Saturday, October 30, 2010

Avalex breaks ground

GULF BREEZE, Fla. - Ground was broken here Friday on a $10 million headquarters building for Avalex Technologies, which specializes in aerial surveillance equipment for the military and law enforcement. The company currently uses two buildings in downtown Pensacola, just across the bay from Gulf Breeze. It has 55 technicians and researchers and needed room to grow. The 9.2-acre site in Gulf Breeze was once was occupied by a new car dealership. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 10/30/10) Previous story

Friday, October 29, 2010

Contract: L-3 Vertex, $8.6M

L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, Madison, Miss., was awarded an $8,648,945 contract which will acquire aircraft maintenance support services for wing and site training devices, ground instructional training aircraft, historical/static display aircraft, and maintenance of the 80th Flying Training Wing. AETC CONS/LGCK, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 10/29/10)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cubic books training equipment orders

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Cubic Defense Applications has received more than $16 million in new orders this year for air combat training systems and spares. The new bookings provide P5CTS/TCTS training equipment for Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Eielson AFB, Alaska, Nellis AFB, Nev., Naval Air Station China Lake, Calif., NAS Fallon, Nev., and NAS Oceana, Va. The system allows U.S. military and partner nations to train together using a common air combat training platform. Instrumentation pods are currently aboard A-10, F-5, F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft. An embedded variant featuring an internal subsystem within the aircraft is being developed for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. (Source: Cubic, 10/27/10)

NASA scientists engage students

NEW ORLEANS - More than a dozen NASA and university scientists will visit schools in the New Orleans area Friday to encourage students to learn more about our Earth system and the importance of the view from space. The scientists are in New Orleans for the "A-Train Symposium," named after a fleet of NASA satellites orbiting the planet to collect data on a variety of aspects of the Earth system, including the atmosphere, land surface and oceans. The conference began monday and ends Thursday. (Source: PRNewswire, 10/27/10)

Museum welcomes 2 millionth visitor

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The two millionth visitor to the only museum in the world dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of Air Force armament passed through the doors Oct. 21. The 28,000 square-foot Air Force Armament Museum opened to the public in the spring of 1976. The museum gets about 400 visitors per day, and during fiscal year 2010, some 123,000 people walked through the front doors. (Source: Eglin Public Affairs, 10/26/10)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lakota marks milestone

The UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter built by EADS North America has surpassed the 40,000-flight hour milestone in operational service with the Army and Army National Guard. Built at the company’s American Eurocopter facility in Columbus, Miss., a total of 138 Lakotas have been delivered to date for fielding to Army, Army National Guard and Navy. The production plant is adjacent to the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. (Source: EADS North America, 10/26/10) Gulf Coast note: EADS North America also has operations in Mobile, Ala.

Eglin completes second alt fuel test

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Eglin conducted its second aircraft performance evaluation using a biomass-derived fuel, this time with an F-15 Eagle. The jet flew at a variety of flight conditions, achieved supersonic speeds, and landed with no issues. The biofuel blend used for the Eagle flight was comprised of fifty percent Hydro-Processed Renewable Jet blend mixed with 50 percent JP-8. The HRJ was derived from extracted animal fats and oils, and then refined into a kerosene using conventional processes. In March of this year, an A-10 flew on a 50/50 JP-8/HRJ blend derived from oil extracted from camelina seeds, a weed-like non-food source plant. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 10/25/10)

Scanner shown at airport

NEW ORLEANS – A full body scanner was shown at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport Monday. The airport brought in the Transportation Safety Administration's regional director to vouch for the new system and the privacy protections that are in place. Ray White showed reporters how the images are captured and the measures TSA takes to ensure no one can ever see what a specific traveler looks like. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune, 10/25/10)

Friday, October 22, 2010

COBRA tested on Fire Scout

YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz. - The Navy successfully conducted the first flight test of the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Block I system at Yuma Proving Ground Oct. 13 on an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter. The system allows the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout to conduct reconnaissance in littoral areas, detecting minefields and obstacles to prepare for amphibious assaults. The Block I upgrade was designed to address the beach zone and inland areas. With the test complete, the COBRA Block I system will enter low-rate initial production with the first production unit scheduled for delivery in fiscal year 2012. (Source: NNS, 10/21/10) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

