Saturday, April 24, 2010

DTN News: US Military Commander Will Not Promise Not To Down IAF Jets Heading To Iran

Defense News: DTN News: US Military Commander Will Not Promise Not To Down IAF Jets Heading To Iran
Source: DTN News / Yechiel Spira – Yeshiva World News YWN Israel
(NSI News Source Info) TEL AVIV, Israel - April 24, 2010: Perhaps highlighting the unprecedented breakdown in relations between Israel and the United States, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff evaded responding to a question if the United States would shoot down an IAF fighter jet heading to Iran to attack that country’s nuclear facilities.According to the Virginia Weekly Standard, the American military commander appeared at a town hall meeting at the University of West Virginia, a young airman was quoted as asking if Israeli jets entered a US no-fly zone, would America down the jet(s).
His response was anything but direct, avoiding the question by stating “We have an exceptionally strong relationship with Israel. I’ve spent a lot of time with my counterpart in Israel. So we also have a very clear understanding of where we are. And beyond that, I just wouldn’t get into the speculation of what might happen and who might do what. I don’t think it serves a purpose, frankly”.
The airman was somewhat persistent, then asking if he or his colleagues might be ordered to fire at Israeli Air Force jets. Once again, the response was far from expected, seeking to sidestep the question.
“Again, I wouldn’t move out into the future very far from here. They’re an extraordinarily close ally, have been for a long time, and will be in the future”.

DTN News: India Light Combat Aircraft Ready Steady To Fly For Duty

Defense News: DTN News: India Light Combat Aircraft Ready Steady To Fly For Duty
Source: DTN News
(NSI News Source Info) BANGALORE, India - April 24, 2010: Light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas took a significant step towards induction into the Indian Air Force on Friday afternoon.
The third Tejas aircraft in the limited series production (LSP)-3 took to the skies carrying almost the complete and final configuration in terms of equipment fit, making it the first flight of a near-complete LCA.
The equipment included new air-data computers, multi-mode radar (MMR), new communication and navigation apparatus and a radar warning receiver.
The aircraft took off from the HAL airport in Bangalore and all objectives of the flight were met within 52 minutes, the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) said. ADA is the designer and developer of Tejas.
This is the first time that a Tejas aircraft in the LSP line-up carried the MMR.
“This is the culmination of the efforts of the Tejas team comprising members from HAL, IAF, the centre for military airworthiness and certification, directorate general of air quality assurance, the various DRDO labs and public sector undertakings,” ADA director PS Subramanyam said.
ADA scientists said with the successful Friday flight of LSP-3, Tejas was very close to initial operations clearance, which is to be completed by December 2010.

