MMEA Receives First Bay Class Patrol Vessel From Australia

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PORT KLANG,  -- The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) today officially received its first Bay Class patrol vessel from the Australian government that will be deployed to enhance maritime security mainly in the Straits of Melaka.

MMEA director-general Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish said the vessel, a gift from Australia, would assist MMEA in tackling people smuggling activities, including those seeking to reach Australia by boat.

"The vessel is also an affirmation of the strong ties and close cooperation between the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) and MMEA," he told a press conference after the handing over and official naming ceremony of the vessel officiated by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim here.

In attendance were Australian Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton and ACBPS chief executive officer Roman Quaedvlieg.

Officially named 'Kapal Maritim Perwira', the vessel measuring 34.95 metres in length is equipped with, among others, closed-circuit television unit and facilities to accommodate suspected illegals.

Mohd Amdan said the vessel, to be stationed in Lumut, Perak, would undertake operations to eradicate transnational crime like human smuggling activities through MMEA's 'Ops Redback 3' operation in the northern region of Kuala Selangor up to Langkawi, Kedah.

"MMEA is expected to receive its second Bay Class patrol vessel from Australia in May this year which will be stationed at Johor Baharu," he added.

Meanwhile, Quaedvlieg told the same press conference that the vessel was viewed as a strategy to combat people smuggling and transnational crime on the high seas.

He noted that the Australian government had gifted Sri Lanka with two Bay Class patrol vessels to undertake similar operations.

MMEA's Kapal Maritim Perwira, a gift from the Australian government, docked in Port Klang.

RAAF Details Wedgetail's Recent Upgrade

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VICTORIA, — A senior Royal Australian Air Force commander has provided details of an interim upgrade carried out on the RAAF's Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft before their deployment to the Middle East last September.

Australia still has a Wedgetail operating from the United Arab Emirates under Operation Okra as part of an Australian Air Task Group (ATG) that also includes a single Airbus KC-30A multirole tanker transport and six Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets. Prior to the initial deployment the E-7A was fitted with an IP chat capability, providing text rather than voice connectivity with the Combined Air Operations Centre in theater, Wing Commander Paul Carpenter said at the 2015 Australian International Air Show at the Avalon Airport here.

"The introduction of the IP chat capability into the aircraft was a real success story for us," said Carpenter, who was the commanding officer of the Wedgetail squadron and the detachment commander of the first rotation of Wedgetail personnel who returned to Australia in January. "That project looked like being many years in the future, but when we got notice of our Operation Okra deployment, our engineering department team got together with the wing, AEW&C System Project Office and Boeing Defence Australia and came up with a solution in a matter of weeks."

Carpenter, now the executive officer of No.42 Wing of the RAAF's Surveillance and Response Group, said the system went live on the evening before the first mission, in which the Wedgetail became the first Australian military aircraft to operate over Iraq during the current campaign.

"It uses an iridium satellite telephone system and it was developed incrementally, getting communications set up and then providing basic data, getting in to the right networks and tapping into the American system, because the Americans use IP chat extensively," Carpenter said.

Kim Gillis, Boeing Defence Australia's managing director, told reporters that Boeing is offering the E-7A to a number of countries.

"There are a number of other customers looking at it and we are competing in a range of campaigns, but they are not public yet," he said.

A Royal Australian Air Force Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft.


Airbus Expects New A400M Export Sale in 2015

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VICTORIA,  — Christian Scherer, Airbus Defense & Space's executive vice president of marketing and sales, said today that he expects an export order for the A400M airlifter by the end of the year — the first since Malaysia signed for four aircraft in December 2005.

"Our expectation is that we will have an A400M export this year," he said.

An A400M from the French Air Force was present at the 2015 Australian International Air Show at the Avalon Airport near Melbourne as part of an around-the-world flight to verify the aircraft's capabilities.

The aircraft arrived at Avalon direct from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and was heading to Noumea in French New Caledonia at the conclusion of the show.

For full coverage of the 2015 Australian International Air Show, visit the Defense News Avalon Show Daily.

According to the aircraft commander, Lt. Col. Olivier Luneau, the A400M had flown in excess of 24 flying hours to Southern Australia without requiring anything more than routine maintenance along the way.

Speaking to reporters on the second trade day of Avalon 2015, Scherer also responded to recent comments in local media regarding the Royal New Zealand Air Force's interest in the Boeing C-17A, of which there are several "white tails" awaiting sale after the conclusion of production sometime in the northern hemisphere's summer.

"Our message to New Zealand is, with A400M you can cover all of the strategic requirements, which is mainly their Antarctic service," he said. "And at the same time, with the tactical capability of this aircraft, you can land on many of the various islands north of New Zealand, you can begin replacing, or sorting out your aging C-130 issues."

Scherer said that 10 A400Ms had been delivered to the air forces of France, Germany, Turkey and the United Kingdom to date, with the first aircraft for the Royal Malaysian Air Force due to be handed over at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace show on the island of Langkawi in March.

First Airbus A400M for Royal Malaysian Air Force  makes its maiden flight.

France-Philippines reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia

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MANILA, -- The Philippines and France agreed to strengthen their bilateral relations and elevate their bilateral relationship to an enhanced partnership during the visit of President François Hollande to the Philippines.

President Hollande's historic visit is the first to be made by an incumbent president of France since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and France in 1947. President Benigno S. Aquino III visited France in September 2014.

In the Joint Declaration on the Enhanced Partnership between the Republic of the Philippines and the French Republic released on Thursday, the two countries affirmed their shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law, and the maintenance of peace and international security.

They also opposed “any acquisition or claim, by coercion or force, of any or all territory of a State by another State, in violation of international law, especially the Charter of the United Nations”, according to the declaration.

The two countries reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia and promoting maritime security, freedom of navigation, and the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"We call for a full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in fostering peace and stability," the declaration read.

The Philippines and France further condemned terrorism in all its forms and called on the international community to work together to fight this “scourge to mankind."