860-mile trek winds to close

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – An 860-mile walk that began at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, on Oct. 9 will end Thursday at Hurlburt Field, Fla. This is the second year for the walk, which honors special tactics airmen that have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Six teams of two to three walkers started from San Antonio carrying 50-pound packs and batons engraved with the names of the fallen airmen. The walk took them through five states. Last year's walk honored 12 special tactics airmen, but this year it's 14. The two most recent special tactics airmen to die in the line of duty are Senior Airman Mark Forester, who died Sept. 29, and Senior Airman Daniel Sanchez, who died Sept. 16. (Sources: Sun Herald, 10/19/10, AFNS, 10/09/10) (Last year's story)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NG: No regret about leaving tanker fight

Seven months after leaving the competition to build tankers for the Air Force, Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush says he has no regrets. Bush made the comment during an Oct. 19 forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The company backed out of a partnership with EADS North America because it felt the contest favored the smaller Boeing offering. Rebecca Grant, an industry consultant, said the tanker program is being miscast as a choice between buying a U.S.-made Boeing 767 versus a foreign-made Airbus 330. She said that ignores a fact of life in the aerospace industry: There are no purely American-made airliners. Grant said at an Oct. 19 news conference at the National Press Club that either company will create about the same number of jobs in the United States. She also said it's possible the number of tankers built will be well below original projection. (Source: National Defense Magazine, 10/19/10) Gulf Coast note: EADS wants to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala.

Monday, October 18, 2010

P&W wins NASA award

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne won the 2010 Large Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The award recognizes excellence in support of the work of the Marshall Center and in sustaining NASA's mission. The company was recognized for exemplary support of the center's subcontracting programs under the J-2X upper-stage engine and Space Shuttle Main Engine contracts. (Source: Pratt & Whitney, 10/18/10) Gulf Coast note: Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne also has an operation at John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Third Australian MRTT takes flight

Australia's third mission-equipped A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport has completed a four-hour maiden flight and performed a series of tests. It reached an altitude of 41,000 feet. Airbus Military will begin deliveries of A330 MRTTs this year to its first operator, the Royal Australian Air Force. A total of 28 A330 MRTT will be produced for Australia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. EADS North America is offering an A330 MRTT-based tanker to the U.S. Air Force as the KC-45 in the competition with Boeing. EADS plans to assemble the aircraft in Mobile, Ala., if it wins the contract (Source: EADS, 10/18/10)

STOVL engine completes thermal test

The Pratt & Whitney F135 short takeoff/vertical landing variant propulsion system for the F-35 successfully completed one of the most demanding tests in the qualification program. The high temperature margin test which took place at Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee and involves intentionally running the engine to turbine temperatures beyond design conditions while simultaneously operating the turbomachinery at or above 100 percent of design conditions. (Source: Pratt & Whitney, 10/18/10) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will be home of the F-35 training center.

Cyberspace the newest domain

With the creation of the U.S. Cyber Command in May and last week's cybersecurity agreement between the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, DoD is ready to add cyberspace to sea, land, air and space as the latest domain of warfare, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said. "Information technology provides us with critical advantages in all of our warfighting domains, so we need to protect cyberspace to enable those advantages," Lynn said. Adversaries may be able to undermine the military's advantages in conventional areas by attacking the nation's military and commercial information technology infrastructure, Lynn said. This threat has "opened up a whole new asymmetry in future warfare," he said. (Source: AFNS, 10/18/10) Gulf Coast note: The Air Force trains cyberspace personnel at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Other cyberspace training is done at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and at the Navy’s Corry Station in Pensacola, Fla.

Mini bomber UAV concept to be tested

A mini remotely piloted aircraft with attack capabilities makes its debut next month during evaluation flights at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., conducted by the Air Force Air Armament Center and U.S. Special Operations Command. Written specifications call for the aircrat to weigh 3 to 5.5 pounds and fly up to 30 minutes. Besides a warhead, the payload will include a video camera and transmitter to relay images to ground forces. Troops will fly the bomber using a console the size of a laptop. How much of a punch the RPA will pack is still under wraps. In December the Air Force will select up to three firms to compete for the contract. (Source: Air Force Times, 10/18/10)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Whiting hosts helicopter fly-in

The Naval Helicopter Association's multi-day Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In will be held Tuesday through Friday at Naval Air Station Whiting Field near Milton, Fla. The event gives members of the naval helicopter community a chance to network with one another and with industry officials. Students at Whiting also get a chance to see some of the aircraft they’ll be flying. Whiting Field’s Training Wing 5 trains about 1,300 pilots a year. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 10/17/10)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Vector to add jobs in Andalusia

ANDALUSIA, Ala. – Helicopter repair firm Vector Aerospace will add 100 jobs to its Andalusia operation, according to the mayor. Earl Johnson said local governments will spend around $3 million to build a 42,000-square-foot building for Vector at the South Alabama Regional Airport. Vector, of Canada, opened in Andalusia in 2008. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 10/12/10, Andalusia Star-News, 10/06/10) In another Vector development, the company plans to shed 30 jobs at its Almondbank facility in Scotland in a restructuring. (Sources: Multiple, including The Courier, Scotsman, 10/13/10)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Contract: Raytheon, $20.1M

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $20,133,837 contract which will provide for the next generation guidance section to design and build a new guidance section test position. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. AAC/EBAC, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 10/12/10)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Report highlights S. Mississippi military

The Harrison County Development Commission has released its second annual report on the military in South Mississippi. It highlights military activities at Harrison County's Keesler Air Force Base, Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, the National Guard at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and the Coast Guard. While focusing on Harrison County, the report also has stories about Navy activities at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County Miss., Hattiesburg's Camp Shelby and more. (Source: Tcp, 10/11/10) (The 20-page PDF can be downloaded at the HCDC Web site)

Infinity science center taking shape

HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. - The Infinity Science Center, an interactive facility begin built near Stennis Space Center along Interstate 10, is beginning to take shape. Work began May 3 near the Welcome Center in South Mississippi not far from the state line with Louisiana. The building is scheduled to be finished in August. About 90 percent of the steelwork is up and 80 percent of the concrete is done. A "topping off" will be celebrated in the next few weeks. Backers are still raising some $2 million for the $12 million interactive exhibits. Infinity will highlight ocean, space and earth science through fun exhibits at the center. It's expected to open in the spring of 2012. (Source: Sun Herald, 10/10/10)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Israel to buy 20 F-35s

Israel signed a $2.75 billion deal to buy 20 F-35s, with delivery between 2015 and 2017. Israel is the first buyer outside the aircraft's nine-nation development group. The agreement was signed after years of talks on aircraft price, Israeli industrial participation and integration of Israeli capabilities on its own F-35 fleet. The cost for the Lockheed Martin jets was put at about $96 million per aircraft. (Sources: Multiple, including Reuters, PRNewswire, 10/08/10) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will be home of a Joint Strike Fighter Training Center.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Would-be tanker bidder loses protest

A California company working with Ukrainian planemaker Antonov lost a protest over the U.S. Air Force's decision to reject its bid for the tanker program. The bid arrived five minutes late, but U.S. Aerospace claimed the Air Force conspired to prevent the bid from arriving in time. A protest was filed with the Government Accountability Office in August, and in mid-September the GAO rejected part of the claim. Wednesday's decision fully denied U.S. Aerospace's claim. (Source: Washington Post, Bloomberg, 10/06/10) Gulf Coast note: EADS, which hopes to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., and Boeing, which will build them in Washington, remain the only competitors for the $40 billion contract.

KC-45 supporters rally

LOS ANGELES - Aerospace workers, city and state officials rallied Tuesday in Southern California as part of an effort by EADS North America to showcase its candidate for the Air Force tanker contract: the KC-45 tanker. The rally counters similar efforts by Boeing, the other competitor in the tanker fight. This rally was hosted in Irvine by Parker Aerospace. Parker would be a major supplier on both the KC-45 and Boeing's proposed KC-767 program. (Source: Aviation Week, 10/06/10) Gulf Coast note: EADS plans to assemble the KC-45 in Mobile, Ala.

F-35 flight tests resume

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter resumed flight tests after fixes were made to a software flaw with the jet's fuel pumps. Test aircraft of the three variants were grounded Oct. 1 after lab tests revealed a fault in software that controls three fuel-boost pumps, raising concern they could shut down during flight and stall the engine. The U.S. plans to buy 2,473 of the Lockheed Martin F-35s, and eight international partners may buy 700 more. (Source: Bloomberg, 10/05/10) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the home of the Joint Strike Fighter training center.

Center chief to discuss SSC future

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - Members of the media will be at John C. Stennis Space Center Wednesday for a roundtable discussion with the center's director about SSC's future. Director Patrick Scheuermann will talk about work under way at Stennis and its impact on the local community. SSC is where rocket engines are tested, but it's actually a diversified center with more than 30 tenants, the largest being the U.S. Navy. The media will also tour the construction site of the new A-3 test stand, which will be able to test rocket engines at simulated altitudes up to 100,000 feet, and the E-1 test stand that will be used to test Aerojet AJ26 rocket engines. Those engines will power Orbital Science Corp. commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station. Stennis Space Center, in South Mississippi, is not far from the Louisiana-Mississippi state line. (Source: Tcp, 10/06/10)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Contract: SES, $7M

SES Construction and Fuel Services LLC, Oak Ridge, Tenn., was awarded a $6,998,777 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is for work that will be performed at the 81st Medical Support Group, Arnold Annex and Main Clinic, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Work is to be performed at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 1, 2011. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District, Little Rock, Ark., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 10/04/10)

Contract: L-3 Vertex, $91M

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $90,996,144 contract which will exercise fiscal 2010 options for logistics support of the T-1A aircraft at Vance, Columbus Randolph, and Laughlin Air Force Bases and Pensacola Naval Air Station. OC-ALC/GKSKA, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 10/04/10)

Japan considers buying Global Hawks

Japan is considering buying three Northrop Grumman Global Hawks to help monitor China and North Korea, according to Kyodo News, citing sources in the Defense Ministry and Self-Defense Forces. The unmanned high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft can fly at altitudes of 60,000 feet for more than 30 hours. Although the ministry has been conducting basic research on unmanned surveillance aircraft since fiscal 2003, Japan is now tilted toward first importing the Global Hawk. (Source: AFP, Kyodo News via Japan Times, 10/04/10) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Feature: Eglin's future

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Eglin Air Force Base remains one of the busiest in the Department of Defense. Tenants include the 46th Test Wing, Special Operations headquarters, and the country's only special operations reserve unit. It's also home of the Joint Strike Fighter training school and the Army 7th Special Forces, as well as the Air Armament Center, which develops aerial weaponry. A feature story about the northwest Florida base and its future. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 10/02/10)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Groups eye airline travel bank

GULFPORT, Miss. - Businesses and individuals are being asked to pledge support to keep AirTran flying and increase service at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Business Council and Chamber of Commerce are making the request and have been working for months to establish an Airline Travel Bank, said Jack Norris, president of the business council. He said the announcement that Southwest wants to buy AirTran accelerated the need for the program. The two groups are asking for non-binding pledges to gauge interest in an air bank, said Norris. (Source: Mississippi Press, 10/02/10)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Next chief of AAC announced

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant is scheduled to be the next Air Armament Center and Air Force program executive officer for weapons. Merchant will arrive from Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he's director of logistics. Two of his previous assignments were at Eglin. Maj. Gen. C. R. Davis, program executive officer for weapons and Air Armament Center commander, was nominated for appointment to lieutenant general. Once confirmed, he'll be reassigned to Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. (Source: Eglin Public Affairs, 09/30/10)

Congress settles on NASA future

Congress approved a plan for NASA that extends the space shuttle program for a year and backs the president's plan to use commercial carriers to bring humans into near-Earth space. The bill, passed by the House this week and by the Senate lasts month, ends the Constellation Program, which sought to return astronauts to the moon, and extends the life of the International Space Station to 2020. At Stennis Space Center, Miss., where propulsion systems are tested and certified, center director Patrick Scheuermann said he's confident Stennis will be fully utilized for future space exploration. (Source: Multiple, including AP via the Sun Herald, WLOX-TV, 09/30/10)

300 laid off at Michoud

NEW ORLEANS - About 300 workers were laid off at the Michoud Assembly Facility Thursday as production of the space shuttle external fuel tank came to an end. Lockheed Martin had about 1,500 people at the facility at the start of the year, but the number has slowly dropped as various stages of the external fuel tank production have ended. It’s down to about 600. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune, 09/30/10)