Friday, December 31, 2010

EU mulling to lift arms embargo against China by 2011

LONDON (PTI): European Union may lift its arms embargo clamped on China in 1989 in the 

wake of Tiananmen Square crackdown, by early 2011, providing a big boost to the Chinese military which is currently embarked on producing 5th generation fighters and long-range cruise missiles.

The lifting of the embargo on transfer of all lethal weapon technology “could happen very soon,” French daily Le Figaro reported quoting sources close to the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
The paper said the issue was raised at the last EU Summit on December 17 and in a confidential presentation major EU powers felt that the embargo may have outlived its purpose.

The report described the embargo as a “major obstacle” to the Euro-Chinese ties and advocated a “move forward”, indicating that the lifting of sanctions could be round the corner.

The EU noted that China had grown 15 times richer than in 1989 and was copying and improving the newest Russian fighter bombers and would soon be in a position to challenge US aircraft carriers in the Pacific by deploying indigenous long-range attack missiles.

France and Spain have long campaigned for an end to the embargo. But, Le Figaro said now Netherlands, UK and to an extent Germany had lowered their opposition. The sanctions prohibit sale and transfer of weapons technology to China.

Other members mooted the idea of making conditional the lifting of sanctions to link it with Beijing improving its ties with Taiwan, amnesty for those arrested in Tiananmen Square crackdown and the calender for the ratification of the convention on civil and political rights.

“The embargo on lethal weapons, imposed by EU shortly after the US, has lost over the years its practical justification,” Le Figaro said quoting top level EU sources.
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Thursday, December 30, 2010


HMAS Stuart
HMAS Stuart
Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Stuart sailed for the Middle East Area of Operations today, where she will relieve HMAS Melbourne on Operation Slipper. This is the fourth time that Stuart has been deployed to the Gulf and the Navy’s twenty-fifth rotation since September 2001.
Embarked with a Ship’s Company of approximately 190 men and women, Stuart was farewelled by the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Mr Warren Snowdon MP, the Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Crane AOCSMRAN and the Commander Australian Fleet Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore, AMCSCRAN and family and friends.

“The work that the men and women embarked on Stuart is vital in strengthening maritime security in the Gulf of Aden and the environment around the Horn of Africa. I have no doubt that Stuart’s Ship’s Company will rise to the challenge and continue the good work of her forbears,” Mr Snowdon said.
“The thoughts and best wishes of the Nation are with Stuart as she sails to undertake this important task.”
While deployed, Stuart will conduct maritime interdiction and counter-piracy operations, which will see her provide a deterrent presence and escort for merchant ships in the maritime corridor of the Gulf of Aden. She will also track and report on piracy activities.
“My Ship’s Company are looking forward to this deployment following a demanding, yet very rewarding intensive training period. It is a great honour to be undertaking this important role on behalf of the Australian people,” said Commanding Officer Stuart, Commander Brett Sonter.
“The prolonged period of absence will be made easier knowing that we have the support of our families and friends. This support to date, combined with the training we have been given, ensures that we are extremely well placed to succeed in our mission.”
Stuart participated in a pre-deployment Mission Readiness assessment in November which followed months of concentrated work-up training aimed at preparing the ship for operational deployment.

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Trials of middle diesel engine have been started at Ukrainian submarine Zaporizhzhia.

Ukrainian sub Zaporizhzhia kicked off powerplant trials

Ukrainian sub Zaporizhzhia kicked off powerplant trials
According to Ukrainian defense ministry, a damage control drill was held prior to the trial; divers inspected underwater part of the sub and then trials of main electric motor started. Right diesel was tested on slow, middle, and full speed modes. 

As was reported by e-crimea, it was planned to commission submarine Zaporizhzhia in May 2011. The sub's mooring trials were conducted in December, sea trials are scheduled in May; after that the sub is expected to be commissioned. 

Since Feb 2003 Zaporizhzhia has been under repairs at 13th Ship Repair Plant in Sevastopol. Previously, Ukrainian defense ministry planned to sell the submarine right after her commission. 

Currently, Zaporizhzhia is the only Ukraine's submarine; in May 2009 the sub started post-repair trials. 

