise took place at another U.S. base closer to China, India opted not to participate.

The joint exercise coincides with Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony's Sept. 26-27 visit to Washington.

S. Korea, Russia Seek Air Force Hotline

The top commanders of the South Korean and Russian militaries agreed to establish a hotline between their air forces to boost bilateral ties, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) here said Sept. 27.

Nikolai Makarov, chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, arrived in Seoul a day earlier for a three-day visit. The Russia military chief held talks with South Korean JCS Chairman Gen. Han Min-koo to discuss ways of improving bilateral cooperation, the JCS said in a statement.

"The visit by Makarov is expected to help foster a friendly relationship between the two countries' armed forces and upgrade the relationship to a strategic partnership on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Seoul and Moscow," the statement said.

Among the key topics are the establishment of an Air Force hotline, goodwill exchanges of military personnel, warships and aircraft, and the holding of joint search-and-rescue exercises on a regular basis, said JCS public affairs officer Lt. Col. Won Young-sup.

Russia's integrated logistics support for Russian weapon systems operated by the South Korean military was also an agenda item, he said.

"The two sides shared the need to set up an Air Force hotline at an early date," Won said. "Details will be discussed by working-level officials from the two countries."

Currently, the navies from the two countries operate a naval hotline.

During the meeting with Han, Makarov expressed his condolences to the victims of the sinking of the Cheonan on March 26 in the western waters of the Korean Peninsula, JCS officials said.

The Russian general, however, gave no indication whether Moscow would make public the results of its own investigation of the ship sinking, they said.

In May, a Seoul-led multinational team of investigators determined that the Cheonan corvette was sunk by a torpedo fired from a North Korea submarine. North Korea has denied any involvement in the naval disaster that killed 46 sailors.

In June, Russia sent a team of investigators for an independent probe into the sinking.

Makarov is scheduled to pay a courtesy call on South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and pay his respects at the national cemetery in Seoul.

U.S. Ratifies Defense Pact With Britain, Australia

The U.S. Senate has ratified defense trade treaties with Britain and Australia, accords designed to streamline cooperation by eliminating most export licenses, a top lawmaker said Sept. 30.

The Senate signed off on the agreements late Sept. 29, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said in a statement.

Britain and Australia are "vital partners" in U.S. foreign policy and "by eliminating unnecessary red tape, the treaties will allow our countries to work even more closely together," Kerry said.

Washington rarely restricts defense trade with those two allies, but U.S. regulators still needed to sign off on sales, creating a hurdle that military said held up business and policymakers said slowed cooperation.

The treaties had languished in the U.S. Senate since they were signed in 2007 under former president George W. Bush, who inked the one with Australia with then Prime Minister John Howard during a visit to Sydney.

U.S. lawmakers approved companion legislation aimed at easing worries that the language was not sufficiently clear to protect U.S. high-tech secrets.

The new laws "will ensure that United States law enforcement officials will have the tools they need to catch and prosecute anyone" who abuses the treaty regimes, Kerry's office said.

The Obama administration has launched a review of export controls on weapons, saying they are badly in need of simplification.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates complained in April that U.S. rules were so byzantine that they undermined alliances, while doing little to prevent sensitive technology from falling into the hands of determined foes.

Pakistan Halts NATO Supplies to Afghanistan

Pakistan shut down the main land route for NATO supplies into Afghanistan on Sept. 30, accusing the alliance's helicopters of killing Pakistani soldiers in a fourth cross-border attack this week.

NATO said aircraft entered Pakistani airspace earlier in the day in self-defense and killed "several armed individuals" after the crews believed they had been fired at from the ground.

The Pakistani government said it was investigating the incident in the Kurram district of Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt, which Washington has branded an al-Qaida headquarters and hub of militants fighting in Afghanistan.

The region is being targeted by a record number of U.S. drone strikes and was reportedly where al-Qaida hatched a plot to attack cities in Britain, France and Germany uncovered by Western intelligence agencies.

"We have suspended NATO supply trucks for the time being due to security reasons," an official in Pakistan's Frontier Corps paramilitary unit told AFP in the northwestern city of Peshawar on condition of anonymity.

Officials at the Torkham border crossing in Pakistan's Khyber district and a U.S. diplomat confirmed that NATO convoys were not being allowed to cross.

Khyber is on the main NATO supply route into Afghanistan, where more than 152,000 U.S. and NATO forces are fighting a nine-year Taliban insurgency.

The Pakistani military said two helicopters from Afghanistan crossed the border and fired on a Frontier Corps (FC) outpost, about 200 meters (650 feet) inside Pakistan.

Six soldiers manning the post "retaliated through rifle fire to indicate that the helicopters were crossing into our territory," it said.

"Instead of heeding to the warning, helicopters went to fire two missiles, destroying the post. As a result, three FC soldiers have embraced shahadat (martyrdom) and three have been injured."

But NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement: "The aircraft received what the crews assessed as effective small arms fire from individuals just across the border in Pakistan."

They then responded in self-defense, NATO said.

Pakistan condemned all cross-border air strikes by NATO helicopters pursuing militants into its territory as a violation of sovereignty.

"U.S. and ISAF forces should share credible and actionable information with Pakistan's forces enabling them to take the required action against the possible threat," said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Although Pakistan is a key U.S. ally, its powerful military has been accused in the West of playing a double game by supporting Afghan Taliban.

Washington considers Pakistan's border areas with Afghanistan the most dangerous place on Earth and has this month significantly stepped up a covert drone war on Taliban and al-Qieda-linked militants holed up in the area.

More than 20 such strikes have been recorded in September, including one last Saturday believed to have killed Sheikh Fateh, the purported al-Qaida operations chief for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan said that visiting CIA chief Leon Panetta promised to respect its sovereignty and examine reports of NATO helicopter raids.

Owais Ahmed Ghani, governor of the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, condemned the attack as a "blatant act of aggression" and called on Pakistan to review the conduct of the war on militancy.

It was the fourth such attack or cross-border fire reported in a week.

The U.S. presence in Afghanistan and U.S. drone strikes in the tribal belt are the subject of fierce criticism and suspicion in Pakistan.

The Pentagon said Sept. 30 the recent strikes were marked by "communication breakdowns" as officers were not able to contact their Pakistani counterparts about the operation until afterwards.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vizag to build torpedoes

The minister of state for defence, Dr M. Pallam Raju, on Monday laid the foundation stone for the new Bharat Dynamics Limited production facility for manufacture of underwater weapon systems in Visakhapatnam.

Talking to mediapersons at the site in Autonagar, he observed that BDL and DRDO were playing a crucial role in the development of India’s weapons capability.

“BDL is playing a key role in harnessing our capabilities to deter threats from outside,” he said.

Answering questions about the Chinese build up near Kashmir, Mr Raju made it clear that India was manning its borders well.

The Navy, Coast Guard and the marine police have been empowered to protect India’s coastline keeping in view the danger posed by terrorism, he said.

Regarding the setting up of the base near Rambilli, the minister said that the modalities were being worked out and it would soon become a reality.

The minister congratulated the BDL for the growth it had achieved in the last few years. He said he sincerely hoped that they would cross the `1,000 crore mark by next year and advance to become a full-fledged Navaratna in the years to come. He added that that the services of ancillary and subsidiary units would be necessary to meet the requirements of BDL.

The major general (retd), Mr Ravi Khetarpal, chairman and MD of BDL, observed that the company specialised in manufacturing anti-tank guided missiles, surface to air missiles and torpedoes.

Eurocopter Unveils X-3 High-Speed Demonstrator

Eurocopter has begun test flights of the X3 demonstrator for its innovative High-speed, long-range Hybrid Helicopter (H3) concept, which combines excellent vertical takeoff and landing capabilities with fast cruise speeds of more than 220 kts.

The X3 demonstrator is equipped with two turboshaft engines that power a five-blade main rotor system and two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings. This creates an advanced transportation system offering the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft and the full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter. The concept is tailored to applications where operational costs, flight duration and mission success depend directly on the maximum cruising speed.

