Boeing pulls out of Alenia’s JCA program

By LEANDER SCHAERLAECKENS, UPI Correspondent  |  March 2, 2009 at 4:56 PM
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BRUSSELS, March 2 (UPI) -- Boeing pulls out of Alenia's JCA program

After financial analysis, Boeing and Italian company Alenia Aeronautica have jointly decided that Boeing will no longer be part of the production for the U.S. Joint Cargo Aircraft program, Defense News reported last week. The companies could not agree on finances.

Alenia was recently granted a $2 billion contract in order to produce 78 C-27J cargo planes for the U.S. Army and Air Force. Boeing and Alenia were in talks about sharing the management and costs of the production line of the C-27J in Jacksonville, Fla.

Alenia decided to move its production line to the United States in its entirety in order to speed up the production process to meet the U.S. Army and Air Force's deadlines.

Boeing and Alenia had been in talks about the potential partnership since 2006 and were expecting to wrap up talks by the end of December. However, Boeing executives concluded that the financial aspects of the deal were unfavorable and decided to pull out. Alenia will now produce the aircraft by itself.

Thirteen of the aircraft are already almost completed in Alenia's Italian production plants. The rest will be built in a new facility in Florida. Construction work on this complex is set to begin later this month, and it should be fully operational by April 2010.

France could help Iraq go nuclear

Following a visit to Baghdad by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Paris may resume its old and much criticized nuclear-development cooperation with Iraq.

Iraq's Electricity Minister Karim Wahid told reporters last week that he would welcome the participation of French companies in Iraq's ambitious electric power plant reconstruction program and that he thinks of the future as nuclear.

France has recently signed a number of deals to install or help construct nuclear reactors for energy purposes throughout the Middle East, and French analysts have expressed optimism that agreements could be negotiated with Iraq to produce reactors for civilian use too.

However, the much publicized previous Iraqi-French honeymoon period of nuclear cooperation did not end well. In the 1970s French leaders had very warm relations with future Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was then already the No. 2 man in the Iraq government.

In 1976 French Prime Minister and future President Jacques Chirac won a lucrative contract to construct the Osirak nuclear reactor for Iraq. But in 1981 the Israeli air force destroyed the Osirak installation to prevent Saddam from using the reactor to construct nuclear weapons to destroy Israel, as he had repeatedly publicly threatened to do.

Reports from France indicate Sarkozy is enthusiastic about reviving nuclear cooperation with the current Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Sarkozy wants to organize a large delegation from major French advanced-technology companies to visit Iraq to land major contracts.

Alenia Aermacchi lands massive UAE jet-trainer deal

Italy's Alenia Aermacchi has beaten out Korean Aerospace Industries to win a major contract to supply advanced jet trainers to the United Arab Emirates air force, Defense News reported last week.

UAE Maj. Gen. Obaid Al Ketbi declared Alenia's M-346 jet the winner. The Italian firm defeated Korean Aerospace Industries' T-50 to win the contract. Alenia will now produce 48 of the aircraft. Some of them will be used for training and others for light attack missions.

The original tender was for 33 trainers and an option for seven more, but the UAE eventually decided to buy more of the aircraft when they became available. A financial agreement has yet to be reached, but the value of the deal is expected to reach several billion dollars. The aircraft may be assembled in the UAE, and negotiations to build the necessary facilities are already under way.

Alenia is also competing for a UAE contract to sell its basic trainer, the M-311. Its main rival for the contract is Pilatus' PC-21 turboprop. However, the UAE government does not expect to make a decision on this competition in the near future.

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