Thursday, 2 February 2012

Chinese Buildup to become next Super power

Chinese Navy's 052C missile destroyer

U.S. experts believe that in the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to be the world's number one naval power, but a new member of the Asia-Pacific region will enter the Navy country club, obviously squeezed European countries and Russia. Global naval activity center will eventually be the Atlantic to the Pacific. Since 2007, the U.S. Navy's Pacific fleet strength beyond the Atlantic Fleet for the first time in 60 years is a proof. 

The main factors contribute to a similar change: 

First, Asian countries, long-term stable economic growth, thus without prejudice to the economic development, vigorously develop its own military power; 

Second , Asia-Pacific region focused on the global economic system is the most important trade channels, straits, ports, trade zone, as well as adequate human, financial, biological and mineral resources; whether other countries or non-international relations factors (piracy, terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking, illegal immigration) threat to the Asia-Pacific countries economic prosperity and national security interests continue to increase, thus determining the Navy must play a greater role in resolving a similar military and civilian tasks. Moreover, the Navy is still more and more frequently involved in the ward off disaster mitigation and rescue operations; 

Third , Asia-Pacific countries decreased the formation of a regional security system in the history of trust. This system consists of the United States and its partner countries to conclude bilateral military political treaty protection. But after the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and the world economic crisis, the United States is trying to get rid of part of its obligations. 

China will lead Asia-Pacific naval prosperity of road

Russian media said some experts believe that as a large country in East Asia, China will become the regional and world power, to become the new main rival in the United States. The unprecedented rapid growth in China's economy for nearly 30 years been able to pursue a more active foreign policy. China has over one billion people, many internal problems and contradictions, economic growth is actually a problem of existence. To ensure stable economic growth, will inevitably require more resources and trade routes security, which is what the Chinese leaders one of the reasons of increasing emphasis on ocean policy. In addition, in the eastern Pacific region, there are a large number of unresolved maritime border demarcation and economic resource development. 

In the East China Sea between China and Japan, South Korea, there are a series of differences. Energy reserves in the East China Sea, estimated 7 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 1,000 barrels of oil, the largest dispute the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands. In the fall of 2010, the Chinese fishermen and the Japan Coast Guard patrol boats near the Diaoyu Islands, the recurrence of conflict. In the South China Sea, China is also facing a territorial issue, the division in the exclusive economic zone and Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and the contradictions on the Spratly Islands and Paracel Islands attribution. However, China's strategic interests to seek resources and trade routes far beyond the eastern Pacific, China has been trying to consolidate its presence in critical regions of Africa, Asia, South America, while actively developing the traditional Friends of Myanmar, Pakistan, Iran and other among the long-term economic, military and political cooperation.

Russian media said that for China, the economic interests of the more critical, but the military and political factors are equally important. China has been very actively growing naval power, or constitute a more realistic threat to China's national interests because of the Taiwan issue and the powerful military superiority of the United States in East Asia. Chinese naval strategy attaches great importance to the U.S. island chain blockade theory, and its essence is the U.S. Navy aimed at curbing the system of fortifications in the eastern Pacific to build. The first island chain, including Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and the Philippines; the second island chain north from the Japanese Islands to the south from the Ogasawara Islands and the Marshall Islands; third chain of islands around the Hawaiian Islands, is the strategic rear area of ​​the United States. Three island chains are the United States to contain China, to limit the tools of strategic maneuvering space. The last 20 years, the development and growth of the Chinese Navy is mainly due to non-symmetric against the U.S. military, to prevent Taiwan independence, to prevent U.S. military intervention in the strategic needs of the Taiwan Strait affairs.

U.S. experts used to think that the Chinese Navy's submarine force and shore-based anti-ship missiles for the U.S. military's increasing danger, but the Chinese Navy also exists a lack of strategic weakness of the combat effectiveness of carrier and amphibious landing force. However, from the end of last century, this situation began to change. In 2010-2020, the Chinese, there might be a real threat to U.S. troops in the eastern Pacific. In 2006, China announced that he had become a sea power, we must build a powerful ocean-going fleet, this statement then reflected in the 2008 defense white paper. 2006 2 ton 071 dock landing the bow of the ship into the water, becoming the first ship in the true sense of helicopter dock landing ship. 2010 The first ship-volume type 071 dock landing ship into the water. China plans to build a total of six similar warships. The Chinese navy is equipped with a 1.4-ton 920 medical ship. Another rumor said that China plans to build six common use of the overall flight deck landing ship. Of course, the Chinese navy, the more complex and more important task is the construction of the true sense of the carrier. Since 1985, China has been Australia, "Melbourne", the former Soviet Union "Kiev", the "Minsk" and "Kuznetsov grid" four second-hand aircraft carrier Varyag in Dalian shipyard conversion The trial has begun service in 2015. China plans the construction of two 5-6 million tons of new non-nuclear aircraft carriers, independent in 2020 after the start of construction of domestic nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The development of the Chinese Navy carrier-based aviation equipment is also worth special attention. Future Chinese aircraft carrier with the carrier-based fighter was originally planned for the Russian Su-33 fighters, but the Sino-Russian Su-33 supply issues on the breakdown of negotiations, China and then independently developed domestic carrier-based fighter F -15. It is actually Su-33, more accurate, is procured from Ukraine Su-33 demonstrator T-10K-7 imitation. Although China's military leaders claimed that the F -15 level playing field with other modern carrier-based fighter, but Pogosyan, Sukhoi Company CEO in 2010, F -15 in many of the indicators are inferior to the Su-33, the two can not be compared . In addition, China is still the Russian card -31 on the basis of development of domestic direct -8 carrier-based early warning helicopters, while also actively developed in many ways with the U.S. E-2 Hawkeye "similar to the domestic ship-borne early warning aircraft. It is an important condition for China's aircraft carrier battle groups to form a stable 'combat effectiveness, once successful, will make the vision of the aircraft carrier battle group of extended hundreds of kilometers.

Russian media said that in addition to the development of aircraft carriers and amphibious landing force, the Chinese still continue to improve the submarine, surface forces and coastal defense missile units, as a program to effectively deal with the U.S. Navy's Pacific forces. Not auxiliary vessels and small vessels, Chinese navy now there are about 200 main warships, but most of these main warships old, combat effectiveness is limited. However, the Chinese navy has a very modern surface warships and submarines, both from Russia, but also made. U.S. Department of Defense once believed that the Chinese navy modernization equipment level is low, 25%, the ratio of surface warships and submarines for 55%. Is not the case, and many of the Chinese navy modernization of ships. At least two relatively new in the six "business" class nuclear submarine; 29 is more advanced in the 54 conventional submarines, including the Russian "Kilo" class and the Chinese "Song" class, "class submarines; at 25 13 destroyers, including Russia "modern" class and Chinese-made Brigade Shanghai "class," Sea Journey "class," Ocean Journey "class," Ocean Journey II "class trip Chau level. In addition there are over 60 vessels (data Hou North about 80) Type 022 class missile boats, two 071-type helicopter dock landing ship. In short, the data of the proportion of China's naval modernization surface warships than Pentagon estimates much higher.

