02 Nov 05. Boeing yesterday started new contract talks with 18,000 engineers and technical staff working on its commercial aircraft programme, and expects to issue a final and binding offer by mid-November. Employees are expected to vote on the offer at the start of next month, when existing deals expire. The talks come a month after Boeing’s 19,000 machinists accepted a new three-year deal following a strike which wiped about $200m from third-quarter earnings. The talks come as Boeing presses ahead with the development of its 787 aircraft and continues its drive to improve productivity. (Source: FT)
02 Nov 05. Afghanistan: RAF Roulement. 3 Squadron returned to the UK following a four-month tour in Afghanistan. 4 Squadron, based at RAF Cottesmore, is undertaking the next four-month tour at Kandahar. Comment: An Inquiry is being conducted into the attack on Kandahar airfield (14 Oct 05) during which two Harrier GR7A from 3 Squadron were damaged. 3 Squadron is due to become the first operational Eurofighter Typhoon Squadron in April 2006 [see Item 3] and flew its last operational sortie with the Harrier on 31 Oct 05. The Harriers are to be handed over to No 800 Naval Air Squadron. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 05/42, 07 Nov 05)
04 Nov 05. Eurofighter Typhoon: Operational Conversion Unit (OCU). During a ceremony at RAF Conningsby 29(R) Squadron re-formed as the OCU for the Eurofighter Typhoon. “At least” five operational Typhoon Squadrons are planned.
Comment: 29 Squadron, which was the first operational Squadron to fly the Tornado F3, had been disbanded in October 1998. Eurofighter GmbH confirmed (26 Oct 05) the number of Eurofighter aircraft being operated by Partner Countries so far as: Germany – 15; Italy – 11; Spain – 11 and the UK – 18. There is an additional fleet of six Development Aircraft and five Instrumented Series Production Aircraft. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 05/42, 07 Nov 05)
Nov 05. Astute Class Submarines: Service Entry. The Armed Forces’ Minister confirmed that HMS ASTUTE, the First of Class, was due to enter service in 2009 followed by HMS AMBUSH in 2010 and HMS ARTFUL in 2012. The estimated cost for the three boats, as at 31 Mar 05, was £3,492m. Comment: The official expectation remains that HMS ASTUTE will enter service in January 2009 (previously June 2005) although BAE Systems still hopes to deliver the boat in August 2008. The revised cost estimate compares with £3,484m as at 31 Mar 04 and £2,578m at initial approval (Main Gate in the jargon). On 21 Jul 05 the Armed Forces’ Minister said that two packages of long-lead items had been ordered for a fourth Astute Class boat. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 05/42, 07 Nov 05)
Nov 05. Type 45 Destroyers: First of Class Launch. Warship World anticipates that HMS DARING, the first Type 45 destroyer, will be launched into the Clyde on 1 Feb 06. HMS DARING is predicted to join the Fleet in mid-2009, followed by HMS DAUNTLESS in mid-2010 and HMS DIAMOND in late-2010. In a Written Answer (31 Oct 05) the Armed Forces’ Minister confirmed that eight Type 45s were planned, to enter service between 2009 and “the middle of the next decade”. Comment: The first three Type 45s (as above) are under contract with BAE Systems; together with platforms and systems for a further three ships (HMS DRAGON, DEFENDER and DUNCAN). (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 05/42, 07 Nov 05)
31 Oct 05. HMS ENDURANCE: Annual Deployment. HMS ENDURANCE (A171) sailed from Portsmouth for her annual six-month deployment to the Antarctic. One of the ship’s main tasks is supporting the scientific research carried out in the British Antarctic Territories. Comment: HMS ENDURANCE was originally constructed as a Class One Ice Breaker by Ulstein Halton, Norway, in 1990 under the name MV Polar Circle. Chartered and then bought by the MoD, the vessel was commissioned as HMS POLAR CIRCLE in 1991 before being re-named. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS,