Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Revised U.S. Fleet Plan Extends Some Ships to 70 Years

he U.S. Navy's two command ships, each about 40 years old, are busy vessels. The Japan-based Blue Ridge, flagship of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, recently completed a cruise around the Far East and supported relief operations in Japan. The Mount Whitney, flagship of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, served as a headquarters ship for the initial coalition strikes in March against Libya.
The U.S. 7th Fleet command ship Blue Ridge, left, and the guided-missile destroyer Stethem sail the Pacific. The Blue Ridge will serve until 2039 according to the Navy's 30-year shipbuilding plan. (MCS 3rd Class Brian A. Ston / U.S. Navy)
The ships are at a stage in their service lives where the Navy normally might be expected to plan for replacements. But in a recent update to the 30-year shipbuilding plans, the ships have been extended to serve another 28 years - until 2039.
That would mean the Blue Ridge, launched in January 1969, will have spent more than 70 years in the water. The Mount Whitney is one year younger.
A notional replacement ship, dubbed LCC(X) - or sometimes JCC(X), where the "J" stood for "Joint" - has faded in and out of several previous 30-year plans. The ships were always dropped for affordability reasons. The Navy then planned for the current ships to remain in service until 2029, and now has extended that deadline.
The 70-year planned service life might be a new record for an active Navy ship. Aircraft carriers are intended to serve for 50 years, and most surface combatants such as cruisers and destroyers are planned for 30-, 35- or 40-year lives. Only the sail frigate Constitution, a museum ship in Boston that was launched in 1797, has been in service longer, and she was never expected to last this long.
The revised command ship schedule is contained in an updated version of the Navy's 30-year plan sent to Congress in mid-May. The updates consist of several tables and a cover letter, and lack the explanations and written information provided in the full plan. Copies of some of the tables were acquired by Defense News.
Starting in 2011, the Navy is no longer required to submit a full plan each year to Congress, but rather is to tie the document to the Quadrennial Defense Review, a strategy document issued ever four years that outlines the requirements for U.S. military forces. Some in Congress, including Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., would rather return to annual filing requirements. Wittman, chairman of the House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee, has scheduled a hearing on the matter for June 1.
No major changes are in the new fleet plan, but some of the tweaks include:
■ As expected, a DDG 51-class Flight IIA destroyer was added in 2014, raising the number from one to two ships to be ordered. The Navy has previously discussed this addition, which is based on a multiyear procurement plan starting in 2013.
■ A fourth littoral combat ship (LCS) has been added to 2012, as reflected in the 2012 budget request.
■ Purchases of the T-AO fleet oilers have been brought forward to 2014 - also previously announced.
■ An extra T-AGOS ocean surveillance ship has been added in 2013.
■ One Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) has been eliminated in 2016, going from two to one.
■ The plan still reflects a Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ship in 2013, but that ship will be eliminated, as called for in the 2011 defense budget finally passed in early May. The Navy intends to buy three MLPs, the third of which is in the 2012 budget request.
■ In the outyears, the Navy cut an LSD(X) landing ship dock replacement ship from 2039 and now plans to build 11 of the ships.
■ The first LPD(X) amphibious transport dock replacement is set for 2040.
■ A big-deck assault ship is planned for 2041.
■ The buys for LCS replacement ships in the 2030s have been beefed up, with three instead of two ships per year now scheduled for 2036 through 2041.
■ A new surface combatant, previously designated DDG(X), has become the DDG 51 Flight IV, scheduled to begin in 2032 with two ships per year through 2041, except for three ships in 2036. The move means the basic DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class design, first procured in 1985, will be bought continuously for at least 56 years.
The plan does not address shortfalls in major surface combatants - cruisers and destroyers - or in attack submarines.
With all ships accounted for, the revised plan shows the Navy purchasing 270 ships from 2012 through 2041, plus another five JHSVs using Army funds.

Al-Qaida Plotted to Kill Lockheed Martin Chief: Testimony

CHICAGO - A Pakistini-based branch of al-Qaida was hatching a plot to kill the head of U.S. defense group Lockheed Martin, self-confessed terrorist David Coleman Headley testified in a U.S. court Tuesday.
In this courtroom drawing, David Coleman Headley faces U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber on March 18 in Chicago. (Carol Renaud / AFP via Getty Images)
"There was a plan to kill him because he was making drones," Headley testified during the Chicago trial of his childhood friend, Tahawwur Hussain Rana.
Headley pleaded guilty to 12 terrorism charges related to the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks and other unrealized plots in the wake of his 2009 arrest in Chicago.
He is testifying against alleged co-conspirator Rana in exchange for avoiding the death penalty and extradition to India, Pakistan or Denmark.
Headley testified that he secretly used Rana's office computer for research on the plot to assassinate the Lockheed Martin executive but dismissed his brief online search there as insignificant.
"My research is more in-depth than Googling someone a couple of times," he testified during cross-examination by Rana's defense attorney.
Headley said he was working on the plot with Ilyas Kashmiri, the commander of the Pakistani-based terrorist organization Harakat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HUJI), and a senior member of al-Qaida.
Headley pleaded guilty to working with Kashmiri on a plot to attack the Danish newspaper Jyllen Posten, which published controversial cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, after Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) got distracted with the Mumbai plot.
Rana is accused of providing Headley with a cover and acting as a messenger, with prosecutors alleging he played a behind-the-scenes logistical role in both the Mumbai attacks and another abortive plan to strike Copenhagen.
Rana, a Canadian-Pakistani and Chicago businessman, has denied all charges, and his defense attorneys argue that he was duped by his friend, whom he had met in military school.

Gates To Reassure Asian Allies on Military Ties

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to reassure anxious allies in Asia this week that the U.S. military will maintain a strong presence in the region despite budget pressures at home, officials said.
The Pentagon chief will address the allies' concerns "head on" at a security conference this week in Singapore, said a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
As Washington moves to tackle a ballooning deficit and debt, Asian allies fear a scaling back of the U.S. military's role just as China's armed forces take a more assertive stance, defense officials said.
"There's no doubt that the region has that concern, and I think it's one that we're well aware of, and hence it's one the secretary will want to address," the official told reporters.
Gates, who departs May 31 on his global tour, will seek "to assure the region that we will maintain our commitments in the region and that we have both the capability in addition to the will to do so," the official said.
In a speech in Singapore, Gates is "going to talk in greater detail than in the past about what we in DoD (Department of Defense) are doing to make that more tangible, specifically in terms of U.S. presence in the region," the official said.
Gates will stress that the United States is "not distracted" from defense issues in Asia despite crises elsewhere in the world, the official said.
In his last international trip as defense secretary before he steps down at the end of June, Gates will use the speech at the security summit in Singapore to discuss U.S. policy on Asia and the underlying principles that guide it, officials said.
After arriving June 2 in Singapore following a stop in Hawaii, Gates plans to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Liang Guanglie, to try "to build on the positive momentum that exists in the military-to-military relationship right now," a second official said.
Last year's conference in Singapore was marked by sharp exchanges between Gates and senior Chinese generals, who said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan remained a serious obstacle to building a security dialogue between the two countries.
But officials have cited positive signs more recently, with Gates having traveled to China in January and the People's Liberation Army Chief of General Staff Chen Bingde making a week-long U.S. visit earlier this month.
During his U.S. tour, Chen struck a mostly conciliatory tone and said his country had no plans to take on the American military in the Pacific.
In his talks with Liang in Singapore, Gates hopes to renew his proposal for a civilian-military dialogue that would address "sensitive security issues," including nuclear weapons, missile defense and cyber warfare, officials said. The Chinese have yet to agree to the idea.
The United States has also disagreed with Beijing over the South China Sea, saying it has a right to sail U.S. naval ships in the area and backing calls from smaller countries for a diplomatic arrangement to settle territorial disputes.
The Spratlys, a reputedly oil-rich South China Sea island chain, is claimed in whole or in part by China as well as Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
At the Asia security conference, Gates plans to meet his counterparts from Japan, Australia, Thailand and Singapore as well as Malaysia's prime minister, officials said.
After Singapore, Gates was due to attend a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, where the air campaign in Libya and the war in Afghanistan are expected to dominate the agenda.

