Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Contract: Textron, $13.6M

Textron Defense Systems, Wilmington, Maine, is being awarded a $13,600,000 firm-fixed-price contract for 143 monition control units; 5 MCU test sets; 15 munitions application program cards; one wind corrected munitions dispenser dual system support simulator; one WCMD telemetry ground station; 10 WCMD telemetry kits; two instrumented measurement kits; and 1552 lanyard connectors. The locations of the performance are Wilmington, Maine, and Tucson, Ariz. Work is expected to be completed by February 2014. AAC/EBJK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/31/12)

Contract: Kaman, $24.2M

Kaman Precision Products Inc., Orlando, Fla., is being awarded a $24,171,717 firm-fixed-price contract action, which tasks the contractor to provide the Air Force with a quantity of 6,067 of the Joint Programmable Fuze Systems to meet munitions requirements. The location of the performance is Orlando, Fla. Work is expected to be completed by December 2013. AAC/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/31/12)

Contract: CSC, $26.9M

CSC Applied Technologies LLC, Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $26,870,070 cost-plus-award-fee contract for the exercise of option for the base operating support service contract at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The location of the performance is Keesler. Work is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2012. 81 CONS, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/31/12)

GD gets gun system contract

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products was awarded a $23.6 million contract by Lockheed Martin for production of more than two dozen GAU-22/A gun systems for the F-35. The GAU-22/A is based on the GAU-12/U 25mm Gatling gun, which the company has made for more than 40 years. The GAU-22/A is a lighter-weight, four-barrel version mounted internally on the F-35A variant and externally on the B and C models. General Dynamics has been manufacturing GAU-22/A guns for F-35s since 2009. (Source: General Dynamics via PRNewswire, 01/31/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin is home of the F-35 training center.

Parachute grounds F-35

Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters have been grounded due to improper loading of parachutes in their ejection seats. The suspension of flight and high-speed ground testing began Jan. 26 and affects six aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., nine at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and three nearly completed planes at Lockheed's production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. It does not affect eight F-35 aircraft at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., which have older ejection seats. (Sources: Aviation Week, Reuters, 01/30/12)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Contract: L-3, $23.9M

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $23,959,388 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery requirements contract to exercise an option for contractor logistics support and Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department support for the T-39 Undergraduate Military Flight Officer Training Program. This effort includes support of the UMFO government-owned T-39N and T-39G aircraft and associated equipment, including organizational and depot level repair. In addition, this provides intermediate level maintenance and support for Chief of Naval Air Training aircraft, transient aircraft, tenant, and other services activities at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and surrounding areas through the AIMD. Work will be performed in Pensacola, Fla. (75 percent), and Corpus Christi, Texas (25 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2012. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/30/12)

More powerful bomb sought

A huge bomb can't destroy the most fortified underground facilities, so the military wants to make the Massive Ordnance Penetrator even more powerful, according to the Wall Street Journal. The 30,000 pound bunker buster is the nation's largest conventional bomb. The Pentagon wants funding to enhance its ability to penetrate deeper into rock, concrete and steel before exploding. The Defense Department has spent about $330 million so far to develop about 20 of the bombs built by Boeing Co. The Pentagon wants about $82 million more. (Source: Wall Street Journal, 01/28/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base is involved in developing MOP. Previous post

StenniSphere closing

StenniSphere. NASA photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- StenniSphere, the museum and visitor center at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi, is closing Feb. 15. The closure of the facility within the gates of SSC comes as the Infinity science center project moves forward. Various exhibits from StenniSphere are being moved into Infinity to prepare for an opening this spring. Infinity is outside SSC, just south of Interstate 10. StenniSphere opened to the public in May 2000 and has hosted tens of thousands of visitors each year. The facility housed 14,000 square feet of interactive and informational exhibits highlighting NASA’s space missions and the work of other key resident agencies at Stennis. (Source: NASA, 01/30/12)

GE Aviation plant update

ELLISVILLE, Miss. -- The ground work for the new GE Aviation in Ellisville is nearly complete and company officials will soon make a decision on a general contractor for the 300,000-square-foot plant. "We hope to have the building complete by the end of the year and move our equipment in by early 2013," said Rick Kennedy, GE Aviation's media relations manager. The $56 million project is in the Howard Technology Park, not far from Hattiesburg, and is the second GE Aviation plant in the state. The other, in Batesville, produces composite components for aircraft engines. (Source: Laurel Leader-Call, 01/29/12)

