BAE Systems Awarded Contracts Worth £119 Million to Enhance Support of RAF Aircraft

Harrier (Photo:

Warton, England – BAE Systems has been awarded two contracts worth £119 million by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to provide additional support to current in-service Tornado and Harrier aircraft under a strategy known as CAPS (Commodity Availability Procurement Strategy).

Under CAPS, the current Tornado aircraft availability contract (known as ATTAC) has been amended to include an availability service to support key primary warning and defensive protection equipment for both the Tornado GR4 and Harrier fleets. This first availability service contract, worth £103.5 million, will see BAE Systems assume responsibility for the provision of spares and repairs, and technical, software and test equipment support for a range of EW equipment.

A second contract, with a value of £15.5 million, is to provide wheel, tyre and brake service across the Nimrod MR2, Harrier, Hawk and VC10 fleets.

Steve Millward, Tornado & Harrier Managing Director for BAE Systems said: “Currently key commodity items such as the EW equipment and other multi-aircraft items such as wheels and brakes are managed by individual IPTs within the MOD. Under the CAPS strategy BAE Systems will take responsibility for improving the in-service availability of frontline aircraft to ensure they are available when and where they are needed

“The development of the CAPS strategy and subsequent award of this contract for Tornado and Harrier is proof that the continued partnership between BAE Systems and the MOD on current availability contracts is working well.”

Group Captain Chris Daykin, the MOD Director for the CAPS programme, said: “CAPS will optimise existing aircraft availability contracts by removing MOD dependencies, gaining better value for money and assuring operational outputs. This is the achievement of a major milestone, and the first contractual result for CAPS.”

BAE Systems and the MOD continue to further develop the strategy to cover other commodity items that will support in-service aircraft.(

Russia Boosts Production of Engines for Iskander-M Missiles

The Iskander-M system (Photo:

February 6, 2009, Omsk, Siberia -- Russia's Omsk engine design and production bureau has started large-scale production of engines for missiles deployed on the Iskander-M tactical missile systems, a senior company official said on Friday.

The Iskander-M system (NATO reporting name SS-26 Stone) is equipped with two solid-propellant single-stage 9M723K1 guided missiles with "quasi-ballistic" capability.

"The company has received a large defense ministry order to manufacture engines for Iskander-M systems. The first batch must be supplied by the end of February," said Valery Kovalchuk, the bureau's deputy general director.

Kovalchuk said that the company had all necessary design, testing and production assets to ensure full-cycle production of the engines, and the current order would keep the firm working at full capacity for the next five years.

The Iskander-M system has a range of 400 km (250 miles) and can reportedly carry conventional and nuclear warheads.

Russia is planning to equip at least five missile brigades with Iskander-M systems by 2016. So far, two missile battalions on combat duty in the North Caucasus military district have been fully equipped with Iskander-M, according to some military sources.

President Dmitry Medvedev threatened in November to retaliate over the U.S. missile shield plans in central Europe by deploying Iskander-M missiles in the country's westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

However, a high ranking Russian Defense Ministry source recently said that Russia had taken no practical measures to deploy the systems in Kaliningrad, and Russian officials have said they expect the new U.S. administration to change its stance on the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic. (RIA Novosti)

IAF strikes South Gaza Targets After Two Rockets Hit Israel

February 7, 2009, The Israel Air Force struck targets in southern Gaza on Friday a few hours after Palestinian militants fired two rockets from the coastal strip into Israel.

An Israel Defense Forces spokesman confirmed the air strikes. The spokesman said the targets included four smuggling tunnels, as well as a weapons storage facility, which caused a series of secondary explosions to be heard in the area.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Palestinian witnesses said no one was wounded in the IAF strikes. The first of the rockets fired by Gaza militants Friday hit the Sha'ar Hanegev region, the IDF said. The attack caused no casualties or damage.

Three hours later, a rocket hit near the coastal city of Ashkelon. No casualties were reported in that attack either.

An IDF spokesman said the first rocket was fired from the northern Gazan town of Beit Lahiya.

On Thursday evening, IDF soldiers killed a Palestinian militant who approached the Gaza-Israel border and drew a grenade.

The grenade subsequently exploded as a result of the soldiers' gunfire, killing the militant. There were no casualties among the troops, who were from the Golani infantry brigade. The incident took place near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha.

The troops later searched the area from which the militant had come, Army Radio said, then returned to Israeli territory.

The incident came a few hours after senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad headed to Cairo to meet with Egyptian mediators over negotiations for a truce with Hamas in Gaza.

The cease-fire that ended Israel's 22-day offensive against Hamas in the coastal territory two weeks ago has been ruptured by intermittent fighting.

On Wednesday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip launched a mortar shell at southern Israel, which exploded in the Eshkol Regional Council.

There were no casualties reported in the incident, which came a day after Gaza militants fired the first Grad rocket at Israel since the end of the IDF campaign in Gaza. (

U.S. Army Extends Lockheed Martin’s M299 Launcher Contract

February 4, 2009, Orlando, Florida -- Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has received a $31.3 million contract modification to provide additional M299 Launchers and related equipment to the U.S. Army. The M299 is used aboard a variety of platforms to launch all variants of the HELLFIRE missile.

Under the modification to the $51.3 million Launcher Bridge 3 contract awarded in 2007, Lockheed Martin will supply an additional 298 M299 helicopter-mounted four-rail missile launchers, 134 launcher electronic assemblies (LEAs) and multiple spares. The original contract called for delivery of 430 launchers and 376 LEAs to U.S. and international forces, and it also included multiple spares, engineering services and depot support.

Deliveries under the original Bridge 3 contract are currently underway. Lockheed Martin is increasing the rate of production to accommodate the additional launchers, LEAs and spares. With the additional orders, deliveries are scheduled to be completed in 2011.

“The M299’s versatility supports multiple missions in a single sortie by any of several platforms,” said Ken Musculus, program director for Air-to-Ground Missile Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Both the M299 and its modernized lightweight successor will accommodate the new JAGM [Joint Air-to-Ground Missile]. This will ensure seamless integration of JAGM into the tri-services arsenal.”

Lockheed Martin produces the electronics for the M299 launcher at its facility in Ocala, FL. Marvin Engineering in Inglewood, CA, performs final assembly and test. This contract update will extend M299 production activity in Ocala and Inglewood until 2011.

The all-digital M299 “smart” launcher supports HELLFIRE II or LONGBOW HELLFIRE missiles. Its ability to fire multiple missile variants in any sequence provides maximum operational flexibility on the battlefield. The M299 is integrated on the AH 64D Apache LONGBOW, AH-1Z Cobra, Eurocopter Tiger, SH-60-B Seahawk and UK AH MK1 Apache helicopters.

More than 2,000 M299 launchers have been produced for the U.S. Armed Forces as well as international forces equipped with HELLFIRE weapon systems.

Lockheed Martin was awarded a $30 million contract last year to lead the U.S. Army’s modernization of the M299 launcher family. Building on experience gained on producing and supporting the fielded and combat-proven M299, this next-generation lightweight launcher will carry HELLFIRE II and JAGM on attack and reconnaissance helicopters, with a growth path for the DAGR™ system and other manned and unmanned platforms. The modernized M299 launcher production is scheduled to begin in 2011. (

Russian Frigate Due Home After Anti-Piracy Duty Off Somalia

February 6, 2009, Kaliningrad -- The Russian missile frigate Neustrashimy, which took part in the anti-pirate operations in the Gulf of Aden, will return to its home port of Baltiysk on Saturday, a regional spokesman said on Friday.

The Pacific Fleet's Admiral Vinogradov destroyer replaced the Baltic Fleet frigate in the Gulf of Aden in January and is now escorting civilian vessels through areas where Somali pirates are active.

The Neustrashimy will be met in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad by Governor Georgy Boos, Baltic Fleet Commander Viktor Mardusin and government officials from Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The Neustrashimy entered service 16 years ago and since last September has been on duty in the Mediterranean and Red seas, escorting over 50 commercial vessels through the Gulf of Aden since joining international anti-pirate operations off the coast of Somali in late October.

It is the only Project 1154 Yastreb class missile frigate in active service with the Russian Navy to have been built before the collapse of the Soviet Union. It is designed as a general purpose ASW ship to follow on from the Krivak class frigates and incorporates some stealth technology.

The Neustrashimy's armament includes SS-N-25 Switchblade anti-ship missiles, SA-N-9 Gauntlet SAM, a 100-mm gun, torpedoes and depth charges. The frigate also carries a Ka-27 ASW helicopter. (RIA Novosti)

Boeing Receives Contract to Add Virtual Radar to US Navy T-45 Training System

T45 Goshawk (Photo:

February 05, 2009, St. Louis -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] received a $28.3 million contract on Jan. 21 for two Virtual Mission Training System (VMTS) retrofit kits that will integrate low-cost, realistic radar training into the U.S. Navy's T-45 Training System for undergraduate military flight officers (UMFO). Flight officers are the "backseaters" who operate weapons and electronic warfare systems.

"VMTS will enrich the UMFO's weapons-and-tactics curriculum, producing flight officers who are better prepared for carrier strike-fighter and electronic-attack duty," said Barbara Wilson, director and program manager of T-45 Training Systems for Boeing.

This phase of the VMTS program, which follows a requirements-definition phase, is scheduled for completion in September 2011. It calls for Boeing to finalize design, procure hardware, modify two aircraft and flight-test the system. The work involves T-45C aircraft and ground-station systems assigned to Training Air Wing 6, Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla. An additional 18 aircraft will be retrofitted with the system during the program's third phase, if funded.

VMTS provides an unclassified, mechanically scanned tactical radar that simulates air-to-air and air-to-ground modes as well as weapons and electronic warfare. These functions can be networked between the participating aircraft and instructor ground stations. The system will provide in-flight training against virtual enemy aircraft, including cooperative training with both real and virtual aircraft.

Boeing is currently under contract for 221 T-45 Goshawk trainer aircraft and recently rolled out the 215th from its St. Louis assembly facility. The two-seat Goshawk forms the heart of the fully integrated T-45 training system, which is in use at NAS Kingsville, Texas, and NAS Meridian, Miss., as well as at NAS Pensacola. The system includes high-fidelity instrument and flight simulators, computer-assisted classrooms and courseware, and a computerized training management asset.

Described by instructor-pilots as "eminently forgiving," the T-45 is the only jet trainer designed to land routinely at sink rates of greater than 700 feet per minute, which are required for aircraft carrier-approach landings. The Goshawk has logged more than 870,000 flight-hours and 59,000 aircraft carrier catapult launches and arrested landings since entering service in 1992 and has seen approximately 3,500 Navy, Marine Corps and international student aviators earn their wings. (

Iran Denies Claim Its Missiles Can Hit Anywhere in World

February 6, 2009, Moscow -- Iran has no missiles capable of striking any part of the world, the Islamic republic's ambassador to Russia said on Friday.

The head of Russia's RSC Energia space corporation told a news conference on Thursday that Iranian missiles could "reach any point on earth."

"Any claims to this effect are untrue. Our missiles have a very limited range," Mahmoud Reza Sajadi said at a news conference hosted by RIA Novosti.

He said Iran's efforts in the rocket sphere "are aimed at space research."

Iran put its first communications satellite, Omid (Hope), into a low Earth orbit on Monday.

The United States, France, Israel and Britain have already expressed concern over the launch. They have said that Tehran may be developing long-range ballistic missile technology that could be used to launch nuclear weapons. Iran insists that its space program is of an entirely peaceful nature. (RIA Novosti)

Some 70% of Russia's MiG-29 Fghters Unable to Fly

MIG 29 Fulcrum (Photo:

February 6, 2009, Moscow -- At least 200 MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters, or 70% of the total in service with the Russian Air Force, are too old to take to the skies, a Russian business daily said on Friday citing military experts.

Following a MiG-29 crash in East Siberia last December, the Defense Ministry admitted for the first time that Russia's MiG-29 fleet was mostly outdated and not capable of performing combat duties.

The crash was the second in East Siberia involving a MiG-29 fighter in less than two months. In mid-October, a MiG-29 fighter crashed 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Domna airfield during a regular training flight. The pilot ejected safely.

Lt. Gen. Sergei Bainetov said on Wednesday that all aircraft of this type were thoroughly inspected after the crash and the probe revealed "traces of corrosion on the tail unit of some of the planes."

Only 30% of the MiG-29s were allowed to resume flights after a month-long suspension.

The Kommersant daily said in an article on Friday that experts believe the aircraft, which was developed in the 1970s and supplied to the Air Force between 1983 and 1993, has become obsolete and needs to be removed from active service.

In the past, the Russian Air Force rejected radical modernization of MiG-29s, choosing the upgrade of Su-27 Flanker and MiG-31 Foxhound interceptors.

The production of new MiG-29s at an assembly plant near Moscow was stopped a long time ago, and in the 1990s Russia built the aircraft mainly for exports from assembly kits inherited from the Soviet Union, Kommersant said.

Even though Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport has promised the Defense Ministry that it will deliver in the near future 34 MiG-29SMTs, rejected by Algeria, to the Russian Air Force, these aircraft will not be able to replace 281 MiG-29 fighters currently in service.

Russia's first fifth-generation fighter will make its maiden flight by the end of this year, but it will take at least five years to finally put it in service with the Air Force. Meanwhile, Russia may not be able to operate about a third of its fighter fleet, the paper said.

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is in charge of arms procurement, said on January 20 that Russia's fifth-generation fighter must be commissioned with the Air Force by 2015. (RIA Novosti)

Blue Ridge, 7th Fleet Sailors Visit Nagasaki

February 5, 2009, Nagasaki -- While in Nagasaki, flagship Sailors will connect the surrounding communities in a wide range of activities, beginning with friendly soccer and basketball games with Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) sailors from Ohmura Base.

Additionally, Sailors plan to visit Myojoo-en Children's Home to present a variety of sports equipment the children. A trip is also scheduled to the Nozomi No Mori Senior Citizens Home in Nagayo.

The crew is also hosting local government, civic, and business leaders for an onboard reception and ship tours.

Blue Ridge Commanding Officer Capt. Thom W. Burke said on behalf of his crew, "We are excited to be here and we look forward to enjoying the sites of Nagasaki, going to the Peace Park, and seeing the Lantern Festival. There are so many things to see in this city and we are very happy to be here."

Blue Ridge serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force (CTF) 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan. (

Russia denies Black Sea Fleet Poised for 'Emergency Action'

February 5, 2009, Moscow -- The Russian Navy dismissed on Thursday media reports claiming that the Russian Black Sea Fleet, based in Ukraine, had been put on alert and was preparing to urgently go to sea.

