News Briefs – December 12, 2018


Kosovo: Prime minister says new army will serve world peace

The prime minister of Kosovo says the army the country expects to have soon will be a modest contributor to creating world peace.
Kosovo’s lawmaker’s are set to vote Dec, 14 on three laws that would transform the national security force into a regular army. The measures are expected to pass the 120-parliament easily.
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said Dec. 10 that the transformation would make Kosovo a provider and not only a beneficiary of peace.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Serbia doesn’t recognize. Serbia’s president has said the new army could jeopardize regional stability and peace.
During the 1998-99 war for independence in Kosovo, Serbia’s bloody crackdown on separatists prompted NATO to launch airstrikes to stop the conflict. AP

Future USS Lyndon B. Johnson floated in dry dock

The last of three stealthy destroyers being built at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, is in the water.
The Navy says it was multi-day process to move the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson to dry dock where it was floated on Dec. 9.
Capt. Kevin Smith, DDG 1000 program manager, said it’s an important milestone as construction shifts to final outfitting and production.
Capt. Jeremy Gray, the prospective commanding officer, said it’s impressive to see the ship afloat, “and we look forward to taking her to sea.”
The first two ships in the class, the USS Zumwalt and the USS Monsoor, already have joined the fleet. The ships are the largest destroyers built for the U.S. Navy. They feature a stealthy design, all-electric propulsion, and new weapon systems. AP

Russia sends 2 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela

The Russian military says two of its nuclear-capable strategic bombers have arrived in Venezuela, a deployment that comes amid soaring Russia-U.S. tensions.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said a pair Tu-160 bombers landed at Maiquetia airport outside Caracas Dec. 10 following a 6,200-mile flight. It didn’t say if the bombers were carrying any weapons.
The Tu-160 is capable of carrying conventional or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles with a range of 3,410-miles.
Such bombers took part in Russia’s campaign in Syria, where they launched the conventionally-armed Kh-101 cruise missiles for the first time in combat.
Russia sent its Tu-160 strategic bombers and a missile cruiser to visit Venezuela in 2008 amid tensions with the U.S. after Russia’s brief war with Georgia. A pair of Tu-160s also visited Venezuela in 2013. AP

Lawsuit filed over fatal Army helicopter crash in Maryland

The widow of an Army specialist killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Maryland last year and two other soldiers who were critically injured are suing Sikorsky Aircraft in Connecticut alleging the helicopter’s tail rotor system was defective.
The lawsuit was filed Dec. 10 in state court in Hartford, Conn., by Spec. Jeremy Tomlin’s wife, Jessica, Capt. Terikazu Onoda and his wife, and Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Nicholas. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages.
The Sikorsky-manufactured Black Hawk crashed in Leonardtown, Md., during a training mission on April 17, 2017.
The lawsuit blames a major tail rotor malfunction. The three-member crew was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va.
A Sikorsky spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit. Connecticut-based Sikorsky is a division of Maryland-based Lockheed Martin. AP

Think tank: Russia emerges as world’s No. 2 arms producer

A Swedish think tank said Dec. 10 that Russia has emerged as the world’s second-largest arms producer after the United States. Russia surpassed Britain, which had held that spot since 2002 and remains Western Europe’s No. 1 arms maker.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in its annual report on the world’s 100 biggest armaments groups that the combined arms sales of Russian companies amounted to $37.7 billion in 2017, an 8.5 percent rise from a year earlier. Russia’s sales accounted for 9.5 percent of a worldwide total of $398.2 billion.
The report includes both domestic and foreign sales around the globe, but doesn’t include Chinese companies because of unreliable statistics, the institute said.
Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher at the institute, said Russian producers of arms and weapon systems have been on a significant growth path since 2011.
“`This is in line with Russia’s increased spending on arms procurement to modernize its armed forces,” Wezeman said.
For the first time in the report’s history, a Russian company — the Moscow-based and state-owned Almaz-Antey that makes advanced air defense systems among other things — was listed among the world’s top 10 weapons companies.
The report noted Russia started an initiative to consolidate its arms industry in 2007, a process that is expected to be completed soon.
Overall, the U.S. continued to dominate the list with 42 companies accounting for 57 percent of total sales, including the world’s largest arms producer, Lockheed Martin.
As a notable development, the report highlighted a 24 percent rise in sales by Turkish arms companies in 2017 from the preceding year. That reflected “Turkey’s ambitions to develop its arms industry to fulfill its growing demand for weapons and become less dependent on foreign suppliers,” senior researcher Pieter Wezeman said. AP