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December 7, 2012

News Briefs – December 7, 2012

MQ-9 Reaper accident on NTTR


A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper crashed on the Nevada Test and Training Range Dec. 5, 2012, at approximately 7:14 p.m.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred in a remote location west of Hiko, Nev.

The remotely piloted aircraft, assigned to the 57th Wing here, was participating in a combat training mission as part of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School Mission Employment phase.

A board of officers is being convened to investigate.


U.S. Iraq commit to enduring strategic partnership


The United States and Iraq reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening security cooperation during meetings held Dec. 5-6 in Baghdad.

The meetings, held under the auspices of the Strategic Framework Agreement, were held at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and were co-chaired by Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun Al-Dlimi, the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller, and the Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller.

Defense and security cooperation are one of the cooperation areas that were agreed upon in the Strategic Framework Agreement signed by the two countries in 2008.

The United States and Iraq discussed efforts to continue strengthening their security cooperation, enhance Iraq’s defense capabilities, modernize Iraq’s military forces, and facilitate both countries’ contributions to regional security. The two delegations explored U.S.-Iraq training opportunities and Iraq’s participation in regional exercises.

The capstone event was the exchange of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. This agreement represents the enduring strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq, and provides mechanisms for increased defense cooperation in areas including defense planning, counterterrorism cooperation, and combined exercises.

Finally, the United States and the Republic of Iraq committed to convene a third recurring Defense and Security Cooperation Joint Coordination Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., during 2013 to continue discussions on the enduring security and military cooperation between the two countries.


UTC Prepays $1 billion outstanding balance of its Goodrich acquisition credit facility

United Technologies Corp. Dec. 5 prepaid the remaining $1 billion balance of outstanding principal under its April 24, 2012, Term Loan Credit Agreement.

On July 26, 2012, United Technologies Corp. borrowed $2 billion under this facility to pay a portion of the cash consideration for its recently-completed acquisition of Goodrich Corp. On Nov. 5, 2012, United Technologies prepaid $1 billion of the balance outstanding.


UTC terminates agreement to sell Pump and Engine Control Systems unit


United Technologies Corp. has reached a mutual agreement with TransDigm Group Incorporated to terminate the previously announced sale of the Goodrich Corporation pump and engine control systems business to TransDigm.

The parties terminated their agreement after being informed that the U.S. Department of Justice objected to the transaction.

Sale of the pump and engine control systems unit is one of the divestitures required by regulatory authorities as a condition of UTC’s acquisition of Goodrich Corporation. UTC intends to comply with its obligation to sell this business to a buyer acceptable to the U.S. Department of Justice and European Commission. Any proposed transaction would be subject to regulatory approvals in the U.S. and other jurisdictions and to other customary closing conditions.


Hawker Beechcraft disclosure statement approved


Hawker Beechcraft, Inc. announced Dec. 5 that the Disclosure Statement filed in connection with the company’s Joint Plan of Reorganization has been approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Court approval of the adequacy of the Disclosure Statement allows Hawker Beechcraft to begin soliciting approval of the POR from its creditors. The POR is supported by the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, and holders of a majority of the obligations under the company’s prepetition credit facility and senior unsecured bonds have also committed to support it.

The voting process will be completed by Jan. 22, 2013, and the company will seek approval from the court to exit bankruptcy at the confirmation hearing scheduled for Jan. 31, 2013.

Upon its emergence from Chapter 11, the company plans to enter into a new financing facility of at least $525 million, consisting of a term loan and a revolving line of credit, that will be used to repay the debtor-in-possession post-petition credit facility, issue letters of credit to replace the DIP and fund ongoing operations.

As part of its reorganization, the company intends to rename itself Beechcraft Corporation and implement a business plan that focuses on its turboprop, piston, special mission and trainer/attack aircraft – the company’s leading products – and on its parts, maintenance, repairs and refurbishment businesses, all of which are profitable and have high growth potential.