Wade: Bay County next hotspot

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- The new executive director of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance said one of the reasons he took the job was his belief that Bay County is in a good position to be the next growth area in Northwest Florida. Neal Wade, during an interview with the Panama City News Herald, said he hopes to snag a major aerospace company for a spot by the new airport in West Bay. He said with assets like the Air Force and Navy bases nearby and major defense contractors in the area, the West Bay area is ideal for an aerospace company to open up a new facility. "We believe this will be a breakout year especially in aerospace, aviation and defense," said Wade, the former senior vice president of economic development for the St. Joe Co. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 01/29/12) When he worked in economic development in Alabama, Wade played a role in that state landing Mercedes-Benz.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aircraft company finds niche

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Aircraft company LSI, operating out of a 20,000 square-foot building, is weeks away from expanding into an adjacent 12,000 square-foot facility. Plant manager Steve McNair said the operation has 40 employees and he expects it will add 20 or more over the next year. The company was launched as Aviation Systems of Northwest Florida in 1994 and was sold to LSI of Jacksonville, Fla., in 2010. The operation converts Army helicopters that are no longer flight-worthy into ground-based platforms to train aviation technicians. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 01/29/12)

Asking the right questions

When the Air Force explains to Congress in February its rationale for a mission consolidation announced in November, the Florida delegation will have some hard questions supplied by two members of the Defense Support Initiative task force. Jim Breitenfeld and retired Lt. Gen. Gordie Fornell have worked for years with Okaloosa County Economic Development Council and were there in the past when attempts were made to move the 46th Test Wing from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. They see a plan to keep the wing at Eglin but place it under a two-star at Edwards as an effort to move valuable research, development, test and evaluation functions to Edwards. They want the consolidation reversed. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 01/28/12) Previous post about task force; previous post about consolidation

Academy slates first class

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The National Flight Academy will have a test class in March followed by its first full class in May. The academy at Naval Air Station Pensacola’s is designed to pique the interest of students in science, technology, engineering and math through an immersive experience. The 102,000 square-foot academy is designed to look and even sound like the inside of an aircraft carrier. The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation raised $18.5 million for construction of the academy and $15 million to outfit it. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 01/29/12)

Friday, January 27, 2012

ABM students get new building

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- There was a grand opening Thursday for the new 325th Air Control Squadron building at Tyndall Air Force Base. Brig. Gen. John K. "Jack" McMullen cut the ribbon, which officially opened the 36,000 square-foot building that will be used to train air battle managers. ABMs provide critical information about enemy activities to both air and ground forces. It's the only schoolhouse that will teach air battle managers in the country. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 01/26/12)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Enders picked to head EADS

EADS has named Tom Enders to take over as chief executive officer when Louis Gallois retires in May. Enders, nominated to a five-year term, was a strong advocate for Mobile, Ala., during the competition between EADS and Boeing to build Air Force tankers. EADS planned to build a 1,500-worker assembly plant at Brookley Aeroplex to build tankers and freighters if it won the competition. Although EADS lost, it has continued to express interest in establishing an assembly facility in the United States because of a backlog of orders from airlines. Enders was expected to be named to the post. Enders, of Germany, and Gallois, of France, served as co-CEOs until opting for an American-style structure with one chief executive officer. (Sources: Mobile Press-Register, 01/26/12, Bloomberg, 01/27/12)

Block 30 cut disappoints NG

Northrop Grumman said it's disappointed with the Pentagon's plans to cancel the Global Hawk Block 30 program and perform its missions with the U-2. But the company said it will work with the Pentagon to assess alternatives to the program's termination. The company said that just a few months ago the Pentagon published an acquisition decision memorandum that said continuation of the program is essential to national security. Northrop, however, also said it's pleased with the continued support for the Global Hawk Block 40 and the Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system. (Source: Northrop Grumman via PRNewswire, 01/26/12) Gulf Coast note: Central fuselage work on the Global Hawk is done in Moss Point, Miss. Previous post

Pentagon outlines budget plans

The Pentagon will ask Congress for $525 billion for the military in 2013, $6 billion less than the current budget. Congress will also be asked to approve a new round of base closures. The request announced Thursday would eliminate some 100,000 ground troops, mothball ships and trim squadrons, but increase special forces, improve cyber defense and put more emphasis on drone aircraft. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, previewing plans that will be revealed in more detail next month, said the proposal "will impact all 50 states and many … congressional districts across America." The proposed budget has the Navy keeping 11 carriers, but retires seven cruisers earlier than planned and delays purchases of subs, amphibious assault ships and other vessels. It also slows the purchase of F-35s. Congress controls the Pentagon budget, which is 20 percent of total federal spending, and regularly intervenes. (Sources: multiple, including AP, Reuters, 01/26/12) Gulf Coast note: The Gulf Coast region builds military vessels and portions of drone aircraft, and has several special operations bases and activities. It's also involved in cyber security training at several locations.

Contract: Raytheon, $17.4M

Raytheon Co., Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded a $17,424,398 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide test integration of software to enhance the system performance of the AIM 120D missile. The location of the performance is Tucson, Ariz. Work is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2013. AAC/EBAK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/26/12)

Embry-Riddle to open new campus

CRESTVIEW, Fla. -- Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is opening a new Crestview campus to meet a growing need for students in the north end of Okaloosa County, home of Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field. "ERAU is the front runner in knowing the needs of the workplace when it comes to aviation related jobs, and we have seen the growth around the Crestview Airport and in aviation related contracts that make up this area of Florida," said Ron Garriga, director of academic support of Embry-Riddle Fort Walton Beach campus. The new campus is on the second floor of a building at the corner of South Ferdon Boulevard and Southview Drive. (Source: Crestview News Bulletin, 01/26/12)

Two BRAC rounds possible

The Pentagon plans to request two new base closure rounds, one in 2013 and another in 2015, to help cut almost a half a trillion dollars in spending over the next decade, according to Air Force Times. The spending cuts imposed on the military are expected to result in the elimination of tens of thousands of troops and cuts in aircraft orders, further reducing the need for military infrastructure. (Source: Air Force Times, 01/25/12) Gulf Coast note: This region is home to a heavy concentration of military bases, as well as military activities at non-DoD facilities.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SSC starting powerpack tests

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- A new series of tests on the J-2X engine that will power the upper stage of NASA's Space Launch System will begin next week. The tests will be on the J-2X powerpack, which is on the top portion of the J-2X. It includes the gas generator, oxygen and fuel turbopumps and related ducts and valves that bring the propellants together to create combustion and generate thrust. About a dozen powerpack tests of varying lengths are slated through summer at Stennis' A-1 Test Stand. The J-2X is being developed by Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne. (Source: NASA, 01/25/12)

Vision to suspend FWB service

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- Vision Airline's flights to and from Northwest Florida Regional Airport will end Feb. 29, and it's not known when or if those flights will resume. Vision started service at Northwest Florida Regional in December 2010 with direct flights to and from Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Miami. Service was expanded in January 2011 and the airport here became a hub. But in the summer some destinations were dropped, others were added. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 01/24/12)

Fire Scouts on 3rd deployment

MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters departed last week aboard the USS Simpson on a third operational deployment. The frigate is scheduled to spend six months off the coast of West Africa and in the Mediterranean. Two airframes are deployed and provide the ship's sole aviation capability. On previous deployments the Fire Scouts were accompanied by MH-60 Seahawk. (Source: Flightglobal, 01/23/12) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss., by Northrop Grumman.

Global Hawk variant to be cut

The Air Force's Block 30 variant of the Global Hawk unmanned surveillance plane is being terminated in the budget request that will be sent to Congress in February, according to reports. But one report says the proposed fiscal 2013 budget also includes $1.2 billion for three additional Block 40 variants. The Air Force already has 11 of the latest models delivered or on contract. In addition, the Pentagon wants to continue an $11 billion Navy Global Hawk program. (Sources: AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, 01/24/12). Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. Previous Global Hawk post

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Contract: L-3, $69.2M

L-3 Communications Corp., Systems Field Support, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $69,277,000 firm-fixed-price contract to provide for the support of the worldwide fleet of C12/RC12/UC35 aircraft. Work will be performed in Madison, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2013. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/24/12)

Monday, January 23, 2012

NATO to ink AGS deal in May

NATO's long process to order an Alliance Ground Surveillance capability could achieve a contract signature within the next few months. A 13-nation deal should be signed before the next NATO summit in Chicago in May. U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steve Schmidt, commander of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force, valued the pending acquisition at about $1.3 billion for five Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 unmanned air vehicles, each equipped with a Northrop/Raytheon surveillance payload. (Source: Flightglobal, 01/20/12) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Operation leaves airport

DESTIN, Fla. -- Emerald Coast Aviation has closed its operations at Destin Airport. It subleased services for Miracle Strip Aviation, one of two fixed-base operators at the airport. Emerald Coast Aviation, which opened the branch at Destin Airport in April, handled aircraft maintenance and repairs and flight instructions for Miracle Strip Aviation. The company also is a full fixed-base operator at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview and provides fueling services at Northwest Florida Regional Airport. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 01/20/12)

Pensacola getting Southwest

PENSACOLA, Fla. - Pensacola International Airport's Air Tran will be converting to Southwest Airlines. The change will occur over the next several months. Southwest bought AirTran in May, and there has been a lot of anticipation about what will happen in markets served by AirTran. Pensacola's airport is among 22 non-Southwest destinations that the company will keep. A half dozen other cities will see service end. Pensacola had been trying to get Southwest for years, including several years ago when the airliner chose Panama City over Pensacola. (Sources: Pensacola News Journal, WEAR-TV, 01/20/12) Southwest also serves New Orleans.

