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Britain boosts helicopter manufacturing
by Staff Writers
London (UPI) Jul 28, 2011

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The British government is boosting production, research and development of helicopters with more than $52 million of public financing.

The stimulus was announced by Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable during a visit to AgustaWestland's Yeovil facility, where design and development is taking place for the new AW169 light intermediate commercial helicopter.

The new aircraft is a diversification for the Yeovil plant, which previously focused on production military aircraft.

The investment includes a $35.9 million loan on market terms to assist production of the AW169.

A total of $16.3 million in research-and-development grants have also been delivered through the Technology Strategy Board Scheme. The grants are aimed at boosting research and development in advanced rotorcraft, benefiting small- and medium-sized enterprises in the supply chain and universities that train the next generation of engineers and technicians.

"Britain has a long and accomplished history of aircraft production and I'm pleased that … (the) announcement has opened the next chapter in that history," Cable said.

"By bringing design, development and part of the production of the AW169 to Yeovil, AgustaWestland is making a huge vote of confidence in the expertise of Britain's engineers and the supply chain that already supports their operations here.

"This investment shows how important advanced manufacturing is to our economy and will make sure that the next generation of engineers benefit from having a world-class research, design and development capability right here in the Southwest," he said.

The country's The Aerospace Growth Partnership program, which includes representatives from across the sector, is examining how to boost exports and expand the number of highly skilled jobs available in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, a $2.28 billion Regional Growth Fund and Local Enterprise Partnerships are boosting private sector expansion in places location such as Yeovil. The AW169 is a new civil commercial helicopter, the first in its class for more than 20 years.

The three Technology Strategy Board grants are for separate projects. AW Yeovil along with its partners in academia and the supply chain will work to develop new technologies in helicopter blades, transmission systems, avionics and flight trials.

The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led government body that works to create economic growth by ensuring that Britain is a global leader in innovation.

Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.

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BAE Systems says half-year profit drops 22%
London (AFP) July 28, 2011 - British arms manufacturer BAE Systems on Thursday said net profits fell 22 percent to 478 million pounds (544 million euros, $780 million) in the first half on falling sales.

The group, posting earnings for the six months to June 30 compared with the first half of 2010, also unveiled plans to repurchase some of its shares at a cost of up to 500 million pounds, sending BAE's share price shooting higher.

BAE Systems added that sales dropped 13 percent to 9.23 billion pounds in the first half.

The company also took a charge of 160 million pounds for the higher-than-expected cost of completing an offshore-patrol-vessel programme for Oman, but this was offset by an exceptional gain of 125 million pounds from Britain's Ministry of Defence.

The maker of Challenger tanks, Tornado jet fighters, Astute class submarines and Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, raised its dividend to 7.5 pence from 7.0 pence.

In response, BAE's shares surged to stand 4.9-percent higher at 307 pence in afternoon deals on London's FTSE 100 index, which was down 0.70 percent.

"Clearly defence cuts already confirmed in the UK and partially in the US will continue to impact on BAE revenue and profits," said Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at brokers BGC Partners.

BAE has cut more than 15,000 jobs, including contractors, over the past two years as it seeks to offset government spending cuts around the world.

Britain last year unveiled plans to shrink its armed forces and scrap key assets like its flagship aircraft carrier, under its Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) that forms part of savage public sector cuts.

But the change meant the state had to pay BAE a charge of 125 million pounds.

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Dhaka, Bangladesh (UPI) Jul 28, 2011
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