Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pak frees Indian chopper

India Set to Open Bids for 126 Fighter Jets

NEW DELHI - India was set to open rival bids Nov. 4 from France's Dassault and the Eurofighter consortium, which are competing over a multibillion-dollar contract to provide 126 fighter jets.
The deal to supply war planes to fast-developing India has been fiercely fought over for four years, and the opening of the bids will start the final phase of the decision-making process.
"Negotiations with the (two) firms will start after opening the bids on November 4," Air Marshal D. Kukreja said. "Whatever is beneficial to the country, we will choose."
India in April pulled a surprise by cutting out U.S. bidders Boeing and Lockheed Martin - much to Washington's disappointment - as well as dropping Sweden's Saab AB and the Russian makers of the MiG 35 from the race.
"The final outcome will not be known immediately except perhaps an indication of whom we may prefer," retired Gen. Afsir Karim, an expert on Indian arms procurement, said Nov. 3.
"A price negotiation committee will finally determine the winner," he said.
Dassault's Rafale plane and the Eurofighter Typhoon have both been in action over Libya in recent months during the international operation to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians from Moammar Gadhafi's forces.
James Hardy, Asia-Pacific editor of Jane's Defence Weekly, said the contract was "the single biggest competition in the global defense aviation industry at the moment."
"Both aircraft... are coming off successful performances as part of the NATO air campaign in Libya," he said. "Failure here would be a major blow after both made substantial investment in promoting their platforms in India."
A source for the French group, who declined to be identified, said last week that the decision "could be settled in one day or it could take months if the (price) gap is narrow."
Dassault's rival, Eurofighter, is produced by a consortium of Britain's BAE Systems, Italy's Finmeccanica and EADS.
The contract is for the outright purchase of 18 combat aircraft by 2012, with another 108 to be built in India with options to acquire more.
Such a large order attracted strong lobbying during visits to India last year by U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
India, the biggest importer of military hardware among emerging nations, issued the request for proposals in 2007 and trials of aircraft from the six companies competing for the deal began a year later.
The procurement of the fighter jets is a key part of India's military upgrade program, aimed at securing its borders against rivals Pakistan and China.

NATO Ready To Help Libyan Defense, Security: Rasmussen

BRUSSELS - Two days after NATO completed its last Libyan air mission as part of the alliance's Unified Protector operation, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced here that NATO is willing to help reform the defense and security sectors, "if so requested" by the Libyan authorities.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks in Tripoli at an Oct. 31 news conference, as Libyan National Transitioanl Council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil listens on. Rasmussen says NATO is willing to help with reforms in Libya. (Marco Longari / Agence France-Presse)
"Libya is not alone," he said. "They can, if they wish, ask the international community, including individual allies and nations, for support."
During a visit last week to the Libyan capital of Tripoli, Rasmussen met with Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC). During the talks, Rasmussen made it clear that NATO was ready to help with defense and security reforms, but it has not yet received a formal request for help, he said.
"We would be prepared to offer the same kind of assistance as we have offered to other partners within defense and security sector reforms," Rasmussen said. "That is overall to help put defense and security agencies under civilian and democratic control. We can also help in organizing modern defense structures," he said, citing examples such as helping Libya build a defense ministry or organize the general staff of its armed forces.
A number of NATO allies have gone through a similar transition from dictatorship to democracy and therefore have valuable experience to offer, Rasmussen said. It is "of utmost importance" that all the different militias in Libya are put under a common command and control, he said. "One of the big challenges for the NTC" is "to build such unified armed forces in Libya."
Preventing Proliferation
Libya must play a responsible role in the region, including "preventing the spread of arms through North Africa," Rasmussen said.
On Oct. 31, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that included a call for Libya "to take all necessary steps to prevent the proliferation of all arms and related materiel of all types, in particular man-portable surface-to-air missiles, to ensure their proper custody, as well as to meet Libya's arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation obligations under international law."
NATO has no estimate of the number of missiles that are missing, Rasmussen said.
Asked about arms smuggling in the region, he said he had no information, but he noted that even though NATO's Unified Protector mission is over, "according to [previous] UNSC resolutions, the arms embargo is still in place and it is the responsibility of individual nations now to enforce the arms embargo, including Libya's neighbors."
Under the latest resolution, it is "the responsibility of the new political authorities in Libya to make sure that all weapons are properly controlled, monitored, secured and also destroyed if necessary," Rasmussen said.
"It is not for NATO any longer to enforce the arms embargo as an alliance [as its mission is over], but it is still the responsibility of individual allies to implement the U.N. resolution as far as the arms embargo is concerned," Rasmussen said. "Upon request from the new authorities in Libya, it is possible for individual nations, including NATO allies, to assist the new authorities in Libya."
Enforcement of the arms embargo is not just for Libya and its neighbors or countries in the region but is also the responsibility of all members of the United Nations, including NATO allies, he said.
NATO conducted its operations in Libya in such a manner that "we have no confirmed civil casualties caused by NATO" and "have really minimized the amount of collateral damage," Rasmussen said.
There are cities in Libya "where you will see a lot of damage," he conceded, "but actually that's rather caused by fighting on the ground between the NTC and Gadhafi forces than caused by NATO airstrikes. Our airstrikes have been precision strikes. We have hit legitimate military targets and minimized the collateral damage and, for that reason, I don't see any need for further investigation. We have fully implemented the U.N. mandate to the letter."
On Afghanistan, Rasmussen said that "spectacular attacks capture the headlines" but "do not allow the enemies of Afghanistan to seize and hold ground."
Enemy attacks were down 26 percent from July to September this year, compared with the same period last year, he said. NATO has achieved its target of having trained 306,000 Afghan soldiers and police by October this year, Rasmussen said. He noted that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai will soon announce the next group of provinces and districts to be handed over to Afghan security lead and that a quarter of the Afghan population already has day-to-day security provided by Afghan forces.
As for Iran, Rasmussen said NATO had no intention to intervene.
"NATO supports international efforts to pursue political and diplomatic solutions to the Iran problem," he said.

