Russian Navy takes delivery of a new submarine for lease to India

December 29, 2009, Moskow -- The nuclear submarine K-152 Nerpa has joined the Russian Navy. The new Project 971U boat is planned to be leased to India, to which it will sail next summer. An Indian crew will undergo training aboard it before the hand-over ceremony.

Its trials, which began in 2008, were interrupted by a tragic accident on September 8, 2008, when an unauthorized release of a fire-fighting gas killed 20 men and injured more than 20 others. The accident caused a delay in the tests and the submarine joined the Navy several months later than scheduled.

The submarine's lease to India seems to be a foregone conclusion, but also inspires thoughts of the age of Russian naval combat units. The last multi-role nuclear submarine entered service in 2001. It was Nerpa's sister ship Gepard. To date, the Navy has an inventory of 12 submarines of this type, not counting Nerpa. Their average age is over 15 years. The Navy also includes multi-role nuclear submarines of other projects - four 671RTMKs, three 945s and nine anti-aircraft 949As. Within the next 10 to 15 years, they will be decommissioned because of "physical aging."

Two multi-role nuclear submarines of Project 885 are currently under construction, with the type ship - Severodvinsk - expected to hit the water soon. But existing plans provide for the building of only six submarines of this type in the next ten years, and they clearly cannot replace all 28 multi-role submarines in service. As a result, unless some prompt measures are taken, all Russian nuclear submarines will be a force in name only in fifteen years, unable to fulfill combat missions.

Strategic submarines also offer a bleak outlook. Shipyards are currently building Project 955 missile-carrying boats. Eight such ships, planned to be built, will be able to perform their tasks, but abortive tests of the Bulava missile are delaying their commissioning. Also, to stay as a compact formation, these missile carrying submarines need a cover escort, including multi-role submarines.

There is little optimism for diesel-powered submarines, too. Their average age is approaching a critical level. Currently, Russia is building a series of Project 677 submarines, although the type ship - St. Petersburg - whose trials began in 2007 is still not commissioned and available construction facilities are clearly not meeting naval requirements.

Whether or not a new state armaments program for 2010-2020 will solve the problem is not yet clear. To maintain the current inventory of submarines required by the Navy, it is necessary to increase sharply their numbers being built, and above all multi-role and diesel ones. But nothing seems to augur such an increase.

In a way the problem can be tackled by repairing and upgrading existing submarines, but repairs do not preclude new construction.

In view of the high costs of Project 885 submarines under construction, a way out could be a low-budget nuclear multi-role submarine, of lesser size and fewer weapons than the 13,000-tonne and heavily armed Severodvinsk. The United States made a similar decision in the 1990s when it opted for compact-sized and less expensive submarines of the Virginia type, compared with larger and higher-priced Sea Wolf-type submarines.

A total of 12 to 15 such ships, coupled with the construction of a smaller series of Project 885 boats and the upgrading of the more recent submarines of Soviet manufacture could keep up the potential of the Russian submarine arm.

According to available information, blueprints for such a nuclear submarine are being drawn up at the Malakhit Design Bureau, but whether the ministry plans to build one is unknown.

Problems connected with the renovation of diesel boats could, according to experts, be solved by placing orders for Project 636M submarines, which have already been constructed in a series, possess decent characteristics and are presently offered for export. The building of 8 to 10 such submarines could give breathing space for addressing issues associated with the construction of Project 677 submarines.

But the key factor necessary to build a state-of-the-art Navy, including its submarine arm, is an understanding of the role of the Navy and its importance for Russia by the country's top leaders and their political will to translate this understanding into practice.

RIA Novosti/Ilya Kramnik

PCU New Mexico Delivered to Navy Four Months Early

The Virginia-class attack submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit New Mexico (SSN 779) undergoes Bravo sea trials Nov. 26, 2009 in the Atlantic Ocean. The Navy took delivery of New Mexico from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding four months earlier than the contract delivery date. (Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding/Chris Oxley/Released)

December 29, 2009, Washington -- The Navy took delivery of its newest attack submarine, PCU New Mexico (SSN 779), from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding (NGSB) Dec. 29, four months earlier than its contract delivery date. New Mexico is the sixth Virginia-class submarine and the third delivered by NGSB.

"New Mexico performed superbly on sea trials," said Rear Adm. William Hilarides, program executive officer for submarines. "Her early delivery keeps us firmly on pace for a 60-month construction span by the end of the Block II contract."

Capt. Michael Jabaley, Virginia-class Program manager, commented, "With the delivery of the sixth submarine, the Virginia Program continues to provide needed capability to the fleet."

USS North Carolina (SSN 777) and USS New Hampshire (SSN 778), the two submarines delivered prior to New Mexico, were completed after 82 and 71 months, respectively. New Mexico completed construction in just 70 months.

"Raising the bar yet again, the Virginia shipbuilding team has completed the fastest delivery to date, with further improvement soon to follow. This improvement in performance positions the team to double the production rate to two submarines per year in 2011. Keeping the production rate at two per year is critical to maintaining the Navy's Attack Submarine inventory," Jabaley added.

New Mexico's delivery in 2009 wraps up a successful year for the Virginia-class program. Earlier accomplishments include beginning the construction of PCU North Dakota (SSN 784) March 2; the keel-laying ceremony of PCU California's (SSN 781) May 1; USS Texas (SSN 775) completion of the Virginia-class submarines' first Arctic Ocean testing in November; transfers of USS Hawaii (SSN 776) and Texas to their new homeport of Pearl Harbor in July and November respectively; and the christening ceremony of PCU Missouri's (SSN 780) Dec. 5.

Virginia-class submarines are flexible, multimission platforms designed to operate in both open-ocean and littoral waters. Their inherent stealth, endurance, and firepower enable them to support the United States seapower core capabilities of forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, and maritime security.

India To Let Singapore Technologies Join Howitzer Trials

FH 2000 52 Calibre 155mm Field Howitzer operated by Indonesia Army.

December 28, 2009, New Delhi -- The Indian government has allowed the Army to invite formerly banned Singapore Technologies to participate in trials to purchase 155mm/52 caliber towed artillery guns.

The company had been banned, along with six other defense companies, in June 2009 in connection with alleged corruption charges. However, the government's move now will allow trials to be held within a month, said a senior Indian Army official.

A senior Indian Defence Ministry official said that even if it wins, Singapore Technologies will not be given a contract until it is cleared of all charges by India's Central Bureau of Investigation.

In March 2008, the Indian Army had floated a tender for the off-the-shelf purchase of 400 155 mm/52 caliber towed artillery guns and the licensed production of approximately 1,180 guns on a transfer-of-technology basis.

Tenders were given to eight companies from Europe, Asia and the Middle East, but in the end the Army's Technical Evaluation Committee qualified only BAE Systems and Singapore Technologies.

Singapore Technologies is also competing to sell 155mm ultra light artillery guns, although it is unclear if the company will be allowed to participate in field trials, Indian Defence Ministry sources said.


Yak-130 Combat-Trainer Aircraft Successfully Completes Russian State Joint Tests

December 28, 2009 The commander-in-chief of the Air Force of Russia Colonel General Alexander Zelin has signed the «Certificate about ending of the state joint tests of a combat-trainer aircraft Yak-130». This document allows operation of Yak-130 aircraft in units of the Air Force of the Russian Federation for training and combat purposes

Colonel General Alexander Zelin has congratulated the team of developers of Yak-130 with the successful ending of tests and has accentuated that the plane corresponds to modern requirements to combat-trainer vehicles. The commander-in-chief has declared: «The plane is simple in control and is equipped by arms unique for planes of such class. After flying this machine young pilots will feel confidence in operating of combat planes». According to Colonel General Zelin, Yak-130 accumulates so many new scientific ideas that for a long time no other plane can be equal to it. The commander-in-chief also has noticed that has personally familiarized with Yak-130 in flight.

