Archive for September 2010

China’s Naval Build-up

 China scholar stated flatly that the People's Liberation ArmyNavy (PLAN) halted development of its submarine fleet after takingdelivery of the last of its Russian-built Kilo-class dieselattack boats in 2006. From such leading indicators he concluded thatBeijing can do little more than issue ‘hollow threats’ against US navaloperations in Asia. And it’s ‘hyperbole’ to think the Chinese militarycan contest US Navy access to regional waters.

This autumn, in a similar vein, some maritime specialists in placeslike Washington and Newport have taken to pointing out that the PLANhas built no new destroyers for its surface fleet for five years. Suchreports imply, without quite coming out and saying it, that Beijing'snaval project has stalled or been deliberately terminated. If so, otherseafaring nations like the United States and Japan can relax theirguard, sparing taxpayers the expense and hazards of competing withChina on the high seas.
We beg to differ.

To be sure, there’s a grain of truth to the speculation. Considerthe no-new-submarines claim. The authoritative shows that overall PLAN submarine totals remainednearly flat between 2007-2010. The subsurface fleet increased onlymarginally during this interval, rising from 62 to 63 boats. Newconstruction barely outpaced the retirement of decrepit Cold War-erahulls.
But this is a momentary lull. Once the PLAN finishes shedding oldassets, the submarine fleet will resume its upward trajectory.Estimates indicate that the navy will add 10 modern Song- and Yuan-classdiesel subs by 2015 and an additional 10 by 2020. If such projectionsare accurate, the fleet will be 78 boats strong. Moreover, this leavesaside the possibility, fanned by photos now circulating amongChina-watchers, that the PLAN is preparing to unveil a new class ofdiesel boats based partly on older craft, partly on Russian designs.

By contrast, the Naval Vessel Register lists 54 US nuclear-poweredattack submarines in commission, only 60 percent of which are stationedin the Pacific. This total may shrink given the strains on Americanacquisition budgets. Boat for boat, the US Navy undersea force remainssuperior to its emerging rival, but the weight of numbers is shiftingincreasingly toward China. This will remain true as long as the ChineseNavy remains concentrated in East Asia and the US Navy remainsencumbered with worldwide commitments, attenuating the numbersavailable for deployment to any one trouble spot.

Next, consider surface combatants. A casual glance at Jane's Fighting Shipsshows that destroyer construction has indeed ceased for now. Between2001 and 2005, the PLAN laid down six guided-missile destroyer (DDG)keels, namely two Type 051C Luzhous, two Type 052B Luyang Is, and two Type 052C Luyang IIs. DDGs represent the core of Chinese surface action groups and can screen major platforms — Russian-built Sovremenny destroyers or, eventually, aircraft carriers — against air and submarine attack.

The PLAN touts the Luyang II as the equal of the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-classdestroyer, the US Navy's premier Aegis surface combatant (thoughwhether it will live up to this billing is another matter.) The last ofthese DDGs joined the surface fleet in early 2007.

But there’s more to fleet development than destroyers. Shipconstruction has not stopped altogether; it has merely shifted around.China continues to lay down hulls for Type 054A Jiangkai II-classguided-missile frigates (FFGs), the most advanced ships of their typein the PLAN inventory. These FFGs are now entering projects that 12 Jiangkais will be inservice by this year, 22 by 2015. The surface fleet clearly is notstagnating despite the halt in production of top-end combatants.

As with the submarine fleet, isolated statistics deceive.

Moreover, China has been pouring resources into refurbishing the decommissioned Soviet aircraft carrier Varyag, most likely as a training platform for naval aviators. The Varyagwas reportedly completed without a propulsion plant and certainlysuffered from years of neglect. Correcting such deficiencies consumestime, effort, and resources that might otherwise have gone intoadditional surface warships.
And this leaves aside the new-construction flattops Beijing has moreor less admitted it’s pursuing. Competing demands on finite resourcesbegin to explain China's on-and-off procurement process. Carrierconstruction is an enormous undertaking, and one that Chineseshipwrights have never before attempted. It is not at all surprisingthat the pace of manufacturing certain ship types would slacken to makeway for high-profile projects like aircraft carriers.

Furthermore, the pause in destroyer construction would conform tothe PLAN's history of ‘fleet experimentation.’ That is, the dearth ofserious threats to maritime security affords the Chinese Navy theleisure to build small batches of ships of different configurations,take them to sea, evaluate their performance, and incorporate thelessons-learned into future classes. Shipbuilders thereby improve onstrengths and compensate for past shortcomings.

That the PLAN simultaneously built two apiece of three classes of DDGs, then, is noteworthy. The Luyang IIclass in particular may be undergoing evaluation and redesign inkeeping with longstanding practice. The likely result: a new, improvedDDG.

This would fit another pattern in Chinese naval development: thetrend toward larger-displacement warships. The PLAN has derivedsuccessively heavier and more sophisticated ships from the same basichull design, much as the US Navy used the same hull for Spruance-class destroyers, Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers, and Ticonderoga-classAegis cruisers from the 1970s through the 1990s. And indeed, judgingfrom photos now making the rounds, it appears the PLAN may be pursuingcombatants exceeding 10,000 tons' displacement.

These would be the biggest such vessels ever to slide down the waysin China. But such a bombshell would be nothing new. The PLAN sprangthe Yuan submarine, the Type 022 Houbei fast patrol boat (a stealthy missile-armed catamaran), and the Luyang IIitself on unsuspecting Western intelligence services. The only surprisewould be if no further surprises lie in store. Serial production ofheavy, long-range escorts is a logical step for Beijing as it lays thegroundwork for aircraft-carrier task forces.

