Monday, October 31, 2011

Florida gets key Boeing program office

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. - Boeing said Monday that it plans to consolidate its Commercial Crew program office, manufacturing and operations at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Boeing, in partnership with Space Florida, will use the Orbiter Processing Facility-3 to manufacture, assemble, and test the company's Crew Space Transportation spacecraft. The 15-year use permit with Space Florida is the latest step Kennedy is making as the center transitions from a historically government-only launch complex to a multi-user spaceport. (Sources: multiple, including PRNewswire, Brevard Times, 10/31/11) Gulf Coast note: Boeing has multiple operations in the Gulf Coast; NASA operates facilities at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans.

GE Aviation breaks ground in Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. - GE Aviation is breaking ground on a 300,000 square-foot advanced manufacturing plant in Auburn, Ala. It will produce precision, super-alloy machined parts for GE jet engines that will power future commercial and military aircraft, and also to support the fleet of GE jet engines already in service. Site construction is set to begin Monday and the facility is scheduled to open in 2012. Auburn was selected in part because of its access to skilled workforce and proximity to Alabama's university system. (Source: GE Aviation via PRNewswire, 10/31/11) Gulf Coast note: GE Aviation is also building a composite parts plant in Hattiesburg, Miss., and operates another engine parts facility in Batesville, Miss.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sixth F-35 now at Eglin

AF-13, a conventional takeoff and landing variant F-35A, has been delivered to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The plane departed Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base in Texas Wednesday for delivery to the 33rd Fighter Wing. The plane, piloted by Marine Corps Maj. Joseph Bachmann, touched down at 11:44 a.m. after a 90-minute ferry flight. AF-13 is the sixth F-35A delivered to Eglin, where it will be used for pilot and maintainer training at the base's new F-35 Integrated Training Center. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 10/27/11)

Friday, October 28, 2011

ORI results good for wing

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The 96th Air Base Wing received good news about the Operational Readiness Inspection. The ORI by the Air Force Material Command was the culmination of more than six months of preparation in four major graded areas. The units were scored using a five-tier rating scale. The ratings in specific areas cannot be released, but the wing received overall results of excellent for positioning the force, employing the force, sustaining the force and the ability to survive and operate. Col. Sal Nodjomian, commander of the wing, said the inspectors reported they have never seen a wing sweep every graded category. (Source: 96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs, 10/28/11)

Aircrews drop hammer in exercise

U.S. Air Force photo
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. - Aircrews from the 37th Bomb Squadron employed two Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles from a pair of B-1 bombers at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., as part of the Air Force's air to ground Weapon System Evaluation Program known as Combat Hammer. The goal of the Oct. 25 exercise, managed by the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is to evaluate the effectiveness, maintainability, suitability, and accuracy of precision guided munitions and other advanced air to ground weapons. (Source: 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs, 10/27/11)

CSC to continue NSSC work

CSC has received a $41 million modification that exercises the second option period for the NASA Shared Services Center contract at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The contract modification applies to the contract NASA awarded CSC in 2005. CSC will continue to provide financial management, human resources, procurement and information technology support services to NASA. The NSSC is a cooperative partnership between NASA, CSC and the States of Mississippi and Louisiana. The NSSC performs selected business activities for all 10 NASA centers. (Source: Business Wire, 10/27/11)

Airport opens new concourse

NEW ORLEANS - New Orleans' airport unveiled the expansion to Concourse D on Thursday. The $27 million expansion at Louis Armstrong International Airport includes six new gates and a pyramid-shaped central skylight. (Source: Times-Picayune, 10/27/11)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Drone in a drone

InsideDefense reports that researchers from Naval Air Systems Command, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Navmar Applied Science Corp. are working on a micro-UAV designed to be carried in another drone. The armed, electric drone would detach from a 13-foot TigerShark and relay real-time video to ground support as it heads for the target. Researchers at Eglin were working on the micro-UAV as part of the Precision Acquisition and Weaponized System when the U.S. Special Operations Command said it needed a weapon that would minimize collateral damage. NAVAIR started working on the effort to integrate the micro-UAV with the TigerShark surveillance drone. A $12 million design and assembly effort is supposed to be done in the spring of 2012. After that comes testing at Eglin and at the Army Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. (Source: InsideDefense, Wired News, 10/27/11)

