Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pakistan Air Force on track

Pakistan inducted the new Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 52+ fighters in their Air Force, while in the mean time the next two full-strength squadrons of Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 Thunders are close to becoming fully functional.
According to the service, the 17 F-16 Block 52+ fighters were inducted into the 5th Squadron on March 11. The final aircraft of the 18-unit deal is still being tested in the USA and is scheduled to arrive some time next month.
The new batch of the aircraft features 12 single-seat C-model versions and six two-sweat F-16Ds. The air force also states that it is negotiating with the USA for additional Block 52+ fighters due to a point in the contract which contained an option for extra 18 aircraft.
The new F-16s are being powered by Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engines. One of the other systems implemented in the F16 is Northrop Grumman’s mechanically scanned APG-68(V)9 radar and ITT’s ALQ-211(V)9 advanced integrated defensive electronic warfare suite.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency also offered a weapons package which included 500 Raytheon AIM-120C5 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, 200 short-range AIM-9M-8/9 Sidewinders, 1600 enhanced GBU-12/24 laser-guided bombs, 500 Boeing joint direct attack munitions and 700 BLU-109 penetrator bombs.
There is also a mid-life upgrade scheduled for the 34 F-16A/B Block 15 aircraft. Some of the fighters will be upgraded in Turkey, while others in Pakistan. The project is most likely to be completed by 2012.
Zeng Wen, vice-president of the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) stated at Air Show China, that Pakistan had 50 firm orders for the JF-17, but in the end they could buy up to 200.
The JF-17s will be used to replace fighters like the Dassault Mirage III, Mirage 5, Nanchang A-5 and the Chengdu F-7. All A-5s will be decommissioned in early April.
China and Pakistan have been known to cooperate on the development of the JF-17. Pakistan began the assembling in 2009 and can implement Western avionics, radars and various other systems in the JF-17 by 2012.

Pakistan Navy foiled first-ever piracy attempt in Pak

Friday was a great day for the Pakistan Navy as they in cooperation with the multinational naval Combined Task Force, successfully stopped the first-ever piracy attempted in Pakistan’s territorial sea.The pirates attacked on the Philippine Commercial flag vessel MV FALCON TRADE-II which operates in the Southern extremity of the Pakistan Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
An official spokesperson of the Pakistan Navy stated that this was the first time a piracy attempt was reported and countered in EEZ of Pakistan.
A spokesman for Pakistan Navy said that this was the first time a piracy attempt was recorded and countered in EEZ of Pakistan.
Earlier, at the multi-national naval exercise Aman-11 from March 8 to March 12, the Pakistan Navy reported that it has adopted special measures in order to tackle the issue of piracy attacks against merchant vessels in the Indian Ocean as this has become a frequent threat near the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Pakistan.
The PN Spokesperson spoke further about the entire anti-piracy operation. On the 24th March, the PN intercepted communications of a pirates attack on a Philippine flag vessel with 20 personnel onboard. The PN immediately contacted the Pakistan Navy’s Ship Babur with embarked helicopter and Maritime Patrol Aircraft to acquire the position of the pirate boats.
Special Operating Force (SOF) onboard fast boats, specifically tuned for counter piracy operations were also sent to tackle the pirates. PNS Babur, in a close liaison with CTF-151 and the assistance of US Ship tasked by CTF-151, confined the pirates, who failed to enter the enclosed citadel boundary of the merchant ship.
Thanks to the fast action of the Pakistan Navy and CTF-151, the pirates were forced to abort the operation and flee. Currently the merchant vessel is safe and under control of its crew.
The PN said it continued to maintain a constant watch on its sea territories and it is ready to respond to any situation at sea.

