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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:55
Training Plans: The French Air Force wants to replace its existing trainer aircraft with new ones that include embedded simulation, such as the Pilatus PC-21. (Pilatus Aircraft)

Training Plans: The French Air Force wants to replace its existing trainer aircraft with new ones that include embedded simulation, such as the Pilatus PC-21. (Pilatus Aircraft)

Jun. 15, 2013 - By ANDREW CHUTER  - Defense News

 

Training Policy Would Create 2 Tiers of Aviators

 

PARIS — Conflicted by the need to reduce training costs while retaining a cutting edge among its fast jet crews, the French Air Force is preparing to introduce a two-tier pilot readiness policy, and Chief of Staff Gen. Denis Mercier said the service will buy a new fleet of advanced trainer aircraft to make the change work.

 

The second-tier pilots would be used only to sustain operations after air superiority had been achieved by front-line units and only after they had received two or three months of intense training to hone their skills, Mercier said.

 

Under budget pressures outlined in the recent French defense white paper, the Air Force has imposed close to a 20 percent reduction in fighter pilot flight hours.

 

The training budget reductions were part of a package reducing Air Force capabilities in the next six-year budget period, including cuts to fast jets, tankers and possibly A400M transport numbers.

 

Doug Barrie, senior air analyst at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that while he understood the need to respond to budget pressure, he questioned the impact on motivation and readiness.

 

“It’s rather like creating a full-time reserve. Bringing pilots up to the speed required for even sustainment-type operations is asking a lot within two or three months. You also have to query the motivation of these second-tier crews. The Air Force risks regularly losing crews to people like the airlines,” he said.

 

Normally, French fast jet pilots get 180 flying hours a year but budget demands are reducing that to 150 hours. Mercier said that’s not sufficient to keep Air Force crews at the top of their game.

 

Retaining the ability to undertake critical missions within hours, as the Air Force has done recently in Libya and Mali, is a top concern, Mercier told Defense News.

 

“The top-level priority is the activity of the Air Force. We have flying activities that have been reduced by roughly 20 percent and the main objective is within two or three years to restore levels for front-line units to an appropriate point,” he said.

 

The solution, he said, is that by the end of 2016 to create a two-tier system with a “first echelon of pilots who will be highly trained and be at a high state of readiness ... and a second level of pilots that will have less training and will be largely trained on a companion trainer.

 

“Previously, we have trained all of the pilots for the highest end of operations but if we do that now, because of constraints, we will have to considerably decrease the training format. We don’t want to do this so we have to find a new training concept,” Mercier said.

 

“It’s a question of money; we can’t keep training all of the guys at the highest level so we are being pragmatic. It’s an idea we are sharing with our allies in Europe and there is interest in the concept,” he said.

 

“The first cadre of pilots will receive the best training possible and for the others they will not be deployed for initial operations but will be there to sustain operations, having worked up their skills.”

 

Mercier said 50 senior pilots would serve as instructors in the second tier but would be ready to be retrained for front-line duties.

 

Former US Air Force Maj. Gen Richard Perraut, now with Burdeshaw Associates, said the US service was taking a similar route more through default than design.

 

“Based on sequestration and the reduced funding available, that is basically what the USAF is doing now. They’re only flying aircrews getting ready to deploy; those aircrews deployed, and very few otherwise,” Perraut said. “So, for the most part, France and the US Air Force are doing similar actions — prioritizing their available funding and ensuring a ready capability to serve their nation’s security needs.”

 

Mercier said a key requirement is the procurement of a new trainer, in part to allow second-tier pilots the ability to train on a cheaper aircraft than a Rafale or Mirage 2000D. The concept is for a second-tier pilot to spend 40 hours a year in the Rafale and 140 hours on a new trainer.

 

Mercier said he wants to start replacing many of the aging Alpha Jet trainers currently in service with a new aircraft that has embedded simulation to allow it to replicate some of the characteristics of France’s front-line fighters.

 

“We don’t have that capability yet. ... We need to upgrade our systems and replace the Alpha Jet. Without a new aircraft like the PC-21 and Hawk T2, which have embedded simulation, it would be difficult to train the pilots to this new concept,” he said.

 

The Air Force preference is for a turboprop like the PC-21 for cost reasons.

 

Some Alpha Jets will remain in service for basic fast-jet training duties but many of the fleet will start to be pensioned off as the new trainers are delivered.

 

The Direction Generale de l’Armement (DGA), the French Ministry of Defence procurement arm, is already in the early phases of launching a competition.

 

The DGA failed to respond to questions about the competition.

 

An Air Force spokesman said they were looking for an aircraft capable of undertaking basic and advanced training duties.

 

The requirement for a new aircraft has not yet been released but it’s no coincidence that most of the world’s major trainer platform suppliers are showcasing aircraft at the Le Bourget air show that began June 17.

 

BAE Systems’ Hawk T2, Beechcraft with the T-6, the Embraer Super Tucano and Pilatus with the PC-21 are among the trainers trying to catch the eye at the show ahead of a competition formally opening.

 

One top trainer company that won’t have its potential contender in Paris is Alenia Aermacchi with the M-346. Alenia’s aircraft are grounded pending the outcome of an investigation into a crash in April, said a company spokesman.

 

However, the spokesman said the Italian trainer company was “ interested in evaluating any development in French trainer require­ments and we await a precise requirement before making an offer,” an Alenia Aermacchi spokesman said.

 

Mercier said he was more interested in the number of flying hours the aircraft could provide, not in aircraft numbers.

 

Mercier said solutions the Air Force was considering to provide training hours include a straight purchase of the aircraft and a private finance initiative type of arrangement.

 

Aaron Mehta in Washington and Tom Kington in Rome contributed to this report.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:50
Norway's Military Conscription To Be Extended To Women

Jun. 14, 2013 Defense News (AFP)

 

OSLO — Norway will soon become the only country in Europe to extend its military conscription to women in peacetime after parliament reached agreement on the issue Friday.

 

All of the parties represented in parliament, with the exception of the small Christian Democrat party, agreed to back a proposal by the center-left government for a “gender-neutral” military conscription.

 

In practice, that means that Norway’s mandatory one-year military service will be extended to women, probably as of 2015, according to the defense ministry’s proposal.

 

“Norway will be the first European country to draft women in peacetime,” a defense ministry spokesman, Lars Gjemble, said.

 

A number of other European countries have gone in the opposite direction in recent years, moving away from conscription toward professional armies.

 

Norway’s parliament is expected to adopt the bill by a broad majority, but a date has yet to be set for the vote.

 

The move is seen as a step toward gender equality and a bid to diversify the competencies within the military.

 

It is not due to a lack of conscripts: only 8,000 to 10,000 Norwegians are called up each year, among the some 60,000 who are theoretically eligible.

 

The conscripts are selected based on physical and psychological tests, as well as their motivation.

 

“This is a historic day,” said Defense Minister Anne-Grete Stroem-Erichsen.

 

“And it comes the very week when we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote,” she added.

 

Norwegian women have been allowed to do military service on a volunteer basis since 1976. They currently represent about 10 percent of conscripts.

 

Even before the adoption of a “gender-neutral” military service, the defense ministry had set a target of 20 percent women in the armed forces by 2020.

 

Outside of Europe, some countries such as Israel require both men and women to complete their military service.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:45
Mali: nouveau projet d'accord Bamako/rebelles touareg sur la table

15 juin 2013 22h45 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

OUAGADOUGOU - Un nouveau projet d'accord entre le pouvoir malien et les rebelles touareg occupant Kidal, dans le nord du Mali, a été mis au point samedi, dont les deux camps doivent discuter dimanche, a-t-on appris auprès des négociateurs.

 

Les parties vont recevoir le document final ce (samedi) soir et chacun va l'analyser cette nuit, et demain (dimanche) tout le monde se retrouvera pour l'examiner ensemble en plénière, a déclaré à quelques journalistes un responsable militaire international.

 

Il s'exprimait à l'issue d'une réunion d'experts militaires de Bamako et des groupes armés touareg, assistés de militaires du Burkina Faso, de la force africaine au Mali (Misma), de la future mission onusienne (Minusma) et de l'opération française Serval.

 

Lancées le 8 juin par le président burkinabè Blaise Compaoré, médiateur régional, les difficiles négociations de Ouagadougou doivent permettre un retour de l'armée malienne à Kidal dans la perspective de l'élection présidentielle prévue le 28 juillet dans tout le Mali.

 

Les experts militaires, qui ont planché toute la journée sur les modalités du redéploiement de l'armée malienne dans la ville de Kidal, se montraient confiants dans l'issue des discussions.

 

Je pense qu'on pourra parapher le texte demain (dimanche) et le signer lundi, a affirmé la source militaire internationale.

 

Je crois que c'est bon, a confirmé l'un des officiers appartenant à la délégation de Bamako.

 

Bientôt le drapeau malien flottera sur Kidal. Il reste les derniers réglages à faire, avait lancé plus tôt l'ancien ministre Tiébilé Dramé, négociateur principal des autorités maliennes, après une nouvelle rencontre avec les mouvements touareg sous l'égide du chef de la diplomatie burkinabè Djibrill Bassolé, accompagné de diplomates qui l'assistent au nom de la communauté internationale.

 

Ca a l'air d'aller, avait jugé de son côté Pierre Buyoya, le chef de la Misma.

 

Les discussions entre les émissaires du pouvoir malien et la délégation conjointe touareg du Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad (MNLA) et du Haut conseil pour l'unité de l'Azawad (HCUA) ont buté ces derniers jours sur les exigences de Bamako, obligeant à renégocier un premier projet d'accord qui avait été accepté par les rebelles touareg.

 

Les désaccords ont porté principalement sur le calendrier et les modalités du retour de l'armée malienne à Kidal et du cantonnement et du désarmement des combattants touareg.

 

Le régime de Bamako a réclamé que le désarmement des rebelles soit réalisé sitôt les soldats maliens revenus à Kidal. Mais les négociateurs internationaux ont fait valoir que ce n'était pas faisable techniquement et ont proposé de commencer par un cantonnement de ces combattants.

 

Les poursuites judiciaires engagées contre des chefs rebelles par la justice malienne ont été aussi une pomme de discorde: Bamako en a refusé durant la semaine la suspension, malgré les demandes formulées par les médiateurs au nom de la paix.

 

Les mouvements armés touareg se sont installés fin janvier à Kidal à la faveur de l'opération militaire française Serval contre les groupes islamistes armés liés à Al-Qaïda. Les jihadistes avaient pris en 2012 le contrôle du nord du Mali, s'alliant d'abord au MNLA qui avait lancé l'offensive, avant d'évincer ce mouvement dans la région.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:35
Australian Collins-class submarines, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Waller

Australian Collins-class submarines, HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Waller

 

June 14, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: Australian Department of Defence; issued June 14, 2013)

 

Collins Class Submarines Update

 

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Mike Kelly today announced further significant initiatives to both maintain the capability of Australia’s Collins Class submarine fleet and further improve Collins Class maintenance, sustainment and availability.

 

The Collins Class submarine fleet of six submarines is an essential part of Australia’s national security capability.

 

The first Collins Class submarine, HMAS Collins, was commissioned in July 1996. The sixth and last of the Collins Class, HMAS Rankin, was commissioned in March 2003. The Collins Class was designed with a theoretical platform life of 28 years, which provides for an on paper indicative service life for the fleet of 2024 to 2031.

 

A Service Life Evaluation Program was undertaken by Defence in 2012 to identify any issues that would prevent the Collins Class from achieving their indicative service life. The study also considered the possibility of a service life extension for the Collins fleet.

 

The study found there is no single technical issue that would fundamentally prevent the Collins Class submarines from achieving their indicative service life or a service life extension of one operating cycle for the fleet, which is currently around seven years, excluding docking periods. Based on the commissioning dates of the submarines, this provides an indicative service life of the fleet of 2031 to 2038.

 

Combined Pass approval for Collins Obsolescence Management

 

In this context, Ministers Smith and Kelly today announced that the Government has provided Combined Pass approval for the first stage of SEA 1439 Phase 3.1 Collins Obsolescence Management to resolve obsolescence in the Integrated Ship Control Management and Monitoring System in the Collins Class submarine fleet.

 

The Integrated Ship Control Management and Monitoring System was designed in the 1980s to control, manage and monitor essential Collins Class submarine functions such as manoeuvring, power and life-support.

 

It is a highly automated computerised system which enables the crew of the Collins Class to control, monitor and manage the large number of diverse and complex systems on board the submarines.

 

The Integrated Ship Control Management and Monitoring System has performed effectively and reliably since the Collins class entered service in the 1990s. However, it is essential to ensure the system can be maintained for the remaining indicative extended service life of the Collins Class fleet.

 

The Government has approved ASC Pty Ltd to work with Saab Systems in the first instance to engineer replacements for obsolescent system components and update and test the system in on-shore test facilities and subsequently one Collins Class submarine.

 

This first stage work is valued at around $65 million and will be conducted at ASC Pty Ltd in Adelaide in South Australia.

 

The Government has also given approval for Defence to plan for the second stage of the project to update the system in the remaining five Collins Class submarines once installation and testing in the first submarine has been completed. Government consideration of the second stage is scheduled for 2017.

 

Major reform to the maintenance of Collins Class Submarines: Implementation of Coles Review Full Cycle Docking Period to Two Years

 

Ministers Smith and Kelly today also announced a major reform in the maintenance of the Collins Class submarine fleet, to improve submarine availability across the fleet of six submarines by reducing the planned full cycle docking period for each submarine from three years to two years.

 

This reform is part of the extensive transformation program being implemented in the Collins Class submarine fleet maintenance and sustainment following the Study into the Business of Sustaining Australia’s Strategic Collins Class Submarine Capability, led by Mr John Coles (the Coles Review).

 

Implementation of the Coles Review recommendations will improve Collins Class availability through a variety of mechanisms including the delivery of more efficient logistic support arrangements, implementation of performance based maintenance contracts with defence industry, and development of a revised approach to the programming of planned maintenance and usage.

 

A key recommendation of the Coles Review was that a reduction in the duration of planned maintenance for the Collins class would make the largest single contribution to a higher level of submarine availability.

 

Under the current Collins maintenance cycle, each submarine operates in-service for eight years (including intermediate dockings) followed by a planned three year full cycle docking. The in-service period is punctuated by shorter intermediate duration dockings and maintenance periods alongside.

 

This means that two submarines are in full cycle docking at any one time, with, in general terms, one and sometimes two in shorter dockings and maintenance. This means Defence can currently plan on having two and sometimes three submarines available to the Fleet Commander for tasking at any one time.

 

The Coles Review proposed transition to a ‘single stream full cycle docking’ involving 10 years of in-service operation followed by a two year full cycle docking.

 

While the new in-service 10-year period will include longer intermediate docking periods to account for the reduction in full cycle docking duration, the result would be a consistently higher level of availability overall, extending the duration of operational periods.

 

Over the long term, the ‘single stream full cycle docking’ means that Defence can plan on having three and sometimes four submarines available to the Fleet Commander for tasking at any one time from 2016-17.

 

ASC has proposed an immediate transition beginning with HMAS Farncomb in mid-2014. ASC has assessed that the immediate transition proposal lowers the risks associated with the progressive transition suggested by the Coles Review, particularly risks related to funding requirements, the time required to re-allocate labour, workscope adjustments, and managing the overall program to deliver availability. The Government has agreed to ASC’s recommendation.

 

Under the immediate transition, HMAS Collins, which is currently undergoing pre-full cycle docking preparation in Adelaide, will remain in Adelaide until completing full cycle docking in mid-2018. During this period, all pre-full cycle docking preparation on HMAS Collins, including remediation of a class-wide main motor defect, will be completed. HMAS Collins will commence her two-year full cycle docking in 2016.

 

Defence will closely monitor ASC’s implementation of the new full cycle docking maintenance regime and provide regular reports to Government through the Minister for Defence and Minister for Finance.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:20
NSA Chief Urges Public Debate of Surveillance

June 14, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: US Department of Defense; issued June 13, 2013)

 

NSA Chief Urges Public Debate of Terrorist Surveillance

 

WASHINGTON --- Now that the existence of classified National Security Agency data-gathering efforts have been leaked to the public, the head of U.S. Cyber Command and NSA said yesterday he wants the public to understand the programs “so they can see what we’re doing and what the results of it are.”

 

Among the results, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander told the full Senate Appropriations Committee, is the disruption or contributions to the disruption in the United States and abroad of “dozens of terrorist events.”

 

Alexander testified along with interagency partners from the Homeland Security Department, the FBI and the National Institute of Standards and Technology during a hearing that U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the committee chair, convened to discuss preparing for and responding to the enduring cyber threat.

 

But several senators -- given their first chance to question Alexander since NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information to newspapers June 6 about classified surveillance practices -- abruptly asked about the leaks and about legislation authorizing the practices.

 

In his leaks to the media, Snowden described two NSA surveillance programs authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Congress created in 2008. Section 702 of FISA authorizes access to records and other items of foreign targets located outside the United States under court oversight.

 

Section 215 of the Patriot Act broadened FISA to allow the FBI director or another high-ranking official there to apply for orders to produce telephone records, books and other materials to help with terrorism investigations.

 

Revelations about the programs have launched a debate nationwide about privacy, because Section 215 allows NSA to collect something called metadata -- information about call length and connections -- for phone calls that occur inside the United States and between the United States and other countries.

 

“These authorities complement each other in helping us identify different terrorist actions and … disrupt them,” Alexander told the senators. “If you want to get the content [of the phone calls], you'd have to get a court order. In any of these programs … we [need] court orders for doing that, with oversight by Congress, by the courts and by the administration.”

 

Some of the senators asked for details about terrorism cases that the NSA surveillance programs have helped, and Alexander named a few but said he intended to bring a classified list of them to today’s closed session of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

 

But Alexander said he also wanted to provide an unclassified version -- if he could make that happen, he said -- this week that could be released to the public.

 

“I think this is an area where we have to give [Congress and the American people] the details. They need to understand it so they can see what we're doing and what the results of it are,” he added.

 

“We all had this concern coming out of 9/11 -- how are we going to protect the nation,” the general said, “because we did get intercepts on [Khalid Muhammad Abdallah al-Mihdhar], but we didn't know where he was. We didn't have the data collected to know that he was a bad person.”

 

Mihdhar was one of five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77 who flew that aircraft into the Pentagon as part of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

 

“Because he was in the United States,” Alexander continued, “the way we treated it [then] is that he's a U.S. person, so we had no information on him. If we didn't collect that [information] ahead of time, we couldn't make those connections.”

 

Now through its surveillance programs, the NSA creates a set of telephone metadata from all over the United States, and only under specific circumstances can officials query the data, he said.

 

“And every time we do, it's auditable by the [congressional] committees, by the Justice Department, by the court and by the administration,” Alexander said. “We get oversight from everybody on this.”

 

The collection of U.S. telephone metadata is one of the elements that should be debated nationally, Alexander said, but he described why it was helpful in terrorism cases to do so.

 

“Let's take Mihdhar,” he said. “[Congress] had authorized us to get Mihdhar's phones in California, but Mihdhar was talking to the other four teams [in other parts of the country].

 

“Today, under the business-record FISA, because we had stored that data in the database, we now have what we call reasonable, articulable suspicion. We could take that [phone] number and go backwards in time and see who he was talking to,” the general continued. “And if we saw there were four other groups, we wouldn't know who those people were -- we'd only get the numbers. We'd say, ‘This looks of interest,’ and pass it to the FBI. We don't look at U.S. identities. We only look at the connections.”

 

Alexander said he would like to see a nationwide debate on such topics for a couple of reasons.

 

“I think what we're doing to protect American citizens here is the right thing,” he said. “Our agency takes great pride in protecting this nation and our civil liberties and privacy, and doing it in partnership with this committee, with this Congress, and with the courts. We aren't trying to hide it. We're trying to protect America, so we need your help in doing that. This isn't something that's just NSA or the administration. … This is what our nation expects our government to do for us.”

 

Alexander said he’s not the only official involved in getting information declassified, but added, that if he can make it happen, he will.

 

“I do think what we're doing does protect American civil liberties and privacy,” he told the Senate panel. “The issue is [that] to date, we've not been able to explain it, because it's classified, so that issue is something we're wrestling with.”

 

“How do we explain this and still keep the nation secure?” he asked. “That's the issue that we have in front of us.”

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:20
Sikorsky Wins $245M Order for Additional Black Hawks

June 14, 2013 defense-aerospace.com

(Source: US Department of Defense; issued June 13, 2013)

 

Pentagon Contract Announcement

 

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., was awarded a $244,863,014 modification (P00077), to a previously awarded, firm-fixed-price, multi-year contract (W58RGZ-12-C-0008), for the procurement of UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters.

 

Fiscal 2013 procurement funds are being obligated on this award.

 

The Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:20
Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Abraham Lincoln

Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Abraham Lincoln

Jun. 13, 2013 - By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS   - Defense News

 

WASHINGTON — An amendment to reduce the statutory requirement that the US Navy keep 11 aircraft carriers in service was defeated June 13, first by voice vote and then by a recorded vote of 318-106.

 

Offered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oreg., and co-sponsored by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., the amendment would lower the requirement to ten aircraft carriers.

 

Blumenauer, during the floor debate, explained the amendment would not limit the Navy to 10 carriers, but would rather give the service the ability to decide how many flattops would be active, not Congress.

 

“The Navy is going to have 11 carriers when the one under construction goes into operation. Nothing in this amendment denies them that,” Blumenauer said, referring to the carrier Gerald R. Ford, expected to be delivered in 2016.

 

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) super structure

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) super structure

“The amendment says that subsequently, going out 20, 30 years, the decision about the minimum level will be left to the Navy, not the Congress,” Blumenauer added.

 

The requirement to meet a set level, Blumenauer, “is a symbol of Congress micromanaging, substituting their judgment for the command structure.

 

“It’s important for us to express our confidence in them,” Blumenauer concluded.

 

Mulvaney concurred. “All we’re doing is giving the Navy more control over how many carriers the Navy has,” he said. “The amendment has no impact on national defense.”

 

But opponents, including Reps. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., and Randy Forbes, R-Va., reacted as though the amendment would limit both the number of carriers in service and Congress’ ability to decide that number.

 

“One of the things that unites Democrats and Republicans is that the Constitution mandates Congress to build strong navies. It mandates us and we will not walk away from that mandate,” declared Forbes.

 

Forbes and Courtney noted that Congress and the Navy agree on an 11-ship carrier force.

 

“Every [Quadrennial Defense Review] since 2011 says we need 11 carriers,” said Forbes.

 

“Strategy should drive decisions in Congress,” said Courtney. “The Navy has spoken with a report which clearly articulated an 11-carrier force.”

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 21:20
CV 22 Osprey photo USAF

CV 22 Osprey photo USAF

Jun. 13, 2013 - By BARBARA OPALL-ROME – Defense News

 

Hopes to Repay With Future Military Aid

 

TEL AVIV — Israel’s Defense Ministry is asking the US government to guarantee billions of dollars in low-interest bridge loans for a Pentagon-proposed package of V-22 Ospreys, F-15 radars and precision-strike weaponry that it ultimately intends to fund with future military aid from the US.

 

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, when visiting here in April, announced that Washington “would make available to Israel a set of advanced new military capabilities” to augment Israel’s qualitative military edge.

 

At the time, Israeli defense and industry sources criticized the premature publicity generated by the Pentagon-proposed package, insisting negotiations on cost, quantities, payment terms and delivery schedules had not yet begun.

 

But in the past two months, MoD efforts to secure a US-backed loan for eventually US-funded systems on offer have intensified, with preliminary responses from relevant authorities in Washington expected later this summer, sources from both countries said.

 

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon aimed to advance the issue in meetings with lawmakers and Jewish leaders on Capitol Hill on Thursday. On Friday, Ya’alon is scheduled to fly to the Pentagon aboard an Osprey, where he will be greeted by Hagel ahead of their talks.

 

Under the novel, Israeli-proposed funding plan, US government guarantees would allow MoD to initiate near-term contracts for advanced, Pentagon-offered weaponry with cut-rate cash from commercial banks. Israel would pay only interest and servicing fees on the government-backed loan, with principle repaid from a new, 10-year military aid package that President Barack Obama — during a visit here in March — promised to conclude before the current bilateral aid agreement expires in 2018.

 

Israel is slated to receive $3.1 billion in annual Foreign Military Financing (FMF) grant aid through 2017, minus some $155 million in rescissions due to US government-mandated sequester. Those funds, sources from both countries say, have already been tapped to cover payments on existing contracts for Israel’s first squadron of F-35I joint strike fighters, heavy armored carriers, trainer aircraft engines, transport planes and a host of US weaponry.

 

“Basically, they’re talking about the US government assuming the risk of billions of dollars in loans to be repaid by the US government with FMF promised in the out years,” a US source said.

 

In a Wednesday interview, the US source characterized discussions as “very preliminary” and said he had not yet heard a definitive figure for the amount of government-backed loans sought by Israel.

 

A second US official added: “There are a lot of creative options on how to fund these advanced platforms.”

 

$5 Billion or More

 

Several current and former Israeli officials, all of whom asked not to be named, estimated MOD’s official request, once submitted, could well exceed $5 billion if the Pentagon agreed to include a second squadron of F-35Is in the prospective funding plan.

