Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Solar powers Whiting Field

MILTON, Fla. - Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Northwest Florida marked a step on its path to energy independence Nov. 29 with a ribbon-cutting for the air station's first large-scale photovoltaic power system. At the time of the ceremony, the power system was generating sufficient energy to reduce the host structure's energy consumption to "net zero." The solar array is designed to provide primary power to building 2981, which houses Training Air Wing 5's fixed-wing Training Squadron 2 and Training Squadron 6. A duplicate of the solar array has been installed to service a similar facility containing two of the air station's three south field-based helicopter training squadrons. The solar generators are the culmination of a Navy-wide initiative to expand the energy independence of its stateside installations. (Source: Naval Air Station Whiting Field, 11/30/11)

Boeing, union reach agreement

Boeing and its biggest union reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract extension that would ensure the 737MAX is built in Renton, Wash., and likely lead to a settlement of the National Labor Relations Board case against Boeing over a 787 production line in South Carolina. The deal could also bring Air Force tanker work to Puget Sound if Boeing decides to shut down a Wichita, Kan., plant. The 28,000 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers are due to vote on the deal next week. (Sources: Seattle Times, Reuters, 11/30/11) Gulf Coast note: Boeing has operations in the Gulf Coast region

NASA picks SBIR proposals

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - NASA selected 300 small business proposals to enter into negotiations for possible contract awards through the agency's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Eight of the proposals involve technologies being developed for the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, including one involving Innovative Imaging and Research at SSC and the University of Southern Mississippi. The programs encourage small businesses and research institutions to engage in federal research, development and commercialization to address NASA needs. Program results have benefited many NASA efforts, including modern air traffic control systems, Earth-observing spacecraft, the International Space Station and the Mars rovers. (Source: NASA Stennis Space Center, 11/30/11, NASA release, 11/29/11)

12-pound UAV bomb flies

TUCSON, Ariz. - Raytheon has completed captive carry tests of its Small Tactical Munition Phase II configuration, paving the way for flight tests of the bombs for Shadow-class unmanned systems. The 12-pound, 22-inch, precision-guided, gravity-dropped bomb is designed to engage moving and static targets, and can be used by manned and unmanned aircraft. It has foldable fins and wings, enabling deployment from common launch tubes. (Source: Raytheon, 11/30/11) Gulf Coast note: Portions of the Global Hawk and Fire Scout are built in Moss Point, Miss.; the Navy is developing an armed version of the Fire Scout; Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., develops aerial weapons; the Coast Guard in Mobile, Ala., has a UAV training program.

AICUZ study to be released

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. - Keesler Air Force Base's updated Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) study will be released at a public meeting next month. Keesler officials point out that as surrounding cities grow, it’s important that government, businesses and Keesler work together to implement mutually-beneficial planning for the future. The study addresses aircraft noise and accident potential zones created by current flying operations at Keesler, and contains information on building height restrictions and other data. A question-and-answer period follows the 6:30 p.m. presentation Dec. 12 at the Biloxi Visitors Center. (Source: 81st Training Wing Public Affairs, 11/30/11)

Another J-2X test slated

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - NASA at Stennis Space Center is scheduled to conduct another test Thursday on the J-2X, the upper-stage rocket engine being developed by Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne. Earlier this month NASA conducted a successful 500-second test of the engine, which will be used to carry humans, cargo and equipment beyond low-Earth orbit on the agency's new heavy lift Space Launch System. The J-2X uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants. (Source: NASA, 11/30/11)

Decoy jammer to begin production

TUCSON, Ariz. - The Air Force has authorized Raytheon to begin low rate initial production of the Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer variant. MALD is a modular, air-launched, programmable, 300-pound system with a 575-mile range. It protects aircraft by duplicating the combat flight profiles and signatures of U.S. and allied aircraft. The new model adds radar-jamming capability that allows it to perform stand-in jamming missions instead of using manned aircraft. Raytheon will begin delivering MALD-J in 2012. (Source: Raytheon, 11/29/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., has been the contracting activity for development of the system.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hurlburt general to lead probe

Brig. Gen. Stephen A. Clark of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla., has been appointed to head an investigation into the Nov. 26 deaths of Pakistani soldiers during an engagement near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan. Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, directed Clark to provide an initial report on the incident by Dec. 23. NATO, the Afghan and Pakistan governments are also invited to name representatives to the team. (Sources: American Forces Press Service, United States Central Command, 11/28/11, Northwest Florida Daily News, 11/29/11)

Contract: Raytheon, $19.6M

Raytheon Co., Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $19,639,651 firm-fixed-price contract to provide High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile Targeting System (HTS) contractor logistics support depot support for the HTS pod. AAC/EBAS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 11/29/11)

Jacobs gets AAC contract

PASADENA, Calif. - Jacobs Engineering Group received a follow-on contract to provide advisory and assistance services for the Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Technical and Engineering Acquisition Support 6 contract contains a ceiling of $662 million, and has a total ordering period of three years, beginning Dec. 11. With a staff of nearly 600 personnel, Jacobs provides technical expertise to help AAC develop, acquire, test, deploy and sustain air delivered munitions. Work includes systems engineering and integration support of virtually all Air Force air-launched weapon systems; test and training range systems; and numerous air combat support systems. (Source: Jacobs via PRNewswire, 11/29/11) Note: The Air Armament Center is being eliminated in a restructuring, but the base will continue to have a directorate and remain the Air Force’s center for aerial weapons development. (Post)

U.K. sub tests Tomahawk at Eglin

A British submarine, HMS Astute, earlier this month test fired Tomahawk cruise missiles from a location in the Gulf of Mexico to a target at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The tests were designed to show the new class of sub capable of using the Tomahawk cruise missile. The first launch tested a Block III Tomahawk, followed by a torpedo tube-launched Block IV Tomahawk. The Astute class of sub is built by BAE Systems, and will continue trials in the U.S. until the early spring before returning to the U.K. for more training before her first operational deployment. (Sources: Wired, 11/17/11, BayNet, 11/28/11)

Permit issued for airport project

A building permit has been issued for a $6.1 million terminal and hangar at Stennis International Airport in Hancock County, Miss. GM&R Construction Co. of Bay St. Louis was the successful bidder. Jack Zink, executive director of the Hancock County Development Commission, expects work to start any day on the 10,000-square foot, two-story terminal and 24,000-square foot hangar to replace the hangar destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The airport supports business and executive jets and military flight training, and is used by Roll-Royce to support engine testing at Stennis Space Center. (Source: Sun Herald, 11/28/11)

Airline files bankruptcy

AMR, parent of American Airlines, the nation’s third largest airline, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday. The parent company said that American, American Eagle and all other subsidiaries will operate normal flight schedules during the bankruptcy filing process. (Source: Multiple, 11/29/11) Gulf Coast note: American serves Mobile (Ala.) Regional Airport, Pensacola (Fla.) International Airport, Gulfport-Biloxi (Miss.) International Airport, New Orleans International Airport and Northwest Florida Regional Airport in Valparaiso, Fla.

Monday, November 28, 2011

F-35 launches from EMALS

EMALS launch. Navy photo
LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The Navy launched an F-35C test aircraft with the new electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) in a Nov. 18 demonstration. The test of aircraft CF-3 provided an early opportunity to evaluate technical risks and began the process to integrate the carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter with the future carrier fleet aircraft launching system being developed for the new Gerald R. Ford class of carrier. Aircraft for years have used steam catapults, and the F-35C has completed more than 50 steam catapult launches. But EMALS uses magnetic fields to propel a carriage down a track, allowing a more gradual speed increase and reducing airframe stress. In the past year the EMALS team launched a T-45 Goshawk, an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, a C-2A Greyhound and several F/A-18 aircraft. (Source: NNS, 11/28/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home to the F-35 training center.

Second X-47 takes flight

X-47B aircraft. Northrop Grumman photo
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The second Northrop Grumman unmanned X-47B fighter logged its first flight Nov. 22 at Edwards Air Force Base. Air Vehicle 2 (AV-2) climbed to 5,000 feet, flew racetrack patterns and landed after a half-hour flight. The X-47B is being developed for the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration program. The tailless AV-2 autonomous aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney’s F100-PW-220U engine and exhaust system. (Sources: Northrop Grumman, Pratt and Whitney, 11/28/11) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman and Pratt and Whitney have aerospace operations in this region; Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned systems are build in part in Moss Point, Miss.; multiple companies in the region are involved in UAV-related activities.

New squadron to use Fire Scouts

SAN DIEGO - The Navy's first composite squadron equipped with manned and unmanned helicopters for expeditionary missions will form in San Diego next year. Nicknamed the "Magicians," Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 35 will be the first to support littoral combat ships and other ships with both the manned MH-60R Seahawk and unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout. The composite squadron will deploy detachments of both aircraft to LCSs, cruisers, destroyers and frigates. (Source: Navy Times, 11/27/11) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., builds one version of littoral combat ships.

Tanker may break ceiling $500M

Boeing may exceed by $500 million the cost ceiling on its contract for Air Force refueling tankers. That's $200 million more than previous estimates. Boeing, developing the tanker from its 767, absorbs the cost over the contract's $4.8 billion ceiling. Government officials in June told Bloomberg News that Boeing was projected to exceed the ceiling by $300 million. The new estimate is in the Selected Acquisition Report, the Pentagon’s first official cost review for the 179-aircraft program. (Source: Bloomberg via Washington Post, 11/27/11) Gulf Coast note: Boeing won the contract over EADS, who planned to assemble the planes in Mobile, Ala.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Huge bombs delivered

The Pentagon has taken delivery of huge bunker-busting bombs designed to penetrate deep to reach underground facilities. Boeing delivered 20 of the Massive Ordnance Penetrators to the Air Force. Each GPS-guided penetrator is 20 feet long, weighs 30,000 pounds and carries a 5,300-pound payload. The explosive power of a MOP is 10 times that of its predecessor, the BLU-109. The Air Force began taking delivery of the bombs, which can be carried in a B-2, in September. (Source: Los Angeles Times, Fox News, Bloomberg via SF Chronicle, 11/16/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., has been involved in developing and deploying the MOP. Previous postings: contract; contract; contract; Bunker buster deployment nears; Pentagon eyes bunker buster speedup

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Airport to begin improvements

DESTIN, Fla. - Okaloosa County commissioners approved the use of a $250,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to get a runway improvement project started at Destin Airport. Okaloosa County Airports Director Greg Donovan said he estimates the cost of refurbishing the 5,000-foot runway and improving the lighting and navigational signage will be about $4 million. Donovan said his staff is lobbying the Federal Aviation Administration to obtain money from the agency's aviation trust fund to pay for the remainder of the runway replacement. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 11/22/11)

