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September 28, 2012

News Briefs – September 28, 2012

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 1,995

As of Sept. 25, 2012, at least 1,995 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

At least 1,657 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

Outside of Afghanistan, the department reports at least 118 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, 12 were the result of hostile action.

The AP count of total OEF casualties outside of Afghanistan is the same as the department’s tally.

The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 17,644 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

 

Vermont group forms in opposition to F-35 project

A group of Vermont residents opposed to basing the Air Force’s new F-35 fighter bomber at Burlington International Airport has organized and hired a lawyer.

James Dumont of Bristol is representing the Stop the F-35 Coalition, made of residents from Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski, Williston and Colchester.

The Burlington Free Press reports Dumont has sent public records requests to the Air Force, Burlington and the airport.

In a letter to the city and airport, Dumont wrote his clients include homeowners who are concerned their property may suffer in value if the F-35 project is approved.

The Air Force is expected to make a decision in November about where to base the planes. AP

 

Maine shipyard cutting 88 jobs

Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, says it will eliminate 88 jobs over the next two weeks to match the workforce with current demand from the Navy.

Spokesman Jim DeMartini said Sept. 24 that the cuts were made in two announcements to employees over the last week or so. The cuts will be made through Oct. 5.

The shipyard is currently building three ships in the new Zumwalt-class before transitioning back to making Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. DeMartini said the cuts are necessary because of the “unfortunate cyclical nature of shipbuilding and balancing needed resources against work in hand.” AP

 

Iran test-fires missiles designed to hit warships

A semi-official Iranian news agency says the military has test-fired four missiles during a military drill in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The report late Sept. 24 by Fars quoted Gen. Ali Fadavi of the powerful Revolutionary Guard as saying the missiles hit a “big target” the size of a warship and sunk it within 50 seconds.

It was the first report of an Iranian military exercise taking place simultaneously and close to U.S.-led joint naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf, including mine-sweeping drills.

The U.S. Navy claims the maneuvers are not directly aimed at Iran, but the West and its regional allies have made clear they would react against attempts by Tehran to carry out threats to try to close critical Gulf oil shipping lanes in retaliation for tighter sanctions. AP

 

China says first aircraft carrier entering service

China says its first aircraft carrier has formally entered service, although it is not expected to take on planes for some time.

The Defense Ministry’s announcement Sept. 25 had been long-expected and was not directly linked to current tensions with Japan over a disputed group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. Still, the ship’s launch underscores China’s ambitions to possess a complete blue water navy able to operate far from its shores.

The carrier is the former Soviet Varyag, which was towed from Ukraine in 1998 minus its engines, weaponry and navigation systems. Christened “Liaoning” after the northeastern province where it is based, the ship began sea trials in August following years of refurbishment.

China is developing at least one type of carrier aircraft based on Russia’s Sukhoi Su-33. AP

 

Sikorsky to close upstate NY plant, cut 570 jobs

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. says it will close its plant in upstate New York where it employs 570 workers who customize military helicopters sold to foreign governments.

The Star-Gazette of Elmira reports that the Stratford, Conn.-based subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. announced Sept. 24 afternoon that cuts in the federal defense budget played a role in the decision to close the company’s military completions center in Big Flats, outside Elmira.

The plant will close at the end of the year. Nearly 400 of its workers were laid off last year. At its peak, the factory employed 1,300.

Sikorsky bought the plant from Schweizer Aircraft Corp. in 2004. Three years later, the company opened a new $15 million, 100,000-square-foot facility near the Elmira Corning Regional Airport. AP

 

Space-junk tracking site set in Marshall Islands

The Air Force says the first radar site in a new system to track satellites and space junk will be built on Kwajalein Island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The Air Force Space Command, based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., said Sept. 25 construction on the new radar station is expected to start in 2013 and take four years, including testing.

No cost estimate was immediately available.

The radar station will be part of the Space Fence system to track objects in Earth orbit and watch for potential collisions and other hazards.

The Air Force monitors about 1,000 active satellites and 20,000 pieces of debris in orbit around the Earth. AP

 

General Dynamics announces lays off in Vermont, Maine

Defense contractor General Dynamics is laying off about 50 employees in Vermont and 30 in Maine, after nearly completing work on special armor for military vehicles and a decline in demand for its guns, company officials said Sept. 25.

The cuts will be to both hourly and salaried employees in administrative, engineering, management and manufacturing support, at the company’s Williston and Saco, Maine, facilities, company communications director Karl Johnson said.

“The company has fulfilled the U.S. Army’s current requirements for reactive armor for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. We will soon complete that program for the Stryker Wheeled Combat Vehicle fleet. And then we’re also experiencing some reduced demand in some of our gun programs,” said Johnson, who’s based at the company headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., where two employees also are being laid off.

General Dynamics produces gun systems for fighter aircraft, ground vehicles and naval vessels as well as crew-served weapons, which must be operated by more than one person.

General Dynamic employs 350 in Vermont, at the Williston Technology Center for General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products, in Jericho and two sites in Burlington. In Maine, the company has 375 workers at Saco Operations.

A majority of the affected employees were notified Sept. 24 and will receive severance packages, Johnson said. The phased layoffs will be complete by Jan. 4. He would not say if more layoffs are expected. AP

 




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