Wednesday, March 31, 2010

EADS gets 60-day deadline extension

The Pentagon said Wednesday it will extend the deadline by 60 days if EADS officially decides to submit a bid to build Air Force tankers. Europe's EADS had requested 90 days. EADS had partnered with Northrop Grumman to for the $35 billion contract. But Northrop dropped out in March, saying the government's requirements favored Boeing's smaller aircraft. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the government would extend the deadline from May 10 to July 9 if EADS expressed an interest in bidding. EADS spokesman Guy Hicks said the company made it clear it needed 90 days as a minimum. "We will consider the Department's decision to offer a 60 day extension." (Sources: Multiple, including Washington Post, Bloomberg, 03/31/10) Gulf Coast note: EADS wants to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., if it submits a bid and wins.

Contract: Bell-Boeing, $55.2M

Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $55,151,902 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for non-recurring efforts associated with Increment III of the CV-22 aircraft Block 20 upgrade program. Efforts to be provided include concept definition, non-recurring engineering, drawings, and installation/integration of brake performance enhancements and the helmet mounted display upgrade. Four percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., but the majority, 91 percent, will be done in Philadelphia, Pa., and is expected to be completed in December 2015. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/31/10)

Contract: CSC, $31.5M

Computer Sciences Corp., Falls Church, Va., is being awarded a $31,547,535 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for information technology support services to sustain the Naval Education Technology and Professional Development Training Command, Pensacola, Fla.; Naval Education and Training Command; and Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education Command. This contract includes four option terms which, if exercised, bring the total estimated value of the contract to $220,842,902. Fifty-seven percent of the work will be done in Pensacola, Fla. The rest will be done in Great Lakes, Ill., Norfolk, Va., and various locations inside and outside the continental United States. Work is expected to be completed by March 2011. The Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk, Philadelphia Division, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/31/10)

Raytheon meets decoy delivery goal

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Raytheon Co. has delivered an operationally significant quantity of the Miniature Air Launched Decoy to the Air Force, allowing the service to reach its "required assets available" as scheduled. The 300-pound MALD decoy is modular, air-launched and programmable with a range of 575 miles. Currently integrated on the B-52 bomber and F-16 fighter aircraft, MALD can be certified on any aircraft with a 14-inch suspension carriage. Raytheon is also developing a jamming variant of the MALD and expects to deliver its first system in 2012. (Source: Raytheon via PRNewswire, 03/31/10)

Airports get grants

Two airports in South Mississippi won federal grants for improvements. Trent Lott International Airport in Moss Point will receive $809,753 for runway and taxiway lighting work. Stennis International Airport in Bay St. Louis will get $104,500 for airport apron construction and wildlife hazard assessment. The Department of Transportation grants are part of $8.6 million in funding through the Airport Improvement Program that will help 32 state airports in infrastructure projects meant to improve operational safety and efficiency. (Source: Mississippi Press, 03/26/10)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Contract: L-3, $6.3M

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC, Madison, Miss., received a firm-fixed-price modification of $6,260,514 for exercise of option periods one and two, providing an additional six months of lease services of four helicopters for pilot training in support of U.S. Special Operations Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, beginning on April 1, 2010, and ending Sept. 30, 2010. Work will be performed at Hurlburt Field, Fla. (Source: DoD, 03/30/10)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bill filed to stop Constellation threat

Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi cosponsored a measure to prohibit NASA from suspending work on the Constellation Program without justification. The legislation reaffirms language in the FY2010 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that directs NASA to continue moving forward with Constellation and prohibits termination or modification of existing contracts unless separate legislation is passed by Congress. Constellation, the program to take astronauts to the moon and beyond, was canceled in the proposed Obama budget. The measure was introduced by Sen. George LeMieux of Florida and also cosponsored by Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, and Utah's Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett. (Source: WLOX-TV, 03/26/10) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, are both involved in the Constellation program.

Airline to lay off ground workers

Continental Airlines said Friday it will lay off 150 ground workers including bag handlers at seven U.S. airports, including Pensacola, Fla., and hire contractors. The other layoffs to occur June 1 are in Providence, R.I., Greensboro, N.C., Richmond and Norfolk, Va., St. Louis and Kansas City. The company said the seven airports were the only all-regional service airports where Continental still uses its own employees for ground handling work. (Source: AP via Business Week, 03/26/10)

Friday, March 26, 2010

EADS nearing tanker bid decision

Europe's EADS is nearing a decision to compete directly with Boeing for a contract to supply aerial tankers to the Air Force, according to a Reuters analysis. EADS now has prime contractor status, and it hopes to get a 90-day extension on the bid deadline. EADS and its former teammate, Northrop Grumman, won the $35 billion contest in February 2008, but it was overturned on a Boeing protest. Northrop earlier this month dropped out of the battle on grounds the new request for proposals favors the smaller Boeing tanker. (Source: Reuters, 03/26/10) Gulf Coast note: EADS, should it bid and win, would assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala.

Improved Paveway completes test series

Lockheed Martin's Paveway II Plus Laser Guided Bomb completed a series of six flight tests earlier this month at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The bomb uses an enhanced laser guidance package, improving precision when compared to existing Paveway II LGBs. The weapons were launched from altitudes between 10,000 and 30,000 feet against a billboard target angled at 45 degrees. Two GBU-10s and four GBU-12s were released from a pair of F-16D Viper aircraft from Eglin's 40th Flight Test Squadron. Each successfully initiated laser acquisition at the expected time and guided to the intended target. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 03/24/10)

Contracts awarded for science center

GULFPORT, Miss. - Contracts were awarded Thursday to two firms to oversee construction of the Infinity Science Center, south of Stennis Space Center, Miss. Roy Anderson Corp. of Gulfport submitted the low bid of $15.6 million to construct the building and Eley Guild Hardy of Biloxi was named executive architect. Work will begin May 3 and the building will be complete in 16 months. John Wilson, the education program development director at Infinity, said it could be August 2011 before money is raised to pay for the exhibits and open the science center. The science center will provide a fun way for visitors to learn about the Earth, oceans and space. (Source: Sun Herald, 03/25/10)

Shuttle crew visits Stennis

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - Four members of the STS-130 Endeavor space shuttle crew thanked employees at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center Thursday for their role in a successful mission to the International Space Station. The STS-130 crew delivered a third connecting nodule to the space station, which will increase the interior space for crew members and many life support and environmental control systems. Four more shuttle missions are scheduled. The next is planned for April 5. (Source: Sun Herald, 03/25/10)

NASA awards lab contract for Stennis

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center has awarded a $26 million contract to A2 Research, JV, of Huntsville, Ala., to provide technical laboratory services at the center. The firm, fixed-priced contract includes a one-year base contract period, plus a one-year option and one three-year option period. Laboratory services by A2 Research, JV, include gas, materials and environmental laboratory analysis; maintenance of measurement standards and the calibration and repair of instrumentation; and specialized technical, business and administrative systems and related operations to support mission requirements for Stennis. (Source: NASA, 03/25/10)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Biofuel passes test at Eglin

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - An A-10 using a 50-50 mixture of biofuel and conventional JP-8 aviation fuel was tested Thursday at Eglin Air Force Base. It was the first time the mixture was tested in both engines. The fuel is derived in part from camelina, a common plant that's been used for lamp fuel and ointments. The military is testing new fuels to diversify its fuel sources. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base officials, who are overseeing the biofuels research, were on hand for the test, one of many that will be conducted. (Sources: WEAR-TV, Dayton Daily News, 03/25/10)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WTO affirms improper subsidies ruling

The World Trade Organization said Tuesday that Airbus received improper subsidies for the A380 jet and several other airplanes. The ruling affirmed interim findings last September on the U.S. complaint. According to multiple published reports, the WTO found most of the loans from European governments to develop the A380 were at below market rates and amounted to prohibited subsidies. The WTO also found that Europe had provided improper subsidies for the A300, A310, A320, A330 and A340. (Sources: Multiple, including New York Times, AP via Google, 03/23/10) Gulf Coast note: Airbus parent, EADS, may still compete in the contest to build tankers for the Air Force. It wants to assemble the planes, based on an A330, in Mobile, Ala.