Major Cyber Attack Is Act of War: Pentagon Report

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has adopted a new strategy that will classify major cyber attacks as acts of war, paving the way for possible military retaliation, the Wall Street Journal reported on May 31.
The newspaper said the Pentagon plans to unveil its first-ever strategy regarding cyber warfare next month, in part as a warning to foes that may try to sabotage the country's electricity grid, subways or pipelines.
"If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks," it quoted a military official as saying.
The newspaper, citing three officials who had seen the document, said the strategy would maintain that the existing international rules of armed conflict - embodied in treaties and customs - would apply in cyberspace.
It said the Pentagon would likely decide whether to respond militarily to cyber attacks based on the notion of "equivalence" - whether the attack was comparable in damage to a conventional military strike.
Such a decision would also depend on whether the precise source of the attack could be determined.
The decision to formalize the rules of cyber war comes after the Stuxnet attack last year ravaged Iran's nuclear program. That attack was blamed on the United States and Israel, both of which declined to comment on it.
It also follows a major cyber attack on the U.S. military in 2008 that served as a wake-up call and prompted major changes in how the Pentagon handles digital threats, including the formation of a new cyber military command.
Over the weekend, Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest defense contractors, said it was investigating the source of a "significant and tenacious" cyber attack against its information network one week ago.
President Barack Obama was briefed about the attack.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Controlling Asia's Arms Race

The Indonesian Navy's reportedly successful test-launch of a Russian-built Yakhont supersonic anti-ship missile over a distance of 250 kilometers on April 20 highlighted the growing ability of Asian militaries to destroy targets at long range. These countries are also expanding their capacity to deploy more substantial forces over greater distances.
It is true that buying new equipment does not auto-matically improve military capability. But when bolstered by developments in doctrine, training, C4ISR, logistical support and joint-service operations, and placed in an environment where the local defense industry is increasingly able to adapt, and in some cases produce, advanced systems, it is clear that many armed forces are improving their all-around capabilities.
In its latest annual edition of The Military Balance, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (which has a Singapore-based Asian branch) highlighted significant shifts in the distribution of relative military strength away from the West and toward Asia. While economic problems are undermining defense spending in the United States and Europe, Asia is becoming increasingly militarized.
Sustained economic growth in Asia is boosting resources to the armed forces, which often leverage their substantial political clout for material benefit in authoritarian or semi-democratic political systems.
In recent months, much media coverage has justifiably focused on developments in China's People's Liberation Army, notably its aircraft carrier and J-20 fifth-generation combat aircraft programs. But the PLA's anti-ship missile and submarine programs, which receive less media attention, are perhaps more strategically important, particularly for the U.S. Navy.
Military developments in other Asian states are also significant. India has major procurement programs underway, including the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition, and is expanding its own aircraft carrier capabilities. South Korea is quite rapidly building a blue-water navy.
In Southeast Asia, several states - notably Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - are investing in air and naval capabilities. And despite stagnant defense spending and the recent national disasters, Japan's revised National Defense Program Guidelines foresee major capability improvements.
The Asian strategic context, cha-racterized by a major power balance in long-term flux, widespread suspicion among Asian states and a range of latent conflicts that could worsen, provides rationales to expand military capabilities.
It is well known that concerns over China's relentlessly growing power and assertiveness, doubts over the future U.S. strategic role, escalating anxiety over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, not to mention its generally aggressive behavior, and renewed worries about Taiwan's security influence Asian states' defense choices. These rationales constitute the conventional wisdom and allow many Asian governments to justify boosting military spending.
What makes contemporary Asian military modernization programs dangerous is that they often reflect undeclared efforts to hedge against the ulterior motives of other regional players. This is leading to potentially destabilizing interaction among defense strategies, doctrines and capability development programs.
China's strategists are viewing military power not just in the context of Taiwan but in relation to the country's territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. Some Southeast Asian states are upgrading their armed forces not on the basis of their overt, but anodyne, military modernization explanations, but because they want to deter adventurism by China - and by each other - in the South China Sea.
South Korea's defense planners think not just about a potential meltdown on the peninsula but also Korea's possible strategic rivalry with Japan in a post-unification scenario. And as China's Navy expands its operations into the Indian Ocean, India thinks increasingly in terms of balancing its major-power rival.
While boosting conventional deterrence may be the leitmotif of these developments, there is great emphasis on developing capabilities that could be used offensively and possibly pre-emptively.
Whether or not there is an arms race in Asia is a favorite essay topic for university courses in international relations and security studies. But this is a curiously semantic debate. It is evident that contemporary military developments in Asia closely resemble neither the pre-1914 Anglo-German naval arms race nor the U.S.-Soviet missile race of the 1960s.
However, it also is clear there is a real danger of multiple and wastefully expensive subregional military competitions destabilizing Asia's security, and that there are no effective regional security institutions to mitigate this threat.
The 10th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, on June 3-5 in Singapore, will be a useful venue to increase transparency in regard to defense policies and military modernization. However, now is the time to creatively think about how to develop and implement arms control measures in a multipolar region where strategic amity and enmity are both unclear and in flux.
By Tim Huxley, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies-Asia in Singapore.

F-22 Getting New Brain

It has proved so difficult and expensive to upgrade the F-22 Raptor, whose stealthy body contains sensors and electronic brains, that the U.S. Air Force may take the unprecedented step of threading what amounts to a second central nervous system into a fighter jet.
By introducing an open architecture to one of the world's most tightly knit proprietary systems, service officials hope to make it much cheaper and easier to insert new technology - even gear developed for the F-35 Lightning II - into the stealthy air-superiority fighter.
"This jet has a very highly integrated avionics system. Because of that tight coupling and that highly integrated nature, it makes it very difficult, and we are highly reliant upon [Raptor makers] Lockheed Martin and Boeing to do any kinds of modifications to the jet," said David Weber, deputy director of the F-22 System Program Office (SPO) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Weber said the open-architecture effort is meant to allow the Air Force to open upgrade work to competition.
Today, he said, "the architecture is proprietary to Lockheed Martin, and we're kinda stuck with Lockheed Martin when we want to integrate something new."
Weber said the work is at such an early stage that the F-22 SPO has no guess how much it might cost.
This year, service officials plan to study the options, in part by issuing a request for information inviting contractors to suggest demonstration projects to help flesh out the alternatives.
"All of them have different ideas about how to go about doing this," Weber said.
In October through December, the service will award contracts to allow contractors to demonstrate ideas in a lab or flying testbed, said Col. John Williams, who runs the F-22 SPO's modernization office.
The SPO officials said Boeing and Lockheed would be welcome to bid on the demonstration contracts.
Lockheed, which had earlier proposed to essentially port the hardware and software architecture of the F-35 Lightning II into the Raptor, might respond to the Air Force solicitation with a similar proposal, said Jeff Babione, Lockheed's Raptor program manager. But Babione said the company might propose a different solution, depending on the service's requirements.
The Air Force will ultimately select one contractor to install the new architecture on its Raptors - ideally, said Weber, all 185 that will be built, less two losses.
"From our perspective, the fleet size is so small compared to where we wanted to be, our objective would be to make this applicable to all aircraft," he said.
The SPO deputy director said it may be deemed too costly to install the new architecture on the 34 oldest Raptors, which are currently used for training. Those planes are also not slated to get the Increment 3.2 upgrade, the next major group of hardware and software upgrades for the Raptor fleet.
But Weber noted that the new architecture might also make it cost-effective to bring those oldest Raptors up to the 3.2 standard.
If all goes well, development work could begin in earnest around 2014 as part of the development of Increment 3.2C, which is slated to begin installation in 2019 or 2020, he said.
Grafting On
As currently envisioned, the new network would be grafted onto the F-22's existing avionics, Weber said. The twin-engine jet's current network would continue to carry data between existing components, while upgraded ones would be linked by the new network. The data from both architectures would be translated and fused so that the jet continues to operate as a cohesive whole.
The installation of the new architecture might happen in one step, or it might proceed piece by piece, Williams said.
"Potentially, you could do it multiple times based on what you're trying to open up," he said. "You're opening up the [communication, navigation and identification]; maybe you're opening up the radar more, something like that. You may actually have multiple guys doing it, but it will be to a common standard."
As more systems are ported over to the new architecture, the older systems would wither away.
"Gradually, you'd have to start migrating some of the functions that we currently have in our core integrated processor away from the core integrated processor, so that everything doesn't flow through that piece," Williams said.
It may or may not be possible to migrate all of the Raptor's functionality.
"It depends on the degree we can open up the architecture," Weber said.
Lockheed's Babione said it might not be cost-effective to move everything to the new system.
The F-22 has received one upgrade - called Increment 2 - since it first arrived on Air Force flight lines in 2005. Those upgrades have added the capability to drop two 1,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions to the aircraft.
A planned upgrade, called Increment 3.1 and slated to begin this year, will add synthetic aperture radar mapping, the capability to carry eight Small Diameter Bombs, and other features.
In 2014, a software-only upgrade called Increment 3.2A will add electronic protection against jamming, better Link 16 receive capability and combat identification, and other improvements. In 2017, Increment 3.2B will add support for the plane's AIM-9X short-range and AIM-120D medium-range anti-air missiles, among many other upgrades.
In 2008, then-Pentagon acquisition chief John Young put the total cost of developing and installing Increment 3.1 and what became 3.2A and 3.2B at around $8 billion. The figure has likely gone up because the Air Force now plans to upgrade more F-22s.
Once the new architecture is installed, "if we want a new capability on the airplane, we can go out to industry with an RfI [request for information] and say, 'You all got good ideas; can you make it work with this architecture?'" Weber said.
The ultimate goal is to allow systems such as new radars to be "plug-and-play," as a printer might be to a desktop computer, he said.
This might allow the Raptor to use technology developed for the F-35 Lightning II without time-consuming and expensive integration work, Williams said. Ë

Obama Announces Joint Chiefs Appointments

President Obama on May 30 nominated U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Among the appointments announced May 30 were U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, third from right, as Joint Chiefs chairman; U.S. Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, second from right, as JCS vice chair; and U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno, right, as Army leader. (Chris Maddaloni / Staff)
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Dempsey will replace U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who retires Sept. 30.
Dempsey's promotion came less than two months after he took over as the Army's 37th chief of staff.
Obama called Dempsey "one of our nations most respected and combat tested generals. In Iraq he led our soldiers against a brutal insurgency," Obama said. "Having trained Iraqi forces he knows that nations must ultimately take responsibility for their own security."
Obama continued, "I expect [Dempsey] to push all our forces to continue adapting and innovating to be ready for the missions of today and tomorrow."
Obama also announced that he has chosen U.S. Navy Adm. James "Sandy" Winnefeld Jr., currently commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Winnefeld took command of NORTHCOM and NORAD in May 2010. Winnefeld, too, will also have to be confirmed by the Senate.
In a statement, Mullen praised the appointments of Dempsey and Winnefeld.
"Both men are extraordinary leaders, who will provide the Secretary of Defense and the President not only their best military advice, but also the great benefit of their decades of military experience and their command in combat operations.
"I know, too, that they will represent faithfully and stridently the 2.2 million men and women in uniform, as well as their families."
Obama called Dempsey "one of our nation's most respected and combat-tested generals."
Dempsey, 59, was sworn in April 11, replacing Gen. George Casey Jr., who served four years as chief of staff. Dempsey had been commander of Training and Doctrine Command. Obama also joked about Dempsey's short term as Army chief, saying "your tenure as chief may go down as one of the shortest in Army history."
Dempsey's family has deep Army roots; all three of Dempsey's children have served in the Army, and Maj. Christopher Dempsey is currently on active duty.
Winnefeld will replace U.S. Marine Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, current service vice chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For months Cartwright had been considered the front runner to replace Mullen.
"Sandy knows we have to be prepared for the full range of challenges," Obama said.
Moving Dempsey up left an opening for the U.S. Army chief job, one that Obama said would be filled by the former top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno.
Dempsey leaves the Army at a time of significant transition - and a time when nearly half the service's four-star generals are at or nearing retirement.
Dempsey was chosen over Cartwright, who was often called Obama's favorite general and considered the front-runner to replace Mullen.
Obama praised Cartwright saying "I've also benefitted from the advice and counsel of Hoss Cartwright. I'll always be personally grateful to Hoss for his friendship and partnership."
Cartwright's management style has met increasing criticism, and a Pentagon investigation into claims of misconduct with a young female aide hurt his chances. The Pentagon's inspector general cleared Cartwright of the most serious claims, which suggested he'd had an improper relationship with the woman. But the investigation found that he mishandled an incident in which the aide was drunk and either passed out or fell asleep in his hotel room, where he was working, as his security personnel stood nearby.
Dempsey has significant combat experience. He served two tours in Iraq and served as acting commander of Central Command.
Dempsey's appointment as Joint Chiefs chairman, along with the appointment of Gen. David Petraeus to head the CIA, would put combat vets at the top of national security chain. Despite 10 years at war, a soldier has not served in the military's top position since U.S. Army Gen. Hugh Shelton retired in 2001.
Dempsey's replacement, Odierno, took the helm at U.S. Joint Forces Command on Oct. 29, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates had already decided to close the $1 billion command in less than a year - and promised Odierno a better job to follow.
Insiders say Odierno was neck-and-neck with Dempsey for the Army chief's spot earlier this year. He led forces in Iraq from September 2008 to September 2010 and the Multi-National Corps in Iraq from December 2006 to February 2008. The field artillery officer is most noted as the operational architect of the 2007 surge that significantly reduced violence in Iraq, and contributed greatly to the subsequent drawdown of U.S. forces there.
The leadership changes come at a time when many of the Army's top officers are growing long in the tooth.
There currently are 12 four-star generals on the books, not including Dempsey. Four are entering retirement: Casey, Petraeus, Gen. Walter Sharp and Gen. William Ward. Four of the remaining eight have a 2008 date-of-rank: Chiarelli, Odierno, Gen. Ann Dunwoody and Gen. Carter Ham.
Like Gens. James Thurman and Lloyd Austin, Gen. Keith Alexander was promoted in 2010. Gen. Robert Cone received his fourth star this year.
U.S. Army's change of plans
Dempsey's promotion will likely cause a delay in the forthcoming roadmap to the future.
Dempsey planned to unveil his modernization plan to build the Army of 2020 on the Army's birthday in mid-June. That Army that will look different from today's Army in many ways, he said.
Most analysts agree that Dempsey now will likely withhold those details to allow the next chief to pen his own plan.
No matter who signs his name on the dotted line, the plans would likely address many of the same issues.
Topping that list is a plan to cut 22,000 active-duty soldiers by the end of 2013, and a combined 27,000 in 2015 and 2016. The Obama administration plans to cut another $400 billion from the defense budget, and there are many questions regarding whether troops will be cut to provide some of those savings.
There also is the push to add a third battalion to Brigade Combat Teams, the need to rightly balance heavy and light forces and the integration of the Guard and Reserve.
But arguably the biggest burden resting on the next chief is the need to overhaul the way requirements become procurement

Rebels Claim Top Libyan Officers Defecting

DUBAI - Eight senior officers of Moammar Gadhafi's military, including four generals, have defected, a rebel leader said May 30.
"Eight senior officers of Gadhafi brigades, including four generals, joined the revolution," said Mahmoud Shammam, head of information for the National Transitional Council, the body which controls rebel-held eastern Libya.
"The eight soldiers are currently in Rome and they will speak to reporters during a news conference in the afternoon [of May 30]," Shammam said by telephone from the Italian capital.
Without offering details, he said the eight defectors passed through Tunisia.
A group of Libyan soldiers, including several senior officers, arrived by sea in Tunisia on May 27, the Tunisian official news agency TAP reported.
According to TAP, 34 people from Libya, including civilians and soldiers, arrived in southern Tunisia aboard two boats.

India, Pakistan Hold Talks on Strategic Glacier

NEW DELHI - Top defense officials from India and Pakistan kicked off talks May 30 over a disputed glacier high in the Himalayas where troops have clashed intermittently for decades.
The two-day meeting in New Delhi between Indian Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and his Pakistani counterpart Syed Ather Ali is part of the slow-moving peace process aimed at bringing lasting stability to South Asia.
India broke off all contact with Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were staged by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba according to Indian and Western intelligence.
An Indian defence ministry official said the two secretaries met behind closed doors, where they were to discuss the militarized 20,800-foot high Siachen glacier in Kashmir.
India in 1984 sent troops and occupied strategic areas on the glacier, raising fears of another full-blown war between the neighbors, and three years later the militaries fought a fierce skirmish in the region.
The two armies clashed intermittently until a ceasefire in November 2003, but the fierce cold and harsh conditions are thought to have cost more lives than combat - the temperature on the world's highest battlefield drops to minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter.
A security analyst said the ongoing talks on Siachen, which is about 47 miles long and nearly three miles wide, may not bear fruit.
"Right now, our position is that 'you mark your ground positions on the map and give us an assurance that once we vacate [Indian posts] you will not occupy,' " retired Indian Maj. Gen. Ashok Mehta said.
"Pakistan will, of course, not agree to that and so it will be zero outcome and we will meet once again," the Indian analyst said, referring to 11 previous unsuccessful meetings over the icy mass.
India wants "iron-clad" proof of existing Pakistani military positions to dissuade Pakistan from moving its soldiers forward in the event of troop withdrawals.
Relations between the estranged neighbors, who have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, have improved over the last year after contacts between prime ministers and other senior government figures.
But India has recently sharpened its criticism of Pakistan and its alleged state funding of militant groups in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden.
At the weekend, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the leadership in Islamabad must "wake up" to the "terror machine", while Home Minister P. Chidambaram warned last week that Pakistan was becoming a "fragile" state.
India considers the Siachen glacier strategic because of its location between China and both the Pakistani- and Indian-controlled zones of divided Kashmir.

Taiwan Happy With U.S. Senate Push for F-16 Sale

TAIPEI - Taiwan on May 29 said it welcomed a push by nearly half the U.S. Senate for the sale of dozens of F-16 fighters to the island in an arms deal Taipei said would help its dealings with China.
A Taiwanese Air Force F-16 releases flares in December 2008 during a live-fire drill at Paolishan, southern Taiwan. The island wants to buy F-16s and other weaponry from the United States. (File photo / Agence France-Presse)
In a letter to President Obama last week, 45 senators urged the administration to swiftly approve the sale of 66 F-16C/Ds to Taiwan as the fast-expanding Chinese forces tip the military balance in the region, the foreign ministry said.
"We're pleased to see the bipartisan move in the U.S. Senate," foreign ministry spokesman James Chang said.
"The arms sale will help Taiwan boost its self-defense capabilities, thus giving it more leverage while engaging the Chinese mainland," he said.
Ties between Taiwan and China have improved markedly since 2008 after Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power on a platform of beefing up trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists.
Taiwan applied to the U.S. government to buy 66 F-16 fighters in early 2007, but observers say Washington has held up the deal for fear of angering Beijing.
The United States in January 2010 approved a $6.4 billion arms package to Taiwan, prompting a furious Beijing to halt military exchanges and security talks with Washington.
During a trip to the United States earlier this month, Chinese People's Liberation Army Chief of Staff Gen. Chen Bingde renewed his objection to any U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

