Monthly Archives: September 2013

Russia Unveils ‘Terminator-2’ Tank Support Vehicle

By on Friday, September 27th, 2013

Russia’s Uralvagonzavod defense manufacturer on Wednesday unveiled the BMPT-72 tank support fighting vehicle, dubbed the “Terminator-2,” at the Russia Arms Expo 2013 in Nizhny Tagil.

The BMPT-72 is an extensive modernization of the world-famous T-72 main battle tank, also produced by Uralvagonzavod. Compared with its predecessor – the BMPT – the BMPT-72 has an improved fire control system and better turret weapon station protection.

“The key advantage that the BMPT-72 gives to all the counties that operate T-72 tanks is that they can promptly and at minimal cost upgrade their armies to an ultra-modern level, and enhance capacity, mobility, protection and armament without purchasing new high-cost machines,” Uralvgonzavod said in press release prior to the Nizhny Tagil show.

The BMPT-72 is armed with two 30-mm cannons, two 30-mm grenade launchers, four launchers for 130-mm Ataka-T anti-tank guided missiles, a 7.62-mm machine gun, and two 81-mm smoke grenade launchers.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Wednesday that the idea to build new heavily armed tank support vehicles emerged on the basis of experience acquired by the Russian military during the First Chechen War in North Caucasus, especially during the urban fighting in Grozny in 1995 when Russian troops lost a large number of combat vehicles to “guerrilla warfare” tactics used by Chechen separatists.

Rogozin, who oversees the Russian defense and space industries, said future versions of the BMPT would most likely be based on the platform of Russia’s highly anticipated new main battle tank: the Armata.

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Israel challenged by Iran charm offensive: analysts

As Iran’s new president reaches out to the West with a message of moderation, Israel’s hawkish approach on Tehran’s nuclear program looks likely to come under pressure, experts say.

President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday emphasized the peaceful nature of the Islamic republic’s atomic program, telling the UN General Assembly that “nuclear weapons… have no place in Iran’s security and defence doctrine.”

Israel scrambled to denounce the speech, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “cynical” and “full of hypocrisy”.

“This is exactly Iran’s strategy — to talk and play for time in order to advance its ability to achieve nuclear weapons. Rouhani knows this well,” charged Netanyahu.

But Rouhani’s diplomatic overtures, which stand in stark contrast to the belligerent statements so commonly heard from his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, are proving to be quite a challenge to the Israeli premier.

“For the past eight years, Israel’s efforts to convince the world… to tackle Iran’s nuclear designs head on relied on… adamant, Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad,” commentator Chemi Shalevan wrote in Haaretz newspaper.

“Ahmadinejad… served as Israel’s number one talking point, its strategic propaganda asset, a poster boy who self-explained Tehran’s sinister designs.”

Rouhani’s message is a “real diplomatic challenge for Israel,” Professor Uzi Rabi, an Iran specialist at Tel Aviv University, told AFP.

“The last time Netanyahu was at the United Nations, it was much easier for Israel to argue on Iran,” he said.

Last year, Netanyahu stood before the UN General Assembly and drew a red line on a cartoonish depiction of a bomb, saying the international community must act to prevent Iran from using its nuclear program to build a weapon, a charge accepted by the West but denied by Tehran.

This year, when he addresses the UN General Assembly on October 1, the Israeli leader will seek to play down the differences between Rouhani and his predecessor, the top-selling Yediot Aharonot daily said.

“Netanyahu will say that, like Ahmadinejad, Rouhani also adheres to the goal of destroying the State of Israel and attacking the entire Western world.”

Rabi agreed: “Israel is trying to make sure everyone is keenly aware that the Iranian charm offensive is just tactics – it doesn’t mean there’s real change.”

Israel’s concerns over a thaw were further stoked on Monday when officials said US Secretary of State John Kerry would hold his first nuclear talks with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at a landmark meeting at the UN headquarters on September 26.

“Netanyahu… is not going to be in the negotiations room so he’s trying to remind the US of the reality that there’s not been evidence of change,” Dr Emily Landau of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies told AFP.

Israel fears the meeting could undermine its efforts to put further pressure on Iran, according to Dr Raz Zimmt, a research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Iranian studies centre.

“Israel’s government and prime minister are facing difficulties convincing the international community to treat Iran the same way it has treated it before,” Zimmt told AFP.

“In the West, they see Rouhani as totally different from Ahmadinejad. They’re right, but… Rouhani hasn’t come up with a concrete proposal on how to resolve the nuclear issue.

Washington has been “working behind the scenes to allay Israeli concerns and has said that the Iranian president will be judged by his actions,” Israel’s Maariv newspaper said on Sunday.

But Rouhani’s “charm offensive,” together with developments in the wider Middle East region, may trump Israel’s protestations, analysts warned.

“Both the US and Iranian administrations have decided there’s a window of opportunity to talk,” Zimmt said.

Holocaust is ‘reprehensible’

In a radical about-turn from his Holocaust-denying predecessor’s rhetoric, Rouhani, in an interview with CNN aired on Tuesday, condemned the Nazi genocide as a “reprehensible” crime.

“I’m not sure the US can help it. Rouhani is the star of the UN,” Rabi said.

“The Iranians could come up with an interim suspension of uranium enrichment, but in the long term Iran is going to prevail when it comes to its nuclear plan,” he predicted.

And with much of the Middle East in crisis, Iran knows Washington may need its help in other areas, such as Syria.

“This is why they’re coming up with a new initiative” to talk with the West, Rabi told AFP, saying Iran was “capitalizing on the Syria saga.”

In a bitingly sarcastic tweet, the Israeli embassy in Washington, has derided Iran’s new president as an expert salesman who is bullish on nuclear proliferation.

The tweet poses the question of what Rouhani’s LinkedIn page might look like.

The spoof of his LinkedIn page has him describing himself as “a career politician, expert public relations professional, leading international salesman and longtime advocate of nuclear proliferation.”

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China Advanced Fighter Concept Model Makes Debut at Beijing Aviation Expo

By on Friday, September 27th, 2013

An advanced fighter concept (AFC) model launched by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) made its debut at the 15th Beijing Aviation Exhibition unveiled yesterday at the China National Convention Center in Beijing.

In the series of fighters developed by AVIC, the AFC model, which made its debut at the Beijing Aviation Exhibition, is a multi-purpose advanced fighter designed to meet the demand of this kind of fighter in the future international arms trading, according to sources.

The fighter adopts the design of single seat, double engines, twin vertical tails and normal layout with such features as high stealth performance, low cost, large bomb load, large combat radius and perfect integration of systems.

In terms of the comprehensive combat effectiveness, China’s advanced fighter is superior to the 3.5-generation fighter and the modified third-generation fighter, basically equivalent to the typical fourth-generation fighters.

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US relocates drones airfield after Djibouti crashes

The Pentagon is shifting its drone operations from a US base in Djibouti to a more remote airfield after local officials voiced concern about possible collisions with commercial aircraft, officials said Wednesday.

“There was a concern over what would happen if a MQ-1 (Predator drone) obstructed a runway, and that it would have a significant impact on commercial air operations,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

After the attacks of September 11 2001, Camp Lemonnier — located next to the Djibouti international airport — took on crucial strategic importance for Washington as a site for stationing special operations forces and drones for assaults on Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen and Islamist Shabab forces in Somalia.

But after five accidents involving MQ-1 Predators since January 2011, the government of Djibouti demanded the Americans halt the drone flights out of Camp Lemonnier, where about 3,000 US troops are deployed, said the defense official, confirming a report in the Washington Post.

Under an agreement with Djibouti, the US military will move its drone fleet from Camp Lemonnier to Chabelley airfield, about 10 kilometers southwest of the capital, according to a document from Congress authorizing defense spending for 2014.

Lawmakers are “aware that the government of Djibouti mandated that operations of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) cease from Camp Lemonnier, while allowing such operations to relocate to Chabelley Airfield, Djibouti,” it said.

The decision to shift flights to Chabelley raised questions about Pentagon plans to spend $880 million to improve the infrastructure at Camp Lemonnier.

The US government plans to invest $13 million for infrastructure at Chabelley airfield to support the drone flights, according to the document. But lawmakers wrote that they remained concerned about how operations at the new location would be sustained over the long-term and at what cost.

