Top two Pentagon intelligence officials quitting
The Pentagon says the top two officials at its Defense Intelligence Agency are retiring.
The departure of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as director of the DIA and David Shedd as his deputy was announced Wednesday by the Pentagon press secretary, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby. Kirby said the two are retiring this year, but he was not more specific about the timing and offered no reason for their decisions to leave.
Kirby said the Flynn and Shedd retirements have been planned for “some time.” He said replacements would be announced later. AP
High-tech blimp seeks wealthy suitors for future
The maker of an experimental blimp-like aircraft is seeking $60 million from investors to finance a future fleet of cargo-carrying airships.
The Orange County Register reported April 29 that Aeroscraft Corp. of Montebello has announced a stock offering, seeking to sell 1 million shares at $60 a share to institutional and high-net-worth investors.
The blimp manufacturer, which recently changed its name from Worldwide Aeros Corp., plans to build 22 new airships by 2020 or 2021. One version is capable of carrying 66 tons of freight. Another has a 250-ton capacity.
The new type of hybrid aircraft combines airplane and airship technologies. The 230-foot vessel has piston engines that allow it to move vertically and a new type of buoyancy control system.
Construction took place inside a blimp hangar at a former military base in Tustin, Calif. AP
Navy dolphin trainer drowns in San Diego Bay
A contractor with a Navy program that trains dolphins and sea lions for missions drowned during a nighttime exercise in San Diego Bay, the first death for the program that started in 1959, a Navy spokesman said April 30.
Navy spokesman Jim Fallin said 29-year-old Coll Perske was part of a team of contractors with Virginia-based Science Applications International Corp. April 27, training Navy dolphins and sea lions to intercept someone in the water. The San Diego County coroner’s office says colleagues pulled Perske out of the water and he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Navy is investigating the incident but initial reports indicate the mammals had no contact with Perske before he failed to resurface, Fallin said.
The Navy’s $28 million marine mammal program, headquartered in San Diego, trains 80 bottlenose dolphins and 40 California sea lions to do everything from finding underwater mines to stopping enemy divers. The mammals, with good eyesight, sonar and diving abilities, have also been used to protect ports.
The program’s nonessential training is on hold during the investigation, Fallin said. AP
NATO opens second Baltic air base in Estonia
NATO has opened its second Baltic air base in Estonia as part of the military alliance’s increased regional air policing mission during the Ukraine crisis.
Estonia’s military says four Danish fighter jets arrived at the Amari air base, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of the capital Tallinn April 30.
The Royal Danish Air Force F-16 planes will patrol the skies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for four months in coordination with NATO fighter jets stationed in Lithuania. After that, Germany will take over the rotational mission.
In an opening ceremony, Estonia’s Prime Minister Taavi Roivas praised NATO’s decision to deploy planes to the country, saying it will boost regional security.
NATO has carried out Baltic air patrols from a former Soviet base in Lithuania since 2004. AP
House panel rejects cuts in military benefits
Congress is saying “not so fast” to a Pentagon proposal to cut subsidies to military commissaries where service members and their families shop at a reduced cost, as well as other proposed changes to benefits.
The House Armed Services Committee unveiled its draft legislation April 29, and Republicans and Democrats on the military personnel subcommittee were expected to approve April 30.
Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the committee, said the legislation rejects Pentagon proposals “that would have increased out-of-pocket costs for military families.” In proposing its fiscal 2015 budget, the Pentagon called for a $1 billion cut over three years to the subsidies for commissaries, reducing the amount to $400 million. The Defense Department is also calling for smaller housing allowances and changes in the health care program. AP