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24 Jan 08. BAE Systems opened a new 33,000-square-foot electro-optics and infrared (EO/IR) sensor technology design center. The facility will expand the company’s ability to deliver its EO/IR sensor products to military forces around the world. The EO/IR Design Center, at 12-18 Hartwell Ave., “will be the source of future innovation at BAE Systems’ infrared imaging business,” said Steve Jamison, BAE Systems vice president and general manager in Lexington. “It will expand our capability to meet the current and future technology needs of our fighting men and women.” Among the products that will be designed and tested at the new facility, which will employ 96 people, is BAE Systems’ new Enhanced Night Vision Digital Goggle. The company is under contract with the U.S. Army to develop the helmet-mounted goggle, which converts infrared energy — heat radiated by people, vehicles, and other sources — to video images. The technology, which enables soldiers to “see” through darkness, smoke, and other obscurants, is at the core of BAE Systems’ Lexington product line.

24 Jan 08. Second minehunter handed over to Estonian Navy. The second of three Sandown class mine counter measures vessels (MCMV) being regenerated by Babcock Marine for the Estonian Navy, was handed over and commissioned at a ceremony at Rosyth today (Thursday 24 January). The former HMS Inverness, now re-named ENS Sakala, is the second of three minehunters sold to Estonia under an agreement signed on 14 September 2006. The ship was officially handed over to Estonia by the UK’s Disposal Services Authority, and was received by the Estonian Ministry of Defence Permanent Under-Secretary, Lauri Almann. The multi-million regeneration programme was undertaken by Babcock Marine at its Rosyth dockyard to restore the ship to operational standards.

27 Jan 08. BAE Systems has started work on a new £100m aerospace business park at its site in Samlesbury, near Preston. The first stage of the project, which is expected to create thousands of highly-skilled jobs, is the construction of two four-storey office blocks to house 1,400 people in the firm’s project teams. The company expects to start work on plans to move the site’s entrance later this year. A planning application to build a new reception area and security lodge is expected to be submitted to planners in the spring. BAE investment director Dave Holmes said: “we would expect the whole project to take about 10 years from now to complete; a decade of change.” The company is talking to the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) over facilities to house some of the 1,000 locally-based suppliers BAE uses at the site. Preparation for the development of the site, which was first announced in 2005, started last year, with the trapping and relocating of a population of Greater Crested Newts which had to be removed before work could begin. Over 3,500 people already work at BAE’s Samlesbury site, where work on major aerospace projects, including the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Joint Strike Fighter and Airbus, takes place. It is estimated there are almost 1,000 firms associated with aerospace in the Northwest, employing over 50,000 people – around 4.5 per cent of the regional employment. Northwest aerospace firms contribute nearly £7bn to the UK’s £18.6bn turnover aerospace industry.

24 Jan 08. Support Helicopters: Additional Merlin Squadron. 78 Squadron was formally ‘stood up’ as a second Merlin Squadron at RAF Benson on 24 Jan 08 (not 3 Dec 07 as originally planned). 28 and 78 Squadrons are to fly a pooled fleet of 28 Merlins.
Comment: The pool of 28 aircraft consists of 22 Merlin HC3, which were delivered to Benson in 2001/02, plus six Merlin HC3A recently acquired from Denmark and due in service later in 2008. (HC indicates Helicopter Cargo.) (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0805, 28 Jan 08)

24 Jan 08. Slingsby Advanced Composites has announced plans for expansion to its

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