Saturday, May 30, 2009

NASA awards LN2, LOX contracts

NASA picked three companies to provide liquid nitrogen (LN2) and liquid oxygen (LOX) to six NASA facilities. Linde LLC of Murray Hill, N.J., will supply 256,500 tons of LN2 and 173,000 tons of LOX to Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. The three-year base period has two one-year options with a maximum value of $28.8 million. The contract begins July 1. LN2 is used for pneumatic actuation, purging, cooling and pressurization of equipment and LOX is an oxidizer in cryogenic rocket engines. Companies chosen to supply other NASA facilities are Air Products and Chemicals of Allentown, Pa., and Air Liquide Industrial of Houston. (Source: NASA, 05/29/09)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Push on for Tyndall fighters

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – The news that the Air Force will speed up the drawdown of F-15s at Tyndall Air Force Base is firing up efforts to find a replacement. Rep. Jimmy Patronis wrote to the Secretary of the Air Force asking that F-35s be considered for Tyndall. He pointed out that the community is supportive of the Air Force mission. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 05/28/09) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will become home of the F-35 training center, but all branches of the military are considering additional bases for the joint-service fighter.

Test stand rises over Stennis

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – Structural work has been finished on the A-3 test stand that will be used to test engines for the Constellation Program. Work has now begun on general construction. When completed, the A-3 stand will test J-2X engines that will propel the Ares I crew launch vehicle and the Ares V cargo launch vehicle. The A-3 can simulate altitudes up to 100,000 feet and can withstand a million pounds of thrust. The stand has a completion date for May 2011. (Source: Sun Herald, 05/28/09)

Early Fire Scout test for Army planned

Northrop Grumman plans to test-fly for the Army its own Fire Scout unmanned helicopter next month in Yuma, Ariz. The Fire Scout, called an XM157 Class IV UAV by the Army, is part of the embattled Future Combat Systems program. The test is coming far earlier than the one the Army plans in 2011. The Fire Scout is already being test-flown by the Navy. (Source: Aviation Week, 05/29/09) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

AMRAAM completes test

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Raytheon’s newest variant of the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile completed its seventh test flight March 19 when an AIM-120D AMRAAM was fired from an F-15D fighter. Initial analysis shows the missile achieved all primary test objectives. The Navy and Air Force have tested AIM-120D on the F/A-18 E/F and F-15C/D fighters. (Source: Raytheon, 05/29/09)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blue Angels trim practice

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Because of budget constraints, the Navy is cutting one day of practice for the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. The F/A-18 Hornets will no longer practice on Tuesday, but will continue Wednesday sessions. None of the remaining air show appearances are being canceled. The team is based at Naval Air Station Pensacola. (Sources: Pensacola News Journal, AP via Miami Herald, 05/27/09) Note: After cutting two Tuesday practices, the team later returned to Tuesday sessions, according to reports.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Contract: Far East Const., $13.8M

Far East Construction Corp., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a $13,750,756 contract for construction of parking lots and infrastructure. Buildings include the group support battalion logistics, tactical equipment maintenance facility, organization equipment storage facility and more. Work is to be performed in Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with an estimated completion date of May 22, 2010. Corps of Engineers Mobile Regional Contracting Center, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/27/09)

Contract: Broadmoor, $5.9M

Broadmoor LLC, Metairie, La., is being awarded $5,950,000 contract under a previously awarded contract for design and construction of a jet engine maintenance shop addition and an aircraft test cell foundation at Naval Air Station - Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans. Work will be performed in Belle Chase, La., and is expected to be completed by June 2010. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/27/09)

Tanker now in active wing

Boeing says three KC-767J aerial tankers have achieved initial operational capability and are now in an active air wing in the Japanese air force. The tankers were designated operational after a yearlong technical evaluation. A fourth plane will be delivered in the first quarter of 2010. (Source: Boeing, 05/26/09) Gulf Coast note: The KC-767 is expected to compete against the Northrop Grumman/EADS KC-45 for a $40 billion Air Force aerial tanker contract. Northrop hopes to build its planes in Mobile, Ala.

Airports get FAA funds

Mississippi airports will share $4.7 million in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration, according to Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker. Among them, Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport will get $2.2 million for a covered walkway from the parking area to terminal building. (Source: AP via Sun Herald, 05/27/09)

Eglin fuzed weapon test successful

WILMINGTON, Mass. - Textron Defense Systems said its Sensor Fuzed Weapon smart munition system completed three successful flight tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The tests used SFW units assembled at the new McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma. The Textron SFW, a cluster munition, has a redundant system - three modes - that cause warheads to self-destruct if they fail to find a target or are rendered inactive through the depletion of electrical firing energy after hitting the ground. (Source: Business Wire, 05/26/09)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bolden nominated as NASA chief

Veteran space shuttle commander Charles F. Bolden Jr. has been nominated by President Obama to serve as NASA’s administrator. It's been four months since the departure of former administrator Mike Griffin, a rocket scientist appointed by the Bush administration to oversee the shuttle’s 2010 retirement and development of the Constellation Program, designed to return astronauts to the moon and beyond. (Source: Multiple, 05/23/09) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assembly Facility and the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, both in New Orleans, are involved in NASA programs.

Eglin impact study draft ready

The first draft of a study on the compatibility between Eglin Air Force Base and the surrounding communities has been released and a series of public meetings has been scheduled. The study reviews the impact Eglin's mission and the base's projected growth stemming from the Base Realignment and Closure act. Comments from the meetings will be incorporated in the final version expected to be completed by July. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/22/09. The study can be accessed at the Daily News web site.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

StenniSphere sports new exhibit

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – The visitor center at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, StenniSphere, has unveiled its latest permanent exhibit: Science on a Sphere, a 68-inch global presentation of planetary data of the past, present and future. StenniSphere is the third NASA visitor center to offer Science on a Sphere, a computer system that uses four projectors to show dynamic, revolving, animated views of Earth’s and other planets’ atmosphere, geography and more. Science on a Sphere was developed by NOAA about five years ago. Stennis is the 36th site to house the exhibit. (Source: NASA, 05/23/09)

Jet noise topic of meeting

NICEVILLE, Fla. - Sixty residents attended Eglin Air Force Base’s second town hall meeting Thursday to discuss the Joint Strike Fighter Training Center. About a third of Maj. Gen. C. R. Davis' presentation addressed plans to bed down the F-35s at Eglin and the options for noise mitigation. Davis assured the audience that the Air Force was doing all it could to consider ways to decrease noise. He said locating the center at other areas “begging for the airplane” is not an option. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/21/09)

Low-flying jet tests radar system

MOBILE, Ala. - A Coast Guard jet made six low passes – 300 to 500 feet – over the Mobile River near Austal USA Thursday, allowing radar tests aboard the littoral combat ship Independence. Austal is part of a General Dynamics Corp.-led team competing to build dozens of the warships. The Independence and a second LCS on order have aluminum trimaran hulls. A team led by Lockheed Martin Corp. delivered the first of its steel-hulled ships to the Navy in the fall and is working on a second vessel. (Source: Mobile Press Register, 05/22/09)

Airport dumps taxi deal

NEW ORLEANS, La. - Just before a federal court was to finish hearing a claim that the New Orleans Aviation Board rigged a competition for curbside taxicab management, airport officials killed the deal and promised to revise their procurement process. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune, 05/21/09)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

AF likely to get tanker oversight

A Pentagon official said the Air Force is expected to resume control over the aerial tanker competition between Boeing and the Northrop Grumman/EADS team, according to Reuters. The Pentagon chief weapons buyer was given control over the program last summer after auditors faulted the Air Force's handling of the competition. Early this week, Aviation Week reported that the Pentagon had not decided if the Air Force or Pentagon acquisition chief would manage the upcoming competition. (Source: Reuters, 05/21/09) Gulf Coast note: Northrop/EADS plan to assemble the planes in Mobile, Ala., if they win the contract.

