Self-driving coaches and buses plan

first_imgHELLA and ZF are entering into a strategic partnership to develop and market assistance systems and autonomous driving functions for coaches, buses, cars and trucks.The co-operation is on sensor technology, particularly front camera systems, imaging and radar systems.The first joint development project in camera technology will start immediately, with the objective of a market launch in 2020.ZF will strengthen its portfolio as a systems supplier, offering assistance systems and autonomous driving functions. HELLA will drive technological development.last_img

Plaxton Elite-i team coach: Not just for football

A team coach can be an asset that spends a lot of its time idle. That’s not the case for one in East Yorkshire, which is kept busy year-round thanks to a diverse workload and a versatile internal layoutVolvo B11R Plaxton Elite-i team coach one of three Acklams interdeckersTeam coaches: To some operators, they are a key part of their business. To others, they are something to shy away from. But one company in East Yorkshire has such a vehicle that fits in perfectly with the rest of its fleet, in terms of both parentage and workload.Acklams Coaches of Beverley is a loyal Plaxton and Volvo customer, and when it needed a second team coach to add to its existing Neoplan Starliner, it specified a B11R with Elite-i body.It is the third Elite-i to join Acklams’ fleet. The earlier pair are fully seated and they put their high capacity to good use on school trips, concert excursions, cruise work, and carrying supporters of Hull’s professional sports teams.The new coach, however, is to a completely bespoke layout. Although to team specification, it is also PSVAR compliant thanks to the low-floor area. At 13.8m it has a total of 42 seats – against 73 in the two 15m Elite-is – and it was fitted out by AD Coach Systems over a multi-month stay at AD’s Biddulph premises.While it’s largely kept busy in its primary role, downtime in match and training schedules means that Acklams can use the team coach on work that would traditionally be outside the remit of such a vehicle.Immediately after routeone saw it in February, it headed out on a contract for a nearby private school, and it already has a nine-day trip to France planned for the summer. Cruise transfer duties to Southampton are also bread and butter for it thanks to cavernous luggage space.Tested combinationAll of the full-sized coaches bought new by Acklams since 2005 have been Volvo Plaxtons; the Starliner was purchased second-hand. “We did look at other manufacturers before we went for the third B11R Elite-i, but we have diagnostic equipment for Volvos and our engineers are used to them,” says Director Paul Acklam.Rear lounge comes with conference table and two X-Box game consolesThe Swedish chassis have also proved themselves to be man enough for hard work; as an example, Acklams recently acquired a used Plaxton Volvo that was utilised by its former owner on National Express work. Despite having covered a high mileage, it is in excellent condition.Familiarity with Plaxton also played a part in the purchasing decision. Acklams is around 30 miles from the Scarborough factory, which assures a rapid response when needed.Another positive of the Elite-i is its road presence. Paul and his son and fellow Director Alan Acklam believe that that alone generates work.While 15m coaches may be tricky for inexperienced drivers to handle in some situations, that’s not such a problem with the 13.8m Elite-i.30 of Acklams’ staff regularly drive tri-axles, and of particular appeal on the Elite-i is the small lower-deck area. “We’ve no issue with sending any of them on a school run if necessary, but drivers must know how to handle them,” says Alan.Goodies insideFootballers from Hull City FC, and rugby players from Hull FC, Hull Kingston Rovers and Hull Ionians RUFC, all use the Elite-i team coach to travel to away games, and it is also employed to move various academy and youth teams.Unlike some other coaches in its sector, it has been built specifically for the task at hand and it cannot practically be up-seated later in life. It is replete with luxuries, toys and essential fittings for its primary application, and within the luggage space is a generator to power them when parked.“At some stadiums it’s not always possible to get close to a shore supply, so we need the auxiliary power unit,” says Alan. A Webasto coolant heater is also fitted.In the main saloon, the coach has six full-size tables and a further conference-style table in a rear lounge, around which eight seats are positioned. Wireless charging for certain devices is provided and at the front, three smaller tables are present.Most seats in the main saloon around tables; a large kitchen is also fittedNumerous monitors are fitted throughout the coach, and two of those in the rear lounge are connected to X-Box systems. Also there is ‘sky’-style lighting, made up of a twinkling star display.Much of the offside is occupied by a large kitchen and serving area, which is split around the continental door. A sink and coffee machine are part of it, along with various ovens and fridges below, and numerous cupboards.The overhead racks are removed above the kitchen, but elsewhere on the coach, they have aircraft-style doors. All passengers are provided with 240v and USB charging points.Each of the black leather seats has a choice of antimacassars, each with an individual club’s logo embroidered into them.As a result, they must be changed dependent on the team being carried, or removed entirely when on other work.The responseThe Elite-i is not Acklams’ first team coach, but the response from players and officials that have used it has been universally positive.Power is from a Volvo D11K engine rated at 460bhp, and it drives through an I-Shift automated manual gearbox. While the unladen weight at 18,457kg is high, the D11K gives excellent performance and the coach has no problems keeping up with traffic. Fuel consumption is not always a principal concern at this end of the market, but it is thought that the team coach returns around 10mpg.All three of the Elite-is have proved to be useful and versatile members of the Acklams fleet, and neither Alan nor Paul rule out a fourth in the future should work dictate. They have not been entirely without issue, but aftersales support from both Plaxton and Volvo has mitigated any problems, and they are otherwise proving to be reliable.Wireless charging for certain devices is provided at all of the tables“Sometimes we can have all three interdeckers on the same job, with the two 73-seaters carrying supporters and the team coach doing its thing,” says Alan.“As an operator we sometimes overlook it as we see them every day, but the Elite-i is a striking mobile advertising hoarding. If you see a convoy of coaches and one of them is an Elite-i, it stands out.”While the exact price has not been disclosed, an Elite-i to team specification is a major investment.Acklams’ is looked after entirely in-house, and is in the same Elite Travel livery as the other two, creating a unified look.But one of its true appeals is its versatility. Acklams has developed its sports team work over a number of years, and that means that there is plenty to keep its three Elite-is busy during the season.Outside of it, the team coach can be usefully employed on other duties, keeping an expensive asset busy – just as it should be. read more

