Boeing, Coalition/Allies, Defense Department, EADS

WTO Decision may impact Tanker program

UPDATED at 2332: The WTO has made a preliminary ruling against Airbus.

While Boeing and EADS  Airbus have gone round and round in the fight over the future of the U.S. Air Force’s tanker fleet, a World Trade Organization decision may throw gasoline on the fire.

The WTO has found that Airbus received illegal subsidies from European governments. The WTO said in a confidential interim ruling that the preferential government loans for the A380 passenger jet constituted an illegal export subsidy, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Undersecretary of Defense Ashton Carter has stated that the KC-X refueling tanker competition, which was thrown back open again last year on the heels of what the GAO called a flawed decision to award the contract to the team of EADS and Northrop-Grumman, would be re-launched “this fall.” If sanctions are issued by the WTO against either the US or the EC, or both, it’s not clear whether there would be an immediate impact on the competition; however, a decision that imposed tariffs on aircraft and aircraft parts from EADS would significantly alter the economics of the EADS/Northrop bid.


British Defense aide resigns over Afghanistan policy

Erin Joyce, a former British Army major and aide to the UK minister of defense, has resigned, criticizing the government’s handlng of its role in the Afghanistan war.  Joyce’s resignation letter was published by Channel 4 News.

In his letter, Joyce said, ” I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets. We also need to make it clear that our commitment in Afghanistan is high but time limited.”

Joyce also criticized NATO allies, saying they do “far too little.” In an editorial published on Channel 4’s Web site, Joyce  wrote, “President Obama needs to show in practical ways his appreciation of our effort…For many, it seems that Britain fights; Germany pays; France calculates; Italy avoids. If the United States is seen as valuing each of these approaches equally then I think they may will end up shouldering the burden themselves, with the destruction of NATO’s credibility that would bring with it.”

Coalition/Allies, tech

Italians to get first Reaper installment


The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. won a contract for  $10,250,000 modified contract through the Foreign Military Sales Program  to cover the Italian purchase of MQ-9 Reaper aircraft. So far, $5,022,500 of that contract has been obligated.

The contract is in response to an Italian request last August for four Reapers, over 5 years, including ground stations, for $300 million.   The Italian Air Force currently operates  RQ-1A Predators in its 32nd Wing’s 28 Squadron at Amendola.

The Reaper is the follow-on to the Predator, a “hunter-killer” UAV that can carry over 1,000 pounds of ordnance and stay “on station”  for as long as 48 hours.  28 have been built thus far, the first deploying in 2007.

Coalition/Allies, Defense Department, Policy, weapons systems

U.S. to shift ABM base focus from E. Europe to Turkey, Israel

A Polish newpaper has reported that the Obama administration will scrap plans for “missile shield” bases in Poland and the Czech Republic in favor of a sea-based approach and potential bases in Turkey and Israel.

The move comes on the heels of Obama’s recent meeting with Russian leaders, and recent revelations that Iran’s latest ballistic missile could strike targets in Europe.  It may also have been bolstered by the progress of the Aegis ABM program, which has a much better track record thus far than the land-based ABM program.

Today, Army Lt. Gen. Patrick J. O’Reilly, the director for the Missile Defense Agency, pointed to the successes of the program as a whole, in an interview at the Pentagon. “A few years ago the question was, ‘Could you even hit a missile with a missile?’ We have proven we could do that well over 35 times.”

O’Reilly said that 39 of the last 45 tries at stopping a test missile were successful. All but one miss were early in the program, and he said that one was because of a manufacturing problem, which was fixed as demonstrated by a successful test three weeks ago.

The Defense Department recently committed an additional $900 million toward fielding the Army’s Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) mobile missile defense system.

Coalition/Allies, Space, tech

South Korean satellite fails to orbit

YONHAP NEWS reports that South Korea’s first attempt to put its own satellite into orbit has failed.  One of the two fairings — the aerodynamic covers for the satellite–failed to detach, resulting in it not achieving enough lift to make orbit.  The satellite is suspected to have re-entered and burned up.
“Only one fairing was ejected 216 seconds after launch with the other section remaining in place until the Science and Technology Satellite-2 (STSAT-2) separated from the second stage rocket 540 seconds into the flight, the ministry in charge of the country’s science and technology policies said. ‘The fairings weigh 300kg or three times more than the scientific satellite, making it effectively impossible for the second stage rocket to generate the necessary thrust to keep the satellite in orbit,’ said Vice Science and Technology Minister Kim Jung-hyun.”

Afghanistan, Coalition/Allies, Defense Department, Soutwest Asia

Stavridis: Afghanistan Situation Challenging, But Winnable

DefenseLink News Article: Stavridis: Afghanistan Situation Challenging, But Winnable.

The situation in Afghanistan is “extremely serious,” Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis wrote, but he expressed confidence that “the coalition, working with the Afghan people, will ultimately win.”

Adm. Stavridis, the new NATO commander and former commander of US Southern Command, is at least not pulling punches.  He laid out what he sees as the keys to success in Afghanistan, and none of them are easy. Stopping collateral damage, balancing civil and military activities, and training the Afghan forces–all of these are pretty traditional counterinsurgency tasks made all the much harder by the geography and political economy of Afghanistan.  And then there’s owning the information war:

— Effective strategic communication. Messages must be well defined and communicated to the citizens of Afghanistan as well as to the 42 nations that make up the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force there, Stavridis said. Meanwhile, he cited the need for a truthful, realistic antidote to negative Taliban messaging.