"I've been authorized to categorically deny this information as being inconsistent with reality and providing fertile soil for rumors and speculation. It's business as usual, and the Black Sea Fleet is performing its routine duties," said Navy spokesman Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo.

He suggested such reports could have been put out to deliberately fan tensions in the region.

Russia's Black Sea Fleet currently uses a range of naval facilities in Ukraine's Crimea as part of a 1997 agreement, under which Ukraine agreed to lease the bases to Russia until 2017.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko announced last summer that Ukraine would not extend the lease of the base in the Crimean city of Sevastopol beyond 2017, and urged Russia to start preparations for a withdrawal.

Russian media previously reported that Moscow was also looking at possible naval facilities in Yemen, Syria and Libya, among other countries. Russian military officials are also on record as saying Moscow could build up its presence in the Mediterranean to make up for the loss of Sevastopol. (RIA novosti)

Commander: Iran Enjoys Full Defense Capabilities, Equipment

February 5, 2009, Tehran -- The Islamic Republic's army enjoys everything needed for its defense, including equipment, weapons and tactics, lieutenant commander of the Iranian army said Thursday.

"Our forces, relying on their power of faith and vigorous young people that work for the army, are able to produce everything we need in the defense industries," Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Iranian Army Brigadier General Seyed Abdulrahim Mousavi said.

The power of faith, belief in victory and the successes that Iran has achieved in the last 30 years following the Islamic Revolution, are the causes of Iran's superiority in the region, he reiterated.

"As we recently witnessed in the Gaza war and prior to that in Hezbollah's victory against the Zionist regime (in summer 2006), despite Israel's hi-tech equipment, they (Palestinians and Lebanese) could defeat the armed-to-the-teeth army of Israel through relying on their self-belief and power of faith," Mousavi said.

The General also announced that the Army is establishing an independent air-defense base. (

Iran Received Two Mi-171 Helicopters

February 5, 2009 Ulan-Ude -- Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant today confirmed that the company has delivered two Mi-171 helicopters in its civil configuration to Iran.

The delivery has been done accordingly to a contract signed in the end of 2007, a company spokesman said on Monday.

The helicopters will be operated by Red Crescent Society - nongovernmental organization, the main activity of which is carrying out of humanitarian missions. The Society has its own aviation department and successful experience in operation of Russian helicopters.

The helicopters will be used for civil missions, particularly, for carrying out of search and rescue missions and transportation of people injured in natural calamities. As per the contract totally five Mi-171 helicopters are planned for delivery. Delivery to the customer of the second batch of the Mi-171 helicopters in quantity of 3 pieces is planned for the end of February - beginning of March of this year. (

Russian Strategic Bombers Fy Over Norwegian Sea on Routine Patrol

February 4, 2009, Moscow -- Two Russian Tu-95MS Bear-H strategic bombers carried out a routine patrol flight over the Norwegian Sea last night, an Air Force spokesman said on Wednesday.

"En route, the Russian long-range aircraft were accompanied by a pair of F-16s from Norway and Denmark as well as a Eurofighter Typhoon of the British Royal Air Force," Lt. Col. Vladimir Drik said.

The spokesman said that during the 12-hour mission, the crews practiced in-flight refueling.

Russia resumed regular strategic bomber patrol flights over the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans in August 2007.

All flights by Russian aircraft strictly comply with international law on the use of airspace over neutral waters, without violating the borders of other states. (RIA Novosti)

Boeing Submits A-10 Sustainment/Integration Contract Proposal to US Air Force

Feb. 04, 2009, St. Louis -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today submitted a proposal to the U.S. Air Force to participate as an associate prime contractor in the projected $1.6 billion A-10 Thunderbolt Life-Cycle Program Support (TLPS) contract to support the sustainment of the A-10 Thunderbolt II weapon system and integration of current and future requirements.

"We are confident the Air Force will continue to recognize the resources and competencies that The Boeing Company brings to the warfighter," said Steve Waltman, director of Boeing Aircraft Sustainment & Maintenance, a subdivision of the company's Maintenance, Modifications & Upgrades division. "We are committed to the standard of excellence we have exhibited on the current A-10 Wing Replacement Program and, if selected, we will deliver the same outstanding level of customer satisfaction and performance on the TLPS contract."

Boeing won the $2 billion A-10 Wing Replacement Program contract in June 2007. The program includes engineering services and the manufacture of up to 242 wing sets for the Air Force's A-10 fleet. The program is on schedule as Boeing develops the 3-D models that provide the engineering foundation for current wing sustainment needs, design improvements to prevent cracking, and production of the enhanced wing sets.

"The Boeing solution for the A-10 Wing Replacement Program allows the A-10 fleet to fly for at least another 20 years, providing the close-air support our troops need," said Bill Moorefield, A-10 program manager for Boeing. "Our proposal for TLPS takes that one step further -- providing support for the aircraft fleet while ensuring relevance and viability through 2028 and beyond."

The Air Force will select up to three contractors to compete for individual task and delivery orders over the life of the contract. Work will include avionics, mechanical, structural, and propulsion system upgrade work and a program integration support task.

The A-10, also known as the Warthog, was first introduced into the Air Force inventory in 1976. The twin-engine aircraft provides close-air support of ground forces and employs a wide variety of conventional munitions, including general-purpose bombs. The simple, effective and survivable single-seat aircraft can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles. The aircraft is currently supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. (

Russia May Build More Krivak Class frigates for India

February 4, 2009, Moscow -- Russia and India are negotiating a new contract on the delivery of additional Project 11356 frigates for the Indian navy, the head of Russia's arms exporter said on Wednesday.

The talks are being held despite disruptions in the construction of the ships.

Russia is building three Project 11356 Krivak IV-class guided missile frigates for the Indian navy at the Yantar shipyard in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad under a $1.6 billion contract signed in July, 2006.

"The contract deadlines are very tough and there were indeed some disruptions in the construction," Rosoboronexport's general director Anatoly Isaikin said in an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

"It took some time to deal with the problems. After additional work and testing were carried out, there were no complaints with regard to the frigate. Moreover, talks are being held for an additional order of this type of combat vessel," Isaikin said.

The official said most of the problems were related to advanced weaponry and electronics installed on the frigates to meet the requirements of the Indian navy.

A delegation of Indian military officials, led by India's deputy chief of the naval staff, Vice Adm. Raman P Suthan, visited the Yantar shipyard in October last year and said it was satisfied with the pace and the quality of the construction.

Russia previously built three Krivak-class frigates - INS Talwar, INS Trishul and INS Tabar - for India, and delivered them all in late 2004.

The final vessel of the current batch is due to be delivered to India by 2011-12. All of the frigates will be armed with eight BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missile systems and not the Club-N/3M54TE missile system, which was installed on previous frigates.

The Krivak-class frigate has deadweight of 4,000 metric tons and a speed of 30 knots, and is capable of accomplishing a wide range of maritime missions, primarily hunting down and destroying large surface ships and submarines.

"In terms of firepower it [the Krivak IV class frigate] has no rivals in the world in its class," Isaikin said. (RIA Novosti)

Boeing Receives $45M Follow-on Contract to Upgrade B-1 Bomber Avionics

February 3, 2009, Long Beach, California -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today said it has received a $45 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to upgrade avionics software on the B-1 long-range heavy bomber. The award is Sustainment Block 15 of an upgrade program launched in 2003.

The annual sustainment software blocks respond to changes in strategy and tactics and enable maximum operational flexibility. Boeing engineers in Long Beach, Calif., and Oklahoma City produce the software for the United States' fleet of 66 B-1s.

"This contract ensures that B-1 crews are equipped with the latest software improvements, allowing them to exploit the awesome potential of the bomber in its ever-expanding roles, in combination with precision-guided munitions," said Boeing B-1 Program Director Mike Harris.

Other B-1 upgrades completed over the past year include a Boeing team's integration of a Lockheed Martin-built targeting pod on the aircraft. The pod was deployed in theater and is performing well, according to Air Force reports.

The multimission B-1 has been carrying the largest strike payload in the Air Force inventory since its combat debut in 1999. Its low radar cross-section, variable-geometry wings, advanced avionics, and afterburning engines combine to provide long range, maneuverability, high speed and survivability.

B-1 aircraft delivered more tonnage of ordnance with fewer sorties than any other aircraft while supporting Operations Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. It continues to perform with distinction in Afghanistan and Iraq today, providing real-time, precise, persistent, flexible support to troops on the ground. (

North Korea Poised to Test Fire Long-Range Missile

February 3, 2009, Moscow -- Pyongyang is preparing to test fire a long-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead as far afield as the U.S., South Korean media reported on Tuesday.

The Yonhap news agency quoted a defense source in Seoul as saying U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials had recently identified a North Korean train carrying what was believed to be a Taepodong-2 missile. The source said that this could indicate the likelihood of a launch taking place in a month or two.

The Taepodong-2 has a range of up to 6,000 km (3,700 miles) and could therefore, in theory, reach the west coast of the U.S.

A Taepodong-2 missile, which can carry a payload of up to 500 kilograms, was last test launched in July 2006, a few months before the isolated communist state tested a nuclear bomb, although it reportedly malfunctioned 40 seconds into the flight.

"This new missile is likely to be an upgraded one," said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea studies professor at Dongguk University in Seoul, "We could even call it a Taepodong-3 missile."

The intelligence report of an imminent missile launch came after a U.S. expert told Yonhap that the North had nearly completed the construction of a new rocket-launch facility.

"I understand North Korea could launch a rocket from the facility as early as this spring if the Paektusan-2, more commonly known as the Taepodong-2, is ready for testing," Daniel Pinkston, a senior analyst at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, was cited as saying on January 29. (RIA Novosti)

Russia, Belarus to Sign Integrated Air-Defense System Agreement

February 3, 2009, Moscow -- Russia and Belarus will sign on Tuesday an agreement on the joint protection of the Union State airspace and the creation of an integrated regional air-defense system, a Russian presidential aide has said.

Sergei Prikhodko said the documents would be signed at a meeting of the Union State Supreme Council, which would be co-chaired in Moscow by Presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Alexander Lukashenko.

Prikhodko added that the agreements would significantly strengthen the countries' defense capability and advance their military cooperation.

Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin, commander of the Russian Air Force, previously said the integrated air-defense system would comprise five Air Force units, 10 anti-aircraft units, five technical service and support units and one electronic warfare (EW) unit.

The system will be placed under the command of a Russian or Belarusian Air Force or Air Defense Force senior commander, at the presidents' discretion.(RIA Novosti)

Boeing Successfully Completes Flights of 2 Wedgetail AEW&C Aircraft Modified in Australia


Febuary 02, 2009, Seattle -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has conducted successful functional check flights of two 737-700 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft modified in Australia for Project Wedgetail.

During each of the 2.5-hour flights on Jan. 21 and 28 from Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) base Amberley, pilot Doug Benjamin and first officer Ed Wilson performed a series of functional tests that verified the airworthiness of the aircraft's systems and structures.

The flight followed major aircraft modifications performed by Boeing Defence Australia at Amberley, including the installation and checkout of an advanced Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) antenna, ventral fins and mission system equipment.

"These successful functional check flights demonstrate the significant capability we have here in Amberley to execute the complex modification work required to transform a 737 airplane into an AEW&C platform," said Wayne Needs, vice president and general manager for Boeing Global Services & Support, Australia.

The two aircraft will be painted with RAAF markings over the next few weeks. Boeing will finish installing mission system equipment on both aircraft and conduct a series of ground checkouts later this year.

The Wedgetail program includes six 737-700 AEW&C aircraft plus ground support segments for mission crew training, mission support and system maintenance. Three aircraft are currently in modification at Amberley while the other three are being flight-tested at Boeing's facility in Seattle.

The 737-700 features 21st century avionics, navigation equipment and flight deck features. Because of its advanced technology, the aircraft requires minimal downtime for maintenance. The 737 series has a worldwide base of suppliers, parts and support equipment.

The modified AEW&C aircraft features Northrop Grumman's MESA antenna with integrated identification friend-or-foe capabilities; a flexible, open architecture for cost-effective future upgrades; an extensive communications suite; and aerial refueling capability. (

Russia to Deliver First Mi-171 Helicopter to India by Yearend

February 2, 2009, Moscow -- Russia will deliver the first of the 80 Mi-171 transport helicopters to India under a recent contract by the end of this year, an official from Russia's state arms exporter said on Monday.

The Mi-171 is an export version of the Mi-8 Hip helicopter. Currently in production at two factories in Kazan and Ulan-Ude, it features more powerful turboshaft engines and can transport up to 37 passengers.

"The contract was signed in December, we have already received the down payment and hope that the first helicopter will be delivered to India before the end of the year," the deputy director of Rosoboronexport, Viktor Komardin, said.

Some sources estimate the new deal is worth around $662 million.

India already has 150 Russian-made Mi-8 and Mi-17 medium-lift helicopters deployed in at least 12 squadrons.

The Indian Air Force used Mi-17 helicopters in a commando assault on the Nariman House Jewish center in November last year, which killed some of the 10 terrorists involved in a three-day bloody rampage in Mumbai.

Russia started this year deliveries of Mi-171 helicopters to another customer, Iran, under a $45 million contract.

They will be used by Iran's Red Crescent for rescue missions and the evacuation of people injured in natural disasters. (RIA Novosti)

Lassen Makes Port Call to Bali

January 31, 2009, Bali -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) arrived off the coast of Bali Jan. 31 for a scheduled port visit to the southern Indonesian island.

"This is a rare opportunity for Sailors to enjoy such a renowned tropical getaway. The officers and crew of USS Lassen are looking forward to taking full advantage of what Bali has to offer," said Cmdr. Anthony Simmons, Lassen's commanding officer. "We hope that our visit to Bali will open the door to visits by U.S. Navy ships in the future."

Lassen's crew of 330 Sailors, to include Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) 51 Detachment 6, will have a chance to explore the Bali through Morale, Welfare and Recreation tours offered to the crew.

Bali is part of the Lower Sunde Islands and is one of 33 provinces in Indonesia.

U.S. Navy port visits represent an important opportunity to promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, demonstrating commitment to regional partners and fostering growing relationships.

Lassen is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and patrols the 7th Fleet area of responsibility conducting routine operations. Operating in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets covering 48 million square miles, with approximately 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft, and 40,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any time.(

Russia to show MiG-35 jet fighter at Aero India 2009

February 2, 2009, Moscow -- Russia will use an upcoming air show in India to showcase its MiG-35 advanced jet fighter, a contender to win an Indian fighter tender, an official from Russia's state arms exporter said on Monday.

Aero India-2009, which will be held in the southern city of Bangalore on February 11-15, is one the largest aerospace shows in the Asia-Pacific region, hosting leading manufacturers, vendors and suppliers from 35 countries.

"The MiG will certainly make several demonstration flights after its presentation on the first day of the air show. We would like it to show its best features," said deputy director of Rosoboronexport Viktor Komardin.

Six major aircraft makers - Lockheed and Boeing from the United States, Russia's MiG, which is part of the UAC, France's Dassault, Sweden's Saab and the EADS consortium of British, German, Spanish and Italian companies - are in contention to win the $10 billion tender for 126 light fighters to be supplied to the Indian Air Force.

Komardin reiterated that the MiG-35 has excellent chances to win the tender because the Russian aircraft has superb performance characteristics and Russia and India share a long-standing partnership in strategic and military-technical cooperation.

"The MiG family is well-known in India. Our Indian partners have production and maintenance facilities ready to produce part for our aircraft," the official said.

The existing Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation program until 2010, lists up to 200 projects worth about $18 billion.

India is a key buyer of Russian weaponry, with contracts including the delivery of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier with at least 16 MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier fighters, the Smerch MLRS, and licensed production of T-90 tanks in India.

Russia signed in March a contract with the Indian Defense Ministry to upgrade around 70 MiG-29 fighters, in service since the 1980s, and agreed to develop a fifth-generation fighter together with India.

Russia's MiG-35 Fulcrum-F, an export version of the MiG-29M OVT (Fulcrum F) is a highly maneuverable air superiority fighter, which won high acclaim during the Le Bourget air show in France last year.

The fighter is powered by RD-33 OVT thrust vectoring engines. The RD-33 OVT engines provide superior maneuverability and enhance the fighter's performance in close air engagements.

Moscow said if MiG-35 wins the tender, Russia is ready to transfer all key technology to India's Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and provide assistance for the production of the aircraft in the country. (RIA Novosti)

Russia Formally Hands Over 3 Multi-Role Fighters to Indonesia

February 2, 2009, Makassar -- Russia and Indonesia finalized on Monday the handover of three Russian-made Su-30MK2 Flanker multi-role fighters.

The official ceremony took place after the aircraft were delivered to Indonesia on December 26 and January 17, assembled and underwent test flights. Under the $300 million contract, signed in 2007, Russia is also due to supply three Su-27SKM fighters to Jakarta in 2009-2010.

Two Su-27SK and two Su-30MK planes are already in service with the Indonesian Air Force.

"We hope for further contacts in the defense sphere with Russia," a senior Indonesian Defense Ministry official said at the ceremony.

The aircraft will join Indonesia's 11th Squadron and will be based at the Sultan Hasanuddin airbase on Sulawesi. (RIA Novosti)

Norway Conducted Very Successful NSM Test Firing

February 2, 2009 -- Late Saturday evening, Norwegian time, the Armed Forces conducted a very successful test firing of the Naval Strike Missile (NSM). The test firing demonstrated the highly advanced functionalities and performance of the NSM system developed by Kongsberg.

Fired at the Pt. Mugu artillery range in the US state of California, the missile completed the planned trajectory prior to striking the target ship. During its flight, the missile conducted a large number of advanced manoeuvres that clearly place it far ahead of competing systems.

The Naval Strike Missile (NSM) will be ready as scheduled for deployment on the Norwegian Navy's new Nansen and Skjold Class vessels.(

Iran Military News

Iranian Navy Plans to Build New Bases in Oman Sea

Februari 2, 2009, Tehran -- The Iranian Navy plans to establish new bases in the Sea of Oman by 2015.

The naval bases are currently under construction and they will be completed by the end of the fifth five year Socio-Economic Development Plan (2010-2015), said Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, commander of the Iranian Navy Sunday.

According to MNA, he said that the navy intends to expand its presence in the Sea of Oman region, in line with its strategic objectives. (


Iran's New Air Defense System Shields 55,000 Feet

Iran's new air defense system can strike targets as far as 55,000 feet, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar announced here on Saturday.

"This hi-tech system is able to target airplanes and other aggressive aircrafts at an altitude of 55,000 feet (about 18 kilometer)", Najjar said during the inauguration ceremony of a 100mm air defense system.

The minister underlined the home-grown technology for manufacturing the system and its ammunition, saying that it can intercept any kind of enemy fighters, helicopters and even cruise missiles.

"We have used hi-tech technology in the system including detection radars and target interceptors which are all made by our country's experts," he reiterated.

"One of the most important features of this weapon is its smart system which can track down the target and fire at it automatically," Najjar added.

The General pointed out that the shells used in the system are equipped with a fuse which enables them to explode and terminate the target from a close distance even if they fail to hit it directly.

"In addition to these radars, the new air defense system has a central unit for flak control and central unit for information coordination which are designed and made by defense ministry specialists," Iranian defense minister added.

