Senior IDF source: If Lebanon war scenario becomes reality, artillery will cross border

If conflict were to break out, artillery units will have to accompany maneuvering forces over the border rather than provide supporting fire, as they did last summer.

The IDF held a series of intensive drills around the country in the past week, part of a directive issued by recently appointed Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who placed war training back at the top of the military’s priorities.

One of the exercises took place in the Jordan Valley, where the Artillery Corps 282 Support Unit spent five days training for war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Although the unit of conscripts holds this type of drill annually, this year was different due to the scope and variety of live fire employed, according to a senior Artillery Corps officer who spoke to The Jerusalem Post.

“What is special in our unit is its fusion of a variety of surface- based firepower,” he said. The unit can deploy cannons to strike ground targets, precision- guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, and the Spike [Tamuz] electro-optical fireand- forget missile.

It can also employ a radar battalion that can look far beyond the immediate battle zone, to locate enemies, provide early warning of incoming fire, and pass on target coordinates for return fire in seconds.

All of this activity simulated a full-scale war in southern Lebanon, the source said. Until last week, “my battalions were in Judea and Samaria, doing daily security missions. On Saturday night, they switched to a livefire drill,” he said. Usually, a full-scale drill of this kind comes at the end of a gradually escalating exercise, involving more and more military units. This time around, the source said, the Artillery Corps flipped things around, and started with the biggest drill.

“Together with the Armored Corps’ 7 Brigade, we held two-division exercises. We want to create the most realistic simulation, so this had to involve live fire,” he said. The unit moved from Ma’aleh Efraim to Beit She’an, activating the full range of its fire power – the first time this has happened in a drill, the source said.

Read more » The Jerusalem Post
See more » http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Senior-IDF-source-If-Lebanon-war-scenario-becomes-reality-soldiers-will-cross-border-402491

Russia, China agree to integrate Eurasian Union, Silk Road, sign deals

Russia and China have signed a number of energy, trade and finance deals on Friday aimed at strengthening economic ties. The two countries have multiple mutual projects which “achieved a unity of views on a wide range of issues.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have signed a decree on cooperation in tying the development of the Eurasian Economic Union with the “Silk Road” economic project.

“The integration of the Eurasian Economic Union and Silk Road projects means reaching a new level of partnership and actually implies a common economic space on the continent,” Putin said after the meeting with his Chinese counterpart. President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow on Friday for the 70th anniversary celebration of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

China will also invest $5.8 billion in the construction of the Moscow-Kazan High Speed Railway, the Russian President said. The railway is to be extended to China, connecting the two countries through Kazakhstan. It can become part of the route of the new Silk Road project, which is aimed at tying China with European and Middle Eastern markets. The total cost of the Moscow-Kazan high speed railroad project is $21.4 billion.

Russia’s largest gas producer Gazprom and China’s National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed an agreement on the basic conditions of gas supplies from Russia to China through the Western route. The two companies decided to extend a strategic partnership agreement for five years, according to Gazprom’s CEO Aleksey Miller. The agreement provides for the construction of the first, second and third Altai pipelines.

Sberbank – Russia’s biggest lender – has signed a facility agreement with China’s Development Bank in the amount of $966 million. They also agreed on financing an industrial project by Sberbank to the tune of $256.4 million.

Read more » http://rt.com/business/256877-russia-china-deals-cooperation/#.VU02RKPqB40.facebook

Pakistan helicopter crash kills foreign envoys

An army helicopter has crashed in a mountainous part of northern Pakistan killing six people including the Philippine and Norwegian ambassadors.

It crashed during an emergency landing in the Gilgit-Baltistan territory.

The wives of the Indonesian and Malaysian envoys and two Pakistani pilots also died. They were to attend the opening of a tourism project.

The Pakistani Taliban (TTP) said they were behind the attack, but there is no confirmation of the claim.

Analysis: M Ilyas Khan, BBC News, Islamabad

This is one of the most tragic aviation disasters for the Pakistani military in decades. The last time one of its air crashes killed a foreign diplomat was in 1988 when a C-130, carrying then military ruler Gen Ziaul Haq, US Ambassador Arnold Raphel and several of the army top brass, crashed in southern Pakistan, killing all on board.
The diplomats flying in the ill-fated MI-17 on Friday were headed for a little advertised but extremely exciting inauguration ceremony of a ski chairlift, built in the breathtaking resort of Naltar, in northern Pakistan.
The 180-seat lift was donated by Switzerland and installed by the Pakistan Air Force. Its test run was completed in August, but its formal opening was delayed several times due to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s preoccupations elsewhere.
Today Mr Sharif flew to within 40km of Naltar valley, but just then the news of the crash came and he had to turn back without touching down at the regional airport in Gilgit.

“The helicopter was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile,” a statement emailed by Taliban spokesman Muhammad Khorasani said.

However military spokesman Asim Bajwa said on Twitter that the crash had been caused by a technical fault. The area is not a stronghold of the Taliban.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32653359