Friday, April 29, 2011

Second Sub in 2011 Ordered By U.S. Navy

Using money from the newly-passed 2011 defense budget, the U.S. Navy on April 28 was finally able to do something it hasn't done for 20 years - order the construction of more than one submarine in a single year.
The Virginia-class attack submarine Hawaii enters Apra Harbor, Guam, for a scheduled port visit. The U.S. Navy has ordered two submarines to be built this year, a first in 20 years. (MC2 Corwin Colbert / Navy)
About $1.2 billion was awarded to General Dynamics Electric Boat to build the yet-to-be-named SSN 787, the 14th unit of the SSN 774 Virginia class of nuclear-powered attack submarines. The money comes after earlier contracts for long-lead items for the boat, such as the nuclear reactor.
Ordering the second sub was the Navy's top priority among items threatened by the continuing resolutions that kept the government running at 2010 levels for the first six months of fiscal 2011. A defense budget that included the second submarine was finally approved by Congress in early April and signed into law April 15.
The Navy and its submarine shipbuilding team of Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries have been working for years to bring down costs on the submarines to be able to afford two subs in a single year. The two-per-year threshold of $2 billion per sub - figured in 2005 dollars - was reached beginning with the 2012 submarine, but Congress last year added a second sub to the 2011 budget.
The $2 billion figure is somewhat mythical; factored for inflation, that amount in 2005 dollars equals about $2.6 billion in current monies.
Nevertheless, prime contractor Electric Boat claims the per-unit cost of a new Virginia-class submarine has come down about 20 percent since the first boat was ordered in 1998.
"Reducing the cost of Virginia Class ships to the point where the Navy can afford to acquire two ships per year has demanded an intense process of continuous improvement," John Holmander, Electric Boat's Virginia program manager, said in a press release. "Our task now is to ensure that we demonstrate additional improvement on each ship so taxpayers get the best possible return on the nation's investment in submarines."
Construction of Virginia-class submarines is shared equally between Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls. EB builds its hull sections at Quonset Point, R.I., and assembles the submarines at Groton, Conn. HI's submarines are built and assembled at Newport News, Va. The shipbuilders alternate on completing each boat.
Newport News will complete the SSN 787, with delivery expected around 2016.

Afghan Forces Still a Work In Progress: Pentagon

WASHINGTON - A shortage of trainers and problems plaguing the Afghan army and police could jeopardize NATO's goal to hand over security to the Kabul government by 2015, a Pentagon report said April 29.
Building up the Afghan security forces is at the heart of the NATO-led strategy to gradually withdraw foreign troops from a war that has dragged on for more than nine years.
Seeing the project as their ticket out, NATO countries are investing heavily in the effort, with the United States planning to spend $12.8 billion in 2012.
With 159,000 Afghan troops and 126,000 police trained as of March 31, the Pentagon said in a report to Congress it was satisfied at the pace of the growth of the force despite troubling rates of desertion.
For about every 10 new recruits, six soldiers quit, according to the report.
And while the number of soldiers in uniform has swelled and basic literacy courses have been launched, the capabilities of the Afghan forces remain limited.
"ANA (Afghan National Army) units are still too dependent on coalition forces for operations, and specifically logistical support," said the progress report on the Afghan war.
About three-quarters of army units are judged "effective" when backed by advisers or assistance from coalition troops, but not one army battalion or police unit is deemed able to operate independently, according to the report.
A senior administration official insisted the transfer of security duties to the Afghans was on track and that the Afghan troops were steadily making progress.
"They are more and more capable of operating and they'll need less and less support. It's a gradual process," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
"This is not something that can happen in one day."
For the Pentagon, the most serious problem facing the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) is a chronic shortage of foreign trainers.
The report described "a significant shortfall of ANSF trainers and mentors, which, if not adequately addressed, poses a strategic risk to ANSF growth and an increased risk to transition."
The nearly 1,400 trainers currently on the ground represent less than half of the instructors needed. Coalition members have pledged to contribute 667 trainers, but another 740 are still lacking, the report said.
In the past two years, training focused on basic courses for the infantry but now the coalition requires more specialized instruction for medical, logistical and transport units, the official said.