Biden-Putin Talks Touch on Missile Defense

WASHINGTON - U.S. Vice President Biden and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on April 21 discussed Moscow's goal of joining the World Trade Organization and missile defense cooperation, the White House said.
Biden and Putin talked about "the Obama administration's commitment to terminate" the application to Russia of a Cold War-era U.S. law that blocks certain non-market economies that restrict emigration from joining the WTO.
They also discussed "next steps on missile defense cooperation" and "agreed on the importance of continuing momentum in relations between the United States and Russia," according to a White House statement.
"Vice President Biden underscored the continued need for cooperation between the United States and Russia on global security issues and pledged to continue to work with Russia on facilitating travel between our two countries," it said.
Moscow needs Washington to stop applying the so-called Jackson-Vanik law to Russia in order to gain U.S. "permanent normal trade relations" - and be cleared for WTO accession.
Russia is the last major economic power to lack WTO membership.
The conversation came a day after Putin needled the United States over its deficits and national debt and accused Washington of "behaving like a hooligan" by flooding world markets with devalued dollars.
"Look at their trade balance, look at the budget deficit, at the debt of the United States," Putin said in closing comments to his annual address to parliament.
"We have none of that - and, I hope, we never will," Putin said to a strong round of applause.

From Cyber Service to Product

Cybersecurity vendor Symantec is trying something new with its malware honey pots - selling them.
Like competitors McAfee and Sophos, the Mountain View, Calif., company has long owned and operated thousands of so-called honey pot PCs around the world. When one of these PCs is infected by a virus or probed by a hacker, the malware is captured and sent to a company lab, where analysts try to reverse-engineer it as the first step toward alerting government agencies, corporations or consumers.
In February, Symantec surprised its competitors by announcing that it would package up versions of its honey pot sensors and automated analytic tools and sell them to U.S. government agencies, NATO and major corporations.
These customers believe that keeping analysis in-house will keep the authors of malware in the dark as long as possible, allowing investigators the maximum time to track keystrokes, decipher tactics and ferret out motive and strategy. "When it's everyday kind of malware, [agencies and corporations] are still depending on us to do all the work for them," said Chet Wisniewski, senior security adviser for the cybersecurity firm Sophos, headquartered in Abingdon, England, and Burlington, Mass. "When it's something specific, that means that somebody was trying to get into their organization, they have a tendency to be a lot more cautious and to do a lot of that internally."
Symantec officials told reporters in February that the move would allow agencies to react more quickly to increasingly sophisticated, pinpoint malware attacks.
"We need to be able to give them a technology that they can house and own and operate sometimes in classified situations where they have access to all of the information that they need to move forward with their missions," said Joe Pasqua, vice president of research for Symantec.
Pasqua said the secret option is necessary for some customers. With the traditional approach of publishing a malware signature to help others spot the bad code, "the adversary will know, 'Aha. They've detected this exploit,'" he said. "If you're a government agency, you may not want to do that. You may want to protect some of the information you have."
It would be up to the customers to decide "what they want to keep public, what they want to keep private," he said.
But the company's competitors said Symantec's new approach wouldn't necessarily help customers.
Dave Marcus, director of security research for McAfee Labs, based in Santa Clara, Calif., said he understands the logic behind an agency's desire to have its own tools, but those tools are worthless in a vacuum, he said.
"If you're giving them tools to do their own analysis automatically, then what?" he said. "You can know what the threat is, you can know what the malware does, but unless you can write some content to protect against it, the analysis doesn't do a whole lot."
Wisniewski of Sophos said the products could be dangerous if they were leaked by a customer.
"The offensive cyber capabilities [of the U.S. military and intelligence community] could be tripped up by something like this," he said. "What happens if a foreign company or foreign government that we might want intelligence from captures our offensive techniques?" Symantec is "a well-respected vendor in the industry and all that, but at the same time, it seems like it's a complicated business to get into," Wisniewski said.
Symantec points out that the U.S. National Security Agency's Information Assurance Directorate is leading development of an anti-malware countermeasures standard, called the Security Content Automation Protocol. Agencies that find malware could draft their software responses to this standard. Baiting the Trap The core of the Symantec proposal is a product in its alpha development stage known internally as ScriptGenNet, or SGNet. It would consist of PC-sized honey pot computers programmed to look just like Web, mail or file transfer protocol (FTP) servers, attached to, say, the U.S. government's Nonclassified Internet Protocol Router Network, and the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network.
"We want to entice [malware users] to think that they are in a pristine network," said Rob Walters, senior director for Symantec Research Labs. "They can look around and go, 'Whoa, this has got some good stuff that I need.'" Software would scan incoming digital communications for evidence of computer language that is out of the norm - a possible indicator of malware. The system would automatically steer the digital conversation to a more powerful backend computer, which would continue the conversation using a more detailed simulation of the Web, mail or FTP server.
"It keeps that discussion going with the attacker. The attacker can't figure out that it's just a bait machine," Pasqua said.
All the while, the conversation would be automatically analyzed, and if malware were diagnosed, the code would be sent to another computer, called the Symantec Malware Analysis and Research Triage Harness.
Automation would be key.
"These government agencies don't want more data. They want more intelligence. You give them more data, and it's more stuff to swim around in," Pasqua said. "What they really want is to take these huge feeds of security information and whittle them down."
He said the security companies and government agencies have no choice but to automate. In a tactic called polymorphism, malware authors are using software to rapidly create new versions of their code so it cannot be easily picked up by security software.
"They want to keep us busy," Walters of Symantec said.

