Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Photo of the Day 1st November 2011

"Kill one person, call it murder. Kill thousands call it foreign policy

White House To Unveil Rules for Aircraft Exports

As part of its ongoing export control reform initiative, the Obama administration is preparing to introduce new guidelines for the export of military aircraft, according to government and industry sources.
Proposed new export rules for aircraft and associated equipment should come late this week or early next week, an Obama administration official confirmed. (Pierre Verdy / AFP via Getty Images)
Proposed new export rules for aircraft and associated equipment, which fall under Category VIII of the U.S. Munitions List (USML), should come late this week or early next week, an administration official confirmed.
In July, the White House introduced a rule that outlined how the administration plans to move items off the USML, which is administered by the State Department, and onto the Commerce Control List (CCL), overseen by the Commerce Department.
"Moving militarily less significant parts and components from the USML to the CCL is a major step in implementing the Administration's common sense approach to export controls," William Daley, the White House chief of staff, said in a July 19 statement.
Items on the USML - from aircraft to generic parts and components - are all subject to the same controls. However, the CCL's controls are tailored to what the item is and where it is being exported.
For military aircraft and associated parts, the State Department will publish a more detailed category for what the administration proposes stays in Category VIII on the USML, while the Commerce Department will publish what the administration proposes should move to the Commerce list.
There are 21 categories of items controlled by the USML. In July, the Obama administration released details for the first category - Category VII: tanks and military vehicles - as a test case of sorts to demonstrate how such transfers could take place.
Since July, the government has been accepting feedback from industry and Capitol Hill about how to improve these transfers.
"We received a lot of good, worthwhile feedback from industry and Capitol Hill," Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary for political-military affairs at the State Department, said in a September interview.
"As a result, we're really focusing on what are the things we can do most quickly," he said. "We are engaged in what we call a bright line exercise - of going through the various categories and figuring out which items should go on the CCL and which items belong on the USML as a way to offer guidance to industry about what the requirements are, and eliminate some of the ambiguity and confusion that exists under the current lists."
The new aircraft rules also will have a public comment period, in which the government will accept public feedback.
The State and Commerce departments also have been hard at work on Category XV - spacecraft systems and associated equipment - which includes the thorny issue of commercial satellites.
The 1999 National Defense Authorization Act transferred export-licensing jurisdiction over commercial satellites and related components to the State Department, making them the only items on the USML for which licensing jurisdiction is explicitly mandated by law.
The move was instigated by concerns on Capitol Hill that China had obtained secret U.S. technology through a commercial deal to launch U.S. commercial satellites into space using Chinese rockets.
There has been a growing push to ease restrictions on commercial satellites and to provide some relief to the U.S. space industry, whose ability to compete in the global market has been hampered by U.S. export laws.
According to an industry source, the Obama administration is expected to soon release draft Category XV rules along with the long awaited, congressionally required "1248" report on satellites.

India Cancels Wheeled Howitzer Purchase

NEW DELHI - The Indian Defence Ministry has canceled the tender to purchase 180 wheeled 155mm/52-caliber howitzers, another in a series of setbacks for the long-delayed Army program.
The Indian Army has failed to induct a single 155mm howitzer since 1987.
Defence Ministry sources said the purchase of the wheeled guns is being canceled following complaints to Defence Minister A.K. Antony about technical snags that came to light when a gun from one of the competitors, Konstrukta of Slovakia, burst during trials last year.
Currently Rheinmetall of Germany and Konstrukta are in the race for the $1 billion wheeled gun competition after Samsung of South Korea was eliminated from the procurement process in 2009.
After the howitzer burst during the trials last year, a Defence Ministry committee concluded the guns offered by Rheinmetall and Konstrukta are prototypes that are not in use even in their home countries.
In 2008, the tender for the wheeled guns was sent to the U.K.'s BAE Systems; Slovakia's Konstrukta; France's Nexter; IMI and Soltam of Israel; Samsung of South Korea; United Defense of the U.S.; Rheinmetall of Germany; and Rosoboronexport of Russia.
Only Rheinmetall, Konstrukta and Samsung were shortlisted after the technical evaluations.
The Indian Army requires that the wheeled 155mm/52-caliber guns be able to travel up to 40 kilometers and fire 150 rounds of ammunition in six to eight hours.
The gun should be able to operate day and night and receive data from the command post in digital and audio form.
The howitzer procurement is already delayed by more than 10 years, mainly due to India's blacklisting first of Denel of South Africa and then Singapore Technologies in 2008 because of alleged corruption.
The Army plans to buy 145 ultralight howitzers, 158 towed and wheeled, 100 tracked and 180 wheeled and armored guns in the first phase of its program to upgrade its artillery divisions.
Towed Guns
In May, BAE Systems opted out of the towed howitzer competition because the Indian Army changed requirements in the reissued tender of early 2011.
The Army's 2008 attempt to acquire the towed guns failed when BAE, which had fielded the FH-77B-5 gun, became the sole vendor after the other shortlisted competitor, Singapore Technologies, was blacklisted following allegations of corruption by India's Central Bureau of Investigation. The Army could not make an award if only one bidder qualified.
Light Howitzer
The purchase of light howitzers from BAE's U.S. subsidiary also was delayed when Singapore Technologies went to court and challenged the decision, claiming its gun was superior.
The Indian court has not issued a decision, although the Army strongly favors the immediate purchase of the 147 BAE light howitzers, Army officials said.