The move from Camp Lemonnier to Chabelley has been under discussion for more than six months, the defense official said.

“We have a really strong relationship with Djibouti… And this was a way to accommodate Djibouti in a mutually beneficial way,” the official said.

The official said the move might have some temporary, minor effect on current military operations in the region, but there would “no significant operational impact.”

Other US military aircraft, including cargo planes and fighter jets, would continue to fly out of Lemonnier, he said.

The French military also uses the airfield at Lemonnier for about a dozen aircraft based there.

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Researchers warn of ‘hit and run’ cyber attackers

Security researchers said Wednesday they uncovered a “cyber mercenary” team which specializes in attacks on targets in Japan and South Korea, and warned of more operations of that nature.

Kaspersky Labs identified the group as “Icefog,” and said evidence points to it being based in China.

Based on the targets, the attackers appear to have an interest in military, shipbuilding and maritime operations, computers and software, research companies, telecom operators, satellite operators, mass media and television.

Kaspersky said the operation was a “small yet energetic Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group” which focuses on targets involved in the supply chain for Western companies.

The operation started in 2011 and has increased in size and scope over the last few years, according to the report presented at a Washington cybersecurity conference.

The attackers have been “hitting pretty much all types of victims and sectors. In most cases, attackers maintain a foothold in corporate and governmental networks for years, smuggling out terabytes of sensitive information,” said Kaspersky researcher Costin Raiu.

“The ‘hit and run’ nature of the Icefog attacks demonstrate a new emerging trend: smaller hit-and-run gangs that go after information with surgical precision. The attack usually lasts for a few days or weeks and after obtaining what they were looking for, the attackers clean up and leave.”

Raiu said these types of hackers-for-hire groups are growing, developing into a “kind of ‘cyber mercenary’ team for the modern world.”

The researchers localized the attackers and “assume some of the players behind this threat operation are based in at least three countries: China, South Korea and Japan,” with the largest number in China.

The report, presented at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit, said Icefog targeted attacks relied on spear-phishing e-mails that attempt to trick the victim into opening a malicious attachment or a website.

Some of these attachments include images of scantily clad women or “decoy” documents; when users click on the attachments, they unwittingly install malicious software which allows access to the attackers.

“The attackers are hijacking sensitive documents and company plans, e-mail account credentials, and passwords to access various resources inside and outside the victim’s network,” a Kaspersky statement said.

“In most cases, the Icefog operators appear to already know very well what they need from the victims. They look for specific file names, which are identified and transferred” to the attackers.

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Swiss reject plan to scrap military draft

Switzerland’s voters Sunday rejected a plan to axe the country’s military draft, bucking Europe’s anti-conscription trend and sticking to a tradition as Swiss as chocolate and cheese.

Results from Sunday’s referendum showed an overwhelming 73 percent vote against scrapping compulsory military service, and just 27 percent in favour.

Armed neutrality has been the cornerstone of Switzerland’s defence policy for almost two centuries, with soldiers straddling the civilian and military worlds, keeping their weapons at home when they are not in training.

The plan was opposed by the political right and centre, as well as parliament and Switzerland’s cross-party government.

“This is a strong sign of support for our army and our security,” said Defence Minister Ueli Maurer, who currently holds Switzerland’s rotating presidency.

Christophe Darbellay, leader of the centrist Christian Democrats, also hailed the result.

“This shows how attached the Swiss are to their militia army,” he said.

The Swiss apply the label “militia” not only to their army, but also to the national tradition of part-time politicians, volunteer firefighters and others who serve the public.

Male Swiss citizens aged between 18 and 32 begin service with a seven-week boot camp and take six 19-day refresher exercises over ensuing years. Since 1992, non-military service, for example in environmental projects, has been available for conscientious objectors.

Direct democracy is another bedrock of Swiss society.

The question on Sunday’s ballot papers was a basic “Yes” or “No” for ending compulsory military service.

“The people weren’t taken in by this wrongheaded question,” said Denis Froidevaux, head of the Swiss Officers’ Association.