Deadline extension decision expected soon

MOBILE, Ala. - EADS could find out as early as this week whether it will get more time to bid on the tanker project. That's the word from EADS North America CEO Sean O'Keefe, who was in Mobile to help prepare an aid shipment to Haiti. Boeing appears in line to be the only bidder for the $40 billion contract. EADS North America's former partner, Northrop Grumman, opted out because it felt the requirements favor the smaller Boeing tanker. EADS feels the same, but has asked for a 90-day extension of the May 10 deadline to consider its options. EADS still plans to build the tankers in Mobile should it win the contract. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 03/23/10)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Russian CEO denies tanker bid

Russia's United Aircraft Corp. isn't planning to bid for the tanker program, Chief Executive Officer Alexei Fyodorov told Bloomberg. Both the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reported the maker of Ilyushin transports planned to bid, citing John Kirkland, an attorney in Los Angeles who represents the group. Fyodorov said he wasn't familiar with Kirkland. For his part, Kirkland said it's either a huge misunderstanding or the Russians not wanting to confirm a plan until something is officially announced. Kirkland had said something would be announced Monday. He provided the Mobile Press-Register with copies of correspondence between his firm and United Aircraft in addition to incorporation papers for a U.S. subsidiary, UAC America Inc., formed to pursue the tanker contract. (Source: Bloomberg via BusinessWeek, Mobile Press-Register, 03/21/10)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

F-35 school impact study updated

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - An updated study of the impact of the Joint Strike Fighter training school at Eglin Air Force Base shows 59 planes will have an impact of $613 million, down from the $2.15 billion that would have occurred between 2010 and 2016 with all 107 planes originally planned. Though the other 48 planes may still come to Eglin, the Air Force is looking at other bases as well. The study by the University of West Florida, originally done in 2005 and updated since, was commissioned by the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/20/10)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Russians interested in tanker bid

Russia's United Aircraft Corp. is planning to bid on the contract to build tankers for the Air Force. The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the plans, said the company will offer the Ilyushin Il-96 wide-body jet. The plane would be largely built in Russia and assembled in the United States. United Aircraft, a consortium owned by the Russian government, is planning to partner with an unnamed "small" U.S. defense contractor. (Source: Wall Street Journal, 03/19/10) Gulf Coast note: EADS’ plans are to assemble its tankers in Mobile, Ala.

EADS seeks 3 months to bid on tanker

EADS is seeking three more months to prepare a bid for the multibillion-dollar refueling tanker, the Defense Department said today. "We're considering that request," Bryan Whitman, a department spokesman, told reporters. The current deadline is May 10. EADS said it could rejoin the competition if it decides there's a chance to win. EADS' North American, which partnered with Northrop Grumman until that company opted out last week, may wind up as prime contractor. EADS North America is a prime contractor for the Mississippi-built UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters. (Source: Reuters, 03/19/10)

NG making market play in D.C.

Northrop Grumman, which plans to move corporate headquarters from Los Angeles to the Washington D.C. area by next year, has plastered the Capitol South metro stop with more than 25 banners and signs boasting its weapons capabilities. Among the images: close-up photos of Fire Scouts and Global Hawks, two unmanned aerial systems built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Source: Forbes, 03/19/10)

EADS reconsiders tanker contest

EADS may be interested in having the Pentagon extend the deadline for bids for the Air Force tanker competition. Defense News reported Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell saying DoD "has received notification from EADS North America indicating possible interest in competing for the Air Force's KC-X tanker and we would welcome that." The Mobile Press-Register said EADS, in a statement Friday morning, said it was "assessing this new situation." Last week EADS and partner Northrop Grumman said they were dropping out of the competition on grounds the rules favor the smaller tanker from rival Boeing. May 10 is the deadline for bids. (Sources: Defense News, 03/18/10; Mobile Press-Register, 03/19/10) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman, Alabama and Mobile-area governments have ended their incentives agreements on a site at Brookley Field where the companies planned to build an assembly plant.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

F-35 notches first vertical landing

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. - An F-35B made a vertical landing for the first time Thursday. The Joint Strike Fighter performed a 93 miles per hour short takeoff from Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Some 13 minutes into the flight, the pilot positioned the aircraft 150 feet above the airfield, where the F-35 hovered for a minute then descend to the runway. The aircraft, BF-1, is one of three F-35B STOVL jets undergoing flight trials at the Patuxent River test site. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 03/18/10) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will be home to the Joint Strike Fighter training center.

Tanker incentives agreements end

MOBILE, Ala. - Northrop Grumman, Alabama and Mobile-area governments ended their incentives agreements after the company opted to drop out of the competition to build tankers for the Air Force. Northrop Grumman planned to build a $600 million assembly plant at Brookley Field if it won the contract. It did in 2008, but the contract was overturned on a protest from Boeing. Northrop and bidding partner EADS, which said the terms of the new competition favored the smaller Boeing plane, decided last week not to bid. The two companies received a $110 million package of cash and tax breaks tied to the creation of 1,500 job. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 03/18/10)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Admiral picked to head F-35 program

Defense Secretary Robert Gates picked Vice Adm. David Venlet to run the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The three-star officer will need Senate confirmation. Gates said in early February that he would remove Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Heinz as manager of the JSF and replace him with a three-star officer. The nomination comes as the Pentagon prepares to formally tell Congress that the cost of the F-35 has increased by more than 50 percent. (Source: The Hill, 03/16/10) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is scheduled to become home of the JSF training center.

