Monday, January 31, 2011

Contract: Raytheon, $15M

The Raytheon Co., Tuscon, Ariz., was awarded a $15,000,000 contract for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile technical support for systems engineering, small software enhancements, test support, maintenance and modification of special test assets, support to the Navy hardware in the loop simulation, aircraft integration, and other technical engineering requirements. AAC/EBAK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/31/11)

WTO: Boeing received subsidies

The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that U.S. federal and local governments provided billions of dollars in illegal subsidies to plane-maker Boeing for the 787 and other aircraft. The money gave Boeing an unfair advantage against Europe's Airbus, the panel said. The findings are similar to those in an interim report released in September. The WTO has now found that both Boeing and Airbus, a unit of EADS, received illegal aid. Both companies are competing to build aerial tankers for the U.S. Air Force. (Sources: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press, 01/31/11) Gulf Coast note: EADS North America wants to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Week in review column

The role Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., played in pointing out problems with an unmanned aircraft surveillance system, and the successful end to testing an AJ26 rocket engine at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and start of a new round of tests are just two of the aerospace news items that occurred during the week. The column this week also recaps other science and technology news of interest to the Gulf Coast. (Source: Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, 01/29/11)

Orbital: 3rd AJ26 test not needed

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – Two tests of an Aerojet AJ26 engine were so successful that Orbital Science Corp. engineers decided a planned third test unnecessary. The AJ26 engine was removed from the E-1 test stand Jan. 24 and will be returned to Aerojet to be refurbished and used on an upcoming Taurus II mission. The same day the engine was removed, the first flight engine was installed to begin regularly planned "acceptance testing" at SSC. The AJ26 flight unit will be tested in February, and then delivered to Orbital at the Wallops Flight Facility launch site in Virginia for integration with the rocket's first stage core. Orbital's Taurus II rocket will first be used to carry out commercial cargo supply mission to the International Space Station. Orbital is developing the cargo logistics system under the joint Commercial Orbital Transportation Services research and development project with NASA, and is scheduled to carry out the first of eight cargo missions under the Commercial Resupply Services contract beginning in early 2012. (Source: NASA, 01/28/11)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Contract: CSC, $24.9M

CSC Applied Technologies, Fort Worth, Texas. was awarded a $24,887,735 contract modification which will exercise an option for the Base Operating Support service contract at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., from Feb. 1, 2011 through Jan. 31, 2012. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 81 CONS/LGCM, Keesler Air Force Base is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/2710)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wing marks 70th anniversary

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The 53rd Wing will host a 70th anniversary celebration Feb.3 at Hangar 1343. Festivities include a brief history of the wing, time capsule dedication and guest speaker Brig. Gen. (ret.) Douglas Richardson, 53rd Wing commander from 1998-2000. Combat aircraft from many of the operational test wing units will be on display during the ceremony, including an F-16, F-15, F-4, B-1, B-52 and others. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 01/26/11)

F-15E tries out new radar system

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The F-15E Strike Eagle flew its first sortie with a new radar system that replaces the 24-year-old APG-70 radar system. The 46th Test Wing fighter flew with the APG-82(V)1 Jan. 18. The new radar uses active electronically scanned array radar technology composed of numerous small solid-state transmit and receive modules. The standard radar, APG-70, is a mechanically scanned array housed in the nose of the aircraft. The new radar removes the motors and hydraulics of the old system and includes a new avionics and cooling system. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 01/24/11)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Contract: Hamilton Sundstrand, $24.6M

Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., Windsor Locks, Conn., is being awarded a $24,636,056 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for procurement and installation of Electronic Propeller Control System kits into the C-130T aircraft for the Navy Reserves (up to 20) and the LC-130H aircraft for the Air Force National Guard (up to 5), including non-recurring engineering, technical and logistics services. Thirty-five percent of the work will be done in Crestview, Fla., and the rest in Windsor Locks, Conn., and is expected to be completed in December 2013. This contracts combines purchases for the Navy Reserves and the Air Force National Guard. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/25/11)

