Update On Air Warfare

October 13, 2009 -- Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, announced today that Australia’s $8 billion Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) project was progressing well and would commence hull construction in the next few months.

During a visit to Adelaide to inspect the progress of the project, Mr Combet said that work had now begun on fabricating what is known as a ‘pilot block’ at ASC’s shipyard in Adelaide. This followed the successful testing of the steel plate cutting capabilities of the South Australian company Ferrocut.

The AWDs are being constructed using the block method, with 30 per cent of the blocks being made at ASC in Adelaide and 70 per cent at BAE Systems in Victoria and at Forgacs in NSW.

Similar fabrication of blocks will commence in November at BAE’s facilities in Williamstown, Victoria and December at the Forgac’s facilities in Newcastle, NSW.

“Successful completion of pilot blocks is a key step in the move to full-scale production of the three AWDs and demonstrates that the project is successfully moving from the design to construction phase,” Mr Combet said.

Mr Combet also said today Australian companies were continuing to demonstrate their ability to win work on the AWD project.

The AWD Alliance has recently signed six contracts worth approximately $18 million with Australian companies for the supply of a wide range of services and equipment for the three Air Warfare Destroyers.

“Scientific Management Associates has won a contract initially worth $13 million to supply a range of integrated logistic support services to the project. This is crucial work which will ensure the highly sophisticated AWDs are well supported to meet the Navy’s operational requirements.”

Mr Combet said five South Australian companies had also recently won work on the AWD project.

“Ottoway Engineering, based in Adelaide, has won a contract potentially worth up to $3.7 million and United Fasteners, Priority Engineering Services, Century Products and Whyalla Fabrications have also won work on the AWD project to provide a range of materials and services,” he said.

The AWD Alliance has also signed a $12 million contract with Eurotorp for the provision of the torpedo launch system for the three ships.

The AWD Alliance is made up of the DMO, ASC as the shipbuilder and Raytheon Australia as the Combat System Systems Engineer. The first ship is scheduled for delivery in 2014.

Australian DoD

U.S. Military Airlift Capability Key Following Indonesian Earthquake

A relief agency worker photographs children from Hula Banda village as they use ShelterBoxes for cover from the prop blast of a CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 265. Each ShelterBox contains materials to sustain a family of 10 for several weeks. Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet is coordinating U.S. military assistance to victims of the recent earthquakes in West Sumatra, at the request of the Indonesian government. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Greg Johnson/Released)

October 13, 2009, Padang -- Getting more than 60 tons of urgently needed supplies to some of the most remote mountain villages in Southeast Asia has been a tremendous challenge for relief agencies responding to the earthquakes that rocked Sumatra Sept. 30.

The solution: CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 265. During a mission Oct. 12, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers delivered 45 "ShelterBoxes," donated by the ShelterBox organization. The ShelterBoxes, which each contain a tent, blankets, kitchenware, tools, a water purification kit can sustain a family for several weeks.

Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, flew on one of the missions to oversee the complex process of landing helicopters under difficult conditions.

"That was the first remote mission I've had the opportunity to be on since we've started, and I have to say, that was some very impressive flying," said Landolt. "They got in and out of a tight spot and made it look easy."

Pilots landed the helicopter on a peak nestled in the mountains of Western Sumatra, where villagers had drawn a white "H" on the ground. Service members and ShelterBox volunteers were greeted with smiling faces.

"I am so happy to see the helicopters coming here now," said Atin Nasution, a village resident. "Many people lost their homes during the earthquake, so I believe the supplies they brought here today will help many people."

The ShelterBox organization has relied predominantly on the U.S. and Australian militaries to transport the units.

"It's been invaluable having the U.S. military involved," said Becky Maynard, a ShelterBox program manager. "It would have taken four days for us to determine who needed help and who didn't, but with the U.S. military, we cut it down to just one day."

Amphibious Force 7th Fleet is coordinating U.S. military assistance to victims of the recent earthquakes in West Sumatra, at the request of the Indonesian government.


Lockheed Martin Unveils First New F-16 For Pakistan In Ceremony Attended By Air Force Chiefs

October 13, 2009, Forth Worth, Texas -- Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] unveiled the first of 18 new F-16s being produced for Pakistan in ceremonies today at its Fort Worth, Texas, facility. Officials including the Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. and Pakistan Air Forces were on hand to witness the event.

Air Chief Marshal Rao Quamar Suleman, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), accepted the first F-16 Block 52 aircraft on behalf of his nation. Also present were Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States, and other senior officials.

The U.S. government was represented by Rep. Kay Granger, Texas 12th District, and Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

"Peace Drive is the flagship of modernization for Pakistan's Air Force. It is the latest configuration of the best 4th generation multirole fighter available in the world today," said John Larson, vice president of F-16 programs for Lockheed Martin.

The aircraft order is designated as "Peace Drive I," continuing a long tradition of naming F-16 international sales programs with the word Peace. The program raises the total number of F-16s ordered by Pakistan to 54. The Pakistan Air Force received its first F-16, in the Block 15 F-16A/B configuration, in 1982. Pakistan has been operating Lockheed Martin aircraft since 1963, when it received C-130B airlifters.

The Peace Drive I order is for 12 F-16Cs and six F-16Ds, all powered by the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engine. The first aircraft – a two-seat F-16D model – will be delivered to the U.S. government (as agent for Pakistan in the Foreign Military Sales process) in December, with the remainder following in 2010.

The F-16 is the choice of 25 nations. More than 4,400 aircraft have been delivered worldwide from assembly lines in five countries. The F-16 program has been characterized by unprecedented international cooperation among governments, air forces and aerospace industries. Major upgrades to all F-16 versions are being incorporated to keep the fleet modern and fully supportable over the aircraft's long service life.