Friday, January 20, 2012

F-35B probation ends

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today said the probation on the Marine Corps version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been lifted, according to the AP. The probation was put in place last year by then-Secretary Robert Gates because of technical issues of the most complex version of the F-35. The program has been plagued with cost overruns and development delays. (Source: AP, 01/20/12) Gulf Coast note: Lockheed Martin is building three versions of the plane, the F-35A for the Air Force, the F-35C for the Navy and the F-35B for the Marines. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the JSF training center. It currently has three F-35B and six F-35A jets. Previous story on probation

SSC to show off J-2X

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA's Stennis Space Center has invited the media to take a look next week at the facilities used to test the J-2X engines that will be used with the Space Launch System. On Wednesday they'll see the test control center, the A-1 Test Stand where the J-2X powerpack will be tested soon, as well as the facility where the final assembly is done on the J-2X. The SLS will launch the Orion crew capsule that will take astronauts into deep space. NASA officials will provide a briefing on the SLS and J-2X and what goes into testing the engine. (Source: NASA, 01/20/12)

Eglin gets another F-35

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A ninth F-35, this one a Marine Corps version, has arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., after a 90-minute flight from Fort Worth, Texas. BF-7 was piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Joseph Bachmann. Eglin, home of the F-35 Integrated Training Center, now has the largest F-35 fleet in the Department of Defense. BF-7 is assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 501 with the host 33rd Fighter Wing. The Marine Corps variant, F-35B, is a short takeoff/vertical landing version of the plane. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 01/19/12)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

F-35 EIS to be released

The Air Force will file a draft Environmental Impact Statement Jan. 20 for the proposed establishment of a second F-35 pilot training center. The Air Force and Air National Guard bases under consideration are Boise Air Terminal Airport Air Guard Station, Idaho; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; and Tucson International Airport Air Guard Station, Ariz. Luke is the Air Force's preferred alternative, but no final decision has been made. The draft statement opens a 45-day public comment period ending March 14. There will be 13 public hearings near the bases. (Source: AFNS, 01/19/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the initial training site.

New career field pilots graduate

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Two members of Beale Air Force Base were recognized as the first RQ-4 Global Hawk pilots in the new 18X career field during a winging Jan. 13. They began training in October 2011 after a decision to establish undergraduate training for remotely piloted aircraft pilots across the service. The new career field is designated for RPA pilots coming from non-rated career fields as well as newly commissioned officers. The pilots will begin flying operational and humanitarian missions immediately in support of combatant commanders worldwide. (Source: AFNS, 01/19/12) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; military aviators are trained in Northwest Florida; the Coast Guard trains unmanned systems pilots at the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala.

Controller blamed for close call

GULFPORT, Miss. -- The National Transportation Safety Board found a near-midair collision at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in June was likely caused by errors made by an air-traffic controller. He cleared a Cessna for takeoff and 16 seconds later cleared a Continental Express jet to take off on a different runway. While both aircraft were about 300 feet above the airfield the jet passed in front of the Cessna, coming as close as about 300 feet. (Source: Sun Herald, 01/18/12)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

F-35 has tailhook issue

Lockheed Martin is working on a solution to a problem with the tailhook on the F-35C, officials said. According to published reports, the carrier variant of the F-35 can't land on a carrier because the tailhook is too short, too close to the landing gear and can't grab arresting cables. Leaked Pentagon documents claim the design flaw has caused eight simulated landings to fail. (Source: Daily Telegraph, 01/16/12) Lockheed Martin has traced the problem to the tailhook design and efforts to fix the problem under way. Tom Burbage, Lockheed program manager, said the problem is limited to the hook itself. The hook system is being modified and tests will be done in the second quarter of the year. (Source: Navy Times, 01/17/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the site of the F-35 training center.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Airbus thinking of U.S. plant?

Airbus may add a final assembly line in the United States to increase visibility in the largest market for single-aisle planes, according to one executive. Airbus parent, EADS, would have had an assembly line in the U.S. in Mobile, Ala., had it not lost the aerial refueling tanker competition to Boeing. Airbus currently has final assembly lines in France, Germany and China. The comment about a possible U.S. assembly line came from Hans Peter Ring, chief financial officer of EADS, in an interview with Bloomberg. (Source: Bloomberg, 01/17/12) Meanwhile, Airbus is adding fuselage work in Wichita, Kan. Airbus North American Engineering Inc. said it's looking to hire 30 new engineers to work at its Wichita headquarters. The Wichita site, which has primarily done wing engineering since it opened in 2002, will now have some fuselage design work on the A350-1000 program. (Source: Wichita Business Journal, 01/17/12) Previous posts of interest: Airbus, Boeing see demand increaseShelby: Airbus still eyeing Mobile; Boeing leaving Wichita

