Russia to keep SS-18 ballistic missiles in service until 2019

April 10, 2009, Moscow -- The RS-20V Voyevoda-M (SS-18 Satan) intercontinental ballistic missile, introduced almost 21 years ago, will remain in service until 2019, the commander of Russia's Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) said on Friday.

"The extension in the service life of the [Voyevoda-M] missile will allow us to keep these missiles, the most powerful in the world, in the SMF for another eight-10 years," Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov said.

"We have no technical difficulties in accomplishing this task," he added.

The general also said Russia was developing a new ICBM comparable to the SS-18, and would gradually decommission older versions of the missile "in order to ensure nuclear safety."

According to publicly available sources, Russia currently has 88 SS-18 missile silo launchers, most of them deployed at the Dombarovsky missile base in the Orenburg Region, southern Urals.

The missile is armed with a warhead fitting 10 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) with a yield of 550 to 750 kilotons each.

It has a maximum range of 11,000 km (6,800 miles) with a launch mass of over 210 tons and a payload of 8.8 tons. (RIA Novosti)

Russia confirms spy drone deal with Israel

April 10, 2009, Moscow -- The Russian Defense Ministry has signed a deal with an Israeli company to buy several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), a Russian deputy defense minister said on Friday.

"We have closed a deal with an Israeli company on the delivery of a range of UAVs," said Vladimir Popovkin, who is responsible for military procurements.

The Russian business paper Kommersant reported on Tuesday that a contract signed with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) envisioned the purchase of the Bird-Eye 400 mini-UAV (weight - 5kg, range - 10 km), I-view MK150 tactical UAV (160 kg, 100 km), and Searcher Mk II medium-range UAV (426 kg, 250 km).

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

The Russian Air Force has launched a number of UAV development programs for various purposes. Air Force Commander, Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said last year that Russia would deploy advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) with a flight range of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) and a flight duration capability of up to 12 hours by 2011.

However, Russian defense companies, including the MiG corporation, the Russian Helicopters and the Vega Radio Engineering Corp., have failed so far to provide the military with effective spy drones.

Popovkin said that buying foreign spy drones was a temporary measure, and the purchases were designed "to show our industry what it [a spy drone] is."

"We will rely on our own equipment to fight wars," he said.

According to various estimates, the Russian military needs up to 100 UAVs and at least 10 guidance systems to ensure effective battlefield reconnaissance in case of any military conflict. (RIA Novosti)

Britain’s Ministry of Defence orders Springer ATV for Afghanistan

April 9, 2009 -- A fleet of new all terrain vehicles has been ordered by the Ministry of Defence to move vital equipment to troops on the frontline in Afghanistan.

Derbyshire-based Enhanced Protection Systems Ltd (EPS) has been awarded a £7M contract to supply around 75 Springer vehicles.

Dr Andrew Tyler, Chief Operating Officer for MOD Defence Equipment and Support, said:

“This new vehicle will enable the delivery of vital equipment to front-line troops. It is designed specifically for rugged, desert conditions - which means it is well-matched to the operational environment in Afghanistan.

“The Springer dune buggy will be an added capability for troops at Forward Operating Bases in Afghanistan. This contract demonstrates that we’re continuing to invest in vehicles for the front line.”

Springer will have a crew of two and the ability to carry a combat load of 1 tonne. Its role is specifically focused on moving combat supplies from helicopter landing sites into the forward operating bases.

The MOD is expecting to take delivery of the new Springer vehicle this summer.

Managing Director of EPS, Sue Maltby, said:

“EPS UK Ltd prides itself on delivering quality products to the defence and security industry and is delighted to be involved with the MoD with our Springer vehicle, which will provide valuable service to our soldiers on operations.” (DEFPRO)

Navy's Newest Carrier Successfully Completes Acceptance Sea Trials

April 9, 2009, Washington -- USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) successfully completed acceptance sea trials April 7-9 off the Virginia Capes and is in final preparation for delivery. Acceptance sea trials are the final test of the ship's readiness to begin fleet service.

Navy representatives from the U.S. Navy Board of Inspection and Survey tested and evaluated the ship's systems and performance. Acceptance trials will formally conclude April 10.

Senior Chief Quartermaster Perry Everix plots the ship's course aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) as the ship makes her way out of port for Builder's Sea Trials. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan A. Bailey/Released)

George H.W. Bush is the nation's 10th, and final, Nimitz-class carrier. The ship is designed to carry all current and future aircraft in its embarked air wing until the completion of her service life in approximately 2,059.