And the cautious, methodical approach to fleet development allowsthe Chinese naval leadership to hedge against premature investment inpoor designs and systems. The reputation of the Chinesemilitary-industrial complex for manufacturing substandard equipmentconfirms the wisdom of the go-slow approach. For example, China's Xia-classnuclear-powered ballistic-missile submarine has never conducted asingle deterrent patrol since its debut in the 1980s. The Xiahas been plagued by shoddy engineering and will likely be retiredwithout ever performing its primary mission. Prudence inclines Chineseofficials to guard against similar debacles.

In other words, the PLAN has been exploring a wide array of shipclasses, combat systems, and weaponry, picking and choosing those bestsuited to Beijing's operational and strategic needs. The evident pausein construction is probably a gestation period while the navalestablishment debates the pros and cons of certain technologies. It’sfar too soon for the United States and its Asian allies and friends toheave a sigh of relief. The safest assumption for Western strategistsis that Beijing's naval quest is simply entering another phase.

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Pakistan Ready To Russian Arms

The Pakistani Defense Ministry is to make a decision by the end ofthe month on the purchase of Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters. Pakistan also has plans to get Chinese J-10 fighters with Russian engines. Pakistan is ready to renew direct military technical cooperation with Russia, to which India is opposed.

The purchasing department of the Pakistani Defense Ministry willannounce the results of a tender for the delivery of ten Mi-17transport helicopters this month. The ministry wants only that model ofhelicopter, and insists that the provider have certification anoriginal producer. Only OAO OPK Oboronprom in Ulan-Ude fits that bill.That company provided Pakistan with three of the same helicopters lastyear. A Pakistani delegation will visit that enterprise in the comingweeks, and see the Kazan Helicopter Plant and the Klimov Plant in St.Petersburg.

Since India is a long-time Russian strategic military-technicalpartner, Russia has limited its sales to Pakistan to multipurposeequipment. In post-Soviet times, Russia has supplied about 50 Mi-8helicopters and its modernized version the Mi-17. Now Pakistan issuggesting direct military technical ties.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz commented that “Russia is a world power and we look at it as a global player. I suggest that global players should never make their relations with one country dependent on relations with another.”

The Russian government will soon have to decide on the re-export of Russian airplane engines to Pakistan again.
Islamabadwill soon sign a contract with Beijing on the purchase of 36 J-10fighter jets (otherwise known as FC-20) for delivery by the end of next year. Expertssay the deal will cost Pakistan around $1.5 billion. The planes will beequipped with AL-31FN engines made by the Russian MMP Salyut. Last month, Beijing reached an agreement with Moscow of 150 RD-93 engines to Pakistan by China. That deal was approved by Russian President Vladimir Putin personally.

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Pakistan to use force to stop violations of its territory

Pakistan's interior minister said Wednesday his country may use military force to stop violations of its territory.

“We will not allow anyone in any case to interfere in Pakistan'sterritory and if this continues, we will adopt all the set measuresincluding military action,” Rehman Malik told reporters. “I assure youwe are quite capable of defending our homeland.”

Malik said he was referring to two incidents of aerial engagements fromthe Afghanistan side into Pakistani territory by helicopters with theNATO-led International Security Assistance Force over the weekend, inwhich dozens of suspected militants were killed in what Pakistan saidwas its territory.

Islamabad strongly protested the action and sent a demarche -- a formalprotest relayed through diplomatic channels -- to NATO headquarters inBrussels, Belgium.

“These incidents are a clear violation and breach of the UN mandateunder which ISAF operates. The said mandate “terminates/finishes” atthe Afghanistan border. There are no agreed “hot pursuit” rules. Anyimpression to the contrary is not factually correct. Such violationsare unacceptable,” said a statement from Pakistan's foreign affairsministry on Monday.

“ISAF/NATO has been asked not to participate in any military actionthat violates the UN mandate and infringes upon Pakistan's sovereignty.In the absence of immediate corrective measures, Pakistan will beconstrained to consider response options,” the statement continued.

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Iranian Navy Get The New Bavar-2 Flying Boats

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BEML Offers 155mm, Artillery Gun To Army

BEML has reportedly offered a 155mm,52-caliber state-of-the-art artillery gun. 

The Bangalore-based defencepublic sector undertaking is ready with the wheeled gun and fieldtrials have already started at its testing tracks in the Kolar GoldFields (KGF), Karnataka.

This development comes in the backdrop of the fact that the artilleryhas not purchased a long-range gun in about 20 years following theBofors gun controversy. The Government recently gave the nod toinviting global tenders for the 155mm guns and the proposed contractfor over 1000 guns, besides other range of artillery guns includingHowitzers, worth over Rs. 20,000 crore.

BEML chairman and managing director VRS Natarajan said they were thenodal processing agency for this gun, which would enhance the lethalityof the defence forces. The gun is part of a technology transfer betweena Slovakian company, DMD, and BEML to produce this high-precision gunfor the Indian armed forces.

Natarajan said, "We have already been made a nodal processing agencyfor the 155mm, 52-caliber gun which is a state-of-the-art weapon to beinducted by India. We will produce and supply this to the defenceforces. It’s a technology transfer; India wants to go for a veryupgraded tank which is faster, lighter and able to have a greater firepower with lethality."

He also said, "For the wheeled gun project, we have tied up with aSlovakian company, DMD, for a defence offset and the vehicle hasalready been made available for trial. The time frame is about threeyears from the date of order by the defence forces. We expect it tocommence in the current year or at most the next year."

According to the BEML chief, the company was also looking at thetracked version of the same gun, which will give better fire power. "Wehave already set up a state-of-the-art, world-class test track. We havea firing range too," Natarajan said, adding that the PSU was also inthe process of setting up infrastructure for the overhauling of T72 andT90 tanks.

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SAAB Optimistic About MMRCA

As India's biggestdefence contract of $ 10 billion to acquire 126 (MMRCA) nears finalstages, the lone Swedish contender is optimistic of making it to thedownlist.

  Expressing optimism, SAAB executives saidthat their India campaign was enthusing them to enter the lucrativefighter market in the Asian region where many other nations areplanning major acquisitions.

  The Swedish companyexecutives are hopeful that the Indian Government would shortlist thecompetitors by December to bring the number of contenders from six totwo or three.
  The Gripen is in contention withAmerican F-16 and F-18/A Super Hornets, French Rafale, Russian MiG 35and Eurofighter Typhoon.

The company executivesclaimed that the Gripen had come through well in Indian flight trialsheld at Leh and Jaisalmer.

"The trials were acomplete success. We are very happy with the trials that went off early2010. We are looking forward to the next steps and we are hopeful,"Eddy de la Motte, Director, Gripen for India, told PTI on the sidelinesof the Africa Aerospace and Defence expo 2010.

Gripen, like other five contenders, had undergone trials at Bangalore,Leh and Jaisalmer for performance assessment trials over varyingterrain and weather conditions over six months that ended inMarch-April this year.

La Motte said the Indian AirForce pilots, who tested the 1,320 mile-per-hour jet, were a "reallyprofessional team" and the flight evaluation was "very demanding."

Gripen's Campaign Director and Test Pilot Magnus Lewis-Olsson said SAABwas looking forward to winning the Indian contract as it would mean alot for the company.

"If you win India, that would be a strong signal for the world," he said.

The Gripen fighter aircraft, which is in service in the Swedish andSouth African Air Force, flew for 12 to 15 hours for eight days andalso did single sorties during the trials.

Underthe MMRCA deal, India will acquire 126 aircraft in 86 single-seater and40 twin-engine seat configurations. It plans to procure 18 aircraft inflyaway conditions and produce 106 locally under license throughtechnology transfer.

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Osprey-Class Minehunter Coastal ships For India.

The US Senate has approved thetransfer of two Osprey-class minehunter coastal ships toIndia.

The two minehunter ships are Kingfisher (MHC-56) andCormorant (MHC-57). Both were decommissioned in 2007 and nowawaiting it’s to India.

Osprey-class coastal minehunters are designed to find,classify, and destroy moored and bottom naval mines from vitalwaterways. They use sonar and video systems, cable cutters anda mine detonating device that can be released and detonated byremote control. 

Their primary mission is reconnaissance, classification,and neutralisation of all types of moored and bottom mines inlittoral areas, harbours and coastal waterways. The ships areequipped with a high definition, variable-depth sonar, and aremotely-operated, robotic submarine used to neutralise mines.

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Indian Navy Submarine strategy

India's emphasis on undersea warfare is growing, but too slowly for many experts. Today, the Indian navy's submarine fleet - India's "silent service" - is beset with numerous problems and delays. 

In China, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) shows no sign of backing off its plans to gradually increase its presence in the Indian Ocean. This influx of Chinese naval vessels does not pose an immediate threat to India's national security, but the situation could change. 
Russia, however, may wield considerable influence over the flow of events. While Russia continues to serve as a vital cog in the vastmachinery that is driving the PLAN's construction and development of a modern submarine fleet, American submarine historian and expert Norman Polmar sees ample evidence that Russia is selling India better undersea than those it is selling China.

"China, unlike India, is a natural enemy of Russia, and despite China's distrust of Russia, the Chinese deal with the Russians because the Russians possess submarine and antisubmarine technologies that the Chinese want," said Polmar. "This is solely an economic relationship involving China as a customer whereas the Russian's longstanding military assistance relationship with India is based on a need to sustain both its economic and geopolitical bonds that Russia deems very important to its overall security."

At the same time, the US decision to sell India sophisticated anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft known as P-8 India (P-8I) is significant as well in terms of countering any Chinese sub activities in the Indian Ocean. Although US Defense Secretary Robert Gates might have a submarine surprise up his sleeve for Indian Defense Minister A K Antony who is currently in Washington for talks, this seems unlikely given the current restrictions on high-tech exports to India.

"Keep in mind that in the P-8I aircraft, India is getting an ASW
paltfom from the US, not comprehensive and advanced ASW systems such as sonar, or magnetic anomaly detectors," said Polmar.

China is well aware that India has another option at its disposal. Polmar agrees that India could quickly adopt and update the naval aviation strategy that the Soviet Union devised in the 1950s. By adding several 21st-century refinements and technological advancements - the P-8I takes India in that direction - India's degree of control over the Indian Ocean could be reinforced considerably, far surpassing what the Soviets achieved in the Western Pacific and elsewhere.

The naval aviation model looms large because India has only 16 submarines today, including 10 Russian-built Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines; four German Shishukumar-class subs; and two Russian Foxtrot subs which are used primarily for training purposes.

In June, India signed a US$80 million contract with Russia's Zvezdochka shipyard for the fifth in a series of overhauls and upgrade
of its Kilo subs. This overhaul commenced in August. 

Then in July, the Indian government allocated US$11 billion (over 500 billion rupees) for the development of six next-generation diesel submarines under Project-75 India (P-75I). With their air independent propulsion systems, these new subs will offer major operational advantages, and much to Pakistan's chagrin in particular, they are envisioned as stealthy, land attack subs.

"India's submarine force has declined because a good number of older subs will be retiring very soon - the Kilos start retiring in 2013, for example - and an insufficient number of newer subs have been acquired to replace them," said Dr Rajeswari Rajagopalan, senior fellow in security studies at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

"India's submarine fleet remains a coastal fleet because of a lack of nuclear-powered subs, and its reach is limited because the missiles on these subs have limited range. Finally, the focus of the Indian navy's attention also appears to be on large surface ships rather than submarines, which is hindering development of the sub fleet."