The president of Irkut, General Director of Yakovlev Design Bureau Oleg Demchenko said: «Ending of the state tests of Yak-130 in 2009 was one of the main tasks for our company. Yak-130 has not only the unique characteristics, but also a unique history of creation. It is the first plane completely designed and constructed during the Post-Soviet period. For the first time we have created an aircraft using digital technologies at every stage of designing and manufactures preparation that allowed reducing laboriousness, lower duration of the production cycle, increase product’s quality and set up a basis for the mass serial production of the new aircraft. Oleg Demchenko has also noticed that the Russian Air Forces are the priority customer for Irkut Corporation.

Trainer-combat aircraft of the new generation Yak-130 was developed by JSC “A.S. Yakovlev Design Bureau” be a part of Irkut Corporation.

Yak-130 was chosen for basic and advanced military flight school to prepare pilots of the Air Force of Russia.

In April 2009 Yak-130 passed the first stage of state joint tests with basic armament configuration. In December 2009 the tests with the enlarged armament configuration were completed.

The aircraft is intended as for combat training of the air staff so as for combat use in normal and low weather on earth and land targets. Nine stations allow the aircraft to carry up to 3000 kg of payload.

Advanced aerodynamics, new generation inboard avionics equipment, state of art newest power plant and aircraft systems provide:

· effective training of air staff and combat missions;

· high level of operating safety;

· low cost of flight hour and life cycle.

Aircraft performance characteristics and maneuverability of Yak-130 are similar to the modern fighters on subsonic speed of flight. The plane will allow to solve at the advanced level a problem of training of pilots for the Russian and foreign warplanes of generation “4+” and “5”.

Yak-130 is the basic component of the training complex of Russian Air Force including integrated system of the objective control, educational computer classes, aerobatic and specialized training simulator.

The Irkut Corporation concluded the contract with Algeria on delivery of Yak-130 and carrying out its contractual obligations. Pre-contract negotiations are carried on for the delivery of Yak-130 to a number of countries.


Stolen jet engines found in Argentina

TUDM F-5E Tiger II. (Photo: Benolkin)

December 26, 2009, Kuala Lumpur —- Two missing fighter-jet engines stolen by military personnel in Malaysia's latest corruption scandal have been traced to South America, police here said yesterday.

'The stolen engines have been taken to Argentina,' police chief Tan Sri Musa Hassan was quoted as telling Agence France-Presse.

'We have to check whether the engines are still in that country.'

The Star newspaper yesterday also reported, without naming sources, that the two F5-E jet engines were shipped from Port Klang to another country before going to Argentina.

It added that they were believed to be in the possession of an individual, as the Argentinian military does not use the United States-made jets.

Defence Minister Datuk Sri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had earlier said that the engines, worth RM50 million each, were believed to have been sent to a South American country.

But other reports had raised speculation that the engines were headed for Iran, which is among a handful of countries subject to an American arms embargo and still uses old F5 jet planes.

Tan Sri Musa told The Star that several top officers from the air force, including generals, are expected to be questioned in connection with the theft.

Four people, including three low-ranking personnel, who were arrested for their alleged involvement have been freed on bail.

'We need to question all of them as it is not easy to just cart away the engines without authorisation and proper documents,' he said.

'Our investigators have so far seized and recovered several documents pertaining to the sale and shipping of the engines.'

The police chief could not be reached for further comment.

The timing of the scandal could not be worse for the current administration, which only last week pledged to weed out corruption in a highly-publicised action plan for the country.

The theft was discovered last year but became public only last week when it was exposed by a local newspaper.

The incident has been particularly embarrassing for Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was Defence Minister when the theft took place.

Yesterday, the New Straits Times reported that the Malaysian Cabinet has directed the Defence Ministry to prepare a summary of the theft.

The report, which will detail a chronology of the incident, will be submitted by Datuk Seri Dr Zahid on Jan 6.

Officials have promised there will be no cover-up of the incident. But details have been scant, leading to much speculation in the media.

Although it was reported that a brigadier-general and about 20 other military personnel have been sacked, no names have been revealed so far.

A commentary in China Press yesterday called on the Defence Ministry to be more forthcoming with information, as the scandal is leaving Malaysians with 'too many questions'.

'The current situation, with different papers using different sources to write their own stories, is only adding to the confusion,' it said.

Straits Times

New Russian nuclear submarine to enter service in 2010

December 24, 2009, Moskow -- A new Russian nuclear-powered multipurpose attack submarine should enter service by late 2010, the developer said on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Malakhit design bureau said dockside tests on the Severodvinsk, a Project 885 Yasen (Graney) class submarine, would start later this month and be completed some time next year.

Construction of the submarine began in 1993 but has since been dogged by financial setbacks.

Graney-class nuclear submarines combine the ability to launch a variety of long-range cruise missiles (up to 3,100 miles) with nuclear warheads, and effectively engage submarines, surface warships and land-based targets.

In July, work started on a second sub in the series, the Kazan, which will feature more advanced equipment and weaponry.

The submarine's armament will include 24 cruise missiles, including the 3M51 Alfa SLCM, the SS-NX-26 Oniks SLCM or the SS-N-21 Granat/Sampson SLCM. It will also have eight torpedo launchers, as well as mines and anti-ship missiles such as SS-N-16 Stallion.

Under the Russian State Arms Procurement Program for 2007-2015, the Navy is expected to receive at least five Project 955 Borey nuclear-powered strategic submarines equipped with new Bulava ballistic missiles and two Project 885 Yasen submarines.

RIA Novosti

Sukhoi hands over Su-34 bombers to Russian Air Force

Su-34. (Photo: Sukhoi)

December 21, 2009, Moscow -- V.P.Chkalov Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association (NAPO) handed over to the Russian AF two batch-production Su-34 frontline fighter-bombers produced in the framework of the national defense order for 2009. The planes have already arrived to the Russian AF Lipetsk Center for Combat Use and Flight Training. In accordance with the 5-year state contract with the Ministry of Defense signed in 2008, NAPO will produce 32 Su-34 fighter-bombers till 2013.

This December NAPO has also fulfilled its obligations under 3-year state contract by handing over to the Russian AF the final batch of Su-24M2 bombers after repair and modernization.

The two-seat Su-34 fighter-bomber is designed to deliver high-precision strikes on heavily defended air, ground and naval targets (including small and mobile targets) on solo and group missions in any weather conditions, day or night, as well as for air reconnaissance.

Su-34 belongs to the 4 + generation of aircraft by its combat capabilities. Active security systems as well as modern computers allow pilot-commander and navigator/operator of weapons to deliver precise strikes on targets and make maneuvers under hostile fire.

The main distinctive features of the fighter-bomber are:

- large ordnance load and a broad line-up of guided air-launched weapons,

- high load capabilities engineered through reinforced design of the airframe and landing gear, and increased fuel tanks,

- effective digitally-controlled twin afterburning turbojet engines,

- in-flight refueling capability,

- advanced avionics line-up, including multi-purpose PAA radar, onboard optical search and track station and an integrated defensive aids suite.

Su-34 can engage in long-range combat missions close to ranges of medium strategic bombers.


RI warships to be equipped with Chinese-made missiles

KRI Layang launched C-802. (Photo: Indonesia Navy)

December 21, 2009, Jakarta -- The Indonesian Navy`s warships will be equipped with missiles made in China, Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Agus Suhartono said here on Monday.

"We will continue to procure C-802 missiles from China after we tested the weapon with good results,` he said adding that the Indonesian Navy was also negotiating with China to obtain C-705 missiles that were more slender in shape.

"Both types of missile will be added to the armament of of the navy`s fast patrol boats and Van Speijk warships," Agus said.

He said the navy would increase the combat capabilities of its Van Speijk and fast patrol boats by integrating their armament systems with weaponry from China.

"We are still unable to make missiles domestically. But fortunately, state shipbuilding firm PT PAL already has the technology to integrate weapon systems imported from abroad with those already in place on our warships," he said.

