Saturday, August 31, 2013

Trend story singles out Airbus plant

A CNBC report on a global manufacturing trend pointed to the decision by Airbus to expand production into the United States as a prime example. The report focused on the Boston Consulting Group's recent report indicating the United States is rapidly becoming a low-cost leader for manufacturing. Part of the reason is that exports have been growing more than seven times faster than GDP since 2005. It used the Airbus A320 final assembly line being built at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala., as an example of the trend. (Source: CNBC, 08/28/13,, 08/30/13)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Marines like F-35 progress

ABOARD USS WASP -- Two F-35B fighter jets completed dozens of test flights from the deck of this amphibious assault ship over the past three weeks. But several flights were scrapped Wednesday for maintenance issues. Marine Corps officials said the jets had made more than 90 successful vertical landings on the USS Wasp this month, including many at night. The officials said groundings were rare during the recent 19-day test period. Marines plan to use their version – one of three variants – in mid-2015. (Source: Reuters, 08/29/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. Previous: Night vertical lands? Check; F-35 marks 500th vertical landing; F-35 makes at-sea landing; Wasp concludes JSF testing

Training at Tate's Hell discussed

APALACHICOLA, Fla. -- Air Force officials held a meeting in Apalachicola to discuss making Tate's Hell State Forest a site for some Eglin Air Force Base training. Dozens of residents showed up Thursday to express concern about the land north of the coast in Franklin County. Ron Harper, a local resident who attended the meeting, said the land is "one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the state of Florida." But Mike Penland, chief of operational basing for the Air Force, said Eglin has a good track record with the environment. He said the land has unique features, including abandoned logging roads that make good runways for small aircraft. (Source: WCTV-TV, 08/29/13) Previous

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Contract: Lockheed, $7M

Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Orlando, Fla., has been awarded a $7,013,937 modification on contract for upgrade of the Visual and Joint Precision Airdrop systems on the C-130J maintenance and aircrew training system devices. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $289,492,046. Work will be performed at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2014. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/WNSK Simulators Division, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 08/29/13)

Fairhope firm chosen for project

MOBILE, Ala. -- An architectural firm in Baldwin County's Fairhope has been chosen by Hoar Program Management to work on portions of the Airbus A320 final assembly line campus being built at Brookley Aeroplex. Walcott Adams Verneuille Architects will be lead architectural firm for design of the transshipment hangar, main entry gate building and renovation of Brookley's existing warehouse and receiving facility. Eleven construction and design consultant packages for the project have been awarded so far, and all have included Alabama-based firms. (Source: al.comWPMI-TV, 08/29/13)

Most plant pilings now in place

MOBILE, Ala. -- Airbus Americas' project update shows 85 percent of the more than 2,100 pilings for the final assembly line hangar and service building have been driven at the Brookley site. Once the remaining pilings are in place at the Mobile site, steelwork is slated to being in September, meaning the buildings' frames, skins and roofs will be constructed. The $600 million plant is scheduled to come online in 2015, and the first A320 will be assembled in 2016. It will have about 1,000 workers when it reaches full annual production in 2018. (Source:, 08/28/13, Airbus, 08/27/13)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Delta IV Heavy launched

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 at 11:03 a.m. PDT today. The Delta IV Heavy configuration Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle features a center common booster core along with two strap-on common booster cores. The common booster cores are powered by RS-68 engines, and RL10 engines power the second stage. Both engines are built by Aerojet Rocketdyne. ULA constructed the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle in Decatur, Ala. (Source: United Launch Alliance via PRNewswire, 08/28/13) Gulf Coast note: RS-68 engines are assembled and tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

F-35 weapons load verification done

Weapons load verification done. Air Force photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- After months of preparation, the weapons troop Standardization Load Crew from the 33rd Maintenance Group performed the first munitions load verification Tuesday on the F-35A. It involves loading and unloading laser-guided and GPS-guided bombs, and air-to-air missiles into the weapons bays of the aircraft. The Standardization Load Crew has been practicing load verification using a series of tabletop exercises for several months. This marked the first hands-on load verification for the crew. Ultimately, this is the work that is performed down range, and Eglin is laying the foundation. (Source: 33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 08/28/13)

Contract: InDyne, $250.3M

InDyne Inc., Reston, Va., has been awarded a $250,323,919, modification for a contract for Eglin Test & Training Complex (ETTC) range operations and maintenance services. This modification provides for the exercise of an option for ETTC test and training areas and technical facilities to include test and training mission support, engineering support for range system design/modification/range configuration, and range support services to accomplish authorized range activities. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be completed by March 31, 2016. Air Force Test Center/PZZB, Eglin AFB, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 08/28/13)

Aviation center opening delayed

FAIRHOPE, Ala. -- Baldwin County school officials moved the opening of the $2.7 million aviation training facility at the H.L. “Sonny” Callahan Airport in Fairhope to the fall of 2014. The training center will be built as part of a partnership with Faulkner State Community College, Enterprise State Community College and the Fairhope Airport Authority. School officials had originally planned to start classes in January. The change is designed to ensure all parties are happy with the pace of the project. (Source:, 08/27/13)

Blues at November show?

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team is offering a bit of hope that the team may make an appearance at a November air show before the hometown crowd. But how much of an appearance is unclear. It may be to sign autographs, it may be a fly-over or perhaps a partial demonstration. The show, Wings Over Pensacola, is being planned for Nov. 8-11. The Navy has restricted the flight demonstration team's practice time this summer in the wake of federal budget cuts. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 08/28/13)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Contract: A&D, $9M

A&D GC, Inc., Santee, Calif., is being awarded $9,077,608 for firm-fixed-price task order under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract for Triton Maintenance Training Facility PM50 renovation at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, Calif. The work to be performed provides for renovation of the west wing of PM50 into a maintenance training facility for the Triton Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The facility will provide training device classrooms, high bay aircraft trainers, instructors work area, and administrative spaces to support the training efforts. The task order also contains one planned modification, which if exercised would increase cumulative task order value to $9,909,608. Work will be performed in Point Mugu, and is expected to be completed by November 2014. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 08/27/13) Gulf Coast note: Triton UAVs are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Contract: Pratt & Whitney, $69.6M

Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded an advance acquisition contract with an estimated value of $69,604,842 for long-lead components, parts and materials associated with the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot VIII of 19 F135 Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) propulsion systems for the Air Force; six Short Take-off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) propulsion systems for the Marine Corps; and four Carrier Variant propulsion systems for the Navy. In addition, this contract provides for long lead components, parts and materials associated with LRIP Lot VII of four F135 CTOL propulsion systems for Italy; four STOVL propulsion systems for the United Kingdom; and two CTOL propulsions systems for Norway. Work will be performed in East Hartford, Conn. (67 percent); Bristol, United Kingdom (16.5 percent); and Indianapolis, Ind. (16.5 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2016. This contract combines purchases for the Air Force (56 percent); the Navy/Marine Corps (11 percent); and the governments of United Kingdom; (14 percent); Italy (12 percent); and Norway (7 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 08/27/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. Previous

Pelli joins airport design team

NEW ORLEANS -- Cesar Pelli, an international architecture star, has joined the team redesigning the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. The $826 million project will result in a new 30-gate terminal, complete with hotel, parking garage, highway access and other amenities. The ambitious airport rebuild is supposed to be finished by New Orleans’ 300th anniversary on May 5, 2018. Pelli joins New Orleans' William Raymond Manning of Manning Architects and Lionelle Hewitt of Hewitt Washington Architects in the Armstrong airport redesign. (Sources: Times Picayune, 08/26/13, New Orleans International Airport, 08/22/13)

Council addressing worker shortage

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- A big challenge facing manufacturers in Northwest Florida has been finding qualified local workers. To address the issue, manufacturers across 12 counties formed the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council. It estimates that 3,400 new skilled workers will be needed in the next five years, but regional education and workforce development programs forecast producing only 860 in that time. Greg Britton, CEO of Fort Walton Machining and chairman of the new council's board of directors, said manufacturing isn't like it was 20 years ago. Higher skills are needed today to run today's complex equipment. The council is working with school districts, technical centers and state colleges to help develop curricula focused on providing students the skills they need to work at a high-tech manufacturer. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 08/26/13, Florida's Great Northwest, 08/27/13)

Monday, August 26, 2013

NASA holding Mobile forum

MOBILE, Ala. -- Doing business with NASA will be the topic of a Sept. 4 business-to-business forum at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center. NASA and an entourage of its agencies and prime contractors will give presentation and participate in a trade show to meet with small- and medium-sized companies interested in doing business with NASA. In addition to Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., NASA also operates Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Participants in the Mobile event include representatives from 25 prime contractors looking to partner with local small businesses on federal contracts. These include: Northrop Grumman, ATK Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Boeing and others. The agenda includes Fairhope native Todd May, manager of NASA's Space Launch System program. The event, hosted by the Mobile Area Chamber, is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and open to area and regional businesses. The cost is $75. For more information, call 251-431-8607. (Source: Mobile Area Chamber, 08/26/13)

Deal reached on F-35 engines

The Pentagon and Pratt and Whitney reportedly have researched an agreement in principle on a contract to build 39 engines for the sixth batch of F-35 fighters, sources told Reuters. The sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly, placed the value at more than $1 billion. Separate discussions are planned for a seventh batch of the F135 engines that power all variants of the F-35. In July, DoD had agreed on a contract with Lockheed Martin for a sixth and seventh order of the F-35s. DoD buys the jet engines directly with Pratt and Whitney. (Source: Reuters, 08/26/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. Previous

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Spacecraft has captive carry test

Sierra Nevada of Louisville, Colo., completed a captive-carry test of the Dream Chaser spacecraft Aug. 22 at Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. During the two-hour test, an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter picked up a test version of the Dream Chaser flight vehicle and flew it three miles over a dry lake bed at Edwards at a maximum altitude of about 12,400 feet. The spacecraft followed the projected path it will fly during future approach and landing tests at Dryden. Dream Chaser's flight computer, along with its guidance, navigation and control systems were tested. The landing gear and nose skid also were deployed during flight. (Source: NASA, 08/22/13) Gulf Coast note: Lockheed Martin is assembling the composite structure for the first space-bound Dream Chaser at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans. Previous

F-35C has first KC-135 refuel

F-35C refueling. Lockheed Martin photo
NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. -- A Lockheed Martin F-35 carrier variant refueled from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 for the first time Aug. 20. With the completion of this test, the F-35C joins the A and B models in proving that all three variants of the F-35 can be refueled from a common tanker platform, despite different methods. CF-1 was piloted by Lt. Col. Patrick Moran. Earlier this month, the Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, the Navy's first F-35C carrier variant aircraft squadron, completed its first flight at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 08/23/13)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Higby takes command at Keesler

BILOXI, Miss. -- Keesler Air Force Base had a change of command ceremony Friday to transfer command of the 81st Training Wing to Brig. Gen. Patrick C. Higby. He replaced Brig. Gen. Brad Spacy, who has been reassigned as director, logistics and mission support at Headquarters United States Air Forces at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. (Source: Sun Herald, 08/23/13)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Animation shows asteroid capture

NASA released new conceptual photos and a video animation showing how an asteroid capture mission might look. The images show crew operations including the Orion spacecraft's trip to and rendezvous with the asteroid, as well as astronauts maneuvering through a spacewalk to collect samples from the asteroid. NASA's Space Launch System will carry astronauts into space aboard the Orion capsule for the nine-day trip to an asteroid that may have been positioned after a robot capture. (Sources: NASA, 08/22/13) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, are both involved in the SLS program.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Contract: Lockheed, $34.5M

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a not-to-exceed $34,500,000 undefinitized modification to the previously awarded Low Rate Initial Production Lot 6 Advance Acquisition contract for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. This modification provides for the procurement of Autonomic Logistics Information System equipment, training devices and sustainment and logistics support for non-recurring engineering activities for the government of Italy. Work will be performed in Texas, California, Florida, New Hampshire, Maryland, and the United Kingdom and is expected to be completed in October 2018. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 08/22/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Museum back to 7 days

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The National Naval Aviation Museum is now operating seven days a week. The museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola began closing on Mondays in early July to cut costs during sequestration. Federal civilian employees were required to take 11 furlough days off without pay through the summer and early fall. But earlier this month, the Pentagon found other alternatives to save money and reduced the number of furlough days to six. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 08/21/13)

Scott signs off on land buy

Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet on Tuesday approved the purchase of a conservation easement on a 21,000-acre tract on the east side of Eglin Air Force Base. The $12.5 million purchase is being accomplished through a partnership with DOD's Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program, with the department contributing $1.75 million and the Air Force $550,000. The Trust for Public Land also is a project partner. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 08/20/13, Eglin Public Affairs, 08/22/13) Previous

Boeing gives SLS update

NEW ORLEANS -- By the summer of 2016 the Michoud Assembly Facility will complete construction on the massive tank that will help power NASA's new rocket, a Boeing executive said Wednesday. Gordon Bergstue, production director for Boeing, said the company is well underway, on schedule and in budget to build the core stage at the eastern New Orleans plant. The core stage is more than 200 feet tall and will store liquid hydrogen and oxygen to power four engines of the Space Launch System. Bergstue provided the update on the opening day of the New Orleans TechNOLAgy TechFest 2013, a three-day science and technology conference at the University of New Orleans. (Source: The Advocate, 08/21/13) The RS-25 engines that will power the SLS will be tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss., some 35 miles from Michoud. Previous: SSC building RS-25 test component, NASA to show off weld center, B-2 being prepped for SLS

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Boeing hits JDAM kit milestone

Boeing marked its recent production of the 250,000th Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) guidance kit, a major milestone for a program that since 1998 has converted unguided munitions into near-precision weapons. "The JDAM remains a valuable asset to warfighters around the world," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott W. Jansson, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. With a range of more than 15 nautical miles, JDAM can defeat high-value targets in any weather, day or night, with minimal risk to air crews. (Source: Boeing, 08/20/13)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Night vertical landings? Check

Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Russell Clift last week performed the first F-35B night-time vertical landing aboard the USS Wasp. As of August 18, the two F-35Bs, BF-1 and BF-5, participating in developmental testing had completed 40 short takeoffs and 41 vertical landings. At the conclusion of the testing it's expected the Navy and Marine Corps will have sufficient data to support certification for future F-35B shipboard operations in anticipation of initial operating capability in 2015. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 08/20/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Mobile No. 2 in growth potential

Alabama's Mobile and Huntsville placed in the top five of a list ranking 10 U.S. metro areas with the highest economic growth potential in the July/August 2013 issue of Business Facilities magazine. Baton Rouge, La., also along the Gulf Coast, ranked No. 1 and Mobile was ranked No. 2 in the list. Huntsville was No. 4. Mobile was cited for landing the $600 million Airbus assembly line. Editor in Chief Jack Rogers said Airbus will "be a powerful engine for growth in the Mobile region for decades to come." Other metros in the top five were McAllen, Texas; and Provo-Orem, Utah. (Source:, 08/19/13)

AF solicits for laser system

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Air Force researchers are asking industry to supply a high-power laser system. The Air Force Material Command AFTC/PZIO Operational Contracting Division at Eglin issued a solicitation for a High Power Laser System. The laser should have output power of 1 to 1.5 Watts, operate at a wavelength of 2.95 microns, with a circular beam shape. The laser should be rugged enough to withstand shock of about six Gs, and have a rack-mount controller with 40-foot control cable. (Source: Military & Aerospace Electronics, 08/19/13)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Eglin does maritime tests

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force's 96th Operations Group will run munitions tests in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 nautical miles south of Destin from Monday through to Sept. 13. The morning tests will be Mondays through Thursdays. The tests are part of the 53rd Wing's Maritime Strike Program. The Air Force has commissioned 25 local boats to protect the mission area. The boats and their crews will mark the border and warn any approaching vessels to stay out of the drop zone. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 08/18/13, 96th Test Wing, 08/14/13)

Tyndall impact $617.8M

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Tyndall Air Force Base has a $617.8 million economic impact on Bay County and the surrounding area, according to Air Force officials. There are an estimated 3,395 active duty military personnel at the base and 4,132 dependents. The economic impact considers payrolls, expenditures for contracts, materials, equipment, services, construction and other procurement actions on the economy of the region. The base is home to 31 F-22 Raptor fighter jets, 10 T-38s and about 98 aerial drone targets. (Source: News Herald, 08/18/13) According to DoD, Tyndall's 2013 plant replacement value is $1.46 billion. 2012 Economic Impact Analysis

Friday, August 16, 2013

Commission takes lead in land swap

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The Escambia County Commission unanimously agreed to take the lead in a $16 million to $25 million deal to obtain the Navy's 640-acre helicopter training field in Beulah known as Outlying Field 8. The plan is to turn the land into a commerce park to lure aerospace companies tied to the Airbus final assembly line being built in Mobile, Ala. Escambia County would buy and develop 640 rural acres in Santa Rosa County near Naval Air Station Whiting Field, provide it to the Navy and get the Beulah site in return. Congress must also agree to the land swap. The deal, which will take two years to complete, was initiated by the Greater Pensacola Chamber.  (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 08/15/13). Previous

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Base must pay rate increase

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A federal judge ruled in favor of Bay County over a water rate dispute with Tyndall Air Force Base. Tyndall refused to pay at higher rates for sewer and water service when the county made the increase. The county said Tyndall owes $850,000 dating to the first rate increase in 2007, but Tyndall said the county functioned as an unregulated utility and based on language in one of the contracts, the base could refuse to pay the higher rate. While the ruling sided with the county, it said Tyndall is obligated to pay the higher rate back to March 2011, when the lawsuit was filed. Tyndall has 30 days to file paperwork if it wants to appeal the ruling. (Sources: News Herald, WMBB-TV, 08/15/13)

