Thursday, April 17, 2014

India’s Air Force to get 40 strike fighters with BrahMos missiles - Indian Defense

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16, /ITAR-TASS/. India’s Air Force will get 40 SU-30MKI strike fighters armed with a smaller version of BrahMos missiles, Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace President Sivathanu Pillai told ARMS-TASS at the international arms exhibition DSA-2014 in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, April 16.

The company is working to reduce the weight of the missile so that it could be integrated with different platforms, including the fifth-generation fighter India is creating together with Russia, he said.

Pillai noted that the commissioning of the Vikramaditya aircraft carrier complete with deck-based MiG-29K/KUB jet fighters required accelerated work to arm them with a smaller version of the BrahMos missile so that the aircraft could take off from the carrier with two missiles under their wings....

-bth: India gets anti-tank tank shells and 30 SU-30MKI fighters, in exchange it approved of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Win/win unless your Ukrainian.

Historian Reveals Ben Franklin’s Not-So-Famous Sister - Here and Now

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pakistan, US sign ‘excess defense article’ pact - The Nation [Pak]

ISLAMABAD- Pakistan and US have reached an agreement over supply of military hardware to Pakistan, which is under the use of US forces in Afghanistan.

As per a private TV channel, defence ministry authorities have told that as per agreement inked between the two countries, US would provide to Pakistan  the military equipment existing in Afghanistan. “US has sent the lists of this equipment to Pakistan and we are reviewing which equipment we have to acquire and which we have not to acquire,”  they added. As per defence ministry authorities military equipment worth 7 to 8 million dollars would be delivered to Pakistan, while the vehicles which are under use in Afghanistan have started coming to Pakistan....

Russia’s Ace in the Hole: Iran - News Azerbaijan

Tensions between Russia and the West are hitting a new peak. And in this face-off, Moscow has an extraordinary piece of leverage: a super-sophisticated, bomber-killing missile that it once threatened to sell to Iran, APA reports quoting Daily Beast.
Last week, Reuters first reported Russia was preparing an oil-for-goods deal with Iran worth up to $20 billion.
An unnamed Iranian official told the news service that the barter would include Russian weapons. And that was before further signs ofRussia’s shadow invasion of Ukraine emerged Monday, when crowds spontaneously appeared in three major eastern cities to welcome the troops amassed over the border....

If those talks fail, then Russia has the leverage to equip Iran with the missile that could defend its centrifuges and reactors from allied air strikes, the S-300....
-bth: this would probably push the Israelis and Saudis over the top. Outside of the hard cash this offers Putin, his friends and some select Russian defense plants, it will also leave a nuclear Iran allied with the Russians.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pentagon ponders ‘logistical nightmare’ of Afghan withdraw - RT (Russia Times)

...Indeed, the sheer amount of troops and equipment that needs to be brought home is staggering: in addition to 30,000 soldiers, the Pentagon must oversee the return of 48,000 vehicles, and a total of 81.5 million items, valued at some $33 billion.

The main problem confronting Pentagon planners is choosing the best exit route, an option that has substantially decreased thanks in large part to Washington’s failure on the diplomatic front, for example, with Russia over the ongoing political crisis gripping Ukraine.

One of the most reliable methods of moving military equipment in and out of Afghanistan has been via the Northern Distribution Network, 3,000 miles of winding railroad that passes through Central Asia into Kazakhstan, Russia and through parts of northern Europe to the sea.

In fact, 75 percent of military supplies into Afghanistan were delivered by this slow but reliable route.

However, recent violent protests in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, which led to the overthrow of the government and Crimea voting in a referendum to become part of the Russian Federation - an event that Washington has attempted to label as a “Russian military invasion” – have put a severe strain on Russia-US relations.

One result of the diplomatic breakdown is that Russia now refuses to permit NATO military cargoes from passing through its territory....

