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Apr 2, 2017
Saudi Arabia:
The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Saudi Arabia of TOW 2B (BGM-71F-Series) missiles for an estimated cost of $670 million. The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has requested to purchase up 6,600 TOW 2B missiles and 96 TOW 2B fly-to-buy lot validation missiles. The principal contractor is Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, AZ. The wire-guided, operator-controlled BGM-71 TOW missile family remains a mainstay thanks to modernization, specialization, improved sighting systems, and pre-existing compatibility with a wide range of ground vehicles. In September 2017, Raytheon has been awarded a $31.5 million US Army contract modification for domestic and foreign military sales of the BGM-71 TOW guided anti-tank missile. The contract is scheduled for completion by December 31, 2018 after which the missiles will be delivered to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the US military. This deal comes at a time of heightened geo-political tension in the region and can be seen as a US foreign policy and national security initiative aimed at strengthening the security of one of its most important allies in the Middle East. This sale is in line with US initiatives providing key partners in the region with modern systems that enhance interoperability and increase stability

Turkish Navy’s third MILGEM corvette Burgazada (F-513) got underway from the Istanbul Naval Shipyard earlier this month to start her first sea trials.
TCG Burgazada was launched on June 18, 2016, after starting construction in December 2014.
According to the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), the Ada-class corvette is set to be delivered to the Turkish Navy between June and September this year.
The fourth of a total of 12 planned ships in the class, future TCG Kinali, was launched on July 3, 2017, while the first two, TCG Heybeliada and TCG Buyukada, are already in service.
Construction has also started on the first of the second batch of MILGEM warships. These ships will be classified as frigates instead of corvettes as they will be slightly larger than the first four units.
Ada-class corvettes are designed to embark ASW/ASUW helicopters and are fitted with Harpoon missiles and a 76 mm gun.
Employing the CODAG propulsion system, the 99.5-meter ships are capable of achieving speeds of around 29 knots. They are fitted with the indigenously-developed combat management system GENESİS which is also used on Turkey’s eight G-class frigates.

Iraqi police kill six Islamic State insurgents in Hawija

Iraqi policemen, backed by pro-government forces, killed on Tuesday six Islamic State (IS) militants in Hawija district in Kirkuk, a security source was quoted as saying.

Speaking to Alghad Press, the source said, “A joint force from the Iraqi police and the Tribal Mobilization Forces stormed a secret tunnel used by IS militants between al-Fara and Hosayneya villages in al-Zab area in Hawija.”

“Fierce clashes erupted between the two sides, leaving six IS insurgents killed,” the source pointed out. He noted the operation comes as part of Iraq’s efforts to track down IS cells nationwide.

In October, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that Iraqi troops recaptured Hawija, a main town held by Islamic State in the country.

The town had fallen to IS in June 2014, when the militant group seized control of much of northern and western Iraq and proclaimed the creation of a self-styled “caliphate”.

There, Islamic State’s reign forced thousands to flee to refugee camps, while hundreds had been executed by the group for attempting to escape the area or contacting security forces.

Despite the group’s defeat at its main havens across Iraqi provinces, Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks across Iraq against troops. Security reports indicate that the militant group still poses a threat against stability in the country.

Syria, Frecnh mays send troops to Manjib

France may send troops to Manbij to protect Kurds according the newspaper Le Parisien. President Macron had a meeting with representatives of Kurd (military and civilians) last week and the decision to send troops in this city is under review by the government.

US forces are already in the city
IDF: At least 10 of the 15 killed at Gaza border were members of terror groups
Army publishes list of names, positions of men shot dead during violence at the security fence; Hamas acknowledges that five of them were gunmen from its military wing

The Israeli military on Saturday night identified 10 of the 15 people reported killed during violent protests along the Gaza security fence as members of Palestinian terrorist groups, and published a list of their names and positions in the organizations.

On Friday, some 30,000 Palestinians took part in demonstrations along the Gaza border, during which rioters threw rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops on the other side of the fence, burned tires and scrap wood, sought to breach and damage the security fence, and in one case opened fire at Israeli soldiers.


Boeing has been awarded a contract for the production and delivery of 22 F/A-18E and 6 F/A-18F Super Hornets in support of the government of Kuwait. The contract is valued at $1.16 billion. The contract immediately obligates $275.9 million for long-lead nonrecurring engineering costs, including radar warning receivers and aircraft armament equipment.

The Super Hornets have less than 40% commonality with previous F/A-18A-D versions. The F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets have been enlarged in all dimensions and fitted with 2 extra weapons pylons. The State Department approved the Super Hornet sale to Kuwait in November 2016. At the time, Kuwait was considering a purchase of up to 40 aircraft to replace its current fleet of legacy Hornets, and the department estimated the sale could rack up a value of up to $10.1 billion.

Work will be performed at various sites including Hazelwood, Missouri; Goleta, California and El Segundo, California. Work is expected to be completed in September 2022.

Qatar will buy additional Rafale fighter jets as part of an existing contract. Qatar initially purchased 24 Rafale jets in May 2015 for a total of $7.8 billion. The exercise of the option to purchase 12 additional fighter jets increases the total of the order to 36 aircraft. The deal includes the provision of missiles, pilot training and some 100 mechanics.

The Rafale is a 9.5 – 10.5 tonne aircraft powered by 2 SNECMA M88 jet engines, each generating up to 16,500 pounds thrust with afterburner. Canards are used to improve maneuverability, especially for snap-shots in short-range dogfights, and radar shaping lowers the aircraft’s profile relative to 4th generation competitors like the Mirage 2000 or F-16. A combination of Scan and Track optronics allows the Rafale to supplement its radar-guided missiles with passively-targeted, no-warning attacks on enemy aircraft from beyond visual range. At present, this capability is only duplicated by Russian aircraft.

Qatar so far bought 24 Eurofighter Typhoon, 6 Hawk trainers and F-15QA fighter aircraft.
US, UK soldiers killed in Syria
A United States special forces operator and a British soldier were killed in northwest Syria on 30 March in an apparent improvised explosive device (IED) attack in the flashpoint town of Manbij.

The US Department of Defence (DoD) and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed the death of their personnel the next day.

The DoD named its soldier as Master Sergeant Jonathan J Dunbar, who was “assigned to Headquarters, US Army Special Operations Command”. It said the incident was under investigation.

The MoD identified its soldier as Sergeant Matt Tonroe “from the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment”, but attributed tributes to two unnamed officers rather than members of that unit, fuelling speculation that he was serving with special forces.

The United States involvement in Syria is "coming to a rapid end," but the White House is refusing to say when that end will come despite repeated, public calls by President Donald Trump for U.S. forces there to come home.

"The military mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed," the White House said in a statement Wednesday, using an acronym for the Islamic State (IS) terror group.

"The United States and our partners remain committed to eliminating the small ISIS presence in Syria that our forces have not already eradicated," it continued. "We will continue to consult with our allies and friends regarding future plans."

The statement, issued a day after Trump said, "I want to bring our troops back home," comes after what multiple sources have described as an "all-hands" national security meeting on Syria at the White House Tuesday that included Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford.

It also comes after phone calls between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prior to the statement, U.S. military officials had been awaiting possible new marching orders for the country's involvement in Syria.
More here=
Exercise Alligator Dagger Cancelled
DJIBOUTI (NNS) -- U.S. air operations in Djibouti are on hold and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command has cancelled the remainder of exercise Alligator Dagger in response to two separate aviation incidents in Djibouti on April 3, 2018.

First, an AV-8B Harrier from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) crashed at Djibouti Ambouli International Airport at approximately 4:10 p.m. local time. The pilot ejected and was evaluated and released by the expeditionary medical facility at Camp Lemonnier.

In a separate incident, a Marine CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter from the 26th MEU suffered structural damage during a landing at an approved exercise landing zone at Arta Beach, Djibouti, at approximately 6:40 p.m. local time. The aircrew were not injured during the landing and the helicopter has remained at the landing site pending additional assessment.

Alligator Dagger is a routine, scheduled training event involving U.S. personnel and operations in the vicinity of Djibouti and Arta Beach Range. Both incidents are currently ...more

New Royal Navy operations hub opens in Gulf
Britain has cemented its enhanced and permanent presence in the Gulf with the opening of the United Kingdom Naval Support Facility at a ceremony at Mina Salman port in Bahrain today.

The Naval Support Facility will play a central role in the UK's ability to operate in the region, and will be the hub of the Royal Navy's operations in the Gulf, Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

Gavin Williamson Defence Secretary said: "Our Armed Forces are the face of Global Britain and our presence in Bahrain will play a vital role in keeping Britain safe as well as underpinning security in the Gulf."

"Britain is a major player on the world stage and this new Naval Support Facility will help us tackle the growing threats to our nation wherever they are across the globe and protecting our way of life."

The facility will provide an enduring, self-sufficient operating base capable of meeting the needs of any British warship operating in the region including Britain's new aircraft carriers ...more
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – 155mm M109A6 Paladin Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer System
WASHINGTON, Apr. 5, 2018 -- The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Saudi Arabia of 155mm M109A5/A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer structures for conversion to M109A6 Paladin Howitzer systems for an estimated cost of $1.31 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of Saudi Arabia has requested a possible sale of one hundred and eighty (180) 155mm M109A5/A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer structures for conversion to one hundred and seventy-seven (177) 155mm M109A6 Paladin Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer systems; three (3) Fire Support Combined Arms Tactical Trainers (FSCATT) static training devices; one hundred and eighty (180) M2 HB .50 Cal Machine Guns; and eight (8) Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems (AFATDS). Also included are M109A5/A6 overhaul, conversion and refurbishment services; Special Tools and Test Equipment; Basic Issue Items (BII); Driver's Vision Enhancer (DVE) Wide system; Program Management Support; Verification Testing; System Technical Support; Transportation; spare and repair parts; communications equipment; personnel training and training equipment; tool and test equipment; repair and return; publications and technical documentation; Quality Assurance ...more

Friends and relatives of the contractors suspect Moscow is using the private fighters in Syria because that way it can put more boots on the ground without risking regular soldiers, whose deaths have to be accounted for.

Well this is common place, private contractors operate wherever they are needed , that is their business, however the question really is "Are they really Private Contractors?" I doubt they are and agree that this is just another clandestine move by Putin to assist Assad and when all the smoke clears have a foot hold in the region.
Trump Blames Putin, Iran for Syrian Chemical Attack, Vowing 'Big Price to Pay'
U.S. President Donald Trump blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iran on Sunday for a "mindless chemical attack" in Syria that killed at least 40 people, vowing there would be a "big price to pay."

In a rare direct condemnation of the Russian leader, Trump declared, "President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible" for their support of "Animal Assad," Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Big price to pay," Trump said in one of a string of Twitter comments. "Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!"

Trump did not say how the U.S. might respond. But Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser Thomas Bossert told ABC News, "I wouldn't take anything off the table," leaving open the possibility of a new missile strike like the one Trump ordered a year ago after another Syrian chemical weapons attack.

The United Nations Security Council will meet Monday about the alleged attack, after nine countries demanded an urgent session. The European Union said "evidence points toward yet another chemical attack" by the Syrian regime.

Trump described the area where the "atrocity" occurred in Douma near the Syrian capital, Damascus, as "in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world."


Security Council Meeting Called Over Reported Chemical Attack In Syria

A reported chemical attack in Syria's rebel-held city of Douma has sparked international outrage, with the United States, Britain, France, and six other UN Security Council members calling for an emergency meeting that is expected to take place on April 9.

U.S. President Donald Trump condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian, and Iran after what he described as a "mindless CHEMICAL attack" in Syria on April 7 that left "many dead, including women and children."

But Russia, Syria, and Iran rejected as a "fabrication" the reports that more than 100 people have died from a chlorine gas attack on Douma, a rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta that is besieged by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's Russian and Iranian-backed forces.

As condemnation poured in from around the world, the Reuters news agency reported that a deal was reached on April 8 between Russia's Defense Ministry and Syria's opposition for the evacuation of rebel fighters from Douma. Under the deal, opposition fighters would be allowed to go to opposition-held territory while Russian military police would be the first allowed to enter Douma. It was not immediately clear when the deal was meant to be implemented.