George H. W. Bush incorporates numerous design improvements to reduce operating cost, enhance operational effectiveness and protect the environment. These include newly designed propellers, a new underwater hull-coating system, advanced waste disposal systems, a new JP-5 (jet propellant) distribution system, and modernized aircraft launch and recovery equipment. Improved medical and dental facilities have been included in the ship to enhance quality of life. George H.W. Bush also has a new composite mast that reduces topside weight and maintenance.

George H.W. Bush incorporates a modernized island, bulbous bow design and three-wire arresting gear configuration, first introduced on USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

The ship's keel was laid Sept. 6, 2003, at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News. Ms. Dorothy Bush Koch, daughter of former President George H.W. Bush, served as the ship's sponsor during its christening on Oct. 7, 2006. The ship was commissioned Jan. 10, 2009, at Norfolk Naval Base. USS George H.W. Bush is commanded by Capt. DeWolfe H. Miller III, USN. Upon delivery to the Navy, the ship will conduct post delivery maintenance before commencing training for operational deployment in 2010. (NAVY)

Russia plans to deliver advanced air defense missiles to Belarus

April 9, 2009 -- Russia will supply advanced S-400 air defense systems to Belarus under a recent agreement to create an integrated air defense network, a senior Air Force official said on Thursday.

"One of the provisions of the agreement is to upgrade the network. It must be equipped with the most advanced weaponry," first deputy Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Vadim Volkovitsky said.

The S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, and 2 1/2 times that of the S-300PMU-2.

The system is also believed to be able to destroy stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and is effective at ranges up to 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) and speeds up to 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) per second.

The general did not specify the schedule for the deliveries, but said the ongoing talks on the issue would certainly bring positive results.

"We are still discussing the dates for delivery of the S-400 systems, but I am certain that it will happen as part of our efforts to develop an integrated air defense network," Volkovitsky said.

Moscow and Minsk signed an agreement in February on the joint protection of the Russia-Belarus Union State's airspace and the creation of an integrated regional air defense network.

It will comprise five Air Force units, 10 anti-aircraft units, five technical service and support units and one electronic warfare unit, and will be placed under the command of a Russian or Belarusian Air Force or Air Defense Force senior commander.

Belarus has several Russian-made S-300 air defense battalions on combat duty, and has long been negotiating the purchase of advanced S-400 systems from Russia, which should be available in 2010. (RIA Novosti)

Russia to begin building new strategic submarine in 2009

April 8, 2009, Severodvinsk -- The Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia said on Wednesday it would start construction of a fourth Borey class nuclear-powered strategic submarine this year.

"Russia's Defense Ministry has ordered the shipyard to start construction of the fourth Borey class submarine this year," a Sevmash official told RIA Novosti, adding that work could begin either in July or December

The first Borey class submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, will start sea trials in June.

The vessel is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles and torpedoes.

Two other Borey-class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash shipyard and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build eight of these submarines by 2015.

All Borey class submarines will be equipped with new Bulava-M (SS-NX-30) intercontinental ballistic missiles, which carry up to 10 nuclear warheads and have a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). (RIA Novosti)

Finland Funds Midlife Upgrade for F/A-18s

HELSINKI - The Finnish government has confirmed $280 million in funding to enable the Finnish air force to upgrade its 63 F/A-18 Hornets. Provision for about 40 percent of the capital cost of the program was written into the 2009 defense budget.

The upgrade means that Finland is under less pressure to select new combat fighters and is unlikely to do so until after 2020. This contrasts with Nordic neighbors Norway and Denmark, which decided to buy new aircraft rather than engage in further upgrades.

Significantly, the upgrade will include fitting Hornets with long-range air-to-surface missiles by 2014, with the U.S.-made Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) the leading contender in a contest that also includes the Swedish-German Taurus missile. Other weapons under investigation include glide bombs, AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapon and GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition "smart" bombs.

The $280 million funding program has been approved by the government's Financial Affairs Committee. The upgrade forms part of a 17-year development project that will cost $1.3 billion over the full term. Under the plan, the Finnish air force's entire fleet of Hornets is slated to be upgraded by the end of 2016.

Under an agreement with Boeing, the Hornet's manufacturer, much of the upgrade work will be carried out in Finland under contract with the state-controlled defense group Patria and subsidiary, Patria Aviation.

The upgrade will deliver a NATO-compatible aircraft with a superior flight-navigation capability, better pilot situation awareness, improved firepower and a combat aircraft better able to take part in international operations with NATO-aligned nations.

The midlife upgrades are to be carried out in two stages by 2016. Estimated cost is about $510 million for Phase 1 and $990 million for Phase 2.