India Rejects Russia's Fighter Jet Bid: Official

MOSCOW - Russia confirmed April 29 that India had rejected its bid to supply its traditional ally with 126 multi-role combat aircraft in a deal worth about $12 billion.
A spokesman for the Rosoboronexport agency responsible for foreign military contracts said India had informed Russia of the decision earlier in the week.
The official added that no formal explanation was given for the decision and that the choice "was the exclusive right of India".
The U.S. ambassador to New Delhi on April 28 said Washington was "deeply disappointed" that Lockheed Martin's F-16 and Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet had also been rejected.
India has made no official announcement but the U.S. and Russian confirmations indicate that only the Dassault Rafale fighter of France and the joint Eurofighter Typhoon project are still in the running.
Russia hoped its Soviet-era ally would settle on the MiG-35 - an updated version of the MiG-29 jet that is already being purchased by India.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) identified India as the world's biggest arms purchaser between 2006 and 2010 and Russia had remained its main supplier throughout.
The two sides agreed in December on the joint production of a fifth-generation fighter with stealth capabilities in deal potentially worth up to $30 billion.
India is Russia's second largest military client behind China.

Air Vice-Marshal Graham Lintott

After five years on the job as leader of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), Air Vice-Marshal Graham Lintott will leave his post at the end of April to become Wellington's defense attaché in Washington.
Chief of the Air Force Graham Lintott speaks to the media in Palmerston North, New Zealand. (Marty Melville / Getty Images)
Lintott joined the RNZAF in 1973 and became a pilot. He flew Sioux and Iroquois helicopters in New Zealand and served in Singapore before becoming a member of the Air Force's Red Checkers formation aerobatics team.
He attended several courses overseas, including the Australian Defence Force Joint Services Staff College and the Royal College of Defence Studies in the U.K., from which he graduated in 2001.
Promoted to air commodore, he spent the next few years at HQ Joint Forces New Zealand, and in late 2004 was appointed assistant chief, Strategic Commitments and Intelligence, HQ New Zealand Defence Force, in Wellington. He was promoted to his current rank and appointed the chief of Air Force in 2006.
Q. The RNZAF is receiving new A109 and NH90 helicopters and improved C-130 and P-3 aircraft over the next 12 months. What does this involve?
A. Both the C-130 and the P-3 projects are much more than just minor upgrades; they really are new aircraft with regard to systems, and we have a complex introduction into service (IIS) task ahead of us.
On top of the four additional fleets - "additional" because we have to fly the legacy aircraft concurrent with the new ones - are a range of simulation devices that we have not had before.
Q. How will these new platforms and systems affect deployments?
A. The economic crisis continues to challenge us. I never underestimate the resources it is going to take, and we have been preparing for [the new platforms] for some years now. We know where the stress points are.
Over the next three to four years, we will not really be in a position to deploy our [new aircraft] without compromising the IIS task. If we do have to deploy, and the IIS program is delayed by weeks or months, then so be it.
Q. The New Zealand government's 2010 defense white paper forecast that the next 25 years will be more challenging than the past quarter-century. What does that mean for the RNZAF?
A. [It] means continuing those key roles that all air forces have - carrying things, sensing things and engaging targets.
We have limited capabilities in the engagement role, but we certainly are very well-equipped for ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] and transport. By the 2020s, we may be looking at additional ISR platforms.
Additional capabilities may not be able to be delivered in an earlier time frame because of the economic situation, but that is a temporary thing. I think the next decade is going to be a period of holding the line. After that, the economy will grow and we can grow with it.
Q. What future is there for remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) in the RNZAF?
A. The RNZAF has imagery analysts deployed in Afghanistan with the Royal Australian Air Force RPV operation, so we are gaining experience right at the front end of that operation.
Because of our geography and climate, we should be looking at RPVs of at least Predator size and capability that, for example, can get down to the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic to conduct surveillance.
It is going to be around 2025-2030 [before] we are thinking of augmenting the P-3 with RPVs and integrating them into a full spectrum ISR or ISTAR [intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance] capability for New Zealand.
I am not sure New Zealand will ever be able to afford a [national] Global Hawk-style RPV, but perhaps we could share such a capability with another nation.
Q. What practical regional cooperation exists between the RNZAF and its allies?
A. We share the duties of surveillance in the South Pacific with the Australians, the French and the Americans. We engage in a broad range of exercises and activities throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and the Five Power Defence Arrangements are particularly important to us.
We have cooperative airlift agreements in place with Australia, and now with the U.K. and NATO, where we contribute and offset each other's air transport,making better use of the global capability to our mutual benefit.
Q. How are the RNZAF's Antarctic operations?
A. The RNZAF has been operating in the Antarctic since the 1950s in support of the U.S. and NZ Antarctic research programs. None of our aircraft can get down there, miss the approach and [then] get back to New Zealand.
In the last couple of years, we were launching P-3s from Invercargill, flying 11- to 12-hour sorties with only about an hour on station in the Ross Sea. It was a grossly inefficient way of doing business. Now we refuel our P-3s at the U.S. McMurdo base, which enables us to spend more time on station. We have just cleared our B757 for Antarctica operations; they carry passengers and [thus] free up the U.S. [Antarctic-bound] C-17s to carry more freight. In the future, you'll see bothC-130s and B757s supporting our Antarctic program.
Q. What air power trends and capabilities have caught your eye?
A. I think it comes back to the RPVs and the flexibility and utility of those platforms and their growth in the future. You have already seen a multirole Predator in terms of surveillance and carrying missiles; it can truly do the whole ISTAR mission. I think the extensions and applications of that sort of capability is another exciting dimension for air power.
Cyberwarfare is going to affect us all in the future. It's a national issue. Air forces, armies, navies and other government agencies have to focus on that threat in the future. I think that environment might become more challenging than it is currently.
Q. Do you envisage new roles for the RNZAF?
A. I don't think so. If you take it back to what air power is all about - seeing, transporting and engaging, I think that is what we will continue to do.
How we deliver those capabilities, what hardware, what software, what mix of piloted and remotely piloted aircraft, how we command and control them, how we better integrate into the joint operations arena at all levels - those are the things that will change, other than cyberspace operations, which could overarch everything.
Q. What can the RNZAF usefully demonstrate to other Air Forces?
A. Perhaps people can learn lessons around the multirole, multiskill approach necessary in a small air force, including how we train and employ our people.
New Zealanders just have a natural way of engaging constructively with different cultures. Take our operations in Timor Leste, in the Solomons, in Afghanistan. There is an element of force protection, there is an element of war fighting, but there is also an element of constructive engagement. And whether that is engaging with the coalition or the host nation, we are damn good at it.
Q. What experience of the U.S. military will you take with you to Washington?
A. More than a decade of engagement with the U.S. defense industry, especially with the P-3, C-130 and Seasprite. My practical experience includes flying [U.S. Navy] helicopters in Antarctica, managing the F-16 acquisition project, education with the [U.S. Naval] Postgraduate School and, recently, a very close relationship with the Pacific Air Force HQ in Hawaii. I have worked with U.S. forces in Rwanda, Sinai, Afghanistan and in Kyrgyzstan and have been involved with the intelligence community during my time as head of [RNZAF] Strategic Commitments and Intelligence.
I am very much looking forward to being at the forefront of our relationship development with the U.S. defense and military organization. While we are at different ends of the size spectrum, we share common values, common standards, and our people always engage and operate well together.
By Nick Lee-Frampton in Wellington.
Service profile
Personnel: 3,185, including 2,592 active-duty troops, 185 reservists and 408 civilians.
Aircraft: Six P-3K Orions, five C-130H Hercules, two Boeing 757-200s
Helicopters: 13 UH-1H Iroquois, five Bell-47G Sioux helicopters, five SH-2G Seasprites that deploy with the Royal New Zealand Navy. The Iroquois and Sioux are to be replaced by eight NH90 and eight A109 helicopters over the next couple of years.