There was no word from Moscow about if or when Russia would allow independent chemical weapons inspectors a chance to investigate Moscow's claim that there was no chemical attack on Douma.
Trump has demanded that international inspectors and emergency medical workers be given immediate access to the besieged city, saying Assad's forces were preventing access to Douma by emergency workers and international investigators.

"President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price to pay," Trump wrote on Twitter post on April 8. "Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!"

Syria, Russia Say Israel Struck Central Syrian Air Base

Syria and Russia say two Israeli war planes operating in Lebanese air space carried out an attack early Monday on an air base in central Syria.

Israel's military did not comment on the strikes against the T4 base in Homs province.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 14 people were killed, including Iranian forces.

In February, Israel accused Iranian forces of using the same site to send a drone to Israeli territory. It responded by attacking Syrian air defense and Iranian military targets within Syria, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to "continue to harm anyone who tries to harm us."

Initial Syrian state media reports Monday blamed the United States, which along with France denied responsibility.

"However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable," Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood said in a statement.

Syria has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons throughout the conflict that began in 2011, including the most recent suspected chemical attack Saturday in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus that killed at least 40 people ...MORE
Trump Says Putin 'May' Bear Responsibility For Syria Deaths, Promises 'Major Decisions' Soon
U.S. President Donald Trump says he will make "major decisions" on Syrian in the "next 24 to 48 hours" in response to a suspected chemical attack, as calls increased for an international response to the crisis and the UN Security Council gathered for an emergency meeting on April 9.

Speaking at the start of a White House meeting that included military leaders and his new national security adviser, John Bolton, Trump said Russian President Vladimir Putin "may" bear responsibility for the "heinous attack on innocent" Syrians in the rebel-held town of Douma, where at least 40 people were reportedly killed. ...MORE

UN Security Council Meets After Alleged Chemical Attack in Syria

The UN Security Council met on Monday to discuss the latest security developments in Syria, in particular the alleged chemical attack in Douma and the airstrikes that followed.

The meeting was called to bring attention to local, national and international groups already engaged in armed confrontations or at risk of escalating confrontations, said Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy to Syria.

"Recent developments carry more than ever before" the danger of triggering the multiple "fault lines in the Middle East," which could lead to "absolutely devastating consequences, which are difficult to even imagine," the official said, underscoring the possibility that the war in Syria may spiral into a larger international security crisis.

Regarding the alleged chemical gas attack over the weekend in the country, "The United Nations is unable to independently verify or attribute responsibility for this attack, but we call on all parties to show utmost restraint and avoid any further escalation or confrontation," de Mistura said. ...MORE
Trump On Syria: 'Get Ready Russia' Because Missiles 'Will Be Coming'
U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested a missile strike on Syria may be imminent, issuing a tweet warning Syrian government ally Russia that it should "get ready" because missiles "will be coming."

In the tweet on April 11, Trump sharply criticized Russia for backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, accusing Moscow of supporting an "animal " who kills his own people "and enjoys it."

Trump's tweet referred to recent warnings from Russian military officials and diplomats that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launch vehicles -- warships, aircraft, or otherwise -- would be targeted.

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria," Trump wrote. "Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!' You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

That was clearly a reference to Assad, whom Trump has blamed for a suspected poison-gas attack that aid groups and emergency workers say killed dozens of civilians in the rebel-held town of Douma outside Damascus on April 7. ...MORE

Western Allies Offer Support for US to Strike at Syria, With Conditions
America's allies are offering to join a possible military response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. But they're urging Washington to avoid swift retaliation, saying that before a reprisal is launched, more evidence is needed that Syria was behind the chemical attack.

In very direct terms, U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Twitter Wednesday that a military response was coming:

Russian officials were quick to respond, saying if there was an American strike, then Russia would shoot down the missiles and target the positions from where they were launched.

"Smart missiles should fly toward terrorists, not the legal government that has been fighting international terrorism for several years on its territory," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova remarked in a Facebook post.

Amid the heated social media exchange with threats and counterwarnings, all raising the stakes of a military confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, Britain, France and Australia offered backing for a U.S. missile strike, but they weighted their backing with caveats. ...MORE

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