News Briefs – September 19, 2016

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Navy launches new littoral combat ship in Wisconsin

The U.S. Navy has launched a new littoral combat ship in Wisconsin.
The future USS Wichita was christened Sept. 17 at the shipyard in Marinette, where it was built. The ship’s sponsor, novelist Kate Lehrer, wife of former “PBS NewsHour” anchor Jim Leher, broke a champagne bottle across the ship’s bow just before launch. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin was keynote speaker.
The ship will undergo additional outfitting and testing at Fincantieri Marinette Marine before its anticipated delivery next year.
The speedy warship is the nation’s 13th littoral combat ship. The team led by defense contractor Lockheed Martin has six Freedom-class ships — which have a steel monohull — under construction in Marinette, Wisc., and is procuring materials for three more.
It’s the third U.S. Navy ship named USS Wichita. AP
 

Pentagon: U.S. troops now operating with Turks in Syria

The Pentagon says U.S. troops for the first time are operating alongside Turkish government forces who are fighting Islamic State militants inside Syria.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said Sept. 16 the American special operations forces are accompanying Turkish troops who are operating with moderate Syrian opposition forces. He said the Americans are providing the same training, advice and other assistance that U.S. forces have been providing to other Syrian groups — such as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces — fighting the Islamic State in northern Syria.
Davis did not say how many U.S. troops are working with the Turks, but others said it was approximately a few dozen.
Davis said the Americans are just south of the Turkish border, between the towns of Jarablus and Ar Rai. AP
 

Military: Pilot error caused deadly Fort Hood chopper crash

Military investigators say pilot error is to blame for an Army helicopter crash at Fort Hood, Texas, that killed all four servicemen on board.
The internal report says the pilot banked too hard while turning the UH-60 Blackhawk during a Nov. 23 training exercise, stalling the helicopter. It lost altitude, the tail hit a tree and the aircraft crashed.
The Killeen Daily Herald says the report, released Sept. 14, concluded weather was not a factor in the crash but that a lack of daylight may have prevented the pilot from seeing obstacles. The report says there is no evidence any of the crew was impaired and maintenance records indicate the helicopter was mechanically sound before the flight.
The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center in Alabama will produce a final report. AP
 

Boeing cuts overtime pay for about 80,000 workers

Boeing officials say overtime pay for salaried employees will be severely limited starting next month in another move to cut costs.
The Seattle Times reports Boeing told managers about the new policy in a memo Sept. 13.
The memo cites Boeing’s highly competitive market and says the company will discontinue paid overtime for U.S.-based salaried employees except in the case of preapproved critically needed work.
The policy goes into effect Oct. 14.
Boeing has cut just shy of 4,000 jobs in Washington State this year.
The company has also reduced business travel, purchases of advertising and supplier costs. AP