At the same time, they welcomed the promising outlook on the development of their enhanced economic and trade relations.

The two countries are also eyeing to develop mutually beneficial bilateral cooperation in health care in the fight against emerging and re-emerging diseases due to the effects of climate change.

The two countries also hope to promote people-to-people exchanges particularly the youth, by intensifying academic exchanges. 

"In this regard, we welcome the conclusion of agreements in higher education and research, and in the development of the tourism sector in the Philippines which would increase tourist flows between our countries," the declaration read.

Enhanced partnership will also be pursued through regular bilateral political consultations between the two countries’ foreign ministries, the Joint Economic Committee, and through the framework provided by the bilateral Defense Cooperation Arrangement between their respective defense ministries.

President Benigno S. Aquino III and His Excellency François Hollande, President of the French Republic, lead the singing of the Philippine and France National Anthem during the welcome ceremony at the Malacañan Palace Grounds for the State Visit to the Philippines on Thursday (February 26, 2015).

China’s Air Force Sets Up in High Schools to Train Teen Top Guns

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BEIJING, -- China’s air force is offering pilot training to high school students in its latest attempt to attract young and qualified recruits needed to upgrade the People’s Liberation Army.

Flight training will be provided for about 1,000 successful applicants, age 14 to 16, in selected high schools, according to a statement jointly issued by the ministries of education, public security and the PLA general political department on Thursday. The training will start later this year.

The student pilot training program is the most recent in a slew of initiatives the Chinese air force has taken to induct young talent to build an “integrated air and space capability” and to forge greater balance among the PLA’s land, sea and air branches, as urged by President Xi Jinping.

The pilot-training plan was announced on the same day that the Air Force released its new recruitment commercial “The Skies Belong to the Brave.” The ad said “a large number of new high-quality pilots” were wanted to join the air force to operate “new types of fighter jets,” according to PLA air force spokesman Colonel Shen Jinke.

Applicants will be subject to background checks and psychological tests to make sure the right people are picked, Senior Colonel Peng Junxia, head of the air force’s pilot recruitment bureau, was cited as saying by Xinhua News Agency. Successful applicants will receive a military-sponsored subsidy and they will live at the schools.

The teenagers will join in military-standard physical training and flight sessions, take courses on national defense and aviation knowledge, and do their regular high school studies.
Flight Academy.

The students will take pilot tests after three years of study; those who pass will join a PLA flight academy, while those who fail can choose to enter other military colleges or civilian universities, spokesman Shen said.

China’s air force weaponry has become “more sophisticated,” and the new program is designed to ensure future pilots have a broader education to master its operation, Peng said.

The relative size of the PLA’s branches was confirmed for the first time in a White Paper on defense in 2013, in which China identified 398,000 people at the air force, compared with an 850,000-strong land force and 235,000 in the navy.

Chinese media outlets have dubbed the past four years as a “harvest period” for the air force, featuring several high-profile developments, including China’s first self-developed stealth fighter jet, the J-20, in 2011 and the first long-distance transport airplane, the Y-20, last year. The Y-20, being developed by Xi’an Aircraft Industry Group, is planned for roles including air-to-air refueling.

J-20 appears in PLAAF recruitment video.


Wary of China, India and Japan set to forge aircraft deal

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NEW DELHI, --  India is getting set to acquire the massive ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious aircraft from Japan as part of their expanding bilateral strategic partnership, with both nations wary of China's assertive behaviour in the Asia-Pacific region.

The defence acquisitions council (DAC), chaired by Manohar Parrikar, on Saturday will take up the proposal to "empower" the joint working group (JWG) to negotiate the purchase of at least 12 US-2i aircraft for the Navy for around $1.3 billion.

"It will be like an AON (acceptance of necessity) that the Navy requires 12 US-2i as of now, and the commercial negotiations for them can begin. The Coast Guard, in turn, may require five such planes," said a defence ministry source.

Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ShinMaywa US-2  STOL amphibious aircraft designed for air-sea rescue (SAR). The Indian Navy is prepared to buy between 15 and 18 US-2 Amphibious Search and Rescue (SAR) aircraft at cost of $1.65 billion. It is expected that these amphibious aircraft will be stationed in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

DND to acquire 3 'Balikpapan' landing craft heavy

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MANILA, -- The Department of National Defense (DND) will acquire three of Australia's "Balikapapan" class LCHs (landing craft heavy) at "salvage prices" which is 10 to 15 percent of the value.

DND public affairs office chief Arsenio Andolong said that the LCHs are the HMAS Wewak, HMAS Betano and HMAS Balikpapan.

Salvage value of the ships could range from Php700-million to Php800-million, sources said.

The decision to acquire three remaining units of the "Balikpapan" LCHs was due to the decision of the Australian government to donate two of the vessels to the Philippine Navy.

The two LCHs will be delivered and commissioned by May 2015.

These ships are recently decommissioned from the Royal Australian Navy and are identified as the HMAS Tarakan and HMAS Brunei, Australian Minister for Defense Kevin Andrew said.

He added two ships will be delivered to the PN after being refurbished with new safety and navigation equipment.

“I expect the vessels will be refitted and ready for hand over in May 2015,” Andrews said.

Once in service at the PN, these ships will provide additional intra-theater sealift capability.

A lack of sealift capability hampered efforts to assist Philippines’ coastal areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013.

“The landing craft will greatly improve the Philippines’ ability to respond to natural disasters by enabling heavy equipment and large amounts of aid to be moved to affected areas,” Andrews said.

The two LCHs were decommissioned from Australian service at a ceremony in Cairns last Nov. 19, 2014.

LCHs are an extremely versatile vessel, capable of moving large amounts of cargo, personnel and equipment from larger ships to shore.

A very shallow draft (two meters) allows these ships to deliver personnel and equipment to areas otherwise unreachable especially during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations (HADR).

It is an all-welded twin-screw vessel, able to trans-ship cargo and supplies from ships lying offshore to water terminals or across the beach.

