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NEWS IN BRIEF 18/03/05

17 Mar 05. “And it is because our public finances are strong that in this Parliament we have also been able to meet the extra and unanticipated costs of Iraq, Afghanistan and the fight against terrorism – in total £4.9bn – and today I am able to set aside for additional defence expenditure for the year ahead an extra £400m. The whole House will wish to thank our armed forces for the service they give in peace and in war.” (Extract from UK Budget speech)

12 Mar 05. Questions asked about Swann Hunter. Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot) (Con): Is it not the case that nothing betrays the failure of the much-vaunted smart procurement policy so much as the decision to bail out Swan Hunter for the relatively straightforward off-the-shelf design for the landing ships dock, which has suffered a staggering 60 per cent. cost overrun, described by the procurement Minister in the other place as value for money for the British taxpayer? Why were Ministers not frank with this House and admit that that decision amounted to financial assistance to a yard that had failed to honour its contract and a substantial pre-election bung to a company in Labour’s north-east heartland? It will make no difference because on 6 May the Minister and I shall be swapping places.

16 Mar 05. NATO’s Theatre Missile Defence (TMD) Programme has reached a key milestone in Alliance efforts to field an Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) capability by 2010. As a practical example of the ongoing transformation of NATO’s military capabilities, on 11 March 2005 the North Atlantic Council approved the Charter for the ALTBMD Programme Management Organisation (PMO). This decision launched the Alliance’s ALTBMD Programme, which will provide protection against the threat of ballistic missiles to our soldiers deployed on NATO missions. The importance of being able to defend deployed troops against theatre-range ballistic missiles, such as SCUD missiles, was made apparent during the 1990s. As a number of foreign nations continue working on ballistic missile programmes, as well as developing chemical, nuclear, and biological warheads for those missiles, the need for effective defences has increased. To counter this threat, NATO has, for the past several years, worked to design a battle management system for theatre missile defences. The system will be able to integrate different TMD systems (such as PATRIOT, the NATO MEADS system, SAMP-T) into a single coherent, deployable defensive network able to give layered protection against incoming ballistic missiles. The detailed specifications of the NATO system were agreed by Defence Ministers in Istanbul last June. With the approval of the Charter, the NAC has formally established the TMD Programme Office, paving the way for the financing and purchase of the NATO TMD system.

16 Mar 05. The Korean Air Force said yesterday that it will receive two F-15Ks from Boeing Co. by October under a deal to purchase dozens of such next-generation jets from the U.S. aircraft maker. Boeing is scheduled to deliver 38 more F-15Ks to South Korea on a gradual basis by 2008 under the $5.5bn project, a spokesman of the Air Force said. “The first two aircrafts we are to receive are almost complete,” he said. South Korea buys most of its weapons from the United States.

08 Mar 05. The world’s largest and most sophisticated commercial communications
satellite, Inmarsat 4, is due to be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, n 10 March. Designed and built by EADS Astrium, Europe’s leading satellite manufacturer, the spacecraft will be launched between 21:42 and 21:59 GMT board an International Launch Services’ Atlas V launch vehicle. Inmarsat has purchased three I-4 spacecraft to provide its Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN), a new service that will bring seamless mobile voice and broadband Internet connectivity around the world.

11 Mar 05. DoD Selects Defense Equipment for Testing. The Department of Defense has selecte

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