News Briefs – June 3, 2019

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Crashed F-16 removed from California warehouse

An F-16 fighter jet has been removed from a Southern California warehouse, two weeks after it crashed into the building southeast of Los Angeles.
KABC-TV on May 31 showed the fuselage and tail of the jet, wrapped in a silver covering, as it was placed on a flatbed trailer.
The Air National Guard jet was on a May 16 training flight at March Air Reserve Base when the pilot reported hydraulic problems and started losing control. The pilot safely ejected but the plane crashed through the roof of a commercial warehouse next to the base and a freeway.
Miraculously, there was no explosion or serious injuries.
Authorities removed and destroyed live ammunition carried by the jet but the plane’s wreckage remained in the building.
The crash remains under investigation. AP
 

Taiwan’s military trains for a Chinese invasion on the beach

Taiwanese tanks and soldiers have fired at simulated Chinese forces in an anti-invasion drill on the island’s coast.
The live-fire drill on May 30 at a beach in southern Taiwan is part of an ongoing annual exercise designed to showcase the military’s capabilities and resolve to repel an attack from across the Taiwan Strait.
China claims the self-governing island as its territory. Taiwan split from China amid a civil war in 1949.
The simulated response to a Chinese landing included assault helicopters, fighter jets and missiles launched at targets in the sea.
The Defense Ministry said the joint army-navy-air force operation tested the island’s combat readiness in the face of the Chinese military threat. AP
 

Japan, Russia accuse each other of military buildups

Russia and Japan have accused each other of military buildups as their foreign and defense ministers met in Tokyo for talks that failed to make progress on decades-long island disputes.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a joint news conference May 30 that Russia was concerned about Japan’s plan to build two land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense systems, while his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, accused Russia of a military buildup on Russian-controlled islands claimed by both countries.
Lavrov brushed off Japan’s criticism, saying his country is only operating in its own territory.
The meetings also included Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.
The island dispute has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. AP
 

Report: NASA’s major projects busting budgets, schedules

NASA’s major projects are busting budgets and schedules like never before, according to a congressional watchdog agency.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported May 30 that NASA’s major projects are more than 27 percent over baseline costs and the average launch delay is 13 months. That’s the largest schedule delay since the GAO began assessing NASA’s major projects 10 years ago.
The still-in-development James Webb Space Telescope is the major offender. The projected launch date for this advanced successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is now 2021, with an estimated $9.6 billion price tag, the GAO noted. Its original target launch date was 2007, with initial cost estimates as low as $1 billion.
NASA’s yet-to-fly mega rocket, the Space Launch System, also faces big cost overruns because of production challenges and, likely, even more launch delays.
On the bright side, the Parker Solar Probe launched last summer and looping ever closer around the sun came in millions under budget and was also on time.
The GAO defines a major project as having at least $250 million in lifetime costs. Altogether, NASA plans to invest $63 billion on the 24 major projects listed in the GAO’s latest report.
The partial government shutdown, which stretched from December to January, was not factored into the report. AP