TSA gets more Rapiscan scanners

The Transportation Security Administration has awarded Rapiscan Systems a follow-on order of about $3 million for its Rapiscan 620DV Advanced Technology X-Ray scanning systems. The award for the baggage and parcel screening system for airports is one of the first made by TSA that uses economic stimulus funds. Rapiscan, of Torrance, Calif., is a global supplier of security inspection systems. (Source: Business Wire, 05/21/09) Gulf Coast note: Rapiscan has a manufacturing operation - Ferson Technologies/Rapiscan - in Ocean Springs, Miss.

Ares I parachutes tested

The first test of the Ares I rocket’s three main parachutes was completed Wednesday at the Yuma Proving Ground near Yuma, Ariz. The largest rocket parachutes ever manufactured – 150 feet in diameter and weighing 2,000 pounds each – they slow the descent of the rocket's spent first-stage motor, permitting recovery for use on future flights. Ares I, the first rocket in NASA's Constellation Program, is designed to launch explorers aboard the Orion crew capsule on journeys to the International Space Station, the moon and beyond. (Source: NASA, 05/20/09) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, are involved in the Constellation program.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

AF retiring 250 fighter jets

The Air Force announced plans to eliminate some 250 fighter jets – including some from Eglin and Tyndall air force bases in Florida - from its inventory to free up money for next-generation aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, according to a news release. The move would save $355 million in fiscal 2010 and $3.5 billion over the next five years. The service would retire 112 F-15s, 134 F-16s and three A-10s. Five additional fighter aircraft already had been designated to go out of service in the next fiscal year. Under the proposal, Tyndall Air Force Base would lose 48 F-15s but retain 28 F-22s. Eglin Air Force Base, which is scheduled to become the home of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Training Center, would lose two F-15s and retain five. (Source: Stars & Stripes, European edition, 05/20/09. AF press release)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

EADS edges out Boeing

Europe’s multi-country EADS edged out U.S.-based Boeing as the biggest aerospace and defense company in the world in 2008, based on revenues. A study from Deloitte released Tuesday said Boeing had led EADS in 2007, but a strike of machinists in Boeing's commercial division last fall allowed EADS to move ahead. Deloitte's study of 67 aerospace and defense companies or divisions of companies found that European companies grew faster at 9.56 percent in revenue than U.S. firms, which grew at 6.3 percent. (Source: PRNewswire, Defense News, 05/19/09) Gulf Coast note: EADS and Boeing are competing to build the next generation of aerial tanker. Boeing wants to build them in Washington State and EADS wants to assemble them in Mobile, Ala.

Combat controller gets Bronze Stars

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. - A combat controller was presented with two Bronze Stars with valor during a recent ceremony at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Master Sgt. Ken Huhman, a special tactics recruiter in San Antonio, received the medals for his actions during a 2007 deployment to Afghanistan while assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla. (Source: AFNS, 05/19/09)

F-35 engine completes test

The Pratt & Whitney F135 short takeoff/vertical landing propulsion system exceeded thrust performance expectations in recently completed tests, providing more vertical power than required by the F-35 Lightning II STOVL aircraft. The testing was conducted at a hover pit at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. There are three variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, including the vertical takeoff and landing version. (Source: Pratt & Whitney, 05/18/09) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is to be the home of the Joint Strike Fighter Training Center.

Niceville unit achieves rating

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems’ Niceville Operations in Florida has achieved CMMI Maturity Level 3 for systems engineering. The Niceville Operation specializes in the design, development and production of warheads for tactical missiles, rockets, ammunition and bombs. The designation means the operation incorporates CMMI best practices into its system engineering processes throughout product life cycles. GD Ordnance and Tactical Systems is a business unit of General Dynamics of Falls Church, Va. (Source: General Dynamics, 05/19/09)

Monday, May 18, 2009

AF could lose tanker oversight

Pentagon officials have not decided whether an upcoming tanker competition between Boeing and a Northrop Grumman/EADS North America will be managed by the Air Force or the Defense Department’s acquisition chief, according to David Van Buren, acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition. (Source: Aviation Week, 05/18/09) Gulf Coast note: If Boeing wins the planes would be built in Washington State; if Northrop/EADS wins planes would be assembled in Mobile, Ala.