Finland notified the U.S. government of its interest to acquire JASSMs since 2007, and informal discussions have been ongoing with manufacturer Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems. (By GERARD O'DWYER/defensenews)

Boeing defense projects face threat of budget axe

F-22 Raptor

April 9, 2009, Washington -- US aerospace giant Boeing would be hit harder than other defense contractors if the Pentagon's proposed cuts to major weapons programs are approved, analysts said Tuesday.

Boeing's stock fell 2.65 percent to 37.15 dollars in trading a day after Defense Secretary Robert Gates presented a "reform budget" that calls for deep cuts in some big projects led by the company.

Gates' recommendations call for ending production of F-22 fighter jets, scaling back the Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program of hi-tech vehicles and robots, canceling plans for more C-17 transport planes and cutting elements of the missile defense program.

All of those proposed cuts would deal a blow to Boeing's defense division, which generates about 32 billion in sales.

Gates also recommended cancelling contracts that Boeing had hoped to secure, including plans for a new CSAR-X search and rescue helicopter, a long-range Air Force bomber and a series of communications satellites.

"Boeing could face difficult times," the investment firm Collins Stewart wrote in an analysis.

"FCS (Future Combat Systems), C-17 (transport planes) and missile defense are key programs for the company and all face cuts," the firm was quoted by AFP as saying.

Apart from Boeing, the outlook for other defense contractors was not as bleak as anticipated and in some cases largely positive as budget recommendations removed uncertainty, analysts said.

The defense secretary's budget offered more funding for certain weapons programs, including unmanned drones, Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet and its close-to-shore naval ships.

"For Lockheed Martin, the news was good. In our opinion, the key to the company's revenue and earnings growth is the F-35, and the F-35 received strong support," the according to Collins.

Boeing "appears to be most at risk on the downside, with several programs under pressure," Fitch ratings agency wrote.

The planned cutbacks in defense contracts came on top of bad news for Boeing's commercial operations, which has seen a drop in orders for new planes amid a global economic crisis.

The Pentagon's recommendations still need to be formally endorsed by the White House and then approved by Congress, where some lawmakers have already blasted the suggested cuts in weapons projects. (ANTARA)

LaBarge Wins V-22 Osprey Aircraft Program contract

April 7, 2009, ST. Louis -- LaBarge, Inc. (NYSE Amex: LB) has received a $5.1 million contract from Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron, Inc., to continue to produce electronic subassemblies for the de-icing system of the V-22 Osprey, a revolutionary military aircraft. LaBarge began producing the V-22 electronics in 2005 and anticipates follow-on orders.

The V-22 combines the speed and range of a fixed wing aircraft with the vertical flight performance of a helicopter. Capable of vertical and short take-offs and landings, the V-22 is a tiltrotor — an aircraft with rotors at the end of each wing that can be oriented vertically for vertical takeoffs and landings, horizontally for forward flight, and positions in between. The V-22 is produced under a strategic alliance between Bell Helicopter and The Boeing Company.

LaBarge expects to begin work on this contract at its Huntsville, Ark., facility in July 2009 and continue through November 2010. (Defpro)

Mily Commander: No human error in plane crash

April 7, 2009, Jakarta -- National Defense Forces (TNI) Commander General Djoko Santoso said Monday`s crash of an Air Force F-27 aircraft at Husein Sastranegara airport was not caused by human error but bad weather.

"The plane crashed because of bad weather. A stair wind hit one side of the aircraft," the TNI commander said at the State Palace here on Tuesday.

He said the ill-fated F-27 of the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) was in good and airworthy condition before it crashed.

"We are sure the airplane was still airworthy because otherwise it would not have been able to fly. It is true that the plane was an aging one but each time it was to be flown it was checked first," he said.

Santoso said according to existing standard procedures military planes were subject to periodic airoworthiness checks.

Owing to the crash of Air Force`s F-27 which killed 24 members of the TNI-AU`s Elite Force, however, examinations of aircraft airworthiness would now be carried out more carefully, he said.

The Air Force F-27 accident killed all passengers which consisted of six crew members, an Air Force officer and 17 paratroop trainees.

When it was to land at Husein Sastranegara airport at 1 pm on Monday, the plane went out of control and crashed on Hangar D of the Aircraft Maintenance Service of the Indonesian Aircraft Industry (PT DI). It exploded and burst into flames.

The 17 trainees who had only recently been recruited by the TNI-AU Special Force were on a sky-diving orientation and scheduled to do a jumping exercise on April 8, 2009 at Sulaiman airbase in Bandung.

The 17 trainees were accompanied by 17 senior instructors who showed them how to jump and skydive with parachutes.

During the orientation, the new recruits were shown how to jump by the instructors because they would carry out the jumping exercise on April 8, 2009. (ANTARA)

Bad weather believed to be the cause of Fokker-27 plane crash

Monday`s crash of an Indonesian military plane carrying 24 people was believed to be caused by bad weather conditions, as it was raining heavily when the Fokker-27 plane was touching down on the runway of Husein Sastra Negara Airport of Bandung.

