Archive for July 1, 2010
Chinese Arctic Expedition
Although it doesn’t border Arctic waters, China is very interested in the High North and is sending a research vessel and ice breaker to Arctic waters this summer, according to an AFP report. Climate change is predicted to cause drastic melting of ice in the Arctic waters, finally opening up the Northwest Passage in coming decades.
Such a passage could cut the shipping time for Chinese goods exported to Europe but control of any sea passage raises sovereignty concerns for the five nations that do border Arctic waters: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the U.S. There’s also the issue of untapped oil and natural gas reserves in the High North — and who owns them. China one of the world’s leading manufacturers and exporters has a near insatiable hunger for oil and other natural resources.
China, already an ad-hoc observer of the Council of the Arctic States, is seeking permanent observer status.
Pakistan Getting Upgraded F-16s
In an effort to shore up Islamabad’s support for the war on terror the U.S. is finally providing upgraded F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.
The first three of 18 Fighting Falcon jets were delivered June 26 to Shabaz Air Base in Pakistan. They were flown by Pakistani pilots who have been training on the sophisticated aircraft at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
The newest F-16s have night attack capability and all weather precision targeting technology. The new jets can drop both smart and dumb bombs. The U.S. hopes the new aircraft will be used to step up attacks on Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds in the tribal areas along the Afghanistan border.
U.S. jet sales to Pakistan were halted to mark American displeasure with Pakistan’s nuclear program. That chilled relations between the two countries until after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Bush administration agreed to sell the new F-16s in 2005. Admiral Mike Mullen, chaiman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says the U.S. is working hard to win back Pakistan’s trust after years of estrangement in the 1990s.
Pakistan is paying $1.4 billion for the 14 new F-16s and $1.3 billion more to upgrade its existing fleet of the fighter bomber.