Month: August 2011

British and French special operatives fighting along Libyan rebels

French President Nicolas Sarkozy left and British Prime Minister David Cameron right

British and French special operatives have been fighting along side Libyan rebels.

French and British operatives have been working with Libyan rebels on their eastern front, where the insurgents scored strategic blows against Moamer Kadhafi’s forces, an AFP journalist discovered on Thursday. The operatives are installed at the rebel command for the eastern front, at the dysfunctional oil refinery in Zuwaytina, about 150 kilometres (93 miles) southwest of the opposition capital Benghazi. They are equipped with telecommunications equipment and housed in two shipping containers, within walking distance of the headquarters of Fawzi Bukatif, commander of the eastern front. He has been working out of a large office with walls covered in maps and satellite photos. There are at least two Frenchmen, and several Britons in mismatched camouflage outfits. In late April, Britain, France, Italy, Egypt and the United States announced that they had sent military advisers to the National Transitional Council, the rebels’ de facto government. Britain’s Defence Minister Liam Fox said Thursday that NATO is contributing intelligence and reconnaissance equipment to the search for Kadhafi but he refused to confirm reports that Britain’s SAS special forces were working with the Libyan rebels to track down Kadhafi. “I can confirm that NATO is providing intelligence and reconnaissance assets to the NTC (National Transitional Council) to help them track down Colonel Kadhafi and other remnants of the regime,” who fled before advancing rebel forces on Tuesday, he told Sky News. The Ministry of Defence said Fox was referring to “various assets such as military planes.” The Daily Telegraph newspaper, quoting defence sources, said SAS members were sent to Libya several weeks ago and played a key role in coordinating the battle for Tripoli. With the majority of the capital now in rebel hands, the SAS had been ordered to switch their focus to hunting down Kadhafi, the Telegraph said. They were wearing civilian clothes and armed with the same type of weapons used by the rebel forces, the paper said. “We never comment about special forces,” Fox said in a separate interview with BBC radio. Asked what role Britain was playing on the ground in Libya, Fox told the BBC: “We have always had some advisors to the NTC (as) we have made clear from the outset, helping them with communications, helping them with logistics, the chain of command and so on. “And we would of course want to continue with those relationships.”

As previously reported before here, U.S., British, Egyptian, French and Italian special operatives have been on the ground in Libya helping the rebels fight against Gadaffi. None of what is reported is new, just a confirmation of actions that were logical from the start of the NATO enforcing the no-fly-zone over Libya.

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Iran secretly aided Libyan rebels

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi

Iran has been secretly helping the Libyan rebels in the fight against Gaddafi in and around Tripoli.

Iran “discreetly” provided humanitarian aid to Libyan rebels before the fall of Tripoli, Jam-e-Jam newspaper quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Sunday as saying.

“We were in touch with many of the rebel groups in Libya before the fall of (Moamer) Kadhafi, and discreetly dispatched three or four food and medical consignments to Benghazi,” Salehi told the daily.

“The head of the National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, sent a letter of thanks to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for having been on their side and helping,” he added.

Since the Libyan uprising erupted in mid-February, Iran has adopted a dual approach — criticising the Kadhafi regime for its violent assaults on the rebels while at the same time condemning NATO’s military intervention.

On Tuesday, Iran “congratulated the Muslim people of Libya” after rebels overran the capital Tripoli, but it has so far distanced itself from officially recognising the NTC.

This is not at all surprising to people who know the politics of the Middle East. Iran and Gadaffi have been at odds with each other for a long time. Gadaffi had blamed numerous uprisings in Libya on Iran. It would be just as unsurprising to learn that the Iranians had been discreetly helping Gaddafi, too. They’re probably playing both sides so they can gain a foothold no matter who wins.

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Royal Moroccan Air Force gets first delivery of advanced F-16’s

F-16 Fighting Falcon

Lockheed Martin has delivered its first pair of F-16’s to the Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF).

The Royal Moroccan Air Force (RMAF) unveiled the first four of 24 Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft in a ceremony at Ben Guerrir Air Base in Morocco. Senior representatives from the Moroccan and U.S.governments and air forces were present for the historic event.

This is Morocco’s first experience with the F-16 so the package being provided by the U.S. government is comprehensive. Morocco will acquire a Block 52 configuration of the F-16C/D aircraft tailored to meet the specific requirements of the RMAF.