DTN News: China Sets Sights On Enhanced Air, Sea Power

Defense News: DTN News: China Sets Sights On Enhanced Air, Sea Power
Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) BEIJING, China - April 24, 2010: China is in the midst of an ambitious bid to modernize its military by the middle of this century. A key part of this effort is to downsize its army -- the world's largest -- while beefing up its air force and navy. This will enable China to project military force farther beyond its borders.
In an effort aimed to show transparency in this process, China recently opened up Yangcun air base outside Beijing to military attaches and foreign journalists.
Pilots of the People's Liberation Army Air Force 24th fighter division barnstormed their fighter jets past the reviewing stand, before landing and taxiing down the runway.
The planes are J-10s, a Chinese-built, multi-role fighter made to be roughly comparable to the American F-16. Division Commander Yan Feng has logged more than 600 hours flying them. China plans to export the planes, and Yan makes what sounds like a sales pitch.
"As a pilot, I think the user interface is very good," he says. "It's highly maneuverable, has a good range, and its armaments and fire control systems are not bad. It's not like our old aircraft, which could easily go into a tailspin. Barring a major error, it's not easy to lose control of this plane."
China's air force and navy have benefited from two decades of double-digit increases in defense spending. And because the air force and navy cost more to equip than the army, they're getting a bigger share of the defense budget than ever.
"It's quite natural that we want to build up a streamlined military force, which has more focus on technologies rather than manpower," says Defense Ministry spokesman Senior Col. Huang Xueping.
Changing Military Priorities
The emphasis on air and sea power is part of a historical trend. Over the past century and a half, China has turned its attention from defending its land borders to its coastline. Roy Kamphausen, senior vice president of the National Bureau of Asian Research in Washington, D.C., notes that the collapse of the Soviet Union accelerated this shift.
"Once that was accomplished, the traditional threats that China has faced from its north and west largely dissipated," Kamphausen says. "That coincided with the growth of China's economy and a more outward-looking approach and thus a need to be more of a maritime power in all its dimensions."
To build up its air force and navy, China needs to reduce the size of its overall force. Xu Guangyu is a retired People's Liberation Army general, who is now with a government think tank called the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
Xu figures that for a fairly modern military, China needs to spend about $100,000 per year on each serviceman, up from $30,000 now. Japan spends about $200,000, and the U.S. spends about $400,000.
"Assuming we increase defense spending by 8 percent per year, and reduce our total forces from 2.3 million to 1.5 million troops, we'll be able to spend $100,000 on each soldier by 2019," Xu says.
He points out that China's total spending is second only to that of the U.S. But it's low as measured by per capita spending. The argument is analogous to what the government says: Although China's overall economy is the world's third-largest, its people are still poor on a per capita basis.
Expanded Global Role For China's Military?
For the first time in about two decades, China's defense budget will grow at a single-digit clip -- roughly at the same rate as GDP growth. Xu explains that this is partly the effect of the economic recession, and partly to counter criticism that China is spending too much on military development.
Xu says China's military is currently about 60 percent army, 20 percent navy and 20 percent air force. He says China can achieve its aims by going to 50 percent army, and 25 percent each for navy and air force. He says China's need to project air and sea power is limited, so there's no need to go to a 40-30-30 ratio.
"China's land-based army will continue to be the main force," he predicts. "Our naval and air power will mostly be used to enhance the combat effectiveness of our ground forces."
For now, Kamphausen says that China has invested very little in overseas bases and refueling capabilities that would really allow China to project force around the globe.
"I'm beginning to conclude it's not that high a priority. And then, if it's not that high a priority, what does it say about how far they want Chinese air power to be able to reach? Still probably pretty close to home," he says.
Kamphausen says analysts are encouraged because China can now project its force in support of international missions, such as patrolling for Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. But analysts are also concerned because China's newly acquired weapons could one day be used to target U.S. forces in the event of a conflict over Taiwan.

JAL seen posting loss of $1.7 billion: report

Defense News: TOKYO (Reuters) - Debt-ridden Japan Airlines (JAL) is forecast to have posted a group operating loss of about 160 billion yen ($1.7 billion) for the financial year that ended in March, Japan's Sankei newspaper reported on Sunday.

JAL and two subsidiaries filed in January for bankruptcy protection with a combined $25 billion in debt -- on of the largest corporate failures in Japanese history.

A Japan Airlines aircraft takes off at Haneda airport in Tokyo January 13, 2010. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

A Japan Airlines aircraft takes off at Haneda airport in Tokyo January 13, 2010. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

JAL's results will be the worst since it had tied up with JapanAirlines System in 2002 as revenue dropped sharply due to a rapid slowdown in the Japanese economy, the newspaper reported without citing any sources.

The airline's subsidiary, Japan Airlines International, appears to have secured a small profit in March, Sankei reported.

But JAL continues to face difficulties in its business in April as volcanic eruptions in Iceland forced flight cancellations, the newspaper added.

JAL and the state-backed Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp of Japan (ETIC) compiled a restructuring plan earlier in the month to reduce its workforce by a third, or more than 16,000 jobs, by the end of current financial year in March 2011, Sankei said.

(Reporting by Chikafumi Hodo; Editing by Jerry Norton)