Project 641 diesel electric submarine was built in 1970 and joined Soviet Navy in 1971. In accordance with an agreement separating Soviet Black Sea Fleet, in 1997 the sub joined Ukrainian Navy and was renamed into Zaporizhzhia.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

China steps up anti-carrier missile tests: US commander

China is stepping up efforts to deploy a "carrier-killer" missile system, the commander of the US Pacific Command has said in an interview with a Japanese newspaper, published Tuesday.
"The anti-ship ballistic missile system in China has undergone extensive testing," Admiral Robert Willard told the Asahi Shimbun in Honolulu, according to a transcript of the interview on its website.
Willard said China appeared to have achieved "initial operational capability" but it would take "several more years" before fully deploying the system.
China steps up anti-carrier missile tests: US commander

US military analysts have warned China is developing a new version of its Dongfeng 21 missile that could pierce the defences of even the most sturdy US naval vessels and has a range far beyond Chinese waters.
Washington has expressed rising concern over China's military intentions following a string of double-digit increases in Chinese military spending and the rapid modernisation of its armed forces.
In the interview, Willard also said China aims to become a global military power by extending its influence beyond its regional waters.
"They are focused presently on what they term their near seas -- the Bohai, Yellow Sea, South China Sea, East China Sea," Willard said.
"I think they have an interest in being able to influence beyond that point, and they have aspirations to eventually become a global military," he said. "In the capabilities that we're seeing develop, that is fairly obvious."
Referring to tensions on the Korean peninsula, Willard warned that North Korea is ready to take another provocative step and called on China, Pyongyang's sole major ally, to play its role in defusing the situation.
"I think, for now, we're past this particular crisis, but we have no doubt, given North Korea's history, that a next provocation is readied," Willard told the daily.
"It's a matter of assessing how it might be deterred or how the North Koreans might be dissuaded from exercising the next provocation," he said.
"We think the US-Republic of Korea (South Korea) alliance is part of that deterrence effort," he said. "We think the international community and China in particular are another part of it."
Tensions have been high following the North's shelling of a South Korean border island, which killed four people, including two civilians. The South's forces are on alert for any fresh attacks.
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Baltic states fault France’s warship deal with Russia

 Baltic states fault France’s warship deal with Russia
Vilnius: Lithuania and Latvia on Monday took NATO ally France to task over a warship deal with Russia, with Vilnius warning that Paris was setting a risky precedent. "I think this is a mistake," Lithuania's Defence Minister Rasa Jukneviciene told reporters. "This is a precedent, when a NATO and EU member sells offensive weaponry to a country whose democracy is not at a level that would make us feel calm." Lithuania and fellow Baltic states Latvia and Estonia -- who were ruled by Moscow until 1991 -- have repeatedly criticised France's plans since Paris began negotiating a warship sale with Russia in 2009.

Last Friday, France said it had struck a deal under which Moscow would buy two Mistral-class command and amphibious assault warships from a French-led consortium, with the possibility of two more. "Of course, for countries around Russia, this is not pleasant news. It's definitely not the Christmas gift we would have liked to receive," Jukneviciene said. Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks said he was upset that France had ignored the concerns of its regional NATO allies, but underlined that he did not believe the sale would cause major security problems in the Baltic Sea. "Looking at the situation from a realistic viewpoint, one has to admit that French economic interests -- in this case, selling the ships -- would have no dramatic effects either on the balance of forces in the region or NATO strategy in the Baltic states," he was quoted as saying by the Baltic News Service.
The deal, which involves joint construction of the Mistral-class ships, is the first sale to Russia of such naval high-tech by a NATO nation. A Mistral-class vessel can carry up to 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 13 battle tanks, around 100 other vehicles and a 450-strong force. It has facilities for a full command staff and is equipped with a 69-bed hospital. The Russian army has said such a ship would have helped it win its August 2008 war with ex-Soviet Georgia within hours rather than days. Russian military moves raise concerns in the Baltic states. The Kremlin only withdrew its troops from their territory in 1994, three years after they won independence when the communist bloc collapsed. The three states, with a combined population of 6.8 million, still have rocky relations with giant Russia, notably since joining NATO and the EU in 2004.

The Mistral: France's amphibious assault ship

The Mistral-class warship, of which two versions will jointly be built by France and Russia, is an amphibious assault ship or helicopter carrier, used by the French Navy. Referred to as "projection and command ships" or "BPC", a Mistral class ship is capable of transporting 16 helicopters, deploying up to six of them on the deck at any one time. It also can carry four landing barges, 13 battle tanks, around 100 other vehicles and a 450-strong force, and is able to unload troops into the theatre of operations. The ship has facilities for a full command staff and is equipped with a 69-bed hospital.
The Mistral came officially into active service on December 15, 2006. But already in mid-2006 it had demonstrated its operational capacity by evacuating to Cyprus some 4,700 civilians from Beirut who were trapped in the conflict between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah. It is capable of serving as part of a NATO Response Force or with United Nations or European Union peacekeepers. A powerful warship costing around 500 million euros (650 million dollars), the Mistral-class are the biggest French warships, after the aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle. The French Navy has two of them in service, the Mistral and the Tonnerre. Each is 199 metres (653-feet) long and 32 metres (105-feet) wide and displaces 21,600 tonnes fully loaded.
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