Lockheed Martin

Boeing A160T Unmanned Helicopter Flies With Foliage-Penetrating Radar in DARPA Tests

October 13, 2009, Irvine, California -- The Boeing [NYSE: BA] A160T Hummingbird unmanned helicopter successfully completed 20 test flights from Aug. 31 to Oct. 8 with the Foliage Penetration Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Tracking and Engagement Radar (FORESTER). The tests, conducted at Fort Stewart, Ga., validated the radar-carrying A160T's flight characteristics with more than 50 hours of flying time.

FORESTER is being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Army to provide enhanced coverage of moving vehicles and dismounted troops under foliage, filling the current surveillance gap. The Fort Stewart tests were conducted under a contract with DARPA.

"The success of these test flights points to the operational readiness of this important capability," said Vic Sweberg, director of Unmanned Airborne Systems (UAS) for Boeing. "The FORESTER is a unique radar, and the A160T is a unique helicopter. Together, they make a formidable system."

The 53 flight hours at Fort Stewart pushed the total flight hours for the A160T past the 220-hour mark. The helicopter's longest flight at Fort Stewart was 5.8 hours and its average flight time was 4.2 hours.

The A160T is a turbine-powered unmanned helicopter that can perform numerous missions, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, communications, and precision resupply. It holds the world record for endurance for its class (more than 18 hours unrefueled), can hover at 20,000 feet and can carry up to 2,500 pounds of cargo.

The Hummingbird recently was selected to participate in the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory's Immediate Cargo Unmanned Aerial System Demonstration Program. Boeing will demonstrate that the A160T can deliver at least 2,500 pounds of cargo from one simulated forward-operating base to another in fewer than six hours per day for three consecutive days.

The goal of Boeing's UAS division is to provide access to a breadth of unmanned capabilities in a way that best meets customers' needs. Boeing currently offers a wide variety of unmanned aircraft systems, including the A160 Hummingbird, ScanEagle, Unmanned Little Bird and SolarEagle.


Pakistan commandos rescue 39 hostages, three killed

Armed soldiers take their positions outside Pakistan's army headquarters in Rawalpindi October 11, 2009. (Photo: REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood)

October 11, 2009, Rawalpindi, Pakistan -- Pakistani commandos stormed an office building Sunday and rescued 39 people taken hostage by suspected Taliban militants after a brazen attack on the army's headquarters.

Saturday's attack on the tightly guarded army headquarters in the city of Rawalpindi, next door to the capital, Islamabad, came as the military prepared an offensive against the militants in their stronghold of South Waziristan on the Afghan border.

The strike at the heart of the powerful military called into question government assertions the militants were virtually crippled by recent setbacks. But a top official said it only underlined the need to finish them off.

The United States condemned the attack and expressed confidence in the security of its ally's nuclear arsenal.

Three hostages, two commandos and four of the gunmen were killed in the pre-dawn rescue operation, said army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas. One wounded gunman was captured and Abbas said he was the ringleader.

"Now there is no terrorist left there. The operation is over," Abbas told Reuters.

Pakistani Taliban militants linked to al Qaeda have launched numerous attacks over the past couple of years, most aimed at the government and security forces, including bomb attacks in Rawalpindi.

Saturday, gunmen wearing army uniforms attacked the army headquarters, killing six soldiers including a brigadier and a lieutenant colonel in a gunbattle at a main gate.

Five gunmen were killed there and two of their wounded colleagues captured. But others fled and took hostages in a building housing security offices near the headquarters.

Commandos launched their assault under cover of darkness with a blast and gunfire erupting at 6 a.m. (8 p.m. Saturday EDT).

"They were in a room with a terrorist who was wearing a suicide jacket but the commandos acted promptly and gunned him down before he could pull the trigger," Abbas said of one large group of hostages.

"Three of the hostages were killed due to militant firing," he said. More hostages were later found alive.

The raid bore the hallmarks of several similarly ruthless "swarm" attacks this year.

In March, gunmen attacked Sri Lanka's cricket team as it drove to a match in the city of Lahore and weeks later militants raided a police cadet college in the same city.

Those attacks were blamed on the Pakistani Taliban, widely believed to have been helped by militants from Punjab province.

Abbas identified the militant captured Sunday as Aqeel, alias Dr Usman. A security official in Punjab said Usman was believed to be a member of the notorious Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group.

"Militants we arrested in Lahore had told us during interrogation that he masterminded the attack on the Sri Lankan team and provided weapons," said the official.

Some hostage takers' phone calls were intercepted and they were speaking Punjabi, another security official said.

Violent Week

The attack on the army came at the end of a violent week.

Last Monday, a suicide bomber attacked a U.N. office in Islamabad killing five staff members, and Friday a suspected suicide bomber killed 49 people in Peshawar.

"All roads lead to South Waziristan," Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Saturday, referring to all of the attacks. "Now the government has no other option but to launch an offensive."

The army has been preparing an offensive with air and artillery attacks but has not said when ground troops will go in.

The United States needs Pakistani help against militants crossing into Afghanistan to fight U.S.-led forces there and has been urging action against Afghan Taliban factions on the border.

In March, militants pushed to within 100 km (60 miles) of Islamabad, sparking grave concern among allies, including the United States, for Pakistan's prospects, and fears for the safety of its nuclear weapons.

In late April, the army launched an offensive in Swat, northwest of Islamabad, and largely cleared out the Taliban.

The militants suffered another big blow on August 5, when their leader, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a missile attack by a U.S. drone aircraft. His successor vowed revenge last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the Saturday attack and she and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband expressed confidence in the security of Pakistani nuclear facilities.

Washington had every confidence in the government's control over its nuclear weapons, Clinton told a London news conference.


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