A wide range of utilizations are envisaged for the H3 configuration, including long-distance search and rescue (SAR) missions, coast guard duties, border patrol missions, passenger transport and inter-city shuttle services. It also may be well-suited for military missions in special forces operations, troop transport, combat SAR and medical evacuation – benefitting from the hybrid aircraft’s combination of higher cruise speeds with excellent vertical takeoff/landing performance.

“Innovation is at the core of Eurocopter’s strategy to continue its leadership in the global helicopter sector, and the X3 demonstrator represents a key element of our innovation roadmap,” said Lutz Bertling, Eurocopter’s President & CEO. “The teams at Eurocopter took this hybrid helicopter from concept to first flight in less than three years, which demonstrates their skills, capabilities and dedication to defining the future of rotary-wing aircraft.”

The X3 demonstrator’s first flight occurred September 6 in southern France at the Istres Center of “DGA Flight Testing”, which is operated by the French DGA government agency and ensures a secure and controlled environment. Initial testing will continue through December with reduced power, progressively opening the flight envelope to speeds of approximately 180 kts. After a three-month upgrade, X3 flights will resume in March 2011 with the goal of reaching sustained cruise speeds in excess of 220 kts.

Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace, defence and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approx. 15,600 people. In 2009, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in the civil and parapublic market, with a turnover of 4.6 billion Euros, orders for 344 new helicopters, and a 52 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors.

Austal Starts Building First US Navy JHSV Ship

Fabrication of the future USNS Vigilant (JHSV 2), the first joint high speed vessel (JHSV) to be operated by the Navy, began Sept. 13 at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.

The JHSV will be used for fast intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment. The Navy's Strategic and Theater Sealift Program (PMS 385) in the Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships is procuring the vessels for both the Army and the Navy.

Vigilant is the second vessel in the class. The first, the future U.S. Army vessel USAV Spearhead (JHSV 1), is scheduled for delivery to the Army in 2012.

"I am proud to see construction begin for the first Navy JHSV," said Capt. George M. Sutton, PMS 385 program manager. "The implementation of proven commercial technology will help us deliver better value to the taxpayer, producing a top-quality ship delivered on time and within budget."

The JHSV program merges the previous Army theater support vessel and the Navy high speed connector to decrease costs by taking advantage of the inherent commonality between the existing programs. Significant production and financial risk has been avoided by implementing proven technology, ensuring stable requirements, minimizing change and through the ruthless pursuit of cost reduction and efficiency.

"Our drive for affordability and efficiency are the cornerstones of the JHSV program," said Sutton.

PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and is currently managing the design and construction of 10 major surface ships classes and small boats and craft.

The PEO is committed to ensuring that prior to the start of ship construction, each program completes an exhaustive production readiness review to demonstrate the design is mature and the requirements are well understood. Fully maturing the design prior to the start of construction is one of a number of initiatives the PEO is undertaking to reduce costs in shipbuilding.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Norway Orders Cassidian Missile Launch Detectors

Cassidian, the recently renamed defence and security pillar of EADS, will protect the F-16 fighter aircraft of the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RnoAF) against missile attacks. Cassidian Electronics has received a multi-million euro contract from RNoAF to deliver more than 100 AN/AAR-60 (V) 2 MILDS F sensors (MILDS F = Missile Launch Detection System, Fighter). Deliveries will commence in June 2011. During the project execution phase close contact to local authorities is supported by Oslo-based EADS Norway.

“MILDS F with its very low false alarm rate and fast detection combined with automatic initiation of countermeasures relieves the pilot’s workload in time-critical situations and ensures the safe return of both crew and aircraft”, explains Bernd Wenzler, CEO of Cassidian Electronics

MILDS F is a passive, imaging sensor detecting the UV radiation signature of approaching missiles. The extremely high resolution combined with rapid processing enables very reliable threat identification and virtually eliminates false alarms. Several sensors linked to a Countermeasure Signal Processor provide full spherical coverage and rapid reaction. The system allows flexible installation in either pylons, pods or in the fuselage of fighter aircraft. MILDS F considerably enhances the protection against anti aircraft missiles such as shoulder-fired infrared-guided missiles, which cannot be detected by current warning systems.

MILDS F is currently under implementation into operational use onboard the Royal Danish Air Force F-16A/B Block 15. Here, six MILDS F sensors (3 on each wing) and one processor are integrated into TERMA A/S’ Pylon Integrated Dispenser System (PIDS+) and Electronic Combat Integrated Pylon System (ECIPS+) and linked to the AN/ALQ-213 EW Management System.

MILDS F is based on the MILDS (Missile Launch Detection System) sensor proven in service aboard a huge variety of rotary wing and wide body aircraft, including Tiger, NH90, CH-53, CH-47 and C-130 and is especially designed to operate in the harsh fighter aircraft environment. MILDS F is also ideally suited for installation on other fighter aircraft like Tornado, Eurofighter or Gripen.

Cassidian, an EADS company, is a worldwide leader in global security solutions and systems, providing lead system integration and value-added products and services to civil and military customers around the globe: air systems (aircraft and unmanned aerial systems), land & naval and joint systems, intelligence and surveillance, cybersecurity, secure communications, test systems, missiles, services and support solutions. In 2009, Cassidian – with around 21,000 employees – achieved revenues of EUR 5.4 billion. EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2009, EADS generated revenues of EUR 42.8 billion and employed a workforce of about 119,000.

UK's New Protected Patrol Vehicle

Plans to provide troops in Afghanistan with a new generation of Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) have passed an important milestone, the MOD announced today.

Force Protection Europe has been selected as the preferred bidder, meaning contract negotiations will now begin to provide an initial order of LPPVs through the Urgent Operational Requirements (UOR) process. The first vehicles are expected to be available to troops for training in 2011. The total number will be subject to negotiation and announced in due course.

The LPPV has been designed to provide unprecedented levels of blast protection for a vehicle of its size, and will be able to carry a crew of up to six people. It will add to the wide array of protected vehicles already being used on operations in Afghanistan, including Mastiff and Ridgeback.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Peter Luff, said:

“Small, agile but highly protected, the LPPV is at the forefront of technology. It will offer troops unprecedented levels of blast protection for such a light vehicle, enabling them to carry out a wide range of tasks, whilst moving with ease through narrow alleyways or crossing bridges.

“It will be a valuable addition to the vehicles already available to Commanders in Afghanistan, and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to providing our troops with the very best equipment on the front line. I’m delighted to announce that negotiations can now begin to get these vehicles out to theatre as soon as possible.”

Chief of Defence Materiel, General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue, said:

“A great deal of work has been done to get the programme to this stage. When it comes to vehicle technology, it is clear from this competition that British engineering is leading the way. Both proposed solutions reflect the significant progress made in the development of a new generation of small yet highly protected vehicles. The LPPV will offer huge benefit to troops in Afghanistan, as well as being a valuable asset to the Armed Forces in the future.”

Force Protection Europe has confirmed that, subject to the satisfactory completion of contractual negotiations with MOD, all of the vehicles will be built and supported in the UK. It is estimated that around 750 jobs will be created or sustained in the UK as a result of this programme.

DCNS Wins Sub Contract With Pakistan

French naval company DCNS won a contract this summer to supply two Subtics combat management systems for Pakistan's Agosta 70 diesel-electric submarine fleet, industry executives said.

DCNS signed in June a contract for modernization of Agosta 70 boats, described as "very old subs," for an Asian country, Alain Cursat, DCNS marketing manager for submarine combat systems, told journalists. Cursat declined to identify the country. But other industry sources said Pakistan was the customer. One industry executive said the prospect of selling new submarines to Pakistan had gone cold as the Navy was modernizing its existing Agosta fleet, while a second executive said Pakistan was the only operator of the Agosta boat in the region.

Pakistan bought two Agosta diesel-electric submarine, built by DCNS, in 1978 and had been looking to add to its fleet with more modern boats.

