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June 4, 2014

News Briefs June 4, 2014

Pentagon: Russian fighter intercepted U.S. plane

The Pentagon says a Russian fighter jet intercepted an American reconnaissance plane in international airspace over the Pacific in late April, prompting top officials to communicate their concerns to the Russian military.

A Pentagon spokesman, Army Col. Steve Warren, said June 3 the Russian Su-27 fighter flew across the nose of the U.S. Air Force RC-135U aircraft, coming within about 100 feet, while in international airspace over the Sea of Okhotsk.

Warren said the U.S. plane did not take any evasive measures. He said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both raised the matter with their Russian counterparts.

Warren said he did not know why the Pentagon did not make the incident public earlier. AP

Pakistan air force jet crashes, killing three

A Pakistan air force fighter jet crashed into the country’s largest city after a technical fault June 3, killing two pilots and a civilian on the ground, authorities said.

Air force spokesman Tariq Mahmood said the Mirage jet was on a routine training mission when it went down at a bus terminal in the Yousuf Goth neighborhood in Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province.

Shortly after the crash, local news channels showed its burning wreckage as firefighters worked to douse the flames.

Mahmood identified the slain pilots as Wing Commander Khurram Sammad and Squadron Leader Umair Elahi.

He said a board of inquiry had been formed to determine what caused the crash, and the air force would compensate for the loss of life and civilian property. The Pakistan air force provided no details about any civilian losses, but police officer Sajid Sadozai said one civilian was killed and three buses were damaged in the crash.

He said authorities have transported all the dead to hospitals in the city.

Pakistan’s air force has suffered similar crashes in the past. AP

Dempsey: Army may still pursue desertion charges

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey says the Army may still pursue an investigation that could lead to desertion charges against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed from five years of Taliban captivity in a prisoner exchange last weekend.

Dempsey also told The Associated Press in a telephone interview June 3 that Bergdahl’s next scheduled promotion is not automatic because he is no longer missing in action.

He noted that U.S. military leaders ìhave been accused of looking away from misconductî and said ìit’s prematureî to assume they would do so in Bergdahl’s case, despite his five years as a Taliban detainee.

Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. Army special forces Saturday in exchange for the release of five detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention facility. AP

Obama: U.S. will boost military presence in Europe

President Barack Obama says the United States plans to increase its military presence in Europe by sending in more American troops.

Obama was speaking at a joint news conference in Warsaw with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. Obama says his new initiative will involve prepositioning more U.S. military equipment in Europe as well.

Obama says he’s calling on Congress to provide up to $1 billion to support the effort.

The move aims to ease anxiety among NATO allies wary of Russia’s threatening moves in Ukraine. Obama says the U.S. has a duty under NATO to protect its allies.

Komorowski says Poland plans to increase its budget for its armed forces up to 2 percent of its gross domestic product. He says it’s a tangible, clear sign of engagement. AP

Ukraine military launches offensive against rebels

Ukraine’s interior minister says government troops are engaged in an intense battle against pro-Russian insurgents in the eastern city of Slovyansk.

Arsen Avakov, who reported the fighting in an eastern district of the city on his Facebook page June 3, said the offensive had entered a decisive stage.

An AP journalist just outside Slovyansk heard sustained gun and artillery fire and saw plumes of black smoke rising over the city.

Avakov warned residents in Slovyansk and nearby cities of Kramatorsk and Krasny Liman to stay at home.

Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly announced an escalation in armed operations, only to eventually back down. Government forces have in recent days been noticeably reinforced to the north of Slovyansk, however, and deployment of air power over the past week has signalled increased determination. AP

Bombardier CSeries test fleet grounded

Bombardier’s CSeries test flight program has been grounded following what the company called ìan engine-related incidentî on one of the aircraft during ground maintenance testing in Canada.

A company spokesman said May 30 there were no injuries and testing will resume pending an investigation by the company, engine-make Pratt & Whitney and Transport Canada.

Montreal-based Bombardier, the world’s third-largest maker of civilian commercial aircraft, has said it hopes to capture half the global market of the 100-to-149-seat planes, and has marketed the CSeries plane as being 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the comparable Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 family of aircraft.

The CSeries is critical to Bombardier Aerospace, which has spent years designing the advanced-technology jet. AP




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