China Airbus completes flight

The first A320 aircraft assembled outside Europe completed a four-hour, 14-minute flight Monday. It was assembled at the Final Assembly Line China, a joint venture between Airbus, a 51 percent stakeholder, and a Chinese consortium that includes Tianjin Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corp. The aircraft, which will be operated by Sichuan Airlines, took off from Tianjin International Airport. An Airbus official said the plane has the same quality as those assembled in Hamburg and Toulouse. (Source: Airbus, 05/18/09) Gulf Coast note: Airbus parent EADS plans to build an assembly facility in Mobile, Ala., if it wins all or a part of an Air Force contest to build tankers.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tanker fleet showing age

WICHITA, Kan. - McConnell Air Force Base is the largest tanker base in the world, and personnel know the problems keeping airborne a fleet built in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Metal fatigue, corrosion, and replacing parts never intended to be replaced are common. As the debate continues in Washington over the Boeing vs Northrop Grumman contract to replace the fleet, those in the field struggle to keep aloft aircraft so critical for the nation’s defense. (Source: Wichita Eagle, 05/17/09) Gulf Coast note: Northrop and partner EADS plan to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., if they win all or part of the contract.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hunter UAV hits milestone

HERNDON, Va. - Northrop Grumman's Hunter unmanned aircraft, used by the Army since 1996, has surpassed 75,000 flight hours in service - 50,000 flown in combat. The MQ-5B Hunter is used for reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, weapons delivery and communications relay. The model designated RQ-5A was the Army's first fielded UAV. (Source: Northrop Grumman via Globe Newswire, 05/15/09) Gulf Coast note: The Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., has done refurbishing work on the Hunter.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Panel to get split buy data

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Defense Secretary Robert Gates will provide data to Congress on the cost of buying tankers from both Boeing and the Northrop Grumman/EADS team. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye planned to insert language requiring the data in the fiscal 2009 war spending bill, but dropped the plan after talking to Gates. Pentagon officials oppose splitting the contract, saying it would be too costly. Some in Congress say a split buy would prevent a losing side from filing a protest and delaying the important procurement. (Source: Reuters via Forbes, 05/14/09) Gulf Coast note: Northrop/EADS will assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., if they win all or part of the contract.

Contract: Raytheon, $53.9M

The Air Force is awarding a firm fixed price contract to Raytheon Missile Systems Co. of Tucson, Ariz., for $53,919,693. This action will provide miniature air launched decoy Low Rate Production for 25 month production effort to include all 162 up rounds, 81 containers, warranty rotable spares and a 12-month Interim Contractor Support. 692 ARSS/PK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/14/09)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Eglin to get AFOTEC personnel

KIRKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center will begin realigning manpower to improve mission effectiveness pending completion of an environmental impact assessment. The realignment will shift 33 percent of the personnel from AFOTEC’s Kirtland Air Force Base headquarters to four AFOTEC detachments at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Edwards AFB, Calif., Nellis AFB, Nev., and Peterson AFB, Colo. The change affects 20 civilian and 71 military billets. (Source: AFNS, 05/12/09)

General wants to improve synergy

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The new commander of the Air Armament Center plans to improve the synergy between weapons and aircraft. Maj. Gen. Charles R. Davis, who previously was program executive officer of the Joint Strike Fighter, has managed other aircraft programs as well and wants to incorporate that knowledge into Eglin’s weapons programs. "We at the AAC can do a better job trying to help build a strategic plan on how we produce more synergy between the weapons and the airframe," Davis said. The "levels of technology and capability between the two have always been out-of-sync and mismatched,” and he wants to “rebalance the equation.” Eglin is scheduled to become home to the Joint Striker Fighter Training Center and the 7th Special Forces Group. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 05/12/09)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tanker boom tested