The navy chief admitted with limited budget for his department, his officials would continue making a priority scale on the procurement of weaponry system.

"Our main priority now is security in sea border areas and the outer islands of Indonesia," he said adding that the navy would also replace some 27 of its warships with newer types and better combat capabilities.

Agus Suhartono had previously said Indonesia`s western waters were prone to various maritime crimes such as smuggling, human trafficking and poaching.

"The sea crimes are not the only problems we have in the western waters. In these areas we also have border problems with India, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia," the navy chief said.

He said that in order to maintain security in the area, the navy conducted routine patrols in the Indonesian western waters. It had maintained a joint patrols with its counterparts from India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

As a result, the maritime crime rate in the western waters had dropped , particularly in the Malacca Strait.


Commander Underlines Role of Sejjil 2 Missiles in Boosting Iran's Power

December 19, 2009, Tehran -- Head of the Iranian Defense Ministry's Aerospace Organization Brigadier General Mehdi Farahi praised the country's experts for providing the Sejjil 2 missiles with a radar-evading capability, saying that such weapons contribute an important role in boosting Iran's deterrence power.

"The special paint (coating material), the substance used in the shell and some special electronic devices used in the missile are the main three factors giving a radar-evading capability to the missile," Farahi told FNA on Saturday.

"The optimized missile is one of the important achievements of the Islamic Republic of Iran's defense experts which plays a significant role in increasing the deterrence power of the Iranian Armed Forces," he added.

Farahi said that the Iranian defense and academic experts have used radar-evading coatings in this kind of missile, which renders enemy's missile defense systems unable to intercept Sejjil 2 missiles.

The Aerospace Organization has been responsible for developing Iran's surface-to-surface Sejjil missile, the long-range Shahab-3 ballistic missile which has a range of up to 2,000 km, and Zelzal and Fateh missiles.

The Shahab-3 reportedly has a range of up to 1,250 miles (2000 kilometers) and is capable of carrying a 1,000-760 kilogram warhead.

This is while the solid-fuel, two-stage Sejjil missile with two engines, is capable of reaching a very high altitude and therefore has a longer range than that of the Shahab 3 model.

Iran successfully tested second generation of Sejjil missiles and brought it into mass production earlier this year. Sejjil missiles are considered as the third generation of Iran-made long-range missiles.


Navy Accepts Delivery of Future USS Independence

December 18, 2009 -- The Navy officially accepted delivery of the future USS Independence (LCS 2) Dec. 18 during a short ceremony in Mobile, Ala. Independence is the second littoral combat ship delivered to the Navy, and the first LCS of the General Dynamics variant. LCS is a new breed of U.S. Navy warship with versatile warfighting capabilities, capable of open-ocean operation, but optimized for littoral, or coastal, missions.

"Today marks a critical milestone in the life of the LCS 2," said Rear Adm. James Murdoch, the LCS program manager in the Navy's Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. "The Navy and our industry partners have worked diligently to deliver a much-needed capability."

Prior to delivery, the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) conducted Acceptance Trials aboard LCS 2 on Nov. 13-19, and found the ship's propulsion plant, sea-keeping and self-defense performance to be "commendable," and recommended that the chief of naval operations authorize delivery of the ship following the correction or waiver of cited material deficiencies.

Between now and sail away in February 2010, the contractor will correct most of the trial cards received during trials. Any remaining cards will be corrected during scheduled post-delivery maintenance availabilities including the post-shakedown availability scheduled for completion in 2011.

Delivery is the last shipbuilding milestone before commissioning, scheduled for Jan. 16 in Mobile, Ala.

The LCS class is designed from the keel up to deliver efficient capability, capacity, and flexibility to the warfighter. Independence, a high-speed aluminum trimaran, is designed to defeat asymmetric "anti-access" threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. The 417-foot Independence will be outfitted with reconfigurable payloads, called mission packages, which can be changed out quickly. These mission packages focus on three mission areas: mine counter measures, surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare.

PEO Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and has delivered eight major surface ships to the fleet since the beginning of 2009. PEO Ships is working in conjunction with its industry partners to achieve steady production for all programs to increase production efficiencies and leverage cost savings. Delivering high-quality war fighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy and building the Navy's 313-ship force structure. PEO Ships is committed to delivering quality ships at an affordable price.

Seahawk Contract Awarded To BAE Systems

December 17, 2009 -- Greg Combet, the Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, announced today the award of an In Service Support contract for the Royal Australian Navy Seahawk Helicopter fleet to BAE Systems Australia Ltd.

“This new contract will support 130 jobs in new expanded facilities located at the Albatross Aviation Technology Park in Nowra, as well as a number of positions in industry at Nowra, Melbourne and Amberley,” Mr Combet said.

“The contract will also see the construction of a new aviation support facility at the Albatross Aviation Technology Park in Nowra and enables in service support services for the Navy’s fleet of 16 Seahawks to be maintained until they are withdrawn from service.

“The new contract commencing in April 2010 is worth approximately $208 million dollars over the initial term of seven years, and has extension options available. It will provide engineering, maintenance, and some supply services to the Navy.”

The Navy Seahawk fleet is based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, NSW.

“I take the opportunity to thank the Shoalhaven community for their support of Seahawk and Defence over many years and I look forward to seeing the results of the improved contract into the future,” Mr Combet said.

Australian DoD

Next trial of Russian troubled Bulava missile could be in Jan.

December 15, 2009, Moskow -- The next test launch of Russia's troubled Bulava intercontinental missile could take place in January, an unidentified Defense Ministry official said on Friday.

The latest launch of the missile, which Russia hopes will be a key element of its nuclear forces, from a submarine in the White Sea ended in failure on Wednesday. Only five of 12 Bulava launches have been officially reported as being successful.

"The exact date of the next trial has not been fixed yet, but trials will continue next year. We could still make a launch in January or in the summer, after the White Sea is already free from ice," the official said.

The official said a state commission is to analyze the whole process of developing the missile, which includes some 650 defense sector enterprises.

The further development of the Bulava has been questioned by some lawmakers and defense industry experts, who have suggested that all efforts should be focused on the existing Sineva SLBM.

But the military has insisted there is no alternative to the Bulava and pledged to continue testing the missile until it is ready to be put in service with the Navy.

The Bulava (SS-NX-30) SLBM carries up to 10 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). The three-stage solid-propellant ballistic missile is designed for deployment on Borey class nuclear-powered submarines.

The Bulava, along with Topol-M land-based ballistic missiles, is expected to become the core of Russia's nuclear triad.

RIA Novosti

Last Operational Patrol For M113A1S

December 10, 2009 -- M113A1 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) have a long and proud history in the Australian Army since they were first introduced in 1965.

After nearly 45 years of service to the nation, three M113A1’s, one of which saw service in Vietnam, had their last street patrol in East Timor before being cleaned in preparation for shipping back to Australia.

Three Black Hawk S70’s, also on operational deployment in East Timor, over-flew the APCs as they turned and headed back to base.

“This is a big milestone for the 1st Armored Regiment to see the last M113A1s on an operation,” Troop Leader, LT Nathan Scott said.

“The end of forty years of proud history.”

Driving LT Scott’s vehicle, Lance Corporal (LCPL) Zachery Williams, who at 21 years of age was born 23 years after the APCs came into service with the Australian Army, praised the simplicity of the M113A1.

“Part of the reason the vehicle has been so successful is its simple design,” LCPL Williams said, speaking from experience as a certified driver, loader and gunner on the Abrams M1A1 AIM tanks.

“The M113 is easy to maintain and keep running”. LCPL Williams said.

“It is also straight forward to upgrade, and there have been many variations of the vehicles since its introduction in the 1960s.”

The M113A1s have been an important part of Australia’s mission in East Timor since they were first used to secure the Dili area when INTERFET inserted in 1999.