The sale includes the aircraft, mission equipment and a support package provided by Lockheed Martin and other U.S. and international contractors. The new aircraft will supplement the RMAF’s existing fleet of fighter aircraft and will contribute to the upgrade and modernization of the RMAF.

“The delivery of these aircraft places Morocco among the very elite group of air forces of the world who operate the advanced multirole F-16,” said Ralph D. Heath, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics business area.

The F-16 is the choice of 25 nations. More than 4,400 aircraft have been delivered worldwide from assembly lines in five countries. The F-16 program has been characterized by unprecedented international cooperation among governments, air forces and aerospace industries. Major upgrades to all F-16 versions are being incorporated to keep the fleet modern and fully supportable over the aircraft’s long service life.

The F-16 was designed as a highly maneuvarable, reliable and lower cost alternative to the very expensive and complex but capable F-15 and Mig 29.
Here is a promotional video of the F-16 by Lockheed Martin.

Though this is part of Morocco’s arms build up, it is also strategic. This investment and purchase of US military equipment is a continuation of relations between Morocco and the U.S.. This past June military exercise Africa Lion took place, Morocco participated in the NATO no-fly-zone over Libya and trade is increasing between both sides. The U.S. and Morocco have had a long and historic relationship. The Kingdom of Morocco was among the first outside powers to recognize America as a state. In fact, the 1787 Treaty of Peace and Friendship is the longest-standing U.S. treaty still in force today. Expect good relations between both nations to continue.

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Namibia orders EC-145 helicopter

EC145

Namibia’s safety and security has ordered a EC-145 helicopter from Eurocopter.

Namibia’s Ministry of Safety and Security has ordered a Eurocopter EC145 to expand the capabilities and reach of the Namibia police’s air wing, the company announced.

The new twin-engine helicopter will complement Namibia’s existing fleet of Eurocopter Ecureuil AS350 B3s in providing comprehensive multi-mission civil protection capabilities.

Manufacture of the rotary-wing aircraft will begin at Eurocopter’s Donauworth facility in Germany, where it will be fitted with airborne law enforcement and rescue equipment for the aircraft’s delivery in September 2012.

“The EC145’s acquisition is part of an evolving modernization program that enables NAMPOL to fulfill its duty in providing civil protection and law enforcement to all Namibians,” said Lt. Gen. Sebastian Haitota Ndeitunga, inspector general of NAMPOL.

NAMPOL will be the first sub-Saharan police force to operate the Eurocopter EC145, which is a top performer in law enforcement and homeland security missions around the globe. Other EC145 operators include London’s Metropolitan Police Authority, the French Gendarmerie and numerous European and U.S. state police forces.

The U.S. Army has ordered 345 EC145s as its new-generation Light Utility Helicopter requirement, which carry the UH-72A designation in its operation with the military service.

“Deployment of the newly acquired EC145 will also grow NAMPOL’s capability and capacity to provide emergency search and rescue, life-saving and vital humanitarian relief support,” said Namibian Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Safety and Security Samuel H. Goagoseb.

The multi-mission EC145 can be flown by one or two pilots and carries up to nine passengers. It is powered by two Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 engines, enabling it to achieve a fast cruise speed of 135 knots and an endurance of up to 3.5 flight hours.

Featuring an advanced night vision goggle-compatible glass cockpit, the EC145 is able to operate in poor visibility conditions, while its digital autopilot allows for either single or dual pilot missions.

The helicopter’s unrefueled range is approximately 422 miles and it operates with a low noise level that is 6.7dB below the international standard for similarly sized helicopters.

“These features, together with its simplified maintenance, make the EC145 the natural choice to augment NAMPOL’s pair of single-engine AS350B3 helicopters, the first of which has been in service since 2009,” said Fabrice Cagnat, chief executive officer of Eurocopter Southern Africa Ltd.

“Together, the EC145 and AS350B3 will provide NAMPOL with unparalleled performance in Namibia — a country that is typified by extreme conditions, including the very hot, dry and dusty conditions in the central plateau and desert regions.”

NAMPOL has contracted with Eurocopter Southern Africa Ltd. to provide EC145 type conversion training for pilots and engineers. This activity will take place at Eurocopter in Germany and at ESAL’s base near Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Nigeria Receive’s First C-130 after PDM

LISBON, Portugal - The ceremonial key to the first of five refurbished C-130H aircraft is handed back to the Nigerian Air Force January 26, 2011 after more than a year in depot maintenance. Seventeenth Air Force (Air Forces Africa) is orchestrating the capacity-building activity with its partner nation, which includes an extensive maintenance process to upgrade their fleet.

