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Friday, 12 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 12 Mar 2010





Gen Handa is new DG-Infantry
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 11
Lieutenant General SN Handa will take over as the Director General of Infantry of the Indian Army tomorrow.Commissioned on November 14, 1971 into the 5th Battalion of the 3rd Gorkha Rifles on the eve of the Indo-Pak War of 1971, the General has served along the borders of the country from Rajasthan and Punjab in the West to Jammu and Kashmir in the North, Himachal-Tibet Border in the Centre and Sikkim, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh in the East.

He commanded his battalion at Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab at the peak of militancy in the state from 1990-93. He has also commanded a brigade during Op Parakram.






India, Russia to sign defence, nuclear pacts
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 11
More than a dozen agreements, including an umbrella civil nuclear pact and another on the Gorshkov aircraft carrier, are likely to be signed between India and Russia tomorrow during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi as the two countries seek to consolidate the strategic partnership between them.

Fully aware of the power equation in Moscow where Putin still calls the shots despite his protege Dmitry Medvedev being the President, New Delhi is leaving no stone unturned to make the Russian leader’s less than 24-hour working visit a grand success.

To demonstrate their determination to take their relationship to what it was during the pre-Soviet era, the two time-tested friends will sign accords in defence, energy, trade, economic, banking and other fields. Diplomatic sources said the deals to be signed tomorrow could be worth $10 billion.

Signalling the importance he attaches to his visit to New Delhi, Putin is bringing with him two of his deputy Prime Ministers and a host of senior ministers. He will hold delegation-level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh apart from meeting President Pratibha Patil and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. India is also fielding a high-level delegation at the talks with the Russian PM.

The Indian delegation will include External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, Defence Minister AK Antony, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora. The two countries will review international political situation, including disturbing developments in Afghanistan, besides bilateral issues.







Blood donation to mark Rohtak Capt’s last rites
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 11
Showing exceptional courage as their son displayed while fighting militants in Taral region of Jammu and Kashmir on March 4, the parents of Capt Deepak Sharma of Rohtak have decided to mark their late son’s ‘teravin’ (a Hindu ritual performed on 13th day after a person’s death) with a blood donation camp.

And like their son who had set elimination-of-ultras as his target, they too have set an aim: arranging blood twice the weight of Capt Deepak (62 kg), who joined Signal Corps about four years ago. An unlike tribute though, over 400 donors have already registered themselves for the camp.

“It’s like moving beyond tears. The blood donation will signify the value of life,” a family member said while talking to The Tribune over the phone.

Earth, an NGO, and Haryana Medical Representative Association members would be assisting the family in the noble act. The camp would be conducted just hours before the religious rites are performed -- from 9 am to 2 pm at the Community Centre in Rohtak. A ‘shradhanjali sabha’ would be held late in the day.

Notably, each unit gathered during a blood donation camp weighs 350 ml; and the family target is about 350 to 360. However, the donations are expected to exceed the target.

An uncle of Capt Deepak, Dr SK Gaur said he (Deepak) was brilliant from childhood and his talent was acknowledged at school, college and even during his training in the Army. Post-college, said Dr Gaur, Deepak got offers from several multi-national companies, but he preferred the Army over.

“The Captain had something different in his mind… He wanted to be saluted as an Army officer. He was an engineer by profession but turned down MNC job offers,” his uncle recollected.







Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics


Afghan President Hamid Karzai is visiting Pakistan, and one of the issues on the table is a rather audacious Pakistani offer to train the Afghan National Army.


The Pakistani and Afghan security establishments have had a rather uneasy relationship, stemming from Pakistan’s long-running ties to the Taliban.


For the Pakistani army to be now offering to train the Tajik-dominated ANA – which is fighting the  Pashtun Taliban – is quite a shift in its approach to the neighbour.


Or is this the latest battleground for the tussle for influence between India and Pakistan?


India has for years been running courses at its defence institutions which small groups of Afghan officers have attended. In recent years, several security experts have urged New Delhi to get more directly involved in training the new Afghan army, triggering concern in Islamabad.


Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani, who announced the surprise offer to help train Afghan national forces last month, said better security ties with Kabul were in Pakistan’s interest.


“Strategically, we cannot have an Afghan army on my western border which has an Indian mindset. If we have an army trained by Pakistan, there will be better interactions on the western border,” he is quoted as having said.