Since 2006 the APCs have been used to carry the Quick Response Force (QRF), made up of Australian and New Zealand infantry who were dispatched to deal with any outbreaks of civil unrest in the capital.

With the improved security situation in East Timor, the New Zealand Queen Alexandra Mounted Rifles will now transport the QRF in Pinzgauer armored light operational vehicles.

LT Scott said his troops have worked closely with the Kiwis to ensure that they could pick up where the M113A1s left off and the camaraderie between the armoured personnel has been high.

“With there being an ANZAC Battle group here in East Timor, I think it was great this morning to have a New Zealand troop sergeant out here on the last M113A1 operational patrol. It embodies the ANZAC spirit.”

The six M113A1s that have been in service in East Timor arrived with the International Stabilisation Force following the outbreak of violence in East Timor in 2006.

After they return to Australia the vehicles will be converted into M113AS4s.

Australia DoD

Latvia worried by Russian plan to buy French warship

December 9, 2009, Riga -- Latvia is concerned over Russia's plans to buy a French warship, the Baltic country's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

"Senior Defense Ministry officials have already warned that if Russia buys the vessel and deploys it in the Baltic Sea, Latvia may have to review its current defense strategy in the face of a new threat to national security," the ministry said in a statement.

Defense Minister Vinets Veldre plans to raise the issue at a meeting of the Baltic states' defense ministers on December 11, the ministry said.

Russia earlier said it is considering buying a Mistral-class helicopter carrier, worth 400-500 million euros (around $600-$750 mln), and potentially building three or four vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS.

The chief of the General Staff said on Tuesday that Russia will decide whether to buy the ship by the end of 2009.

A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 soldiers. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and can be used as an amphibious command ship.

Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase.

Latvia is a European Union and NATO member since 2004.

RIA Novosti

China to Produce Next-Generation Battle Tank

Type-99 main battle tank.

December 9, 2009 -- A next-generation main battle tank, which can be operated by two soldiers for all-dimensional attacks and all-directional self-protection, will be developed by China, according to China North Vehicle Research Institute director Mao Ming.

The Chinese Army currently uses a type-99 main battle tank, which can accommodate three crew members.

The next-generation tank could run with only 2 crew members, a gunner and a driver.

It could also feature enhanced information ability and fire performance, indirect aiming and shooting ability and aerial target interception.

The main battle tank will be equipped with a target detecting device connected to a command-and-attack network and numerous command systems and sensors from which the tank will receive real-time target information.

China's next-generation tank will be a lightweight vehicle with good strategic mobile capacity facilitating rapid deployment on the battlefield.

The tank's chassis system allows changeable and modularised loads for battles in the city or the field in north China and in south China, according to Mao Ming.

Air Conditioning System for K1A1 Tank Considered

December 6, 2009 -- The Ministry of National Defense is considering installing air conditioning systems in K1A1 battle tanks by 2012, ministry officials said Sunday.

The move comes after The Korea Times reported last Thursday that the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had ignored a request by the Army and tank developer Hyundai Rotem in 2007 that the air conditioning system be installed in the tank.

The JCS argued at that time that the cooling system ``doesn't affect field operations much, and soldiers should overcome such a difficulty in the field.''

Criticism was growing about the military's attitude at a time when it is pursuing ``advanced'' armed forces with improved service conditions and weapons systems.

Tank operators said they sometimes suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke on extremely hot days.

``At that time, the military failed to consider the installation of air conditioning systems because of space and budgetary problems,'' a spokesman for the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) told The Korea Times. ``We'll review the plan through cost-effectiveness analysis and make a decision.''

The spokesman said a key task will be whether the size of air conditioning equipment can be reduced to fit in the tank.

``Hyundai, for its part, is said to be developing an air conditioning system for the K1A1, so we will cooperate with the company on this problem if needed,'' he added.

With the air conditioning system, the spokesman noted, the outside temperature of a tank would be lowered by 1 degree centigrade and the inside temperature by 5 degrees.

Tank experts say the temperature will be lowered much more, given air conditioning equipment usually reduces the humidity of the air too.

More importantly, air conditioning equipment can be used as NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) protection systems, so soldiers will not have to wear the heavy MOPP (mission oriented protective posture) gear in NBC warfare training exercises.

Most high-end tanks in service are equipped with air conditioning equipment, a basic operational requirement. The indigenous K2 Black Panther tank, which will begin service by 2012, will also have the system.

The air conditioning system is also a key consideration in hot-weather Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern nations showing interest in the upgraded K1A1 and K2.

Delegates from Thailand, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia expressed interest in the K1A1 upgrade plans during the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in October, according to the DAPA and Hyundai Rotem.

The upgrades will focus on equipping the tank with the C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) network-centric battlefield management systems already applied to the indigenous K2 tank.

The digital command-and-control system allows the vehicle to share data with friendly units, including other armored vehicles and helicopters, on a real-time basis.

The modification work is scheduled to start in 2012 after the production of the K1A1s has been completed.

The K1A1, which entered service in the South Korean Army in 2001, has a crew of four, comprising of a commander, gunner, loader and driver.

Powered by a turbocharged 1,200 horsepower, the K1A1 is armed with a 120-millimeter smoothbore gun. It has twice the penetration power of the previous 105-millimeter weapon and is loaded manually.

It has an improved gun/turret drive system and a ballistic computer for accuracy.

The tank is also fitted with a 7.62-millimeter coaxial machine gun, and two more machine guns are mounted on top of the turret roof.

In high gear, the K1A1 can attain a maximum road speed of about 65 kilometers per hour and travel 500 kilometers without refueling.

It also has day/night hunter-killer capability. A hybrid of hydropneumatic and torsion-bar suspension allows the vehicle to ``kneel'' and increases the main gun depression angle.

This feature is particularly useful in mountainous terrain. The tank can ford water obstacles of up to 2.2-meters after being equipped with a deep wading kit. A mine-clearing roller can also be fitted to the vehicle.

The Korea Times

Air Warfare Destroyer Project Sailing

HMAS Hobart.

December 6, 2009 -- Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, announced today that Australia’s $8 billion Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) was progressing well with key milestones in the delivery of its combat and weapons control system being met.

“I am pleased to announce that the US Navy has conducted a ‘pull the plug’ ceremony on the combat system for HMAS Hobart,” Mr Combet said.

“This ceremony marks the ‘de-energising’ of the combat system and symbolises its readiness for installation in the first AWD. To reach this point the system, including the radar and missile fire control equipment, had to complete a full range of US Navy acceptance tests to verify its performance.

“The completion of testing of the Aegis Combat System equipment destined for HMAS Hobart marks a major milestone in the delivery of this world-class capability from the US Navy to the Royal Australian Navy.

“The Aegis Combat System is deployed on nearly 100 warships around the world. In addition to the US and Australian Navies, Aegis is deployed on Japanese, Spanish, Norwegian and South Korean warships.

“This system is capable of detecting and defeating multiple hostile aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 150 kilometres. With this system deployed, the AWD will be able to provide protection for a naval task force against air, surface and submarine threats.

“Work on other sub-systems in the AWD combat system is also progressing well with the Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance recently signing a $20 million contract with McDonnell Douglas (a subsidiary of Boeing) for the Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System.

“As a key element of the Hobart Class combat system, the Harpoon missile will allow our three Air Warfare Destroyers to engage surface and land targets at ranges well beyond the horizon,” Mr Combet said.

HMAS Hobart is the first of Australia’s three Air Warfare Destroyers and is due for delivery to the Royal Australian Navy in December 2014.

Australian DoD

French Navy to Trial Schiebel's Unmanned Helicopter

November 3, 2009 -- The French Navy will lease the Camcopter S-100, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) produced by Austrian company Schiebel, for experimental trials under a contract awarded by the French defence procurement agency DGA.

The trials will analyse the advantages of a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) craft as well as the Thales Optronics Agile 2 electro optical and infrared (EO/IR) sensor.

Thales Aeronautical Systems, as a subcontractor to Schiebel, will assist the army in arranging and organising the flight and frequency permits.

Schiebel's Camcopter S-100 UAV is a combat-proven military UAV that does not require supporting launch or recovery equipment and can operate day and night in any atmospheric conditions on land and at sea with a beyond line-of-sight capability to 200km.

The aerial vehicle has a payload capacity of 75lb and provides long endurance for over six hours at a service ceiling of 18,000ft.

The unmanned helicopter will also be leased for two weeks of demanding trials for the French Army.

The experimental trials are scheduled for the first half of 2010.

Raytheon To Upgrade South Korea's Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems

December 1, 2009 TEWKSBURY, Mass. | Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has been awarded a $17.2 million Foreign Military Sales contract modification to deliver capability upgrades for South Korea's Patriot Air and Missile Defense System.

With emphasis on upgrading the global Patriot fleet, Raytheon will deliver prime-power equipment as an alternative power source for Patriot system operations and will deliver communications equipment to enhance Patriot interoperability with air defense command centers.

This contract from the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., augments Raytheon's ongoing efforts as systems integrator for South Korea's Patriot SAM-X program. To date, Raytheon has been awarded more than $280 million in contracts to support the Patriot SAM-X program.

"This is an opportunity to further our working relationship with the South Korean industry," said Sanjay Kapoor, vice president for Patriot Programs at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems (IDS). "Raytheon's major subcontract partner in South Korea, EHWA Technologies Information, has a robust and proven portfolio of products in power systems for the Republic of Korea Air Force and will be a key partner for these improvements."

EHWA Technologies Information will produce the frequency converter kits that will provide the option for Patriot system components to be powered via the central power infrastructure, removing the dependence on mobile tactical generators as the only source of power. This will significantly reduce system maintenance costs and enhance operational flexibility.

Work under this contract will be performed by Raytheon IDS at its Integrated Air Defense Center in Andover, Mass., and at Raytheon subcontractor facilities in South Korea.

Raytheon IDS is the prime contractor for both domestic and international Patriot air and missile defense systems and systems integrator for Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles.

Indonesian navy gets new KR Banjarmasin warship

KRI Banjarmasin. (Foto: detikFoto)

November 28, 2009, Jakarta -- The Indonesian Navy got new KRI Banjarmasin-592 warship manufactured by PT PAL, on November 28, 2009.

Surabaya-based PT PAL, Indonesia`s shipbuilding and maintenance company, symbolically handed over the news warship of a Landing Platform Dock (LPD) type, to the defense ministry, which later passed it on to the Indonesian Navy, at a military ceremony in Surabaya, on Saturday.

Among those present at the ceremony were Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, TNI (Indonesian Defense Forces) General Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Didik Heru Purnomo, and Naval Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Agus Suhartono.

The KRI Banjarmasin was one of two 125-meter LPD manufactured by PT PAL.
Commodore Iskandar Sitompul, a spokesman of the Indonesian Navy, said the KRI Banjarmasin was the third LPD joining the Navy. The two other LPDs were built by South Korea`s Daewoo International Corporation and received by the Indonesian Navy last year.

The latest LPD built by PT PAL was better equipped that the previous two others.
The KRI Banjarmasin-592 warship has capacity to carry five helicopters, while the previous LPDs only two helicopters. The speed has also been improved from 15 knot to 15.4 knot. PT PAL has manufactured more than 150 ships of various types since 1980.


Initial Delivery of Wedgetail Aircraft

Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C). (Foto:

November 26, 2009 -- The Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) has today taken initial delivery of two Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft from Boeing.

AEW&C Program Manager, Air Vice Marshal Chris Deeble said the aircraft – known as ‘Wedgetail’ – is critical to Australia’s Air Combat Capability and will play a key role in achieving the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) network-enabled war fighting capability.

“The Wedgetail aircraft is a ‘first of type’ development and extremely complex, given the range of cutting-edge radar technology and sensors that will be incorporated into each aircraft.

“Development, test and evaluation are still ongoing with many hurdles still to be overcome, particularly with respect to radar, electronic support measures and integrated system performance and stability.

“However with the initial delivery of two aircraft, Defence will now be able to conduct familiarisation training while Boeing completes the remaining test program and acceptance activities,” AVM Deeble said.

“When fully operational, Wedgetail will enhance surveillance, air defence, fleet support and force coordination operations.”

Boeing has currently scheduled initial acceptance of the first two aircraft for the first quarter 2010 when the aircraft will come into Commonwealth ownership.

The Commonwealth will eventually acquire six Wedgetail aircraft at a cost of more than (AUS) $4 billion.

Australian DoD

F-35 JSF Next Generation Air Power

F-35 B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)

November 25, 2009 -- The Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner, today announced that the Australian Government had approved acquisition of the first batch of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft as foreshadowed in the 2009 Defence White Paper.

There has been considerable public interest in the potential acquisition of the F-35 JSF. The Government examined the JSF’s capabilities very carefully in the context of the Air Combat Capability Review and 2009 Defence White Paper deliberations, and remains confident that the JSF’s combination of stealth, advanced sensors, networking and data fusion capabilities, when integrated into the networked Australian Defence Force (ADF), will ensure Australia maintains its strategic capability advantage out to 2030.

The Government has approved acquisition of the first 14 Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) Joint Strike Fighters and infrastructure and support required for initial training and testing, at an estimated cost of $3.2 billion.

“Approval of this first batch of JSF aircraft is evidence of the Rudd Government’s strong commitment to defence and our commitment to implementing the Defence White Paper,” Senator Faulkner said.

Approval of the next batch of aircraft and all necessary support and enabling capabilities, sufficient to establish three operational squadrons and a training squadron of CTOL JSF, will be considered in 2012. This will fulfil our White Paper commitment to acquire three operational squadrons comprising not fewer than 72 aircraft.

“By 2012, Defence will have much firmer cost estimates for the remaining aircraft and necessary support and enabling capabilities as part of the planned first multi-year buy that is expected to comprise over 1000 aircraft for the US, Australia and other partners. This will allow for much more effective planning of the final JSF acquisition in the context of the overall Defence Capability Plan,” Senator Faulkner said.

Acquisition of an additional operational squadron – bringing the total number of JSF aircraft to around 100 – will be considered at a later date in conjunction with a decision on the withdrawal of the F/A-18F Super Hornet.

Australia’s first JSF aircraft will be delivered in the United States in 2014 to commence initial training and test activities. Australia’s first operational squadron will be based at Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, and is planned to be ready for operations in 2018. All three operational squadrons are planned to be in service in 2021.

The decision follows many years of unprecedented evaluation and planning by all nine countries involved in the JSF’s development.

“Defence has done more analysis on this platform than any other platform in the acquisition history of the ADF,” Senator Faulkner said.

Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin said: “The JSF acquisition will allow Australia to maintain its regional air combat superiority. It will also enable Australia to effectively contribute to regional security and enhances opportunities for interoperability and commonality to support future coalition operations.”

To date, 25 Australian companies have won approximately US$200 million in the development and early production phase of the JSF. As Australia and other countries commit to JSF acquisition, significantly increased opportunities for Australian industry will open up, as agreed in the Industry Participation Plan with Lockheed Martin and its JSF industry partners.

Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, Greg Combet said: “Government and Industry will need to continue to work together as JSF Team Australia to maximise benefits for Australian industry in the JSF Program in the face of stiff international competition. Consideration of acquisition of the next batch of aircraft in 2012 will provide Government the opportunity to review Lockheed Martin’s progress on implementing the Industry Participation Plan.

“It is important that where Australian companies offer value for money, Lockheed Martin and its JSF industry partners give fair consideration to Australian industry,” Minister Combet said.

The Government’s acquisition decision will also allow Lockheed Martin and its JSF industry partners to establish formal relationships with Australian industry to meet Australia’s defence self reliance requirements in supporting the JSF.

“Our commitment to the JSF will allow Australian industry to become integrated into the global JSF support system, ensuring our aircraft are supported in the most cost effective way. Commitment to the JSF also opens up opportunities for Australian industry to contribute to regional and global support of the JSF,” Minister Combet said.

The Program Manager, Air Vice-Marshal John Harvey said: “This acquisition decision cements our commitment to the JSF Program and our commitment to the US and other international partners to make the JSF Program a great success.”

Australian DoD

Army Testing XM-25 'Smart' Weapon

November 11, 2009 -- Fort Belvoir, Va -- A Soldier successfully shoulder-fired a "smart" High Explosive Airburst, or HEAB round for the first time Aug. 11 from the XM-25 weapon system at Aberdeen Test Center, Md.

The Army plans on purchasing more than 12,500 XM-25 systems starting in 2012, which will be enough to put one in each Infantry squad and Special Forces team, according to officials at Program Executive Office-Soldier.

At first glance, the XM-25 looks like something out of a Sci-Fi movie. It features an array of sights, sensors and lasers housed in a Target Acquisition Fire Control unit on top, an oversized magazine behind the trigger mechanism, and a short, ominous barrel wrapped by a recoil dampening sleeve.

Unlike a Hollywood prop, however, this weapon is very real and designed to accurately deliver an explosive round that neutralizes targets at distances of up to 700 meters - well past the range of the rifles and carbines that most Soldiers carry today.

"What makes this weapon system truly revolutionary is the ability to target the enemy, pass on this information to the sensors and microchips of its 25mm HEAB round, and have that round detonate over the target," explained Maj. Shawn Murray, a Soldier Weapons assistant product manager in PEO Soldier, the organization responsible for developing the XM-25.

"When the HEAB round explodes, the target is peppered with fragmentation," Murray said. "Our studies indicate that the XM-25 with HEAB is 300 percent more effective at incapacitating the enemy than current weapons at the squad level."

Because of the XM-25's unique TAFC and HEAB round, Soldiers will be able to engage enemy forces located in the open and "in defilade" -behind cover, such as walls, rocks, trenches, or inside buildings. The semi-automatic weapon's magazine holds four 25mm rounds and can be employed at night or during inclement weather thanks to the XM25's built-in thermal sight.

After only five minutes of instruction at the Aberdeen Test Center, Sgt. Logan E. Diveley from the 180th Infantry Regiment was able to put his first HEAB round through a building's window and take out an enemy mannequin at 200 meters.

When asked what he thought of the weapon, Diveley responded, "I've been in over nine contacts with the enemy during my two tours in Iraq. Their ambushes were usually initiated with an IED and followed up with small arms fire from behind walls and buildings, places where it was hard for us to get at them. The XM-25 would have taken care of things and made our jobs much easier."

Once downrange and in the building where the defeated enemy mannequin lay, Maj. Murray noted the limited collateral damage associated with the XM-25.

"Because of its pinpoint accuracy and relatively small warheads, the XM25 can neutralize an enemy without the need to destroy a whole building," Murray said. "For our counter-insurgency operations to be successful, it is important to keep collateral damage to a minimum and to protect the civilian population. I think the XM-25 will prove itself many times over in Afghanistan," Murray said.

The XM-25 is being developed by PEO Soldier, the Army acquisition organization responsible for nearly every piece of equipment worn or carried by Soldiers. This includes items ranging from socks, to weapons, to advanced sensor and communication devices. PEO Soldier bases much of its work on the feedback from individual Soldiers, developing or procuring solutions to meet those needs.

The development of the XM-25 is one such a program, designed to provide Soldiers a solution for dealing with enemies in the open and behind cover that is more precise, quicker to employ, and more cost effective than mortar, artillery, or airstrikes.

A Battlefield Scenario for the XM-25

An American patrol nears a walled, Afghan village when an enemy combatant looks over the wall and fires his AK-47 rifle at the oncoming U.S. Soldiers. The Americans return fire with their rifles and maneuver, but find it difficult to neutralize the enemy rifleman who repeatedly exposes himself for only a second, shoots, then ducks behind the thick wall. At this time, the patrol leader calls for the XM-25 gunner to take action.

Immediately, the XM-25 gunner aims the laser range-finder at the top of the wall where the enemy last ducked down. The gunner presses the laser range finder button on the front of the XM-25's trigger guard and records a distance to the wall of 451 meters. The distance is displayed on the TAFC's optical lens along with an adjusted aim point, or "cross hair," to help the soldier better aim the XM-25.

The adjusted aim point takes into account air pressure, temperature, and the ballistics of the 25mm round for the given range of 451 meters. The soldier then uses the increment button on the trigger guard and adds one more meter to the firing solution since the enemy combatant is about one meter behind the wall.

Upon pulling the trigger, the TAFC programs the HEAB round in the chamber of the weapon, telling the round to explode at 452 meters from launch point. The HEAB round departs the rifled barrel, arms at 30 meters, clears the top of the wall at 451 meters and explodes its two warheads at 452 meters, right above the enemy. The entire firing sequence takes the gunner less than five seconds to aim and fire and another 2.5 seconds for the round to fly and explode over the target, thereby clearing the way for the patrol to resume its mission. (Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner writes for PEO Soldier - Soldier Weapons)

LCS 2 Completes Acceptance Trials

The littoral combat ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Independence (LCS 2) pulls away from the pier for her acceptance trials at Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Elizabeth Vlahos/Released)

November 19, 2009, Washington -- The future USS Independence (LCS 2) successfully completed acceptance trials this week, after completing a series of graded in-port and underway demonstrations for the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).

Acceptance Trials are the first opportunity for INSURV to test the ship and its systems.

During two days underway, the ship completed demonstrations of the combat systems suite, steering, anchoring and propulsion. The ship achieved a top speed of almost 45 knots during the full power demonstration.

"Independence performed extremely well during trials," said Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program Manager Rear Adm. James Murdoch. "LCS 2 conducted two outstanding days at sea. We look forward to delivering this critical asset to the fleet."

The ship was presented to INSURV with high levels of completion in production and test. The official results of the trials, including the type and number of trial cards, are currently being reviewed by the Navy.

Members of the LCS 2 pre-commissioning unit were on board Independence during trials to see how their future ship will perform.

"It's going to change the way we do things, particularly in the surface force," said Cmdr. Curt Renshaw, Independence Blue Crew commanding officer. "This ship allows us the flexibility to complement almost all the pillars of the Maritime Strategy."

"This is a significant milestone for the surface warfare community and the Navy at large - the impact that Freedom and Independence will have on the fleet will be immediate. We are another step closer to having this important capability as part of the surface force, and I applaud the team effort - Sailor, civilian and contractor - that went into making this happen," said Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, commander, Naval Surface Forces.

Acceptance trials are the last significant milestone before delivery of the ship to the Navy. Ship delivery is expected to occur next month, with the ship's commissioning Jan. 16 in Mobile, Ala.

Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group Enters 5th Fleet

The aft lookout stands the watch as a landing craft, air cushion prepares to enter the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). (Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eva-Marie Ramsaran/Released)

November 18, 2009 -- After transiting the western Pacific Ocean, the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) entered the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations this week to relieve the Bataan ARG.

While deployed to the region, Sailors and Marines from the Bonhomme Richard ARG and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) will conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO), which help set conditions for security and promote regional stability and global prosperity.

"We've been training for the MSO mission in this region for quite some time," said Capt. Rodney Clark, the ARG's commodore. "We're ready to execute when tasked."

While transiting the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR en route to the 5th Fleet AOR, the ARG/MEU team participated in humanitarian projects during Marine Exercise 2009, sending Sailors and Marines ashore in Indonesia and Timor-Leste to provide medical and dental care to more than 2,000 patients in cooperation with local health care officials.

