Friday, May 31, 2013

Contract: Sikorsky, $435M

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., is being awarded a $435,315,279 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to procure four CH-53K System Demonstration Test Article aircraft. Two percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and two percent in Jackson, Miss. Seventeen percent of the work will be done in West Palm Beach, Fla. Other work sites are in Connecticut, Kansas, Utah, Missouri, West Virginia, Washington, Ohio, Wisconsin, California, Arizona, Iowa, Pennsylvania, United Kingdom and Canada. Work is expected to be completed in June 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/30/13)

Enders ups Airbus sales goal

Airbus is on course to sell more than 800 aircraft in 2013, beating its initial order target by more than 100 units. That's what Tom Enders, chief executive of Airbus parent EADS, told shareholders Wednesday, according to Reuters. His words come less than three weeks before the Paris Air Show, traditionally a robust ordering period for Airbus. Airbus broke ground in April on a $600 million final assembly line in Mobile, Ala. It will build the A320 family of jetliners. (Sources:, 05/30/13, Reuters, 05/29/13)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Aerospace firm opens Niceville office

NICEVILLE, Fla. -- Huntsville, Ala.-based defense company Cummings Aerospace has opened an office in Niceville to leverage opportunities at Eglin Air Force Base. Cummings Aerospace, formed in November 2009 and specializing in missiles, has about 45 workers in Huntsville and Orlando and now one in Niceville. The Niceville office opened in April. Sheila Cummings, company founder and owner, thinks the office will have 12 to 15 workers by this time next year. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/29/13)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pensacola eyes airport grant

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The Florida Department of Transportation is offering Pensacola International Airport a three-year, $11 million grant for infrastructure improvements city officials think will make the airport a competitor for aerospace companies. Mayor Ashton Hayward said the airport has great services and facilities, but needs apron space airside infrastructure to draw the aerospace sector and other commercial enterprises. The deal, which would require the city to pay half of a grant-funded project, has to be approved by the Pensacola City Council. Local leaders hope to benefit from the $600 million Airbus assembly line being built in Mobile, Ala., at Brookley Aeroplex. Pensacola has been courting Singapore-owned ST Aerospace to set up an operation in Pensacola. ST Aerospace provides maintenance services and has a major operation at Brookley. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 05/29/13) Previous

3-D printing grabbing headlines

3-D printing is grabbing a lot of headlines. In a story in Armed Forces Journal, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Llenza says rapidly evolving technology may soon make 3-D printer warfare a reality. In 3-D printing, a part is built layer by layer from powdered ingredients. For the Navy, it means ships would be able to make their own parts instead of pulling into port. (Source: Yahoo News, 05/28/13). Last week NASA said it's given a grant to a company working on a 3-D food printer. It could transform the way astronauts eat in space. (Source: Space, 05/24/13). Next year, a 3-D printer is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station. It will produce the first parts ever made off planet Earth. (Source: NBC News, 05/24/13). Earlier this year a J-2X with a 3-D part was tested at Stennis Space Station, Miss. Pratt & Whitney crafted the part with a 3-D print method called Selective Laser Melting to make the exhaust port cover.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

53rd change of command

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Col. Alexus Grynkewich will assume command of the 53rd Wing from Col. David Hicks during a change of command Thursday. Grynkewich was the vice commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., prior to his arrival at Eglin. Hicks will transfer to North American Aerospace Defense Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The wing comprises about 2,300 military and civilian people at 29 locations throughout the United States. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 05/27/13)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A320s for Air China, AirAsia

Air China and AirAsia are ordering more of the popular A320 jets. Air China ordered 100 Airbus A320s worth $8.8 billion at list price. Sixty of the single-aisle planes will be used by the airline and 40 are for subsidiary Shenzhen Airlines. Airbus broke ground April 8 on a final assembly line for A320s at Mobile, Ala.'s Brookley Aeroplex. (Sources:, Economic Times, 05/24/13) Meanwhile, AirAsia, Asia's largest budget carrier, could buy another 50 planes as it targets expansion in India. Discussion of an order for another 50 A320-family jets, worth $5 billion at list prices, comes weeks ahead of the Paris air show and five months after the Malaysian carrier added 100 jets to its order book to lift total purchases to 475 planes. (Source: Reuters, 05/24/13)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Panel nixes BRAC 2015