Putin Sacks Russia's Space Chief

MOSCOW - Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency Roskosmos, was fired from his post by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on April 29 and replaced by Army Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, the former first deputy defense minister. Popovkin had overseen weapon procurement.
The official reason for relieving Perminov, cited in Putin's order, was that he reached the maximum age of 65 for a state servant in Russia. In the meantime, analysts and industry insiders quoted in the Russian media have predicted Perminov's ouster since December. On Dec. 5, three GLONASS-M satellites failed to reach orbit and fell into the Pacific Ocean after the faulty launch of a Proton-M rocket that carried them.
President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Office of the Prosecutor General to investigate Roskosmos and other space industry companies involved into the Glonass project.
A former chief commander of the Space Forces, Perminov headed Roskosmos since 2004.
Popovkin, 53, headed the Space Forces between 2004 and 2008, when he was appointed as deputy defense minister in charge of weapon procuremen

Finmeccanica: Libyan Rebels Will Honor Contracts

Representatives of Libyan rebels fighting Col. Moammar Gadhafi have told Finmeccanica that they will honor the Italian firm's Libyan contracts should they take over the country, a Finmeccanica official said.
Before civil conflict erupted in Libya in February, Finmeccanica was expecting to see between 250 million and 350 million euros in revenue this year from contracts signed with Gadhafi's government, mainly covering border control systems, government service helicopters and civil transport.
The firm's current backlog of orders from Libya stands at 800 million euros, 80 percent of which is related to transportation contracts, Finmeccanica has said.
"We have met with the interim government, and they have told us all present contracts would be confirmed," said Finmeccanica CFO Alessandro Pansa, referring to the Benghazi-based rebels.
"They are interested in border control and railway systems," he told analysts in a conference call April 28 to coincide with the release of Finmeccanica's first-quarter results.
In the first three months of 2011, Finmeccanica reported a 92 percent decline in net profit to 7 million euros, a fall it attributed to higher finance charges. Revenues dropped 5 percent to 3.86 billion euros.
Pansa said the conflict in Libya would not change Finmeccanica's revenue prediction for 2011 of between 18.3 billion and 19 billion euros.
"We don't expect to suffer much from the defense cuts of the U.S.," he added.

IAF losing edge over PAF

Shiv Aroor and Durga Nandini

The Pakistan Air Force is stronger than ever. Since the last Indo-Pak air war of 1971, the Pakistan Air Force has with steely determination built up numbers, lethal capabilities and a combat force now counted as one of the most disciplined and well-trained air forces in the world. Headlines Today has a disturbing proof that all this has made India worried. A recent presentation by the defence intelligence establishment paints a morbid picture of how the numbers and capability advantage that the Indian Air Force has always found comfort in is rapidly slipping away. Headlines Today has accessed the recent presentation made to the Ministry of Defence. The document makes singularly ominous projections. The most glaring warning is about combat force ratio. The presentation says that the ratio of 1:1.7 is likely to progressively dip to 1:1.2 by the end of 2012. It describes this as a "historic low". It also says that the traditional hi-tech advantage is almost equal now with 9.5:11 squadron ratio.

With Pakistan rapidly acquiring early warning aircraft, mid-air refuellers and long-range missiles, the technology gap is at a historic low. It is a wake-up call to India's military planners. The decisions taken now could forever doom the crucial advantage that the Indian Air Force has always enjoyed against an adversary that can never be underestimated.

A formidable adversary

The last time the air forces of India and Pakistan fought a full-blown war was 40 years ago. But if the Pakistan Air Force of 1971 was an enemy to be reckoned with, circumstances have made it an even more formidable adversary today. The internal assessment by the Indian defence establishment makes some grimly practical projections in the light of an adversary emboldened by an unfettered modernisation spree. The government has been warned that with the Indian Air Force's edge slipping fast, the Pakistan Air Force's assertiveness is likely to increase. Once seen as a primarily defensive force, the Pakistan Air Force will use its new strength to employ offensive and defensive operations in equal measure. With new precision weapons, the Pakistan Air Force will conduct limited strikes to achieve strategic effects. The one thing that won't change - high-value targets in the Indian held Jammu and Kashmir will be high-priority targets for the PAF. There's a deeper threat at play than just fighter numbers. Consider these newly inducted force multipliers that all but kill the Indian air advantage. Pakistan is inducting four Swedish Saab Erieye and four Chinese Y-8 airborne early warning aircraft, while India, currently, has three. India no longer has the mid-air refueller advantage. Pakistan is inducting four identical IL-78M aircraft. The Indian Air Force's UAV advantage is also disappearing. Pakistan is acquiring 25 European UAVs, with more in the pipeline. Despite the ominous projections of the presentation, there are those who believe the Indian Air Force will always remain on top. Among them, Air Marshal Denzil Keelor, one half of the legendary Keelor brothers, who scored independent India's first air-to-air kill against Pakistan in 1965. But for the IAF to remain ahead, and stem the swiftly dwindling capability advantage over Pakistan, it needs to make some hard decisions across-the-board.

Pakistan Successfully tested Cruise Missile, Hatf-VIII ( Hatf 8 )

Rawalpindi - April 29, 2011: Pakistan, today conducted a successful Flight Test of the indigenously developed Air Launched Cruise Missile, Hatf-VIII (Ra’ad). The missile test was conducted as part of the continuous process of improving the technical parameters of the weapon system. The Ra’ad Missile, with a range of over 350 km, has been developed exclusively for launch from Aerial Platforms. This missile system has enabled Pakistan to achieve a greater strategic stand off capability on land and at sea. ‘Cruise Technology’ is extremely complex and has been developed by only a few countries in the world. The state of the art Ra’ad Cruise Missile with Stealth Capabilities is a Low Altitude, Terrain Hugging Missile with high maneuverability, and can deliver nuclear and conventional warheads with great pin point accuracy.

The successful launch has been appreciated by the President, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee who have congratulated the scientists and engineers on their outstanding achievement.