On Thursday he repeated the offer to Karzai during a meeting in Islamabad. And Karzai said he didn’t want his country to be turned into a proxy battlefield , either between India and Pakistan on the one hand, and between Iran and the United States on the other.


The Afghan chessboard is changing fast and regional players are positioning themselves for the time when the U.S.-led forces will retreat, leaving the ANA as the principle instrument of the state to keep the peace.


Kayani said as much: “Our objective is that at the end of all this (Afghanistan), we should not be standing in the wrong corner of the room and should remain relevant in the region. This is our greatest challenge.”


Changing course overnight and switching support to the Afghan security forces will also not be easy, warned Zafar Hilaly, a former Pakistani ambassador in an article in The News. While it made sense for Pakistan to try and prevent India from deepening its ties to the Afghan army, it wasn’t going to be easy for Islamabad to become the ANA’s instructor.


“Training a hitherto unfriendly, Pakistan-averse Tajik-dominated force to fight a Taliban/Pakhtun opponent that is traditionally well disposed to Pakistan would require a level of dexterity that only erstwhile Byzantine courtiers possessed. It simply won’t wash.”


The Indians might just be better placed to train the Afghan army, argues foreign policy expert Sumit Ganguly. Given its extensive experience fighting insurgencies including ironically a Pakistani-backed revolt in Kashmir, an infrastructure that includes a crack counter-insurgency school as well as a high altitude warfare institution, and above all old cultural  bonds,  the Indian army would be a natural choice, he says.







India’s Stalled Arms Buying Leaves Its Army Outgunned by China

March 11, 2010, 2:46 PM EST      

By James Rupert


March 12 (Bloomberg) -- India, which has tripled its defense spending in a race against China’s military buildup, is having trouble converting the funding into weapons and equipment its military says are urgently needed.


The government in five years has canceled two tenders for artillery guns, a contract for ammunition propellant and two helicopter tenders, together worth at least $4 billion. No contract exceeding $100 million has been awarded through competitive bidding in at least 23 years, said military analyst V.K. Kapoor. Defense Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said he couldn’t immediately identify the last such deal.


India’s “military capacity and preparedness are being reduced because of the inadequacy of the procurement process,” said Uday Bhaskar, director of the National Maritime Foundation, a New Delhi research institute on strategic issues. The military’s upgrading is “on hold and its obsolescence is increasing.”


The cancellations have disrupted attempted weapons sales by Textron Inc.’s Bell Helicopter unit in Fort Worth, BAE Systems Plc and South Africa’s Denel Ltd. Bhaskar said they have hurt troop readiness along more than 4,200 kilometers (2,600 miles) of Himalayan frontiers, where India has fought three full-blown wars with Pakistan and one with China.


India took 20 years to negotiate a 2004 contract for jet trainers, even as 157 pilots died in three decades of jet fighter crashes blamed partly on inadequate training craft.


Obsolete Weapons


The Defense Ministry, which wields the world’s 10th-largest military budget, has surrendered 3 percent to 9 percent of its announced budget in each of the past seven years because it couldn’t spend all the money allocated for arms, according to a January report by the New Delhi office of accounting firm KPMG and the Confederation of Indian Industry. Half of India’s weapons are obsolete, the report said.


China has almost quadrupled its official defense spending since 2000 to $78 billion for fiscal 2011, 7.5 percent more than in the previous year. India will spend $32 billion on defense this year, triple its 2000 outlay and 4 percent more than in fiscal 2010.


India has bought no artillery for more than 23 years, a period during which the government has sought to buy more than 1,500 155 mm guns for use mainly along the Pakistani and Chinese borders. Such guns were used to defeat Pakistan in a 1999 conflict at Kargil in Kashmir; India would have had too few had that fight grown into a full-scale war, said Kapoor, who is also a retired army lieutenant general.


Howitzer Delays


India’s military is adequately prepared on its borders and will benefit from an accelerating modernization program, Minister of State for Defense M.M. Pallam Raju said at a conference with defense companies in New Delhi on Feb. 16. “In the past five years we have created a faster, more transparent procurement process,” he said.