The House Armed Services' Readiness Subcommittee made it clear Thursday that it opposes the Pentagon's request for a base realignment and closure round in 2015. The panel approved language in its portion of the fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill that would preclude the Defense Department from using FY 2014 appropriations "to propose, plan for or execute an additional BRAC round." Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman, R-Va., said further review would be required before the committee could consider endorsing a new BRAC round. (Source: Defense Communities 360, 05/24/13) Gulf Coast note: The region is home to multiple military bases, many aviation-related.

Aging workforce a concern

MOBILE, Ala. – Collaboration with the Alabama Industrial Development Training program and aggressive development of diversified career paths will be key to ST Aerospace Mobile’s longevity as it grapples with an aging workforce. That's what Bill Hafner, vice president of operations for STA Mobile, told members of the Aviation and Aerospace Advisory Council Thursday at its quarterly meeting. The council was formed to identify and address skills gaps and working to meet the needs of the state’s growing aerospace sector. (Source:, 05/23/13)

Sky's Profile features Alabama

Alabama's aerospace, automotive, health care and financial industries will be the focus of a 44-page section in Delta's Sky magazine in June. It will reach the millions who fly Delta. Sky's "Profile" section highlights a state or city each month, and this is the first time Alabama has been featured. The size of the profile section is determined by the level of support Sky gets from the featured community. This has 22 pages of ads and 22 pages of editorial. Gov. Robert Bentley said the timing is ideal since aerospace leaders from around the world will be flying to Paris in June for the 50th annual International Paris Air Show. (Source: MadeinAlabama, 05/23/13)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Contract: L-3, $53M

L-3 Communications, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $53,002,714 indefinite-delivery requirements contract for logistics services support of the TH-57 aircraft fleet. 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 June 2014. This contract was competitively procured via electronic request for proposals; five offers were received. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/23/13)

Contractor picked for training center

MOBILE, Ala. -- Rod Cooke Construction will serve as general contractor for the Alabama Aviation Training Center at Brookley Aeroplex. The $6 million, 35,600-square-foot facility for the Alabama Industrial Development Training program will house labs and classrooms to train potential Airbus employees. The project is slated for completion by March 2014. Airbus is building a $600 million final assembly line at Brookley that will produce A320 jetliners and have about 1,000 workers. (Source:, 05/22/13)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Triton completes first flight

Triton on first flight Wednesday.
Navy photo courtesy Northrop Grumman
PALMDALE, Calif. -- The Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned surveillance aircraft today completed its first flight from Palmdale, Calif. The flight marks the start of tests that will validate the Northrop Grumman-built system for fleet operations. During the 80-minute flight, the Triton, controlled by ground-based personnel, reached an altitude of 20,000 feet. Triton will provide persistent maritime and littoral data collection and dissemination in the Navy’s Asia and Pacific regions. The Triton, an adjunct to the manned P-8A Poseidon, will fly missions for 24 hours at altitudes greater than 10 miles, allowing the monitoring of 2,000 nautical miles of ocean and littoral areas at a time. Flight tests will continue in California for the next several months before the team transitions the aircraft to Patuxent River, Md., in the fall. The MQ-4C Triton UAS will be based at five locations around the globe. (Source: NNS, 05/22/13) Gulf Coast note: Central fuselage work on Tritons is done in Moss Point, Miss.

Airbus hires customs manager

MOBILE, Ala. -- Airbus Americas named Christopher “Kit” Johnson customs manager for the A320 final assembly line at Brookley Aerolex. He's the second hire for the $600 million plant. Johnson served most recently as foreign trade zone and customs group manager for John S. James Co. at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. in Vance, Ala. He'll be responsible for securing and improving the Toulouse, France-based company's customs activities in the United States. (Source:, 05/22/13)

Flight changes may lessen noise

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Changes to local military flight procedures may mean less noise on the ground. The changes, which began last week, include raising minimum flight altitudes over populated areas. Col. Don Johnson, commander of the 96th Operations Group at Eglin, said his primary concern was safety and carrying out the Air Force’s mission, but added that the new policies also should help make things quieter. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/21/13)

