April 23, 2009, Tel Aviv -- The Israel Air Force (IAF) is negotiating with St. Louis-based Boeing to buy up to six more AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, which the service plans to arm with locally made Spike missiles and U.S. Hellfires.
Defense and industry sources here said the recently launched talks are focused on upgrading four older IAF AH-64As to the advanced Longbow configuration. But an IAF general officer said the service is also seeking additional funding for a six-aircraft deal similar to previous procurement packages.
"There could be six more over the five-year plan, and these aircraft will be a lot more capable than the Sharafs we now have," said the officer, using the Hebrew name for Viper conferred on IAF Longbows.
Since 2005, Israel has acquired three lots of six Apache Longbows, including new builds and remanufactured versions of older-model Apaches. Three of the advanced, all-weather attack helicopters were lost in the 2006 Lebanon War, two in a midair collision and another due to a rotor-related failure.
In addition to fortifying the existing Longbow fleet, defense and industry sources said the remanufactured aircraft are expected to accommodate the Spike ER (extended range) anti-armor missile. In interviews here, sources said representatives from the IAF, Boeing and Rafael, developers of the Spike ER, have begun discussions about integrating the Israeli missile into the Apache Longbow's millimeter-wave fire control and acquisition system.
With a range of up to eight kilometers, the electro-optical, autonomously guided, precision missile is designed for urban strikes and ground support during the day, at night and in bad weather. The Spike ER features multipurpose warheads and is designed to operate in fire-and-forget or fire-and-steer modes for cases where moving targets or terrorists on the run attempt to avoid attack and targets must be switched after launch.
Rafael has integrated the Spike ER on the Eurocopter Tiger and AgustaWestland A129 helicopters, but the pending deal will provide the firm's first opportunity to integrate its ground strike missile on a front-line U.S. platform, sources here said.
Boeing spokesman Paul Lewis declined to discuss details of the pending deal.
"We understand [the IAF] could be interested in additional helicopters, and we welcome the customer's interest," he said.
April 22, 2009, Washington -- Computer spies have hacked into the Pentagon's costly program for a new fighter jet, a US newspaper reported Tuesday, but the Defense Department said sensitive technology for the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft had not been compromised.
Citing current and former government officials, The Wall Street Journal said cyber-intruders were able to copy vast amounts of data on the 300-billion-dollar Joint Strike Fighter project, also known as the F-35 Lightning II.
The newspaper cited unnamed former US officials saying the attack appeared to have originated in China, which the Pentagon says has put a priority on bolstering its cyber-warfare capability.
Asked if sensitive technology for the Joint Strike Fighter had been jeopardized, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said: "I'm not aware of any specific concerns."
Whitman declined to confirm the breach of security for the F-35 but said the number of attempted attacks on the US military's computer network were on the rise.
"We have seen the number of intrusion attempts more than double recently," Whitman told reporters, without indicating a time period for the increase or other details.
"I would caution you not to overestimate the ability of people to gain information from our networks. We do have robust, defensive measures to protect our networks."
The report came as President Barack Obama weighed an overhaul of the government's approach to cyber-security, including a possible IT security "czar," with the findings of a policy review expected to be released as soon as this week.
The Journal reported that the computer spies exploited weaknesses in the networks of two or three contractors helping to build the fighter jet.
Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is the lead firm building the sophisticated aircraft, and Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems are also part of the project.
A top US Air Force officer on Tuesday acknowledged that classified information in the hands of contractors complicated the task of safeguarding technology for the Joint Strike Fighter.
"The F-35 has a lot of suppliers, probably a hundred, they have to be networked together, ... but every time you share information, you run the risk, quite frankly, to share this with someone you don't want to share that with," Lieutenant General Robert Elder, global strike commander at the US Strategic Command, told a gathering of defense reporters.
The most sensitive information on the F-35 is reportedly stored on secure computers not connected to the Internet.
Eight other countries are involved in the development and financing of the Joint Strike Fighter: Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway and Turkey.
According to the Journal, one cyber-security breach may have occurred in Turkey and another US ally.
A Pentagon report last month said the Chinese military was focusing on cyber-warfare and that there have been numerous intrusions against US government and other computer networks around the world that "appear to have originated within" China.
It was not clear if the intrusions were carried out or backed by the Chinese government, the Pentagon report said.
India and Belgium reported Chinese hackers had targeted their computer networks last year and US authorities were investigating whether contents of a US government laptop were copied during a visit to China by the then-commerce secretary.
Officials told the Journal similar breaches were discovered at the Air Force's air traffic-control system in recent months, while the Journal had previously reported that spies hacked into computers used to manage the US electrical grid and other infrastructure.
The Defense Department spent more than 100 million dollars in the past six months repairing the damage done by cyber attacks, General John Davis, deputy commander of the joint task force for global operations, said earlier this month.
