February 23, 2018

News Briefs – February 23, 2018

Pentagon says ‘soon’ on 1st Guantanamo transfer under Trump

The Pentagon will miss a deadline to send a prisoner from Guantanamo home to Saudi Arabia, but an official says the transfer may occur soon.

Ahmed Haza al-Darbi pleaded guilty in 2014 before a military commission at the U.S. base in Cuba to charges that included conspiracy and attacking civilian objects.

He was supposed to be transferred Feb. 20 to a rehabilitation program for former jihadists in Saudi Arabia in exchange for his testimony in two other Guantanamo war crimes cases.

Navy Cmdr. Sarah Higgins said al-Darbi has complied with his plea agreement but that the U.S. is still waiting for “assurances” from the Saudi government. The Pentagon spokeswoman said the Defense Department hopes the transfer will take place soon.

He’d be the first transfer from Guantanamo under President Donald Trump. AP

Czechs to open satellite center to serve intelligence, NATO

The Czech Republic’s army says it is planning to open a new satellite center to serve the country’s military intelligence and NATO.

The center will receive images of the situation on the ground around the globe from satellites, analyze them and provide them for the alliance’s defense planning and the local army’s use, including its foreign missions.

The system known as SATCEN CR is also planned to help the civilian sector in the case of natural disasters.

The military spy agency said on Feb. 20 it should open on July 1 and become fully operational by the end of 2019.

The cost is financed by the Czech Defense Ministry. AP

Failed missile test off of Kauai costs U.S. $130 million

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency spent a total of $130 million on a failed missile test off of Kauai.

A missile failed to intercept an air-dropped intermediate-range target missile during a Jan. 31 demonstration off of Kauai, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Feb. 17.

The missile is meant to be deployed to Navy ships, Japan, Romania and Poland to protect against North Korean and Iranian threats.

The cost of the Raytheon SM-3 Block IIA missile that was still in development was $36 million, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

The cost of the intermediate-range target missile was about $40 million.

It also spent money on Pacific Missile Range Facility use, several radars and sensors and about 350 personnel, the agency said.

“This was a developmental and operational test of a new capability and utilized a missile variant not yet in production,” Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, head of the Missile Defense Agency, said after the test.

A failure review board is investigating why the missile was unable to intercept.

The Raytheon/Kongsberg Navel Strike Missile is a long-range, precision strike weapon capable of reaching a target at distance of up 115 miles, according to published reports.

A separate SM-3 IIA also failed to reach its target in June off Kauai when a sailor on the Pearl Harbor USS John Paul Jones accidentally pushed a button that caused the missile to self-destruct.

That failed test cost $130 million.

Since 2002, the agency has received about $123 billion to develop and deliver ballistic missile defense system, according to a May 2017 U.S. Government Accountability Office report, and is requesting $9.9 billion in 2019. AP

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