Top US Spy: Intel Cooperation With Pakistan ‘On the Upswing’ - ABC News

The strained spy relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. is “of late… on the upswing,” according to America’s top intelligence official.
“I have to be careful what I say here,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told students at the University of Georgia today. “First I’ll say that Pakistan is a very important ally, partner — particularly as we draw down in Afghanistan and won’t have the presence there that we’ve had in the past, whatever form that takes…”
“Many times our interests converge and sometimes they don’t,” Clapper said, adding that while thousands of Pakistani citizens have been killed or injured because of domestic militant actions, for the Pakistani government and its Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), neighboring India is their greatest strategic concern.
“When we can converge with our interests, particularly in the intelligence realm – [I] can’t say too much about that publicly – we do. Of late, particularly with the new government in Pakistan, I think that cooperation has been on the upswing,” he said....

-bth: US KIA's fell to zero last month.  Relations with Pakistan are on the upswing from a OBL low.  Northern supply lines in jeopardy and India sides with Russia on the Ukraine.  Many trends to ponder.

Pak-Afghan relations: Ashraf seeks to forge 'special relationship' - Pak Bus Recorder

Afghan presidential hopeful Ashraf Ghani says rapprochement with Pakistan, along the lines of France and Germany after World War II, is key to ending instability in his conflict-torn nation. The race to succeed President Hamid Karzai has narrowed to a two-way fight between Ghani and former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah following the release of early partial results on Sunday.

Former World Bank academic Ghani told AFP he wants to end years of suspicion and mistrust with Pakistan and forge a "special relationship" with the nuclear power. In an interview with AFP, Ghani said Afghanistan's eastern neighbour had changed and a more harmonious relationship was critical for the region and the world.

"Pakistan is a different country. In the past, there was a distinction made between 'Good Taliban' and 'Bad Taliban'," he said. But Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, elected in May 2013, "sees extremism as the fundamental challenge", Ghani said. "The goal is a special relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan that would resemble that of France and Germany after World War II," he added.

It sounds like an ambitious task but Afghanistan has already proven pessimists wrong, he said. With Nato winding down combat operations, security for the April 5 vote was in the hands of Afghan forces and the relative peace of polling day demonstrated they were up to the task of tackling the Taliban, he said....
Pak-Afghan relations: Ashraf seeks to forge 'special relationship'

Prominent Afghan Taliban Figure Missing After Peace Overture to Kabul - WSJ

A prominent Afghan Taliban figure who recently launched a peace overture with the government in Kabul has disappeared in the United Arab Emirates, Afghan officials and Pakistan-based militants said.

Confirming rumors that have circulated for weeks, Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Shekib Mostaghni said Agha Jan Mutasim, the head of a breakaway faction of the Afghan Taliban, was missing. His disappearance cast new doubt on prospects for peace amid Afghanistan's delicate political transition.

The Afghan government was seeking information from the U.A.E. on his whereabouts, Mr. Mostaghni said. U.A.E. officials couldn't be reached for comment.

A leader of the Afghan Taliban, who said he had spoken to Mr. Mutasim's family, and a former Taliban official both said there was concern he had been taken into custody by U.A.E. authorities....

bth: what to make of this?

Syrian Rebels Using American-Made BGM-71 TOW Anti-Tank Guided Missiles i...

HKonJ, MoralMarch, We are North Carolina

Examining the pro-Russian campaign in Eastern Ukraine

Division widen in Ukraine as Kyiv is urged to rein in pro-Russian separa...

Monday, April 14, 2014

75th Anniversary of the Grapes of Wrath

... “Some of the owner men were kind because they hated what they had to do, and some of them were angry because they hated to be cruel, and some of them were cold because they had long ago found that one could not be an owner unless one were cold. And all of them were caught in something larger than themselves. Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling. If a bank or a finance company owned the land, the owner man said, The Bank - or the Company - needs - wants - insists - must have - as though the Bank or the Company were a monster, with thought and feeling, which had ensnared them. These last would take no responsibility for the banks or the companies because they were men and slaves, while the banks were machines and masters all at the same time. Some of the owner men were a little proud to be slaves to such cold and powerful masters. The owner men sat in the cars and explained. You know the land is poor. You've scrabbled at it long enough, God knows.” ...
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath