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October 26, 2012

News Briefs – October 26, 2012

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,012

As of Oct. 23, 2012, at least 2,012 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 1,679 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, 11 were the result of hostile action.

The AP count of total OEF casualties outside of Afghanistan is four more than the department’s tally.

The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 17,790 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

Corps of Engineers to waive fees on Veterans Day

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it will waive day-use fees for veterans, active and reserve component service members and their families at more than 2,400 Corps-operated recreation areas nationwide on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

The day-use fee waiver requires only verbal confirmation of service. It covers fees for boat launch ramps and swimming beaches but does not apply to camping and related services or fees for specialized facilities like group picnic shelters.

The Corps does not charge an entrance fee to its parks. Other agencies that manage recreation areas on Corps land are encouraged to offer the Veterans Day waiver of fees in areas they manage. AP

Military plans new hypersonic flight after failure

The U.S. military said Oct. 24 it is planning another unmanned hypersonic flight in the wake of a failed attempt.

The flight, scheduled for next spring or summer, would be the fourth test of the experimental X-51A Waverider designed to reach Mach 6, or 3,600 mph, after being dropped by a B-52 bomber.

The Air Force has been studying hypersonic technologies with the hopes of deploying fast strikes around the globe.

Two months ago, a problem with a control fin during the third flight caused an X-51A to lose balance and crash off the Southern California coast.

Though the aircraft successfully detached from the B-52 and ignited its rocket booster to fly to Mach 4.8, it became unstable and did not activate its exotic scramjet engine – considered the key feature of the test.

An investigation ruled out software or power failures. Signs point to a “random vibration issue,” though more work is needed to pinpoint the exact cause, said program manager Charlie Brink at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

None of flights so far has reached the intended goal of six times the speed of sound. During the first flight in 2010, an X-51A flew near Mach 5 for three minutes. A test flight last year ended prematurely with an X-51A unsuccessfully trying to restart its engine.

Brink said he expected the military to continue hypersonic flight research after next year’s final flight but did not get into specifics. AP

Iran plans army drill near Iraqi border

An Iranian semiofficial news agency says the army is planning a “unique” military exercise along the country’s border with Iraq.

The ISNA agency Oct. 25 quoted a senior army commander Gen. Saeed Arabloo as saying the three-day drill will begin Oct. 29 and will include air and ground forces.

He says the aim of the exercise is to upgrade the capabilities of the Iranian forces. He did not elaborate.

Iran regularly holds military exercises in efforts to cast itself as a regional power.

Iran and Iraq fought an eight-year war in the 1980s that left about one million dead on the both sides.

The latest drill comes amid mounting international criticism over Iran’s nuclear program, which the West fears is aimed at developing nuclear weapons – a charge Tehran denies. AP

Russian investigators probe alleged military fraud

Russia’s top investigative agency has launched a criminal probe into alleged fraud in the selloff of Defense Ministry assets.
The Investigative Committee said Oct. 25 that the state had suffered damage of more than 3 billion rubles ($95 million) from the sale of prized real estate in Moscow and other regions of Russia.

It said that that investigators questioned officials and conducted searches in the state-controlled Oboronservice company linked to the Defense Ministry. The agency said it suspected unidentified Defense Ministry officials of using the company to sell valuable assets at prices far below their market value.

Russian news agencies quoted Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as saying that investigators’ claims are yet to be proven. He said the ministry would welcome an objective probe. AP

Northrop Grumman to cut 350 jobs in Baltimore area

Defense giant Northrop Grumman says it will cut up to 350 jobs from its electric systems sector with most of the reductions likely in the Baltimore area.

The Baltimore Sun reports it will offer buyouts first and begin layoffs early next year if not enough people volunteer. The electronics systems sector makes equipment such as airborne radar and navigation systems. It employs 7,350 people in the Baltimore area.

Northrop Grumman spokesman Jack Martin Jr. says the company eliminated 700 jobs in the sector last December and January through buyouts and layoffs.

The latest round of cutbacks will primarily affect managers and directors. AP




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