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Israeli Heron 1s, U.S. Satellite Imagery Help Turkey 

Israeli-built Heron 1 long-endurance, medium-altitude unmanned aircraft are being used in Turkey’s military operations against militant Kurds along the border with Iraq, according to reports from the Middle East and Europe. Such aircraft would provide real-time electro-optical and communications surveillance of armed Kurdish groups and their command and control operations during raids into Turkey. The U.S.

White House Aeronautics-Infrastructure Plan Is a Placeholder 

Don’t look for much help on wind tunnels and other infrastructure in the new White House aeronautics plan. President Bush gave his Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) a year after he signed his original aeronautics policy in December 2006 to develop a plan identifying critical infrastructure and defining “an approach for constructing, maintaining, modifying or terminating these assets based on the needs of the broad user community.” But the plan issued Dec.

USAF Mates MOP, B-2 Mockups 

Weapons specialists loaded a 700-lb. mockup of the 20.5-ft.-long, 30,000-lb. Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP)—widely perceived as the weapon of choice in a U.S. attack on Iranian nuclear facilities—into the weapon bay of a B-2 bomber mockup Dec. 18 at Whiteman AFB, Mo. The warhead, carrying 5,300 lb. of explosives, is designed to penetrate 200 ft. of earth, more than twice the depth of the 5,000-lb. GBU-28, which was designed in 1991 to penetrate deep, hardened Iraqi bunkers. It is 10 times as powerful as the standard BLU-109 penetrator for 2,000-lb.-class bombs.

Bush Pocket Veto Threatens Defense Contract Reforms 

Congress passed the Fiscal 2008 defense authorization overwhelmingly last month, but President Bush decided not to sign it. Bush complained that bill language would make it easier for U.S. citizens victimized by terrorist-sponsoring regimes, like Iraq under Saddam Hussein, to sue and freeze their assets.

Iran Says It’s Buying S-300 SAMs From Russia 

Iran announced Dec. 26 that Russia will supply it with S-300 air defense missiles, and Russia’s technology export agency promptly denied any such sale, or even deliberations to sell. The missile, designated SA-10 and SA-20 by NATO depending on the variant, is considered the most potent of currently fielded, high-altitude surface-to-air missiles. Ranges of some spinoff designs extend 250 mi. or more. Sale of the expensive missile has been rumored for years.

Watchdog Group Sees Links Between ‘Validated’ Exporters, Arms Violators 

A U.S. research and public education group says moves last year by the Commerce Dept. to relax some export control regulations under a new “Validated End User” (VEU) program have allowed two companies with ties to arms control regulation violators special privileges to bypass review for sales to China of sensitive technology that could be used for military purposes. The first, Shanghai Hua Hong NEC Electronics Company, is linked through a parent company to a separate subsidiary that was cited in 2006 for unapproved sales to Iran and/or Syria.

Peters’s LGA-Newark Plan Includes Caps, Slot Auctions 

To the relief of airlines, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters backed away from congestion pricing at New York Kennedy and Newark airports, but in its place she turned to caps on flight operations and eventual auctions of newly created slots. Beginning in the spring, peak-hour operations at JFK will be capped at 82-83 per hour, but Peters stresses that this won’t reduce capacity because airlines are voluntarily moving flights to other parts of the day. These caps will be extended to Newark to prevent airlines from shifting flights there from JFK.

Weldon Introduces Bill to Extend Shuttle Ops 

There are constituent services, and there are constituent services on steroids. In a symbolic act of devotion to his Florida district, which includes Kennedy Space Center, Republican Rep. Dave Weldon is proposing legislation that would eliminate the coming gap in U.S. human spaceflight capability by keeping the space shuttle flying twice a year beyond its scheduled 2010 retirement, until replacement Constellation systems arrive.

Air Force Looks Reluctantly At EA-18G 

Air Force EA-18Gs? It sounds impossible, but maybe not. Industry and Pentagon sources say USAF has made little headway on its lingering electronic attack requirements. The service had been pursuing a standoff jammer based on the venerable, and powerful, B-52. But the program cost crept upward around $7 billion, too much in the Pentagon’s tight budget environment. Lt. Gen. Donald Hoffman, USAF’s military deputy for acquisition, acknowledges that some in the Pentagon are pushing the Air Force to buy Growlers designed for Navy requirements.

Reason Foundation’s Poole Still Likes Congestion Pricing 

The Reason Foundation, bastion of free-market forces among Washington’s think tanks, still thinks the Transportation Dept. should rely on congestion pricing to tame overscheduling and delays at New York’s airports. In a new study, Reason’s lead author, Robert Poole, says the Transportation Dept.’s omission of congestion pricing, and of “a real auction that puts every [slot] up for bid,” makes last week’s plan “a band-aid that won’t cure delays.”

Lawmakers Want More C-17s 

Fifty-five House members joined 19 senators in pressuring the Pentagon to add funding in its Fiscal 2009 budget proposal for continued production of Boeing’s C-17 transport. The Long Beach, Calif., production line would close in 2009—and jeopardize 30,000 jobs around the U.S., the lawmakers point out—unless the Air Force orders more. Some senior military officials, including U.S. Transportation Command chief Gen. Norton Schwartz, admit they may need more than the 190 on order, and a new study of airlift requirements is getting off the ground.

Omnibus Appropriation Has Something For Everyone 

The Fiscal 2008 omnibus appropriations bill agreed to by Congress and President Bush has something for everyone, politically as well as fiscally. All the non-defense departments and agencies get an appropriation instead of a more restrictive continuing resolution. Bush gets enough war funding to last through spring with no withdrawal strings attached, and Congress gives up its attempt to add about $23 billion to the total Bush proposed for domestic discretionary spending.

Funding Fight Could Delay Secure Flight Passenger Screening 

The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) computerized air passenger pre-screening system—long delayed by technology difficulties and privacy concerns—is ready for testing again, but now there’s a money problem. Administrator Kip Hawley tells Aviation Week & Space Technology that the continuing wrangle between congressional Democrats and President Bush over most Fiscal 2008 spending bills, including the one that pays for TSA, has led to “unintentional underfunding” of the program, known as Secure Flight.

Pentagon UAV Advocates Chafe at Slow Entry into Civil Airspace 

Pentagon advocates and operators of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly frustrated with civilian agencies as attempts to gain access to U.S. airspace languish. The Defense Dept. has 5,300 UAVs in inventory and many thousands of flight hours’ experience in the U.S., Iraq and Afghanistan, but the search for ways to move them quickly from home base to emergency locations is stalled. U.S. operators, including those who provide fire-fighting services, say there’s no problem with the aircraft, ground stations and air traffic control.

Congress Passes Age-65 Bill, Bypassing FAA Rule Change 

Short-circuiting an FAA rulemaking that likely would have stretched into 2009, Congress passed the Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act, a bill to increase the mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots to 65 from 60. The bill stripped Age-65 provisions out of the FAA reauthorization bill and put them in a stand-alone bill that passed both houses without opposition.

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