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October 27, 2011
Notes from the Pentagon

Rep. J. Randy Forbes has written to Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta requesting a formal Pentagon review of whether a joint venture between General Electric and a Chinese aviation firm will compromise U.S. military technology.

Mr. Forbes, Virginia Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee, stated that GE’s plan to develop hardware and software for integrated modular avionics (IMA) in China for aircraft needs to be checked in detail by the Pentagon's Defense Technology Security Agency (DTSA).

“This IMA technology was developed originally for the U.S. military — specifically, the F-22 and F-35 fifth generation fighter programs — though it is now regulated as dual-use, export-controlled technology,” Mr. Forbes said in the Oct. 17 letter.a “Given [the technology’s] military origin, I am deeply concerned, once in [China], it will wind up aiding the military aviation programs of the People's Liberation Army Air Force, which is even now developing its J-20 fifth-generation fighter that appears intended to threaten U.S. air supremacy in East Asia.”

Mr. Forbes said the Pentagon has so far only conducted an informal review of the deal between GE and the Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC). He urged Mr. Panetta to immediately direct a formal review, which would examine the potential damage to U.S. national security if China diverts the technology involved to its military.

He cited China’s reputation for stealing U.S. intellectual property and technology and its aggressive cyber-espionage.

Additionally, Mr. Forbes asked Mr. Panetta whether the GE deal should be reviewed by the Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

A Pentagon spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

A GE spokeswoman told Inside the Ring that the Obama administration notified the company Oct. 4 that the GE venture with the Aviation Industry Corp. of China to develop aircraft avionics does not require an export license.

“It’s important to understand that our [avionics] technology has no current direct military application, which includes no use on the F-35 or F-22 mentioned in Rep. Forbes letter,” said GE’s Jennifer Villarreal.

A congressional aide said that approval was done without the formal review sought by Mr. Forbes.

GE spokesman Rick Kennedy said earlier that no military technology is involved in the Chinese venture and that the company has taken steps to prevent current or former Chinese military officials from taking part in the deal.

The venture is also under scrutiny in Congress because GE Chairman Jeffrey R. Immelt is the Obama administration’s point man for jobs and competitiveness, raising concerns about possible Pentagon favoritism in not scrutinizing the AVIC deal.

DTSA told Congress last June that its experts were concerned about Chinese data theft and questioned GE’s “self-determination” that no export license is required.

An email to Congress stated that “DTSA opined that there was the potential/possibility for China to exploit civil technologies for use in its own military modernization.”

The House subcommittee chairman who oversees U.S. strategic nuclear forces is threatening to hold up strategic arms cuts outlined in the Obama administration’s New START arms treaty with Russia if funding for U.S. nuclear forces modernization is cut.

Rep. Michael R. Turner, chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said during a speech Tuesday that passage of the START treaty in December 2010 was based on promises that the administration would fully fund an urgently needed program of nuclear-weapons modernization. “It’s clear that New START’s reduction and modernization are a package deal, and as such, if they’re not both implemented, neither should be,” Mr. Turner said at the Heritage Foundation.a Mr. Turner said President Obama promised in letter to the Senate that he would modernize strategic nuclear-delivery systems and bolster key infrastructure.

But the president’s promise is “falling apart” because of cuts to the funding bill for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is facing a 10 percent cut in funding, despite $8 billion that was transferred to it from the Pentagon budget, he said.

Additionally, $2 billion for nuclear modernization was taken from nuclear programs by the Appropriations Committee to use for water projects in members’ states.

The current House version of the defense authorization bill links reductions under New START to execution of the nuclear-modernization plan, Mr. Turner said.

“As the [Nuclear Posture Review] pointed out, it is nuclear modernization that would enable deeper reductions in the stockpile without added risk to national security,” he said.

In other parts of the speech, Mr. Turner issued a sharp critique of the administration’s conciliatory “reset” policy toward Russia.

“I think it’s clear this policy has been a failure, with few successes achieved at disproportionate cost,” he said.

The U.S. military used spy planes and intercepts to locate the Taliban fighter who fired the rocket-propelled grenade that knocked down the CH-47 Aug. 6, killing all onboard, including 17 Navy SEALs.

“We were able to track his movement out of the Tangi Valley up over into Wardak [province] further over. And that’s what ultimately led to his destruction there,” a briefer told Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Colt during his post-crash investigation.

How they got their man is contained among hundreds of pages of documents released by U.S. Central Command and reviewed by Washington Times reporter Rowan Scarborough.

Hours after the shoot-down, the military heard a Taliban commander talking about moving the fighter who fired the RPG from Afghanistan to Pakistan. There, he would be unveiled as part of Taliban propaganda.

Intelligence located the fighter’s vehicle and followed its route until higher-ups gave approval to assassinate him.

He was often too close to civilian areas. But he finally stopped at a compound, a break for trackers that led to the dropping of an extraordinary amount of ordnance to kill one man.

“The individuals got out, moved out into an orchard area, settled into, kind of, a tree line, vegetated area, and we executed kinetic strikes with both F-16s,” the briefer said.

“I think we dropped eight 500-pounders, and then we also had Air Weapons Team - four or eight 500-pounders and then 30 millimeter from the Air Weapons Team [AH-64 Apaches] as well. And then we got positive reflections after that we had killed the shooter and then the guy close to him … . We are absolutely confident that we killed the actual shooter, based off everything we’ve seen.”

The briefer also revealed that a “source” - most likely a spy - was able to attend the funeral.

“So we did have the source take photos of both the commander that was responsible and the shooter,” the briefer told Gen. Colt.

“So the source went in there, had great access, was able to take photos at the funeral.”

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