News Briefs – December 2, 2019

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NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul


NATO and U.S. aircraft-maker Boeing have agreed to sign a $1 billion contract to refurbish the military alliance’s aging fleet of surveillance planes, so they can continue to serve as the organization’s eye in the sky until 2035.
Purchased in 1977 at the height of the Cold War, when Jimmy Carter became U.S. president, the 14 Boeing E-3A planes cost almost $8 billion. The new contract is for their fourth and final upgrade.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Nov. 27 that “the modernization will ensure NATO remains at the leading edge of technology.”
He said it will provide the Airborne Early Warning and Control planes “with sophisticated new communications and networking capabilities so these aircraft can continue their vital mission and contribute to our security.” AP
 

Navy cancels review for SEALs after firing of Navy secretary


The Navy has cancelled a peer-review process for three Navy SEAL officers who supervised a fourth SEAL convicted of posing with a dead teenage prisoner in Iraq.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said Nov. 27 the case was becoming a distraction.
Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was accused in a war crimes case that drew President Donald Trump’s attention and led to the firing of the Navy secretary.
Gallagher and the three SEALs were notified last week that a board of peers would determine if they should remain SEALs.
Trump then ordered the Navy to allow Gallagher to retire as a SEAL with his full rank intact. That led to Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer’s firing over his handling of the matter. AP
 

European Space Agency seeks funding boost from member states


The European Space Agency is asking its 22 member states for more money to be able to carry out ambitious new missions and keep up with growing competition from the private sector.
ESA, which began a two-day ministerial meeting Nov. 27 in Seville, Spain, is looking to increase its three-year budget by about 10 percent. In 2019, it had a budget of 5.72 billion euros ($6.3 billion) — about a third that of NASA.
The agency’s director-general, Jan Woerner, has touted an ambitious program for the coming years comprising Earth observation missions, scientific research, planetary defense and commercial enterprises.
Woerner said he also wants Europe to join other nations, such as the United States, that are planning to send astronauts to the Moon again. AP