11 Mar 15. Airbus Helicopters is in the final stages of talks that could land it a contract worth at least $3bn for the development and production of military and civil helicopters in South Korea, French media said on Wednesday. The Airbus Group division is sole in the running in talks with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the main South Korean procurement consortium, after other contenders Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron and AgustaWestland of the Finmeccanica group were ditched, La Tribune.fr and Les Echos.fr websites said. According to La Tribune.fr, the deal could also involve the export of 600 helicopters to South Korea, which would boost the total value of the contract to $10bn. Airbus Helicopters could not be immediately reached for comment. (Source: Reuters)
11 Mar 15. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that Russia was still arming and training rebel forces in eastern Ukraine and he called for the warring parties to help foreign monitors to reinforce a ceasefire. Asked at a news conference about a U.S. diplomat’s remark that Russian tanks had crossed into Ukraine in recent days, he declined specific comment on that but said: “We … still see Russian presence and strong support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine. We see the delivery of equipment, forces, training. And so Russia is still in eastern Ukraine. “Therefore we call on Russia to withdraw all its forces from eastern Ukraine and to respect the Minsk agreement.” On Tuesday, senior State Department official Victoria Nuland told a U.S. congressional hearing that Russian tanks and artillery had crossed into eastern Ukraine in recent days in breach of a ceasefire deal agreed in Minsk on Feb. 12. Stoltenberg and the top NATO commander, U.S. General Philip Breedlove, told reporters at the alliance’s military headquarters in Belgium that their priority now in Ukraine was to see monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) given the safe and free access and comprehensive information they needed to reinforce the truce. Breedlove said NATO could not say if numbers of combatants and weaponry had changed from estimates before the ceasefire because of the difficulties of monitoring movements. It was positive that men and equipment had moved back from frontlines, he said. “But we’re not sure where they’ve been moved.” Ukraine’s government says rebels have been concentrating armaments in depots near the main eastern city of Donetsk. Stoltenberg said he was concerned that weaponry which was not being monitored could be repositioned for future combat. “Our main message today is that the OSCE needs access,” he said. “What we ask for is both freedom of movement … but also that they get access to necessary information … The monitoring of ceasefire is by no means sufficient today.” (Source: Reuters)
10 Mar 15. China media confirm second aircraft carrier. China has come its closest yet to confirming that is building its second aircraft carrier, as Beijing seeks to extend its military reach amid deepening maritime tensions with neighbouring countries. The People’s Daily, the Communist party mouthpiece, cited media reports in which top officials were quoted confirming the construction of the craft. The ship is reportedly being built in a shipyard in the northeastern city of Dalian, where the country’s first carrier, the Liaoning, was refitted before going into service in 2012. Until now the military has tried to keep the second carrier a secret and at least two reports in Chinese media about the ship have been censored. The officials’ comments first appeared in the Hong Kong Commercial Daily, a Chinese-language newspaper. The report cited Ding Haichun, who was promoted to the position of deputy political commissioner of the Peoples Liberation Army’s Navy in January, as confirming the ship was under construction. Mr Ding could not be reached for comment. China’s defence ministry declined to comment on the reports.