Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Taiwan Supersonic Missile Test Flops

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's defense ministry on June 28 confirmed reports that a new supersonic anti-ship missile had missed its target during a routine naval drill in the latest in a series of setbacks.
Analysts say the Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) III missile, designed to cruise at a maximum speed of Mach 2.0, or twice the speed of sound, and with a range of up to 80 miles, is difficult to defend against.
But the defense ministry said the weapon, the island's first locally developed supersonic anti-ship missile, had failed to hit its objective during the drill due to a computer glitch.
"The ministry will improve on the screening of hardcore facilities ... to ensure the quality of the missiles," it said in a statement. Taiwan started to deploy the Hsiung Feng III on its warships last year in response to China's rapid naval expansion.
But the island's military leaders were left red-faced after two failed missile tests earlier this year that earned rare criticism from President Ma Ying-jeou, who urged the armed forces to practice more.
The Taipei-based China Times said the latest failure was particularly embarrassing for Taiwan's navy, since it "coincided" with Beijing's much-publicized military drills in South China Sea in mid-June.
The missiles are estimated to cost Taiwanese taxpayers at least Tw$100 million ($3.45 million) each, the report said.
Ties between China and Taiwan have improved since Ma became the island's president in 2008 on a China-friendly platform.
But China still regards Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting to be reunified by force if necessary, although the island has governed itself since 1949 when a civil war ended.

Lockheed Shifts F-35 Management Team

Lockheed Martin is shifting some of its executives in order strengthen its most important programs, the company said June 27 in a news release.
In perhaps the most significant move, Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed's Mission Systems & Sensors chief, will become the deputy to F-35 general manager Larry Lawson.
"These appointments will strengthen our performance on high-priority programs and provide growth and development opportunities for key executives," Christopher Kubasik, Lockheed's president and chief operating officer, said in the news release. "They build on our commitment to leverage our talent seamlessly across the enterprise to meet the needs of our customers."

Iran Unveils Underground Missile Silo: State TV

TEHRAN - Iran's Revolutionary Guards on June 27 unveiled an "underground missile silo," which the elite force said will allow them to launch the country's long-range ballistic missiles, state television reported.
The broadcaster showed footage of a facility at an unknown location, with an "underground missile silo" holding a projectile described as a Shahab-3.
The unveiling came as the Guards began a military exercise on June 27, codenamed Great Prophet-6, which was to include the launching of different range ballistic missiles.
"The technology to build these silos is completely indigenous," the state television website quoted the exercise's spokesman, Col. Asghar Ghelichkhani, as saying.
State television also showed a missile launch, without specifying its type or when the firing took place.
With a range of nearly 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers), the Shahab-3 is a liquid-fuelled missile that can theoretically reach Israeli territory as well as U.S. bases in the Middle East.
In recent years, Iran has tested a dozen of these missiles, which are believed to have been derived from the North Korean No-Dong missile.
The Islamic republic says the latest exercise would carry "a message of peace and friendship to the countries of the region."
In late May, Iran said it had equipped the Revolutionary Guards with a new surface-to-surface missile, the Qiam-1, which it said was built locally and test-fired last August.
Iran says it has a wide range of missiles in its arsenal, and regularly boasts about developing projectiles with substantial range and capabilities. Western military experts cast doubt over its claims, however.
The country's missile program, which is under the control of the powerful Guards, along with its space projects, has been a source of concern in the West.
World powers fear that Tehran is developing a ballistic capability to enable it to launch nuclear warheads, which they suspect Iran is seeking to acquire under the guise of its civilian atomic program.
But Iran has steadfastly denied the Western allegations, insisting that its nuclear and space programs have no military objectives.

Gates: NATO Allies Must Pool Funds or Face Decline

WASHINGTON - European members of NATO need to pool their defense funds to bolster their declining military power, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says.
The Libya air war has exposed serious shortcomings among NATO allies and European governments will have to agree on joint defense budget priorities to rectify the problem, Gates told AFP in an interview.
The Pentagon chief, who is due to retire this week after more than four years in the post, reiterated views he expressed in a blunt speech in Brussels earlier this month, in which he warned the alliance faced a potentially "dismal" future.
"The truth is, as I said in Brussels, there is a lot of military capability and a lot of money being spent in Europe," Gates said on Thursday.
"The problem is, is how it's being spent, and not a sufficient acknowledgement that every nation in NATO can't have a full spectrum capability militarily," he said.
European allies are spending more than $300 billion on defense, but often in an uncoordinated manner, he said.
"So at one point do countries begin to pool their resources, begin to pool their capabilities and say, together they can do this?" he said.
Gates added there are "several countries, and I'm not going to name any names, that can't afford F-16s (fighter jets), but they can pool their resources as they have on the C-17s, the cargo planes, then they have a real capability."
He said he was urging "greater integration within NATO."
In his Brussels speech on June 10, Gates said that many NATO members did not have the military resources to participate in the Libya air campaign and that failure to coordinate defense spending over the years had "short changed" operations.
He also warned that failing to pool funds and coordinate training and other efforts "bodes ill for ensuring NATO has the key common alliance capabilities of the future."
Gates' critique of NATO prompted a sharp response from French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week, who said the American defense secretary's comments reflected the "bitterness" of a future retiree.
"Mr. Gates was heading towards retirement and it gave him pleasure" to criticize the alliance, Sarkozy told a news conference Friday after a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels.
"You can't blame someone who's retiring for showing bitterness," he said, adding that what Gates said was "completely false."
The Pentagon chief's press secretary, Geoff Morrell, has declined to comment on Sarkozy's remarks.
In his Brussels address, Gates rebuked allies for what he called chronic underinvestment in defense, saying NATO members in the Libya campaign are running out of munitions and lacking surveillance aircraft and specialists to identify targets.
Senior British officers have warned that the Libya campaign is putting an increasing strain on the country's armed forces.