Airport Web site redesigned

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport will launch a new website that Airport Authority board members hope will strengthen the region's brand. The new site, to be online in December, is a complete redesign and will contain a feature that allows site visitors to track on a map in real time a plane's position. (Source: Walton Sun, 11/23/11)

First test done of on-orbit AEHF

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. - Raytheon Co. became the first to successfully test with the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite. Raytheon's Army Secure Mobile Anti-jam Reliable Tactical Terminal is the first operationally-fielded terminal to interoperate with an on-orbit AEHF satellite. Raytheon will deliver 364 AEHF SMART-T terminals to the U.S. armed services. The first AEHF satellite, launched in August 2010, recently began an set of operational tests. The AEHF, designed to replace the Milstar system, is a joint service satellite communications system that provides secure communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets. (Source: Raytheon, 11/22/11) Gulf Coast note: The Lockheed Martin AEHF satellite’s core propulsion module is build at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CID stands up commands

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The Center for Information Dominance stood up two new commands Nov. 14. The request for the new commands, the Center for Information Dominance Unit (CIDU) Corry Station and CIDU Monterey, was approved by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Oct. 31. The new commands are in response to the "expanded size of the detachment and assigned cyber training mission." Annually, CID Unit Corry Station, Pensacola, Fla., trains about 9,000 Navy and Joint Cryptologists, Information Systems Technicians and Information Warfare and Information Professional officers, while CID Unit Monterey, Calif., trains about 1,200 Cryptologic Technicians and Foreign Language Officers. In remarks during the stand-up ceremony at Corry Station, CID Commanding Officer Capt. Susan K. Cerovsky compared the shore-based commands to that of a newly-commissioned ship. With a staff of nearly 1,300 military, civilian and contracted staff members, CID Corry Station oversees the development and administration of more than 168 courses at four commands, two detachments and 16 learning sites throughout the United States and in Japan. CID Corry Station provides training for about 24,000 members of the U.S. Armed Services and allied forces each year. (Source: NNS, 11/21/11) Note: Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss., is the Air Force's center for electronics training, including cyber security.

Lockheed hits F-35 test target

Lockheed Martin passed its 2011 flight-test targets for the F-35, with aircraft now flying at a pace that will allow the company to exceed its target for a significantly higher number of flights in 2012. The test program completed its 875th flight for the year on Nov. 17, passing the full-year target of 872. A total of 6,809 test points were accumulated on those flights, exceeding the year-end target of 6,622. Training on the F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., has yet to begin. (Source: Aviation Week, 11/21/11)

First international F-35 rolls out

FORT WORTH, Texas - The first international Lockheed Martin F-35 rolled out of the factory Sunday evening. The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence will use the short takeoff/vertical landing jet, known as BK-1, for training and operational tests. BK-1 will undergo functional fuel system checks before being transported to the flight line for ground and flight tests in the coming months. The jet is scheduled to be delivered in 2012. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 11/22/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center

Security contract awarded

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - NASA awarded Excalibur Associates Inc. of Alexandria, Va., a contract to provide protective services at Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans. The contract begins Jan. 1, 2012, with a nine-month base period, followed by option periods. Excalibur will provide support for physical and personnel security, technology protection and emergency management and training. (Source: PRNewswire, 11/21/11)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Supercommittee fails

A special congressional super committee acknowledged failure Monday to cut the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion, and President Obama warned that he would veto any attempt to undo a resulting round of across-the-board spending cuts. (Source: Washington Post, 11/21/11) Defense Secretary Leon Panetta released a statement noting his concern. "If Congress fails to act over the next year, the Department of Defense will face devastating, automatic, across-the-board cuts that will tear a seam in the nation's defense," he said. (Source: DoD release, 11/21/11) "We are now working on a plan to minimize the impact of the sequester on the Department of Defense and to ensure that any cuts do not leave us with a hollow military," Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in a statement. "The first responsibility of any government is to provide for the common defense; we will pursue all options to make certain that we continue to fulfill that solemn commitment." (Source: Washington Post, 11/21/11) The Pentagon's belt-tightening has already been felt through workforce reductions. Now comes word that Boeing may close a military-aircraft plant in Wichita, Kan. About 2,100 people work for Boeing in Wichita, modifying and upgrading military aircraft. Kansas is one of the states that expected to benefit with a Boeing win over EADS to build tankers for the Air Force. (Source: Bloomberg, 11/21/11)

Airport traffic continues growth

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Total passenger traffic in October at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport near Panama City, Fla., rose about 4 percent from October 2010, continuing an upward trend of since the airport moved from the Panama City field on May 23, 2010. Traffic totaled 77,389 for October this year, compared to 74,372 in October 2010, airport Executive Director John Wheat told board members. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 11/20/11)

NASA gauging interest in E-4 stand

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - NASA is seeking to identify industry interest in Stennis Space Center's underutilized E-4 Test Facility. Originally designed to conduct ground tests of propulsion systems in support of NASA's Rocket Based Combined Cycle Program, the E-4 Test Facility was partially built but has not been completed and further development is not planned. It consists of concrete-walled test cells and associated hard stand, a high-bay work area with a bridge crane and adjacent work area, control room space and personnel offices. The facility was designed to provide low-pressure hydrocarbon fuel and oxidizer to test articles having a thrust in the horizontal plane up to 50,000 lbf maximum. Pending the level of interest in a leasing or partnering arrangement, a site visit will be conducted on Jan. 12, 2012. (Source: Tcp, 11/21/11) NOA/RFI

Thursday, November 17, 2011

AJ26 undergoes test

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - Engineers at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center conducted a test firing on an Aerojet AJ26 flight engine Thursday. Orbital Sciences Corp. is testing the engines for the commercial cargo missions to the International Space Station. AJ26 engines will be used to power Orbital's Taurus II rocket. Orbital is part of NASA's ongoing Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract. The AJ26 flight engines are being tested on the E-1 Test Stand. After the engines are successfully tested, inspected and test data reviewed, the engines are shipped to the Wallops Flight Facility launch site in Virginia for installation on the Taurus II rocket. (Source: NASA, 11/17/11) Previous story

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NASA among best places to work

NASA is one of the best places to work in the federal government, according to a survey released Wednesday. NASA, which has operations at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, is ranked No. 5 among 308 federal agencies. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden acknowledge Stennis Space Center, ranked second overall among the federal organizations. "I'm particularly proud that Stennis was ranked first in the government for employee empowerment, fairness and support for diversity." The Departments of the Navy, Army and Air Force -- which have bases scattered throughout the Gulf Coast -- are ranked 15, 16 and 18, respectively. The survey was done by Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization. The agencies ranked higher than NASA are the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Government Accountability Office and Smithsonian Institution. The survey found that satisfaction among federal workers is down for the first time in four years, in part because of budgetary uncertainties. (Sources: NASA, Partnership for Public Service, Washington Post, 11/16/11)

X-47B gets magazine award

X-47B UCAS. Northrop Grumman photo
The editors of Popular Science magazine selected the U.S. Navy/Northrop Grumman X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System to receive a 2011 Best of What's New award in the Aviation & Space category. The award was formally announced in the magazine's Dec. issue. Two tailless, autonomous X-47B unmanned aircraft are currently undergoing testing. The X-47B is designed to operate from a Navy aircraft carrier. Northrop Grumman's UCAS-D industry team includes GKN Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Pratt and Whitney, Eaton, GE, Hamilton Sundstrand, Dell, Honeywell, Goodrich, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace and Rockwell Collins. (Source: Globe Newswire, 11/16/11) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, built in part in Moss Point, Miss., has been successfully deployed aboard Navy ships.

Company picks Niceville

North Eastern Aeronautical Company Inc., NEANY, announces the opening of its newest office in Niceville, Fla. The company is a research, design, test and evaluation firm specializing in unmanned aerial systems, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, sensors and electro-optics. "With Eglin and Tyndall Air Force Bases, the Pensacola Naval Air Station, and numerous universities all located in the panhandle, I believe the area is a perfect fit for NEANY,” said company president Steven Steptoe. NEANY also has offices in Patuxent River, Md., Arlington, Va., and Scottsdale, Ariz. (Source: ECN Magazine, 11/16/11)

Navy starts land-buying process

FOLEY, Ala. - The Navy has begun efforts to buy property needed to expand two Baldwin County airfields to accommodate new training aircraft. Work is scheduled to start next summer to extend four runways, two at Barin Field in Foley and two at Summerdale Field. The runways are needed to accommodate the T-6A, which is replacing the T-34 training aircraft. The Navy operates several outlying fields in Baldwin County for training flights out of Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla. (Source: Mobile Press Register, 11/15/11)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Goodrich hosts job fair

FOLEY, Ala. - Foley's Goodrich Aerostructures plant is hosting a job fair Saturday to find workers to construct housing for Airbus engines. Baldwin County's largest industrial employer with some 800 workers, Goodrich is looking to hire 40 workers who have experience in heavy construction, automotive, sheet metal or heating/air conditioning. In the apprenticeship, workers would learn to construct a nacelle, the cover housing that encases the engine for the Airbus A320. The new jobs came about because of increased demand. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 11/15/11)

Senators: Further cuts unacceptable

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pointed to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's dire description of the impact of further cuts in defense spending as the latest evidence that up to $600 billion in automatic defense spending cuts "should not be allowed to occur." The senators' comments came in response to a letter Panetta sent Monday listing cuts in weapons programs, end strength and the civilian workforce that likely would occur under a worst-case budget scenario. (Source: Defense Communities 360, 11/14/11) Meanwhile, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, is urging the congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee to consider closing unneeded overseas bases, rather than slashing force structure or weapons systems. Last year, the president's bipartisan deficit reduction commission estimated that responsible overseas base closings could save taxpayers $8.5 billion through 2015. (Source: Defense Communities 360, 11/14/11)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Panetta: F-35, shipbuilding at risk

Two military programs of high interest to the Gulf Coast, shipbuilding and the F-35, could be at risk with additional defense cuts. In a letter to Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said reductions beyond the $450 billion, 10-year defense budget cuts already planned would reduce the size of the military sharply. If a special committee of lawmakers fails to reach agreement by Nov. 23 on deficit reduction, that would trigger a so-called sequestration that would involve at least another $500 billion in defense cuts over a decade and cut military programs in 2013 by 23 percent. In addition to the F-35, other programs that face termination include shipbuilding, space initiatives, silo-based nuclear missiles and ground combat vehicle modernization. (Source: Bloomberg via Business Week, 11/14/11) Gulf Coast note: The F-35 training center is at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Gulfport and Pascagoula, Miss., and Mobile, Ala., build ships for the military.

