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06 Jun 06. Chávez in Russia deal to build gun factory. Venezuela is to build Latin America’s first Kalashnikov factory under a deal with Russia that has stoked fears in Washington about the oil-rich country’s arms procurement plans. The administration of Hugo Chávez took delivery at the weekend of 30,000 new Kalashnikov AK-103 assault rifles from Russia, the first batch of a $54m (€42m, £29m) contract for 100,000 units of the weapon favoured by guerrillas worldwide. The deal – which includes ammunition and a licence to build the Kalashnikov factory – comes as the US seeks to enforce a ban on arms sales to Caracas after it alleged Mr Chavez harboured an “ideological affinity” with Colombian “terrorists”. Mr Chávez said Mikhail Kalashnikov, the 86-year-old inventor of the weapon, would visit the site where the factory will be built. But he gave no date for its construction. Venezuela alleges that the US has covert plans to invade it, and that its arms procurement programme is aimed at modernising its defences. But Pentagon officials, long uncomfortable with what they perceive as Mr Chávez’s oil-funded efforts to undermine democracy in the region, are becoming uneasy as Mr Chávez’s promises of arms purchases turn to reality. In an interview with the FT, US Army Brigadier General Frederick Rudesheim, deputy director for western hemisphere politico-military affairs and a member of the joint staff, said Venezuela’s arms acquisitions would “destabilise” the region. (Source: FT)

02 Jun 06. Rolls-Royce broke ground today for its new outdoor jet engine testing facility at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. This new facility will be used to test development and prototype jet engines for performance, noise, validation of safety systems and other factors. Initially, it will test the company’s latest, high-thrust Trent engines, the Trent 1000 and Trent 900, being developed for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A380 respectively. Work is expected to begin at the site in the second half of 2007. This is the first Rolls-Royce test facility of its kind outside the UK and the first built from the ground-up in the US. Last year, the company announced its intent to relocate this testing capability from the UK to the US. There are only three such testing facilities in the world.

05 Jun 06. Newcon Optik has completed facilities upgrades in order to launch the production of XT (eXTra) class Image Intensifier Tubes. Image Intensifier Tubes are a key component in all Night Vision devices, such as NV goggles, binoculars, weapon scopes etc. The new XT class of Image Intensifier Tubes provide a typical 64 lp/mm resolution, contributing to enhanced and detailed night vision images. The tubes are produced in most of the popular sizes, so they can be used to upgrade or service fielded devices, as well as for new production.

04 Jun 06. The Polish scientists that designed the high-power blue laser need ZL25m to initiate production. The state is willing to lend its support, but government funding will not be enough. The laser designed by prof. Sylwester Porowski’s team, was hailed as a technological hit for Poland ten years ago. The state has already provided ZL30m for the project. According to preliminary plans, the Industrial Development Agency (ARP), with its ZL8m new technologies budget, is to participate on the project. Top GaN, owned in 45 percent by the Polish Academy of Science’s High Pressure Institute, already manufactures small apparatus with the new technology. Its main clients are researchers in the USA and France. However, Polish scientists want to initiate the production of high-power lasers that can be used in environmental research and in hi-tech medical apparatus. (Source: Polish News Bulletin/FT.com)

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5 Jun 06. Peruvians elect Garcia president. Alan Garcia promised to have more women in government. With the majo

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