Lockheed: Little to No Damage from Cyberattack

WASHINGTON - Major U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin said May 29 it was investigating the source of a major cyber-attack one week ago against its information network, the company said.
"Lockheed Martin detected a significant and tenacious attack on its information systems network," the company said in a news statement released late May 28.
The company said the cyber-assault took place on May 21, and that quick action by its security team successfully repelled the attack.
"No customer, program or employee personal data has been compromised," Lockheed's statement said, adding that federal authorities had been notified.
"Throughout the ongoing investigation, Lockheed Martin has continued to keep the appropriate U.S. government agencies informed of our actions," the company said.
President Obama has been briefed about the attack, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
"It has been part of the briefing materials that he has," Carney said. "My understanding, based on what I've seen, is they feel it's fairly minimal in terms of the damage."
Lockheed Martin said its officials are working "around the clock to restore employee access to the network, while maintaining the highest level of security."
It did not mention the suspected source of the cyber-attack.
The company's information security team detected the attack almost immediately and took what is described as "aggressive actions" to protect all systems and data, the statement added.
The statement said that despite the attack, the company remains confident in the integrity of its "robust, multi-layered information systems security."
Federal officials, for their part, told U.S. media that the consequences of the attack for the Pentagon and other agencies was "minimal," and no adverse effect on their operations was expected.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin employs about 126,000 people worldwide. It focuses on design, development and manufacturing of advanced technology systems, including some of the military's most advanced weaponry.
Seventy-four percent of the company's 2009 revenue came from military sales, according to published reports.
Lockheed Martin's products included the Trident missile, P-3 Orion spy plane, F-16 and F-22 fighter jets, and C-130 Hercules military cargo planes among many other major weapons systems.
The company is a primary developer of stealth technology used in U-2 and SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft, the F-117 fighter jet as well as the F-22 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter designs.
The corporation's 2010 sales from continuing operations reached $45.8 billion.
However, the stealth Joint Strike Fighter program has faced delays and cost overruns, and the Pentagon overhauled the program last year.
The initial estimate for each F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft was $50 million eight years ago, but more recent estimates were up to $92 million.
Meanwhile, NASA announced last week that a new spacecraft to ferry humans into deep space would be based on designs for the Orion crew exploration vehicle built by Lockheed Martin.
The Orion capsule, originally designed to take astronauts back to the moon, is a surviving component of the Constellation manned space exploration program canceled by Obama last year for being behind schedule and over budget.
The capsule will weigh 23 tons and NASA has no date set for a potential launch, said Douglas Cooke, associate administrator for NASA's exploration systems mission directorate.
There is also no final cost associated with the project.
Lockheed Martin is to continue its work on building the space capsule begun in 2006.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hostage To Lead U.S. Air Combat Command

The U.S. Senate has quietly confirmed Lt. Gen. Michael Hostage as the next commander of Air Combat Command.
Hostage, the commander of U.S. Air Forces Central who oversees air operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, will take over for Gen. William Fraser, who has led ACC since September 2009.
The Senate Armed Services Committee received Hostage's nomination on May 16 and the full Senate confirmed the fighter pilot on May 26 by a voice vote, according to a notice in the congressional record. The notice did not list an assignment, only that Hostage will be "assigned to a position of importance and responsibility." However his assignment will be ACC, according to an Air Force official.
The Pentagon typically announces high-level, general officer promotions publicly. However, Hostage's name was not included on any general officer promotion lists released in May.
In addition, the Air Force usually announces pending nominations on the specific general officer's official biography on its website. Hostage's biography lists him as the commander of U.S. Air Forces Central in Southwest Asia.
Defense sources say Fraser, whom Hostage will replace, is being considered to lead U.S. Transportation Command, replacing Gen. Duncan McNabb, who is expected to retire. Some sources have said Fraser is considered a candidate to replace Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, should Schwartz become the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The White House is expected to announce a new chairman and vice chairman as soon as next week.
Hostage spent the former part of his career flying F-15 and F-16 fighters, but has spent much of the last decade in important staff positions, including the senior military assistant to the secretary of the Air Force, director of requirements integration (J8) at U.S. Joint Forces Command and vice commander at Pacific Air Forces.
Air Force officials declined to comment on Hostage's assignment.

San Diego Shipyard Gets 2 Ship Orders

The General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) shipyard in San Diego, Calif., received a major contract award May 27 when the U.S. Navy ordered the first two Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ships.
The $744 million fixed-price incentive fee contract is for the detail design and construction of the two ships. The order follows several previous contracts for preliminary work on the ships, including a $115 million contract last August for long-lead material for the first ship.
The ships, which will be built to a design originally proposed by NASSCO, will be able to ballast down to float on or off barges and smaller craft. The ships will have a reconfigurable mission deck, feature a vehicle staging area and be able to carry up to three air-cushioned landing craft.
The Navy intends to order a total of three ships. The first as-yet-unnamed ship is to be delivered in 2013, although it is not expected to be operational until 2015. The ships will be assigned to Maritime Prepositioning Ship squadrons.
The MLPs were crucial to NASSCO's ability to keep its workforce employed as it starts to wind down series production of the T-AKE 1 Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships for the Navy. A keel-laying ceremony took place May 18 for the 14th and last T-AKE, the Cesar Chavez, due for completion in November 2014.

Poland To Host U.S. F-16 Rotations: Official

WARSAW - U.S. F-16 fighter jets and Hercules transport aircraft will be deployed in Poland on a rotating basis while a U.S. aviation detachment will be permanently stationed there, a senior U.S. adviser said May 27 as President Obama arrived in the country.
"We are going to announce tomorrow the conclusion of the agreement to establish an aviation detachment in Poland that will allow for our two air forces to cooperate in training the Poles to utilize the American aircraft that they purchased, F-16 and (Hercules) C-130," Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a senior adviser for European affairs on the National Security Council told reporters. "What we will be doing is rotating trainers and aircraft to Poland so that they can become more interoperable with NATO. This will be a small permanent presence on the ground and a permanent presence that will be rotational."
Ahead of the visit, officials in Warsaw had expressed hope it would bring a deal for the permanent stationing of a U.S. Air Force technical ground crew at a Polish F-16 base, as well as training rotations of U.S. F-16 fighters and Hercules transport aircraft as of 2013.
Last year saw the first three rotations of unarmed training batteries of U.S. Patriot missiles in Poland, a move that also sparked Russia's ire. Four rotations are planned this year.

Russia, U.S. Sign Chopper Deal for Afghanistan

MOSCOW - Russia has signed a contract with the U.S. Army to deliver 21 MI-17 helicopters to Afghanistan, new agencies quoted the defense ministry's arms oversight service as saying May 27.
The contract includes new helicopters, along with "delivery of spare parts, on-ground service, and material-technical support," RIA Novosti quoted the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation statement as saying.
The contract was previously valued by the Russian media at $367.5 million.
The Russian helicopters will be sent to be used in Afghanistan's air force starting in October, with deliveries continuing through next year, RIA-Novosti reported.
Washington has decided to pick up the tab after months of talks between NATO and Russian officials ground to a halt.
Some NATO states pressed Russia to deliver some of the transport helicopters for free as they were unable to pay Russia for the aircraft.

Russian Sub To Join NATO Exercise for 1st Time

BRUSSELS - A Russian submarine will take part in the world's biggest submarine rescue exercise with its former Cold War foe, NATO, next week, the military alliance said May 27.
The Russian submarine, the first to participate in any NATO exercise, will drop to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea along with Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish submarines and will await listless for a rescue mission off the coast of Cartagena, Spain.
About 2,000 military and non-military personnel as well as ships and aircraft from more than 20 nations will take part in the exercise, dubbed Bold Monarch 11, that will run from May 30 to June 10.
Held every three years, it "is the world's largest submarine rescue exercise," said a statement from NATO's SHAPE allied military headquarters based in Mons, Belgium.
"The exercise is designed to maximize international cooperation in submarine rescue operations - something that has always been very important to NATO and all the submarine-operating nations," it said.
The inclusion of a Russian submarine in the exercise comes amid a warming of ties between Moscow and the 28-nation alliance, nearly three years after Russia's war with Georgia had sparked tensions between the two sides.
The U.S., Russia, Italy and Sweden are contributing submarine rescue vehicles and sophisticated gear to clear debris. France, Norway and Britain will use a jointly owned rescue system.
Aircraft will deploy from Italy, Britain and the U.S. to help locate the submarines and drop parachutists to provide emergency assistance.
The vast exercise will culminate with a 48-hour coordinated rescue and evacuation of 150 survivors, including casualties, from a submarine acting in distress.

