Daily Archives: December 27, 2014

‘Mobile bomb’: Iranian army tests suicide drone in massive drills

A picture made available on December 25, 2014 by Iranian Jamejam newspaper's website (Jamejam online) shows Iranian Army ground forces launching an Iranian made drone during the "Mohammad Rasoul Allah" military drill in the Oman Sea port city of Bandar Jask in southern Iran

A picture made available on December 25, 2014 by Iranian Jamejam newspaper’s website (Jamejam online) shows Iranian Army ground forces launching an Iranian made drone during the “Mohammad Rasoul Allah” military drill in the Oman Sea port city of Bandar Jask in southern Iran

For the first time Iran’s army has tested a suicide drone able to hit aerial and ground targets, as well as ships, said the army’s chief commander of ground forces amid the third day of massive drills at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.

The unmanned aircraft is “a mobile bomb” that can be used for “hitting aerial and ground targets and can carry out an attack when it identifies a suspicious target,” commander Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told journalists on Saturday.

Local media reports indicated that the drone is called Yasir. It’s a domestically produced combat drone that was unveiled in September.

Yasir is equipped with state-of-art, light cameras for reconnaissance. It can fly for eight hours with a range of 200 kilometers and reach an altitude of 4,500 meters.

The drone was tested as part of a six-day exercise code-named Mohammad Rasoulallah (Mohammad, the Messenger of God) that started on Thursday, involving all branches of Iran’s military.

The second stage of the maneuvers launched in southeast Iran on Friday was led by ground forces and involved the military’s land, air and naval forces.

A picture made available on December 25, 2014 by Iranian Jamejam newspaper’s website (Jamejam online) shows Iranian Army ground forces moving an Iranian made drone during the “Mohammad Rasoul Allah” military drill in the Oman Sea port city of Bandar Jask in southern Iran.

Reports indicated that tanks, F-4 Phantom and Mirage fighter jets, helicopters, missiles and artillery units were deployed in the war games.

The massive drills are part of boosting military capabilities and combat readiness, said Air Force spokesman Brigadier General Hossein Chitforoush.

“In these drills, Iran is putting to the test and drawing on the experience it gained during the eight-year [Iraqi imposed] war,” the top commander told Iranian news television Press TV on Saturday.

The drills mark the first time Iran has organized military maneuvers so far from its coastline, according to the Lebanese Daily Star newspaper. The exercises reportedly cover 2.2 million square kilometers – stretching from the eastern part of the Strait of Hormuz to the Indian Ocean, and also include the southeastern provinces of Hormozgan and Sistan-Baluchistan.

 

 

Advertisements

Crude price drop triggers major layoffs in US oil industry

Thousands of recently highly paid workers have been laid off after the oil price plummeted 50 percent in 2014. At least four American oil-producing states are already facing budget problems due to decreasing oil revenues.The price plunge has affected petroleum production in all oil-extracting countries, including the US.

READ MORE: Putin says US and key oil producers may be equally interested in lower oil

Currently cheap fuel is still believed to be providing an overall boost to the US economy, as consumers can spend less on gasoline and more on shopping and services. But for the American energy sector the future looks less bright. It’s effecting places like Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, the New York Times reports.

US oil experts recall the 1980s oil price downturn, accompanied by economic disasters around the globe and arguably becoming one of the causes of the fall of the Soviet Union. Some experts are positive and say America’s oil-producing states won’t suffer too much because they “diversified their economies.”

READ MORE: Oil producers to lose $1tn if price below $60 – Goldman Sachs

READ MORE: OPEC decision will keep oil prices low & hit Russia, Iran, US – experts

This doesn’t apply to the state of Alaska. According to the NYT, approximately 90 percent of state’s budget is formed from oil revenues. Alaska’s government is considering a 50 percent capital-spending cut for bridges and roads in the face of the oil price drop, with Moody’s, the credit rating service, lowering Alaska’s credit outlook from stable to negative.

The state of Louisiana’s 2015-16 budget is going to be $1.4 billion short, with 162 state government positions already eliminated and more to be discontinued starting from January. Contracts and projects are being either reduced or frozen in state agencies. According to the state’s chief economist Greg Albrecht, for every $1 fall in price of an annual average barrel of oil, Louisiana loses $12 million.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia braces for $39bn deficit, to cut wages due to low oil prices

For Texas, which has a far larger and more diversified economy than Louisiana, the oil price downturn is no good either. In just October and November Texas lost 2,300 oil and gas jobs, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week. Through the last half a year the state has been losing $83 million in potential revenue every day, the Greater Houston Partnership recently reported. They blamed this on crashing price of its West Texas Intermediate crude oil, which has depreciated to $54.73 per barrel this week, from more than $100 six months ago.

READ MORE: $20 oil wouldn’t force production cut – Saudi oil minister

The situation in other oil-extracting states could be even worse. In a study published last year, the Council on Foreign Relations warned the largest job losses caused by sharp decline in oil prices are going to take place in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming, where the number of drilling rigs is decreasing.

READ MORE: Obama: Keystone XL pipeline does not benefit Americans

The US oil industry has showed 50 percent employment growth since the recession officially ended in mid-2009, giving jobs to over 779,000 people as of October 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported. A total of 10 million jobs have been associated with the US oil and gas industry, Mark Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, estimated.

Now according to Tom Runiewicz, a US industry economist at IHS Global Insight, if oil stays around $56 a barrel till the middle of the next year, companies providing services to oil and gas industry could lose 40,000 jobs by the end of 2015, while oil and gas equipment manufacturers could slash up to 6,000 jobs.

READ MORE: Richard Branson: S. Arabia attacking renewable energy with cheaper oil

These workers can earn more than $1,700 a week, much higher than the average $848 a week payment for other workers, the WSJ reported. When experienced workers lose their highly paid jobs, they stop paying their bills.

There are also fears of a house-price slump. Fitch Ratings has already warned that with the price of oil continuing to plummet, home prices in Texas “may be unsustainable.”