December 10, 2009 -- M113A1 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) have a long and proud history in the Australian Army since they were first introduced in 1965.
After nearly 45 years of service to the nation, three M113A1’s, one of which saw service in Vietnam, had their last street patrol in East Timor before being cleaned in preparation for shipping back to Australia.
Three Black Hawk S70’s, also on operational deployment in East Timor, over-flew the APCs as they turned and headed back to base.
“This is a big milestone for the 1st Armored Regiment to see the last M113A1s on an operation,” Troop Leader, LT Nathan Scott said.
“The end of forty years of proud history.”
Driving LT Scott’s vehicle, Lance Corporal (LCPL) Zachery Williams, who at 21 years of age was born 23 years after the APCs came into service with the Australian Army, praised the simplicity of the M113A1.
“Part of the reason the vehicle has been so successful is its simple design,” LCPL Williams said, speaking from experience as a certified driver, loader and gunner on the Abrams M1A1 AIM tanks.
“The M113 is easy to maintain and keep running”. LCPL Williams said.
“It is also straight forward to upgrade, and there have been many variations of the vehicles since its introduction in the 1960s.”
The M113A1s have been an important part of Australia’s mission in East Timor since they were first used to secure the Dili area when INTERFET inserted in 1999.
Since 2006 the APCs have been used to carry the Quick Response Force (QRF), made up of Australian and New Zealand infantry who were dispatched to deal with any outbreaks of civil unrest in the capital.
With the improved security situation in East Timor, the New Zealand Queen Alexandra Mounted Rifles will now transport the QRF in Pinzgauer armored light operational vehicles.
LT Scott said his troops have worked closely with the Kiwis to ensure that they could pick up where the M113A1s left off and the camaraderie between the armoured personnel has been high.
“With there being an ANZAC Battle group here in East Timor, I think it was great this morning to have a New Zealand troop sergeant out here on the last M113A1 operational patrol. It embodies the ANZAC spirit.”
The six M113A1s that have been in service in East Timor arrived with the International Stabilisation Force following the outbreak of violence in East Timor in 2006.
After they return to Australia the vehicles will be converted into M113AS4s.
December 9, 2009, Riga -- Latvia is concerned over Russia's plans to buy a French warship, the Baltic country's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
"Senior Defense Ministry officials have already warned that if Russia buys the vessel and deploys it in the Baltic Sea, Latvia may have to review its current defense strategy in the face of a new threat to national security," the ministry said in a statement.
Defense Minister Vinets Veldre plans to raise the issue at a meeting of the Baltic states' defense ministers on December 11, the ministry said.
Russia earlier said it is considering buying a Mistral-class helicopter carrier, worth 400-500 million euros (around $600-$750 mln), and potentially building three or four vessels of the same class in partnership with the French naval shipbuilder DCNS.
The chief of the General Staff said on Tuesday that Russia will decide whether to buy the ship by the end of 2009.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of transporting and deploying 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 battle tanks, and 450 soldiers. The vessel is equipped with a 69-bed hospital and can be used as an amphibious command ship.
Many Russian military and industry experts have questioned the financial and military sense of the purchase.
Latvia is a European Union and NATO member since 2004.
Type-99 main battle tank.
December 9, 2009 -- A next-generation main battle tank, which can be operated by two soldiers for all-dimensional attacks and all-directional self-protection, will be developed by China, according to China North Vehicle Research Institute director Mao Ming.
The Chinese Army currently uses a type-99 main battle tank, which can accommodate three crew members.
The next-generation tank could run with only 2 crew members, a gunner and a driver.
It could also feature enhanced information ability and fire performance, indirect aiming and shooting ability and aerial target interception.
The main battle tank will be equipped with a target detecting device connected to a command-and-attack network and numerous command systems and sensors from which the tank will receive real-time target information.
China's next-generation tank will be a lightweight vehicle with good strategic mobile capacity facilitating rapid deployment on the battlefield.
The tank's chassis system allows changeable and modularised loads for battles in the city or the field in north China and in south China, according to Mao Ming.
December 6, 2009 -- The Ministry of National Defense is considering installing air conditioning systems in K1A1 battle tanks by 2012, ministry officials said Sunday.
The move comes after The Korea Times reported last Thursday that the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had ignored a request by the Army and tank developer Hyundai Rotem in 2007 that the air conditioning system be installed in the tank.
The JCS argued at that time that the cooling system ``doesn't affect field operations much, and soldiers should overcome such a difficulty in the field.''
Criticism was growing about the military's attitude at a time when it is pursuing ``advanced'' armed forces with improved service conditions and weapons systems.
Tank operators said they sometimes suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke on extremely hot days.
``At that time, the military failed to consider the installation of air conditioning systems because of space and budgetary problems,'' a spokesman for the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) told The Korea Times. ``We'll review the plan through cost-effectiveness analysis and make a decision.''
The spokesman said a key task will be whether the size of air conditioning equipment can be reduced to fit in the tank.
``Hyundai, for its part, is said to be developing an air conditioning system for the K1A1, so we will cooperate with the company on this problem if needed,'' he added.
With the air conditioning system, the spokesman noted, the outside temperature of a tank would be lowered by 1 degree centigrade and the inside temperature by 5 degrees.
Tank experts say the temperature will be lowered much more, given air conditioning equipment usually reduces the humidity of the air too.
More importantly, air conditioning equipment can be used as NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) protection systems, so soldiers will not have to wear the heavy MOPP (mission oriented protective posture) gear in NBC warfare training exercises.
Most high-end tanks in service are equipped with air conditioning equipment, a basic operational requirement. The indigenous K2 Black Panther tank, which will begin service by 2012, will also have the system.
The air conditioning system is also a key consideration in hot-weather Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern nations showing interest in the upgraded K1A1 and K2.
Delegates from Thailand, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia expressed interest in the K1A1 upgrade plans during the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in October, according to the DAPA and Hyundai Rotem.
The upgrades will focus on equipping the tank with the C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) network-centric battlefield management systems already applied to the indigenous K2 tank.
The digital command-and-control system allows the vehicle to share data with friendly units, including other armored vehicles and helicopters, on a real-time basis.
The modification work is scheduled to start in 2012 after the production of the K1A1s has been completed.
The K1A1, which entered service in the South Korean Army in 2001, has a crew of four, comprising of a commander, gunner, loader and driver.
Powered by a turbocharged 1,200 horsepower, the K1A1 is armed with a 120-millimeter smoothbore gun. It has twice the penetration power of the previous 105-millimeter weapon and is loaded manually.
It has an improved gun/turret drive system and a ballistic computer for accuracy.
The tank is also fitted with a 7.62-millimeter coaxial machine gun, and two more machine guns are mounted on top of the turret roof.
In high gear, the K1A1 can attain a maximum road speed of about 65 kilometers per hour and travel 500 kilometers without refueling.
It also has day/night hunter-killer capability. A hybrid of hydropneumatic and torsion-bar suspension allows the vehicle to ``kneel'' and increases the main gun depression angle.
This feature is particularly useful in mountainous terrain. The tank can ford water obstacles of up to 2.2-meters after being equipped with a deep wading kit. A mine-clearing roller can also be fitted to the vehicle.
The Korea Times
December 6, 2009 -- Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, announced today that Australia’s $8 billion Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) was progressing well with key milestones in the delivery of its combat and weapons control system being met.
“I am pleased to announce that the US Navy has conducted a ‘pull the plug’ ceremony on the combat system for HMAS Hobart,” Mr Combet said.
“This ceremony marks the ‘de-energising’ of the combat system and symbolises its readiness for installation in the first AWD. To reach this point the system, including the radar and missile fire control equipment, had to complete a full range of US Navy acceptance tests to verify its performance.
“The completion of testing of the Aegis Combat System equipment destined for HMAS Hobart marks a major milestone in the delivery of this world-class capability from the US Navy to the Royal Australian Navy.
“The Aegis Combat System is deployed on nearly 100 warships around the world. In addition to the US and Australian Navies, Aegis is deployed on Japanese, Spanish, Norwegian and South Korean warships.
“This system is capable of detecting and defeating multiple hostile aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 150 kilometres. With this system deployed, the AWD will be able to provide protection for a naval task force against air, surface and submarine threats.
“Work on other sub-systems in the AWD combat system is also progressing well with the Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance recently signing a $20 million contract with McDonnell Douglas (a subsidiary of Boeing) for the Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System.
“As a key element of the Hobart Class combat system, the Harpoon missile will allow our three Air Warfare Destroyers to engage surface and land targets at ranges well beyond the horizon,” Mr Combet said.
HMAS Hobart is the first of Australia’s three Air Warfare Destroyers and is due for delivery to the Royal Australian Navy in December 2014.