Monday, August 9, 2010

DTN News: Former Enemies US, Vietnam Now Military Mates

Defense News: DTN News: Former Enemies US, Vietnam Now Military Mates
Source: DTN News / AP
(NSI News Source Info) ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON - August 10, 2010: Cold War enemies the United States and Vietnam demonstrated their blossoming military relations Sunday as a U.S. nuclear supercarrier cruised in waters off the Southeast Asian nation's coast — sending a message that China is not the region's only big player.
The visit comes 35 years after the Vietnam War as Washington and Hanoi are cozying up in a number of areas, from negotiating a controversial deal to share civilian nuclear fuel and technology to agreeing that China needs to work with its neighbors to resolve territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The USS George Washington's stop is officially billed as a commemoration of last month's 15th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations between the former foes. But the timing also reflects Washington's heightened interest in maintaining security and stability in the Asia-Pacific amid tensions following the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, which killed 46 sailors. North Korea has been blamed for the attack, but has vehemently denied any involvement.
Last month during an Asian security meeting in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also angered China by unexpectedly calling on the Communist powerhouse to resolve territorial claims with neighboring Southeast Asian countries over islands in the South China Sea.
"The strategic implications and importance of the waters of the South China Sea and the freedom of navigation is vital to both Vietnam and the United States," Capt. Ross Myers, commander of the George Washington's air wing, said aboard the ship Sunday as fighter jets thundered off the flight deck above.
"I'm certain that the Chinese government and the Chinese people are trying to protect their interests," he added when asked about China's increased aggressiveness within the area. "It is more important for Vietnam (and) its partners to establish that they have an equal right to economic prosperity and peace within the region as well."
Chinese navy ships were seen shadowing the USS George Washington at a distance over the past several days as the supercarrier made its way throught the South China Sea along Vietnam's eastern coast, U.S. Navy officials said Sunday.
China claims the entire sea and the disputed Spratly and Paracel islands over which it exercises complete sovereignty. But Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines also have staked claims on all or some of the territory, which straddles vital shipping lanes, important fishing grounds and is believed rich in oil and natural gas reserves. Clinton announced that the U.S. has a national interest in seeing the claims resolved.
"The problem is that China has now committed herself, publicly, to sovereignty of the South China Sea and to push that back, if only to the status of a claim that is not enforced, is going to be very difficult," said Arthur Waldron, an international relations specialist at the University of Pennsylvania. "So we are playing catch up, reminding the Chinese that we have not collapsed into post-great powerdom yet, and that we have other friends in the region."
Vietnam has long been vocal about the issue, protesting China's plans to bring tourists to the islands and most recently seismic studies conducted near the Paracels. Last month China also held naval drills in the South China Sea.
"Vietnam does not support containing China, but like most other ASEAN members would like to see each major power offset the other," Carl Thayer, a Vietnam expert at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra, said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. "Quite simply, these are not too subtle signals that Vietnam wants the United States to stay engaged in the region to balance China."
The formidable USS George Washington is a permanent presence in the Pacific, based in Japan. As one of the world's biggest warships, it is a floating city that can carry up to 70 aircraft, more than 5,000 sailors and aviators and about 4 million pounds (1.8 million kilograms) of bombs. It lurked Sunday about 200 miles (320 kilometers) off the central coast of Danang, Vietnam's jumping-off point for the disputed islands.
A group of high-ranking Vietnamese military officials was flown onto the carrier Sunday along with other Vietnamese government officials and the U.S. ambassador to the country.
The supercarrier came to Vietnam following four days of high-profile military exercises last month with South Korea aimed at showing solidarity following the sinking of the 1,200-ton Cheonan navy ship. The drills enraged Pyongyang and drew repeated criticism from its Chinese ally.
A Chinese newspaper ran a front-page story last week strongly hinting that China also is not happy about reports that Vietnam and the U.S. are negotiating a civilian nuclear fuel and technology deal that could allow Vietnam to enrich uranium on its own soil.
U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said China had not been consulted about the talks, but he would not discuss the specifics of the enrichment provision. Congressional aides have said the agreement will likely not contain a no-enrichment pledge, which the U.S. promotes as the "gold standard" for civilian nuclear cooperation accords to ensure materials are not being used to build a nuclear weapon.
Vietnam has denied having any plans to enrich uranium on its own soil.
The aircraft carrier's visit is particularly symbolic as it cruises off the coast of central Danang, once the site of a bustling U.S. military base during the Vietnam War, which ended April 30, 1975, when northern communist forces seized control of the U.S.-backed capital of South Vietnam, reuniting the country.
Some 58,000 Americans and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese were killed during the war.
Relations have thrived since the former foes shook hands in 1995. The U.S. is Vietnam's top export market and Americans are the country's No. 1 foreign investor. Two-way trade reached $15.4 billion in 2009.
Military ties have also grown since the first U.S. warship ship visited Ho Chi Minh City in 2003, including high-level defense talks and training.
The USS John McCain destroyer will pay a port call to Vietnam later this week. The two navies are expected to have cultural exchanges along with training exercises, such as search and rescue operations.

DTN News: Finland Upgrading Hornet Fighters

Defense News: DTN News: Finland Upgrading Hornet Fighters
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources including YLE Finnish Broadcasting Corp.; issued Aug. 8, 2010
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - August 10, 2010: The Finnish Defence Forces are preparing to spend more than a billion euros in the upgrading of its fleet of F-18 Hornet jet fighters.
The US-built planes are at about the halfway point of their effective lifespans. The upgrade is set to extend their usefulness so that new fighters would not be needed before 2025. Nevertheless, the Finnish Air Forces is looking at other possible jet fighters on the market.
The most recent achievement of advanced military aviation is the American F-35 fighter, which Norway’s air force is planning to acquire.
Finland is also looking at the F-35, although the super-modern jet is also super expensive.
Precision Weapons for Hornet
The Air Force says that it is now concentrating on the upgrading of the Hornet.
The planes, which are primarily attended to give the Finns the capability to repulse an attack, are being modified to function as assault planes, capable of hitting land targets from a long distance.
Army Also Upgrading Equipment
The Finnish Army is also planning to upgrade much of its materiel. East German equipment, including Leopard tanks which were acquired in the 1990s, is becoming obsolete.
A key requirement in new acquisitions is compatibility with NATO systems, even though Finland has no immediate plans to join the alliance.
Finnish Air Force - F-18 Hornet
The F-18 Hornet is the Finnish Air Force variant of the Boeing IDS F/A-18 Hornet multi-role attack and fighter aircraft. The aircraft is almost identical to a late F/A-18C/D used by the US Navy, as well as the Hornets used by the Swiss Air Force, although no air-to-ground equipment or weapons were purchased with the aircraft. The decision to rename the aircraft to F-18 was mainly a political decision to underline the air defense role of the fighters.
The decision to purchase the aircraft (64 in total, with 7 two-seat F-18D models and 57 single-seated F-18C models) was made in 1992, soon after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. The original plan was to buy about 40 western fighters and about 20 Soviet fighters due to political reasons, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union this was no longer necessary. The plan changed to 60 single-seat + 7 dual seat fighters of the same type, and the F-18 won the contest. To keep the budget the number of fighters to be purchased was decreased by three, to 57+7. The 57 single-seat aircraft were produced in Finland by Patria.
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News, contact:
YLE Finnish Broadcasting Corp. ~ Related News

DTN News: Kyrgyzstan TODAY August 10, 2010 - Kyrgyzstan Denies New U.S. Base Talks

Defense News: DTN News: Kyrgyzstan TODAY August 10, 2010 - Kyrgyzstan Denies New U.S. Base Talks
Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - August 10, 2010: The Kyrgyz interim government is not negotiating with the United States on the establishment of a new military base in the republic, government spokesman Farid Niyazov said on Monday.
The Washington Post reported on Saturday that the United States is planning to move ahead with construction of a $10 million military training base in Osh, called "the Osh Polygon."
It said discussions continued "under the new Kyrgyz president, Roza Otunbayeva, with whose government Washington is trying to broaden relationships."
"The interim government is conducting no negotiations with the United States on this subject. President Roza Otunbayeva has repeatedly stated that this decision will be the prerogative of a popularly elected parliament," Niyazov said.
Parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan have been set for this coming fall.
Defense Ministry spokesperson Aizada Igibayev said reports "about the establishment of a U.S. military base in the republic are at odds with the facts."
The Washington Post said Osh Polygon will consist of "a secure garrison compound with officers' quarters and barracks for enlisted personnel, plus range facilities, firing pistols, rifles, crew-served weapons and explosive ordnance."
It said so far this year, the United States has contributed $45 million to the Kyrgyz government and paid $13 million in fees for use of the Manas Base, "a key facility aiding the war in Afghanistan."
Washington recently pledged an additional $8.6 million in humanitarian assistance to the Bishkek government as its contribution at a World Bank donors conference.
Related News

DTN News: NORAD, Russia To Conduct First-Ever Joint Air Defense Drills

Defense News: DTN News: NORAD, Russia To Conduct First-Ever Joint Air Defense Drills
Source: DTN News / RIA Novosti
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, U.S. - August 10, 2010: The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Russian Air Force will hold their first-ever joint air defense exercise on August 8-11, NORAD said.
The exercise, dubbed VIGILANT EAGLE, involves Russian, Canadian and U.S. Air Force personnel operating from command centers at the Elmendorf airbase in Alaska, and in Khabarovsk, Russia.
"Airborne warning and control aircraft [AWACS E-3B and A-50] from Russia and the United States will be involved along with fighter-interceptor aircraft and refueling aircraft from both countries," NORAD said in a statement on Tuesday.
The exercise scenario, put together by NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, will create a situation that requires both the Russian Air Force and NORAD to launch or divert fighter aircraft to investigate and follow a U.S. flagged commercial air carrier on an international flight that has been taken over by terrorists.
The exercise will be carried out under a cooperative military agreement between Russia and the United States, which tasks NORAD, the bi-national U.S. and Canadian command, and the Russian Air Force to conduct a live-fly exercise for up to five days.

DTN News: Aerospace/Defense Headlines - News Dated August 9, 2010

Defense News: DTN News: Aerospace/Defense Headlines - News Dated August 9, 2010
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - August 9, 2010: Comprehensive daily news related on Aerospace/Defense for the world of TODAY.

*Comprehensive daily news related on Aerospace/Defense for the world of TODAY.

Monday August 9, 2010

Friday August 6, 2010