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19 Feb 08. AgustaWestland Performs AW139 Assembly Line Grand Opening In Philadelphia. AgustaWestland announced the Grand Opening of the new AW139 medium twin helicopter assembly line in Philadelphia (PA) during an event held today. The event underlines AgustaWestland’s growing presence in the US and the expansion of its Philadelphia facility which in addition to the AW139 assembly is also responsible for AW119 Ke production and supporting the expanding fleet of AgustaWestland helicopters in North and South America. The company broke ground on this new 110,000 ft2 (10,000 m2) facility in November 2005 and just over one year later in December 2006 the first AW139 assembled in Philadelphia was delivered to its customer.

11 Feb 08. HMS ILLUSTRIOUS: An Inauspicious Start. The MoD reluctantly agreed (11 Feb 08) that HMS ILLUSTRIOUS had “been forced back to port again
for repairs”. The aircraft carrier originally sailed from Portsmouth on 21 Jan 08, to lead a Task Group in EX ORION 08. Three sets of “minor defect rectifications” have since taken place.
Comment: HMS ILLUSTRIOUS’ last refit took place between November 2002 and November 2004 at Rosyth and cost £119m.
HMS TRAFALGAR, EDINBURGH and WESTMINSTER are part of the ORION 08 Task Group, supported by RFA Wave Knight, Fort Austin, Diligence and Bayleaf. An American destroyer (USS COLE), a French destroyer (FS JEAN BART) and a Spanish frigate (SNS MENDEZ NUNEZ) are also due to work with the Task Group. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0808, 18 Feb 08)

08 Feb 08. A simulation facility, ‘Cutlass’, has been built courtesy at Abbey Wood, Bristol of scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). The facility has already helped to improve the understanding of how the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) will be used and has increased the UK’s influence on the programme. The UK will soon need to select a variant of the US Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to meet the requirement for the JCA – a decision that will significantly affect UK capabilities. The MOD therefore required a deeper understanding of the concepts of operation and tactics likely to be used by JSF in a range of scenarios. To help define JCA’s requirements, Dstl built Cutlass, which is a ‘man-in-the-loop’ simulation facility. Cutlass brings together both technical performance and aspects of using the aircraft, its systems and weapons in a realistic situation.

12 Feb 08. Former HMS BRECON: New Training Ship. The decommissioned Hunt Class minehunter HMS BRECON arrived (12 Feb 08) at a permanent mooring on the River Lynher, near the training establishment HMS RALEIGH. The vessel has had her props and shafts removed, with mess-decks refurbished and a classroom added. BRECON will not go to sea again.
Comment: BRECON, together with her sister-ships COTTESMORE and DULVERTON, paid off at Faslane on 12 Sep 05. In her new role as a training ship for young sailors, BRECON is also expected to be used for RN/RM boarding and searching instruction. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0808, 18 Feb 08)


19 Feb 08. Fidel Castro announces retirement. Cuba’s ailing leader Fidel Castro has announced he will not return to the presidency, in a letter published by official Communist Party paper, Granma. “I neither will aspire to, nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief,” he wrote in the letter. Mr Castro handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raul, in July 2006 when he underwent intestinal surgery. (Source: BBC)

Feb 08. Up to 600 dockyard workers are to lose their jobs at Devonport as Babcock International confirmed that the number of submarine programmes that it was working on would be halved this year. Babcock Marine bought Devonport, Plymouth’s biggest employer, in June for £350m, but the yard has been bracing itself for job losses since 2005 when DML, the previous owner, pr

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