News briefs

Nevada Air Force base: No serious injuries in aircraft fire

Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., says there were no serious injuries when an aircraft had to abort its takeoff and caught fire at the installation in Nevada.

The Australian Government Department of Defence said in a statement Jan. 27 that the incident involved an EA-18G Growler during an exercise.

It said Royal Australian Air Force personnel were safe.

An investigation was underway. No further details were released.

Nellis is located in the northeastern outskirts of the Las Vegas area.

The base is home for the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and various units. AP

‘Beetle Bailey’ cartoonist Mort Walker dies at 94

A family member says comic strip artist Mort Walker, who tickled newspaper readers with the antics of the lazy Army private “Beetle Bailey,” has died. He was 94.

Walker’s son, Greg, said his father died Jan. 27 at his home in Stamford, Conn. Greg Walker attributed the cause of death to his father’s advanced age.

Mort Walker began publishing cartoons at age 11 and was involved with more than a half-dozen comic strips in his career, including “Hi and Lois,” “Boner’s Ark” and “Sam & Silo.” But he found his greatest success drawing Beetle, his hot-tempered sergeant and the rest of the gang at fictional Camp Swampy for more than 60 years. AP

McSally: Funding request for new wings a boost for A-10s

Arizona Congresswoman Martha McSally says the future of an Air Force attack jet has been boosted by the service’s announcement that its next budget request will include money for new wings for the aircraft.

McSally says the Air Force’s announcement about its funding request shows that the service recognizes that A-10s are indispensable to the aircraft’s main mission of supporting ground troops.

The Air Force said last year that it would have to ground three of nine A-10 squadrons if it lacked funding to replace wings that have outlived their lifespans. The A-10s started entering operational service in the late 1970s.

McSally’s 2nd Congressional District in southern Arizona includes Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, home to the A-10-equppped 355th Fighter wing. AP

Russian military lashes out at British defense chief

The Russian Defense Ministry is mocking British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson for his claim that Moscow has been hatching plans to cripple Britain’s infrastructure.

Williamson said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that Russia has been researching British infrastructure with a view to disrupting it and creating “panic” and “chaos.”
Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov on Jan. 26 ridiculed Williamson’s statement, saying it was worthy of British comedy group Monty Python.

Konashenkov alleged that Williamson talked about the perceived Russian threat to raise his profile. He added that the “silly” claims about Russian plots would merit a medical checkup of their authors.

Russia-West ties have plunged to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis and allegations of Russian meddling in the U.S. and European elections. AP

Putin hails upgraded Russian strategic bomber

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Jan. 25 that modernized strategic bombers will boost Russia’s military power.

Speaking on a visit to an aircraft-making plant in Kazan, Putin said the revamped version of the Soviet-designed Tu-160 bomber features new engines and avionics that would significantly enhance its capability.

The Russian leader attended the signing of a 160-billion-ruble (about $2.9 billion) contract that will see the delivery of 10 such planes to the Russian air force.
He said the upgraded bomber is a “serious step in the development of high-tech industries and strengthening the nation’s defense capabilities.”

The four-engine supersonic bomber developed in the 1980s is the largest combat plane in the world. During Russia’s campaign in Syria, the military used the Tu-160s to launch log-range cruise missiles at militant targets.

Putin also suggested that the plant develop a supersonic passenger jet based on the Tu-160, saying that Russia’s vast territory would warrant such a design.

The state-controlled United Aircraft Corp. said in a statement carried by Tass news agency that preliminary work has started on designing such a plane.

The Soviet-designed Tu-144 supersonic passenger jet that rivaled the British-French Concorde saw only a brief service with Aeroflot after Soviet officials decided it was too costly to operate. Concorde entered service in 1976 and operated for 27 years. AP

China consulting with U.S. on participation in naval drills

China’s Defense Ministry says it is consulting with the U.S. over participating in large-scale multinational military exercises being held this summer.

Spokesman Wu Qian told reporters at a Jan. 25 briefing that China had already been formally invited to take part in the Pacific Rim drills.

China has joined in the exercises twice before, despite frequently complaining about U.S. Navy activity in the South China Sea, which China claims as its territory.

The exercises known as RIMPAC are held every other year and in 2016 included 45 ships, 200 aircraft and more than 25,000 people from 26 nations.

China brought several vessels, including a hospital ship. U.S. law limits the scope of U.S. military drills with China to areas such as search and rescue and humanitarian and disaster relief. AP

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