International

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Iran’s Natanz Tough Nut to Crack

The chances of Israel carrying out air strikes to knock out Iran’s nuclear program is a hot topic of debate in policy circles these days. Some analysts say an Israeli air strike on Iran has a fairly high chance of success.


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The “Perfect Bore”

One of the things that makes an air show enjoyable are the occasional moments of whimsy and weirdness in between the never-ending walking between chalets, quiet background interviews and the rocking and rolling roars of military jets flying nearby. My favorite moment came when I spotted a company with a very unlikely, but highly descriptive name: Perfect Bore.


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New Tanker Boss at Boeing

Dave Bowman, who was the company’s C-17 program manager, is the new vice president for tankers. Boeing officials say corporate moves affecting the tanker program are routine, but in this heated atmosphere nothing is routine, even if it’s planned and rational.


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Airbus Crows Over “Near Record” Order Book

Airbus, aspiring builder of the KC-45 airborne tanker airframe, held an end-of-Farnborough press conference a few minutes ago to announce one of its best results ever in booking orders for commercial airliners at the air show. The company has firm orders (that’s contracts) for roughly $40 billion (book price, which is almost always heavily discounted in the actual contract) for 247 planes, bringing its annual total to 730 planes.


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Israelis Show Off Intel Plane

The Israeli company IAI has put one of the country’s most powerful military intelligence tools on display here at the Farnborough Air Show in what…


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F-22 Debut Thrills; Why Did It Fly

The maiden flight of the F-22 at the Farnborough Air Show sent my stomach soaring a few times. The plane pulled some really cool stunts like flying straight up and then sliding straight back down in a tightly controlled and very slow vertical descent on Monday afternoon.


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Why the Air Force Picked Northrop’s Tanker

Read all about it. Here’s the first discussion with someone who actually knows why the Pentagon decided to buy the Northrop Grumman KC-45 airborne tanker. The concept of operations that will govern how the airplane is used played a key role in driving Air Force officials to conclude that the Northrop tanker was much better suited to the military’s future.


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Italian Military Chief Likely to Snub Boeing

The Italian chief of the defense staff, Gen. Vincenzo Camporini, is reportedly so angry with the Boeing Co.’s handling of the tanker contract with Italy that he is refusing to meet with Boeing officials during his visit to the Farnborough Air Show.


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Tanker Wars, Part Deux

Northrop Grumman, breaking its puzzling quietude of the last several months, has come out swinging in the tanker wars. First, the CEO of Northrop Grumman’s partner EADS came out swinging during a media presentation. CEO Louis Gallois told reporters during an embargoed presentation on Saturday that, “we are not losing the tanker deal. We have the best airplane and I am sure the U.S. Air Force will buy the best airplane.”


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Boeing Supporters Spin Tanker Hearing

Reps. Norm Dicks and Rick Larsen, both Democrats from Washington state, worked hard late last evening to put a hopeful face on what must have been a somewhat frustrating hearing for a Boeing supporter.


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Hill Dives Head First Into Carbine Debate

In a move that could ruffle the feathers of an Army command that views the Colt Defense-built M4 as the best carbine in the world, a select group of top senate staffers is gathering today to look at what could be the future of the military’s standard assault rifle.


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Tanker Hearing Focuses on Acquisition Failures

The initial tenor of today’s House Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee hearing on the KC-X tanker program can be summed up in three words: what went wrong.


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Boeing Anxious About Terms of Tanker Rebid

That rasping sound you hear is the cumulative grinding of teeth from Boeing and its supporters in the wake of yesterday’s announcement of a rebid on the tanker contract. They are worried — and we all know we grind our teeth when we’re worried — because the Pentagon’s basic criteria for the plane apparently will not change when the new request for proposal is issued.


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Gates Strips AF of Tanker Contract Decision

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has stripped the Air Force of authority to decide who will get the new contract award for the KC-X tanker. Gates, who made the announcement at a Wednesday new conference, said the Pentagon hoped to issue a new contract before the end of the year.


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Tanker Decision Today

UPDATE: We have new details below on the likely shape of the rebid that Defense Secretary Robert Gates should be announcing.
The Pentagon will announce its way forward on the KC-X tanker contract at 1 p.m during a press conference with Defense Secretary Robert Gates.


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Poles Reluctance May Mean Biz for SM-3s

The Czechs may have agreed today to accept a missile defense radar site, but Poland is very unlikely to sign an agreement with the United States to base missile defense interceptors on its territory. Ironically, Congress now appears ready to accept that the interceptors set for Poland now have an acceptable test plan.


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Gates Should Say Sorry on Tanker to Boeing, Northrop CEOs

Defense Secretary Robert Gates should call in the CEOs of Boeing and Northrop (and probably EADS), apologize to them for the tanker fiasco and promise to make it right by conducting the cleanest, most technically rigorous contract award humanly possible. That’s what two of America’s most experienced acquisition experts say needs to happen, and fast.


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Gates Offers Scant Support For AF on Tanker

UPDATE: The House Armed Services airland subcommittee will hold a July 10 hearing at 2 p.m. in Rayburn 2118 on the tanker contract at which John Young, undersecetary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, Sue Payton, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, and a representative from the Government Accountability Office will testify.


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Missile Defense on the Skids

It’s been an entire fiscal year since the Groundbased Midcourse [missile] Defense system underwent a flight test, a congressional aide told me this morning. That failure of the Missile Defense Agency to perform tests for an entire fiscal year has got both Republican and Democratic staff and lawmakers pretty warm under the collar.


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Tanker Ruling Shows Air Force in Disarray

The decision to uphold the Boeing protest of the airborne tanker award to Northrop Grumman Corp. raises fundamental questions about the ability of the Air Force — and the Pentagon in general — to buy weapons effectively, according to lawmakers, congressional aides and defense analysts.