News Briefs – December 7, 2015

Military identifies two pilots killed in helicopter crash

The Army has identified two pilots killed in a helicopter crash near Fort Campbell, Ky.
Fort Campbell said in a news release Dec. 4 the pilots were 35-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 Alex Caraballoleon, a native of Patillas, Puerto Rico, and 32-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kevin M. Weiss, a native of McHenry, Ill.
They were flying an AH-64E Apache attack helicopter during night training Dec. 2 when it crashed 12 miles south of Fort Campbell in Montgomery County, Tenn. The investigation continues.
Caraballoleon served with Company B, 1st Battalion, and 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Weiss served with Company C, 3rd Battalion, and Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. He is survived by his wife, three children and his brother and his wife. AP

Ingalls gets $200 million contract for new Navy vessel

Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., says it has received a $200 million contract to start building an amphibious transport dock for the Navy.
The Mississippi Press reports that the company made the announcement Dec. 4.
The contract is called an initial procurement contract and allows Ingalls to begin the process of purchasing long lead-time materials and major equipment for the LPD 28, the Navy’s 12th amphibious transport dock of the San Antonio class. The total construction contract will be announced at a later date.
With the new contract in hand, the company can start paying for main engines, diesel generators, deck equipment, shafting, propellers, valves and other systems.
The so-called omnibus bill passed by Congress last December included $1 billion for construction of LPD 28.
“This funding demonstrates the priority the Navy places on Ingalls getting started on this important ship,” said Ingalls President Brian Cuccias.
The San Antonio class is the latest addition to the Navy’s amphibious assault force. Each ship is 684 feet long and 105 feet wide and is used to transport Marines, equipment and supplies to and from land.
The ships also support helicopters and aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey.
The ships are used in a number of missions, including humanitarian and disaster relief tasks. AP

U.S. to hasten return of Okinawa military-held land to Japan

The U.S. and Japan said Dec. 4 they are hastening the return of some land the American military holds in Okinawa, seeking to soothe local resentment over the issue on the southern Japanese island.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced a plan to return two sites totaling 17 acres now controlled by U.S. bases to local authorities by the fiscal year that ends in March 2018.
The land amounts to less than 0.7 percent of the total of 2,590 acres that is eventually to be returned under earlier agreements. Some of the land is needed for road works to relieve traffic congestion, and the governments agreed to give local builders earlier access to some areas for surveys and other preliminary work.
Kennedy expressed gratitude from Americans to all communities in Japan that host U.S. military bases, “particularly those on Okinawa.”
Despite the modest amount of land involved, Kennedy described the move as part of a long-term U.S. consolidation of forces in the region.
Future plans call for returning land south of the island’s Kadena Air Base and of 9,852 acres of undeveloped land in northern Okinawa now used for drills.
“When fully implemented, this plan will dramatically reduce the impact of U.S. presence in Okinawa,” Kennedy said.
Suga said the hope was to relieve at least some of the burden on Okinawa, which houses more than half of the 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan.
About 74 percent of the space exclusively used by U.S. military installations in Japan is concentrated on Okinawa, which has only 0.6 percent of Japan’s land area. AP

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