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NEWS IN BRIEF

EUROPE

19 Dec 05. EU Settles on Budget for 2007-2013. Though far lower than desired by its executive branch, the European Union finally has a multi-year budget. Hammered out by the EU’s 25 national leaders after an exhausting two-day summit here Dec. 15-16, the new budget substantially reinforces the union’s resources for security and peacekeeping missions next year and beyond, said EU officials. Finalized in the early hours of Dec. 17, the seven-year budget — covering 2007-2013 — includes an agreement to raise the EU’s external-action budget for security-oriented missions from €62m in 2005 to €102m in 2006. (Source: Defense News)

19th Dec 05. VT Shipbuilding marks the latest stage in the programme to build the Royal Navy’s Type 45 Anti-Air Warfare Destroyers with an initial production milestone being achieved on the bow of the fourth ship of the Class, HMS Dragon, on Monday. New Portsmouth Naval Base Commander, Commodore David Steel, will position the first shell plate stringer on ship’s Unit 21, which is the reverse osmosis plant room, to signal the progress on the first stages of production of ship 04. VT is building the bow sections of all the initial six ships in the Daring Class, which displace 7,350 tonnes and are over 150 metres in length. The first section was delivered to prime contractor BAE Systems in Glasgow in June and subsequently consolidated with the rest of HMS Daring, which is being built by BAE and will be launched on February 1, 2006. The uptakes and masts of each ship are also being built by VT, with the first ship set scheduled to leave Portsmouth early next year.

20 Dec 05. Police Raid France’s Thales in Corruption Probe. French police have raided the headquarters of French defense electronics group Thales as part of a probe into corruption allegations by a former executive of the group. The raid, midday on Dec. 20, was carried out by about 10 police officers with investigating judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke, sources close to the inquiry said. Michel Josserand, former head of Thales’ engineering and consulting unit, accused Thales of corrupt practices during an investigation into the attribution of contracts for a tramway system under construction in the French town of Nice. Magistrates in Paris opened an investigation in July as a result of Josserand’s claims. (Source: Defense News/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE)

22 Dec 05. QinetiQ floatation delayed until February 06? Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the planned floatation of QinetiQ by HMG and Carlyle Group has been delayed until February 06. Reasons for this could be the need to slim down the operation in the light of the recent Defence Industrial Strategy paper which cuts QinetiQ’s MoD revenues and failure of the organisation to diversify away from its traditional MoD roots.

16 Dec 05. Could the statement on Guided Weapons made in last week’s Defence Industrial Strategy spur the sale of BAE’s 23% stake in European Missile giant MBDA? MBDA’s performance this year has been somewhat pedestrian with low sales and perceived technology challenges for its Meteor missile. Guided Weapons: “Our investment in this area is likely to reduce by 40% over the next five years”. There is a need to retain design skills within the UK but industrial rationalisation is likely. “This may require us to temper international competition in the short-term”. A 40% reduction is a headache for any future business development and with Raytheon having such a strong export market and being the current incumbent on Typhoon, could BAE cut and run and leave its European shareholders to fight US, Russian and the up and coming Indian companies in the export market? The proceeds of the sale could be used to expand BAE’s IT business with a purchase of CSC, with whom the company has strong relationships, a possibility?

18 Dec 05. UK Defence Minister Lord Drayson has questioned whether a transatlantic merger between BAE Systems and a major US contractor would be in t

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