Company wins B-2 task order

Sauer Inc., of Jacksonville, Fla., won a $6.5 million NASA task order to renovate the B-2 rocket test stand at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Sauer expects to complete the project in 10 months, the company said in a news release. The B-2 Test Stand at Stennis was originally built to test Saturn rocket stages. It’s being completely renovated to test NASA’s new Space Launch System core stage in late 2016 and early 2017. (Source: Jacksonville Business Journal, 05/21/13)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dream Chaser tests underway

A Colorado company developing a spaceship to take astronauts to the International Space Station is testing landing-related elements at NASA facilities. Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser will carry seven people and land like a plane. Astronauts are using a flight simulator at the Langley, Va., facility to simulate what it would be like to land Dream Chaser. The company has also delivered a Dream Chaser engineering test craft to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., to test the craft's nose strut, brakes and tires. (Source: AP via Washington Post, 05/16/13) Gulf Coast note: Lockheed Martin will assemble the composite structure for the first space-bound Dream Chaser at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Two squadrons move to Hurlburt

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Two Air Force squadrons moved to a new hangar Monday morning by running 15 miles across town. More than 50 people from the 9th Special Operations and the 1st Special Operations Maintenance squadrons ran a relay to carry their flags, or guidons, from their hangar at Eglin Air Force Base to their new home at Hurlburt Field. The move, discussed for more than 20 years, finally reunites all 1st Special Operations Wing squadrons under one roof. About 400 people and eight MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft relocated. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/20/13)

Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Gulf Coast bases win awards

Three bases in the Gulf Coast region were among five that won the Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced today that the 2013 award winners. The Gulf Coast bases are the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Rucker, Ala.; Naval Support Activity Panama City, Fla.; and Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss. The other winners are Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., and Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Columbus, Ohio. The award recognizes the outstanding and innovative efforts of the people who operate and maintain U.S. military installations. The five recipients of this highly competitive presidential award were selected for their exemplary support of Department of Defense missions. (Source: DoD, 05/20/13) Previous

Saturday, May 18, 2013

728th ACS victim of cuts

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- One of the oldest squadrons in the Air Force has been shelved. The Air Force was just three years old when 728th Air Control Squadron was activated Sept. 2, 1950, at Turner Air Force Base in Albany, Ga. The squadron was inactivated Friday at Eglin Air Force Base as part of broad budget cuts in the Department of Defense. The 728th provided command and control of joint air operations by conducting surveillance, identification, weapons control, battle management and theater communications data links. The squadron moved to Duke Field in 1977 then Eglin in 1994. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/17/13)

Drone marks another first

X-47B prepares for touch and go. Navy photo
ATLANTIC OCEAN -- The Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) has performed touch and go landings aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). It's another first for the Northrop Grumman-built drone. Earlier in the week the ship conducted the first-ever launch of the UAV. The UCAS-D program plans to conduct shore-based arrested landings of the X-47B at NAS Patuxent River, Md., in the coming months before final carrier-based arrestments later in 2013. (Source: NNS, 05/17/13) Previous Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman builds portions of two drones in Moss Point, Miss.; naval aviators receive initial training in Northwest Florida.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Female chair chosen

The New Orleans Aviation Board, which governs the city-owned Louis Armstrong International Airport, picked New Orleans lawyer Cheryl Teamer to be its first female chairperson. She will oversee the launch of an $826 million overhaul the airfield that Mayor Mitch Landrieu has dictated must be done in five years. Teamer was selected Thursday. (Source: New Orleans Times Picayune, 05/17/13)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Army SFG welcomes public

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) opened its doors Wednesday to the public. About 2,000 people showed up at the Special Forces' cantonment south of Crestview. The event was part of the group's Red Empire Week, designed to reunite soldiers with their families after year-long deployments to Afghanistan and to show appreciation for the community. Visitors Day featured about 15 displays for the public to inspect the weapons, vehicles and technologies soldiers use and to let them explain their day-to-day duties. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/15/13)