At the same time, China is also actively develop civilian shipbuilding. In 2015, China is bound to overtake South Korea, the world's top shipbuilding country. China in the field of military shipbuilding dependence on foreign products has been steadily reduced. Moreover, China has become a major exporter of naval weapons and equipment, the Royal Malaysian Navy is very interested in the introduction of China's 071-based dock landing ship. China plans to spend $ 24 billion in the next 20 years the construction of 113 warships.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Dark Future of US Airforce

The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is slated to become the backbone of the U.S. tactical aviation fleet. This ambitious program aims to replace the combined U.S. Defense Department arsenal of F-16 Fighting Falcons, F/A-18 Hornets, A-10 Thunderbolts, and the AV-8B Harrier combat aircraft with a single platform capable of being adapted to the divergent needs of the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Marine Corps.

The new fighter will not only replace those rapidly aging aircraft in the colossal American inventory, but the jet is also expected to become the mainstay of Allied air forces in Great Britain, Australia, and a host of other nations.

In recent weeks a number of highly critical reports and editorials have surfaced from both defense think tanks and the media. Critics such as Winslow Wheeler and Pierre Sprey of the Center for Defense Information malign the aircraft as an underpowered, overweight monstrosity that will be easy prey for the latest generation of threat aircraft such as the Russian built Su-35BM that are being proliferated around the world. Sprey and Wheeler argued in a editorial published on Sept. 10, that the F-35 which weighs in "at 49,500 lb air-to-air take-off weight, with an engine rated at 42,000 lb of thrust, will be a significant step backward in thrust-to-weight ratio for a new fighter."

Additionally, the two analysts suggest that the F-35 "with just 460 sq ft (43 m2) of wing area for the Air Force and Marine Corps variants, will have a wing-loading of 108 lbs per square foot."

Sprey and Wheeler argue that the F-35 is "actually less manoeuvrable than the appallingly vulnerable F-105 'Lead Sled' that got wiped out over North Vietnam" during the Vietnam conflict. The two critics dismiss the aircrafts' advanced stealth and avionics almost in their entirety, pointing to the downing of an F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter during the 1999 Kosovo air campaign as evidence to support their views.

Wheeler and Sprey also assert that the aircraft will be unable to perform the vital role of close air support (CAS) - striking the enemy on the ground in direct support of ground troops. They argue that the aircraft "is too fast to see the tactical targets it is shooting at; too delicate and flammable to withstand ground fire" and lacks the endurance to meet the requirements of the close air support mission. Further the two academics assert that the aircraft is under armed with only two 2000 lbs Joint Direct Attack Munitions(JDAM) and two medium range air to air radar guided AIM-120 missiles in a full air to ground stealth configuration.

While both Wheeler and Sprey are respected academics, other attacks on the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program have come from less reputable sources. In the Australian media, the JSF was assailed by allegations that the fighters were "clubbed like baby seals" during a table top war-game held in Hawaii by the U.S. Pacific Command. Later, when the source of the report was revealed to be an erroneous backup slide for a RAND Corporation presentation, RAND not only disavowed the slide in question, but also issued a strong denial that the report was ever designed to be a detailed simulation of the capabilities of any warplane- much less the F-35. However, the damage to the public perception remains.

F-35 is "not designed for an air-show in Paris," referring to the thrust vectoring Russian Su-35 aircraft which regularly performs spectacular routines at air-shows around the world. While the F-35 was not designed as a pure air superiority machine, the program has a requirement to defeat any threat aircraft today- or any projected threat aircraft in the future.

The JSF accomplishes this feat by relying on its incredible suite of sensors, its stealthy airframe, and a surprising level of agility. The F-35 is not only equipped with the APG-81 active electronically scanned array radar (AESA), which according to Lockheed Martin F-35 Chief Test Pilot Jon Beesley, is the most advanced fighter radar system in the world, but also a host of other sensors. The radar can track an enormous numbers of targets in the air at phenomenal ranges while simultaneously operating air to ground modes.

Complementing the radar, the F-35's airframe is also lined with antennas that gather vast amounts of electronic information from the jets surroundings. The system allows the fighter to target and identify the electronic emissions of hostile radars in the air or on the ground with startling precision. The data gathered from these sensors allows the aircraft to track, identify and attack the sources of these signals without giving away the F-35s' position.

Furthermore, the F-35 has two separate types of infrared sensors that allow the jet to track targets passively. The Distributed Aperture System (DAS) is a system of cameras that feeds an infrared image of the planes' surrounding to the pilots' helmet. The computer fuses the images from the six cameras and merges the images into a single seamless picture that allows the pilot to see 360 degrees around the aircraft, including through the cockpit floor and indeed the pilots' own body. The DAS also acts as a missile warning system (MWS) that alerts the pilot to incoming missiles. The second infrared sensor, called the electro-optical targeting system (EOTS), allows the aircraft to target, track, and identify object in the air or on the ground at long ranges and high resolutions.

The F-35 is able to transmit the wealth of data that the warplane gathers to other aircraft and to ground forces. Not only does the F-35 carry the standard Link-16 data-link to transmit information to over 100 other types of NATO platforms, the jet will carry data-links to communicate with ground forces and other stealth aircraft. A next-generation data-link called the Multifunction Advanced Data-Link (MADL) which will be carried by the F-35, will allow the plane to stealthily share data with the F-22 air dominance fighter and B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, enhancing the capabilities of all the aircraft involved. Additionally, the fighter's communication suite is based on an open source software programmable system. Thus as new technologies become available, new hardware and software can be added without the difficulties typically encountered with upgrading military systems.

The F-35 is a stealthy airframe. Because the F-35 is designed to fly and fight in even the most heavily defended airspace, stealth is an essential component of the jets' design. The stealthy airframe is tailored for the mission of flying into the teeth of the most advanced air defences that the enemy can muster where conventional aircraft are vulnerable. While the aircraft has a different radar cross section depending on which aspect angle is facing a threat radar, the plane meets the stringent requirements set forth by the U.S. military services based on more than 20 years of American experience with stealth aircraft design. Furthermore, stealth does not merely apply to an aircraft's radar cross section, an aircraft's infrared signature is similarly tailored to be less detectable by the enemy. The sum total is an aircraft that is less vulnerable to the enemy from the air or ground.

The F-35 carries a diverse load of weaponry. Almost every air to ground weapon in the U.S. arsenal will eventually be integrated into the jet. These weapons include a host of laser guided weapons, satellite guided munitions, and air to ground missiles. While the perceived lack of weapons payload is the one of the main criticisms levelled at the JSF, the aircraft can carry a huge load of weapons externally once the enemy air defense systems have been destroyed. During the opening days of a war weapons have to be carried internally in order to maintain the maximum level of stealth. In a full stealth configuration, the primary weapons load is limited to two 2000 lbs JDAM satellite guided munitions and two air to air AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. In the future, however, the JDAM will be exchanged for as many as eight, possibly more, 250 lbs Small Diameter Bombs (SDB), allowing a single jet to strike as many as eight or more separate targets.