NATO Denies Reported Bomb Shortage in Libya

PARIS - Countries in the NATO-led air campaign have enough precision munitions and aircraft to attack ground targets and keep military pressure on the Libyan government forces, a senior alliance official and national defense officials said.
Above, French armement air-sol modulaire guided bombs. France and other NATO nations deny that their bomb stockpiles are running low. (Wikipedia)
Adm. Giampaolo Di Paola, the chairman of NATO's military committee, denied that the air operation in Libya was running short of aircraft or munitions.
"Assets are important; the alliance welcomes any contributions, including strike assets, but there is no substantial lack," Di Paola said April 20. "Any added contribution is welcome, and there is no commander who does not ask. But beyond these alarmist rumors, there is no lack. The operation continues."
The remarks follow an April 15 Washington Post report that said Britain, France and other European countries were running low on stocks of laser-guided bombs.
Other officials from NATO and allied countries said there were enough smart bombs in inventories to maintain the operational pace.
"Military aircraft is an issue for the nations. The availability of military munitions is also dealt with by individual nations contributing to our operations. We have not had any report that they are limited or constrained in the execution of operations. So I think that there's no problem," said Brig. Gen. Mark van Uhm, chief of allied operations at Allied Command Operations.
French officials concurred.
"There is no shortage," French Air Force spokesman Maj. Eric Trihoreau said April 19. "We can maintain this level without a limit on time."
The spokesman for the French Joint Staff, Army Col. Thierry Burkhard, also denied there was a lack of precision guided weapons.
"There is no problem with munitions," Burkhard said. "Stocks are being consumed, but that has not constrained the conduct of operations."
A French industry executive said in any conflict there is a natural concern over the level of munitions, but in the present campaign, there appeared to be enough bombs. In the 1991 Gulf War, coalition countries bought bombs from partners as stocks ran low.
The French government last year ordered Paveway II and Enhanced Paveway II kits to adapt GBU 12 and 49 "dumb bombs" into guided weapons, an industry source said. Deliveries of the Raytheon-built kits were made before the Libya campaign started.
The Mirage 2000D, Super Etendard and Rafale are certified for the Paveway II, while the Rafale has not yet been certified for the improved version.
In February 2010, France ordered 680 armement air-sol modulaire (AASM) guided bombs from Sagem, following an initial order of 750. The AASM kit comes in three versions: GPS/INS, GPS/INS and infrared, and GPS/INS and laser.
In 2009, the government cut the total purchase of AASMs to 2,348 from a planned 3,000 units including 1,200 with laser guidance, according to a 2010 French parliamentary report cited by newsweekly Le Point. At a total budget of 846 million euros ($1.2 billion), that implied an average unit price of 350,000 euros for the AASM, the parliamentary report said.
French warplanes have fired about 10 MBDA Scalp EG air-launched cruise missiles against Libyan ground targets, Burkhard said.
Di Paola said NATO's air campaign was reaching its goals.
"We are preventing Gadhafi from using his full firepower, which is considerable. We are forcing him to use different tactics. In Misrata, it is terrible that he is using mortars and rockets, but with his full firepower it would be a disaster. What we are forcing him to use is less lethal than his heavy tanks and heavy guns," he said.
But di Paola did admit that NATO was less able to stop Gadhafi waging the battle on the streets.
"Rockets and mortars are easily moved and hidden. They are in the urban area in Misrata," he said. "How can we take out a pickup with a mortar in a courtyard of a building without destroying the building?"
NATO is not currently considering the use of ground troops, Di Paola said, but that does not rule out individual nations sending troops into Libya.
"NATO is not the international community. It is an instrument which has taken on part of the commitment, meaning the no-fly zone, the embargo and humanitarian protection. Single countries also have a responsibility to honor the U.N. resolution and bring the crisis to resolution," he said.
Di Paola, the former chief of staff of the Italian military, said that, in any case, any military campaign would not be enough to bring the conflict in Libya to an end.
"There is not only a military strategy; this effort has to be multipronged, including financial measures, meaning sanctions and diplomatic activity," he said. "This is not a conventional war, it's a campaign to sustain a political and economic effort."
A spokeswoman for the Royal Air Force said it had sufficient stocks of ammunition and shortages were "not an issue."
The RAF has used MBDA developed Dual Mode Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles and Raytheon's Paveway IV and Enhanced Paveway 2 as its strike weapons in Libya. With the exception of Storm Shadow, the weapons are also regularly used against the Taliban in Afghanistan where the RAF also has jets deployed.
A senior British air force officer also denied Britain has a problem with its munitions stocks. He said as far as he was aware, Denmark was the only nation that had had a problem and it had its stocks topped up by the U.S. military.
Micheal Langberg, the head of information at the Danish Air Force's tactical command, said he didn't know whether its munitions - GBU49s and GBU31s - were Danish or American, but the Air Force is "not short of weapons." The Danish Defence Acquisition & Logistics Organisation responsible for buying precision guided munitions and other weapons was not immediately available.
-- Andrew Chuter in London, Julian Hale in Brussels and Tom Kington in Rome contributed to this report.

