16th Dec 03. The first production EH101 Helicopters for Denmark and Portugal made their maiden flights from AgustaWestland’s plants at Yeovil, UK and Vergiate, Italy respectively on 12th December, marking an important milestone achievement for these contracts. The aircraft for Portugal and Denmark will be cleared to operate at 14,600 kg (32,186 lb) all up mass with an alternative all up mass of 15,600 kg (34,392 lb). This one ton increase in all up mass translates into an equal increase in useful load for the EH101, further improving its already impressive load lifting capabilities. The aircraft features the new generation EH101 cockpit display system, comprising six large integrated display units (IDUs) and two integrated standby instrument systems (ISIS). Portuguese and Danish pilots will commence flight training on the EH101s prior to the first deliveries to Portuguese and Danish Air Forces in 2004.
17 Dec 03. The U.S. DoD approved plans for the Army to field six Stryker rigade Combat Teams (SBCT). Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved an Army enhancement plan on Dec. 8 that provides for the acquisition of Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT) 5 and 6. The Army’s plan focused on enhancing the aviation, fire support, network, and sensor capability of SBCTs 5 and 6, and retrofitting brigades 1 through 4 with newer technology as it becomes available. The approval gives the Army permission to begin expending funds for the new brigades’ acquisition and fielding.
17 Dec 03. Sharp cuts in Israel’s 2004 defence budget will harm the local defence industry and could lead to plants shutting down, a senior military official said on Wednesday.Faced with a growing budget deficit, the government plans to cut about 4bnshekels ($915m) from 2004 defence spending, reducing defence expenditure to about 32bn shekels. This follows a 3bn shekel cut in 2003.
12 Dec 03. Cobham, completed the sale of Westwind Air Bearings to GSI Lumonics, a Canadian engineering group, for £21.25m in cash. Westwind, a manufacturer of advanced air bearing spindles for the semiconductor industry, had £15.4m in turnover last year and an operating loss of £2.6m. Allan Cook, chief executive of Cobham, said: “The proceeds of the disposal will be reinvested with our strategy of building niche positions in aerospace and defence through selected acquisitions.” Cobham’s decision to abandon the highly cyclical semiconductor industry follows Cookson, the UK materials technology group that last summer put its semiconductor packaging machinery unit, Speedline, up for sale.
20 Nov 03. The Armed Forces’ Minister confirmed that “current plans” were for the Swiftsure and Trafalgar Class SSN force level to “reduce to 10 vessels by 2006”. After 2006, “there will be variations each year in the number of SSNs….”. Comment: With the recent decommissioning of HMS SPLENDID, the number of SSN fell from 12 to 11. HMS SOVEREIGN is due to decommission in 2005, when there will be 10 SSN. HMS SUPERB and SPARTAN are due to decommission in 2006 and HMS TRAFALGAR in 2007; with the overall number falling to eight and then seven SSN. The problem has been caused by the three-year slippage in the Astute Class programme, with First of Class HMS Astute no longer meeting her original in-service date of June 2005. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS Issue 03/46, 1 Dec 03). BATTLESPACE Comments: Problems with reactor cracking may further speed up the decommissioning of these vessels due to health and safety concerns.
11 Dec 03. A Defence White Paper entitled Delivering Security in a Changing World was published (See BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.5 ISSUE 49, December 11th 2003. The White Paper was accompanied by an Oral Statement in the House of Commons by the Defence Secretary. In the Minister’s words, the White Paper “sets out a policy baseline against which we will make decisions to provide the Armed Forces with the structures and capabilities they require to carry out the Operations the