Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Report: Chinese Develop Special "Kill Weapon" to Destroy U.S. Aircraft Carriers

With tensions already rising due to the Chinese navy becoming more aggressive in asserting its territorial claims in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy seems to have yet another reason to be deeply concerned.After years of conjecture, details have begun to emerge of a "kill weapon" developed by the Chinese to target and destroy U.S. aircraft carriers.First posted on a Chinese blog viewed as credible by military analysts and then translated by the naval affairs blog Information Dissemination, a recent report provides a description of an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) that can strike carriers and other U.S. vessels at a range of 2000km.The range of the modified Dong Feng 21 missile is significant in that it covers the areas that are likely hot zones for future confrontations between U.S. and Chinese surface forces.The size of the missile enables it to carry a warhead big enough to inflict significant damage on a large vessel, providing the Chinese the capability of destroying a U.S. supercarrier in one strike.Because the missile employs a complex guidance system, low radar signature and a maneuverability that makes its flight path unpredictable, the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased. It is estimated that the missile can travel at mach 10 and reach its maximum range of 2000km in less than 12 minutes.Supporting the missile is a network of satellites, radar and unmanned aerial vehicles that can locate U.S. ships and then guide the weapon, enabling it to hit moving targets.

The ASBM is said to be a modified DF-21.While the ASBM has been a topic of discussion within national defense circles for quite some time, the fact that information is now coming from Chinese sources indicates that the weapon system is operational. The Chinese rarely mention weapons projects unless they are well beyond the test stages.If operational as is believed, the system marks the first time a ballistic missile has been successfully developed to attack vessels at sea. Ships currently have no defense against a ballistic missile attack.Along with the Chinese naval build-up, U.S. Navy officials appear to view the development of the anti-ship ballistic missile as a tangible threat.After spending the last decade placing an emphasis on building a fleet that could operate in shallow waters near coastlines, the U.S. Navy seems to have quickly changed its strategy over the past several months to focus on improving the capabilities of its deep sea fleet and developing anti-ballistic defenses.As analyst Raymond Pritchett notes in a post on the U.S. Naval Institute blog:"The Navy's reaction is telling, because it essentially equals a radical change in direction based on information that has created a panic inside the bubble. For a major military service to panic due to a new weapon system, clearly a mission kill weapon system, either suggests the threat is legitimate or the leadership of the Navy is legitimately unqualified. There really aren't many gray spaces in evaluating the reaction by the Navy…the data tends to support the legitimacy of the threat."In recent years, China has been expanding its navy to presumably better exert itself in disputed maritime regions. A recent show of strength in early March led to a confrontation with an unarmed U.S. ship in international waters.

Boeing Teams With TAK to Develop Wing Assembly for 2,000-Pound JDAM ER

Boeing has announced an agreement with Times Aerospace Korea, LLC (TAK) to jointly develop a wing assembly for the 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition Extended Range (JDAM ER). "This teaming agreement is a prime example of Boeing Weapons Programs' efforts to form strategic partnerships as we develop the systems our global customers need," said Debra Rub, Weapons Programs vice president. "Our alliance with TAK is an important step forward in bringing the expanded capability of JDAM ER to the warfighter."

Under the teaming arrangement signed Feb. 27, Boeing and TAK will co-develop, test, and field a JDAM ER wing kit to convert the 2,000-pound JDAM into a JDAM ER. Over the course of the 40-month development program, Boeing will provide support to TAK as the Korean company further develops its aerospace capabilities, including preparations for production of the JDAM ER wing assembly. Upon successful completion of the development and flight-test programs, TAK will become Boeing's primary supplier for the 2,000-pound JDAM ER wing assembly.

JDAM is a low-cost guidance kit that converts existing unguided free-fall bombs into accurately guided "smart" weapons. The JDAM kit consists of a tail section that contains a Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System and body strakes for additional stability and lift. The incorporation of the Extended Range wing kit extends JDAM's standoff range. The baseline JDAM has been sold to the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy, as well as to 22 international customers.

Australian Navy to use Thales Missile Control System

Recently, the Australian Department of Defense and Thales Nederland signed a contract for a user licence of Thales's Mid-Course Guidance and Sampled Data Homing function.
This function will be utilised from 2011 within the warfare systems that are part of the Royal Australian Navy's ANZAC Class Frigate Anti-Ship Missile Defense Upgrade Project. The Mid-Course Guidance and Sampled Data Homing function is based on Interrupted Continuous Wave Illumination (ICWI), a Thales development with the APAR partners in the APAR program that enables a single missile control radar to guide several missiles simultaneously to several threats.
With this contract, the number of navies using ICWI has risen to five. The German and Netherlands' Navies are operational users of the Thales APAR multi-function radar that was the first radar to use ICWI. The Patrol Ships for the Danish Navy, scheduled to be operational in 2011, will also be equipped with APAR radars. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force has purchased the ICWI function for their latest helicopter carriers and future destroyers. The addition of yet another major Navy to this list proves the substantial advantages of ICWI-based radar systems over conventional systems and Thales Nederland's leading position worldwide in naval sensor technology.

About ICWI

ICWI (Interrupted Continuous Wave Illumination) is a technology that greatly enhances a ship's defence capabilities as it enables a missile control system to guide several missiles simultaneously to various threats. All other fire control systems can guide only one missile to one threat, making the advantage of ICWI in the event of a saturation attack abundantly clear. The performance of ICWI-based missile defence systems was convincingly demonstrated during the live firing trials of the Royal Netherlands Navy's "De Zeven Provinciën" late 2003 and the live firing trials of the German Navy's "Sachsen" mid 2004. Both ships are equipped with APAR, Thales Nederland's highly advanced multifunction radar, especially designed to guide ESSM and SM2 missiles to incoming threats, using ICWI technology.

IAF F-16s carried out single raid in Sudan

Contrary to earlier reports, the Israeli Air Force had employed F-16s to bomb a weapons convoy in Sudan back in January, Time Magazine said on Tuesday.Quoting two senior Israeli security sources, the magazine said the 23-truck convoy was struck twice by the F-16s with F-15s providing CAPs.UAVs supporting the operation found that the convoy had been only partially damaged during the first run and a second run was ordered immediately.The sources also said that there was only one strike instead of three claimed by the media.Separately, the pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Monday that Washington did warned Sudan a few days before the strike that weapons were being smuggled into the Gaza Strip through its territory.This piece of warning lead Sudan leaders initially into believing that it was the United States that carried out the attack.

$1bn to be sought from FoP to raise special force

Pakistan will ask Friends of Pakistan (FoP) to provide $500 million to $1 billion assistance for establishing 80,000-men special force equipped with the latest arms to combat militants in various parts of the country especially in volatile tribal areas“We will ask the world to compensate us in the wake of ongoing war against terror that resulted in loosing $34 billion after 9/11, 2001 scenario when Islamabad decided to stand with the USA in its war,” said the official. .“Pakistan will seek $500 to $1 billion assistance for establishing a special force, which will be given full training only to control the insurgency,” a high-level official of Gilani government confided in a background interview on Monday.

Australia not ready for war as fighter jets, choppers and submarines unfit for frontline

BILLIONS of dollars of fighter jets, warships and military equipment cannot be used in their current state because they would be too vulnerable to enemy fire. A critical lack of upgraded weaponry has left the Australian Defence Force unable to deploy most of its frontline fighters or warships at short notice against any enemy with modern air defence systems or anti-ship missiles.An investigation by The Australian reveals much of the ADF's most powerful weaponry is awaiting upgrades or promised replacements and is useful only for training purposes or deployment on operations where there is little or no risk of high-level conflict.As such, the ADF, which receives $22 billion in taxpayer funds each year, cannot conduct any high-level operations without substantial support from coalition forces such as the US.