DCNS had pitched the Marlin, a submarine derived from the Scorpene boat co-developed with Spain, but the Pakistan Navy favored the rival U214 boat from German archrival Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW). The Pakistan Navy has not signed with HDW.

DCNS is expecting other contract wins for the Subtics system, notably among the fleet of U209 boats operated by South American navies, as operators look to implement a midlife upgrade of their conventional (SSK) submarines, Cursat said.

DCNS expects to capture about 10 more modernization contracts for its Subtics system over the next 10 years, he said.

A sale to Pakistan of new submarine technology is a sensitive issue as DCNS sold six Scorpene submarines to India for $3.9 billion in 2005. The boats are being built locally by Mazagon Docks but the program has fallen behind because of technical problems.

Subtics stands for submarine tactical integrated combat system. The system, which integrates sensors and weapons, can be retrofitted on boats of different manufacture, including Russian build, Cursat said.

DCNS last year signed a deal for the supply of four Scorpene type submarines to Brazil, and is helping the Brazilian Navy to design and build the non-nuclear parts of a nuclear powered submarine. The Brazilian submarine deal, including construction of a shipyard and naval base with the local joint venture partner Oderbrecht, is worth 6.7 billion euros, of which four billion goes to DCNS.

Germany's ThyssenKrupp Pulls Out Of Iran

ThyssenKrupp became on Sept. 23 Germany's latest corporate giant to announce it was pulling out of Iran as part of Western pressure on the Islamic republic over its nuclear program.

Germany's largest steelmaker said it would not enter into any new contracts with Iranian customers, with immediate effect, going beyond existing international sanctions focused primarily on Iran's oil and gas sector.

"By halting business with Iran we are supporting the sanctions policies of Germany, the European Union and the United States," ThyssenKrupp said.

"Existing Group interests in Iran are to be terminated as quickly as possible.

A spokesman for ThyssenKrupp said that the amount of business it did in Iran was "marginal", representing less than 200 million euros ($265 million), or 0.5 percent of annual turnover.

Germany was until recently the world's biggest exporter, selling 3.7 billion euros worth of goods to Iran alone in 2009. But it has come under pressure for its commercial ties as one of the six powers negotiating with Iran.

At the beginning of the year engineering giant Siemens and insurers Munich Re and Allianz said they were pulling out. Industrial gases firm Linde followed suit earlier this month.

The German government has also reduced to a trickle special export guarantees crucial to firms trading with Iran.

Iran says its nuclear program is aimed solely at producing electricity but the international community suspects that Washington's and Israel's arch enemy wants to arm itself with atomic weapons.

Tehran has signaled a new willingness to engage the international community over its nuclear program. But so far it has failed to meet the terms for talks, and its defiance triggered new U.N. Security Council sanctions in June.

Russia Military Cooperation With Iran To Continue

Russia joining the ban on supplying arms such as missile systems and military aircraft to Iran will not mean a complete halt on military and technical cooperation between Moscow and the country, Russia's deputy foreign minister said Sept. 23.

President Dmitry Medvedev on Sept. 22 signed a decree banning supplies of any tanks, fighter jets, helicopters, ships and missile systems.

"We did not add anything to the list, but on every point there we will have no further military cooperation with Iran. However, there are other forms (of military cooperation still allowed)," Sergey Ryabkov was quoted by RIA Novosti as telling Russian reporters in New York.

Russia's support of the sanctions against Tehran and its failure to deliver air defense missiles has left Iranian leaders fuming over what they see as betrayal by a trusted ally.

Iran has over the past months been announcing steady advances in its nuclear program, in defiance of international calls for it to freeze its sensitive uranium enrichment operations.

Russia's tougher line on Iran has coincided with a warming of its relations with the United States. Washington has repeatedly praised Moscow for its support in the nuclear crisis.

Indian Delegation in Arms Talks With Washington

Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony has begun talks with U.S. officials in Washington to win approval to purchase unspecified numbers of weapons and equipment that could be inked during President Barack Obama's visit to New Delhi in November, said Indian Defence Ministry sources.

Antony arrived in Washington on Sept. 26 heading what a senior Indian Defence Ministry official called a "high-powered delegation" to hold talks with U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser James Jones. The delegation includes Indian Permanent Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and the defense minister's adviser, Sundaram Krishna.

The Defence Ministry official said that while New Delhi is concerned over U.S. arms sales to Pakistan and the continuation of U.S. export controls against several Indian entities, New Delhi wants to increase defense ties with Washington.

Indian Defence Ministry sources said the weapons under discussion will include anti-ballistic missile systems and the sale of C-17 transport aircraft.

India plans to procure the David's Sling and Iron Dome missile defense systems. David's Sling is a joint effort between Rafael of Israel and Raytheon of the United States. New Delhi, which has already discussed the program with Israel, also needs to gets clearance from Washington because it is a joint Israel-U.S. program.

The Indian military wants David's Sling and Iron Dome to protect against cruise missiles. The Indian Air Force favors David's Sling because it is an effective hit-to-kill interceptor against short-range ballistic missiles, rockets and cruise missiles.

Iraqis Take First Ship In New Patrol Boat Fleet

Iraq inaugurated the first in a fleet of U.S.-built patrol boats on Sept. 26, part of efforts to boost its naval capacity and secure key oil platforms ahead of an American pullout next year.

In a ceremony at Umm Qasr Naval Base, about 310 miles south of Baghdad, sailors demonstrated the capabilities of the boat - named "PB 301" - by showing it chase down smaller vessels.

A six-piece military band played as the boat was unveiled at a ceremony attended by Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Obeidi and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, the top American commander responsible for training Iraq's security forces.

"I am proud to be among the first to witness the historical arrival and commissioning of Iraq's first patrol boat," said U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, the commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command, which is primarily tasked with building and supporting the U.S. Navy's fleet.

"This occasion reflects the important ties that bound our governments and our commitment to supporting a strong coalition partnership that is based on mutual respect and cooperation."

Also as part of the ceremony, Iraqi Navy SEALs showed off "stop and search" skills aboard a demonstration vessel, and 177 naval cadets graduated from officer training to become lieutenants.

Crews for the new high-speed patrol boats are currently being trained in the United States, with 15 ultimately set to be delivered to Iraq.

Three are set to arrive in December, with the remaining 11 due for delivery next year.

The Iraqi Navy, re-established two years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, now has 47 vessels, according to a U.S. Army spokeswoman.

It currently handles on-site and perimeter defense for the Khor al-Amiya oil terminal, and on-site defense for the Al-Basra oil terminal, which are six miles apart and 60 miles off the port of Umm Qasr, sandwiched between Iranian and Kuwaiti waters.

About 80 percent of Iraq's oil exports pass through the two terminals, with three more set to be added by the end of next year as the country seeks to ramp up oil exports by as much as five times.

By that time, when U.S. forces will have had to withdraw completely from the country under the terms of a bilateral security pact, Iraq will be solely responsible for all security at oil facilities, including platforms.

U.S. officers are confident their Iraqi comrades are up to the task.

"The Iraqi Navy will be fully capable to defend the oil platforms, the territorial waters and the ports," Barbero said in an interview this month.

The old Iraqi navy was destroyed in the 1991 Gulf War and again in the 2003 invasion.

The United States pulled out combat troops from Iraq at the start of this month, and will complete a full withdrawal at the end of 2011.

China Hints Missiles Targeting Taiwan Could Be Cut

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has suggested that mainland missiles pointing at Taiwan could one day be removed, Taipei-based media reported Sept. 24.

"I believe the issue you mention will eventually be realized," Wen said according to the United Daily News and other newspapers, when asked about withdrawing Chinese missiles targeting Taiwan.

Taiwanese experts estimate that the Chinese military has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island.

But recent reports in the island's media have said the People's Liberation Army may boost the number of short-range ballistic and cruise missiles facing Taiwan to 1,960 before the year's end.

