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NEWS IN BRIEF

NEWS IN BRIEF

EUROPE

20 Mar 08. Given that Richard Branson and Olivant had their Northern Rock bid costs refunded, do we expect GDUK, Selex and Lockheed Martin to have their considerable bid costs for the WLIP and FRES guns refunded after the surprise decision to sole-source the CTA gun. BATTLESPACE understands that Selex had been encouraged to continue development of the 40mm Supershot round whilst Lockheed’s WLIP offering had considerable encouragement from the MoD and Lord Drayson in particular. Whatever the perceived shortcomings of the gun itself, one cause for concern to the MoD should be that it has been driven into a corner to a sole source for the ammunition for CTA. After paying the large upfront costs to establish the filling facility, the minimum order would be in the region of 50,000 rounds. There is no indication of cost per round, the main cost centre of any canon system. In addition sources believe that the CTA ammunition is not fully qualified. Once in theatre, the CTA user will have no second source for the ammunition, a well documented problem in both Afghanistan and Iraq, where the British Army have had to source .50 calibre rounds in particular from Canada. The CTA canon system has a magazine for 40 rounds which many see as too small for an infantry fighting vehicle, suppressing enemy infantry fire. This won’t be enough to keep the plant running 24/7. Sources suggest that having spent considerable money on this project, both Lockheed Martin and Selex are taking a long look at whether to bid CTA in their turret offerings. A visit to NEXTER this week did not give any comfort for any large orders from France for CTA. CTA was originally slated for the VBCI as a support system for LeClerc. Versions of VBCI demonstrated this week had 25mm and .50 systems mounted. There was no sin of any CTA variant. Lockheed martin has some advantage over Selex in that the company has experience on the CTA canon fit through its TRACER/FSCS Sika Company. Sources suggest that Lockheed still has its CTA demonstrator in the USA. (See: BATTLESPACE ALERT Vol.10 ISSUE 04, 20 Mar 2008, BONJOUR CTAI!)

19 Mar 08. The dollar’s acute weakness threatens the profitability of Europe’s aerospace industry, which finds it hard to fund the research and development needed to secure the future, said Charles Edelstenne, chairman of the French
GIFAS trade body. Edelstenne has consistently cited the damage a weak dollar inflicts on European competitiveness, and the latest warning came as the U.S. currency touched a new low of $1.59 to the euro on March 17. Although French industry booked record 2007 sales of €34.6bn ($54bn), up 7 percent from a year earlier, the dollar’s collapse undermined the profitability of those orders, Edelstenne told a news conference March 18 of the Groupement des Industries Francaise Aéronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS). “These results hide a very worrying reality,” he said. “With an exchange rate above $1.50 to the euro, the profitability of orders booked is in doubt.” Hedging contracts and productivity gains were insufficient, and companies were forced to outsource production abroad or in the dollar zone, which angered unions and politicians, he said.”$1.60 is unbearable,” Edelstenne said, Reuters reported. Bankruptcieswould result from that exchange rate, he said. Edelstenne is also chairman and chief executive of Dassault Aviation, maker of Rafale fighter aircraft and Falcon business jets. MBDA Chief Executive Antoine Bouvier told journalists March 19 that Edelstenne’s remarks were accurate, but added that while civil aviation was able to send work overseas, defense programs were sensitive and contractors were unable to outsource to the same extent. Lower profits cut companies’ ability to invest in research and development, handicapping future competitiveness, Bouvier said. As defense was a sovereign activity, the government should support industry, he added. (Source: Defense News)

19 Mar 08. Norway’s defens

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