 

The pending request for bridge funding would likely include $1 billion for up to eight V-22 tilt-rotors; $500 million to retrofit active electronically scanned array radars into F-15I fighters and another $1 billion for a variety of air-to-ground weapons. A second squadron of F-35Is — if approved for inclusion in the package — would boost requested funding by nearly $3 billion, sources here said.

 

At this point, Israeli government and industry sources said MoD and the Israel Air Force are still mulling Hagel’s offer to include aerial refueling tankers as part of the security assistance package.

 

In a Wednesday interview, a Defense Department source said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office would have to score the Israeli-requested loan to determine the servicing fees that Israel would pay in addition to interest and FMF-funded principle.

 

Aside from the Pentagon, he said the State Department, Treasury, National Security Staff and congressional leaders would be involved in the review process and that the requested US-backed loan would have to be approved by Congress.

 

Danny Ayalon, a former deputy foreign minister and ambassador to Washington who was involved in earlier bilateral negotiations on loan guarantees and security assistance agreements, noted that Israel retains more than $3 billion in unused guarantees as a result of an October 2012 agreement with the US Treasury. That agreement gave Israel four more years to use the remainder of the $9 billion in Washington-backed loans granted in 2003 and set to expire later this year, provided they are used to promote economic growth.

 

“The remaining $3 billion-plus in US guarantees cannot be applied to investments in military hardware. But it’s my understanding that they could be converted to the kind of US-backed loans you’re talking about, if our good friends in Washington decide that’s what they want to do,” Ayalon told Defense News.

 

No Strings, But Expectations

 

In interviews here and in Washington, US officials were loath to link the pending response to Israel’s irregular financing request to Jerusalem’s readiness to resume long-stalled Palestinian peace talks. All underscored Washington’s unconditional commitment to Israel’s security.

 

Nevertheless, a senior US source noted that the unprecedented uptick in security support from the Obama White House was part of larger confidence-building efforts aimed at “encouraging the Israeli government to take those risky, yet necessary steps toward peace.”

 

The senior source referred to Obama’s March 20 press conference in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the US president said, “I actually believe that Israel’s security will be enhanced with a resolution to this [Israel-Palestinian peace] issue.”

 

When asked if US strings would be attached to the multibillion-dollar funding package under review, the source replied: “It’s not a matter of quid pro quo. There won’t be strings, but there are expectations.”

 

Disavowing Israel's Deputy Defense Minister

 

Bilateral discussion on US-backed loans and up to $37 billion in addition FMF aid through 2028 comes at a time of intensified shuttle diplomacy by US Secretary of State John Kerry, aimed at bringing Israel and the Palestine Authority back to the negotiating table.

 

It also comes at a time of political posturing within Netanyahu’s right-of-center Likud Party and of early signs of the fierce ideological divides threatening the staying power of Israel’s barely three-month-old coalition government.

 

In the run-up to this week’s meetings in Washington, aides to Ya’alon and Netanyahu took pains to disavow untimely and embarrassing comments by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, an adamant opponent of the two-state solution championed by the White House and an overwhelming majority of the international community.

 

In a interview with the online Times of Israel, Ya’alon’s deputy insisted the Netanyahu government — despite the prime minister’s stated, personal support for “two states for two peoples” — would block any peace deal that would result in an independent Palestinian state.

 

Aggravating the faux pas, Danon suggested that Netanyahu was duping Washington and the international community with his ostensible support for resumed peace talks, since “he knows that Israel will not arrive at an agreement with the Palestinians in the near future.”

 

An MoD aide told Defense News that Danon’s remarks were politically motivated to advance himself within the Likud Party, and that they do not represent Ya’alon or Netanyahu — both Likud Party members — or the government of Israel. Similarly, a statement attributed to officials in the prime minister’s office rebuffed Danon’s remarks, insisting, “The Netanyahu government is interested in renewing diplomatic negotiations without preconditions.”

 

A spokesman for Danon said the deputy defense minister’s remarks reflected his well-known opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state and would not jeopardize his ability to carry out his duties at the Israel MoD

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 20:45
Officers of EUTM Mali honored

 

 

15 juin 2013 eutmmali.eu

 

On Friday 14th June, seven officers of the mission EUTM Mali were appointed ​​Knights of the National Order of Mali by General Yamoussa CAMARA, Minister of Defense and Veterans Combatants of Mali (MINDAC). They are Colonel (FR) ROUÉ, Colonel (FR) PACZKA, Colonel (RO) BURCA, Lieutenant-Colonel (GB) MELVILLE, Lieutenant-Colonel (SP) Juan BOTE Paz, Lieutenant-Colonel (FR) MICLOT and Major (GB) EGAN. They were decorated at the site of the Ministry in Bamako. In addition, Colonel (FR) HELUIN, Lieutenant-Colonel (FR) IANNI, Lieutenant-Colonel (FR) AUBRY, Lieutenant-Colonel (FR) RIBIERRE and Major (GER) SERR not present as having completed their mission have also been made knights of the National Order of Mali.

 

« The results achieved at the end of the first session of training are very encouraging and offer a good prediction for the future development of the program because it has to be with the best preparation of our defense tools to cope with the security contingencies of the moment and also to build a republican army. The Training Mission of the European Union is included within the strategy of helping Mali to implement its structures, to improve its forces and their equipment in order to allow us to be fully able to contribute to our own security in all of its dimensions » declared Minister Yamoussa CAMARA in his speech.

 

Des officiers d’EUTM Mali mis à l’honneur

 

Vendredi 14 juin, sept officiers de la mission de la mission EUTM Mali ont été faits chevaliers de l’Ordre National du Mali par le général Yamoussa CAMARA, Ministre de la Défense et des Anciens Combattants du Mali (MINDAC). Le colonel (FR) ROUÉ, le colonel (FR) PACZKA, le colonel (RO) BURCA, le lieutenant-colonel (GB) MELVILLE, le lieutenant-colonel (ES) BOTE, le lieutenant-colonel (FR) MICLOT et le commandant (GB) EGAN ont été décorés dans l’enceinte du Ministère à Bamako. En outre, le colonel (FR) HELUIN, le lieutenant-colonel (FR) IANNI, le lieutenant-colonel (FR) AUBRY, le lieutenant-colonel (FR) RIBIERRE et le commandant (GER) SERR, non présents car ayant achevé leur mission,  ont également été faits chevaliers de l’Ordre National du Mali.

 

« Les résultats atteints au terme de cette première session de formation sont très encourageants et augurent bien de la suite dans le déroulement du programme. Car il s’agit pour nous de mieux préparer notre outil de défenses à faire face aux contingences sécuritaires du moment et aussi de construire une armée républicaine. La Mission de formation de l’Union européenne s’inscrit dans la logique d’aider le Mali à mieux structurer, mieux préparer ses forces, mieux les équiper à terme afin qu’elles puissent contribuer pleinement à la sécurité dans toutes ses dimensions», a déclaré le Ministre Yamoussa CAMARA dans son allocution.

 

 

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 17:55

8 juin 2013 AFP

Le Monge, deuxième plus grand navire de la Marine Française après le porte-avions Charles de Gaulle, est arrivé vendredi 7 juin à Rouen pour sa première participation à l'Armada

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 17:50
Statement by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the US statement on Syrian Chemical Weapons Use

Brussels, 14 June 2013 EUROPEAN UNION -  A 320/13

 

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission issued the following statement today:

 

"I saw with great concern the statement released on 13 June by the White House. This presents new indications by the US intelligence services that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against opposition forces in Syria. This assessment, combined with others that have been circulated, makes even more urgent our repeated calls for an agreement to immediately deploy a UN verification mission to investigate these allegations on the ground.

 

At the same time, these developments can only reinforce the importance of a political solution and should accelerate the efforts of the international community to find a definitive political solution to the conflict. It is urgent to advance the political process, starting with the convening of the planned peace conference on Syria. The EU will contribute to its success in every possible way.

 

The next Foreign Affairs Council will examine the overall situation and recent developments in Syria, of which the alleged chemical attacks are an important factor."

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A Spitfire from the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is pictured with a 3 Squadron RAF Typhoon aircraft in formation over Lincolnshire (library image) [Picture: Sergeant Pete Mobbs RAF, Crown copyright]

A Spitfire from the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is pictured with a 3 Squadron RAF Typhoon aircraft in formation over Lincolnshire (library image) [Picture: Sergeant Pete Mobbs RAF, Crown copyright]

14 June 2013 Ministry of Defence

 

The Red Arrows will lead a display of military aircraft past and present in the skies over Nottingham on 29 June.

