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by Gail Helmer

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Monday November 19, 2001

PC News
Activision To Publish Medieval: Total War
Activision has announced that the company will be publishing Creative Assembly’s Medieval: Total War in 2002. Medieval: Total War allows players to take control of one of twelve world powers through a mixture of trade, diplomacy, resource management and wars of conquest. Featuring an incredibly powerful 3D engine, the game supports real-time 3D battles of more than 10,000 troops and more than 100 unique unit types, including knights, infantry and siege engines, in terrain as varied as deserts, forest, plains and mountains. The full campaign is estimated at 70 hours of gameplay with enormous replay value, and encompasses four centuries of warfare from one of the most brutal periods of history, with campaigns including the Crusades, the marauding Mongol Hordes and the 100 Years War. Multiplayer generals will be able to do battle online with hundreds of maps and multiple game types, including King of the Hill, Siege and Assassin. A comprehensive and easy to use map editor will also ship with the game.

Star Trek: Armada II Ships
Activision and Mad Doc's Star Trek: Armada II has shipped to retail. The game includes a new Tactical View, players rotate the camera 360° and zoom into the action to issue orders from the front line. Players will have over 100 new ship types, weapons fire can now damage different locations and sub-systems on targeted ships. Star Trek: Armada II includes a full complement of multiplayer features, modes and levels. Up to eight players can compete over a LAN and the Internet.

Military News
Northrop Grumman's Next Gen EA-6B Prowler Makes First Flight
Northrop Grumman Corporation's first Increased Capability III EA-6B Prowler aircraft logged a successful 1-hour, 45-minute first flight on Nov. 16. The aircraft is one of two prototypes being modified here by Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector under an approximately $200 million development program for the U.S. Navy's ICAP III evaluation. Engineering was done in Bethpage, N.Y.

"Prowlers will be serving the nation through 2015 and the aircraft to follow it will fly for decades. They all will have ICAP III as their electronic attack weapon," said Philip A. Teel, sector vice president, Airborne Early Warning and Electronic Warfare (AEW&EW) Systems. "The U.S. Navy has worked long and hard with us to bring this complex system to this point. We are proud of what we have accomplished."

Prowlers, operated by the Navy and Marine Corps while also serving the U.S. Air Force, are carrier-based aircraft designed to electronically jam radar and communication systems. Prowlers can also physically destroy those systems using High-speed Antiradiation Missiles.

Current Prowlers jam radar by transmitting electronic signals over broad frequency ranges to "blind" adversary radars operating within each range. ICAP III takes that energy and focuses it on the specific frequency of the threat radar. Significantly, sophisticated software in ICAP III enables the system to change the jamming frequency as quickly as modern radars change theirs to avoid jamming.

Other ICAP III improvements include an integrated communications jamming system, a provision for the Navy's Link 16 data link, and new displays and controls. Plans call for the system to be installed in current fleet EA-6B Prowlers. Initial operational capability for the fleet is slated for 2005. ICAP III capability also forms the baseline for the Department of Defense's (DoD) follow-on airborne electronic attack system of systems. A DoD panel is conducting an Analysis of Alternatives to follow-on candidate systems. The follow-on system will augment and eventually replace EA-6B's in the DoD inventory by 2015.

Two ICAP III test aircraft will go to the Navy's test center at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., for the flight test program. The second test aircraft will fly early next year.

EA-6B Prowler Crashes in Washington State
By Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet Public Affairs FORKS, Wash. (NNS) -- An EA-6B Prowler with three crewmembers, crashed Nov. 15 near Forks, Wash., on the Olympic Peninsula.

The aircraft, assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., was flying a routine training mission, when it went down in an unpopulated area west of the Olympic Mountains.

All three crewmembers on board safely ejected from the aircraft and were recovered by a U.S. Navy helicopter from NAS Whidbey Island and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Port Angeles, Wash. Two crewmembers were returned to NAS Whidbey Island without significant injuries. One crewmember was transported to a local hospital for treatment of a broken limb.