Maximum cargo load is governed by the load-fuel balance and varies between 140 and 180 tons.

A typical load of 175 ton gives the LCHs a range of 1,300 nautical miles, increasing to 2,280 nautical miles for a load of 150 tons.

Up to five shipping containers with HADR supplies and equipment can also be embarked.

LCHs have a draft of two meters, length of 44.5 meters, beam of 10.1 meters and displacement of 364 tons. It has a speed to 10 to 13 knots and a range of 3,000 nautical miles and a crew of 15.

HMAS Betano approaches HMAS Kanimbla to carry out a stern door marriage near Cowley Beach, Queensland.


Navy's New Maritime Strategy Includes More Destroyers to Pacific

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WASHINGTON, -- U.S. Navy leaders' plans to forward deploy two more destroyers to Japan and base another attack submarine in Guam appear to be part of a new maritime strategy expected to be released by the Navy next month.

While most of the details of the new strategy for the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard will not yet be discussed by Navy officials, the effort does include a new examination of the sea-services' ability to forward deploy and project power in global hotspots such as the Pacific theater and Middle East.

"The sea services have updated the maritime strategy in response to changes in the global security environment, new strategic guidance and a changed fiscal environment," said Lt. Timothy Hawkins, a Navy spokesman, told

The new maritime strategy, called "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Seapower: Forward Engaged Ready," will provide a comprehensive overview and build upon Navy priorities such as the need for deterrence, Hawkins explained.

"The principles of our maritime strategy largely remain the same from 2007. It continues to prioritize and value forward presence while emphasizing the continued need for the primary functions of a maritime service which are – deterrence, power projection, sea-control and maritime security," he said.

While Navy officials did not specify whether the new strategy takes up the issue of the Pentagon's Pacific rebalance, officials told that the document does address the challenges maritime forces face when it comes to accessing and operating in more "contested" environments.

Regarding the Pacific rebalance, Hawkins did re-iterate that the Navy plans to base as much as 60-percent of its fleet in the Pacific region by 2020.

Also, speaking Feb. 26 before the House Appropriations Committee – Defense subcommittee hearing on the Navy budget, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert made reference to the Navy's ongoing push to rebalance to the Pacific.

Greenert said the Navy's force of attack submarines based in Guam will be increased this year. He also made reference to the fact that two additional destroyers will be forward deployed to Japan.

By the end of this year, the number of attack submarines the Navy rotates through Guam will jump from three to four, service officials said.  Also, the Navy's aegis-capable a guided missile cruiser, the USS Chancellorsville, will rotate through Japan by the end of 2015, service officials said.

At the moment, the Navy operates one carrier, seven destroyers, four mine-sweeping vessels, two cruisers and six amphibious ships from Japan, Hawkins said.

In addition, the Navy has included the rotation of Littoral Combat Ships through Singapore, the deployment of the P-8 surveillance plane and a rotation of Marines through Australia as portions of the Pacific rebalance.

"We have the USS Fort Worth Littoral Combat Ship on deployment over there out of Singapore. When she completes a 16-month deployment, the next ship that comes over will stay. Then another will join and then two more -- so we will have four Littoral Combat Ships by the end of 2017 in Singapore," Greenert told lawmakers.

The Chief of Naval Operations also detailed plans to base the Navy's carrier-based variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35C, in the Pacific region.

"Our Joint Strike Fighter will deploy to the Western Pacific by the end of this decade. So you see the trend we are putting all the forces out there, either forward stationed or they will deploy there first," Greenert added.

Naval threat assessments and technology development have also squarely been aimed at preparing the force to operate in the Pacific theater, Greenert explained to lawmakers.

"We have benchmarked anti-air, anti-submarine, electronic attack and cyber all to how they would perform in the Western Pacific against potential adversaries out there," he said.

Greenert also said U.S. relations with allies in the region remained strong, citing Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam. He also added that new partnership opportunities were emerging with India.

The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), guided missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), and an MH-60R Sea Hawk from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 operate together in the Java Sea.


Ghannatha vessels delivered

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ABU DHABI, -- Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB) has announced the completion of the Ghannatha Phase II programme after delivery of all 24 vessels to the UAE Navy. Built to a design developed by partner Swede Ship Marine (Stand C-015), the Ghannatha-class boats are high-speed, aluminiumbuilt multi-role combat vessels. Powered by two MTU diesels driving twin Rolls-Royce FF 600 waterjets, the design is capable of speeds up to 45kts.

ADSB (Stand B-022) won the Ghannatha Phase II contract, valued at nearly AED1 billion, in 2009. Under the deal, the company has delivered 12 new 27m Ghannatha boats to the UAE Navy, and retrofitted modifications to 12 existing 25m craft.

Six of the original vessels have been modified as mortar boats,receiving the Patria Nemo 120mm smooth-bore mortar system, plus an OTO Melara Hitrole-G 12.7mm gun mounting. These vessels have also received a GEM surveillance radar and updated VHF/UHF communications.

The other six 25m Ghannatha boats have been modified to serve as fast gun boats, equipped with a Rheinmetall MLG 27 27mm gun and a Hitrole-G 12.7mm mounting. They also retain the capability to embark up to 40 troops.

Swede Ship Marine, as ADSB’s principal sub-contractor, took responsibility for the design modification package for the 12 ‘stretched’ new-build vessels, and built the first three in Sweden.

The nine follow-on craft have been built by ADSB at its shipyard in Abu Dhabi’s Mussafah industrial area. As well as being 2m longer than the original 25m Ghannatha design, these later ships have also received more powerful MTU 12V 2000 M93 engines.

All 12 of the later ships are configured as missile boats, being equipped with four box launchers for MBDA Marte Mk 2/N surface-to- surface guided missiles. The Marte Mk 2/N missile is able to strike targets at ranges in excess of 30km, flying a fire-and-forget sea-skimming profile using mid-course inertial guidance and active radar homing. The vessels are also fitted with a mini-combat system supplied by Selex ES and a GEM radar for surveillance and target indication.