 

Performing in their 49th display season, the world famous RAF Aerobatic Team will kick off celebrations to mark the fifth Armed Forces Day national event.

As the main Armed Forces Day parade marches through Nottingham city centre, the Red Arrows will fly the formation shape ‘Lancaster’; named after the iconic aircraft flown by 617 Squadron during the daring Dambusters raid 70 years ago.

Red Arrows fly in the formation shape 'Lancaster'
Red Arrows fly in the formation shape 'Lancaster' (library image) [Picture: Crown copyright]

Current and historic craft from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force will fly over both the city centre, where the Armed Forces Day parade and drumhead service will take place, and over Victoria Embankment, where a whole day of entertainment and activities are being planned.

Throughout the afternoon visitors will get the chance to see a variety of aircraft in the skies, including the famous Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane and Dakota of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. From the Royal Navy Historic Flight there will be 2 Second World War aircraft, a Sea Fury and Swordfish. Representing today’s air power, RAF Typhoons and a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter, will contribute to a spectacular air show.

Rapid roping from a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter
Rapid roping from a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter (llibrary image) [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Stuart Hill, Crown copyright]

In addition, during the afternoon’s celebrations, members of the RAF Falcons parachute display team will parachute onto Victoria Embankment, mounting a colourful aerial display for which they are famous.

The Red Arrows ‘Red 1’ and team leader for the flypast, Squadron Leader Jim Turner, said:

Displaying in Nottingham on Armed Forces Day is both an honour and a pleasure for the team who are first and foremost Servicemen, all of whom have flown in operational combat tours overseas.

RAF Falcons parachute display team in action
Members of the RAF Falcons parachute display team in action (library image) [Picture: Dave Bishop, Crown copyright]

Councillor Dave Trimble, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council added:

Nottingham is incredibly proud to host the 2013 national Armed Forces Day celebrations. Visitors will be wowed by special appearances from some very famous aircraft.

The air show is part of a spectacular programme of events and activities we’ve got planned, we hope to see people of all ages enjoying this unmissable event.

Royal Navy Historic Flight Swordfish aircraft
Royal Navy Historic Flight Swordfish aircraft in flight (library image) [Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Abbie Herron, Crown copyright]
For further information on Armed Forces Day Nottingham, and the Armed Forces Day national campaign, please visit www.armedforcesday.org.uk or the Armed Forces Day page of My Nottingham website.
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Syria Rebels source globservateur.blogs.ouest-france.fr

Syria Rebels source globservateur.blogs.ouest-france.fr

14 juin 2013 Guysen News International,

 

La présence de centaines de combattants européens dans les rangs des insurgés provoque de grandes inquiétudes à Paris. Dans l’équation déjà passablement compliquée de la crise syrienne, un acteur essentiel et très préoccupant est venu encore complexifier la donne : les services spécialisés estiment à environ 270 le nombre de Français qui se battent aux côtés des insurgés. Au total, entre 1 500 et 2 000 Européens ont rejoint les rangs de l’opposition armée au régime de Bachar el-Assad. Problème aggravant : ce sont surtout les groupes islamistes radicaux qui recrutent et, par conséquent, bénéficient de ce renfort.

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Plus de 70 officiers de l'armée syrienne ont fait défection en Turquie

15 juin 2013 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

ANKARA - Plus de 70 officiers, dont 6 généraux et 22 colonels, ont déserté les rangs de l'armée fidèle au président syrien Bachar al-Assad au cours des dernières trente-six heures pour rejoindre la Turquie voisine, a-t-on appris samedi de source officielle turque.

 

Cette vague de défection, d'une ampleur inédite depuis plusieurs mois, intervient après la décision jeudi des Etats-Unis de livrer une aide militaire, dont la forme n'a pas encore été précisée, aux rebelles syriens.

 

Les pays occidentaux, soutiens de l'opposition au président syrien Bachar al-Assad, se sont jusque-là refusés à franchir le pas de la livraison d'armes aux combattants rebelles par crainte de les voir tomber entre les mains de ses éléments islamistes les plus radicaux.

 

Mais la récente avancée militaire des forces de Damas, appuyées par le mouvement chiite libanais du Hezbollah, les a contraints à réétudier dans l'urgence cette possibilité.

 

Des représentants des pays qui soutiennent l'opposition syrienne ont rencontré vendredi et samedi à Istanbul son chef militaire le plus important, le général Selim Idriss, pour évoquer de possibles livraisons d'armes à la rébellion.

 

Des dizaines d'officiers supérieurs syriens ont fait défection en Turquie depuis le début de la rébellion en Syrie au printemps 2011. Beaucoup ont rejoint les rangs de la rébellion au sein de l'Armée syrienne libre (ASL).

 

La Turquie accueille quelque 400.000 réfugiés syriens ayant fui les combats dans leur pays, qui ont fait plus de 93.000 morts selon l'ONU.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:55
Missions et opérations de la Légion

14 juin 2013 Ainsi va le monde ! (source Képi Blanc).

 

Des  légionnaires sont actuellement déployés dans le monde que ce soit en opérations (Serval, FINUL) ou en missions de protection et de prévention.

 

Ainsi, au Mali sont engagés deux escadrons du 1er REC, une section renseignement et intervention offensive (SRIO) du 2ème REG, 3 compagnies du 2ème REI (2) et du 1er REG (1). Ce dernier régiment est aussi présent au Liban (au travers d’un élément de déminage) au sein de la Force intérimaire des nations unies. Il a également fourni une section aux Emirats arabes unis dans le cadre d’une mission de prévention (avec une compagnie du 2ème REI). Il est engagé également en Guyane où deux compagnies participent, avec une section du 2ème REG, aux opérations Titan et Harpie. Une compagnie du régiment de Laudun-l’Ardoise (Gard) appuie la force Licorne en Côte-d’Ivoire (où se trouve un escadron du 1er REC) enfin, une section de déconstruction assure une présence à Mururoa (Polynésie). En outre, un détachement d’instruction fourni par le 2ème REP poursuit une  mission d’instruction au Sénégal

Missions et opérations de la Légion
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le-premier-vol-du-demonstrateur-neuron - Rafale photo Dassault Aviation 01.12.2012

le-premier-vol-du-demonstrateur-neuron - Rafale photo Dassault Aviation 01.12.2012

14.06.2013 Helen Chachaty - journal-aviation.com

 

Dassault Aviation présentera un Falcon 7X, un Falcon 900LX et un Falcon 2000S sur le statique du Salon du Bourget 2013, accompagnés d’un Rafale C et d’un Rafale M. Un Rafale de l’armée de l’air et un Falcon 7X seront programmés pour les démonstrations en vol.

 

Mais la star du statique devrait être le démonstrateur de drone de combat nEUROn, qui sera exposé « sous une bulle protectrice », a annoncé ce matin le PDG de l’avionneur, Eric Trappier. Il revient ainsi sur ses déclarations du 14 mars dernier, lors de la présentation des résultats annuels. Eric Trappier avait alors laissé entendre que le nEUROn serait absent du Salon du Bourget pour des raisons de calendrier. Il avait également invoqué une certaine réserve quant à l’exposition « au regard précis de [nos] concurrents » sur ce drone qui préfigure l’aviation de combat du futur.

 

Salon du Bourget : un nEUROn, des Rafale et des Falcon pour Dassault

Le prototype avait effectué son vol inaugural le 1er décembre 2012. Développé dans un partenariat européen regroupant la France (Dassault Aviation, le maître d’œuvre), l’Espagne (EADS-CASA), la Grèce (HAI), l’Italie (Alenia Aermacchi), la Suède (Saab) et la Suisse (RUAG), l’UCAV avait jusque là uniquement présenté sous forme de maquette.

 

Du côté des maquettes justement, Dassault présentera notamment des Rafale (C, B, M), un Mirage 2000-5, un Falcon 2000MRA, un ATL2, un Alphajet, le nEUROn, le Voltigeur, ainsi qu’une maquette d’UCAS franco-britannique. Pour le civil, ce sont les Falcon 7X, 900LX, 2000LXS et 2000S qui seront exposés, ainsi que le S3, destiné à la mise en orbite de petits satellites.

 

En revanche, aucune nouvelle du côté du SMS, Eric Trappier ayant à nouveau rappelé que les annonces concernant le futur jet d’affaires se feront lors du prochain salon NBAA de Las Vegas en octobre prochain.

 

 

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:50
Le service militaire bientôt étendu aux femmes en Norvège

15.06.2013 par P. CHAPLEAU Lignes de Défense

 

Au nom de l'égalité des sexes et pour diversifier les compétences au sein de son armée, la Norvège va bientôt étendre le service militaire obligatoire aux femmes en temps de paix, conformément à une décision du Parlement norvégien prise vendredi.