Japan Considers Export of SM-3 Block IIA Missiles

TOKYO - Sources here confirmed that Japan is actively considering allowing the export of SM-3 Block IIA missiles to third-party countries following repeated requests by the U.S. government that the next-generation missile defense system, which is being co-developed by Japan and the U.S., be made available to protect other U.S. allies.
An SM-3 is launched from the destroyer Hopper during a 2009 test by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. (U.S. Missile Defense Agency)
In an official comment by the Ministry of Defense (MOD), a spokesman said the issue is "under careful consideration" between the two governments, but the MOD had not yet reached a conclusion on the issue.
However, a senior official confirmed May 27 that the Japanese government is actively considering how to relax the export ahead of two-plus-two security talks in June by U.S. and Japanese defense and foreign ministers.
"Yes, the MOD's Policy Division is considering the issue," the official said.
The move is politically sensitive for both sides as Japan has strict regulations on arms exports, and the U.S. is keen that the advanced, next-generation Block IIA missiles, which are much more capable than the current SM-3 missiles, be available to allies.
In 1967, Japan introduced laws banning the export of weapons to communist bloc countries, countries subject to U.N. arms embargoes, or countries involved in or likely to become involved in international conflicts. In 1976, it extended the ban to weapons-related technology, although this was later relaxed in 1983 to allow export to the U.S. only. In a 2005 agreement, Japan further relaxed the law to include missile interceptors to be deployed by the two countries. However, re-export to third countries of the SM-3 Block IIA would still be banned unless Japan changes its position.
According to the MOD, Japan is spending 47.3 billion yen (U.S. $583.9 million) this fiscal year on development of the missiles, which will have a burnout velocity that is 45 percent to 60 percent greater than that of the Block IA and IB versions, as well as a larger-diameter kinetic warhead. This year, as part of the final phase of the development, prototype missiles will be designed and manufactured for use in a sea-launched missile experiment, according to the MOD documents.
Under the Obama administration's European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) for European ballistic missile defense (BMD) operations, the more advanced SM-3 Block IIA missiles would be placed on BMD-capable Aegis ships and would operate in European waters to defend Europe from potential ballistic missile attacks from countries such as Iran.
In September 2009, the U.S. government said it would deploy SM-3 Block IIA missiles by 2018 in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.
Keidanren, Japan's most powerful industrial lobby that has been exerting pressure on the government for decades to allow the export of Japanese defense and space equipment, supports the impending change, said Satoshi Tsuzukibashi, director of Keidanren's Office of Defense Production Committee. "Yes, we support the relaxation of export rules in principal, as long as the exports remain carefully controlled to trusted allies," he said.
Japan is supposed to reach a decision on the issue by the end of 2011, according to a statement released by Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa in January.
An official at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo declined comment on the issue except to say that missile defense cooperation was a "central element" in the U.S.'s bilateral defense relationship with Japan.

India Urges France To Stop Arms Sales to Pakistan

NEW DELHI - India has told France to stop supplying weapons and equipment to Pakistan in the name of fighting terrorism. The issue arose during talks between French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet and Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony during Longuet's visit here May 27.
Longuet confirmed India's expressions of concern about supplying weapons, telling reporters, "[India's] concern about weapon sales [by France to Pakistan] was raised."
France cannot afford to ignore New Delhi's concerns at a time when the French Rafale is competing in India's $10 billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program, which is in the final stages of evaluation, said Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general and independent defense analyst here.
Longuet also told reporters that India and France would hold land-based joint exercises in the future.
Longuet made a pitch for the Rafale during his talks with Antony, an Indian Defence Ministry source said.
Another topic that was discussed was joint development on an air defense system under the proposed Maitri project. However, no details are known on its progress.
The French also offered to sell India a variety of missiles, including beyond-visual-range missiles, said a diplomat of the French Embassy in New Delhi.

China Sets Up Military Cyber-Warfare Team: Report

BEIJING- China's military has set up an elite Internet security task force tasked with fending off cyberattacks, state media reported May 27, denying that the initiative is intended to create a "hacker army."
The People's Liberation Army has reportedly invested tens of millions of dollars in the project, which is sure to ring alarm bells around the world among governments and businesses wary of Beijing's intentions.
"Cyber attacks have become an international problem affecting both civilian and military areas," the Global Times quoted China's defense ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng as telling a rare briefing this week. "China is relatively weak in cyber-security and has often been targeted. This temporary program is aimed at improving our defenses against such attacks."
The 30-member "Cyber Blue Team" - the core of the PLA's cyber force - has been organized under the Guangdong military command in the country's south and will carry out "cyber-warfare drills", the newspaper said.
The United States, Australia, Germany and other Western nations have long alleged that hackers inside China are carrying out a wide-range of cyberattacks on government and corporate computer systems worldwide.
But in a commentary, the Global Times hit out at "some foreign media" for interpreting the program as a breeding ground for a "hacker army".
"China's capability is often exaggerated. Without substantiated evidence, it is often depicted by overseas media as the culprit for cyberattacks on the US and Europe," the paper said. "China needs to develop its strong cyber defense strength. Otherwise, it would remain at the mercy of others."
China's military has received annual double-digit increases in its budget over much of the last two decades as it tries to develop a more modern force capable of winning increasingly high-tech wars.
In 2007, the Pentagon raised concerns about a successful Chinese ballistic missile test strike on a satellite. That weapon could be used to knock out the high-tech communications of its enemies.
U.S. computer firm McAfee said in February that hackers from China have also infiltrated the computer networks of global oil companies and stole financial documents on bidding plans and other confidential information.
According to US diplomatic cables obtained and published by WikiLeaks, the United States believes that China's leadership has directed hacking campaigns against U.S. Internet giant Google and Western governments.
In one cable, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said it learned from "a Chinese contact" that the Politburo had led years of hacking into computers of the United States, its allies and Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

New China Missile Unit Near Taiwan: Spy Chief

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's top intelligence chief said China had deployed a new missile unit near the island, a lawmaker revealed May 26, sparking concerns about the fragility of ties with the mainland.
Tsai Teh-sheng, head of the National Security Bureau, described the new unit, located in southern China, while replying to queries last week raised by legislator Lin Yu-fang of the ruling Kuomintang party.
"The unit, carrying the code number 96166 and based in Guangdong province, is indeed a new unit, probably a new ballistic missile brigade," Tsai said, without providing details, according to a statement released by Lin.
"Over the past few years, the People's Liberation Army has kept increasing its deployment of ballistic missile units in both quantity and quality opposite Taiwan," the intelligence chief was quoted as saying in the statement.
Taiwanese experts estimate that China currently has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island, mostly deployed in Fujian and Jiangxi provinces in the mainland's southeast, forecasting that the number will reach 1,800 next year.
Lin, a university professor specializing in military affairs, said China's continued expansion of its railway network also has helped boost the flexibility of its missile arm.
The extensive rail network enables the weapons to be transported swiftly to the coastal areas when needed and even to be launched from railway cars.
On May 26, in response to questions raised by another Kuomintang legislator, Tsai said that with restrictions on visits to the island being eased, Chinese intelligence agents have arrived disguised as tourists, academics and civil organization staff.
Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang became Taiwan's president in 2008 on a platform of boosting trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists.
However, Beijing still refuses to renounce the possible use of force against the island, which has ruled itself since the end of a civil war in 1949, should it declare formal independence.
The Pentagon said in an annual report to Congress last year that China's military build-up against Taiwan had "continued unabated" despite improving political relations.
The perceived threat has prompted Taiwan to seek more advanced weapons, mainly from the United States.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

U.S. House Passes Defense Authorization Bill

By a vote of 322 to 96, the U.S. House of Representatives on May 26 passed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012, which includes a $690 billion Pentagon budget.
Continued development of a second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter was included without funding in the National Defense Authorization Act passed by the House. The Pentagon has repeatedly said a second engine is unnecessary. (Andy Wolfe / Lockheed Martin)
The Pentagon had requested a $553 billion base budget and $118 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House bill fully funds those requests and also provides funding for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration.
Before becoming law, the Senate will have to vote on its own version and then the two bills will need to be reconciled before heading to President Barack Obama for his signature.
There are several measures in the House legislation that will make reconciliation with the Senate very difficult. And the White House announced earlier in the week that it objects to several of the bill's amendments, including measures that restrict the president's ability to reduce the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile as part of the New START Treaty with Russia.
The bill also ties the president's hands when it comes to transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay. A Republican proposal, which passed, said detainees could not be tried on U.S. soil.
The legislation also includes language that allows for continued development on a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a program the Pentagon has repeatedly said is unnecessary. However, the bill does not include additional funding for the General Electric-Rolls Royce engine.
"If the final bill presented to the president includes funding or a legislative direction to continue an extra engine program, the president's senior advisers would recommend a veto," the White House statement said.
Measures to reduce the defense budget did not pass, despite growing concern about federal discretionary spending and its contribution to the national deficit.
A Democratic proposal that would return Defense Department spending to 2008 levels, with exemptions for personnel and health accounts, was withdrawn. The House rejected by voice vote a separate proposal that would freeze Department of Defense funding at current levels until the Pentagon successfully passed an audit.
The House bill does make cuts to some weapons programs, but directs those savings back into the Pentagon toward "higher priorities."
"With the tough fiscal times facing our country, the bill treats every taxpayer dollar as precious," House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., said in a statement.
Among the programs deemed wasteful were military bands and the U.S. Institute of Peace. The House voted to cut $200,000 in funding for military bands.
By a vote of 226 to 194, the House voted to de-authorize the United States Institute of Peace, an independent, nonpartisan organization created by Congress in the early 1980s. In 2005, Congress appropriated $100 million to build the Institute's permanent headquarters in Washington.
Republicans argued the country could not afford the organization and that its efforts are duplicative of those of the Defense Department and the State Department.
The organization managed the Iraq Study Group's work and, at Congress' request, it facilitated the task force on U.N. reform, the strategic posture review and a review of the latest Quadrennial Defense Review.
While the debate between the parties was sometimes passionate, there were moments of bipartisanship, including a vote of 416 to 5 in support of a proposal that would prohibit U.S. ground forces from operating in Libya.
A bipartisan proposal calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan failed by a vote of 234 to 184.