Abu Dhabi Systems Integration (ADSI) has taken responsibility for combat system engineering and integration activities for the Ghannatha Phase II programme. ADSI, a joint venture between ADSB and Selex ES, has overseen combat system definition and design, production, support to installation, setting-to-work, integration, commissioning and acceptance.

The United Arab Emirates Al Bazam (P-302) Ghannatha Class Fast Missile Boats is high speed multirole Combat Vessel. Outfitted for anti-surface warfare (ASuW) operations with the MBDA Marte Mk. 2/N anti-ship missile.

US sends spy plane to patrol West Philippine Sea

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MANILA - The United States has begun flying its most advanced surveillance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, out of the Philippines for patrols over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the US Navy said on Thursday, acknowledging the flights for the first time.

The United States, the Philippines' oldest and closest ally, has promised to share "real time" information on what is happening in Philippine waters as China steps up its activities in the South China Sea.

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

The U.S. Navy said in a statement it demonstrated the capabilities of P-8A in both littoral and open ocean environments, explaining the aircraft's multi-mission sensors to Philippine forces.

"It was a remarkable opportunity to work alongside the members of the Filipino armed forces," said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Matthew Pool, Combat Air Crew 4 patrol plane commander.

"Sharing this aircraft's capabilities with our allies only strengthens our bonds."

The United States says it does not take sides in disputes between China and other South China Sea claimants and it calls on them to negotiate a formal maritime Code of Conduct.

The Unites States has also called for a freeze on provocative acts in the sea but China rejects U.S. involvement in the dispute.

China accuses the United States of emboldening claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam with its military "pivot" back to Asia.

The P-8A was deployed in the Philippines for three weeks until Feb. 21, making more than 180 flight hours over the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy said.

Colonel Restituto Padilla, a spokesman for the Philippine armed forces, said the U.S. Navy has been operating P-3C Orions since 2012 from Philippine bases under a bilateral security agreement that sees U.S. forces rotate through the Philippines.

He said P-8A aircraft replaced the Orions on the rotations last year but the allies had made no announcement of its flights.

"We expect more surveillance planes to be deployed in the Philippines, increasing the frequency of rotation," Padilla said.

 A US Navy P-8A Poseidon conducts open weapons bay door tests.

USS Fort Worth Conducts CUES with Chinese Navy

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SINGAPORE - Littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) practiced the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) with the People's Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)]’s Jiangkai II frigate Hengshui (FFG 572), Feb. 23, enhancing the professional maritime relationship between 7th Fleet and the PLA(N).

Fort Worth and Hengshui were conducting routine training and operations in international waters of the South China Sea when the ships realized a training opportunity was present.

CUES, a set of procedures endorsed by naval leaders at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium in April 2014, is a guideline for unplanned maritime encounters while at sea, providing standards for communication, safety procedures and maneuvering instructions for naval ships and aircraft.

“The interaction with the Hengshui was safe and routine, and the professionalism that was on display by both ships is commendable,” said Cmdr. Matt Kawas, Fort Worth Crew 103 commanding officer. “As the first underway for Crew 103 aboard Fort Worth in 7th Fleet, this was a real-time situation where we relied upon our months of training in San Diego to execute.”

Fort Worth and Hengshui rendezvoused and used CUES as a signaling protocol to indicate ship maneuvering.

“Having a standardized protocol of safety procedures, basic communications and basic maneuvering instructions is critical as we work together to prevent mishaps and miscommunications at sea,” said Capt. Fred Kacher, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. “This will likely not be the last time Fort Worth conducts CUES as she continues to operate extensively throughout Southeast Asia and expand her operational footprint to Northeast Asia during the remaining 12 months of her deployment to the Asia-Pacific."

Fort Worth departed Singapore Feb. 19 following the first of three crew swaps as part of the ship’s maiden 16-month deployment to the Asia-Pacific. Fort Worth is the first LCS to deploy under the "3-2-1" manning concept, which allows LCS to sustain a 16-month forward presence without fatiguing the crew during the extended deployment. It is named “3-2-1” because three rotational crews will support two LCS ships and maintain one deployed ship. Two additional crew swaps will occur during the remainder of Fort Worth's deployment, roughly every four months.

During the first five days of the current underway period, the crew conducted at-sea workups to maintain the proficiency achieved as part of their deployment certification in San Diego. Fort Worth is now headed north for Foal Eagle in March. Held annually with the Republic of Korea navy, Foal Eagle is also the first exercise in Northeast Asia that incorporates LCS participation.

Fort Worth is the second LCS to deploy as part of an initiative for up to four rotational deployments of these ships simultaneously to U.S. 7th Fleet in the coming years. Fast, agile and mission-focused, littoral combat ships are designed to operate in near shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare. Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare mission package for her entire deployment, augmenting her 57mm gun and rolling airframe missile launcher with two 30mm guns, two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats, two six-member maritime security boarding teams, a MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and a MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system.

The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.

US Navy USS Fort Worth (LCS 3)  Littoral combat ship.

Philippine Navy Apprehends Vessels with Smuggled Rice and Firearms

8:28:00 PM 1 Comment
ZAMBOANGA CITY, -- A foreign cargo vessel with hull name M/V AN BIEN-89-ALCI loaded with smuggled rice from Vietnam was seized by the Naval Task Unit, Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM) west off Pata Island, Sulu.

Ensign Chester Ian B Ramos, Public Information Officer of the Joint Task Force ZAMBASULTA, said that at 3:25am, February 23, 2015, the Naval Task Unit composed of PG388 and PG387 headed by LCdr Richard Rosales PN, together with 1Lt Ed Leonelle Marvin Mapalo PN(M) who led the 64th Marine Company, conducted board and search to said foreign cargo vessel (M/V AN BIEN-89-ALCI) boarded by 16 Vietnamese nationals under Captain Nguyen Van Loi, the ship skipper.