Former Defence official Allan Behm said: "I think the public would be absolutely astonished and gobsmacked to think we spend so much on defence every year and yet we can't send much of it into harm's way because it won't work or it will not survive in a contest."Defence experts say none of the RAAF's soon-to-be-retired F-111 strike bombers nor the majority of the 71 F/A-18 Hornet fighters can be used against modern air defences because they lack sufficient electronic protection.Similarly, they say the navy's eight Anzac frigates cannot be sent into a hotly contested war zone because of a lack of defensive weaponry, while the four other frigates, the FFGs, are still unavailable after a bungled and delayed $1.5 billion upgrade.Experts say the problem reflects a litany of delayed equipment upgrades as well as a Defence Department mindset that focuses more heavily on future purchases than on current operations.

They say the proper balance between current and future defence needs has been lost.Daniel Cotterill, former chief of staff for Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, told The Australian: "There is a bias within Defence towards investing in the future force rather than giving government the fully functioning options they really need today."The Government is in the final stages of preparing a Defence white paper that will outline a multi-billion-dollar shopping list of new planes, ships and hi-tech weaponry. But the ADF is in a parlous state of readiness for serious conflict.A deficiency in anti-submarine warfare capabilities means the navy would be unlikely to risk sending surface ships into zones where enemy subs were present.Andrew Davies, an analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said: "Our ability to actively search for submarines is very limited to short-range technologies and we have little or no ability to successfully fire a weapon at a modern submarine.

"Only half of the six-boat Collins-Class submarine fleet is available and a shortage of crew would make it impossible to sustain operations for long.The army cannot deploy any of its 33 Blackhawk helicopters into warzones, including Afghanistan, because they remain vulnerable to shoulder-launched missiles.It is also considered unlikely to deploy its M113 armoured personnel carriers because, despite receiving a $500 million upgrade, the M113s are considered vulnerable to large improvised explosive devices, such as those used by the Taliban in Afghanistan.Experts say the Government needs to pressure the ADF to make its existing equipment more operationally effective rather than wait for future replacements.

S. Korean F-16 Crashes Off Coast; Pilots Safe

A South Korean F-16 fighter jet crashed March 31 in the Yellow Sea but its two pilots ejected safely, the defense ministry said.The two-seater fighter jet was on a routine training from a base on the west coast when it crashed into the sea, the ministry said."The two pilots ejected safely and got rescued by an air force helicopter and a boat in the West Sea [Yellow Sea]," a ministry spokesman said, adding the cause of the accident was not immediately known.He said investigators were trying to collect debris off Taean County, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) southwest of Seoul.A South Korean F-16 fighter jet last crashed in July 2007, Yonhap news agency said.

Obama to propose $2.8 bln additional military aid to Pak

Obama plans to propose spending roughly $2.8 billion in aid for the Pakistani military, as he steps up the U.S.-led campaign to battle extremists along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. That money would be in addition to the civilian aid -- $1.5 billion a year for five years -- that the president called for Friday. A defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told media the money will be dedicated exclusively to "equipping, training, and building infrastructure directly related to counterinsurgency operations."Gen. David Petraeus told media in an interview Monday the plan will be called the "Pakistani Counterinsurgency Capability Fund". Officials were quick to point out that U.S. commanders would have control over how the money is spent, and that none of it would be spent in a way that would give Pakistan a greater capacity to attack another country, such as India. The money would be distributed over five years, with the first $400 million of it added to the fiscal year 2009 supplemental request for war fighting. Another $700 million would be in the fiscal 2010 base budget. Then $575 million would be spent each year from fiscal 2011 through 2013.In his speech on Friday, President Obama described Pakistan's lawless border region as "the most dangerous place in the world."

Process of inducting new version BrahMos to begin soon

Declaring that the process of inducting a new version of BrahMos would begin soon, Army today said the trials of the cruise missile were aimed at testing the effectiveness of a special sensor for accurately hitting targets in an urban "Accuracy was the watchword. We had wanted them to include another sensor (in the missile). That is what these last three trials (were about). Because more than the naval version, in the Army, we wanted the missile to distinguish between similar kind of targets in urban areas. So this third test has been extremely successful," Army vice chief Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj told reporters here. The process of inducting the new Block-II land attack version of the 290-km range missile would begin soon, he said.

"The process (of induction) will now start. Because now after carrying out the three field trials, the army is absolutely satisfied," he said on the sidelines of a seminar on Fire Power organised by Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS). Congratulating the DRDO scientists and the BrahMos Corporation for the success, Thamburaj said the Army had enhanced its aspirations on the capability of the BrahMos weapons system as it wanted greater lethality and accuracy.
Noting that the Army was currently compiling the test reports, he said the missile system provided "tremendous scope and opportunity" for the force.

Pay raise of 50% for Chinese soldiers

The large increase is believed to be a reward for the army's hard work in 2008 in ensuring security for the Olympics, helping earthquake victims in Sichuan, and handling the protests in Tibet. For the government, it is important to support the morale of the troops, who are increasingly being sent to repress social protests. Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The salaries of 2.3 million servicemen and women of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) will be raised by 50%, in recognition of their hard work in 2008 and in order to keep their morale high in the face of social protests and the problematic anniversaries of 2009.

The newspaper South China Morning Post cites a retired high official in Shanghai, who says that "all ordinary soldiers and officers will receive 50 percent increases, while colonel-level officials will get 30 percent and generals 20 percent. It means a recruit will receive around 1,000 yuan (about 100 euros) a month of basic salary ... while senior colonels get more than 10,000 yuan and major generals up to 18,000 yuan." He adds that "the money was supposed to be allocated by the beginning of this year. But the appropriation was suspended because the central government was busy collecting funds for Sichuan earthquake relief work."

The armed police, who are part of the army, will also benefit from the increase. It is intended to be a reward for the efficient work of the PLA in 2008, in all of the most serious or important situations: relief efforts in the Sichuan earthquake, security at the Beijing Olympics, and the violent repression of the protests in Tibet. Salaries for soldiers were doubled in 2006 after remaining stagnant for about 20 years. With this increase, they will be about 20% higher than salaries for civil servants on a similar level.

Analysts observe that the armed police and the soldiers who perform police functions often receive bonuses from the local governments. They believe that in rich areas, like Shanghai and Guangdong, soldiers receive much more than those deployed in Tibet or Qinghai, where today they must confront the protests of Tibetans. In March, Li Zhaoxing, a spokesman for the National People's Congress, announced that military spending will rise by 14.9% in 2009, with 480.7 billion yuan set aside for weapons, salaries, and defensive infrastructure.

IAF is set to acquire six Airbus tankers

Russia’s near-monopoly over the Indian arms market seems to be coming to an end, thanks to the armed forces policy of placing a premium on performance and not cost. The A-330Soon after Boeing’s $1.8-billion contract for eight P-8I Poseidon long-range naval maritime patrol aircraft—costlier than rival Airbus—the IAF is set to acquire six Airbus tankers.

Senior Defence Ministry officials confirmed that a 1-billion euro contract for six Airbus A-330 multi-role tanker-transports is close to being finalised. This despite the makers of the Russian IL-78 tanker, six of which the IAF has in service, offering a lower bid. The IAF chose Airbus for its larger fuel load and its dual transport capability. This decision has a bearing on the world’s largest defence contract—the IAF’s acquisition of 126 medium-range fighter aircraft worth over $10 billion where Russia’s MiG-35 is a low-cost option.

New submarine fleet a long way off

By Andrew Davies

There has been a recent flurry of media reports about the plans for Australia's future submarine fleet. Depending on who you read, the number of subs to be built is anywhere from six to 18, and the project budget is somewhere between $12 and $35 billion.

So who is right? As it happens, the correct answer is 'none of the above' - yet. The road to a future submarine is a long one and there are many decision points to be negotiated before the final solution emerges. In fact, this project is a very good example of just how complex defence projects can be. It's easy to be critical in hindsight when projects like the Seasprite helicopters go wrong, but this is a good case study of just how hard it can be to see the right path in advance.

So far only a few things are clear; there will be a replacement for the Collins submarine, it will be built in Adelaide and delivered sometime after 2020, and nuclear subs are out of the question. Pretty much everything else is still to be settled. Even very basic questions such as how large the subs need to be, what technologies they will have and who is going to design and build them are still to be answered.

The complexities of the submarine project arise from a number of sources, but they all owe their existence to a single observation: there is no submarine on the world market that does what we want. When deciding to build the Collins class, the Australian government of the day decided that the country would be best served by having a submarine fleet that could conduct extended patrols thousands of miles from home. There is no suggestion that that requirement will be relaxed. In fact, the Prime Minister has stated that Australia's naval forces will be strengthened in order to play a role in an increasingly contested Asia-Pacific region, the countries of which will field dozens of new submarines over the next few decades.

The world's submarines fall into two broad classes - long-range and high-endurance nuclear subs and much shorter-range conventional ones. The only submarines that fall in between are our own Collins (a design now over 20 years old), Japan's fleet (constitutionally banned from export) and a South Korean design only just starting to take shape. So chances are that nothing on the world market will do the job we want. And even if it did, any submarine versus submarine engagement would look uncomfortably like an even fight if both sides were operating subs bought in the same marketplace.

Australia is almost uniquely well-placed to do better than that. We have a close alliance with the United States that gives us access to sensitive systems, weapons and technologies, and we have a hard-won national capability to build those technologies into a European-sourced submarine design. (The Collins was based on a Swedish design.) In other words, we can have the best of both worlds - US systems developed for their very capable but all-nuclear fleet coupled with state-of-the-art European conventional submarine technology. The resultant boat could give us the edge we seek.

But there is a very delicate balancing act to be performed in doing that. For a start, there are technical issues to be surmounted in marrying the different design philosophies. For example, nuclear submarines have essentially no power limitations, so equipment designed for them does not take into account the power budgets that have to be managed in conventionals.

But just as importantly, the Americans and Europeans hold their submarine technologies very closely and don't want them to 'leak' (admittedly not a propitious word to use when writing about submarines) to other countries. Australia would have to manage the process very carefully to keep the potential providers confident that their secrets were safe with us. So the Australian Government will act as a trusted broker in government-to-government and navy-to-navy negotiations. Industry will be brought in progressively as the design firms up.

So where are we now? Basically, at step one. Defence has asked a number of submarine design houses for a 'concept design', essentially a high-level 'sketch' of what the future submarine might look like. That concept will be refined over the next two years, after which preliminary designs will be refined for another couple of years. Between 2013 and 2016 the detailed design will be developed, with construction not starting until (at the earliest) 2016.

Before the concept is fully developed, there can be no firm decision on the number of submarines - after all, how do we know how many we need before we know what each one can do? Similarly, costs won't be known until the design is well advanced. And, of course, we need to be convinced that the manning and support of any expanded submarine fleet could be managed. So take any dramatic headlines in the near future about the size, shape and cost of Australia's future submarine fleet with a grain of salt.

Andrew Davies is the director of operations and capability at the Australian Strategy Policy Institute. The views here are his own.

A new challenge at sea

By James Lyons

China's harassment of the civilian crewed U.S. Navy survey ship Impeccable operating in international waters approximately 70 miles south of Hainan Island was unprovoked and a flagrant violation of recognized Law of the Sea regulations. Their harassment of a survey ship operating in international waters within China's claimed Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a direct challenge to the "freedom of seas" concept.

There may have been another recent incident involving an unarmed U.S. Navy survey ship. A Chinese Communist Party newspaper recently reported on a similarly serious incident involving the unarmed USNS Bowditch survey ship in September 2008, operating in international water in the Yellow Sea area. This article cites the "Gazette of Marine Administrative Law Enforcement" published by China's State Oceanic Administration said U.S. survey ships in Chinese waters may be sunk! The article went on to describe the aggressive actions of Chinese aircraft and warships against the Bowditch. It concluded by stating that if a U.S. survey ship enters China's sea again, China will sink it! Such provocative statements cannot be ignored or go unchallenged.

China has reacted so strongly to the USNS Impeccable survey operations because it was within about 70 nautical miles of Hainan Island, where China now bases its new nuclear ballistic missile submarines as well as attack submarines in underground submarine pens. Our operations there were not provocative and were within accepted norms.

It is essential that we continue these hydrographic operations so that we better understand the maritimeenvironment as it is a critical component for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations, given that submarines are getting quieter. Submarines operating from Hainan Island will have an advanced capability to interdict the critical sea lines of communications from the Straits of Malacca to our key allies in the region, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines.

While China is a signatory to the Law of Sea Treaty (LOST), it has chosen to interpret the treaty in a suspect way and has made claims for itself that forbid military and intelligence collection by foreign navies in its declared Exclusive Economic Zone. Of course, the United States and many other maritime nations do not accept such declarations by China.

It should be noted that these illegal declarations helped convince President Reagan to refuse to sign the "Law of the Sea Treaty." The United States contends that the right of its ships and aircraft to transit through or operate in the EEZs is the same as their rights on the high seas, including surveying and intelligence collection.

In his recent article "Conflict Prevention and Confidence Building Measures between Japan and China," retired Japanese Vice Adm. Ota Fumio notes how China has demonstrated a pattern of maritime expansion since 1974. When the United States terminated its base arrangement with the Philippines in 1991, China in 1992 passed a law unilaterally (and illegally) declaring sovereignty over various disputed islands in the South China Sea including the Paracels, Spratlys, Taiwan - and Senkaku, which belongs to Japan. In 1994, China built a facility on the Philippines Mischief Reef. In 1996, China "illegally" laid claims to the entire South China Sea.

It should be noted that China has frequently conducted ocean surveillance and survey operations in the Japanese EEZ beyond the East China Sea. In 2001, the governments of Japan and China reached an agreement that China would notify Japan when Chinese survey ships were to conduct operations in the Japanese EEZ. The implication is that Japan would similarly notify China. However, even with this agreement there have been numerous violations by Chinese surveillance ships in Japan's EEZ. In 2004, there were 18 such violations. A prior notification requirement is a direct infringement on the established principle of "freedom of transit" in international waters including the EEZ. In our Incidents at Sea agreement with the Soviet Navy we never included a prior notification clause for operations in declared EEZ. There were no sanctuaries other than recognized territorial waters.

If we withdraw and cease our legitimate survey operations in these important areas of concern, it will be a clear signal that the South China Sea will become a safe haven for Chinese nuclear ballistic submarines targeting the United States and Japan. The U.S. Navy did not and does not allow Russia's northern waters to be a safe zone for Soviet/Russian nuclear ballistic missiles aimed at America. Therefore, there is no legitimate reason we should let the South China Sea become a "safe haven" for China to launch ballistic missiles at the United States or our allies.