Contract: Jacobs, $8.5M

Jacobs Technology Inc., Lincoln, Mass., was awarded an $8,527,294 cost-plus-fixed-fee and cost-reimbursable contract for interim support of services to provide engineering and technology acquisition support services. The types of services to be acquired under this contract includes but are not limited to: engineering services, engineering support, technical support, provisioning and logistics, modeling and simulation, configuration and data management, architectural support, test and evaluation, security engineering and certification, capability based planning, commercial-off-the-shelf integration, integrated master plans and scheduling and technical reviews. Work will be done at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., with primary geographically separated units at Peterson AFB, Colo.; Langley AFB, Va.; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Maxwell-Gunter AFB, Ala.; and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, with an expected completion date of Nov. 15, 2013. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/PZM is the contracting activity. Contract has an FMS component as the contract requires company to travel overseas for host nation support. (Source: DoD, 05/16/13)

Australia eyes Triton again

Australia is back on board and again considering buying Northrop Grumman Triton long-range surveillance drones. The government will issue a letter of request to the United States to gain access to detailed cost, capability and availability information on the U.S. Navy's MQ-4C Triton. The drone is a variant of the long-range Global Hawk, but configured for maritime surveillance. Australia could buy six or seven Tritons, according to Reuters. The United States plans to buy 68. (Source: The Australian, 05/16/13) Previous: Germany axes Euro Hawk. Gulf Coast note: All variants of the Global Hawk are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A-1 marks a first in decade

The J-2X is installed on the A-1 stand.
NASA/SSC photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- For the first time in almost a decade, a full engine is in the A-1 test stand. The installation of J-2X engine E10002 is in preparation for a series of tests where the engine will be gimbaled, or pivoted, during test firings. When this upper stage engine is used in space, it will need to be able to move freely to steer NASA's Space Launch System, or SLS, a heavy-lift launch vehicle that will carry humans in deep space. It's the first time gimbal tests will be done since testing on the space shuttle main engines. A series of tests was completed on the E10002 engine in the A-2 test stand prior to its installation on the A-1 test stand. Once these tests are done, preparations will be made to begin testing the RS-25 engine on the A-1 stand in 2014. RS-25 engines from the shuttle inventory will power the core stage of SLS, while the J-2X engine will power the upper stage. (Source: NASA, 05/14/13)

Germany axes Euro Hawk

Germany's defense ministry plans to abandon the $1.3 billion Euro Hawk reconnaissance program. Flight clearance issues in European airspace were key factors, according to reports. One Euro Hawk demonstrator, a variant of the unmanned Northrop Grumman-built Global Hawk but with Europe-built sensors, has already been purchased. But plans four will now be canceled, officials said. (Sources: Deutsche Welle, AP via Fox News, AFP via Defense News, 05/15/13) Gulf Coast note: The central fuselage of the Euro Hawk was built by Northrop Grumman in Moss Point, Miss. Previous: Euro Hawk arrives in Germany

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

F-35s do aerial refueling

F-35 refueled over Eglin. Air Force photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Air Force F-35 instructor pilots are qualifying this week, including today, in aerial refueling, bringing to the F-35 Integrated Training Center a new capability for student pilot training. An Air Force Reserve KC-135 Stratotanker is providing the fuel to formations of the F-35As over the Eglin training ranges. (Source: 33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 05/14/13) Previous Eglin gets upgraded F-35

Drone catapults from carrier

History made with X-47B launch Tuesday.
U.S. Navy photo
ATLANTIC OCEAN -- In a historic first, the X-47B unmanned aircraft successfully launched from an aircraft carrier today. It was the first-ever catapult launch of a robot aircraft, popularly called a drone. The demonstrator built by Northrop Grumman launched at 11:18 a.m. EDT from the George H.W. Bush off the coast of Maryland, then safely landed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River after a 65-minute flight. Vice Adm. David Buss, commander, Naval Air Forces, called the launch a "watershed event" in naval aviation history. (Sources: C/NET, Wall Street Journal, Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs, 05/14/13) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman builds portions of the Global Hawk and Fire Scout drones in Moss Point, Miss.; naval aviators receive initial training in Northwest Florida. Previous