Seized from the foreign vessel were 116,000 sacks of imported rice out of the original 152,000 sacks from the Sunrise Ship and Trading Company consigned by a certain Alfarsi Tan Hasiman from Jolo, Sulu.

Reports from ground units revealed that the foreign cargo vessel arrived on Thursday (February 19) from Mythoi Port Vietnam carrying 152,000 sacks of rice and started to unload last February 20, 2015 (Friday). Accordingly, local vessels transported said smuggled rice to different areas in Mindanao.

According to Colonel Alan Arrojado PA, Commander, Joint Task Group Sulu: “Local vessels were also apprehended for carrying smuggled rice and seized firearms by the Naval Task Unit.

Apprehended were MV Delta Queen loaded with 20,000 smuggled sacks of rice from MV AN BIEN; ML BOY1 boarded by seven (7) crew members and loaded with 7,000 sacks of rice and nine (9) firearms: six (6) M14, two (2) M16 and one (1) M203 GL; ML Fatima Nurmina boarded by 12 crew members and 55 laborers and loaded with 1,000 smuggled sacks of rice and confiscated firearms: one (1) M14 and one (1) M16 with M203 GL; and ML KH loaded with 7,000 sacks of rice and boarded by 11 crew members and 79 laborers.”

The successful apprehension of vessels carrying smuggled items and seizures of firearms was made possible through the relentless efforts of the Joint Task Force ZAMBASULTA, Joint Task Group Sulu, local populace and other government agencies involved.

Commander, Joint Task Force ZAMBASULTA, Rear Admiral Reynaldo Yoma AFP, said: “All apprehended vessels and cargoes will properly be turned-over to the Bureau of Customs for proper documentation and filing of appropriate charges. I also commend the men and women of JTF ZAMBASULTA, JTG Sulu and all participating units in this operation for a job well done.”

The intensified conduct of law enforcement and maritime security operations by NAVFORWEM is part of the assistance to the Bureau of Customs in curbing smuggling activities in Zamboanga City.

Foreign Vessels with Smuggled Rice and Firearms.

China's Submarine Hunting Plane Has A Giant Stinger

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BEIJING, -- China is making serious efforts to correct its longstanding deficiency in aerial Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), introducing the Shaanxi Y-8Q (also designated as the Y-8GX6) aircraft painted in the blue-gray People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) colors into operation. Previously, two Y-8Q prototypes had been flying for the past several years as part of a rigorous testing and training regimen. Until this month, China's only long-range aerial ASW capability came from three Harbin SH-5 seaplanes, which are nearly thirty years old.

The Y-8Q is designed to overcome Chinese ASW deficiencies that would cripple Chinese naval and civilian maritime activity in war. Some of its technology, at least on the surface, compares favorably to the U.S. P-3C Orion and P-8 Poseidon, and the Japanese P-1. The Y-8Q's most distinctive feature is its seven-meter-long Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) boom, which detects the magnetic signature of enemy submarines' metal hulls as the Y-8Q flies over them. Since MAD performance correlates to size, and it's seven-meter MAD boom is arguably the largest of its kind among airplanes, the PLAN would have a fine weapon for hunting otherwise stealthy submarines.

The Y-8Q also has an electro-optical turret forward of its bomb bay, which has day, night and infrared cameras to hunt the heat signatures and wakes of small watercraft, unmanned vehicles, and submarines (especially snorkels and periscopes). Right under cockpit is a large radome that, in addition to detecting submarine periscopes and wakes, can provide targeting data via satellite link to Chinese aircraft and warships when the Y-8Q finds enemy warships. The Y-8Q can also drop a hundred sonobuoys to provide real time sonar coverage of seawater expanses.

The exact weapons capacity of the plane's internal bomb bay is not yet public, but one estimate is that the Y-8Q can carry probably over 10 tons. (By comparison, the Y-8 transport carries 20 tons of cargo.) Likely weapons loadouts include torpedoes like the Yu-7, sea mines and anti-ship missiles. The Y-8Q's large size and sensors could also allow it to be a command center for underwater unmanned vehicles (UUVs) like the Haiyan glider that would guard sectors of the ocean floor while the Y-8Q flies off elsewhere.

Since the Y-8Q is extending Anti-Access/Area Denial operations underwater, it is almost a given that China is going to invest in future ASW methods. In the future, the Y-8Q may be equipped with more exotic technologies like LIDAR (which uses laser beams to penetrate water to detect objects), hard kill anti-torpedo systems, acoustic signals intelligence and radiation detection (identify radiation from nuclear reactors) that Chinese scientists are already beginning to research.

The Y-8Q will become a significant part of China's emerging ASW operations. Its 5,000km range, wide sensor and weapon range and massive payload will exponentially increase Chinese security against enemy submarines off its coasts and into the East and South China Seas. When combined with other ASW assets, such as underwater drones, missile launched torpedoes and sonar towing Type 065 corvettes, it could make current and planned regional investment into submarines by China's neighbors more of a risky proposition.

People's Liberation Army Navy Y-8Q Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) heavy submarine hunting aircraft.

Army orders 84 advanced helicopters over the last month worth a total of $1.1 billion

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WASHINGTON, --  The past month has seen the U.S. military on a buying spree for advanced helicopters designed for a wide range of tasks from reconnaissance to attack. Since late January U.S. Army aviation authorities have announced orders for 84 helicopters worth about $1.1 billion.

The three separate orders are for 35 AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters for the U.S. Army; eight AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters for the government of Indonesia; and 41 UH-72A Lakota light helicopters for the U.S. Army.

It's rare to see such substantial helicopter orders coming out of the Pentagon in such a short time period. The Boeing Co. Defense, Space & Security segment in Mesa, Ariz., makes the AH-64E, while Airbus Helicopters Inc. in Herndon Va., makes the UH-72A.

These orders are good news not only for Boeing and Airbus, but also for the many subcontractors that contribute to these military rotorcraft.

On the AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter, for example, General Electric makes the engines; Lockheed Martin makes the targeting system; Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin make the radar; Intevac Photonics makes image intensifier cameras; and Elbit Systems of America makes the helicopter's mission processor as well as its integrated helmet and display sight system (IHADSS).

On the UH-72 Lakota light helicopter, Raytheon is providing the helicopter's radios, CAE is building the cockpit simulators; Sagem Avionics provides the automatic flight control systems; Thales North America is building the avionics suite with glass cockpit; Turbomeca USA assembles the UH-72A's Arriel 1E2 engines; and Wulfsberg Electronics provides the UH-72A’s navigation and communications systems.

The AH-64 Apache is a multirole combat helicopter with integrated avionics, weapons, and digital communications. The E-model Apache Guardian features enhanced performance, joint digital operability, improved survivability and cognitive decision aiding, and reduced operating and support costs, Boeing officials say.
The AH-64E Apache is being delivered to the U.S. Army and has been selected by several international defense forces.

Formerly known as AH-64D Block III, the AH-64E Guardian has improved digital connectivity, the joint tactical radio system (JTRS), more powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded transmission to accommodate more power, capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), new composite rotor blades, instrument flight rules (IFR) capability, and improved landing gear.

The UH-72 Lakota is a twin-engine helicopter with a four-bladed main rotor, and is a militarized version of the EC145 rotorcraft that is replacing aging UH-1H/V and OH-58A/C helicopters in the Army and Army National Guard fleets.

The Lakota seats two pilots and six passengers. Two stretchers can be installed for MEDEVAC missions with a crew of four: pilot, co-pilot and two medics. The Raytheon AN/ARC-231 Skyfire is the Lakota's multimode airborne communications system.

The Army increasingly relies on combat helicopters like the Apache and the Lakota, and is expected to do so well into the future.

A U.S. Army Boeing  AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter.


PAF Stockpiles Essential Spare Parts for MG-520 Attack Helicopters

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MANILA, -- To keep its McDonnell Douglas MG-520 "Defender" attack helicopter fleet flying, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) has allocated Php 16,226,432.11 to acquire essential spare parts for the aircraft.

This is in line with PAF efforts to increase the number of mission and combat ready aircraft in its inventory while awaiting for the delivery of more modern jet fighters and attack helicopters.

Pre-bid conference is slated for Feb. 26 while bid opening and submission is on March 11.

Both are slated for 9 a.m. at the PAF Procurement Center Conference Room, Villamor Air Base, Pasay City.

The PAF is known to operate between 12 to 16 models of the MG-520, according to military sources.

The PAF affair with the MG-520 started in the early 90's when 25 units of these excellent aircraft were delivered to country.

It was used with great effect against New People's Army (NPA) rebels and lawless elements like the Abu Sayyaf Group for the past few years.

The MG-520 is derived from the MG-500 light utility helicopter.

It can be armed with .50 caliber heavy machines and air-to-ground rockets.

The aircraft carries a crew of two and is capable of flying to speeds up to 160 miles per hour (257 kilometers per hour), making it ideal for close air support work.

A pair of  Philippine Air Force (PAF)  MG-520 "Defender" light attack helicopters  from the 15th Strike Wing preparing for take-off.

US armor paraded 300m from Russian border

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TALLINN, -- NATO member Estonia has held a military parade in border town of Narva, just 300 meters from the Russian border. Tallinn is a long-time critic of Moscow, which it accuses of having an aggressive policy towards the Baltic nation.

Tuesday’s military parade was dedicated to Estonia's Independence Day. Chief military commander Lt. Gen. Riho Terras headed the troops as President Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviewed them.

Over 140 pieces of NATO military hardware took part in the parade, including four US armored personnel carriers M1126 Stryker flying stars-and-stripes. Another foreign nation, the Netherlands, provided four Swedish-made Stridsfordon 90 tracked combat vehicles (designated CV9035NL Mk III by the Dutch).

Estonia also showed off its own howitzers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, armored vehicles and other hardware. Over 1,400 troops also marched the streets of Narva.

The parade is an obvious snub at Estonia's eastern neighbor Russia, whom it accuses of pushing aggressive policies in Eastern Europe. The Estonian government is among several vocally accusing Russia of waging a secret war against Ukraine by supplying arms and troops to anti-Kiev forces in the east.

Moscow denies the accusations, insisting that the post-coup government in Kiev alienated its own people in the east and started a civil war instead of resolving the differences through dialogue.

NATO seized the Ukrainian conflict as an opportunity to argue for a military build-up in Eastern Europe, supposedly to deter a Russian aggression. The three Baltic States are among the most vocal proponents of this policy.

Russia sees it as yet another proof that NATO is an anti-Russian military bloc that had been enlarging towards Russia's border and compromised its national security.

The Estonian government defended its right to hold whatever military maneuvers it wants in its territory.

“Narva is a part of NATO no less than New York or Istanbul, and NATO defends every square meter of its territory,” Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said in a speech in capital, Tallinn.

Historically Narva was a point of centuries of confrontation between Russia and Sweden, when the two nations fought for dominance in the region. The city changed hands several times and ended up under Russian control in 1704, serving as a military outpost for decades.

The city was again contested in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and the dissolution of the Russian Empire it triggered. Narva took turns between being governed by the self-proclaimed Estonian Republic, occupying German troops and the Red Army until eventually becoming Estonian again under a peace treaty between Estonia and Russia.

It then changed hands between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union along with the rest of the Baltics during World War II and went on to be part of an independent Estonia in 1991.

The city has a large number of ethnic Russians and a strong pro-autonomy movement, with some Estonian politicians fearing that it could be exploited now by Russia to saw dissent. Commenting on the issue in an interview with Washington Post, President Ilves said seeing Narva as a potentially separatist region “is stupid.”

Poroshenko Gets His Guns in UAE

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ABU DHABI, -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced the signing of a deal on military and technical cooperation with the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, during his visit to the IDEX-2015 Arms Expo in Abu Dhabi.