Nigeria has received its first C-130 after PDM.

After more than a year of major repairs and maintenance, the U.S. Air Force helped return to operational service the first of five C-130 Hercules aircraft to Nigeria January 21, 2011. Seventeenth Air Force (Air Forces Africa) is orchestrating the capacity-building activity with its partner nation, which includes an extensive maintenance process to reconstitute their fleet. In February 2009, the Nigerian government requested assistance from the U.S. to reconstitute five of their eight C-130H aircraft to support peacekeeping operations on the continent, said Lieutenant Colonel David Mackenzie, 17th AF’s deputy director of the Strategy, Plans, and Programs directorate. The first aircraft then went through an extensive process called Programmed Depot Maintenance (PDM), and was readied to be accepted back into the Nigerian fleet. To help with the process, 17th Airmen joined with a team from the 118th Air National Guard Unit, Tenn, and Warner-Robins Air Logistics Center C-130 Program Office. Together, they partnered with their Nigerian counterparts. “The Nigerians and U.S. military members were very eager to partner up to improve their Air Force, and specifically their C-130s and training aircraft,” Colonel Mackenzie said. “The U.S. crew flew to the depot facility in Lisbon, Portugal, and went over the process to reintegrate the aircraft back in Nigeria’s hands after being gone for more than a year.” The process, he explained, included $9.2 million of periodic depot maintenance, engine overhauls, propeller overhauls, and cockpit and avionics refurbishments. U.S. Air Force members provided the Nigerians a breakdown of what went on during the maintenance process and how to maintain the aircraft afterward. This included upcoming maintenance requirements, preventative maintenance and scheduling, and bookkeeping. “We’re just helping them out with the whole acceptance of an aircraft from PDM, and then how to maintain it once they get home,” said Lieutenant Colonel John Sapp, 118th ANG Stand Evaluations pilot. “We also showed them how to go through a [Functional Check Flight] to make sure that everything is working properly.” U.S. military C-130s go through an extensive PDM process every five years, and with the Nigerians becoming well versed with the practice for their own aircraft, the West African nation gained valuable experience for future PDM deliveries, Colonel Mackenzie explained. Ultimately, a healthy, well-maintained C-130 fleet means increased capacity for Nigeria to take part in peacekeeping operations, humanitarian relief and increased security. “Both sides learned a great deal through this partnership which will help make the following three PDM efforts smoother, more productive and hopefully quicker,” he said. “As a result of this effort, 17th AF and US Africa Command will move forward with plans to help continue the partnership and ensure the Nigerians are able to logistically support their fleet in the years to come.”

The C-130 is a very versatile aircraft capable of a range of missions in both peace time and war. A2A refuelling tanker, gunship, airborne assault, research, aerial firefighting, humanitarian aid, modified bomber and a lot more. Its rugged, capable of landing on short unprepared runway and it fact it has the record for being the largest aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier. There is just about everything the Hercules could do, except air combat. Its used by about 70 nations worldwide. Propellers are more efficient thrust devices and serves the operational profile of the C-130 better. Comparing with the 747, we can say that the Hercules is about half the size. The “new” one must the be the J model, called the Super Hercules, has a newer engine, six bladed propellers, 40% more range, about 20% faster and a shorter take of distance.

Here is a video about the C-130 and its capabilities.

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APS-11 Marines Move from Jungle to Senegal Grasslands

TOUBAKOUTA, Senegal-Corporal Brandon Blackmon of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force, Africa Partnership Station 2011, provides front security for the Marines and Senegalese Commandos of a combat rubber raiding craft as they conduct a beach assault training exercise, recently. The inter-military assault teams were created during the APS 2011 security cooperation partnership, in which U.S. Marines, Senegal Commandos and Nigerian Special Service Group troops train alongside one another to compare military and cultural perspectives.

APS-11 Marines Move from Jungle to Senegal Grasslands.

