Monday, October 24, 2011

India to Announce MMRCA Winner Next Month

NEW DELHI - India's $10 billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contest has entered its last stage, with the Indian Defence Ministry alerting the two competitors that the commercial bids will be opened Nov. 4.
Letters were sent Oct. 24 to France's Dassault Aviation and European company EADS, a ministry source here said. After the commercial bids are opened, the lowest bidder will be decided and price negotiations with the winner will begin.
The MMRCA program has picked up momentum in the Defence Ministry, and a contract is likely to be sealed by March 2012.
Based on flight trials of all the MMRCA competitors, the aircraft proposed by U.S. companies Lockheed Martin and Boeing, Sweden's Saab and Russia's MiG Aircraft were ejected from the race, leaving the Dassault Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon in the fray.
The Indian Defence Ministry floated its biggest global tender, worth $10 billion, for the acquisition of 126 MMRCAs in August 2007.
The Indian Air Force intends to replace its aging Russian-built MiG-21 fighter aircraft with the MMRCA because the Indian-designed and -built Light Combat Aircraft has been delayed by more than a decade.
Under the MMRCA proposal, India would buy 18 ready-to-fly fighters off the shelf and the remaining 108 would be built in India under technology transfer from the contract winner.

Japan cyber attackers may have military info

TOKYO - Information on military aircraft and nuclear power plants may have been stolen in a series of cyber attacks on Japanese defense contractor Mitsubishi Heavy, a report said Oct. 24.
Mitsubishi Heavy said in late September that 83 computers at 11 of its facilities had been hit by cyber attacks but no leakage of information on products and technologies had been confirmed.
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that additional checks on other computers at Mitsubish Heavy facilities had shown traces of transmissions of information through some of the computers.
The daily, quoting unidentified officials, said part of the information concerned fighters and helicopters that the company is contracted to manufacture for the defense ministry.
"It is not known if these are classified as defense secrets," Asahi said.
Other pieces of information taken are likely to include the design, equipment and earthquake-resistant nature of nuclear power plants in which Mitsubishi Heavy was involved, the daily said.
Mitsubishi Heavy's public relations office said it could not confirm or deny the report.
Defense minister Yasuo Ichikawa said in September there was no indication that sensitive information had been stolen as a result of the attacks on the firm's computers, which came to light in August.

U.N.: 'Critical time' for Iraq as U.S. withdraws

BAGHDAD - Iraq faces a "very critical time" as U.S. forces leave, the United Nations envoy to Baghdad said Oct. 24, calling on Iraqis to work together to address the myriad challenges the country faces.
"We are in a very critical time, a very important period and phase of the history of Iraq, after the announcement of President [Barack] Obama ... to withdraw troops completely," Martin Kobler, the U.N. secretary general's special representative for Iraq, told a news conference.
Obama said Oct. 21 that all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011, bringing to a close a war that has stretched for over eight years.
"Many are already speculating about what will happen in Iraq come January the first," Obama said in a speech at a ceremony marking the 66th anniversary of the U.N's founding. "Yes, [it] may be there will be challenges ahead. But I do see a tremendous opportunity for Iraqis to prove to the world that they are able to deliver on the commitment they made to themselves and the international community to ensure a democratic, stable, peaceful and prosperous Iraq."
"It is an opportunity for all Iraqis to come together and build the Iraq they can be proud of," Kobler said.
During the news conference, he emphasized the importance of dialogue between Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region and the central government, which are at odds over control of swathes of north Iraq.
"Wherever there is a chance to support the dialogue between Baghdad and Arbil, we are doing it," he said, referring to the capital of the Kurdistan region.
"The question of the ... disputed internal boundaries is a very important one," Kobler said, adding that one of the U.N.'s main focuses "will be the Baghdad-Arbil relations."
He also said that "for the government of Iraq, it's very important to improve relations with Kuwait" so it can exit "the Chapter VII resolutions."
Sanctions against Iraq were imposed following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.