The United States as it should has protested this recent Chinese provocation. However, if we think avoiding future confrontations will cause problems to go away, we are making a serious miscalculation. Make no mistake, our friends, allies and potential enemies throughout the world are watching how the Obama administration responds to this provocation. Mr. President, as Vice President Biden predicted, you are being tested. James Lyons, U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, and deputy chief of naval operations, where he was principal adviser on all Joint Chiefs of Staff matters

Pentagon is buying 22 additional Mi-17 helicopters for Iraq

Aeronautical Radio Incorporated, Annapolis, Md., was awarded on Mar. 7, 2009, a $80,600,000 firm fixed price contract for the procurement and delivery of (22) Mi-17CT helicopters in support of the Iraqi Government. Work is to be performed at Warner Robins, Ga., (15 percent), Dubai, United Arab Emirates, (20 percent), and Ulan Ude Russia, (65 percent) with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited and one bid received. Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity (W900KK-08-C-0011). The above announcement implies that the cost of a complete Mi-17CT airframe is $2.4 million, with the rest of the contract paying for adapting the helicopters to customer requirements.

Old, Reliable, And All We Got

After two years of delays, and huge increases in costs, the U.S. Army cancelled the ARH-70 scout helicopter last year. This helicopter was supposed to replace 340 OH-58s, a model that was introduced four decades ago. The army was supposed to get the first of its new ARH-70 scout helicopters by September, 2008. But two years ago that slipped to sometime in 2010. The ARH-70 was supposed to cost $8-9 million each. That was the 2005 estimate. But at the end, the manufacturer, Bell Helicopter, wanted over $12 million each. The army originally wanted to buy 368 ARH-70s. But with the delays and price increases, that army gave up after three years of effort.

The current OH-58s are wearing out. Those used in Iraq are in the air 72 hours a month. Those in Afghanistan, 80 hours a month. In peacetime, these choppers spend about 24 hours a month in the air. Moreover, combat use puts more stress on the aircraft. Plus there's battle damage. In addition, 20 OH-58s were lost to battle damage. The current solution is to spend several billion dollars to refurbish and upgrade the current fleet, to keep the OH-58 in service for another 10-12 years. It is believed that a replacement will be found and built before then.The 2.8 ton ARH-70A was a militarized Bell 407. The helicopter it was replacing, the OH-58D, was itself a militarized version of the older Bell 206. ARH stands for armed reconnaissance helicopter. ARH-70 had a max speed of 243 kilometers an hour, and max range of 577 kilometers. It was supposed to be a straightforward conversion. A new engine and tail assembly, plus adding a fire control and weapons system similar to that installed in the OH-58D. But problems were encountered, that took more time, and money, than Bell expected, to fix. If you follow defense procurement, you've heard that many times before.

The ARH-70 experience will loom over the effort to develop another replacement.The delays and price increases are attributed to the usual problems. The manufacturer over-promised, and the army keeps adding new features to the fire control and cockpit electronics. The manufacturer knows how this works, and have lawyers, tech writers, Congressional lobbyists and public relations teams standing by to come up with perfectly good, and legal, reasons for the delays and cost increases. The military, and the taxpayers, usually relent and pay up. Not always, but usually. Collective amnesia then sets in, and the process is repeated endlessly. But in the last decade, that has begun to change. Troublesome projects are increasingly at risk, and that acts as an incentive to make things work. The ARH-70 was a sharp reminder that, even when you are aware of how you can screw it up, you can still drop the ball.

The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior has a top speed of 226 kilometers per hour, and a range of 241 kilometers. It has a mast-mounted sight, which carries a powerful FLIR (heat sensing camera) and a laser designator. The OH-58D is lightly armed, and usually only carries four Hellfire (anti-vehicle) or Stinger (anti-aircraft) missiles, or 14 70mm unguided (or guided) rockets. The upgrades will include new, and improved, electronics, but also the possibility of a much needed new engine. Over the decades, the new equipment has been added, without an increase in engine power. For a scout helicopter, the OH-58 was getting more sluggish as it got older.

Defense Ministry eyes possible lift of US ban on foreign sales of F-22 fighter

The Defense Ministry will closely follow discussions in Congress next month over the United States' 2010 fiscal defense budget amid growing speculation that a ban on foreign sales of the stealth F-22 fighter jet may be lifted to keep the threatened production line alive.Israel has in the past expressed interest in the fifth-generation aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin, but has been unable to place an order due to a congressional ban on foreign exports.

In addition to Israel, Japan and Australia have also expressed interest in the aircraft. A single-seater and double engine aircraft, the F-22 achieves stealth though a combination of its shape, composite materials, color and other integrated systems and can fly in enemy airspace without being detected. Israel has had its sights on the F-22 since its development began in the early 1990s. It is today the only 5th generation fighter jet fully operational with stealth capabilities and is called the "Raptor" by the US Air Force which operates squadrons out of Langley, Virginia, Florida and New Mexico. The future of the F-22 program is in question, however, as officials in the Obama administration have hinted recently that the Pentagon may decide to shut down the production line due to its high cost - as much as $150 million a piece. The proposed base budget for 2010 will be $534 billion and the Pentagon is working on preparing a list of which development programs it plans to phase out.

But Israeli defense officials said there was a possibility that in order to keep the program afloat, Congress may decide to permit the sale of the advanced jet to foreign countries such as Israel. "If this happens we will definitely want to review the possibility of purchasing the F-22," explained a top military source. "In order to have strong deterrence and to win a conflict we need to have the best aircraft that exists." The Defense Ministry and the Pentagon are currently in advanced negotiations ahead of the planned signing of a contract for the order of at least 25 Joint Strike Fighters, also known as the F-35. A number of top IAF pilots recently visited the US to fly in the JSF simulator and returned to Israel with positive impressions. Defense officials would not say whether a decision in Congress on lifting the export ban on the F-22 would have an impact on Israel's decision on the JSF but said that the issue would need to be reviewed. It was possible that if the F-22 was opened for foreign sales that the IAF would decide to postpone the procurement of the JSF by a number of years, the officials said.

Pratt & Whitney Begins Production of the Next Generation of F100 Series Engines

Pratt & Whitney, maker of the F100 engine family that powers the F-16 and F-15 military fighter jets operated by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and the Air Forces of 22 allied nations, have begun production of the first F100-PW-229 Engine Enhancement Package (EEP) engines. The F100-PW-229 EEP represents the latest evolution in the F100 series of engines, recognized worldwide for its safety, reliability and cost Effective operation.

“The F100-PW-229 EEP is another example of Pratt & Whitney’s pioneering work in fighter engine technology,” said Warren Boley, Vice President of Pratt & Whitney Military Programs and Customer Support. “Not only does it offer superior performance capabilities for our armed forces, it reduces maintenance and life cycle costs at a time when value and efficiency are top priorities on the nation’s agenda.”

The F100-PW-229 EEP incorporates groundbreaking technology developed for the F135 and F119 propulsion systems, the world’s only fifth-generation fighter jet engines. The F100-229 EEP will provide advanced, dependable power for F-16 and F-15 aircraft around the world. In response to strong customer demand, the first engines will begin delivery of the new configuration in October of this year.

The F100-PW-229 EEP was created to dramatically decrease the cost of ownership without impacting performance. This was accomplished by increasing the engine depot inspection interval from 4,300 to 6,000 cycles and increasing durability of key components while maintaining the 29,100 pound thrust rating. The inspection interval increase extends the amount of time between scheduled depot maintenance from the average of 7-9 years to over 10-14 years depending on utilization rates. This increase consequently should reduce life cycle costs by 30 percent over the life of the engine. The F100-PW-229 EEP continues to be the only fighter engine funded and qualified by the U.S. Air Force to the 6,000 cycle capability.

Pratt & Whitney will offer customers the option to purchase the F100-PW-229 EEP as a complete engine or as an upgrade kit that will be made available to all -229 operators near the end of 2010. “The U.S. Air Force and several other operators of the P&W F100-PW-229 engine have expressed interest in having upgrade kits to modify their existing engines, so we’re working diligently to provide this capability for our customers,” Boley said.

Initially, 74 F100-PW-229 EEP engines have been ordered, with the first delivery set for Republic of Korea. Additional deliveries will be headed to Morocco and Pakistan in early 2010. Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and commercial building industries.

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning future business opportunities. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in government procurement priorities and practices or in the number of aircraft to be built; challenges in the design, development, production and support of technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in United Technologies Corporation's Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

No Ospreys, for now, to Afghanistan

Commandant Gen. James Conway says the MV-22 Osprey, with its speed and nimbleness, is “made for Afghanistan.” But as about 8,000 Marines prepare for a deployment there with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, the Corps’ premier medium-lift aircraft isn’t going with them. “It is unlikely that we’d have any Osprey squadrons to put into Afghanistan for a while,” said Maj. Eric Dent, a spokesman at Marine Corps headquarters. “Maybe later this year.”

Instead, the Corps will send two CH-53 helicopter squadrons to Afghanistan as part of the brigade’s aviation assets. Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772, based at Naval Air Station Willow Grove, Pa., will deploy with three-engine CH-53E Super Stallions, handling the MEB’s heavy-lift operations. The second squadron — HMH-362 from Marine Corps Air Facility Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii — will deploy with dual-engine CH-53D Sea Stallions handling medium-lift needs, which typically include medical evacuations and troop transportation.

The double-barreled CH-53 plan was adopted for several reasons, officials said. First, both variants of the CH-53 offer superior capabilities to the aging CH-46 Sea Knight, which struggles with high elevations. Additionally, the CH-53 squadrons tapped for duty have had ample dwell time and — perhaps most importantly — there is no Osprey squadron readily available.

Playing catch-up

Had the Corps been able to maintain its original production schedule for the Osprey, none of these decisions likely would be necessary. But with a checkered history that includes at least three fatal Osprey crashes preceding the aircraft’s recent success, the Corps is still standing up MV-22 squadrons as the aircraft become available. Currently, there are three fully operational Osprey squadrons, all based at Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C. Two are otherwise committed, with Marine Tiltrotor Squadron 263 working up to become the first Osprey squadron to deploy with a Marine Expeditionary Unit this spring and VMM-266 nearing the end of a seven-month deployment to Iraq.

That leaves only the third fully operational squadron, VMM-162, which has been home from Iraq for about six months, and one nearly operational squadron, VMM-261, which transitioned from the CH-46 helicopter to the MV-22 less than a year ago. A fifth squadron, New River-based VMM-365, transitioned to the tiltrotor aircraft in January, but is still in the early stages of adding aircraft and manpower, Dent said. In recent weeks, Marines with VMM-263 (reinforced) have been operating off the coast of North Carolina from the amphibious assault ship Bataan, training in anticipation of leaving this spring with the 22nd MEU. The unit expects to be assigned as the theater reserve force for European Command and Central Command, but could receive other tasks, said Capt. Clark Carpenter, a MEU spokesman.

VMM-261 anticipates that it will be the following Osprey squadron to deploy, most likely in the fall, said Capt. David Brooker, a squadron spokesman. Marine officials would not say where the squadron is likely to deploy, but it is gearing up for a series of qualifications and training, including a monthlong exercise in El Centro, Calif., in April and May. “There are a certain number of wickets we need to hit in terms of the number of pilots and the training qualifications that those pilots have,” Brooker said. “We’re still getting new pilots out of the pipeline.” That hasn’t stopped Commandant Gen. James Conway from talking up the possibility of sending the Osprey to Afghanistan. In a meeting in Washington with reporters in late January, Conway said that “our venerable, old CH-46s have really started to come up against their match in Afghanistan” and that the MV-22 would offer more speed, range and maneuverability.

“I really think that if we see the numbers of Marines that we suspect in Afghanistan before the end of the year, you’ll also see at least one Osprey squadron there, as well,” Conway said. Conway also said that by the time the Osprey deploys to Afghanistan, an all-quadrant 7.62mm Gatling gun will be ready for deployment. The Corps has been working with Special Operations Command to install the gun on seven Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22s, which are going through testing and qualification runs at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Once the gun is qualified, the Corps will determine how best to deploy it on the MV-22, Dent said.

Marines with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force in Afghanistan currently receive helicopter support from AH-1W Super Cobras with New River-based Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 and CH-53Es with HMH-466, of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., said 2nd Lt. Josh Diddams, a spokesman at Marine Corps headquarters. Conway said when he visited Afghanistan in August, he saw CH-46s carrying just five or six combat-loaded Marines. The SPMAGTF does not currently deploy any medium lift assets, said 1st Lt. Stewart Coles, a Marine spokesman in Afghanistan.

“Our air combat element’s heavy lift aviation assets are capable of handling all of our rotary-wing lift tasks,” Coles said. “Medevacs are coordinated through a specialized system that draws on assets from throughout NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and other coalition partners.” New River-based HMLA-167 took over for HMLA-269 on Feb. 21, Coles said. Miramar-based HMH-361 replaced HMH-466 in the SPMAGTF on March 15.

Damascus set to receive MiG 31E planes

Damascus will take receipt of advanced MiG 31E fighter jets in the near future, the outgoing head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency Lt.-Gen. Michael D. Maples told the Senate earlier this month. World Reports of the sale surfaced in 2007 but were quickly denied by Moscow and the official state arms-trading monopoly Rosoboronexport, which issued a statement saying "Russia has no plans to deliver fighter jets to Syria."

In his testimony "annual threat assessment" to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Maples provided the first official confirmation that the advanced fighter jets will be delivered to Damascus soon. "With regard to its external defense, Syria's military remains in a defensive posture and inferior to Israel's forces, but it is upgrading its missile, rocket, antitank, aircraft and air defense inventories," Maples told the committee. "Recent Syrian contracts with Russia for future delivery include new MiG-31 and MiG-29M/M2 fighter aircraft."

Israeli defense officials said they were not surprised by Russia's intention to sell Syria the advanced jets but expressed concern that if the deal went through it would alter the balance of power in the region. "Syria currently has an obsolete air force based on outdated MiGs," one official explained. "If Syria gets new MiG 31s then this will pose a definite threat to our air force."

The contract will be the first export deal for the MiG-31E, a heavy twin-engine interceptor fighter capable of flying at nearly three times the speed of sound and simultaneously shooting several targets at ranges of up to 180 km. The aircraft was designed in the 1980s for tackling low-flying cruise missiles and other difficult targets and remains the mainstay of Russia's air defenses. The MiG-31 was considered a key component of defenses against a possible US attack.
Damascus will also receive a number of MiG-29M fighters - a version that features a significantly improved range, has an improved radar and carries a broader array of weapons compared to basic MiG-29 model.

In his testimony, Maples also referred to Syria's development of chemical and biological weapons. He said that Damascus did not have a biological weapon but was at the stage where it knew how to manufacture one. "Based on the duration of Syria's long-standing biological warfare program, we judge some elements of the program may have advanced beyond the research and development stage and may be capable of limited agent production," he said. "Syria is not known to have successfully weaponized biological agents in an effective delivery system, but it possesses a number of conventional and chemical weapon systems that could easily be modified for biological agent delivery."

Saudi Arabia to Purchase Raytheon AIM-9X Missiles

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the U.S. government executed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance to purchase Raytheon Company's AIM-9X missile. Saudi Arabia is the world's 10th country to employ the AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-guided, air-to-air missile.

"The AIM-9X will provide our Saudi Arabian allies with unparalleled capability, a small logistical footprint and ease of integration onto its existing fighter aircraft," said Capt. Jeffrey Penfield, the U.S. Navy's Air-to-Air Missile program manager. "AIM-9X has demonstrated its reliability during ongoing operational deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and in extensive user-driven test programs with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force."

Under the agreement, the U.S. government will provide the RSAF an undisclosed quantity of tactical and training AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles for its F-15 fighter aircraft. "The Royal Saudi Air Force truly chose the most affordable and capable within-visual-range air-to-air missile in the world," said Harry Schulte, Raytheon Missile Systems vice president of Air Warfare Systems. "Raytheon has delivered more than 3,000 Block I missiles on cost and ahead of schedule, and we look forward to continuing to do the same for the newest member of the AIM-9X family."

The Royal Saudi Air Force joins the air forces of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States as AIM-9X users. Raytheon Company, with 2008 sales of $23.2 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 87 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 73,000 people worldwide.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

China seeks export customers for Yitian SHORAD system

During the IDEX 2009 defence equipment exhibition and conference held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) displayed two air-defence systems for the first time outside China. These were a truck-mounted twin 35 mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun system called the CS/SA1 (based on the Rheinmetall Air Defence Oerlikon twin 35 mm GDF towed anti-aircraft gun) and the Yitian short-range air-defence (SHORAD) mobile air-defence system. The existence of the Yitian SHORAD was first revealed some four years ago, when the system was claimed to be still in the final stages of development. According to NORINCO, the system is now in service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and is being offered on the export market.

In the form in which it was shown at IDEX, the missile system was integrated on the latest-generation NORINCO WMZ 551 (6x6) armoured personnel carrier (APC) chassis, but could be installed on other tracked or wheeled chassis. Used in significant numbers by the PLA, the WZ 551 has been exported to a number of countries around the world. Its flexible design allows it to be modified for a wide range of missions, including being fitted with a turret-mounted 105 mm gun for use in the direct-fire role. According to NORINCO, the Yitian SHORAD system has a combat weight of 16 tonnes. Its air-cooled diesel engine gives a maximum road speed of 100 km/h and a cruising range of up to 800 km. The vehicle shown at IDEX retained the full amphibious capability of the WMZ 551 and is propelled in the water by two shrouded propellers situated one either side at the rear that are also used for steering when afloat. However, the vehicle will have a very limited amphibious capability in its Yitian form due to the additional weight on top of the hull when compared to the baseline WMZ 551. Both the vehicle commander and driver are seated at the very front of the vehicle, with driver on the left and commander on the right.

The commander also operates a remote-controlled 12.7 mm machine gun installed on the right side of the roof. Used typically for self-defence, this is laid on to the target using a flat-panel display and an associated hand controller. Banks of four electrically operated smoke-grenade launchers are installed on either side of the roof and cover the frontal arc. Standard equipment includes a land navigation system and a nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) system. In the baseline WMZ 551, the main diesel powerpack is to the rear of the commander's and driver's position. It is located on the left side of the vehicle, allowing enough space for a small passageway to the right that allows access to the rear compartment. This passageway has been omitted from the Yitian vehicle. Due to the space taken up by the additional electronics and the auxiliary power unit needed to run the missile system when the main engine is switched off, there is no access between the front and rear areas of the vehicle. A remote-controlled turret mounted on the roof of the vehicle carries eight TY-90 fire-and-forget surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), mounted as banks of four on either side of the turret.

Each missile is mounted in an individual container that serves for transport purposes and as a launcher. The TY-90 (Tian Yan - 'Heavenly Swallow') missile was originally developed by the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation for use in the air-to-air role from the Z-10 attack helicopter, although it has also been launched from a number of other helicopters. At one time, the TY-90 was thought to be a modified version of an existing shoulder-fired manportable SAM, but this is now clearly not the case. According to NORINCO, the TY-90 has a range of 500-6,000 m with altitude limits from 15 m up to 4,000 m. Maximum speed is Mach 2.2 and the single-shot kill probability is 80 per cent. The missile's nose-mounted infrared seeker was developed by the Luoyang Optoelectro Technology Development Center. It uses an indium antimonide (InSb) detector and is reported to provide an all-aspect capability. An expanding-rod warhead initiated by a laser proximity fuze is reported to have a kill radius of 4 m.

Although the system has been designed to engage fixed- and rotary-wing targets, according to NORINCO it is also capable of detecting and engaging other aerial targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and even cruise missiles. An advanced electro-optical package is mounted between the two four-round banks of missiles. Above this is the antenna of a 3-D X-band tracking radar that can be folded down for transport. NORINCO claims that the radar has a maximum range of up to 18 km against a fighter-sized aircraft and up to 8 km against a typical cruise-missile target. The electro-optical package includes day and thermal devices, a laser rangefinder and an automatic target tracker. The example shown at IDEX did not have any devices to keep the optics clear in bad weather. According to NORINCO, the electro-optical package can detect a typical aircraft target out to a range of about 12 km and start tracking at a range of about 10 km, but these figures depend on the ambient weather conditions. Two operators are seated in the very rear of the vehicle; each has a display and associated controls that include command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) and communications systems.

In a typical engagement, the surveillance radar would detect the target. If this were confirmed as hostile, it would be assigned to the electro-optical tracker, who would continue to track the target. Once the target was within the effective range of the TY-90 missile, it would be engaged. The system can deal with targets flying at speeds of up to 400 m/s and the overall system reaction time is being quoted as six to eight seconds. Although it would normally be integrated into an overall air-defence system, Yitian can be used as a stand-alone system. It could also operate with its radar switched off, receiving target information from another sensor. The system can be used to defend high-value static areas or to defend mobile columns. A typical Yitian SHORAD battery would consist of a headquarters section with a command-post vehicle, six Yitian SHORAD systems, missile resupply vehicles, a missile-testing and maintenance vehicle and a mechanical/electronic maintenance vehicle.

The command-post vehicle is also based on a modified WMZ 551 chassis. It has a raised roof at the rear and is fitted with a SHORAD surveillance radar. An IBIS-80 truck-mounted surveillance radar is being offered as an option. The TY-90 SAM is also used on the NORINCO Giant Bow II air-defence system. This consists of a battery command-post vehicle (BCPV), AS901A 3-D radar, Giant Bow II TY-90 launchers and Giant Bow II twin 23 mm light anti-aircraft guns. The latter are the Chinese version of the widely deployed Russian ZU-23-2 LAAG. The BCPV has a roof-mounted electro-optical package that can track the air threat for subsequent engagement by the Giant Bow II TY-90 launchers. The latter is based on a similar two-wheeled carriage and has a total of four ready-to-launch TY-90 SAMs. These missiles are launched from rails rather than the sealed container/launcher used by Yitian. In a typical target engagement, the TY-90 missiles would be used to engage targets at longer ranges with the 23 mm LAAG being used to engage close-in targets, as well as having a secondary ground role.

New Pictures of J-10B fighter jet

Chinese web pages have featured photos of a new variant of the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) J-10 multirole fighter that appears to confirm a spate of late December 2008 web reports on this same aircraft, with some accounts noting it has already been test flown.This single-seat variant differs from the initial single-seat J-10 model in that it appears to feature a revised engine inlet, consistent in design with the diverter-less supersonic inlet (DSI) featured on the latest version of the Chengdu FC-1 lightweight multirole fighter.

Reminiscent of the DSI modification first tested on a Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 30 in 1996, this modification saves weight and improves specific engine power and stealth. It also cleans up the J-10's previous complex inlet configuration, which was reportedly prone to vibration.China's research on DSIs dates back to the late 1990s, with Chengdu's 611 institute for aerospace design having been assisted by government-funded research at the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

In addition, this J-10 variant has a new infrared search and track (IRST) system canted to the right of the windscreen, with an apparent smaller optical sensor below the radome area, and a new electronic systems faring near the top of the vertical stabiliser, also similar to that of the FC-1. In addition, the radome has been changed to a flatter F-16-like profile. The back-leaning angle of the radome attachment bulkhead gives credence to web reports suggesting it also has a new radar, perhaps a new electronically scanned array, either active or passive.

The photos do not offer any indication of a new engine, either a new more powerful version of the Russian Saturn AL-31FN or the Chinese developed Liming WS-10A. While these could follow later, this aircraft appears to be an incremental upgrade for the J-10, which would be consistent with previous Chinese practice for indigenously designed combat aircraft. Nevertheless, these upgrades, perhaps to include a new radar, would enhance the aerial combat flexibility of the J-10, positioning it to better compete with the Shenyang J-11B for People's Liberation Army Air Force orders.

It is also suggested that this J-10 is an initial development for what may become the 'FC-20' to be purchased by Pakistan.For some time there have been indications, mainly from Russian industry sources, that Chengdu has been developing advanced variants of the J-10. The most near-term upgrade cited by these sources would have used a thrust-vectored version of the AL-31FN to power a potential aircraft carrier variant or one better suited for high-altitude airfields near India.

Effective strategy by PAF averted imminent war: ACM Rao Qamar Suleman

By M S Baig
Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman on Saturday paid inaugural visit to PAF Base, Mushaf (Sargodha), after assuming the command of Pakistan Air Force. On his arrival at the Base, he was presented with a guard of honour by smartly turned out contingent of Pakistan Air Force. The New Air Chief will undertake series of visits to various PAF Bases and would unfold his vision for preparing PAF to meet the challenges of 21st century Air Operations. While referring to the incidence of 26/11, the Air Chief lauded the performance of PAF Airmen, who played a vital role in averting an imminent war. He said, “ when the Surgical Strikes threat was about to cross the threshold, I devised an Air Strategy plan and unfolded it to the then CAS and within 4 ‑ 5 hours the whole PAF was on Red Alert Status and present everywhere to defend and launch offensive operations.”
While talking to the pilots, the Air Chief said, “you are cutting edge of PAF and Nation pins high hopes on you to defend, deliver and sacrifice and keep up the glorious traditions of PAF air warriors.” He emphasized upon them to maintain the highest level of standards pertaining to various aspects of Air Operations. Addressing a joint session of Airmen, the Air Chief said “the cardinal points of my vision are Integrity, Professional Excellence and Teamwork. The top most priority will remain operational preparedness of PAF. Today, the PAF is passing through transit phase, we will be handling and operating old and new weapon systems of various capabilities, you are required to maintain these assets for their optimum performance.
The induction of new systems programme is on track. These systems will be requiring knowledge based training, thus my focus will be on modern training techniques and on flight safety. All measures and quality assurance procedures must be adopted for preserving the assets of PAF.” Earlier, on his arrival at the Base, the Air Chief was received by Air Vice Marshal Attique Rafique, Air Officer Commanding, Central Air Command, Pakistan Air Force and Air Commodore M Ashfaque Arain, Base Commander PAF Base, Mushaf.

BrahMos test fired at Pokhran:India

Field firing test of BrahMos was conducted in Chandan firing range in Pokhran today. The surface-to-surface missile was fired at 11:17 hrs from launching pad in Chandan firing range near Bhojasar village to hit the target erected near Ajasar. Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor and several high officials and DRDO scientists were present. This was the third test of the missile, a Indo-Russian joint collaboration product, in Pokhran during this year. Earlier, two tests were held on January 20 and March 4.

This test came after several weeks since a new version of supersonic cruise missile was test-fired but the Army was not ready to announce whether it was successful or not. The result of the test carried out at the Army’s Pokhran field firing range in Rajasthan on March 4 is still being evaluated. Brah- Mos Aerospace officials did claim that test on March 4 was able to achieve its desired results during the trial but the Army maintained that it is evaluating the general staff quality requirements. The dispute over the trial result has only widened the rift between the Army and the scientific establishment. The BrahMos officials claim that the missile had hit the target within the error probability. The Army claims that since it is going to be the end-user, it should be fully satisfied whether the weapon system is capable of delivering as per its requirements. That was the second test of the missile after a trial conducted in January had failed. . The missile was assigned to hit the target within a distance of around 40 km.

A test of the Brahmos Mark II on January 20 went awry in mid-flight after a successful launch, missing the target. That test was witnessed by the Indian army chief, General Deepak Kapoor, among others. While DRDO scientists concluded that a homing device on the Mark II version had failed and the missile missed the target by inches, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor said he was present during the missile testing in Rajasthan recently and he insisted on visiting the target site and found that the missile had overshot by a kilometre. The target was 53 kilometres away from the missile launch site, he said.
After today's test, DRDO officials said the development phase of the Block II version of the missile was over and it was ready for induction in the Army and BrahMos, an Indo-Russian joint venture company would be able to start deliveries of the 240 missiles ordered by the Army in two years from now as per the original schedule. The Army has already inducted one regiment of the Block I version of the missile.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Project 17A: French shipyard DCNS set to play role

Major global warship-makers are carefully watching the Indian Navy’s Project 17-A, potentially India’s biggest-ever naval purchase, a Rs 17,000 crore plan to build seven stealth frigates. And French shipbuilder DCNS — through a clever “first-mover” strategy — is poised to play a major role in that project.On February 27 this year, the DCNS board gave the thumbs up for a three-party design consultancy along with Kolkata shipyard, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), and Indian IT engineers Infotech Enterprises. The JV will design ships for global clients, including back office work for DCNS, one of the world’s biggest warship builders.

But the first design job that the JV is shooting for is Project 17-A. Despite the Indian success in designing and building quality warships, Project 17-A needs a design partner. This is because all seven frigates will be built using an advanced manufacturing process —- modular shipbuilding —- which is used by top shipyards in the US and Europe. India has never done modular shipbuilding. This involves constructing a several-thousand-ton warship in 300-ton blocks, which are then brought together and assembled, like a Lego game, into a complete warship. Each 300-ton block is built separately, complete with all the piping, electrical wiring and fitments that would be a part of the ship. These must precisely connect with their counterpart in the neighbouring block, coming together in perfect alignment.

This is the expertise that DCNS is hoping to sell as the foreign design partner for Project 17-A. DCNS has positioned itself well for the bid. The DCNS-GRSE-Infotech JV will have the advantage of bidding as an Indian company. Besides the Scorpene programme with MDL, DCNS has worked with both shipyards on several projects. And, importantly, the modular construction infrastructure coming up in MDL and GRSE is very similar to that in DCNS’s shipyards in France.

