Monday, February 08, 2010

DTN News: Team K-MAX Demonstrates Successful Unmanned Helicopter Cargo Resupply To U.S. Marine Corps

DTN News: Team K-MAX Demonstrates Successful Unmanned Helicopter Cargo Resupply To U.S. Marine Corps *Source: DTN News / Lockheed Martin (NSI News Source Info) DUGWAY, UT,- February 9, 2010: Lockheed Martin Corporation [NYSE: LMT] and Kaman Aerospace Corporation, a subsidiary of Kaman Corporation [NASDAQ GS: KAMN] have successfully demonstrated to the U.S. Marine Corps the capability of the Unmanned K-MAX® helicopter to resupply troops by unmanned helicopter at forward operating bases in Afghanistan. The Unmanned K-MAX launches from the pad with a 1500 lb sling load during contractor flight tests at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, January 2010. During a series of flights last week in subfreezing temperatures at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, UT, the Unmanned K-MAX demonstrated autonomous and remote control flight over both line-of-sight and satellite-based beyond line-of-sight data link. “We met or exceeded the requirements within the scheduled three-day timeframe of the demonstration,” said Dan Spoor, Aviation Systems vice president at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems & Sensors facility in Owego, NY. “The system performed a rigorous set of cargo resupply scenarios as programmed, allowing the ground-based operator to monitor progress, and make adjustments to aircraft positioning only when requested by the Marine Corps for demonstration purposes.” Performance attributes demonstrated included hovering at 12,000 ft. with a 1,500-pound sling load; delivering 3,000 pounds of cargo well within the six-hour required timeframe to a forward operating base (two 150 nm round-trip flights); remotely controlling flight and a precision load delivery by a ground-based operator in both day and night conditions; and uploading a new mission plan to the aircraft’s mission management system during flight. As an optional demonstration, Team K-MAX showcased the Unmanned K-MAX helicopter’s four-hook carousel, which enables multi-load deliveries in a single flight. Lifting a total cargo of 3,450 pounds, the aircraft flew to three pre-programmed delivery coordinates, autonomously releasing a sling load at each location. At the customer’s request, the fourth load delivery was performed under manual control by the ground operator. “The Unmanned System performed operationally representative cargo resupply scenarios, and each time the system delivered as promised,” said Sal Bordonaro, President, Kaman Helicopters, a division of Kaman Aerospace Corporation. “This capability gives the Marine Corps a proven unmanned power lifter to bring vital cargo to troops on the battlefield without the need for ground vehicles and manned helicopters.” Team K-MAX has flown the Unmanned K-MAX nearly 400 hours in unmanned mode since 2007. The demonstration fulfilled an $860,000 U.S. Marine Corps contract awarded to K-MAX manufacturer Kaman Aerospace in August 2009. A manned version of K-MAX has accumulated more than 250,000 flight hours, conducting repetitive lift operations for the construction and logging industries worldwide. Kaman Corporation, founded in 1945 by aviation pioneer Charles H. Kaman, and headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut conducts business in the aerospace and industrial distribution markets. The company produces and/or markets widely used proprietary aircraft bearings and components; complex metallic and composite aerostructures for commercial, military and general aviation fixed and rotary wing aircraft; safing and arming solutions for missile and bomb systems for the U.S. and allied militaries; subcontract helicopter work; and support for the company’s SH-2G Super Seasprite maritime helicopters and K-MAX medium-to-heavy lift helicopters. The company is also a leading distributor of industrial parts, and operates nearly 200 customer service centers and five distribution centers across North America. Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 140,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation reported 2009 sales of $45.2 billion.

