Thursday, December 30, 2010

SSC, airports highlighted in newsletter

The January issue of Alliance Insight, a quarterly newsletter highlighting science and technology in South Mississippi, takes a look at what's in store for South Mississippi in 2011. The newsletter has a feature story about NASA's Stennis Space Center, the Infinity Science Center and South Mississippi’s airports. The newsletter is produced by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Alliance for Economic Development. (Source: Alliance Insight, January 2011)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Navy trainer crashes, nobody hurt

PENSACOLA, Fla. - A training jet out of Naval Air Station Pensacola crashed during a training flight Wednesday morning, but both people aboard safely ejected. The T-45 Goshawk jet from Training Squadron 86 went down in a swamp about 20 miles east of Tallahassee, Fla. The Navy is investigating the cause of the crash. (Sources: WEAR-TV, Pensacola News Journal, 12/29/10)

Monday, December 27, 2010

NASA awards agency contract

NASA awarded a 10-year contract to HP Enterprise Services of Herndon, Va., for agency consolidated end-user services, or ACES, with a maximum value of $2.5 billion and four-year base period with two three-year option periods. The contract will be managed at the NASA Shared Services Center at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The ACES contract will develop a long-term outsourcing arrangement with the commercial sector to provide and manage most of NASA's personal computing hardware, software, mobile information technology services, peripherals and accessories, associated end-user services, and supporting infrastructure. HP Enterprise Services will provide, manage, secure and maintain these essential IT services for the agency. The NSSC is a partnership among NASA, Computer Sciences Corp. and the states of Mississippi and Louisiana. The NSSC performs selected business activities for all 10 NASA centers. (Source: NASA, 12/27/10)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Week in review column

More political maneuvering surrounding the Air Force aerial tanker issue, a milestone for a rocket engine that will be tested at Stennis Space Center, a lost service at one airport, and a decision of an aircraft manufacturer to stay put rather than move to Louisiana highlighted the aerospace activity for the Gulf Coast during the week. (Source: Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, 12/25/10)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hearings on tanker slated

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold hearings next month on the release of proprietary data in the $40 billion aerial tanker contest. The Air Force mistakenly sent material intended for Boeing to EADS North America and material for EADS to Boeing. Sen. Carl Levin also plans to hold hearings Feb. 1 to review the procurement process. (Source: Reuters, Wall Street Journal, 12/23/10)

Tanker bill causes clash

An 11th hour insertion of a provision that would force the Air Force to consider subsidies probably won't remain when the bill goes to the Senate. But it caused a clash between Boeing and EADS backers. Boeing backers want it to improve the chances for the company in the competition to build tankers for the Air Force. EADS backers say it's an underhanded attempt to tilt the contest. EADS plans to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., if the company wins. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 12/22/10)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

PW completes subassembly

CANOGA PARK, Calif. - Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne completed another major subassembly for NASA's first J-2X rocket engine. The turbopump assembly follows the successful assembly of the oxidizer turbopump, which delivers high-pressure liquid oxygen to the main injector. The engine’s first hot-fire tests are planned for early 2011 at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is headquartered in Canoga Park and has facilities in Huntsville, Ala.; Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Stennis Space Center. (Source: PRNewswire, 12/21/10, NASA, 12/22/10) Previous story

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

RR gets Navy trainer support contract

Rolls-Royce was awarded an $89 million contract by the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, Md., to provide support for the F405 (Adour) engines that power the Navy's T-45 training aircraft. The modification exercises the second option, which includes support ranging from on-wing through intermediate and depot level maintenance. The contract provides services to more than 200 aircraft operating at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss., Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and Naval Air Station Patuxent River. (Source: Rolls-Royce, 12/16/10)

Hawker Beechcraft to stay put

Hawker Beechcraft will be remaining in Kansas rather than moving to Louisiana after accepting a $45 million incentives package from the state, city and county. The deal requires Hawker to maintain its current product lines, which includes propeller planes and jets, along with 4,000 jobs in Wichita over the next 10 years. (Source: Wichita Eagle, KansasReporter, 12/21/10)

Contract: Universal Technology, $9.9M

Universal Technology Corp., Dayton, Ohio, was awarded a $9,949,502 contract which will provide research and development of on-site support in the Airbase Sciences Branch at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. At this time, $462,740 has been obligated. 325 Contracting Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 12/21/10)

