Sunday, June 6, 2010

DTN News: Saudi Aramco Takes Delivery Of Three AW139 Helicopters

Defense News: DTN News: Saudi Aramco Takes Delivery Of Three AW139 Helicopters
Source: DTN News / AgustaWestland
(NSI News Source Info) VERGIATE, Italy - June 6, 2010: AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that Saudi Aramco has taken delivery of three more AW139 medium twin helicopters during an official ceremony held at AgustaWestland’s Vergiate plant in Italy. These aircraft will be used to support oil and gas operations in Saudi Arabia. The AW139 has achieved great success in many countries in the Middle East for a wide range of applications. It is now also in service with many of the global helicopter operators thanks to its outstanding features in terms of performance in the most demanding conditions, operational effectiveness, mission capability, safety and ease of maintenance.The AW139 has quickly become the helicopter of choice in the world medium twin market. The AW139 meets the most stringent civil and government certification standards, including the FAA and JAA FAR/JAR Part 29 requirements. An ergonomic cockpit, excellent handling characteristics and low vibration levels significantly reduce pilot fatigue and enhance comfort. Two powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6C-67C engines with FADEC deliver a high power-to-weight ratio maximizing safety in demanding operational conditions. With its power reserve, the AW139 delivers Category A (Class 1) performance from a helipad (elevated or at ground level) at maximum take-off weight with a superior one engine inoperative capability compared to other helicopters in its class.The standard AW139 cabin configuration provides seating for twelve or fifteen passengers in a large and bright 8.0 m3 cabin with excellent ease of access and egress via large sliding cabin doors. Excellent payload and performance ensure unmatched productivity for offshore operations. Energy-absorbing landing gear, fuselage and seats as well as high main and tail rotor ground clearance provide added safety for the passengers and ground staff whilst on the ground. Over 130 customers from almost 50 countries have ordered over 460 helicopters to perform a wide range of roles also including offshore transport, EMS/SAR, VIP/corporate transport, law enforcement, utility and government missions.Over 130 customers from almost 50 countries have ordered over 460 helicopters to perform a wide range of roles also including offshore transport, EMS/SAR, VIP/corporate transport, law enforcement, utility and government missions.

DTN News: Indonesia Plans To Buy More Submarines, C-130s

Defense News: DTN News: Indonesia Plans To Buy More Submarines, C-130s
* Plans to modernise some of its C-130s, buy another 10
* Looking to buy more submarines in a "couple of years"
Source: DTN News / By Harry Suhartono and Nopporn Wong-Anan (Reuters)
(NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - June 6, 2010: Indonesia plans to increase the size of its submarine fleet over the next two years to defend its territory as well as protect international shipping lanes, its defence minister said on Saturday.
Purnomo Yusgiantoro also told Reuters the country was discussing buying 10 more C-130 military transport aircraft from Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) but had not come to any agreement.
Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago with more than 17,000 islands, lies across shipping lanes between the Indian and Pacific oceans as well as between Asia and Australia, heavily used for transporting commodities and energy. It currently has two submarines.
Singapore put out a warning earlier this year about possible attacks on ships in the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes that lies between the city state, Indonesia and Malaysia and carries about 40 percent of global trade.
"We have several countries that we think are able to supply them (submarines). We want to make sure that it would be compatible to our needs as well as our sea (conditions)," Yusgiantoro said in an interview on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore.
"They are very important in order for us to guard sea lanes. We are going to have that in a couple of years," he said, without giving further details.
Yusgiantoro also said the government had earmarked funds in this year's budget to modernise some of its 32 C-130s.
"We can use that (plane) not only to bring troops, but also for humanitarian missions. We are ready to buy but we are still in discussions with the seller."
Indonesia set aside 42 trillion rupiah ($4.6 billion) in 2010 for defence spending, with most earmarked for operating expenditure for its 550,000-strong military force.
The country plans to boost its defence spending up to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2014 from about 0.7-0.8 percent in 2010, among the lowest in the region.
Yusgiantoro held a meeting with U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Friday, which he characterised as "very good".
Indonesia is currently working to improve its military ties with the United States, including removing a ban on military training for its special forces, put in place over rights abuses blamed on elite troops.
"I think things will become more positive," Yusgiantoro said, but he did not comment on when the ban was likely to be removed.
Yusgiantoro, a Catholic minister in the world's most populous Muslim country, said his nation's defence ties with Washington were akin to a marriage, which could be rocky at times.
"I don't see any problem with our cooperation. But you know you always have little things going on, something like little arguments between you and your wife after she found a picture of another girl in your pocket," he said.
($1=9,175 Rupiah)
(Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, John Stonestreet)

DTN News: Arms To Taiwan No Reason To Suspend US-China Ties Says Defense Secretary Robert Gates

