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27 Feb 04. The U.S. Air Force tapped defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. to build a national military command and control system for Bulgaria, expanding the company’s communications business in Eastern Europe. The size of the contract was not disclosed and a Northrop spokesperson was not immediately available to comment. Northrop’s mission systems group will develop, test, install and support the command and control system for the Bulgarian National Military Command Center. Northrop will also train Bulgarian soldiers to use the system. The command center, located in Sofia, is expected to be fully operational in several months, Northrop said. Bulgaria’s system will be compatible with the U.S. Department of Defense’s global command and control system, which soldiers used for communication and planning during the U.S.-led war on Iraq.

16 Feb 04. Two months before the U.S. Army signed a $14.8bn deal with Boeing Co. for its Future Combat Systems program, a private consultant warned that the agreement posed a serious financial risk to the U.S. government and could waste $1bn in taxpayer money. Hired to improve Army purchasing practices, Virginia-based CommerceBasix recommended the Army rework the draft agreement, according to a copy of the report obtained by Reuters. If, for example, the program due to run until 2011 is delayed by six months, “the financial exposure in the current agreement … could exceed $1bn,” CommerceBasix said, citing its review of a draft agreement dated May 31. But top Army officials dismissed the Oct. 14 CommerceBasix report and proceeded on Dec. 10 to sign the agreement with Chicago-based Boeing — which along with employee-owned Science Applications International Corp. serves as prime contractor for the vast project to modernize the U.S. Army. (Source: Reuters)

26 Feb 04. ITT told BATTLESPACE that the Dutch Marines could become the first customer for the BOWMAN radio system led by General Dynamics UK Ltd. The company also said that its Mercury NTDR/HCDR family of data radios as supplied to the UK BOWMAN programme, 400 units. and U.S. 101st Airborne and U.S. Stryker brigades, 600 units, are working beyond all expectations. The company’s SLICE Programme (Soldier Lead Integrated Communications) project which provides a soldier radio waveform following on from the company’s SUOS, DARPA project is attracting considerable international interest and will form part of Future land warrior programme.

Feb 04. In a move to enter the worldwide market for tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), General Dynamics [GD] yesterday said it has formed a strategic alliance with an Israeli firm to market that company’s UAVs and related technologies, GD said yesterday. Aeronautics Defense Systems, Ltd., of Yavne, Israel, makes three UAVs, two tactical and one close-range, all of which have been used by the U.S. Navy as test vehicles for different payloads.
“This new alliance brings exciting opportunities to leverage the systems integration expertise of General Dynamics with a proven technology leader in the global unmanned vehicle market,” Michael Wilson, president of GD’s Ordnance and Tactical Systems business unit, said. (Source: Defense Daily)

11 Feb 04. The U.K. Armed Forces’ Minister confirmed that the Army Air Corps (AAC) expects to achieve Initial Operating Capability (IOC) with the Apache in August 2004 and a task force capability, based on 9 Regt AAC, during Spring 2005. The basic Conversion to Type course for qualifying AAC pilots on the Apache lasts 26 weeks at an estimated cost of £600,000 per pilot. Pilots then progress to a 26 weeks Conversion to Role course, at an estimated cost of a further £550,000 each. Comment: 24 AAC pilots and their ground crew are undertaking the first set of courses leading up to IOC, which will see four Apache and two Lynx in operational service with 16 Air Assault Brigade. Spring 2005 should see the whole of 9 Regt AAC (two Squadrons each of eight Apache and one Squa

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