Boeing Unveils Cyber Effort

Long quiet about its cybersecurity capabilities and business, Boeing is starting to get more vocal about one of the few defense sectors expected to grow in the upcoming budget crunch.
The public push into cyber comes in the form of a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Boeing's new Cyber Engagement Center located little more than 100 yards from Fort Meade, Md., which houses the headquarters of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command. Boeing Vice President Brian Palma noted the significance of the center's proximity.
"There's absolutely an important part of this that is about being close," Palma said. "Obviously, the government is an important customer for us."
Boeing's name is hardly synonymous with cybersecurity; the market has been dominated by General Dynamics, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and SAIC, among others. At Boeing's quarterly earnings call Oct. 26, the profitable commercial aviation business received most of the attention, while cybersecurity was barely mentioned.
"The perception is that they haven't talked about it," said Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners. "Other people have been talking about it for a while, and that might be a signal in and of itself, that they're not placing the same emphasis on cyber as others are."
However, Steve Grundman of Grundman Advisory said that while Boeing has not been very public about cyber, its other capabilities may prove a major asset.
"It's manifestly correct to say that Boeing has a relatively small IT business compared to its competitors, but it would not surprise me to learn that they have very advanced capabilities in protecting their communications networks," Grundman said.
New Cyber Center
At the Oct. 25 ceremony, Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing's defense division, said the new facility will house one of Boeing's three major network monitoring offices, and help develop products and collaborate with customers.
"This is the first time that we're bringing it all together in an engagement center where not only can we do the work of protecting Boeing's network and developing new products, but we can also bring customers in to experience those products," Muilenburg said.
As part of the opening ceremony, the company showed off four capabilities:
■ Secure Mobile Enterprise. Still in its infancy, the Secure Mobile Enterprise program is designed to provide platform agnostic security for mobile systems. Boeing would not disclose the means employed to secure the systems but said it had not created some of the products used in the security scheme. The company was describing the capability as a service. The system is designed to secure an entire device as opposed to operating through an individual application, giving greater flexibility to the user.
■ VSOC. Already in circulation for years, the Virtual Security Operations Console (VSOC) has integrated security camera and alarm feeds with 2-D and 3-D maps. Boeing has added the ability to feed network data into VSOC so that attacks on a network can be associated with a particular server on a map. Boeing said this feature will be especially useful in combating on-location attacks using thumb drives or similar devices.
■ TAC. The TripWire Analytic Capability (TAC) system works to mine data looking for connections. Internal documents or publicly available information can be compared to threat data to find correlations. The system uses a list of 500,000 queries that are constantly performed and expanded. Boeing said that although security experts typically spend 80 percent of their time searching for information on threats and 20 percent of their time analyzing threats, the TAC system inverts those percentages.
■ NarusInsight. One of the fruits of Boeing's July 2010 acquisition of Narus, NarusInsight is a network monitoring program that provides a dashboard that can visualize data. The program presents a map with network activity, as well as listings of activity deemed suspicious that are color-coded and organized by the seriousness of the threat. The software does not gather data, and is designed to be integrated into a pre-existing security scheme.
Emphasizing Cyber
While the company is publicly emphasizing cyber, its interest is not new, Palma said.
"We believe we're at an inflection point," he said. "We saw this coming, and this gives us a capability and a way to engage with customers that's different than we've had before, but we're not getting into the cyber business for the first time."
Company officials described cyber as a 100-year business, likening it to the aviation business that has been the backbone of Boeing since its creation.
"This is an area where we've been investing, and we will continue to invest," Muilenburg said.
The new cyber center probably does not reflect the strength of the company's business, Callan said.
"These are kind of iconic facilities, but I think cyber is still a business that gets down to individuals, as opposed to plants and facilities," he said. "It's always a hard market. It's not the same as visiting a factory. That's why you talk about intellectual prowess in cyber."
Even if the cyber business is growing, Callan said he doubted it could lift companies faced with cuts in nearly every other segment.
"It's going to be an important market, but from an investment standpoint, is cyber going to be something that is going to move the needle for these guys? My guess is, probably not."
The Boeing Co.: company profile
Headquarters: Chicago.
2010 revenue: $30.8 billion.

Pakistan gets hi-tech for F-16

Islamabad – Pakistan has bought the American ALQ-211 AIDEWS (Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite) pod for their F-16 fighters.
The ALQ-211 allows the aircraft to detect radar, jamming and laser signals hitting the aircraft, as well as the presence of chemical weapons. ALQ-211 also provides some jamming of its own, and assistance on where the signal is coming from, so the pilot can move the aircraft away from the threat, said a report published in U.S. magazine.
ALQ-211 is also installed in helicopters, but not as a pod. Rather, the individual components are installed in the helicopter where space is available.
Components of ALQ-211 are programmable, so that the system can quickly be updated for newly discovered enemy equipment. Pakistan will receive ALQ-211(V) 9 (version 9), which costs about $3.5 million per pod.