In a pure stealth air to air configuration, the F-35 currently carries four AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles internally in its weapons bays. While this configuration gives the jet a significant punch, studies have been undertaken that would increase the stealth air to air war load to six to possibly as many as eight air to air missiles which would be carried internally. The jet can also carry air to air missiles externally should the need arise and stealth is no longer a concern.

In terms of aerodynamic performance, the F-35 is an excellent machine. The four current test pilots for F-35 have been most impressed by the aircraft's thrust and acceleration. In the subsonic flight regime, the F-35 very nearly matches the performance of its' larger, more powerful cousin, the F-22 Raptor. The "subsonic acceleration is about as good as a clean Block 50 F-16 or a Raptor- which is about as good as you can get."

The aircraft flies in "large measure like the F-22, but it's smaller, and stiffer" than the Raptor however, adding that the aircraft handles superbly. The reason for the similar flight characteristics, is because the man who designed the flight control laws for the Raptor, is also the same man who is responsible for the flight control software for the F-35. The flight control laws of modern fighters determine to large extent the flight characteristics of a given aircraft. The aircraft is so stable and so comfortable that the test pilots find themselves inadvertently drifting too close to their wingmen in formation.

While the F-22 with its thrust vectored controls performs better at the slow speeds and high angle of attack (AOA) flight regime, the F-35 will be able match most of the same high AOA manoeuvres as the Raptor, although it will not be able to do so as quickly as the more powerful jet in some cases. Turning at the higher Gs and higher speed portions of the flight envelope, the F-35 will "almost exactly match a clean Block 50 F-16 and comes very close to the Raptor".

Ironically, the Navy version, which has larger wings but a lower G limit of 7.5G, has the best turning capability of the three F-35 versions . The Air Force version, meanwhile, has the best acceleration and is rated for 9Gs. The Marine Corps deemphasizes manoeuvrability in its air combat doctrine, the short take off, vertical landing (STOVL) USMC plane has a 7G limit. The aircraft makes up for the lower G limit by offering the flexibility in basing required by the Marines. Nor does the STOVL give up too much in range because of the engine driven lift fan installed behind the cockpit. The jet has "a range of more than 500 miles", while the Air Force and Navy planes both have ranges greater than 600 miles, that the USAF version has as much internal fuel capacity as the larger twin engined F-22 Raptor.

While supersonically the F-35 is limited to a seemingly unimpressive Mach 1.6 in level flight, the JSF is optimized for exceptional subsonic to supersonic acceleration. Transonic acceleration is much more relevant to a fighter pilot than the absolute max speed of the jet. The Eagle is a Mach 2 class fighter, it has rarely exceed the threshold of Mach 1.2 to Mach 1.3 during it's entire 30 year life span. Additionally, the time the aircraft has spent in the supersonic flight regime can be measured in minutes rather than hours- most of the supersonic flights were in fact during specialized flights such as Functional Check Flights (FCF).

Comparisons to the F-22 Raptor are unfair as "supersonically, the Raptor is in a class by itself. It lives there. "In many ways the Raptor is the first true supersonic fighter," referring to that aircrafts' much publicized and unique supersonic cruise capability.

The F-35 is different from legacy fourth generation fighters such as the F-15, F-16, F/A-18, or even more modern aircraft such as the Eurofighter, in that the primary weapons load is stored internally. This arrangement means that there is no added drag to the airframe from externally carried weapons, fuel tanks, or sensor pods as in older aircraft types. The outstanding handling, acceleration, and the maximum speed of the aircraft is useable in a combat configuration unlike in legacy fighters. The aircraft "felt like it had a few thousand pounds of extra fuel" but otherwise was practically no degradation in the aircrafts' performance.

What this means for the pilots who will fly the F-35 over future battlefields is that the Lightning II will be an aircraft that will excel in a multitude of roles. The JSF will provide the troops on the ground with close air support (CAS). However, the way the F-35 will carry out the CAS mission will be significantly different from the way the current A-10 Warthog performs the mission. There will be less emphasis on flying at low altitudes and absorbing ground fire and more emphasis on intelligence gathering and precision guided strikes. The F-35 will use its superb sensor capabilities and data-links to transmit real time imagery and sensor data to the troops on the ground in addition to using its 25 millimetre cannon and SDBs to provide fire support. The jets' stealth capabilities will allow the jet to do so even in a high threat environment.

The most challenging mission for the JSF is where the F-35s will have to penetrate deep into a dense integrated air defense system reinforced by enemy fighters and strike a target with no support. This is the most difficult mission for the F-35, but it is also one that is near suicidal for current aircraft such as the F-16. Modern Russian built surface to air missile systems such as the SA-20 are deadly to conventional aircraft. A package of four, six, or even eight F-35s would have to divide up the responsibilities for the suppression of enemy air defenses, mapping out the target, clearing the skies, and striking the target. The larger number of aircraft is necessary since the F-35 "doesn't have the kinematics of the F-22".

"The F-35 offers a greater depth and breadth of missions." , given the F-35s' awesome capabilities, "The only airplane that can complete with it is the Raptor. Everything else is playing in a different league."

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Brazil to buy 1 Billion $ EC725 Cougar

EC725 Cougar

Brazil’s “Project H-X BR” medium transport helicopter competition featured 3 established players: AgustaWestland’s EH101 has found success in Britain, Europe, and Japan, and was chosen as the base for the USA’s VH-71 Presidential helicopter before that program was canceled. Eurocopter’s EC725 Cougar is an updated version of the popular AS332/532 Super Puma, and has been ordered in limited quantities by the French and Mexican governments. An up-to-date version of Russia’s widely used Mi-17 was the 3rd contender; like the Super Puma, Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters are already in wide use within Latin America.

In truth, however, Eurocopter always had an edge. The Brazilian Army’s Aviacao do Exercito already uses the AS532/”HM-3” Super Puma, basing them in the Amazon at Manaus. Its Navy also uses Super Puma variants: AS332s and AS532s both serve in the Navy as the UH-14, flying from Brazil’s NAe Sao Paulo aircraft carrier, and from the southeastern base of Sao Pedro da Aldeia in support of Brazil’s Marines.

By 2007 Brazil’s was showing a surprising boost in its defense budget, as well as a revived fighter competition in the works, the selection of a medium transport helicopter and of an attack helicopter, and other programs to follow. After decades of neglect, Brazil appeared set to reconstitute both its armed forces, and a defense industry that once offered an array of competitive products on the global stage.