Chinese Military Leadership Reshuffle Approaching

TAIPEI - China's military still lags far behind the U.S., but a change in leadership in 2012 could herald a new era for the People's Liberation Army (PLA). That was the conclusion of senior analysts attending a conference on the PLA here this week.
With Hu Jintao expected to be replaced as the CCP secretary general and chairman of the Central Military Commission next year, experts believe a younger, better-educated and more tech-saavy group of leaders will take leadership positions in the PLA. (Kin Cheung-Pool / Getty Images)
The conference, "PLA in the Next Decade," sponsored by the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies and the Institute of Chinese Communist Studies (ICCS), from Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, focused in part on the upcoming 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012 and how the generational change of the top leadership will reshape the PLA.
Vice President Xi Jinping is expected to replace Hu Jintao as the CCP secretary general and chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission (CMC).
"This transition period will also be highlighted by a significant turnover in the composition of the CMC leadership with the majority of the 10-member panel to retire," said Zhang Xiao-ming, a China specialist at the U.S. Air War College.
Xi, who is also the vice chairman of the CMC, is seen as a pragmatist who will "accelerate the cultivation of elite personnel, emphasize basic military training, put forth new direction of cadre's ethics construction, and advance military transformation based on science and technology development," said Fu Li-Wen, a researcher at the ICCS.
Xi is known for his hardline and outspoken style, Fu said. Xi once told an expatriate group of Chinese "compatriots" in Mexico "there are a few foreigners, with full bellies, who have nothing better to do than try to point fingers at our country."
The CMC reshuffle will also mean a turnover of the directorship of the four general departments: General Staff, General Political, General Logistic and General Armament. This will include changes in the deputy directors and other subordinate leaders, Zhang said. The new crop of leaders will also be more tech-savvy with more hands-on experience in the military modernization process, he said.
The next leaders of the CMC will be "younger, better educated and mission capable," said Ji You, a specialist on the Chinese military at the University of New South Wales.
"The overwhelming majority of them have served in combat units and climbed through 'steps,'" he said.
This is also a leadership that rode the wave of a fivefold increase in the defense budget over the past 15 years.
China's booming economy and massive investment in infrastructure is in stark contrast to the U.S. financial crisis and anticipated slashing of the U.S. defense budget, said Jae-ho Hwang, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul, South Korea.
China is the second largest defense spender in the world, said Richard Bitzinger, a defense industry specialist at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang University, Singapore.
China's military expenditures in 2011 totaled nearly $92 billion, "outstripping the United Kingdom, France, Russia and Japan," he said. It most likely has the world's second highest defense research and development budget, believed to be around $6 billion.
"In other words, China simply has more money to throw at its defense development, and this has begun to reap tangible benefits over the past decade," Bitzinger said.
However, predicting the future rise of China's military remains speculative.
"Our record is mixed, largely due to the speed of Chinese development since the early '90s," said Wallace "Chip" Gregson, the former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, who gave the keynote address at the conference.
Factors to consider are "legacy thinking," he said, which is often expressed in doctrine "that necessary evil that allows the orderly functioning of large bureaucracies."
Another factor is the mix of personalities, individuals and leadership, which contribute to a "bewildering array of conditions, events and personalities" that "collide in a profoundly random, human and subjective way to confound mankind's efforts to build a logical, peaceful and ordered world."

Iraq Declines Military Training From Turkey, Iran

BAGHDAD - Iraq has declined offers from Turkey and Iran to train its forces, after the failure of negotiations with the U.S. on a post-2011 training mission, a high-ranking Iraqi official said on Nov. 1.
"Tehran and Ankara offered to train Iraqi forces, but we did not accept either due to the sensitivity of the situation," the official in the prime minister's office told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"We cannot accept one state without another," said the official. "We prefer that the file of training the forces be outside the framework of neighboring countries."
An Oct. 29 statement from the Iraqi presidency said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had offered for his country to help train Iraq's forces, during a meeting with Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Oct. 21 that all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by year's end after failed negotiations with Iraq about a post-2011 U.S. military training mission in the country.
The issue of immunity from prosecution for U.S. trainers was the main sticking point, with Washington insisting its troops be given immunity, while Baghdad said that was not necessary.
The roughly 39,000 U.S. soldiers still in Iraq are now in the process of drawing down, after a nearly nine-year campaign that has left thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi dead and cost billions of dollars.
Although both Iraqi and American officials generally say that Iraqi forces are ready to handle internal security after the U.S. leaves, they admit that there is still much work to be done to improve the capabilities of the Iraqi military.
The Iraqi military's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Babaker Zebari, for instance, was quoted in an Oct. 30 report from a U.S. watchdog as saying the defense ministry of "will be unable to execute the full spectrum of external defence missions until sometime between 2020 and 2024."