GE gets orders for engines

GE90-115B engine. GE Aviation photo
At the Dubai Air Show Monday, the United Arab Emirates announced that it ordered 50 aircraft powered by two GE90-115B engines, and agreed to a 12-year maintenance, repair and overhaul contract for those engines. The total value over the life of the contract is $6 billion. The order will have an impact on multiple GE Aviation operations nationwide, including the 258-worker GE Aviation plant in Batesville, Miss. Workers there manufacture composite engine parts – fan stator, acoustic panels and fan platforms – for the GE90. (Source: GE Aviation, 11/14/11) Gulf Coast note: GE Aviation is also building a composite engine parts facility in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Auburn, Ala.

Airbus, Boeing see demand hike

Rivals Boeing and Airbus both anticipate a huge demand increase in the Middle East over the next 20 years for passenger and cargo aircraft. Airbus' latest Global Market forecast says carriers in the Middle East will need 1,921 new passenger and freighter aircraft between 2011 and 2030 valued at $347.4 billion. Boeing forecasts that airlines in the Middle East will need an estimated 2,520 airplanes worth $450 billion by 2030. The forecasts come as the region's carriers continue to surpass global air traffic and capacity growth rates. (Sources: Boeing, EADS/Airbus, 11/14/11) Gulf Coast note: Speakers at the Aerospace Alliance Summit in Sandestin, Fla., in September also projected growth. An Airbus official said there would be a demand worldwide for 26,000 new commercial aircraft; another from GE Aviation noted the company is opening new facilities in Mississippi and Alabama because of the backlog and expected growth of the industry.

U.S. astronaut aboard Soyuz

U.S. astronaut Dan Burbank has become the first American to fly to the International Space Station since the retirement of space shuttle fleet. Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin launched Sunday (Monday Kazakhstan time) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They'll dock with the ISS Tuesday. NASA is paying the Russian Federal Space Agency $1.5 billion to fly U.S. and partner nation astronauts while waiting for U.S. commercial companies to begin round-trip supply missions, likely no earlier than 2016. (Sources: Florida Today, NASA, 11/13/11) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests NASA and commercial rocket engines.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hotel on AF land raises concerns

Resort owners who will be competing against a proposed hotel on Air Force land on Okaloosa Island, Fla., are raising some concerns. They're concerned about the bidding process, and whether other Eglin Air Force Base holdings on the island might end up on the market. The $24 million hotel is to be built, owned and run by the developers, though the land will remain in military hands. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 11/12/11) Previous story

A growing aerospace footprint

The past few months have brought some encouraging developments for South Mississippi's aerospace activities. That includes NASA's plans to build heavy-lift rocket using space shuttle main engines and the J-2X engines that are tested at Stennis Space Center, and the transfer of the former Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant to NASA, adding a 1.6 million-square-foot facility to NASA's inventory at SSC. Other activities include GE Aviation's plans to build a plant near Hattiesburg, and other developments. (Source: Sun Herald, 11/13/11)

Friday, November 11, 2011

BAE closing Texas plant

BAE Systems plans to close its commercial aircraft electronics manufacturing plant in Irving, Texas, next year, resulting in the loss of 160 jobs. The company in March 2009 began shifting much of the work done at the plant to Fort Wayne, Ind., and Mexico. BAE has surplus capacity in Fort Wayne, the company said. (Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 11/10/11) Gulf Coast note: BAE Systems has multiple operations in the Gulf Coast, including Gautier, Miss., Mobile, Ala., and Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Coast Guard trains with A-Team

A crew from the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala., last month trained with the Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha, called the A-Team, and the 7th Special Forces Group of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in series of high altitude jumps from an HC-144A Ocean Sentry. ATC Mobile requested a waiver from Coast Guard Headquarters to allow parachute jumps from the Ocean Sentry. Daytime jumps were done at Eglin and near Meridian, Miss., and night insertion jumps were done around Foley, Ala. It was all in preparation for the 7th Group's unconventional warfare exercise Oct. 26 through Nov. 12. (Source: Coast Guard Heartland, 11/07/11) The HC-144, based on a CN-235 transport, is a medium-range surveillance aircraft manufactured by Airbus Military.

Whiting gets new commander

MILTON, Fla. - Capt. Matthew Coughlin took over from Capt. Pete Hall as commanding officer at Naval Air Station Whiting Field. The change of command ceremony, attended by about 400 people, was Thursday at the air station near Milton. Coughlin's first time at the base was 22 years ago. He received his wings in 1990. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 11/10/11) Whiting Field trains student naval aviators in the primary and intermediate phases of fixed-wing aviation and in the advanced phases of helicopter training.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shuttle gear bound for SSC

The 266-foot-long Pegasus barge, used to transport space shuttle external tanks from Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, to Kennedy Space Center, Fla., is on its way to NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss. Pegasus, which will arrive at SSC Nov. 16 after a 900-mile journey, is carrying space shuttle main engine ground support equipment. The NASA barge and shuttle equipment will remain in storage at SSC until final disposition is determined. Pegasus left Kennedy manned by a crew of four and towed by NASA's space shuttle solid rocket booster recovery ship Freedom Star. The barge sailed 41 times between 1999 and 2011 for the shuttle program. The shuttle main engine ground support equipment was used at Kennedy to install shuttle engines into orbiters. The Kennedy shop where the equipment was stored is among the facilities turned over to Space Florida for future use by Boeing, which plans to use the facility to build its CST-100 commercial crew capsule. The shuttle main engines will be used in the Space Launch System engine testing program. (Source: Space Ref, Florida Today, 11/10/11) Previous story

