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17 Jun 04. Thursday’s agreement between Dassault and EADS to co-operate on the future generation of fighter aircraft marks the start of a difficult courtship between the best of enemies in the European defence industry. Question is, will it speed European defence consolidation or end in tears? For decades, Dassault and the French components of the Franco-German EADS group – the former Aerospatiale and Matra companies – have fought a fierce dogfight, sabotaging repeated efforts to consolidate the industry. Europe, as a result, has three competing fighters – Dassault’s Rafale, the EADS-BAE Systems-Alenia Eurofighter and the Swedish Gripen – a luxury it can ill afford. Now, under the impulse of the French government, EADS and Dassault are joining forces to develop surveillance drones and a new fighter project for 2020-2025 that could be manned or unmanned. The Swedes, Greeks, the Dutch and the Spaniards have all shown interest in joining in. Dassault has been quick to dismiss any idea of merging with EADS, which has long eyed absorbing its French rival. Paris, too, favours a rapprochement that would boost the defence arm of EADS to offset its heavy dependence on the Airbus civil programme. It would establish EADS as the undisputed European leader, isolating BAE Systems should the UK group go ahead with a US link-up. (Source: FT)

18 Jun 04. A Reuters wire service story on June 17 mischaracterized a previously reported delay in the Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Schedule information that was reported in the misleading article had been previously addressed several months ago. There are no new schedule developments in the JSF program. Since the President’s budget was announced in February, Lockheed Martin and JSF program officials have stated — and it has been widely reported — that the first flight of the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft was moving from the fall of 2005 to August 2006. This allows the first aircraft to take advantage of the design refinement efforts being made on the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. The STOVL version is expected to fly in 2007. The financial impact of the JSF schedule change as described above was fully reflected in the estimates of earnings per share and operating cash flow released on April 27, 2004, the date Lockheed Martin released its first quarter financial results. The System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the JSF is under a cost-plus award fee contract.

Jun 04. The US Air Force is investigating the crash, which occurred while the UAV was being operated by remotely at the Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field. The UAV was returning from a training mission on the surrounding Nevada Test and Training Range. The Air Force says no one was hurt and there was no property damage. (Source: The Associated Press)

Jun 04. Dr Tony Tether, head of DAPA has become skeptical the US Army is maintaining momentum on its UCAR (uninhabited combat armed rotorcraft) programme. ‘I’m worried about it,’ he says in a forthcoming interview in Unmanned Vehicles magazine, ‘I’m picking up the sense they don’t want to spend the money.’ DARPA shares the investment with the services on long-range R&D projects, and recently helped launch a contest between teams of contractors pitching UCAR designs. ‘I’ll know more when I see the POM (Program Objective Memorandum) the Army puts out later this year. ‘It’ll be interesting to see where their true priorities lie.’ In other topics, Tether had an explanation for the purchase of Frontier Systems – developer of the A-160 high endurance helicopter design – by Boeing recently. Asked if DARPA was disappointed the company sold out after investing nearly $70-million into Frontier, Tether said it was ‘basically our fault.’ Tether says there was so much concern the A-160 could not be manufactured by Frontier in the numbers needed, DARPA ‘went out and told them to find some way to fix that

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