DTN News: Gates ~ Iran’s Nuclear Program Puts Middle East In Danger

DTN News: Gates ~ Iran’s Nuclear Program Puts Middle East In Danger *Source: By Fred W. Baker III American Forces Press Service Feb. 8, 2010 (NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - February 9, 2010: Iran’s continuing nuclear development program only serves to put the Middle East in danger of nuclear weapons proliferation, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and French Defense Minister Hervé Morin conduct a joint press conference in Paris, Feb. 8, 2010. DoD photo by Cherie Cullen
But, Gates pushed for stronger diplomatic and economic pressure from the international community rather than calling for military conflict.
“I think that everybody’s interest is in seeing this issue resolve without resorting to conflict. But it makes it all the more important,” he said. “We have to face the reality that if Iran continues and develops nuclear weapons it almost certainly will provoke proliferation in the Middle East. That’s a huge danger.”
Gates’ comments came at a press conference alongside France’s Minister of Defense Hervé Morin. Gates flew here today to meet with the ministers of defense and foreign affairs as well as France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, who he will meet for the first time.
Morin backed Gates’ comments on Iran, saying that France supports putting international pressure on Iran to stop its current nuclear program.
Since 2006, France has repeatedly publicly stressed the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran and has worked with the United States and other members of the P5+1 group -- China, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany -- to demand that Iran end its current nuclear program, according to the U.S. State Department.
Gates said that if all international partners would agree on a plan, then sanctions could still work. “The key is persuading Iranian leaders that their long-term best interests are best served by not having nuclear weapons, as opposed to having them,” Gates said. “My hope is that we will then be able to keep this in economic and diplomatic channels.
“The point of the pressure is to bring the Iranians back to the negotiating table and to resolve this issue in a way that prevents Iran from having a nuclear weapon,” he added.
Besides Iran, Gates said he talked about France’s military support in Afghanistan. The secretary called France “close partners.” Gates said that during the past few years the diplomatic relationship with France has “significantly” expanded.
The renewed relationship is in part due to the realization by both of the governments that “security challenges of the 21st century are too large and too complex to be dealt with by any single nation acting alone,” he said.
Gates praised France’s current efforts in Afghanistan, calling the mission “vitally important to the security of the whole world.”
And he said that NATO and non-NATO allies must act quickly to capitalize on momentum noted by the senior commander on the ground this year. This will happen only if the allies provide Afghanistan with mentors and trainers to bolster their force to take over the security mission. “We must act swiftly to increase the impact of the forces now headed to the theater for this pivotal year,” Gates said.
The secretary said there has been a renewed energy among NATO and non-NATO partners with respect to the mission in Afghanistan. As a result, the number of troops committed to the fight by allies has almost tripled since Gates took office.
France has increased their forces by nearly half since the start of the war and has taken on new training responsibilities, fielding six operational and mentoring teams and offering six more. France has about 2,800 troops in Afghanistan.
Among NATO members, France is second only to the United States in terms of total troops deployed abroad. France is one of NATO's top five troop contributors.

DTN News: France OKs Carrier Sale To Russia

DTN News: France OKs Carrier Sale To Russia
*Source: DTN News / RT (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW, Russia - February 9, 2010: France has agreed to sell the Mistral helicopter carrier to Russia. The Russian Navy also has its eyes on three more similar vessels in the future. The approval of the defense deal was announced Monday by Jacques de Lajugie, the international development director of France’s armaments board Delegation Generale pour l’Armement (DGA). He added the possible addition of three more helicopter carriers has only been discussed on the technical level, not on the political. Russia’s Navy voiced its intention to buy a helicopter carrier last year. The goal is to study the technology and tactical advantages of such a ship. The French warship Mistral is the main candidate for the purchase, and she even paid a three-day visit to St. Petersburg in November so that top brass could examine it personally. However, the final decision has not yet been made and Russia is considering alternatives. The French helicopter transport ship 'Mistral' sits docked at a quay on the Neva River, St. Petersburg (AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)France currently has two vessels of this class deployed, which means additional warships will have to be commissioned if Russia wants an extra three. Some Russian Navy officials also speculated that the Mistral can go with a license to build similar vessels in Russian shipyards. “For the first time since World War II, Russia buys such a big piece of armament abroad, so indeed it is unprecedented, but I believe it is the beginning of military imports,” Aleksandr Pikaev from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations told RT. “Sometimes it is easier to buy a ready product than develop it from a scratch. Russia accounts for maybe 2.5% of international GDP and spends very little money for its military, around 3% of Russia’s own GDP. Under these circumstances, it is very difficult for Russia to develop the full spectrum of weaponry Moscow might need, and therefore in some non-crucial areas, Russia has to enter the international military market.”