Eglin accomplishments noted

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The commander of the Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base issued a commentary Tuesday about the base's accomplishments in 2011. Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant listed the arrival of the first F-35 fighter and bed down of the Army's 7th Special Forces Group. He also cited the base's rating of excellent in an operational readiness inspection along with several other excellence awards. Merchant said the 46th Test Wing verified the performance of multiple Air Force and Joint weapon systems, aircraft avionics, aircraft survivability, and command, control, communication and computer systems. It oversaw about 15,000 ground, flight test, and training missions supporting 689 programs. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 01/17/12) Note: Previous post on changes at Eglin

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Florida targets UAVs

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- Two speakers at the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council's symposium Friday said the field of unmanned aerial systems is a target area for the state and Northwest Florida. Gray Swoope, president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, said the development and operation of unmanned vehicles is one of the fastest growing fields in the country. Mark Bontrager, vice president of Space Florida, said the federal government soon will designate six areas of the country for unmanned air flights, and he hopes one or more will be in Florida. The EDC already has made unmanned vehicles a priority and created a group last year focused on bringing more development to the area. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 01/13/12)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Two agencies push STEM training

For NASA and the Navy, ensuring there's a pool of talent versed in science, technology, engineering and math is crucial, and both agencies have programs in place to pique the interest of the next generation of workers. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, with a center at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and the Navy, a tenant at SSC, are reaching Mississippi students through several programs. Between January and November 2011, nearly 1,000 educators and 10,000 students have been served through SSC programs. And this year the Navy will launch "Mission Ocean," a year-long submarine-related program. (Source: Alliance Insight, "NASA, Navy push STEM training," January 2012) Full newsletter

Interest in SSC rising

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- The announcement in early December that Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., would test its engines at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., was the latest in a series of stories over the past few months that point to an intriguing future for the rocket propulsion test center. Stennis Space Center Director Patrick Scheuermann said word is getting out about the test stands, the land available for development and the expertise at SSC, and commercial companies are showing interest. "We had been hearing on sort of an infrequent basis," Scheuermann said about companies interested in working with SSC, "but in the last couple of years the frequency has picked up quite a bit." SSC is home not only to NASA, but a host of other federal and state science and technology operations. (Source: Alliance Insight, Companies looking at SSC, January 2012) Full newsletter

Would-be astronauts sign up

Applications close at the end of the month for a new group of astronauts to fly NASA's Orion capsule to points still to be decided. So far more than 1,300 people have applied, comparable to the response NASA received from its calls for space shuttle crews, according to Aviation Week. The capsule, along with the heavy-lift Space Launch System, is envisioned as being able to support missions to a variety of destination. The first Orion flight on an SLS, tentatively set for 2017, probably will go around the Moon, and the first flight with a crew, in 2021, may follow suit. It's also possible that the capsule will dock with the International Space Station, as a backup crew-transport vehicle to the private spacecraft under development. (Source: Aviation Week, 01/13/12) Gulf Coast note: Orion and portions of the SLS are being built at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans; the propulsion systems for SLS are being tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Two rivals have record year

Boeing and Airbus had a record year for aircraft deliveries in 2011, with combined deliveries totaling more than 1,000 jets for the first time. The latest orders included confirmation of a 44-plane Airbus deal from Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris and an order for 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliners from an unidentified buyer. The two rivals increased deliveries to airlines by around 3 percent versus 2010, and have set out plans for record production of short-haul passenger jets to meet demand from emerging markets. (Source: Reuters, 01/12/12) Previous post on expected growthGulf Coast note: Boeing and Airbus both have operations in the region.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Engine moves under way

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. - The relocation of the RS-25D space shuttle main engine inventory from Kennedy Space Center's Engine Shop in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to Stennis Space Center, Miss., is under way. The RS-25D flight engines will be used in NASA's Space Launch System, the new heavy-lift launch vehicle that will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system. SLS will carry the Orion spacecraft, its crew, cargo, equipment and scientific experiments to destinations in deep space. "The relocation of RS-25D engine assets represents a significant cost savings to the SLS Program by consolidating SLS engine assembly and test operations at a single facility," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. The 15 RS-25D engines at Kennedy are being transported on the 700-mile journey using existing transportation and processing procedures that were used to move engines between Kennedy and Stennis during the Space Shuttle Program. (Source: NASA, 01/12/12) Previous post

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

SAIC gets NASA contract

Science Applications International Corp. was awarded a prime contract to build out the Facilities Management Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The award is for construction phase services, value engineering and total building commissioning services. The follow-on contract has a one-year base period of performance, four one-year options, and a contract value of more than $11 million if all options are exercised. Work will be done at MSFC and NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La. SAIC is based in McLean, Va. (Source: PRNewswire, Washington Technology, 01/11/12)