A few years later, Brazil’s F-X2 is on hold, but it did buy Russia’s Mi-35M as its attack helicopter, to go with its H-XBR EC725 Cougar medium utility helicopters. That “Cougar” designation can be confusing. While Eurocopter itself uses the Cougar designation primarily for its new EC725 and the EC225 civilian version, Helibras’ pages refer to the AS532 as “Cougar,” in line with Aerospatiale marketing efforts since 1990. Compared to the AS532, the EC725 Cougar is a bit larger, and uses more advanced modular design, more composite materials, state of the art avionics, and prognostic monitoring systems for key components.

Brazil’s Navy and Army will each receive 16 helicopters to support their missions. The Air Force will receive 18: 16 for general tasks, and 2 configured as VIP transports.

EC725 Cougar

Meanwhile, the deal itself offers important benefits to both parties. The Brazilians make some progress in the area of fleet standardization, though they will continue to operate helicopters from Bell and Sikorsky. They also strengthen a key defense industry relationship, and build national capability with the upgraded Helibras facility. There are rumors that Snecma’s Turbomeca will also set up an “industrial facility” in Rio de Janeiro for helicopter engines. All of these moves will make a difference to Brazil’s long term costs, and may even provide a base for more government buys. Local production of Cougar helicopters in Brazil also creates a local source for state firms like Petrobras, who may need long-range helicopters for their offshore oil rigs, as well as “para-public” agencies like law enforcement.

The global medium helicopter market is currently very tight, with demand outstripping supply. EH101 production is backlogged to the point that Britain moved to buy Denmark’s fleet, rather than wait for factory deliveries of extra machines for the front lines. NHI/Eurocopter’s smaller NH90 is in an even worse state, and is backlogged by years; so is Boeing’s heavy-lift CH-47F Chinook production line. Sikorsky’s medium-heavy CH-53K will not be a realistic option before 2016 or so. Its smaller H-92 Superhawk has yet to be delivered, has not been ordered in a military transport version, and currently has just one small military customer in Canada. This leaves Russia’s Mi-17, which has its own steady flow of demand, and attracts questions about its Rosoboronexport’s support and negotiating approaches. Or, there’s Eurocopter.

An additional production line, and firm orders for the EC725, offer Eurocopter additional capacity to meet global demand, while fulfilling their existing commitments. It also offers them a key reference customer beyond France, giving their new model credibility as a viable long-term choice for existing Puma and Super Puma operators.

On the other hand, the deal doesn’t quite establish production in a dollar zone, which has been a goal of EADS’ leadership. Brazil’s Real has increased in value from about $0.35 in January 2004 to test peaks of around $0.65 in both 2008 and 2011; and even increased in value relative to the Euro, rising from EUR 0.28 to reach EUR 0.40 and above since 2010. Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega famously said in 2010 that a currency war was going on. The Real may have come down a bit from recent peak values, but with Brazil moving away from the US dollar as a reference currency in international trade, Brazilian production will have to compete on its own economic merits, rather than benefiting from currency externalities.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Mirage 2000v5 Mk 2 for IAF

Mirage 2000v5 Mk 2

Word is that the upgrade will bring India’s Mirages to the full Mirage 2000v5 Mk 2 standard, including a new RDY-3 radar with greater air-air and air-ground capability, a new night vision compatible all-digital cockpit, and improved electronic warfare systems. These will be tied into a joint tactical information data link system (JTIDS, usually Link 16 compatible but not always), plus helmet-mounted sights for wide-angle heat-seeking missiles. As part of the upgrade, the aircraft will also be equipped with MBDA’s Mica family of medium range missiles.

MBDA was probably unamused by India Defence’s December 2006 description of its wares as “an advanced medium-range missile that is the French counterpart to the more capable American AMRAAM missile [link added]”. MICA would actually replace both the radar-guided Super 350 MRAAM and Magic-II short-range infrared missiles on Indian Mirages, offering better performance and range. While the MICA-RF does have mediocre range compared to the AIM-120C AMRAAM, or even the Russian R-77 used by the IAF’s SU-30MKIs, it’s unique in offering a MICA-IR heat-seeking IR version for a potent medium range ‘no warning’ targeting option. French pilots who used the MICA-IR over Libya report that its sensor alone is a useful input to their systems, and its passive seeker with lock-on after launch means that it can be fired from beyond visual range at enemy aircraft, without creating any warning from the opposing fighter’s radar warning receivers. India will join France, Egypt, Greece, Taiwan and the UAE as operators of the Mirage 2000/MICA combo.

Work on the upgrades would be performed by a French-Indian consortium including Dassault (aircraft manufacturer), Thales (weapons systems integrator), MBDA (missiles) and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

Jan 4/12: the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security clears an proposed EUR 950 million (about Rs. 6,600 crore/ $1.23 billion) deal to equip its 51 upgraded Mirage 2000s with 490-500 MBDA MICA air-to-air missiles, replacing the fleet’s Matra Super 530D medium-range and Magic-II short-range missiles in one stroke. The actual contract signing is expected in about a month.

Under the eventual deal, MBDA will also have to meet the standard Indian requirements of 30% industrial offsets, and integration of the MICAs with the improved Mirages will reportedly be handled by Thales.

AIM-9X orders

AIM on F-15

Raytheon’s AIM-9X Block II would have made Top Gun a very short movie. It’s the USA’s most advanced short range air-air missile, capable of using its datalink, thrust vectoring maneuverability, and advanced imaging infrared seeker to hit targets behind the launching fighter. Unlike previous AIM-9 models, the AIM-9X can even be used against targets on the ground. The 2-way datalink is the most significant single Block II change, as it allows the missile to fly toward targets its seeker can’t yet see, using target position tracking from its fighter. The Block II also has improved seeker lock-on-after-launch vs. the original AIM-9X, a ‘lofting’ fly-out profile the boosts its range, and better all weather laser fusing against small targets.

These changes will help keep it competitive against foreign missiles like MBDA UK’s AIM-132 ASRAAM, RAFAEL of Israel’s Python 5, the multinational German-led IRIS-T, and Russia’s R73/ AA-11 Archer. The end of September 2011 saw the first significant order from the US military for AIM-9X Block II missiles, shortly after successful live fire tests at China Lake, CA.

Brazil Buying & Building ships from BAE

River Class OPV

As 2011 came to a close, Brazil’s buy of 3 in-stock Offshore Patrol Vessels from BAE, with an option to license-build 5 more, has the potential to cast wide ripples.

Brazil has very extensive coastal responsibilities, a sizable Marine Corps, and a Navy whose frigates are either British designs, or former British ships. That navy is expanding, as Brazil moves to protect key assets like its deep-water oil production, but British shipbuilders will face stiff competition. Other key Brazilian suppliers like France’s DCNS will be bidding, alongside naval shipbuilders around the world.

The Port of Spain Class is an enlarged offshoot of the River Class OPVs built for Britain’s Royal Navy. A similar design was sold to the Thai Navy, and is being built by Bangkok Dock.