 

Tous les partis, à l'exception du petit parti démocrate-chrétien (KrF), se sont rangés en commission parlementaire derrière une proposition du gouvernement de centre-gauche pour instaurer une conscription militaire "sexuellement neutre". Dans la pratique, cela signifie que le service militaire obligatoire sera étendu aux femmes, vraisemblablement dès 2015 comme le projette actuellement le ministère de la Défense.

 

Les Norvégiennes peuvent déjà, depuis 1976, faire leur service sur une base volontaire et elles représentent aujourd'hui environ 10% des conscrits. Avant même l'adoption du service "sexuellement neutre", le ministère s'était fixé pour objectif d'avoir 20% de femmes dans les rangs de l'armée d'ici à 2020.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:35
Philip Hammond receives a briefing on the redeployment of equipment

Philip Hammond receives a briefing on the redeployment of equipment

15 June 2013    Ministry of Defence

 

The headquarters of British forces deployed in Afghanistan is set to move from Lashkar Gah to Camp Bastion this summer.

 

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond made the announcement whilst on a visit to Afghanistan, where he has met with the Afghan Prime Minister and Defence Minister, and members of the UK Armed Forces deployed in the country.

Task Force Helmand has been based in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, since 2006, and the relocation is in line with the drawdown and redeployment of UK forces as the Afghan forces prepare to take the operational lead.

Camp Bastion is located next to the Afghan National Army Camp Shorabak. The move will allow the British and Afghan headquarters to work closely together during the final stages of transition which will see Afghan forces leading 100 per cent of all security operations across all of the Afghan population by the end of the summer.

Read more about the government’s policy to Establish Security in Afghanistan

 Philip Hammond visits troops in Afghanistan
Philip Hammond visits troops in Afghanistan [All pictures: Cpl Si Longworth, Crown copyright]

Mr Hammond said:

British forces have a proud history of service in Afghanistan and much of the hard work and effort has been planned from the Task Force Helmand Headquarters at Lashkar Gah.

The success of Afghan forces in the areas in which we operate has been driving our ability to hand over security responsibility, which has seen a significant reduction in British bases from 137 three years ago to 13 now.

The Brigade Headquarters at Lashkar Gah will soon relocate to Camp Bastion as we continue to draw down our forces and redeploy our equipment and vehicles. This move will also allow our military commanders to liaise better with their opposite numbers in the Afghan National Army.

Brigadier Rupert Jones, Commander Task Force Helmand, said:

The position of the Headquarters in Lashkar Gah has been vital to the achievements of successive Task Forces based here. It has allowed me and my predecessors to work closely with key Afghan officials, such as the Provincial Governor, and to train and advise our Afghan security partners, including the Afghan National Police.

Now, as the Afghan security forces take the lead and we lift off from training and advising at lower levels, it is appropriate that we relocate the Task Force Headquarters to Camp Bastion, next to the Headquarters of the Afghan National Army at Camp Shorabak. This will allow even closer co-operation at the brigade level, where our focus now lies.

Philip Hammond meets Afghan Brigadier General Sherin Shah
Philip Hammond meets The Commander of the Afghan Army's 3/215 Brigade, Brigadier General Sherin Shah.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was briefed on the Headquarters move during a visit to troops serving in Helmand province, which came after meetings with President Karzai and other Afghan ministers in Kabul.

In Helmand, the Defence Secretary received an update on the progress of the redeployment of British vehicles, equipment and material from Afghanistan while at Camp Bastion, including the work to prepare the Merlin helicopters for redeployment to the UK.

The Merlin helicopters are the first major equipment to be redeployed from theatre and recently finished operations.

Mr Hammond said:

I was encouraged to see the redeployment of British equipment and vehicles is progressing well, and is actually ahead of schedule.

The Merlin helicopters and crews have served ably in Afghanistan but, as our role has changed significantly in recent months, returning the Merlin fleet now is a key element of our orderly drawdown from Afghanistan.

In Kabul, the Defence Secretary met with President Hamid Karzai and Defence Minister General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, with whom he discussed the ongoing transition of security responsibility to Afghan forces.

Mr Hammond also visited the site of the future Afghan National Army Officer Academy, where British military advisors will continue to train and advise officers from the Afghan National Army following the conclusion of the combat mission at the end of 2014 as part of the UK’s enduring commitment to Afghanistan.

Mr Hammond said:

The handover of security to full Afghan control across the country is imminent and Britain’s role is changing into one of assistance, advice and training.

In light of this change in responsibilities, I discussed the future security challenges facing Afghanistan with President Karzai and Defence Minister Mohammadi in Kabul.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:35
Sri Lanka – China relations elevated to a “Strategic cooperation partnership”

 

 

Beijing, 05 June, (Asiantribune.com):

 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to elevate Sri Lanka and China relations to a “strategic cooperation partnership” at the summit talks between the two Presidents during President Rajapaksa’s State Visit to China from 27th – 30th May 2013.

 

During the warm and friendly discussion between the two leaders, President Rajapaksa reiterated Sri Lanka’s support for the One-China Policy and President Xi Jinping stated that China was strongly opposed to foreign countries interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs.

 

Also during the discussion both leaders endorsed the early establishment of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries to further enhance mutually beneficial trade. Towards this end an MoU was signed for the immediate constitution of joint committees to initiate this process. With the advent of an FTA, it is expected that market access would be provided in China for Sri Lankan apparels, tea, rubber, gems & jewelry, light industry products etc.

 

Many Agreements in the fields of political, trade, economic & investment, fisheries, defence-related science & technology and youth were signed during the visit.

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping assured China’s continued support for future developmental projects in Sri Lanka. China pledged a grant assistance of RMB 200 million to be utilized for the building of an international convention centre in Kandy and an arts theatre in Anuradhapura.

 

Upgrading of the Colombo National Hospital and the Colombo North General Hospital at Ragama; the extension of the Southern Expressway from Matara to Kataragama and the extension of the Beliatta Kataragama railway track would also receive Chinese assistance. The construction of new water supply schemes for Attanagalla, Minuwangoda and Kurunegala will also commence shortly. The construction of the Colombo – Jaffna Expressway (through Kurunegala) was endorsed during the discussion with an estimated private investment of US$ 1500 million. A US$ 400 million road rehabilitation programme will also be undertaken to complete the remaining national road network including roads in the Jaffna Peninsula and connecting roads to the A9 highway. China also agreed to support Sri Lanka tourism authority to promote the country amongst Chinese tourists to increase arrivals from China to 100,000 by 2015.

 

Endorsing President Rajapaksa’s rural development and economic programme (Divinaguma) initiative, President Xi Jinping offered agriculture equipment and small machineries to Sri Lanka as a means for further capacity building.

 

In further strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of education a new university township development for Moratuwa University and the development of the National School of Business Management at Homagama were finalized. Other areas discussed for collaboration were the fisheries sector and youth cooperation.

 

Prior to the official talks between the two Presidents, the Chinese President Xi Jinping held a welcome ceremony for President Rajapaksa at the Square outside the East Gate of the Great Hall of the People. Present at the ceremony were Mme. Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping, Yan Junqi, Vice Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Yang Jiechi, State Councilor, and Chen Xiaoguang, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. President Xi Jinping and Mme. Peng Liyuan also hosted a dinner banquet for President Rajapaksa, Mme. Rajapaksa and the delegation.

 

During the visit, President Rajapaksa also had a bilateral meeting with Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao. Vice President Li requested President Rajapaksa to encourage young parliamentarians of Sri Lanka to visit China on Familiarization Programmes on a regular basis with a view to ensuring the continuity of the warm and friendly relations between the two countries. Following the meeting the Chinese Vice President hosted President Rajapaksa, Mme Rajapaksa and the delegation to a luncheon banquet. During the talks with Prime Minister Li Keqiang, both sides spoke highly of the traditional friendship between the two countries and the Chinese Prime Minister reiterated China’s support for future developmental projects in Sri Lanka including the Hambantota Industrial Zone.

 

President Rajapaksa also addressed the distinguished gathering of prominent leaders from foreign governments, the services sector, the business world and academia at the opening ceremony of the Global Services Forum, “Beijing Summit”, organized by UNCTAD together with the Ministry of Commerce of China and the Beijing Municipal Government. The Forum, organized on the occasion of the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and was presided over by Prime Minister Li Keqiang of China. The Forum was a unique platform for promoting trade in services and fostering sustainable development.

