News Briefs – May 13, 2016

Putin says Russian arms industries meet production targets

Russia’s arms industries have met most production goals for new weapons, but some contracts haven’t been fulfilled, President Vladimir Putin said May 12.
Putin, who spoke at a meeting with military officials and defense industry leaders in Sochi, said the military last year received 96 planes, 81 helicopters, 152 air defense systems and 291 radars among other new weapons.
Despite Russia’s economic downturn, the Kremlin has pushed ahead with an ambitious arms modernization program amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.
Putin said that some of last year’s contracts hadn’t been honored and urged officials to analyze the reasons behind the failures, but gave no details. He said that that the government will continue to support defense industries, work to create new jobs and raise salaries.
The meeting was part of a series of conferences Putin has held with the top brass and military industries. Earlier this week, he hailed the performance of Russia’s new weapons in Syria, but said that the campaign has revealed some problems that need to be fixed. He offered no specifics.
On May 12, the president inspected a lineup of new military vehicles, but the military had an awkward moment when Putin wanted to get inside one of them, called Patriot, but the door didn’t open.
A general then tried to open the door for Putin in front of TV cameras, but he pulled the handle off instead. He then successfully opened a back door.
The vehicle’s maker, UAZ, explained the gaffe by saying that the door was locked. AP

U.S., British troops hold joint exercises with Georgia’s army

About 1,300 U.S., British and Georgian troops are conducting joint exercises aimed at training the former Soviet republic’s military for participation in the NATO Response Force.
Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said at the May 11 opening of the two-week exercises that his country would one day become a member of the Western military alliance.
Georgia has 870 troops taking part in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry last week called NATO’s ongoing “exploration” of Georgian territory a “provocative step” aimed at destabilizing the region. The ministry statement noted that unlike last year, when the first such exercises were held, the U.S. forces brought Abrams tanks with them to Georgia.
Georgia responded by saying that Russia’s support for Georgia’s breakaway regions — Abkhazia and South Ossetia — is significantly more provocative. AP

China says U.S. patrols justify defensive deployments

China says U.S. Navy patrols in the South China Sea require it to increase the defense capabilities of the islands it controls in the area.
The Chinese Defense Ministry has condemned the May 10 latest sail-by by the U.S. Navy to reinforce its position that China’s new man-made islands in the strategically vital water body do not enjoy the legal rights of natural islands.
The destroyer USS William P. Lawrence passed within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) of Fiery Cross Reef, the limit of what international law regards as an island’s territorial sea. The reef is now an island with an airstrip, harbor and burgeoning above-ground infrastructure.
Chinese authorities monitored and issued warnings to the U.S. destroyer as it passed. The ministry said in a statement that it may also boost patrols. AP

Danish government recommends buying Lockheed Martin’s F-35

The Danish government says it wants to buy 27 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes in a deal that would be worth at least 20 billion kroner ($3.1 billion).
Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said May 12 the government picked the F-35 by Lockheed Martin over the Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing’s F-18 to replace Denmark’s aging fleet of F-16 fighters.
The purchase — which would be the government’s largest ever — needs to be approved by the 179-seat parliament.
NATO member Denmark would be the 11th country to buy the F-35 jets, which are equipped with radar-evading technology.
The United States plans to spend close to $400 billion to buy nearly 2,500 F-35s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. AP

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