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September 23, 2013

News Briefs September 23, 2013

Intercontinental missile test-launched from California

The U.S. Air Force has launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile from the California coast in a test flight.

The Minuteman 3 blasted off around 3 a.m., Sept. 22 from an underground silo at the Vandenberg Air Force, 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles. It was supposed to travel 4,200 miles to a predetermined target in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

A statement by the Air Force Global Strike Command did not include results of the test. Calls and an email were not immediately returned.

The military tests several missiles from the Vandenberg base every year to verify the weapon system’s accuracy and reliability. The next test was scheduled for Sept. 26.

Earlier this year, a missile test flight was delayed because of tensions with North Korea. AP

Russia ready to send observers to Syria

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russia is ready to send military observers to Syria to ensure security for efforts to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.

But he says Russia is not considering sending a full military contingent.

Under a U.S.-Russian plan, Syria is to give up its chemical weapons. Security is one of the plan’s major challenges, including how to prevent theft of the weapons.

Lavrov says Russia has proposed that there be an international presence on the perimeter of all areas where chemical weapons experts will work in Syria.

In comments reported by Russian news agencies Sept. 22, Lavrov said ìWe are ready to share our servicemen and military police to participate in these forcesî but ìit seems to me that military observers will be sufficient.î AP

Two sentenced in plot to export US military antennas

Two Singapore men have been sentenced to prison after being convicted of plotting to illegally export 55 military antennas from the United States to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Forty-four-year-old Lim Kow Seng was sentenced to 37 months and 46-year-old Hia Soo Gan Benson received a 34-month prison term. The sentences were handed down Sept. 20 in federal court in Washington.

According to court documents, Benson and Seng plotted to export antennas from a Massachusetts company to Singapore and Hong Kong without the required State Department license. The antennas are controlled for export as U.S. munitions. AP

Lufthansa splits big order between Boeing, Airbus

German airline Lufthansa is ordering 34 new jets from Boeing and 25 from European rival Airbus as it updates its long-haul fleet to make it more fuel efficient and lower costs.

Lufthansa said the orders were worth 14 billion euros ($19 billion) at list prices. Big orders, however, often get discounts. And Lufthansa said it was taking options to buy more planes if its business needs demanded it.

The Boeing 777-9X and Airbus A350-900 jets will begin being delivered in 2016. They will replace older craft such as Boeing 747-700s and Airbus A340-300s. Airbus said Lufthansa had options to buy 30 more of the planes.

The company said the new planes will make its fleet more fuel-efficient and quieter as well as improve passenger comfort with wider cabins. CEO Christoph Franz said that the order ìenabled a quantum leap in efficiency.î

Lufthansa is facing tough competition from Middle Eastern airlines on long-haul routes between Europe and Asia, as well as competition from low-cost airlines on shorter routes. Aircraft noise has been a political and legal issue at the airline’s Frankfurt hub, where some residents have complained about the impact of new runways.

The airline says the new planes use 2.9 liters of jet fuel to fly a passenger 100 kilometers – lower than the current fuel mileage figure for the long haul fleet of 3.58 liters per 100 kilometers per passenger. AP




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Air Force photograph by Rick Goodfriend

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