The Fokker 27 plane was making a landing during a regular training flight when it crashed into a hangar at the airport and burst into flames at 6:05 a.m GMT in Bandung, 110 km southeast of Jakarta, Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Subandriyo said here on Monday.

"Visibility is limited to two kilometers, as the sky was full of dark clouds. However, we are still forming a team to find out the cause of the accident," Air Force Chief of Staff Marshal Subandriyo said here on Monday.

Before the aircraft crashed, it hit a building of the Aircraft Service Division (ACS) belonging to the Indonesian aircraft industry PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI), said an official at the operator center of Husein Sastranegara airport. Yanto said. "It is true that a Fokker 27 of the Indonesian Air Force has crashed at the airport," he said.

A ball of flame could be observed spiraling into the air following an explosion, eyewitnesses said.

Mujiono, an eyewitness and employee of a subsidiary of PT DI said that the accident took place about 10 minutes after heavy rain. At that time, he was standing in a hangar at the eastern tip of the runway, about 200 meters of the ACS building.

"A huge fire ball licked into the air,"

At least 17 paratroop trainees of the Indonesian Air Force lost their lives the mishap.

The exact number of the dead was still sketchy. Some sources said there were 17 paratroop trainees, but others said the plane had 23 servicemen on board for parachute jumping exercise.

Ambulances were ferrying the victims from the airport to a hospital at Jl. Cimbeuluit in Bandung, while hospital authorities were reluctant to give details. They however confirmed a number of deaths among the victims.

The Air Foce Special Troops spokesman Col. Nairiza said when contacted by ANTARA on Monday the many of the 17 paratroop trainees were badly burnt and some even cut into pieces.

He said the 17 trainees who had been recruited only recently by the Air Foce Special Force were on a sky-diving orientation exercise on April 8, 2009 over Sulaiman airbase in Bandung.

Nairiza said the 17 trainess were accompanied by 17 senior instructors who showed them how to jump and skydive by a parachute.

"The trainees were scheduled to make their first sky-diving execise on April 8, but they first have to carry out a sky-diving orientation," Nairiza said, adding that the process of orientation is aimed at identifying an aircraft, the position to jump and the way to leave the aircraft which were part of the orientation.

"During the orientation, the recruits were shown how to jump by the instructors because they would carry out the jumping exercise on April 8, 2009," he said.

The trainees were in the Fokker 27 as spectators only and observed their instructors to perform the techniques of sky-diving. "The instructors jumped while the trainees remained on board," he said.

The trainees have passed the sky-diving test and would receive a Wing after joining the flight for 80 hours had no problems in sky-diving.

Those with a good achievement in sky-diving, grouped in the 10 best students will be appointed as prospective instructors if their achievement is assessed as satisfactory.

The number of victims of the ill-fated Fokker 27 plane which crashed while landing and burst into flames were reported to reach 24 consisting of six crew members, an instructor and 17 paratroop trainees.

The six dead crew members ere identified as Captain I Gede Tirta (captain pilot), Second Lt Yanto (co-pilot), Second Lt Rahmat S, Sergeant Dadang, Second Sergeant Bahtiar and Second Sergeant Markarobet.

In the meantime, the names of the trainees killed in the plane crash were First Lt Wahyu, First Lt Dani, Second Lt Richi, Second Lt Erwan, First Class Private Didi, First Class Private Teguh, First Class Private Imron, First Class Private Ari, First Class Private Abdul Kadir, First Class Private Darmanto, First Class Private Danang, Second Class Private Didi, Second Class Private Ibnu, Second Class Private Heru, Second Class Private Erwin, Second Class Private Faisal and Second Class Private Dedi.

The accident has prompted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to instruct the military commander to order airworthiness checks on all military aircraft following Monday`s crash of an Air Force F-27 in Bandung, a spokesman said.

The president ordered the military (TNI) commander to check the airworthiness of all Air Force aircraft, presidential spokesman Andi Malarangeng said.

He said TNI Chief General Djoko Santoso had reported the accident to the President.
"President Yudhoyono offered his deepest condolences to the families of the Air Force personnel who died in the incident," he said.

Andi said the president had also ordered the TNI commander to investigate the accident that had killed 24 Air Force officers and enlisted men. (Eliswan Azly/ANTARA)

South Africa “on track” to receive IRIS-T

April 7, 2009 -- The South African Air Force should receive its order of Diehl BGT Defence IRIS-T short range air-to-air missile (SRAAM) towards the “end of the year”, the chief of the South African Air Force says. “It’s on track and everything is fine, Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano says.