An Airbus A330 tanker transport completed a test of the in-flight handling characteristics of its refueling boom system. The flutter testing of the first A330 built for Australia was done under a variety of conditions. In a different test last month, the A330 was refueled by a French C-135. Northrop Grumman plans to use the A330 platform for its KC-45, which is competing against the Boeing KC-767 for a $40 billion Air Force contract. (Source: EADS, 05/12/09) Gulf Coast note: Northrop/EADS plans to build the KC-45 in Mobile, Ala., if it wins the contract.

Boeing moves MDS to Alabama

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Boeing Co. will relocate headquarters for its Missile Defense Systems division from Arlington, Va., to Huntsville, starting immediately. Boeing initially will shift division management and support functions to Huntsville and will evaluate moving other MDS employees. Between 40 and 50 positions may be transferred by the end of this year. Boeing says customers have been locating more operations to Huntsville and it wants to remain close to them. Boeing Huntsville operations include the defense work and work associated with the space program. (Source: Boeing, 05/12/09) Gulf Coast note: Boeing also has operations in New Orleans and Northwest Florida.

Loud jet noise played at meeting

VALPARAISO, Fla. - A Valparaiso resident recorded the sounds of an F-35, F-15 and F-16 last month and played them Monday at a Valparaiso City Council meeting. Bob Webb, an audio professional, played the 45-second clip during an hour-long presentation attended by about 50 people. According to his estimates, the average person would find the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter two to three times louder than the F-16. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/11/09) Gulf Coast note: The Air Force plans to locate the JSF training center at Eglin Air Force Base.

Coast Guard ponders UAVs

The U.S. Coast Guard is still in the market for an unmanned aerial system to extend the surveillance reach of the new National Security Cutter fleet, the head of acquisition for the service said May 11. The Coast Guard ended its planned vertical takeoff UAV program, and has been monitoring other UAV programs, said Rear Adm. Gary Blore, assistant commandant for acquisition. He said the Navy’s Fire Scout appears to be the farthest along but "we’re still waiting for [maritime] radar to be integrated on Fire Scout." (Source: Aviation Week, 05/12/09) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss., and the first National Security Cutter was built in Pascagoula, Miss.

EADS: Plans still on track

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. on Monday refuted a published report that indicated the economy may force it to scrap plans to build cargo planes in Mobile, Ala. Aerospace Daily quoted Airbus executive Domingo Urena as saying the company was re-evaluating the plan to assemble a cargo version of the A330 in Mobile because of slack demand for the planes. EADS and teammate Northrop Grumman are competing for the Air Force contract to build aerial tankers in Mobile, Ala. The company had said in the past it would build the cargo planes as well if it wins all or part of the tanker contract. (Source: Mobile Press Register, 05/12/09)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Contract: Raytheon, $521.2M

The Air Force is awarding a firm fixed price contract to Raytheon Co., of Tucson, Ariz., for $521,236,837 for 105 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air, Missile Air Intercept Missile All-Up-Round missiles, 11 AIM-120 D air vehicles instrumented, two AIM-120D Integrated test vehicles, 72 AIM-120D captive air training missiles, 495 AIM-120C7 FMS and more. 695ARSS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/11/09)

Former LM chief named to panel

The long-term plan for human spaceflight will have to wait until the end of the summer at the earliest while a panel headed by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine reviews it at the request of the White House. The panel will include NASA insiders and outside experts to review the Bush-era "Vision for Space Exploration." Among topics to be covered will be narrowing the post-shuttle gap in delivering crews to the International Space Station on U.S. vehicles; pushing human exploration beyond low Earth orbit to the moon and beyond, and boosting commercial human spaceflight, according to John Holdren, Obama's science adviser. (Source: Aviation Week, 05/08/09) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans are both involved in the space program.

