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Subject: Fitzgibbon set to scrap $150m defence contract
Volkodav    9/3/2008 3:02:55 AM
Mark Dodd | September 03, 2008 THE axe is poised to fall on another troubled defence project, the $150 million contract to buy unmanned aerial vehicles for the Australian Defence Force. It is understood the Defence Materiel Organisation has recommended to Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon that the problem-plagued contract be axed. A formal announcement by Mr Fitzgibbon is expected later this week. The Israeli-built I-View 250 UAV system is dogged with technical problems and more than two years behind schedule. The relationship between the partners in the project, US aircraft builder Boeing and Israeli Aerospace Industries, has deteriorated in recent months. A defence source close to the project, who asked not to be named, said: "The capability has not been axed but the contract has. Boeing have had two years to get this sorted and they've been dragging the chain." Taxpayers can expect a refund from Boeing of about $6 million. Boeing did not reply to a request for comment on the project. Following the axing of the $1.2billion Seasprite project in March, Mr Fitzgibbon drew up a list of four "projects of concern" to name and shame delayed defence procurements, including the UAV project. In December 2006, Howard government defence minister Robert Hill signed a contract to purchase eight of the UAVs because "it offered the best value for money". The UAV is designed to provide the army with airborne surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance capabilities for ground operations.
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VGNTMH       9/3/2008 11:12:54 AM
Why doesn't the Army buy or lease more Scan Eagles?
I know the Scan Eagles are much smaller than an I-View 250, and can only carry an EO package, not SAR, but the Scan Eagles are widely used, successful, and have been used by the ADF in Iraq.
And the Scan Eagles are now part of Boeing ... could be part of a compensation deal?
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VGNTMH       9/3/2008 11:46:17 AM
I was wrong about the SAR on the Scan Eagle.
This quote is from the Wikipedia page on the Scan Eagle:
On March 18, 2008 Boeing, with ImSAR and Insitu successfully flight-tested a ScanEagle with a Nano-SAR radar mounted aboard. The Nano-SAR is the world's smallest Synthetic Aperture Radar, weighs two pounds and is roughly the size of a shoe box. It is designed to provide high quality real-time ground imaging through adverse weather conditions or other battlefield obsurants.
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Arty Farty       9/3/2008 9:51:50 PM
I'm a little surprised it went down the toilet. Figured it was a reasonably mature. Maybe ScanEagle might get the nod, its able to be used in a maritime environment.
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Goanna       9/3/2008 10:13:35 PM
This news is late. An email went out to Boeing staff last Friday that JP-129 was axed.
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