Clinton’s ‘Unbelievable’ Pitch to India

Lockheed's Fourth Generation Stealthy F-35 Lightning

An unprecedented step by the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has been made in India following her trip to New Delhi last week, a report from Eurasia.net states. She has stated the US’ willingness to offer the state-of-the-art F-35 warplanes to India at the bargain price of $65 Million each.

Compare this to the $85 Million an Dassault Rafale would cost, or the $125 Million that a Eurofighter Typhoon was offered at, its clear to see how big a step this is. Analysts will obviously suggest that the US are trying to establish a stronger level of military sales in the area, but why is yet to be seen. The recent failure by American companies to procure a $10.4 Billion contract for the Indian Air Force could be partially to blame, but also the transition of F-35 to a production model of late means that it has only just become eligible for the IAF proposal that was originally laid out. Not to mention the offer yesterday China made to Pakistan to give an entire squadron of brand new J-10B’s recently put into production. Maybe this is a fore planned counter move by the US? Either way, expect more on this as the proposal develops.

 

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US Consider Removing Tactical Nukes From Europe

Nato Headquarters, Brussels -- The scene of US/NATO talks held today over the potential removing of TNMs is Europe

Today the influential Asahi Shimbun – a Japanese Newspaper- has said that the United States is in talks with NATO to remove U.S. tactical nuclear weapons from Europe in a push toward a nuclear-weapons-free world and to cut costs.

Washington is talking with other NATO member nations about the withdrawal of all shorter-range, tactical nuclear weapons that have been deployed in Europe since the Cold War era, the influential Asahi Shimbun said.

In-depth discussions will take place in coming months, and the talks should conclude by the time Chicago hosts a NATO summit next May, the liberal daily said, citing a senior U.S. official tasked with nuclear disarmament policies.

The talks are being held as part of NATO’s Defense and Deterrence Posture Review, said the report filed from the paper’s Washington bureau.

The move came as U.S. President Barack Obama wants to negotiate with Russia about reducing tactical nuclear weapons and nuclear stockpiles, following the ratification this year of the US-Russia New START disarmament treaty, it said.

A complete abolition coupled with President Obama’s decision to ditch the European element of the new Missile Defence System which was proposed back in 2009,  it could give impetus to U.S.-Russia nuclear disarmament talks.


Northrop Unveils Latest Spy Plane

Northrop Grumman Firebird UAV

Only last week the rumour mill was rife with talk of a new class of UAV flying over Beale Air Force base, California. If you have the time to trawl through the speculation, it was soon clear this wasn’t simply a modified MC-12 Liberty as used for surveillance and reconnaissance in Iraq. Sure enough, Northrop Grumman have unveiled their new spy plane, the Firebird. The UAV is filled with high definition cameras, electronic eavesdropping gear and is developed from scaled composites.

The Announcement states:

“Firebird’s universal interface is similar to plugging a memory stick into a personal computer that is automatically recognized without needing to load additional software.

“Not only have we increased the number of ISR sensors working simultaneously in an aircraft of this size, but we can also incorporate various sensors that complement each other – greatly enhancing Firebird’s information-gathering value for warfighters,” said Rick Crooks, Northrop Grumman’s Firebird program manager. “Firebird is an adaptable system that makes it highly affordable because of the number of different missions it can accomplish during a single flight. It’s a real game changer.”

The biggest development is that the aircraft can be optionally manned when required and can carry upto 1,200 pounds, making it versatile for a range of different combat roles. Payloads other UAVs may be comparably higher, but the optional inclusion of an operator, at least as test bed for new sensor technologies could be a major factor that could get NG more than a few orders.

UAV Payload Comparison

It’s success will be better measured when the aircraft is entered into Joint Forces Command’s Empire Challenge exercise later this month.