News Briefs – July 12, 2019

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U.S. proceeding with plan for coalition to deter Iran threats

The top U.S. military officer says Washington will move ahead with plans to build a coalition of nations to monitor and deter Iranian threats against shipping in the Persian Gulf and in a heavy trafficked waterway between the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon has developed a specific plan, and he believes that in a couple of weeks it will be clear which nations are willing to join the effort.
Dunford said he discussed the matter July 9 with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the acting secretary of defense, Mark Esper.
The initiative was triggered last month by Trump administration concerns that Iran was behind recent attacks on commercial ships in the Persian Gulf region. AP
 

Bulgaria’s government to buy 8 new F-16s from U.S.

Bulgaria’s government has decided to buy eight new F-16 fighters in a bid to replace its aging Soviet-built jets and bring its air force in line with NATO standards.
The government gave the go-head July 10 for the defense minister to sign the contract for the purchase of eight multi-role F-16 Block 70 fighter aircraft.
Deputy defense minister Atanas Zapryanov told reporters that the $1.25 billion deal includes the aircraft, ammunition, equipment and pilot training, and that there is an option for the U.S. Congress to contribute $60 million. He said that six single-seat and two two-seat F-16s would be delivered by 2023.
The decision still needs parliamentary approval, but it is expected to get that easily given that the ruling coalition has a majority.
Bulgaria joined NATO in 2004. AP
 

Boeing deliveries of 737 tumble in 2nd quarter

Deliveries of Boeing airliners tumbled 37 percent in the second quarter following two deadly crashes involving its best-selling plane, and Europe’s Airbus surged far ahead in the competition between the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers.
Airbus said July 9 that it delivered 389 planes in the first half, up 28 percent from 303 a year earlier. Shipments were strong for its more fuel-efficient A320neo family of planes.
Boeing reported that it delivered 239 planes in the first half of 2019, down from 378 in the same period last year. Deliveries of Boeing 737s, a work horse for short and medium-length flights, dropped by more than half.
A year ago, airlines were snapping up Boeing’s 737 Max, which competes with the Airbus neo. But the Max has been grounded worldwide for nearly four months, since the second of two crashes that together killed 346 people. Boeing suspended Max deliveries in March but continues to ship an older 737 model called the NG.
For the third straight month, Boeing indicated that it received no new Max orders in June. However, the parent company of British Airways said last month that it intends to buy 200 — a move seen as a show of support for the troubled plane. Boeing didn’t count those as orders because the deal is not yet final.
The July 9 twin reports came a day after Saudi budget airline flyadeal reversed its earlier intention to order 30 Max jets from Boeing and instead put in an order for 30 A320neo jets and took options on 20 more. The deal with Airbus is worth $5.5 billion at list prices, although discounts are common.
Flyadeal, part of Saudi Arabian Airlines Corp., has an all-Airbus fleet.
Meanwhile, the White House announced July 9 that Qatar Airways had purchased five Boeing 777 cargo planes. The Middle Eastern carrier had announced its intention to the order the planes last month, during the Paris Air Show.
Boeing is scheduled to report second-quarter financial results on July 24.
Shares in the Chicago-based company rose $1.97 to close at $353.09. AP