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February 25, 2013

News Briefs February 25, 2013

Navy proposes drone base at Point Mugu

About 700 personnel and their families would move to Point Mugu under a military proposal to make Naval Base Ventura County the West Coast home for a drone aircraft.

The Ventura County Star reports the Navy is seeking public comment on its proposal to base four remotely-controlled Triton Unmanned Aircraft Systems at Point Mugu for marine reconnaissance beginning in 2020. The base also would serve as a maintenance center, supporting up to four additional aircraft.
Naval officials released a draft environmental assessment Feb. 22. The public can comment on it until March 11.

The newspaper says the drone would conduct an average of five daily flights, increasing overall operations at Point Mugu by about five percent.
The Triton is a 48-foot unarmed drone with a 131-foot wingspan. AP

Fort Sill soldiers’ deployment called off

Officials at Fort Sill, Okla., say the deployment of 50 soldiers who are preparing for an assignment in South America has been delayed.

Base spokesman Keith Pannell says the Feb. 22 planned deployment of the soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 13rd Field Artillery will be rescheduled. No reason for the delay was given.

Pannell says the soldiers will be providing security on a Navy hospital ship in addition to humanitarian aid and assisting both visitors and patients on the ship.

The soldiers are to go first from the base at Lawton to Norfolk, Va., for training with the Navy before they leave for South America. AP

North Korea warns U.S. commander in South Korea over drills

North Korea has warned the top U.S. commander in South Korea to cancel upcoming drills aimed at deterring Pyongyang’s military provocations.

Pyongyang’s official media say the warning was sent to Gen. James Thurman Feb. 23. The U.S. and South Korea earlier notified the North of their plans to begin the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises next month.

North Korea calls the joint drills a prominent example of U.S. hostility against it. Pyongyang says the hostility compelled the North to conduct its Feb. 12 nuclear test.

U.S. officials are negotiating in the U.N. Security Council for tougher sanctions against North Korea for the nuclear test, the country’s third since 2006.

Washington stations more than 28,000 troops in South Korea in a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War. AP

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard denies drone capture

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard is denying that it captured a foreign unmanned aircraft during a military exercise in southern Iran.

A spokesman for the Guard, Yasin Hasanali, told The Associated Press that the drone was actually being used during the drill as a supposed enemy aircraft.

Iranian media Feb. 23 quoted a spokesman for the Guard as saying that its electronic warfare unit had taken control of a foreign drone’s navigation system and forced it to land during the site of the military exercise.

Iran has claimed to have captured several U.S. drones, including an advanced RQ-170 Sentinel CIA spy drone in December 2011 and at least three ScanEagle aircraft.

The Guard’s military exercise, code-named Great Prophet-8, ends Feb. 25. AP

Whistleblower suits say military parts defective

A Slidell, La., machining company has supplied defective parts for military vehicles, lawsuits by former employees claim.

The suits say Alliance Laser supplied welded parts to Textron Marine & Land Systems even though no employees were legally certified to weld the parts, The Times-Picayune reports.

The unit of Textron Inc. makes armored personnel carriers for the U.S. Military.

Robert Vargas and Floyd Alan Williams are seeking damages under whistleblower laws, arguing they were fired for providing tips to federal investigators and speaking out against fraudulent practices.

The lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans Feb. 19 and 20. Alliance has not yet filed a formal response in court. A woman who answered the phone at Alliance’s office Feb. 22 said the company had no comment. AP

Air Force decision on plane contract expected soon

An Air Force decision on who will win a more than $350 million contract to build 20 aircraft for use in Afghanistan is expected sometime next week.

The decision comes at a crucial time for Wichita-based Beechcraft, formerly Hawker Beechcraft. It emerged from bankruptcy protection this week.

The high-stakes ìlight air supportî contract could ultimately be worth nearly $1 billion, depending on future orders.

Beechcraft spokeswoman Nicole Alexander told The Wichita Eagle that the company had expected a decision Feb. 22, but has been told there has been a slight delay.

Beechcraft has proposed its AT-6 attack plane. Sierra Nevada Corp. has partnered with Brazil-based Embraer to offer its Super Tucano.

The planes would give the Afghan National Army Air Corp. a fixed-wing strike capability. AP




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