Saturday, March 31, 2012

Passenger counts up

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport Executive Director John Wheat told Airport Authority board members that Panhandle airports saw a rise in passenger traffic for February after two straight months of decline. The passenger count at the airport near West Bay rose 1.5 percent last month compared to February 2011. Passenger counts were also up in Pensacola and Tallahassee, but down at Fort Walton Beach. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 03/30/12)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Contract: Raytheon, $497.1M

Raytheon Co., Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $497,131,017 firm-fixed-price contract to procure missiles, instrumentation units, test equipment, guidance sections, hardware, and contractor logistics support. The location of the performance is Tucson, Ariz. Work is to be completed by Jan. 31, 2015. AAC/EBAC, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/30/12)

F-22 oxygen issue a mystery

The Air Force Scientific Advisory Board can't explain what caused blackouts and dizziness among pilots flying F-22 Raptors. A separate investigation of the oxygen problem by Lockheed Martin is continuing. The F-22 is considered safe and continues to fly, with pilots using sensors, filters and other safety steps to mitigate potential problems. The fleet was grounded for four months last year after pilots complained of lack of oxygen. Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is the home of the 325th Fighter Wing, whose primary mission is to provide air training for F-22 pilots, as well as maintenance personnel and air battle managers. (Sources: multiple, including AP via Business Week, Military, 03/30/12, ABC NewsPanama City News Herald, 03/29/12)

Eglin's top civilian retiring

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Bruce Simpson, executive director of the Air Armament Center, plans to retire April 3 after a 31-year tenure. As head of AAC, Simpson was the center acquisition chief in charge of buying and developing weapons systems, as well as the top-ranking civilian on base. His retirement comes on the eve of a planned reorganization. The Air Force plans to absorb the Air Armament Center and two other centers into the new Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/29/12)

Historic engines to be recovered?

The five Rocketdyne F-1 engines that in July 1969 powered the first stage of the Saturn V rocket that launched Apollo 11 for its rendezvous with the moon have been found in the Atlantic Ocean. They were found by Bezos Expeditions, owned by Jeff Bezos, founder of He said he hopes to raise one or more of the engines, which are owned by NASA, to put on display. The five engines, built in California, were assembled into the first stage at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Michoud was the manufacturing center for the entire Saturn V system. (Sources: multiple, including MSNBC, Time, New Orleans Times Picayune, 03/29/12) The F-1 engines were tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. When the five-engine cluster was test-fired for the first time in March 1967, windows shattered in nearby communities from the 7.5 million pounds of thrust; Bezos also founded Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., which soon will test its BE-3 engine thrust chamber assembly at Stennis Space Center’s E-1 test stand.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New type plastic bleeds, heals

A self-repairing plastic that turns red to show it's damaged could be important for big structures like bridges, aircraft and even battlefield weapons systems. Self-healing plastic isn't a new concept, but researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., developed one that keeps repairing itself. Professor Marek Urban presented the results of the research at the National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in San Diego, Calif., this week. The research is partly funded by the Department of Defense. (Sources: PCWorld, 03/27/12, CNET, 03/28/12)

F-35 lifetime cost: $1.45 trillion

The government projects that the total cost to develop, buy and operate the Lockheed Martin F-35 will be $1.45 trillion over 50-plus years, according to a Pentagon document obtained by Reuters. The estimate is up from about $1 trillion a year ago, and includes inflation -- a third of the projected F-35 operating costs. Military officials and industry executives point out that no other weapons program's costs have been calculated over such a long period. (Source: Reuters, 03/29/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

EU balks over merger

The European Commission is taking a closer look at the proposed $16.5 billion merger between United Technologies and Goodrich. One of the concerns is the high market share of a combined UT/Goodrich in areas such as engine controls and power generators, where UT's Hamilton Sundstrand unit and Goodrich are competitors. UT unveiled the takeover in September last year, which would reinforce its presence in the civilian aerospace market. Goodrich parts are used on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus' A320neo. The probe, which could last until August, may lead to the sale of assets to get approval for the deal. Hartford, Conn.-based UT's aviation activities include Sikorsky and Pratt and Whitney. It makes an array of products, including rocket engines, helicopters and elevators. Charlotte, N.C.-based Goodrich makes aircraft equipment including landing gears and electrical power systems. (Sources: ReutersBloomberg, 03/27/12) Previous. Gulf Coast note: UT's Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Goodrich has a service center in Foley, Ala.