Commander picked for NAS

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The Navy chose Capt. Christopher Plummer to take over as commander of Naval Air Station Pensacola. Plummer, a naval aviator, is attending Joint Forces Staff College in Virginia. He'll assume command in mid-April. Capt. William Reavey was relieved of command earlier this month after allegations of inappropriate conduct. Cmdr. Greg Thomas is serving as commanding officer until Plummer arrives. (Source: WEAR-TV, WKRG-TV, 03/16/10)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blue Angels return from California

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The Blue Angels flight demonstration team returned home to Sherman Field at Naval Air Station Pensacola Monday. The team just wrapped up its off-season training program at El Centro, Calif. The team is scheduled to perform 67 shows at 35 locations across the country in the upcoming season. (Source: WEAR-TV, 03/15/10)

Contract: Rockwell Collins, $11.1M

Rockwell Collins Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was awarded an $11,111,767 contract modification which will provide for systems development, integration, and verification phase of the P5 range instrumentation waveform. This waveform is in support of the F-22 and F-35 aircraft. 689 ARSS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/15/10)

Contract: Kaman Precision, $46.3M

Kaman Precision Products Inc., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $46,253,422.83 contract modification which will provide a quantity of 12,994 joint programmable fuze systems. At this time, entire amount has been obligated. 679 ARSS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/15/10)

Contract: Raytheon, $19.5M

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $19,505,458 contract which provides an Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air-Missile system improvement program. At this time, $2,770,000 has been obligated. 696 ARSS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/15/10)

Airbus eyes selling A400M in U.S.

Airbus said it plans to sell about 210 of its A400M military airlifters in the United States, according to the AP and BBC. Domingo Urena, chief of Airbus Military, said it’s too early to tell if Airbus would seek a U.S. partner. Airbus parent EADS partnered with Northrop Grumman in the competition to build tankers for the Air Force. Just last week both companies bowed out of the competition when they said the request for proposals from the Pentagon favored the smaller Boeing plane. (Source: AP, BBC, 03/15/10) Gulf Coast note: Northrop/EADS had planned to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala.

Friday, March 12, 2010

F-35 cost up dramatically

The projected cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has increased 60 to 90 percent in real terms since 2001, well past a level requiring the program to be revamped, Pentagon officials said Thursday. The estimated price of each F-35 jumped to $80 million to $95 million, as measured in 2002 dollars, from $50 million when Lockheed Martin was awarded the contract in 2001. (Source: New York Times, 03/11/10). Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is slated to be the location for the Joint Strike Fighter Training School. More than 100 of the initial cadre at 33rd Fighter Wing have arrived, said Ashley Wright, a spokeswoman for Eglin. Training is still expected to begin this year. However, that training could be on simulators only. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/12/10)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Keesler impact $1.1B

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. - South Mississippi's Keesler Air Force Base's total economic impact for fiscal year 2009 has been calculated at more than $1.1 billion. "We're proud that Keesler continues to have a significant positive impact on the Mississippi Gulf Coast's economy," said Brig. Gen. Ian Dickinson, commander, 81st Training Wing. In addition to employee payroll figures and construction and purchases, the total impact includes military retiree pay and the value of volunteer services as well as jobs indirectly created on the Gulf Coast. Keesler, in Biloxi, is where the Air Force does training in electronics. It's also home to the 403rd Reserve Wing. (Source: Keesler Air Force Base, 03/10/10)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Contract: McDonnell Douglas, $8.8M

McDonnell Douglas Corp., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded an $8,823,078 contract which purchase 100 focused lethality munitions-small diameter bomb I variant. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 681 ARSS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/10/10)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Contract: BAE Systems, $23.2M

BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services Inc., Rockville, Md., is being awarded a $23,237,133 modification to a previously awarded contract for maintenance, logistics, and life cycle services in support of communication-electronic equipment/systems and subsystems for various Navy, Army, Air Force, special operations forces and other federal agencies. Two percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Other locations are in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Florida, California, Texas, the District of Columbia and Germany. Work is expected to be completed in March 2011. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/09/10)

Despite tanker loss, opportunity calls

PASCAGOULA, Miss. - Despite the Northrop Grumman/EADS decision to drop out of the $40 billion competition to build tankers for the Air Force, two local leaders say Jackson County is still ripe for aerospace development. George Freeland, executive director of the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation, said the Gulf Coast region "still possesses all the ingredients necessary to support new aerospace and technical development and job creation." Jerry St. Pe, former president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, agreed, saying that there are "other opportunities in this whole sphere of aerospace technology that this region is ideally positioned to take advantage of." Northrop and EADS planned to build the tankers in nearby Mobile, Ala. (Source: Mississippi Press, 03/09/10)

Forum set to discuss NASA future

President Obama will spell out his vision for the future of American astronauts in space at a conference in Florida on April 15. The president has been criticized over his plans to kill the Constellation Program, designed to return astronauts to the moon and beyond. NASA has spent $9 billion on the program. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said he hopes Obama will use the meeting to lay out a goal and a timetable for sending astronauts to Mars. Nelson has suggested continuing parts of Constellation, including the Orion crew capsule and the Ares I rocket as a test vehicle for a future heavy-lift rocket. Although Constellation is under the gun, the program passed a two-day preliminary design review last week. (Source: New York Times, 03/08/10) Gulf Coast note: Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and Stennis Space Center, Miss., are both involved in Constellation.

Monday, March 8, 2010

EADS, like Northrop, scraps tanker bid

The parent company of Airbus, EADS, has dropped out of the contest to build the next generation of tankers for the U.S. Air Force, leaving Boeing as the sole bidder. EADS accused the U.S. government of skewing the competition in rival Boeing's favor. Ralph Crosby, chairman of EADS North America, said the methodology for the contest "would heavily weigh in the favor of the smaller, less capable Boeing tanker." EADS and Northrop planned to offer a military version of the A330, while Boeing has opted for the 767. Northrop earlier announced it would drop out. Northrop and EADS had complained that the RFP was changed from the previous competition. Northrop and EADS won the last competition in February 2008, but it was overturned after a protest by Boeing. (Source: Telegraph, 03/08/10) Gulf Coast note: Northrop and EADS wanted to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., at Brookley Industrial Complex, creating at least 1,500 jobs.

Contract: McDonnell Douglas, $148.7M

McDonnell Douglas Corp., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $148,668,470 contract which will provide for 6,565 Lot 14 guided vehicle kits procured for Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) purposes. 678 ARSS/PK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/08/10)

Contract: Boeing, $69.7M

Boeing Co., St Louis, Mo., was awarded a $69,702,919 contract which will provide for the QF-16 full scale aerial target basic contract. 691 ARSS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/08/10)

Northrop won't bid on tanker or protest RFP

Northrop Grumman says it won't compete for the U.S. Air Force's multibillion-dollar aerial tanker contract, and furthermore will not protest the request for proposals. The decision forces Airbus parent EADS to decide whether it will submit a solo bid. Northrop had complained that the RFP was changed from the previous competition, and that this one favors the smaller tanker being proposed by Boeing. Northrop and its partner EADS won the last competition in February 2008, but it was overturned after a protest by Boeing. In a statement from Northrop CEO Wes Bush, he said the company "will not protest," even though it feels it has substantial grounds to support a GAO or court ruling to overturn the revised source selection process. Bush said America's warfighters have waited too long for a tanker. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., said he was "deeply disappointed" Northrop won't be bidding. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said the Air Force had a chance to provide the most capable plane for warfighters and "blew it." (Source: Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Mobile Press-Register, Tcp, 03/08/10) Gulf Coast note: Northrop and EADS wanted to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., at Brookley Industrial Complex, creating at least 1,500 jobs.

Friday, March 5, 2010

F-35 carrier variant engine gets ISR

The Pratt and Whitney F135 conventional takeoff and landing/carrier variant engine for the F-35 fighter has received approval for operational use. Called initial service release, it indicates the engine, with more than 13,000 test hours, meets all requirements for safety, reliability and performance. It's now approved for low-rate initial production. Pratt and Whitney has delivered 17 flight test engines and the first production F135 engine, and expects to deliver the final short take off and vertical landing flight test engine early this year. The F-35 will be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marines, as well as eight international partners. (Source: PRNewswire, 03/05/10) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will be the joint strike fighter training center.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Michoud working on final tank