Airbus blue-collar postings near

MOBILE, Ala. -- The first blue-collar job postings may come as early as October for the final assembly line being built at Brookley Aeroplex. That's what Lee Hammett, Alabama Industrial Development Training program's assistant director for South Alabama, told members of the Aviation and Aerospace Industry Advisory Council Thursday. AIDT is organization is working with Airbus to finalize guidelines and protocol for pre-employment training. If Airbus OKs the guidelines, orientations could begin in November with interviews in December and training as early as January. Blue-collar workers will be the hourly employees who assemble the aircraft. The plant will open in 2015 and deliver its first A320 in 2016. (Source:, 08/15/13)

Airbus secures huge order

The London-based International Airlines Group said it has secured orders and options for up to 220 of Airbus A320 family short-haul aircraft, a deal worth some $20 billion. The airlines group, parent of British Airways and Iberia, said up to 120 of these orders will be for Spanish subsidiary Vueling, which joined IAG in April. The Vueling agreement comprises 62 firm orders and 58 options. The firm orders will be delivered to Vueling between 2015 and 2020. IAG also has secured 100 A320neo options, which could be used for any of its airlines for aircraft replacement requirements. (Sources: Wall Street Journal, Reuters, 08/14/13, Channel News AsiaBloomberg, 08/15/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building a $600 million A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Carrier drone contracts awarded

Four defense companies each have been awarded $15 million to continue work on a new unmanned combat plane for the Navy. Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Atomic each won awards Wednesday for preliminary design review assessment for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) Air Vehicle. Work runs through June 2014. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority. Under a separate contract, Northrop Grumman's X-47B has already logged a catapult launch and arrested landing from the deck of a carrier. (Source: GCAC, 08/14/13) The four separate contracts can be found at DoD contractsPrevious

Contract: Whitesell-Green, $15.9M

Whitesell-Green Inc., Pensacola, Fla., is being awarded a $15,949,000 contract for construction of a Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) Mission Control Complex at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. The work provides for a freestanding two-story structure with two Electromagnetic Interference Shielded Mission Control Systems, a Tactical Operations Center with sensitive compartmented information facility spaces, and numerous roof-top mounted antennas. Antenna infrastructure will be constructed at a remote site south of the new facility. Work is expected to be completed by December 2014. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 08/14/13) BAMS is the original name of the Triton unmanned aircraft surveillance program. Triton is a version of the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk. The center fuselage of Global Hawks, including Triton, are built in Moss Point, Miss.

Navy F-35 logs first training flight

F-35C has first training flight at Eglin.
U.S. Navy photo courtesy Lockheed Martin
An F-35C, the Navy variant of the stealth fighter, completed its first training flight today at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The 1.3-hour sortie was flown by Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101 naval aviator Chris Tabert. The flight followed a decision by Commander, Naval Air Force, Pacific, Vice Adm. David Buss Aug. 8, granting the Fleet Replacement Squadron interim "safe for flight" status. The squadron received the Navy's first F-35C from Lockheed Martin June 22. Today's flight was the first in the new Navy aircraft flown by a VFA-101 pilot at Eglin. VFA-101 will now begin to schedule and perform sorties under their own charter from their facilities at Eglin. (Source: NNS, 08/14/13) Previous

Crash prompts Airbus to send team

Airbus is sending a team of specialists to Alabama in the wake of the crash today of a twin-engine A300-600F UPS cargo plane near Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. The company issued a statement in the wake of the crash that killed the pilot and co-pilot of Flight 1354 from Louisville, Ky. The plane, powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, has been in service with UPS since 2003, and accumulated some 11,000 flight hours in about 6,800 flights, according to Airbus. (Source: Airbus, 08/14/13)

SSC to put thrusters in spacecraft

Aerojet Rocketdyne has shipped to NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., the first set of four Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) thrusters for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R). At SSC, Lockheed Martin will integrate the thrusters and associated power conditioning units and electrical cabling with the GOES-R spacecraft. It will then be shipped to Lockheed Martin's facility near Denver, Colo. where it will undergo final integration and testing. The completed satellite will ultimately be shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., for a planned late 2015 or early 2016 launch on an Atlas V 541 expendable launch vehicle. (Source: Aerojet Rocketdyne, 08/13/13) Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp company, also has an operation at SSC.