Eglin testers find Gorgon Stare flaws

Gorgon Stare, an airborne surveillance system that would vastly increase the area a drone can see, was deemed "not operationally effective" when tested in the fall by the 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. But military officials say such tests are done to find problems beforehand, and fixes are being put in place. The problems, including low image quality and an inability to sufficiently track people on the ground, were detailed in a six-page December draft report obtained by the Center for Defense Information's Winslow Wheeler. The memo, marked as a draft and pre-decisional, found more than a dozen problems. Gorgon Stare, being developed by Sierra Nevada and the Air Force, uses nine or more cameras aboard a Reaper unmanned system to survey a city-sized area. (Sources: Wired, 01/24/11, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Air Force Times, 01/25/11)

Palazzo tapped to chair subcommittee

Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., has been named chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, a key appointment for a freshman congressman who represents an area that includes NASA's Stennis Space Center. The appointment must still be approved by the full committee. Palazzo defeated incumbent Gene Taylor, a Democrat, in the November elections. (Sources: Multiple, 01/24/11)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vision details Gulfport service

GULFPORT, Miss. - Vision Airlines announced the expansion of its low-fare air service from Atlanta, Houston and St. Petersburg, Fla., into the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport beginning Feb. 9. Vision Airlines’ service to Gulfport will use Boeing 737s. "We are excited to work with Vision Airlines as they expand low-cost, scheduled service to the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Bruce Frallic, executive director of Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. (Source: Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, 01/24/11)

More delays in tanker?

Defense industry sources told The Hill in recent weeks that the $35 billion contract to build Air Force tankers won't be awarded until mid-February. Now a defense insider says it may not come until March or later. That's because of a Senate probe into the inadvertent release of bidders' information to the competing bidders, Boeing and EADS. An initial hearing by the Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled for Jan. 27. (Source: The Hill, 01/23/11) Gulf Coast note: EADS North America wants to assemble the plans in Mobile, Ala.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Airport renovations target 2013

NEW ORLEANS – The new head of New Orleans' Louis Armstrong International Airport has scaled back a $755 million modernization plan that was put in place before his arrival. Instead, Aviation Director Iftikhar Ahmad is opting for a $200 million effort he expects will be done in time for New Orleans to host the Super Bowl in two years. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune, 01/23/11)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Week in review column

Creation of a hub at a Northwest Florida airport, an Airbus tanker boom problem, good news and bad for F-35 fighter and the launch of a year-long celebration of naval aviation highlighted aerospace stories for the Gulf Coast region during the week. (Source: Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, 01/22/11)

McCain to see son get wings

MILTON, Fla. - Sen. John McCain will be at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., next Friday to attend a winging ceremony. His son, Ensign John S. McCain, is one of more than a dozen graduates who will receive wings of gold at the ceremony. The Arizona senator will speak at the event, which is not open to the public. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 01/22/11)

Mobile MRO subject of PBS report

MOBILE, Ala. - ST Aerospace Mobile was the subject of a Public Broadcasting Service investigative report that aired Tuesday on "Frontline." The report alleged, among other things, that workers falsified records and failed to follow FAA rules to track parts. Company officials called the report shallow, biased and sensationalized, and later in the week responded point-by-point to questions posed by the Mobile Press-Register. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 01/22/11) PBS report

Friday, January 21, 2011

Celebration marks flight training birth

PENSACOLA, Fla. - About 500 people gathered at Naval Air Station Pensacola Thursday to mark the birthday of the establishment of the Navy's first flight school. The ceremony featured speeches by Navy officers and politicians, including Gov. Rick Scott. Pensacola, which launched its school with 32 aviators 97 years ago, has events spread throughout the year to celebrate 100 of naval aviation. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs, 01/21/11)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Contract: Composite Engineering, $34.7M

Composite Engineering, Inc., of Sacramento, Calif. was awarded a $34,674,848 contract modification which will exercise the Lot 8 option to procure a quantity of 40 additional BQM-167As, also known as the Air Force Subscale Aerial Target. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. AAC/EBYK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/20/11)

