03 Sep 14. The US military will shift its drone flights in Niger from Niamey to a base further north, allowing Washingon to better track Islamist fighters in the region, a defense official said Tuesday. The United States started drone surveillance flights out of Niger in early 2013 to support French forces fighting Islamist militants in northern Mali. Washington had always intended to move the operation further north and now the details have been worked out to relocate the flights to a base in Agadez, about 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Niamey, said the US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “When we were invited to establish a base, it was agreed at that point that we were gong to start operations in Niamey and later move north,” the defense official told AFP. The northern location will give the unmanned, robotic aircraft easier access to a desert route linking southern Libya and northern Mali, which is used to move arms and Islamist fighters. Plans to fly out of Agadez were first reported by the Washington Post on Tuesday. Officials did not say how many aircraft, either unmanned or manned, would operate from the Agadez airfield. The US Air Force in July put out a request for bids to re-pave the runway at Manu Dayak Airfield in Agadez, saying final funding depended on approval from Niger. (Source: African Armed Forces)
08 Sep 14. Russian Helicopters, a subsidiary of Oboronprom, part of State Corporation Rostec, has launched construction of a new assembly and testing facility at its Reductor-PM plant in Perm. An official ceremony in Perm today was attended by Perm region Governor Viktor Basargin, Russian Helicopters Deputy CEO for Production Andrey Shibitov, Perm region Prime Minister Gennady Tushnolobov, Perm region Minister for Industry, Entrepreneurship and Trade Alexey Chibisov, and Perm city administration head Igor Sapko. On completion, the facility will be the largest of its type in Russia. Construction facilities are currently being put in place at the site, and preparatory groundworks are under way. At today’s official ceremony a plaque was unveiled with the start and end dates of the construction, August 2014 and December 2016. This period will see an advanced 20,000 sq m production facility built to house Reductor-PM’s assembly and testing plant.
05 Sep 14. The Pakistani Navy this week commissioned a new air base intended to move its air assets away from the vulnerable and congested city of Karachi, and to help protect the coast and Pakistan’s maritime territory. The new PNS Siddique Naval Air Base is in Turbat in the southwest province of Balochistan, near the strategic new deepwater port of Gwadar and to the Iranian border. Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Muhammad Asif Sandila was the chief guest at a ceremony Wednesday that marked the base’s official opening. According to the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), “The Aviation Base will strengthen seaward security along the Makran coast and beyond and will also lead to commercial flying activities, which would act as a catalyst for economic development of the Makran division in general and Kech District in particular.” The Navy would not comment on what type of aircraft would be based there.
However, the consensus among analysts is that they are likely to be rotary and fixed-wing patrol types, and at present, at least, this may be all the base is able to support. Analyst Kaiser Tufail, a former air commodore with the Pakistani Air Force, said PNS Siddique is currently unsuitable to base strike aircraft as it is “too far to pay a visit to our neighbors [India].” He noted, however, that Pasni, an air base shared by the Air Force and Navy, is “just 70 kilometers from Turbat.” There have been security concerns about the Navy’s aircraft since the May 2011 attack on PNS Mehran Naval Air Base in Karachi that destroyed a number of aircraft, including two new P-3C Orion patrol planes. The Navy’s Orions are now based in Pasni, but a