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February 29, 2008

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Arch Terror Mastermind Mughniyah Joins The "Shahid" Clan

The Middle East, from Beirut, Damascus and to Tehran is in severe shock. Hezbollah’s top military commander and one of the world's most notorious terror masterminds, died in a mysterious car bomb explosion in the Damascus district of Tanzim Kafr Susa on Tuesday night. For almost three decades, this man has been a fugitive from the world's leading intelligence services.

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Sukhoi's Su-35 Performs First Flight

The first prototype of the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E multi-role fighter made its first flight on February 19, 2008. Flown by Sukhoi test pilot Sergey Bogdan from Zhukovsky airfield near Moscow, the Super Flanker's flight lasted 50 minutes. Two additional planes are currently being completed at the United Aircraft Corporation's plants in the Russian Far East, and on schedule to join the test flight, in anticipation for delivery of the first aircraft (designated Su-27SM2) to the Russian Air Force by 2010 and achieving initial operational capability a year later. Export deliveries are planned a short while thereafter.

British Warriors Get New Armor

Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles operated by the British Scots Guards, operating under the command of the 4 Mechanized Brigade in Iraq has received a major boost with the introduction of the new 'Wrap Two' armor kit. The new armor replaced the bar armor (slat) previously used to augment the Warrior's protection against shaped-charge threats. The new armor improves the vehicle's survivability to roadside improvised attacks (RSIED) as well as RPGs and other shaped-charge attacks. Photo: Carl Schulze VS Books

Warrior Wrap2 Armor. Photo: Carl Schulze VS Books

Force Protection to Deliver Cougars, Buffalos to NATO Armies

The British MOD is buying 174 additional Mastiff heavy armored vehicles from Force protection, under a new order worth $115 million. These vehicles will be supplied by the end of the current year (December 2008). The British forces are using the Mastiffs for patrol, troop transportation and convoy protection in Afghanistan. Force Protection will also deliver six Cougar 6x6 transport vehicles and four Buffalo route clearance vehicles to the Italian Ministry of Defense. The vehicles will be delivered in July 2008. Italy and France share the command of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon. In past months, these forces suffered several casualties under a series of attacks by roadside and vehicle borne IEDs.

India's Arms Procurement Programs Discussed at the Defexpo 2008

India's major arms procurement programs are discussed in this overview of the hot topics at Defexpo 2008, India's bi-annual arms bazzar. A more comprehensive report of Defexpo and Singapore Airshow will be published just after these upcoming events.

Space Program Raises Concern About Iran's Ballistic Missile Thrust

Tehran successfully launched an experimental research rocket called Explorer-1 last week. According to Iranian information, the new launcher will be able to carry a small satellite into orbit. According to the Iranians, the Explorer-1 was launched to determine the exact orbital position for the satellite. Tehran unveiled the first indigenous satellite called Omid (Hope). According to Iranian plans, Omid will be launched by March 2009 and operate in low-earth orbit, hinting on the potential use of the satellite for strategic, earth observation mission (reconnaissance).

U.S. Army Awards M1A1 Upgarade into M1A2 SEP(V2)

General Dynamics Land Systems has been awarded a first order, under a multi-year upgrade modernization of 435 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks into M1A2 Systems Enhancement Package (SEP) Version Two (V2) configuration. The first increment of this multi-year contract is valued at $39 million, funding upgrades for 20 M1A1 Abrams tanks. An earlier $12.4 award announced in January million funded parts for this upgrade.

EPX - Studying a Future SIGINT Platform for the US Navy

The U.S. Navy awarded three industry teams $1.25 million five month contracts (each), to help develop the system concept for the Navy's EPX – the future manned SIGINT platform expected to replace the current EP-3. Planned as a replacement for the EP-3 Aries aircraft, the EPX will be a manned multi-mission, multi-intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISR&T) platform.

U.S., Israel Pursue Counter Rocket, Artillery & Mortar(CRAM) Weapons

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Space & Mission Systems were awarded $8.6 and $5.9 million contracts (respectively) to design prototype hardware for EAPS Battle Element. Both companies are expected to present their competing systems to the Army by the end of 2012. A parallel Israeli program is in more advanced stages, with RAFAEL expecting to conduct initial test demonstrations of the Iron-Dome Wide Area Counter-RAM system later this year. In Novebmer 2007 Raytheon was contracted by the pentagon to build 12 Centurion units to protect coalition operating bases in Iraq. In this role, the LPWS is integrated with counter-battery radar systems such as TPQ-36/37 which will be augmented in the future multi-mission radar known as EPQ-36.

U.S. Army Orders Ravens for SOCOM & Other Services

The U.S. Army exercised an option for additional procurement of RQ-11B Raven Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) from AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV). The total award value is $45.8 million. Each Raven system typically consists of three aircraft, a ground control station, system spares, and related services. and is fully funded.

Sweden Cancells SEP Armored Vehicle Program

On February 4, 2008 Sweden has decided not to proceed with the development of the next-generation SEP family of armored combat vehicles, Joris Janssen Lok reported on Aviation Week's Ares blog. According to armed forces procurement chief Leif Nylander, one of the main reasons for this is that neither Sweden nor BAE Systems have managed to find an international partner for the program, with whom Sweden could have shared the development cost. The Swedish Army planed to field a new Modular Armored Tactical System program (SEP) which will be based on common modular wheeled and tracked platforms configured for more than twenty different roles.