Names of aircrew are being withheld pending notification of family members. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

The EA-6B is a four-seat, all-weather jet aircraft with the primary mission of tactical electronic warfare. The mission of VAQ-129 is to train all Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force aircrew that will fly in the Prowler aircraft.

Europe Over Reliant On USA According To UK Defence
The latest iteration of the UK Government's European defence policy calls for a greater level of co-operation between European Union (EU) member states in developing armed forces capable of reacting to crisis situations both within Europe and beyond. Although NATO remains the prime organisation with responsibility for the defence of its members, and it would be pointless for the EU to duplicate any tasks already covered by NATO, the war in Kosovo did uncover significant cracks in Europe's ability to respond to crises within its own boundaries.

In the case of the conflict in Kosovo, the European nations could not deliver the 50,000 troops required to make a positive impact on the situation sufficiently quickly and US assistance was invaluable. Moreover, during the bombing campaign, only one fifth of the sorties were carried out by European air forces. If such a situation were to recur in the current global landscape, with US and allied troops committed elsewhere - in this case to the war on terrorism - the problems of raising an effective fighting force would be greatly exacerbated.

To counter these difficulties the European nations are working towards strengthened links both in foreign policy and military reactions thereto. The current workings of EU defence directives were initiated, post-Maastricht, by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac in December 1998 leading to a "headline goal" being established by member states at Helsinki in December 1999. These advancements are designed to strengthen the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), which represents the basis for any action by the EU, and as a result lengthen, if not cut, Europe's umbilical cord to the US.

The main advancements outlined by the UK European Defence Policy are as follows:

  • Headline Goal - by 2003 EU member states must be able to deploy military forces of up to fifty to sixty thousand personnel, with air and sea support, within sixty days and sustainable for at least a year.
  • Petersburg Tasks -described as humanitarian and rescue tasks; peacekeeping; combat forces in crisis management role including peacemaking; conflict prevention; peacemaking role between two warring factions.
  • Headline Goal Task Force - military experts from EU capitals and EU Military Staff, in co-operation with NATO experts, have developed a statement of requirement of the forces and capabilities required.
  • Capability Commitment Conference - 20/11/2000 where member states presented their national contributions to meet headline goal requirements and identified a pool of forces from which an EU capability could be rapidly assembled with the approval of relevant national governments.
  • Political and Security Committee (PSC) - comprising of representatives from the 15 EU member states designed to be the focal point for crisis management. As well as military, can include political and diplomatic measures.
  • EU Military Committee (EUMC) - composed of the Chiefs of Defence of the member states to provide military advice and recommendations.
  • EU Military Staff (EUMS) - seconded officers from the member states who represent the source of the EU's military expertise. Would perform early warning, situation assessment, and consideration of strategic options roles, with a view to the Petersburg tasks.
While these advancements within the EU should make Europe more effective in responding to critical defensive situations, the document reiterates that NATO, as the only organisation responsible for collective defence, remains the fundamental cornerstone of European defence. At the Washington Summit in April1999, NATO acknowledged the intentions of the EU in this direction and arrangements are being made to enable the EU to make use of the full resources of NATO. These arrangements are known as "Berlin Plus". (By Henry Wilson, DSD's contributing reporter)

US Congress Gives Final Approval To Aviation Security Bill
The US Congress has given final approval to a far-reaching aviation security bill aimed at restoring confidence in the nation's air transportation system.

The legislation, which was passed on 16 November, will turn over security at all US airports to some 28,000 federal screeners within a year. Aides to President Bush say he will sign it into law swiftly.

The aviation bill has been working its way through Congress for two months, ever since massive shortcomings in the existing security system were exposed when terrorists hijacked four airliners September 11 and crashed three of them into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

The Senate had swiftly and unanimously supported federalising the security function, but House Republican leaders favoured continuation of a private system, though under federal supervision.

Republican proponents of the House bill have argued for weeks that a new federal bureaucracy would be inflexible and ineffective, and its creation could take years, leaving airports vulnerable.

But, eventually, it was bipartisan supporters of the Senate bill who prevailed by insisting that better trained and paid federal employees would do a far better job than private workers screening passengers.

