What’s this about?  This is supposed to be top-drawer technology, better even than we currently have I am told for U.S. Defense.  What is the reason for the delays?  Is this one more case of Boeing lacking the technical expertise to successfully produce a working product?    If anyone out there knows why there is a problem and can enlighten us all, please explain.  GFS

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Boeing Australia Chief Leaves After Program Delay (Update1)

By Gopal Ratnam

Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) — Boeing Co. said David Withers, head of defense operations in Australia, has left the company after two years in the post, a departure that follows delays to a program to build surveillance planes for that country.

Boeing said its Australian defense operations will be led by four managers reporting to its defense group in the U.S.: Jeff Worley, Scott March, Wayne Needs and Steve Parker. Withers “will now leave the employ” of Boeing, the company said in a statement without giving further details about his plans.

Boeing is swapping managers and changing the Australian unit’s structure after the so-called “Wedgetail” program planes were delayed in June for a second time, prompting a 22-cent a share charge against second-quarter earnings. The Wedgetail program, valued at $1 billion, consists of 737-700 Boeing airplanes fitted with surveillance radar and target identification systems.

Boeing said that Worley will become acting managing director of Boeing Integrated Defense systems in Australia and March will lead military aircraft in the country while keeping his position as the Wedgetail program manager. Needs will become general manager of Support Systems in Australia and Parker will head the company’s Network and Space Systems unit there, the statement said.

Withers was appointed managing director of Boeing Australia Limited in November 2006. Previously, he was managing director of Smiths Aerospace, according to a Boeing press release on Nov. 14, 2006.

Boeing rose 90 cents to $62.01 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has fallen 29 percent this year.

Link to Original at Bloomberg.com:  http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=af51oEXHkeNg#

To contact the reporter on this story: Gopal Ratnam in Washington at gratnam1@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: August 1, 2008 18:27 EDT

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