Straits come into Focus as Gulf Tension Mounts
The waters in the Arabian Gulf (or Persian Gulf), are highly
turbulent these days. The increasing presence of US naval
presence, and continued Iranian defiance of UN pressure
led Iran to raise the level of alert among its armed forces,
in anticipation of a possible attack. While potential nuclear
threat in the future is certainly a serious consideration,
Iran's domination of the strategic straits of Hurmoz is
the imminent threat.
Last week India tested its Agni III long range missile, capable
of delivering a 1.5 tons of payload including a nuclear device.
The missile was developed in India as a two-stage, solid fuelled
missile. The 16 meter long missile weighs 48 tons and can strike
targets at a range over 3,000 km. Agni III is offers India a
deterrent capability addressing potential threats from China,
which also possesses long-range nuclear attack capability. Agni
III can strike targets in mainland China, as far as the cities
of Shanghai and Beijing. During the recent test the missile
flew for 15 minutes, and validated the operation of new systems,
including the new composite solid propellant and flex nozzle
control system which failed in previous test flight. Other advanced
systems tested include the fault-tolerant guidance and control
with fault tolerant avionics. Agni III made its first test flight
on July 9, 2006.
The US Marine Corps will soon deploy the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor
aircraft to Iraq, its first combat assignment. Marine Commandant
Gen. James Conway announced last week at the Pentagon that Marine
Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, with 10 aircraft and 171 personnel
will be deployed to Al Asad Air Base in Western Iraq, by September
The Canadian Army is acquiring 100 Leopard II tanks, to be
delivered from Dutch and Dutch army surplus. The purchase is
a change of direction for the army and in particular for Chief
of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier, who only a few years ago
described the Leopard tanks as "millstone around the neck"
of the Canadian forces. The Canadians realized the importance
of main battle tanks in recent months, as tanks were rushed
in to Afghanistan to support the Canadian contingent stationed
at Kandahar. As the new tanks are inducted by the Army, the
Leopard 1C2 tanks currently deployed in Afghanistan are expected
to be retired from service.
Acquires More CREWs to Combat RSIEDs
Impact Science & Technology (IST), of Nashua, N.H., will
produce 1,100 vehicle mounted Counter Radio Controlled Improvised
Explosive Device (RCIED) Electronic Warfare devices (CREW) under
a $57 million contract awarded by the U.S. Navy. ($56,900,893
firm-fixed-price, time and material (cost) contract for production
and. These devices are part of the DoD’s Joint Counter
RCIED Electronic Warfare program. Spiral 2.1 CREW systems, designed
to prevent the initiation of RCIED by radio command. The Navy
manages the joint CREW program for Office of the Secretary of
Defense’s Joint IED Defeat Organization. All systems are
expected to be completed by May 2008. Last week EDO also announced
receipt of a similar order worth $88 million for the supply
of 1,100 CREW 2.1 systems.
An experiment designed to study the dynamics of tethered spacecraft
formation, will help maturing space tether technology that promises
supporting formations of many pico-satellites forming large
synthetic aperture radar systems for high resolution earth observation.
These same tethers can also establish 'space elevators', lifting
payloads from low-earth-orbits to higher orbits as well as de-orbiting
expired spacecraft to minimize 'space junk'.
The British ground forces in Afghanistan will soon get the
Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) offering significant
improvement in range and accuracy over standard MLRS rocket
systems. The system recently completed successful trials and
has been declared fit for deployment with troops in Afghanistan
later this year. The US are already using another version of
GMLRS in Iraq. The rocket has an effective range of over 60
kilometres with pinpoint accuracy provided by GPS navigation
system. The rocket is loaded with a unitary warhead weighing
200lb (90 kg). The delivery is the first element in an incremental
procurement of several thousands of rockets under a program
worth over £250 million, spanning over four years.