Tanker boom breaks off

A large part of a refueling boom broke off from an Airbus tanker during an exercise Wednesday. Airbus said the cause of the accident off the coast of Portugal was not yet clear. Both the tanker, which was to be delivered to the Australian air force, and a Portuguese F-16 were damaged. The boom fell into the Atlantic Ocean. (Sources: New York Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, 01/20/11) Gulf Coast note: The U.S. Air Force is expected to pick Boeing or Airbus aircraft for its new tankers. If Airbus is chosen, EADS North America plans to assemble them in Mobile, Ala.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

F-35 interest up; more problems unveiled

China's military buildup is apparently causing Japan, South Korea and Singapore to engage in bilateral talks with government officials to discuss the F-35. The immediate cause may be recently published images showing China’s J-20 stealth aircraft. (Source: Wall Street Journal, (subscription) 01/18/11) Meanwhile, a report by the Pentagon's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation shows the F-35 has previously undisclosed problems with its handling, avionics, afterburner and helmet-mounted display. (Source: Defense News, 01/18/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vision Airlines adding flights

Atlanta-based Vision Airlines is growing its commercial passenger service with new flights beginning March 25. The airline on Monday said it would add flights between Destin-Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and cities including Asheville, N.C., Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Huntsville, Ala., Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss., and more. A company route map now shows 23 cities. (Sources: AP via Bloomberg, 01/16/11, St. Petersburg Times, 01/18/11, Huntsville Times, 01/17/11, company map)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Week in review column

The ongoing debate over the direction of NASA, some good news about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and the arrival of F-16s at Florida's Eglin Air Force Base were among the aerospace news items that came down the pike during the week. There was even something about the tanker project: nobody can yet say when a winner will be announced. (Source: Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, 01/15/11)

Car crusher demilitarizes bombs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Environmental restoration officials are using a commercial car crusher to "demilitarize" practice bombs prior to recycling. So far, they've recycled more than one million pounds of metal from the BDU 33 and Mark 106 bombs. The crushing operation is part of an agreement between the crushing company, the recyclers and Eglin Air Force Base's contractors, and has resulted in savings of more than $1 million. (Source: 96th Air Base Wing Environmental PA, 01/13/11)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Contract: McDonnell Douglas, $88M

McDonnell Douglas Corp., a subsidiary of the Boeing Co. of St. Louis, Mo., was awarded an $87,996,491 contract which will procure 3,500 guided vehicle kits for Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) purposes. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. AAC/EDBK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/14/11)

Amos sure F-35B can be fixed

Marine Corps Gen. James Amos said he's confident Lockheed Martin will solve problems with the service's version of the F-35 and save it from cancellation. The short takeoff, vertical landing model of the F-35 has been put on probation for two years to fix significant problems, with cancelation possible. "I completely support that," Amos told the annual conference of the Surface Navy Association. Amos said he intends to keep a close eye on the F-35B because of its importance to the Marine Corps. (Source: Reuters, 01/13/11)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

JSF training center gets F-16s

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Four F-16s on loan from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., arrive at Eglin today to support the F-35 training mission. The planes, from the 56th Fighter Wing, will be used by the Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Training Center. Col. David Hlatky, commander of the 33rd at Eglin, said the aircraft are needed for training before the arrival of F-35s. Eglin has 17 F-16 Falcons, 10 assigned to the 46th Test Wing and seven to the 53rd. (Sources: Eglin Air Force Base media advisory, 01/10/11, Destin Log, 01/12/11)

Tanker award date unclear

When will the aerial tanker award be announced? Depends who you ask. EADS North America Chief Executive Officer Sean O'Keefe expects it next month, but Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said he's not expecting the decision soon. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley declined to give a firm date for the contract award, saying only that the source selection is moving toward completion. Boeing and EADS are competing for the $35 billion deal to build jets for the U.S. Air Force. Boeing would build them in Washington and Kansas, and EADS would assemble them in Mobile, Ala. (Source: Air Force Times, SeattlePI, Reuters, 01/12/11)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blade Dynamics begins hiring

