News Briefs – July 11, 2016


Iranian fighter jet crashes, pilots survive

Iranian state TV says an air force Sukhoi-24 has crashed while on patrol near the southern city of Shiraz, and that the two pilots ejected and survived.
The July 10 report did not say what caused the fighter jet crash, but said an investigation is underway.
Iran signed a contract with Moscow in February to purchase a newer version of the Russian-made fighter jet, the Sukhoi-30.
Iran’s air force still relies largely on domestically modified versions of long-outdated warplanes, including Soviet MiGs and American F-14 Tomcats from the 1970s. AP

Chinese navy holds live-fire drills in South China Sea

Chinese warships, fighter jets and submarines held live-fire war games in the South China Sea, state media reported, just days ahead of an international tribunal’s ruling on a challenge to Beijing’s expansive claims in the waters.
The high-profile display of naval hardware is China’s latest salvo in a propaganda offensive aimed at demonstrating its military might and asserting its sovereignty over the disputed region.
Though China has said the exercises are routine, they come ahead of The Hague-based arbitration tribunal’s ruling July 12 in a case brought by the Philippines contesting China’s claims in the South China Sea. China says the tribunal has no jurisdiction and says it will not accept the verdict.
China Central Television showed video of the July 8 drills, conducted by three fleets of the People’s Liberation Army Navy in and around the Paracel Islands, which are also claimed by Vietnam.
The footage showed missiles and torpedoes being launched from ships, jets flying in formation and releasing flares, and submarines surfacing in the water. The drills are aimed at testing the navy’s battle-readiness and are scheduled to run till Monday, CCTV said.
Zhao Yanquan, a commander of a guided missile destroyer, said the scenario tested the troops’ ability to locate enemy submarines, where enemy warships are attacking from and when enemy jets are taking off.
“We gather the information, analyze it and make decisions upon it. For us, it is a real war situation and therefore a test to that effect,” Zhao said.
Earlier in the week, Vietnam protested the Chinese drill and has demanded that Beijing stop acting in a way that threatens security and maritime safety.
Vietnam, China and Taiwan all claim the Paracelss, which are occupied by China, and those three along with the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei claim all or parts of the Spratly Islands, which are believed to be rich in natural resources and occupy one of the world’s busiest sea lanes. AP

Navy studying how to proceed on new plane-landing system

Navy officials are deciding what to do about a new system to land airplanes on aircraft carriers.
The Daily Press of Newport News, Va., reports that the Navy established the Advanced Arresting Gear program in 2003 but it has been plagued by years of technological problems, delays and cost overruns.
A report July 8 from the Defense Department Inspector General says that as of October 2015, the program had recorded a 332 percent cost increase associated with research, development, testing and evaluation. The report says that’s an overrun of $571.5 million from 2005 baseline numbers.
Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, says the Navy is studying whether the system is affordable before going forward with it on future aircraft carriers. Navy officials will make a decision by December. AP

Appeals court upholds dismissal of Spirit AeroSystems case

Shareholders failed to show that Spirit AeroSystems and four of its executives lied about three manufacturing contracts that resulted in $434.6 million in losses, a federal appeals court panel ruled July 5.
Upholding a lower court decision, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the investors behind a class-action lawsuit failed to show the aircraft parts maker or its executives made any material misrepresentations or omissions.
The lawsuit followed an October 2012 announcement that the Wichita, Kansas,-based company recorded $434.6 million forward losses on the three contracts at issue in the appeal. U.S. District Judge Eric Melgren threw out the lawsuit last year before it got to trial.
In addition to the Spirit, the executives named as defendants in the lawsuit are Jeffrey Turner, Spirit’s former chief executive officer; Philip Anderson, the company’s chief financial officer; Alexander Kummant, senior vice president of Oklahoma operations; and Terry George, vice president overseeing the Boeing 787 project.
The class-action lawsuit was brought by stockholder Wayne Anderson as the lead plaintiff, along with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, among others.
Spirit AeroSystems agreed to supply parts for three types of aircraft manufactured by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and Boeing, specifically the Gulfstream G280 and G60, and the Boeing 787. Each project had production delays and cost overruns, which Spirit periodically publicly reported. Spirit acknowledged the risks in these reports, but expressed confidence in its ability to meet production deadlines and ultimately break even on the projects.
But on Oct. 25, 2012, Spirit announced it expected to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, and its stock price dropped 30 percent.
“The size of the loss does not suggest that the four executives knew or recklessly disregarded the risks that Spirit was eventually going to lose money on the three projects,” the appeals court panel concluded.
Justice Carlos Lucero partly dissented with majority opinion when it came to statements pertaining to the 787 program. He concluded that two executives likely had actual knowledge of the cost overruns and had “intentionally lied to investors about the status of the 787 project,” saying that part of the case should have been allowed to go to trial. AP

House passes measure to stop sale of Boeing aircraft to Iran

A week before the one-year anniversary of the Iran nuclear deal, the Republican-led House approved measures aimed at blocking U.S. companies from selling commercial passenger aircraft to Tehran.
By voice vote July 7, lawmakers passed two amendments directed at Chicago-based Boeing, which had offered Iranian airlines three models of new aircraft to replace the country’s aging fleet.
The amendment was added to a financial services spending bill that the House cleared by vote of 239-185. The House must reconcile differences between its bill and the Senate’s version. The Obama administration is certain to threaten to veto any legislation that undermines the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., the amendment’s sponsor, said the aircraft could be used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
“To give these types of planes to the Iranian regime, which still is the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, is to give them a product that can be used for a military purpose,” Roskam said. The Boeing aircraft could be reconfigured to carry 100 ballistic missiles or 15,000 rocket-propelled grenades, according to Roskam.
The United States, Iran and other world powers reached the landmark nuclear agreement July 14, 2015. The deal ended international economic sanctions against Tehran, allowing airline manufacturers to re-enter the market. AP

House votes to bar women from draft registration

The House approved an amendment to the spending bill that seeks to bar women from being required to register for a military draft. The 217 to 203 vote is a victory for social conservatives who fear that forcing females to sign up is another step toward the blurring of gender lines, akin to allowing transgender people to use public lavatories and locker rooms.
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, would block the Selective Service System from using any money to alter draft registration requirements that currently apply only to men between the ages of 18 and 25.
Davidson, a former Army officer, said much more study is necessary before such a significant, if largely symbolic, step is made. The U.S. has not had a military draft since 1973, in the waning years of the Vietnam War era, and the odds for another wide-scale draft are remote. Still, the draft registration requirement remains for men, and many lawmakers believe women should be included.
The House vote comes just a few weeks after the Senate passed an annual defense policy bill that mandates for the first time in history that young women sign up for a draft. That measure calls for women to sign up with the Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18, beginning in January 2018.
The push in the Senate to lift the exclusion was triggered by the Pentagon’s decision late last year to open all front-line combat jobs to women. After gender restrictions to military service were erased, senior U.S. military officials expressed support during congressional testimony for requiring women to register. At the same time, however, they said the all-volunteer force is working and didn’t want a return to conscription. AP