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Michael A. Taverna mike_taverna@aviationweek.com

Michael A. Taverna mike_taverna@aviationweek.com
Thales Alenia Space To Build Up German Base 

Thales will redeploy space-related activities at Thales Alenia Space (TAS) to enable the Franco-Italian space contractor to establish a significant presence in Germany.

In releasing final 2010 results today, Chairman/CEO Luc Vigneron said the company will transfer undisclosed equipment activities to TAS so it can build up an industrial base in Germany that will allow it to bid more effectively for German and European institutional awards. The activity will “just be a kernel initially,” he says, “but will grow over time.”

European Meteosat Third-Generation System Finally Approved 

The Eumetsat member states have given final approval to a new geostationary weather satellite system that will ensure improved weather and climate forecasting for the next three decades.

Earlier today, Belgium, the lone holdout, agreed to release funds for the space segment of the €2.8 billion ($3.8 billion) project, permitting full-scale development to proceed.

Watchkeeper Gets New Delivery Date 

Thales says deliveries of the Watchkeeper UAV will get under way toward year’s end.

Handover of the system, intended for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance, had been expected in February but were delayed by some as-yet-undisclosed “technical difficulties,” Thales executives said today in revealing 2010 final results.

Executives say the issues were detected in a report issued by Britain’s National Audit Office and have now been resolved.

Safran Reports Flat Revenues, But Improved Earnings In 2010 

Safran is predicting that sustained defense and security business, coupled with an ongoing rebound in original equipment manufacturer sales in the civil market, will put Safran back on a growth curve after a couple of years of flat activity.

French Buy More Sperwer Tactical UAVs 

Safran says its Sagem defense unit will supply three additional Sperwer Mk II tactical unmanned aerial vehicles to the French army.

The sale, which includes five vehicles on option plus associated ground remote video terminals (RVTs), will reinforce France’s Afghan contingent and provide more systems for training. The aircraft will be equipped with Euroflir 350+ optronics suites.

Sagem also will modernize a batch of RVT remote terminals ordered in 2009 under the deal.

Safran To Form Wiring JV With Comac, Supply A320NEO Nacelles 

Safran will create an aircraft wiring joint venture with China’s Comac and supply the engine nacelle for the Airbus A320NEO family in moves that will reinforce the French engine and aero equipment manufacturer’s position in the future narrowbody sector.

New Boeing Entity Aims To Grow Space Services Business 

Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems has created a new unit to market commercial satellite services to the U.S. government and other satellite users.

The BSIS entity is intended to enable the company to take advantage of hot government demand around the world for satellite services, especially for communications, where demand is outstripping supply, says the division’s vice president and general manager Craig Cooning. It will employ 30-40 people and eventually will be headquartered in Washington to be near its target customer base.

SES Predicts Lull In Growth, Orders New Satellite 

SES expects revenue growth to slow a bit this year because of launch delays and a solar array problem, but predicts expansion will resume in 2012 as new capacity—including a new spacecraft ordered Feb. 17 —s added to the fleet.

European Freighter Heads To Space Station 

European space officials are hoping that the flawless launch of Europe’s second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-2) to the International Space Station (ISS) Feb. 16 will buoy efforts to fund a planned extension of the facility.

The cargo vessel, christened Johannes Kepler, lifted off from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 6:50 p.m. local time atop an Ariane 5 ES rocket, setting up a scheduled docking with the ISS on Feb. 24.

Airbus Set To Finalize Japanese A380 Order, Studying NEO For A318 

Airbus is poised to sign off on a new order for the A380 super jumbo with Skymark Airlines, a Japanese low-cost carrier, its top salesman, John Leahy, said here today.

EchoStar Acquisition Of Hughes Reinforces Its Broadband Play 

EchoStar Corp. has agreed to acquire Hughes Communications in a move that will recast the battle for control of the fast-growing broadband satellite service sector.

The transaction, which was announced Feb. 14, for around $2 billion—including the refinancing of Hughes debt—will give EchoStar control of Hughes’s main operating company, Hughes Network Systems (HNS), as well as its manufacturing unit, which is a leader in broadband and high-speed mobile satellite service (MSS) technologies.

Thales Posts Operating Loss But Cites Progress 

Additional charges and provisions for overruns on several big programs, including the Airbus Military A400M airlifter, drove down profits at Thales last year. However, orders were better than expected and the company now feels it has removed the uncertainties on the affected projects, positioning the company for a return to profitability.

Tiger Crash Raises Issues With New Helmet-Mounted Display 

French defense officials are wondering how a Tiger attack helicopter managed to crash during a joint French-Afghan mission on Feb. 4, given that it had just been fitted with advanced Thales TopOwl helmet-mounted night vision displays (HMDs).

European Egnos System Approaches Airnav Approval 

SSSP, the consortium of air traffic control providers that runs Europe’s Egnos GPS augmentation system, says the system will be declared available for air navigation on March 2 by the European Commission, which owns the system.

MTG Weather Satellite System Nears Final Approval 

Eumetsat officials say Belgium, the only country that has not yet approved development of the Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) weather satellite system, is poised to sign on, ending a two-month quest to finalize the €2.8 billion ($3.8 billion) program.

In early December the Eumetsat council OK’d full-scale development of the space segment of the system, which will replace the existing Meteosat Second Generation network starting in 2018. Development is subject to release of funds by Belgium and three other countries.

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