Defense News: DTN News: Arms To Taiwan No Reason To Suspend US-China Ties Says Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Source: DTN News / By Dan De Luce (AFP)
(NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - June 6, 2010: Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Saturday chided China for suspending military ties over US arms sales to Taiwan, saying Beijing's stance "makes little sense".
Renewing his call for stronger relations between the Chinese and US militaries, Gates said such a dialogue should not be "held hostage" over the weapons sales.
The sales have been going on for decades and Washington has made clear that it does not support independence for Taiwan, Gates said in a speech at a security conference in Singapore.
"Chinese officials have broken off interactions between our militaries, citing US arms sales to Taiwan as the rationale," he said.
"For a variety of reasons, this makes little sense."
But a top Chinese officer at the conference rejected Gates' view, saying Beijing was not to blame and that arms sales to Taiwan and US naval ships in the South China Sea were undermining military relations.
"We do not regard US arms sales to Taiwan as something normal," General Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of staff of the Peope's Liberation Army (PLA), said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual high-level security forum.
"The United States says it does not support Taiwan independence. We hope it's not simply... lip service," he said.
Gates had planned to travel to Beijing as part of an Asian tour that began Thursday in Singapore. But China rebuffed the defence secretary and called off the visit.
As a result, Gates chose not to meet the Chinese military delegation at the Singapore conference. After his speech, an uncomfortable exchange between a Chinese general and Gates illustrated the often tense relations between the two countries' militaries.
Major General Zhu Chenghu, speaking in English, asked Gates to explain what he called a contradiction between the US condemnation of North Korea over the sinking of Seoul's Cheonan warship and a more cautious US reaction to a deadly raid by Israel against a Gaza-bound aid ship.
"I think it (the Israeli raid) needs to be investigated and we will withhold judgement until that investigation is complete. But I think there is no comparison whatever between what happened in the eastern Mediterranean and what happened to the Cheonan," said Gates.
The South Korean ship was the target of a surprise attack, Gates said, while the Israelis issued warnings to the aid ship before their raid.
After his remarks, Gates walked over and shook hands with General Ma, the head of the Chinese delegation.
In his speech, Gates said President Barack Obama's decision to approve an arms package for Taiwan in January should have come as no surprise, as it was in keeping with long-standing US policy.
He said Washington had declared publicly for years that it did not endorse independence for Taiwan.
Gates said China's on-off approach would not persuade Washington to alter its policy and argued that US weapons sales to Taiwan helped maintain regional peace given China's growing military buildup.
Gates on Thursday suggested a rift between Chinese civilian and military leaders on the issue, saying the People's Liberation Army was much less interested in building US ties than the political leadership.
Along with calls for cooperation, Gates also said the United States would retain its elaborate military presence across the region.
"We are, and will remain, a Pacific power," he said.
While Ma voiced concern over US operations in the South China Sea, Gates called for unfettered access to the resource-rich area and said Washington objected to any effort to "intimidate" US energy firms in the region.
The South China Sea was the subject of "growing concern" due to various territorial disputes in the region, which could pose a threat to free navigation and "economic development", he said.

DTN News: Israel Diverts Gaza Aid Ship Rachel Corrie To Ashdod

Defense News: DTN News: Israel Diverts Gaza Aid Ship Rachel Corrie To Ashdod
Source: DTN News / BBC News Saturday, 5 June 2010
(NSI News Source Info) ASHDOD, Israel - June 6, 2010: An aid ship intercepted by the Israeli military while trying to break the blockade of Gaza has arrived in the Israeli port of Ashdod.
Israel says its soldiers boarded the Irish-owned Rachel Corrie from the sea and did not meet any resistance.
There has been no word from those on board, who include several activists.
The incident comes five days after nine people were killed in clashes when troops boarded a Turkish aid ship, prompting international criticism.
Israel says it will question those on board at the port and transfer the aid to the Gaza Strip by land after checking the cargo for banned items.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the peaceful outcome to the operation.
The Israeli military issued footage of the Rachel Corrie boarding
"We saw today the difference between a ship of peace activists, with whom we don't agree but respect their right to a different opinion from ours, and between a ship of hate organised by violent Turkish terror extremists," Mr Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying.
Mary Hughes, a co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement which organised the shipment, told the BBC she was "outraged" by the latest Israeli action.
"They (the Israelis) once again went into international water and violently boarded a boat and forced people against their will to go to Israel, when all we wanted was to be left to go to Gaza, which is our goal," she said.
She added that further aid shipments to Gaza would be organised.
"We will continue until we break the siege," she said. Passengers gathered
There are five Irish and six Malaysian pro-Palestinian activists, plus several crew, on the boat.
The Rachel Corrie is named after a US college student who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer as she protested over house demolitions in Gaza in 2003.
Israel has blockaded Gaza since 2007, when the Islamist Hamas movement took control of the territory.
The 1,200 tonne cargo ship was boarded about 16 nautical miles (30km) off the Israeli coast.
Israeli military spokeswoman Lt Col Avital Leibovich said the takeover took just minutes, and the ship's captain had gathered the passengers in one area of the vessel.
Aerial Footage of IDF Soldiers Boarding the 7th Flotilla Boat without Incident, 5 June 2010

Footage taken by the Israeli military from a helicopter above the Rachel Corrie showed the activists sitting in the middle of the top deck.
The ship had previously ignored repeated requests to change course, the Israeli military said.
The Cyprus-based Free Gaza Movement is a coalition of pro-Palestinian groups and human rights organisations.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev accused the group of hypocrisy, saying "While they appear to use the language of human rights in, their propaganda, it appears they have embraced the [Hamas] regime that has no respect for human rights whatsoever," AP said.
The Rachel Corrie is carrying hundreds of tonnes of aid, including wheelchairs, medical supplies and cement. Construction materials are banned from entering Gaza by Israel, which says they could be used for military purposes by Hamas.
Israel came under fierce criticism after its troops shot dead nine people during a violent confrontation with those on board the Turkish Mavi Marmara in the early hours of Monday
Israel says its commandos were attacked with weapons, including knives, and opened fire in self-defence. Activists on the ship say troops shot at them without provocation.
The BBC's Jon Donnison in Gaza says Hamas has declared the week's events a victory, and a defeat for Israel.
Hamas says the world's attention is now focused on Israel's blockade of the territory, he adds.
Israel says its policies towards Gaza will not change while Hamas remains in power and while rockets continue to be fired from Gaza into Israel.
Protests over Israeli action against Gaza aid shipments were held in several cities around the world on Saturday, including Dublin, London, Istanbul, Paris and Cairo.