That process is being tested as India’s air force conducts flight trials in the world’s biggest fighter-jet purchase in 15 years. Chicago-based Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and four European builders are vying under a 2007 tender to sell India 126 warplanes worth $11 billion.


India is expected to sign a separate deal for 29 naval MiG- 29 fighters during this week’s visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.


John Giese, a spokesman for Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed, called the fighter tender “one of the most challenging competitions in the history of fighter aviation.” Given the complexity, “the competition has been very efficient, transparent and professionally managed,” Boeing spokeswoman Mary Ann Brett said in an e-mail.


European Competitors


Lockheed and Boeing are competing with Paris-based Dassault Aviation SA, Stockholm-based Saab AB, European Aeronautic, Defense & Space Co., which has headquarters in Paris and Munich, and Moscow-based OAO United Aircraft Corp.


While the military says rules last amended in November let it sign a contract within 20 to 34 months, it is too early to judge their effectiveness, said Gurpal Singh, a deputy director general for the industry federation in New Delhi.


The air force asked the government in 1983 to order advanced jet trainers because pilots taught mainly in subsonic jets were losing control of supersonic MiG-21 fighters that were more than three times faster. Political and bureaucratic battles under 11 prime ministers added to the delays before BAE Hawk jets were purchased.


India’s main political blocs -- led by the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- have fought over arms buying since 1987. Indian newspapers reported then that Swedish artillery builder Bofors, now a unit of London-based BAE, bribed officials to buy its guns. The scandal scuttled most of the deal and helped drive the Congress government of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to defeat in 1989 elections.


Reviewing Deals


India was still seeking artillery in 2004 when Congress was elected, and halted bidding as it reviewed defense deals under the previous BJP administration. When police investigated Pretoria-based Denel for paying illegal commissions in winning a 2002 army order for rifles, the government blacklisted the state-owned company.


Four more foreign companies were barred from defense contracts last year, after the Central Bureau of Investigation said they were being investigated on suspicion of bribery. That forced Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd. out of the race, leaving London-based BAE as a single vendor and prompting officials to halt the tender.






British victims of Basra honoured in their home country at last


Wall of remembrance to dead soldiers brought back from Iraq and rebuilt at the National Memorial Arboretum



Basra Memorial Wall re-dedicated


A message left by Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the service to rededicate the Basra memorial wall at the National Memorial Arboretum today. Photograph: David Jones/PA


The music was beautiful, the lineup of political and armed forces top brass impressive, the flypast by three RAF Tornado jets perfectly timed, the prayers moving and the promises fervent that the 179 names of the dead engraved on nine long rows of shining plaques would never be forgotten. None of it helped Carol Jones much.


"It's the closing of a book for me. I've cried more today than I have in all the last four and a half years," she said.


Her son John's name joined those of scores of men he knew on an ugly red and yellow brick wall outside the UK headquarters in Basra a few days after 20 November 2005, when a roadside bomb disintegrated one of the Snatch vehicles implicated in so many deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.


"He was a good lad, a very good lad," his mother said, adding, almost in wonder: "They hadn't even a medications box with them, they could do nothing."


Like many of the other relatives, she wanted to go and see the wall for herself, but the government insisted it was too dangerous. And so for the past three years, since the UK formally transferred Basra province back to the Iraqis in 2007, Jones has been campaigning for the wall — and the brass plaques screwed on it by the soldiers after each piece of dire news — to be brought back.


The original wall was built, as the Venerable Stephen Robbins, chaplain general to the forces, recalled, by members of the Royal Engineers on their own initiative and in their own time, often in darkness after a day's work. Today in a ceremony as solemn as Remembrance Day, that wall, carefully dismantled, shipped back, rebuilt and encased in a tomb of red granite like some medieval relic, was rededicated at the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield.


Jones was pleased that Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all turned up, along with defence secretary, Bob Ainsworth, and two of his predecessors; plus Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of defence staff; and the commanding officers of the army, navy and air force, along with all the forces chaplains and representatives from Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, the US, India, Pakistan, Syria and Sri Lanka, who all lost personnel working under UK command. But, Jones pointed out, this is not the government's wall. "It was put up by our sons' friends, in honour of our sons. It belongs to us."


The Basra wall joins a rapidly growing and eclectic assembly of memorials at the arboretum. Some carry weighty and solemn bronze sculptures. Some, like the wooden polar bear honouring the 49th Infantry West Riding Division, which was snowbound in Iceland for much of the second world war, look like scaled-up versions of something you might find in a gift shop.


