News Briefs – April 30, 2018


Greece approves 1.2 billion-euro US deal for F-16 fighters

A panel of senior Greek government and military officials has approved a 1.2-billion-euro ($1.45 billion) deal to upgrade more than half of the country’s American-made F-16 fighter planes.
Officials say the deal approved by the Greek cabinet on April 28 will give 85 of Greece’s fleet of F-16s capabilities similar to the much more advanced F-35 fighters minus stealth technology.
The terms of the agreement call for Greece to pay for the improvements until 2027 or 2028, but the U.S. agreed to cap annual payments at 150 million euros ($182 million) after that.
U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt tweeted that the approval built on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s visit to the White House in October.
Tsipras leads the Greek cabinet. AP

Air Force Academy investigates sports hazing allegations

The Air Force Academy says it’s investigating its swimming and lacrosse teams for alleged hazing.
The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria disclosed the nature of the investigations April 25. The academy had previously acknowledged the investigations, but this was the first official word on the nature of the inquiries.
Hazing is banned at the school.
Silveria didn’t offer any details of the alleged incidents. He said the investigations are nearly complete.
Silveria said the academy has banned a group he called a “swimming fraternity” and is considering disciplinary action. Some lacrosse coaches have been disciplined and as many as 10 players could face sanctions.
Silveria discussed the investigations at a meeting of the school’s Board of Visitors, which updates the Pentagon and Congress on academy matters. AP

Pentagon, Congress clash over transgender service members

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis is coming under congressional criticism for the Defense Department’s recently released policy recommending limits on the service of transgender individuals.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says there are conflicting messages coming from the Pentagon.
The New York Democrat says although the policy suggests that allowing transgender people to serve presents risks for unit cohesion and lethality, all four service chiefs have told Congress they’ve seen no problems.
The policy is on hold because it’s being challenged in court.
Mattis says his recommendations for limits on transgender service stem from the advice of a panel of medical experts and defense leaders. He says he’s provided the best advice he could.
Gillibrand says the limits mirror historical reservations about the military service of gays, blacks and women. AP

China’s Air Force holds training flights around rival Taiwan

China’s Air Force conducted training flights April 26 around the self-governing island of Taiwan that it said mark an “historical shift” in its combat ability.
A post on the Air Force’s official microblog said multiple missions were launched from separate bases featuring aircraft including fighters, early warning planes and the H-6K long-range bomber.
The planes circled Taiwan, transiting the Bashi Strait to the south and Miyako Strait to the north along the sea border with Japan, it said.
Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke was quoted as saying that China’s Air Force “has the firm will, complete confidence and sufficient capability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary. Military threats have grown more prominent in recent weeks through war games and sharply worded statements from China seen as a response to what it perceives as the Taiwanese government’s efforts to assert its de facto independent status.
China severed ties with Taiwan almost two years ago, after independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen refused its demand to recognize the island democracy as a part of Chinese territory. AP