Filed under: Boeing, BRAC, Business Line, California, Companies, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, Events, logistics, Military Aviation, Restructuring, Services, States, U.S. Air Force
The C-17 strategic transport aircraft made by Boeing (BA0 is one of the key systems supporting U.S. and Allied efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. relies on air lift from both military and contractor support aircraft to provide much of the supply to its forces especially in land locked Afghanistan. While a great deal of supplies flow though Pakistan on trucks that supply line has proven vulnerable to attack. The U.S. possession of a large number of transport aircraft like the C-17 and C-5 help avoid that vulnerability.
The U.S. is also winding down production of this system leading ultimately to the closure of the Long Beach, CA plant where they are made. Some Foreign Military Sales (FMS) efforts continue for countries like India, the U.A.E. and others but without significant new orders the facility which traces its history back through McDonnell and Douglas aircraft corporations will ultimately close.
Boeing, though, will continue to support the aircraft through the recent award of a contract to conduct maintenance and modifications for another ten years. The value of the award which is just a continuation of existing contracts is about $11.75 billion if all options are awarded. This makes it one of the largest contracts recently awarded by the U.S. military.
The U.S. Air Force as part of in-sourcing and cost reduction initiatives has looked at moving this kind of work back into their facilities which is a change from the trend of the last twenty years. In the Nineties as part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) work a great deal of the large, aviation depots run by the military services were closed and the work turned over to contractors. This meant contracts like this one to either the OEM or third party Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) companies who would continue the support of fielded aircraft.
This award indicates that the Air Force’s analysis indicates that some contractor maintenance will still be needed. The contract calls for Boeing support at the Long Beach facility and at all bases where the C-17 is deployed. If the plant is closed once production ends Boeing could use one of its existing other facilities to handle the work on the C-17.
Filed under: Boeing, Business Line, California, Companies, Congress, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, Events, Federal Budget Process, India, logistics, Military Aviation, production program, Services, States, Taiwan, U.S. Air Force, United States
Boeing (BA) is one of the largest exporters in the U.S. as it provides commercial aircraft for many foreign airlines. It is also one of the biggest defense contractors building satellites, aircraft, as well as doing services and IT work for the military and other government departments.
Because of their many overseas sales Boeing gets a great deal of support from the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The company is currently receiving about $15 billion in loan guarantees from the bank which are used to help finance purchases by these foreign commercial customers. Boeing in fact received 63% of all guarantees from the government entity in 2010.
Despite this business Boeing like all of U.S. defense contractors is facing the potential for major cuts and reductions in overall defense spending by the United States. This means that there may be fewer tankers, transports or other products purchased from them. Boeing did receive the new KC-46A tanker contract last year but this offsets the end of the C-17 production for the Air Force and work on the F-22 and other programs. The Air Force is also looking at moving a great deal of their logistic support back to their own depots and away from commercial providers. This too may affect Boeing’s bottom line.
Recently thought the company got some good news in winning two contracts with other countries for military hardware. India announced that it had decided to buy ten C-17 strategic transports. This is especially helpful as it extends the life of the production line for that aircraft. The U.S. decision to not purchase more had put a date certain when the last transport would roll off of the line.
Taiwan also decided this week to purchase thirty AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. These will be the most current version, the Block III. No value for the contract was given but it will be several hundred million dollars.
The C-17 contract has a value of $4.1 billion and now the Taiwan contract will provide work and revenue for Boeing that will be used to offset potential cuts in U.S. arms purchases. Certainly if the Army is faced with major budget reductions which are certainly possible as the U.S. looks at reducing its annual deficits Apache production is one place that may be cut. The draw down in Afghanistan and Iraq which saw heavy use of the helicopter as well may affect Army force structure decisions.
All defense contractors want to sell their products to as many customers as possible. They also want their governments to support them. Boeing certainly is receiving this kind of support as are most U.S. contractors trying to sell products overseas. Of course this support may get too ambitious and enthusiastic leading to situations like in France where Thales and the government now owe millions in fines for paying bribes to Taiwanese officials to secure a new naval vessel program. Boeing will probably see more attempts at these types of contracts over the next several years as the world’s armament industry adjusts to the end of the U.S. budget splurge.
