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NEWS IN BRIEF 27/01/05

24 Jan 05. Senior officials in the US Defense Department have confirmed reports that the Pentagon ran a secret unit to help gather human intelligence. The Washington Post first revealed on Sunday that the Strategic Support Branch (SSB) was set up on the orders of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The Pentagon was re-interpreting US law and trying to bypass the CIA, it said. But the department denies bending laws, saying the group was set up to provide better support for military forces. It was in regular touch with the CIA and Congress over its plans, officials say. ‘Flexibility’ The Post said Pentagon documents and sources said the SSB was designed to counter the “near total dependence” on the CIA for human intelligence. (Source: BBC)

17 Jan 05. EADS and partners France’s Thales and Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann said they have proven that the European Fire Control System (EFCS) can correctly initialize and fire the new Lockheed Martin [LMT] Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System. The company said recently that during demonstrations in the third quarter of 2004 before representatives of the German Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement, which commissioned and carried out the tests, it was successfully proven that EFCS could control GMLRS missiles.

27 Jan 05. Recent trademark filings from Intel Corp. (INTC.O: Quote, Profile, Research) are raising speculation that the world’s largest chip maker may be preparing to create a new global brand. The question is, what does VIIV mean?
“Intel Inside VIIV” and “Intel VIIV” were filed as U.S. trademarks last month by the Santa Clara, California-based chip maker, known for its Pentium and Centrino brands. A square graphic, resembling an inkblot or a starfield, was also filed around the same time. Intel watchers have a few hypotheses on the meaning of VIIV. One is that the letters are Roman numerals standing for 6 and 4, as in 64-bit technology, a feature that Intel is introducing in its chips this year.
Another is that VIIV will appear in a more stylized form as the logo for the company’s new dual-core chips, which are the equivalent of two chips in one. Two letter V’s, separated by two lines, could represent the two cores of a Pentium 5 chip. Of course, the trademark for VIIV, which Intel also filed in Asia and Europe, could be something else altogether, or nothing at all. (Intel’s rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD.N: Quote, Profile, Research) filed trademarks for Forton, Adepton, Tegron, Metaron, and Vanton but doesn’t making chips with those brand names.) Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy declined comment, saying Intel doesn’t discuss unannounced brands or trademarks. But that hasn’t stopped chip industry pundits from expressing intrigue. (Source: Reuters)

20 Jan 05. U.S. Marines demonstrated the M777 lightweight howitzer to local officials at Fort Sill, Okla. The M777 is a lightweight 155mm howitzer and a critical fire support component of Marine Air Ground Task Forces and Army Brigade Combat Teams and light divisions. The M777 was designed and developed by BAE Systems, and is a joint program between the Army and Marine Corps to replace the M198 towed howitzer. The M777 incorporates the first use of titanium castings, which reduces the weight of the howitzer — by 7,000 lbs. — offering improved transportability and mobility, while retaining the full ammunition and range capability of the M198. The lightweight howitzer can be transported by Marine Corps MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft and U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft. The Marines, from the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment stationed at Twentynine Palms, Calif., will be the first unit to receive the new howitzers and the battalion’s key personnel are currently training with the M777 at Fort Sill. The M777 recently completed operational testing at Twentynine Palms in anticipation of a full rate production decision expected next month. During the tests, nearly 12,000 artillery rounds were fired by four producti

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