Iraqi Army Ready to Maintain Security: Maliki

BAGHDAD - The Iraqi army can maintain security, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said April 21 in talks with America's top military officer, the latest official to visit Baghdad ahead of an upcoming U.S. pullout.
Maliki's remarks to Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated those he made to John Boehner, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, who visited Iraq last weekend.
"Prime Minister Maliki said the armed forces and the Iraqi security forces were able to take responsibility, and that they worked with professionalism," a statement from the premier's office said.
He added that Iraq would "continue to strengthen their combat capabilities while providing them with the latest equipment and weapons."
The U.S. military declined to comment on Mullen's trip when contacted by AFP.
Sandwiched between Boehner's and Mullen's trips was a visit by U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey.
Fewer than 50,000 U.S. troops are currently stationed in Iraq, down from a peak of nearly 170,000 following the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003.
All of those troops must withdraw from the country by the end of the year, according to the terms of a bilateral security pact.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on a surprise trip to Iraq on April 8 that American forces were prepared to stay in any role beyond the scheduled pullout, but time was running out for Baghdad to ask.
"My basic message to them is [for us to] just be present in some areas where they still need help. We are open to that possibility," he said. "But they have to ask, and time is running out in Washington."
A senior American military official also said last week that Iraqi leaders should not expect U.S. forces to return to help in a crisis after they have pulled out.

Fire Scout UAVs Deploy to CENTCOM

A U.S. Navy Fire Scout UAV system has been shipped to the Central Command (CENTCOM) operating area to support U.S. Army and coalition forces in Afghanistan, the Navy announced April 21.
A MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV is loaded aboard a C-17 transport on April 13 at NAS Patuxent River, Md. The Navy drones are being sent to Afghanistan to provide video surveillance. (Mikel Proulx / U.S. Navy)
The system, under development by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to operate from ships, will be land-based in CENTCOM for about a year. The Fire Scouts "will provide hundreds of hours of full motion video," NAVAIR said in a press release, in support of the Pentagon's Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance task force.
A wide variety of UAVs have been deployed over Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in CENTCOM at least since 2003, performing high-, medium- and low-altitude missions ranging from surveillance to strike. Most of the drones are fixed-wing, while the Fire Scout is a small helicopter able to stay aloft more than eight hours, fly at altitudes up to about 17,000 feet and travel about 115 knots.
Each Fire Scout system consists of up to three MQ-8B aircraft, at least one ground control station and other hardware.
For the CENTCOM mission, three Fire Scouts are being used along with two ground control stations. NAVAIR employees traveled with the system to perform set-up, but the system will be operated in theater by Northrop Grumman contract personnel, NAVAIR said.
Two ground control stations were loaded on a U.S. Air Force C-5 transport at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and shipped out on April 8. A smaller C-17 transport flew out the three Fire Scout vehicles on April 13.
Fire Scouts have been deployed to sea twice, first on the frigate McInerney in 2009-2010, and currently on the frigate Halyburton.
Although the system is intended for use on other ships, the Navy plans to make it a centerpiece of the mission modules under development for the littoral combat ship (LCS). Trials were carried out last November on board the first LCS, the single-hull Freedom, and tests are now being carried out aboard the multihull LCS Independence.

U.S. to Deploy Drones Against Gadhafi: Gates

WASHINGTON - The U.S. military will use armed drones over Libya, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said April 21, calling them a "modest contribution" to international coalition efforts there.
Gates said the decision to use unmanned drones armed with missiles was made "because of the humanitarian situation" in Libya, where strongman Moammar Gadhafi's forces are battling a Western-backed insurgency.
"They give you a capability that even the A-10 (anti-tank aircraft) and AC-130 (ground attack aircraft) couldn't provide" in the conflict in the North African nation, he told a press briefing.

F-35 Program Stabilizing, May Still Be Late

Overall, the F-35 Lightning II program is making progress, but much more needs to be done before the tri-service effort can be considered truly back on track, Vice Adm. David Venlet, the program's manager, told reporters on April 21.
Venlet said that flight testing has begun to pick up as of the beginning of the year. As well, the program's ability to manufacture aircraft is beginning to stabilize.
Still, the admiral reiterated other senior Pentagon officials' warning this year that the initial operational capability might slip past the planned 2016 date for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy versions of the stealthy fifth-generation fighter jet.
"Our [Technical Baseline Review] schedule now shows development test completing in '16. Realistically, I don't see it being in '16 for Air Force and Navy," he said.
But Venlet said he deferred to the service chiefs about exactly when the aircraft would be declared operational.
This year and next year, the program must demonstrate that costs are under control, with the first order of business to determine the actual cost of the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Four contract aircraft, he said.
"We're probably just approaching about the early first 10 percent of LRIP-4 production, and I'm waiting to see actuals align to the baseline," Venlet said. "Then we'll be negotiating LRIP-5."
LRIP-5 will consist of 35 aircraft, he said.
Lockheed Martin, the F-35's prime contractor, is set to deliver its proposal shortly. After the government receives the contract, the program office will extensively review the proposal before negotiations begin, Venlet said. The program office also will conduct a "should cost" review.
It is important that Lockheed deliver on the LRIP-4 contract, Venlet said. Though the LRIP-4 contract is based on a fixed price, the dollar amount the government pays is allowed to rise by about 6.5 percent. If the price exceeds that amount, Lockheed is on the hook for that additional cost.
However, Venlet said the government cannot allow the company to be driven out of business by absorbing huge additional costs indefinitely, and as such, contracts for LRIP-5 could be adjusted to ensure the company has an acceptable margin. This, Venlet said, is why Lockheed's performance on LRIP-4 is so important. Venlet said, thus far, he is very pleased with the F-35's radar cross-section, which has undergone testing over ranges.
"We don't have any worries currently that [is] going to be a defective piece of the aircraft," he said.
However, other manufacturing issues are plaguing the program. There are parts shortages for the Navy's F-35C version, and some engines have had to be replaced due to quality problems.
Venlet also said the manufacturing timelines of certain parts need to be shorter. Currently, some parts take 29 months to build; he wants that down to 24 months.
The other big task on the plate for the F-35 program is to build a sustainment strategy for the aircraft, Venlet said.
"This is really a year to focus on sustainment," he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story failed to indicate that Venlet was repeating earlier warnings that the F-35A and –C might miss their planned 2016 in-service date.

Indian Army Division Prepares for Desert Exercise

NEW DELHI - Some 15,000 Indian troops - a full division of the Army - will go next month to the Rajasthan desert, along the Indo-Pakistani border, for a ground exercise that will include armored columns, tanks, mechanized vehicles and artillery.
The exercise will test the Indian Army's ability to respond swiftly to attacks in extreme heat. The Army's 2004 doctrine states that future wars are expected to be swift and brief so that battlefield objectives can be accomplished before the nuclear threshold is crossed, an Indian Army official said.
The service also will fine-tune its use of network-centric warfare systems, which integrate soldiers on the ground with the central command, the Army official said.
Exercise participants will include elite troops.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony is expected to witness part of the land exercises, which will begin during the first week of May.
In April 2010, the Indian Army held similar exercises in the Rajasthan desert, which were immediately followed by Pakistani Army ground exercises held along the border.
The neighboring rivals customarily inform each other in advance of planned exercises.

Taiwan To Build New 'Stealth' Warship

TAIPEI - Taiwan plans to build a new 'stealth' warship armed with guided-missiles next year in response to China's naval build-up, a top military officer and a lawmaker said April 18.
Construction of the prototype of the 500-ton corvette is due to start in 2012 for completion in 2014, deputy defense minister Lin Yu-pao said in answer to a question by Kuomintang party legislator Lin Yu-fang at parliament.
The warship, which the navy says is harder to detect on radar, is expected to emerge after China puts into service its first battle carrier group, the legislator said.
The twin-hulled boat will be armed with up to eight home-grown Hsiung-feng II ship-to-ship missiles and eight other more lethal Hsiung-feng III anti-ship supersonic missiles.
The remarks came as China has been restoring Varyag, a former Soviet aircraft carrier bought in 1998.
The aircraft carrier will be used for training and as a model for a future indigenously-built ship, according to Andrei Chang, head of the Kanwa Information Centre, which monitors China's military.
The ship, currently based in the northeast port of Dalian, could make its first sea trip "very soon," he said.
Calls have been mounting on the island for the military to come up with counter-measures against the perceived threat.
Ties between Taiwan and China have eased markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in 2008, ramping up trade and allowing in more Chinese tourists.
But Beijing still refuses to renounce the use of force, even though Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949 at the end of a civil war, prompting the island to keep modernizing its forces.