The SAAF last May ordered a small supply of the high-tech IRIS-T (Infra Red Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled) SRAAM to arm its growing fleet of Gripen advanced light fighter aircraft.

The wikipedia says the modern missile costs about €400 000 each. It is not known how many missiles SA has bought.

The IRIS-T will arm the Gripen as an interim solution until a local missile, the Denel Dynamics A-Darter, becomes available.

Diehl BGT Defence says the missiles will be fully operational “in the course of 2009”.

Meanwhile, Gagiano said he was pleased with progress in the development of the new-generation SA missile. “The A-Darter is looking very good. The feedback I got is that so far it is going very well,” Gagiano told journalists Thursday after an air capability demonstration at the Roodewal bombing range in Limpopo that included two Gripen.

“We will definitely procure missiles coming out of our own industry as soon as they are ready,” he says.

The IRIS-T was on display at Africa Aerospace & Defence show, in Cape Town, in September. (DefenceWeb)

Indian Air Force to Operationalize Airbase in Nyama, Eastern Ladakh

April 6, 2009 -- After successfully reopening Daulat Beg Oldi and Fuk Che airfields in Ladakh last year, India is now working to operationalise the Neoma Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) this year for the Indian Air Force (IAF), close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

Though these airfields are being revived to support troop movement in times of need, India would prefer these to be ready for future tourism requirements. In due course, the airfield at Neoma will also be converted into a full fledged runway to cater to future tourist inflow.

"This new ALG is coming up at Neoma in east Ladakh, which will, in all probability, be converted into a full fledged runway, like any other runway to cater for the future tourism requirements also in the region," IAF's Western Air Command Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Air Marshal P K Barbora told reporters here today.

Neoma is not as close to the LAC as Daulat Beg Oldi or Fuk Che are, but it will be close enough to support military operations too. The airfields were operated by the Indian armed forces during the 1962 Sino-Indian war, but closed a few years later.

"Not as close (to China) as DBO, Chushul or Fuk Che. But it is in a pretty comfortable place," Barbora said. (India-Defence)

Brazil could make Russian new-generation fighters under license

April 7, 2009, Moscow -- Russia may allow Brazil to produce its fifth-generation fighters under a license in the future, a senior Russian government official said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

"We are discussing with the well-known Brazilian company Embraer the transfer of technology and the construction of facilities for the future licensed production of the aircraft, including the fifth-generation fighter," said Alexander Fomin, deputy director of the Federal Service on Military-Technical Cooperation.

Russia's advanced multirole fighter is being developed by the Sukhoi aircraft maker, part of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), along with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), under a preliminary intergovernmental agreement signed in October 2007.

The first prototype is scheduled to make its maiden flight before the end of 2009.

Last November, Russia and Brazil signed a series of agreements on military technology cooperation which emphasize the protection of intellectual property rights and technology secrets.

The agreements will facilitate the transfer of technology and the licensed production of the Russian aircraft in Brazil if Moscow decides to sign a contract with the South American country.

Meanwhile, Russia's Su-35 jet fighter is participating in an ongoing tender for the delivery of over 100 fighters to the Brazilian Air Force.

"We are actively participating in the Brazilian tender, which has been reopened. It involves over 100 fighter planes. Russia has made a bid in the tender with its Su-35 multirole fighter. The tender has stiff requirements, involving not only the sale, but also the transfer of technology. It is a key condition of the deal and Russia is ready to satisfy it," Fomin said.

Brazil wants a multirole fighter to protect its national airspace as well as to keep track of smugglers in the Amazon basin and guard the country's offshore oil rigs. However, it also wants the multi-billion dollar contract to reenergize the domestic defense industry through home-grown production and as much technology transfer as can be afforded. (RIA Novosti)

Israel successfully test fires Arrow missile defense system

April 7, 2009 -- Israel carried out a test launch of its Arrow II interceptor missile on Tuesday, the Defense Ministry said, a system designed to defend against possible ballistic missile attacks by Iran and Syria.

"There was a successful test today of an improved Arrow [missile] that hit and intercepted a target more complicated than normal," Defence Minister Ehud Barak told reporters after watching the launch from a helicopter.

The defense establishment carried out a successful test launch of its Arrow II interceptor missile on Tuesday, a system designed to defend against possible ballistic missile attacks by Iran and Syria.

The Arrow intercepted a target missile, simulating an Iranian Shihab, launched from an Israeli aircraft over the Mediterranean, a defense source said.

Israel Radio said it was the 16th test launch of an Arrow. The defense source said 90 percent of those tests have been successful.

The source added that the aim of this test was to prepare for future threats as enemy missiles improve their capabilities.