The president told reporters that he had signed a "very important memorandum about military and technical cooperation" with his UAE counterparts, without providing any more information on what the agreement will entail. The deal was struck between Ukrainian officials and UAE Crown Prince and Armed Forces Deputy Supreme Commander Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Further details on the deal have not been confirmed by Ukrainian or Emirati officials.

During his visit to Abu Dhabi, UAE on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that he had signed a weapons deal with the Persian Gulf nation, without providing any more details.

Singapore Nearing F-35 Buy - US Program Chief

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VICTORIA, Australia — Singapore is moving closer to ordering the Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter, according to program head US Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan.

Bogdan also noted increased activity from potential foreign military sales (FMS) customers for the F-35, including Israel, which recently committed to a further 14 aircraft.

"On the FMS sales front we're getting an increase in customer interest in the airplane," he said here at the Australian International Airshow at the Avalon Airport.

"We have a number of other [potential] foreign military sales customers that are asking us to start a greater dialogue with them in terms of the airplane, including Singapore."

Bogdan said that the joint program office (JPO) has been exchanging information with the Republic of Singapore Air Force for a number of years to support their decision making within their timeline.

"Over the past year, the discussions we have had have deepened [and] their request for information has gotten broader, so that would indicate to us that Singapore has begun to take the next step toward making a decision," he said.

The government of Singapore had not indicated which F-35 variant it was interested in and had requested information on all three: the conventional takeoff, the short-takeoff vertical-landing, and the carrier model.

Bogdan hosted a media roundtable on the opening day of Avalon 2015 with Australia's F-35 program head, Air Vice Marshal Chris Deeble. Deeble said the project to acquire 72 conventional F-35s for the Royal Australian Air Force was on track to deliver an initial operating capability by the end of 2020.

However, Deeble identified several areas that were causing him concern, noting that the Australian project office carries out an independent analysis of the technical problems.

"Understanding what capability we will get at the end of the development phase is really important," he said.

"What does worry me is sustainment and training and support to the aircraft. The autonomic logistics global system is still evolving. It is behind, it is late and we have to do more work to accelerate that and understand what that means in a national context."

A Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (JSF) Stealth multirole fighter mission with external weapons.

‎Indonesia‬ might ‪‎postpone‬ plan to buy military ‪‎weaponry‬ from ‪‎Brazil‬

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JAKARTA, -- Vice-President M Jusuf Kalla has said the government might postpone a plan to buy military weaponry from Brazil after it has postponed the presentation of credentials by Indonesias ambassador-designate to the country.
"We are reconsidering our plan to purchase weapons (from Brazil)," Kalla told the press here Monday.
The bilateral relations between Brazil and Indonesia have become tense following Brazilian President Dilma Rousseffs unwillingness to receive Indonesian Ambassador-designate to Brazil Toto Riyanto.
"On the same evening after the refusal, the President ordered the recall (of the ambassador-designate). I communicated with the Foreign Affairs Minister to recall (him) immediately," Kalla stated.

Indonesias Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strongly protested the decision of the Government of Brazil to abruptly postpone the presentation of credentials by its Ambassador-designate to Brazil, Toto Riyanto, after formally inviting him to present the credentials at a ceremony in the Presidential Palace of Brazil at 9.00 a.m. (Brazilian time) on February 20, 2015.

"The manner in which the foreign minister of Brazil suddenly decided to postpone the presentation of credentials by the Indonesian Ambassador-designate to Brazil, when the Ambassador-designate was already at the palace, is unacceptable to Indonesia," said a statement on the ministrys official website on Saturday.

The Brazilian government has postponed the credential letter presentation in protest against the recent execution of a Brazilian drug offender by the Indonesian government.

Indonesia will go ahead with the implementation of the death penalty on major drug offenders, despite protests from the governments of Australia and Brazil, Kalla stated.

"We have reiterated many times that we have the sovereignty and will carry out the executions. Remember that the death penalty is based on a court verdict and not a presidential instruction," Kalla noted here Monday.

He understands the right of a country to lodge its protest against the execution of its citizen. Indonesia has also protested whenever its citizens were about to be executed in other countries, he added.

 Indonesian Army Astros MLRS made in Brazil.

The Royal Thai Army Acquires Six Airbus Helicopters EC145 T2

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BANGKOK, -- A further addition to the Royal Thai Army’s rotorcraft fleet has been committed with the acquisition of six Airbus Helicopters light-utility EC145 T2, which is the newest and most powerful model in Airbus Helicopters’ proven EC145 light twin-engine helicopter family.

The Royal Thai Army signed for six EC145 T2s with a VIP installation, under the Light Utility Helicopter Type II requirement, to be deployed principally on official passenger transport duties, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2016.

“By acquiring the EC145 T2, the Royal Thai Army again demonstrates its confidence in Airbus Helicopters’ products and services, following the successful entry into service of the AS550 C3e Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters in 2014 and the imminent delivery of the UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters from the United States,” said Philippe Monteux, Airbus Helicopters’ Head of Region South East Asia & Pacific.

The EC145 T2 features a modern digital cockpit and a 4-axis autopilot. With a maximum take-off weight of 3.65 tons, the helicopter is powered by Turbomeca Arriel 2E powerplants equipped with dual-channel full authority digital engine controls (FADEC). Operational safety is enhanced by Airbus Helicopters’ Fenestron® shrouded tail rotor, particularly for landings and takeoffs in confined landing sites, as well as during loading/unloading on the ground while the rotor is turning.

The UH-72A is a version of the EC145 type produced by Airbus Helicopters’ plant in Columbus, Mississippi for the United States Army and Navy. Six units were acquired by the Royal Thai Army in December 2013 from the United States Army under the Foreign Military Sales program.

Airbus Helicopters EC-145T2.

RAAF C-27J Spartan Training Set to Commence

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CANBERRA, -- Flight training is about to commence on Australia’s newest transport aircraft, the Alenia C-27 J Spartan Battlefield Airlift aircraft.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Darren Chester has confirmed that over the coming weeks, RAAF aircrew will commence airborne training in Texas in United States.