Ribbon-cutting set for expansion

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Avionics company LSI's Pensacola branch will have a ribbon-cutting Thursday for its newest expansion. The company retrofits helicopters for the military to use as training platforms. LSI operates out of a 20,000 square foot building and is expanding into a recently completed 10,000 square foot adjacent building. The company has said that over the next year it expects to add 20 workers to the 40 now working there. LSI is based in Jacksonville, Fla. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 03/27/12) Previous

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Group tackling space debris

Although the U.S. Air Force tracks space debris swirling around the planet, some of the world's biggest commercial satellite operators are sharing data to help prevent collisions in what's considered a growing problem. They've formed the Space Data Association to create computer tools that help in what's called "space situational awareness." The swirling mass around Earth includes operational spacecraft and debris, and it's getting harder to track, much less clean up. (Source: Aviation Week, 03/27/12) Gulf Coast note: The 20th Space Control Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., tracks some 22,000 orbiting satellites with the world's most powerful radar. Previous post

CHARTS used in survey

BELIZE CITY, Belize -- The Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) has been using airborne laser and imagery systems since early February to conduct cooperative hydrographic surveys in the coastal waters of Belize. It's part of a long-term project to survey the western Caribbean Sea off the coasts of Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua. The surveys are designed to improve safety of navigation by mapping the seafloor and locating shallow reefs and other obstructions in the approaches to Belize's major ports, Belize City and Big Creek, and are being conducted in cooperation with the government of Belize. The airborne laser system, called Compact Hydrographic Airborne Rapid Total Survey (CHARTS) system, uses light to map the bottom. U.S. and Belize governments will use the data for new charts. (Source: NNS, 03/27/12) NAVOCEANO is based at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and the CHARTS program is run by the Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise at Stennis International Airport in Kiln, Miss.

Mississippi company showcased

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NVision, a Mississippi company that partnered with Stennis Space Center to create a disaster information system, is one of seven companies that will be highlighted in the 2012 NASA Technology Day on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. NVision, located at the Stennis Technology Park adjacent to SSC, teamed with NASA to create the Real-time Emergency Action Coordination Tool (REACT), which incorporates maps, reports, Internet-driven data and real-time sensor date into a geographical information system-based display to provide information during emergency and disaster situations. NASA Technology Day on Capitol Hill is sponsored annually by the agency's Office of the Chief Technologist to showcase technologies that improve life, and to inform Congress and the public about the secondary benefits of NASA partnerships and technology. (Source: NASA/SSC, 03/27/12)

F-35s continue sorties

F-35 pilots at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., have flown more than a half-dozen local area orientation flights around the base since flight operations began March 6, Flightglobal reports. Two pilots, one from the Air Force and the other from the Marine Corps, are flying the local sorties to gauge the readiness of the 33rd Fighter Wing's new F-35A, a conventional take-off and landing variant. (Source: Flightglobal, 03/27/12) Eglin will train pilots and maintainers from all branches of the services that will use the F-35, as well as pilots and maintainers from foreign purchasers.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Is BRAC 2013 dead?

Lawmakers are taking issue with the Pentagon over the request for two new BRAC rounds. One reason lawmakers are balking is the high cost of a BRAC at a time of belt tightening. Savings won't come for years. Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Armed Services' Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, both denounced the Pentagon's request for a base closure round in 2013. McCaskill said she's willing to allow the closure of bases overseas, but not domestic bases at this point. Unless the Pentagon can change her mind, her opposition kills a 2013 BRAC round. (Sources: Defense Communities Daily, Navy Times, 03/21/12) Meanwhile, the Pentagon said the request for two new rounds of BRAC should be compared to the cost effectiveness of the first four BRAC rounds, not those done in 2005 to transform installations to match force structure. (Source: American Forces Press Services, 03/21/12)

Forest threat tool released

A Web tool that tracks threats to the nation's forests has been released by the USDA Forest Service. Called ForWarn, it's a satellite-based monitoring and assessment tool that can detect threats from fire, disease or other causes before the threat increases in severity or extent. It provides information on weekly changes in forest canopy conditions as they are impacted by insects, diseases, wildfires or extreme weather events. NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., worked with the Forest Service to develop the system. The prototype has successfully operated since January 2010 and uses NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer satellite to track changes in vegetation. ForWarn uses a web-based map tool, the Forest Change Assessment Viewer, to provide an 8-day coast-to-coast snapshot of the landscape. The coverage area is immense. According to the U.S. Forest Service, there are some 747 million acres of forest in the United States. (Source: Tcp, 03/22/12) Website and release. Background story

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SBIRS beats expectations

The first Space Based Infrared System geosynchronous earth orbit satellite is exceeding performance requirements in a series of tests. SBIRS GEO 1 was launched by an Atlas V in May 2011 from Florida. Within two months it began sharing initial data with mission partners to determine performance. Sensors are detecting targets 25 percent dimmer than requirements, and payload pointing is nine times more precise than required. SBIRS provides early missile warning capability and improves other critical mission areas. "We've been extremely pleased with the performance of this first-of-its-kind spacecraft," said Col. James Planeaux, director of the Infrared Space Systems Directorate. (Sources: Spaceflight, 03/19/12, Space War, 03/21/12) Gulf Coast note: SBIRS is an A2100 satellite-based spacecraft, and work on the A2100 core's propulsion system, which positions the spacecraft in orbit, is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous

US Airways to add flight

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- The start of daily direct flights between Northwest Florida Regional Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is still a few days away. But it's popular enough US Airways plans to add a second flight. The late afternoon flights start next week on a 50-seat regional jet. Starting July 11 the airline will add a second, morning flight. Northwest Florida Regional Airport is at Eglin Air Force Base. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/20/12)

CSG test shows fix needed

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- Testing of a vital component for the A-3 test stand did exactly what it was intended to do: it showed a problem in the chemical steam generator (CSG) that needs to be fixed. In testing at the E-2 facility, the two-inch angle-globe valves supplied with the unit were unable to stand up to operating conditions. Pieces of the seat material were "liberated" from the seat and valve stem, possibly allowing propellants to leak into the combustion chambers after minimal operational cycles, according to NASA. The procurement office is issuing a request for proposal from small businesses for 27 liquid oxygen (LOX) valves, 27 isopropyl alcohol (IPA) valves and related items. The new A-3 test stand will use nine three-module CSG units to generate superheated steam needed to create a vacuum that allows operators to test next-generation rocket engines at simulated high altitudes up to 100,000 feet. (Source: Tcp, 03/21/12) NASA solicitation; Previous related post

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blue Angels back home

PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team is back in Pensacola after 12 weeks of training in El Centro, Calif. The team's practice sessions are open to the public. Regular practice takes place most Tuesdays and Wednesday through November. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 03/19/12)

Robot to robot refueling tested

WASHINGTON -- The Naval Research Laboratory successfully demonstrated the robotic fluids transfer from a stationary platform to an unmanned surface vehicle in wave heights greater than three feet. The Rapid Autonomous Fuel Transfer project was able to track the motion of a Sea Fox naval vessel, emplace a magnetic refueling fitting to an on-board receptacle and complete fluids transfer. The testing was done at the Army Aberdeen Test Center wave simulator facility. Further robotic transfer tests may include land-based autonomous vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicle. (Source: NRL via Business Wire, 03/20/12) Gulf Coast note: This region is heavily involved in unmanned systems, including aerial and maritime, and is a major shipbuilding region; the NRL has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Monday, March 19, 2012

NASA: E-4 a "great opportunity"

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- A NASA official says an under-utilized test stand at Stennis Space Center is a "great opportunity" for a company interested in a partnership with NASA. The federal agency since November has been gauging industry interest in the E-4 Test Facility, which consists of a high-bay work area, control room space, personnel offices and concrete test cells. It also has road and barge canal access and utilities. The E-4 Test Facility can also be expanded to meet future requirements. "This is a great opportunity for a commercial company to explore partnership possibilities with NASA," said Stennis Engineering and Test Directorate Associate Director John Stealey. Projects conducted at the E-4 Test Facility also will have the ability to access Stennis onsite amenities and support capabilities, including cafeteria, medical clinic, laboratory, component, information technology, institutional and other services. (Source: NASA/SSC, 03/19/12) Previous

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Contract: L-3, $21.2M

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $21,209,470 modification to a previously awarded an indefinite-delivery requirements contract for logistics services support of 119 TH-57B/TH-57C aircraft. Services to be provided include repair and/or overhaul of aircraft, engines, avionics, and related components. Work will be performed at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla., and is expected to be completed in September 2012. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/15/12)

Bases off limits for exercise

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- About 90 percent of workers at Naval Air Station Pensacola will stay home next week as the base enacts tight security measures as part of a nationwide naval preparedness exercise. The base's commanding officer said access to most base facilities will be unavailable from noon Thursday until noon Saturday of next week due to Exercise Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield. Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton will also be participating. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 03/15/12)

Friday, March 16, 2012

NRL opens robotic lab

WASHINGTON -- The Naval Research Laboratory held a ribbon cutting for its Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research, which will focus on autonomous systems research for the Navy and Marine Corps. The lab will bring together scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds. The one-of-a-kind lab has specialized facilities to support research in intelligent autonomy, sensor systems, power and energy systems, human-system interaction, networking and communications and platforms. It has multiple bays providing environments from desert to littoral and more. (Source: Business Wire, 03/16/12) Gulf Coast note: The NRL has a lab at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; unmanned systems are built in Moss Point, Miss.; there are multiple UAV-related activities in the region; a lab in Pensacola, Fla., does research on artificial intelligence and human-machine interaction.

It's official: Rocketdyne for sale

Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is officially up for sale by its parent company, United Technologies. On Thursday, Rocketdyne's parent company, Hartford, Conn.-based United Technologies, announced it was selling the company to help finance its $16.5-billion purchase of aerospace supplier Goodrich Corp. Rocketdyne was first formed by North American Aviation. North American later merged with Rockwell International, which became part of Boeing. In 2005, Boeing sold Rocketdyne to United Technologies Corp. (Source: Los Angeles Times, 03/15/12) Previous: Shareholders OK merger; UT eyeing sale. Gulf Coast note: Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne assembles and tests engines at Stennis Space Center; Goodrich has an operation in Foley, Ala.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Material for booster tested

Booster test at MSFC. NASA/MSFC photo
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- A sub-scale solid rocket motor designed to mimic NASA's Space Launch System booster design successfully was tested Wednesday at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. The 20-second firing tested new insulation materials on the 24-inch-diameter, 109-inch-long motor. The motor is a scaled down, low-cost replica of the solid rocket motors that will boost SLS off the launch pad. ATK of Brigham City, Utah, is the prime contractor for the booster. (Source: NASA, 03/14/12, Huntsville Times, 03/15/12) Gulf Coast note: Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans builds the Orion crew capsule for the SLS and Stennis Space Center, Miss., will test the RS-25 and J-2X engines for the SLS.

Contract: Raytheon, $7M

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $6,973,286 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for 18 range safety systems with jammer compatibility for Low Rate Initial Production 3, Reliability Assessment Program and initial operational flight tests. The location of performance is Tucson. Work is expected to be completed Feb. 15, 2014. AAC/EBJM, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/15/12)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Military council re-established

The Mississippi Military Communities Council has been re-established by Gov. Phil Bryant. The commission will advise Bryant and staff on legislative issues that could impact Mississippi's bases as well as "promote Mississippi's military missions at the national level" and develop growth opportunities. The Pentagon is tightening its belt and two new Base Realignment and Closure rounds are expected. (Source: Sun Herald, 03/14/12) South Mississippi has military aviation activities at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Gulfport International Airport and Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg. South Mississippi is also home to a Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport and has a large Navy presence at NASA's Stennis Space Center.

Direct Air suspends flights

GULFPORT, Miss. -- Direct Air, which said last month that it will provide three non-stop flights a week beginning June 15 between Gulfport and Lakeland, Fla., has suspended operations for two months. The Myrtle Beach, S.C.-based air carrier is working through contract issues with a fuel provider, officials said. (Source: Sun Herald, 03/13/12) The sudden suspension caused some problems in other airports already served by the carrier. (Source: Myrtle Beach online, 03/14/12) Previous

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

F-35 takes to air again

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An F-35 jet had a successful second flight Tuesday, a week after a flight was aborted because of a fuel leak. U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Joseph Bachmann flew the 93-minute local orientation flight in aircraft AF-13, a conventional takeoff and landing variant. The F-35 Integrated Training Center at Eglin is scheduled to train about 100 F-35 pilots and 2,200 maintainers annually. (Sources: Star-Telegram, BayNet, 03/13/12) Previous

Abort engine hot-fired

CANOGA PARK, Calif. -- Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne completed mission-duration hot-fire tests on a launch abort engine on Friday, March 9. The engine is in support of Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft being developed for NASA's Commercial Crew Development Round 2. Boeing's Crew Space Transportation system is a reusable, capsule-shaped spacecraft designed to take up to seven people or a combination of people and cargo to low Earth orbit, including the International Space Station. The abort propulsion system is designed to push the crew capsule to safety if an abort becomes necessary during launch or ascent. (Source: PRNewswire, 03/13/12) The CST-100 is compatible with the Atlas V, Delta IV and Falcon 9 launch vehicles. Gulf Coast note: NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests RS-68 engines for United Launch Alliance's Delta IV, and also has a Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne operation.

Jacobs awarded contract option

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. announced today that it's been awarded its first option year by NASA for its Manufacturing Support and Facility Operations Contract at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The option year has a potential value of $137 million. MAF, capable of manufacturing large aerospace structures at a single location, has played a key role in the design, assembly and manufacture of the Space Shuttle external tank and continues to support the development and manufacture of hardware for future spaceflight programs. (Source: PRNewswire, 03/13/12)

Building named for Hurlburt pilot

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Air Force's 23rd Flying Training Squadron named its new consolidated operations center after a Hurlburt Field, Fla., airman. The building was named after Maj. Randell Voas, a CV-22 Osprey pilot who died April 9, 2010, near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in a crash during a combat operation. Voas, stationed at Hurlburt at the time of the crash, had been a pilot instructor for the 23rd at Fort Rucker, which trains helicopter pilots for special operations, combat search and rescue and more. All Air Force helicopter pilots start rotary wing training with the 23rd. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/12/12)

Shareholders OK merger

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Goodrich Corp. announced that shareholders today approved the proposed merger with United Technologies Corp. More than 98 percent of votes were cast in favor of the transaction, or some 75 percent of the outstanding shares of Goodrich common stock as of February 6, 2012. Upon completion of the merger, Goodrich will become a wholly owned subsidiary of United Technologies. (Source: Goodrich via PRNewswire, 03/13/12) Gulf Coast note: UT owns Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, which has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Goodrich operates the Alabama Service Center in Foley, Ala.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $56.3M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $56,329,396 cost reimbursement modification to previously awarded contract to provide additional funding for the sustainment effort necessary to meet the requirements and delivery schedule for the F-35 Low Rate Initial Production V. Sixty percent of the work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and 15 percent at Fort Worth, Texas. El Segundo, Calif.; Warton, United Kingdom; Orlando, Fla.; Nashua, N.H.; and Baltimore, Md., each will do 5 percent. Work is expected to be completed in May 2012. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/12/12)

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $38.6M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $38,599,999 modification to the previously awarded low rate initial production Lot 6 advance acquisition contract for the procurement of long lead items for F-35 low rate initial production conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft for the Air Force and the governments of Italy and Australia. Work, which will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, is necessary to protect the delivery schedules of CTOL aircraft planned for delivery through January 2015. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/12/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Orion EFT-1 nears completion

NEW ORLEANS -- The initial construction of the Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 vehicle being built at Michoud Assembly Facility is nearing completion, NASA said. The EFT-1 will be launched in 2014 by a United Launch Alliance Delta IV. The test will be conducted by Lockeed Martin Space Systems for NASA. The unmanned capsule will be launched to an altitude of more than 3,600 miles above Earth. When EFT-1 is finished in May, it will be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., for final assembly and launch preparations. The capsule is designed to carry astronauts into deep space. (Source: NASA, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 03/08/12) Previous. The Orion will eventually be launched by NASA's Space Launch System. The SLS engines are being tested  at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cause of F-35 fuel leak found

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Three loose fasteners caused the fuel leak that shortened the first flight of an Eglin F-35 earlier this week. The 90-minute flight was cut to 15 minutes Tuesday when the pilot of an F-16 chase plane saw the leak from the F-35. Maintainers also found residual water from an earlier wash of the aircraft. The F-35 is expected to fly next week, with the goal of two flights a week. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, WEAR-TV, 03/09/12) Eglin, in northwest Florida, is home of the Joint Strike Fighter training center, which will train all aviators and maintainers from all three branches of service that will use the F-35. Previous

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $24.1M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $24,138,848 modification to a previously awarded cost-reimbursement contract for the development of a data farm for the Joint Strike Fighter U.S. Reprogramming Laboratory to be located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The data farm will interface with lab's prime mission equipment and is used to store software and data from the F-35 mission data testing. The ability to store and retrieve data is critical for mission data production which is vital to program execution. Work will be performed at Fort Worth, Texas (95 percent), and Orlando, Fla. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in November 2014. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/09/12)

Bunker buster against Iran?

