Saudi Arabia gears up

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DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia overtook India to become the world’s biggest weapons importer in 2014, a year when global defence trade rose for the sixth straight year to a record $US64.4 billion, research company IHS said on Sunday.

The growth in supplies was due to expanding demand from emerging economies for military aircraft and rising tensions in the Middle East and Asia Pacific, IHS, a provider of global market and economic information, said.

The United States remained the top defence exporter in 2014, ahead of Russia, France, Britain and Germany, a top-five ranking unchanged from 2013, IHS said in an annual defence trade report.

“Growth in Saudi Arabia has been dramatic and, based on previous orders, these numbers are not going to slow down,” an IHS statement quoted its senior defence analyst Ben Moores as saying.

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Flying an F-35 by thought

Scheuermann

You may remember the movie Firefox, where Clint Eastwoods’ character steals an advanced Russian jet fighter that he can partly control with his thoughts.

Well, it seems reality has caught up with Hollywood.

Arati Prabhakar, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, cited the breakthrough last week at the first annual Future of War conference.

Jan Scheuermann, a quadriplegic and pioneering patient for an experimental Pentagon robotics program, continues to break ground in freeing the mind from the body.

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US Syria policy in tatters after favoured ‘moderate’ rebels disband

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(Al-Nusra Front showing off aid with U.S. logo, US-made BGM-71 TOW missiles and ordinance.)

US policy towards Syria has suffered a new blow with the dissolution of the Hazm movement, its favoured and best-known rebel group – raising tough questions about Washington’s strategy and limiting its future options.

Hazm (“Determination”) announced its demise at the weekend after fierce battles with Jabhat al Nusra (JAN), the al-Qaida-linked group and jihadi rival of the Islamic State (Isis) that is fighting Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.

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Iranian centrifuges

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This week, controversy erupted when the Israeli government allegedly leaked supposed details of the US’s negotiating stance, which included assertions that the US would be willing to let Iran keep 6,500 uranium enrichment centrifuges under a final agreement.

A New York Times report on February 17 stated that the US had offered to let Iran keep 4,500 centrifuges in an offer made last fall, but that “there is now talk of raising that figure to 6,500 centrifuges.”

This isn’t that important, at least according to an anonymous American official that the Times quotes. “They tell part of the story, like how many centrifuges we might consider letting the Iranians hold,” the official told the Times, in apparent reference to the alleged Israeli leaks. “What they don’t tell you is that we only let them have that many centrifuges if they ship most of their fuel out of the country.”

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