News Briefs – April 2, 2018


Queen Elizabeth praises Royal Air Force on 100th anniversary

Queen Elizabeth II has sent congratulations to Britain’s Royal Air Force on the 100th anniversary of its founding.
The queen’s message was read at a breakfast reception held April 1 at a central London building that served as the RAF’s first headquarters.
The Royal Air Force was created on April 1, 1918, through the merger of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.
Its reputation is strongly associated with the extraordinary bravery and skill of the pilots who defended Britain against Germany’s Luftwaffe during World War II.
Elizabeth said in her anniversary wishes that the RAF has “defended our freedom gallantly.”
Top air force officers attended the reception, but the job of reading the queen’s message fell to 16-year-old Aircraftsman Adam Wood, one of the RAF’s youngest members. AP

Russia tests new intercontinental ballistic missile

Russia has successfully tested its latest intercontinental ballistic missile, the country’s military said March 30.
The Defense Ministry said the launch from Plesetsk in northwestern Russia tested the Sarmat missile’s performance in the initial stage of its flight.
Sarmat is intended to replace the Soviet-designed Voyevoda, the world’s heaviest ICBM that is known as “Satan” in the West.
Presenting Sarmat and an array of other nuclear weapons earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin said that they can’t be intercepted.
Putin said that Sarmat weighs 200 metric tons and has a higher range than Satan, allowing it to fly over the North or the South Poles and strike targets anywhere in the world. He added that Sarmat also carries a bigger number of nuclear warheads, which are more powerful than the ones on Satan.
The Russian president also said the new ICBM accelerates faster than its predecessor, making it harder for the enemy to intercept in its most vulnerable phase after the launch. He also said Sarmat could carry an array of warheads capable of dodging missile defenses. AP

Deported Army veteran wins fight for US citizenship

A deported U.S. Army veteran is getting U.S. citizenship after California Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned him for a criminal offense and he sued to regain permission to live in the United States.
Lawyers for Hector Barajas say they were told March 29 their client should attend a naturalization ceremony on April 13. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services confirmed the decision.
Barajas is prominent advocate for deported veterans, providing housing and other services for them in Tijuana, Mexico, through an organization he founded there.
He was convicted in 2002 of shooting at an occupied dwelling or vehicle and served more than a year in prison. The governor removed a major obstacle to U.S. citizenship by pardoning him last year, noting his distinguished military service and advocacy work. AP

‘Ghana First:’ US military deal leads thousands to protest

Rallying behind the slogan of “Ghana First,” thousands of people in the West African nation have protested a new defense cooperation deal with the United States. Many in the longtime U.S. ally say they worry the expanded military presence could attract extremists and harm their country’s sovereignty.
The protests in Ghana are another signal of discontent in Africa with the Trump administration as its counterterror efforts across the continent grow.
The defense agreement ratified by Ghana’s Parliament last week, and boycotted by opposition lawmakers, gives the U.S. military unimpeded access to facilities including Ghana’s airport runways and allows the U.S. to deploy troops there.
The protests have prompted the U.S. ambassador to reject rumors of a U.S. military base and say “We have nothing to hide.” AP

Boeing says effect from computer virus was limited

Boeing says it detected an attack using the wannacry computer virus but that the intrusion caused little damage or disruption.
A Boeing spokeswoman said March 29 that the ransomware virus was contained to “a few machines” and was fixed with software patches. She said there was no effect on production work for airliners.
The March 28 incident briefly set off alarm in the company and with Boeing’s airline customers.
The Seattle Times reports that Boeing’s chief engineer for commercial airplane production sent a message warning that the virus was spreading rapidly from a plant in South Carolina. The newspaper says the official reported hearing that some assembly tools were affected and that the virus could spread to airplane software.
Boeing says the side of the company that makes military products was not affected. AP

Greek airline making new Airbus order worth up to $5 billion

In a deal worth up to $5 billion, Greek airline Aegean said March 28 it will buy 30 new Airbus aircraft, with the option of an additional 12, to upgrade its fleet as the country expects to break tourism records.
Aegean said it was signing a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for 30 of the A320neo and A321neo aircraft. Along with the option for the additional dozen, the agreement is worth $5 billion at list prices, making it the largest private investment in Greece, the airline said. Airlines often negotiate prices that are lower than the list price.
The signing of the final purchase agreement is expected in June.
“It’s a big moment for Aegean … and it’s happening despite the (Greek) financial crisis and despite the challenges of international competition. Those are the conditions we grew in,” said Eftichios Vassilakis, the airline’s vice chairman.
Greece is expecting another record tourism year in 2018, after the country received 27 million visitors in 2017, according to Bank of Greece data.
The new aircraft have a choice of two engines, either from CFM International or Pratt and Whitney. The airline said it was in talks with both manufacturers and will make a decision on the engines by July.
The 19-year-old Star Alliance carrier currently has a fleet of 58 planes and will fly to around 80 destinations this year, combined with its subsidiary, Olympic Air. AP