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July 30, 2012

News Briefs – July 30, 2012

Mechanical failure blamed in Arizona Harrier crash

Military officials say early findings point to mechanical failure in the crash of a U.S. Marine Corps Harrier attack jet on a training mission in southwestern Arizona.

The AV-8B Harrier went down July 25 afternoon about 15 miles northwest of the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma near the Arizona-California border.

Base officials say the pilot ejected safely. They say he was taken to the Yuma Regional Medical Center for observation and was later released. His name hasn’t been released.

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma officials say the single-seat jet crashed in an unpopulated area, but it was carrying ordnance. They say a cleanup of the crash site was under way July 26.

The Yuma base is used by Marine aviators around the nation for training and is the world’s busiest Marine Corps air station. AP

 

United Kingdom operated U.S. drones over Libya

British Royal Air Force personnel operated U.S. drones over Libya last year in support of the NATO mission there, the Ministry of Defense said July 26.

While the American use of drones in Libya was previously known – a U.S. Predator drone took part in the airstrike that hit a convoy carrying ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi – British officials have insisted that no U.K. drones were involved there or have been used outside of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Defense said July 26 that was still the case, but confirmed that Royal Air Force personnel embedded within a U.S. unit had operated “armed Remotely Piloted Air Systems missions” against Gadhafi’s forces in Libya in 2011.

It did not provide further details on the number of armed drone missions RAF personnel flew or what U.S. unit they were embedded with, but stressed that the U.K. armed forces routinely embed within units of allied nations – and vice versa – through exchange programs.

“There were no and are no” U.K. drones operating outside of Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement. AP

 

Navy chief says Russia wants naval bases abroad

Russia’s navy chief says that Moscow is talking to Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles about housing Russian navy ships.

Vice Admiral Viktor Chirkov said in remarks carried July 27 by the state RIA Novosti news agency that Russia is in talks about setting up maintenance and supply facilities for Russian ships in those countries but wouldn’t give any further details.

Russia’s only existing naval base outside the Soviet Union is located in the Syrian port of Tartus.

Chirkov’s statement marked a sharp about-face for Russia, which closed a naval base at Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay and a spy base in Lourdes on Cuba in the early 2000s during President Vladimir Putin’s first term. Putin, who was re-elected to a third term in March, has vowed to strengthen the Russian military. AP

 

GOP senator holds up vote on Air Force nominee

A Republican senator is blocking a vote on the White House pick for Air Force chief of staff over the service’s response to a widening sex scandal at a Texas base.

In a statement July 27, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he put a hold on the nomination of Gen. Mark Welsh, tapped to replace Gen. Norton Schwartz next month as the head of the Air Force.

“My hold on General Welsh will remain until I feel the Air Force is adequately addressing the unacceptable situation at Lackland and taking corrective steps to reform their training program to prevent this from happening again,” Cornyn said.

Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio is the site for basic training for all Air Force recruits. It has been rocked by scandal stemming from accusations of sexual assault.

One former instructor was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a military jury after he was convicted of rape and sexual assault. Military officials said this week the number of instructors under investigation total 15 and the number of alleged victims has increased by seven to 38.

Lackland has about 500 instructors for some 35,000 airmen who graduate every year. One in five recruits is female, while most instructors are male.

The Senate late July 26 approved several military nominations that had been cleared by the Senate Armed Services Committee July 25 but not the Welsh nomination.

The Hill, a Capitol Hill publication, first reported the Cornyn hold. AP




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