The 30,000-pound bunker-buster bomb designed to penetrate deep in the ground before exploding is one of the weapons in an arsenal that could be used in a clash with Iran over its nuclear program. That's what Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, told a conference on U.S. defense programs in Washington. The White House still hopes that sanctions and diplomacy will prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. (Sources: multiple, including Reuters, Bloomberg, 03/08/12, The Hill, 03/09/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., was involved in development of the Boeing-built bomb, called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. Previous post

J-2X returned to A-2

J-2X returned to A-2. NASA/SSC photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- J-2X engine 10001 was returned to the A-2 Test Stand Thursday at NASA's Stennis Space Center for its second round of tests. The developmental engine underwent an initial series of tests last year. Both the engine and test stand have been modified to begin simulated altitude testing in the coming months. The J-2X engine is designed and built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. The J-2X will provide upper-stage power for NASA's Space Launch System, a new heavy-lift vehicle capable of missions beyond low-Earth orbit. (Source: NASA/SSC, 03/08/12)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Test site selection starts

The Federal Aviation Administration is seeking public comments on the agency's selection process for picking six unmanned aircraft system test sites around the United States. Comments are due by May 9. The FAA is required to create the sites based on language in both a defense spending bill and the FAA reauthorization bill. The test sites will help the FAA develop the regulatory framework to govern the widespread use of UAVs in the national airspace. Congress called for full integration of unmanned systems into the national airspace by 2015. (Sources: Los Angeles Times, 03/08/12 Space War, 03/09/12) Previous related posts: Shelby picked for Guard UAV center; Mississippi player in growth field; Drones in national airspace?

Fourth crewmember recovered

MOBILE, Ala. -- The body of the fourth crewmember of a Coast Guard helicopter that crashed last week in Mobile Bay has been recovered. Flight mechanic Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Knight's body was recovered more than two miles southwest of the crash site. Four crewmen were aboard the MH-65C that was on a training mission out of the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile. (Sources: multiple, including Mobile Press-Register, 03/08/12) Previous

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

728th ACS faces decommissioning

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 728th Air Control Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base will be decommissioned as a result of force structure changes. About 375 airmen are assigned to the squadron, which falls under the 552d Air Control Group at Tinker Air Force Base, Fla. Air Combat Command determined divesting the 728th is the most feasible option because it's not co-located with operational aircraft and live, air-to-air training opportunities are limited. The changes will take place Sept. 1. (Source: 96th Air Base Wing, 03/07/12)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eglin F-35 has short first flight

Eglin F-35 on first sortie. Air Force photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The first sortie of an F-35 from Eglin Air Force base today was short-lived when the pilot bought the jet back after 15 minutes because of an in flight emergency. Pilots and maintainers are meeting today to discuss the potential fuel leak that shortened the planned 90-minute flight. "Our first sortie is truly a milestone for the program," said Col. Andrew Toth, 33rd Fighter Wing commander. "Unfortunately things happen. We didn't want it to happen today but we were prepared. Our pilot did the exact right thing in returning the jet back to Eglin. Although there were issues we are doing whatever we can to move the program forward safely and effectively." Eglin is home of the Joint Strike Fighter training center, which will train all branches of the military to fly the stealth fighter. The F-35A received an airworthiness certification from the Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center Feb. 27, allowing the advanced fighter aircraft to begin flights at Eglin. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 03/06/12)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rotary wing testing now at Duke

Huey lands at Duke. Air Force photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 46th Test Wing's UH-1N Hueys have left Eglin main to join the 413th Flight Test Squadron's operating location eight miles north at Eglin's Duke Field. While still under the 46th Test Wing, the helicopters will operate from Duke Field rather than from Eglin to allow the test wing to support a 250 percent increase in helicopter developmental test programs beginning in June. The move will centralize all Air Force helicopter developmental test and evaluation in one squadron. (Source: 46th Test Wing, 03/02/12)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Shelby picked for UAV center

