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February 5, 2014

Headlines – February 5, 2014


HASC Race: Thornberry has edge in helping GOP candidates –

One candidate to take the U.S. House Armed Services Committee gavel next year has donated vastly more to GOP political candidates than his rivals, and sources say that gives him a major edge.

Lawmaker tries to block transfer of Guard Apaches, personnel cuts –

In what is likely the opening shot in a looming battle between Congress and the Army, Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., has introduced a bill that would freeze the Army’s plans to transfer all of the National Guard’s AH-64 Apache helicopters to the active-duty force and prevent most of the proposed Guard personnel cuts. 

Reid readies bill repealing pension cuts –

The Senate is gearing up to vote on a bill as early as next week that would repeal the $6 billion cut to military pensions as part of a larger veterans package, according to Senate aides.



Satellites, electronics next in U.S. export control reform –

The U.S. government is making “great strides” in its drive to reform unwieldy export rules, and expects to unveil proposed changes covering exports of satellites, electronics and chemicals this year, a senior White House official said Feb. 4. 

Lockheed launches civil version of C-130J military transport plane –

Lockheed Martin Feb. 3 launched the civil variant of its C-130J Super Hercules military transport plane, the LM-100J, saying it expected to sell about 75 of the planes to mining and energy companies, and other commercial and government customers in coming years. 

Hudson calls for aerospace and defense industry to rethink how it hires –

Last week, Linda Hudson didn’t sound like she was one day away from retirement. Instead, speaking at a Northern Virginia Technology Council event, the outgoing BAE Systems chief executive was concerned as ever about the future of the defense industry. She called on aerospace and defense companies to create a work environment that appeals to talented science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — students. 

Aurora to design, build experimental VTOL aircraft –

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has tapped Aurora Flight Sciences to design and build an experimental VTOL aircraft. 

UTC Aerospace intros new infrared camera –

A new short-wave infrared camera for military and civil use has been introduced by UTC Aerospace Systems into its Sensors Unlimited MiniSWIR product line.

Teledyne unit wins $60 million contract to build NASA launch adapter –

Teledyne Brown Engineering, Inc., an Alabama unit of the aerospace major Teledyne with operations in North America and Europe, will design and build the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter for NASA’s space launch system in a five-year $60 million dollar deal. 

MDA orders ballistic missile targets –

Medium-range ballistic missile target vehicles for use in missile defense testing are being built by L-3 Coleman under contract to the Missile Defense Agency.

Raytheon starts next phase of close air support project –

Raytheon is beginning a $25.5 million third phase of a U.S. military project to improve persistent close air support of ground forces, the company announced.



Army mulls funding for controversial intel network –

The Army is assessing development plans for its battlefield intelligence network after Congress made it one of the largest budget-slashing victims in the new defense budget.



Senate to take up comprehensive veterans’ reform bill Feb. 6 –

Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont independent, said Feb. 4 a comprehensive veteran’s reform bill could be brought up on the Senate floor as early as Feb. 6. The bill will undo the cost-of-living adjustment cuts included in the 2013 budget agreement and will also make changes in several areas ranging from health care to Veterans Affairs efficiency to education to unemployment. 

VA lacks control over own data, leaks could occur: audit –

The Veterans Affairs Department doesn’t have solid controls over its own financial reporting or computer data, leading to the possibility that the agency could leak information or mistake just how much it is spending, an investigation found.

VFW posts adapt to changing realities –

The demand for local VFW posts has dropped noticeably across the country because of demographic changes and as veterans from World War II and the Korean War have aged. 

House approves bill to ease in-state tuition rules for veterans –

A bill that would require schools to ease in-state tuition rules for veterans — or lose eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill entirely — sailed through the House Feb. 3, with support from a broad, bipartisan majority of lawmakers. 

Veterans group seeks action to cut backlog of claims –

The federal government’s move to cut its backlog of overdue compensation claims for veterans has stalled and better efforts must be made to understand what isn’t working to solve the problem, a veterans group says. 

Veterans have mixed feelings about Budweiser’s ‘A Hero’s Welcome’ Super Bowl ad –

One told the story of a relationship between a puppy and the Anheuser-Busch signature Clydesdales. The other, however, looked at a celebration for an American veteran, returning home from battle. The ad, according to several veterans, tried to walk a delicate line between celebrating and pandering. 

Military sniper links his string of armed robberies to PTSD –

After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gabriel Brown came home to an emptier life in Florida. At his sentencing for a two-week crime spree, he pleaded for clemency.

World War I Portland veteran’s Purple Heart returned to his family –

A military medal awarded to a Portland man wounded in World War I was returned to his family in Pittsfield Feb. 2.



Curiosity set to attempt driving over 1-mile high dune –

NASA is set to give its Curiosity rover its toughest assignment yet – attempting to drive over a 1-mile high dune. Mission controllers say the route, despite the dune, is far safer. 

Anatomy of an Asteroid: Scientists understand the inside of a space rock for the first time –

The mysterious properties of asteroids have long confounded astronomers, despite the billions spent in research. Scientists believe they the materials deep within an asteroid’s core could help unlock the secrets to how planets, like Earth, form. 

America is going back to the Moon –

America is heading back to the moon – only this time, private firms will be footing the bill. NASA has called for partners interested in developing low cost lunar missions, which could see the lunar surface being mined. 

NASA finds weird, wildly wobbly world where seasons change by the day –

NASA has found a unique planet which wobbles on its axis – causing weather conditions to be even more erratic than those on Earth. Astronomers were stunned to find the planet, designated Kepler-413b wobbles wildly on its spin axis, much like a child’s top.



DARPA wants self-destructible computer chips –

Called the Vanishing Programmable Resources, DARPA announced the program on Jan. 28 issuing a $3.5 million award to IBM to study the possibilities of developing “strained glass substrates” that would crumble into powder on command, according to the DARPA announcement.



Britain releases news on secret aircraft’s test flight –

Britain partially lifted the veil of secrecy surrounding its Taranis unmanned combat aerial vehicle program Feb. 5 by confirming a first flight last year and releasing pictures in flight of the demonstrator. 

India, Dassault Rafale deal appears stalled –

Negotiations over the multibillion dollar deal to sell 126 Dassault Rafale jets to India have stalled, according to Indian Defence Ministry sources, who say the sticking point involves issues governing license-production of the jets at state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. 

Fast-changing trends in Asia fighter market –

After South Korea overturned its procurement agency’s choice of the Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle as its air force’s next new fighter in September, and announced that it would buy the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, Lockheed Martin and sources close to the company were not shy about predicting an Asian sweep for JSF. Japan had already chosen the new U.S. fighter over the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon (the latter was also passed over by South Korea), and Singapore was expected to follow suit imminently. 

Future of F-35 unclear as costs mount in Japan –

Two years after Japan agreed to buy F-35 joint strike fighters to replace its 1960s-era F-4EJ Kai Phantoms, the government has yet to give more than the vaguest hints about its future fighter replacement plans as the Defense Ministry struggles with a rising tide of costs and difficulties with the troubled stealth fighter program. 

Thales, Nexter, RTD discuss joint bid on tank, vehicle –

Systems specialist Thales has entered talks with armored vehicle builders Nexter and Renault Trucks Defense as the three French companies seek to make a joint offer to build a new multirole combat vehicle and light tank that could be worth about €4 billion (US $5.5 billion), industry executives said. 

Israel’s defense industry boosts UAV sales, eyes unmanned subs –

Elbit Systems says it is delivering its new Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle to three foreign countries, as well as the Israeli military, underlining how the Jewish state’s defense industry has become one of the world’s top exporters of drones. 

Israeli Army renews Elbit training, simulation services –

Israel’s Ministry of Defense has renewed a service contract with Elbit Systems to operate and maintain the Israeli Army’s growing inventory of company-built training systems through 2019. 

Canada unveils sweeping new procurement rules –

Canada’s government announced Feb. 5 the creation of a defense procurement secretariat, along with initiatives meant to streamline the purchase of equipment for the military and Coast Guard. 

French exports rose 30 percent in 2013 –

French arms exports last year rose to almost €6.3 billion (US $8.6 billion), or 30 percent up from €4.8 billion in 2012, helped by sales to the Middle East, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Jan. 30. 

Indian firm, GD to co-produce digital displays –

The Canadian arm of General Dynamics and India’s privately held Samtel Avionics have agreed to co-produce digital display systems for the Indian Army and GD. 

India slows action on procurement deals –

With general elections expected before May, corruption scandals over high-profile defense deals, and a deflated rupee, Defense Minister A.K. Antony, who has cultivated an image of integrity, has taken a go-slow approach on vitally needed equipment projects. 

Report: Russia surges in global arms sales –

Defense companies — waging an uphill battle to drive up revenues and increase order flows — must plan for the possibility of several more years of low spending by western governments, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.



U.S. missile defense isn’t ready for prime time –

In the next few months, the Pentagon plans to conduct a test of its troubled long-range missile defense system. If this test is successful, the Defense Department says it will expand the system on the West Coast by 50 percent to counter missiles from North Korea. Yet last week, for the first time, the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester suggested that in light of recent setbacks, a key part of the system should be redesigned to make it “robust against failure.”

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