Utah balks at AFMC changes

Members of Utah's congressional delegation are calling for at least a year delay in implementing the restructuring of the Air Force Materiel Command. In a Nov. 2 letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, the delegation said the Air Force failed to follow procedures, which calls for an impact analysis of changes costing more than $500 million. The delegation is concerned about the impact on Hill Air Force Base. The letter was signed by Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee; U.S. Reps. Jim Matheson, Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. (Sources: Deseret News, 11/07/11, The Patriot, 11/10/11) Gulf Coast note: The restructuring also hit Gulf Coast bases in Northwest Florida and South Mississippi. For previous stories, see Eglin losing AAC, 96th ABW, Keesler to lose 68 civilian positions, Leader worried about Eglin future or the column/analysis, Week in Review (10/30 to 11/5)

Blue Angels show this weekend

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show will be held Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and 12, at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Gates open at 8 a.m. each day and admission is free. The show begins at 9 a.m. with the Blue Angels flight demonstration team scheduled to fly around 2 p.m. Over 100,000 people are expected to view the show each day. In addition to the flying, the show includes static display of aircraft and vendor booths. (Source: Tcp, 11/10/11) More information

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

J-2X has 500-second test firing

J-2X test Nov. 9, 2011. NASA photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - NASA conducted a successful 500-second test of the new upper-stage rocket engine today at John C. Stennis Space Center. The engine will be used to carry humans, cargo and equipment beyond low-Earth orbit on the agency's new heavy lift Space Launch System. Data from the test will be analyzed as operators prepare for additional engine firings. The J-2X and the RS-25D/E engines for the SLS core stage will be tested for flight certification at Stennis. Both engines use liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants. The core stage engines were developed originally for the space shuttle. The J-2X engine is being developed by Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne. (Source: NASA, 11/09/11)

Airport gets a new name

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The airport in Pensacola now has a new name: Pensacola International Airport. The airport, long known as Pensacola Regional Airport, changed its name a few years ago to Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport. Now it's dropped "Gulf Coast Regional" and replaced it with "international." Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward said that while the airport has no international flights, it reflects an effort to raise the profile of the city. The airport also dedicated a new terminal expansion, part of an $82 million, five-year capital improvement project. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 11/09/11)

GD to built robot mine detector

General Dynamics Advanced Informational Systems has been awarded a Navy contract to design and build the Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Underwater Vehicle system. The development and manufacturing will be done in Panama City, Fla., Greensboro, N.C., Fairfax, Va., and Quincy and Braintree, Mass. GD will hire 10 new employees. The system will initially be a part of the Littoral Combat Ship Mine Warfare mission package. The $86.7 million contract awarded by the Naval Sea Systems Command calls for one Engineering Development Model and five low-rate initial production systems if all options are exercised. The system will be able to identify mines in high-clutter underwater environments in a single pass. It also will gather environmental data that can provide intelligence support for other mine warfare systems. (Source: General Dynamics, 11/09/11) Gulf Coast note: Littoral Combat Ships are being built by General Dynamics as well as Austal USA in Mobile, Ala.; Navy operations in the Gulf Coast include the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, Fla., and the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, Naval Oceanographic Office, Naval Oceanography Mine Warefare Center and Naval Research Lab detachment, all at South Mississippi's Stennis Space Center.

Ground broken for Exelis operation

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - Ground was broken Tuesday for the ITT Exelis facility at the VentureCrossing Enterprise Centre in Bay County. The 105,000-square-foot facility will be used by the company’s mine defense systems work. The event was hosted by St. Joe Co., which is developing the 75,000-acre mixed use business park near the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The park will include office, industrial, manufacturing, hotel, retail and residential uses. Gov. Rick Scott said the project is important to Florida because of its strong ties to the defense industry. ITT Exelis currently has about 100 employees in the Panama City area. (Source: Panama City News Herald, Business Wire, 11/08/11)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Florida gears up to protect bases

Six people from Northwest Florida will join six other military and civic leaders from elsewhere in the state to serve on the Florida Defense Support Task Force. The panel, created by legislation sponsored by Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, will advocate for Florida's bases and missions, including high-tech research and development, at a time of Pentagon belt-tightening and the threat of another base realignment and closure commission. The defense industry is Florida's third largest job producer. There are 21 military bases and missions, bringing $58 billion into the economy every year. In Gaetz's district, base personnel and contracts tied to five installations pump $14.5 billion of economic activity into the region. A $5 million appropriation will help fund research and advocacy on behalf of the uniformed and civilian jobs tied to the state’s bases. (Source: Press release, Sen. Don Gaetz, 11/08/11)

Navy extends Fire Scout tour

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The Navy has extended the tour of duty of the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter through most of next year. The Northrop Grumman-built system has improved ground commanders' ability to see potential threats and increase fighting effectiveness in Afghanistan, company officials said. A team of sailors and Northrop Grumman employees began their mission in May to gather 300 hours per month of full-motion video surveillance, and deliver it in real time to ground forces. George Vardoulakis, Northrop's vice president for tactical unmanned systems, said the team has established itself as the go-to asset for intelligence, surveillance and recon in northern Afghanistan. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 11/08/11) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Northrop now arming Fire Scouts