39 Lakotas ordered

The Army has awarded EADS North America a $212.7 million contract for 39 UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters. Thirty-two of them will be produced in the Army's Security and Support Battalion configuration and will be used by the National Guard nationwide. EADS North America has already delivered 198 UH-72A Lakotas to the Army along with five H-72A versions to the Navy for test pilot training. The Lakotas are built at EADS North America's American Eurocopter facility in Columbus, Miss. The S&S Battalion MEP was integrated and tested at American Eurocopter's Grand Prairie, Texas facility. The program of record calls for 345 UH-72A Lakotas to be delivered to the Army and Army National Guard through 2015, along with five already delivered to the Navy. (Source: EADS, 01/10/12) Gulf Coast note: EADS also has operations in Mobile, Ala.

Marine F-35s now at Eglin

Marine F-35B over Eglin. U.S. Air Force photo
The first two Lockheed Martin production model F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft were delivered to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Wednesday. The two jets are assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 501 residing with the host 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin. The aircraft, BF-6 and BF-8, made a 90-minute flight from Fort Worth, Texas. Both fighters will be used for pilot and maintainer training at the new F-35 Integrated Training Center. Eglin now has eight F-35s. (Source: PRNewswire, 01/11/12)

Keesler cutting more positions

BILOXI, Miss. -- Keesler Air Force Base is eliminating another 38 civilian positions, base officials said Wednesday. It's the second round of cuts in two months. In November the base said it was eliminating 68 positions from the 1,607 civilian authorizations in the 81st Training Wing and 403rd Wing. The Air Force is offering another round of voluntary separation incentive pay and voluntary early retirement authority programs. Keesler is a major technical training center for the Air Force, including cyber security. (Sources: Sun Herald, WLOX-TV, 01/11/12)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Task force meets

A task force formed to protect Florida's military bases, in particular its role in research, development, test and evaluation, met for the first time Monday in Tallahassee. Northwest Florida's David Goetsch was named to chair the 12-member Florida Defense Support Task Force when Gov. Rick Scott isn't available. The group decided it needs to move quickly in light of the announced consolidation of the Air Force Material Command. Among other things, the consolidation eliminates Eglin Air Force Base's Air Armament Center and places the base's 46th Test Wing under the command of a two-star general at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The overriding concern is these are steps towards moving the wing to Edwards. The task force wants to ensure Eglin maintains its valuable RDT&E mission. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 01/09/12)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Engine prepped for SSC

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Kennedy Space Center has invited the media to be on hand Thursday, Jan. 12, for a photo opportunity as one of the space shuttle man engines is prepared for shipment to Stennis Space Center, Miss. Each engine, built by Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, is 14 feet long and more than 7 feet in diameter at the end of the nozzle. All 15 of the SSMEs will be sent to SSC, where they'll be stored for use on NASA's new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System. (Source: Kennedy Space Center, 01/09/12) Previous SSME story

KSC takes on new role

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Work is ramping up at the Orion spacecraft facility at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., expanding the spaceport's role beyond launch operations to include final assembly. Tooling to assemble the spacecraft is being put in place in the renovated high bay, first erected for the Apollo project. About 260 people already work on Orion at KSC. The number will increase to about 400 by June in preparations for the first flight test in early 2014. (Source: Florida Today, 01/07/12) Gulf Coast note: Technicians at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, are putting the finishing touches on the second Orion capsule, and will also be doing work on portions of the Space Launch System. "Orion will use MAF for construction of the crew module and other portions. KSC will be used for final assembly of the entire spacecraft," said Jennifer Morcone Stanfield, public affairs officer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

RR to add new test stand

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- Rolls-Royce North America is adding a second jet engine test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center, a company investment of at least $50 million. The announcement was made Monday by Gov. Haley Barbour. Rolls-Royce currently employs 45 workers at the initial test stand operation, and the new stand will add 35 additional jobs. James M. Guyette, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Rolls-Royce North America, said this type of public-private partnership "make it possible for us to invest in America and compete in a global economy." Headquartered in Reston, Va., Rolls-Royce North America opened its Outdoor Jet Engine Testing Facility at SSC in 2007, the first outside the United Kingdom. Testing at SSC includes noise, crosswind, thrust reverse, cyclic and endurance testing on all current Rolls-Royce engine types. (Source: Mississippi Development Authority, 01/09/12)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Contract: Raytheon, $11M