U.S. Navy Contracts Honeywell to Deliver 185 Micro Air Vehicle Systems

The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) intends to buy 185 RQ-16A Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) Systems from Honeywell as part of a Joint, Urgent Operational Need Statement (JUONS). The Navy selected Honeywell's ducted fan vehicle as it was the only vehicle meeting the JUONS specs - 25 pound (maximum) rotary-wing air vehicle carrying a 3 pound operational payload. All systems will be delivered between June and November 2008. About 20 MAVs were deployed to Iraq in 2007 for an assessment sponsored by the navy-led Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal Task Force. Their performance shaped the Navy's requirement for hovering capable, back-packable UAV system, equipped with a zoom-daylight TV and an IR sensors, capable of 40 minute (minimum) mission, hovering or flying at an airspeed of 40 knot, at a service ceiling of 5,000 feet above ground level.

Finland Equips Upgraded F/A-18 with Litening AT Targeting Pods

Finland selected to equip its F/A-18s with Litening AT targeting pods, as part of a Mid-life Update 2 Program planned by the Finnish Air Force (FiAF). 10 pods will be supplied by 2009 by Northrop Grumman, under a $30 million U.S. Government Foreign Military Sales contract. Litening AT pod is a self-contained, multi-sensor weapon-aiming system that enables fighter pilots to detect, acquire, auto-track and identify targets for highly accurate delivery of both conventional and precision-guided weapons.

Portuguese Armor Modernized with Leopard 2A6, Pandur II

Portugal is acquiring a battalion Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks from the Netherlands. These tanks will replace older M-60 tanks now in service with the Portuguese Army. Portugal will receive the first company of 9 tanks this year, 29 additional tanks will be delivered in 2009, equipping a full battalion. Under a parallel modernization plan the Portuguese Army received the first shipment of nine Pandur II 8x8 wheeled armored vehicles (VBR). Portugal plans to field 300 VBRs with the in several variants with the Army’s Intervention Brigade, and the Navy’s marine infantry battalion.

Four Countries Sign M-Frigate Agreement

The Netherlands, Portugal, Chile and Belgium signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Lisbon addressing future cooperation in the development of the M-class multipurpose frigate. Belgium is also expected to join the team. The navies of these countries are expected to field the M-Class frigate, and have agreed to extend their cooperation to training, maintenance, logistics and modernization associated with the new vessel. Five M-Class frigates are currently operational with the Dutch, Chilean and Belgian Navies. Belgium will receive its second frigate this year with Portugal receiving its two frigates in 2008 and 2009. Chile, Portugal and Belgium have each bought two M-frigates from the Netherlands.

ODF Introduces a new Sensor for Sub-Surface Reconnaissance

The company has also introduced a new 'tunnel kit', responding to customer's requests for improved underground surveillance capability. The Tunnel Kit enables Eyeball r1 operators to insert the sensor into areas which hindered the use of conventional communications links. The Tunnel Kit replaces the wireless link with a wire communications, supporting distances or depths over 20 meters. Initial tests with the new kit demonstrated the system's utilization in such challenging conditions.

French Army Receives 100th Upgraded AMX10RC

The French Army has received the 100th upgraded AMX10RC armored vehicle produced by Nexter Systems. The company announced the delivery of the 100th vehicle on 29th January 2008, as part of 256 vehicle upgrading program awarded by the French Procurement Authority (DGA) in December 2000. Following flawless operational evaluation testing in 2006 the vehicles were inducted into service and, in 2006, a squadron of upgraded AMX10RC from the Foreign Legion 1 Cavalry Regiment was sent to the Ivory Coast to take part in the Operation Licorne. The vehicle modernization consists of reliability improvements for the chassis. The new Chassis are produced by the French Army Material Command (DCMAT) acting as an MOD partner, using kits provided by Nexter. The upgraded turrets are also produced by Nexter which also provides the vehicle's final integration. The upgraded AMX10RCs are fitted with the SIT V1 Battle Management System which was recently qualified by the DGA on board the AMX10RC.

Point Blank Introduces Electro-Shock Protected Body Armor

Point Blank Solutions, Inc. has entered a marketing agreement with G2 Consulting to market a line of electroshock weapon protection systems. According to Point Blank, until G2's patented ThorShield technology, there has been no protection for officers if their weapon is turned against them. ThorShield works by providing a highly conductive specialized layer of fabric that ensures the electric current discharged from the weapon flows through the lining rather than the body. The protective material can be applied to officers' garments and equipment such as body armor, shirts, jackets, training suits, gloves, and hats. Point Blank plans to integrate the ThorShield into its body armor products. Other body-armor innovations were introduced by Point Blank's Blue Steel vest, which includes an integrated temperature and moisture control system keeping the vest lightweight and breathable, allowing for maximum comfort.

U.S. Navy, Boeing Launch Harpoon Block III Upgrade

Boeing began the development of a new version of the Harpoon anti-ship missile called Harpoon Block III, under a recently awarded U.S. Navy $73.7 million system design and development (SDD) contract. Block III will be provided as a kit upgrade for existing Harpoon systems, to be installed on some 800 air and surface launched weapons and 50 ship launched systems. The surface-launch version of the upgraded missile is expected to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) in early 2011 followed by the air-launch version achieving IOC later that year. The new missile will be equipped with a new data-link system, adding in-flight target updates and positive terminal control, offering more control after the weapon is released, resulting in improved accuracy for littoral and open-ocean warfare. The upgrade will also address future enhancements, such as integration with future network architecture, extended range and vertical launch capabilities. will be the Systems Requirements and Preliminary Design Reviews, both scheduled for 2008.

Typhoon Operators to Receive Improved Simulators

Typhoon operators are scheduled to receive 15 improved simulators as part of the Typhoon Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) framework. Known as 'Supplement 5 Simulators" these systems will incorporate an advanced visual system, improving performance, resolution and visual effects while lowering maintenance costs. These upgrades are expected to be fielded within three months after availability on the aircraft at the main operating bases. Future enhancements, such as Wide Area Networking (WAN) and the integration of the Laser Designator Pod and Helmet Mounted Display, are also considered.

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