Russia on Wednesday unveiled its regional “super jet,” a government-backed effort to re-energize the country’s ailing aviation industry and get into a market now dominated by Bombardier and Embraer.
The 95-seat Superjet-100 was rolled out before scores of engineers, dignitaries and government officials at an elaborate ceremony at the Sukhoi factory in the Far East city of Komsomlsk-on-Amur.
The plane, which will have its first test flights later this year, was designed to replace the aging airliners currently used by many Russian carriers. More companies have turned to Boeing and Airbus to replace aging fleets, because the Tupolev, Illyushin, Yak and other Soviet-era designs fail to meet international standards.
Russian officials also hope to find foreign buyers for the jet.
The jet was heavily marketed at this summer’s Moscow International Air Show but reportedly got no new orders.
Israel airstrike kills five in Gaza
An Israeli airstrike on a car in the Gaza Strip killed five Palestinian gunmen Wednesday after more than 20 rockets and mortar rounds fired from the strip landed inside Israel.
Israeli troops, backed by tanks and armored bulldozers, also pushed inside the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, a staging area for the rocket attacks. Palestinian health officials said three men were killed and at least 15 others wounded – most of them civilians – in shelling that witnesses said began as soldiers moved into the town’s narrow streets. Israeli military officials said forces fired on three Palestinian men armed with anti-tank weapons.
Although Israeli military officials described the ground incursion as “routine,” the number of troops and the depth they advanced inside the strip suggested a more prolonged operation targeting the crude rocket fire that has proven impossible to stop.
“We are getting closer to carrying out a widespread operation in Gaza which, for many reasons, has not taken place in the past weeks,” Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister, said on Army Radio.
He warned that “an operation of this type is not simple – not in terms of the forces and the amount of time which we will have to stay there nor in terms of the operational challenges which the troops will have to meet.”
Last week, Israel’s security Cabinet declared Gaza, administered now by the armed Islamic movement Hamas, a “hostile entity.”
Irish leader avoids no-confidence vote
Prime Minister Bertie Ahern narrowly defeated an attempt Wednesday to oust him from office because he took secret cash payments from businessmen.
Ahern faced his first-ever “no confidence” vote in parliament following his testimony this month to a corruption tribunal, which has unearthed payments to Ahern in the mid-1990s that exceed $140,000.
After a bitter 3 1/2-hour debate, lawmakers in Ahern’s three-party coalition voted to keep supporting him even though such payments break ethics laws – and, according to opposition leaders, Ahern obstructed and told lies to the taxpayer-funded investigation.
The no-confidence vote was the first in Ireland since 1992.
Ahern, who has won popularity for a decade of peacemaking and growing prosperity, prevailed in an 81-76 vote straight down party lines.