News Briefs – November 4, 2015

Large-scale exercise set next month in bomber training site

The first large-scale exercise in a huge bomber training area over the Northern Plains is scheduled for early next month.
The exercise is set Dec. 2-3 in the 35,000-square-mile Powder River Training Complex over the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming, according to Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.
The exercise “is designed to train aircrew under realistic scenarios,” and people in the region can expect to see many different types of aircraft in the sky, the Air Force said. Non-military aircraft are urged to check Federal Aviation Administration notices and avoid areas where the military planes will be flying.
The Air Force has said previously that as many as 88 civilian flights a day could be delayed when large-scale exercises are conducted.
“This type of training is limited to 10 days each year, with each exercise lasting no more than three days, and (will) only occur once every three months,” the Ellsworth statement said.
The FAA in March approved the plan to roughly quadruple the training airspace, making it the largest over the continental U.S. The move came over the objections of some people in the region who worry about military planes disrupting civilian flights, rural communities and ranching operations. Advocates say it will boost military training while reducing costs.
The airspace will primarily be used by B-1 bombers from Ellsworth and B-52 bombers from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. The first flights in the expanded training area occurred in mid-September. AP

U.S. Navy admiral says sailing past Chinese isles not a threat

The head of the U.S. Pacific military forces says the U.S. naval challenge last week to China’s sovereignty claims in the South China Sea was not designed as a military threat.
Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. spoke Nov. 3 to Stanford University students studying at Peking University during his first visit to the Chinese capital as commander of U.S. Pacific Command.
Harris has been outspoken in his criticism of China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea. In March, he said China is “creating a great wall of sand” that is causing serious concern about militarizing reefs and artificial islands in an area of competing territorial claims by several nations.
But in his remarks Nov. 3, he was mostly upbeat in his assessment of prospects for improving relations with China. AP

Sikorsky’s $9 billion sale to Lockheed set to close

The chief financial officer of United Technologies Corp. says the $9 billion sale of Black Hawk helicopter maker Sikorsky to Lockheed Martin Corp. is set to close Nov. 6.
CFO Akhil Johri told industry analysts Nov. 3 that the sale has received all regulatory approvals. The sale will generate about $6 billion in cash that the Farmington, Conn., aerospace and building-systems conglomerate will use to repurchase shares beginning next week.
The company has said it expects the repurchases will offset the profit lost with the sale of Sikorsky.
Sikorsky accounted for $7.45 billion of United Technologies’ $65.1 billion in revenue last year.
Sikorsky’s military business fell with U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan and Iraq. Falling oil prices also were a factor, with energy companies ferrying fewer workers to and from deep-water oil platforms. AP

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