Drone washes ashore

OKALOOSA ISLAND, Fla. - A target drone that had been shot down Feb. 25 over the Gulf of Mexico was found washed ashore over the weekend. The BQM-167 subscale drone had been shot down as part of a weapons evaluation test by the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. It washed up on Air Force property a quarter mile west of El Matador Condominiums. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/11/09)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

BAE Systems marks milestone

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – BAE Systems employees gathered at Lake Terrace Convention Center Friday to celebrate the 500th M777 howitzer made in Hattiesburg. The plant is the only supplier of the M777 howitzer, producing 14 of the lightweight howitzers each month. The company is under contract for 737 howitzers by January 2011. The Hattiesburg facility opened in 2003. (Source: Hattiesburg American, 05/09/09) Gulf Coast note: BAE Systems also has operations in Gautier, Miss., and Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Flight academy construction OKd

PENSACOLA, Fla. – The National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation's board of directors voted this week to begin construction on the National Flight Academy at Pensacola Naval Air Station. The $26.5 million construction project includes a 100,000-square-foot academy facility and a 55,000-square-foot addition to the National Naval Aviation Museum. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 05/09/09)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Program aims to inspire students

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - High school students in communities near Stennis Space Center can participate in NASA's Interdisciplinary National Science Program Incorporating Research Experience, or Inspire. Selectees will participate in an online learning community in which students and parents have the opportunity to interact with peers and NASA engineers and scientists. Inspire is designed to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. For information, visit (Source: NASA, 05/08/09)

NASA budget, planned study unveiled

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Along with the unveiling of NASA’s fiscal year 2010 budget on Thursday, the White House announced the launch of an independent review of NASA's human spaceflight activities. The review will examine NASA programs and possible alternatives. As for the budget, NASA is requesting $18.69 billion to advance Earth science, complete the International Space Station, explore the solar system and conduct aeronautics research. All totaled, an additional $2 billion has been added to NASA's 2009 and 2010 budgets under the Obama administration and funds a program of space exploration involving humans and robots with the goal of returning Americans to the moon and exploring other destinations. (Source: NASA, 05/07/09) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans are both involved in NASA programs.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pentagon big on UAVs

The fiscal 2010 Pentagon budget unveiled Thursday held no surprises since Defense Secretary Robert Gates in early April previewed what it would include. As expected, the budget provides a good deal of money for unmanned aerial systems. It has $1.45 billion for five Air Force Global Hawks high-altitude UAVs, as well as funding for five Fire Scout unmanned helicopters for the Navy. The Pentagon also plans on buy Ravens for the Army and Shadows for the Marines. The Predator is giving way to the more advanced Reaper. The budget also includes $400 million to restart the competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman/EADS for the aerial tanker project. (Source: Multiple, 05/07/09) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks and Fire Scouts are made in part at the Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss.; Northrop/EADS plan to build the tanker in Mobile, Ala., if they win the competition.

Pentagon: Kill alternative F-35 engine

The Pentagon is killing the alternate engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the fiscal 2010 defense budget request. The move ends funding for the F136 General Electric/Rolls-Royce engine, leaving funding only for Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine. But lawmakers have restored funding every time the Pentagon has sought to cut it in the past. (Source: Aviation Week, 05/07/09) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will become home to the Joint Strike Fighter Training Center.

UAV runway work begins

MOSS POINT, Miss. – Work has begun on a new taxiway linking Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center to Trent Lott International Airport's runway. The 419-foot-long project should be finished within two weeks, said Carol Snapp, the airport's executive director. With Taxiway C3 in place, Northrop can begin product flight tests of Fire Scout unmanned helicopters, said site manager Bryan Mahoney. (Source: Mississippi Press, 05/07/07)

Northrop awards suppliers

A Pensacola company was among 130 suppliers nationwide honored by Northrop Grumman this week. The suppliers provide Northrop’s Aerospace Systems sector with products ranging from aircraft parts to electronics for spacecraft, as well as everyday services. Johnson Supply Co., which supplies coatings and sealants, was among 62 platinum award winners for 2008. The company also recognized 11 top suppliers and 56 gold award winner. (Source: Globe Newswire, 05/06/09)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