“These pilots and loadmasters will go on to become our first qualified C-27J crew members,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Chester emphasised the contribution that the aircraft will make to tactical airlift in Australia and around the Asia Pacific region.

“The C-27J significantly improves the Australian Defence Force’s ability to move troops, equipment and supplies. It can land at more airfields and provide disaster relief support in a range of environments,” Mr Chester said.

Ten C-27J Spartans will replace the retired DHC-4 Caribou, an Australian icon of the skies which flew for over 40 years.

The C-27J complements the capabilities of the current C-130J and C-17A aircraft and uses common C-130 infrastructure and aircraft systems such as engines, avionics and cargo handling systems.

The first RAAF C-27J is set to arrive in Australia in the middle of 2015.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-27J Spartan A34-001.


USS Bonhomme Richard Arrives in Malaysia

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SEPANGGAR, -- The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Malaysia's sub-district of Sepanggar for a scheduled port visit in Kota Kinabalu, Feb. 23.

During the visit, Bonhomme Richard Sailors and Marines will be involved in various community service projects, hosting tours of the ship, sporting events, as well as enjoying the sights of this quickly expanding city of 600,000 people. Kota Kinabalu is a popular gateway for people travelling to Sabah or Borneo and is one of the major commercial and industrial cities in all Malaysia.

"The men and women of BHR have waited a long time for a liberty port and everyone's excited for this visit," said Bonhomme Richard Commanding Officer Capt. Joey Tynch. "It's no small feat getting a steamship back to sea after a long time pierside and I couldn't be more proud of how hard everyone worked to get us back underway after our extended time in the yards."

Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is currently deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

"We're glad to be back at sea, working shoulder to shoulder, with the Marines of the 31st MEU as we continue to refine all aspects of our amphibious capability and engage with our partner nations in the Pacific," said Tynch. "We're thrilled to be in Malaysia representing the United States Navy and Marine Corps Team and can't wait to take in everything this country has to offer from sea level to the summit of Mount Kinabalu."

Bonhomme Richard ARG is currently under the tactical command of embarked Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11, Capt. Heidi Agle and reports to Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Hugh D. Wetherald, headquartered in White Beach, Japan.

The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) arrives in Sepanggar for a port visit.

Airbus in talks with Indian firms on helicopter joint venture

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NEW DELHI, -- Airbus Helicopters said on Friday it is in talks with Indian companies including Mahindra and Mahindra (MAHM.NS), Reliance Industries (RELI.NS) and Tata Group to jointly make military helicopters, to comply with rules aimed at helping the local defense industry.

The company, part of Airbus Group (AIR.PA), is offering to build its light utility AS550 Fennec and the medium lift EC725 for India's armed forces, which are heavily dependent on an aging fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

"We are in the selection process, talking to different industries to form a JV (joint venture)," Rainer Farid, a senior Airbus Helicopters executive told Reuters on the sidelines of the Aero India airshow in Bengaluru on Friday.

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" initiative, foreign contractors used to selling directly to New Delhi must form partnerships with local companies and transfer more of the work to help to develop the country's defense industry.

India last year scrapped the planned acquisition of 197 light utility helicopters so that it could launch a new competition reserved for domestic companies that form joint ventures with foreign suppliers.

In addition to Airbus, other firms including U.S.-based Sikorsky Aircraft and Russian Helicopters are also expected to bid for the order.

"We are willing to partner with Indian companies to supply light utility helicopters to the Indian military," Goldie Srivastava, spokesman for Sikorsky's parent company United Technologies Corp (UTX.N), said.

Srivastava also said the company would be interested in participating in the bidding process for supplying 123 multi-role S-70B Seahawk helicopters to the Indian navy once the tender opens.

State-run Hindustan Aeronautics is the only Indian company producing helicopters, meaning that global defense firms are likely to have to partner with a private company building a product for the first time and from scratch.

Airbus executive Farid said that was a concern. "It is a tough task because you need to establish your vendors here which are not as existent as in other countries," he added.

Foreign ownership in joint ventures in India's defense industry is limited to 49 percent, but foreign companies say majority ownership would speed up India's drive for its own manufacturing base and ensure quality.

An Airbus Helicopters AS550 Fennec Armed Scout helicopter.


Slovakia eyes defense cooperation with Philippines

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MANILA, -- The Slovak Republic on Monday said it is eyeing defense cooperation with Manila that will enable them to provide training, firearms and other defense equipment to the Philippines.

Visiting Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said his government can offer defense “expertise, technologies and devices” that can be of use to the Philippine military, which is in the process of modernizing its aging equipment and armaments.

“Defense is one of the areas where we could cooperate,” Lajcak said after a bilateral meeting with Philippine counterpart Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario. “Slovakia has its expertise and we have some technologies.”

“With regard to defense cooperation, we see a potential,” Lajcak said. “We are suggesting that our experts get together, experts from the Department of Defense to come to Slovakia to identify the possibilities.”

Apart from arms and ammunitions, Lajcak said Slovakia can provide the Philippines with what it needs from training, development of facilities to technology on de-mining.

Del Rosario welcomed the Slovak government’s offer, but said there are no specific talks yet on the acquisition of defense artillery from the European state, which has a flourishing defense industry.

“We do have our modernization program so that’s a possibility. We are also looking at the possibility of training,” Del Rosario said.

In their meeting, the two officials signed a joint plan of action – a partnership framework, which, Del Rosario said, would serve as a “roadmap on trade and investments, renewable energy, mutual consular concerns, cultural and educational exchanges, people to people ties and multilateral cooperation.”

“We had a very productive meeting where we welcomed new avenues of cooperation,” he said. “The revitalization of bilateral trade is a mutual priority between our two countries.”

Lajcak admitted that bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and Slovakia is underdeveloped, but stressed that “there is always a good potential in our relations.”

TATRAPAN ZASA 6x6 armored personnel carrier.