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May 15, 2013

News Briefs May 15, 2013

Turkey: contact lost with fighter jet

Turkey’s military says it has lost contact with a fighter plane in southern Turkey.

A military statement said May 13 it lost contact with the F-16 jet over a mountainous area in Osmaniye province, which is close to the border with Syria. The plane had taken off from a base in northern Amasya province, some 450 kilometers away.

The statement said the pilot radioed in to say he was ejecting before contact was lost.

Turkey’s NTV television said the pilot ejected safely from the plane. There was no confirmation of that report. AP

North Korea replaces hard-line defense chief

North Korea has replaced its hard-line defense chief with a little-known army general.

The significance of Jang Jong Nam’s appointment wasn’t immediately clear. The announcement comes amid tentative signs of an interest in diplomacy after weeks of rising animosity and dueling threats on the Korean Peninsula.

Little is known about Jang. Mention of his new role was buried May 13 in a state media dispatch listing those who attended an art performance with leader Kim Jong Un.

It’s not known when Jang replaced Kim Kyok Sik. Kim is the former commander of battalions believed responsible for deadly attacks on South Korea in 2010. State media previously identified Jang as head of the army’s First Corps who pledged allegiance to Kim Jong Un and threatened South Korea in a speech last December. AP

Israel grounds drone aircraft fleet after crash

Israel’s military has grounded a fleet of high altitude surveillance drones after one was downed over the Mediterranean Sea.

The military says it intentionally crashed the unmanned aircraft late May 11 because of a malfunction.

The military would not say how many aircraft were grounded. The planes will stay down during an investigation.

An Israeli defense official said the drone was the Israeli-made Heron 1, which flies at high altitudes and can stay in the air for about 45 hours. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.

Last year, a larger Heron TP drone crashed on a routine flight.

Israel is a world leader in drone technology. Palestinians say Israel uses drones to fire missiles, but Israel does not confirm that. AP

Appeals court in Va. considers Cole bombing suit

A lawyer for families of the 17 sailors killed in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole urged a federal appeals court to reinstate a $282.5 million lawsuit against Sudan May 14.

Andrew Hall told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a judge erred when he ruled that the families could not seek damages for emotional distress because they had won a nearly $8 million judgment for compensatory damages in an earlier lawsuit. Interest has increased that award to a little more than $14 million, Hall said.

U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar ruled in 2001 that the plaintiffs could not sue twice for the same terrorist attack.

The families are seeking the additional damages under a law passed by Congress in 2008, while the first lawsuit was still on appeal. The Justice for Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act allows for retroactive punitive-damages awards against nations that sponsor terrorism.

There are brand new claims that came into the law,î Hall told the appeals court. Our cause of action was a new cause of action that didn’t exist prior to 2008.

Judge Andre Davis seemed sympathetic to Hall’s position, noting that Sudan refused to participate in the case after unsuccessfully challenging the district court’s jurisdiction. Doumar decided on his own, with no input from Sudan, that the nation could not be sued a second time for the Cole attack.

They said `I’m out of here’ and they were never to be seen again,î Davis said. ìThen you have a district judge raising affirmative defenses for them.

Sudan was not represented at the hearing. AP

Airbus sales drive first quarter profits at parent company

European aerospace company EADS said strong deliveries by airplane maker Airbus helped drive higher earnings in the first quarter and laid out the hope that the new A350 long-range aircraft should make its first flight this summer.

The Airbus parent company also reaffirmed May 15 its forecast of lifting commercial aircraft deliveries this year to between 600 and 610, as demand from Middle Eastern and Asian carriers to expand their fleets continues to drive sales for one of Europe’s largest exporters.

EADS made a net profit for the January-March quarter of 241 million euros ($314 million), nearly double last year’s equivalent of 126 million euros.

EADS CEO Tom Enders said in a statement the company ìhad a rather good start into 2013î and remained focused on improving profitability further in 2013 and beyond.

Airbus delivered 144 aircraft in the first quarter, up from 131 in the same period last year. Last year Airbus delivered 588 aircraft, including 30 of its A380 superjumbos.

Airbus’s revenue from commercial aircraft sales jumped nearly 16 percent in the quarter thanks to rising deliveries. Airbus’ orders also continued to rise, with 410 net commercial aircraft orders in the quarter.

Airbus, which expects to take in around 700 orders this year, is preparing for the first flight of its new A350 long-range aircraft that is aimed at rivaling Boeing’s 777 and 787.

In a call with reporters Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm said Airbus is ìmore and more confidentî that the A350 will make its first flight sometime this summer, after two years of delays blamed partly on the aircraft’s new design, which makes use of unprecedented amount of lightweight carbon-fiber material.

EADS’ overall revenue rose 9 percent to 12.4 billion euros in the first quarter. The company targets ìmoderateî revenue growth in 2013 and operating profit of 3.5 billion euros, well above the 3 billion euros booked in 2012. AP




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