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -- Add another piece to Mississippi's unmanned aerial vehicle footprint. Camp Shelby, the nation's largest, state-owned military training site, was selected as the site of a new $48 million regional flight center for the Army National Guard's Unmanned Aircraft System. Shelby, picked from 19 sites nationally, has been used by many tactical unmanned air system units for training prior to overseas deployment. It's also home to a company of the 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, which has one of the Army's 30 TUAS units. But the training center won't be tied to mobilization but instead will train soldiers nationwide in the operation of UAVs. (Source: Hattiesburg American, 03/02/12)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Magazine notes Baldwin successes

Site Selection magazine ranked Baldwin County as the eighth most successful micropolitan area in the United States in 2011. The March online edition listed the county for expanding or attracting corporate entities. Among the projects that led to the listing was Aero-Mark MRO, a maintenance and repair aerospace company that located in the existing Fokker Airinc facility. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 03/01/12) According to the U.S. Census Bureau, micropolitan area is a county whose largest city does not exceed a population of 50,000. The U.S. has 576 micropolitan areas.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

SSC future looks bright

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA's Stennis Space Center hosted a breakfast Thursday for community leaders from Mississippi and Louisiana to talk about the future, and it looks bright. Patrick Scheuermann, director SSC, said the center, where rocket engines are tested, has a $1 billion impact on the region. Work is booked on every test stand, he said. But the NASA center also hosts activities from other federal and state agencies and commercial companies. Martin Flinders, facilities engineering manager for the Rolls-Royce North America Outdoor Test Facility, said it was the 125,000-acre acoustical buffer zone surrounding Stennis Space Center that prompted the company to pick South Mississippi to test airliner engines. The first stand opened in 2007 and work will begin soon on a second stand. (Sources: Sun Herald, Times-Picayune, 03/01/12)

Two bodies recovered

MOBILE, Ala. -- The bodies of two crewmembers of a Coast Guard helicopter that crashed Tuesday into Mobile Bay have been recovered. Pilot Lt. Cmdr. Dale Taylor of Snow Hill, N.C., and co-pilot Lt. j.g. Thomas Cameron of Portland, Ore., were found 100 yards from the crash site. Still missing is the flight mechanic, Petty Officer 3rd Class Drew Knight of Thomasville, Ala. Rescue swimmer Fernando Jorge was recovered Tuesday but was unresponsive and declared dead. (Source: multiple, including Mobile Press-Register, Sun Herald, 03/01/12) Previous post

Leader picked for new center

An Air Force Materiel Command general has been nominated by President Obama to lead a new center that will be created in October as part of the AFMC restructuring. Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore II will serve as commander of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The center will manage Air Force weapon systems and foreign military sales, consolidating the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson, Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and functions at other AFMC bases. (Sources: Dayton Daily News, 02/29/12, Dayton Business Journal, 03/01/12) Previous related post

200th Lakota delivered

COLUMBUS, Miss. -- EADS North America delivered the 200th UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter to the U.S. Army during a ceremony at the American Eurocopter production facility in Columbus. It's the first production aircraft to be delivered with the new Security and Support Battalion Mission Equipment Package. The plant in Columbus, in addition to building Lakotas, is also where the initial S&S Battalion Lakotas were retrofitted. The Lakotas equipped with the S&S Battalion MEP will be operated by Army National Guard units across the country. (Source: EADS North America, 03/01/12) Gulf Coast note: EADS also has operations in Mobile, Ala.

More flights announced

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- American Airlines in April will more than double flights between Northwest Florida Regional Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. American Airlines, through its American Eagle affiliate, now flies to and from Dallas/Fort Worth three times a day during the week and twice a day on the weekend. Starting April 3, the airline will add four round-trip flights a day. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 02/29/12)

Bentley: No active project yet

Alabama's governor said Wednesday that his administration is in constant contact with Airbus about establishing an assembly plant Mobile, but Gov. Robert Bentley said no active project exists and no formal negotiations have been conducted. Airbus parent, EADS, had hoped to build an aerial tanker assembly plant in Mobile, but those plans vanished when Boeing won the Air Force contract last year. Airbus has an engineering center and a service center for military aircraft in Mobile. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 03/01/12)

Boeing gets AC-130U contract

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- Boeing has received an $11.4 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract from the Air Force. The first delivery order under the contract is worth $4.6 million and will provide parts to be used to complete installation of 25mm Ammunition Storage and Handling Systems on four AC-130U gunships used by Air Force Special Operations. The Boeing Fort Walton Beach facility will build the components for delivery to Robins Air Force Base, Ga. (Source: Boeing, 02/29/12)