France keen to buy 12 US Reaper drones: minister

 

France keen to buy 12 US Reaper drones: minister

France wants to buy 12 Reaper drones from the United States, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday, as ministry officials put the cost at 670 million euros ($889 million).

Le Drian said he wanted two Reapers to be deployed in sub-Saharan Africa, where France is battling Islamist militants in Mali.

The 10 others would be deployed in French and European skies.

The deal needs the approval of Congress. Le Drian said that if it did not give a go-ahead, France could buy the drones from Israel.

The Reapers are made by California-based General Atomics.

Su-35S Gets Ready for the Paris Air Show in France

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Training flights of the Su-35S take place these days at the Zhukovsky airfield at the M. M. Gromov Flight Research Institute in preparation for participation in the le Bourget-2013 International Air Show.

The Honored test pilot of the Russian Federation, the Hero of Russia Sergey Bogdan works on two sets of aerobatics – for normal and complex weather conditions.

Participants and visitors of the largest exhibition of the world aircraft industry achievements will be able to watch such a complex and spectacular flight figures as spatial barrels, somersaults, a flat spin, and, of course, the famous “Pugachev’s Cobra”.

Next week, upon completion of test flights, the aircraft will fly to France to continue getting ready for the flight program of the air show.

The newest multirole Su-35S fighter will be presented for the first time in a foreign air show. Its premiere flight program was held at the MAKS-2009 air show in Russia.

Su-35S is a deeply modernized super-maneuverable multirole fighter of the “4++” generation. The applied technologies of the 5th generation provide for the superiority of Su-35S aircraft over similar class fighters.

The aircraft has a much better flight characteristics compared with standing analog fighters and more perfect on-board avionics. Aircraft characteristics exceed all European tactical fighters of the 4th and “4+” generation like Rafale and Eurofighter 2000, as well as upgraded American fighters such as F-15, F-16 and F-18. Su-35S can also successfully counter the 5th generation fighters – F-35 and F-22A.

This aircraft, in particular, is the fastest (2,400 km/h at an altitude of 11 km) fighter, it has a higher thrust, it also has an almost two-fold benefit to the modern French (Rafale) and Swedish (Gripen) fighters in the flight range (without suspension tanks – 3600 km). The Gripen NG aircraft, for example, has only one engine, so it has a smaller combat survivability and reliability. The American F/A-18 fighter is inferior to the Russian Su-35S in the flight altitude.

Russian Nuclear Submarine Contracts ‘Underpriced’

Borey-class ballistic missile submarine Yury Dolgoruky

MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti) – Former Russian Defense Ministry officials forced shipbuilders to underprice nuclear submarine contracts, which nearly scuttled the 2011 State Defense Order, a senior Russian official said Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry, said the contracts were for Borey- and Yasen-class ballistic missile submarines, and the underpricing almost scuttled the order, which was eventually signed under former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.

Serdyukov, who had held the post of Defense Minister since 2007, was sacked in November and replaced by Sergei Shoigu amid a series of ongoing corruption scandals that have rocked Russia’s defense sector.

Defense Ministry officials had claimed that the shipbuilders’ contract prices were too high, which led to a protracted wrangling over prices. In 2011, the contracts were only signed in November, in the presence of then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Whereas the original price of the Yury Dolgoruky submarine was more than 20 billion rubles (about $70 million), it subsequently increased to 50 billion.

Rogozin said the work on the new submarines was currently going according to schedule but the underpriced contracts were resulting in additional costs. “We are thinking of how to tackle that problem,” he said.

Rogozin said in late May that Defense Ministry contracts signed under Serdyukov were to be thoroughly examined and, if necessary, audited. Those contracts were “largely detrimental,” he said, adding that the Russian government was ready to step in to sort out the crisis in Russian naval shipbuilding that is threatening to derail the defense procurement program.

He made his comments on the same day it was revealed that the state-run United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) was looking for money allocated to complete the Nerpa nuclear submarine for India’s navy. A total of 500 million rubles ($15.9 million) went unaccounted for, the Kommersant business daily reported.

USC’s previous board of directors “bears full responsibility for nodding their heads, signing unworkable documents and concluding contracts at prices that were obviously below market levels,” Rogozin said at the time.

President Putin has been briefed on the issue, and the implementation of the arms procurement program will be discussed in late July, Rogozin said. Putin ordered USC’s management to submit a report by October 15 on measures to improve the situation in the industry.

Doubts about the ability of the industry to deliver warships on time and within budget prompted Serdyukov to order Mistral-class amphibious assault ships from France in 2011. That deal has subsequently been criticized by Rogozin and other senior defense industry officials.

The Russian Navy is expected to receive 24 submarines and 54 surface warships of various classes by 2020, according to the Defense Ministry.

Putin said last year that the procurement of new warships and submarines for the Navy would be a priority over the next decade. The Russian government has allocated 5 trillion rubles ($166 billion), or a quarter of the entire armament procurement budget through 2020, for this purpose.

Russia Tests ‘Missile Defense Killer’

Kapustin Yar testing site (archive)

MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti) – The US missile defense system is no match for the new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that Russia tested this week, a senior Russian official said Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the defense industry, hailed Thursday’s tests as a success and dubbed the new ICBM a “missile defense killer.”

“Neither current nor future American missile defense systems will be able to prevent that missile from hitting a target dead on,” he said, during an event organized by the ruling United Russia party.

The Russian Defense Ministry was more modest in its appraisal of the test, carried out by the Strategic Missile Forces at the Kapustin Yar testing site, between Volgograd and Astrakhan, on Thursday.

“The test launch was a success as the [simulated] warhead hit a designated target within the set time frame,” said a Defense Ministry statement issued Thursday.

The US missile defense system in Europe, which NATO and the US say is aimed at countering threats from North Korea and Iran, has been a particular source of friction in US-Russian relations for a number of years.

Russia and NATO formally agreed to cooperate over the European missile defense system at the 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, but talks foundered, in part over Russian demands for legal guarantees that the system would not target its strategic nuclear deterrent.

In mid-March, the US announced that it was modifying its planned missile defense deployment to Poland, dropping plans to station SM-3 IIB interceptors in the country by 2022.

Russian officials responded by saying that this did nothing to allay their concerns over US missile defense in Eastern Europe, and reiterated their demand for legally binding agreements guaranteeing that Russia’s strategic nuclear forces would not be targeted.

Although analysts were quick to interpret the US change in plan as a concession to Russia, possibly intended to pave the way for further bilateral talks on nuclear arms reduction, US officials repeatedly refuted this suggestion.

Speaking after a bilateral meeting with the Polish foreign minister on Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the United States’ continued commitment to that element of the missile defense system.

“We are on track to deploy a missile defense site in Poland by 2018 as part of NATO’s modernized approach to our security,” Kerry said.

France: National Liberation Front of Corsica (FNLC) separatists vow to attack France again

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Corsican separatists, who claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks last year, on Tuesday warned of fresh violence as France’s interior minister toured the crime-prone island.

“We will take up arms again so that France recognizes our national rights,” the Corsican National Liberation Front (FNLC) said in a statement, denouncing Paris for supporting a centralized republic.

But after vowing “zero tolerance” for mafia groups, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said: “We will not let ourselves be browbeaten by threats.”

The FNLC, which was set up in 1976, and various other factions intent on self-rule have staged hundreds of attacks in Corsica. They have also been blamed for armed robberies and extortion through so-called revolutionary taxes.

NATO to set up cyber-defence rapid reaction teams

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NATO defence ministers agreed Tuesday to set up rapid reaction teams to help defend the military alliance against a growing number of cyber-attacks, many of them blamed on China.

“In the progress report we have adopted today, we agreed to establish rapid reaction teams that can help protect NATO’s own systems,” alliance head Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

This “cyber-defence capability should be fully operational by the autumn,” Rasmussen told a press conference.

“This is a first phase. A second phase would be to look into how the alliance can respond to requests from Allies who come under cyber-attack,” he said.

Rasmussen stressed that cyber-security — the defence of the electronics information systems at the heart of modern warfare — remained the responsibility of its 28 member states.

But “this is a serious challenge (which)… can have devastating consequences,” he said, adding that NATO suffered more than 2,500 attacks last year.

“An attack on one ally, if not dealt quickly, can affect us all.”

The cyber-security issue is top of the agenda for a two-day defence ministers’ meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, attending his first NATO meeting since taking office, on Saturday accused China of waging cyber-espionage against the US after an American report found evidence of a broad Chinese spying campaign against top US defence contractors and government agencies.