MQ-8B Fire Scout hits milestone

The Northrop Grumman-built MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter surpassed 5,000 flight hours while providing surveillance to field commanders in Afghanistan. Since deploying to Afghanistan in 2011, the MQ-8 Fire Scout system has provided real-time airborne surveillance and targeting supporting counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs), provided targeting support and delivered real-time video to military forces on the ground. Northrop Grumman is under contract to the Navy to build the first eight of 30 planned MQ-8C versions of the Fire Scout, which will have twice the endurance, three times the payload capability, and will be ready for operation next year. (Source: Northrop Grumman via PRNewswire, 08/13/13) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

MCAS will get to see F-35s

BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Military and community leaders will get a chance to see F-35 fighters during an invitation-only event next week. Two F-35B fighters, flown up from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will be on display during the showcase Tuesday. The event will also include a tour of some of the new facilities on the base. Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort will eventually be home to three combat squadrons and two training squadrons of the next-generation jets, which will replace the F-18 Hornets currently flown at the air station. The air station is expected to get its first group of the fifth-generation fighters in January 2014, when its first training squadron will arrive. Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, now at Eglin, will relocate to MCAS Beaufort as part of the air station's new role. (Source: Beaufort Gazette, 08/13/13)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Command chief gets new post

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- After two years as the 81st Training Wing's command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Angie Johnson is leaving Keesler to become the command chief for Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. Johnson, who joined the Air Force in 1985, was promoted to the top enlisted rank six years ago. Johnson's successor will be Chief Master Sgt. Farrell Thomas, who has served for the past three years as the special assistant to the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force at the Pentagon. (Source: 81st Training Wing Public Affairs, 08/13/13)

Move of Keesler C-130Js delayed

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The Air Force Reserve will delay the move of C-130Js from Keesler Air Force Base to Pope Field, N.C. The movement of planes from 815th and 345th airlift squadrons was originally scheduled for Oct. 1, but has been delayed until April 2014 and could be further delayed until Oct. 2014, according to Keesler. In addition to the loss of aircraft, the 815th Airlift Squadron and its active duty partner, the 345th Airlift Squadron, are also on the chopping block. The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the Hurricane Hunters, is not affected. (Source: Sun Herald, 08/13/13) Previous

Monday, August 12, 2013

Contract: Lockheed, $852.3M

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a not-to-exceed $852,298,021 undefinitized modification to the previously awarded Low Rate Initial Production Lot 6 Advance Acquisition contract. This modification provides for the procurement of special tooling and special test equipment for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and the international partners, which is critical to preserving the current F-35 delivery schedules and meeting future production rates. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (30 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (20 percent); Wharton, United Kingdom (20 percent); Turin, Italy (15 percent); Nashua, N.H. (8 percent); and Baltimore, Md. (7 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2016. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 08/12/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hopes high for land swap deal

Chamber eyes land near Navy Federal
Credit Union campus. GCAC photo
PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The Greater Pensacola Chamber is working on a project to acquire 640 acres of Navy land in Escambia County's Beulah community and turn it into a commerce park. In exchange, the chamber would provide the Navy with 640 acres of land in neighboring Santa Rosa County near Milton's Naval Air Station Whiting Field. The land the chamber wants is used for military helicopter training and adjacent to the 308-acre Navy Federal Credit Union campus. The chamber sees the land, close to Interstate 10, as a potential lure for businesses, especially those linked to the Airbus assembly line being built in nearby Mobile, Ala. If everything falls in place it will take two years to complete. Still needed is final purchase of the Santa Rosa County land, improvements to suit the Navy's Training Wing 5, and final approval of the swap by the Navy. The project cost is between $16 million to $25 million. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 08/11/13)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Shuttle hangars to be reused?

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- Space Florida on Wednesday moved forward with plans to renovate two former shuttle hangars. The board approved spending up to $4 million to overhaul Orbiter Processing Facilities 1 and 2 at Kennedy Space Center, on top of $5 million committed last year from state Department of Transportation funds. The future tenant was not identified, but is believed to be the Air Force's X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, a reusable unmanned system that resembles a small space shuttle. Previously the Air Force confirmed studying consolidation of X-37B operations at Kennedy or the Cape. (Source: Florida Today, 08/08/13) Gulf Coast note: NASA also has centers in Bay St. Louis, Miss., and New Orleans.