U.S. Must Close Air Base: Kyrgyz President-Elect

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - The United States will have to shut down the base it currently uses in Kyrgyzstan for support operations in Afghanistan, the Central Asian republic's president-elect said on Nov. 1.
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev, who was elected president of the strategic nation by an overwhelming majority on Oct. 30, said the United States will have to leave the Manas base after its lease expires in 2014.
"Our country will honor all its international agreements, but we have warned the U.S. embassy that they will have to close the base in 2014," Atambayev told reporters.
The former Soviet republic is the world's only nation to house both a Russian and a U.S. military base, reflecting a recent rivalry between Moscow and Washington in the energy-rich but turbulent region.
Now officially called the Manas Transit Center, the base leased by the United States is located at a civilian airport on the outskirts of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.
NATO has mapped out a strategy to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Atambayev, whose victory may still be challenged by his opponents, said he did not believe such bases provided long-term security for Kyrgyzstan.
"We are ready to create civilian transit centers, but not military bases, with the U.S., Russia or any other interested country," he said.

Turkey Pens Submarine Rescue Ship Contract

ANKARA - Turkey's procurement authorities have signed a contract with a local shipyard for the production of one submarine rescue mother ship (MOSHIP) and two towing vessels (RATSHIP), the first deal of its kind for Turkey's thriving military shipbuilding industry.
The deal was signed Oct. 28 between the country's procurement office, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), and Istanbul Tersanesi, a private shipyard based in Istanbul. SSM and company officials did not reveal the contract price.
Speaking at a ceremony for the contract signing, Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said that although it took three years to conclude negotiations with the shipyard, the government was determined to locally build military platforms needed for modernization programs.
Also speaking at the ceremony, SSM's chief, Murad Bayar, said the Turkish Navy is keen to award its vessel contracts to private (local) shipyards.
Under the contract, Istanbul Tersanesi will deliver the rescue vessels to the Navy within three years. The Turkish MOSHIP will be able to evacuate the crew of a distressed submarine at depths of up to 600 meters, according to company officials.
The proposed vessel is 91 meters long with a beam of 18.5 meters and a draft of 5 meters. Space is provided for 131 personnel, and it has a maximum speed of 18 knots and a range of 4,500 nautical miles at a speed of 14 knots.
The ship also will be able to perform rescue and towing operations for broken-down, wrecked or aground vessels. Equipped with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), diving units and an atmospheric diving suit, the ship can conduct underwater maintenance and wreck-removal operations.
The two planned RATSHIP vessels will be 69 meters long with a beam of 13.5 meters and draught of 4 meters. They will be able to attain the same speed and endurance levels of the MOSHIP and have space for 104 personnel.
The RATSHIPs will be equipped with ROVs and a diving suit for underwater missions, but they also are tasked with towing targets for surface shooting practice.
Company officials say the vessels can pick up the target ship and torpedoes from the sea during torpedo practice. Additional roles will include firefighting, support for submarine rescue operations and offshore towing operations.

Czech Planes Grounded for 3rd Time This Year

PRAGUE - The Czech Army grounded its four CASA C-295M military planes Oct. 31 due to equipment failure, said an army spokesperson, the third time the aircraft have been grounded this year.
The navigation screen and other equipment in a plane Oct. 30 from Seville, Spain, "stopped working during landing," spokesperson Mira Trebicka said in a statement. "One of the two engines then stopped working. Army Gen. Vkastimil Picek has ordered the immediate grounding of all planes, until the inquiry has ended."
The two pilots managed to land with one engine.
In 2010, the Czech Army replaced its obsolete Antonov An-26 fleet, which dated from its communist era, with CASA C-295M planes.
The aircraft were already grounded in February following a severe drop in altitude midflight, and again in May after problems with an avionics system.

Saudi King to Name Salman as Defense Minister: Source

RIYADH - King Abdullah is expected to name his half-brother Prince Salman, who is governor of Riyadh, as the new defense minister to succeed the late Crown Prince Sultan, a Saudi official said Oct. 31.
Saudi Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, seen delivering a speech in India last year, will reportedly be Saudi Arabia's next defense minister. (Raveendran / AFP via Getty Images)
"The monarch will name Prince Salman as a defense minister later on Monday," the source told AFP, requesting anonymity and without giving further details.
King Abdullah last week named Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz as crown prince succeeding his brother Sultan, who died in a U.S. hospital on October 22.
Salman and Nayef are full brothers.