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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dutch declare Wednesday official day of mourning for MH17 dead

National day of mourningWednesday July 23 has been designated an official day of mourning to remember those who died on flight MH17, prime minister Mark Rutte has announced.

Flags will be at half mast on government buildings and church bells will be rung for five minutes prior to the landing of the first plane bringing back the first bodies of the dead.

The plane is expected to arrive at Eindhoven air base at 16.00 hours.

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UK Continues Exporting Arms to Russia Despite Call for New Sanctions

Britain is to supply £132 million ($225 million) worth of arms to Russia despite the call for new sanctions, BBC News said Wednesday, quoting the report by the cross-party Commons arms export control committees released earlier today.

According to the report, after the governmental review, 251 licenses for the sale of weaponry worth at least £132 million ($225 million) remain in force, while only 34 licenses were suspended.

The licenses still in force include "body armor, components for assault rifles, components for body armour, components for small arms ammunition, components for sniper rifles, equipment employing cryptography, equipment for the use of military communications equipment, equipment for the use of sniper rifles, gun mountings, small arms ammunition, sniper rifles, software for equipment employing cryptography, weapon night sights and weapon sights," the report states.

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Boeing Delivers Upgraded French AWACS Aircraft

E-3F SentryBoeing on July 17 delivered on schedule the first of four upgraded French Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft. The upgraded aircraft will increase the fleet’s surveillance, communications and battle management capabilities.

The Mid-Life Upgrade – the largest set of modifications to AWACS aircraft for France – will provide the crew with more actionable information and better situational awareness and increase mission effectiveness and efficiencies.

“The focus, commitment and hard work among Boeing, Air France Industries and French and U.S. government teams were key in achieving this milestone on schedule,” said Steve Swanz, French AWACS program manager for Boeing.

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HMS Illustrious comes home to Portsmouth for the last time

The carrier was cheered by crowds as she entered Portsmouth Harbour after the announcement that she is to be axed from the fleet.

As reported in The News, the helicopter carrier is being replaced in service by Plymouth-based HMS Ocean, which has just come out of a £65m refit.

It marks the end of a class of ships, as Illustrious’ sister ships Invincible and Ark Royal have both already left service and been scrapped.

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Fleet's oldest deployable warship nears retirement

USS Denver (LPD 9)The fleet’s oldest deployable warship is nearing its goodbye.

The amphibious transport dock Denver returned from its final patrol in April and is set for an Aug. 14 retirement at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii after an astounding 46 years — a lifespan akin to a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Denver entered the fleet in 1968. It has served nine presidents and in conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq. In April 1975, the ship’s crew aided in the evacuation of Saigon.

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Hollande Threat to Cancel Russia Mistral Warship May Be Empty

Vladivostok LHDFrench President Francois Hollande said he’s prepared to cancel the sale of the second Mistral warship to Russia. It may be too late for that, a person with knowledge of the contract said.

The construction of the helicopter carrier is nearly complete and it has been mostly paid for, said the person, declining to be identified because details of the contract aren’t public.

Hollande on July 21 held out the threat of a possible cancellation of the warship’s sale if the European Union decides to expand its sanctions against Moscow in light of evidence that Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine shot down a Malaysian airliner last week, killing all 298 people on board.

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US Navy Selects Northrop Grumman for Ship Self-Defense System

USS George H W BushThe U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation a $12 million task order for a full range of engineering services to continue modernizing the Ship Self-Defense System Mark 2 (SSDS MK2). The contract has a potential value of $61 million over five years, if all options are exercised.

SSDS MK2 is a combat system designed for anti-air defense of U.S. and coalition partner aircraft carriers and amphibious ships. The system coordinates the ship's existing sensors, self-defense weapons and countermeasures to shorten the detect-to-engage cycle.

"The system is critical to enhance the self-defense capabilities of the Navy's aircraft carriers and amphibious ships," said Mike Barrett, director, maritime combat systems, Northrop Grumman Information Systems. "It's important we continue migrating toward COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] equipment to improve performance and enable increased cybersecurity."

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Iran to Launch New Home-Made Destroyer Soon

IRIS DamavandThe Iranian Navy plans to launch one of its advanced home-made destroyers, named Damavand, in the country's territorial waters in the near future, Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said on Tuesday.

"Destroyer Damavand will join the Islamic Republic of Iran's Navy in the near future," Sayyari told FNA.

Elsewhere, he referred to the Iranian Navy's deployment in the international waters, and said, "Iran's 31st fleet of warships is sailing towards the region of its mission to replace the 30th fleet."

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2 more Aegis destroyers set for FY20

Kongo class DDGThe government will start building two Aegis-equipped destroyers with the latest missile defense systems starting next fiscal year, in light of the progress seen in missile development by North Korea, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The Defense Ministry will include related expenses in its budgetary requests, informed sources said.

