Deputy legislative speaker says no F-16s sale

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President Ma Ying-jeou and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt.

Taiwan’s Deputy Legislative Speaker Tseng Yung-chuan , a close ally of President Ma Ying-jeou, said on Monday he expects the US will agree only to upgrade the nation’s existing fleet of F-16 jets and not sell Taipei new ones. He said Taiwan has been grateful for US support for decades, but a decision against providing F-16C/D aircraft would “not be satisfactory.”

Two US senators who share that view introduced legislation on Monday demanding US President Barack Obama authorize sales of at least 66 of the F-16C/Ds to Taiwan.

By supplying the planes, the US would anger Beijing and would set back Washington’s efforts to improve its own relations with China.
While Tseng said he was not aware a formal decision on the planes had been conveyed to Taiwan, he said through an interpreter: “Based upon the current situation, it seems that the US is only going to upgrade the F-16A/B air fighters. Speaking for the legislature, this is not satisfactory.”

“These weapons are not going to be used for war. It’s purely based on the purpose of national defense,” he said.

Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the US is legally required to provide Taiwan with arms for its self defense.

Source: Taipei Times

Obama administration moves to sell Global Hawks to South Korea

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The Obama administration has begun consulting Congress on intention to sell four RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 surveillance planes to South Korea.

South Korea has been under pressure to boost surveillance capabilities over North Korea after two attacks against it killed 50 people last year, driving tensions on the Korean peninsula to the highest levels in decades.

Northrop Grumman, which builds the high-flying, long-endurance airframe said Seoul was considering buying four RQ-4 Global Hawk “Block 30″ drones, which can carry intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads.

There was no immediate word on when formal notification of a proposed sale might take place, nor on the potential overall value. Deliveries could take place in 2014 and 2015 if a government-to-government deal is signed this year, Gemma Loochkartt, a company spokeswoman, said by email on Wednesday.

The RQ-4 Block 30 airframes sell for roughly $30 million apiece, not including their payloads. The State Department declined to comment pending formal notification of a proposed Global Hawk sale to Congress.The U.S. Air Force, which would broker the deal, and South Korea’s embassy in Washington also had no immediate comment.

An official at the South Korean Defense Ministry’s procurement agency said it remains interested in acquiring the aircraft system and is waiting for Washington to have a formal go-ahead to negotiate the sale.

“Our interest is based on the operational need of our military,” the official said.

The head of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration Noh Dae-lae had earlier expressed concern about the system’s reliability after reports about the aircraft’s technical shortfalls in May.

Source: Reuters

Obama to decide on Taiwan F-16 sale in October

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The Obama administration has committed to deciding by Oct. 1 whether to allow the sale of 66 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 jets to Taiwan, according to an aide to Sen. John Cornyn.

China opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which it considers a renegade province, and has tried to block sales of the F-16 airplanes to the island. Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou has pressed the U.S. to speed up decision on the jets.

Taiwan’s request for F-16 C/D model jets has been pending since 2006 and upgrades of its older F-16 A/B models have been on hold.

The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council said the timing of the decision “suggests that the Obama administration has no intention” of approving the sale of new F-16 jets. The date is sandwiched between Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to China in August and Chinese President Hu’s expected trip to Hawaii, the group said.

“It doesn’t seem plausible that the Obama administration would stand up for Taiwan policy in the face of two such senior visits from China,” the group said in a news release.

Source: Bloomberg

U.S. F-16s and C-130 to train in Poland

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President Barack Obama announced Saturday that the United States has agreed to send F-16 fighter jets and C-130 cargo aircraft to train in Poland, a move Polish leadership welcomed as a sign of the U.S. commitment to defend Central and Eastern Europe.

In a quick first step, F-16s from the California Air National Guard will work alongside Polish F-16s this July in a training exercise as part of the preparations for the EURO 2012 soccer tournament. Other F-16s and C-130s will be rotated to Poland starting in 2013. Despite Polish media reports before Obama’s visit, the agreement does not deploy any F-16s for long periods and does not transfer any from a key NATO base at Aviano, Italy.

In addition to the sending of F-16s and C-130s to Poland, Obama and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk discussed the new missile defense plan and said U.S. and Polish military will conduct talks on deploying land-based interceptors in Poland in 2018.

Obama came to Poland from that summit, noting that as a member of NATO, Poland is entitled to the same pledge of support as any NATO nation. “We defend each other,” Obama said.

“No US F-16s are being deployed permanently in Poland,” said a White House aide on condition of anonymity. “What we are talking about is regular rotations of U.S. military aircraft to Poland for training and exercises – four per year. U.S. aircraft will come for a few weeks to Poland and then return to their home station.”

Temporary or not, the dispatch of U.S. pilots to Poland sent a message of assurance to Polish leaders who are skittish about Obama’s work to improve relations with Poland’s old nemesis, Russia.

Seeking to improve commercial and personal ties, Obama also announced that he’ll ask Congress to change a law so that Poles can visit the United States without visas. Obama also met Saturday with some of the veterans of the Solidarity movement who first challenged Soviet rule and helped usher in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Source: The Modesto Bee

No Endeavour launch before May 10, officials say

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The final launch of space shuttle Endeavour, originally set for Friday and then delayed until Monday, now will not occur before May 10 at 11:21 a.m., officials said.

Officials announced the later date on Monday, following the liftoff delay last Friday. The launch was initially delayed by at least 72 hours because of concerns about the Endeavour shuttle’s heating system. As part of NASA’s examination of the problem, officials said, the external fuel tank was drained of its hydrogen and oxygen propellant Friday night.

The problem has been determined to be “a power problem,” Mission Management Team Chairman Mike Moses told reporters Sunday.

The delay postponed what promised to be an emotional moment for the shuttle’s commander, Mark Kelly. Kelly’s wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, traveled to Florida to watch the shuttle’s ascent. Giffords was shot in the head January 8 at a public event in Tucson, Arizona. She has been recovering at a Houston rehabilitation hospital.

“We are looking forward to the quick rescheduling of this scientifically important mission,” her office said in a statement. “The congresswoman was pleased, however, to have been able to meet with President Obama and the first family.”

President Barack Obama and the first lady also went to the launch site Friday, and Obama visited with Giffords for about 10 minutes, a White House official said. Obama also met the Endeavour crew, including Kelly.

As NASA’s shuttle program winds down with the last launch scheduled this summer, many in the astronaut corps are wrestling with what to do next. For the foreseeable future, Russian rockets will be the only way for U.S. astronauts to get to space.

Source: CNN

Israel wants F-15SE but Obama refused

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F-15E

President Barack Obama refused a request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a stealth variant of the F-15E fighter-jet, diplomatic sources said.

Netanyahu failed to win Obama’s agreement to approve the export of U.S. offensive systems, including combat jets and helicopters produced by Boeing.

“Netanyahu asked that the United States expedite the export of military equipment and allow Boeing to export the stealth F-15 as part of the Foreign Military Sales program,” a diplomatic source, briefed on the July 6 meeting at the White House, said. “Obama did not reply.”

A key request was for Obama to grant Israel access to Boeing’s proposed F-15 stealth variant, called Silent Eagle and unveiled in 2009. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have expressed interest in the stealth design, but the Obama administration has ordered the closure of the F-15 production line as the Defense Department prepares for the introduction of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

F-35 JSF

They said Obama warned Israel against any military strike on Iran and stressed that Washington would resolve Iran’s nuclear threat through a mixture of sanctions and diplomacy.

“Israel wants the stealth F-15 as its next aircraft, but Washington wants Israel to buy the F-35 ahead of every other international partner,” the source said.