NEW ORLEANS, La. - Lockheed Martin workers at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility expect to finish the last of 134 space shuttle external tanks by the end of June before shutting down the production line for the aluminum-lithium structures. Completion of the tank for shipment to Kennedy Space Center, Fla., is scheduled for June 29. MAF, the government-owned fabrication facility, was scheduled for assembly by Boeing of the upper stage of the Ares I crew launch vehicle, but the Obama administration has proposed canceling the program of post-shuttle vehicles. (Source: Aviation Week, 03/04/10)

State money for Michoud on hold

A project that won a commitment of state dollars is now in a "holding pattern" because of the uncertainty of federal support. Louisiana allocated $102 million to help Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans transition from making external fuel tanks for the space shuttle to helping with NASA's Constellation program. President Obama's 2011 budget proposal canceled Constellation, so the state put an "informal hold" on the remaining $46 million for Michoud, according to Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret. On another matter, Moret told legislators his agency is shifting resources from out-of-state recruiting to retaining existing businesses and helping them expand. He said the business-retention program has proven popular. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune, 03/04/10)

Boeing to offer 767

Boeing said today that it will offer a 767-based aerial refueling tanker for the U.S. Air Force's multibillion-dollar competition, according to Reuters. The 767 will have an updated digital flight deck and a fly-by-wire refueling boom. Boeing said the tanker would meet all the Air Force's 372 requirements and offered a low-risk manufacturing option. Dow Jones Newswires reports Boeing will present a proposal by May. 10. There's no word yet on whether the Northrop Grumman/EADS team, which said the current rules favor the smaller Boeing plane, will bid. (Sources: Reuters, 03/04/10) Gulf Coast note: The Northrop/EADS team wants to assemble the planes in Mobile, Ala.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Commander permanently removed

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The commanding officer of Naval Air Station Pensacola has been permanently relieved of command following an inquiry into alleged "inappropriate conduct." Capt. William P. Reavey was relieved by Rear Adm. Tim Alexander, commander of Navy Region Southeast, Wednesday due to loss of confidence in Reavey's judgment and ability to command. Reavey was temporarily removed from his command at NAS Pensacola last week. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 03/03/10)

NO airport ranks low in satisfaction

NEW ORLEANS, La. - Louis Armstrong International Airport ranks next-to-last among 24 small American airports in customer satisfaction. That’s according to a biennial survey released by J.D. Power and Associates. At least 100 passengers provided ratings for 27 attributes in six major categories: airport accessibility, baggage claim, check-in process, terminal facilities, security check and food and retail services. (Source: Times-Picayune, 03/02/10)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

EADS still wants to bid on tanker?

Northrop Grumman said Tuesday it's getting closer to a decision on whether to bid on a multibillion-dollar aerial tanker contract. But a European source told Reuters that partner EADS wants to bid. The Northrop Grumman/EADS team won the contract in February 2008, but it was overturned following a Boeing protest. Northrop said in December that the new contest's rules favor Boeing's smaller plane, and it threatened not to bid. A European source said EADS remains interested in gaining a bigger foothold in the United States. (Source: Reuters, 03/02/10) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman and EADS want to assemble the tanker in Mobile, Ala.

Monday, March 1, 2010

F-35 suit settled

VALPARAISO, Fla. - Valparaiso and the Air Force reached a settlement in the legal battle over the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. City residents have been concerned over the noise expected when Eglin opens the F-35 joint training center. The suit was filed over use of a runway close to the city of Valparaiso. The agreement has the Air Force using it only when necessary. The Air Force also agreed to pay Valparaiso attorney fees of $60,000, and will set up a committee to address any future noise issues. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/01/10)

Stennis gets new director

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - Patrick Scheuermann, deputy director of Stennis Space Center, has been named the new director of the NASA facility. He replaces Arthur "Gene" Goldman, who will become deputy director of Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The announcements, effective immediately, were made today by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. Before being named deputy director of Stennis, Scheuermann was associate director at the center and previously served as chief operating officer of NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (Source: NASA, 03/01/10)

Orion marks milestone with heat shield

The Lockheed Martin-led team developing the Orion crew exploration vehicle completed fabrication of the world's largest heat shield structure. The shield is 16.4 feet in diameter and protects the spacecraft and its crew from the extreme temperatures experienced during re-entry. The work was completed at Lockheed Martin's composite development facility in Denver, Colo. The heat shield will be applied to the Orion ground test article, which is the first full-sized, flight-like test article for Orion, being built at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 03/01/10)