News in Brief

The latest news briefs in Military contracts, completions and collaboration.

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Bharat Earth Movers (BEML), the public sector undertaking under the Union Ministry of Defense, has drawn up Rs 500 core expansion-cum-modernization plan for the financial year 2007-08. The company will utilize a part of the funds, which it plans to raise through a public issue in April this year for the expansion of its plant capacity in all its production units.

Members of the military, veterans and their families now have a quiet, private space set aside at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The Military and Veterans Hospitality Lounge is now open inside Sky Harbor's Terminal Two. Volunteers staff the lounge where service members can spend layovers watching television, making phone calls or checking email. Military families can also use it as a private area to spend quiet time together before their loved one departs.

Brazoria County in Texas is attempting to clean-up air pollution, but area plants still have work to do to help meet the federal clean-air mandate for the Houston region by 2010, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Common sources of ground-level ozone, according to the commission, are commercial and military aircraft and their ground support vehicles and equipment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered ground-level ozone at monitoring stations be reduced to 85 parts per billion by 2010 in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria region.

With below zero wind chills in February at the Minot Air Force Base in N.D., it is an ideal time to test a new synthetic fuel. The blend could be made domestically from coal or natural gas as the Air Force seeks to wean its dependence on foreign crude and defray soaring fuel costs. The cold-weather tests of the fuel showed it compared well to conventional petroleum-based military aviation fuel. The creation is a Fischer-Tropsch fuel, named after the two German scientists who developed the process in 1923 of converting natural gas or coal into liquid fuel. Germany used the process to convert coal to fuel during World War II. At $20 a barrel, it costs about eight times as much as the standard fuel so its widespread use in military aircraft could still be years away.

Continued funding for the war is now in discussions since President Bush delivered his fiscal 2008 defense budget request and 2007 emergency supplemental request to Congress. The total DoD 2008 budget request is pegged at $481.4 billion, an 11.3 percent increase over fiscal 2007. The Army is asking for just more than $24 billion in procurement dollars. About $4 billion will go toward aircraft purchases, including 37 armed reconnaissance, 44 light utility helicopters, 42 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and 29 CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

Scientists and engineers from the Air Force Research Laboratory, working as part of the Aging Aircraft Systems Squadron's Hydraulic Fluid Purification Integrated Process Team (HFP IPT), are currently involved in an effort to validate the use of Hydraulic Fluid Purification technologies at Air Force facilities. Fluid and pollution prevention experts from AFRL's Materials and Manufacturing Directorate and the Aeronautical Systems Center Aging Aircraft Systems Squadron will collect and assess data that results from two years of field testing and will deliver the results to major commands throughout the Air Force. Hydraulic fluid costs are a major operating expense throughout the Air Force. Annual new fluid costs are estimated to exceed $10 million.

Airmen with the 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron's petroleum, oil and lubricant (POL) have set a record for the highest number of gallons of fuel issued in a single month over the last three years. POL Airmen received and issued a record-breaking 3.6 million gallons of fuel by tank truck and R-11 refueling units to every type of aircraft that touched down at Balad Air Base in January 2007. The flight also issued more than 220,000 gallons of diesel fuel for myriad support equipment and vehicles at Balad.

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