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June 30, 2014

News Briefs June 30, 2014

SpaceX, Orbcomm want to launch satellites in July

SpaceX and Orbcomm are hoping that it can launch six commercial satellites from Cape Canaveral early next month.

Florida Today reports that the Air Force is reviewing a proposed July 14 launch date for approval. There is a backup date of July 15.

The companies are eventually trying to launch 17 Orbcomm satellites, after having to abort two previous attempts this month because of weather and technical issues. The most recent attempt on June 22 was also scrubbed because of a rocket problem.

Orbcomm said in a statement on its website that the delay provides necessary time for the highest possible mission assurance and also allows for previously scheduled maintenance. AP

 

2,700 jobs may be in danger at Fort Huachuca

The U.S. Army has proposed cutting up to 2,700 military and civilian jobs at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz., over the next five years.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that the plan would cut its total forces from a war-time high of 570,000 soldiers to about 450,000 in the next few years and as low as 420,000 by 2019.

The Army has opened a 60-day public comment period on an environmental and socio-economic assessment of its 2020 force restructuring plan.

Fort Huachuca is Cochise County’s biggest employer and the eighth-largest employer in southern Arizona with 5,700 soldiers and civilian employees, not counting contractors.

The post’s major tenants are the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command and the U.S. Army Intelligence Center. AP

 

Two sentenced in Camp Pendleton bribery scheme

Two contractors have been sentenced to prison for paying tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to the so-called “godfather” of Camp Pendleton, Calif., in order to secure contracts at the military base.

Federal prosecutors say 50-year-old Hugo Alonso will spend six months in prison and 51-year-old Bayani Abueg, Jr. will spend one year in prison for participating in a bribery and kickback scheme involving at least six government contracts.

The bribes went to Natividad Cervantes, who oversaw construction and service contracts at the base, to secure the multi-million dollar contracts.

Alonso and Abueg in turn accepted kickbacks from subcontractors in exchange for preferential treatment.

All three men pleaded guilty in January. Cervantes will be sentenced in late July. AP

 

Navy: Human error partly to blame for drone crash

Human error and a malfunctioning control system are to blame for a November drone accident off the coast of Southern California that injured two sailors and caused $30 million in damage to a warship, the Navy said in a newly unclassified report.

U-T San Diego reported June 27 that the Navy report recommends administrative action against the warship’s then-skipper, Capt. Andrew Hesser, and three crew members for not doing enough to stop the drone from crashing into the San Diego-based Chancellorsville. The newspaper obtained a redacted copy of the report through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The drone breached the warship’s hull. The sailors suffered minor injuries.

The report says the control tower at Point Mugu naval base was also slow to react.

“This unfortunate accident serves as a reminder of the hazards regularly faced by sailors conducting realistic at-sea training,” Hesser said in a statement. “The crew’s heroic, rapid response in the wake of the drone strike limited damage to the ship and prevented serious injury or loss of life.”

Lt. Rick Chernitzer, a Navy spokesman, said administrative action was taken against Hesser and the three crew members, but he added that he could not give details, citing privacy laws.

Hesser completed his tour of duty and did not lose his command as a result of the action, Chernitzer said. AP

 

North Korea tests new precision-guided missiles

North Korea said June 27 that leader Kim Jong Un has guided the test launches of its newly developed precision guided missiles, in a possible reference to three short-range projectiles South Korean officials say the North fired toward its waters a day earlier.

South Korean defense officials said the projectiles fired from an eastern port city June 26 flew about 120 miles before harmlessly landing into the waters off its east coast. The exact type of those projectiles and the North’s intentions weren’t immediately known.

The North’s state media said June 27 that the country tested what it calls “cutting-edge ultra-precision tactical guided missiles” and Kim watched the tests with top deputies and was satisfied with the results.

There is virtually no way to independently confirm whether North Korea has developed such high-tech missiles. North Korea has frequently bluffed and exaggerated about its military capability, and its army, though one of the world’s largest, is seen as running on outdated equipment and short supplies amid the nation’s chronic economic problems, according to foreign analysts. AP




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