LANTANA, Fla. President Donald Trump wants small businesses to thrive, but his frequent Mar-a-Lago visits have flight schools and other companies at a nearby airport in a financial nosedive. The Secret Service closed Lantana Airport on Friday for the third straight weekend because of the president s return to his Palm Beach resort, meaning its maintenance companies, a banner-flying business and another two dozen businesses are also shuttered, costing them thousands of dollars at the year s busiest time. The banner-flying company says it has lost more than $40,000 in contracts already.
The airport, which handles only small, propeller-driven planes and helicopters, is about 6 miles southwest of Mar-a-Lago, well within the 10-mile circle around the resort that s closed to most private planes when he s in town. Trump flies into Palm Beach International Airport, which is 2.5 miles from Mar-a-Lago, and remains open as it handles commercial flights. Small private planes can also use that airport during presidential visits if they meet certain stringent conditions. The Lantana owners are pushing compromises they say will ensure Trump s security while keeping their businesses open. They involve letting pilots fly in a closely monitored corridor headed away from the resort until they are outside a 10-mile ban around Mar-a-Lago and a 30-mile zone where flying lessons are restricted. Pilots, planes and cargo would undergo preflight screening by Transportation Security Administration agents.
None of us are suggesting that we shouldn t do everything to keep the president safe but we believe there are things that can be done to keep us in operation, said Jonathan Miller, the contractor who operates the Palm Beach County-owned airport.
The airport and its 28 businesses have an economic impact of about $27 million annually and employ about 200 people full-time, many of them making about $30,000 a year. They don t get paid when the airport is closed. Miller is already losing a helicopter company, which is moving rather than deal with the closures. That will cost him $440,000 in annual rent and fuel sales. White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham directed questions to the Secret Service. The agency also declined comment. Flight restrictions have long been standard around buildings where a president is staying to protect him from an airborne attack.
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat who represents the area, met with the business owners this week. She said she will meet with the Secret Service next week to see if a compromise can be reached. Lantana Airport opened in 1941 as a Civil Air Patrol station, with planes flying along the coast during World War II to spot German submarines attempting to sink cargo ships. Today, the 300-acre, three-runway facility handles an average of 350 arrivals and departures daily, peaking on winter weekends as tourists enjoy South Florida s temperate weather. Summer, with its stifling, visitor-repelling heat and the constant threat of plane-grounding thunderstorms, is not nearly as lucrative. Marian Smith, owner of Palm Beach Flight Training, said her 19-year-old business is losing 24 flights daily when closed and three students cancelled. She lost $28,000 combined the last two weekends and will lose $18,000 on this Presidents Day weekend. She estimates her 19 instructors are each losing up to $750 a weekend.
What s frustrating is that we get little notice when this is going to happen, she said.
This week, rumors began Monday. The closure notice arrived Wednesday. David Johnson, owner of Palm Beach Aircraft Services, said his 27-year-old repair and maintenance business generates $2 million in sales annually, but has taken a hit over the last month and he fears it will cascade if flight schools like Smith s close. He has written a letter he hopes gets delivered to Trump this weekend asking him, one businessman to another, to help resolve the conflict.
Even if the TSA had to screen every pilot going out of here, we would be open to that, Johnson said. But so far, we ve gotten nothing. Jorge Gonzalez, owner of SkyWords Advertising, a banner towing service, said his company lost four contracts totaling $42,500 because of Trump s visits. He wants exceptions made for three pilots to fly within the restricted zone when the president visits because it is where thousands of residents live and tourists stay.
We have spent 10 years building this business, said Gonzalez s wife, Hadley Doyle-Gonzalez. We just can t pick up and move.
The White House distanced itself Friday from a Department of Homeland Security draft proposal to use the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants, but lawmakers said the document offers insight into the Trump administration s internal efforts to enact its promised crackdown on illegal immigration. Administration officials said the proposal, which called for mobilizing up to 100,000 troops in 11 states, was rejected, and would not be part of plans to carry out President Trump s aggressive immigration policy. If implemented, the National Guard idea, contained in an 11-page memo obtained by the Associated Press, could have led to enforcement action against millions of immigrants living nowhere near the Mexican border. Four states that border on Mexico were included in the proposal California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas but it also encompassed seven states contiguous to those four Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
WHITE HOUSE DENIES EFFORT
Despite the AP s public release of the document, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said there was no effort at all to utilize the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants. A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly for approval. However, DHS staffers said Thursday that they had been told by colleagues in two DHS departments that the proposal was still being considered as recently as Feb. 10. DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen declined to say who wrote the memo, how long it had been under consideration or when it had been rejected. The pushback from administration officials did little to quell outrage over the draft plan. Two Republican governors spoke out against the proposal and numerous Democratic lawmakers denounced it as an overly aggressive approach to immigration enforcement.
Regardless of the White House s response, this document is an absolutely accurate description of the disturbing mindset that pervades the Trump administration when it comes to our nation s immigrants, said U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would have concerns about the utilization of National Guard resources for immigration enforcement, believing such a program would be too much of a strain on our National Guard personnel. Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert would have serious concerns about the constitutional implications and financial impact of activating the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants, the governor s office said in a statement. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said, This administration s complete disregard for the impact its internal chaos and inability to manage its own message and policy is having on real people s lives is offensive.
GOVERNORS WOULD HAVE HAD A CHOICE
It isn t clear where the National Guard troops would come from. Asked whether Gov. Paul LePage has been contacted by Homeland Security or whether the governor would authorize Maine soldiers to participate, his communications director, Peter Steele, said in an email, More fake news by the AP. A Maine National Guard spokesman also did not respond to a request for comment, and a staff member for Sen. Angus King said Friday that the AP report was the first the office had heard of any plan. The AP had sought comment from the White House beginning Thursday and DHS earlier Friday and had not received a response from either. After the AP released the story, Spicer said the memo was not a White House document and said there was no effort to do what is potentially suggested.
Governors in the 11 states would have had a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, which bears the name of Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general. At a maximum, approximately 100,000 Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel are available for stateside missions in the 11 states, according to statistics and information provided by the National Guard Bureau. While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.
The memo was addressed to the then-acting heads of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It would have served as guidance to implement the wide-ranging executive order on immigration and border security that President Donald Trump signed Jan. 25. Such memos are routinely issued to supplement executive orders. Also dated Jan. 25, the draft memo says participating troops would be authorized to perform the functions of an immigration officer in relation to the investigation, apprehension and detention of aliens in the United States. It describes how the troops would be activated under a revived state-federal partnership program, and states that personnel would be authorized to conduct searches and identify and arrest any unauthorized immigrants. If implemented, the impact could have been significant. Nearly one-half of the 11.1 million people residing in the U.S. without authorization live in the 11 states, according to Pew Research Center estimates based on 2014 Census data.
Aero India 2017: Rafael scores big in airborne SDRs
Rafael is getting ready to supply its BNET-AR, part of the Israeli company’s software-defined radio family, to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in serious quantities. Speaking to Shephard at Aero India 2017 in Bangalore, a Rafael spokesman said a contract should be signed by the end of March after the company was earlier selected to supply the BNET-AR for the IAF’s Sukhoi Su-30MKI (pictured above), Jaguar and airborne early warning aircraft fleets. When units for both aircraft and ground stations are counted, the quantity amounts to 1,000 radios, each of which weighs 7kg and measures 130 x 250 x 250mm. Rafael noted that there is potential for the IAF to later fit this family of SDRs onto other aircraft platforms too.
BNET is a self-healing, mobile, broadband ad hoc network (MANET) system, and the radios provide both air-to-air and air-to-ground functionality. BNET-AR will replace the existing Integrated Radio Communication (INCOM) set on aircraft.
To comply with Indian procurement regulations, Rafael is working with local partner Astra Microwave via a joint venture. Meanwhile, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will perform integration of the radio system, while Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) is responsible for the ground stations. In related news, the Indian Army issued an RfI for SDRs a couple of months ago, and Rafael will respond to this also. Other areas of focus for Rafael in India are air-to-air missiles and surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems.
Yaniv Rotem, business development and marketing manager for the air superiority systems division, said Rafael is offering a suite of weapons for India’s indigenous Tejas light fighter. These include Derby Mk III and Python-5 missiles plus the SPICE family of guided munitions (250, -1000 and -2000). The IAF already operates the SPYDER SAM system, so outfitting the Tejas with the same Derby and Python-5 missiles would allow each other’s stockpile to be fully exploited. The Derby Mk III is an Indian version of the beyond-visual-range I-Derby ER. The improved missile with longer 100km range was unveiled two years ago at Aero India, and it features a dual-pulse rocket motor and software-defined radio frequency seeker.
The Tejas has already been successfully configured to carry baseline Derby missiles, and it is believed that the IAF is evaluating this missile type in competition with the MBDA Meteor and Raytheon AIM-120D. The SPICE 250, mounted on a quad rack and offering a 100km range, is currently undergoing acceptance testing in Israel. Rotem said it offers better range, accuracy, penetration and frangible effects than the 500-pound Mk 82 bomb. It can be used independently thanks to a data link and automatic scene-matching, or it can combine with a Litening pod to hit moving targets on land or sea. Both the Litening 5 navigation and targeting pod and the Lite Shield electronic attack pod for close protection and escort jamming are on offer to India.
In terms of SAM systems, Rafael was promoting Iron Dome at Aero India 2017, with the famous system performing more than 1,700 interceptions to date. Pini Yungman, head of the missile defence systems directorate, said Iron Dome could be combined with the Barak 8 missile that India will be inducting in significant quantities. C-Dome is the shipborne variant of Iron Dome, giving naval vessels an area defence capacity. Yungman said it would make a good replacement for the older Barak 1 missile currently installed on Indian Navy vessels. The Indian Army has already selected the Spike anti-armour missile and a contract for 321 launchers and 8,356 missiles is approaching.
A company executive stated, ‘I would like to emphasise that we are seeking to enlarge our partnerships in India, and we are negotiating with the local industry to make this happen.’
As well as the aforementioned tie-up with Astra Microwave, Rafael also has partnerships with Bharat Forge, Reliance Defence and Engineering (formerly Pipavav) and Bharat Dynamics Limited.
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- ^ Gordon Arthur (www.shephardmedia.com)
- ^ BNET (plus.shephardmedia.com)
- ^ Tejas light fighter (www.shephardmedia.com)
- ^ SPYDER (plus.shephardmedia.com)
- ^ Lite Shield (plus.shephardmedia.com)
- ^ Iron Dome (plus.shephardmedia.com)
- ^ Barak 8 missile (www.shephardmedia.com)
- ^ Indian Army has already selected the Spike anti-armour missile (www.shephardmedia.com)