AirTran leaving Gulfport

GULFPORT, Miss. – AirTran next year will stop serving Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, the company announced. The service ends March 6, according to an AirTran spokesman. The airline offers flights from Gulfport to Atlanta and Tampa three times a week. Jeremiah Gerald, director of air service and business development at the airport, said there are a couple of prospects looking to step in and fill the void that AirTran will leave. Airport officials are looking forward to announcing a new carrier in the next few weeks, Gerald said. (Source: Sun Herald, 12/20/10)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Week in review column

Another test firing of the AJ26 rocket engine in Mississippi, the sale of a Mobile, Ala., aerospace company to the Chinese, a name change at a major aerospace parks and a controversy over the success of a new airport were some of the Gulf Coast aerospace stories during the past week. (Source: Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, 12/18/10)

ST Aerospace picked to convert planes

MOBILE, Ala. - North American Airlines, which operates charter airplanes for the U.S. military and others, said Friday it had signed a letter of intent with the U.S. holding company for Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd., to convert 757s to carry 45 passengers and 10 cargo pallets. Holding company Vision Technologies Systems said that there isn't a number of planes or an agreed price for the work yet, but any work would be done in Mobile by ST Aerospace Mobile. The company has 1,200 employees at the Brookley Aeroplex. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 12/17/10)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Euro Hawk passes endurance test

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Euro Hawk, version of Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk unmanned aerial system built for the German air force, passed an endurance milestone with a 30.3-hour flight earlier this month. Northrop Grumman is partnered with EADS Deutschland GmbH, operating through Cassidian, the defense and security division of EADS. The test was Dec. 1 and 2, and the Euro Hawk flew at 60,000 feet. It has logged nearly 100 total flight hours since its maiden flight five months ago. (Source: Northrop Grumman via Globe Newswire, 12/17/10) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., did fuselage work on the Euro Hawk.

AJ26 performs second test fire

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - NASA conducted a 55-second test fire Friday of the liquid-fuel AJ26 engine that will power the first stage of Orbital Sciences' Taurus II space launch vehicle. Taurus II uses a pair Aerojet AJ26 rocket engines to provide first stage propulsion. The test on the E-1 test stand involved a team of Orbital, Aerojet, and Stennis. The test was the second in a series of verification tests. A third hot-fire test also is planned to verify tuning of engine control valves. The AJ26 engine is designed to power the Taurus II space vehicle on flights to low Earth orbit. NASA's partnership with Orbital was formed under the agency's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services joint research and development project to enable commercial cargo flights to the International Space Station. The company is under contract with NASA to provide eight cargo missions to the space station through 2015. (Sources: PRNewswire, NASA, 12/17/10)

Contract: All Native, $22.7M

All Native Service Co., Bellevue, Neb., is being awarded a $22,741,962 contract for technology advancement support services to the Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate at Fort Belvoir, Va. This effort provides the Army and Department of Defense with technology solutions for night vision and electronic sensors and sensor suites for target acquisition, engagement and defeat of enemy forces day or night, and under all battlefield and weather conditions. Eleven percent of the work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 12/16/10)

Contract: CC Distributors, $9M

CC Distributors, Corpus Christi, Texas, was awarded a $9,000,000 contract to provide for authorized civil engineer personnel and self-help customers to purchase materials, equipment and supplies including but not limited to electrical, plumbing, sheet metal, welding, landscaping, heating/air conditioning. AAAC/PKOB, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 12/16/10)

Mobile complex changes name

MOBILE, Ala. - The Brookley Industrial Complex has changed its name to Brookley Aeroplex. Bill Sisson, the executive director of the Mobile Airport Authority, said the Brookley name was retained as a reminder of the former Air Force base that was closed in the 1960s. Aeroplex was used because it's a multi-modal operation. The complex is also called the downtown airport. (Source: Mobile Airport Authority, 12/17/10) Note: Brookley is where EADS wants to assemble tankers for the Air Force if it wins a contest against Boeing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Inaugural flight set for Friday

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. - Northwest Florida Regional Airport's newest airline will begin offering service Friday. Vision Airlines will offer direct flights to and from New York’s Niagara Falls International Airport and Miami International Airport on Fridays and Sundays. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 12/15/10)

Study: Airport impact is $292M

GULFPORT, Miss. – The total economic impact of Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in 2009 was $291.7 million, according to the report released Wednesday. The impact is a combination of the direct impact from commercial and military flights, the indirect impact that comes from the money spent in the local economy by tourists and other passengers and the induced impact from airport employees and suppliers who use wages to buy local goods and services. A traffic leakage report shows the airport drawing passengers from Mobile, Ala., and Hattiesburg. (Source: Sun Herald, 12/16/10)

Fire Scout OKd for unrestricted flights

In preparation for deployment early next year, Northrop Grumman and the Navy verified that the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter is functionally compatible with communications systems on board the USS Halyburton. Known as integration verification, this process cleared the way for Fire Scout to conduct bluewater, unrestricted, operations from the Halyburton. In April 2010, Fire Scout concluded a military utility assessment on board the USS McInerney, a frigate similar to the Halyburton. While the Navy's new Littoral Combat Ships are Fire Scout's intended home, the system is being integrated with other ships to expand its utility. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 12/14/10) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

F-35 training center hosts visitors

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Okaloosa County commissioners were the latest visitors to get a preview of nation's first military Joint Strike Fighter integrated training center at the 33rd Fighter Wing's campus Dec. 14. Since the wing transitioned from its combat heritage to Air Education and Training Command, many visitors have asked to get a glimpse into the future DoD aviation and all things related to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter from ground operations, to generating sorties to certifying pilots for flight. (Source: Team Eglin Public Affairs, 12/14/10)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Contract: EADS, $9.9M

EADS North American Defense, Arlington, Va., was awarded a $9,895,928 firm-fixed-price contract to provide for the retrofitting 28 ARC-231 airborne communication systems. Work will be completed in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2011. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 12/15/10)

Contract: Broadmoor, $20.3M

Broadmoor Pittman, JV, Metairie, La., was awarded a $20,340,000 firm-fixed-price contract to provide for the construction of Building 449 redundant pump station at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility at New Orleans. Work will be complete in New Orleans with an estimated completion date of Dec. 19, 2012. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 12/15/10)

Contract: Signal/Keltec, $14.2M

Signal Technology Corp., Keltec Operations, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., is being awarded a maximum $14,238,144 firm-fixed-price, sole-source contract for high voltage modules. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Navy. The date of performance completion is June 2013. The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 12/15/10)

Contract: Jacobs, $10M

Jacobs Technology Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., is being awarded $10,028,003 under previously awarded contract to provide technical support to the Marine Corps Systems Command, Information Systems and Infrastructure Product Group, Marine Corps Network and Infrastructure Services Program Office. Work will be performed in Quantico, Va., and is expected to be completed in December 2011. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 12/14/10)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fire-X has first flight

The unmanned Northrop Grumman/Bell Helicopter Fire-X demonstrator had its first flight Dec. 10 in Yuma, Ariz., according to the program team. Fire-X is designed to compete in the potentially lucrative market for unmanned rotorcraft to move cargo or gather intelligence. The aircraft, which retains the ability to be piloted, was ferried to Yuma from Bell's Xworx facility in Arlington, Texas. Fire-X, built on the commercial Bell 407 platform, was modified at Xworx with computers, actuators and other systems from Northrop's MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter. (Source: Aviation Week, 12/14/10) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Wyle gets JSF task order

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Wyle has been awarded a $318 million five-year task order to provide engineering and integration support services to the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office. Tasks will include strategic planning for technology programs and activities, concept development and requirements analysis, system design, engineering and integration, test and evaluation and more. Most of the work will be done in Arlington, Va. with field support at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and Fort Worth, Texas. (Source: PRNewswire, 12/14/10)

Teledyne Continental sold

Teledyne Continental Motors, headquartered in Mobile, Ala., is being sold to Technify Motors for $186 million. The sale was announced Tuesday by California-based Teledyne Technologies Inc. and China-based AVIC International. Teledyne Continental Motors makes piston engines, spare parts and components used in small propeller-driven general aviation aircraft. It has about 400 workers in Mobile, as well as service centers in Fairhope, Ala. and Mattituck, N.Y. The companies say the sale will enhance the ability of Continental Motors to compete in growing markets like China. AVIC plans to retain Continental Motors’ senior management and headquarters in Mobile. It also sets the stage for new hires of skilled workers in Mobile as international demand for piston-powered aircraft would result in increased engine manufacturing at Continental Motors. (Source: Business Wire, Mobile Press-Register, 12/14/10)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thunderbirds release show lineup

The Thunderbirds, the Air Force precision flying team, will perform at more than 70 shows across the United States and abroad in 2011. The team will kick off the season with a Feb. 20 flyover for the Daytona 500. Two shows are scheduled for Northwest Florida. One is March 26-27 at Tyndall Air Force Base and the other is April 14-15 at Eglin Air Force Base. (Source: Air Force Times, 12/13/10)

SLAMRAAM completes second firing

Raytheon's SLAMRAAM (Surface Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) system successfully participated in a second ballistic test vehicle firing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. SLAMRAAM can defeat current and emerging cruise missile threats, and this was the second test firing from a medium tactical vehicle. The vehicle was chosen as the new platform to provide improved crew and system survivability, particularly in light of lessons learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom. The new platform provides additional armored capability and is more ruggedized to support the SLAMRAAM mission. (Source: Raytheon, 12/13/10)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Week in review column

An analyst's assessment that Boeing is losing the tanker competition, the flawless flight of a commercial space capsule and a possible reprieve given to the endangered Marine Corps version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter were just some of the aerospace news items of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week. (Source: Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, 12/11/10)

Friday, December 10, 2010

First production STOVL engine delivered

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Pratt & Whitney has delivered the first production F135 Short Take Off/Vertical Landing (STOVL) engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The engine has powered 509 flights and more than 740 flight test hours to date. The F135 has also completed more than 20,000 hours of testing, 3,600 test hours during the concept demonstration phase, 15,800 test hours during development and more than 700 hours powering the F-35 flight test program. The Conventional Takeoff and Landing (CTOL) / Carrier Variant (CV) engine received Initial Service Release in February 2010. The STOVL F135 engine is on track to receive ISR certification before the end of the year. (Source: Pratt & Whitney, 12/09/10) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will be home of the JSF training center.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Commercial launch, recovery a success

The first attempt by a commercial company to launch a space capsule into orbit and bring it back is being praised as a milestone in the future of space travel. SpaceX's unmanned Dragon spacecraft left Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday atop a Falcon 9 rocket and entered orbit 10 minutes later. It circled Earth twice before splash-down in the Pacific. The next step is a fly-by of the International Space Station, then a cargo and crew mission to the ISS, both in 2011. NASA signed a contract with SpaceX in December 2008 under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program to provide 12 spacecraft to resupply the ISS through 2016. NASA also signed a contract with Orbital Space Corp. for eight launches of its Taurus II rocket starting in 2011. Wednesday's flight was important for the Obama administration's hopes to expand commercial space efforts as a way to free up NASA funds for missions to send astronauts much deeper into space and ultimately to Mars. (Sources: AFP via Space Travel, Washington Post, 12/08/10) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., is testing the AJ26 propulsion systems for the Orbital Space Corp. program.

Contract: Textron, $258M

Textron Systems Corp., Wilmington, Mass., was awarded a $257,737,338 contract which will provide for 512 sensor-fuzed weapons CBU-105 production units and 44 training units. This contract supports foreign military sales to India. At this time, $126,291,295 has been obligated. AAC/EBJK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 12/08/10)

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $76M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $76,041,000 fixed-price-incentive-firm modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract activity. This modification provides additional funding for long lead efforts and materials associated with the production and delivery of 42 low rate initial production Lot V F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for the Air Force (22 Conventional Take Off and Landing aircraft); Marine Corps (13 Short Take Off and Vertical Landing aircraft); and the Navy (7 Carrier Variant aircraft). Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas; El Segundo, Calif.; Warton, United Kingdom; Orlando, Fla.; Nashua, N.H.; and Baltimore, Md., and is expected to be completed in May 2011. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 12/08/10) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

AF picks Meridian for C-27J

The Air Force on Wednesday said it has chosen Key Field Air National Guard Base in Meridian, Miss., as the preferred base for two C-27J training aircraft. The planes would arrive in the second half of fiscal year 2014. Selection is subject to completion of the environmental impact analysis process, the Air Force said. The Meridian Star reported that the training mission will bring about 50 full-time jobs. (Sources: DoD, Meridian Star, 12/08/10)

Marines may get more time for F-35

The defense secretary will recommend giving the Marines two additional years to develop its version of the F-35 to correct technical and manufacturing glitches. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told General James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, of the decision in a Dec. 3 meeting, according to officials who asked not to be identified. The president's debt commission has proposed terminating the Marine Corps version to save money. (Source: Bloomberg, 12/07/10) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is scheduled to become home of the JSF training center.

EADS soliciting bids for Mobile center

MOBILE, Ala. - EADS North America on Wednesday said it's soliciting bids through its program management firm for design and construction of the Mobile Conversion Center where KC-45 aerial refueling tanker aircraft will be militarized for the Air Force. The conversion center is part of an aircraft production facility that EADS North America will construct in Mobile if it wins the tanker contest against rival Boeing. The KC-45 will create more than 1,500 direct positions in Mobile. EADS North America has also committed to build commercial A330 freighter aircraft at the same site. Earlier this year, the company began its transfer of the KC-45 program management team, nearly 200 employees, to new offices in Mobile. (Source: EADS North America, 12/08/10)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

PW completes key J-2X assembly

CANOGA PARK, Calif. - Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne successfully completed assembly of the oxidizer turbopump on NASA's J-2X rocket engine, moving the next-generation, human-rated rocket engine a step closer to testing at Stennis Space Center, Miss., in 2011. The oxidizer turbopump delivers high pressure liquid oxygen to the engine's main injector, pumping more than 80 percent of the propellant consumed by the engine. It's driven by a turbine that uses the products of the gas generator after it has driven the engine's fuel turbopump. The J-2X engine was developed with heavy-lift capabilities in mind, and could play an important role as a powerful upper-stage engine for future missions to low-Earth orbit, Mars or an asteroid. (Source: PRNewswire, 12/07/10)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Analyst: EADS will win tanker

EADS will beat Boeing in the competition to build tankers for the Air Force, according to a defense analyst who's been a Boeing advocate. The Mobile Press-Register reports that Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., said Boeing executives concluded EADS is ahead after getting a look at the Air Force's internal analysis of the two competing bids. The Air Force expects to announce a winner for the $40 billion competition early next year. If it wins, EADS plans to assemble the planes in Mobile, Ala. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 12/06/10; Follow-up reports appeared in the Seattle Times and Seattle PI)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Week in review column

Another delay in the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery, the F-35 cost controversy, a new Boeing operation in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., praise for the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter and a secret Air Force unmanned space vehicle were just some of the aerospace news items of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week. (Source: Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, 12/04/10)

Friday, December 3, 2010

X-37B lands after 7 months

An unmanned spacecraft, the X-37B, landed early Friday after more than 7 months in orbit. The winged autonomous vehicle, built by Boeing originally for NASA before it became an Air Force project, landed at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. It launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on April 22. While it looks like the Space Shuttle, it's much smaller and can be launched from atop a Delta V rocket. (Sources: AP via Times-Picayune, Wired, 12/03/10) Gulf Coast note: The Gulf Coast region has interests in unmanned systems and space-related activities.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Contract: Northrop Grumman, $9.5M

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Melbourne, Fla., is being awarded a $9,500,000 modification to previously awarded contract for continued post-delivery technical support for Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System units, a helicopter-mounted anti-mine system. This contract will be used to modify and/or repair delivered hardware; modify or build new RAMICS system components; provide maintenance of delivered hardware and more. The system is deployed from surface ships and aircraft carriers in a carrier strike group or amphibious strike group. Work will be performed in Melbourne and is expected to be completed by September 2011. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 12/02/10)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Admiral: Fire Scout a game-changer

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. - During the course of one day last month, the Navy's Fire Scout unmanned helicopter operated in four different locations across the United States and took off for the first time from a Littoral Combat Ship, USS Freedom. The Navy and industry partner Northrop Grumman tested the aircraft at Webster Field, Md., Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., aboard the USS Halyburton (FFG-40) off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., and USS Freedom (LCS-1) at the sea range in Point Mugu, Calif. "Flying in four locations in one day, off two classes of ships … marks a major milestone for our program and for naval aviation,” said Rear Adm. Bill Shannon, Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons. He said it "sets the stage for the introduction of a game-changing capability to our warfighters." Fire Scout has surpassed more than 1,000 flight hours since the test program began in December 2006. (Source: NAVAIR, 12/01/10) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., builds a version of the LCS.

AF tries to fix tanker foul-up

When the Air Force mistakenly sent data to Boeing that was intended for EADS and vice versa, Boeing didn't open the computer files but EADS did. To rectify that situation, the Air Force took the unusual step of deliberately re-sending the data to ensure neither could claim bias. The odd step was taken to ensure a level playing field, according to an Air Force spokesman. (Sources: Seattle Times, New York Times, 11/30/10) Gulf Coast note: EADS North America hopes to assemble the planes in Mobile, Ala., if it wins the $40 billion competition.

Boeing shifting some jobs to FWB

Boeing's Defense, Space and Security division plans to open a technical publication organization in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and move jobs to the new location, according to the Wichita Eagle. It's not yet known how the change will impact the 700 employees who work in technical publications for Boeing's defense business, including 150 who work in Wichita, said Boeing Wichita spokesman Jarrod Bartlett. Decisions will be finalized next year with the site scheduled to open in 2012, he said. (Source: Wichita Eagle, 12/01/10)