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Naval ships from US, India and Japan to start war games

The United States, India and Japan are set to kick off week-long war games in the Pacific, beefing up naval ties as they warily eye an increasingly assertive China and its military buildup.

Warships from the three countries are to begin the joint exercises on Friday, after an official opening ceremony at the Sasebo Naval Base in southern Japan on Thursday.

Known as the Malabar Exercise, the annual event usually involves India and the US, but Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) will take part this year, the third time since 2007.

The exercises off Japan’s southern coast come on the back of rising regional tensions as Delhi and Tokyo remain embroiled in territorial spats with Beijing.

China is also at loggerheads with some Southeast Asian nations over its claim to large swathes of the South China Sea.

Washington has been increasingly turning its focus to Asia as it looks to counter Beijing’s growing influence and a military buildup that has unnerved some of its regional neighbours.

“India, Japan and the United States have a shared strategic interest,” said international relations expert Takehiko Yamamoto, professor emeritus at Tokyo’s Waseda University.

“The aim of this naval exercise is for (the three countries) to manage a vast sea area stretching from the western Pacific to the Indian Ocean.

“They need to make sure the lines of communication stay robust — this exercise has China in mind,” he added.

India is nervous about the so-called “string of pearls”, the concept of a network of ports around the Indian Ocean to which China’s navy would have access, Yamamoto said.

“For India, this is a great threat,” he said.

Growing ties
The manoeuvres also reflect growing ties between India and Japan, on both the military and economic fronts, with Japanese Prime Minister making an official visit to Delhi in January — when the two nations agreed to “further strengthen” their defence cooperation and conduct regular naval exercises.

The July 25-30 exercises will include three Indian ships, a frigate, a destroyer and a supply ship, along with 700-800 personnel, Indian navy spokesman DK Sharma told AFP.

Sharma said the exercises would include anti-piracy, anti-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and helicopter drills.

“We just concluded… our naval drills with Russia, and since we have already traveled thousands of miles to that side, it’s only natural that Japan will participate in the Malabar Exercise,” he said.

The US Seventh Fleet, which covers the western Pacific and Indian Ocean, will take part in the war games while Japan is dispatching two escort ships, one US-2 search-and-rescue amphibious plane and one P3C patrol plane, said an MSDF spokesman.

He said several hundred Japanese personnel would take part.

“The purpose of Japan’s participation is to improve the strategic capabilities of the MSDF and to strengthen the cooperation among the three militaries,” he added.

China has lashed out at Abe after his cabinet formally endorsed a reinterpretation of Japan’s pacifist constitution banning the use of armed force except in very narrowly-defined circumstances.

Beijing argued that it could open the door to remilitarization of a country it considers insufficiently penitent for its actions in World War II.

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Exercise Eager Tiger 2014 off to a roaring start

By on Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Exercise Eager Tiger 2014 officially kicked off May 11, 2014 at an air base in northern Jordan, bringing together U.S. and Jordanian military forces and giving them the chance to participate in friendly competitions while expressing their commitment to regional security and stability.

Also known as Falcon Air Meet, this annual event gives the countries a chance to enhance their interoperability and relationship while also highlighting their own capabilities.

“Eager Tiger has been the premier U.S. Air Forces Central Command tactical air exercise with our Jordanian partners since its inception in 2004,” stated Lt. Gen. John Hesterman, commander of USAFCENT. “This exercise is designed to challenge our military forces in a variety of disciplines in the air. Our goal is to build relationships and capabilities that will bring us closer together and enhance the region’s stability. We are grateful to Jordan for hosting the exercise and for providing world-class venues and support to the participating nations.”

The competitions between the different countries’ fighter pilots and maintainers include a weapons-loading event, an aircraft scramble and a first-run attack scenario. Each one is scored depending on time, safety and a variety of other factors.

In addition to building relationships through flying and support operations, both countries also aim to maintain those relationships by sharing each other’s cultures. One highlight of the weeklong exercise is a social night, which gives the Americans and Jordanians a chance to try foods and experiences similar to what they would share with their families.

Falcon Air Meet’s current project officer said things have only improved over the years.

“The partnership continues to grow with each passing year,” said Royal Jordanian Air Force Maj. Ali Shabana, who has been a part of the exercise since its inception. “The idea of the event is not just the competition itself, but the bringing together of people and sharing of ideas. When people compete, they show their best.”

The goal for this exercise is to build the countries’ relationship and partnership, which in turn will help both air forces continue to grow so they can be prepared for any future situation.

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Indonesia will Receive T-50 Golden Eagle Start in September 2013

20 Juni 2013

KAI T-50i Golden Eagle for TNI AU (photo : daum)

Indonesia gears up for T-50

Indonesia will receive its full complement of 16 Korea Aerospace Industries T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainer aircraft between September 2013 and February 2014.

The disclosure was made by a company spokesman at the company’s chalet.

Jakarta ordered 16 T-50s in May 2011, marking the first export sale for the type, which is powered by a single General Electric F404 engine.

Indonesian pilots and maintenance crews are in South Korea familiarising themselves with the type.

In addition, KAI is confident of closing a deal with the Manila for 12 FA-50s, an armed variant of the T-50. Manila will use the type both for training and as a light fighter/attack aircraft.

The company, in co-operation with Lockheed Martin, is also competing against the Alenia/Aermacchi M-346 and BAE Systems Hawk for an eight aircraft requirement in Poland.

Warsaw is reviewing the technical proposals issued by the three companies, and will issue another request for proposals for pricing information in the coming months. A decision could come as soon as early 2014.

(Flight Global)

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Despite Slow Start, Northrop Grumman Reaffirms 2013 Outlook

Northrop Grumman Corporation reported today its first quarter 2013 net earnings dropped by $17 million to of $489 million, (or $2.03 per diluted share), compared to the first quarter of 2012.

based on the funding levels provided for by the FY 2013 appropriations bill enacted on March 26, 2013 Northrop Grumman feels its financial outlook of $24 billion in sales and 10-11% operating margins is solid for 2013; “Considering the impact of sequestration, and assuming that an appropriations bill or continuing resolution for FY 2014 will be in effect beginning on Oct. 1, 2013, in each case continuing to support and fund the company’s programs.” the report said, “Guidance for 2013 also assumes no disruption or shutdown of government operations resulting from a federal government debt ceiling breach and no cancellation or termination of any of our significant programs.” the company report added.

“Strong operating performance and effective cash deployment drove first quarter results.” said Wes Bush, chairman, chief executive officer and president. “Looking ahead, we recognize that we are operating in an uncertain and constrained budget environment. We are maintaining our focus on program performance, effective cash deployment and portfolio alignment as we drive to best serve our shareholders, customers and employees.”

The effect on the earning per share was minimized due to the company’s shares repurchase campaign, Northrop Grumman purchased d 6.5 million shares of its common stock in the 2013 first quarter; $1 billion remains on its current share repurchase authorization.

First quarter 2013 total operating income decreased $37 million or 5 percent, and operating margin rate decreased 40 basis points to 12.4 percent due to lower segment operating income. Segment operating income declined $41 million due to a 2 percent sales decline and a lower segment operating margin rate than in the prior year period. The change in segment operating margin rate includes the impact of a $91 million decrease in net favorable adjustments, which was partially offset by the reversal of a $26 million non-programmatic risk reserve in Electronic Systems.

As of March 31, 2013, total backlog was $39.4 billion compared with $40.8 billion as of Dec. 31, 2012, and includes new awards of $4.7 billion during the first quarter of 2013. The decline in backlog and new awards is due to customer response to the current U.S. government budget environment.

The Aerospace Systems, Northrop grumman’s largest division increased sales by 4 percent in this quarter, to $2.485 billion, up from $2.383 billion in Q1/2012 due to higher volume for manned military aircraft and unmanned programs. The increase is attributed to deliveries of 10 major subsections for F-35 aircraft under low rate initial production lot 5 (LRIP 5). Higher unmanned volume reflects the ramp-up of the NATO AGS and Fire Scout programs, and the decline in space systems sales is due to lower volume for restricted programs. Aerospace Systems first quarter 2013 operating income declined 3 percent and operating margin rate was 10.9 percent.

Information Systems dropped significantly in the past quarter, where sales declined $170 million or 9 percent compared to Q1/2012. Besides program completion and organizational changes, that attributed to $25 million of the drop, the company stated the drop is attributed lower funding levels across the existing program portfolio, and in-theater force reductions. “Volume declined across a broad number of programs, and no single program accounted for a material amount of the total sales decline.” the report said.

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Russian T-50 Fighter Jet to Start State Flight Test in 2014

By on Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Russia will start state flight tests of its fifth-generation T-50 fighter jet in 2014, United Aircraft Corporation’s President Mikhail Pogosyan told reporters on Tuesday.

“In 2013 we are expected to wrap up its preliminary tests and start operational testing. In 2014, we are planning to start official state tests,” Pogosyan said on Tuesday, adding “the first stage of the state trials should be complete by 2015.”

The test program involves six prototype airframes, including four flying, one static and one systems test airframe. Another flying prototype will join the tests this year, Pogosyan said. “Flight testing this year will go ahead with five aircraft,” he said.

The T-50, also known as PAK-FA (future tactical fighter aircraft), first flew in January 2010 and was presented to the public at the Moscow Air Show in 2011.

The T-50, which will be the core of Russia’s future fighter fleet, is a fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft featuring elements of “stealth” technology,” super-maneuverability, super-cruise capability (supersonic flight without use of afterburner), and an advanced avionics suite including an X-band active phased-array radar.

India will also buy a fighter aircraft based on the T-50, known as the FGFA (fifth-generation fighter aircraft).

United Aircraft Corporation is the state holding company uniting Russia’s aircraft building industry including Sukhoi, a military and civil aircraft manufacturer.

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South Korea-US drills start as North rejects armistice

By on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

South Korea and the United States launched joint drills Monday involving thousands of troops, defying North Korea’s apocalyptic threat to repudiate the 60-year-old Korean War armistice in retaliation.

The start of the two-week “Key Resolve” exercise follows a week of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, with North Korea also threatening nuclear war over UN sanctions adopted after its third atomic test last month.

Pyongyang has condemned the annual joint manoeuvres as a provocative invasion rehearsal and announced that — effective Monday — it was scrapping the 1953 armistice and voiding non-aggression treaties signed with the South.

The South’s Unification Ministry confirmed that the North appeared to have carried through on another promise to cut a telephone hotline between Pyongyang and Seoul.

“The North did not answer our call this morning,” a ministry spokeswoman said. The hotline was installed in 1971 and the North has severed it on five occasions in the past — most recently in 2010.

In a dispatch late Monday from its official news agency KCNA, North Korea restated its view that the armistice, “which has existed for form’s sake, would be completely invalid from March 11″.

The US-South Korean wargames are “bringing the dark clouds of a nuclear war to hang over the Korean peninsula”, KCNA added, while vowing that North Korea’s armed forces were ready for an “all-out action”.

Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling communist party, said that with “the ceasefire agreement blown apart… no one can predict what will happen from now on”.

Voiding the armistice theoretically paves the way for a resumption of hostilities, as the two Koreas never signed a formal peace treaty and remain technically at war.

“The North is giving the impression it wants to put things back to where they were 60 years ago,” said Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

The United Nations said Monday that the armistice remains intact because it was approved by the UN General Assembly and cannot be terminated unilaterally.

Experts point out that North Korea has declared the ceasefire dead or obsolete nearly a dozen times in the past 20 years.

On the last occasion in 2009, the North specifically said it would no longer guarantee the safety of US or South Korean naval vessels operating near the disputed maritime border.

The sinking of a South Korean naval corvette and the shelling of a South Korean island near the border followed in 2010.

Sabre-rattling and displays of brinkmanship are nothing new in the region, but there are concerns that the current situation is so volatile that one accidental step could escalate into serious confrontation and conflict.

Having issued so many dire warnings, the North will feel obliged to take some provocative action, observers say. Yang predicted short-range missile tests or an incursion across the sea border.

The analyst said he found it “particularly alarming” that North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-Un appeared content to act with no concern for the response of ally China — widely seen as losing patience with its volatile neighbour.

“Key Resolve” is an annual, largely computer-simulated exercise, but still involves the mobilisation of more than 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 US military personnel. About 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea.

The South Korean Defence Ministry says North Korea is expected to carry out its own large-scale military drill along its eastern front this week, involving the army, navy and air force.

North Korean artillery bases on islands close to the disputed maritime border have already placed their cannon in firing positions, ministry officials said.

The North’s foreign ministry has already warned that a second Korean War is “unavoidable” and threatened “pre-emptive nuclear attacks” on the United States and South Korea.

The North is not seen as having the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead to the US mainland.

South Korea, which usually shrugs off Pyongyang’s fiery rhetoric, has promised to retaliate to any provocation with a precision strike on the North’s leadership command.

The surge in tensions is an early challenge to South Korea’s new President Park Geun-Hye, who was only sworn in two weeks ago and is still without a confirmed defence minister, national security adviser or intelligence chief.

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F-35B Completes First Airborne Engine Start Tests

By on Friday, September 7th, 2012

The F-35 integrated test force announced the completion of a major prerequisite test for in-flight performance on the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Sept. 4.

BF-2 completed the first air starts, which test the ability of the F-35′s propulsion system to restart during flight. Verifying the restart capability of the propulsion system is part of the initial flight test program for the F-35 and a prerequisite for high angle-of-attack testing, scheduled to start next year.

“High alpha, or angle-of-attack tests, are important for us to fully evaluate the aircraft’s handling characteristics and warfighting capability,” said Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Matthew Kelly. “Maximizing the performance of the airplane around the very slow edges of the flight envelope is probably some of the most challenging testing we will conduct. After we get through it, we’ll know a lot more about how this aircraft will perform during combat within visual range.”

Using multiple restart methods during the tests, BF-2 successfully completed a series of 27 air starts at various altitudes Aug. 15.

To execute air start testing, the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River ferried BF-2 and an F/A-18 chase aircraft from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 to the F-35A testing facility at Edwards AFB.

“At Edwards, we have a unique testing range, which provides ideal and controlled conditions for completing air start testing. The Edwards range is comprised of 20,000 square miles of airspace, and has 65 linear miles of useable landing area on Rogers and Rosamond Dry Lakes, if required during engine out testing,” said Lt. Col. George N. Schwartz, commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and government site director. “In addition, we’ve recently completed air start testing on the F-35A, so we’re able to share some of our expertise with the Pax team as well.”

The core of the F-35B’s propulsion system is the F135 engine, capable of more than 40,000 pounds of thrust.

“The F135 continues to power a successful flight test program,” said Roy Hauck, Pratt & Whitney site lead at the F-35 Patuxent River ITF. “The aircraft and its integrated systems demonstrated intentional flameout and successful recovery scenarios during air start flight tests, and BF-2 and the team did a great job.”

A team of approximately 60 ITF and VX-23 personnel provided engineering and maintenance requirements for the events.

The detachment to Edwards from NAS Patuxent River overlapped with a busy summer flight testing schedule.

“In the past two months, we’ve sent detachments to Edwards and Lakehurst [N.J.], and maintained a full-tempo test schedule here,” said Navy Capt. Erik Etz, director of test for F-35 naval variants at NAS Patuxent River. “The team of military, government and industry personnel rallied to make all the events happen, and they can be proud of their accomplishments.”

The F-35B is the variant of the Joint Strike Fighter designed for use by U.S. Marine Corps, as well as F-35 international partners in the United Kingdom and Italy. The F-35B is capable of short take-offs and vertical landings to provide air power from amphibious ships, ski jump aircraft carriers and expeditionary airfields. The F-35B is undergoing test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River prior to delivery to the fleet.

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