Britain's RAF receives intelligence aircraft

Sept. 29 (UPI) — The third and final R-135V/W signals intelligence aircraft has been delivered to Britain’s Royal Air Force by L3 Technologies.

The delivery on Thursday marks the completion of hardware deliveries of the Airseeker program of the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Air Force.

“This groundbreaking agreement gives the U.K. access to future innovative technology and presents a very high level of interoperability with major coalition partners,” Christopher E. Kubasik, L3’s President and Chief Operating Officer, said in a press release. “This partnership has provided our U.K. allies with an intelligence-gathering platform that supports near-real-time on-scene collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities.”

“Analysts have hailed this U.K./U.S. program as the highest level of intelligence cooperation between the two countries since World War II,” added Mark Von Schwarz, L3’s senior vice president and president of its Aerospace Systems business segment. “The U.S. and the U.K. will be closely involved in future maturation of the Rivet Joint weapon system for at least the next 25 years.”

L3 said the three R-135V/W Rivet Joint aircraft will provide the RAF with collaborative intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Britain and the U.S. have a combined fleet of 20 Rivet Joint aircraft. L3 will perform future baseline upgrades and periodic depot maintenance on the aircraft.

The Rivet Joint aircraft were KC-135R tankers converted by L3 to the RC-135W configuration. The first two aircraft were delivered to Britain in 2013 and 2015, respectively.

L3 also delivered to Britain a station to support ground operations and training systems for the aircraft.

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Crude oil prices up after Turkey threatens to close Kurdish pipeline

Sept. 27 (UPI) — Turkey’s threat to close a Kurdish oil pipeline, potentially disrupting production of one half million barrels per day, sent global crude prices upward on Wednesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the threat after residents of northern Iraq’s Kurdistan voted overwhelmingly for independence in a non-binding referendum. He proposed to close Kurdistan’s main pipeline leading to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

The possible cut to global production, at a time of strong demand and of supply cuts by OPEC nations, helped send global crude oil prices toward a milestone of $ 60 per barrel. It has not traded at that level since July 2015, market analyst Ole Hanson of Saxo Bank said Wednesday.

The longer-term outlook could mean higher prices for oil, Hanson and others said.

An expected surge of demand will likely eliminate the current global excess of supply, said Phil Flynn of The Energy Report on Wednesday. He added that economies using cheap oil to create growth will soon pay higher prices to fuel that growth.

The surge in demand was noted in the American Petroleum Institute report and in a July drop in Texas oil production. The API, despite prediction of an increase in crude supply, reported a draw of 761,000 barrels. U.S. demand for oil last week was 4.26 million barrels per day, the highest level in 20 years. High demand from refineries in the United States and Europe indicates that crude oil prices will remain strong.

Early in the trading day, Brent futures for delivery in November stood at $ 57.93 per barrel on Wednesday, down 0.51 percent. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was at $ 51.87 per barrel, down 0.01 percent.

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Patria Helicopters to maintain Norway's Bell 412 fleet

Sept. 27 (UPI) — Patria Helicopters AB is to maintain Bell 412 helicopters flown by the Norwegian armed forces under a contract with the Norwegian Defense Logistics Organization.

The award is for four years with an option for three additional years. Contract value: nearly $ 8.4 million.

“We are very proud and happy for this contract which shows the trust we have gained with the NDLO,” said Peter Örjes, managing director at Patria Helicopters AB.

Patria Helicopters AB, based in Sweden, is part of Patria Group. Patria is owned by the government of Finland and Norway’s Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace AS.

Thee Norwegian armed forces’ fleet of Bell 412 helicopters are based at Rygge and Bardufoss, Norway.

Additional details of the contract were not disclosed.

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