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 9, 2010 ~ Afghan Operation Moshtarak Places Success Over Surprise

DTN News: Afghanistan TODAY February 9, 2010 ~ Afghan Operation Moshtarak Places Success Over Surprise *Source: DTN News / BBC By Frank Gardner (NSI News Source Info) KANDAHAR AIRBASE, Afghanistan - February 9, 2010: If the success of all military operations depended on surprise, Operation Moshtarak would be doomed before it began. British and Afghan forces prepare for battle in Helmand. But casting convention to one side, Afghan and Nato Isaf commanders behind the coming Moshtarak (meaning "together" in Dari) have purposefully given their insurgent enemy as much notice as possible that they are preparing to arrive in his midst. For weeks now troops on the ground have been informing villagers in Helmand province that a major force is on its way. Gatherings of elders are being held, where Afghan government officials are trying to persuade the local population in the areas of Marjah and Nad Ali to turn their backs on the Taliban and welcome Afghan government forces. And stacked up in hangars here on the airbase are bundles of printed leaflets waiting to be airdropped when the weather clears. They carry a stark message. "Moshtarak, the Combined Force and the people", it says, "will defeat the insurgents and bring a better life. Where will you stand? Help us and report enemy activity on this number." 'Fan club' So why give the Taliban the heads-up and allow the insurgents time to escape or - just as likely - to scatter the paths of oncoming troops with lethal IEDs (improvised explosive devices)? (Image: The coalition forces have asked locals for help) I put this to the man in charge of all 50,000-plus Nato/Isaf troops in southern Afghanistan, British Maj Gen Nick Carter. "What we don't want to do is to have any collateral damage or to create civilian casualties. We want the population to act as our fan club when our Afghan security forces and ourselves arrive there. "Because they will not only act as a restraint on potential insurgents, they will probably tell us where the improvised explosive devices are planted, and they will be positive towards our arrival." That could be wishful thinking. The Taliban have had years to establish themselves in the lush valleys and concentrated mud-walled compounds of that part of central Helmand. Once famed for the sweetness of its melons, the area is now a major centre for opium production, a multi-billion dollar business nationwide that has sucked in farmers, the Taliban and members of the government alike. The Taliban will be loath to relinquish control and on Monday a purported spokesman was quoted as saying his forces would fight to the death. (Image: The operation will test the new strategy signed off by Barack Obama) Wherever the sympathies of the local farmers and villagers lie, the one thing guaranteed to alienate them is if their homes are turned into a battleground between the insurgents on the one hand and the coalition and Afghan government forces on the other. Nato's new strategy in Afghanistan, signed off late last year by US President Barack Obama, rests on two principles - protecting the civilian population and partnering more closely with Afghan forces. To that end, say Nato commanders, Operation Moshtarak has been planned from the end backwards, in other words with all phases geared to bringing security and good governance to central Helmand where it has been beyond government control until now. They admit that many previous coalition operations have ultimately failed because after defeating the insurgents on the battlefield they have had too few forces to hold the ground and there has been too little political will to improve the lives of the population. This time, they insist, will be different, with a comprehensive civil-military plan to establish the rule of law in central Helmand, bringing in newly trained police and a commitment to support the plan by the government in Kabul. But the proof of success or failure will probably not be known for several weeks. If the civilian population ends up being more secure as a result of this operation then it will be judged a success, if not then the first big test of Nato's new strategy in Afghanistan will have resulted in failure. LATEST NEWS Afghan security move 'this year' Pakistan sees Afghan Taliban role UN eases curbs on ex-Taliban Karzai offers peace scheme Militants attack Afghan capital BACKGROUND Strategy set But will plans set out at London conference work? Will the Taliban talk? Destination Quetta Who are the Taliban? Map: Foreign forces Q&A: Who is fighting the Taliban Mapping the militant nexus Q&A: Causes of regional militancy How Afghan corruption works

DTN News: Rolls-Royce Wins Order To Supply Bergen Diesel Engines To The Royal Netherlands Navy