Wen was also quoted by the United Daily News as saying China and Taiwan had reached a consensus on how to approach their delicate relationship, addressing relatively easy issues such as economic matters first.

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing views the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

The Pentagon said in an annual report to Congress in August that China's military build-up against Taiwan has "continued unabated" despite improving political relations.

China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence.

However, tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office on a Beijing-friendly platform in 2008.

N. Korea to Conduct Large-Scale Military Parade

North Korea is preparing its largest ever military parade involving thousands of soldiers, tanks and missile launchers as the country gears up for this week's major political meeting, according to a Sept. 26 report.

About 10,000 soldiers have been deployed to Mirim air base near Pyongyang since July to practice parades for a "large-scale national ceremony," Yonhap news agency said, citing several unnamed sources in communist North Korea.

"The weapons deployed for the parade include military cars equipped with mobile short- and mid-range missile launchers, as well as multiple-rocket launchers, self-propelled artillery and tanks," according to a source quoted by Yonhap.

And considering the scale of preparations, the event will likely be the country's "largest ever" military ceremony, said another source quoted by Yonhap.

South Korea's defense ministry said last month it had detected a "massive" deployment of North Korean troops, including a large number of soldiers, armored vehicles and artillery, near the capital.

The North, with 1.2 million standing troops, has often celebrated major political anniversaries with massive military displays featuring thousands of goose-stepping troops and dozens of missiles and other weapons.

Pyongyang this week opens its biggest political meeting for 30 years, apparently paving the way for a power transfer from Kim Jong-Il to his youngest son, Kim Jong-Un.

The Workers' Party conference, scheduled to begin Sept. 28, was delayed from early September for reasons which - like much else - remain a mystery to the outside world.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Russia could make aerial drones without Israeli help claims company

Russia does not need Israeli assistance to make progress in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), including military drones, the head of a Russian UAV production company said on Thursday.

A senior Israeli defense source quoted in Flight International said earlier that Israel may tear up much of the unprecedented military cooperation deal it signed with Russia at the start of this month due to anger over Moscow's decision to supply Yakhont naval missiles to Syria.
"In the next two or three years, there will be a breakthrough in the Russian UAV market regardless of the Israeli position on this issue," Vladimir Verba, the director general of the Vega company.

Verba said his company had developed a comprehensive UAV development program until 2025, which had been approved by the majority of its customers, including the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Interior Ministry.

He also said Vega had been developing strike and reconnaissance drones for the Russian military in cooperation with Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).

The Russian military stressed the need to provide the Armed Forces with advanced reconnaissance systems in the wake of a brief military conflict with Georgia in August 2008, when the effectiveness of Russian military operations was severely hampered by the lack of reliable intelligence.

According to various estimates, the Russian military needs up to 100 UAVs and at least 10 guidance and control systems to ensure effective battlefield reconnaissance.
The Russian Defense Ministry has previously expressed dissatisfaction with locally manufactured UAVs, and decided to buy them from Israel.

According to the ministry, some 50 Russian military servicemen are undergoing training in the use of Israeli-built UAVs and that a total of twelve have been bought.

Russia has reportedly signed two UAV contracts with Israel. Under the first contract, signed in April 2009, Israel delivered two Bird Eye 400 systems (worth $4 million), eight I View MK150 tactical UAVs ($37 million) and two Searcher Mk II multi-mission UAVs ($12 million).
The second contract was for the purchase of 36 UAVs, worth a total of $100 million, to be delivered later this year.

Russia and Israel have also been negotiating the establishment of a joint $300-million venture to produce UAVs.

Israel threatens to scrap UAV deal with Russia over Syria arms sale

Israel may tear up much of the unprecedented military cooperation deal it signed with Moscow at the start of this month due to anger over Moscow's rigid stance on supplying naval missiles to Israel's enemy Syria.

"We will have to reconsider all proposed deals with Russia. Moscow did not show the necessary understanding of our requests," a senior Israeli defense source quoted on aviation business magazine Flight International's website said on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Moscow confirmed it would supply P-800 Yakhont supersonic naval cruise missiles to Syria, despite vociferous Israeli objections to the deal which was signed in 2007.
The first victim of the fallout could be Russia and Israel's planned $300 million deal to set up an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) manufacturing facility in Russia.

Russia has spent around $50 million on Israeli-built UAVs this year to train operators and develop tactics for using modern systems.

It has also expressed interest in buying more Israeli UAV systems, including the IAI Heron.
The Russian forces have previously expressed dissatisfaction with locally manufactured UAVs.

BAE Systems offers Carriers to India

BAE Systems, the world’s third-richest arms corporation, called media person for a four-day media tour to the UK. What surprised them was not the invitation. The rate at which India is buying up foreign weaponry, global arms merchants, eager for publicity, would happily pay for our small defence journalist community to globetrot through the year. What was remarkable in the BAE invitation was the company’s proposal to fly us to Glasgow for the launch of a new Royal Navy destroyer and a tour of other warships. They wondered, why was British shipbuilding being showcased to India in the absence of a plan to buy a warship from the UK?

A cash-strapped UK defence ministry, unable to pay for the two aircraft carriers on order with BAE Systems, had offered one of them to New Delhi. In the circumstances, a few news reports in India on “high-quality British shipbuilding” could only be useful.

Given that the Indian Navy already has four aircraft carriers in the pipeline — the lame but functional INS Viraat; the infamous Gorshkov (renamed INS Vikramaditya), being constructed in Russia; a third (so far unnamed) carrier being built in Cochin Shipyard; and another to follow that — Britain’s offer of yet another carrier might be considered wildly optimistic. But desperate times demand desperate measures and the UK is conducting its greatest strategic downsizing since the 1968 retreat from the Suez. David Cameron’s new government has initiated a strategic defence and security review (SDSR), which involves defence spending cuts of 20-30 per cent to bring down military expenditure to below 2 per cent of GDP.

Amongst the several multi-billion pound programmes that seem certain to be pared is the Carrier Vessels Future (CVF) programme: the £5 billion ($8 billion) construction, mainly in British shipyards, of two 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers called the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales. These were ordered before the global economic downturn; the Labour government thought they were essential for the Royal Navy to retain its centuries-old capability to project power across the globe. Even amidst today’s cost-cutting, current defence secretary Liam Fox had hoped to build both carriers, operating only one with the other kept in reserve. But just days ago, BAE boss Ian King revealed that the government had asked BAE Systems to evaluate the cost of cancelling the CVF programme entirely.

With £1.2 billion ($1.8 billion) already spent on the CVF, and 4,000 skilled workers busy fabricating the Queen Elizabeth, London knows that an outright cancellation would ruin Britain’s shipbuilding industry. And so, one of the aircraft carriers hopes to wash up on India’s shores.

The government of India must quickly decline the British offer. London could be forgiven for concluding from the fact that four Indian warships are on order from Russian shipyards, and the Indian Navy wants to build more abroad, that Indian shipyards cannot meet the country’s maritime security needs. The truth, however, is that India looks abroad for warships because of the MoD’s inability to streamline planning, sanctions and procedures, and to bring together the skills of the multiple agencies that contribute towards developing and building a warship.

Consider our production facilities. The MoD owns and controls four defence shipyards: Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai (MDL); Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata (GRSE); Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL); and the recently (and misguidedly) acquired Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Visakhapatnam (HSL). Then there is Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL), a central PSU, which is building an aircraft carrier for the MoD since none of the MoD shipyards has facilities large enough for this. And, very recently, there is the emergence of state-of-the-art private sector shipyards — L&T, Pipavav and ABG Shipyards — with global-quality facilities.

Also in the production loop is the Directorate General of Naval Design (DGND), which has achieved notable success in the conceptual design of the Indian Navy’s recent warships. Each shipyard, too, has its own design department, which translates the DGND’s conceptual design into engineering drawings of the thousands of components that make up a ship. Then there are Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratories, which produce high-technology systems like sonars, radars, torpedoes etc., many of which money cannot buy. The existence of these technology labs is a key attribute of a warship-building country.