The sources said Obama also urged Netanyahu to accept Palestinian Authority conditions for the resumption of direct negotiations. One of the demands submitted by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was for Israel to agree to a full withdrawal from the West Bank before talks begin.
For his part, Netanyahu maintained that the alliance between Israel and the United States continued to be “stable and strong.”

Speaking to the Cabinet on July 11, the prime minister said his meeting with Obama included discussions on Iran, Palestinians and efforts to force Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Israeli premier did not report any agreement with the president.

“I gained the impression that the president is also attentive to the state of Israel’s special security needs,” Netanyahu said. “On these issues, we are working in concert.”

On July 10, the Silent Eagle completed its maiden flight in a demonstration of the F-15′s stealth capabilities. Read story here.

- World Tribune

Obama praises Boeing 737 sale to Russia

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In a meeting with his Russian counterpart last week, President Barack Obama lauded Russian Technologies plan to buy 50 Boeing 737s.

“I am especially pleased that Boeing and Russian Technologies are moving forward with a $4 billion deal on 50 Boeing 737s,” Obama said.

Russian Technologies (Rostechnologii) announced June 1 that it had chosen Boeing’s 737 over Airbus’ A320 for the large new narrow-body airliner order. The state-owned company operates carrier Rosavia and is working with Aeroflot on a deal for that carrier to lease some of the jets.

Thursday last week, Boeing announced it had signed a five-year contract extension with Russia’s VSMPO AVISMA Corp. and an agreement with Innovation Center of Skolkovo, Russia, during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s U.S. visit.

VSMPO AVISM has supplied raw material and titanium parts to Boeing since 1997. The extension continues deliveries of titanium forgings and rough-machined titanium forgings for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, 777 and 737 aircraft through 2015.

“This contract is another milestone in Boeing’s longstanding relationship with Russian Technologies/VSMPO-AVISMA — our strategic partner and supplier in Russia,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh said in a news release.

Boeing expects to spend as much as $27 billion on Russian titanium, aerospace design-engineering services and other services and materials over the next 30 years.

- seattlepi.com

Obama Backs Gates in Budget Debate

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President Barack Obama today promised to veto any legislation that includes funding for an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter or more C-17 Globemaster, expressing his “strong support” for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ budget-reform effort.

“As the Congress continues its work on funding bills for the Department of Defense, I want to reiterate my strong support for the reforms Secretary Gates is advancing at the Pentagon,” Obama said in a written statement the White House released today. “He has kept me fully apprised of his efforts to reform how our military operates and bring needed efficiencies to the Department of Defense.”

Obama said he stands “squarely behind” Gates’ position on the second F-35 engine and the C-17 program.

“As the statement of administration policy made clear,” the president said in his statement, “Our military does not want or need these programs being pushed by the Congress, and should Congress ignore this fact, I will veto any such legislation so that it can be returned to me without those provisions.”

- Defensetalk.com

Rv-8 intercepted in effect of TFR

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Two NORAD F-15 fighters intercepted an RV-8 aircraft in violation of a temporary flight restricted area near Chicago at 5:42 pm MDT, Friday. The aircraft landed in Aurora, IL, where it was met by local authorities.

The aircraft violated the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR). The TFR was generated when President Obama announced his intent to visit the Chicago Metropolitan Area from May 27th to May 31st, 2010. To “ensure the airspace is secure” during this visit, extensive airspace restrictions were put in place around Chicago. The restrictions were “designed to provide a safe and secure environment for the visit, but also ensure fair and equitable access to all airspace users to the greatest extent possible.”

Pursuant to 49 USC 40103(b), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) classifies the airspace defined in this advisory and the published NOTAM as ‘National Defense Airspace’. Pilots who do not adhere to the following procedures may be intercepted, detained and interviewed by law enforcement/security personnel.

The TFR was in effect as of May 27th and continued until May 31st. The FAA recommends that all aircraft operators check NOTAM frequently for possible changes and updates to this TFR prior to operations within this region.

- aero-news