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Japan Now Top US BMD partner

Illustration only.
by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Mar 15, 2006
Japan has emerged as the most significant international partner of the United States in missle defense, a top U.S. defense official said last week.

In testimony before a House Armed Services Subcommittee March 9, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Peter Flory said that with its commitment to spend around $1 billion, Japan has become the United States' largest international partner in missile defense.

"The United States and Japan have agreed to work together to develop a more capable sea-based interceptor" that would improve the defense of both nations, he said.

Flory also said the United States was also negotiating a Defense Technical Cooperation Agreement with Russia to promote missile defense cooperation on government and industrial levels, and that U.S. officials and NATO are looking for additional avenues of bilateral cooperation.

Flory said the United States was looking at the possibility of putting long-range, ground-based missile interceptors in Europe, just as it has in Alaska and California.

"Fielding such a capability would improve the defense of the United States against long-range missiles," he said, "especially those launched from the Middle East."

It would extend protection to America's European allies "protecting their populations from attack and reducing the risk of coercion or blackmail," Flory said.


MDA moving jobs to Huntsville

The director of the Missile Defense Agency said Monday that recent worker polls show many of the agency's employees would not leave the Washington area to relocate in Huntsville, Ala.

About 2,200 jobs are slated to move to Huntsville as part of a work transfer of Missile Defense Agency programs that was recommended by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission last year. About 4,700 total federal BRAC jobs are expected to come to Huntsville because of the relocation of major command headquarters such as Army Materiel Command, Army Security and Assistance Command, Space and Missile Defense Command along with other military work.

MDA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry Obering said surveys of agency workers asking if they would be willing to relocate to Huntsville indicate that about "15 to 20 percent will actually go through with this move."

Obering spoke during a presentation for North Alabama business leaders at Adtran in Huntsville. Obering estimated about 500 of the 2,200 would move to Huntsville, the Huntsville Times reported Tuesday.

To fill the gap, Obering said the agency would recruit people in Huntsville and search nationally for employees with the skills required by MDA for missile defense work.

"The good news is that the ones who come, I feel, will be younger people who are dedicated to (the Missile Defense Agency) and will move here," Obering said. "That will be good for the program."

Obering said he expected the bulk of those 500 people would move to Huntsville before 2009, but the agency has until 2011 to complete the relocation of its work to Huntsville.

Obering said the BRAC law allows some flexibility on the number of positions that will be moved to Huntsville. MDA managers are evaluating leaving 300 positions at the agency's new headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Va. The original recommendation was for 150 people to staff the headquarters, but Obering said that figure was not enough to accomplish headquarters work.

The headquarters decision should not affect Huntsville overall, Obering said, "because I had made the decision to move" other offices to Huntsville. Sensor, radar and communications work would have been moved to Huntsville with or without the 2005 BRAC recommendations.

All MDA offices are being restructured, Obering said, and the cost savings will allow the agency to speed up missile defense programs and to add and improve interceptor rockets in other programs.


ATK restructures rocket division

The ammunition and rocketry giant Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, named a new chief financial officer Tuesday and said it would fold together operations in a move that reduces its number of business units.

The Minneapolis-area company also reduced its 2006 profit outlook as it replaces debt in an expected move with a lower-rate loan but boosted its 2007 revenue and earnings expectations, Market Watch reported

For fiscal 2007, ATK forecasts higher revenue of $3.35 billion, up from $3.3 billion, while earnings are expected in a range of $4.75 to $4.90 a share, up from $4.65 to $4.80 a share. Shares of ATK traded down 0.6 percent to $74.80 on Tuesday. So far this year, the company's stock is down 1.6 percent.

The company's chief financial officer, Eric Rangen, will be replaced April 1 by John Shroyer, an executive with experience in the company's ordnance business. Rangen is leaving for "other business opportunities," the company said.

ATK spokesman Bryce Hallowell said Rangen's departure had nothing to do with his performance and that Shroyer's appointment to the post reflects his operational experience at the company.

UBS analysts wrote in a research note that they were surprised by the departure but "don't believe the move is reflective of the state of the company or its business." UBS rates the stock buy and the analysts have a $90 price target on the shares.

Also effective April 1, ATK will have three divisions, Market Watch said.

With some 5,000 workers, ATK's mission systems group will bring together four units, including its space business and missile business. It will bring in the most sales of the three divisions at $1.3 billion.

Encompassing the company's ATK Thiokol launch business and missile defense system propulsion work, the launch systems group will have more than 4,300 workers and revenue of more than $900 million. No major job cuts are expected, Market Watch said.

Source: United Press International

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