The Marines of second platoon, Ground Combat Element, Security Cooperation Task Force (SCTF), Africa Partnership Station 2011 recently kicked off the Senegal chapter of APS-11’s military-to-military exchanges along the west African coast. Africa Partnership Station 2011 is a U.S. Africa Command maritime security assistance program that is designed to strengthen participating nations’ maritime security capacity through multilateral collaboration and cross-border cooperation. Marine Corps Forces, Africa is supporting APS-11 with a SCTF based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. Amid countless miles of cashew trees, savannah brush and barren Senegal desert, and together with about 100 Senegalese Commandos and Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service troops, the 45-man platoon is welcoming the close of a rigorous first week of training just outside of town here. As the training regimen picks up pace, it’s apparent to the Marines that cooperation is imperative to the success of the partnership, and is easily achieved even in a culture as different as Senegal’s. “It’s interesting to see how quickly the Senegalese learn the material despite a language barrier,” said Corporal Steven Bray, an armorer attached to second platoon. “It also helps that when we’re not training, we’re still together. We’re trying their food and they’re trying ours, we talk to each other in the evenings and we train with one another all day. It makes for a great partnership,” he added. For the Marines of second platoon, who are mostly combat veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan, a deployment founded on partnership and the exchange of ideas is a welcomed reprieve from previous combat deployments. “On a combat deployment, Marines are often patrolling and engaging in firefights,” said Corporal Brandon Blackmon, an Afghanistan campaign veteran and fire team leader for first squad, second platoon. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to take what we have learned from those experiences and bring them to the Senegalese and Nigerian military to better serve them when they go to combat.” So far, the Marines have provided periods of instruction that included fundamentals of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, intelligence gathering and analysis, foot patrolling, military operations in urban terrain, and maneuver warfare. Primarily focused on land warfare tactics, further classes will include combat marksmanship fundamentals, pistol marksmanship and static target engagement. Likewise, Senegalese and Nigerian troops are bringing forth their knowledge of combat from what they have learned from conflict in areas like the Casamance, the Congo, Darfur, and Cote D’Ivoire. ‘Riverine’ warfare is an amphibious maneuver taught by the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service that encompasses river movement in small craft, embankment landings, shore assaults, withdrawals to the river, and standard operating procedure when receiving enemy contact from shorelines. After only one week, the three nations’ militaries have come together in fostering a dynamic partnership in which Senegalese, Nigerian and Marine forces transition in leading classes and physical training. The underlying interaction between militaries, cultures and allies is what makes partnerships like these worthwhile because it promotes interoperability and fosters regional stability. “This deployment is less about the actual training [tactics, techniques, and procedures] and more about building the relationships between our militaries and between our nations,” said 1st Lieutenant Michael J. Thomas, platoon commander for second platoon and executive officer for the GCE. “The information being exchanged is helping us build a foundation that helps us understand how one another operate. New and innovative ideas are being brought up every day and the sharing of those ideas will help us all grow together,” he added. The SCTF began its deployment in Ghana in March and is slated to continue its follow-on mission at Gabon in June.

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Microsoft to invest $475 million in African software development companies

Microsoft, one of the worlds most known and respected companies is planning on invest in 10 black-owned software development companies throughout South Africa.
Microsoft Corp.’s South African unit will invest R475 million in up to 10 black-owned software development companies as part of its agreement with the government to increase the country’s black majority.Managing Director of the unit, Mteto Nyati, said “We will support these companies over a period of seven years. Our consultants will work with them to put together a package and a business plan.“We will fund whatever is relevant for that particular company to meet its own stated objectives of growth,” he added. This is a big step for the technology giant as it has a global policy of not selling stakes in its units. Since the end of apartheid 17 years ago, the South African government has heavily encouraged companies to sell stakes to black investors to address racial imbalances in the country. As part of Microsoft’s broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) programme, the company was granted permission to put in place alternative empowerment plans. As a result, Microsoft agreed to invest the equivalent of 4 percent of its sales in black-owned enterprises over seven years. Bill Gates’ organisation, which introduced the Windows operating system to the world, will sign deals with four software developers later today – Chillisoft, a developer of software used in the healthcare and manufacturing industries; BUI, a computer-security company; Home Grown Business Integrations, which develops electricity management systems and Maxxor, a producer of mobile phone and web-based applications.
Positive development for the African software development community.  Software development is an extremely important feature which helps a business to work finely with minimum energy. The various business processes in modern times require software development in the best of form. It is software development which allows you to automate your business and increase your efficiency and productivity with less labor. There are a wide range of other benefits which a business process can enjoy with software development in proper place.
Resource requirements for your business are significantly reduced with the help of software development which in turn reduces the cost of running your business. Software development also helps in running your business at the full throttle. It permits you to improve your performance, thereby maximizing your profits. It also works in differentiating your business from your competitors and providing it with greater value.
Although this is a move to counter Google’s expanding plans in Africa, the winners are clearly not just the South African software development community but software developers throughout Africa.
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