The first of the ships was built at BAE Systems’ Portsmouth facility on the English Channel, while the 2nd and 3rd vessels were built at the yard at Scotstoun on the Clyde River, in Scotland. Key statistics include:

Length overall: 90.5m
Breadth moulded: 13.5m
Draught: 3.5m
Displacement: 1,800t/ 2,200t fully loaded – corvete sized
Propulsion: 2×7,350 kW diesels, driving 2×3.1 m Wartsalia propellers
Speed: 25+ knots
Range at 12 knots: 5,500+ nm
Endurance: 35 days
Nominal crew: 60. Can operate with 36, accommodate up to 70.
Deck capacity: 1 helicopter up to 7t; 6×20 foot ISO containers

Other features include:

Terma Scanter 4100 X-band radar
Ultra Electronics OSIRIS combat & surveillance system
30mm remotely-operated weapons station up front, and 2×25mm cannons port and starboard.
Modern communications, command and control system system
Ability to conduct sea boardings using onboard RIB and Fast Interceptor Craft
Accommodation for 50 fully equipped troops
Ability to conduct helicopter operations
Ample deck space for the transport of containers and additional craft
16t capacity crane on board, with 14m reach
Ability to replenish at sea
The 90m Offshore Patrol Vessels were originally part of a GBP 150 million Vosper Thornycroft Group contract with Trinidad & Tobago, and were scheduled for delivery in mid-2009. BAE eventually acquired VT Group’s shipbuilding, and the first 2 ships would have been delivered in October 2010, but the customer canceled the contract. They were docked at BAE facilities, awaiting a buyer as BAE pursued negotiated and legal options with Trinidad & Tobago, and explored international re-sale.

That eventually materialized at the end of 2011, with a sale of all 3 ships to Brazil, plus license-build options for up to 5 more ships in a manner similar to the Thai deal.

Trinidad & Tobago’s own territorial waters didn’t require all of these capabilities, but long-reaching drug interdiction patrols within the Caribbean did. Brazil will be using the boats for a different purpose, but the vessels’ endurance and seakeeping will come in very handy when patrolling the deep-water zones around its key offshore oil sites.

War with Iran : US talks

Fed by diplomatic tensions and election-year politics, talk about a coming conflict with Iran has reached a fever pitch in the US capital.

Speculation of a possible war with Iran ebbs and flows, but a confluence of events has served to fuel dire predictions among politicians and pundits that war may be on the horizon -- either by necessity or by accident.

Some of the same hawkish voices that portrayed Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq as a dire threat requiring urgent military action are now warning that the United States must be prepared for war with Iran, while accusing President Barack Obama of lacking backbone.

John Yoo, a former Justice Department official under ex-president George W. Bush, has called on Republican presidential candidates to "begin preparing the case for a military strike to destroy Iran's nuclear program."

Calling it an "unavoidable challenge," Yoo wrote last week in the National Review that the United States would have legal grounds to strike at Iran's nuclear sites -- similar to the arguments made before the invasion of Iraq.

"It can argue that destroying Iran's nuclear weapons is a combination of self-defense and protecting international security," said Yoo, who during Bush's tenure backed broad presidential powers to wage war and deny rights to terror suspects.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has made a clear commitment to use military force if necessary, promising that if he wins the White House, Iran will not have nuclear weapons.

Both in the United States and Israel, lawmakers and commentators warn that time is running out on the Iranian "nuclear clock" and that at some point over the next year, economic sanctions will have to be abandoned in favor of bombing raids to stop Iran from securing the bomb.

Senator Lindsey Graham and other Republicans have said any US military action would have to be broader than a few "surgical" strikes on nuclear facilities.

"Their capability is so redundant you'd have to do more than go after the nuclear program, you have to neuter this regime, destroy the air force, sink their navy, go after the Revolution Guard and try to get people in the country to overthrow the regime. We need a regime change," Graham told the CBS show "Face the Nation" in November.

"If they get a nuclear weapon the world is going to go into darkness," he said.

Despite rising tensions with Tehran and tough rhetoric from lawmakers, US military and defense chiefs have warned repeatedly that air strikes on Iran would, at best, only delay Tehran's nuclear efforts by a few years while carrying huge risks.

Analysts who oppose military action worry the United States could stumble into a war with Iran because a strategy focused on pressure and punitive sanctions may leave no diplomatic way out of the crisis.

"We are in such an escalatory cycle, if we just continue on this path much longer, we will essentially sleepwalk into a war," Trita Parsi, author of a book on US policy toward Iran, told AFP.

In "A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran," Parsi argues the Obama administration tried a diplomatic approach but gave up too soon, partly because the Iranian regime's crackdown on street protests in 2009 made it politically impossible for the White House to pursue an opening with Tehran.

"It made a bad atmosphere much, much worse," said Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council.

Obama faces similar political pressures that plagued former president Bill Clinton over Iraq in the 1990s, when Republicans blasted sanctions on Saddam Hussein as ineffective, according to Parsi.

Some US officials privately worry about sliding into an unintended war, as does Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security advisor during Jimmy Carter's presidency in the 1970s.

"We think we are going to avoid war by moving towards compulsion," Brzezinski said last month.

"But the more you lean towards compulsion, the more the choice becomes war if it doesn’t work. That narrows our options in a very dramatic way."

Shortly before retiring, the former top-ranking US officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, worried a lack of communication between the two countries' militaries could turn an incident into a potential conflict.

"We are not talking to Iran. So we don’t understand each other," Mullen said in September. "If something happens, it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right, that there will be miscalculations."

Hi-Tech Toilet for Indian troops at Highest battle field

Developed for troops serving on glaciers high in the Himalayas, the non-flushing "bio-digester" toilet made by India's top defence research body is now being offered to companies and poorer states.

It is one of 200 technologies produced by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) identified as for sale via the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The "bio-digester" is among 10 of the DRDO products put on the fast-track for sale to state governments and private companies.

The "bio-digester" toilet conceived by a DRDO unit in the city of Gwalior, works by mixing self-multiplying bacteria with human waste in specially-made tanks, resulting in the production of methane gas and water. It was meant for Indian combat troops deployed on Siachen, a 6,300-metre-high (20,800-feet-high) glacier in disputed Kashmir where temperatures can fall up to to minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit).

Experts say they believe some 5,000 soldiers are deployed on the frigid wasteland, where calm has prevailed since a 2003 ceasefire with rival Pakistan. "Work on it began 15 years ago because excreta buried in snow by soldiers in the Siachen glacier polluted rivers when the ice melted,".

The bacteria used in the mountain version of the toilet were originally found in Antarctica, but another cocktail can be used in the hot tropical plains where the need for toilets in India is most acute. FICCI's Saxena said the Indian territory of Lakshadweep -- a cluster of islands -- has sought 12,000 bio-digesters at some 25,000 rupees ($550) a unit for a major housing project.