There is a place in the arboretum's heart and space in its windy acres for both the Shot at Dawn memorial — sacred to the shell-shocked boys executed as traitors in the first world war – and for the Road Peace Memorial to all who have died on Britain's roads, with its emblem of a dotted white line and a white dove in a circle of tarmac. Nearby a cheerful fairground carousel horse called James marks the Showmen's Guild memorial.


The colours in the war widows' rose garden represent the stages of grief, and the Golden Grove, of golden leaved or fruiting trees, celebrates the golden anniversaries of couples who married at the end of the second world war.


If it all looks a bit raw and new, that's because it is. The 150 acres, and 50,000 trees already planted, are part of a new national forest.


The memorial was the brainchild of a retired naval officer, David Childs, who envisaged a living memorial celebrating forces' and civilian lives and deaths, and became its first director. When the project was formally launched by then prime minister John Major in 1994, there was no site and no money, but the site was eventually acquired from a gravel extraction firm and the first trees were planted in 1997 as part of the millennium national forest.


Since the grandest of the monuments, the henge-shaped Armed Forces Memorial with its ominous space left for a further 15,000 names, was opened by the Queen in 2007, the MoD has taken on a third of the running costs. The British Legion finds another third and the remainder must be raised from visitors.


Car parks, cafe, visitor centre and loos are now frequently overwhelmed, and the arboretum has launched an £8m appeal to improve facilities. Childs thought it might attract between 60,000 and 100,000 people a year. It is now attracting more than 300,000 people a year.


Andrew Baud of the British Legion says visitor numbers are boosted not just by headlines from Iraq and Afghanistan, but by the growing interest in family history. In the early days most were elderly or from forces families; now one in five has no connection with either.


Olivia Taylor will bring her children to see the wall, when the trees, her daughter, and the son her husband Marc never knew have all grown up a bit.


Taylor died on 28 September 2004, aged 27, a fortnight before the end of his second tour in Iraq.


Yesterday she came with Marc's mother, Linda, who said: "The pain of a death never goes away, and every night the news from Afghanistan brings it back. He died doing the job he loved – but was it worth it? I couldn't say that."







U.S. Tightens Missile Shield Encirclement Of China And Russia ( 0)

By Rick Rozoff

Global Research

Thursday, Mar 11, 2010


So far this year the United States has succeeded in inflaming tensions with China and indefinitely holding up a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia through its relentless pursuit of global interceptor missile deployments.


 On January 29 the White House confirmed the completion of a nearly $6.5 billion weapons transfer to Taiwan which includes 200 advanced Patriot anti-ballistic missiles. Earlier in the same month it was reported that Washington is also to provide Taiwan with eight frigates which Taipei intends to equip with the Aegis Combat System that includes the capacity for ship-based Standard Missile-3 interceptors.


The Aegis sea-based component of the expanding U.S. interceptor missile system already includes Japan, South Korea and Australia, and with Taiwan added China would be justified in being apprehensive.


 On February 28 the U.S. House and Senate foreign affairs committees permitted the “sale to Taiwan of missiles, helicopters and ships valued at about $6.4 billion” despite weeks of protests from China. “The U.S. Defense Department wants to sell Taiwan the most advanced Patriot anti-missile system….The system, valued at $2.8 billion, would add to Taiwan’s network of 22 missile sites around the country….” [1]


 Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang recently stated “The responsibility for the current difficulties in China-U.S. relations [belongs] completely to the U.S. side” for failing to recognize and respect China’s “core interests.” [2]


If the proposed placement of U.S. missile shield components in Poland, the Czech Republic, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Alaska and elsewhere were explained by alleged missile threats emanating from Iran and North Korea, the transfer of U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles to Taiwan – and, as was revealed in January, 35 miles from Russian territory in Poland – represents the crossing of a new threshold. The Patriots in Taiwan and Poland and the land- and sea-based missiles that will follow them are intended not against putative “rogue states” but against two major nuclear powers, China and Russia.