"The arrow's interception altitude has been enhanced. Of course, the higher you go, the further out you can reach as well. Our doctrine is to intercept enemy missiles as far away from Israeli skies as possible. That gives you time for another try if you miss," the source, who could not be named, said.

The project is jointly funded by Israel and the United States to serve as a strategic shield against ballistic missiles in the arsenals of Iran and Syria.

The defense ministry said Barak watched the launch while airborne in a helicopter after returning from a front-line visit of troops along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip.

At least two Arrow batteries have been deployed in Israel, which has been testing the system to improve its performance at high altitudes and against multiple incoming missiles.

Israel fears that Iran's uranium enrichment program is aimed at producing nuclear weapons, an allegation Tehran denies.

Last month, the Defense Ministry said it had successfully completed a series of tests of the Iron Dome rocket defense system.

The ministry said the system is aimed at protecting the residents of the South and North from attacks. It said a number of rockets and missiles had been hit in the tests. (Haaretz)

Russia buys Israeli UAVs

April 7, 2009 -- Moscow has achieved a $50 million deal with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to buy a range of surveillance drones, although under the U.S. pressure it was denied sale of some sensitive models, a media report said on Tuesday.

"A contract signed with Israel Aerospace Industries envisions the purchase of the Bird-Eye 400 mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), I-view MK 150 tactical UAV, and Searcher MK II medium-range UAV," the Kommersant daily said.

However, citing 'corporate etiquette' IAI declined to comment on the deal, it said.

Quoting sources, the paper said the Russian Defence Ministry has already paid half of the contractual amount to cover the creation technical facilities and the training of personnel for the operation of UAVs.

"This indicates that the Russian purchases of drones from Israel will not be limited to this particular deal. The Russian Army needs about 50-100 UAVs and 10 control complexes," Kommersant noted.

After five-day war with Georgia last August, which had widely used Israeli drones made by Elbit Systems, the Russian military had felt the lack of reliable intelligence for effective use of smart weapons although a range of indigenously developed UAVs were used by it.

According to the daily, under the US pressure Russia, however, has been denied sale of Heron and similar class of UAVs made by IAI. (Defpro)

BrahMos to Develop Hypersonic Missile says Dr. Pillai

April 6, 2009 -- BrahMos Aerospace, the Indo-Russian joint venture, has embarked on initiatives to go in for hypersonic versions of missiles, a top official of the company said.

"Having successfully inducted supersonic versions, which can travel at 2.8 Mach (2.8 times the speed of sound), plans are on to go in for hypersonic versions, which can touch Mach 5 or 7," chief executive officer and MD of the company, Dr.A. Sivathanu Pillai, said.

He said that fuel for these versions would be a combination of aviation kerosene and atmospheric air,mixed at a proportionate volume. "The resultant propulsion thrust could be so heavy that a missile could be projected at terrific speed," he said. Pillai said that lab tests had already commenced and that modules for these versions would be ready by 2010. The test missiles would be flown over rocket motors injected into space.

"After the successful 'Block II test' last week, the company and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had fulfilled all parameters prescribed by Army and was poised to go in for mass production for inducting these into the Army. As Naval ships are all equipped with BrahMos missiles, the next focus would be to address the needs of the Indian Air Force (IAF)," he said. He hoped the final induction of the air version of BrahMos missile to IAF would take place before the end of 2012. (India-Defence)

NATO Aviation Drills Begin in Baltics

April 7, 2009, Tallin -- NATO states have begun a series of air defense exercises in the Baltic states, involving fighter jet flights over the countries' capitals, the Estonian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.

The Western military alliance said earlier this month that during the Baltic Air Sovereignty Training Event II (BAST-E II), "the populations of the Estonian and Lithuanian Capitals may well see NATO fighter aircraft overfly their cities."

"Onlookers in the vicinity of Riga International Airport will also see NATO fighter aircraft enacting a practice Air Policing exercise," the statement on NATO's website said.

The one-day event is focused on improving air interoperability and developing of NATO air forces' capabilities.

In carrying out the fly-bys, NATO aims "to highlight reaffirmed commitment to and ongoing solidarity with the three Baltic States."

The Estonian ministry said the aircraft being used in the drills are F-16s from the U.S., Poland and Denmark, L-159 training aircraft from the Czech Republic and L-39s from Lithuania, as well as transportation AN-2s from Estonia, and a U.S. AWACS E-3A surveillance plane.

The exercises are a continuation of drills held last October.

A NATO agreement on airspace security over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is set to expire in 2011, and the three countries are currently pushing for the agreement to be extended to 2018. (RIA Novosti)

Russia to Deliver Attack Helicopters to Brazil This Year

April 6, 2009, Moskow -- Russia will start deliveries of Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters to Brazil by the end of 2009, a senior government official said on Monday.