Article first published as Two Foreign Arms Deals for Boeing Cushion Future U.S. Defense Cuts on Technorati.
Filed under: Boeing, Business Line, California, Companies, Congress, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Countries, D'Assault, Department of Defense, Events, Federal Budget Process, India, MiG, Military Aviation, production program, SAAB, Services, States, U.S. Air Force
Boeing (BA) is facing the end of production for the C-17 strategic transport as the United States decided to not buy anymore of the aircraft despite its heavy use in supporting the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the last few years Congress had increased the total number of aircraft being bought for the U.S. Air Force despite its and the Defense Department requests to stop procurement.
The C-17 has seen sales to overseas customers with Australia, the United Kingdom and some Gulf States purchasing the system. Even so Boeing could see the end of production and had begun to shut down its production line in Long Beach, CA. This facility gained when McDonnell-Douglas merged with Boeing in the Nineties was destined to close when the C-17 was finished as Boeing had no other work for it.
The company and its workers received good news today as it was announced that India had agreed to sign a contract for ten of the aircraft. Not only is the deal worth over $4 billion it will keep the production line open for one more year. This buys even more time for Boeing to find other customers for the aircraft or even convince the U.S. to procure more.
India has in the last few years turned to Western defense contractors for different systems including buying the P-8 maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing in two recent contracts. This is in a bid to upgrade their capabilities beyond what their domestic suppliers and the more traditional Russian and UK companies have been providing.
India currently has a new fighter in competition but recently down selected to just two offerings – France’s Rafael and Eurofighter’s Typhoon. The two American bidders along with MiG and SAAB did not make it through to the final round of the contest. Some saw this as a deliberate snub of America possibly related to policy towards Pakistan and the potentiality that if there was a conflict between India and its neighbor the U.S. might boycott of supplying either nation.
Boeing, though, may get a trifecta of contracts as India is still considering the AH-64 Apache as a contender for a new attack helicopter. The Defense Department has notified Congress of a potential $1.4 billion worth of helicopters, support and training.
India remains a market of great potential for the U.S. defense contractors as they face the possibility of cuts to the U.S. budget and the end of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan with all the potential for reduced revenue and earnings. So far deals with India have been few-and-far between but today’s contract announcement is a step in the right direction.
Photo from kingair42′s Flickr photostream.
Filed under: Arizona, Australia, Boeing, Business Line, California, Companies, Congress, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Countries, Department of Defense, England, Events, Federal Budget Process, logistics, Military Aviation, Missouri, production program, Qatar, Restructuring, Services, States, U.S. Air Force, UAE, United States
The Boeing (BA) C-17 Globemaster III has been one of the most successful military transport aircraft of recent time. Originally designed and manufactured by McDonnell Douglas in the early Nineties as a replacement for the C-141 Cold War era aircraft when Boeing merged with the California aerospace giant they took over production of this key aircraft. The U.S. Air Force has taken delivery of over 200 C-17 and there are several more in production at the Long Beach facility.
Unfortunately one of the areas that the Obama Administration targeted for cuts as part of their defense spending reforms was the C-17 program. They were not the first to do this as the Air Force had an acquisition objective of less then 200. Congress against the wishes of different defense secretaries consistently added C-17 aircraft production and support to the budget to get to the current planned quantity of around 220. Critics said this was only due to the fact that up to 50,000 people worked on the program across the United States and the additional aircraft were pure pork. Supporters countered that strategic airlift was critical to support U.S. operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and world wide.
This was continued in the 2009 defense supplemental and 2010 budget but with the 2011 budget this ended. There were no more C-17 aircraft to be ordered by the U.S. military.
Boeing has been able to sell the aircraft to some overseas customers. Currently the aircraft is operated by the United Kingdom, Australia, NATO and Qatar. The United Arab Emirates has entered into a contract to buy six aircraft and Kuwait one. India is considering the aircraft to supplement its fleet of Russian made IL-76 transports but right now that is the only major contract pending.
Because the future number of aircraft is limited right now Boeing announced yesterday that over one thousand employees would begin losing their jobs. Workers in Long Beach; St. Louis; Mesa, Arizona and Macon, Georgia will be affected.
In their press release Boeing said: “as the company moves to a new production rate of 10 C-17s per year. Boeing will reduce the production program’s work force by approximately 1,100 jobs through the end of 2012. The company delivered 14 C-17s in 2010.
The move to the new production rate, announced in February 2010, will be completed this summer and result in the elimination of the second shift at the C-17 final assembly facility in Long Beach. The lower production rate is designed to extend the line as Boeing works to capture additional international orders.”
Boeing hopes that new orders will materialize while they slow the production line down to continue it for several months. If the orders do occur they can adjust the speed of line to meet their obligations. If they do not the production rate will slow to zero and thousands more workers will lose their jobs.
Boeing has made it clear in the past that the Long Beach plant which is a legacy of McDonnell Douglas will be closed and not transferred to other Boeing aircraft projects.
All military acquisition programs have a definitive objective for how many systems will be purchased. The C-17 is no different then any other and eventually that number would be reached. Then production will stop.
Without any new major transport program on the horizon for at least the next several years there is no new system for Boeing to bid on and utilize their work force and production capacity.
The C-17 will remain a key system for the Air Force and Boeing will continue some business supporting it but large scale production is finished.
Photo from tony.evans flickr photostream
Filed under: Boeing, Business Line, California, Companies, Congress, Department of Defense, Events, Federal Budget Process, Kansas, logistics, McDonnell Douglas, Military Aviation, Missouri, production program, Services, States, U.S. Air Force
The C-17 transport has been in production now for almost twenty years and forms the backbone of the U.S. Air Force’s strategic lift. It replaced the Cold War era C-141 aircraft and has been built by Boeing (CA) at their plants in Long Beach, CA and St. Louis, MO. The Air Force actually possesses more C-17′s then originally planned because Congress has been adding them to the budget for the last few years. In 2010 the new Obama Administration did not request any further production of the system but Congress added them and the President did not follow through with a veto.
The 2011 defense budget also contained no C-17 procurement and this has been met with a better reception by Congress in general. There are still those Senators and Representatives from California, Missouri and Kansas who would like to see more aircraft built. They are certainly being used, but the Air Force and DoD argue that the money could be spent on more important parts of the defense budget. There are also concerns that when the Congress adds aircraft they do not necessarily fund the support which takes money out of the budget as well.
The Long Beach plant will close when production of the aircraft ends which would be a big blow to the local economy.
Despite Congress’ better attitude this year the Department must have some concerns as they released a strongly worded article yesterday detailing the reasons why no more aircraft are needed. This reads in part “..defense officials agreed with the subcommittee’s leaders, Sens. Thomas Carper and John McCain, that the C-17, in addition to the C-5, has been critical to airlift in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan. However, they said, the military’s current fleet of 223 C-17s and 111 C-5s is more than enough airlift capability for years to come.” It also contains a threat as last year that the President “.. has promised to veto any legislation that provides for more C-17s.”.
Does that mean there will be no more U.S. orders for the C-17? It might, and it might not. Congress is loathe to end programs like this that are not only successful, used and provide several hundred jobs across the U.S. Boeing certainly would like to keep the line going. The defense budget looks like it may make it to the floor of the Senate and House without C-17. That allows floor amendments and the conference committee to add the transports. If the Congressional leadership is disciplined it may end up without additions.
The other concern is how well Congress believes Obama will veto the bill over a few billion spent on the C-17. If they don’t think he will in the end as happened last year then the aircraft quantity may increase.
Photo from TMWolf Flickr photostream.
Filed under: Business Line, California, Companies, Department of Defense, Earnings, Esterling Defense Technologies, Events, logistics, production program, Services, States, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps
Because of demand for certain items it can sometimes be easy for one company to dominate the production of it and control a large portion of the defense market for their product. With the contraction of the U.S. industrial base this has been happening more often with the U.S. military. Esterline Defense Technologies (ESL) is a good example of that with their combustible cartridge case and other products for artillery ordnance.
The U.S. military has used a lot of shells, bombs and rockets over the last nine years. Many of these use an advance case that consumes itself by burning up when it is fired. Esterline is the major supplier of this technology to ammunition manufacturers for the U.S. military. In the last several years it has earned over $300 million from these contracts. Manufactured at their facility east of Los Angeles the company also manufactures other specialty items for a broad variety of commercial and government applications.
Because their are certain things that only a military or government buys — such as large caliber artillery rounds — it allows one company to be able to dominate the market. The government is also willing to keep one supplier as long as the product meets requirements and is at a fair price. There are times when another contractor may be able to come in and seize part or all of the market if the original supplier gets too expensive. If the government buys the data rights to the product which is not always a given they do also have the ability to transfer the production to another contractor. The movement of the FMTV truck contract from Armor Holdings in Texas to Oshkosh (OSK) in Wisconsin last year is a good example of that.
With the fighting in Afghanistan to continue for the foreseeable future and the need of the U.S. to replenish and maintain their stocks of ammunition Esterling is well positioned to keep producing their combustible materials and finding a ready market.
Photo from The U.S. Army flickr photostream.
Filed under: Alabama, Boeing, Business Line, California, commercial aviation, Companies, Congress, Contract Awards, Countries, Department of Defense, development program, EADS, Events, Federal Budget Process, Industry Analysis, logistics, Military Aviation, production program, Proposal, Protest, Services, States, tankers, U.S. Air Force, Washington
If EADS’ (EADS:P) American subsidiary wins the contract from the U.S. Air Force for the new aerial they will assemble the basic aircraft at a new facility in Mobile, AL. When they along with Northrop Grumman (NOC) had the short lived contract two years ago to build the KC-45 derivative of the Airbus A330 the plant would have been used then. Once the contract was lost to Boeing’s (BA) protest the plans to use the plant were put on hold.
EADS has already stated that if they executed the contract all A330 transport production would be transferred to America from current European plants. There are several benefits to EADS by doing this. First the weak dollar will help lower costs of materials and production. Secondly Alabama is a right-to-work state and a non-union workforce is almost guaranteed. This will be a big change from the highly unionized and regulated workforces of the company in France, Germany and Spain.
There is currently a movement by both U.S. and foreign companies to move production and other services back to the United States. A good deal of these decisions are being driven by the dollar’s strength and to take advantage of excess capacity.
The Japanese automakers have been doing this for years driven by U.S. requirements for car assembly in the States. Honda, Toyota, Nissan and others have plants primarily in Southern States primarily due to the lack of unions as well as the desire of those states to provide economic assistance and financial incentives. Volkswagon for example has just started production of a large plant outside Chattanooga, TN to illustrate that this process is still on-going.
If a company like EADS is going to produce aircraft for the U.S. military it would make sense to try and assemble these in the U.S. As already demonstrated during the last two years of struggle over the KC-X contract it helps them get Congressional support. The advantage of a non-union workforce will not only help costs but prevent potential issues with labor relations and strikes.
Strikes are one of the most disruptive events that may affect production for the military. The only worst thing is really sabotage. The Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (SAC) strike in 2006 affected production of the UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft for the Army and the SH-60 model for the Navy. These aircraft were and continue to be critical to U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The strike was settled after six weeks but it left bad feelings between the company, its unions and customers.
Boeing has suffered several strikes over the past few years. These have not only affected their civil aircraft production but also military products. On Sunday the union representing workers at their St. Louis, MO plants voted to authorize a strike if negotiations don’t resolve contract issues related to seniority. The threat was quickly followed by workers in Kansas where the new Boeing tanker would have some work done.
The workers at the Long Beach, CA facility where the C-17 transport is manufactured have now been on strike for two weeks due to current contract negotiations. This just further illustrates the point that despite the priority of military systems even they may be delayed by the Boeing workforce.
Boeing has moved to counter the reliance on unions by establishing a production facility in South Carolina which is also a right-to-work state. In this way they are mirroring the Japanese automakers and EADS.
At a time when one of the biggest messages in Boeing’s favor is to not delay the KC-X contract any longer by allowing time for EADS to bid or waste time with a competition. If a strike did happen that delayed 767 tanker production once Boeing won the contract it would be a serious black eye for the company and its supporters.
