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October 21, 2013

News Briefs October 21, 2013

DOD begins the transfer of airbase in Kyrgyzstan

The U.S. Department of Defense has begun the process of relocating from the Transit Center at Manas International Airport and plans to complete the transfer of areas and facilities to the government of Kyrgyzstan by July 2014.

The current agreement between the U.S. and Kyrgyz governments on hosting the TCM expires in July 2014. The U.S. appreciates the support provided by the Kyrgyz people to U.S. forces and coalition efforts to counter the threat of terrorism and to achieve security and stability in Afghanistan and the region and respects the decision of the Government of Kyrgyzstan to end hosting the TCM after more than 12 years.

Working closely with Kyrgyzstan over the next nine months, the U.S. will manage the TCM relocation effort while continuing to support the International Security Assistance Force mission.

The U.S. intends to continue supporting Kyrgyzstan’s democratic and economic development, and we look forward to further developing our bilateral relationship in the years ahead.

U.S. Navy’s largest destroyer going into water

The biggest destroyer built for the U.S. Navy is ready to go into the water.

The christening of a first-in-class warship bearing the name of the late Adm. Elmo ├ČBud├« Zumwalt was canceled a week ago because of the government shutdown. But plans call for the ship to be moved to dry dock in Maine and floated without fanfare in the coming days.

The Zumwalt will remain at dockside for final outfitting.

It’s the first new class of destroyer since the Arleigh Burke launched at Bath Iron Works in 1989.
The Navy once envisioned building more than 20 of the stealthy warships but reduced the number to three because of the expense.

The Zumwalt will cost more than $3.5 billion. That’s more than three times the cost of previous destroyers. AP

Huntington Ingalls delivers Somerset to Navy

Huntington Ingalls Industries says its New Orleans-area shipyard has delivered the last of three ships named for 9/11 attack sites to the U.S. Navy.

The USS Somerset is named for the Pennsylvania county where a hijacked airliner crashed after passengers stormed the cockpit.

The company said in a news release Oct. 18 that the ship successfully completed builder’s trials in August and U.S. Navy acceptance trials in September. Ingalls has two more of the amphibious transport docks, also called landing platform/docks or LPDs, under construction in Pascagoula, Miss.
The $1.2 billion Somerset is the last ship to be made at the Avondale shipyard.

The ships are designed to launch helicopters, tilt-rotor aircraft and assault watercraft to bring up to 800 troops to shore.

The Somerset was christened in July 2012. AP

Senator lifts hold on Air Force nominee

Sen. Kelly Ayotte has ended her hold on President Barack Obama’s nominee for Air Force secretary, clearing the way for Senate confirmation of Deborah Lee James.

The New Hampshire Republican had blocked the nominee last month until she got answers about the fate of the military’s A-10 attack aircraft.

Ayotte’s office said in a statement Oct. 17 that she had received responses from the Air Force to her 32 follow-up questions. She said she supported James’ nomination and looked forward to working with her after her confirmation.

Ayotte indicated that she was still concerned about ensuring that the military provide close air support to ground forces, especially until the next generation F-35 is operational. AP

California air museum gets retired Air Force One jet

A Northern California air museum has added a high-profile plane to its collection: Air Force One.
The Merced Sun-Star reports a retired McDonnell Douglas VC-9C jet that carried presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, as well as several vice presidents and first ladies, landed Oct. 16 at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, Calif.

The aircraft was used to fly into small airfields that were not well suited for the larger jets used more often by the president and other officials.

Museum officials hope the arrival of the plane will help raise about $10 million to construct a building to house about two dozen vintage military aircraft.

The Castle Air Museum currently has 56 aircraft on display, but will soon boast nearly 70 after other recent acquisitions are added. AP

Turkey returns fire after shelling from Syria

The Turkish military says it has fired artillery at targets belonging to al Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria – in retaliation for a mortar shell that landed close to a Turkish military post near the border.

The military said Oct. 16 troops fired four rounds from self-propelled artillery guns at positions held by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant near the Syrian border town of Azaz. It said the attack occurred Tuesday.

Turkey frequently retaliates against stray fire from Syrian government or opposition forces, but it was the first time the country has declared that it had engaged the al Qaeda-linked group.

Turkey has been accused of supporting al Qaeda-linked groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. The country denies backing jihadist groups and has recently publicized efforts to crackdown on al Qaeda militants. AP




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