“That doesn’t mean that criticism or proposals should be ignored,” he added, signalling the military’s openness to reform.

For budgetary and strategic reasons, Switzerland had repeatedly reduced its number of trained troops from 625,000 five decades ago to 155,000 today.

By 2016, the headcount is set to be 100,000 — a leaner and fitter force, supporters say.

Vote about ‘Swiss identity’

But critics say that is still way too big in a nation of eight million. In comparison, neighbouring Germany has 10 times the population and 183,000 active troops.

While many Swiss cherish their military tradition, there is also an anti-army current in a country which has not been invaded since the early 1800s, despite major scares during World Wars I and II.

Anti-draft campaigners say that Switzerland should follow other European countries which have ditched the draft since the end of the Cold War.

Spearheaded by pacifists and left-wing parties, the “Yes” camp acknowledged that it had faced an uphill fight.

“I think the main reason is that the vote ended up being seen as about the Swiss identity, with citizen-soldiers standing ready to defend the borders,” said Tobias Schnebli of the anti-military group GSoA.

“But it’s the worst thing in the world to think that something is natural just because it exists,” he told AFP.

“The over-fifties have a particular vision of Switzerland. We place our hopes in today’s younger generation, the ones who don’t see it as us against the outside world.”

The pacifist campaigners will now aim to muster support for a vote against the planned purchase of 22 Swedish Gripen fighter jets.

Draft supporters say that while Switzerland is ringed by friendly nations, the army in its current shape is essential in a world of morphing threats, and plays a key role in disaster relief.

They also underline that European nations which axed conscription struggle to fill their ranks even with unemployment high amid the economic crisis.

They also say the draft helps cement a country with three main language groups — German, French and Italian — and cuts across class lines.

Critics reject those arguments, saying the prospect of invasion is a fantasy, that language groups stick together when in uniform, women do not have to serve, and almost half of draftees do not start or complete their training on health or other grounds, with middle class urban dwellers more able to avoid it.

Men who do not serve in the military pay a special tax of four percent of their salary instead.

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Raytheon completes critical component of ninth AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile defense radar

By on Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) has completed the manufacturing of an Antenna Equipment Unit for the AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile defense radar. An integral part of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS), the AN/TPY-2 searches, discriminates between threats and non-threats, acquires and tracks threat ballistic missiles.

AN/TPY-2 is a mobile X-band radar that helps protect the U.S., warfighters, and America’s allies and security partners from the more than 6,300 ballistic missiles the Missile Defense Agency estimates are not controlled by the U.S., NATO, China or Russia.

The Antenna Equipment Unit is one of the four major components that comprise the AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile defense radar, and completing the AEU is critical to ensuring Raytheon delivers the ninth radar system to the Missile Defense Agency in early 2014.

“Because of the high demand from forces worldwide, Raytheon remains committed to maintaining its track record of delivering the AN/TPY-2 on cost and on schedule,” said David Gulla, vice president of Global Integrated Sensors for Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems business.

“The AN/TPY-2 has a record of flawless test performance and demonstrated capability against many classes of ballistic missiles; so it’s important we get the system to those who need it.”

The AN/TPY-2 may be deployed globally in either terminal or forward-based mode. In terminal mode, the AN/TPY-2 serves as the search, detect, track, discrimination and fire-control radar for the THAAD weapon system, enabling the THAAD missile to intercept and destroy threats.

In forward-based mode, the AN/TPY-2 cues the BMDS by detecting, discriminating and tracking enemy ballistic missiles in the ascent phase of flight.

AN/TPY-2 is a high resolution, mobile, rapidly deployable X-band radar capable of providing long-range acquisition, precision track, and discrimination of short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

  • AN/TPY-2 has performed flawlessly in both terminal and forward-based mode in all major tests.
  • On Oct. 25, 2012, two AN/TPY-2 radars – one terminal and one forward-based – participated in FTI-01, the MDA’s largest and most complex exercise. In a complex raid scenario involving multiple targets, both radars met or exceeded all test objectives.
  • On April 15, 2011, a forward-based AN/TPY-2 extended the battlespace by enabling a Standard Missile-3 to launch on remote and intercept a separating intermediate-range ballistic missile.

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