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April 30, 2014

News Briefs April 30, 2014

Midland, Texas,-based CAF moving headquarters to Dallas

A vintage military aviation group known for its historic planes, air shows and education will move its headquarters from West Texas to Dallas.

Officials with the nonprofit Commemorative Air Force on Tuesday announced plans to relocate to city-operated Dallas Executive Airport. The CAF is currently based at Midland International Airport.

Organizers sought access to a larger metro area and considered airports in more than 20 cities.

Messages left with Midland city and airport officials were not immediately returned April 29.

What began as the Confederate Air Force was chartered in 1961 in Texas to restore and preserve World War II-era combat aircraft. The CAF in 2002 changed its name to the Commemorative Air Force, currently with about 9,000 members and a fleet of nearly 160 decommissioned military planes. AP

General Dynamics to cut 170 jobs in South Carolina

General Dynamics says it will lay off about 170 employees at its plant in Ladson, S.C., by the end of the year.

The company blamed reduced military spending for the decision to cut 75 percent of its workforce at the old Force Protection plant.

The company says it will stop making mine-resistance vehicles at the plant by December. At the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007, the company employed 2,000 workers.
The company says it will keep about 50 workers in Ladson to supply spare parts and supplies and offer field service support to its customers.

The Virginia company says about 140 workers will lose their jobs in June when production of the Buffalo mine-resistant vehicle is halted. The plant also makes several other vehicles.

The plant also has made another mine resistant model called the Cougar and peacekeeping security vehicles for the U.S. government and international customers.

The company has arranged a variety of programs to assist these workers with their transition from General Dynamics, company spokesman Pete Keating said.

General Dynamics bought Force Protection in 2011 for $360 million. AP

New Mexico warns Air Force on cleanup of Kirtland spill

New Mexico environmental regulators say the Air Force could face $10,000-per-dayy state fines if the service misses a June 30 deadline to start cleaning groundwater contaminated by a decades-old fuel spill.

A state Environment Department letter says the Air Force’s current plan to use bacteria to break down the fuel could miss the June 30 date by up to a year.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that it obtained the letter sent last week through a public records request.

Kirtland spokesman Carl Grusnick declined comment on the letter, saying Kirtland remains committed to ensuring that Albuquerque’s drinking water remains safe.

The spill was discovered in 1999. Contamination has been found about a mile from the initial leak but no contamination has been detected in municipal drinking water. AP

Elon Musk challenges Air Force rocket contract

The goal of Elon Musk’s SpaceX is to help people live on other planets. First, he’d like a shot at a more straightforward Air Force rocket contract.

SpaceX April 27 filed a lawsuit challenging a contract awarded to a joint venture between Chicago-based Boeing and Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin to supply 36 rocket cores to the Air Force to send national security equipment into space.

SpaceX says the contract should have been open to other bidders. The lawsuit calls for certain launches to be open to competition.
Musk is SpaceX’s CEO. He says his company could save the Air Force and taxpayers $300 million per launch.

The joint venture notes its rocket is the only one certified for the Air Force missions and disciplined oversight has helped save the program $4 billion. AP

Pentagon says Hagel told that Russia won’t invade

The Pentagon says Russia’s defense chief has assured Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Russia will not invade Ukraine.

Hagel spoke by phone April 27 with his Russian counterpart, and afterward Hagel’s press secretary, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, issued a statement saying the two men had discussed the crisis in Ukraine.

Kirby said Hagel requested clarification of Russia’s intentions in eastern Ukraine, and the Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoygu, reassured Hagel that Russian forces will not invade.

Hagel also asked for Russia’s help in gaining the release of seven inspectors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who are being held in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists. And Hagel called for an end to what he called Russia’s destabilizing influence inside Ukraine. AP

Two NATO troops die in attack in eastern Afghanistan

The international military coalition in Afghanistan says two of its service members died in an attack in the country’s east.
The NATO force said the two died April 27 but gave no other details. Coalition policy is for home countries to identify their military dead.

The deaths come two days after five British service members died in a helicopter crash in the southern province of Kandahar. They bring to nine the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan this month and 25 this year.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year. AP

Bulgaria downsizes army to free cash for air force

Bulgaria’s defense minister has announced job cuts in the army to free funds for the modernization of the armed forces.

Angel Naydenov said April 27 that the army will be downsized by 1,300 servicemen by the end of this year and called the purchase of new combat aircraft the most urgent task which should have government approval by mid-year.

Bulgaria has long wanted to replace its old Russian-built aircraft and bring its air force in line with NATO standards, but postponed the plans because of reduced defense budgets. The minister did not specify what type of aircraft will be bought.

Bulgaria abolished military conscription and turned its army into a fully professional force in 2008. It has currently a 37,000-strong army. AP

U.S., Philippines reach deal on troops

Filipino officials and a confidential government document say that the United States and the Philippines have reached a 10-year pact that will allow a larger American military presence in the country.

It will give U.S. troops temporary access to local military camps where they can preposition fighter jets and warships.

Two Filipino officials say that both sides will sign the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement April 27 at the Department of Defense in the Philippine capital, Manila, shortly before the arrival of President Barack Obama in the last leg of his four-country Asian trip.

They spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the pact ahead of its signing. AP

Iran to target decoy U.S. aircraft carrier in drills

An Iranian newspaper is reporting that the country’s military plans to target a mock-up American aircraft carrier during upcoming war games.

The April 26 report by independent Haft-e Sobh daily quotes Adm. Ali Fadavi, navy chief of the powerful Revolutionary Guards as saying Iranian forces should target the carrier in the trainings, after it is completed.

Fadavi said, We should learn about weaknesses and strengths of our enemy.

This is the first reaction by Iranian officials to a March report that said Iran is building a simple replica of the USS Nimitz in a shipyard in the southern port of Bandar Abbas. Iranian officials did not comment then but state TV said it would be used in a movie. AP




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