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NEWS IN BRIEF

EUROPE

Apr 06. Will Italy Cancel JSF Buy? Italy’s newly elected, center-left government is set to add its voice to the chorus of complaints from Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) partners, with one policy-maker calling for Rome to cancel purchase plans regardless of whether technology sharing with the United States improves.
Giovanni Urbani, aerospace spokesman for the Democratic Left, part of the new governing coalition, said April 11 that Italy should buy the strike-version of the Eurofighter Typhoon instead of the JSF as part of a move toward greater European industrial cooperation. Italy already is introducing Typhoons into service, but had planned to buy JSFs as well. Urbani was speaking the day after Italy’s center-left coalition, led by Romano Prodi, narrowly beat Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s incumbent center-right government in a general election. (Source: Defense News)

19 Apr 06. Financial woes could force EU to scale down Galileo navigation system. The European Union could be forced to cut back on the amount of satellites forming its flagship €3.2bn ($3.9bn) Galileo navigation system because of financial constraints, according to some experts. Although it is struggling to keep to its timetable, the EU hopes to start operating Galileo in 2008. The project involves deploying 30 satellites, including three back-up ones. However, following the successful launch of the first test Galileo satellite in December, some officials suggest that, if current financial difficulties persist, Galileo could still work effectively on a smaller scale. So far, financing has been secured only for the first validation phase, involving about four or five satellites. Philippe Busquin, a former European research commissioner who now oversees the Galileo project as a member of the European Parliament, said: “It’s not clear that we really need 30 satellites. We could certainly make Galileo a success with 24 or 25.” The EU is hoping Galileo will not only provide an alternative to the Pentagon-controlled Global Positioning System (GPS) but will also tap into growing demand for satellite communications, a worldwide market estimated to be worth as much as €300bn by 2020. Jack Metthey, a director handling research in the European Commission, described the Galileo budget situation as “very, very tight”. He added: “Having less satellites would certainly help address the money issue.” However, that could undermine the quality of the system, since some experts warn that fewer satellites would reduce the coverage and precision of the system. “Europe wants Galileo to become the post-GPS generation, not a sub-optimal system,” said one. Last December, EU leaders ended months of haggling by agreeing to a new EU budget for 2007-2013 that will force substantial cuts in some areas of EU spending, notably transport. However, in order not to jeopardise the flagship satellite project, they set aside a specific budget line of almost €1bn for Galileo. There are question marks about additional public financing, as well as the inflow of private funding, which EU officials are currently negotiating with the corporate consortium developing Galileo. Others are concerned that Brussels might be forced to tap further into the already depleted EU transport budget to plug any subsequent gap in Galileo’s funding, a move that would be fiercely resisted by companies that, for example, are relying on earmarked EU funding to support their aeronautical research and development. (Source: FT)

Apr 06. 3 Firms Create Joint Services Operation for U.K. Aviation
Three leading European avionics companies have joined forces to offer support services to the prime contractors that perform upgrade and through-life support of Britain’s military aircraft and helicopter fleets. Thales UK, Smiths Aerospace and Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems announced April 11 they had set up an operation known as Total Support Services (TSS), offering a one-stop shop for avionics and electrical s

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