Boeing could try to avoid this by slowly moving production to its South Carolina facility which presumably will be non-unionized but that would antagonize its Washington based Congressional allies. There would also be a cost associated with the move that might increase the cost of the production beyond what the Air Force wants or initially awards. The hope is that the KC-X will use a fixed price contract so Boeing would have to have a good estimate going in and try to limit upfront costs.
EADS by starting out in Alabama avoids the potential issue with a unionized workforce. This should also have mean labor costs for the assembly portion of the aircraft. Score one in the foreign company’s favor.
SAN DIEGO – The Joint Program Executive Office for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JPEO JTRS) announced today that the Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS) has received National Security Agency (NSA) Certification to provide secure distribution of situational awareness and command and control information among airborne warfighters. The NSA Certification was granted March 9, 2010 by Mr. Richard C. Schaeffer, Jr., Director, NSA Information Assurance Directorate (IAD). This is the first JTRS product to be certified at this level of security by the NSA.
“Formal NSA Certification is a monumental accomplishment for the MIDS JTRS Program and the JTRS Enterprise. This is another first for MIDS JTRS as the program continues to blaze new trails and pave the way for other JTRS products to be successful and meet warfighter requirements. The MIDS Program Office has been working extremely close with NSA for over six years to bring this leading edge, next generation technology to the warfighter at the right time. I want to thank NSA, the MIDS JTRS vendors, and all the government personnel for their outstanding work. This is huge for the MIDS JTRS Program,” stated CAPT Scott Krambeck, USN, MIDS Program Manager.
The NSA Certification confirms that the MIDS JTRS terminal has met the highest standards in ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of the data and the availability of the system. NSA Certification is a critical milestone in support of the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for MIDS JTRS on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. A successful NSA Technical Review Board (TRB) was conducted on MIDS JTRS in December 2009 which was the precursor to this NSA announcement.
The MIDS JTRS terminal is the first in a series of networking systems that will provide a single chassis, multiple channel capability to the warfighter, significantly reducing the number of different and unique radios in the operational environment. Use of JTRS radios also means a very real reduction of the upkeep and spare parts necessary to support our forward deployed forces.
About JPEO JTRS
The Joint Program Executive Office for the Joint Tactical Radio System, headquartered in San Diego, Calif., was initiated in early 1997 to improve and consolidate the Services’ pursuit of separate solutions to replace existing legacy radios in the Department of Defense inventory. The JTRS program has evolved from separate radio replacement programs to an integrated effort to network multiple weapon system platforms and forward combat units where it matters most – the last tactical mile. JTRS will link the power of the Global Information Grid to the warfighter in applying fire effects and achieving overall battlefield superiority.
JTRS is developing an open architecture of cutting edge radio waveform technology that allows multiple radio types (e.g., handheld, aircraft, maritime) to communicate with each other. The goal is to produce a family of interoperable, modular software-defined radios which operate as nodes in a network to ensure secure wireless communication and networking services for mobile and fixed forces. These goals extend to U.S. allies, coalition partners and disaster response personnel. For more information, please visit http://jpeojtrs.mil/.
Filed under: Business Line, California, Ceradyne, Companies, Department of Defense, Earnings, Events, logistics, production program, Services, States
Ceradyne the maker of ceramic armor for a variety of military applications reports that despite a drop in revenue it expects to make its profit estimate for 2009. Though new test and acceptance processes by the military have delayed shipments and booking of revenue from 2009 into 2010 the company still projects a profit of greater then $15 million. The company has begun diversifying into other markets including energy production including solar, oil and gas. 2010 is also estimated to be as good or better then the past year as the company has made efforts to reduce its costs.
Filed under: Business Line, California, Companies, Congress, Events, IT, logistics, Restructuring, SAIC, SETA, States, Virginia
One of the top ten defense contractors, SAIC, is moving its corporate headquarters from San Diego, CA to outside Washington, DC to Fairfax, VA. The company obviously has a large presence outside Washington, DC where many of its contracts are executed. The move to Fairfax, VA is not completely unexpected and the company is using the excuse of the better business climate in that state to support the move.
