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17 Sep 06 Italy Hones In on Network-Centric Operations. Italy desperately needs a new generation of tankers, multi-role fighters and unmanned aircraft–with their links to network-centric operations–that can both protect the homeland from illegal immigration and smuggling as well as project airpower as part of an international force. But while the vision is in place, the money is not. In a network-centric system, “a hole can cause havoc,” says Italian air force Lt. Gen. Giuseppe Bernardis, head of the armament programs department for the Defense Ministry’s National Armaments Directorate. “There are no holes in the vision, but in reality the holes are there. We have to fill them as soon as possible.” While the 2007 defense budget is expected to be slightly better than this year’s, the services are still chopping training hours and grounding aircraft and crews, say analysts here. Defense planners must now figure out how the Italian air force (ITAF) can start assembling the pieces of a 21st century, network-centric force on the cheap. At the same time they want to ensure that any system, already under contract, that doesn’t fit this mold doesn’t eat up a disproportionate part of the budget. For example, from now on “it’s a fact that the military won’t accept anything that isn’t network-centric and expeditionary,” says a veteran Italian air force pilot. “The Eurofighter is not, and it’s absorbing a huge part of the defense budget.” From the ITAF’s perspective, the new fighter, which is specialized for air-to-air combat, “for us is valuable for homeland defense” while the rugged F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s mission would be primarily expeditionary. Supporters of the Typhoon note that Britain will use it as a multi-role fighter and that criticism of its late-blooming ground attack mission is a tactic to defend the F-35 which is facing heavy opposition in the new parliament for being too American, say analysts here. The Typhoon is seen as the launch platform for attack missiles such as Storm Shadow, and despite a larger logistical footprint, it also is expected to deploy when needed. (Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report)

17 Sep 06. EFW Inc. has been awarded multiple contracts to supply the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) with an Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging System/Head Up Display, also known as ANVIS/HUD. The systems extend the border patrol, vessel identification and search and rescue capabilities of the USCG’s HH-65 and HH-60J helicopters. These initial contracts are valued at $815,000.

18 Sep 06. L-3 AVISYS has been awarded a major contract that expands its capabilities to provide turnkey civil aircraft protection systems for three popular models of civil and VIP aircraft. L-3 AVISYS, a unit of the L-3 Integrated Systems Group, has installed or is in the process of installing its systems on the Airbus A340, and Boeing 737 and 747 aircraft. The scope of work in this contract includes the potential for additional orders on other aircraft models.

20 Sep 06. Nigerian Government Orders AW139 Helicopters. AgustaWestland is pleased to announce that it has signed a contract with the Nigerian Government for four AW139 helicopters configured for corporate transport and Search and Rescue (SAR) missions. The helicopters will be operated by the Nigerian State House, the Government of River States and the Nigerian Navy. This contract brings the number of firm orders for the AW139 to almost 200, making it the best selling medium twin helicopter today.

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