Volvo sees success with two new coach models

first_imgFirst MCV-bodied Project 523 entry-level model handed over as range-topping 9900 generates businessThe first ‘Project 523’, an MCV-bodied Volvo B11R, was handed overVolvo debuted two coaches that are new to the UK market at EBE and it recorded further sales of both during the show.The first MCV-bodied B11R, one of eight for the operator, was handed over to Golden Tours. Currently known as Project 523, the model has been introduced to capitalise on growing demand for a standard-specification, cost-effective coach.Its official name will be announced shortly and Volvo will hold the model in stock at its Coventry sales centre with retail price starting at £215,000.Meanwhile, the hotly-anticipated super-high 9900 made its first public showing in the UK. It was the centrepiece of Volvo’s stand and is aimed at the top of the market. The first will be delivered to a buyer early in 2019.“It’s very exciting to launch two exceptional new coaches at EBE,” says MD Nick Page. “While they are positioned at opposite ends of the market, both have a huge amount to offer customers in terms of operational performance, safety features, aesthetics and passenger comfort.”Also on Volvo’s stand was an unbodied B8L tri-axle double-decker bus chassis. Volvo is working with bodybuilder partners Alexander Dennis, MCV and Wrightbus to deliver a 100-seat product. It will also unveil a zero-emission double-decker in conjunction with MCV in 2020, it has confirmed.last_img read more

South Shore getting $2.8 million to upgrade 7½ miles of rail

first_img WhatsApp Twitter Twitter Facebook South Shore getting $2.8 million to upgrade 7½ miles of rail Google+ Google+ Facebook By Associated Press – June 18, 2019 0 508 Pinterest Pinterest IndianaLocalNews WhatsApp (“20030504 14 South Shore Line @ Hudson Lake, IN” by David Wilson, CC BY 2.0) MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $2.8 million railroad safety grant to the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad to upgrade 7.5 miles of rail between Michigan City and the city of LaPorte.The project will replace the existing 90-pound track with 115-pound track to ensure the safe transportation of materials and improve the reliability and efficiency of the railroad.The funding announced last week comes from the Department of Transportation’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grant Program. Previous articlePolice defend arrest of 12-year-old in western MichiganNext articleBenton Harbor introduces a new app to help fight crime Associated PressNews from the Associated Press and its network of reporters and publications.last_img read more

Rod Roberson elected Mayor of Elkhart

first_img Twitter Rod Roberson elected Mayor of Elkhart WhatsApp Pinterest Google+ Previous articleJames Mueller elected Mayor of South BendNext articleElection 2019 Results Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney. Facebook WhatsApp IndianaLocalNewsSouth Bend Market Twitter By Jon Zimney – November 5, 2019 1 574 Google+ Facebook Pinterest (Photo supplied/Rod Roberson for Mayor) Rod Roberson (D) was elected Mayor of Elkhart, defeating his Republican challenger and former Elkhart Mayor Dave Miller with 56 percent of the vote, according to the unofficially tally.Roberson is an Elkhart native and spent 16 years on the Elkhart City Council.As a newly-elected Mayor, Roberson promised to build on the city’s foundation of partnerships to foster economic growth and make sure all residents have access to democratic processes, according to his campaign website.Complete Election 2019 ResultsThe following statement was released by the Dave Miller campaign:My good friends, I am sorry to have to deliver this message. Believe me when I say I am much more sorry for those of you who labored on our behalf, those of you who contributed time and money, and those of you who voted for me. I can’t express enough my appreciation to all of you. In a contest like this, there is a winner and loser. I don’t like losing any more than anybody else.Those who cared to vote have spoken.Elections are better if there is a spirited campaign that provides the voters with useful information, contrast, and a choice.I am grateful God chose me to offer that choice. I am grateful to all of you who believed enough in me to enable us to run a strong, positive, visionary, professional campaign. I am proud of our effort, and proud of all of you who gave so much to bring us so close.Though it didn’t turn out as we hoped, I know it will have lasting positive effect on my family and me and hopefully on all of you and our beloved city.The best part about running for office has been making new friends and getting reacquainted with so many old friends. I have had the time of my life. It has re-energized me in a way that I don’t know what else could have.This journey has been wonderfully fun!last_img read more

Cornwall’s little-known slaughter house in Wales

first_imgEmmerling confidently announced that Cornwall, the site of one of the two registered British slaughter houses which meet new EU safety rules for beef production, was in Wales.With that, Emmerling departed for a cabinet job on the very day scientists ruled in favour of the UK — including Wales.last_img

Blair offers Africa pain relief from debt and ‘unfair’ trade

first_imgDave Timms from the World Development Movement said that the report may contain little fresh thinking. He noted that a previous commission chaired by late German chancellor Willy Brandt recommended in 1980 that all rich countries should reach the 0.7% goal by 1985 and a 1% goal by 2000. “There seems to be a ratcheting down of ambitions,” said Timms. [email protected] The British government has decided to make Africa and climate change the two principal themes of its stints heading both the EU and the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised countries this year. As part of those efforts, Blair is to announce the findings of the 17-member Commission for Africa, which he chaired. The report urges rich countries to:l Rally behind a British proposal for an ‘international finance facility’, under which aid pledges would be used as collateral for bonds on the capital markets, with the resulting money used to double development assistance; l increase funding for health systems in Africa by €7.5 billion next year and provide the €2.4bn for work planned by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria;l immediately scrap all “trade-distorting” subsidies for cotton and sugar, as these endanger the livelihoods of small African growers; and,l finance the cancellation of all debts owed to multilateral bodies like the World Bank, diverting the savings into health and education.The report describes corruption as a “systemic problem affecting many African countries”. Civil wars are recognised as a barrier to progress too, with donors called on to provide half the budget – €150 million in 2004-07 – of the African Union’s peacekeeping fund.A source involved in the Commission for Africa said it was trying to find common ground between those who believed greater assistance should go to conflict prevention and resolution in Africa and those who felt the bulk of aid should be for health and education. “Unless we address conflict and security issues we will not get very far,” the source added. “But we also have to address the root cause of conflict – the lack of economic growth and lack of development.”The report is to argue that rich countries meet the target set by the UN in 1970 to devote at least 0.7% of their gross domestic production to development aid. So far Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are the only EU states to have exceeded that goal.last_img read more