DTN News: Rolls-Royce Wins Order To Supply Bergen Diesel Engines To The Royal Netherlands Navy *Source: DTN News / (NSI News Source Info) LONDON, UK - February 8, 2010: Rolls-Royce, the global power systems company, has on Feb 5., announced an order to supply Bergen diesel engines for the Royal Netherlands Navy’s Joint Support Ship (JSS). The contract for the engineering, building and delivery of the vessel was signed late last year, by the Royal Netherlands Navy and Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) in Vlissingen, Netherlands. The vessel will be equipped with four Bergen B32:40V12A generator sets and one B32:40L6A, which will provide diesel electrical power and propulsion. Construction of the 205-metre ship will largely take place at Damen shipyard at Galati, Romania under the supervision of DSNS. Engineering, commissioning and testing will then take place in Vlissingen, and the ship is due to be delivered to the Royal Netherlands Navy in July 2014. Sam Cameron, Rolls-Royce, Sales Director, Naval, said: “This important order demonstrates the relevance of the Rolls-Royce Bergen engines for the Naval sector. This continues the strong relationship Rolls-Royce has with Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding and the Royal Netherlands Navy and we are very pleased that our innovative technology has again been selected.” The robust multi-function ship is specifically designed for maritime support, strategic sealift and sea basing missions in both open-ocean, and littoral waters. At its disposal are capabilities for replenishment at sea, storage of supplies, transport of materiel and personnel, and for extensive medical, technical and logistical support. The Bergen range of diesels are suitable for a variety of propulsion system configurations, as prime mover or auxiliary generator sets in naval vessels, where reliability, fuel efficiency, through life cost, and environmental constraints, are significant factors. The modern engine designs are compliant to stringent IMO Tier II emission requirements without the application of common rail modifications, using diesel or gas fuel. There are over 4,000 Bergen engines operating today with a proven track record in the Offshore, Merchant and Naval sector. Rolls-Royce is a leading supplier of marine systems and has previously supplied gas turbines and gas turbine support, propellers and stabilisation equipment to the Royal Netherlands Navy. The company supplies 70 navies with products ranging from gas turbines and diesel engines, to propulsion, motion control and electrical systems, and has a growing network of marine service facilities.