The government will start building one destroyer in the next fiscal year and the other in fiscal 2016, aiming at reinforcing the defense system by increasing Aegis-equipped vessels from the current six to eight in fiscal 2020, sources said.

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Russian waste transport ship completes test mission

RossitaThe Rossita was launched at La Spezia, Italy in December 2010 destined for a role transporting submarine waste in north-west Russia.

Atomflot took delivery of the vessel in early 2011 and was to put it to work shuttling between Gremikha, Andreeva Guba, Guba Sayda, Severodvinsk and other areas where submarine dismantling work is taking place.

In its first mission, completed on 20 July, the ship transported ten 20-tonne containers filled with solid radioactive waste from submarines at the formal naval base of Gremikha to the Sayda Bay storage facility.

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Saab buys Swedish submarine shipyard

Saab logoSwedish defence and aeronautics group Saab said Tuesday it had completed the acquisition of German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp's submarine shipyard in southern Sweden.

Saab paid 340 million kronor ($49.6 million) for the ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems subsidiary, which the Swedish company said would come from existing funds.

"The impact of the transaction on Saab's results for 2014 is not considered to be significant," it said in a statement.

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North Korea’s Asymmetric Submarine Doctrine

Kim Jong-unNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-Un made headlines last month when he visited the Korean People’s Army Naval Unit 167, part of the Korean People’s Navy (KPN) East Sea Fleet unit based in the South Hamgyong province.

Photographs released by the Korean Central News Agency showed Kim on a rusty green-painted submarine No. 748, toying with the periscope in its control room. Kim also reportedly guided an actual drill onboard.

Many foreign analysts used Kim’s visit to comment on the decrepit state of the submarine he was visiting. For example, South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Kim Min-Seok, remarked that: “It appears that Pyongyang aims to show off its submarine might, but the submarines that our Navy holds are far superior, as ours do not make much noise and it can stay underwater far longer.”

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nigerian Air Force Mi-35 Helicopter crashes

Mi-35 HindNigeria’s Defence Headquarters says investigation has commenced to unravel the circumstances that led to the crash of a Nigerian Air Force Mi-35 Helicopter on training mission Monday afternoon.

The Mi-35 Helicopter, according to the Defence Headquarters crashed due to a technical fault at a location South of Bama.

It is not clear if any life was lost but the Defence Headquarters has ruled out possibility of any attack.

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Oregon Contractor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding US

OH-58 KiowaAn Oregon defense contractor has pleaded guilty to selling $10 million worth of phony parts for attack helicopters and military vehicles to the U.S. government, including a locknut that secures the rotor on the Kiowa attack helicopter.

According to court records, the company Kustom Products Inc., a longtime seller of truck and RV parts based in Coos Bay; owner Harold Ray Bettencourt II, and four employees pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Portland to conspiracy to defraud the United States.

"These crooks took deliberate actions to supply defective equipment to our military, putting our service men and women in harm's way during a time of war," Kenneth Hines, special agent in charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, said in a statement. "Then, they spun a web of complex lies to cover it all up."

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MH17: Russians claim Ukrainian jet flew close to plane

Su-25 FrogfootA senior Russian officer has claimed that a Ukrainian military jet was flying just a few kilometres from the Malaysian Airlines plane minutes before it was downed, while also refuting allegations that it had provided separatists with BUK missile launchers.

In a statement to a press conference today, Lieutenant-General Andrei Kartopolov said the Defence Ministry would like to know "why the military jet was flying along [the same civil aviation lines] at almost the same time and at the same level as a passenger plane."

The SU-25 was, Mr Kartopolov says, gaining height and reached a distance of three to five kilometres from the Boeing 777.

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Airbus Seeks Pan-European Drone Pact to Challenge Taranis

Barracuda UAVAirbus Group NV (AIR) said it favors a pan-European deal on military drones after an Anglo-French agreement from which it’s excluded received government backing and the U.K.’s Taranis model began testing stealth technology.

A bilateral approach to developing a combat drone that could succeed aircraft such as the Eurofighter ignores both the capabilities of other countries and the success of more inclusive aerospace programs, Domingo Urena-Raso, who heads Airbus’s military-aircraft operations, said in an interview.

“It won’t be enough,” Urena-Raso said at the Farnborough Air Show, arguing that Spain, Germany and Italy should be allowed to join the U.K.-France pact. “If this is considered strategic we know how to do it: we should take successful programs like Airbus and gather the political will to succeed.”

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US Marines Testing Unmanned Support Vehicle

We generally think of autonomous vehicles as the future of motoring that will help make the roadways safer and our commutes less boring, the U.S. military is looking at other ways of using this technology to keep our troops safe.

For that, meet GUSS – the Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate being developed by the U.S. Marines.

Showcased during the same Marine Corps Warfighting Lab that brought us video of the Ultra Heavy-Lift Amphibious Connector (UHAC), GUSS is a proof-of-concept vehicle showing how autonomous technologies could be used in military vehicle applications.