Contract: L-3 Vertex, $26.3M

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $26,344,361 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract to exercise an option for organizational, selected intermediate, and limited depot level maintenance for F-16, F-18, H-60, and E-2C aircraft operated by the adversary squadrons based at Naval Air Station, Fallon, Nev. Work will be performed in Fallon, Nev., and is expected to be completed in October 2012. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 10/27/11)

Partner progress report released

NASA's industry partners continue to meet established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities that will ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station, according to NASA’s third status report. NASA will rely on private industry to transport cargo and crew to the International Space Station, while NASA focuses on deep space exploration. NASA has posted the third status report on its Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev2) program to the agency's Commercial Space Transportation website. (Source: NASA, 10/25/11) Gulf Coast note: The region is home to Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans.

Passenger counts up

With one exception, airports in Northwest Florida experienced higher passenger counts this September over the previous year. The busiest was Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport, with 121,409 passengers in September, up less than 1 percent, followed by Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City, with 73,470 passengers in September, up 8.1 percent. The airport in Okaloosa County, Northwest Florida Regional Airport, had 66,258 passengers in September, an increase of 10.4 percent. Tallahassee Regional Airport had 50,025 passengers, a 5.2 percent drop. (Source: Walton Sun, 10/26/11)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Contract: Northrop Grumman, $119.7M

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Northrop Grumman Information Systems, Herndon, Va., is being awarded an $119,715,682 cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price contract for the design, development, test, and deployment of Increment 10.2, modernization of the Air and Space Operations Center Weapon System. Increment 10.2 is intended to bring net-centric capabilities to the Geographic Air and Space Operations Center Weapons Systems, allowing data to flow seamlessly across various platforms and process workflows rather than being locked in separate information technology system "silos" to be accessed and retransmitted by humans. Increment 10.2 capabilities will be fielded to the Geographic Air and Space Operations Centers; a help desk at Langley Air Force Base, Va.; and the Formal Training Unit at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Electronic Systems Center (ESC/HSGK), Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 10/26/11)

Contract: L3, $21.3M

L3 Communications Corp., Systems Field Support, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $21,296,938 firm-fixed-price and cost-reimbursable, no-fee contract modification for contractor logistics support for the C-12 aircraft for Pacific Air Forces, Air Force Materiel Command, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and Defense Security Cooperation Agency, consisting of maintenance, repair, and support functions for one year from Nov. 1, 2011, through Oct. 31, 2012. The location of performance is L3 Communications, Systems Field Support, Madison, Miss. Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center (OC-ALC/GKSKH), Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 10/26/11)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Contract: Gulfport Aviatn Ptnrs, $6.6M

Gulfport Aviation Partners LLC, Houston, Texas, was awarded a fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for a maximum $6,603,727 for jet fuel. Other location of performance is Gulfport Biloxi International Airport, Gulfport, Miss. Using service is Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and federal civilian agencies. The date of performance completion is March 31, 2015. The Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 10/25/11)

Wasp concludes JSF testing

U.S. Navy photo
Amphibious assault ship USS Wasp returned to Naval Station Norfolk Oct. 21 after spending three weeks at sea hosting the initial sea trials of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. The first F-35B landed on WASP's flight deck Oct. 3, beginning an 18-day test period. During the testing, two F-35B Marine Corps test jets accomplished vertical landings and short take-offs under various conditions. While underway, the world's first supersonic short take-off, vertical landing fighter logged more than 28 hours of flight time and completed 72 short take-offs and 72 vertical landings. (Source: NNS, 10/25/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the JSF training center, where training will be done on all variants of the F-35.

NASA tries to find room for SLS in budget

NASA will store some rocket engines, slow work on others and study still more as it tries to fit the Space Launch System into a $3 billion annual budget for development. Early flights of the SLS will use surplus space shuttle main engines and, as side-mounted strap-ons, the five-segment solid-fuel motors developed for the terminated Ares I crew launch vehicle's first stage. The J-2X upper-stage engine will be slowed as managers try to maintain enough development momentum to avoid a costly stop and restart in engine development as the big new rocket evolves. (Source: Aviation Week, 10/24/11) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., is where space shuttle main engines were tested and where the J-2X is being assembled and tested. Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, is where portions of the SLS will be built.

Million Air facility opens this week

GULFPORT, Miss. – The $12 million, 52,500-square-foot Million Air facility officially opens at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport this week. It will serve as the fixed base operation at the airport, providing fuel, support services for charters and private planes and other services. Company and airport officials expect the operation to boost the revenue base at the airport and the region by more than $10 million with fuel and activity fees and increase the casino customer base by up to 25 percent. (Source: Sun Herald, 10/24/11)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Contract: Boeing, $11.1M

The Boeing Co., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., is being awarded an $11,129,648 firm-fixed-price contract for spares and will provide five major subassemblies required to build-up six AC-130U 25 mm ammunition storage handling systems assemblies. These subassemblies are conveyor assembly, loader/downloader, magazine transfer unit, magazine driver gearbox, and the gun drive gearbox. Air Force Global Logistics Support Center, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 10/24/11)

Resolution honors SSC

The U.S. Senate Friday approved a resolution sponsored by senators from Mississippi and Louisiana honoring the 50th anniversary of the John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss., and its economic impact on the region. The testing facility in Hancock County was established in 1961 and today is home to more than 30 federal organizations, including the biggest tenant, the Navy. It will continue to play a role as the test site for NASA programs and commercial ventures (Source: Sun Herald, 10/23/11)

AF to become landlord

Under an "enhanced lease program" designed to let the Air Force collect rent on an under-used portion of beachfront land, the military next year will become landlord of a hotel, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. "This will be a new way of doing business for us," said Glenn Wagner, manager of Eglin Air Force Base's enhanced lease program. The $24 million hotel near Sheraton Four Points will be owned by the Department of Defense and managed by Emerald Breeze Resort Group. Eglin's 46th Test Wing will be able to place a telemetric receiving dish and optical equipment on the top of the building so it can "see" further out into the Gulf of Mexico. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 10/23/11)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fifth F-35 now at Eglin

A fifth F-35 Joint Strike Fighter arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., during the week. The aircraft took off from Fort Worth, Texas, for the 90-minute flight for delivery to the 33rd Fighter Wing. The conventional variant of the fighter will be used for pilot and maintainer training at the base’s F-35 Integrated Training Center, where pilots from all the branches and foreign nations will receive initial training. (Source: Second Line of DefenseLockheed Martin, 10/20/11)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Contract: Jacobs Technology, $135.5M

Jacobs Technology Inc., Tullahoma, Tenn., is being awarded an estimated $135,500,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the Technical and Engineering Acquisition Support Program, providing a wide range of diverse, high-quality engineering, technical, and acquisition support required for development, production, and sustainment of various highly complex munitions systems within the Air Armament Center and other organizations at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. This effort supports Foreign Military Sales programs to Australia, India, Turkey, Greece, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Germany, France, Poland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Chili, Malaysia, and Singapore (2.7 percent). Air Armament Center/PKES, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 10/20/11)

SSMEs bound for SSC

All fifteen Space Shuttle Main Engines are together inside NASA's Engine Shop at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., and are being prepped for shipment to Stennis Space Center, Miss. At SSC, they'll become part of the propulsion used on NASA's next generation heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. The engines are built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, and each is 14 feet long and more than 7 feet in diameter at the end of its nozzle. (Source: Universe Today, 10/19/11) In addition to testing the SLS engines at SSC, NASA will have portions of the SLS fabricated at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (Previous story)

LM center officially opens

CLINTON, Miss. - Lockheed Martin held a ceremonial opening Wednesday for its new 33,000 square-foot technology support center at South Pointe Business Park. Lockheed Martin announced in April that it planned to create 350 new jobs at the center in Clinton, Miss. The mission support center will serve several of Lockheed Martin's federal customers. The center is in part of the former corporate headquarters of WorldCom, the telecommunications company that went bankrupt in 2002. (Source: multiple, including Clarion-Ledger, WJTV, 10/19/11) Previous storyGulf Coast note: Lockheed Martin assembles satellite components at Stennis Space Center.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Keesler in running for award

BILOXI, Miss. - The Texas-based Air Education and Training Command selected Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., as its nominee for the Air Force 2011 Commander-in-Chief's Installation Excellence Award. The winner, chosen in January, will get a $1 million prize and the runner-up $500,000 for quality of life improvements. The base will competed against the nominees from nine other major commands for the Air Force level award. Each finalist base will be visited by an inspection team next year. (Source: Sun Herald, Keesler Air Force Base, 10/17/11) Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the nominee from the Air Force Material Command. (Story)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Helos gather for fleet fly-in

MILTON, Fla. - Two dozen helicopters are coming to Naval Air Station Whiting Field this week for the base's annual Naval Helicopter Association Fleet Fly-in. The event is designed to let student aviators learn about potential career paths. Among the helicopters will be the H-53 Sea Stallion, H-60 Seahawk, MH-60S Knighthawk and more. The event is not open to the public. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 10/17/11)

Eglin gets F-35 weapons load trainer

Lockheed Martin delivered and installed the first weapons load training device at the F-35 Integrated Pilot-and-Maintenance Training Center (ITC) at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Configured in all three variants of the F-35, the system allows maintenance students to hone their skills loading munitions, fuel tanks and missile systems onto the aircraft. The simulators enable training to take place without removing aircraft from the flight schedule. Earlier this year the first two F-35 full mission simulators were installed. The ITC at Eglin will be home to the latest courseware, electronic classrooms, simulators and flight events. (Source: Lockheed Martin via PRNewswire, 10/17/11)

NG pulls out of Farnborough

In a move that underscores tight budgets, defense contractor Northrop Grumman had decided not to participate in the 2012 international air show in Farnborough, England, according to Reuters. Northrop spokesman Randy Belote, who said the company has participated in the alternating Farnborough and Paris air shows since 1994, said pulling out completely will save millions of dollars. (Source: Reuters, 10/14/11) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., builds portions of the Global Hawk and Fire Scout unmanned systems.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Orleans OKd for Cuba service

NEW ORLEANS - Louis Armstrong International Airport was approved to join a select group of U.S. airports that can fly to and from Cuba. The U.S. government has loosened restrictions, allowing New Orleans and other international airports in the United States to apply to host flights. New Orleans and seven other airports were approved. Travel is restricted to those with close relatives in Cuba, or those involved in the medical or agricultural business sectors. Travel for educational or religious activities is also permitted. The longstanding U.S.-imposed trade embargo and travel restrictions were designed to pressure the communist nation to move toward democracy. (Sources: CNN, 10/12/11, Times-Picayune, 10/13/11)

Delta canceling P.C. flight

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Delta Air Lines is eliminating all of its direct flights from Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport to Memphis beginning Jan. 4, according to airport Executive Director John Wheat. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 10/13/11) Also being cut are Delta direct flights from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, Miss., and Mobile Regional Airport, Ala., to Memphis. (previous story)

Continental Motors engines chosen

MOBILE, Ala. – Continental Motors was chosen by Germany’s Flight Design to provide engines for its new four-seat airplane. Continental, located at Brookley Aeroplex, hopes to sell engines for 50 of the planes in 2013, when production begins. That's projected to grow to 100 engines in 2014 and 200 in 2015. Continental's six-cylinder IO-360-AF engine will burn traditional leaded aviation gas as well as unleaded fuel. Earlier this year, China’s AVIC International Holding Corp. bought Continental from Teledyne Technologies. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 10/13/11)

MUOS satellite tested

The first Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) military communications satellite built by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Navy has successfully completed a major end-to-end system test, validating satellite performance and functionality with user ground terminals. Completion of this key milestone confirms the system meets requirements and allows the satellite to proceed to final factory test activities prior to launch. MUOS will augment and replace the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Follow-On system (UFO) providing communications, including simultaneous voice, video and data, for mobile warfighters. (Source: Lockheed Martin via PRNewswire, 10/12/11) Gulf Coast note: Work on the propulsion system for the MUOS, an A2100 satellite-based spacecraft, is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

PW, RR agree to joint venture

Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney announce an agreement to form a new partnership to power future mid-size aircraft (120 to 230 passengers). The two companies will establish a joint venture company, in which each will hold an equal share, to develop new engines for the next generation of aircraft that will replace the existing mid-size fleet. The prediction is a need for nearly 45,000 engines over the next 20 years. (Source: Business Wire, 10/12/11) Gulf Coast note: Rolls Royce tests jet engines and Pratt & Whitney assembles and tests rocket engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Pratt & Whitney is part of United Technologies, which is buying Goodrich Corp. Goodrich’s Alabama Service Center is in Foley, Ala.; RR and PWR competitor GE Aviation is building a composites parts center near Hattiesburg, Miss.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cyber battle lab among grant projects

Eight state grants totaling $1.03 billion will be used by groups in Northwest Florida to protect and improve military assets, including $300,000 to develop a prototype cyber warfare battle laboratory at the Navy's Corry Station in Pensacola, Fla. The Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce will use a $100,000 defense reinvestment grant and $200,000 defense infrastructure grant to enhance Corry's Center for Information Dominance and help the chamber's efforts to retain and create jobs. Another group, TEAM Santa Rosa, will get two grants totaling $257,726, one to be used for land acquisition near Naval Air Station Whiting Field. A third group, the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, is getting two grants totaling $287,500 for projects related to Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and Duke Fields, and the Bay County Board of County Commissioners and Bay Defense Alliance will get $93,519 and $87,500, respectively, for projects associated with the Naval Support Activity and Tyndall Air Force Base, Panama City. (Sources: multiple, including Pensacola News Journal, Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Office of the Governor, Florida Defense Alliance, 10/10/11) The Air Force's center for cyber training is at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss.

Study: Wind will be top composites user

Wind energy will overtake aerospace as the largest user of advanced composite materials, according to a research report. The overall market for advanced composites, based on carbon fibers, carbon nanotubes, and grapheme, will more than triple to $25.8 billion by 2020, according to a report by Lux Research. In 2020, wind energy will account for nearly 60 percent of the market for composites, compared to the current 35 percent. (Source: Lux Research via Business Wire, 10/12/11)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

One flight cut, another added

GULFPORT, Miss. - Delta Air Lines is scheduled to cut direct flights from Gulfport and Mobile, Ala., to Memphis in January, a Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport official said. But US Airways is adding a flight from Gulfport to Charlotte, N.C. The director of air service for the Gulfport airport said that while planes have usually been full flying from Gulfport to Memphis, Memphis is not the final destination for most passengers, and Delta likely can save money routing passengers through Atlanta instead. (Source: Sun Herald, 10/10/11)

UPS leaves Mobile for Pensacola

UPS will close a sorting operation at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala., and move the hub to Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport in Pensacola, Fla. Pensacola officials said the new sorting facility will create 30 jobs and open Oct. 31. UPS competitor FedEx still has a regional operation at Brookley. (Sources: multiple, including Pensacola News Journal, Mobile Press-Register, 10/10/11)

Monday, October 10, 2011

BAE chosen for F-35 display solution

BAE Systems photo
LONDON - BAE Systems was selected by Lockheed Martin to supply a Night Vision Goggle Helmet Mounted Display (NVG HMD) system for the F-35 during the next phase of its development. The NVG HMD will incorporate the latest Q-SIGHT waveguide display and feature detachable Night Vision Goggles for night operations. It will also incorporate an optical Head Tracking System for precise weapons delivery and carrier and land-based operations. BAE Systems will begin delivery of test assets in 2012 to support the F-35 development and integration laboratories, flight simulators, and flight-test platforms. (Source: BAE via Business Wire, 10/10/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the Joint Strike Fighter training center.

Friday, October 7, 2011

T-38s arrive at Tyndall

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - Two T-38 Talon jets from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., arrived at Tyndall on Thursday afternoon. A total of 20 of the twin-engine jets slated to arrive over time will be used to aid in the training of F-22 pilots. An estimated 100 jobs will be brought to Tyndall because of the T-38s arrival. The T-38 is a high-altitude, supersonic jet trainer used by the Texas-based Air Education and Training Command. Instead of F-22s, F-15s or F-16s to simulate an enemy fighter, the Air Force employs the T-38 at a fraction of the cost of the other aircraft. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 10/07/11) The Air Force will eventually replace the T-38 and companies are jockeying for position to compete. (Story)

First openings set at Infinity

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – The restaurant and initial exhibit showcasing earth and space science will open at Infinity Science Center in early 2012. The building will be finished in late October, said John Wilson, education program development director for Infinity. The exhibits were created by ESI Design and interactive designer Edwin Schlossberg, who also designed the Ellis Island experience and other major interactive exhibits across the country. Infinity Science Center, expected to cost $42 million, is at Exit 2 of Interstate 10, south of the entrance to NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center. It will be both a state-of-the-art science center and a major visitor attraction. (Source: Sun Herald, 10/06/11)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Weapons chief sees huge cuts coming

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. – The commander of the Air Armaments Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., warned participants at the 37th Air Armament Conference Oct. 4 that there's a "big target" painted on weapons development. Major Gen. Kenneth D. Merchant told the military officers, government employees and contractors that while the projected cuts for fiscal year 2012 are small, weapons programs can expect to take a disproportionate share of hits compared to personnel and operations accounts. "It's not looking good," Merchant said. "The next few years are going to be very lean." The Air Armaments Center oversees the development, procurement and testing of all Air Force air-delivered weapons. (Source: National Defense magazine, 10/04/11)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

F-35 makes at sea landing

U.S. Navy photo
A Marine F-35B marked a first when it made a safe vertical landing on the deck of the USS Wasp (LHD 1). The first vertical landing is part of the initial ship trials for the F-35B, which started Monday and is expected to last two weeks. The tests will collect data on the aircraft's ability to perform short take-offs and vertical landings on a ship at sea, as well as determine how the aircraft integrates with the ship's landing systems, and deck and hangar operations. This test period will also collect environmental data on the deck through added instrumentation to measure the F-35B's impact to flight deck operations. The F-35B is the variant of the Joint Strike Fighter capable of short take-offs and vertical landings for use on amphibious ships or expeditionary airfields. (Source: NNS, 10/03/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the Joint Strike Fighter training center.

Monday, October 3, 2011

FBI hosts blast training at Eglin

1,500-pound explosive detonates at Eglin during
training. U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The FBI held a week-long post-blast school at Eglin Air Force Base late last month. The Large Vehicle Bomb Post Blast School was attended by more than 50 state and local law enforcement officers as well as Navy and Air Force explosive ordnance disposal technicians. Crime scene investigators from 18 U.S. agencies participated. There were four explosions, creating distinct "crime scenes" that included a roadside bomb. It was the 128th post-blast school class held by the FBI and only the second at Eglin. The class was dedicated to Tech. Sgt. Daniel Douville, an Eglin EOD technician who fell in the line of duty in June. (Source: TEAM Eglin Public Affairs, 10/03/11)

Astronaut applicants sought

HOUSTON – Early next month NASA will seek applicants for its next class of astronaut candidates to support long-duration missions to the International Space Station and future deep space exploration activities. "For scientists, engineers and other professionals who have always dreamed of experiencing spaceflight, this is an exciting time to join the astronaut corps," said Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "This next class will support missions to the station and will arrive via transportation systems now in development. They also will have the opportunity to participate in NASA's continuing exploration programs that will include missions beyond low Earth orbit." A bachelor's degree in engineering, science or math and three years of relevant professional experience are required. Typically, successful applicants have significant qualifications in engineering or science, or extensive experience flying high-performance jet-aircraft. Additional information about the Astronaut Candidate Program is available by calling the Astronaut Selection Office at 281-483-5907. (Source: NASA, 10/03/11) Gulf Coast note: NASA tests rocket engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and will build portions of the Space Launch System at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

StenniSphere closed Oct. 8

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - StenniSphere, the visitor center at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, will be closed to the general public Oct. 8 for an onsite event. The visitor center will reopen Oct. 12 and resume normal operating hours. StenniSphere is open to the public 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and is closed on major holidays. Public tours run throughout each day from the Launch Pad at the Hancock County Welcome Center, Interstate 10, Exit 2. (Source: NASA, 10/03/11)