Monthly Archives: April 2014

Philippines, US to sign defense pact

The Philippines and the United States announced they would sign an agreement on Monday to allow a greater US military presence on Filipino soil for the next decade.

The deal will be signed in Manila a few hours before US President Barack Obama is due to arrive for a two-day visit to the Philippines, one of the United States’ most loyal but militarily weakest Asian allies which is embroiled in an increasingly hostile territorial row with China.

US officials in Malaysia travelling with Obama said on Sunday the agreement would be inked between the two nations, which are already bound by a pact to come to each other’s aid if attacked and engage in regular war games together.

Evan Medeiros, senior director for Asian Affairs on the National Security Council, said the deal was a “skeletal and muscular” framework that would allow the two sides to discuss more rotations of US troops, naval visits and training exercises.

He said it was “the most significant agreement that we have concluded with the Philippines in decades”.

It is also another part of Obama’s much-publicised strategic and military “pivot” to Asia.

The deal with the Philippines comes in the month before the United States sends 1,150 Marines to Australia to bolster a roughly 200-member force already in Darwin.

Those US troops are part of a deployment that will see a garrison of up to 2,500 by 2016-2017, in another prong of the rebalancing strategy.

US officials said the exact composition of US forces to be rotated through the Philippines remained to be worked out.

“The scope, the duration and the location of our rotational presence in the Philippines is something that we are going to be working out with them in the coming weeks and years,” said Medeiros.

But US officials said the agreement would last for 10 years, with provision for renewal. They said it would be signed by the Philippine Minister of Defence and US ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg.

The Philippine government released a short statement on Sunday saying the agreement would be signed, without giving details.

But Filipino negotiators had previously said it would allow more US troops, aircraft, and ships to pass through the country.

It would also allow the United States to store equipment that could be used to mobilise American forces faster — particularly in cases of natural disasters.

The deal would not allow Washington to establish a permanent base or bring in nuclear weapons, according to the Filipino negotiators.

The Philippines had been pushing for the agreement to help bolster its military as it engages in an increasingly tense row with China over rival claims to parts of the South China Sea.

But Medeiros dismissed the notion that Washington saw the agreement through a prism of containing China’s rising military might.

“We are not doing this because of China. We are doing this because we have a longstanding alliance partner. They are interested in stepping up our military-to-military” interaction, he said.

The Philippines hosted two of the largest overseas US military bases until 1992, when the Filipino Senate voted to end their lease amid growing anti-US sentiment.

President Benigno Aquino has led a warm re-embrace of the United States in recent years, insisting that greater US military support is needed to fend off China’s actions.

China claims most of the South China Sea, even waters close to the Philippines and other countries in the region.

Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as Taiwan, also have overlapping claims to the sea.

The Philippines has protested repeatedly at what it says are bullying tactics by China in staking its claims, including by taking control of a shoal far closer to the Filipino land mass than the Chinese.

Chinese ships also last month tried to block vessels bringing supplies to a Philippine military outpost on a tiny reef claimed by China.

The Philippines has angered China by asking a United Nations tribunal to rule on the validity of China’s claims to the sea.

China has refused to take part in the case, and said the Philippines’ move had “seriously damaged” bilateral ties.

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Sanctions to target Russia’s defense industry, others: US

The next round of US sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine will target Russia’s defense industry as well as individuals and companies close to President Vladimir Putin, a senior US official said Sunday.

“Starting this week, in coordination with our allies and partners, we’ll be exerting additional pressure on the people closest to him, the companies they control, the defense industry. All of this,” deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said on CNN’s State of the Union.

In a separate interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Blinken said high technology exports to the Russian defense industry would be affected.

President Barack Obama said earlier Sunday the sanctions being drawn up by G7 countries were a punishment for Moscow’s “provocation” in eastern Ukraine.

“It is important for us to take further steps sending a message to Russia that these kinds of destabilizing activities taking place in Ukraine have to stop,” Obama said in Kuala Lumpur.