The Russian helicopter beat off fierce competition from the Augusta A-129 Mangusta and the Eurocopter AS-665 Tiger to win a Brazilian tender last fall.

"We have recently signed a contract to deliver 12 Mi-35 helicopters to Brazil. The first deliveries will start by the end of this year or the beginning of 2010," said Alexander Fomin, deputy director of the Federal Service on Military-Technical Cooperation.

The official said the contract was worth about $150 million.

The Mi-35 Hind E is an improved export version of the famed Mi-24 attack helicopter, which combines high fire power with a troop transport capability.

Fomin also said Russia's Su-35 fighter had a good chance of winning an ongoing tender for the delivery of over 100 fighters to the Brazilian Air Force.

Brazil wants a multirole fighter to protect its national airspace as well as to monitor smugglers in the Amazon basin and guard the country's offshore oil rigs. However, Brasilia also wants the multi-billion dollar contract to reenergize the domestic defense industry through home-grown production and as much technology transfer as can be afforded.

"We are actively participating in the Brazilian tender, which has been reopened. It involves over 100 fighter planes. Russia has made a bid in the tender with its Su-35 multirole fighter. The tender has stiff requirements involving not only the sale, but also the transfer of technology. It is a key condition of the deal and Russia is ready to satisfy it," the official said. (RIA Novosti)

Mily plane crashes at Bandung Airport

April 6, 2009, Bandung, W Java -- A Fokker 27-03 belonging to Indonesian Air Force with 23 passengers on board crashed and burst into flames at Sastranegara airbase, in Bandung, West Java, at 1.02 p.m on Monday, airport officials said.

Yanto, an official at the operator center of Husein Sastranegara airport, when contacted by ANTARA, confirmed the incident. "It is true that a Fokker 27 of the Indonesian Air Force had crashed at the airport," he said.

He said that his side could not yet conclude the cause of the accident.
In the meantime, Commandant of Air Squadron II of the Halim Perdanakusum Airbase, Lt. Col. Donal Kasenda said he had not yet known the fate of six crew of the ill-fated Squadron 2 plane.

When contacted, he said that the airplane also carried 17 parachuters of the Air Force`s Special Force who were scheduled to undergo a jump exercise at Banddung`s Sulaeman airbase.

"Our team is now heading to Bandung to study the cause of the crash and the conditions of the plan," he said.

Four people were immediately taken to Salamun hospital in Ciumbuleit village, Bandung. They were believed to be victims of the explosion of the military aircraft. (ANTARA)

Boeing Demonstrates Command and Control of ScanEagle UAS From Wedgetail AEW&C Aircraft

April 06, 2009, Seattle -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] on March 16 successfully demonstrated simultaneous command and control of three ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) from a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Wedgetail 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft flying over Washington state.

Using the company's UAS battle-management software, airborne operators issued NATO-standard sensor and air-vehicle commands via a UHF satellite communication link and ground-station relay.

"Our standards-based UAS command/control system, which is based on commercial off-the-shelf architecture, allowed us to integrate UAS control into existing battle-management software," said Pierce Lutter, Boeing Associate Technical Fellow for Unmanned Vehicle Control Systems. "This would have been a major event even if we had accomplished it in a laboratory using surrogates, but we used currently fielded platforms and systems in a real-world setting to demonstrate a new level of command-and-control capability for warfighters.

"Maureen Dougherty, Boeing vice president of the AEW&C program, added, "This network-centric capability substantially increases the operational versatility of Boeing's battle-management platforms and reduces the need for dedicated ground control of unmanned systems. It also demonstrates that our operational 737 AEW&C system is open and robust enough to allow integration of the future capabilities our customers require."

The three ScanEagles were launched from Boeing's Boardman Test Facility in eastern Oregon, approximately 120 miles (190 km) away from the airborne Wedgetail. Operators tasked them with area search, reconnaissance, point surveillance and targeting. They demonstrated extended sensing; persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); and manned-unmanned teaming and sent back real-time video imagery of ground targets.

Boeing will conduct a follow-on demonstration of this capability for the Australian government in early May at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales. A Wedgetail will take control of ScanEagles operated by Boeing Defence Australia personnel at Woomera Test Facility in South Australia, approximately 1,080 miles (1,730 km) from Base Williamtown.

A joint effort of Boeing and its wholly owned subsidiary, Insitu Inc., the long-endurance, fully autonomous ScanEagle UAS carries inertially stabilized electro-optical and infrared cameras that allow the operator to track both stationary and moving targets. Capable of flying above 16,000 feet and loitering over the battlefield for more than 24 hours, the four-foot-long (1.2 m) platform provides persistent low-altitude ISR.