The PAC-3, “one of the most comprehensive upgrade programs ever undertaken on an American weapon system,” [3] is in theory a strictly defensive anti-ballistic missile system, targeting cruise and tactical ballistic missiles. However, it has seven times the range of its PAC-2 predecessor and with plans for a yet further major upgrade, the Missile Segment Enhancement, its operational capability will be doubled again. With a future range of some 300 kilometers, the PAC-3 would be able to intercept and destroy missiles over Chinese and Russian territory.


 The English-language government newspaper China Daily published an article on February 22 called “China circled by chain of US anti-missile systems,” which observed that “Quite a few military experts have noted that Washington’s latest proposed weapon deal with Taiwan is the key part of a US strategic encirclement of China in the East Asian region, and that the missiles could soon have a footprint that extends from Japan to the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.” [4]

The article cites a Chinese air force colonel and military strategist as contending that “China is in a crescent-shaped ring of encirclement. The ring begins in Japan, stretches through nations in the South China Sea to India, and ends in Afghanistan. Washington’s deployment of anti-missile systems around China’s periphery forms a crescent-shaped encirclement.”


 Regular Pentagon military exercises in Mongolia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Cambodia as well as solidification of military ties with the nations of the Indian subcontinent – Pakistan, India and Bangladesh – are further cause for concern in Beijing.


 The China Daily feature also quoted an expert in military affairs at the Institute of Political Science and Law as saying “The US anti-missile system in China’s neighborhood is a replica of its [the U.S.'s] strategy in Eastern Europe against Russia. The Obama administration began to plan for such a system around China after its project in Eastern Europe got suspended.”


 In fact the current U.S. administration has by no means abandoned plans to surround Russia as well as China with a ring of interceptor missile installations and naval deployments.


 Last month’s revelations that Washington is going to station land-based interceptors in Bulgaria and Romania were followed by a report that in addition to the Patriot missile batteries that will be set up in eastern Poland next month “The US is still looking to build missile silos in northern Poland” and, even more alarming, “The US is also interested in building longer-range missile silos near the Poland-Kaliningrad border. These would be capable of shooting down missiles from as far as 5,500 kilometers away….” [5]


 The distance between the capitals of Poland and Iran is less than 4,000 kilometers, so American missiles with a range of 5,500 kilometers are designed for other purposes. They could take in a broad stretch of Russia.


 The above-cited Chinese feature noted in addition that “the ring encircling China can also be expanded at any time in other directions….Washington is hoping to sell India and other Southeast Asian countries the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-3 missile defense system.”


 The U.S. has had Patriot interceptor missiles deployed in Japan, South Korea and in Taiwan even before the planned delivery of 200 more to the third state.


    “Analysts say that China is closely monitoring US-India missile defense cooperation since any integration of India into the US global missile defense system would profoundly affect China’s security.” [6]


On February 24 Russian Lieutenant General Yevgeny Buzhinsky was paraphrased by one of his nation’s main news agencies as stating “China could strengthen its nuclear capability in response to U.S. global missile defense plans.”


 Indicative of what reaction U.S. missile shield deployments in China’s neighborhood could provoke, he said: “At present, China has a very limited nuclear potential, but my recent contacts with Chinese military representatives indicate that if the United States deploys a global missile defense system, in particular in the Far East, China will build up its offensive capability.” [7]


 In response to U.S. insistence on supplying Taiwan with hundreds of Patriot missiles, Blackhawk helicopters and Harpoon missiles, on February 23 the Pentagon announced that China had delivered on its pledge to postpone military contacts with Washington by canceling scheduled exchanges, including “a visit by Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and visits to the U.S. by China’s chief of the general staff, Chen Bingde, and a Chinese regional commander.” [8]


A Russian commentary on March 2 placed the developments in stark perspective. “The differences between the USA and China have gone so far that some time ago Beijing announced that all contacts with Washington in this field would be stopped….The visit to China by Pentagon Chief Robert Gates, which was set for the first half of this year, is also put into question. Besides, bilateral consultations on strategic security were also delayed on Beijing’s initiative.” [9]


Another analysis from the same country added a historical dimension to the burgeoning crisis in U.S.-China relations.


    “This winter has been a cold one for China-US relations. So many serious disagreements between the two countries have not surfaced simultaneously for decades….In the past China and the US avoided taking harsh measures against each other serially, but evidently things have changed beyond recognition over the past several months.” [10]


As mentioned above, the U.S. is implementing plans to replicate the interceptor encirclement of Russia in regards to China. China’s sense of alarm and its government’s response, then, can be expected to parallel those of Russia.


In late February Polish President Lech Kaczynski ratified a Status of Forces Agreement for American troops to be based at the Patriot missile battery near Russia’s Kaliningrad district.


All American and NATO claims to the contrary, “Poland’s former Defense Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and the Polish president himself earlier admitted that they are not concerned about threats from Iran, but they are interested in establishing an ‘American umbrella’ above Poland, thus trying to show that they see Russia as an aggressor and a threat to Poland.”


    “According to the agreement, about 100 American soldiers will service up to eight US Patriot missile launchers” [11] in an installation that “will be equipped with elements allowing it to be integrated with the Polish defense system.” [12]


Early last month General Nikolai Makarov, chief of Russia’s General Staff, warned that American interceptor missile plans jeopardize his nation’s national security and have sabotaged the finalization of a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which has been in limbo since December 5.


Makarov said of the U.S. project, “We view it very negatively, because it could weaken our missile forces.” [13]


Echoing his fears over the fate of START talks, on February 19 Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Washington’s missile project “in the most immediate sense” is negatively influencing negotiations on a replacement to a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. [14]


Five days later Konstantin Kosachev, head of the State Duma committee for international relations, said “If the connection between the strategic arms reduction treaty and missile defense is not exhaustively fixed by the sides in preparing the treaty… this would automatically create obstacles for subsequent ratification of the document in the State Duma and create additional difficulties for further advance[s] in cutting strategic offensive weapons.” [15]


The provocative decisions by the U.S. on missile deployments in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria since the expiration of the START last December lead to no other conclusion than the White House and the Pentagon intend the indefinite postponement if not the aborting of any comprehensive agreement to limit and reduce nuclear arms.


Russia’s permanent representative to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has recently voiced the concern that the U.S. still plans to base anti-ballistic missile facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic [16] in spite of statements by President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates last September 17 that previous plans for both countries are being replaced by “stronger, smarter, and swifter” deployments.


The U.S. has not substituted the missile encirclement of Russia with that of China. It is conducting both simultaneously.


As it is doing so, the Pentagon announced on February 12 that “A U.S. high-powered airborne laser weapon shot down a ballistic missile in the first successful test of a futuristic directed energy weapon, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said….” [17]


A Reuters report of the test launched from a base in California over the Pacific Ocean, one which has been touted as finally realizing the Ronald Reagan administration’s plans for the Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars, described its purpose: “The airborne laser weapon is aimed at…providing the U.S. military with the ability to engage all classes of ballistic missiles at the speed of light while they are in the boost phase of flight.” [18]


 One of weapon’s manufacturers, the Boeing Company, issued a press release for the occasion which said in part: “This experiment marks the first time a laser weapon has engaged and destroyed an in-flight ballistic missile, and the first time that any system has accomplished it in the missile’s boost phase of flight….The laser is the most powerful ever installed on an aircraft….” [19]


 Northrop Grumman, another partner in the project (Lockheed Martin being the third), added: “While ballistic missiles like the one ALTB [Airborne Laser Testbed] destroyed move at speeds of about 4,000 miles [6,500 km] per hour, they are no match for a superheated, high-energy laser beam racing towards it at 670 million mph [one billion kph].” [20]


 The Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency was no less enthusiastic about the results, stating “The revolutionary use of directed energy is very attractive for missile defence, with the potential to attack multiple targets at the speed of light, at a range of hundreds of kilometres….” [21]


The airborne laser weapon is mounted on a modified Boeing 747 commercial airliner. Its potential range is global.


Ten days later it was reported by the U.S. Army that the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico will receive a new laser weapon and “The Army may soon blast missiles out of the sky with a laser beam.” The weapon contains “100-kilowatt lasers that can rapidly heat a target, causing catastrophic events such as warhead explosions or airframe failures.”


 Pentagon officials said it has “successfully worked in the laboratory and on the battlefield and now they want to begin shooting down missiles with it.” [22]


 Airborne laser anti-missile weapons will join the full spectrum of land, sea, air and space interceptor missile components to envelope the world with a system to neutralize other nations’ deterrence capacities and prepare the way for conventional and nuclear first strikes.









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