Admiral Malhi points out, “We already have a relationship with DCNS; we are building the Scorpene together. They have the same infrastructure as we have, which means that the drawings they make can be easily translated into warships in our yard. But we will keep our options open by asking (Italian shipyard) Fincantieri to bid as well.”

With GRSE and MDL insisting that Project 17-A be built entirely in India (Business Standard had reported yesterday that the Indian Navy wanted the first two frigates to be built abroad by the design partner) they have joined forces, rather than competing for the order. For the first time ever, a project may be split between two shipyards. Admiral Mahli explains, “We have to ensure that the navy gets all these seven warships by 2021. That means GRSE and MDL might both work concurrently on Project 17 A; you might have four built in MDL and three in GRSE. There is enough work for both shipyards.

No Indian defence shipyard is equipped yet for modular construction; but so lucrative is the Project 17-A contract that both GRSE and Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai (MDL) are spending hundreds of crores on creating modular construction facilities by mid-2011, by when assembly of the Project 17-A frigates is due to start.

The facilities include a covered workshop large enough for constructing 300-ton modules inside; a sliding roof for lifting out the completed modules; a 300-ton Goliath crane, on rails that extend across two or three slipways, for conveying the completed module to whichever frigate it is meant for. Admiral HS Malhi, Chairman of MDL, says progress is on schedule. “Italian company, Fagioli, in partnership with McNally Bharat Engineering (MBE), is building the 300-ton Goliath crane. With a span of 138 metres, it will be the longest in India, stretching across the two slipways and across the modular workshop.”

Israel runs successful 'Iron Dome' tests

The Iron Dome anti-rocket shield passed a critical test in the past 48 hours, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday evening, in a message that will be welcomed by residents of the rocket-battered western Negev. During the test, a number of rockets were launched, "of the same type that were fired in recent years at Israel," and the Iron Dome system responded "accordingly," the Defense Ministry said, using terminology indicating a successful interception of the projectiles. The Iron Dome system is slated to defend southern and northern Israel from Hamas and Hizbullah rockets, and be a key component in a multi-layered missile defense system that includes the Arrow anti-ballistic missile shield.

Iron Dome is being developed by the Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and the Technological Industry (Maf'at) in conjunction with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Sources in the ministry expressed satisfaction with the test, describing it as a "milestone" and adding that the trial had verified simulations and research work. Pinchas Buchris, director-general of the Defense Ministry, congratulated Iron Dome engineers on the successful test, and said that accelerated work would enable its installation in the near future.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the development of a multi-layered missile defense system was a "national mission aimed at reaching the stage in which a clear majority of missiles do not reach their targets." Earlier this month, Danny Gold, head of Research and Development at Maf'at, said work on the Iron Dome had reached its "final stage" and was running "ahead of schedule." "This system can be developed in a fifth of the time it would take to develop other systems, and at a tenth of the cost," Gold said. "It is the cheapest system in the world."

Overhaul two years late for Indian KA-28 that crashed

The Board of Inquiry into the crash of Kamov-28 helicopter of the Navy would look into the apparent failure of the floatation gear of the chopper and delay in the overhaul of the copter.
The Inquiry would consider the fact that only one of the floatation gear operated as the chopper crashed into sea, around 20 miles off Goa coast, Naval sources said. The inquiry would also deal with the apparent delay in overhaul of the anti-submarine warfare chopper, the sources said. The over haul was due for over two years, they added. The recovery of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) would also help zero in on th e cause of the crash of the helicopter which was on a training sortie, the sources said. This is the fourth crash involving a Kamov-28 helicopter since 1984. In August 2005, four crew members on board a Kamov-28 were killed when it crashed into jungles near Goa

S. Korea to Buy New Presidential Plane by 2014

South Korea will purchase a new presidential plane by 2014, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said Wednesday.The agency will open a bid by January next year. The government will submit to the National Assembly this fall a bill calling for setting aside money to buy the plane, a DAPA official said. An estimated 190 billion won ($140 million) will be needed to buy a jumbo jet, such as Boeing's 787 or 747 or Airbus' 340 aircraft, they said. The presidential plane procurement program, which was approved during the agency's decision-making meeting, is aimed at replacing the current presidential carrier with a new one with greater seating capacity and longer range, the agency said in a news release. Introduced in 1985, the current South Korean presidential plane, based on the Boeing 737, can accommodate only 30 passengers. It is unable to fly out of Northeast Asia without refueling. For long-distance travel, Cheong Wa Dae has used chartered flights from Korean Air or Asian Airlines, the country's two flag-carriers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

China voices strong dissatisfaction over U.S. military report

China voiced strong dissatisfaction over new U.S. report on China's military strength.
·China is not in an arms race of any form and constitutes no threat to other countries.
·The report which severely distorted facts was absolutely groundless.

China on Thursday voiced its strong dissatisfaction over the new report by the U.S. Defense Department on China's military strength. Hu Changming, spokesman of China's Defense Ministry, said the report severely distorted facts, censured China's legitimate and normal national defence development, and disseminated the mainland's "so-called military threat" to Taiwan. "China is strongly dissatisfied with it and resolutely opposes it," said Hu. "China unswervingly sticks to a path of peaceful development and pursues a national defense policy which is purely defensive in nature."

Hu noted that China is not in an arms race of any form and constitutes no threat to other countries. Hu said the report, which continued the dissemination of the "Chinese military threat" theory and severely distorted facts, was absolutely groundless. Hu said Sino-U.S. military ties have not yet completely moved out the difficult period as many obstructions still await to be got over. "The report, issued under such circumstance, could only bring negative influence to the resumption and development of bilateral military ties."
"We urge the United States to stop issuing such a report on China's military strength and immediately take effective measures to dispel the baneful influence caused by the report so that bilateral military ties will incur no further damages," Hu added. The Pentagon on Wednesday released its annual report about the Chinese military repeating its complaint about "limited transparency." It questioned the "purposes and objectives" of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Chinese aviation giant establishes defense branch in Beijing

China's largest aircraft maker, Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), opened a defense branch Thursday in Beijing in an effort to make the company a first-class, worldwide manufacturer of aerial defense products. The branch will take over most of the military-related business done by AVIC such as building combat aircraft, including China's own third generation fighter J-10.

In addition, the defense branch will primarily develop and make training aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles. It will also conduct research and manufacture business jets as well as sell its products internationally, a statement released by AVIC on Thursday said. The defense branch, an integration of relevant departments within the corporation, will be an independent accounting unit of AVIC with total assets of nearly 50 billion yuan (7.35 billion U.S. dollars). It has been authorized to manage AVIC's 10 assembly plants and research institutes which are scattered in several cities across China such as Shenyang, Chengdu, Changsha and Shanghai.

The company has approximately 60,000 employees and a rough annual sales revenue of 30 billion yuan (4.4 billion U.S. dollars). It has also exported more than 1,000 aircraft overseas and cooperated with foreign aviation makers to develop civilian planes. "We are trying to become a world leading defense products supplier by expanding our overseas market for export," Wang Yawei, general manager of the defense branch, told Xinhua Thursday. According to Wang, the branch will promote AVIC's L-15 Falcon, a supersonic training aircraft, and FC-1 Fierce Dragon, a light-weight multipurpose fighter, for export.

As for civilian products, AVIC is determined to develop, build and, if possible, export corporate jets. China split the state-owned AVIC into AVIC I and AVIC II in 1999 in an effort make it more competitive in the global market. However, the two parts were merged together in November of last year by the Chinese government to build up the aviation giant. Currently, AVIC owns 22 listed companies in China.

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