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Northrop Grumman has started work outfitting the Navy's MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter with a weapons system. The Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System laser-guided 70mm rocket will allow ship commanders to identify and engage hostile targets without calling in other aircraft for support. With delivery set for March 2013, Fire Scout will be Navy's first sea-based unmanned system to carry weapons. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 11/08/11) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

NASA: Orion test flight in 2014

WASHINGTON - NASA plans to add an unmanned flight test of the Orion spacecraft in early 2014 to its contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems for the multi-purpose crew vehicle's design, development, test and evaluation. The test supports the new Space Launch System that will take astronauts farther into space than ever before. The Exploration Flight Test will fly two orbits to a high-apogee, with a high-energy re-entry through Earth's atmosphere, then make a water landing. The test mission will be launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The agency has posted a synopsis explaining its intention on NASA's procurement website. (Source: NASA, 11/08/11) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., is testing engines for the SLS and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, will build portions of the heavy lift launch vehicle.

Aviation park $12M away

MILTON, Fla. - Santa Rosa County is $12 million away from an aviation park near Naval Air Station Whiting Field. The county commission received the master plan for the 269-acre Whiting Aviation Park this week from the architect. In an arrangement with the Navy, tenants would be able to use Whiting's 6,000-foot south air field. TEAM Santa Rosa, the economic development group of the county, thinks the $12 million, which would be used for infrastructure, could be covered by grants. The county began buying land for the park in 2001. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 11/08/11)

Panetta hints at BRAC round

One likely consequence of the budget-trimming exercise the Pentagon is conducting is a new round of base closures, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the New York Times last week. Panetta painted a broad picture of the kinds of spending categories that would be slashed as DOD officials search for $450 billion in savings over the coming decade. Panetta said priorities that could gain funding include special operations, unmanned aircraft and cyber operations. (Source: New York Times, 11/06/11) Gulf Coast note: The region has a dozen bases involved in a range of activities, including the priority fields mentioned by Panetta. Last week cuts were announced for Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Hurlburt Field, Fla., Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.

Monday, November 7, 2011

J-2X may do 500-second burn

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - It's not an official objective, but the J-2X rocket engine being test fired at NASA's Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi Wednesday may fire for 500 seconds. The media has been invited to see the test, and officials from several NASA centers also will be there, according to the Huntsville (Ala.) Times. The J-2X, which will power the upper stage of the heavy-lift rocket NASA is developing, has already been tested at SSC, but not for the duration that would occur during a space mission. (Source: Huntsville Times, 11/07/11)

Offensive cyberweapons sought

Pentagon researchers plan to bolster their efforts to create offensive weapons for cyber warfare, U.S. officials said Monday. "Malicious cyber attacks ... are a real threat to our physical systems, including our military systems," Regina Dugan, director of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, told a conference. "To this end, in the coming years we will focus an increasing portion of our cyber research on the investigation of offensive capabilities to address military-specific needs," she said. (Source: AFP via SpaceWar, 11/07/11) Gulf Coast note: Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., is a cyber security training center; Corry Station in Pensacola, Fla., is home of the Navy's Center for Information Dominance.

Eglin's space junk trackers

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – It's not one of the better-known space-related programs in the Gulf Coast, but tucked in the woods of Eglin Air Force Base is the 20th Space Control Squadron. Its mission is to track space debris. There's about 25,000 separate objects circling earth, with one re-entry into the atmosphere a week. Most burn up. The radar is behind a 9-story wall, and personnel use a screen with objects assigned numbers, similar to an air traffic control screen. (Source: WEAR-TV, 11/03/11) Note: The phased array radar at Site C-6, some 35 miles east of the main gate, is one of the most powerful in the world and has been tracking debris in near and deep space for 40 years. For background, see Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2011-2012, Part II, Space Activities, pages 36-37.

F-35 testing picking up

FORT WORTH, Texas - October was the busiest month yet for flight tests of all variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, with 122 completed flights and significant progress on a number of fronts, Lockheed Martin reported Friday, according to the Star-Telegram. Overall, 837 test flights were completed this year through Thursday. Both the number of individual flights and number of test points are running about 9 percent ahead of a restructured plan set out in January by the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Program Office. (Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 11/05/11) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the JSF training center.

334th TRS gets new ATC simulator

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. - A radar approach control simulator was delivered by the 81st Training Support Squadron late last month for use in the 334th Training Squadron's air traffic control course. Officials say it saves costs while increasing course capacity. The new radar approach control simulator features a touch entry display platform to replicate a real-world ATC console at a significantly lower cost, $278,000 compared to $2.1 million. The simulator, developed over 18 months by the 81st, has the look and feel of the real thing, using identical cabinetry. (Source: 81st Training Wing Public Affairs, 11/03/11)

Singapore Technologies 3Q profit up

MOBILE, Ala. – Singapore Technologies Engineering Inc., which employs more than 3,000 in South Alabama and Mississippi through its aerospace and marine subsidiaries, boosted third quarter profit this year despite a decline in sales. ST Engineering owns ST Aerospace Mobile at Brookley Aeroplex and VT Halter Marine shipyards in Mississippi’s Pascagoula, Moss Point and Escatawpa. ST Engineering earned profit of $105 million in the three months that ended Sept. 30, up from a year ago. That came despite overall revenue falling 6 percent in the quarter. The aerospace division saw revenue fall about 4 percent, but operating profit rose 18 percent. (Source: Mobile Press Register, 11/04/11)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Leader worried about Eglin future