DTN News: Iran’s Nuclear Move Prompts New Calls for Sanctions

DTN News: Iran’s Nuclear Move Prompts New Calls for Sanctions *Source: DTN News / NY Times By Alan Cowell and Thom Shanker (NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - February 8, 2010: Officials from the United States, France and Russia called Monday for stronger measures against Tehran after Iran told the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency that it would begin enriching its stockpile of uranium for a medical reactor in Tehran as early as Tuesday. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) and Iran's chief Nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili (2nd R) visit an exhibition of Iran laser science and technology in Tehran February 7, 2010. In Paris, the visiting United States defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, said the Obama administration and the other nations had reached out sincerely to reassure Iran and entice it to negotiate an end to its nuclear program. “All of these initiatives have been rejected,” Mr. Gates said. While “we must still try and find a peaceful way to resolve this issue,” he said, “the only path that is left to us at this point, it seems to me, is that pressure track. But it will require all of the international community to work together.” Separately, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said, “The only thing we can do, alas, is apply sanctions given that negotiations are impossible.” In Moscow, Konstantin I. Kosachyov, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian Parliament, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as urging the international community to prepare “serious measures.” At issue is a proposal for Iran to swap its uranium stockpile for enriched uranium processed into fuel roads outside the country. Iran was initially reported last October to have accepted the proposal, but later backed away. Western officials say Iran has rejected the deal, but Tehran accuses the West of failing to respond to its proposals. Several of the world powers dealing with Iran’s nuclear issue are in favor President Obama’s call for tougher sanctions, but China has said such action could forestall a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis. On Monday, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, delivered a letter to the agency setting out the plan to begin enriching its stockpile to 20-percent purity, news reports said, after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally ordered his atomic scientists on Sunday to begin the process. Iran’s nuclear program is one of the most contentious issues between the West and Tehran, which rejects Western suspicions that it is seeking to build a nuclear weapon. In recent days Iran has sent a perplexing series of conflicting signals about plans that could move the country closer to producing weapons-grade fuel. At a news conference in Paris, Mr. Gates was asked whether the United States had any guarantees that Israel would not attack Iran to halt Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. He avoided a direct answer. “I think that everybody’s interest is in seeing this issue resolved without a resort to conflict,” he said. “We have to face the reality that if Iran continues and develops nuclear weapons, it almost certainly will provoke nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. And that’s a huge danger.” He expressed hopes that any punishment against the Iranian government be kept to “economic and diplomatic channels.” Iran’s announcement on Monday seemed to take another step toward brinkmanship with world powers led by the United States, which is seeking a broad international consensus on tighter economic sanctions against Iran. The American, French and Russian calls for more stringent measures came hours after Iran made its intentions known to the atomic agency. The White House and European Union also issued a statement Tuesday expressing concern about signs of a renewed crackdown by the Tehran government on protesters around the upcoming anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic. In the strongly-worded statement, the United States and Europe condemned “the continuing human rights violations in Iran” since last year’s disputed elections, maintaining that Iran’s “large scale detentions and mass trials, the threatened execution of protestors, the intimidation of family members of those detained and the continuing denial to its citizens of the right to peaceful expression are contrary to human rights norms.” On the nuclear issue, Iran’s state-run broadcaster Press TV quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization as saying Iran would “start enrichment on Tuesday in the presence of inspectors and observers from the I.A.E.A.” The I.A.E.A. had no immediate comment Monday morning. Both state television in Iran and news agencies reported that Mr. Soltanieh, the ambassador, said he had handed over the letter on Monday. It remains far from clear that Iran has the capability to enrich fuel to the level ordered by Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is apparently seeking to increase pressure on the West to reopen negotiations on providing fuel for the medical reactor on terms more favorable to Tehran. Indeed, Mr. Salehi was quoted by Reuters as suggesting that Tehran’s planned enrichment efforts would be halted if Iran received fuel enriched to 20 percent from abroad. “Iran would halt its enrichment process for the Tehran research reactor any time it receives the necessary fuel for it,” he said. He also said a previously announced plan to build 10 new enrichment plants would begin in the next Iranian year starting on March 21, Reuters reported. Mr. Soltanieh told The Associated Press that the enriched uranium would be used only in the Tehran reactor, whose present supply would be exhausted within a year. “We cannot leave hospitals and patients desperately waiting for radioisotopes,” he said. The developments coincided with new indications on Monday that Iran was seeking to develop a more sophisticated military capability, including a powerful antiaircraft missile system and remotely piloted drones for surveillance and attacks.
Iran had been trying to buy S-300 surface-to-air missiles from Russia, apparently to protect its nuclear facilities from airstrikes. Despite strong Western pressure not to supply the missiles, Russia has not given a clear indication of its intentions. The official news agency IRNA quoted the Air Force commander, Heshmatollah Kassiri, as saying that, since Russia had for “unacceptable reasons” not delivered the missiles, “in the near future, a new locally made air defense system will be unveiled by the country’s experts and scientists which is as powerful as the S-300 missile defense system, or even stronger.” The claim reflects continued nervousness in Tehran over potential military attacks on Iran’s nuclear sites by Israel or the United States, which have declined to rule out such action. Press TV reported Monday that Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi had inaugurated two production lines for the manufacture of advanced remotely piloted aircraft to improve its defense capabilities. “The two drones, named Raad and Nazir, are capable of carrying out surveillance, detection and even assaults with high precision,” Mr. Vahidi said. The developments came a few days after Mr. Ahmadinejad appeared to revive hope that Iran might accept a Western deal to swap much of its uranium for medical-reactor fuel that cannot be weaponized, a deal the Iranians had rejected. On Monday, Mr. Soltanieh blamed the West for failing to respond to “our positive logical and technical proposal” to exchange Iran’s uranium for imported nuclear fuel rods. The United States and the I.A.E.A. had proposed the swap because it would deprive Iran of stockpiles that it could convert into bomb fuel, while providing Tehran with fuel rods that would be very difficult to use in a weapon. But as soon as Iranian negotiators brought that deal back to Tehran in October, they met a wall of opposition from the military, from hard-liners, and ultimately from opposition leaders. Until now, Iran has never enriched significant quantities of fuel beyond the level needed in ordinary nuclear reactors, part of its argument that its program is for peaceful purposes. But any effort to produce 20-percent enriched uranium would put the country in a position to produce highly enriched uranium — at the 90 percent level used for weapons — in a comparatively short time, nuclear experts say.