Sailors and Marines also volunteered in over a dozen community service projects during four port visits in the area. Projects ranged from cleaning kennels at an animal shelter in Guam, repairing playground structures in Phuket, Thailand, and interacting with children at orphanages in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Maritime Security Operations develop security in the maritime environment and complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment to transport personnel and weapons or serve as a venue for attack.

The Bonhomme Richard ARG consists of three ships – amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6); amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7); and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).

In addition, the ARG includes the command element, Amphibious Squadron 7; Tactical Air Control Squadron 12, Detachment 1; Helicopter Sea Combat 23, Detachment 3; Assault Craft Unit 1, Detachment B; Assault Craft Unit 5, Detachment F; Beachmaster Unit 1, Detachment B; and Fleet Surgical Team 9.

C-17 Heavy Airlifter Simulator Deliveried

November 18, 2009 -- Greg Combet, the Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, and Shayne Neumann, the Federal Member for Blair, announced today that the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will benefit from the achievement of a major training milestone for Australia’s C-17 Heavy Airlift Capability.

“The C-17 Simulator commissioning marks the start of aircrew training in Australia. From January 2010, RAAF C-17 pilots will undertake their training at Amberley instead of travelling to the United States (US),” said Mr Combet.

“The attainment of the C-17 simulator is another successful outcome for the C-17 Heavy Air Lift Project and further testimony to the cooperative relationship between the Department of Defence, the United States Air Force and its contractors.”

The Federal Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann, attended the ceremony accepting the simulator at RAAF Base Amberley.

“We are very proud as locals that the C-17 simulator will provide training outcomes which greatly enhance the support to Australian Defence Force operations and humanitarian relief efforts being provided by the RAAF C-17 fleet,” said Mr Neumann.

“The Simulator is a replica of the C-17 cockpit and provides realistic training conditions for all C-17 missions. Operational conditions can be generated at a wide variety of airfields in Australia and overseas,” said Mr Combet.

The Boeing Company built the Simulator in the US and installed it in the purpose-built facility at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, constructed by John Holland Group. The Simulator itself was transported to Amberley using two C-17 aircraft.

The Simulator is the centerpiece of the C-17 Training System. The complete system includes a Maintenance Trainer to be delivered in 2010 and a Cargo Compartment Trainer to be delivered in 2013. Australia is the only foreign C-17 operator to own a Simulator. The other 20 Simulators are owned and operated by the United States Air Force.

Australian DoD

Israel wants production role in F-35

F-35 JSF. (Photo:

November 13, 2009 -- While Israel is interested in purchasing the fifth-generation stealth Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin, it will likely hinge its order on US acceptance of its demand that Israeli defense industries be allowed to participate in the aircraft's production, senior defense officials said Thursday.

On Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and discussed potential Israeli involvement in the production of the JSF, also known as the F-35. In the past, Israeli aerospace companies have been integrated into the production of aircraft purchased by the IAF.

During their meeting, as well as a meeting last week between Defense Ministry director-general Pinhas Buchris and officials from Lockheed Martin, the Israeli officials stressed that they would be reluctant to purchase the aircraft immediately if Israeli companies were kept out of the deal.

Officials said, though, that if the price of the aircraft were reduced from the expected $130 million, Israel would be more willing to compromise in following through with its initial plan to purchase the aircraft in the coming months. If that happens, the JSF will begin arriving in Israel in 2014.

In the coming weeks, officials said, the Defense Ministry will receive an official letter from the Pentagon detailing the price of the aircraft and also finalizing some of the outstanding issues between the sides regarding the integration of Israeli defense suites into the plane, as well as allowing Israel to independently maintain the aircraft without needing to send it to Europe for repairs.

In July, the Defense Ministry submitted an official letter of request to the Pentagon to purchase its first squadron of 25 F-35 stealth fighter jets, but officials have said that the target date for a contract at the beginning of 2010 would likely not be met. As a result, the arrival of the aircraft - initially predicted to begin in 2014 - would likely be postponed by at least one or two years.


German Frigate Hessen Teams With Eisenhower for Training

November 10, 2009, At Sea -- The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) conducted the U.S Navy's first simulated replenishment-at-sea with a German warship during as part of a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) Nov. 3-24.

The Sachsen-class German frigate Hessen (F 221) participated in the simulation as part of a joint training exercise between the United States and German navies.

"The refueling simulation with the Hessen was a dry hook-up, so no fuel was transferred," said Ens. Heinz Moeller, an air defense officer in the operations department aboard the Hessen. "We participated in the training exercise because it was a good opportunity and also it was the first time a warship from the German Navy has done a refueling exercise with an American aircraft carrier."

Moeller stated that his role in the simulation was a supporting one, serving as a liaison between the two Navies and to help overcome any language barriers on the bridge-to-bridge radio channels.

"The procedure went so smoothly, there was really no need for me to serve as a translator," said Moeller. "The process was nearly perfectly run, and no language issues or otherwise arose during the training. We've had very good experiences with American ships within the standing NATO maritime groups, but not within a carrier strike group. It was an incredible and overwhelming experience."

Moeller also commented on his positive experience aboard Ike and the crew's impressive professionalism and support during his embark. "Everyone was very kind to me, and when I spoke with many of the crew members, they reflected the pride and legacy Ike carries," said Moeller. "It was my first time aboard an aircraft carrier, and I really felt like I was welcomed as a crew member on the Eisenhower."

Moeller stressed how few opportunities there are in the German Navy to perform a RAS with an American aircraft carrier, and that the crew of Hessen didn't want to pass up on an opportunity to gain a new experience. "The crew of the Hessen, and I suspect every Sailor in the U.S. Navy, has a drive to gain new experiences and do new things," said Moeller. "It was a perfect show of seamanship from the Eisenhower, and from the Hessen as well. I was happy to be a part of it."

Eisenhower is conducting a COMPTUEX in preparation for its upcoming 2010 deployment. COMPTUEX, scheduled by Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet and conducted by a training team led by Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic, is a joint/combined three-week exercise off the East Coast of the United States.

Boeing Completes Key Tests of Self-Protection System Aboard Australian Wedgetail AEW&C Aircraft

November 9, 2009, Seattle -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] announced today that it has successfully completed tests of the Counter Measures Dispenser System (CMDS) for Project Wedgetail, Australia's Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system. The tests were conducted in September and October off the Washington coast and over Puget Sound, Wash.

Completion of CMDS testing is a key step toward verification of the Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft's overall Electronic Warfare Self-Protection (EWSP) capability. EWSP is designed to warn aircrews about and protect against missiles targeting the aircraft. The CMDS responds to threats by releasing chaff and flares to decoy incoming missiles away from the aircraft. Boeing and its industry supplier, BAE Systems, developed and integrated the CMDS system.

Testing included 19 flights that dispensed more than 500 units of chaff and flares. The AEW&C team collected data via five high-speed video cameras mounted on the Wedgetail aircraft and an additional video camera attached to a T-33 chase plane.

"The testing program verified that the Boeing-installed self-protection system will effectively counter its intended threats reliably and safely," said Kermit Hollinger, Electronic Warfare manager for Boeing AEW&C Programs. "This milestone is the latest example of Boeing's ability to integrate military systems onto commercial aircraft and provide our customers with low-risk, cost-effective solutions to their operational requirements."

Project Wedgetail includes six 737 AEW&C aircraft plus ground support segments for mission crew training, mission support and system maintenance.

The 737 AEW&C aircraft, based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 commercial airplane, is designed to provide airborne battle-management capability with an advanced multirole electronically scanned radar and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles. Able to track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously, the mission crew can direct offensive and defensive forces while maintaining continuous surveillance of the operational area.


BAE Systems Completes Indian Hawk Aircraft Deliveries

Final Indian Air Force Students graduate. (Photo: BAE Systems)

November 5, 2009, Warton, UK -- After completing a flight development contract for the Indian Air Force (IAF), BAE Systems has delivered the 24th and final UK built Indian Hawk.

Following a 3,000 mile journey across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the aircraft, flown by BAE Systems test pilots, arrived safely at Air Force Station Bidar to join the rest of the Hawk fleet in delivering fast jet training to the IAF.

The aircraft, HT001, which was actually the first IAF Hawk to be built, has, for nearly three years served as a flight test platform and proving ground for the integration of new systems and capabilities onto the IAF Hawk fleet .

As well as development and acceptance flights, HT001 was also a key component in the programme which saw Indian Air Force flying instructors training to teach student pilots on the Hawk. This programme took place prior to the delivery of Hawks to India allowing the Indian training programme to start at the earliest opportunity.

Michael Christie, Senior Vice President, India for BAE Systems Military Air Solutions, said: “Hawk has brought a step change in pilot training capabilities for the IAF and this aircraft, which was the first India Hawk to be built, has been a key part of developing further capabilities for the Indian Air Force.

“During its time here at BAE Systems, HT001 has proven to be extremely reliable, delivering excellent service from its time as a training platform for Indian Air Force instructors, through to the on-time and to budget completion of the recent flight development programme.

“The first Hawk was delivered to the IAF in November 2007 and other than this final development aircraft, deliveries were completed in 2008. Whilst this marks the completion of aircraft deliveries by BAE Systems to the Indian Air Force, we continue to provide support services to the IAF, and work closely with our industrial partners, HAL, in meeting the fast jet training needs of the Indian Air Force.”

In arriving at Air Force Station Bidar, the home of the Indian Hawk fleet, HT001 becomes the 860th Hawk delivered across the globe.

BAE Systems

India deepens defense ties with Israel

November 8, 2009 -- Amid Israeli efforts to bolster military ties and export military hardware, the Indian Chief of Staff Gen. Deepak Kapoor arrived in Israel on Saturday for talks with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.

Kapoor will hold talks with Ashkenazi as well as other senior Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He will visit Yad Vashem in Jerusalem during his four-day visit, as well as the IDF's Southern Command.

Israel and India enjoy close defense ties and Israel last year overtook Russia as the number-one supplier of military platforms to India after breaking the $1 billion mark in new contracts signed annually.

According to press reports, India is interested in working with Israel on submarine-launched cruise missiles, ballistic missile defense systems, laser-guided systems, satellites as well as unmanned aerial vehicles.

The visit to Israel comes just before the first anniversary of the attacks last November in Mumbai against a hotel as well as a Chabad House, during which over 170 people were killed, including the Chabad emissary to Mumbai and his pregnant wife.

Since the attack, Israel has assisted India in beefing up its security, particularly along its coast, where the terrorists allegedly infiltrated from nearby Pakistan.

Last Tuesday, Kapoor was quoted as saying that South Asia was infested with terror groups and there was a possibility that attacks of the sort that happened at Mumbai could happen again.

"We have to take all steps to prevent any Mumbai-type attacks. We cannot rule out apprehensions of such possibilities," Kapoor was quoted as saying by news sites.

"India cannot afford to witness a repeat of 26/11. May I therefore recommend that the nation needs to forge ahead towards acquiring a nationwide architecture for facilitating speedy flow of intelligence, an updated database for providing decision support based on geographical information system and a network of quick execution of plans by the nearest suitable security agency."


Patrol Boat Upgrade For Federated States Of Micronesia

November 6, 2009 -- The latest in a series of Australian-sponsored Pacific Patrol Boat refits has been completed and the refurbished vessel handed-back to the Federated States of Micronesia at a ceremony at the Rosshaven Marine Shipyard in Townsville QLD today.

Representing the Department of Defence, Acting Director General of Pacific and East Timor Branch, Mr David Hallett handed over the newly refitted Pacific Patrol Boat FSS MICRONESIA to the Secretary of Justice of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Honourable Mr Maketo Robert.

The handover ceremony included an opening prayer and blessing of the ship, a parade by the Ship’s crew and the signing of an official Certificate of Completion by the General Manager of Rosshaven Marine Mr Christopher Helps, David Hallett and the Honourable Mr Maketo Robert.

Under Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program - sponsored and funded by Defence’s International Policy Division - 22 Pacific Patrol Boats (PPB) were built and gifted to 12 Pacific nations between 1987 and 1997. The 31.5 metre PPBs are built to a commercial standard and are used by Pacific nations for maritime surveillance and response, in particular fisheries patrols.

Each PPB will undergo a six-month life extension refit that will see the repair and refurbishment of key systems to allow a further 15 years operation, bringing the total operational life of the boats to 30 years.

The refit program includes repairs to ageing hulls and superstructures, structural modifications to improve and strengthen the hull, improvements in refrigeration and air conditioning systems, engine, generator and gearbox overhauls and installation of advanced navigation systems.

Since 2003, thirteen PPBs have completed life extension refits in North Queensland.

The Federated States of Micronesia has three PPBs – PALIKIR, MICRONESIA and INDEPENDENCE. Patrol Boat PALIKIR completed its refit in 2007. A refit of Patrol Boat INDEPENDENCE is anticipated in 2011.

Australian DoD

New York Arrives in Big Apple

The amphibious dock landing ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) New York (LPD 21) transits New York Harbor past the Statue of Liberty. The ship has 7.5 tons of steel from the World Trade Center in her bow and will be commissioned Nov. 7 in New York City. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric M. Durie/Released)

November 2, 2009, At Sea -- The future USS New York (LPD 21) arrived in the Big Apple Nov. 2, to hundreds of cheering New Yorkers lined up along the waterfront near the World Financial Center.

The ship left its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Oct. 29 to make the voyage to its namesake state for a ten-day long celebration and a commissioning ceremony scheduled Nov. 7.

The ship's Sailors, embarked Marines and naval Reservists manned the rails in full dress uniform at 6 a.m. for the historical transit down the Hudson River. The first event on the crew's busy schedule was a 21-gun salute rendered as the ship sailed past ground zero.

"The salute made me feel proud to be here, and a part of this," said Pfc. Justin Tullock, an embarked Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26. "It really pumped me up and made me feel like we're really doing something great here."

The night prior to the ship's trip up the Hudson River, the crew was honored with a visit from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He visited with the Sailors and Marines on board, and watched a little of the World Series game on the mess decks.

The ship has been a long time coming. It began to come to life in 2001 when New York Governor George Pataki asked the Secretary of the Navy to name one of the new LPD 17-class warships after the state for its sacrifices of those who perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The ship's builders, the Navy and the crew embraced the name and the responsibility that comes with it.

"I've been working on this for four years, and it's exciting to see the actual ship almost complete," said retired Rear Adm. Robert A. Ravitz, co-chairman of the ship's commissioning committee.

For many on board New York, Nov. 2 represents bringing a piece of something lost on that tragic day home to the state of New York.

"I was talking to the head of the 9/11 committee earlier, and he said that for the city it sorts of brings it all together," said Ravitz. "We really want this to be a celebration for the ship and its crew. They have a connection to 9/11, and we will host two receptions for first responders and their families on board this week, but this day is for celebration."

The ship arrived at Pier 88 in Manhattan at 10 a.m., followed by a welcome ceremony held on the pier. The New York Military Militia and bagpipers presented the colors at the ceremony.

"I visited this ship in Mississippi when it was being built and it was impressive then, but now it's even better," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "After being on board last night, I can see this ship is a lot like a New Yorker; it's strong, independent and proud, and don't even think about getting in her way."

Seven and a half tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center wreckage can be found within the ship's hull, and the ship's seal displays representations of the twin towers and incorporates many other symbols and colors meant to honor first responders from the New York Police Department and Port Authority of New Jersey and New York.

Events throughout the following days will include two receptions for 9/11 first responders and their families, a trip to ground zero for the ship's crew and the ship's commissioning ceremony Nov. 7.

USS New York is scheduled to leave New York City Nov. 12 to return to its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk.

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