Proponents seek end to ban on abortion coverage


Proponents for ending the ban on women in the military using their health insurance to pay for abortions in cases of rape and incest are stepping up the political pressure.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and two retired Army officers insisted on Wednesday that the provision lifting the ban must be in the final version of the defense bill. House and Senate negotiators are about to begin work on reconciling their competing versions of the legislation.

Shaheen said at a news conference that it was only fair that the same rules that apply to federal employees cover the more than 214,000 women of the military. Currently military women can use their health insurance to cover abortions only in cases where the life of the mother is endangered. AP


New Mexico air base considers developing biomass plant


U.S. Air Force officials say they’re exploring the possibility of developing a biomass-fueled power plant at Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico.

The plant would provide up to 20 megawatts of electricity to the El Paso Electric grid. The base purchases its electricity from the Texas-based utility.

Air Force officials have signed an agreement with New Generation Biomass that allows the company access to about 80 acres of base property to determine the land’s suitability for the proposed Black Bear Biomass Energy Facility.

Officials say they are working with New Generation Biomass to review any potential effects of the power plant, including environmental effects and energy benefits.

If the project moves forward, base officials say there will be opportunities for public comment. AP


StoryCorps to collect U.S. veterans’ oral histories


The oral history group StoryCorps has begun recording stories of U.S. troops returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan for a yearlong initiative to be broadcast on NPR.

The Military Voices Initiative aims to record 1,500 interviews, collaborating with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, military bases and military family groups. NPR’s “Weekend Edition” will regularly broadcast the stories beginning this weekend.

Dave Isay, founder of New York-based StoryCorps, says listening to soldiers is a way to show how much they matter and to ensure they aren’t forgotten.

NPR President and CEO Gary Knell says the stories will help people understand the impact of the recent wars.

The recordings will be archived at the Library of Congress. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Boeing Co. are funding the project. AP


Lockheed Martin moves 560 Georgia jobs to Texas


Officials at Lockheed Martin have announced the company is moving 560 Marietta, Ga.,-based manufacturing jobs to Texas.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Dec. 4 reported employees who worked on F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets will be relocated to Fort Worth next year. About 600 Lockheed employees work on F-22 jets in Marietta.

The newspaper reports the move will save the company about $50 million annually, and the company has cut about 26,000 jobs over the past three years.

The company’s Marietta-based workforce has decreased by about 1,000 in 2012. AP


LMI Aerospace to buy Valent


LMI Aerospace Inc., which provides design services and components for aircraft, said Thursday that it has agreed to buy Valent Aerostructures LLC for at least $237 million in cash and stock.

LMI, which is based in St. Louis, Mo., said the addition of Valent will diversify its lineup of products and services, while boosting the growth of its existing product platforms.

Kansas City, Mo.-based Valent provides structural components, major sub-assemblies and machined parts for manufacturers and larger suppliers in the aerospace and defense industries. It supplies significant content for several major commercial, business jet and military platforms, including a variety of Boeing aircraft models, LMI said.

Assuming the deal closes this year, LMI expects to generate over $480 million in revenue based on projected 2013 results of the combined companies.

As part of the acquisition, LMI said that Charlie and Henry Newell, Valent’s current co-chief executives, will become co-presidents of LMI’s aerostructures segment.

The deal includes $15 million in LMI stock, along with a potential earn out of up to $40 million if Valent exceeds certain profit thresholds next year.

In addition, LMI said the deal also includes about $9.7 million in “certain retained obligations.”

The agreement was unanimously approved by LMI’s board, but remains subject to a variety of closing conditions including regulatory approvals. It’s expected to close by the end of the year.

LMI said that RBC Capital Markets has agreed to provide $300 million in new financing to pay for the acquisition, refinance existing debt and fund working capital requirements. LMI said it expects the acquisition to slightly lower its 2012 earnings per share, but significantly boost its profits in 2014. AP


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