U.S. Navy Rejects New Radar Ship

A new ship intended to carry a billion-dollar ballistic missile tracking radar failed its acceptance trials earlier this month and will need repairs before it can enter service, the U.S. Navy said May 26.
The Howard O. Lorenzen (T-AGM 25), built by VT Halter Marine at Moss Point, Miss., is a 12,000-ton, 534-foot-long ship intended to carry the Cobra Judy Replacement (CJR) radar, a key sensor used in treaty monitoring and verification for ballistic missile issues. The ship and the new radar are needed to replace the original 1970s-era Cobra Judy system, now becoming unsustainable and scheduled for decommissioning next year.
The new ship, built under an initial $199 million contract awarded in 2006, has been under construction at VT Halter's yard since August 2008, when delivery was scheduled for June 2010. The design is based on a pair of Navy survey ships built in the mid-1980s.
The Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey, known as INSURV, conducted the Lorenzen's acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico during the week of May 9, according to the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington. INSURV's role is to carry out meticulous inspections and tests of the ship and its systems and recommend whether or not the Navy should take delivery.
The trial "was reported as unsatisfactory" by INSURV, NAVSEA said in a statement. The failed grade was due to three major discrepancies - thrust bearing temperature, and steering and anchor demonstrations. Three of 15 graded areas - electrical, damage control and aviation - were also graded unsatisfactory.
INSURV recommended that acceptance not take place until the systems "can be fully re-demonstrated."
Repairs, NAVSEA said, will take place at Kiewit Offshore Services in Corpus Christi, Texas, where the CJR radar is to be installed.
The major components of the CJR active phased-array system were delivered by prime contractor Raytheon to Kiewit Offshore in early April. Raytheon makes the X-band radar of the dual-radar system, while subcontractor Northrop Grumman built the S-band radar.
The radars are not associated with the ship's problems, a spokesperson for Raytheon confirmed.
VT Halter Marine builds a variety of small and medium-sized commercial and military ships. In recent years, problems have emerged with several ships under construction at the Moss Point yard for U.S. government customers.
Last fall, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for which VT Halter built a number of fisheries research ships, abruptly canceled completion of a new research ship when it was nearly finished, claiming it was overweight and unable to carry out its coastal mapping mission. The ship was seized by NOAA and moved elsewhere for completion and modifications.
In 2005, contract disputes led the U.S. Army to cancel completion of a logistics vessel and delay delivery of two others.

Senator: Broad Support for F-16 Sales to Taiwan

WASHINGTON - A U.S. lawmaker said May 26 that nearly half the Senate would press for the sale of fighter jets to Taiwan, fearing that China was gaining a strategic edge over the self-governing island.
At a hearing on Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's nomination to be ambassador to China, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said that some 40 members of the Senate would send a letter to President Obama urging the sale to Taiwan.
Menendez said he was "extremely concerned" as China ramps up its military spending and the United States puts off a decision on selling F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.
"Therefore we will leave Taiwan in a position that is, I think, indefensible at the end of the day. And to me that will only exacerbate the situation," Menendez said.
Saying it was "very rare" for so many lawmakers across party lines to send such a letter, Menendez urged Locke to be an advocate within the Obama administration for sale of F-16s to Taiwan.
Locke said no decision was made on the jets and repeated the general U.S. official language on Taiwan - that the United States recognized only one China but was committed to the island's defense.
"The United States stands with Taiwan to ensure that it can defend itself and that its self-defense capabilities are never eroded," Locke said.
Beijing considers Taiwan, where China's nationalists fled in 1949 after defeat by the communists, to be a province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
The United States in 1979 switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing but Congress at the same time approved the Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the administration to provide the island with weapons for defensive purposes.
The United States last year approved $6.4 billion in weapons for Taiwan, including Patriot missiles and Black Hawk helicopters, but did not include the F-16s.
Even without the fighter jets, China angrily protested and cut off military cooperation with the United States, although it has since normalized defense ties.
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou has repeatedly sought the F-16s, despite his drive to improve ties with the mainland since taking office in 2008.

Indonesia To Buy 16 S. Korean T-50 Trainers

SEOUL - Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) signed a $400 million deal to sell 16 T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer aircraft to Indonesia, marking the first overseas sale of the $20 million jet co-developed by Lockheed Martin.
The deal obligates South Korea to buy Indonesian-built CN-235 transport airplanes, Seoul and Jakarta government officials confirmed.
Officials with KAI and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) officials had denied that the trainer deal would require the airlifter purchase.
The contract was signed May 25, about a month and a half after Jakarta picked KAI as the preferred bidder for its trainer jet acquisition. The T-50 beat out Russia's Yak-130 and the Czech L-159B.
KAI is set to deliver the jets to the Indonesian Air Force by 2013.
The day after the T-50 announcement, KAI received approval from the Korea Exchange to proceed with an initial public offering (IPO) estimated to be worth about 576 billion won ($523 million).
The state-owned Korea Finance Corp. owns 30.1 percent of the aircraft maker, while Samsung Techwin, Hyundai Motor and Doosan Infracore hold 20.5 percent apiece.
The IPO may be held by the end of June.
Industry and securities sources expect KAI to sell 36 million shares at 14,000 won to 16,000 apiece.
"I'm very happy that the deal has been concluded before the planned IPO," said KAI President Kim Hong-kyung. "This Indonesia deal is just the starting point for the country's aircraft exports. As the leading aerospace company in South Korea, we will make best efforts to help the country become the world's top seven aircraft exporters by 2020."
South Korea will become the sixth country to export supersonic jets, following the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France and Sweden, according to a KAI-DAPA news release.
The single-engine T-50 plane has digital flight controls and a modern, ground-based training system. It is designed to have the maneuverability, endurance and systems to prepare pilots to fly next-generation aircraft such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II. The jet has a top speed of Mach 1.4 and an operational range of 1,851 kilometers.
The news of the offset provision confirmed what Amir Sambodo, special staff for the Indonesian Coordinating Economic Minister told the Jakarta Post on May 20: "There have been talks that if Indonesia buys T-50s, there will be compensation for Korea to purchase CN-235s."
Sambodo said South Korea would buy two or four more CN-235s.
"This needs to be increased to mutually benefit both countries. If South Korea is good at trainer jets, we are strong in transport aircraft," he said.
Seoul and Jakarta had a similar barter trade deal in 2001, when South Korea bought eight CN-235 transport planes in return for selling 12 KT-1 Woongbi basic trainers.
The CN-235 is a medium-range twin-turboprop airplane, jointly developed by Spain's CASA and Indonesia's PT DI. The plane is used for VIP transport, maritime patrols, airlifts and troop carrying.
South Korea has 20 CN-235s, 12 built in Spain and eight in Indonesia. Under a 2008 deal, PT DI plans to deliver four more CN-235s to South Korea's Coast Guard by year's end.

Serbian War Crimes Suspect Mladic Arrested

BRUSSELS - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on May 26 celebrated the arrest of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, anticipating his being tried for genocide.
"Almost 16 years since his indictment for genocide and other war crimes, his arrest finally offers a chance for justice to be done," Rasmussen said, moments after the government in Belgrade confirmed Mladic's capture.
"I strongly welcome the news that Ratko Maldic has been arrested and that his extradition to the Hague is underway," Rasmussen said.
NATO launched a bombing campaign against the Serb regime in 1999, with Rasmussen recalling that "Mladic played a key role in some of the darkest episodes of Balkan and European history - including the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of thousands of Bosnian men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995."
Underlining the alliance's role as a "guarantor of security in the Balkans for the best part of two decades," Rasmussen added that "today we have seen an important step towards a Europe that is whole, free and at peace."
Rasmussen added that NATO remains "committed to assisting the whole region on the way to Euro-Atlantic integration."

Obama, Medvedev Discuss Missile Defense at G8

DEAUVILLE, France - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said May 26 after talks with U.S. President Barack Obama that an ultimate solution to the long-running row over missile defense may not happen until after 2020.
Medvedev and Obama met on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Deauville, and they also discussed the economy, counterterrorism and Russia's pending entry into the World Trade Organization.
Before the summit, Medvedev had warned of the chances of a new Cold War in Europe should Washington build its missile system without the Kremlin's agreement, although other Russian officials played down the row.
Obama and Medvedev looked stern-faced as they spoke to reporters after the talks, but both insisted that U.S.-Russian ties, "reset" under the Obama administration, were in good shape.
Medvedev said the missile defense issue "will finally be solved in the future, like for example in the year 2020" by future politicians.
But he added that he and the U.S. leader could "lay the foundation for other politicians," and called Obama his "colleague and political partner."
Obama said he and Medvedev were "committed to working together so we can find an approach and configuration that is consistent with the security needs of both countries ... that maintains a strategic balance and deals with potential threats we both share."
Russia's recent tough talk and decision to test two nuclear-capable heavy missiles in the past month underscore a fear in Moscow that the Obama administration is paying lip service to U.S.-Russian relations.
Moscow has in recent months complained that it is being sidelined in talks over the joint missile defense for Europe and Medvedev's remarks may underscore the Kremlin's disappointment over the current negotiations.
The United States argues that the shield is meant only to protect Europe from nations such as Iran but has said nothing about Russian security safeguards.
Analysts note that Moscow is primarily worried the system will leave a permanent stamp on the security map of Europe and formalize the reduced role Russia plays in the post-Cold War world.