F-35 marks 500th vertical landing

A Lockheed Martin F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft, BF-1, completed its 500th vertical landing August 3. It's the same plane that marked the variant's first vertical landing in March 2010 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Next week Developmental Test 2 (DT-2) sea trials are scheduled to begin onboard the USS Wasp. DT-2 is the second of three planned tests aimed at defining and expanding the F-35B's shipboard operating envelope for the U.S. Marine Corps. The first shipboard testing phase was successfully completed in October 2011, when an F-35 successfully completed an at-sea landing. The successful completion of the upcoming Sea Trials is key to declaring F-35 Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the U.S. Marine Corps in 2015. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 08/06/13) Previous: F-35 makes at-sea landing; Wasp concludes JSF testing

Two drones OKd for commercial use

The Federal Aviation Administration's recent certification of two unmanned aircraft for commercial use is a step towards opening the U.S. market for drones. The agency in late July gave the green light to Boeing's Insitu ScanEagle and AeroVironment's Puma. Congress in early 2012 called on the FAA to write rules by 2015 that would govern the commercial operation of drones that can be used for everything from spraying pesticides on farmland to monitoring sport events. The FAA said a major energy company plans to fly the ScanEagle off the Alaska coast to survey ice flows and whale migration, and the Puma will be used for oil spill monitoring and wildlife surveillance over the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean. The Teal Group has estimated that annual spending on drones around the world will almost double to $11.4 billion by 2022. (Source: Reuters, 08/08/13) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scout and Global Hawk UAVs are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Camp Shelby is home of a UAV regional flight center for the Army National Guard. Puma is among the UAVs used there; special forces fly UAVs at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Space Fence shutting down?

SpaceNews reports that the Air Force is shutting down a part of its network for tracking satellites and orbital debris, possibly as soon as Oct. 1. Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, directed that the Air Force Space Surveillance System, known as Space Fence and a component of the U.S. space surveillance network, be closed and all sites vacated. A memo obtained by SpaceNews to Five Rivers Services of Colorado Springs, Colo., operator of the Space Fence tracking system, said the Air Force was not exercising its option for a fifth year of a contract to provide management and logistical support for the nine field stations. Space Fence is responsible for about 40 percent of all observations of the space surveillance network. Shelton said in July that engineers at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., home of the 20th Space Control Squadron, were looking for ways to improve the current Space Fence as a contingency plan should the Pentagon elect not to go forward with the next-generation system. Efforts to award a contract to build and updated version of the Space Fence system have been held up by budgetary concerns. (Sources: multiple, including Space News, 08/06/13, International Business Times, 08/07/13, NPR, 08/08/13) Previous: Group tackling space debris; AF begins using SBSS

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Contract: CACI-ISS, $8.7M

CACI-ISS Inc., Chantilly, Va., has been awarded a $8,742,643 firm-fixed-price contract for healthcare facilities support to support Air Force Medical Support Agency mission in areas of program management, materiel management, which encompass receipt, storage, and distribution of material in all Air Force medical treatment facilities worldwide and in support of wartime contingency operations. Facility management capabilities range from basic inventory (facility, room and real property installed equipment), work requests and project management to regulatory compliance and graphical space management. The long list of bases where work will be performed includes Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, and Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Work is expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2016. 773 Enterprise Sourcing Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio, Lackland AFB, Texas, is the contracting activity (Source: DoD, 08/08/13)

F-35 training ramps up

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- F-35s are continuing to ramp up training operations and have started to simulate some combat-type missions. For the first time last month, the F-35 was controlled by an air battle management squadron on the ground at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The air battle managers are with the 337th Air Control Squadron, which falls under the 33rd Operations Group but is stationed at Tyndall in Panama City. The 337th trains 130 students a year to become air battle managers. Their radar provides a much broader view than radars inside the F-35. The equipment can pick up anything flying over the Gulf of Mexico from Houston to around the Florida peninsula and then up the East Coast to Virginia Beach. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 08/07/13)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

X-47B retirement delayed to 2014

The U.S. Navy hopes to continue flying its two Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrators into 2014. The service had earlier said that the prototypes would be retired after the type had demonstrated the ability to make carrier arrested recoveries onboard the USS George H.W. Bush, accomplished July 10. The two X-47Bs will stay at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., while the program continues to assess potential opportunities for additional tests at Pax River and at-sea, according to the Naval Air Systems Command. Analyst Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute said many critics had charged that the Navy was prematurely retiring the two testbeds. (Source: Flightglobal, 08/06/13) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned aerial systems are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; the Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., eventually will get one of the X-47Bs to put on display. Previous: Drone catapults from carrier; Drone lands on carrier

Airbus passes Boeing in July

A bulk order from easyJet in July allowed Airbus to overtake Boeing in orders for commercial aircraft in the first seven months of this year. Airbus booked new orders for 174 jetliners in July, thanks to a bulk order from easyJet for 135 A320 single-aisle planes. July's orders brought to 892 the number of firm orders booked by Airbus over the first seven months of this year, and put it well over the net firm order total of 833 recorded in 2012. All but seven of July's new orders were for the A320 jets, a workhorse for low-cost airlines. (Source: Wall Street Journal, 08/06/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala. Previous

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Reduction in furloughs announced

WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of Defense Department civilian employees who have had to take a weekly unpaid day off from work since July 8 are getting some relief, as the total number of furlough days has been reduced from 11 to six, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today. (Source: DoD, 08/06/13) Gulf Coast note: Civilian workers in the Gulf Coast's multiple bases have been subjected to furloughs.

