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Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar bats for modernisation of armed forces

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Feeling the need of making Indian armed forces mere technology oriented, the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said that the government is committed to provide all support towards modernisation of the armed forces.

Addressing the Annual Unified Commanders’ Conference for Tri-Services Commanders in New Delhi, the minister said that there is a need to exercise financial prudence and optimise all available resources.

The defence minister told the top military brass that though the technology is important for modern warfare, it is ultimately the morale and motivation of our brave soldiers, sailors and Air Warriors which should be a major focus area for all the commanders.

Paying homage to all valiant Soldiers, Sailors and Air Warriors for their supreme sacrifice in honour of the nation,  Parrikar recommended the armed forces for their devotion to duty and the stellar role played by them in safeguarding the country’s unity and integrity.

Earlier, Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff to Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Air Marshal PP Reddy presented a report covering major achievements on key tri- services issues.

During the daylong conference, key security issues facing the nation and important strategic, operational, logistical, administrative aspects pertaining to Tri-Services were deliberated upon.

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Airbus Defense Division Seeks New Partners to Expand in The Growing US Space Market

Airbus is ramping up production of more than 640 refrigerator-sized satellites for start-up telecoms services provider OneWeb

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Pop.Up Next, a prototype designed by Audi, Airbus and Italdesign is displayed at the Amsterdam Drone Week in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. VOA

Airbus’ defense division is looking for new partners to expand its presence in the growing U.S. space market, and could potentially build components for a lunar program there, Airbus Defense and Space Chief Executive Dirk Hoke told Reuters.

Airbus is ramping up production of more than 640 refrigerator-sized satellites for start-up telecoms services provider OneWeb at a facility in Florida, that Hoke said would already give it some leverage in the U.S. market.

The company could also produce components in the United States for its European Support Module, a critical part of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, if that is modified as a module to access the moon, Hoke told Reuters at the Paris Airshow.

“We’re also looking for new partners, with whom we could expand our footprint in the U.S.,” he said. “We have some very good products and systems so it’s worthwhile to look at what we can do beyond what we do currently in Europe.”

 

Airbus, Defense, US
Airbus’ defense division is looking for new partners to expand its presence in the growing U.S. space market. Pixabay

Airbus’s defense and space division has long hoped to expand operations in the U.S. market, but lost out to Boeing on a lucrative U.S. Air Force refueling plane contract in 2011.

The company, which builds satellites and works with France’s Safran to build rocket launchers, now hopes the projected “new space” economy, which experts say could be worth $1 trillion a year, could give it another shot at a bigger U.S. role.

Hoke faulted European leaders for failing to articulate a clear, unified vision for its ambitions in the space business, and said they were essentially ceding leadership to the United States and billionaire private investors, such as Elon Musk.

“This is more than just a billionaire’s race to Mars. It is about having sovereign access to space, having access to resources in the long term, and of course, unfortunately, it is also a question of defense.”

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Failing to take action and jump start new research and development program would leave Europe “in the second and third row position,” he said, noting that it would also cause a brain drain of top talent.

Rick Ambrose, head of U.S. arms maker Lockheed Martin’s space division, the lead contractor on the Orion spacecraft, told Reuters his company was in preliminary discussions with Airbus about possibly the adapting the European Support Module to bring humans to the moon and back to an orbiting lunar station.

Ambrose said no decisions had been made, but it was “a logical conclusion” that some of the items developed by Airbus for the Orion spacecraft could be used to achieve U.S. President Donald Trump’s goal of putting humans back on the Moon by 2024.

“Getting to the moon by 2024 means …. we’re going to have to reuse everything we can reuse,” he said at the air show. (VOA)

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U.S. Starts ‘Unwinding’ Turkey from F-35 Program over Russia Defense Deal

The United States on Friday raised the stakes in its standoff with Turkey

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U.S., Turkey, F-35, Russia, Defense
FILE - A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA Air Show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. VOA

The United States on Friday raised the stakes in its standoff with Turkey over Ankara’s deal to acquire a Russian air defense system, laying out a plan to remove the NATO ally from the F-35 fighter jet program that includes halting any new training for Turkish pilots on the advanced aircraft.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart, seen by Reuters on Friday, that laid out the steps to “unwind” Turkey from the program.

Reuters on Thursday first reported the decision to stop accepting more Turkish pilots for training in the United States, in one of the most concrete signs that the dispute between Washington and Ankara is reaching a breaking point.

The United States says Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defense system poses a threat to the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealthy fighters, which Turkey also plans to buy. The United States says Turkey cannot have both.

U.S., Turkey, F-35, Russia, Defense
FILE – Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 21, 2019. VOA

The United States on Friday raised the stakes in its standoff with Turkey over Ankara’s deal to acquire a Russian air defense system, laying out a plan to remove the NATO ally from the F-35 fighter jet program that includes halting any new training for Turkish pilots on the advanced aircraft.

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart, seen by Reuters on Friday, that laid out the steps to “unwind” Turkey from the program.

Reuters on Thursday first reported the decision to stop accepting more Turkish pilots for training in the United States, in one of the most concrete signs that the dispute between Washington and Ankara is reaching a breaking point.

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The United States says Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defense system poses a threat to the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealthy fighters, which Turkey also plans to buy. The United States says Turkey cannot have both.

U.S., Turkey, F-35, Russia, Defense
FILE – A Russian serviceman walks past S-400 missile defense systems in central Moscow, Russia, April 29, 2019. VOA

Strains in ties already extend beyond the F-35 to include conflicting strategy in Syria, Iran sanctions and the detention of U.S. consular staff in Turkey.

The disclosure of the decision on the pilots follows signs that Turkey is moving ahead with the S-400 purchase.

Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on May 22 that Turkish military personnel were receiving training in Russia to use the S-400, and that Russian personnel may go to Turkey. The head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, said the country would start delivering S-400 missile systems to Turkey in two months, the Interfax news agency reported.

‘Devastating’ deal

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday it was “out of the question” for Turkey to back away from its deal with Moscow. Erdogan said the United States had not “given us an offer as good as the S-400s.”

The Turkish lira declined as much as 1.5% on Friday before recovering some losses. The currency has shed nearly 10% of its value against the dollar this year in part on fraying diplomatic ties and the risk of U.S. sanctions if Turkey accepts delivery of the S-400s.

Kathryn Wheelbarger, one of the Pentagon’s most senior policy officials, said last week that Turkey’s completion of the transaction with Russia would be “devastating,” dealing heavy blows to the F-35 program and to Turkish interoperability within the NATO alliance.

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“The S-400 is a Russian system designed to shoot down an aircraft like the F-35,” said Wheelbarger, an acting assistant secretary of defense. “And it is inconceivable to imagine Russia not taking advantage of that [intelligence] collection opportunity.” (VOA)

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‘Significant Progress’ Against Islamic State in Syria, Claims U.S. Defense Chief

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said Sunday they had recaptured 41 positions held by Islamic State militants in eastern Syria.

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Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, left, arrives in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 11, 2019, to consult with Army Gen. Scott Miller, right, commander of U.S. and coalition forces, and senior Afghan government leaders. VOA

Acting U.S. Defense chief Pat Shanahan said Monday the Islamic State group remains a “global presence,” as U.S.-backed fighters work to clear the last enclave the militants hold in eastern Syria.

Shanahan told reporters traveling with him on a trip to Afghanistan that when it comes to the degree of Islamic State’s capabilities, that varies from “residual pockets to sleeper cells.”

“But in the context of military operations, I think the characterization of progress within Syria has been that they have been decimated and that we’re making significant progress” in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, Shanahan said.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reassure allies the United States would not abandon efforts to destroy Islamic State when it withdraw its troops from Syria. Shanahan said Monday he plans to discuss the situation this week with NATO allies, including support and security operations that he says are important when shifting away from a significant military operation.

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“There are heavy clashes at the moment. We have launched an assault and the fighters are advancing,” an SDF field commander told AFP Sunday. Pixabay

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said Sunday they had recaptured 41 positions held by Islamic State militants in eastern Syria.

Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesman, tweeted that SDF forces had destroyed fortifications in the Village of Baghuz, but that heavy fighting continued.

“#SDF have advanced on northern and western axis into Baghuz since 19:00 yesterday evening, capturing 41 positions of ISIS and destroying fortifications. IS counterattack was foiled at 4 am this morning. Heavy fighting is going on inside the last village at the moment,” he wrote.

“There are heavy clashes at the moment. We have launched an assault and the fighters are advancing,” an SDF field commander told AFP Sunday.

The SDF, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, is fighting IS in a 4-square-kilometer area that includes Baghuz and is near the Iraqi border.

SDF officials and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated there were about 3,000 battle-hardened IS jihadists, mostly foreigners, in the region. The observatory also estimated that several hundred civilians remained in the area as well.

More than 23,000 Syrian civilians and foreign nationals fled eastern Syria this past week as the SDF, which includes Kurdish YPG militia fighters, prepared to move on IS in Deir el-Zour governorate, according to local officials and activists.

The displaced residents, mostly women and children, have been placed in the Kurdish al-Hol camp in al-Hasakah governorate, in northeast Syria.

The administrator of the camp, Nabil Hassan, told VOA that many of the women and children from the new wave of displacement this week were foreign nationals and family members of IS.

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SDF began an operation in September to rid Deir el-Zour of IS militants. The U.S.-backed fighters’ advance has been slowed by fierce fighting from the IS militants.

The civil war that has engulfed Syria began with Arab Spring protests in 2011. The United Nations estimates more than 400,000 Syrians have died since fighting began in 2011. More than 6 million Syrians have been displaced internally and about 5 million have sought refuge outside the country, with Turkey hosting nearly 3.5 million of them, according to the United Nations. (VOA)

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