Finally, there are the educational institutions that feed into, and off, these agencies: the departments of naval architecture in IITs and universities; research departments in colleges and universities that feed into DRDO laboratories and assist them by taking on research projects.

India has, in varying degrees, every component of this ecosystem. The MoD must bring them together, compensating for one component’s weaknesses by harnessing another’s strengths. Instead, South Block’s proclivity to view each entity individually creates the impression of a shortfall of capacity.

Consider how the MoD is processing India’s second submarine line, allowing two of the six submarines to be built abroad although massive capacities will lie unutilised in L&T and Pipavav (Business Standard has carried a four-article series on this from August 30 to September 2). Here is the MoD’s logic: Pipavav has the facilities but not the experience; L&T has the experience, but not the facilities; MDL has both, but it doesn’t have the capacity!

Astonishingly, South Block considers it preferable to buy submarines from a foreign shipyard, rather than bringing together Indian capabilities that could produce them far cheaper, create jobs and build capacities. The MoD must be stopped from building abroad. India needs a significant navy but it can only afford to build up quickly if the MoD brings together the warship-building eco-system. Indian money must build Indian capabilities, not pay for British shipbuilding industry to survive.

Honeywell Develops New Engine for Indian Air Force Jaguar Fighters

Honeywell's aerospace division is exploring opportunities for forging partnerships with Indian companies that are keen to address the demand for offsets in defence deals, said Pritam Bhavnani, President of Honeywell's Aerospace Division in India, on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters here, Mr. Bhavnani said, Honeywell had developed a new engine for the Jaguar aircraft. "We have provided the new engine to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and the Indian Air Force," he said.

About Honeywell's sourcing agreement with HAL for engines for turbo prop aircraft, Mr. Bhavnani said the first phase of the project was almost over. In the second phase HAL is to supply 400 additional parts. The third phase is likely to be completed in 2011, he said.

The sourcing agreement between the two companies requires HAL to supply Honeywell 600 aircraft engines over a 10-15-year period, Mr. Bhavnani said. Referring to the role played by Honeywell's facilities in Bangalore, Mr. Bhavnani said employees here had contributed to the development of the smart runaway landing and smart landing system.

He said the newly developed system would help aircraft pilots have "better situational awareness, especially in adverse weather conditions." He said Emirates airline and Alaska Airlines, among others, had shown interest in procuring the new system.

Honeywell employs 11,000 persons in India, constituting 8 per cent of its global workforce.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Delivery of the First SAMP-T

On Monday, September 20, 2010, the air defense artillery squadron (EDSA) of Luxeuil Air Base took delivery of the first section of the Mamba medium range surface-to-air missile, also known as the Sol-Air Moyenne Portée Terrestre (SAMP-T).

A ceremony chaired by General Hugues Hendel, commander of the Air Force, will mark this unique event which was eagerly awaited by airmen of the EDSA squadron. They were trained on the SAMP-T in 2009, at the training center for air defense artillery (CFDSA) on Avord air force base, and thus will be the first to operate this new medium-range air defense system, considered as the most powerful in its class.

SAMP-T is designed to protect a point or an area against all threats, including tactical ballistic missiles within a radius of several tens of kilometers. It is capable of firing in bursts and can simultaneously manage up to engagements.

Developed jointly by France and Italy through the Eurosam joint venture company, the system achieved its first firing test in July 2008 on the Biscarosse (Landes) firing range.

This delivery is the first concrete step in the reorganization and modernization of France’s air-defense forces, decided by the Chief of Defence Staff in 2006.

Medium- and short-range air-defence weapon systems of are now operated by the Air Force systems, while very short-range systems are operated by the Army.

The arrival of the SAMP-T Mamba coincides with the transfer of tripod-mounted Mistral to the Army, and the decommissioning of Aspic end first-generation Crotale missiles.

Ultimately, ten sections of SAMP-T missiles will gradually re-equip the air force’s five air-defence squadrons, based at Mont-de-Marsan, Saint-Dizier, Avord, Istres and Luxeuil.

The U.S. Army Showcases Its UH-72A Lakota to the World

The UH-72A Lakota was the center of attention at an unveiling ceremony held earlier this month in Germany, offering military officials from around the world a first-hand look at the U.S. Army’s multi-mission Light Utility Helicopter.

The event – which attracted 23 delegates representing 17 countries – was held in accordance with the 1999 Vienna Document, which requires NATO members to host demonstrations when deploying new types of major weapon or equipment systems.

Eleven Lakotas currently are operating in Germany, seven of which are being used for field exercises where troops are taught to medically evacuate wounded personnel or call for gunships during firefights.

The other four UH-72As were deployed as part of a one-year rotation of the Washington, D.C. National Guard’s 121st Medical Air Ambulance Company. These Lakotas’ current area of operations covers Hohenfels, Germany – where the Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center is located – and Grafenwoehr, which is home to the Joint Multinational Training Center.

The unveiling ceremony included an aerial demonstration, a briefing on the Army’s plans for fielding the UH-72A and a question-and-answer session with crewmembers – who detailed how the helicopter’s advanced capabilities reduce their workload.

“With the autopilot system, if we want to just kind of orbit and fulfill our [training role], we can just put a couple points in and the aircraft will fly itself,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Harold Eggleston in a Stars and Stripes article.

“It is easier to access the patient on this aircraft,” added paramedic Corporal Roger Miller. “You don’t have to look for things all over the floor like you did in the [UH-1] Huey.” Unlike the Vietnam-era UH-1 – which the Lakota is replacing – there also is enough space to carry two patients.

The Light Utility Helicopter made its European debut in May, with five aircraft arriving for training and support operations at the JMRC. They will be joined by another five UH-72As that are scheduled for delivery in January 2011.

To date, the Army has received more than 110 UH-72As and has plans to acquire a total of 345 aircraft through 2016.

Russian Helicopters Offers the Light Multi-role Ansat on African Aviation Markets

The Russian industrial holding company Russian Helicopters, a part of the multi-profile industrial group UIC Oboronprom, offers the African aviation markets south of the Sahara, the new light multi-role Ansat.

This civil helicopter with an MTOW of 3.3 tons is manufactured by the Kazan Helicopters, JSC, a part of Russian Helicopters, and is designed for the transportation of 9 passengers (+1 crew member).

In various modifications the Ansat can be used by transport and cargo companies, medical and rescue services, and police and special forces. The cutting edge fly-by-wire system and two PW-207K engines by Pratt & Whitney Canada endow this helicopter with formidable performance characteristics.

Ease of piloting, flight safety, eco-friendliness, and high fuel efficiency are the main competitive point of the Ansat, and according to industry experts they make it stand out in the Russian Helicopters lineup as one of the most suitable helicopters for the African aviation market. Due to the interest of regional operator companies to this model, Russian Helicopters is set to promote a helicopter based on the Ansat to the African market.

A presentation of the Ansat and its capabilities was held at the international exhibition Africa Aerospace and Defence 2010 that kicked off in Cape Town in South Africa. The Ansat was demonstrated in flight, at the static display and on Stand 11-12 in Hall 11 as part of the joint Russian exposition of the State Corporation Russian Technologies (Rostekhnologii).

The medium Ka-62 with a MTOW of 6.5 tons was presented at the booth of UIC Oboronprom and Russian Helicopters. Besides that regional operators are offered a deep modernisation program of the most popular Russian made helicopters in Africa, such as the Mi-8/17 – to the new Mi-171M. The combat Mi-35M made by Rostvertol have also become a part of the general exposition of the Russian helicopter industry.

“African aviation markets have long been traditional for the Russian industry,” Russian Helicopters COO Andrei Shibitov said. “People know our products well, especially the tested Mi-8/17 machines that are used by international humanitarian organisations. But today we want to present our African partners a new model – the Ansat.”.

Mikhail Dubrovin, Marketing Director of Russian Helicopters, commented, that the joint realisation with African partners of the Ansat aftersale service concept in the region will help raise interest both from traditional operators of Russian rotorcraft in the region, and companies that are new with these models.

Today already Russian Helicopters is offering the Ansat and is ready for contracts for other Russian helicopters, including the light Mi-34C1, Ka-226T, the medium Ka-62 and the EASA-certified Ka-32A11BC, the new Mi-38, and the heavy transport Mi-26T.

Russian Helicopters is also paying a lot of attention to global aftersale service of Russian-made rotorcraft. In various regions of the world the holding and Helicopter Service Company, which is a part of it, are creating and certifying service centers and repair plants. As planned this work will finish with the creation of a global service network.

The existing MRO infrastructure coincides with the Russian Helicopters sales geography. For instance, Indian service centre within Integrated Helicopter Services Pvt. Ltd. is under way. The service center in Vietnam is already in operation. Several service and repair centers are undergoing certification in Europe for creating of the integrated logistics support system in that region. Russian Helicopters MRO centers exist in virtually all countries of the CIS. The joint venture International RotorCraft Services, FZC was set up in Sharjah (UAE) to cater for Russian-made helicopters’ after-sale support. In 2009—2010 such centers will be built in South-East Asia, Central and South Africa.

Russian Helicopters, JSC is an affiliated company of UIC Oboronprom. It is the managing body of the following helicopter industry enterprises: Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, Kamov, Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant, Kazan Helicopters, Rostvertol, Progress Arsenyev Aviation Company, Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise, Vpered Moscow Machine-Building Plant, Stupino Machine Production Plant, Reductor-PM, Helicopter Service Company (VSK), Novosibirsk Aircraft Repairing Plant and Helicopter Service Company, JSC.

UIC Oboronprom, JSC is a multi-profile industrial and investment group established in 2002. Its main tasks include helicopter engineering (Russian Helicopters managing company), engine-building (United Engine Industry Corporation managing company), air defense systems and complex electronic systems (Defense Systems holding company), and other activities.

UAE May Turn Away from Rafale as Interest is Expressed in Super Hornet

The United Arab Emirates has requested technical information on the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, indicating it wants competition in its search to replace its fleet of Mirage 2000-9 jets first purchased from French company Dassault in 1983. The UAE is considering a purchase of new aircraft worth about $10 billion.

This news is unlikely to be greeted with much enthusiasm in Paris, where French officials had hoped to lock down a sale of the Dassault Rafale combat aircraft to the UAE sans competition. France has failed to win an export contract for its new-generation Rafale and has pinned its hopes on several prospective markets, including Brazil, India, Kuwait and the UAE, with the latter deemed a likely candidate due to its familiarity with French aviation and traditional reliance upon French defense hardware.

The interest expressed in the Super Hornet by the UAE underlines the growing dominance of high-end U.S. defense exports to the oil-rich Gulf nations, a trend that threatens to crowd out French exports to a market considered crucial by Paris due to its ample oil wealth and military modernization needs. France has traditionally been a supplier to the UAE, selling everything from combat aircraft to helicopters to main battle tanks to the Gulf nation. Defense relations between the two countries have been close, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy making Gulf relations a priority for Paris and personally inaugurating a new French military base in Abu Dhabi on May 26, 2009.

The cause for the UAE's shift in attention solely from the Rafale to a U.S.-based option has led to speculation that UAE authorities are uneasy with the price and technology offered up by France. The opening granted to Boeing may be an attempt by the Emiratis to extract more from the French side than Paris previously was willing to grant.

The UAE is interested in a newer-generation model of the Rafale, an expense that the French side has asked Abu Dhabi to cover. UAE officials believe, on the other hand, that the Super Hornet offers an off-the-shelf option already equipped with the technologies it desires. French Defense Minister Herve Morin has stated that further developments of the Rafale - which would include a longer-range active electronically scanned radar (AESA), a more powerful engine, and a more capable Spectra electronic warfare suite - would cost the UAE about EUR2 billion ($2.6 billion), though France would be willing to bear some of the cost.

In the past, the UAE has been willing to invest in the development of a foreign-built aircraft, as it did with the Block 60 version of the Lockheed Martin F-16 (of which it now owns some of the technology). But considering its petro-wealth, price may not be the true factor in the UAE's consideration of a U.S.-built option. Politics, on the other hand, may be.

The U.S. is set to unveil a $60 billion military package to Saudi Arabia next week as it continues to help build up Gulf area defenses and improve its partners' military capabilities. The UAE is expected to get its own slice of the defense assistance pie in the near future after previously being green-lighted by the Pentagon in recent years for purchases of helicopters, Patriot PAC 3 air defense missiles, and the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Air Defense) anti-tactical ballistic missile system.

American export dominance in the high-end Gulf defense market is being locked down through blocks of government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to the region and should only tighten in the near future.

Nimitz Offloads More Than 1,200 Tons of Ordnance

USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Sailors conducted a two-day ammunition offload in preparation for the ship's upcoming docking planned incremental availability (DPIA), Sept. 14-15.

The ship transferred more than 1,200 tons of ordnance to the dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS W.J. Schirra (T-AKE 8). Four hundred forty eight lifts of ordnance were transferred by use of connected replenishment and 455 lifts by vertical replenishment over a two-day period.

"We conducted hundreds of hours of preparation on the ammo over the last two months to get ready for this," said Lt. Henry Fuentes, USS Nimitz ordnance handling officer. "This was a very challenging evolution, but our guys stepped up huge and not once did anyone complain."

The evolution required every division of the weapons department to assist bringing the ordnance up from the weapons magazines to all three hangar bays and the flight deck.

"This was an all hands evolution, no one was on the sideline," said Cmdr. Peter Donaher, USS Nimitz Weapons Department gun boss. "This only happens about once every year and a half, so our guys were really fired up. They were working 14-hour days to get all of it ready to go."

"It's all about camaraderie," said Lt. j.g. Carlos Chairez, Weapons Department G-4 divisional officer. "Everybody had a part in this. It was five divisions that came together. It wasn't a question, they just did it."

When handling ordnance safety becomes a major factor in how the operation is ran, one in which Nimitz' Weapons Department planned out carefully.

"We made sure everyone did their job effectively and safely while moving ordnance from the weapons elevators to the hangar bays," said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW/SW) Mary Sinclair, ordnance quality assurance. "We look for errors and discrepancies, while trying to prevent them, making sure everyone did the job the right way."

Even with the long hours and additional work, the aviation ordnancemen were proud of what they were doing.

"This was my third offload," said Aviation Ordnanceman (AW/SW) Alexanna Williams. "It can be tiring, but it’s well worth it after everything is off the ship. Doing this, we get to show what our real job is."

According to Operations Officer Cmdr. Bruce Hay, Nimitz is still a fully capable surge carrier after the ammunition offload. "Today's ammunition offload is a classic example of completing commitments," said Hay. "In true Nimitz fashion, we are able to complete this safely and expeditiously. I honestly think the ability to make it look seamless despite the Herculean effort is what sets Nimitz far apart from the other carriers.

Other departments that played key roles in the ammunition offload included Operations, Air, Navigation, and Deck.

Trinidad and Tobago looks to terminate OPV programme

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago has given notice that it wishes to formally terminate the GBP150 million (USD234 million) contract with BAE Systems to deliver three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), leaving the UK group with the prospect of selling the nearly completed vessels on the world market.

BAE Systems confirmed the requested cancellation in a statement on 21 September, although it stressed that it will "seek to engage in commercial discussions" with the Caribbean nation to find an "equitable settlement". A spokesman for the shipbuilder said it remains hopeful that the contract can be salvaged.

The programme – which has previously suffered both cost and time overruns – was entered into by a former Trinidad and Tobago government and the UK's VT Group in April 2007. Ownership of the programme passed first to BVT Surface Fleet (a joint venture shipbuilding company created in mid-2008 by BAE Systems and VT Group) and subsequently to BAE Systems Surface Ships when BAE Systems acquired sole ownership of the venture in September 2009. When it pulled out, VT Group provided GBP43 million of capital to BAE Systems to compensate for cost overruns and delays in the programme.