April 21, 2009, Rostov-On-Don -- The first six Mi-28N Night Hunter attack helicopters have been delivered to Russia's North Caucasus military district, a military source said on Tuesday.
"The first six Mi-28N helicopters have been put in service with combat units [in North Caucasus]," the source told RIA Novosti, without specifying the schedule for further deliveries.
The Mi-28N is the latest modification of the Mi-28 attack helicopter, manufactured by the Rostvertol plant in southern Russia. It has been designed to conduct hunter-killer missions against main battle tanks, helicopters, ground forces, and armor in any weather conditions. (Mi-28N Night Hunter helicopter - Image Gallery)
The Night Hunter is powered by two TV3-117VMA turbo-shaft engines with 2,200 shaft horsepower each. The armored cockpit protects the crew from small-arms fire and absorbs the impact energy during emergency landings, ensuring high survivability.
Its combat range with internal fuel tanks is 450 kilometers (about 280 miles), but with external fuel tanks can be extended to 1,100 km (about 680 miles).
Russia's Defense Ministry has said it is planning to procure between 45 and 67 Mi-28Ns in the next few years, and to fully replace the Mi-24 Hind helicopters in the Armed Forces by 2015.
April 21, 2009, Moscow -- Russia will deliver the modernized Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier to the Indian Navy in 2012, a senior shipbuilding industry official has said.
"Under an agreement with India, the aircraft will be delivered in 2012. Almost 2,000 highly-qualified workers are currently involved in the overhaul [of the ship]," Vladimir Pakhomov, the president of Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation, said in an interview published on Tuesday with the Vremya Novostei newspaper.
"We will increase the number of workers and speed up the work, making sure that it does not affect the quality. We are continuing talks with Indian officials about the additional financing of the project," he added.
The original $750 million 2004 contract between Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport and the Indian Navy envisioned that work on the aircraft carrier would be completed in 2008.
However, Russia later claimed it had underestimated the scale and the cost of the modernization and demanded an additional $1.2 billion, which New Delhi said was "exorbitant."
After long-running delays and disputes, Russia and India agreed in February 2008 to raise retrofit costs for the aircraft carrier, docked at the Sevmash shipyard in northern Russia for the past 12 years, by at least $800 million.
The current contract covers a complete overhaul of the ship and equipping it with modern weaponry, including MiG-29K Fulcrum aircraft and Ka-27 Helix-A and Ka-31 Helix-B anti-submarine helicopters.
The Admiral Gorshkov carrier, renamed the Vikramaditya, is to replace India's INS Viraat carrier, which, although currently operational, is now 50 years old.
After modernization, the carrier is expected to be seaworthy for 30 years.
April 20, 2009, Moscow -- India will remain the main purchaser of Russian-made combat aircraft for the next 15 years under existing and prospective contracts, a respected Russian think tank has said.
In its report, The Forecast for Combat Aircraft Deliveries to India, the Center for Analysis and Technologies outlined the prospects for Russian-Indian cooperation in the sphere of combat aircraft until 2015.
The report predicts that India will buy up to 90 Su-30MKI fighters under existing contracts and may also purchase additional Su-30 or modernized MiG-29K aircraft.
Russia's MiG-35 Fulcrum is also participating in the current $10.6-billion tender to supply 126 multirole fighters to the Indian air force.
Russian experts believe that the MiG-35 has an excellent chance of winning 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.
In addition, Russia signed in March last year 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.
India desperately needs to upgrade its fighter fleet, which includes Su-30MKI and MiG-29 fighters, but mainly consists of obsolete Russian MiG-21 models.
April 20, 2009 -- Facing soaring costs and American opposition to the integration of Israeli systems into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Israel Air Force is showing some interest in Boeing's new F-15 Silent Eagle (F-15SE), The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday.
The F-15SE is a new configuration of the F-15 which has undergone improvements and modifications that could give the plane a stealth capability.
Improvements in stealth include coatings and treatments to the aircraft as well as a new design for the conformal fuel tanks that allows them to carry weapons rather than fuel.
Israel operates several squadrons of F-15s, including one of 25 F-15Is, the aircraft with the longest range in the IAF.
The Silent Eagle will be capable of carrying internally air-to-air missiles, as well as air-to-ground weapons such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB).
Defense Ministry Director-General Pinchas Buhris was scheduled to travel to the United States on Monday for talks at the Pentagon about the F-35.
Buhris will also seek to receive assurances from the new administration that the US will continue to fund the development of the Arrow 3 missile defense system.
Israel's interest in the new F-15SE stems from a number of considerations, but primarily from expected delays in the delivery of the JSF as well as the Pentagon's opposition to Israel's request to install Israeli-made systems in the aircraft, which is under development by Lockheed Martin.
While Israel decided last year to purchase the F-35, if political disagreements over the integration of systems continued, officials said it was possible interest in the newly-modified F-15SE would increase.
