Saturday, April 16, 2011

Canada: No More Jets to Libya Before Election

OTTAWA - Canada will not consider increasing its forces helping NATO to pressure Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi to quit until after a May 2 election, the prime minister said April 15.
"We continue to discuss this with allies, but we've been clear, we are not putting Canadian soldiers on the ground, and in terms of requests for additional participation, we will not make those kinds of commitments during an election campaign," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during a campaign stop.
"To make any kind of additional commitment would require the parliament of Canada to be sitting and to be discussing these matters."
Nearly a month of coalition strikes have so far failed to shift the balance of power in Libya.
The French and British called for allies to contribute more jets to the mission, but the United States has resisted pressure to return its warplanes to the frontline in Libya.
Washington pulled back around 50 combat planes from Libyan operations last week after handing over control of the mission to NATO, although since then they took part in some missions to take out Gadhafi's air defense systems.
Currently, only six out of 28 nations are conducting air strikes, while France and Britain carry out half of them. The other half are conducted by Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Canada.

95 U.S. Programs Show $64B Increase in Costs

The Pentagon is expected to revise its total program cost estimate for the recently restructured F-35 Joint Strike Fighter effort next month, according to a Defense Department information paper.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is one the programs the Pentagon is expected to revise cost estimates for after a review of 95 major acquisitions programs. (CHERIE CULLEN / U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE)
This comes as the Pentagon told Congress today that its latest review of 95 major acquisition programs showed $64 billion in increases, or 4 percent, over already projected program price tags. DoD also told lawmakers that three of its programs - Chemical Demilitarization-Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives; Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV); RQ-4 Global Hawk - suffered, so-called, "critical" Nunn-McCurdy breaches.
Four others programs - the C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft; Increment 1 of the Early-Infantry Brigade Combat Team (E-IBCT); Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS); and National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) - suffered "significant" breaches.
The majority of the breaches were caused by quantity changes. For instance, the Pentagon canceled the EFV program, so unit costs have soared because DoD will not buy any vehicles but has already invested billions of dollars in research and development. The same is true of the C-27J. The Air Force and Army were supposed to collectively buy 78 aircraft, however, the Army bowed out of the program and the air service only plans to purchase 38. The Army dramatically reduced the buy in the E-IBCT program and the Pentagon canceled the NPOESS program.
Pentagon officials have been aware of issues within the Global Hawk program for awhile. Last year, acquisition officials initiated a major review of the program in June. The Air Force began its own review in December and declared the breach on April 6.
The program's cost growth is primarily due to quantity reduction, spares and sensor depot standup, diminishing manufacturing sources, and ground station and communications system modernization, according to the information paper.
Engineering problems, schedule slips and the addition of new requirements have contributed to the JLENS program breach. The Chemical Demilitarization program breach is attributed to design changes, construction costs and increased staffing and labor costs.
The previous two Selected Acquisition Reports pegged the F-35's total program cost at $328 billion. Since then, some cost estimates have put the program's overall price tag at around $380 billion. Last year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered a major review of the effort, leading the program to slow production and focus on development.
Officials will now develop a new program baseline next month. After that, DoD will prepare an updated Selected Acquisition Report that will "provide higher fidelity unit cost data for the F-35 program," the information paper states.
The Nunn-McCurdy statute requires the Pentagon to notify Congress when a program's cost has risen 15 percent above its original baseline estimate. The statute calls for a program's termination once costs exceed 25 percent of the original estimate unless the defense secretary deems the system essential to national security, there are no alternates that will provide equal or greater capability, new program acquisition costs are reasonable, and the management structure for such a system is adequate to manage and control program costs.
A significant breach occurs at the 15 percent threshold and critical at the 25 percent level.
The Pentagon attributes the other 89 programs' cost increases primarily to a rise in planned quantities.

India Eyes German Help on Sub Upgrade

NEW DELHI - Construction delays to four French-designed submarines have led India to reverse an 11-year-old decision and seek German help to upgrade four older subs.
Estimated to cost about $500 million, the upgrade of the four HDW T-1500-class subs will replace their weapon control systems, data links, torpedoes and missiles. The Indian defense ministry wants the German submarines to be upgraded at Indian facilities with technical assistance from HDW Germany.
The Indian Navy has seen its fleet of usable submarines shrink from 21 in the 1980s to 14 today, while the Chinese sub fleet, including nuclear boats, grows, said a Navy official.
In 2000, when the Navy decided to buy the new Scorpene submarines, it shelved plans to upgrade the T-1500s, which have now been in disrepair for several years.
The French-designed boats, now planned or under licensed production by Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL), are more than three years behind schedule, a senior defense ministry official said.
Under the $3.9 billion contract signed in 2005 with France, construction of the first three Scorpenes began in December 2006, December 2007 and August 2008. The MDL contract said the six subs were to be delivered annually beginning in December 2012. Instead, the first one is now scheduled for delivery in 2015.
Besides the Scorpene troubles, the Navy is also seeing delays in its $10 billion purchase of air-independent-propulsion submarines, the official said. The world's sub builders are expected to be invited to bid on the job, called Project 75I, in the next three months, the Navy official said.
The T-1500s were built under an $89 million deal signed in 1983. HDW's shipyard in Germany built two of the T-1500s in 56 months apiece; the other two were built under license by MDL, taking 98 months and 116 months respectively.
Later in the decade, New Delhi blacklisted HDW because of alleged bribery in the sub deal. The ban was lifted after an inquest by India's Central Bureau of Investigation ended without resolution.

Russia to Deliver Carrier to India in 2012

NEW DELHI - Russia will deliver the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to the Indian Navy next year, a Navy official said.
In 2004, Russia signed a deal to refit and deliver the Admiral Gorshkov for $974 million, but the deal was delayed after the Russians subsequently demanded more money. (Alexander Zemlianichenko / AFP)
A team of 150 personnel - technicians, managers and others -from the Indian Navy has already arrived in Russia for training on the 45,000-ton carrier, currently being refitted for Indian needs there.
India is paying Russia $67.5 million for the training, the official said.
The carrier will ultimately be manned by some 1,500 sailors.
In 2004, Russia signed a deal to refit and deliver the Gorshkov for $974 million, but the Russians subsequently demanded more money. The work was delayed until the Indian government finally agreed to pay a total of $2.33 billion, the official said.
The Navy also placed a $526 million order for 16 MiG-29K aircraft, which began arriving last year and are currently on shore at Goa. These aircraft will fly from the carrier, which will be renamed INS Vikramaditya.
India currently operates one carrier, INS Viraat, and is building another, the Air Defense Ship, slated to enter service in 2014.

Italy Will Not Join Libya Bombardments

ROME - Italy insisted April 15 that its fighter jets would not take part in bombardments in Libya, saying that the country was doing enough to support the U.N. resolution to protect civilian lives.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told members of parliament at a cabinet meeting that Rome was "already doing enough" as part of the international coalition, government sources were cited on ANSA news agency as reporting.
"Bearing in mind our geographical position and colonial past, an engagement that goes beyond our current commitment would not make sense," he said.
Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa also ruled out a change of course for Italy, telling reporters at a press conference after the meeting that Italy had "already done a lot."
"We are not considering altering our contribution to military operations in Libya...we will carry on as we have done up to now. The government is united in thinking this is the correct line for Italy to take," he said.
Berlusconi said Italy's role was to "provide the maximum support with its air bases," seven of which have been put up for use by the coalition.
Italy has also taken part in air raids over Libya but only in order to neutralize Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's radar and defense systems.