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Qatar Boosts Network, 

Expansion-minded Qatar Airways is opening several more routes this year and sees additional opportunities with the delivery of new Airbus A330-200 aircraft next spring.

The airline, which carried more than 1.5 million passengers in 2000, has been steadily expanding its route network since it was relaunched in 1997. The flag carrier of the Qatar, which is located along the western coast of the Persian Gulf, currently serves a total 28 destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia from its Doha hub.

Boeing JDAM Pact 

Boeing has significantly deepened its relationship with the soon-to-be-formed European weapons giant MBDA with a new agreement to cooperate on the U.S. company's Joint Direct Attack Munition.

BA Tests Concorde 

British Airways could resume Concorde passenger services in September following the first of a series of verification flight tests of safety modifications to the supersonic aircraft.

Bidders Vie for RAF 

Two rival consortia have submitted bids to provide aerial refueling services to the British Royal Air Force under a planned 27-year contract worth up to 13 billion pounds ($18.2 billion).

Vying for the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) contract are:

-- AirTanker Ltd., which comprises Cobham (flight refueling operations and aircraft conversions), EADS (platforms and integration), Thales (mission avionics subsystems and synthetic training systems), Halliburton Brown&Root (support services) and Rolls-Royce (engines).

U.K. Labs Spin 

The partial privatization of the bulk of the U.K.'s Defense Research and Evaluation Agency (DERA) took a major step forward last week with the creation of the private limited company QinetiQ.

QinetiQ, which encompasses roughly three-quarters of the former DERA, is a public-private partnership in which the government will initially hold all the shares. A stock market flotation is planned for early next year. QinetiQ's new legal status will provide it with the freedom to expand its commercial activities.

Shrinking Budgets 

Diminishing defense budgets are forcing military fighter manufacturers to scramble for fewer sales opportunities.

Lockheed Martin was the only manufacturer to announce a new signing at the air show--an Israeli order for 52 more F-16Is under a previous option (AW&ST June 25, p. 22). Greece has a similar option to acquire additional F-16s that also expires by year-end. Oman, meanwhile, is also interested in acquiring 10-12 F-16s, and Lockheed Martin expects a contract to be signed before the end of the year with Chile on an order for 12 aircraft.

ETAP To Harvest Europe's 

Companies are looking to position themselves for the launch of a long-range European Technology Acquisition Program (ETAP) this autumn to investigate future technologies for current and next-generation manned and unmanned aircraft.

Aster 30 Air Defense Missile 

An Aster 30 surface-to-air missile tracked and intercepted a C22 target in a multiple-threat, electronic jamming environment during a May 31 test at the Landes Test Center in France.

The test involved two high-performance C22 targets equipped with jamming systems that flew in formation toward the Aster battery. The hypervelocity ``hit-to-kill'' missile, launched with the two C22s approaching at 15-km. range, scored a direct hit on the first target.

Allies' Capability Gap 

NATO's experience in Kosovo two years ago left a clear picture of where European allies needed to invest to eliminate what were exposed as glaring shortfalls in military capabilities. But relatively little progress has been made since then despite Europe's pledge to create the military means to match its economic and political clout.

U.K. Juggles Ambitious 

The U.K. has moved aggressively to fill in shortfalls highlighted in the Kosovo conflict, although efforts in some areas continue to lag and procurement cutbacks may be looming.

The U.K. is one of the few European NATO nations that has increased defense spending after years of decline. Last year, Defense Minister Geoff Hoon secured an extra 1.25 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) from the Treasury to spend on defense over the next three years.

Europe Inches Toward 

The European Union's pledge to have a 60,000-man rapid reaction force ready for deployment by 2003 will be a huge airlift challenge for national air forces that are struggling to meet this daunting task through new procurement and better utilization of existing assets.

Most European air forces have already been pushed to their limits during recent humanitarian and military operations. Rapidly deploying and sustaining the large task forces envisioned under the EU plan for upwards of two years will be an enormous undertaking.

DERA Tests Stovl 

The U.K.'s Defense Evaluation Research Agency (DERA) has succeeded in demonstrating the ability to automatically recover a Stovl aircraft on a moving platform, such as an aircraft carrier.

The tests involved the agency's vectored thrust aircraft advanced flight control (VAAC) Harrier, which features a programmable digital flight control system. A trials vehicle, traveling at ship speeds along the runway at DERA's Boscombe Down facility, was used to simulate the recovery platform.

BA Results Boosted 

British Airways posted a sharp rebound in profits for the full year, but warned of slower growth following lower traffic figures in the first few months of the current year.

The U.K.'s largest airline saw pretax profits grow to 150 million pounds ($214.5 million) for the fiscal year ending Mar. 31 compared with just 5 million pounds the previous year. Operating profit more than quadrupled to 380 million pounds.

SAS Agrees To Acquire 

In a major shake-up of the Scandinavian air travel market, Scandinavian Airlines System has agreed to acquire a majority stake in its Norwegian competitor Braathens from KLM and the Braathens family.

Virgin, Boeing Pursue 

Virgin Atlantic is in talks with Boeing about its new ``sonic cruiser'' aircraft and is considering becoming a launch customer with an order for three to six of the aircraft.

``We would love to become a launch customer,'' said Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the British carrier. Branson, who met with Boeing officials last week to discuss their concept for the sonic cruiser, said Virgin expected to buy 3-6 of the Mach 0.95 aircraft.

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