Orion repair being tested

Engineers are putting NASA's first space-bound Orion capsule through tests to stress the capsule's structural shell and check repairs to cracks in the pressurized module's aluminum bulkhead. It's set to fly in orbit in 2014. The static loads testing began May 3 and will run through June inside the Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The pressure shell of the Orion spacecraft, comprised of welded olive-green aluminum-lithium metal panels, is being put through the tests to verify the capsule can withstand loads it will encounter during launch, re-entry and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean. The 16.5-foot-diameter spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., was delivered to KSC in June 2012. Engineers put the capsule through its first test at KSC in November, when they pressurized the Orion crew module to check its integrity. The test was halted after technicians heard audible cracking sounds, and inspections showed three small cracks in the aft bulkhead on the lower half of the Orion spacecraft's pressure shell. The cracks materialized in three adjacent radial ribs of the aluminum bulkhead, according to NASA. Engineers designed structural braces to resolve the problem, and those repairs are being tested now. (Source: Spaceflight Now, 05/12/13) Gulf Coast note: The olive-green aluminum alloy core of the Orion was built at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans. Previous: MAF-built Orion at KSC, NASA evaluating Orion cracks

Contract: Northrop, $555.6M

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Aerospace Systems Sector, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a maximum ceiling $555,600,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Global Hawk modernization. The tasks on each delivery will fall into, but are not limited to, the following categories: management, including program, business and technical areas; engineering efforts, including configuration management, data management, reliability, availability and maintainability, and related areas of concern such as technical refresh, diminishing manufacturing sources, etc.; studies and analyses; design, development, integration, test and evaluation; retrofit requirements; and integrated logistics support. Work will be performed in San Diego, and is expected to be completed by May 14, 2015. This award is the result of a sole source acquisition. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2012 and 2013 and obligations will be on subsequent individual task/delivery orders. The contracting activity is Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WIGK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (Source: DoD, 05/13/13) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawk central fuselage work is done in Moss Point, Miss.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Kuwait, Airbus to sign deal

Kuwait Airways will buy 25 new Airbus jets and aims to lease a further 13 to upgrade its fleet, the Kuwaiti newspaper Daily Al-Watan reported. The deal is for 10 wide-bodied A350-900 jets and 15 of the A320neo The paper placed the value at $3.1 billion. Bloomberg also wrote that the deal between Airbus SAS and the airline is close and could be signed this month, but it placed the value at $4.4 billion based on list price. Deliveries would start in 2019. (Sources: Globe and Mail, Bloomberg, 05/12/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus broke ground last month in Mobile, Ala., on an A320 final assembly line.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Plans for old airport unveiled

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- The St. Andrew Bay Land Co. unveiled plans for a large development on the old airport property. The Panama City Planning Board and Commission likely will vote on Phase I of the project this month. Construction is slated to begin in June. The 704-acre development called SweetBay will include 3,200 homes, 700,000 square feet of commercial space and the University Academy, parks, ponds and green space. The land became available when the airport moved to West Bay. The Airport Authority sold the property to St. Andrew Bay Land Co. for $51.4 million in February 2011. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 05/09/13)

FAA finds funds for towers

Small airport towers slated to close in June, including ones in Dothan, Ala., and Kiln, Miss., will remain open through the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. In a statement released Friday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the recent passage of a bill to free up funds and avoid sequester-related furloughs of some 47,000 FAA employees also provided the money to keep 149 airport towers open. The airport in Kiln is near NASA's Stennis Space Center. (Sources:, Sun Herald, 05/10/13)

Dothan facility lands client

DOTHAN, Ala. – A month after Commercial Jet announced plans to open a $12 million facility at Dothan Regional Airport, the provider of aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul services landed a big contract. Aeronautical Engineers Inc. of Miami announced Friday its selection of the 400,000-square-foot Alabama facility as its fourth authorized conversion center. Commercial Jet’s Dothan facility will provide passenger-to-freight conversions for the 737-300SF, 737-400SF and MD80SF as well as maintenance services to AEI customers. (Sources:, 05/10/13) Previous