Blinken, however, made clear that Washington would not meet Ukraine’s demands for weapons despite menacing Russian military exercises on its borders.

“Here is the bottom line. We could send weapons to Ukraine. It wouldn’t make a difference in terms of their ability to stand up to the Russians,” he said.

Instead, he said Washington would focus economic aid to Kiev, with an estimated $37 billion being rounded up by Washington, the IMF, World Bank and others.

“We need to be deliberate and do this in coordination with our partners,” he said.

Republican lawmakers criticized the administration’s approach as too little, too late, and called for sanctions that strike directly at the Russian economy.

“To me, hitting four of the largest banks there would send shock waves into the economy,” said Bob Corker of Tennessee, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“What I fear is all we’re doing is tweaking folks,” he said, adding that the sanctions targeting individuals were “not creating the kind of pain within Russia that will cause Putin to change,” he said.

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PAF inducts first batch of F-16 fighter jets from Jordan

By on Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Pakistan received on Sunday its first batch of F-16 fighter jets delivered from Jordan, DawnNews reported.

Sources said that the Pakistan had signed a contract with Jordan for the supply of 13 fighter jets out of which five were delivered at the Mushaf Mir Airbase in Sargodha and inducted in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fleet.

The inclusion of the 13 jets would take the strength of the PAF F-16s to 76.

Media reports indicated the PAF had agreed to purchase an entire squadron from Jordan, consisting of 12 A models and one B model. According to one news report, the jets “were in good condition since they had attained Mid-Life Update (MLU) and they would be providing service for another 20 years with almost 3,000 hours on average available to them for flying.”

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Russia to Test Launch New Angara Rocket

By on Monday, April 28th, 2014

The date of the maiden launch of Russia’s new Angara rocket has been set for June 25, an official with the Russian Space Agency told RIA Novosti Friday.

“The launch is set for June 25, with the 26th as a backup date,” the official said.

He added the rocket would be fired without an orbital payload from the Plesetsk space center, located about 800 kilometers north of Moscow.

The Angara family of rockets, in development since 1995, is planned to be built in light, semi-heavy and heavy versions to lift a variety of payloads between 2 and 40 metric tons into low earth orbit.

The rocket has a liquid-oxygen and kerosene powered first stage and hydrogen-oxygen fueled second stage, so-called “green” fuels that will make the rocket both more ecologically friendly and safer for support personnel than the country’s current largest rocket, the Proton.

Angara is designed to complement the country’s venerable Soyuz rocket, currently the only vehicle in the world capable of launching astronauts to the International Space Station

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South Africa Needs Bigger Defense Budget, Says Minister

By on Monday, April 28th, 2014

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) needs a bigger budget, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Wednesday.

“I don’t think government has a choice at this point. We had to conduct this Defence Review in order to have an appreciation of the organisation we have, its capabilities vis-à-vis the missions assigned to it,” she said in Pretoria.

“Remember the defence force does not deploy itself. When such deployments are done, unfortunately there hasn’t been consideration of whether we have adequate resources.”

The minister was briefing reporters on the findings and recommendations of the long-awaited Defence Review, compiled by a committee of experts who scrutinised the SANDF.

She said the committee found a mismatch in resource allocation and defence missions.

“Our view, I am an optimist by the way, is that now that everybody has interrogated the Defence Review report and everybody will have an appreciation of the urgency of increasing the budget of the defence force.

“I think that in bidding this year for next year’s budget, Treasury will have to take into consideration this report,” she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula referred to the controversial 1999 arms deal. “For me the arms deal does not affect or impact on the work we are trying to do right now. We are projecting, trying to assist the defence force to survive and to restore its dignity for the next 20 years.”

Government acquired military assets, including 26 Gripen and 24 Hawk fighters, as part of the 1999 multi-billion rand arms deal.

In September 2011 President Jacob Zuma appointed a commission of inquiry, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, to probe the acquisitions.

On Wednesday, SANDF chief General Solly Shoke said it was imperative for the defence force to increase its capabilities.

