News Briefs – October 23, 2015

Russia to station military unit in the Arctic by 2018

A Russian military unit will be permanently stationed in the Arctic by 2018, the defense minister said Oct. 22.
Sergei Shoigu told Russian news agencies that the “creation and arming” of the Arctic military unit should be completed by 2018. Shoigu also said Russia is building several new bases in the Arctic as well as rebuilding six Soviet-era air bases there.
“We are not hiding this from anyone: we are have practically finished building bases on the Novosibirsk Archipelago and on Kotelny island,” Shoigu said, adding that modern military technology was “necessary for guarding borders” in the Arctic.
The Kremlin announced its intentions to bring its military to the Arctic in 2008 but has yet to station troops there.
Shoigu announced Oct. 20 that a base on the Franz Josef Land archipelago is nearly complete. Some 150 troops will be able to live on the base for up to 18 months without outside contact when it opens.
Russian officials have previously said that the air base facilities are essential for protecting shipping routes that link Europe with the Pacific region across the Arctic Ocean.
In tandem with the military expansion, Russia is building the Yamal LNG plant in the Ob River estuary in collaboration with the French energy company Total. It will produce gas, liquefy it and ship it to European and Asian markets. AP

Air Force test-launches Minuteman missile from California

The Air Force says an unarmed Minuteman 3 missile has been launched from California’s central coast in the latest test of the intercontinental system.
The missile blasted off at around 5:45 a.m., Oct. 21 from Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Los Angeles.
The Air Force says the missile carried a test re-entry vehicle that headed for a target area 4,200 miles away near the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
The Air Force routinely uses Vandenberg to test Minuteman missiles from bases around the country. AP

Faster production of jets pushes up Boeing’s profits

Faster production of commercial jets continues to drive profits at Boeing, which saw earnings jump 25 percent in the third quarter. It also raised its earnings outlook for the year.
The Chicago-based company Oct. 21 posted a $1.7 billion net profit, up from $1.36 billion during the same period last year.
Boeing said it earned $2.47 per share. Earnings excluding certain pension expenses came to $2.52 per share. The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $2.22 per share.
Commercial jet manufacturing is playing a larger and larger role at Boeing, also known for its military and space programs. Payments from the delivery of new jets to airlines accounted for 68 percent of Boeing’s $25.85 billion in revenue. That also beat Wall Street’s estimates; analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $24.74 billion.
In July, August and September, the aerospace company delivered 199 commercial jets, up from 186 during the same quarter last year. And more of those jets are expensive wide-bodies, such as the 787 Dreamliner. During this quarter last year, 31 Dreamliners were delivered to airlines; this year Boeing delivered 37.
The challenge now for Boeing is to bring down the production cost of the long-delayed Dreamliner so it can bring in more cash and maybe, someday, breakeven on the plane whose development costs ran over budget.
The company raised its outlook for the year by 5 cents a share. Boeing now expects full year earnings to be between $7.65 and $7.85 a share. Boeing still has a record backlog of new jet orders: nearly 5,700 valued at $426 billion. However, lower fuel prices, a slowing global economy and the possible end of cheap interest rates has led some analysts to question how much longer this new plane buying spree will continue and if some of those orders won’t eventually be delivered.
Just last week, Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson said that a large number of wide-body jets coming off lease in the near future is creating an “aircraft bubble.” He predicted that airlines like his would be able to buy up these used jets cheaply, which would drive down demand — and prices — for the newer and more fuel-efficient models that Boeing and European rival Airbus are selling.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg defended new jet sales on a call with investors and Wall Street analysts, saying, “We continue to see a growing, healthy market.” AP

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