Rapid Fire Feb. 14, 2013: Finmeccanica Under Friendly Fire from Former Italian Premier

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* In the wake of Giuseppe Orsi’s arrest last Tuesday, Finmeccanica’s board appointed COO/CFO Alessandro Pansa as the company’s CEO. At least until a board meeting coming in April, as the Italian government may want to pump new blood at the head. The matter is taking a political turn, with former prime minister Berlusconi going on TV to defend the paying of “commissions” in countries that are “not full democracies” if you want to close deals. With friends like these… Finmeccanica | FT | Bloomberg | Il Sole 24 Ore [in Italian] | Il Fatto Quotidiano [in Italian, with surreal video]. * In a release recapping their acquisition of AW-101 helicopters from Finmeccanica’s subsidiary AgustaWestland, the Indian government confirmed that it had “put on hold all further payments to Agusta Westland.” Since Mr Berlusconi may pull off a surprise electoral comeback in forthcoming elections in Italy, imagine then the awkwardness of his first meeting with Indian officials. In the meantime, the Times of India writes that documents filed in an Italian court point to bogus software and engineering contracts as the vehicles for the alleged kickbacks. * Congressman Duncan Hunter [R-CA, HASC member], has a point in an interview with […]

* In the wake of Giuseppe Orsi’s arrest last Tuesday, Finmeccanica’s board appointed COO/CFO Alessandro Pansa as the company’s CEO. At least until a board meeting coming in April, as the Italian government may want to pump new blood at the head. The matter is taking a political turn, with former prime minister Berlusconi going on TV to defend the paying of “commissions” in countries that are “not full democracies” if you want to close deals. With friends like these… Finmeccanica | FT | Bloomberg | Il Sole 24 Ore [in Italian] | Il Fatto Quotidiano [in Italian, with surreal video].

* In a release recapping their acquisition of AW-101 helicopters from Finmeccanica’s subsidiary AgustaWestland, the Indian government confirmed that it had “put on hold all further payments to Agusta Westland.” Since Mr Berlusconi may pull off a surprise electoral comeback in forthcoming elections in Italy, imagine then the awkwardness of his first meeting with Indian officials. In the meantime, the Times of India writes that documents filed in an Italian court point to bogus software and engineering contracts as the vehicles for the alleged kickbacks.

* Congressman Duncan Hunter [R-CA, HASC member], has a point in an interview with Politico, on how Pentagon officials have been handling their pre-sequestration communication:

“[A]ll the sudden, even though it’s been a slow-moving train wreck, Ash Carter and the service chiefs are on Capitol Hill screaming fire.”

* Shelby C. Janes, a former civilian employee at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB), GA, pleaded guilty to receiving bribes in exchange for letting another person steal heavy equipment worth $1M from the base, says the US DoJ. An investigation for theft by employees at MCLB started in April last year (presumably these are the same perpetrators). Update: another case at the same base.

* With DARPA’s Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) industry day happening today, the research agency posted more details on their requirements and expectations. Last year they already demonstrated transient electronics that dissolve in water so bidders will have to come up with new techniques.

* France’s DGA procurement agency posted its 2012 report [PDF, in French]. Their “upstream” research spending was stable at 725 million euros (about $970M), as were their payments on ongoing programs at almost 11 billion euros ($14.7B). New spending commitments however dropped to 6.4 billion euros, the lowest amount in 5 years.

* In a new paper [PDF] by the federally-funded but autonomous German Institute for International and Security Affairs:

“NATO’s Afghanistan strategy is based on assumed developments that, until today, have largely not taken place. Regarding the operational qualities of the ANSF and the governance performance of Karzai’s government, the litmus test will be the 2014 presidential elections.”

* Israel’s military recently opened a cyber-defense center staffed with 20 people, reports the Jerusalem Post. Since it is said to operate 24/7, that should presumably translate to 6/7 people manning it at any given time, unless they’re expected to work double shifts.

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