In mid-2009, India launched a nuclear sub, the INS Arihant. It is currently designated as an Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), and it is undergoing sea trials. If all goes well, Arihant might be transferred to the Indian navy by the end of 2011. Plans call for two more ATVs with a goal of building five or six new nuclear subs. It is still unclear whether these ATVs are nuclear strategic missile subs (SSBNs) or simply nuclear - powered attack subs (SSNs).

"Some estimates suggest that if India is to maintain an effective nuclear triad [from air, land and sea], India would need at least a fleet of 24 subs, though this is likely out of India's reach,' said Rajagopalan. "Meanwhile, a Russian nuclear-powered Akula II SSN - the K-152 Nerpa - has departed Russia for India under a 10-year lease."

Absent any replacements or additions to its existing fleet, the most upbeat assessment is that India's sub fleet could be reduced to around nine by 2014 or 2015. In fact, the Indian navy has already notified the government that there is strong possibility that only nine subs might be in service by 2012, and just five in the coming years. No matter which projection proves to be accurate, the result is still a single digit total.

India is in the process of getting six Scorpene subs from the French - with an option of six additional subs - to be built at the Mazagon facility in Mumbai under the supervision of French technicians, but this procurement is experiencing a slowdown. Mazagon Docks in Mumbai will construct three of the six, Hindustan Shipyard Ltd in Visakhapatnam will construct one, and the other two may be procured from foreign sources or built by another private shipyard in India

"The delivery of the first of the French Scorpenes, which was supposed to enter service in December 2012, has been delayed. Antony addressed this situation in parliament only a few weeks back. This will clearly impact upon India's undersea force levels," said Rajagopalan. "India has about 35 private shipyards, of which L&T [Larsen & Toubro Ltd] and Pipavav are believed to be competing to build the two submarines, of the six planned."

Some doubt that these two will be built in India after all.

India must focus on meeting its planned timetable for new submarine deployments to avoid critical challenges in the next decade. Among those who argue for submarines, there have been disagreements over whether to pursue nuclear-powered or conventional submarines. In fact, under the original P-75I program, there was a 30-year Submarine Construction Plan approved in 1999.

"Internal disagreements within the navy, however, have substantially undermined that plan. The fact that last two naval chiefs were naval aviators who did not appear to have great interest in allocating limited available funding for sub programs did not help matters," said Rajagopalan.

According to some reports, once Antony became defense minister in 2006, all the decisions relating to the nuclear triad were put on hold. Antony reportedly was of the opinion that decisions involving India's strategic nuclear program should be taken by the Prime Minister's office
. In the process, there was little or no real progress concerning any additional SSNs and SSBNs.

"Dr VK Saraswat, director general of India's Defense Research and Development
Organization [DRDO] is of the view that SSNs can be developed easily once DRDO gets the go-ahead. He had noted that the essential difference is the weaponry and accordingly the size, but the  design and integration remains the same," said Rajagopalan. "Meanwhile, the Indian Atomic Energy Commission is continuing with its work on nuclear steam reactors for the ATVs which are powered by light-water reactors using enriched uranium as fuel."

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Boeing To Modernize B-52 Fighter Bombers

The Pentagon on Wednesday awarded Boeing a 12 billion dollarcontract Sept. 29 to help modernize B-52 weapons systems over eightyears.

"The contract providesfor the acquisition and sustainment activities needed to support B-52weapon system modernization," the Department of Defense said in astatement.

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India is expanding its defense ties with Japan

 India is expanding its defense ties with Japan, anewfound strategic partner in the region, said a senior DefenceMinistry official here.

The chiefof the Indian Air Force, Air Marshal P.V. Naik, left Sept. 28 for Japanto participate in the first military-to-military talks between the twocountries. Naik's visit to Tokyo comes three months ahead of a visit toJapan by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 

Naik, who is also the chairman of the chiefs of staff committeehere, will meet with Maj. Gen. Koichiro Bansho, the Japan GroundSelf-Defense Force's director-general for policy and programs. Theirtalks will include regional security issues and events in which the twoforces will participate, the Defence Ministry official said.

DuringIndian Defence Minister A.K. Antony's visit to Japan last year, the twocountries expressed their commitment to contribute to bilateral andregional cooperation, the ministry official said.

Defenseanalysts here view Indo-Japanese strategic ties as part of an effort tobuild regional partnerships to counter the growing influence of China.

Theoverdependence of Japan and India on oil imports from the Arabian Gulfand the need to jointly ensure its smooth flow is another major driverbehind the growing Indo-Japanese relationship, said defense analystMahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general.

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Cross-Border Strikes By NATO Helicopters In Pakistan

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon on Sept. 28 said recent cross-borderstrikes by NATO helicopters in Pakistan were marked by "communicationbreakdowns," as allied officers were not able to contact theirPakistani counterparts about the operation until afterward.

Pakistan on Sept. 27 denounced last week's helicopter air strikes asflouting the country's sovereignty, but the NATO-led InternationalSecurity Assistance Force (ISAF) in neighboring Afghanistan hasinsisted its troops had the right to defend themselves.

"I don't know that I'd call it a disagreement but there arecertainly discussions under way between our forces and the Pakistanisabout this particular incident," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapantold reporters.

The talks were focused on "what were the communication breakdowns, what happened, what was supposed to happen," Lapan said.

Procedures call for ISAF forces to contact Pakistani officers ifcoalition troops must cross the border, either before or during anoperation, he said.

But ISAF forces were not able to notifyPakistani officers about the helicopter strikes until after theoperation, he said, without offering more details.

"I think Ican say that clearly in these instances things didn't occur in the waythat they're supposed to. And that's what we're trying to get to," hesaid.

ISAF, which is battling Taliban militants in Afghanistan,said in an earlier statement that the helicopters went after insurgentsin Pakistan after an Afghan security forces' outpost in Khost provincecame under attack on Friday.

The choppers fired on themilitants, killing more than 30 insurgents, ISAF said, and twohelicopters returned to the border area on Saturday and killed severalmore.

The US military's presence in Afghanistan and its covertdrone strikes in the border tribal belt are subject to fierce criticismand suspicion in Pakistan.

The rare NATO cross-border attackscame amid a surge in drone strikes in the northwest, which isconsidered a safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaida-linked operatives.

Pakistani security officials said Tuesday that al-Qaida's operationalchief for Afghanistan and Pakistan had been killed in a U.S.bombardment by an unmanned aircraft.

Though Washington talks oftaking the fight to al-Qaida, the U.S. government does not openlydiscuss the drone bombing campaign, which is reportedly run by theCentral Intelligence Agency.
Pakistan also reportedly cooperates with the drone strikes.

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Iran nuclear plant staff computers targeted by Stuxnet worm

A complex computer worm has infected the personal computers of staff at Iran's first nuclear power station, the official IRNA news agency reported.

However, the operating system at the Bushehr plant - due to go online in a few weeks - has not been harmed, project manager Mahmoud Jafari said.

The Stuxnet worm is capable of seizing control of industrial plants.

Some Western experts say its complexity suggests it could only have been created by a "nation state".

"An electronic war has been launched against Iran”

It is the first sign that Stuxnet, which targets systems made by the German company Siemens, has reached equipment linked to Iran's nuclear programme.

The West fears Iran's ultimate goal is to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its programme is aimed solely at peaceful energy use.

Stuxnet is tailored to target weaknesses in Siemens systems used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other utilities.
'Electronic war'

The fact that Stuxnet has now been detected on the personal computers of staff will have no impact on plans to make the Bushehr plant operational next month, Mr Jafari said.

A team is now trying to remove the malicious software, or malware, from several affected computers, he told IRNA.

It is believed to be the first-known worm designed to target major infrastructure facilities.

A working group of experts met last week to discuss ways of fighting the worm, which Mr Liayi said has now infected about 30,000 IP addresses in Iran.

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MBDA Settles FREMM Frigate Missile Specifications

French industry has locked down the missile specifications of an airdefense model of the FREMM multimission frigate in talks with Greeceand is embarking on negotiations on industrial cooperation, industryexecutives said.

Despite thebudgetary crisis assailing Athens, industry executives hope the GreekNavy will sign for the FREMM warship in 2012. Talks have centered on anorder for four ships and options for two more.

Missile maker MBDA would supply a total 56 surface to air missiles on the air defense frigate proposed to the Greek authorities.

Inthe configuration proposed, the long range Aster 30 missiles would behoused in three Sylver A50 launchers and a Sylver A70 launcher in thefront of the ship, Stéphane Bertuzzi, MBDA head of naval systems toldjournalists here. In addition, the vertical launch Mica missile wouldbe housed in six Sylver A35 launchers at the rear.
"This is what we've proposed to the Greek Navy," Bertuzzi said.

Inthe French Navy anti-submarine warfare version of the FREMM, the A70launcher would be used for the Scalp cruise missile, giving a deepstrike capability of 1,000 kilometers.

MBDA builds the Aster andMica missiles, while DCNS builds the Sylver launchers. Thales buildsthe seekers in the missiles as well as the Herakles 3D radar andArtemis infrared search and track sensor which are used to cue theweapons. 

The missile company has found it hard going to sellthe Aster 30 missile in export markets, encountering price resistance."Customers are asking for the Aster 30 but they can only afford the VLMica," an executive said.

A French Navy officer on board theChevalier Paul air defense destroyer said Greek Navy officers recentlyvisited the Horizon class warship and were impressed by itscapabilities. "They said they wanted this ship for the same price asthe FREMM," the officer said. 

Discussions with the Greekauthorities on the FREMM are held every two weeks and are led by theDirection Générale de l'Armement (DGA) procurement office. "Everythingis on track," a DCNS official told journalists here ahead of theEuronaval trade show which opens Oct. 25.

French executivesbelieve the budgetary and political situation in Greece may have calmeddown in 2012, and the need to maintain employment in local shipyardswill help the government to sign a contract for the warships. 

Thetalks on industrial cooperation are key as Greece expects to obtain ahigh level of local assembly of the FREMM frigate in domestic yards, anindustry executive said.
Italy, which had been in the running tooffer its version of the FREMM, is understood to have bowed out of thecompetition, ceding the ground to the French.

DCNS has 12 FREMMships on the orderbooks, 11 for the French Navy, down from an initialplanned 17-ship buy, while Morocco has bought one FREMM.

Thecompany five years ago invested 15 million euros in adding toproduction facilities here in anticipation of the full build out of the17 French ships. DCNS has slowed production to one ship per 10 monthsinstead of seven months but can pick up the rate to one every sevenmonths if export orders are won. 

Exports of the FREMM areneeded to make up for the cancellations in the national program. Franceis also trying to sell the frigate to Brazil and Saudi Arabia.
TheMoroccan FREMM is based on the French Navy's version, with littlemodification, but is widely seen as a consolation prize for Paris afterRabat bought the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter instead of the Rafalefrom Dassault Aviation. 

DCNS launched April 29 the first ofclass Aquitaine and has started building the Normandie, the second inthe series for the French Navy. 