“The reality of the matter is that we are going to increase our footprint as a national defence force. Over 90 percent of our economy is through the sea and that requires that we should be able to defend our marine economy.”

The latest Defence Review committee was appointed by former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu in 2011. The review was originally scheduled to have been formally approved at the end of 2012.

South Africa’s first Defence Review in 1998 had assumed that the armed forces would only deploy one battalion for external operations in Africa, but by 2006 four battalions were deployed across the continent.

Currently, there were South African battalions in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan’s Darfur region.

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MBDA Demonstrates MMP Firing from Confined Spaces

By on Monday, April 28th, 2014

MBDA’s MMP (Missile Moyenne Portée) program has passed a major phase in its development.

MBDA has just demonstrated the firing capabilities of its MMP missile in an operational configuration. The launch tests were carried out in a confined space in the presence of the operator, using his firing post, and the team leader.

The success of these tests, carried out in MBDA’s test tunnel at its Bourges facility in central France, has confirmed the safety of use of the missile and its firing post. The launches were carried out under hot and cold climatic conditions in order to demonstrate optimal function in various temperature environments thus representing different operational theaters.

In parallel, new warhead tests have confirmed the efficiency of MMP against targets representing latest generation Main Battle Tanks. Two rail firings were carried out at the beginning of the year at the French Direction Generale de l’Armement’s battlefield technology center in Bourges.

The first firing validated the functioning of the lethality chain at maximum speed, a necessary step in order to replicate an impact under real conditions. A target equipped with a latest generation reactive module provided the principal challenge for the second firing. The explosive reactive armour was detonated during the test and the main armor behind was pierced, thereby confirming the superiority of MMP’s lethality chain.

MMP is a new generation land combat missile based on the concept of ‘fire and forget’ with the facility for ‘man in the loop’ operation. This allows for the destruction of different ground targets with very high levels of precision at ranges of up to 4km while at the same time minimizing the risk of collateral damage.

The missile, which can be fired from a networked infantry firing post or from a vehicle turret, features a wide range of functions, one of which is firing on coordinates which allows non line of sight targets to be engaged.

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Lockheed to Develop Weapons Grade Fiber Laser for US Army

The U.S. Army has awarded Lockheed Martin a $25 million contract to design, build and test a 60-kilowatt electric laser to be integrated and tested in a truck-mounted weapon system demonstrator. The laser weapon is designed to significantly improve the warfighters’ ability to counter rockets, artillery, mortars and unmanned aerial threats.

Under a contract managed by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s Technical Center, the Lockheed Martin-provided laser will be integrated on the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD). This ruggedized laser builds on the corporation’s work under the current Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI) contract for the Army.

“Lockheed Martin continues to advance its high-energy fiber laser technology to provide a proven, affordable weapon architecture that supports the size, weight, and power constraints our customers face,” said Paula Hartley, vice president of Advanced Product Solutions for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “Our solution is much smaller, lighter and more electrically efficient than others in the market and can bring tremendous value to the Army and other military customers.”

The corporation’s electric laser system implements multiple compact, rugged fiber laser modules to generate a high power output beam with excellent beam quality and high electrical efficiency. A unique spectral beam combining process is used to combine many fiber lasers into a single beam of light that retains the high beam quality of the individual fiber modules while reaching the 60 kilowatt mark.

Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin announced it had demonstrated a 30-kilowatt fiber laser, the highest power ever documented while retaining beam quality and electrical efficiency. The internally funded research and development demonstration was achieved by combining many fiber lasers into a single, near-perfect quality beam of light—all while using approximately 50 percent less electricity than alternative solid-state laser technologies.

This successful demonstration marked a significant milestone on the path to deploying a mission-relevant laser weapon system for a wide range of air, land and sea military platforms.

Lockheed Martin has specialized in directed energy laser weapon system development for the past 30 years and purchased Aculight in 2008 to further strengthen its offerings at every level—from pioneering research to solid prototyping and flexible manufacturing.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 113,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.

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