Contract: Nova Group, $14.9M

Nova Group Inc., Napa, Calif., was awarded a firm-fixed-price contract with a maximum value of $14,952,400 for the construction of a fuel storage facility at Hurlburt Field in Mary Esther, Fla. A combination of fiscal 2009, fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2013 military construction funds are being obligated on this award. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with eight bids received. The Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity (Source: DoD, 08/06/13)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Armament director gets second star

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Newly promoted Maj. Gen. Scott Jansson received a second star during a pin-on ceremony Friday at Eglin Air Force Base. Jansson, the Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons, Armament Directorate, pinned on the rank of major general in a ceremony officiated by Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore II, commander, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. There are just over 100 major generals in the Air Force. (Source: Team Eglin Public Affairs, 8/05/013)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Contract: Lockheed, $39.4M

Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Owego, N.Y., is being awarded a $39,427,558 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to provide flight test, technical, management, and process support services necessary to update and maintain operational software, vendor software, maintenance-related software, and laboratory support software in support of the MH-60R/S and SH-60B aircraft. Work will be performed in Owego, N.Y. (85 percent); Patuxent River, Md. (12 percent); Pascagoula, Miss. (1.5 percent); and Bath, Maine (1.5 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2015. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 07/31/13)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Another Mobile firm selected

MOBILE, Ala. -- Mobile-based Thompson Engineering has been selected to provide engineering services for Package D of the Airbus final assembly line being built at Brookley Aeroplex. Birmingham-based Hoar Program Management announced the contract Thursday. It will include design for utilities, parking lots, airfield pavements, security, electrical, communications, infrastructure and landscaping. The infrastructure involved includes taxiways, aprons, traffic and logistics areas as well as green areas. (Source:, 08/01/13)

ROPS OKd for A320ceo

Airbus achieved initial EASA certification of its Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) technology on A320 current engine option aircraft. The on-board cockpit technology, which Airbus pioneered over several years and is now in service on the A380, increases pilots' situational awareness during landing, reduces exposure to runway excursion risk, and if necessary, provides active protection. In March American Airlines selected ROPS to equip its A320 family fleet. European Aviation Safety Agency certification of ROPS on the A320ceo is a step in making ROPS available for line-fit and retrofit to other Airbus models, including the A320ceo with sharklets, the A330 family, and the A320neo. (Source: Airbus, 08/01/13) Gulf Coast note: A320 jetliners will be built in Mobile, Ala., beginning in 2015. Previous

Airbus posts two job openings

MOBILE, Ala. -- Airbus America posted two more job openings related to manufacturing activities at its developing assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex. The company is seeking one person to fill the role of Avionics/Electrical Installation Station Coordinator and another to fill the role of Mechanical Installation Station Coordinator. In both jobs, during the project phase of the assembly line, these individuals will help coordinate preparation of the assembly process of the stations these roles support and help ensure a smooth start-up of Airbus' U.S. assembly line. Once production starts they will direct and coordinate work on the stations they support. Ground was broken in April on the $600 million A320 assembly line. (Source: Airbus, 07/29/13) Full job description

Thursday, August 1, 2013

R&D maximizes opportunities

MOBILE, Ala. – The chief technology officer from aerospace giant EADS told an audience that cybersecurity, alternative fuels and aerodynamics are key research and development areas for the company. And EADS, which is changing its name to the Airbus Group, wants to develop partnerships with the University of South Alabama and others to develop those areas in the coming decades. Jean Botti was a speaker at the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce’s Advisors and Directors Summer Meeting. "We need to bring research into (the mix) to maximize opportunities with Alabama," Botti told the capacity crowd. EADS has more than 350 global partnerships that have led to products needed by the aerospace company. Earlier, Botti toured USA facilities, including the College of Engineering and School of Computing. Airbus is building a $600 million final assembly line at Mobile's Brookley Aeroplex. (Source:, 07/31/13)