DTN News: Boeing's 4th WGS Satellite Passes Key Integration Milestone

DTN News: Boeing's 4th WGS Satellite Passes Key Integration Milestone *Source: DTN News / Boeing (NSI News Source Info) EL SEGUNDO, Calif., - February 8, 2010: Boeing [NYSE: BA] in late December successfully integrated the satellite bus and payload module for the fourth of six Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellites the company is building for the U.S. Air Force. WGS-4's broadband communications payload was mated with a high-power Boeing 702 platform at the company's Satellite Development Center in El Segundo, the world's largest satellite-manufacturing facility. Over the next few months, the WGS team will conduct final integration activities followed by rigorous environmental testing, including vibration and thermal-vacuum tests. "With the mating of these modules, all bus and payload equipment for WGS-4 has completed integration and testing," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager, Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "This milestone capped a great year for the WGS program, which included launching two satellites less than eight months apart. The WGS team continues to perform at the highest levels and maintain its strong momentum." WGS is the U.S. Department of Defense's highest-capacity communications satellite system, providing fast, flexible, broadband communications for U.S. warfighters and their allies around the world. WGS-4 is the first of three satellites to be built under the Block II contract. The Block II satellites include performance-boosting enhancements such as a radio frequency bypass designed to support airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms requiring additional bandwidth. WGS-4, -5 and -6 are scheduled to launch in 2011 or 2012. WGS-1 and WGS-2, launched in October 2007 and April 2009, respectively, have been accepted into service and are meeting or exceeding all mission requirements. WGS-3, launched in December, is undergoing on-orbit testing and is expected to go into service in April. WGS satellites are built on the proven Boeing 702 platform, which uses a highly efficient xenon-ion propulsion capability. The communications payload provides reconfigurable coverage areas and the ability to connect X-band and Ka-band users anywhere within the satellite's field of view via an onboard digital channelizer -- features that enhance security and mission flexibility, and are not available on any other communications satellite. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space and Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.

DTN News: Boeing to Continue Providing F/A-18 Engineering Services To Royal Australian Air Force

DTN News: Boeing to Continue Providing F/A-18 Engineering Services To Royal Australian Air Force *Source: DTN News / Boeing (NSI News Source Info) WILLIAMTOWN, New South Wales, - February 8, 2010: Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], has been awarded a $1.5 million contract for the provision of engineering support services for the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) fleet of F/A-18A/B Hornet aircraft. The 30-month contract, managed by the Tactical Fighter Systems Program Office (TFSPO) at RAAF Base Williamtown, requires Boeing Defence Australia to deliver repair plans for faults uncovered during F/A-18A/B Hornet maintenance. "This contract maintains our F/A-18 engineering capability as it increases our overall business on the platform," said Brad Hume, Boeing Defence Australia F/A-18 program manager. Boeing Defence Australia has delivered engineering support services to the TFSPO for the past six years. It also continues to perform Hornet Upgrade Phase 2.3, which involves upgrading the Electronic Warfare Self Protection Suite on 68 aircraft and modifying 76 wing pylons. Phase 2.3 is expected to be completed in 2012. "The RAAF's decision to award this contract to us demonstrates their faith in Boeing's ability to support the F/A-18 platform," Hume said. "We will continue working closely with our customer to maintain the Hornet's air combat capability." Under the new contract, engineering services will now be delivered under Boeing Defence Australia's Authorised Engineering Organisation (AEO) certificate.(A)F/A-18A/B ~ * (A)F/A-18A: Single-seat fighter/attack version for the Royal Australian Air Force.* (A)F/A-18B: Two-seat training version for the Royal Australian Air Force."F/A-18A" was the original company designation, designations of "AF-18A" & "ATF-18A" have also been applied. Assembled in Australia (excluding the first two (A)F/A-18Bs) by Aero-Space Technologies of Australia (ASTA) from 1985 through to 1990, from kits produced by McDonnell Douglas with increasing local content in the later aircraft. Originally the most notable differences between an Australian (A)F/A-18A/B and a US F/A-18A/B were the lack of a catapult attachment, replacement of the carrier tailhook for a lighter "land" arresting hook, and the replacement of the automatic carrier landing system with an Instrument Landing System. Australian Hornets have been involved in a number of major upgrade programs. This program called HUG (Hornet Upgrade) has had a few evolutions over the years. The first was to give Australian Hornets F/A-18C model avionics. The second and current upgrade program (HUG 2.2) updates the fleet's avionics even further. Boeing Defence Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and a business unit of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, is a leading Australian aerospace enterprise. With a world-class team of nearly 2,000 employees at 13 locations throughout Australia and two international sites, Boeing Defence Australia supports some of the largest and most complex defense projects in Australia. A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.