Boeing, Lockheed, BAE To Vie for Japan's F-X

TOKYO - Following an April 11 request for proposals, Japan's lengthy search for a replacement next-generation fighter, dubbed F-X, has been whittled down to three candidates: Boeing, with its F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; Lockheed Martin, with its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; and BAE Systems, representing the Eurofighter consortium. The results were announced at an April 13 bidders meeting at the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
Many industry watchers say the F-35 and the Eurofighter are the two strongest contenders, according to Satoshi Tsuzukibashi, director of the Office of Defense Production Committee at Nippon Keidanren (the Japan Business Federation), Japan's biggest industrial lobby.
Japan's MoD is looking for a fighter to counter an increasingly capable Chinese Air Force. Japanese industry - in particular Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), which builds a Japanese version of the F-16C/D, the Mitsubishi F-2, under license from Lockheed Martin - is looking for licensed production. Keidanren supports this goal in order to sustain Japan's high-tech industrial base, Tsuzukibashi said.
"Actually, we don't care which one it is, as long as Japanese industry has the means to continue its industrial base with licensed production and technology," he said. "Actually, in that sense, the Eurofighter might be a little bit easier."
The original field of candidates included Lockheed's F-22 Raptor, the Dassault Rafale and the F-15FX, according to MoD documents. The request for proposals, delayed a year for political reasons, was supposed to have occurred in late March but was postponed because of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The bids are to replace the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's F-4EJ Kai Phantoms built by MHI, which are due to begin retiring in 2015, and will be for 40 planes, according to MoD documents. Japan also will need to replace its F-15Js in the next 10 years, which could increase the number of F-X fighters to 150.
Taisei Ugaki, a veteran military commentator here, said April 14 that there was strong pressure for MHI to maintain its assembly line, and that any move toward the Eurofighter would face "strong U.S. pressure" to buy American in order to maintain the U.S.-Japan alliance.
Despite the latest delay, bids will be due Aug. 31, and a contract awarded at the end of the year, according to MoD documents.

Slow Progress Frustrates India Brass

NEW DELHI - The Indian Army is adding numerous capabilities that were only on the drawing board five years ago, but the slow pace of acquisition has frustrated service leaders.
Army doctrine underscores the possibility of simultaneous conflict with Pakistan and China, so new assets are sought to increase firepower, including reconnaissance, surveillance and network-centric systems, a senior Army official said. For instance, the Army has sought to purchase a variety of 155mm howitzers for 10 years but without success. A government-to-government order has been struck to buy light howitzers from BAE's U.S. subsidiary through the Foreign Military Sales route, but the Army is still waiting. The $1 billion Tactical Communication System, an ambitious project that will integrate the soldier on the battlefield to the command center, is still in preliminary stages of procurement, even though the Army demanded the system nearly five years ago.
India must prepare for the growing Chinese threat, said the Army official.
"China's White Paper 2010 very clearly outlines jointness, informationization and mechanization as the three components of a force that would be fielded in 2020," said Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier and independent defense analyst here. "There would also be high reliance on air and heliborne assets for mobility and firepower. India's armed forces will have to focus on attaining seamless network centricity to retain deterrence."
Not only will the Army have to add assets, but it will have to incorporate lessons learned from battles in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the Army official added.
"The over-reliance on the Russian air defense systems has to go," is the immediate lesson the Indian Army should learn from the current battle in Libya, the Army official said.
"Iraq and Afghanistan have indicated the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles and attack helicopters as means of surveillance and target acquisition and rapid targeting without being vulnerable to the ubiquitous improvised explosive device," Bhonsle said. "The importance of IED protection, active and passive in urban as well as rural roads, has also been highlighted."
Even as the Army has drawn an ambitious plan to buy weapons and equipment worth more than $30 billion in the next five to seven years, the most important hardware acquisition, the 155mm self-propelled guns, is still pending, another Army official said.
Other planned Army purchases during the next five to seven years include air defense, missiles and UAVs, and introduction of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems to integrate the battle theater with headquarters through dedicated satellite and information technology systems, a senior Indian Defence Ministry official said.

Future UAVs Must Be Hardened: USAF Officers

Future unmanned aircraft will have to be designed to fly over hostile areas where an enemy would actively challenge their presence, a panel of three U.S. Air Force officers said.
While today's unmanned aircraft, such as the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, fly over the uncontested skies of Iraq, Afghanistan or even Libya, tomorrow's wars may see a hostile power jam vulnerable data-links and global positioning system (GPS) signals while sending up fighters to force such planes out of their airspace, the men told an audience at a International Institute of Strategic Studies conference on April 20.
"We must continue to develop systems that are hardened against GPS-denied environments, hardened against comm-out environments, and partially hardened against aerial threats and ground threats," said Air Force Col. Dean Bushey, deputy director of the U.S. Army Joint Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence.
Nor can the Air Force take the air bases it operates UAVs out of for granted, he added.
Such bases might come under attack from enemy forces, which would necessitate developing unmanned jets with greater range and persistence to enable such aircraft to operate from outside the range of those potential threats, said Mark Gunzinger, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington.
However, communications could be the deciding factor for future unmanned aircraft.
"Stealth technology is such today that we can make platforms that are much, much more survivable," he said. "But controlling them is going to be a significant problem."
In fact, it might be that for operations inside defended airspace, manned aircraft would be the preferred option until a solution is found, Gunzinger said.
One option is for an aircraft to be preprogrammed with a set route to attack a particular set of targets.
"But you'd be limited in your ability to deal with unplanned circumstances," Gunzinger said. Moving targets would be especially problematic because there would be no way to update the aircraft's target set en route.
Another alternative, Bushey suggested, might be to have the unmanned aircraft act as a "loyal wingman," where it would be led into combat by a manned aircraft.
Gunzinger agreed that the concept might be possible.
"That could be a feasible operational concept where one mother ship would control a number of unmanned platforms, not just for [Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance], but for a range of operations," he said.
Ideally, however, unmanned aircraft would be able to perform missions autonomously inside contested airspace.
Autonomy is necessary because an enemy would almost certainly attack the aircraft's vulnerable communications links, Gunzinger said. However, in any sort of threat environment, an unmanned aircraft would have to have the sensors to detect and avoid incoming threats, he added.
Bushey also emphasized a need for greater autonomy for unmanned aircraft.
However, autonomous aircraft that could independently perform such missions are not currently technologically feasible. Machines are not yet able to automatically recognize targets, nor are machines able to make decisions in a "dynamic" environment, such as air-to-air combat, said Col. James Sculerati, U.S. Special Operations Command's ISR chief. However, many routine tasks such as takeoffs and landings could be automated, Sculerati said.
To build a truly autonomous aircraft would require computing power approaching genuine artificial intelligence, Gunzinger said.
"I don't think we're at a point where we're willing to have systems autonomously engage another system, but we can get to a point where we can have a system get there and then have human control," Bushey added.

Pakistan Tests 'Nuke-Capable' Short-Range Missile

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan yesterday conducted the first official test firing of what it described as a short-range surface-to-surface multitube ballistic missile.
An Inter-Services Press Release statement said the Nasr (Victory) missile could be tipped with "nuclear warheads of appropriate yield with high accuracy," therefore confirming Pakistan's long-assumed tactical nuclear weapons program.
The statement also described it as a "quick response system [which] addresses the need to deter evolving threats."
Nasr is the ninth in the Pakistani Hatf (Vengeance) series of missile systems. Images, and film released by ISPR and Associated Press of Pakistan show it to be a two-round system carried on the Chinese-origin 8x8 high-mobility truck chassis used by the Army's AR1A/A100-E 300mm Multiple Launch Rocket System.
Haris Khan, of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank, said Nasr answers India's Cold Start doctrine.
"Hatf-IX is a perfect answer to the Indian concept of Cold Start," Khan said. "It establishes that tactical nuclear weapons will be deployed very close to its border with minimum reaction time to counter any armor or mechanized thrust by an enemy into its Pakistani territory."
The Nasr test shows Pakistan can build small nuclear warheads for all kinds of delivery platforms, said Mansoor Ahmed, a lecturer at Quaid-e-Azam University here who specializes in nonconventional weapons and missiles.
"Theoretically, 1 kilogram of weapons-grade plutonium boosted with 4-5 grams of tritium gives a 10-20KT yield, provided the trigger is sophisticated," Ahmed said. "However, the diameter size of Nasr suggests that the warhead would be less than 1 kilogram, and would be of sub-kiloton range, suitable for battlefield use and could be a fission boosted sub-kiloton fission device."Pakistan will now "not accept any cap in plutonium production in the foreseeable future," he said.
Similar in concept to the Russian Iskander, the Nasr has a much shorter range: 60 kilometers, which Ahmed said could be extended.