Other DRDO products include heat shields for trains and vehicles, windows that control light penetration, mosquito repellents and medical kits to tackle dengue and chikungunya, both insect-borne viruses. They also plan to market a spray that guarantees to keep woollen clothes moth-free, affordable fire extinguishers and a body cream that keeps bed bugs away.

The DRDO also has high hopes for its "Heat Stabilised Narrow Fabrics and Cordages for Improved Elastic Recovery Property" which military boffins believe could be used in bras. "The technology is a heat-stablised narrow fabric and the elastic in it is more robust than materials used in commercial brassieres," a DRDO official added.

Engineers' military construction program : ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Sustainable design is an integral part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' military construction program. Since fiscal year 2008, every new construction project in the Savannah District is designed to meet standards of the Leadership in Energy in Environmental Design, or LEED, rating system, which is the same sustainability model used by the private sector.

Established and managed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED rating system is a point-based "checklist" of environmentally friendly features that can be incorporated into a building's design. For new construction and major renovations, LEED facilities earn an achievement level based on increasing point values: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

While all Savannah district projects are designed to meet LEED Silver criteria as a minimum, only five percent are currently evaluated for certification from the Green Building Certification Institute, or GBCI. Subject matter experts within the district evaluate the remaining projects internally. Beginning in fiscal year 2013, all Corps military construction projects that meet GBCI criteria will undergo formal certification by GBCI.

Examples of LEED features in Corps construction projects:

Rainwater collection systems for irrigation and cooling
Solar panels for power and water heating
Recycling of construction waste and demolition debris
Use of building materials with recycled content (wall tiles, steel, roofing materials, carpet)
Use of local suppliers to eliminate excess transportation emissions
Skylights to maximize natural lighting
Raised floors for air distribution system--better occupant comfort control
Geothermal heat pumps for more energy-efficient heating and cooling
Low-flow plumbing fixtures
Automatic light sensors, faucets and other fixtures


The Corps is working to enhance building energy efficiency in the military construction program. Two main drivers are the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was the first federal energy requirement for new construction, and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, known as EISA.

EISA established energy reduction targets for the federal sector based on average building energy consumption rates for comparable facilities in the private sector. This was determined by data from the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey.

To meet required EISA criteria, the Corps must construct buildings that reduce fossil fuel-generated energy consumption by 65 percent (compared to CBECS data) beginning in fiscal year 2015. These requirements address heating and cooling, refrigeration, lighting, power, thermal barriers in roofing, walls and floors, and other design features related to energy consumption.

In its Center of Standardization role, Savannah has taken the lead in developing working designs that maximize energy efficiency as a first step in achieving compliance with EISA.

In-house design teams completed successful EISA demonstration projects at Fort Campbell, Ky., for tactical equipment maintenance facilities, company operations facilities, battalion headquarters, and a brigade headquarters. These designs allow the Corps to improve mechanical and electrical system efficiencies, eliminate thermal bridging (gaps in insulation), and increase the buildings' thermal barrier using state-of-the-art technology and building practices.

In other words, the designs tighten the building envelopes and improve efficiency as much as possible before adding costly alternate energy sources, such as solar and geothermal power.

The corps will still use alternate energy sources to achieve full compliance with EISA, however the overall cost can be reduced by leveraging the Corps' improved energy-efficient designs. Additionally, these designs will be posted on the CoS website to serve as models for other districts that develop designs for similar projects.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

India to buy 1.2 Billion $ Missiles for Mirage-2000

IAF`s Mirage-2000

India has cleared the 1.2 Billion $ acquisition of 490 French advanced missile systems to arm the Mirage-2000 fighter jets, which are being upgraded under a separate Rs 10,947 crore programme finalized in July, 2010. 

The Cabinet Committee cleared the contract for the fire-and-forget MICA (interception and aerial combat missiles) with French armament major MBDA. 

Another major defence deal, the acquisition of 75 Swiss turbo-prop aircraft to train IAF rookie pilots for over Rs 3,000 crore, is likely to be cleared soon. IAF wants to induct the 75 Pilatus PC-7 basic trainers by 2013-14 since its 114 piston-engine HPT-32 aircraft have been grounded since August, 2009, due to repeated engine failures, leading to training of pilots being truncated. 

All decks had been cleared for the MICA and Pilatus deals, even as the final calculations are underway to select the ``lowest bidder'' between French Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon for the mega MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project to acquire 126 top-notch fighters at a cost likely to touch $20 billion. 

The MICA systems will be fitted on IAF's 51 Mirage-2000s, which are to be progressively upgraded with the help of French companies Dassault Aviation (aircraft manufacturer) and Thales (weapons systems integrator). 

While the first two fighters have been sent to France for the upgrade, the rest 49 will later be retrofitted with new avionics, radars, mission computers, glass cockpits, helmet-mounted displays, electronic warfare suites, weapon delivery and precision-targeting systems in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. 

The overall Mirage upgrade project cost will cross 3.8 Billion $ , and it will take over a decade to be completed. This has led to some criticism that it would probably have been better to go in for new fighters. IAF, however, swears by the Mirage-2000 fighters, which have had an excellent track record with the force. 

Down to just 33-34 fighter squadrons (each has 16 to 18 jets) from a `sanctioned strength' of 39.5, IAF is going for a mix of new inductions and upgrades to retain its operational readiness even as it phases out older MiG variants. 

For instance, 63 MiG-29s are being upgraded under a $964-million deal inked with Russia in March, 2008. Then, apart from the 126 MMRCA, IAF is also inducting 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs contracted from Russia for around $12 billion. Moreover, the first lot of the around 120 indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft will join IAF from end-2013 onwards. 

Besides, India plans to induct 250-300 stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) co-developed with Russia from 2020 onwards, in what will be its biggest-ever defence project at around $ 35 billion.

F-35 Maintainers qualify

The first group of military maintainers at the 33rd Fighter Wing recently qualified in numerous F-35A flight inspections by a uniformed certifier, a task only civilian certifiers initially were contracted to support.

"This first-ever Air Force to Air Force on-the-job training event is an important milestone in the bed-down and operation of the F-35A at Eglin," said Lt. Col. Michael Miles, 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. "The Air Force will now be able to better assist our contract logistics services teammates as flying operations mature."

Lockheed Martin was initially contracted for those services but as the military becomes more "organic" uniformed maintainers will share the task. With hundreds of verifications on joint technical data on how to properly maintain the aircraft left to be accomplished for each of the three F-35 variants in 2012 and beyond, the military wrench turners are not ready to take the toolboxes over just yet.

But at least in a handful of areas Airmen have the official "sign off" from Master Sgt. Scott Grabham, the aircraft section maintenance chief for the 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron who verified training of the three crew chiefs over the course of two days.

Grabham had received his training at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., during some of the developmental, test and evaluation of the F-35. He is the only military person able to train a maintainer on certain tasks while three more Air Force trainers are soon to be added to the certifier ranks, he said.