The company will still stay in California as it has many customers there not least the Navy’s SPAWAR in San Diego. The cost to California will be several hundred of the company’s highest paid employees who will now be moving to Virginia and spending their earnings and paying taxes there. The cost of living even in Northern Virginia will be much less for their employees just in housing and income taxes alone.
The move also comes at a time when the Washington, DC area is going to experience solid growth in the Federal Government work force due to some of the initiatives of the Obama Administration. Having their leadership in the DC area will facilitate business development and cultivating relationships with politicians and bureaucrats alike.
SECURE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS AND RAYTHEON AWARDED $43 MILLION FOR AIR WARRIOR EDM PRODUCTION AND POST-PRODUCTION SUPPORT – Press Release
Filed under: Alabama, Business Line, California, Companies, Contract Awards, Events, IT, Press Releases, production program, Raytheon, Secure Communication System, Services, States, U.S. Army
SANTA ANA, CA — March 30, 2009 —The U.S. Army has awarded Raytheon a 5-year IDIQ contract to continue production on the Electronic Data Manager (EDM) for the Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier’s Air Warrior program for which Secure is a prime subcontractor. Secure will also handle production, RMAs, and end-of-life management, with Raytheon providing software and design support over the 5-year IDIQ contract.
To celebrate the award, which was awarded December 10, 2008, and mark the 2009 production kickoff, a group of Raytheon and Air Warrior staff associated with the contract visited the Secure facility. In a speech to the company, Kent Wieter commended the production team and said that the EDM played a vital role in the PEO Soldier program.
The EDM is a kneeboard Tablet PC used by U.S. Army aviators for blue-force tracking, and moving map applications. The deployment of the unit to Army aviators is managed by the PEO Soldier’s Air Warrior Product Office in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
About Secure Communication Systems
Secure Communication Systems is a proven world leader in the design and manufacture of rugged computers and peripherals. Based in Santa Ana, California the company provides ruggedized equipment for military and other severe environment applications. The company has a diverse product line featuring workstations, displays, handheld workstations, and tablet PCs. Secure is a member of the ASC Group of PMC Global Inc. For further information contact 714-547-1174 or visit: www.securecomm.com
About the ASC Group
ASC Group specializes in the supply of components, products and engineered solutions for the electronics community, with the capability of servicing a customer’s complete Bill of Material. ASC consists of eight companies providing synergistic products & services across the global market place. ASC has strategically positioned itself in a wide range of electronic market places including Aerospace, Military, Industrial, Automotive, Medical and Consumer goods. General Information: www.ascgroup-pmc.com
About PMC Global
PMC Global Inc. is a multinational conglomerate based in Sun Valley, California. PMC consists of a diverse group of companies managed by dynamic individuals with a common trait—their commitment to the entrepreneurial spirit. PMC encourages divisional and subsidiary leaders to grow their business by adding facilities and capabilities through start-ups and acquisitions in the United States, Europe, South America, and the Far East. General Information: www.pmcglobalinc.com
Tel: (714) 918-8909
Fax: (714) 547-1343
E-mail: [email protected]
Filed under: California, Contract Awards, Events, ISR, Northrop Grumman Corp., U.S. Air Force
MSNBC reports that the U.S. Air Force gave Northrop Grumman a contract to provide support for the growing Global Hawk strategic UAV fleet. Northrop Grumman manufactures the long range intelligence surveillance aircraft. The contract is valued at over $275 million and will primarily be carried out at Beale AFB in California. Unlike the more tactical Predator and Reaper UAV the Global Hawk is a large aircraft that can fly at high altitudes and long ranges to collect different types of intelligence to support combat operations. The Global Hawk in many ways has replaced the U-2 type reconnaissance aircraft.
Filed under: California, Contract Awards, development program, logistics
Pacific Gas & Electric had signed a contract to build a wave electrical generating station of the coast of California near Eureka. This prototype plant would produce 2 MW of power eventually. Wave power is seen as an alternative way to generate electricity over gas or coal power plants. Unfortunately the California Public Utilities Commission did not approve of the contract citing cost and the fact that the technology was not developed enough. This seems short sited as it is only through using development contracts like this that reliable sources of energy other then fossil fuels can be developed.
See MercuryNews.com for the story.