President Nicolas Sarkozyvisited the Aquitaine here in May and departed from a prepared speechto describe himself as a member of the DCNS sales team as he insistedon the importance of France maintaining an industrial manufacturingcapability.

The focus on the industrial and commercial sidediscomfited the senior Navy officers present as they saw that asundercutting the president's status as commander in chief and thesignificance to the service of the Aquitaine as the first of class in anew generation of warships.

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Russia could make Aerial Drones without Israeli help claims company

Russia does not need Israeli assistance to make progress in thedevelopment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), including militarydrones, the head of a Russian UAV production company said on Thursday.

A senior Israeli defense source quoted in Flight International saidearlier that Israel may tear up much of the unprecedented militarycooperation deal it signed with Russia at the start of this month dueto anger over Moscow's decision to supply Yakhont naval missiles toSyria.

"In the next two or three years, there will be a breakthrough in theRussian UAV market regardless of the Israeli position on this issue,"Vladimir Verba, the director general of the Vega company.

Verba said his company had developed a comprehensive UAV developmentprogram until 2025, which had been approved by the majority of itscustomers, including the Federal Security Service (FSB) and theInterior Ministry.

He also said Vega had been developing strike and reconnaissancedrones for the Russian military in cooperation with Russia's UnitedAircraft Corporation (UAC).
The Russian military stressed the need to provide the Armed Forceswith advanced reconnaissance systems in the wake of a brief militaryconflict with Georgia in August 2008, when the effectiveness of Russianmilitary operations was severely hampered by the lack of reliableintelligence.

According to various estimates, the Russian military needs up to 100UAVs and at least 10 guidance and control systems to ensure effectivebattlefield reconnaissance.
The Russian Defense Ministry has previously expresseddissatisfaction with locally manufactured UAVs, and decided to buy themfrom Israel.

According to the ministry, some 50 Russian military servicemen areundergoing training in the use of Israeli-built UAVs and that a totalof twelve have been bought.
Russia has reportedly signed two UAV contracts with Israel. Underthe first contract, signed in April 2009, Israel delivered two Bird Eye400 systems (worth $4 million), eight I View MK150 tactical UAVs ($37million) and two Searcher Mk II multi-mission UAVs ($12 million).

The second contract was for the purchase of 36 UAVs, worth a total of $100 million, to be delivered later this year.

Russia and Israel have also been negotiating the establishment of a joint $300-million venture to produce UAVs.

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No Proof Iran Building Nuclear Weapons - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

There is no proof that Iran is working toward the creation ofnuclear weapons, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said onThursday.

However in order for UN sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic tobe lifted, Iran must prove its nuclear program has a 100% peacefulcharacter, Lavrov told the U.S. PBS TV channel.

Any attack on Iran would have “negative” consequences for the region, he warned.
Russia had voted in favor of the UN sanctions against Iran in orderto demonstrate that it would not stand for any violation of thenonproliferation regime, he went on.
Lavrov also urged Iran to comply fully with the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

International pressure on Iran increased in early February whenTehran announced it had begun enriching uranium to 20 percent in lieuof an agreement on an exchange that would provide it with fuel for aresearch reactor.

In June, the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

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Israel to Cancel UAV deal with Russia over Syria arms sale

Israel may tear up much of theunprecedented military cooperation deal it signed with Moscow at thestart of this month due to anger over Moscow's rigid stance onsupplying naval missiles to Israel's enemy Syria.

"We will have to reconsider allproposed deals with Russia. Moscow did not show the necessaryunderstanding of our requests," a senior Israeli defense source quotedon aviation business magazine Flight International's website said onThursday.

Earlier this week, Moscow confirmed itwould supply P-800 Yakhont supersonic naval cruise missiles to Syria,despite vociferous Israeli objections to the deal which was signed in2007.

The first victim of the fallout couldbe Russia and Israel's planned $300 million deal to set up an unmannedair vehicle (UAV) manufacturing facility in Russia.
Russia has spent around $50 million onIsraeli-built UAVs this year to train operators and develop tactics forusing modern systems.

It has also expressed interest in buying more Israeli UAV systems, including the IAI Heron.

The Russian forces have previously expressed dissatisfaction with locally manufactured UAVs.

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Russia Delivers Three Mi-35M helicopters to Indonesia

Russia has delivered three  Mi-35M Hind assault helicopters to Indonesia, a military source said on Thursday.

Russia signed an agreement withIndonesia in September 2007 to provide a $1 billion credit line to theSoutheast Asian country for Russian weapons purchases. Indonesiaplanned to buy ten Mi-17 transport helicopters, five Mi-35Ms, sixSukhoi fighters and two Kilo-class submarines financed by the credit.

Jakarta became one of Russia's majorarms customers in 1999 when the United States tightened an embargo onarms sales to the country over alleged human rights violations.

Washington has since lifted the ban,but Indonesia, the world's most populous Islamic country, continues toturn to Russia for its military hardware imports.

Moscow has already delivered threeSu-27SKM fighters to Indonesia as the final part of an August 2007 $300million deal for six of the Sukhoi fighters.

The agreement followed a 2003 deal on the purchase of four fighter jets by Indonesia from Russia.

The planes will take part in a military parade dedicated to Indonesian Armed Forces Day on October 5.

The Mi-35M is an export version of theMi-24 Hind that was used extensively in Afghanistan. The Mi-24/35  canbe used for transportation, assault and medical evacuation tasks.

