02 Feb. 05. The Association of the United States Army strongly endorses the proposed legislation to raise the death benefit and insurance payments to $500,000 to survivors of those service members who died in combat and making those payments retroactive to Oct. 1, 2001.Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., said the changes in the two programs “were long overdue and reflect the commitment of this country to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. When these changes are signed into law, which we expect, they will go a long way to ensuring that these survivors have the means necessary to provide for themselves as they contend with a profound sense of loss.” The current death benefit is $12,400. The current top Servicemen Group Life Insurance payment is $250,000. The administration’s proposal and a bill co-sponsored by Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., would raise the death benefit to $100,000 to pay immediate bills and raise the SGLI payment to $400,000. The 100,000-member association also sides with the service vice chiefs who in testimony Feb. 1 did not want to limit the increased benefits to survivors of those who died in combat operations in specific areas. “We do not believe that there should be a distinction made. We cannot place a monetary value on the life of a person who gave his or her life for his country, and we should not try to determine what survivor benefits should be based on geography.” Sullivan added, “The time to act on these necessary changes in the law is now. The Senate Armed Services Committee has already held a critically important hearing on the death and insurance benefits for survivors even before the president’s budget has officially been sent to Congress. We would hope that the other committees with jurisdiction would move quickly as well. The way to act quickly is through the supplemental defense appropriation that will soon be heading to Congress primarily to cover military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.” Comment: This announcement which confirms the United States Army commitment to its dead servicemen and their dependants, spurred a response from UK Premier Tony Blair, whose lack of sympathy for UK service families affected by death and wounding has been commented on by us. Today, Blair announced that he would increase benefits for UK soldiers’ families affected by death or wounding, not unexpected in an election year!
31 Jan 05. The three aircraft industry companies EADS CCR, Airbus and Sogerma, all belonging to the European group EADS, and Swiss company Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques (Sita) are to install a platform for the dismantling of old aircraft on the site of Tarbes airport, according to information from France’s defence minister Michele Alliot-Marie. The defence ministry is backing the project as part of a plan to support public-sector defence company GIAT. Initial investments of between 20m euros and 25m euros are envisaged, while 70 jobs are expected to be created by 2006. (Source: FT, Abstracted from Les Echos)
31 Jan 05. Thales and DCN warmly welcome the 25 January announcement by the French defence minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, concerning the launch of the design phase for France’s second aircraft carrier (PA2). This important step marks the end of the preparatory study phase, in which Thales and DCN have been closely involved. The current studies, which began in June 2004 and will be completed this summer, include risk reduction studies and an evaluation of opportunities for cooperation between the British and French aircraft carrier programmes. Once these studies have been completed, the final design definition phase will begin. In June 2004, Thales and DCN announced their decision to combine their strengths and set up an integrated Prime Contract Office to jointly lead the future French aircraft carrier programme. A jointly owned company will assume the role of prime contractor on