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June 21, 2013

News Briefs June 21, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,103

As of June 18, 2013, at least 2,103 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 1,744 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 124 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, 18,734 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

Kyrgyzstan votes to end U.S. lease of airbase

Kyrgyzstan has voted to end the United States’ lease on an airbase key to supplying military operations in nearby Afghanistan.

Lawmakers in the mountainous Central Asian republic voted 91-5 June 20 in favor of ending the agreement in June 2014 to lease the Manas Transit Center. The bill will come into force when it is signed by President Almazbek Atambayev, who has repeatedly pledged to end the lease.

The move comes despite U.S. expectations that the base would remain in exchange for higher rent. The United States pays $60 million annually for the base.

All U.S. troops moving in and out of Afghanistan travel through Manas. Large numbers of troops are set to flow through the facility as part of the withdrawal of most international troops next year. AP

Senators seek cost cuts for F-35 fighter jet

Senators are seeking cost-cutting opportunities in the Pentagon’s $400 billion program for the next-generation F-35, a fighter jet with a troubled testing record that military leaders say America cannot afford not to build.

Chairing the hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin June 19 compared the F-35’s history to a textbook on how not to develop a plane.

The Illinois Democrat asked military leaders to justify a decade of expanding costs.

They stressed that costs were now decreasing.

Pentagon acquisitions chief Frank Kendall said the plane is 90 percent developed. Testing is almost half-done.

Kendall said no one is considering stopping the program.

The F-35 would replace Cold War-era aircraft including the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier. It’s the Pentagon’s priciest weapons program ever. Estimates suggest costs could reach $1 trillion. AP

Popular Ohio air show expects smaller crowds

Organizers of the Dayton Air Show expect smaller crowds this weekend, thanks to the Air Force Thunderbirds and other military support pulling out because of federal budget cuts.

The two-day show usually draws around 70,000 people and has a $3.2 million impact on the local economy. But the Thunderbirds precision jet team had to withdraw earlier this year because of federal cutbacks, along with military support from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Air show general manager Brenda Kerfoot tells The Dayton Daily News that without the jet team in the lineup, the show could see 30 percent fewer people.

Dozens of air shows across the nation have shut down this year because they lost military planes. The Dayton show cut its budget by about one-third this time. AP

Aerospace company to hire 20 workers in Grove, Okla.

An Australian aerospace company says it will open a facility in Grove, Okla., and hire 20 workers.

Gov. Mary Fallin announced June 18 that Ferra Engineering would expand in Oklahoma. The governor made the announcement from the Paris Air Show.

Fallin says Oklahoma is a top destination for aerospace companies and she’s pleased Ferra Engineering would be adding the Grove location.

Ferra Engineering specializes in the design, manufacturing, assembling and testing of aerospace equipment. The company is a supplier for Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed Martin, among other companies.

Ferra Engineering also produces medical devices for the health care industry. AP

South Korea begins bidding for $7.3 billion fighter buy

South Korea has begun accepting bids from aircraft makers to supply 60 new fighter jets at an estimated cost of $7.3 billion (8.3 trillion won).

Two arms procurement officials said the bidding began June 18 and is scheduled to end next week. Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle, EADS’ Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are competing.

The deal would be South Korea’s biggest arms purchase ever. The 60 fighter jets will replace the country’s aging fleet of F-4s and F-5s.

Both officials at the Seoul-based Defense Acquisition Program Administration declined to be identified by name, citing office policy.

South Korea faces rival North Korea over a heavily armed border. The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce that has left the Korean Peninsula technically at war. AP

South Carolina financial oversight board approves Boeing bonds

South Carolina’s financial oversight board unanimously approved borrowing $120 million for Boeing’s expansion plans in North Charleston.

The Budget and Control Board’s vote June 18 provided the framework for incentives the Legislature approved in April.

It also granted a bridge financing loan between agencies to provide cash while the treasurer’s office goes through the process of issuing up to $120 million in bonds.

Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt says his agency will use the money to buy and upgrade property Boeing will then rent from the state. The Chicago-based company is expected to buy the land from the state after the bonds are paid off.

Hitt says the package protects the state’s investment.

Boeing announced plans in April to spend an additional $1 billion in North Charleston and hire 2,000 more people. AP




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