France, Russia Reach Agreement on Warship Deal

DEAUVILLE, France - France and Russia have finalized an unprecedented deal for Paris to sell four powerful modern warships to Moscow, President Nicolas Sarkozy and his counterpart Dmitry Medvedev said May 26.
"All talks have been completed. The contract will be signed shortly," Medvedev told reporters after holding bilateral talks with his host Sarkozy ahead of the G8 summit in the northern French resort of Deauville.
"The elements of the signing have been resolved. The signature will take place within a fortnight," Sarkozy said.
Under the plan, two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships will be built in France and two in Russia to the French design, the two men said without giving further details.
Negotiations over the purchase began in 2009 but repeatedly stalled over price and technology transfer amid concerns among France's NATO allies about arming Russia with modern Western weaponry.
Some former Soviet nations like Georgia, which fought a brief but bloody war with Russia in 2008, have expressed fears in the past that Russia could use the powerful ships against them.
Earlier this year, the two sides were reportedly unable to agree on the contract price, as Russia insisted on paying no more than $980 million and France insisted on a contract of at least $1.15 billion.
The ship-purchase deal with France is unprecedented since World War II both in terms of the size of the equipment in question and Russia's insistence since the war on producing all military hardware for its own use and export.
The deal will also be seen as a major coup for the both leaders and will likely buttress their credentials as political negotiators as Russia and France head into presidential elections next year.
Brushing off any possible concerns from his NATO allies, Sarkozy reiterated that Russia was a trusted partner and the Cold War epoch was over. Medvedev for his part said the two countries enjoyed "superb ties."

Spain Halts Military Chopper Sale to Iran: Police

MADRID - Spanish police halted the illegal export of nine Bell-112 military transport helicopters to Iran and detained eight people including three Iranians, they said May 26.
Police seized the U.S.-made helicopters and arrested five Spanish businessmen suspected of trying to export them along with three Iranians accused of negotiating the purchase of military materiel.
In the operation, dubbed "Nam,' they raided industrial warehouses in Madrid and Barcelona and snatched helicopters destined for Iran, police said in a statement.
They also seized aviation spare parts allegedly destined for export to Venezuela, police said.
Police estimated the total value of the helicopters, spares and other military materiel at about 100 million euros ($140 million).
Police said the aircraft were subject to European Union and Spanish controls and were banned for export by the United Nations.
With a top speed of 140 mph and an average range of 370 miles, the helicopters were designed to ferry troops and military equipment, police said.
The Spanish companies flouted export requirements, failing to obtain licenses for the export of military materiel or so-called dual-use goods that can have military applications, police said.
The firms knew the export of the aircraft and spare parts was banned, they said, accusing them of concealing them in the warehouses, owned by a syndicate of the Spaniards who had been detained.
The helicopters and spares were being prepared for assembly and disassembly before export to Iran and Venezuela, police said.
"They tried to protect the export sale, which could have resulted in revenue of about 100 million euros, under the cover of legal aviation repairs," the statement said.
Police said they found out about the arrival in Spain of the Iranian purchasers who had come to formalize the deal and they then launched an operation to arrest them.
They arrested five people in Madrid and three in Barcelona and raided another three addresses resulting in the seizure of the nine Bell helicopters, aviation materiel and spares and related documents.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pentagon: U.S. supplies bombs to allies in Libya

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military is supplying bombs and spare parts to allies carrying out strikes in the NATO-led air campaign against Libya's regime, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
"We have provided material support, including munitions, to Allies and partners engaged in operations in Libya" since April 1, spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said in an email.
The statement marked the first time the Pentagon had publicly confirmed it was providing ammunition to NATO allies, amid reports some countries were running out of supplies of precision-guided bombs or parts.
Lapan confirmed that the munitions included precision-guided "smart bombs."
Since NATO took the lead in the air campaign on April 1, the U.S. has provided allies and partners with about $24.3 million worth of "repair parts, ammunition and technical support," Lapan said.
Details of U.S. support came as a senior NATO military official said the alliance was stepping up operations in a bid to deliver a decisive blow to Moammar Gadhafi's regime, hitting Tripoli with its heaviest bombardment to date.

PLA Navy Commander Meets Israeli Defense Leaders

TEL AVIV - In an official May 25 visit to Israel, the commander of the Chinese Navy met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his Israeli counterpart, Rear Adm. Eliezer Marom.
In an official May 25 visit to Israel, the commander of the Chinese Navy met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his Israeli counterpart, Rear Adm. Eliezer Marom. (Inbal Griner / Israel MoD)
Barak's office provided no other details of the meeting with Adm. Wu Shengli of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), although an MoD source insisted the visit did not herald changes in Israel's marginal defense trade ties with Beijing, which focus on dual-use capabilities.
Israel-Chinese defense trade ties have essentially been subject to a de facto U.S. veto following the crisis of confidence early in the administration of former President George W. Bush over Israeli technology transfers to a country deemed by Washington as a strategic competitor, if not adversary.
After forcing Israel to cancel a $1 billion-plus deal for Phalcon aerial early warning and control planes and a subsequent period of estrangement pertaining to a later, unreported sale of drones, Israel's MoD committed to consult with Washington on any transfers that could pose an eventual threat to U.S. forces or its allies.
"Our policy of very close consultations with our American friends remains unchanged," the MoD source said. He refused to elaborate on the purpose of Wu's visit or the sites included in the itinerary.
As Barak was hosting Wu at MoD headquarters in Tel Aviv, a former U.S. Air Force chief of staff was speaking just across town.
At the Fisher Institute's annual conference on air power, retired Gen. Michael Moseley warned of "the very high likelihood" that U.S. forces would have to face off against Chinese or Russian technology in future conflicts. He recalled his response to a question once posed to him by former President Bush.
"He asked about the probability of the U.S. having to fight a future war with China or Russia, and my reply was 'near zero' because I had full confidence in the ability of our political leaders to craft the policies and take the decisions needed to prevent such wars," Moseley said.
In contrast, the former U.S. Air Force chief assessed the probability "at near 100 percent… that my son or my son-in-law will have to engage those [Chinese or Russian] systems."

Pentagon: U.S. cutting back troops in Pakistan

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military said Wednesday it has begun pulling some American troops out of Pakistan after Islamabad requested a smaller presence, amid tensions over a U.S. raid against Osama bin Laden.
"We were recently (within past 2 weeks) notified in writing that the government of Pakistan wished for the U.S. to reduce its footprint in Pakistan. Accordingly, we have begun those reductions," spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said in an email to reporters.
There are more than 200 U.S. military personnel in Pakistan serving mostly as trainers as part of a long-running effort to counter al-Qaida and Islamist militants.
But the uneasy relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. has come under severe strain following a unilateral raid by U.S. commandos that killed bin Laden on May 2 in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, home to a military academy.
President Barack Obama's administration has stepped up diplomatic efforts to smooth over the crisis sparked by the raid on the al-Qaida leader's compound, while some lawmakers in Congress have called for cutting aid to Islamabad.
Since the bin Laden operation, the U.S. has kept up CIA drone strikes on militant targets in Pakistan's northwest. The bombing raids are deeply unpopular and often draw public criticism from Pakistani officials.

Pentagon Agency Halts Kill Vehicle Production

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has suspended production of the latest version of the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), part of the Ground Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) anti-ballistic-missile system, while it looks into a 2010 flight test failure, said the agency's director, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly.
In May 25 testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense panel, O'Reilly also said a plan to shift program oversight of the Army's Patriot air and missile defense system to MDA could be in place as soon as 2013.
The GMD interceptor missile, which failed during the final moments of a December test, was an upgraded version of the currently deployed GMD system. This upgraded version includes a new EKV, the Raytheon-built component that intercepts an incoming missile in space.
The suspension will last until required design modifications are completed and verified, and the agency has diverted 2011 GMD funding to expedite the modifications.
The GMD program had two test failures in 2010. The first involved EKV quality control.
"We have identified and confirmed that we had an error in the assembly process of the new EKV," O'Reilly said during the May 25 hearing.
He said the problem was fixed by revising the factory's inspection processes.
O'Reilly said the agency has seen no problems in older-model EKVs currently deployed on older GMD systems, nor are there problems with the GMD booster.
As for the December test, O'Reilly did not say what the problem was.
"We have completed almost all of the ground testing to confirm what the problem was and have identified that problem," he said. "We're now in the process of correcting the problem, confirming it on the ground, but the nature of these type of problems make it very difficult to confirm in ground testing."
Investigators have found "one flaw, which … we are aggressively working to resolve it and prove it," O'Reilly said.
MDA will conduct "extensive ground testing" this summer and a non-intercept test with an upgraded EKV, and it will repeat the failed intercept test in 2012.
A Raytheon spokesman deferred comments to Boeing, the GMD program's prime contractor. A Boeing spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
In March, Boeing's top program official said he believes the problem was solely with the EKV.
Norm Tew, a Boeing vice president and the company's GMD program director, said during a March briefing that the December test was "the cleanest, most picture-perfect flight" conducted "up until the last few seconds."
GMD is designed to protect the United States from long-range ballistic missiles, particularly from North Korea and Iran.
Patriot Transfer
The plan to transfer the Patriot program, first discussed in April 2010, would relieve the Army of certain budgetary responsibilities while providing more stable funding to the program, service officials said at the time.
"The particular proposal we have made for the Army's case is literally to take their leadership that does currently oversee Patriot," O'Reilly said. "They would become part of the Missile Defense Agency, but still … have rating responsibilities to the Army."
The transfer is still being deliberated, and a final decision has not been made, he said.
The Army and MDA also had considered transferring the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) during the last year. But since then, the Defense Department has announced that the MEADS program would come to an end in 2013 because the United States will not move forward with production.
MEADS also involves Germany and Italy. The program's prime contractor is MEADS International, a consortium of Lockheed Martin and MBDA, the European missile company.
MEADS was planned to replace the Patriot system. Pentagon officials have said that due to MEADS delays, the Patriot system needed upgrades. But the Pentagon could not afford to upgrade Patriot and buy MEADS at the same time.