The first of the three OPVs, Port of Spain, is currently going through final work before acceptance by the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard; the second, Scarborough, has completed sea trials with what was previously viewed as an October 2010 delivery date and work continues on the third, San Fernando, with a view to sea trials in November. BAE Systems stressed on 21 September that all work relating to the programme is continuing.

Israel Upset Over Russian Missile Sale to Syria

Israel on Sept. 19 denounced as irresponsible the reported sale by Russia of P-800 Yakhont cruise missiles to Syria, saying it could threaten the strategic balance in the region.

News of the sale emerged Sept. 17 when Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told reporters in Washington that Moscow would fulfill a 2007 contract to supply Yakhont cruise missiles to Damascus, Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

The sale, worth at least $300 million, will see Syria receiving around 72 cruise missiles, Interfax news agency reported Sept. 19, citing defense industry sources.

"This decision translates into a very poor demonstration of responsibility by a country which sees itself as influential and which claims to act in favor of regional stability," a senior Israeli government official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"These weapons could affect the strategic balance in a fragile region which has only just begun peace negotiations," he said, referring to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians which began Sept. 2.

Syria and Israel remain technically in a state of war, and Russia's arms sales and possible nuclear cooperation with Damascus, which has close ties to Iran, is unnerving for Washington and Tel Aviv.

Israel is also concerned that such weapons could be transferred to Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, but Russia's defense minister said such fears were unjustified.

"The U.S. and Israel ask us not to supply Syria with Yakhont," he was quoted as saying Sept. 17. "But we do not see the concerns expressed by them, that these arms will fall into the hands of terrorists."

Russian weapons sales to Damascus provoked Israeli ire in May after Moscow said it was supplying Syria with MiG-29 fighter jets, Pantsir short-range air defense systems and armored vehicles.

Russia Plans to Spend $613 Billion on Arms

Russia plans to spend 19 trillion rubles ($613 billion) to purchase new weapons over the next decade as it seeks to modernize its Soviet-era Army, Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in an interview released on Sept. 21.

The government is in the process of approving a plan to ramp up the arms budget for 2011-2020 by 46 percent from the previous estimate of 13 trillion rubles, Serdyukov told Bloomberg news agency in an interview.

Serdyukov, who spoke following talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Washington earlier this month, also said Russia was interested in U.S. technologies. He did not elaborate.

Much of Russia's military equipment dates back to Soviet times, and the government has in recent years promised extra money for modernization.

Biggest India-U.S. Defense Deal Set To Be Signed

India and the U.S. are likely to sign a $3.5 billion defense deal, the biggest ever between the two countries, according to a report released Sept. 22.

The agreement will see the Indian Air Force buy 10 C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft that are expected to replace the aging fleet of Russian Ilyushin IL-76, the Economic Times newspaper said without citing sources.

The deal, which is in its final stages, is likely to be signed in November when U.S. President Barack Obama visits India.

In February, New Delhi announced a $32 billion defense budget, a 4 percent increase on 2009, when spending was hiked by a quarter as the country seeks to modernize its armed forces.

A top air force official earlier stated that India's air force is just a third the size of rival China's and far short of the aircraft required to meet the security challenges facing the country

Russia Drops Plan To Supply Iran With S-300 Missiles

Russia has dropped plans to supply Iran with S-300 missiles because they are subject to international sanctions, a top general said Sept. 22, in the strongest confirmation yet of the leadership's intentions to put the controversial sale on ice.

"A decision has been taken not to supply the S-300 to Iran, they undoubtedly fall under sanctions," the chief of the general staff Nikolai Makarov said in an apparent reference to U.N. sanctions, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.

"There was a decision by the leadership to stop the supply process; we are carrying it out," Makarov said.

Makarov however did not give a definite answer when asked if the missile contract itself would be nixed permanently.

"We will see, this will depend on Iran's behavior," the Interfax news agency quoted Makarov as saying.

The U.N. Security Council in June adopted a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear drive, imposing broader military and financial restrictions on the Islamic republic.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said in June that U.N. sanctions would not affect Russia's S-300 missile supplies to Iran, saying that the missiles were "defensive weapons" that did not fall under the terms of the sanctions.

Russia agreed the missile deal several years ago but has never delivered the weapons amid pressure from the U.S. and Israel, which fear they would dramatically improve Iran's defensive capabilities.

In June, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Moscow would not sell the missiles to Iran in line with U.N. sanctions, a French official told reporters on the condition of anonymity at the time.

An aide to President Dmitry Medvedev said in June that the S-300 missile deal would likely be scrapped, but that a formal decision would come in a decree.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Defense Expired ammunition cause of Ukraine warship incident

The artillery shells that exploded on board a Ukrainian warship during military drills off the Crimean Peninsula, were expired, a source in the Ukrainian Naval Forces said on Saturday.

Ukraine's UNIAN news agency reported earlier in the day that two artillery shells had gone off on board the Kirovograd medium amphibious assault ship late on Friday, seriously injuring four servicemen. The incident took place at Crimean training ground Opuk during the Vzaimodeistviye-2010 (Cooperation-2010) military exercises.

The injured servicemen have been reportedly admitted to hospital in a grave condition.

"Firing expired artillery shells is a common practice that allows to kill two birds with one stone: both to train and to get rid of obsolete ammunition," the source said, adding that the incident would have been prevented if drill monitors had checked the ammunition's expiration date.

"During gunnery exercises, a ship is strongly shaken - even ceiling lamps in corridors fall down. It's quite possible that the expired shells detonated. Fortunately, they were quite small, and no one was killed," he said.

Ukraine's defense authorities have provided no official comments over the incident. UNIAN said the defense minister, Mykhailo Yezhel, had been supervising the drills on Friday.

In 2008, during military drills off the Crimean peninsula, a missile exploded just seconds after it was launched from a Buk-M1 (SA-11 Gadfly) missile system. No one was killed in the incident.

Although the Ukrainian military authorities declared the drills "successful," then-Defense Minister Yury Yekhanurov admitted that missiles used by the country's military were "obsolete."

Super Carrier required for BrahMos

First test fired almost a decade ago in rainy days of June 2001 then project was known has PJ-10 , since then BrahMos Project has come a long way , Worlds first Anti-ship Supersonic cruise missile designed to take out an aircraft carrier made the world sit and notice its capability , BrahMos Missile project has added great power punch to Indian armed forces attack capability and it has benefited Indian Navy the most since it will provide great punch to knockout enemy surface fleet and also vital sea shore based installations and development of BrahMos Mk-II for Indian Army will help Army take out high valuable enemy target in case of war .

Biggest disappointing has been Air force version; BrahMos Corporation had suggested in mid-2004-5 that Sukhoi su-30MKI will be able to carry three Air launched BrahMos, while many at that time had taken this reports with pinch of salt since each BrahMos weights 3 tons in weight and carrying three even by Heavy class Sukhoi-30 mki could have put high level of stress to the airframe.

Since then better Sense seems to have prevailed and only one BrahMos was decided to be integrated , but the question remains is Sukhoi Su 30 MKI the right platform to carry 2.5 ton BrahMos Missile ?? , well Sukhoi Su 30 will need special modification and strengthening of airframe and most likely less than 40 aircrafts will be modified to carry BrahMos under its belly ,this mean not all aircrafts can carry Brahmos , so this will also limit future BrahMos -2 carrier limited to only forty so aircrafts .

Canberra Type aircraft scaled up by 30 to 35 % could have been perfect for the job to carry this massive missiles that to in good 3 to 4 in numbers, better aircraft could have been Tu-16 which Soviets have long retired but carbon copies are still manufactured in China and still used has a Cruise missile platform by their air force.

India which does not operate any aircraft in this class now, can work on modified Turbojet RTA-90 version with a bomb bay of three meters in diameters and ten meters in length could accommodate at least three BrahMos, RTA-90 might be considered by many reading my article has least likely aircraft for the job but it could be a great “Juggad “ for Indian Air force and save valuable airframe life’s our prime Air superiority fighter aircraft ,since even Russians have no plans for such arrangements even in their Various Sukhoi platforms they operate .