EADS appoints tanker program chief

EADS North America appointed Michael Cosentino as vice president and program manager, tanker programs. He’ll work closely with Northrop Grumman on the KC-45 tanker and oversee the company’s tanker program and engineering efforts in the United States. EADS North America and Northrop Grumman are competing against Boeing to replace the aging Air Force tanker fleet. The KC-45 will be built in Mobile, Ala., if the Northrop/EADS team wins. (Source: EADS North America, 05/05/09)

Constellation review expected

The Obama administration this week may order a review of the spacecraft program NASA hoped would replace the space shuttle, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The review would examine whether the Ares I rocket and Orion capsule are the best options to send astronauts into orbit by 2015. The review of the Constellation program could be finished by fall. (Source: Los Angeles Times, 05/06/09) Gulf Coast note: Any changes in NASA programs are crucial for Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Court won't block airport

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - A court denied a bid to block a new airport from being built. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied a pending petition for review of the Federal Aviation Administration's Record of Decision approving relocation of the Panama City - Bay County International Airport to a new site. The National Resources Defense Council, Defenders of Wildlife and Friends of PFN argued against the FAA and airport on Jan. 23, 2008. The new airport is under construction with an expected opening of May 2010. It’s being built on 4,000 acres donated by The St. Joe Company. (Source: Business Wire, 05/05/09)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Moss Point UAV plant gets added role

PASCAGOULA, Miss. - A Navy contract will establish the Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point as a service center for Fire Scout unmanned helicopters. The Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a contractor logistics support contract valued at $5 million the first year, with options for three more years that will total $19 million. It’s the first step to a long term MQ-8B Fire Scout maintenance program. The center, which also builds portions of the Fire Scout and Global Hawk, will provide maintenance and periodic upgrades for the MQ-8B. The contract also includes operational and maintenance training. (Source: Globe Newswire, 05/05/09)

Shuttle tank heads to Florida

NEW ORLEANS, La. - The space shuttle's latest external fuel tank built by Lockheed Martin at the Michoud Assembly Facility is heading for Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The tank, constructed by using friction stir welding, will be used in the August launch of Discovery. The 15-story tall tank left New Orleans by barge on Friday. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune, 05/05/09)

Osprey facing reliability issues

The Marine Corps deputy commandant for aviation told Aerospace Daily that the MV-22 Osprey is facing reliability issues due to inaccurate predictive modeling. Lt. Gen. George Trautman said reliability and maintainability are “not meeting my full expectations yet.” He said it's become evident that early predictions of mean time between failures on certain parts were inaccurate. But he praised Bell Boeing for being engaged in working on the issues. (Source: Aviation Week, 05/04/09) Gulf Coast note: Air Force Special Operations at Hurlburt Field, Fla., uses the CV-22 variant.

Austal, Baldwin honored

Site Selection, a magazine that tracks economic development projects, recognized Austal USA and the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance in its May issue. Shipbuilder Austal received an honorable mention in the top North American deals category, and the Baldwin alliance received an honorable mention among Top Economic Development Groups of 2008. Recent alliance accomplishments include Segers Aero Corp., a $7 million project that created 100 new jobs. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 05/05/09)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fire Scout completes key test

An MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter successfully completed fully autonomous flight operations onboard the USS McInerney. This follows at-sea operations aboard the USS Nashville, which included the first autonomous ship landings by a Navy unmanned aerial vehicle. The Fire Scout, which eventually will be deployed on littoral combat ships, is scheduled to deploy on the McInerney for its next counter-narcotics trafficking deployment later this year. The ship is based at Mayport Naval Station, Fla. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 05/04/09) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part at the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss.; Austal USA builds a version of the LCS in Mobile, Ala.

