NOAA: Hurricane Hunter planes to stay in Florida
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it plans to find a home for its famed Hurricane Hunter aircraft that is within 50 miles of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
NOAA made the announcement April 6. The Tampa Bay Times reports it’s the first concrete indication by NOAA that the planes, which fly into tropical storms to measure their intensity and forecast their path, will remain in the region.
The Air Force needs NOAA’s hangar space at MacDill and has told NOAA it needs to move by July 1, 2017.
NOAA posted a request for information on a federal website seeking additional details from interested airports.
The MacDill relocation is expected to happen after the 2016 hurricane season in November and before the 2017 season in June. AP
Searchers find 4 of 6 crewmen on missing Japan military jet
Searchers April 7 found four of the six crew members from a Japanese military jet that disappeared a day earlier while flying over southern mountains.
Rescue workers were to resume searching for the jet and the two other crew members April 8.
Police and troops earlier in the day found equipment parts from the jet and one crewman. Defense Minister Gen Nakatani told reporters late April 7 that four airmen have been found, but all were in a state of heart and lung failure. Japanese authorities use that terminology before an official pronouncement of death is obtained.
The airmen were believed to have been found near the area where the plane lost contact the afternoon of April 6, in the mountains north of the Air Self-Defense Force’s Kanoya base in southern Japan. The search was suspended for the night.
The U-125 twin-engine, search-and-rescue jet was on a planned three-hour flight inspecting aircraft navigation facilities in the region.
The base about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southwest of Tokyo is key for reconnaissance missions involving Japanese southern islands as China becomes more assertive in disputed waters. AP
Philippine paratrooper dies during exercises with U.S. forces
The Philippine military says a Filipino paratrooper who parachuted from a C130 plane with U.S. forces has died after a wind gust blew him out to sea instead of the airport drop zone.
Philippine military spokesman Capt. Celeste Frank Sayson says the paratrooper from a special air force operations unit was rescued 15 minutes after the accident April 7 at the Subic Bay freeport, a former U.S. Naval base northwest of Manila, but he died later in a hospital.
About 3,500 Filipino troops and 5,000 American military personnel are participating in the Balikatan or shoulder-to-shoulder combat exercises that started Monday. The 11-day maneuvers aim to prepare U.S. and Philippine troops to quickly respond to a range of potential crises, including in the disputed South China Sea. AP
Cost of three stealthy destroyers grows by $450 million
BATH, Maine–The price tag for the most expensive destroyer built for the U.S. Navy is still growing.
Updated figures from the Congressional Research Service indicate the cost of three ships in the Zumwalt class has grown 3.7 percent, or $450 million, from the previous fiscal year. That lifts the total for the three ships to $12.74 billion.
The first-in-class Zumwalt that’s under construction at Bath Iron Works has successfully completed builder trials, and it will undergo acceptance trials later this month before delivery to the Navy, said Matt Wickenheiser, a spokesman for the company. It’s due to be commissioned in October.
It will be followed by two more of the stealthy destroyers that feature an angular shape to reduce radar signature.
The Navy didn’t appear to be overly alarmed by the revised cost estimates for the 600-foot ships. The projected cost is about 1 percent above the acquisition program baseline established in 2011, said Capt. Thurraya Kent, a Navy spokeswoman.
The projected cost is about 1 percent above the acquisition baseline price set in 2011 after a review triggered by growing costs. As a result, the program was reduced to three ships, driving up the cost of the individual units,
Cost overruns are common in first-in-class military systems.
There’s likely plenty of blame to go around, and that includes the Navy’s decision to serve as systems integrator instead of leaving the task to the shipyard, which is a subsidiary of General Dynamics, said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute. AP
Maryland senate panel OKs tax break for Northrop Grumman
A Maryland Senate panel has approved $37.5 million in tax credits over five years for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, if it keeps 10,000 employees in the state.
The bill was approved April 6 in a bipartisan vote, sending it to the Senate.
Supporters say it’s an important tool to keep jobs in Maryland. Opponents say it’s a huge tax break for one company.
The bill was filed at the request of the Maryland Department of Commerce in Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration. Both supporters and opponents noted that the Republican governor hasn’t spoken out publicly in favor of it.
Matt Clark, Hogan’s spokesman, says senior members of the governor’s staff have testified in favor of the bill. He says it’s time for lawmakers to do the right thing and pass the bill. AP