New BrahMos Carrier Aircraft could do the job much better than MKI ,since it will be able to carry more missiles in single sortie and been in internal carriage will put less stress on the aircrafts airframe which are any way designed to carry such massive payload . Locally modifying the aircraft will also be cheaper and also can be air launch platform for other Cruise missiles which are in development like sub sonic Nirbhay and Long range Supersonic Cruise Missile which will be test fired in 2014 time frame

APKWS Guided Rocket In Low-Rate Production

BAE Systems has signed a low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract with the U.S. Navy for the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) - a low-cost guidance kit that transforms standard unguided rockets into smart, highly precise laser-guided missiles.

The U.S. Marine Corps will initially deploy APKWS from AH-1W Cobra helicopters.

"Any time I have the opportunity to talk to our men and women in uniform, I hear about the pressing need for the capability afforded by APKWS,” said John Watkins, director of missile and munitions solutions for BAE Systems in Nashua, New Hampshire, where the guidance section is built. “With the signing of this LRIP contract, we’re one step closer to protecting those men and women in combat."

Developed by BAE Systems in partnership with the U.S. government, APKWS provides aviators with a highly precise weapon that is effective against soft and lightly armored targets while minimizing collateral damage - important in urban areas and other situations in which non combatants or friendly forces are near hostile targets. BAE Systems designed the system's laser guidance and control section.

The U.S. Navy declared that the system is ready for production in April. The decision, known as "Milestone C (MS C)," was approved following a rigorous series of flight, component, and all up-round qualification tests. With the completion of the development program and the Navy's MS C decision, APKWS has been established as the U.S. Navy’s Program of Record to meet warfighter urgent requirements for a laser-guided 2.75-inch rocket.

The final series of flight tests, which culminated in a perfect 8-for-8 score in a series designed and conducted by Marine test pilots, demonstrated that the system's accuracy exceeds government requirements. Throughout its eight-year history of flight tests, APKWS has hit the intended targets an average distance from the center of the laser spot less than two meters. In both developmental testing and operational assessment, APKWS was fired off U.S. Marine Corps AH-1W Cobra helicopters.

APKWS brings three essential operational benefits to those in combat. First, the BAE Systems guidance section is designed to be compatible with current 2.75-inch rocket motors, warheads, and fuzes, enhancing the capability of the existing approximately 100,000-unit inventory of unguided rockets. Second, the system provides the lowest collateral damage for precision engagement, while at the same time giving the military greater flexibility to engage the enemy. Finally, the unit cost is on track to meet the Navy's objective against lower value targets.

The Navy assumed acquisition executive oversight of the APKWS program in 2008 to complete the System Development and Demonstration phase prior to the MS C decision. In addition to its planned use on rotary-wing platforms, the Navy has entered into a Joint Cooperative Technology Demonstration program with the U.S. Air Force to evaluate the suitability of APKWS for fixed-wing platforms.

Full-rate production of the system is expected to follow from mid- to late 2012, and may entail the expansion of existing BAE Systems production facilities, depending on demand.

BAE Systems has been the APKWS prime contractor since 2006

Submarines for Brazil: DCNS Opens Submarine Design School

Around 100 VIPs attended the ceremony held today at DCNS's Lorient centre to open a submarine design school. The school was set up under the contract signed in September 2009 to supply the Brazilian Navy with submarines and associated services. This contract is the Group's biggest ever for an international customer.

The school will provide Brazil with technical assistance with the design of the non-nuclear portion of the country's first nuclear-powered submarine which is scheduled to enter service in 2025.

Some 30 Brazilian engineers and technicians are enrolled. Over the next 18 months, they will attend courses by a team of DCNS submarine design specialists. The technology transfer programme will then move to Brazil.

"This programme confirms the Group's expertise in setting up innovative partnerships based on well-managed technology transfers in favour of international client navies. We are proud to offer Brazil the opportunity to acquire world-class naval defence know-how," says Pierre Quinchon, head of DCNS's Submarine division.

The contract calls for the design and construction of four conventional-propulsion submarines under a technology transfer agreement and technical assistance with the design and construction of the non-nuclear portions of the country's first nuclear-powered submarine, a naval shipyard and a submarine base.

Keel Laid for Third Italian FREMM Frigate

On September 14 at Fincantieri’s Riva Trigoso shipyard in Sestri Levante, near Genoa, a ceremony was held to mark the construction start of the third Italian Navy ship of the FREMM class of European Multi-Mission Frigates.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Italian Navy’s Ufficio Allestimento e Collaudo Nuove Navi, La Spezia, and the Genoa-based Ufficio Tecnico Navale.

The first and second Italian Navy FREMM ships are in an advanced state of construction.

The hull of the first "General Purpose" unit has been completed and is on the shipyard deck; its launch and sea trials are planned from next April.

The two hull sections of the second ships are waiting to be welded together.

BAE Systems Completes Successful Rocket Ballistic Test of 5-inch Long Range Land Attack Projectile

BAE Systems has conducted a successful rocket ballistic flight test of its 5-inch Long Range Land Attack Projectile at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.

Employing a tactically configured airframe propelled by a rocket motor, the rocket ballistic test met all predicted performance parameters during its flight. Coupled with previous component and subsystem testing, this successful test sets the stage for planned guided flight demonstrations of the 5-inch LRLAP.

The 5-inch LRLAP is being designed to allow deployed surface ships to strike shore-based targets at ranges that exceed 50 nautical miles.

"Our team continues to progress toward demonstrating the full capability of a highly effective and low-cost 5-inch Long Range Land Attack Projectile," said Gary Slack, president of BAE Systems U.S. Combat Systems. "We stand ready to support the U.S. Navy by providing technology to meet the future needs of the fleet within three years."

The 5-inch LRLAP is a GPS-guided projectile being developed for the MK 45 Mod 2 and 4 naval guns on board Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers within the U.S. Navy fleet, and various MK 45 guns in allied fleets around the world.

This internal research and development project is run jointly by BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin Corporation and Science Applications International Corporation. Additionally, a saboted variant of the munition is being developed to be fired from 155mm artillery howitzers employed by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps.

Further tests of the 5-inch LRLAP will follow in the upcoming months.

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).

RAF Accepts First Nimrod MRA4

Britain’s newest guardian of the skies took to the air this month in a salute to those who served in the Battle of Britain, including a poignant visit to the RAF base which for years was its predecessor’s natural home.

RAF Nimrod MRA4 PA04, the first production aircraft to be accepted by the RAF, captained by BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 Chief Test Pilot Bill Ovel, took off from the company’s Lancashire test airfield at Warton, Lancashire, on September 9th before flying the length of the UK visiting airshows – as well as performing a flight trial at a key test range - all in a single mission.

The 1,600 mile flight took in Guernsey’s Battle of Britain Air Display, Jersey’s International Air Show, and flight trials at the Aberporth Bay test range in Mid-Wales, before conducting a flypast at RAF Kinloss which, for 40 years, has been the base for the UK’s fleet of Nimrod maritime reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft.

The new MRA4 can use its radar to scan an area the size of the UK in 10 seconds, detect submerged submarines and conduct long range Search and Rescue missions.

Bill Ovel said of the flight: “The operational capabilities of the MRA4 are incredibly impressive and even though I’ve been test flying the aircraft for several years, I still get a terrific buzz from the experience. On this flight the aircraft once again performed impeccably. Presenting her to the personnel of RAF Kinloss during the flypast was hugely satisfying for the crew and I know that it was a rousing experience for those watching from the ground.”

He added: “Given that this month marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain – a battle where radar played a crucial role in securing victory– it was a great privilege for us to be able to salute the memory of those who gave their lives for others and those who defended our shores with such tenacity and bravery.”

BAE Systems is a global defence, 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).