The compromise bill passed in the House by an overwhelming 409-9 margin and by unanimous consent in the Senate. The bill provides for a way out of the federal screening system by allowing five airports to switch back to private screeners on an experimental basis after one year and, after a two-year period, giving the same option to other airports, assuming that the Department of Transportation (DOT) finds the work of private contractors to be satisfactory.

The bill "will test two different approaches to determine which works better in practice," House Republican Majority Whip Tom DeLay said.

One of the key sponsors of the legislation, Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona), said it would have a "major, major impact on the American people ... from a confidence-building point of view."

"This is a historic moment," said House Transportation Committee Republican Chairman Don Young after the vote, calling the legislation "the best security bill this nation has ever had for the flying public."

"Our skies and our airports are going to be a lot of safer," Senate Democratic Majority Leader Tom Daschle said.

The legislation puts the federal government in charge of all airport and airline security. It requires that, within a year, all passenger and baggage screeners will be federal employees. It also requires screeners to be US citizens who are proficient in English and have no criminal record. Under the measure, firing screeners, who are prohibited from striking, will be easier than laying off other federal employees.

The bill establishes a new transportation security agency within the DOT that will be responsible for setting screening standards, training, testing and supervising screeners and performing background checks on screeners and other people with access to secure areas of airports.

Congressional action comes just before the beginning of high season for air travel in the United States. Lawmakers, the administration and industry observers have expressed hope that the measure will boost the confidence of air travelers and give some breathing space to airlines that, together with security firms handling screenings, have been blamed in recent weeks for security lapses.

But increased security comes at a substantial cost. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta says that the security reforms will cost between $2,500 million and $2,600 million. Those costs would be covered in part by way of a passenger surcharge with a limit of $5.00 per one-way trip. The airline industry would contribute $700 million to $1,000 million per year, the amount they currently pay private firms for screening services, Mineta said.

Mineta called the legislation "a major milestone in the creation of a consistent, high-quality, nationwide aviation security force." But, according to experts and security firms, the strict requirements of the bill will make it difficult to implement. Mineta acknowledged the challenge of hiring, training and deploying approximately 28,000 employees within the next 12 months saying "we feel we will have to go on some kind of a wartime footing in order to train these people well."

While the federalisation of the screeners was the most controversial issue and the one area opposed by the president, the legislation also includes a host of changes that members of Congress and aviation experts say will greatly enhance US airport and airline security.

These include:

  • All checked baggage to be screened by the existing equipment within 60 days of enactment and by explosive-detection equipment by the end of 2002;
  • Cockpit doors to be strengthened and locked during flights, equipment detecting and neutralising biological and chemical weapons to be installed at airports, and switches enabling flight crews to notify the pilot of hijacking to be installed in aircraft cabins;
  • The federal air marshal programme to be expanded, federal law enforcement officers stationed at each screening checkpoint, and flight crews to be trained in anti-hijacking techniques;
  • Background checks to be performed on all personnel seeking flying lessons or the use of flight simulators;
  • A crew and passenger list to be submitted by all US and foreign airlines to the US Customs Service before landing.
Other provisions authorize the Department of Transportation to:

  • Enhance the use of computer profiling to screen passengers;
  • Implement technologies that can identify potentially dangerous passengers,
  • Develop a database to allow the cross-checking of names on a watch list of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to identify such dangerous individuals,
  • Conduct background and criminal history checks on all personnel authorised to enter restricted areas of airports,
  • Screen and inspect all individuals and vehicles seeking access to these areas.
The bill also allows airlines to establish "trusted passenger" programmes to accelerate screening of regular passengers and permits pilots to carry guns in the cockpit.

The legislation further limits the legal liability of airlines, aircraft and aircraft engine manufacturers, as well as the owners of the World Trade Centre, in case they are sued for compensation for the deaths and property damage that resulted from the September 11 terrorist attacks. (By Ralph Dannheisser and Andrzej Zwaniecki Washington File Staff Writers)

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