First F-16 Block 50 Delivered to Turkey

ANKARA - Lockheed Martin and its Turkish partner, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), delivered on May 23 the first of a batch of 30 F-16 Block 50 fighter aircraft to the Turkish Air Force, a procurement official said May 25.
Turkey and Lockheed Martin in 2007 signed a $1.8 billion agreement for the 30 advanced jet fighters. The deliveries are scheduled to be completed by late 2012. Lockheed Martin built the first plane and TAI assembled it at its facilities in Akinci, near Ankara. TAI also carried out the first flight tests for the first aircraft.
Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul and the U.S. ambassador to Ankara, Francis Ricciardone, attended a ceremony for the delivery of the first Block 50 aircraft.
In the 1980s and 1990s, TAI assembled more than 200 F-16 aircraft. Lockheed is modernizing more than 100 of these aircraft at a cost of more than $1 billion.
TAI also is prime contractor for Turkey's ambitious attack and utility helicopter programs to be built with Italy's AgustaWestland and U.S. Sikorsky, respectively.
A member of the U.S.-led multinational F-35 consortium, Turkey is planning to buy about 100 of these new-generation fighters until late 2015 when the F-35s are planned to begin joining the Turkish inventory. Ankara is due to buy the F-16 Block 50 fighters as a stopgap solution.

Cable: Pakistan Officers Taught Anti-U.S. Courses

ISLAMABAD - A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable says that senior Pakistani military officers are taught anti-American courses at a prestigious defense university in the heart of the capital.
The cable, published in Dawn newspaper on Wednesday and obtained by WikiLeaks, is likely to fan concerns about loyalties within the military after Osama bin Laden was found living in a garrison city, possibly for years.
Then U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, wrote the cable in late 2008 in reference to the National Defence University in Islamabad.
Pakistan officially allied with the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in its war on the Taliban and al-Qaida, but has long been accused of playing a double game in supporting Islamist militant networks.
"Lecturers often 'teach' their students information that is heavily biased against the United States," she wrote.
Instructors, she said, "often had misperceptions about U.S. policies and culture and infused their lectures with these suspicions." She said some students shared those "misconceptions" despite sending their children to study in Britain and the United States.
In contrast, "students and instructors were adamant in their approval of all things Chinese," she wrote.
Patterson was left recommending increased opportunities for colonels and brigadiers "receiving biased NDU training" to hear alternative views of the U.S., and pushed for an exchange program for instructors.
Pakistan's military leaders were humiliated by the discovery that the head of al-Qaida, the world's most-wanted man, had been living possibly for years near the country's top military academy.

India Will Not Join 1,000-Ship Navy Concept

NEW DELHI - The Indian Navy will not join any multilateral groupings, putting to rest the possibility of Indian participation in the U.S.-mooted concept of a 1,000-ship navy.
Addressing the naval commanders here, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony ruled out India joining such a group unless it is under a U.N. mandate, said a Defence Ministry statement.
While India will join maritime cooperation in the region against terrorism and piracy, there is no plan to join any broader multilateral grouping, a Defence Ministry official said.
The 1,000-ship navy concept, espoused by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, envisioned an operational partnership of naval and coastal forces from friendly countries around the world.
The remarks by Antony also have cast doubt on the U.S.-sponsored Proliferation Security Initiative, the Container Security Initiative and the Regional Maritime Security Initiative, said a Defence Ministry source.
In the context of the recent terrorist attack at a naval base in neighboring Pakistan, Antony said, "The challenges of the Indian Ocean rim, and the volatile neighborhood we live in, make it imperative for us to maintain operational readiness at all times. Recent incidents in our neighborhood have strongly underlined the need to maintain constant vigil. The Navy needs to take stock of the level of operational preparedness from time to time."
Turning to coastal security, Antony said the government has made considerable progress in plugging the gaps, but a lot more needs to be done. Various agencies need to adopt a far more collaborative and cooperative approach, according to the ministry statement.

Pakistan Considers Naval Base Move After Attack

KARACHI - Pakistan said May 25 it was considering whether to relocate its Karachi naval air base after a Taliban attack killed 10 security personnel and destroyed two U.S.-made surveillance aircraft.
The assault on May 22 was the worst on a military base since the army headquarters was besieged in October 2009, further embarrassing the armed forces three weeks after Osama bin Laden was found living under their noses.
After the attack took 17 hours to repel, Adm. Noman Bashir, the chief of naval staff, conceded that a relocation was possible.
"When the Mehran base was established 36 years ago it was far from the population. But now it is surrounded by civilian populations on all sides, thus the security risks have multiplied," said navy spokesman Commander Salman Ali.
Karachi is Pakistan's financial capital and the assault was the fourth on the navy in a month after three bombings in late April killed nine people.
The city, which is used by NATO to ship supplies to Afghanistan, has also suffered scores of killings linked to ethnic and political tensions between migrant Pashtuns from the northwest and the local Urdu-speaking majority.
Ali said it would be impossible to relocate each of the more than a dozen navy bases in Karachi, but said serious thought was going into Mehran, the only navy air base in the sprawling city of 16 million.
"Relocation is a highly technical and cumbersome task. It is not a matter of days. The authorities are thinking about all possibilities and requirements before shifting Mehran elsewhere," said Ali.
Despite the string of recent attacks, the spokesman insisted that other installations in the port city were "safe and satisfactorily secure."
Pakistan's Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, who accompanied the prime minister on a visit to China last week, said Islamabad had asked Beijing for help in building a naval base at its deep-sea port of Gwadar, west of Karachi.
China's foreign ministry said May 24 it was unaware of the request.
The Mehran base, about 10 kilometers from Karachi's international airport, was set up in 1975.

USMC Chief Looks to Offset China in Pacific Region

U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos wants to send more of his Marines to the Pacific to offset China's expanding influence in the region.
Amos said America's military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan have kept more U.S. forces from working with militaries in the southeast and southwest Pacific allowing a growing Chinese military to further establish itself.
"We'd liked to be more engaged in the Pacific, in the southwest Pacific, and that area of the world than we are. Our ability to be able to have that kind of forward presence in that part of the world is challenged right now because we are occupied in another section of the world," Amos said at a May 24 dinner hosted by the Center for New American Security, a Washington think tank.
The head of the Marine Corps said he didn't expect a military conflict with China anytime soon, but he said China's growing reach should concern U.S. leaders. Amos' comments come a week after Chinese People's Liberation Army Chief of Staff Gen. Chen Bingde visited the U.S. as a guest of the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen.
"I think we need to be there. I don't think we're there to anywhere we need to be. I think our nation understands that. We'd like to turn that around," Amos said.
In a series of rare public speeches for the Chinese leader whose position is roughly equivalent to the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a "gaping gap" still remains between the two respective countries' militaries.
Amos is just the latest U.S. military leader to speak about his service's plans following the Afghanistan drawdown. U.S. Army leaders have also made their case to deploy Reserve and National Guard units to places such as Africa and South America on what are called "theatre security cooperation" missions to train foreign militaries.
The discussions for future service deployments come as military and congressional leaders debate future cuts to the defense budget. Amos said his service is already preparing to cut its manning down from 202,000 to 186,800 Marines. The U.S. military as a whole is already planning to reduce its footprint in Europe.
The last "five or six" years of spending are over, he said. Military leaders in each service will have to look for efficiencies and reduce spending.
"The Marine Corps will only ask for what it needs. We're done asking for what we want," Amos said he told Congress.
That means cutting programs that go over budget as the Marine Corps decides what Amos said "is good enough" for a service trying to both modernize and reset from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates already cancelled the Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program in January.
"There are some things that we absolutely have to do. There are some things that I think we can postpone and then there are other things that we maybe start to recapitalize in four or five years," Amos said.
The Marine Corps will not automatically expand the fleets of vehicles that performed well in Iraq or Afghanistan, either.
Amos used the example of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle better known as the MRAP. While it may have saved countless Marines in Iraq, its weight is a burden. He said the Corps will put a premium on mobility as it looks to field a new combat vehicle.
Amos said he expects what he described as a return to the Corps' "frugal roots" to last throughout his term as commandant and beyond.
"This traditional dip is typically eight to 10 years … so I think this will be an issue for the 36th commandant and it's going to be an issue for the 37th commandant when we'll begin to realize some growth and some modernization of significant proportions," he said.