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NEWS IN BRIEF

01 Mar 04. GKN Plc (London:GKN.L – News) posted a smaller-than-expected eight percent fall in annual pre-tax profit on Monday and said that despite improving markets, competitive pressures remain intense. The British company said its pre-tax profit before goodwill amortisation and exceptional items was £246m($459m) in 2003 compared with £267m in 2002, with a decline due to pension costs already flagged by the firm. The consensus forecast was £243.4m.

03 Mar 04. The British Army will soon take delivery of the CORMORANT Communications System, following a successful System Field Trial (SFT) in November/December 2003, which was a key step before its In-Service Date of May 2004. CORMORANT will provide the UK’s Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF) with a comprehensive modern communications capability. The system will enable the JRRF to deploy and operate its Wide Area Network communications system in a fully operational military configuration that can also be used for peace-keeping roles. The SFT was the culmination of a three-year design and integration programme demonstrating CORMORANT’s ability to meet the principle customer requirements and will be followed by an iterative period of trialling and beneficial use, leading up to Technical Transfer in April 2004. CORMORANT subscribers will have military featured telephony services and high-speed data services interconnected over a wide area network. Services from the deployed systems will be linked through the CORMORANT UK Nodes to UK strategic networks if required.

02 Mar 04. Stewart & Stevenson Services, Inc. (NYSE: SVC) announced it expects to report a net loss between $38.5 and $42.9m or $1.35 to $1.50 per diluted share for the fiscal fourth quarter ended January 31, 2004. These results are driven by significant losses at the Power Products and Distributed Energy Solutions segments which are largely the result of numerous management actions including location closures, product line exits and steps taken to reduce capital employed. The company expects to release final results for the fourth quarter on March 25, 2004. The Tactical Vehicle Systems segment continued to deliver results in the range of expectations both from a volume and operating margin perspective.

05 Mar 04. Boeing Co. still expects the government to go ahead with its suspended air-tanker contract this year but is braced to take a $310m charge if the controversial deal is tossed out.

03 Mar 04. Northrop Grumman Corporation has established a Chem-Bio Defense Technology Center to develop next-generation technologies that will build on the success of the company’s Biohazard Detection System, which is currently being installed in U.S. Postal Service facilities nationwide. The Center will leverage three areas of Northrop Grumman expertise-mass spectrometry, electro-optics and micro-electro-mechanical systems bioassays-used to detect and identify minute amounts of chemical or biological agents and warn against them in time to allow effective treatment of those affected by an attack. The Center, located at the company’s Electronic Systems sector’s Advanced Technology Laboratory near the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, is currently executing its first development contract and negotiating or competing for others with the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.

04 Mar 04. Flight controls of the problem-plagued V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft built by Boeing Co. and Textron Inc.’s Bell unit need to be overhauled to fix a recently discovered glitch. The required hardware and software modifications are expected to be designed and installed “within the next few months,” said Tom Laux, the Navy’s executive officer for air anti-submarine warfare, assault and special mission programs.

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