Friday, May 10, 2013

Construction set to begin

As Airbus readies for the first concrete pour for its new A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., the company is empowering plant managers to make decisions to assure that its supply chain runs like clockwork. That's what Airbus North America President and CEO Barry Eccleston said May 8 during Aviation Week's Civil Aircraft Manufacturing Conference in Charlotte, N.C. The first concrete footings are to be poured next week for the plant, the fifth Airbus fifth facility in the U.S. but the first to assemble aircraft. It will be a carbon-copy of the A320 factory in Hamburg, Germany, mirroring the process used when the Tianjin, China, plant was built. (Source: Aviation Week, 05/09/13)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Airbus lands Air China deal

Asia's biggest carrier by market value, Air China, will add 100 Airbus jetliners to help meet rising travel demand. The Beijing-based airline didn't specify a timeframe or the type of aircraft it's buying. But analysts believe the order is mainly A320 for short-haul routes. Carriers in China will need 5,260 new planes worth $670 billion through 2031, Boeing forecast in September. China has become the world's biggest source of tourists, overtaking Germany and the United States. (Source: Bloomberg, 05/07/13) Gulf Coast note: The newest A320 final assembly line is being built in Mobile, Ala.

Baton Rouge has NASA day

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Patrick Scheuermann, director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., met with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and key members of the state Legislature Wednesday as part of "NASA Day in Baton Rouge." NASA's history in the state is tied to Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where workers have long assembled large space structures for NASA programs, from Apollo-era rockets to the 136 external fuel tanks that lifted the space shuttle to orbit during its 30-year history. Now MAF workers are making hardware for the Space Launch System heavy-lift launch vehicle and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. The Michoud Assembly Facility alone employs an estimated 2,700 people. (Source: NASA, 05/08/13)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Eglin gets upgraded F-35

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An F-35 with upgraded software arrived here Monday. The 58th Fighter Squadron will get 13 more of the Block 2s by the end of the year. For the first time, F-35 pilots will be able to use a series of six sensors embedded in the skin of the F-35 that provide a complete spherical view around the jet, day or night. The addition of at least 16 new aircraft this year will add more permanent personnel to the 33rd Fighter Wing, which oversees the schoolhouse that will train personnel from all military branches as well as international students. The wing now employs more than 1,300 people, but that's projected to go to 1,900 by the end of the year. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, Flightglobal, 05/07/13)

Two more land Airbus projects

MOBILE, Ala. -- Hoar Program Management said Tuesday that two more Alabama contractors were chosen for projects associated with the $600 million Airbus final assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex. Birmingham's Brasfield and Gorrie will construct the piles and foundations for the project's hangar and service building, while Dothan's Covenant Steel will be responsible for the building steel. Airbus broke ground April 8 on the plant that will build A320 jetliners. (Source:, 05/07/13)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Drone makes arrested landing

X-47B arrested landing.
Northrop Grumman photo
NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Northrop Grumman and the Navy conducted the first arrested landing of the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator. The May 4 test at the Navy's shore-based catapult and arresting gear complex was a first for an unmanned aircraft. The event also marks the start of the final phase of testing prior to carrier-based trials planned for later this month. Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D industry team includes Pratt and Whitney, Lockheed Martin, GKN Aerospace, Eaton, General Electric, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace, and Rockwell Collins. (Sources: Avionics Intelligence, 05/07/13, U-T San Diego, 05/06/13) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned aerial systems are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Northwest Florida is major training location for naval aviators.

EOD school has new leader

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Capt. Joseph Polanin relinquished command of the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal school at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to Capt. William Noel on Monday. The change of command was at the EOD Memorial across from the school attended by every military bomb technician. Noel comes to NAVSCOLEOD from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, Norfolk, Va. Polanin had led NAVSCOLEOD since May 2011, and will now serve as commanding officer of the Center for Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Diving in Panama City, Fla. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/06/13)

Orbital delays first cargo flight

Orbital Sciences said the first full-up test flight of its Cygnus cargo ship to the International Space Station will likely slip to September due to a variety of factors, including an engine replacement on the mission's Antares rocket and a scheduling conflict with a Japanese logistics spacecraft. The first flight of Orbital's Cygnus resupply freighter, an automated cargo carrier developed in partnership with NASA, was expected this summer. But Orbital officials decided to swap out one of the AJ26 first stage engines on the spacecraft's Antares rocket, adding up to four weeks of prep time. The first Cygnus mission is a demonstration flight under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. Orbital's Antares rocket launched for the first time April 21. (Source: Spaceflight Now, 05/06/13) Gulf Coast note: Aerojet AJ26 engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous

Southwest announces flights

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Southwest Airlines will offer daily nonstop flights to and from Nashville, Tenn., and Houston from Pensacola International Airport. Beginning Nov. 3, the Dallas-based airline will offer daily nonstop flights to Nashville International Airport at 11:20 a.m. and 5:20 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 12:05 p.m. and 4:10 p.m. Saturday. It also will offer a daily nonstop flight at 4:10 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 10:15 a.m. Saturday to William P. Hobby Airport in Houston. Customers will be able to reach 65 destinations from Nashville and Houston. (Source: WEAR-TV, Pensacola News Journal, 05/07/13)

Monday, May 6, 2013

11 honored at memorial

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The school that trains military bomb technicians held a ceremony over the weekend to mark the deaths of 11 graduates killed in the line of duty last year. Since World War II, 298 military bomb technicians have died in the line of duty. All military volunteers for the job of locating explosives and disarming them, more than 1,000 each year, attends the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal school at Eglin. The 11 men killed last year ranged from 22 to 39 years of age and came from all across the country, serving with the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/04/13)

Hurlburt getting new commander

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Col. Jim Slife will be leaving his post as commander of the Air Force's 1st Special Operations Wing this summer. He'll be replaced by Col. William West, who commands the 27th Special Operations Group at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Slife, commander at Hurlburt since June 2011, earlier this spring was selected for promotion to brigadier general. His new assignment will be as deputy director of special plans working group at U.S. Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/05/13) Previous

Friday, May 3, 2013

Kudos for Airbus project, chamber

Site Selection magazine named the Airbus final assembly line being built at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala., among its top 10 U.S. deals for 2012. Top deals were selected based upon the level of capital investment, degree of high-value jobs, creativity in negotiations and incentives, regional economic impact, competition for the project and speed to market. Ground was broken in April for the $600 million assembly line. In addition, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce was listed by Site Selection as among the "Best to Invest" U.S. economic development groups for 2012. (Source:, 05/03/13)

Vector Aerospace expanding

Vector Aerospace announced a $3 million expansion of its Andalusia, Ala., operation, creating as many as 75 jobs. The company, which opened the Andalusia operation in 2008, maintains Army TH-67 helicopters from Fort Rucker near Dothan, Ala., and repairs Navy TH-57 helicopters from Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Fla. Toronto-based Vector was purchased in March 2011 by Eurocopter, a subsidiary of Airbus parent EADS. (Source:, Made in Alabama, 05/03/13) Previous: Vector to add jobs in Andalusia; Vector expands in CovingtonEurocopter buying Vector Eurocopter builds Lakota helicopters in Columbus, Miss.; Airbus has an engineering center in Mobile and is building an A320 assembly line.

Rolls-Royce aerospace chief quits

The head of Rolls-Royce's prestigious aerospace division has resigned just four months after being promoted to lead the division that makes engines for commercial and military aircraft. Mark King, 48, will leave by the end of June. Rolls-Royce did not provide a reason for the departure. King will be replaced by Tony Wood, head of the company's ship engine business. Aerospace is the biggest Rolls-Royce division, accounted for more than 70 percent of 2012 revenues. In December the company said it was cooperating with a probe by Britain's Serious Fraud Office into allegations of bribery in some of the company's Asian business operations. (Source: The Guardian, New York Times, Financial Times, 05/02/13) Gulf Coast note: Rolls-Royce tests jetliner engines at its outdoor test facility at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Drone sale to S. Korea OKd

SEOUL, South Korea -- The United States approved the sale of four Global Hawks to South Korea, eight years after its request, Seoul's acquisition agency said Thursday. But the purchase may be reconsidered due to the cost. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration said it has received the letter of offer and acceptance for Global Hawks made by Northrop Grumman Corp. from the Pentagon in mid-April after it won congressional approval. Although the proposed price for four drones hasn't been made public, it reportedly well exceeds the $435 million initially set by the Seoul government. (Source: Yonhap, 05/02/13) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are made in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Hybrid squadron launched