 

During the visit President Rajapaksa also addressed the 2013 International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) Special Conference on “Promote Green Development & Build a Beautiful Asia Together” organized by the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the Shaanxi Provincial Committee of the CPC in Xian. The ICAPP is a forum of political parties from Asian and Oceanic countries and attracted representatives from about 50 political parties from Asian countries and many observers from Latin American and African political parties. While visiting Xian, President Rajapaksa, Mme. Rajapaksa and the delegation were hosted to a dinner banquet by the Governor of Shaanxi Province.

 

President Rajapaksa paid a visit to the Lingguang Temple in Beijing on the first day of his visit and paid homage to the precious tooth relic housed at the Temple and exchanged views on religious and cultural cooperation between the temple and Sri Lanka with the Chief Priest of the Temple. The Chief Priest of Lingguang Temple blessed President Rajapaksa and Mme Rajapaksa and for the peace and prosperity of Sri Lanka.

 

The President of EXIM Bank and the Chairman of China Development Bank paid courtesy calls on President Rajapaksa during the visit and pledged their support and cooperation of the two institutions towards the developmental process in Sri Lanka.

 

On the sidelines of the visit, a Sri Lanka – China Business Forum was held with the participation of top Sri Lankan and Chinese business entrepreneurs. External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris addressed the gathering and provided an overview of the investment and economic opportunities in Sri Lanka. Minister Peiris also addressed a press conference in Beijing with the participation of about 60 foreign and local journalists.

 

President Rajapaksa, accompanied by the Vice Mayor of Beijing also visited the Sri Lanka Pavillion, organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka.

 

At a brief ceremony held at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beijing, President Rajapaksa received statues of the Chinese Buddhist monk Fa-Xian and the Chinese navigator Admiral Zheng – He donated by the President of the International Tour Management Association of China, Zhao Xian Zhang for the proposed Sri Lanka – China cultural museum in Galle.

 

First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa held warm and friendly talks with the First Lady of China Peng Liyuan and the President of the All China Women’s Federation Shen Yueyue who is also a Vice Chairperson of the National People’s Congress of China.

 

The two countries issued a Joint Communiqué at the end of the visit.

 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa was accompanied by First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa; Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris; Minister of Traditional Industries & Small Enterprise Development Douglas Devananda; Minister of Construction, Engineering Service, Housing & Common Amenities Wimal Weerawansa; Namal Rajapaksa M.P.; Monitoring M.P. of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin de Vaas Gunawardena, A.H.M. Azwer M.P.; Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga; Chief of Staff to the President Gamini Senarath; Secretary to the Ministry of Finance & Planning P.B. Jayasundera; Secretary to the Ministry of Highways R.W.R. Premasiri; Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to China Ranjith Uyangoda and senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs of Sri Lanka.

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L'aviation syrienne bombarde des poches rebelles de Damas

15 juin 2013 14h53 Romandie.com (AFP)

 

BEYROUTH - L'aviation et l'artillerie du régime syrien bombardaient samedi des poches rebelles à Damas et dans ses environs, où les insurgés maintiennent leurs positions malgré les raids quotidiens, a rapporté l'Observatoire syrien des droits de l'Homme (OSDH).

 

Des raids aériens ont été menés sur des secteurs de Jobar (...) et de Barzé, des quartiers dans l'est de la capitale syrienne, théâtre de combats quasi-quotidiens entre soldats et rebelles, selon l'OSDH, qui s'appuie sur un large réseau de militants et de sources médicales civiles et militaires.

 

Les forces du régime ont de nouveau bombardé le quartier de Hajar Assouad, dans le sud de la capitale, et elles ont perquisitionné des maisons dans celui de Roukneddine.

 

Parallèlement, des combats ont eu lieu samedi à l'aube à la périphérie du camp palestinien de Yarmouk, dans la banlieue sud de Damas, également cible de bombardements menés par le régime.

 

Près de la capitale, Mouadamiyat al-Cham (ouest) et Sbeiné (sud) ainsi que la région de Wadi Barada (nord-ouest) ont été la cible de bombardements au mortier qui ont fait des blessés et des dégâts matériels, selon l'OSDH.

 

A la périphérie de Mleiha, à l'est de Damas, des combats violents ont fait des victimes des deux côtés, toujours selon l'OSDH.

 

Dans le reste du pays, l'armée a bombardé au mortier et au char des quartiers de Homs (centre) et les villes de Rastane et Ghanto dans la province éponyme.

 

A Alep (nord), les forces loyalistes ont attaqué les quartiers d'al-Achrafiyé et de Bani Zaïd, théâtres de combats et de bombardements.

 

A Minbej, dans la province d'Alep, un accord sur une action commune (..) pour renverser le régime a été conclu entre un groupe kurde et des rebelles, apparemment pour éviter les problèmes survenus entre Arabes et Kurdes dans d'autres zones, a expliqué à l'AFP le directeur de l'OSDH, Rami Abdel Rahmane.

 

Les relations ont souvent été tendues entre les rebelles et les organisations kurdes, qui essaient d'empêcher les insurgés d'entrer dans leurs régions. Cependant, des combattants kurdes se sont récemment alliés avec les rebelles dans certaines régions.

 

En outre, à Deir Ezzor (est), le Conseil militaire rebelle a chargé deux bataillons de suivre les affaires de sécurité pour empêcher les combats entre communautés, après un incident survenu cette semaine dans le village à majorité sunnite de Hatlah, selon l'OSDH.

 

Mardi, les rebelles avaient pris le contrôle du village, tuant 60 de ses habitants, pour la plupart des combattants, armés par le gouvernement, après une attaque menée lundi par ces villageaois contre un poste de l'opposition.

 

Au Liban, le chef du Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah a affirmé que son puissant mouvement chiite allait continuer de combattre auprès du régime, dans le conflit qui a fait selon l'ONU plus de 93.000 morts.

 

L'appui de centaines de combattants du Hezbollah a permis début juin à l'armée syrienne de s'emparer de Qousseir (centre-ouest), bastion insurgé pendant plus d'un an.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:30
Chemical Weapons Charge: Berlin Rules out Arms for Rebels

June 14, 2013 spiegel.de

 

The United States has shifted its course on Syria following chemical weapons revelations, but international support is limited. Germany refuses to arm the insurgents, and Russia is openly critical of President Obama.

 

Washington has said it may soon move to supply weapons to Syrian rebels, a move that has been met with reserve by the international community. Western diplomats also told the news agency Reuters that the US government is considering a no-fly zone in Syria.

 

But despite reports that the regime of dictator Bashar Assad may have used chemical weapons, Germany says it has no plans to deliver arms to the rebels, a government spokesman said on Friday.

 

Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democrats, said Germany would stick with its position of not providing weapons to a country engaged in a civil war for "legal reasons". The opposition had made the same demand. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the German Foreign Ministry said it had no information of its own about the use of deadly poison gas by the regime in Damascus.

 

Although Germany doesn't intend to provide weapons aid, the country has been providing "non lethal support" since the beginning of June in the form of bullet-proof vests and first-aid kit deliveries to the Free Syrian Army.

 

On Thursday, the United States officially declared it has proof that Assad's forces used chemical weapons, based on blood, urine and hair samples from two rebel fighters. A White House spokesman said that the use of these weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, crosses the "red line" President Obama established early on in the conflict for determining the necessity of Western intervention in Syria's civil war.

 

Speaking in the Bundestag, Germany's federal parliament, on Friday, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. "We take the indication of the deployment of chemical weapons very seriously," he said. "We are urging a consultation at the Security Council of the United Nations with the aim of coming to a common position." He also confirmed Germany would not deliver weapons to Syria, a line that Berlin has stuck to for some time now despite the expiration at the end of May of a European Union arms embargo against the country. German law prohibits weapons from the country's companies to be supplied to crisis zones.

 

Syria Describes Allegations as 'Caravan of Lies'

 

A representative of the Foreign Ministry in Damascus denied the allegations coming from Washington, saying the US statement on Thursday was a "caravan of lies" and that rebels had deployed the chemical weapons themselves.

 

Moscow also sharply criticized the claims. "I will say frankly that what was presented to us by the Americans does not look convincing," said Yuri Ushakov, foreign policy adviser to President Vladimir Putin. He warned that a US move to arm Syrian rebels would jeopardize joint efforts to convene a peace conference. Earlier, Alexei Pushkov, head of the Russian lower house of parliament's international affairs committee, wrote on Twitter: "Information about the usage of chemical weapons by Assad is fabricated in the same way as the lie about (Saddam) Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (in Iraq)."

