Drone crash caused by loss of coolant
An Air Force investigative report says a Predator drone crashed in Afghanistan in January because of a loss of engine coolant.
The aircraft and one air-to-ground Hellfire missile were destroyed on impact just outside a fence at Kandahar Air Base. There were no injuries or property damage.
The accident report was released by Air Combat Command at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia May 31.
The Air Force estimates the value of the loss at $4.5 million. Among other things, the accident investigation board president found that a maintainer failed to detect damage on the coolant supply line during an engine inspection.
The drone was operated by the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron, 432d Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. AP
U.S. returns military liaison officers to Pakistan
The Pentagon says that at Pakistan’s request, the U.S. military in Afghanistan has returned two officers to the headquarters of the Pakistani army’s 11th Corps to help coordinate military actions along the Afghan border.
The move is a small step toward improving U.S. relations with Pakistan, which were partially severed last November after an American air attack on the Pakistani side of the border killed 24 members of the Pakistani army.
The U.S. liaison officers were withdrawn after the incident. U.S. trainers also were withdrawn and have not been returned.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, said May 31 that there is still no Pakistani agreement to reopen land routes into Afghanistan that had been used to ferry supplies to American and NATO troops. AP
U.S. tries not to make waves with `Pacific Pivot’
The United States is shifting its military policy to put Asia and the Pacific front-and-center of its strategic priorities.
But in a region rife with disputes and increasingly beholden to China’s economic engine, the Pentagon is being careful its “pivot to the Pacific” doesn’t create too many waves.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told regional defense leaders at a security conference in Singapore that it is only natural for the Asia-Pacific to be in the spotlight.
U.S. officials stress they are not seeking new permanent facilities on foreign shores and instead are looking at a slew of less-threatening and less-expensive deals to rotate troops into existing bases throughout the region, step up joint military maneuvers and push for access to key ports. AP
House OKs veterans’ health care, disability bill
The Republican-controlled House has approved legislation to boost health care spending for veterans and provide more money for record numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans claiming service-related disabilities as they return home.
The vote May 31 night reflected the traditional bipartisan support for veterans in Congress.
Roughly half of the $148 billion measure is for veterans’ pensions and disability payments over which lawmakers have little practical control. That includes a 20 percent, $10.5 billion increase for such payments.
The Associated Press reported this week that 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for service-related injuries. About 1.2 million people are expected to file disability claims next year. That’ on top of a backlog of almost 1 million. AP
New chiefs at Airbus and parent EADS
New chief executives have taken over planemaker Airbus and parent group EADS amid an upturn in the aviation market and efforts to ramp up production on a delayed long-range jet.
Fabrice Bregier is CEO of Airbus as of June 1, the companies said in a statement. He will oversee the A350 XWB wide-body long-range jet program, a rival to Boeing’s 787 that has faced cost overruns and delays.
He replaces Tom Enders, who is now CEO of EADS, a European manufacturing giant with joint German-French management that includes defense and satellite businesses.
Enders inherits the job from Louis Gallois, who sought to make EADS less dependent on Airbus, its main source of revenue. AP