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NEWS IN BRIEF

17 Mar 04. The production of the first UK components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the world’s next generation stealth fighter jet, has started at two facilities in the North West of England. BAE Systems at Samlesbury, where the aft fuselage and tail for the JSF will be manufactured, and Hyde Precision, a major sub-contractor to BAE Systems on the programme, have both commenced production of airframe components for the JSF. The BAE Systems Machining Centre at Samlesbury began work on one of the major frames that form part of the aft fuselage, for which BAE Systems is responsible for the design and build. Whilst at Hyde Precision, machining of one the leading edge spars that sit within the vertical tails of the supersonic stealth fighter has also got underway.

17 Mar 04. Embraer (BOVESPA: EMBR3, EMBR4) (NYSE: ERJ – News), registered in 2003 net sales of US$2,143.5m and net income of US$136.0m, equivalent to diluted earnings per ADS of US$0.7807. The order backlog as of December 31, 2003 totaled US$28.1bn, US$ 10.6bn in firm orders and US$17.5bn in options.

17 Mar 04. Lockheed Martin Corp.’s (NYSE:LMT – News) $71bn F/A-22 fighter jet program may not be ready for the next phase of its testing, U.S. Air Force Secretary James Roche said Wednesday, adding to storm clouds. “I think it’s iffy,” he said in reply to a question about whether a scheduled meeting next week of top Pentagon acquisition officials should approve entry into the main stage of operational testing and evaluation. Roche acknowledged a delay could boost vulnerability to budget cuts, just weeks after the Army killed the Comanche, a multibillion-dollar helicopter-development program also plagued by cost overruns and technical glitches. By law, operational testing of a weapons system must be accomplished before the Pentagon can order full-rate production rather than the current, low-rate initial output.

11 Mar 04. During a briefing about the Company, MBDA released its forecast of the shape of the guided weapons market. Between 2003 and 2008, Air Defence was expected to grow from 28% to 56% and Surface-to-Surface from 2% to 6%. Remaining areas were expected to decline: Anti-Armour from 25% to 4%,Air-to-Surface from 21% to 19%; Air-to-Air from 15% to 10% and Anti-Ship from 9% to 5%. Comment: MBDA has three shareholders: BAE SYSTEMS (37.5%), EADS (37.5%) and Finmeccanica (25%) and is the world’s second largest guided weapons manufacturer, after Raytheon. Perhaps because of its structure, the Company is not as well understood as it should be but it was good to see all the senior management in the City for an informative briefing. MBDA employs about 5,300 in France, 3,000 in the UK, 1,300 in Italy and 100 in the US. At the end of 2003, the order book stood at €14,800m (£10,080m).

16 Mar 04. Smiths Group yesterday extended its US presence in the aerospace engine components sector with the $102m (£60m) acquisition of a company that specialises in welding “exotic” materials. The all-cash deal fits the strategy of the engineering group, which supplies aerospace systems and medical and detection equipment, to expand through bolt-on acquisitions. Keith Butler-Wheelhouse, chief executive, last week ruled out any plans to use its £500m cash pile to help finance transformational deals, and instead said he would continue to focus on strengthening the group’s core businesses. The latest deal will see the London-based company acquire Dynamic Gunver Technologies, a privately-owned company based in Manchester, Connecticut, which employs 500 people. Smiths said it had signed a binding agreement with DGT’s owners, subject to regulatory approval. The company specialises in the manufacture of parts, typically made of exotic metals such as titanium, for the hot part of aircraft engines, where temperatures can reach in excess of 1,000°C. It is an industry leader in techniques using laser cutting, hydroforming and electron beam welding. (Source: FT)

17 Mar 04. The Pentagon c

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