The 737 AEW&C aircraft, based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737-700 commercial airplane, is designed to provide airborne battle-management capability with 10 state-of-the-art mission system consoles. Able to track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously using an advanced, multi-role electronically scanned array radar, the mission crew can direct high-performance fighter aircraft while continuously scanning the operational area. (Boeing)

Nishant UAV Powered By Indigenous Wankel Rotary Engine Takes Flight

April 5, 2009 -- The first ever indigenous Wankel Rotary engine, powering Nishant, the Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV), took off from a World War II abandoned runway near a village eight kilometres from Kolar in Karnataka. The maiden flight of the indigenous Wankel engine of a UAV, which took off yesterday morning, climbed to an altitude of 1.8 km effortlessly before cruising for 35 minutes.

The air vehicle was recovered safely at the intended place at a dried-up lake after a total flight duration of 40 minutes, a defence press release said here today. The event signifies achievements in many categories: It is the first time that a Wankel engine has been developed within the country and UAV flown with an indigenous engine.

The engine, a Wankel Rotary type, was a developmental project, which originated at the DRDO through VRDE, Ahmednagar, and was jointly designed and developed by NAL, a CSIR laboratory, VRDE, Ahmednagar, and ADE, Bangalore, it said. The Wankel engine is the first of its kind that was totally designed and developed in the country. Very few countries in the world have the capability to develop and master this technology, the release said.

This indigenous engine is expected to replace the present imported engine for Nishant.

Wikipedia: DRDO Nishant
The DRDO Nishant is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) developed by India's ADE (Aeronautical Development Establishment) a branch of DRDO for the Indian Armed Forces. The Nishant UAV is primarily tasked with intelligence gathering over enemy territory and also for recce, surveillance, target designation, artillery fire correction, damage assessment, ELINT and SIGINT. The UAV has an Endurance of 4 hrs & 30min. Nishant has completed development Phase and User trials.

The 380 kg Nishant UAV requires rail-launching from a hydro-pneumatic launcher and recovered by a Parachute System. Launches at a velocity of 45 m/s are carried out in 0.6 seconds with 100 kW power and subsequent launches can be carried out in intervals of 20 minutes. The Mobile Hydro-Pneumatic Launcher (MHPL) system mounted on a Tatra truck weighs 14,000 kg and boasts of a life cycle of 1000 launches before requiring overhaul.

Nishant is one of the few UAVs in the world in its weight-class capable of being catapult-launched and recovered by using parachute, thus eliminating the need for a runway as in case of conventional take-off and landing with wheels. (India-Defence)

Sweden Modifies Corvettes for Anti-Piracy Mission

HMS Malmö

April 5, 2009 -- In a very short time, the Swedish corvette HMS Malmö and Stockholm, and support ship Trossö have been modified to be able to operate in very different waters than they originally intended. FMV has been responsible for a series of modifications of the vessels.

On December 19 came the decision from the government that Sweden should participate in EU intervention in the waters around Somalia. Since then, there has been full speed on the preparations.

In a team consisting of Naval base at Karlskrona and 3rd naval squadron, which will implement the action, FMV has participated in the preparatory work and was responsible for a series of measures to make the vessels more suited to operate in tropical waters.

The ships have undergone a so-called third-party verification in order to verify the safety at sea for vessels operating in other waters than they were originally intended. Third Party Verification, made by the classification society Det Norske Veritas, identified needs that are now implemented.

The vessels have been supplemented with rescue and safety related equipment. Ventilation and cooling capacity have been improved for operation in warmer environments. The satellite communications have also been improved.

To make the vessels interoperable with other nations the ships have been equipped with new installations, including equipment for secure text and secure voice and crypto equipment. Arms have been supplemented by heavy machine-gun and ballistic protection for the marksmen.

Work has been carried out under great time pressure.

- Thanks to the wise decision in the autumn and forces now at the end of everyone involved, we have succeeded in implementing these measures in a short time, "says Ingvar Backman, Coordinator for Somalia bet at FMV.

Aid ship Trossö has undergone corresponding measures as the corvettes, moreover, the vessel received a new system. The vessel also equipped with several heavy machine guns and ballistic protection for the marksmen.

Friday, April 3 the loading of the ship-lift starts. It will carry the three vessels to the area of operation in the Gulf of Aden. The Swedish team will be stationed in port of Djibouti, bordering Somalia and has a strategic location at the mouth of the Red Sea.

The task is first and foremost to act escort to the aid packages as UN (World Food Program) sends to the area. But it can also be envisaged to act in areas where pirates operate and show its presence. (Defpro)

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