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24 Feb 14. India’s Ministry of Defense has deferred a decision on the purchase of 145 ultra light howitzers from the US subsidiary of BAE Systems because of issues relating to offset obligations, said an MoD source, although the program has not been cancelled. The Defense Acquisition Council, the MoD’s top decision-making body, at a Feb.
24 meeting deferred a decision on the howitzer buy because BAE systems wanted six years, instead of four, to meet its offset obligations. According to Indian law, overseas defense companies have to discharge offsets up to 30 percent of the value of the contract. The program had been approved in 2010 but formal agreement is still awaited. Meanwhile, the estimated cost of the 145 guns has risen from about $493m in 2010 to $885m because of inflation. MoD originally selected Singapore Technologies, but that deal was cancelled after charges of alleged corruption. (Source: Defense News)

20 Feb 14. Hamas turns to firearms simulator to save ammo. For the first time since its establishment in 1987, the Palestinian militant group Hamas is using a firearms simulator rather than live ammunition to train its personnel in marksmanship. Israeli newspaper Maariv reported on 16 February that Hamas had made this shift because the group is suffering growing financial pressures due to the Egyptian crackdown on the smuggling tunnels running under the border between the Gaza
Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. Mohammed Khalaf, a senior Hamas commander, confirmed to IHS Jane’s that the simulator was “a creative innovation” developed in response to an ammunition shortage. “It’s an advanced laser shooting system that simulates real weapons and we have integrated it for the AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, M16 and pistols,” he said. “It can be used to train beginners and in requalification. We hope one day we will get an advanced sniper training simulator.” The weapons are fitted with laser devices and a gas system that simulates recoil. The simulator can detect where the laser is pointing as users fire at targets up to 20m away so the computer can show the results of their shooting. It is expected to save around USD20,000 in ammunition per month, according to Hamas sources. While firearms simulators are used by many militaries and security forces around the world, other Palestinian factions see the development as an embarrassing sign of Hamas’ weakness. “If you do not hear the sound of the bullets near your ears and between your feet you are not training,” a senior Palestinian Authority officer told IHS Jane’s. The ammunition shortage in the Gaza Strip has escalated since the Egyptian military overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Since then, Egyptian security forces have conducted an unprecedented crackdown against the smuggling tunnels, causing severe shortages of many goods in the Gaza Strip. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

25 Feb 14. Indian Army test fires Akash surface-to-air missile system. The Indian Army has successfully test launched the Akash surface-to-air missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur, Odisha, India. The launch forms part of a series of trials being conducted in varied engagement modes from the first production model system produced to equip two regiments of the Indian Army. During the trial, the missile successfully engaged and destroyed a receding flying target, a tow body supported by a Lakshya pilotless aircraft at a distance of 19km. Indian Department of Defence R&D secretary and Defence Minister scientific advisor Avinash Chander said that the successful trial demonstrates the continuing excellence of Indian weapon systems. Akash was successfully test fired from the same test range on 21 February, and is scheduled to undergo additional trials in different engagement modes in the future. It has already been inducted into the Indian armed forces. Developed by the DRDO and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) as part of the integrated guided missile

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