NEW ORLEANS - Blade Dynamics, the wind turbine manufacturer at the Michoud Assembly Facility, plans to hire 40 salaried, technical operator positions. The positions require a minimum of one-year manufacturing or production experience, performance of industrial math and the ability to work rotating shifts. By 2015 Blade Dynamics plans to have some 600 employees on its payroll with an annual salary of about $48,000. (Source: The Advocate, 01/12/11)

Hunter unmanned system hits milestone

Northrop Grumman's Hunter unmanned aircraft, in use with the Army since 1996, recently surpassed 100,000 flight hours in service, with more than 72,000 hours in combat. The MQ-5B Hunter is currently deployed supporting contingency operations across the globe, provides warfighters with reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, communications relay and weapons delivery. The RQ-5A Hunter was the Army's first fielded UAS. The new generation MQ-5B is outfitted with updated equipment. (Source: Northrop Grumman via Globe Newswire, 01/12/11) Gulf Coast note: The Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center, Moss Point, Miss., has done refurbishing work on Hunter aircraft.

NASA names deputy chief technologist

WASHINGTON - NASA Chief Technologist Bobby Braun announced the appointment of Michael J. Gazarik as the agency's deputy chief technologist. Gazarik, who was deputy director for programs in the Engineering Directorate at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., will be a member of the office responsible for coordination, integration and tracking of all technology investments across the agency, as well as management of NASA's Space Technology programs. (Source: NASA, 01/12/11) Gulf Coast note: NASA has facilities at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Web site highlights naval aviation

Florida's Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and Naval Air Station Pensacola have launched a new Web site highlighting the history of naval aviation in Pensacola. It features a list of local events to celebrate the 100th anniversary of naval aviation. Visitors can log on and share stories and photographs. Centennial events include a Blue Angles demonstration and visit by the USS Iwo Jima. (Sources: WEAR-TV, Pensacola News Journal, the site, 01/11/10)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Airline's first month better than expected

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. - Nearly a month after Vision Airlines started offering service at Northwest Florida Regional Airport, sales have exceeded expectations. The marketing and business development director for the airline said occupancy rates for the flights are good. Vision Airlines offers service to Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Miami, and plans to announce new destinations later this month. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 01/10/11) Previous story

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Week in review column

When it comes to defense spending, the Gulf Coast region is all ears. That's not surprising, given that the region between South Louisiana and Northwest Florida has a wealth of military bases and activities, large and small contractors and businesses that rely on the military. It's a safe bet a lot of folks were paying attention when Defense Secretary Robert Gates during the week announced some additional spending cuts. (Source: Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, 01/08/11)

Friday, January 7, 2011

PW engine powers biofuels test

A Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-220 engine recently powered its first biofuel test flight of an Air Force F-15 Eagle at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. This flight test, powered by alternative jet fuel, comes on the heels of engine ground testing earlier this year at Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee. The Air Force's goal is to acquire half of its domestic jet fuel requirements from alternate sources by 2016. This is Pratt and Whitney's second military engine to successfully complete ground and flight tests using biofuels. A C-17 Globemaster III powered by four Pratt and Whitney F117 engines completed testing in August. Similar tests are planned for the F119. Pratt and Whitney is a United Technologies Corp. company. (Source: Pratt and Whitney via PRNewswire, 01/06/11)

Date set for Orbital's COTS mission

NASA has set Dec. 14 as the target launch date for Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Commercial Orbital Transportation System cargo demonstration mission. The company says it continues to make progress toward attaining safety clearance for the mission, in which its Cygnus spacecraft will dock with the International Space Station. Tests of the Aerojet AJ26 engine that will power the first stage also continue at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., where engineers are preparing for a third hot-fire test of the engine following earlier runs in November and December. "Every month we'll be bringing another AJ26 through Stennis," said Carl Walz, Orbital's vice president of human spaceflight operations. (Source: Aviation Week, 01/06/11)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

DoD "efficiencies" announced

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates today announced a series of moves designed to save the Department of Defense more than $150 billion over the next five years by reducing overhead and cutting excess and troubled programs. The bulk of the savings will be used in areas such as shipbuilding, long-range strike, missile defense, intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance and more. Among other things, the Air Force will buy more simulators for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter air crew training. But the Marine Corps short take-off and vertical landing variant of the F-35 is being placed on a two-year probation because of testing problems, putting the Marine variant to the back of the overall JSF production sequence. In addition, the Navy will develop a new generation of sea-borne unmanned strike and surveillance aircraft. (Source: DoD, 01/06/11) Gulf Coast note: The Gulf Coast is a major military shipbuilding center; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the JSF training center; Moss Point, Miss., builds portions of unmanned aircraft.

Marine F-35 put on probation

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is putting the Marine Corps version of the F-35 on a two-year probation to give Lockheed Martin more time to demonstrate its reliability, according to two defense officials and a lawmaker. It's part of Gates' plan to save $102 billion in military spending through 2016. There are three variants of the F-35, but the short take-off and vertical landing version is the most complex and has had more problems. (Source: Bloomberg, eCanadaNow, 01/06/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the site of the F-35 training center.

Blue Angels in El Centro for winter

The Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team arrived early this week at Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif., the team's winter training facility. The team is based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., but does its winter training in California. That training wraps up in mid-March. The team will perform in more than 37 shows this year, with the season ending in Pensacola Nov. 12. (Source: KXO radio, 01/04/11)

Pensacola marks aviation centennial

PENSACOLA, Fla. - Pensacola is celebrating a century of naval aviation, with a kickoff and party slated for Jan. 20 at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Other activities during the year include Aviation Week in May with the arrival of the USS Iwo Jima and a special performance by the Blue Angels flight demonstration team. The Blue Angels will also perform at Pensacola Beach in July. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 01/05/11)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Flight academy gets grant

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The National Flight Academy received a $1.7 million grant to buy 42 flight simulators. The grant is from the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust. The $26.5 million flight academy is being built next to the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The academy is designed to interest young people in science, technology, engineering and math careers, including aerospace. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 01/05/11) Previous story

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Contract: EADS, $52.9M

EADS North American Defense, Arlington, Va., was awarded a $52,509,992 firm-fixed-price contract to provide for 12 UH-72A Light Utility Helicopters, 12 Airborne Radio Communication systems and two Engine Inlet Barrier Filters. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2012. The U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command, Contracting Center, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/04/11)

F-35 STOVL engine hits milestone

Pratt and Whitney's F135 engine used in the vertical take-off and landing version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter passed a testing milestone known as initial service release. That means the engine is now certified as the production configuration. The company received initial service release for the conventional take off and landing/carrier variant (CTOL/CV) in February 2010. The Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) version of the F-35 will be used by the Marine Corps. Pratt and Whitney is a United Technologies Corp. company. (Source: Pratt and Whitney, 01/03/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the JSF training center.

Moret sees new tenants at Michoud

Louisiana's chief economic development official told the Press Club in Baton Rouge that several entities are interested in locating at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. But Stephen Moret declined to name names. Michoud is NASA's huge manufacturing facility that built the external tanks for the Space Shuttle. At its height it had 5,000 workers, but now has 1,000 as Lockheed Martin ends its shuttle work. "We will attract thousands of private-sector jobs," said Moret, secretary of the Department of Economic Development. Turbine-maker Blade Dynamics announced last year it would set up shop at Michoud. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune, 01/04/11)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Week in review column

Aerospace is the focus on this column, but it's hard not to pay attention to the major Navy contract that was awarded during the week to Austal USA of Mobile, Ala. The contract to build littoral combat ships underscores the importance of shipbuilding to the Gulf Coast region. But beyond that, it shows contracts can be split between competitors and highlights the crucial role companies with foreign roots play in the U.S. defense industry. (Source: Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, 01/01/11)