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NEWS IN BRIEF 04 Mar 05

04 Mar 05. The U.S. Air Force late Friday said it has lifted a 20-month suspension of Boeing Co. satellite-launch contract bidding that followed an inquiry into the company’s possession of proprietary documents from rival Lockheed Martin. According to the agreement, which was posted on the Air Force’s Web site, Boeing can now resume bidding on rocket-launch contracts potentially worth billions to the company. If, however, the Justice Department charges Boeing with any wrongdoing in the case, the Air Force can suspend them again from bidding on rocket launches, according to the deal. (Source: MarketWatch)

01 Mar 05. Canberra PR9 Aircraft: Withdrawal from Service. The Armed Forces’ Minister confirmed that the Canberra PR9 was expected to be withdrawn from service in 2006. The MoD would “continue to provide Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities through a mix of in-service systems and new equipment programmes that will deliver enhanced capability incrementally”. Comment: On 8 Nov 04, the same Minister gave the planned Canberra out of service date as 31 Mar 06.
39 (1 PRU) Squadron operate five Canberra PR9 from RAF Marham. [PRU = Photographic Reconnaissance Unit.] The Canberra has been in RAF service since 1951 and replacement options have been studied under Project Dabinett. A Predator B air vehicle with a Goodrich DB-110 photo-reconnaissance system has been trialled as a possible replacement for part of the reconnaissance requirement. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 05/10, 07 Mar 3)

05 Mar 05. Automotive Technik Limited has issued a response statement following the publication of an article in the Dominion Post in New Zealand, under the headline ‘Broken – Army’s new vehicle fleet’, written by Hank Schouten, which contained some inaccuracies. The Pinzgauer fleet of vehicles has been operating very successfully with the New Zealand Defence Force since it entered service in June 2004. A warranty problem was discovered in a small batch of vehicles and, to protect the remaining fleet during the period of investigation, the Army decided to limit the use of the vehicles until the cause had been identified. This precautionary approach was to avoid any more vehicles developing a problem before identification of the fault had been made – and a solution provided. Therefore the fleet was not idle – and is available for use. The vehicles in question are not yet due to be deployed; therefore a situation where units are being forced to operate with old vehicles does not exist. Relating to the numbers involved, it is a late batch of vehicles that have exhibited a problem – which has not been seen on earlier vehicles. Automotive Technik has provided support direct from its New Zealand office and additional support of engineers from the UK, to investigate the situation. The gearboxes in the New Zealand vehicles are the same which have been used in the Pinzgauer since 1986. It is, therefore a very mature system and no problems have existed previously. This specific fault is a warranty issue and is being dealt with as such. Automotive Technik has a solution in place to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. This is in process of being tested and will be applied to the vehicles immediately.

07 Mar 05. Britain will delay by two years the in-service date for Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) destined to equip new Royal Navy aircraft carriers, according to Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach. That may not be a problem because the new carriers are likely to be delayed as well. The original target had been to get the planes, known here as the Joint Combat Aircraft, into service in 2012. But while answering a question Feb. 24 in the House of Lords here, Bach admitted publicly for the first time that the date had been revised to December 2014. Bach said the delay was caused by the time taken to resolve JSF weight difficulties. But a defense analyst here said the MoD’s growing problem

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