Monday, June 2, 2008

Another summary

Because the last week was quite busy, I will only summarize the events of the recent days.

Let’s start off with a brief follow-up of my latest post on the Prithvi-II test-launch on May 23. I referred to the domain-b comment on the confusion about the designation of the missile because of the range of 350km. The answer is quite simple: the three military branches have their own types of the Prithvi. The Air Force version of the Prithvi-II which was inducted in 2004 has a range of 250km. In 2006 the Army got its version, originally with the same range. The missile that was launched now was an Army version with an extended range of up to 350km and capable of carrying a payload of 1,000kg. A DRDO press note said the missile was launched with an improved ‘Aided Inertial Navigation’ and achieved single-digit accuracy reaching close to zero CEP (Circular Error Probable). Newstrack India writes that the Prithvi-III is apparently the naval version of the Prithvi-II missile having 350 km range with a payload of 500kg.

The Business Standard provides some additional information on the latest member of the Agni-family:

The missiles that will run on these technologies will only be announced after the technologies are perfected. Saraswat admits he is working on a 5,000-kilometre range Agni-5 missile, with multiple warheads (MIRVs) that can manoeuvre and send out decoys to confuse enemy anti-missile defences. But the DRDO, he says, will only announce that programme, and ask the government for funding, when all the technologies are in place.
It comes to no surprise that during the course of the last week there were also some news related to the European components of the U.S. missile shield: Vaclav Klaus, the Czech President seems to be weary of too many nice words and diplomacy to soothe Russian concerns. He rather became very bossy and told the Washington Post that the Czech government will make its own decision on the U.S. missile defense shield, based on the country's interests, not on how Russia feels about the matter.

One senior Polish official expressed his view that President George Bush's hopes of sealing agreement to site parts of the Pentagon's missile shield in central Europe before he leaves office are fading fast. He was quoted saying that “Bush promised us a package, but the US is not delivering”. The same official also indicated that Warsaw had decided to wait until a new U.S. administration is installed in January in the hope that would produce a better deal. Poland’s Defense Minister Bogdan Klich mentioned that the United States should grant Poland the same level of aid to modernize its armed forces as it does to other key allies if it wants to site part of its missile defense shield there. Mr. Klich had Pakistan and Egypt in mind. These countries receive major sums in military aid. According to Reuters, U.S. has granted Pakistan US$10 billion since 2001 and Egypt will receive some $200 million this year. Contrasting with these figures, U.S. President George W Bush recently asked Congress for only US$20 million to modernize Poland's armed forces.

Russia came up with its usual barking. Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky told reporters that Russia was thinking about "asymmetrical" steps if the United States deploys missile defense elements in Europe. During his visit to Beijing, President Medvedev and his Chinese counterpart Hu took issue with U.S. missile sites in the Czech Republic and Poland in a joint statement, saying such measures "do not support strategic balance and stability, and harm international efforts to control arms and the nonproliferation process." On the other hand, Moscow expressed its readiness to continue comprehensive consultations with the United States.

At the end two short pieces from the illegal arms trade: a Russian news agency says five men have been convicted of trying to illegally sell anti-aircraft missiles and related weaponry. U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley has announced that four countries in February last year prevented Syria from receiving equipment that could be used to test ballistic missile component. It seems that PSI works – sometimes.

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