Small-boat threat system tested

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - NetFires LLC, a joint venture between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, conducted the second captive flight test of the Non Line-of-Sight-Launch System Precision Attack Missile. The system is also one of the key Littoral Combat Ship mission modules to combat small-boat threats. The LCS Mission Module can fire as many as 45 PAM missiles from three container launch units. With a range greater than 25 miles, the PAM missile gives the LCS an increased surface warfare weapon capability. (Source: Raytheon, 05/04/09) Gulf Coast note: The Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala., is building LCS ships for the Navy.

EADS, Lockheed team on new helo

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - EADS North America said today that American Eurocopter is teaming with Lockheed Martin to offer a next-generation, armed scout helicopter to the Army, the Armed Scout 645. The announcement was made at the Army Aviation Association of America’s 2009 Annual Convention. The 645 is based on the Eurocopter EC145 commercial airframe, the platform for the UH-72A Light Utility Helicopter. The Armed Scout 645 will be produced at EADS' American Eurocopter’s Columbus, Miss., facility, which also builds the UH-72A Lakota. (Source: EADS North America, 05/04/09) Gulf Coast note: EADS also operates an engineering center and maintenance center in Mobile, Ala., where it also hopes to assemble aerial tankers for the Air Force.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

F-15 team marks final demo

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The ACC’s Eglin-based "West Coast" F-15 demo team performed its last demonstration here Friday at the 33rd Fighter Wing Nomad reunion. Vintage P-51 Mustangs also performed. The 33rd has been one of the ACC's demonstration teams since the 1990s. The demonstration team originated from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and moved to Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., before settling at Eglin. "West Coast" was retained for heritage purposes. In addition to ending its demonstration team work, the Nomads are ending 30 years at Eglin in September to make way for the F-35 Joint Strike fighter training complex. ACC now has six demonstration teams left to showcase America's air power. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 05/02/09)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

NASA layoffs begin

NASA is laying off 160 people in New Orleans and Utah, the first of 900 jobs that will be eliminated over the next months at NASA centers. NASA is preparing to retire its space shuttle fleet in 2010. The first notices went out Friday, mainly to contractors producing the space shuttle fuel tanks in New Orleans and shuttle solid rocket boosters in Utah. (Source: Multiple, 05/02/09)

AAC gets new commander

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Maj. Gen. Charles R. Davis assumed command of the Air Armament Center from Maj. Gen. David Eidsaune in a ceremony Friday. Davis most recently was executive officer for the F-35 Lightning II Program Office, in charge of developing and acquiring the F-35. The initial F-35 training school will be based at Eglin. Eidsaune will become director of operations of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/01/09)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Contract for Michoud awarded

NEW ORLEANS, La. - NASA selected Jacobs Technology of Tullahoma, Tenn., to receive the manufacturing support and facilities operations contract at the Michoud Assembly Facility. The contract value is $120.49 million for the base period, $40.11 million for option year one and $42.16 million for option year two. Jacobs Technology will manage the Michoud facility and provide support to its multiple NASA projects and other tenants. Michoud, a NASA-owned facility, is one of the world's largest manufacturing plants. (Source: PRNewswire, 05/01/09)

Murtha delays tanker split proposal

The Mobile Press-Register is reporting that language to force the Pentagon to buy tankers from both Boeing and Northrop Grumman won’t be included in this year's supplemental war spending bill. The newspaper says Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said he was abandoning his push to add language, but that he intends to make another push for the dual buy later this year. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 05/01/09; Wall Street Journal story on the topic) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman and its partner, EADS, plan to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., if they win the contract.

Raytheon buys KillerBee rights

TUCSON, Ariz. - Raytheon has purchased rights to the technology and name of the KillerBee unmanned aircraft system from Northrop Grumman. Under the agreement, Raytheon will submit the KillerBee for the Navy and Marine Corps' Small Tactical UAS and Tier II competition. The KillerBee UAS features a blended-wing aircraft body design and has common systems for land or sea launch, recovery and ground control. The design of KillerBee enables growth for future payloads and additional mission capabilities. (Source: Raytheon, 05/01/09) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman and Raytheon both have operations in the Gulf Coast region.