 

In Britain, however, where preparations are underway for next week's G8 summit, the government is pleased that Obama now shares the government's position. Prime Minister David Cameron told the Guardian newspaper that Britain shares the "candid assessment" by the US. "I think it, rightly, puts back center stage the question, the very difficult question to answer but nonetheless one we have got to address: What are we going to do about the fact that in our world today there is a dictatorial and brutal leader who is using chemical weapons under our noses against his own people," he said.

 

'Urgent Discussions with International Partners'

 

The British position has been clear for months. Cameron was the first leader of a major country to speak publicly in favor of supplying arms to the Syrian rebels. On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague met with US Secretary of State John Kerry in an effort to convince the US to take action. However, a decision on the weapons deliveries envisioned by Washington still hasn't been made in London. "We are in urgent discussions with our international partners," a spokesman for Cameron told reporters on Friday.

 

The delay may be the product of considerable resistance in the House of Commons, where there is opposition to arming the rebels. The House would have to approve any such move, and Cameron's opposition in the Labor Party are opposed. Even within his own liberal-conservative coalition, there are plenty who would prefer that Britain not get involved. "We in the UK do not have to follow the US," John Baron, a member of the foreign affairs committee told the BBC. "Good friends sometimes say to each other, look, you're making a mistake." He warned it could be an error of historic proportions and compared it to the disastrous outcome of arming the mujahedeen in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:30
JHMCS II Product Launch at the Paris Air Show

Jun 14, 2013 ASDNews Source : Elbit Systems Ltd.

 

    JHMCS II is More Intelligent, More Capable and More Affordable

 

Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System II (JHMCS II), an upgraded and improved version of the classic JHMCS and the world's first high definition, color, smart-visor system that operates in both day and night mode, will be making its debut at the Paris Air Show in Hall 3, Booth E111 from June 17-21.

 

"JHMCS II is more intelligent, more capable and more affordable," said Mark Hodge, Vice President Business Development of Elbit Systems of America, LLC, "We worked alongside warfighters to create a superior system that improves information access for the flight crew."

 

The JHMCS product line has evolved to be considered the best, field-proven technology available in providing the pilot with intelligent vision. For over 15 years, the JHMCS has been a combat-proven helmet-mounted display for fixed-wing aircraft, including F/A-18, F-15, and the F-16.

 

The JHMCS II product family has been developed to meet the needs of the modern military aircrew and provide a superior level of situational awareness. Flight crews fly JHMCS around the world and during combat operations. "Pilots flying with JHMCS II will have a decided advantage when they observe, orient, decide and act," said Hodge.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:20
Stryker photo US Army

Stryker photo US Army

Jun 14, 2013 ASDNews Source : Raytheon Corporation

 

    US Army could use existing vehicular radios to fill need for tactical wireless Internet

 

Raytheon Company's (NYSE: RTN) jam-resistant, battlefield radio recently transmitted data securely over the air to more than 30 Stryker combat vehicles, proving that it could meet the U.S. Army's need for a tactical wireless Internet via a vehicle-mounted mobile radio system.

 

The EXF1915, an upgraded version of Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) radios, completed several months of continual, sustained secure data transmissions for the combat vehicles of the 4th Brigade 2nd Infantry Division Stryker Brigade Combat Team, or 4/2 SBCT. Soldiers were able to send and receive e-mail and chat messages and access the brigade's intranet-like Web portal, marking the first time 4/2 SBCT was able to tap into a secure wireless network.

 

EPLRS joined combat operations in Afghanistan following tests at Fort Irwin, Calif.

 

"The EPLRS Enhanced Services extended secure voice, data, and e-mail services to the Stryker vehicles of platoon through brigade-level leaders during combat operations forward of tactical bases," said Col. Michael Getchell, commander of 4/2 SBCT. "Prior to the installation of the EPLRS ES network, this level of upper TI (Tactical Internet) communications were limited to fixed tactical operations centers using the pre-existing infrastructure on FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) and COPs (Combat Outposts) in the Panjwa'I District of Kandahar, Afghanistan."

 

Over 28,000 EPLRS radios have been purchased to provide "on the move" networking capabilities. These radios, already deployed in significant numbers aboard U.S. Army vehicles, can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost of a new radio system to support the lower-tier network requirements.

 

When connected to the Army's middle- and upper-tier networks, the EXF1915, also known as the RT-1915, provides high-speed IP network services for an entire brigade of Stryker and other combat vehicles. These capabilities provide more choices and greater purchasing flexibility as the service seeks a lower-tier networking radio system.

 

"EPLRS has served the Army well over the years, and now it can be converted to the new EXF1915 to help the service quickly and inexpensively network a fleet of combat vehicles," said Scott Whatmough, vice president of Integrated Communication Systems for Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business. "We've continually improved our radio technology and matured it to the point where we can offer a lower cost alternative for the thousands of already-equipped Army vehicles."

 

Building upon the EXF1915 serving the lower tier, the MR-150, using the higher-bandwidth Next Generation Mobile Ad Hoc Network Waveform (NMW), could provide the Army with additional flexibility for its mid-tier networking requirements. The NMW network has undergone stringent testing at two Network Integration Evaluation exercises, has been deployed in theater, and has proven to be the highest-performing mid-tier technology.

 

The combination of the EXF-1915 and the MR-150 fills the data networking void with a low-cost, ready today, proven solution.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:20
RQ-21A Small UAS Completes 1st East Coast flight

 

 

Jun 14, 2013 ASDNews Source : Naval Air Systems Command

 

The RQ-21A Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS) completed its first East Coast flight from Webster Field Annex on June 12, marking the start of the next phase of test for the program.

 

A team from the Navy and Marine Corps STUAS program office (PMA-263) here and industry partner Insitu, Inc., are conducting flight operations at Webster, NAS Pax River’s outlying field, this June in preparation for Integrated Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) in the fall.

 

During the June 12 flight, Insitu operators launched the unmanned aircraft using a pneumatic launcher, eliminating the need for a runway. The RQ-21A was recovered after a 1.8 hour flight, using a company-built system known as the STUAS Recovery System (SRS). The system enables a safe recovery and expeditionary capability for tactical UAS on land or at sea.

 

“This test period brings us closer to providing our warfighter with a unique capability — an indigenous UAS capable of operations from both land and sea,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Jim Rector, PMA-263 program manager. “The expeditionary nature of the RQ-21A makes it possible to deploy a multi-intelligence capable UAS with minimal footprint.”

 

The current phase of testing is intended to validate updates that have been made to the system in the past several months, which include software, fuselage and camera enhancements. The conditions at Webster Field also allow the team to test aircraft performance points at lower density altitudes, said Greg Oliver, the program’s lead test engineer.

 

In 2012, the small unmanned aircraft completed land-based testing in China Lake, Calif., and began ship-based developmental tests aboard USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) in February. After this test phase is complete, the team will transport the system, which includes a ground control station and three air vehicles, back to Norfolk, Va., to embark LPD 19  for shipboard flight testing in July.

 

IOT&E will begin in October at Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command (MCAGCC) Twentynine Palms, Calif. Ship-based IOT&E is scheduled for December in preparation for the system’s initial deployment in 2014.

 

The RQ-21A platform is designed to fill a need for the Marine Expeditionary Forces, Navy L-Class ships, and Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Units. When deployed, it will provide a 24/7 maritime and land-based tactical reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition data collection and dissemination capabilities to the warfighter.

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15 juin 2013 6 15 /06 /juin /2013 16:20
photo navair.navy.mil

photo navair.navy.mil

Jun 14, 2013 ASDNews Source : Raytheon

 

    New capabilities reduce radio emissions and improve performance

 

Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN), under a contract modification from the U.S. Army, is adding new capabilities to the Identification Friend or Foe interrogator to reduce Radio Frequency (RF) emissions and enhance target identification for the warfighter.

 

"We understood that the warfighter needed an improved identification capability, so Raytheon is both increasing the capability of the interrogator system and reducing RF emissions," said Glen Bassett, director of Advanced Communication and Countermeasures for Raytheon's Space and Airborne Systems business.

 

The addition of Mode S, awarded to Raytheon in September 2012, will allow the warfighter to query targets individually and has the ability to track and identify targets passively rather than filling the airspace with RF.

 

The U.S. Army requires the use of Mode S interrogations to maintain the ability to distinguish the intent and identify civil targets that operate in the airspace to avoid fratricide. This modification will reduce the impact of military operations on civil air traffic control in the National Airspace.

 

The new Mode S and passive receive capability will be initially integrated on the Air Traffic, Navigation, Integration, and Coordination System's (ATNAVICS) host platform, and has applications for other air defense systems.

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