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April 29, 2013

News Briefs: April 29, 2013

Alabama offering new veterans driver’s license

Alabama veterans will have the option to display proof of their military service on their driver’s license.

A law sponsored by Democratic Rep. Marcel Black of Tuscumbia provided for the Veterans Driver’s License. The state Department of Public Safety says the licenses will be available beginning May 1. Black says veterans can show their status to obtain benefits, rebates and accommodations.

To get a license, a veteran must visit a Department of Public Safety license examining office and present a DD-214 form from the Department of Defense that shows a status of honorable or general under honorable conditions.

There is no additional charge for someone getting a new license or renewing a license. But a veteran seeking the license before the renewal date must pay $18.50 for a duplicate license. AP

F-15 fighter jets to be based in Fresno

Officials say one of military’s most advanced fighter jets should soon be soaring over the skies of Fresno County.

The Fresno Bee reports the 144th Fighter Wing of the California Air National Guard in Fresno will be receiving F-15 Eagle Fighter jets this summer, pending the final approval of an environmental impact study.

The jets _ described by wing commander Col. Clay Garrison as ìthe best jet for our missionî – are due to arrive after the wing escaped the federal chopping block when the U.S. Air Force broached the idea of eliminating the 144th Fighter Wing in the 2013 budget.

Officials say when the first of the 21 F-15s arrive the move will add 22 jobs with a payroll of more than $1.5 million. AP

Protesters march against first British drone base

Anti-war protesters demonstrated April 27 outside a Royal Air Force base used to control drone flights over Afghanistan.

Until this week, British drones were operated only from a U.S. Air Force base in Nevada.

The Ministry of Defense announced April 25 that a new drone-operating squadron had begun operating from RAF Waddington in eastern England.

The ministry says the Reaper drones are used for “intelligence and surveillance missions,” but also are equipped with missiles and bombs.

About 400 peace activists marched to the perimeter fence of the base, saying drones make it too easy to launch deadly attacks from a distance and out of public sight.

ìBecause of their remote nature, there is no risk to any of our forces and that makes it easier to launch weapons and makes it much easier for politicians to get involved in warfare,î said Chris Cole of the Drone Campaign Network.

The defense ministry says drone operators ìadhere strictly to the same laws of armed conflict and are bound by the same clearly defined rules of engagementî as other RAF pilots. AP

B787 first test flight in Japan since battery fire

Japan’s All Nippon Airways has successfully conducted its first test flight of the Boeing 787 aircraft since battery problems grounded the planes earlier this year.

Ray Conner, president of Boeing’s consumer airline division, and ANA President Shinichiro Ito were aboard the flight April 28.

The aircraft safely completed a two-hour flight before returning to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

Batteries aboard two 787s failed less than two weeks apart in January, causing a fire aboard one plane and smoke in another. The root cause of those problems is still unknown.

Boeing has since developed and tested a revamped version of the battery system, with changes designed to prevent and contain a fire.

Japan’s transport ministry approved Boeing’s modifications April 26 following similar steps by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. AP

French government cuts EADS stake

The French state has cut its stake in Airbus parent company EADS to 12 percent following the latest sale of shares, the second this month.

France’s finance ministry says in a statement Friday that it raised 707 million euros ($925 million) through the sale of 17.6 million EADS N.V.
shares April 25. Together with the 12 million shares it sold April 16, the government has raised 1.19 billion euros selling EADS shares this month.

The share sales were announced in December as part of a deal to bring the French and German governments’ stakes to 12 percent each, while Spain would hold about 4 percent. Meanwhile, private sector investors Daimler AG of Germany and France’s Lagardere SCA have sold their own stakes. AP

Pentagon to deploy second squadron of Osprey to Japan amid ongoing safety worries there

Defense officials say the U.S. will deploy a second squadron of MV-22 Osprey aircraft to Okinawa, amid persistent local worries and community protests about the safety of the aircraft.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is discussing the deployment of about 12 more aircraft in a Monday meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.

The Japanese government approved the deployment of 12 Ospreys last fall after receiving additional security assurances from the Pentagon. Okinawans were concerned about two Osprey crashes last year, in Florida and Morocco, particularly because the Okinawa base in in a residential area.

Military officials say the hybrid aircraft which can take off and land like a helicopter, is critical for regional security efforts. AP




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