"They did excellent in the cockpit and knew immediately where to look for foreign objects," said Grabham on what he called "seasoned mechanics chosen to stand up the new F-35 mission at Eglin."

Those maintainers transferred from legacy F-15 and other aircraft to maintaining the fifth generation joint strike fighter.

"I'm dealing with a lot more advanced electronics than I've ever dealt with," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Reed, an F-35 crew chief in training who has seven years of experience on the flight line.

Part of transition and training in maintaining the joint strike fighter also means learning new terminology to describe familiar equipment.

Instead of an auxiliary power unit as called in other fighters, the F-35 joint technical data describes the equipment used to start the engine and give it its electrical power as an integrated power package, said Grabham.

Experienced maintainers are challenged with fully-fused sensor information and network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment unique to the F-35, in addition to the new aircraft's advanced stealth qualities.

During the training to inspect the joint strike fighter in a simulated post-flight operations mode, Reed used a laptop computer transported up to the cockpit known as a portable maintenance aid. It was loaded with software known as the maintenance vehicle interface which through a USB cable, makes jet parts move and indicates jet fluid level readings.

"Accomplishing inspection tasks via F-35 methods was easier since the maintenance data was a few computer keystrokes away instead of having to check out five paperback reference books to "check out a task," he said.

Since the software allowed him to move flight control systems, Reed no longer needed to hook up hydraulic equipment as he did with legacy aircraft.

However, even though maintainers revere the F-35's technological advances, they still experience a certain familiarity that comes with their basic trade skills.

"As far as the airframe itself, a fighter is a fighter ... a bunch of stuff in a little area," said Reed.

Logistic nightmare for US in Afghanistan

The US Army faces a logistics nightmare in the repatriation of military equipment worth more than $30 billion from Afghanistan.  "Afghanistan is not Iraq (from which the US military withdrew in December). It does not have the same structures, the same access to sea ports."

The US is exploring several other "multimodal solutions", including transporting the equipment by plane to a big port. "It's much more cost effective than flying things all the way back to the US or to Europe." The US official, who requested anonymity, said several dozen vehicles worth more than $30 billion needed to be repatriated.

"We can't wait (until) the summer of 2014 to be successful in getting everything out of here. We have to start now." The NATO-led alliance, which has had forces in Afghanistan since a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban from power in 2001, started to withdraw its combat troops last year, with final retreat scheduled for 2014.

The withdrawal has been further complicated by strained ties with Pakistan over a deadly NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November. "We are exploring ground options. We will continue to work with Pakistanis, to see if we can improve relations," said the official.

Senior Pakistani military and government officials say they are reviewing future cooperation with the US as relations flounder between the shaky allies in the wake of the November strike. NATO said Monday it wants to get relations with Pakistan back on track "as quickly as possible" to reopen its key supply route for foreign troops fighting in Afghanistan.

An official at Pakistan's southern port of Karachi earlier said that NATO military vehicles and supplies were piling up at the docks, with truck drivers unable to drive them to the northwestern border to cross into Afghanistan. Afghanistan's Taliban-led insurgency has intensified in recent years, with an increase in incidents of roadside bomb attacks and suicide explosions.

At least 12 people were killed and 28 others injured in three bomb attacks in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Tuesday, a police commander said.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

India`s First Nuclear powered submarines goes on "sea-acceptance trials''

INS Arihant - Nuclear Powered Submarine

India will take a big step towards achieving a credible nuclear weapon triad in February when its first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant begins sea trials off Visakhapatnam. 

The "sea-acceptance trials'' (SATS) of INS Arihant are slated to begin "towards end-February'' after the completion of its ongoing harbour-acceptance trials (HATS). "It will take at least six months of extensive SATS and missile trials before the boat is ready for commissioning into Navy,'' . 

With INS Arihant's induction, India for the first time will brandish the most effective third leg of the nuclear triad - the ability to fire nukes from land, air and sea. The first two legs revolve around the Agni family of ballistic missiles and fighters like Sukhoi-30MKIs and Mirage-2000s jury-rigged to deliver nuclear warheads. Only the Big-5 has nuclear triads till now, with a total of over 140 nuclear-powered submarines. America leads the pack with 71, followed by Russia with about 40, while China, the UK and France have around 10-12 each. India did get delivery of INS Chakra, the rechristened Akula-II nuclear-powered submarine 'K-152 Nerpa', from Russia on a 10-year lease last week. But while it will bolster the country's underwater firepower, it's not armed with nuclear-tipped missiles due to international treatises. 

Each and every sub-system was checked and re-checked, along with high-pressure steam trials of all the pipelines, before the miniature 83 MW pressurized light-water reactor, fitted in a containment vessel on board the over 6,000-tonne INS Arihant, went "critical'' last year. 

"HATS followed thereafter. Now, things are on track for SATS to begin in end-February,'' . Simultaneously, fabrication work on the three follow-on SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear ballistic missiles), dubbed S-2, S-3 and S-4, is in full swing under the over Rs 30,000-crore advanced technology vessel programme. The second SSBN after INS Arihant is to be named INS Aridhaman, both of which loosely mean "potent destroyer of enemies''. They are to be armed first with the 750-km K-15 and at a later stage with the under-development 3,500-km K-4 SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles). INS Arihant has four silos on its hump to carry either 12 K-15s or four K-4s. 

Navy wants to have three SSBNs and six SSNs (nuclear-powered attack submarines) in the long term. The force is grappling with a depleting conventional underwater arm, down to only 14 ageing diesel-electric submarines. 

Monday, 2 January 2012

Iraq war toll : 162,000 people

Around 162,000 people, almost 80 percent of them civilians, were killed in Iraq from the start of the 2003 US-led invasion up to last month's withdrawal of American forces, a British NGO said on Monday.

Iraq Body Count (IBC) warned that, contrary to apparent trends in figures released by the Iraqi government, the level of violence has changed little from mid-2009, though attacks are markedly down from when the country was in the throes of sectarian war in 2006 and 2007.

In all, the non-governmental organization said an estimated 162,000 people were killed in Iraq in the nearly nine years of conflict.

It said around 79 percent of the fatalities were civilians, while the remainder included US soldiers, Iraqi security forces, and insurgents.

"The violence peaked in late 2006 but was sustained at high levels until the second half of 2008 -- nearly 90 percent of the deaths occurred by 2009," IBC said in a statement.

But it warned that "there has now been no noticeable downward trend (in civilian deaths) since mid-2009."

"Recent trends indicate a persistent low-level conflict in Iraq that will continue to kill civilians at a similar rate for years to come. While these data indicate no improvement, time will tell whether the withdrawal of US forces will have an effect on casualty levels."

US troops, who at their peak numbered nearly 170,000 on as many as 505 bases in Iraq, completed their withdrawal from the country on December 18 and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki dubbed Saturday to be "Iraq Day", marking when the bilateral pact allowing American forces to stay expired.