The Jerusalem Post first reported on the US opposition in February. In addition, the price of the F-35 is expected to pass the $100 million mark and would only arrive in Israel - if a deal is signed in the coming months - in 2014.
According to media reports, the new F-15SE will cost less and could arrive in Israel as early as 2011.
There is also an option to upgrade existing F-15s to the Silent Eagle model at a much lower cost. The US Air National Guard is also considering upgrading existing aircraft instead of purchasing new fifth-generation planes like the JSF and the F-22.
April 20, 2009 -- L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL), the prime contractor for the U.S. Army and Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program, announced today a $203 million order of seven additional aircraft by the JCA Joint Program Office. This January 2009 order brings the current contract total to 13 aircraft.
L-3 leads an industry team that includes aircraft manufacturer Alenia Aeronautica, Rolls Royce, Honeywell and Dowty. "We are very happy with the team's performance and progress on the program," said James Burkhardt, president of L-3’s Platform Integration division.
:This latest order reflects the confidence that the U.S. government has in our abilities to continue to perform at the highest levels," said Giuseppe Giordo, president and chief executive officer of Alenia North America and co-chief operating officer of aircraft manufacturer Alenia Aeronautica. “Our team’s intense focus on delivering on our commitments remains absolutely critical as we continue to meet the needs of our customers worldwide.”
With the first two C-27J aircraft delivered and crew training under way, the program continues to progress on schedule and on budget. Following the on-time delivery of the first aircraft in 2008, the first C-27J JCA training class commenced in November 2008, preparing pilots and loadmasters to perform multiple mission roles and serve as instructors.
To learn more about L-3, please visit the company's Web site at www.L-3com.com. L-3 uses its Web site as a channel of distribution of material company information. Financial and other material information regarding L-3 is routinely posted on the company’s Web site and is readily accessible.
April 20, 2009, BANGALORE, India -- India put an Israeli-built spy satellite into orbit April 20, aimed at boosting its defense surveillance capabilities in the aftermath of the Mumbai militant attacks.
The satellite, which can see through clouds and carry out day-and-night all-weather imaging, has been a long-standing demand of the Indian military.
Its acquisition was fast-tracked after the Nov. 26-29 Mumbai siege in which 10 gunmen killed 165 people.
The 300 kilogram (650 pound) RISAT 2 was launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket from the Sriharikota launch site, 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of the southern city of Chennai.
"It has been successfully placed in the orbit 20 minutes after lift-off this morning," G. Padmanabhan, a scientist from India's Space Research Organisation, told AFP by phone.
Another senior scientist and member of the Space Commission, Roddam Narasimhaiah, told AFP images from the satellite, 550 kilometers above Earth, would show "any movement on the surface of the earth."
"It can be used for monitoring the country's borders 'round the clock, check cross-border movement and help the Indian security forces in anti-infiltration or anti-terrorist operations," Narasimhaiah said.
India says the Mumbai attackers came by boat from the Pakistani port city of Karachi.
India's existing satellites get blinded at night and in the monsoon season, but the new satellite will be able to work in all light and weather conditions, Narasimhaiah added.
The acquisition will also provide New Delhi with the capability to track incoming hostile ballistic missiles.
India has forged close military links with Tel Aviv in recent years, with Israel replacing France in 2007 as its second-largest arms supplier after Russia.
April 19, 2009, Naqoura, Lebanon -- The armored vehicles of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) operating in South Lebanon under the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) need spare-parts, a TNI officer said.
Chief of the Force Head Quarter Support Unit of UNIFIL (FHQSU UNIFIL), Colonel Saud Tamba Tua said here on Saturday that in order to support its task in Lebanon, TNI`s Garuda Contingent (Konga) XXVI-A was reinforced with seven VAB armored vehicles which now needed spare-parts.
Colonel Tamba Tua made the statement after an expose in front of Indonesia`s Eastern Fleet commander.
He said a number of the seven vehicles needed new spare-parts. The spare-parts were needed to maximize its operation tasks in South Lebanon.
Tamba Tua said however that it did not affect the implementation of the force`s task.
"We continue to carry out our mission and main tasks with the existing combat equipment, no matter what condition it had. To maximize our efforts in carrying out the mission and tasks we need spare-parts," he said.
Unlike other contingents in Lebanon, the seven VAB armored vehicles used by Konga XXVI-A are old ones which had been used by the TNI for a long time.
"The bodies and engines of the vehicles were still original, made by Renault, France. They are not of the new ones which were produced by PT Pindad in cooperation with Renult," he said.
He said that several VAB vehicles needed new spare-parts so that they could operate maximally.
In 2006, the Indonesian government purchased 32 VAB armored vehicles from Renault Truck, France, to support Konga XXVI-A in carrying out its task in South Lebanon.
The armored vehicles used chassis specifications made between 1997 and 2000, but with most sophisticated technology components. They were produced in three types, namely command, transport and ambulance vehicles equipped with integrated logistic support (ILS) system.