Raytheon Co., El Segundo, Calif., is being awarded an $11,000,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for robust navigation technology. This contract supports anti-jam Global Positioning System development for the High Velocity Penetrating Weapon Program. The objective of this program is to study, investigate, simulate, develop, design, build, and demonstrate technologies capable of operating in a GPS degraded environment. This effort shall provide enough design flexibility to allow for integration with other advanced technologies to help maintain position, navigation, and timing when GPS is denied. The location of the performance is El Segundo, Calif., and is expected to be completed during December 2013. AFRL/RWK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/06/12)

Contract: UT, $194M

United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a $194,097,296 advance acquisition contract with fixed-price line items for long lead components, parts, and materials required for the delivery of 37 propulsion systems for the Lot VI F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program (18 conventional take-off and landing for the Air Force; six short take-off and vertical landing for the Marine Corps; seven carrier variant for the Navy; four CTOL for the Italian Air Force; two CTOL for the Royal Australian Air Force; and associated spares). Work will be performed in East Hartford, Conn.; Bristol, United Kingdom; and Indianapolis, Ind., and is expected to be completed in September 2012. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (19.1 percent), the U.S. Marine Corps (43.6 percent), the U.S. Air Force (28.3 percent), and the governments of Italy (6 percent) and Australia (3 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 01/06/12)

F-35 runway decision delayed

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Air Force has postponed until 2013 where at the Eglin reservation the F-35 training will take place and which runways will be used. The reassessment of the impact of flight training is due to changes in operational tables, or how aircraft will be used, including the number and types of takeoffs, landing and sorties. The reassessment will include a second Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and another round of public hearings. The first SEIS in 2010 listed Duke Field, Choctaw Field and Eglin main as possible locations for the bed-down. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 01/05/12)

New defense strategy released

The new U.S. military strategy calls for a leaner military, reducing lower-priority forces and duplicative operations and ending the practice of maintaining a force that can fight and win in two theaters. The report, released at a press conference Thursday, calls for investments in special forces and technological innovation, including cyber defense. The new strategy streamlines the military in an era of tighter budgets and reassesses defense priorities in light of China's rise and other global changes. Some leaders on Capitol Hill were critical. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., said it's not the strategy for a superpower but "more a menu for mediocrity." Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the announcement sends a signal to friend and foe alike about "America's diminished ability to project power on a global scale." (Sources: multiple, including CBS/AP, USA Today, Palm Beach Post, 01/05/12) Gulf Coast note: The Gulf Coast region has multiple military bases, including those involved in cyber security and special operations.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

F-35 program set to restructure

The Pentagon is set to restructure F-35 program for a third time in three years, sources told Reuters, with production of more than 120 planes delayed to save money and allow more time for development. The Pentagon had planned for 423 planes from 2013 through 2017, excluding international orders. Those foreign orders could offset the impact of the restructuring on Lockheed. Japan plans to buy 42 F-35s and Turkey said Thursday it will buy two, according to Bloomberg. Israel also said it would buy F-35s. Lockheed is building the F-35 for the United States and eight international partners: Britain, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Turkey, the Netherlands, Italy and Canada. Lockheed estimates it could sell 800 to 1,500 F-35s internationally. (Sources: Reuters, 01/04/12, Bloomberg, 01/05/12) Gulf Coast note: A spokesman for the Pentagon's F-35 program office said an F-35B, the first short-takeoff production plane, is scheduled to arrive Friday at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. It had been expected to arrive last month. Previous post

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

F-15 deal brings in Saudi students

Saudi Arabia's $29.4 billion deal to buy 84 F-15SA fighters and upgrade a fleet of 70 F-15S aircraft will bring additional students to three bases in the Gulf Coast: Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. The Saudi students also will train at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., and will receive English language training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. In 2012, the service expects to train more than 300 Saudi airmen under the agreement. The Air Force has been training members of the Royal Saudi Air Force on U.S. soil for more than 25 years. (Source: AFNS and 81st Training Wing, 01/04/12)

35 years of accreditation

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training at Naval Air Station Pensacola is celebrating 35 years of accreditation by the Council on Occupational Education. The council is a nonprofit serving post-secondary education and training institutions to provide quality assurance reviews of workforce training programs. CNATT provides operational and maintenance training, including all facets of aviation maintenance and support. Courses cover maintenance and repair of avionics and electronics; rotary and fixed wing aircraft engines and structures; ordnance maintenance and support, flight deck operations and firefighting, crash and salvage training; shore and shipboard air traffic control; and radar operations and repair. (Source: NNS, 01/04/12)

Creativity saved AEHF

For months military personnel tried to save the Advanced Extremely High Frequency 1 satellite after it failed to launch into geosynchronous orbit in 2010. Valued at over $1 billion, AEHF 1 is the first in a series of nuclear-survivable spacecraft designed to ensure American leadership with communications and was launched in August 2010. But when debris in the propellant line prevented the Liquid Apogee Engine from firing, the satellite seemed doomed to remain in the transfer orbit. But after more than a year, the satellite was coaxed into orbit thanks to engineering creativity. The team used smaller hydrazine thrusters to lift the orbit a bit, then electric thrusters were used in a way never planned: fired for days, weeks and months to push AEHF 1 into a circular geosynchronous orbit on Oct. 24, 2011. (Source: Spaceflight, 01/03/12) Gulf Coast note: The Lockheed Martin AEHF satellite's core propulsion module is built at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous post

Airport air centers sold

MOBILE, Ala. -- Florida-based Signature Flight Support Corp. has acquired Azalea Aviation's operations at Mobile Regional Airport and Downtown Air Center at Brookley Aeroplex from Taylor and Harris Morrissette. Taylor Morrissette will remain with Signature to oversee the two centers. Azalea Aviation, which operates executive terminals at both locations, has fueling infrastructure and more than 100,000 square feet of hangar space between its two locations. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 01/04/12)

Boeing leaving Wichita

WICHITA, Kan. -- Boeing plans to close its Wichita facility by the end of 2013 and move the work to other sites, employees were told Wednesday, according to the Wichita Eagle. Boeing, which has been in Wichita 80 years, had previously said Wichita would become the finishing center for Air Force tankers if Boeing beat EADS in the contest for the contract. Kansas officials supported Boeing over EADS, which planned to build the tankers in Mobile, Ala. (Source: Wichita Eagle 01/04/12)

Larger Fire Scout funded

Congressional appropriators set aside $191 million for the Navy to buy a dozen long-range variants of the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout unmanned helicopter. Called the Fire-X during development, the Fire Scout MQ-8C uses a Bell 407 airframe in place of the smaller Schweizer 333 of the MQ-8B. The newer Fire Scout uses many of the systems of the smaller version, which is now a part of the Navy fleet. The Navy and Northrop are working out details of the deal to buy the C model, which can fly further and carry a larger payload. (Source: AOL Defense, 01/03/11) Gulf Coast note: The MQ-8B version is built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Blue Angels back in El Centro

EL CENTRO, Calif. - The Navy's Blue Angels are back in El Centro, Calif., for winter training. The flight demonstration squadron left home base at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., Tuesday and arrived at El Centro after a three-hour flight. The team will train in Southern California over the next couple of months. (Source: Imperial Valley Weekly, 01/04/12)

More flights to DC slated

US Airways is expanding jet service in Northwest Florida with three new flights beginning March 25. The airline will provide two daily nonstop flights from Pensacola International Airport and one daily flight from Fort Walton Beach's Northwest Florida Regional Airport to Washington Reagan National Airport. The airline said the new service is the result of more than two years of negotiations with the FAA and DOT. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, WEAR-TV, 01/03/12)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

UT shakes up aerospace field

United Technologies made some bold business moves in 2011, analysts say. It acquired Goodrich, creating a "super-supplier" with a vast product line, and unveiled a joint venture between subsidiary Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce. One analyst said the Goodrich buy is a sizable bet on commercial aerospace. UT CEO Louis R. Chenevert was chosen by Aviation Week editors as the person who had the most impact on the industry in 2011. (Source: Aviation Week, 12/30/11) Gulf Coast note: Goodrich operates the Alabama Service Center in Foley, Ala.; Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne assembles and tests rocket engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Rolls-Royce tests commercial aircraft engines at SSC.

Major cuts require notice

The Defense Department will be required to provide Congress two weeks notice before reducing by more than 1,000 the number of military personnel at an installation, under language in the final version of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill approved by Congress last month. DoD also will need to submit a justification and evaluation of the local strategic and operational impact of the reduction in forces. The requirement will not apply during a BRAC round. (Source: Defense Communities 360, 01/02/12) Gulf Coast note: The Gulf Coast is home to multiple military bases, including aviation-related activities.

Monday, January 2, 2012

AF picks Super Tucano

A-29 Super Tucano. PRNewswire photo
The Air Force chose the A-29 Super Tucano as the light air support aircraft, according to Sierra Nevada Corp. of Sparks, Nev., and Brazil's Embraer. The planes will be built at Jacksonville International Airport in Jacksonville, Fla. The $355 million contract is for 20 aircraft, training and support. The single-engine turboprop planes will be used in Washington’s partner building efforts in Afghanistan and other nations. The planes are for advanced flight training, aerial reconnaissance and light air support. Embraer also has a facility in Melbourne, Fla., that assembles executive jets. Last week Hawker Beechcraft of Wichita, Kan., filed suit against the Air Force to negate a November decision to excluse the Beechcraft AT-6 from the competition. (Source: PRNewswire, 12/30/11) Gulf Coast note: Jacksonville is on the eastern end of Interstate 10.