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Russia To Create DARPA Like Agency For Innovative Weapons Development

 Russia plans to create an agency fordeveloping innovative military technology similar to the U.S. DefenseAdvanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a Russian business dailyVedemosti said.
The project is part of RussianPresident Dmitry Medvedev's drive to diversify the Russia economy byreducing its dependence on oil and gas exports.
The president's modernization committeemet on Wednesday at an aviation equipment factory near Moscow todiscuss innovation in the military sector.
Currently, increased military spendingis only going into upgrading old systems, developed in the Soviet era,Medvedev said. Russia needs to start producing its own hi-tech systems,he added.
The DARPA (originally ARPA) was createdin 1958 in response to the launch of the Soviet Union's firstartificial Earth satellite. It has funded the development of a numberof influential projects, including the ARPANet, the predecessor to theInternet. The project's budget for the 2011 fiscal year is $ 3.1billion.
Presidential Aide Arkady Dvorkovich said the project could be created in collaboration with the Skolkovo fund, an innovation center planned to be built near Moscow.
"The Russian DARPA should expand therange of military-technology design beyond the existing Sovietstructures by developing universities and small private companies,"said Andrey Zubkov, vice president of investment group Rostok.
Medvedev has made developing hi-tech sectors and encouraging research the focal point of his economic agenda.

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Russia Bans Sale of S-300 Missiles And Other Weapons to Iran

Russian President  has signed a decree banning thedelivery of S-300 air defense systems and a host of other major arms toIran, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

The ban, which includes battle tanks, armored vehicles,large-caliber artillery systems, warplanes, military helicopters, shipsand missiles, is part of measures Russia is taking to comply with UNSecurity Council Resolution 1929 of June 9, 2010.

Earlier on Wednesday, Chief of the Russian General Staff Army Gen.Nikolai Makarov said Russia would not deliver S-300 air defense missilesystems to Iran as planned because such transfers are prohibited underUN sanctions.

Medvedev also banned entry to and transit via Russia for a number ofIranian nationals connected with the country's nuclear program, andbanned Russian individuals and legal entities from rendering financialservices if the services relate to Iran's nuclear activity.

Russia signed an $800 million contract on delivery to Iran of S-300systems to equip at least five battalions in late 2007. The contract'simplementation had so far been delayed. Experts are considering whetherthe missiles fall under the sanctions imposed on Iran by the UNSecurity Council in June.

The sanctions include a ban on supplies of conventional arms toIran. According to the document, "states are prohibited from selling orin any way transferring to Iran eight broad categories of heavy weapons(battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillerysystems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles ormissile systems)." However, the S-300 air defense systems are notincluded in the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

Israel and the United States have voiced concerns over Russia'splans to supply high-precision S-300 systems, capable of destroyingaircraft at ranges of 150 km (90 miles) and at altitudes of up to 27 km(17 miles), to Iran. No such systems have been delivered to the IslamicRepublic yet.

Commenting on Medvedev's decree to ban the sale of weapons to Iran,Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said: "If this decision was made,it was solely due to Russia's national security."

International pressure on Iran increased in early February whenTehran announced it had begun enriching uranium to 20 percent in lieuof an agreement on an exchange that would provide it with fuel for aresearch reactor. In June, the UN Security Council passed a resolutionimposing a fourth set of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Iran currently has some 2.8 metric tons of low enriched uranium and22 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium, according to the latestIAEA report. Experts say that these 22 kilograms are already enough toproduce a nuclear bomb.

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Sukhoi Su-27SKM Passes Flight Tests At Indonesia

All three Su-27SKMfighters delivered to Indonesia by Russia earlier this month havesuccessfully passed flight tests at an airbase in the South Sulawesiprovince, a source at the base said on Wednesday.

The planes weredelivered to Indonesia as the final part of an August 2007 $300 milliondeal for six of the Sukhoi fighters. That agreement followed on fromthe 2003 purchase by Indonesia of four fighter jets from Russia.

Indonesia's AirForce chief of staff Marshal Imam Sufaat said on Friday his countryplanned to buy six more Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia, the JakartaPost reported.
"The existing squadron of 10 Sukhois is insufficient for our vast air space," Imam told the Antara news agency.
He said the purchases had already been approved by the country's president, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

However he addedthat while the purchases would be on the Defense Ministry's long-termagenda, he was not sure when the deal would go ahead.

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Iranian Revolutionary Guards Receives New SAMs

The first batch of modified short-range missiles have enteredservice in Iran's Revolutionary Guard, the defense minister said onTuesday.

The Guard has received a modified version of the surface-to-surfaceFateh-110 missiles, Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said, according toIrna news agency.

Iran said last month it had successfully test-fired the third generation of Fateh-110 missiles.

The Fateh-110 is a short-range, road-mobile, solid-propellant,high-precision ballistic missile with advanced navigation and controlsystems

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Russia developing laser weapons - military chief

Russia is working on a military laser system, the chief of Russia's Armed Forces General Staff said on Wednesday.

"Work on laser weapons is underway across the world, and that includes us," Gen. Nikolai Makarov said.

It is "too soon yet" to speak about the specifications of the Russian laser system, he added.

According to some media reports, Russia has been developing anairborne laser - the so-called flying laser - to disable enemyreconnaissance and data processing systems, as well as shoot downmissiles in flight.

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Flying Coffine MIG-27 Of IAF Crashes In West Bengal

A MiG-27 Flogger ground attack aircraftof the Indian Air Force (IAF) has crashed in the country's east, thethird crash of a plane of this type in India this year, a spokesman forthe Indian Army Eastern Command said.

The crash took place at 08:25 am localtime (02:25 GMT) some 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of the Kalaikundaair base in West Bengal state.

"The pilot managed to eject and isunharmed. The crash did not cause casualties or destruction on theground," Mahesh Upasani said, adding that investigation into the crashwas under way.
An MiG-27 aircraft crashed in WestBengal in February near the Hashimara military base, killing the pilotand causing all MiG-27 flights to be suspended for a short period oftime.

Another MiG-27 plane crashed into avillage in the region in July during a routine training flight, killinga local resident and injuring 10 others.

The MiG-27 aircraft was originallybuilt in the former Soviet Union in the mid-1970s before it waslicensed to be produced in India.

India has about 150 MiG-27 planes, known as the Bahadhur (Brave) in the IAF.

According to the military, a current upgrade program will keep the MiG-27 operational for another 10 years.

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An eight-year-old Kashmiri went out to play. He came back home dead

On 2 August Fayaz Rah, a 39-year-old fruit vendor from Batamaloo, had lunch with his wife and three children. Outside, Indian troops enforced the curfew. Yet the children would find a clearing or a courtyard to play cricket or imitate the adults and raise a slogan for Kashmir's independence from India. His youngest son, eight-year-old Sameer, took two rupees for pocket money from his father and stepped out to join his friends near his uncle's house.

Young Sameer walked into a lane and impulsively shouted a few slogans for Kashmir's independence. He didn't realise a group of Indian paramilitaries was around. They caught the eight-year-old and beat him with bamboo sticks, some blows striking his head. They then threw the boy into a clump of poison ivy bushes, but a crowd gathered. The paramilitaries called a police truck, which drove Sameer to the nearby hospital. Meanwhile, police and paramilitaries teargassed the crowd.

"Someone told me that a child has been killed," said Fayaz. He called a friend in the local police and mentioned that his son, who had left home wearing a yellow T-shirt, had not returned. His friend arrived at his door with an ambulance. "I saw my boy on the ventilator," Fayaz sighed. Doctors tried for hours to revive him, but couldn't save Sameer. "There is no justice in Kashmir," Fayaz told me. "Now the police claim my son died in a stampede."

It is getting harder to keep track of the deaths. In recent years, the hot guerrilla war over the region that began in 1990 first gave way to a cold peace, then, in the past two years, waves of mass protests. The summer of 2008 saw the biggest demonstrations for Kashmir's independence from India in two decades; they were put down by force, with 60 deaths and more than 500 injuries. In the past three months, Indian forces have killed 106 Kashmiri protesters and bystanders, mostly teenagers.

The current fighting broke out as a protest against the killing of a 17-year-old student, Tufail Mattoo, in Srinagar. He was returning home from tuition and was hit by a teargas shell the police fired to disperse a crowd that had gathered to protest at another death. The situation has produced a Palestinian-style intifada in which young boys battle Indian troops with stones, and the soldiers shoot to kill.

India, meanwhile, continues to garrison half a million soldiers in Kashmir, nearly three times the number of American troops in Iraq at the peak of the occupation. India's half-century-old Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which was extended to Kashmir in 1990, gives troops the legal authority to shoot any person they suspect of being a threat, and guarantees immunity from prosecution. To bring a soldier before a civilian court requires the permission of India's home ministry; more than 400 such cases are still waiting for it.

In the absence of justice, or any progress in the negotiations between India and Pakistan over the region's future, despair in Kashmir has grown. Walls all over the region are painted with slogans: We Want Freedom! India, Go Back! Protesters are killed, and with every death more protests follow. The number of injured is believed to have risen to more than 1,000.

Hospitals have been facing a serious shortage of medicines and the impossibility of conducting various medical tests that depend on private pharmacies and medical facilities. Many doctors aren't able to reach hospitals. Over the weekend Dr Bashir Chapoo, a senior eye surgeon, told me that the troops hadn't let him travel to his hospital in central Srinagar for more than a week. Seventeen of his patients had pellets stuck in their eyes. I called him yesterday. "I am still stuck at home. Most of my patients have left the hospital now. I have no idea where they are," Dr Chapoo said. Two had already lost their eyesight.

The military curfew continues with a few hours break once a week. The usual bustle of Kashmiri mornings has been replaced by an eerie silence; my street belongs to stray dogs and chirping birds. The morning papers stopped publishing after the troops attacked the newsagents. It is a world away from the hopeful spring of 2007, when back-channel talks between Indian and Pakistan diplomats – encouraged by Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, and Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president – seemed to be close to bearing fruit. The solution they had agreed on would have resulted in a largely autonomous Kashmir with soft borders between the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled regions, and the gradual demilitarisation of Kashmir. But the talks lost steam when Musharraf lost power, and broke down after the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, orchestrated by Pakistani militants.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq – head of the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, a coalition of separatist groups – championed the peace talks without any results. But now such moderates find themselves marginalised. The influence of the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani has risen; he is now viewed as the most substantial powerbroker in the region. The only lull in the recent protests occurred when he appealed to the protesters to stay home.

After several high-profile meetings last week, Singh's government rejected even moderate demands such as repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act – even though a committee set up by Singh four years ago recommended doing so. Scaling back troops from residential areas wasn't even discussed.

The Indian government did, however, despatch a delegation of parliamentarians to Kashmir for a fact-finding mission. The group arrived at Geelani's Srinagar home on Monday afternoon, accompanied by scores of television crews. The Kashmiri leader enumerated his preconditions for peace talks: New Delhi should accept Kashmir as a dispute, free Kashmiri political prisoners, and withdraw its troops. Soldiers guilty of civilian killings must be punished, and their blanket protection withdrawn. India is not willing to concede any of these demands, but the meeting provides at least a sliver of hope that the conversations so close to producing results three years ago might begin again.

What the Singh government does next will be its big test. Various analysts and political figures have suggested unconditional, result-oriented talks with the Kashmiris and a revival of the dialogue with Pakistan. It may well be the only way to save Kashmir – and India itself – from future calamities.

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