Light-touch sheriff

first_img Curriculum Vitae1971: Joins the Christian Democratic Union 1974-79: Student of law and history at the universities of Münster and Freiburg 1983-84: Member of staff to mayors of West Berlin, Richard von Weizsäcker and Eberhard Diepgen 1986: Gains doctorate in law, University of Münster 1985-89: Head of the policy division, Berlin Senate Chancellery 1990: Aide to the prime minister of the last GDR government; member of the delegation negotiating the Unification Treaty 1990-94: State secretary, ministry of culture, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 1994-98: Head of the state chancellery, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania 1999: Minister of state and head of the state chancellery, Saxony 2001-02: Minister of state for finance, Saxony 2002-04: Minister of state for justice, Saxony 2004-05: Minister of state for the interior, Saxony 2005-09: Head of the federal chancellery and federal minister for special tasks 2009-: Federal minister of the interior Fact File Not all that long ago, Thomas de Maizière could pop over to Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof from his office and snack on a late-night döner kebab without anyone recognising him. With his square-edged glasses, greying black hair and unspectacular suits, passers-by might easily have mistaken the 57-year-old Rhinelander for a mathematics professor or civil servant. Angela Merkel’s interior minister and trusted confidant had always prided himself on being one of the men behind the scenes, the kind without whom the machinery of governance could not run – at least, not smoothly. Even as Merkel’s pointman on domestic security – Germany’s sheriff – he managed to remain inconspicuous longer than anyone would have predicted, especially given the likes of his loud, media-conscious predecessors, Otto Schily and Wolfgang Schäuble. Unlike the law-and-order types who usually wear the badge, de Maizière exudes calm from behind a fatherly smile. “I’m the minister for security, not insecurity,” he says. Merkel appointed de Maizière because of his even keel – an asset, she felt, in dealing with a coalition partner prickly about government incursions into the private sphere. And true to that task, de Maizière refrained from sounding the alarm on terrorist threats at the least provocation – a course resented by hardliners in his own party. Thus, when de Maizière’s smile vanished and he did finally put Berlin on high alert last November, no one, not even the government’s most vociferous critics, accused it of crying wolf. German and US intelligence services had intercepted communications that a jihadist attack on Germany was imminent, most probably in downtown Berlin, maybe even on the Reichstag. De Maizière was everywhere on the evening news and talk-shows. The city crawled with machine gun-toting police who scoured train stations, public buses, and interrogated civilians milling around the Brandenburg Gate. The Reichstag was fenced off and security visibly beefed up around government buildings. “There’s cause for concern, but not for hysteria,” said de Maizière, tempered words that speak to his demeanour and the way he defines his job. Though de Maizière may not be a household name in Germany, even now that he is spotted in the Hauptbahnhof, the republic’s insiders have had him on their radars since unification. De Maizière is a scion of Calvinist Huguenots who fled persecution in 17th- century France to find sanctuary across Protestant Europe, not least in Prussia. The de Maizière family seems never to have forgotten its debt to the German state, in whatever form it took at the time. His father was a career officer who served the fighting forces of the Weimar Republic, then the Third Reich, and finally the Federal Republic, rising to inspector-general of the Bundeswehr at the height of the East-West conflict – a position that meant Thomas grew up in West Germany’s Cold-War capital, Bonn. His mother was an artist who steeped her two boys in the fine arts and classics, a cultural education befitting a family of upright and sophisticated Bildungsbürger straight out of a Thomas Mann novel. De Maizière studied law and entered politics through the West German Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the only party of choice for a de Maizière. It was, though, another conservative de Maizière who first grabbed the political spotlight in his generation – when the Berlin Wall fell, Thomas’s first cousin Lothar represented East Germany in the unification negotiations and served as its first, and last, democratically elected minister-president. Thomas acted as his adviser and even recommended a certain Angela Merkel to his cousin as spokesperson. It was her first position of authority and cemented a bond – friendship, even – that persists to this day. Thomas de Maizière’s specialty is getting governments and public bureaucracies to function at their highest capacity, so that they can deliver to citizens what they are supposed to deliver. It was therefore in former East Germany – the site of an enormous, dysfunctional, post-communist bureaucracy – that de Maizière made his career. In the aftermath of the GDR’s collapse, de Maizière was one of the western imports sent over to show the ‘new federal states’ how things are done. He held one ministerial post after another in CDU governments, first in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania along the Baltic Sea and then in Saxony. “He wasn’t one of the westerners who came in thinking he knew everything already,” says Steffen Flath of the Saxony CDU. “He was curious and asked us about our experiences. He really wanted to get to know the place before making decisions.” So at home did the de Maizières – Thomas, his wife, and three teenage sons – feel in Saxony that they settled in a village outside Dresden, where they live today. (Sundays are sacrosanct: a day of church and classical music – Bach and Brahms are de Maizière’s favourites.) De Maizière’s inclinations are liberal, inclinations that are currently being tested by a data-retention law that Germany’s highest court struck down last year. The 2008 legislation, which the CDU sponsored, allowed for the storage of data on telephone calls, text messages, and email traffic for a period of six months. The Christian Democrats want a revamped version of it that de Maizière argues is essential for chasing down terrorists. “On this issue, he puts on a better show that the guys before him,” says the Greens’ security expert Hans-Christian Ströbele, “but he wants the same thing: wide-ranging access to private data that can be used for any purpose”. Even the Christian Democrats’ coalition partners, the Free Democrats, oppose the measures, a source of coalition tension that in 2011 might well force de Maizière out of his corner. In 2005, when the first Merkel government took office, the chancellor-elect called on de Maizière to be her chief of staff, the perfect post for a behind-the-scenes operator. Merkel values de Maizière so highly because of his supreme competence, but also because he poses no threat to her – at least not until recently, when his name was raised as a possible successor to Merkel. Does the modest and soft-spoken perfectionist harbour ambitions for higher office? TV appearances and pressing flesh are not his forte. But if the call comes – and some see it coming – it would be difficult for a de Maizière to say no to his country. last_img read more

The mirage of youth unemployment

first_imgBut the millions of young people who attend university or vocational training programmes are not considered part of the labour force, because they are neither working nor looking for a job. In calculating youth unemployment, therefore, the same number of unemployed individuals is divided by a much smaller number, to reflect the smaller labour force, which makes the unemployment rate look a lot higher.In the example above, let us say that 150 of the 200 workers become full-time university students. Only 50 individuals remain in the labour force. Although the number of unemployed people remains at 20, the unemployment rate quadruples, to 40%. So the perverse result of this way of counting the unemployed is that the more young people who pursue additional education or training, the higher the youth unemployment rate rises.While standard measures exaggerate youth unemployment, they likely understate adult unemployment, because those who have given up their job search are not counted among the unemployed. As the Great Recession drives up the number of such ‘discouraged workers’, adult unemployment rates appear to fall – presenting a distorted picture of reality.Fortunately, there is a better methodology: The youth unemployment ratio – the number of unemployed youth relative to the total population aged 16-24 – is a far more meaningful indicator than the youth unemployment rate. Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, calculates youth unemployment using both methodologies, but only the flawed indicator is widely reported, despite major discrepancies. For example, Spain’s 48.9% youth unemployment rate implies significantly worse conditions for young people than its 19% youth unemployment ratio. Likewise, Greece’s rate is 49.3%, but its ratio is only 13%. And the eurozone-wide rate of 20.8% far exceeds the 8.7% ratio.To be sure, a youth unemployment ratio of 13% or 19% is not grounds for complacency. But, while the eurozone’s youth unemployment rate has increased since 2009, its ratio has remained the same (though both significantly exceed pre-2008 levels).During the 2006 French student protests, France’s 22% youth unemployment rate appeared to compare unfavourably to rates of 11%, 12%, and 13% in the United Kingdom, the US, and Germany, respectively. But the Financial Times showed that only 7.8% of French under-25s were unemployed – about the same ratio as in the other three countries. France simply had a higher percentage of young people who were full-time students. Economists worldwide need better ways to measure economic activity. Relying on GDP growth rates to assess economic health, almost all of them missed the warning signs of the 2008 financial crisis, including an $8 trillion real-estate bubble in the United States, as well as property bubbles in Spain, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. Together with households, financial institutions, investors, and governments, economists were swept up in the financial euphoria that led to excessive risk-taking and severe over-leveraging of banks and households. Even the eurozone’s macroeconomic imbalances largely went unnoticed.Unemployment estimates also are surprisingly misleading – a serious problem, considering that, together with GDP indicators, unemployment drives so much economic-policy debate. Outrageously high youth unemployment – supposedly near 50% in Spain and Greece, and more than 20% in the eurozone as a whole – makes headlines daily. But these numbers result from flawed methodology, making the situation appear far worse than it is.The problem stems from how unemployment is measured: the adult unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed individuals by all individuals in the labour force. So if the labour force comprises 200 workers, and 20 are unemployed, the unemployment rate is 10%. Failing to account for the millions of young people either attending university or in vocational training programmes undermines the unemployment rate’s credibility. And, while some young people use higher education to escape a rocky job market, their choice to build new skills should not negatively impact perceptions of their country’s economic health.Policymakers do, of course, need to address the problem of youth unemployment; but they must also acknowledge that the problem is not as serious as the headlines indicate. Unfortunately, these distorted results have become conventional wisdom – even for respected economists like the Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, who recently invoked the flawed “50% youth unemployment” figure.Thus, four years after the crisis erupted, methods for measuring and assessing economic health remain alarmingly inadequate. As any pilot knows, flying without radar or accurate weather forecasts is likely to end in a crash.Steven Hill is the author of “Europe’s promise: why the European way is the best hope in an insecure age” and “10 steps to repair American democracy”. © Project Syndicate, 2012.last_img read more

A show of strength

first_imgThe outliers here are Latvia and Lithuania, which spend dismally little on defence, and Sweden, which is planning cuts to its already malnourished military. One option is to scrap all mechanised army units. Another is to save the army but give up submarines. Another is to shrink all the services even further, but modernise the remnants. If I were in charge, I’d be frowning, not yawning. Edward Lucas edits the international section of The Economist. “Forgive me if I yawn,” said a senior American official when I asked about Russia’s recent Zapad-13 military exercise. It is true that even the Soviet military was not as mighty as it seemed – “Upper Volta with missiles” was a cruel jibe – and after 1991 the Russian armed forces fell into a pitiful state, fought to a standstill by lightly armed Chechens in 1996. But times are changing. Capabilities are improving fast, as Karlis Neretnieks, a retired Swedish general, has noted in a new paper assessing Zapad. In theory, this was an anti-terrorist drill. But, as he notes, an exercise’s scenario is less important than what really took place. The facts are striking. Zapad was huge: including related exercises elsewhere in Russia, it involved up to 70,000 troops. Moving large numbers of men and machines around is tricky: Russia used to be notably bad at this. In Zapad, it managed the task a lot better. Some 20,000 interior-ministry (MVD) soldiers were involved. Their job is to hunt down enemy special forces. Given how weak NATO’s land power has become, it would depend heavily on special forces in the event of a conflict. Integration with Belarus has improved too, with a joint amphibious landing from hovercraft in Kaliningrad, supported by ship-to-shore bombardment. Russia’s landing capability (for example, in the Baltic states or northern Poland) is an important factor. It has improved. Russia’s air force did well, practising the interception of approaching bombers with a fighter escort (again, nothing to do with anti-terrorist operation, but useful in the event of a conflict in the Baltic). Its UAVs (drones) featured as never before. Russia now has a ‘deep-strike’ capability from its ground-based systems such as the ‘Smerch’ rocket-launcher and Iskander missile (M1983 and SS-26 in NATO-speak). As Neretnieks points out, this is “disturbing” for anyone thinking of using out-of-theatre harbours and airfields to reinforce the Baltic states in the event of crisis – which is just what NATO’s contingency plans indeed depend on. He concludes: “We see a rapidly increasing Russian capability to mount large-scale, complex, military operations in its neighbourhood, co-ordinated with operations in other areas. It would be a mistake to see this just a problem for the Baltic states. It should have implications for most of Russia’s neighbours, and also for other parties interested in the security and stability in the Baltic Sea region.” It is also worth pointing out that this improvement precedes the planned $755 billion (€557bn) decade-long modernisation programme. By 2020, the Russian armed forces will – in theory – have one million active-duty personnel, and lots of new kit: 2,300 tanks, 1,200 helicopters and planes, 50 surface ships, 28 submarines, and 100 satellites. This does not make Russia invincible. It just makes it stronger – and thus requires correspondingly more effort from countries that want to mount a credible defence. As the United States winds down its military presence in Europe, NATO is getting weaker, not stronger. Poland is worried about this. It has started a big military modernisation, based on the (unstated) assumption that it may have to fight alone. The thinking of President Bronislaw Komorowski is that Poland should in future offer less to NATO (especially in missions overseas), and expect less too. last_img read more