Noting that the system has an important effect on Iranian defense capabilities, Najjar announced that tens of more important defense projects are due to be inaugurated during the ceremonies to mark the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution (from January 31 to February 9).

Tehran launched an arms development program during the 1980-88 Iraqi imposed war on Iran, to compensate for a US weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and fighter planes.

Yet, Iranian officials have always stressed that the country's military and arms programs serve defensive purposes and should not be perceived as a threat to any other country. (

From HAL to Ecuador: 7 choppers

January 30, 2009, Bangalore -- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which will be showcasing wide array of its Research and Development (R&D) capabilities along with current and new products during Aero India 2009 will hand over a Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to the Ecuadorian Air Force.

HAL which has bagged a contract to supply seven ALHs to the South American country will hand over its first chopper during the biennial airshow which is to be held at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka, from February 11 to 15.

S ources said that the Bangalore- based defence public sector undertaking, which clinched the &51 million deal with Ecuador to supply seven of its 5.5 tonne class helicopter will supply the first Dhruv during the airshow.

“HAL will hand over one ALH and will line up five brand new ALH choppers during Aero India as per the contract signed with the Ecuador Aviation Authority,” said sources. The deal envisages the supply of seven helicopters in semi knock-down conditions to Ecuador in a time-frame of 15 months to two years. HAL bagged the order from the South American country last year after fierce bidding, which also involved Israel firm Elbit, Eurocopter, subsidiary of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company’s, Kazan, Russia.

“A team from HAL has already visited Ecuador and a team from there has visited our facilities to gain first hand expertise. The HAL will also set up a base at Ecuador for maintenance of the ALHs,” said sources.

During Aero India, the aircraft and helicopters of HAL that would be on display are : one Hawk in flying display, Intermediate Jet Trainer, ALHs (one in flying display, one with glass cockpit in static display and one civil ALH) and one DO-228 in Maritime Reconnaissance and Intelligence Warfare (MRIW) role. (

Iran Produces More Fighter Jets

February 1, 2009, Tehran -- Iran has produced a number of the domestically-grown 'Saeqeh' (Thunderbolt) jets so far, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said here on Sunday.

Speaking to FNA on the sidelines of "Innovation and Flourishing Festival", Najjar referred to the production of more Saeqeh jets by Iranian defense industries, and said, "Production of domestic jets is one of the important achievements of Iran that should be appreciated."

Recalling the launch of Saeqeh production line, he said that the latest achievements and equipment developed by Iranian experts have been employed in the new generation of the fighter jet.

Saeqeh, a joint product of the Iranian Air Force and the Defense Ministry, went on display as part of the Iranian air force's fleet during the military parades on the Army Day earlier this year.

Tehran launched an arms development program during the 1980-88 Iraqi imposed war on Iran, to compensate for a US weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and fighter planes.

Yet, Iranian officials have always stressed that the country's military and arms programs serve defensive purposes and should not be perceived as a threat to any other country. (

Unmanned Vehicle Contributes to Counterpiracy Operations

The guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason R. Zalasky /Released)

January 30, 2009 -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) brings an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capability to Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, which enhances the counterpiracy task force's effectiveness.

This UAV supports the CTF 151 counterpiracy mission by providing maritime surveillance and cueing on suspicious activity.

"This is a significant step forward and is reflective of the increased use of UAVs across the spectrum of military operations," said Cmdr. Steve Murphy, Mahan's commanding officer.

The unique attributes of a UAV – namely the ability to stay airborne for long periods and cover hundreds of square miles of ocean during the course of one mission, all the while sending imagery in real time back to Mahan and other assets in the task force – provide a significant tactical advantage.

"It can fly day or night in a covert or overt posture, making it much harder for pirates to hide" said Murphy.
"It is also important to note that the images and information obtained [by the UAV] at sea is shared with our coalition partners, thereby improving overall mission effectiveness and strengthening key partnerships between navies."

As part of Combined Task Force 151 Mahan is coordinating and deconflicting counterpiracy efforts with approximately 14 nations also operating in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

Taken in context with other aircraft and ships operating in the area, the UAV is considered by Murphy and other leaders in the task force as a force multiplier. The information the UAV generates also helps CTF 151's leadership determine where to position all available units.

"It provides high quality imagery in real time, speeding decision making and is a significant advantage in stopping piracy on the high seas," said Murphy. "It is versatile and very responsive, able to change operating areas and change missions in mid-flight."

Mahan has integrated the UAV into every mission it has conducted while on deployment, gathering valuable information on maritime traffic patterns and the patterns of those suspected to be involved in illicit activity.

According to Murphy, it also helps protect the ship and crew, providing extended surveillance and early indications of potential threats.

"[The UAV] has great significance as a developing effort to apply 21st century technology to the 21st century challenges that our Navy faces."

The civilian and Sailor team operating the unmanned aerial vehicle on Mahan is documenting lessons learned during this mission and throughout the ship's deployment. This information is expected to contribute to the U.S. Navy's plans for the future of UAVs at sea. (

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