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. - At least one local leader is looking past the announcement of a workforce reduction at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is concerned about the base's future. David Goetsch, an economist, college vice president and the newly sworn chairman of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council, anticipates a future battle for Eglin's valuable, multimillion-dollar research, development, test and evaluation function. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 11/05/11)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Media invited to J-2X engine test

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - The media has been invited to NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss., next week to see the next test firing of the J-2X rocket engine, which will be used by NASA's Space Launch System. The test is Wednesday, Nov. 9. The SLS will carry the Orion spacecraft, its crew, cargo, equipment and science experiments beyond Earth orbit. Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is developing the J-2X for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The SLS rocket engines will use a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propulsion system, which will include the J-2X engine for the upper stage and RS-25D/E engines, Space Shuttle Main Engines, for the core stage. (Source: NASA, 11/03/11)

Keesler to lose 68 civilian positions

BILOXI, Miss. - Keesler Air Force Base is slated to lose 68 civilian positions in 2012 as part of mandated cuts affecting thousands of Department of Defense workers. The cuts at Keesler are part of about 9,000 civilian jobs being eliminated throughout the Air Force. While the Air Force is cutting those jobs, which are in management, staff and support areas, there are plans to add 5,900 positions across the Air Force in acquisition, nuclear enterprise, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and other areas deemed a higher priority. About 3,600 civilians currently work at Keesler. (Source: Sun Herald, 11/03/11) Keesler is home of the Air Force's electronics training, including cyber training. It's also home to the 403rd Reserve Wing and a huge medical complex.

Airport shows new scanner

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The Transportation Security Administration began using its new Advance Imaging Technology machines Thursday at Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport. TSA officers have been training on the two AIT machines over the past two weeks. Passengers who chose to opt out of going through the AIT will be subjected to alternative screening methods, which will include a pat-down by a TSA screener. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 11/03/11)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Eglin losing AAC, 96th ABW

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The Air Armament Center is being eliminated at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., but the Florida Panhandle base will remain the Air Force's center for aerial weapons development. Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant, Air Armament Center commander, told reporters Thursday that 351 positions at Eglin are being eliminated as a result of the restructuring of the Air Force Materiel Command, but most of those positions are already vacant. Only 43 jobs remain in question. The changes are a result of the Air Force's bid to find more efficient ways of doing business. At least 9,000 positions Air Force-wide are being eliminated beginning next October. As part of the streamlining, the Materiel Command is consolidating 12 centers, including AAC, into five. In addition to the stand down of AAC, the 96th Air Base Wing, which serves as the Eglin commander, will be integrated into an expanded 46th Test Wing, which will take over installation management next October. Meanwhile, at nearby Hurlburt Field, home of U.S. Air Force Special Operations, 100 civilian positions in base support career fields are being eliminated. Over half those positions are already vacant. (Source: Tcp, 11/03/11)

Restructuring hits Eglin

Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will lose some civilian positions as a result of restructuring of the Air Force Materiel Command. The command is eliminating the position now filled by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant and 136 staff positions associated with the Air Armament Center, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. The Air Force Materiel Command is consolidating 12 centers to five. It’s all part of an effort to eliminate at least 9,000 positions Air Force-wide beginning next October. Leadership Eglin's Air Armament Center will change, but rank-and-file workers will continue to do their mission, said Ron Fry, a spokesman for the Materiel Command. (Source: Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs, Northwest Florida Daily News, 11/02/11)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Contract: Raytheon, $9.3M

Raytheon Co., Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $9,321,529 firm-fixed-price contract modification to procure additional Griffin missiles in support of U.S. Special Operations Command. The following Griffin missiles are being purchased via this modification:70 Griffin Block II A all up rounds, and 21 Griffin Block II A telemetry rounds. The primary location of performance is Raytheon, Tucson, Ariz. Air Armament Center Contracting, Advanced Programs Division, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 11/02/11)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Contract: Speegle, $24.6M

Speegle Construction Inc., Niceville, Fla., was awarded a $24,645,000 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the construction of a Special Operation Forces Operation and Training Facility and an Unmanned Aerial Support Squad Operations Facility at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Work will be performed in Curry County, N.M., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 7, 2014. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 19 bids received. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, N.M., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 11/01/11)

Delay sought in F-35 flight training

The Air Force secretary and his chief of staff have been asked to decide what to do about a disagreement over when F-35 flight training should begin at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon's top official for weapons testing, thinks the fall target date should be delayed by 10 more months of development. But Lt. Gen. Thomas Owen, the general who oversees aircraft development for the Air Force, and Vice Adm. David Venlet, who overseeing the F-35 program, disagree and said changing plans would drive up the program's cost. It boils down to whether the kinks in the F-35 system have been worked out. Gilmore said the JSF team at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., racked up 1,000 hours in F-35As, but historically flight training didn't begin until 2,000 to 5,000 hours of monitored flight tests. Right now the F-35 experiences in-flight problems three times higher. (Sources: multiple, including Reuters, Wired, Time (Battleland), 10/31/11) Gulf Coast note: Six F-35s have been delivered to Eglin, where pilots of all variants of the F-35 will be trained.

Terminal expansion nears completion

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. – Northwest Florida Regional Airport's terminal expansion construction is slightly behind schedule but expected to be completed under budget in the next week. The expansion adds two jet bridges to the terminal and two additional ground boarding gates. The expansion also includes new office space for the Transportation Security Administration, replacing the trailers they now use. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 10/31/11)