End of an Era for Boeing’s C-17 | DARPA Scraps Satellite Launches Via F-15s | NK Missile Thud May Slow SK Timetable for THAADDec 01, 2015 00:20 UTC
- Boeing has finished production of the final C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and it will make its way to Qatar next year. The completion of the plane will see the Long Beach plant close at a loss of 400 jobs. Since its inception in 1991, 279 Globemasters have been produced at the California facility, but lack of international demand for the plane has rendered keeping the plant open financially unfeasible. C-17 fleets are currently operational in UK, Canada, Qatar and Australia.
- The US Navy has released the remaining $279 million funding to Lockheed Martin for the next freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship. The funds will allow for the completion of the USS Cooperstown, the 29th LCS warship in service, and follows the $79 million granted by congress in March towards the construction. The announcement comes shortly after the commissioning of the USS Milwaukee last week.
- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will scrap plans to launch small satellites into space using the F-15 fighter. The announcement comes after testing of the fuel required to boost the rocket into space resulted in explosions, rendering it too dangerous to use in a manned aircraft. Testing with the F-15 would have started next year, but DARPA will now look instead at harnessing fuel and developing modifications to existing rockets to facilitate the launching of the satellites.
Middle East North Africa
- The UK has been warned that they could face war crime prosecutions due to arms sales to states fighting in Yemen. Missiles sold to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states fighting the Houthi rebels have been found to have been used increasingly against civilian targets. Several NGOs have found increasing evidence that British weapons have been used against civilian targets including remnants of PGM-500 “Hakim” missiles found in the rubble of a ceramics factory. Other missiles supplied include the 500lb Paveway IV bombs.
- Germany is considering sending troops to Syria to fight Islamic State forces. The deployment would see an upper limit of 1,200 troops in support ship and reconnaissance roles only, but would not see ground troops. Forces could be in place by the end of the year, but that is dependent on a mandate by German parliament. The move comes after France invoked the mutual defence clause of the European Union (EU) constitution in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks. It is the first time the clause has been called into effect since it was added to the constitution in 2007 and enables EU member states to call on others to help in matters of defense.
- Islamist militant group Boko Haram has destroyed a Nigerian Army base in the north east of the country. The attack happened on November 19, and civilian defenders reported desertion by Nigerian troops. At present, 107 soldiers remain missing although this has been denied by the military. The militants left with one T-71 tank, as well as three artillery guns, eight trucks, and over 60,000 rounds of ammunition. The incident follows recent revelations that some senior Nigerian officials had misappropriated as much as $5.5 billion in state funds that had been earmarked to help the army fight Boko Haram.
- South Korea may not need to install the THAAD missile defense just yet after the most recent failure of North Korea’s missile tests. It had been apparent that Pyongyang had been planning to test off the east coast of the peninsula after announcing a no-sail zone earlier this month. The failure will be a setback to North Korean plans to equip its submarines with below surface ballistic launching capabilities. Observers noted that the missile broke up underwater and failed to break the waters surface. Initial photographs of leader Kim Jong-un watching a successful test were quickly dismissed as state propaganda.
- Indonesian President Joko Widodo has deflected questioning over the purchase of three new AW101 helicopters. The president has come under fire from both the public and lawmakers who cited the $55 million per helicopter as excessive, and a waste of public money. The luxury AW101 is to replace the aging Super Pumas in service, and provide transport not only for the president, but also the vice-president and state guests. Critics have claimed a domestically produced product would have been significantly cheaper as production licenses for Super Puma helicopters are possessed by state-owned aircraft-maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI). Widodo responded by saying that any queries should be taken up with the Indonesian Air Force as they were the ones who made the purchase.
- The end of an era. The last C-17 out of Long Beach: