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Ukraine May Host US Radars

File photo of the US Cobra Dane radar.
By Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Dec 12, 2005
Russian defense experts warned this week that Ukraine could retaliate against a major price hike on their Russian gas imports by letting the United States use its early warning radar bases for ballistic missile defense.

The Russian military establishment is taking very seriously the possibility that strongly pro-American Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko could dramatically tilt the balance of global strategic power by giving the United States an advance radar base in the historic former Russian naval fortress of Sevastopol on the Black Sea.

An article published in the Moscow newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta Monday cited several military sources indicating that Ukraine was willing to give U.S. experts access to its early-warning radar facilities in Sevastopol and Mukachevo in western Ukraine. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has permitted Russia the sole use of the old Soviet facilities in both centers.

Several Ukrainian sources told the official RIA Novosti news agency that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Yushchenko already discussed this issue during their meeting in Kiev Dec. 6.

Col. Gen. Volter Kraskovsky, commander of Russia's missile defense troops from 1986 to 1991, told RIA Novosti that the Ukrainian-based radars could certainly be used as part of extended U.S. ABM warning systems.

Kraskovsky said U.S. access to the Sevastopol and Mukachevo radars could significantly damage Russia's missile defenses in the direction of central and southern Europe, and towards the Mediterranean.

Russia is raising the price of its natural gas exports to Ukraine from the current level of $50 per 1,000 cubic meters to the price it charges European Union nations, $160 per 1,000 cubic meters.

RIA Novosti said Yushchenko could also retaliate against the gas price hike by refusing to sign a recently negotiated agreement with Russia to extend the operation of its 15P118M missile launchers for Russia's old but still formidable RS-20 heavy ballistic missiles, known in the West as the SS-18 Satan. Under the agreement, Ukraine agreed to assist Russia in maintaining the systems that have been on combat duty for the past 15 years, for another 10-15 years.

Without that agreement, Russia will have to decommission its existing SS-18s and replace them with new but much more expensive Topol-M ICBMs at an estimated cost of $3 billion-$4 billion, RIA Novosti said.

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Lockheed wins $149.2 million BMD airship contract

Akron OH (SPX) Dec 15 - Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors has received a $149.2 million contract to build and demonstrate the technical feasibility and military utility of a prototype new High Altitude Airship (HAA), Defense Industry Daily reported Monday.

The unmanned HAA will be a 500-foot-long, unmanned, radar-carrying surveillance blimp, or non-rigid, inflatable airship designed to detect and track incoming ballistic missiles as they approach U.S. coastal regions.

The blimp would hover above the jet stream at an altitude of 65,000 feet for months at a time and will also have the ability to detect low-flying missiles that may have slipped underneath ground-based radars, DID said. Once operational, it could prove an important early-detection system and also serve as a weather surveyor and telecom relay.

DID said Lockheed Martin planned to develop advanced fuel cells capable of delivering up to 500 kilowatts to power the proposed airship. The HAA would also require an aerodynamic design and a control system to help keep it steady amid the high winds at such altitudes without consuming excessive power.

Other technical challenges will include dealing with the heating and cooling effects of day and night on the helium in the blimp at such altitudes and developing new materials for the airship's skin that could withstand extreme ultraviolet radiation at high altitudes for extended periods without becoming brittle.

The airship prototype will be required to have the capability of remaining on station for a month at a time with a minimum payload capacity of 500 pounds with 3 kilowatts of power. Completion of the HAA prototype is expected by November 2010, DID said.

The Missile Defense Agency eventually plans to deploy up to 10 blimps to provide overlapping coverage of U.S. coastal regions.

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USN plans Hawkeye radar boost for BMD

San Diego CA (SPX) Dec 15 - The U.S. Navy and the contractor team of Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and L-3 Communications' Randtron Antenna Systems are developing a new radar and electronically scanned array (ESA) antenna for a new Hawkeye, designated the E-2D. The data linking is designed to boost the aircraft's advanced radar capabilities for its future role in ballistic missile defense.

The development contract for the E-2D is worth $1.9 billion, including the ESA antenna with advanced sensor and communications packages.

"We're experimenting with Voice Over Internet Protocol and HF (high-frequency) chat," U.S. Navy Capt. Steve Rorke, E-2C foreign military sales officer, defensenews.com reported Monday.

The dual radars will allow the aircraft to scan the air and surface simultaneously and send the pictures to other aircraft or assets as part of a plan to make the Hawkeye part of a decentralized and open-architecture network, with each platform able to plug in and share information with another, Rorke said.

"We want it to be like the Internet," he said. "We don't care where the data comes from. We just want it."

The $1.3 billion Hawkeye 2000 production run of 21 planes started in 1999. International buyers include France, Taiwan, Japan and Egypt, the web site said.

Source: United Press International

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