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June 13, 2014

News Briefs June 13, 2014

China, Japan blame each other for jet encounter

China and Japan are blaming each other for a close encounter between military jets over the East China Sea.

China’s defense ministry says Japanese F-15 fighters followed a Chinese TU-154 plane on regular patrol June 11 and got as close as 100 feet. It released two videos Thursday on its website purporting to show the incident that it said had “seriously affected” the safety of the Chinese plane.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said June 11 that two Chinese SU27 fighters had posed a danger to Japanese aircraft by flying near them.

The two countries have increased patrols by ships and military planes to press their conflicting territorial claims in the East China Sea. They had a similar incident on May 24. AP

Hagel testifies Wednesday on Taliban prisoner swap

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has told Congress that Qatar officials negotiating the release of captured Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told the U.S. that “time was not on our side” and a leak about the exchange would end the deal.

Hagel says the decision to transfer five Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainees into Qatar’s hands in exchange for Bergdahl was a tough call for President Barack Obama. He says the five were “enemy belligerents” but had not been implicated in any attacks against the U.S.

He says Qatar has committed to adequate security measures that led him to decide the risks of the transfer were substantially mitigated.

Hagel testified before the House Armed Services Committee. Members of Congress from both parties have blasted the administration for not giving lawmakers advance notice of the detainee transfer. AP

Bonus pay is part of Air Force nuke force reforms

The Air Force says it will offer bonus money and other incentives to members of its nuclear missile corps as part of a broader plan to fix what ails the force.

A string of recent training failures, security missteps, leadership lapses, morale problems and stunning breakdowns in discipline prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to demand action to restore public confidence in the nation’s nuclear force.

Air Force leaders are planning to offer bonus pay, fill gaps in the supervisory ranks, offer a nuclear service medal and put more money into modernizing what in some respects has become a decrepit Minuteman 3 missile force that few airmen want to join.

The potential impact of these and other planned changes is unclear, but they are likely to be welcomed by airmen. AP

Japan, Australia eye sub deal, closer defense ties

Japan and Australia are set to move ahead with plans to jointly develop stealth submarine technology, as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants his country to play a more assertive military role abroad.

The submarine research was a top item at the June 11 “2+2” talks in Tokyo. The two sides are set to agree to launch a joint study on the technology. Officials say a deal on Japan’s sale of submarine or other military technology is not expected from the talks.

Abe is pushing to allow Japan to play a more assertive international military role. His government eased Japan’s self-imposed limits on military exports in April, paving the way for Japan’s defense industry to go global. AP

Navy: Human error led to submarine collision

A Navy investigation says the primary reason a submarine and a guided-missile cruiser collided off the coast of Florida in 2012 was human error and poor teamwork by the submarine’s watch team.

June 10, the Navy released its investigative report into the collision between the Norfolk-based USS San Jacinto and the USS Montpelier in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by news outlets more than a year ago.

The investigation also faulted the Montpelier’s commanding officer for failing to follow established periscope depth operating procedures. The Montpelier’s commanding officer was relieved of his duties following the collision.

The report also faulted the Navy’s chain of command for failing to properly plan the exercise.

No injuries occurred as a result of the collision, but ship repairs were necessary. AP

Boeing, five Japanese suppliers ink 777X deal

Boeing has inked a deal for five Japanese companies to manufacture key components for its twin aisle 777X jets.

The Japanese companies will make about 21 percent of the plane’s structural components, including the fuselage sections and landing gear wells.

Boeing, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Fuji Heavy Industries, ShinMaywa Industries and NIPPI Corp. signed the deal June 12.

They already furnish about 35 percent of the 787 Dreamliner. Unlike their involvement with the 787, the companies won’t be making the 777X wing.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said the deal was a celebration of a six-decade partnership.

The 21 percent is the same level Japanese manufacturers got for the predecessor 777 aircraft.

The 777X is set for delivery in 2020. AP

Airbus loses order for 70 of its troubled A350

Emirates Airlines has cancelled its order for 70 Airbus A350 aircraft, a blow to the manufacturer.

The A350 is intended as Airbus’ best hope for catching up in the long-haul market that is dominated by Boeing’s 777 and 787 but has been plagued by years of delays and a multibillion dollar revamp.

In a June 11 announcement, the companies said Emirates cancelled the order after a “fleet requirement” review. The carrier is owned by the government of Dubai and is by far the largest in the Mideast.

Emirates has been rapidly adding the Boeing 777 to its fleet, and last year placed an order for 150 of the planned 777x model in a deal valued at $55.6 billion. AP




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