SAN DIEGO -- The Navy Thursday introduced its first squadron combining manned and unmanned helicopters. Helicopter Maritime Strike 35, "the Magicians," with 140 sailors, will combined eight manned MH-60R Seahawks with 10 unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scouts and will work off coastal combat ships. The Navy expects the squadron to make its first deployment in early 2014 on the littoral combat ship Fort Worth, with two Fire Scouts and one Seahawk. Pilots will fly the drones from a control room inside the ship or even on shore. The Fire Scouts will reside at the Rancho Bernardo campus of Northrop Grumman, said the squadron's commanding officer. Fire Scouts can stay aloft at least eight hours, compared to the Seahawk's 3.3 hours. The Navy has been testing the Fire Scout since 2007 and deploying it since 2009, using it for counter-narcotics operations and in Afghanistan. (Source: Reuters, UT-San Diego, 05/02/13) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., builds one version of the littoral combat ships. Previous

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Contract: Lockheed, $20.1M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $20,100,000 fixed-price-incentive, firm-target, advance acquisition contract to provide long lead parts, materials and components required for the delivery for two low rate initial production Lot II F-35 conventional takeoff and landing aircraft for the government of Israel. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in May 2014. Foreign Military Sales funding in the amount of $20,100,000 are being obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority. (Source: DoD, 05/02/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

General officer assignment

Col. James C. Slife, who has been selected for the rank of brigadier general, commander, 1st Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., is being assigned as deputy director, Special Plans Working Group, Headquarters U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. (Source: DoD, 05/02/13)

Orion handles parachute test

NASA's Orion safely landed during a simulation of two types of parachute failures Wednesday in Yuma, Ariz. The capsule was traveling about 250 mph when the parachutes were deployed. Engineers rigged one of the test capsule's two drogue parachutes not to deploy and one of its three main parachutes to skip its first stage of inflation after being extracted from a plane 25,000 feet above the Arizona desert. Orion has the largest parachute system ever built for a human-rated spacecraft. Orion's next Earth-based parachute test is scheduled for July, when the test capsule will be released from 35,000 feet. The first test of the parachutes after traveling in space will be during Exploration Flight Test-1 in 2014, when an uncrewed Orion will be return from 3,600 miles above Earth's surface. The spacecraft will be traveling at about 340 mph when the parachutes deploy. (Source: NASA, 05/01/13) Gulf Coast note: Orion is built at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Garver to visit SSC, MAF

Deputy Administrator Lori Garver on Friday will visit NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans. Both facilities are critical to the construction and testing of NASA's Space Launch System rocket and Commercial Crew Program. Michoud and Stennis also are important to partnerships with private industry, which is helping maximize the use of NASA facilities. At 9 a.m. CDT, Garver will visit MAF to see progress being made to support the SLS and Orion spacecraft programs. At 1:30 p.m. Garver will tour testing facilities and the B-2 test stand, which is being restored in preparation for testing of the SLS core stage. (Source: NASA, 05/01/13)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Retired colonel to head group

Retired Air Force Col. Kim Wintner was named to head a tri-county committee that works to protect the military and defense industry in Northwest Florida. Wintner, of Destin, has served on the Defense Support Initiative committee for 10 years. The committee works to protect local military bases and their economic contributions to Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa counties. Before Wintner retired from the Air Force 13 years ago, he served as a commander at Hurlburt Field and as a vice commander at Eglin Air Force Base. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/30/13)

Lockheed Huntsville marks 50 years

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Lockheed Martin celebrated 50 years of space and defense work in Huntsville Wednesday. About 1,000 employees, retirees and dignitaries marked the event at the company's 57-acre, nine-building complex at Cummings Research Park. The company, one of the first tenants in the park, has about 800 employees in Huntsville. (Source:, 05/01/13) Gulf Coast note: Lockheed Martin also has operations along the Gulf Coast, including the Mississippi Space and Technology Center at Stennis Space Center, Miss.