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NASA Pilots Fly U-2 ‘Spy Plane’ Civil Variant for Polar Data Collection

Lockheed ER-2Two NASA research pilots separately flew a civil variant of the U-2 military reconnaissance aircraft last week to study diminishing sea-ice levels in the Arctic region, Alaska Dispatch News reported Thursday.

Dermot Cole writes that pilots Tim Williams and Daniel Steele took turns flying the ER-2 jet to 60,000 feet and providing assistance from the ground for NASA’s polar climate change research project.

The Lockheed Martin-built aircraft will aim to complete up to 48 hours of environmental flight missions through the end of July.

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Japan, South Korea, U.S. begin search and rescue exercise

USS George WashingtonSouth Korea, the United States and Japan held two days of search and rescue drills south of the southern island of Jeju on Monday, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said.

The exercise, known as SAREX, has been held once or twice a year. This week’s drills started Monday and wrapped up Tuesday.

The preceding exercise took place in South Korea’s southern waters in October.

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Fire onboard Naval warship; no casualties

INS SavitriA "minor" fire broke out in one of the living compartments of warship 'INS Savitri' in the Naval dockyard here but there were no casualties.

It was the 16th reported mishap involving naval personnel and assets after the sinking of the Russian-origin submarine INS Sindhurakshak in August last year in which all the 18 personnel on board were killed.

The "minor" fire, suspected to have been caused by an electrical short circuit, was reported on Saturday and it was brought under control by the duty staff on the ship, a statement from Navy said here today.

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Russia—Oko-1 Early Warning Satellite Replacement Expected By Q4 (Launch Preparations)

Proton-M carrier rocketThe 14F142 will be pushed into a Tundra orbit (an identical orbit as the Oko-1, but with twice the orbital period) via a Soyuz2.1b launch vehicle, with Kommersant reporting that the instruments payload were built by Kometa Corporation.

These instruments are purported to be able to identify cruise missile launches as well as firings from submarines.

The flight parameters of launched missiles will also be calculated, which will aid Russian ground based radar stations to lock onto in-flight targets—with a like response then likely from the Russian military once launches have been ID'd, calculated and their intentions determined.

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Russian Navy gets analogue of P-8 Poseidon aircraft

Il-38 MayThe Russian Navy is now equipped with a modernised Ilyushin Il-38 aircraft, designed to hunt down and destroy enemy submarines. The plane is equipped with a conceptually new targeting system and is another example of how platforms long used by the army and navy have been given a new lease of life after modernisation.

The Il-38 – the military version of the famous Il-1 airliner – made its maiden flight as far back as 1961. At that time, the aircraft was equipped with the Berkut targeting and navigation system.

The main purpose of these aircrafts was to patrol territorial waters near the Russian coast in search of enemy submarines. As the designers intended, the aircraft crew were able not only to detect enemy submarines but also destroy them with torpedoes.

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U.S. Navy is evaluating MBDA’s Dual Mode Brimstone for its F/A-18 Super Hornet jets

CGI of an F/A-18E Super HornetNavy Recognition has learned that the U.S. Navy is beginning environmental and integration analysis of the UK’s combat proven Dual Mode Brimstone missile for F/A-18 Super Hornets.

This activity is funded and being managed by the US Navy. Additionally, two recent positive reports from committees of the U.S Congress have expanded the funding in Fiscal Year 2015 by $10M for Dual Mode Brimstone on F/A-18s and asked for the Secretary of Defense’s views on dual mode missile technology.

This news is matched by the UK MOD funding BAE Systems 5M British Pounds to begin an integration analysis of Dual Mode Brimstone on the Eurofighter Typhoon.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Su-30MKI engine failures worry IAF; Russia told to fix snag

Su-30MKIThe Sukhoi-30MKI fleet of the Indian Air Force has been encountering mid-air engine failures for the past two years. India has officially flagged the matter to Russia seeking a correction.

Repeated engine failures and the newly introduced precautionary measures have affected the availability of planes for various operations. The IAF has a fleet of 200 Sukhois.

After a failure, the engine is replaced after testing before allowing the plane to fly again. The process of removing and replacing an engine usually takes four-five days, but can be extended depending upon the damage.

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Anti-tank missile defense system makes debut

Merkava 4 tankWhile nine Iron Dome batteries scattered around Israel protect the lives of millions of Israeli citizens, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tanks and armored vehicles operating in the Gaza Strip have their own Iron Dome: Operation Protective Edge is the first real test of Wind Jacket (known internationally as Trophy), the first-of-its-kind active-defense system for tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs).

The defense system was developed by Iron Dome developer and manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and was first used in late 2010.

The system has since been declared operational, and is installed on Merkava 4 tanks, the newest tanks in the IDF Armored Corps fleet, and on the Namer APCs (APCs built on a Merkava tank frame).

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