IBC said it had recorded more than 114,000 civilian deaths in Iraq since the invasion, and said the addition of figures from US military logs published by whistleblower website WikiLeaks, as well as officially recorded US and Iraqi security deaths and insurgent tolls, put the overall figure at 162,000.

The worst non-civilian group affected were the Iraqi police, with 9,019 reported deaths, and Baghdad was the most dangerous city in the country, with half of the recorded deaths, equating to 2.5 times the national average.

At least 3,911 victims were children, IBC said. A total of 4,474 US soldiers died in Iraq, as well.

The NGO's overall toll differed markedly from that published by the Iraqi government, which said on Sunday that 2,645 people were killed in violence in 2011, compared to IBC's toll of 4,063.

Iraqi government figures, unlike IBC data, indicate attacks decreased significantly last year from 2010, when 3,605 people were killed.

The government's monthly data, which does not go back to 2003, puts the death toll since the beginning of 2007 at 34,485.

The IBC release came a day after Maliki called for Iraq to kick-start the rebuilding of its violence-wracked economy and infrastructure, with the country mired in a political standoff between the Shiite-led government and a key Sunni-backed bloc that has raised sectarian tensions.

"The coming period is no less important or dangerous than the previous stage," Maliki said Sunday during a speech in Baghdad's Al-Rasheed hotel, in the capital's heavily fortified Green Zone. "Our work has just begun."

Maliki had declared last Saturday to be a national holiday dubbed "Iraq Day", and said the country's days of dictatorship and one-party rule were behind it, even as rival politicians have accused him of centralizing decision-making power.

Russia receives Su-27SM(3)

The Sukhoi Company has completed delivery of 12 new multi-purpose Su-27SM(3) fighters to the Russian Air Force. The last batch of aircraft was sent to the place of deployment. They were released under a state contract, signed between the Sukhoi Company and the Ministry of Defence at the MAKS-2009 air show. The production was organized at the Sukhoi’s KnAAPO aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

The Su-27SM(3) fighter aircraft has a strengthened airframe to enable takeoff weight increased by more than 3 tons and additional suspension points to accommodate weapons. The fighters are equipped with new equipment and weapons complexes as well as with the new AL-31F-M1 turbofan engines produced by the MMPP “Salut”, which are characterized by high thrust and extended time between overhauls.

New and upgraded equipment installed at the aircraft allows the use of new “air-to-air” and “air-to-surface” extended range missiles. The capabilities of the aircraft under intense enemy air defense counter-measures were upgraded due to the application of a new set of ECM. The integrated information system (CIS) has improved the operational and technical characteristics of the aircraft. The information-control field of the cockpit was improved. The pilot’s cabin has become a “glass” one completely with 4 multifunctional displays installed, which allowed discarding 13 dial indicators. The new communications system provides a robust secure communication with command posts and between aircraft in the air.

The Su-27SM(3) as a multirole fighter is able to fulfill combat missions effectively using high-precision “air-to-surface” weapons, including satellite-guided bombs. When operating against air targets the Su-27SM(3) is nearly 2 times more efficient than its predecessor — the Su-27C, while in actions against ground targets it performs more than 3 times better.

US Army to deploy UAS

The U.S. Army is using a hybrid-type acquisition approach to develop a helicopter-like, Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing Unmanned Aerial System with a so-called ARGUS wide-area surveillance sensor suite designed to beam back information and images of the surrounding terrain, service officials said.

Beginning in May or June of 2012, the Army will deploy three Boeing-built A160 Hummingbird Vertical-Take-Off-and-Landing Unmanned Aerial Systems, or VTOL-UAS, to Afghanistan as part of a Quick Reaction Capability, an acquisition approach aimed at delivering cutting-edge and emerging technologies to theater to add capability and inform requirements while simultaneously developing a formal Program of Record approach, said Lt. Col. Matthew Munster, product manager, UAS Modernization.

"These aircraft will deploy for up to one full year as a way to harness lessons learned and funnel them into a program of record," Munster said.

The formal VTOL Program of Record will involve a full and open competition among many vendors able to propose UAS solutions able to meet the desired requirements, he added.

Army VTOL UAS program developers and engineers are now finishing up some wiring work on the A160 aircraft and performing ground tests with the ARGUS sensor suite.

"The ARGUS sensor suite has never been flown on this platform before so we have to make sure that the integration is complete. We are finishing that up now and adding some different types of antennas. We begin flight testing of the UAS at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, early next year," Munster said.

The VTOL aircraft will give forward-positioned Army units the ability to deploy a wide-area UAS Intelligence, Surveillance Reconnaissance, or ISR, asset without needing access to a runway.

Russian Future PAK-DA bomber

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Japan Prepares Virus to track Cyber Atttack

Japan has been developing a virus that could track down the source of a cyber attack and neutralise its programme. The weapon is the culmination of a 179 million yen ($2.3 million) three-year project entrusted by the government to technology maker Fujitsu Ltd to develop a virus and equipment to monitor and analyse attacks, the daily said.

The United States and China are reported to have put so-called cyber weapons into practical use. Japan will have to make legal amendments to use a cyber weapon as it could violate the country's law against the manufacture of a computer virus.

In November a computer system run by about 200 Japanese local governments was struck. In October, Japan's parliament came under cyber attack, apparently from the same emails linked to a China-based server that have already hit several lawmakers' computers.

It was also reported that Japanese computers at embassies and consulates in nine countries were infected with viruses in the summer. Currently, the virus is being tested in a "closed environment" to examine its applicable patterns.

French Forces to Stay in Afghanistan after 2014

French armed forces will stay in Afghanistan after withdrawal of coalition troops in 2014.

France's airpower forces unit is being based in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe since 2001 to provide services for coalition armed forces in Afghanistan. The unit included 250 troopers and six Dassault Rafale jet fighters till 2008 when the fighters were redeployed to Kunduz region in northern Afghanistan. Current number of French troopers in Dushanbe equals to 100.

Russia to get 60 modernized MiG-31BM by 2020

The Russian Air Force will receive over 60 modernized MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor aircraft by 2020. A modernization contract was signed by the ministry and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation in December 2010. Russia is planning to upgrade more than 60 MiG-31 interceptors to the MiG-31BM version by 2020. Relatively few MiG-31s have been modernized to the MiG-31BM version since the heavy interceptor entered service with the Russian Air Force in 1982.

The modernized version is fitted with upgraded avionics and digital data links, a new multimode radar, color multi-function cockpit displays, and a more powerful weapons-control system. It can detect airborne targets at the range of 320 kilometers (200 miles) and simultaneously track up to 10 targets.

The MiG-31BM can carry new air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles such as the AS-17 Krypton anti-radar missile. MiG-31 interceptors are an integral part of a comprehensive aerospace defense network being created in Russia to thwart any potential airborne threats, including ballistic and cruise missiles.