Monday, April 30, 2012

Afghan kills Eglin soldier

A soldier assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., died April 25 in Afghanistan when he was shot by a rogue Afghan soldier. The Department of Defense said Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Britton-Mihalo, 25, of Simi Valley, Calif., died in Kandahar province. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin. The Ventura County Star in California reported that Britton-Mihalo is the soldier that was killed when an Afghan soldier turned his weapon on mentors. Several others were injured. (Source: DoD, 04/28/12, Shadow Spear, Ventura County Star, 04/29/12)

Marine F-35 to start local flights

The Marine Corps will start local area flights on the F-35B this week at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Local area flights at Eglin are on-going with the F-35A conventional take-off and landing version, and the Marine’s F-35B will be joining them once Naval Air Systems Command gives its consent. A senior USMC official told Flightglobal they expect to begin flying on or about May 1. (Source: Flightglobal, 04/27/12)

SpaceX to launch May 7

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to take off May 7 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in a demonstration project for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services. During the flight, SpaceX's Dragon capsule will conduct a series of check-out procedures to test and prove its systems, including the capability to rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station. (Source: NASA, 04/27/12)

Boeing marks 50 in Alabama

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Boeing today celebrates 50 years in Alabama. It's the largest aerospace company in the state, where it maintains its Strategic Missile and Defense Systems headquarters in Huntsville, as well as its largest program, Ground-based Midcourse Defense. Huntsville also hosts Boeing Exploration Launch Systems, which oversees NASA's Space Launch System and support to the International Space Station. (Source: Boeing, 04/30/12) Gulf Coast note: Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and Stennis Space Center, Miss., are involved in NASA's SLS program.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Contract: Sikorsky, $63.3M

Sikorsky Support Services Inc., Pensacola, Fla., is being awarded a $63,331,119 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery requirements contract for logistics services and materials for organizational, intermediate, and depot-level maintenance on 179 T-34, 54 T-44, and 192 T-6 aircraft based primarily at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; NAS Whiting Field, Fla.; and NAS Pensacola. Work will be performed in Corpus Christi (50 percent), Whiting Field (39 percent), Pensacola (8 percent) and various sites within the continental United States (3 percent). Work is expected to be completed in September 2012. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/27/12)

Language added to keep AAC

Under a provision in the draft version of the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill, the Air Force would have to keep a key research, development, test and evaluation facility at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Local officials say a reorganization announced in November jeopardizes the base. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., sponsored the language requiring the Air Force to retain the Air Armament Center at Eglin unless a future base closure action rules otherwise. The Air Force is consolidating the Air Force Materiel Command's 12 centers into five, disestablishing the Air Armament Center and combining the 46th Test Wing and 96th Air Base Wing and having it report to the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Local officials fear the reorganization is a precursor to moving the operations of the 46th Test Wing to Edwards. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/26/12)

Orion test vehicle arrives

Orion Ground Test Vehicle. NASA photo
The Orion Ground Test Vehicle is now at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Operations and Checkout Facility after traveling 1,800 miles from Lockheed Martin's Waterton Facility near Denver, Colo., where it completed a series of acoustic, modal and vibration tests. The ground test vehicle will now be used for pathfinding operations at the O&C in preparation for the Orion spaceflight test vehicle's arrival this summer. The spaceflight vehicle is being fabricated at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La., and is slated for NASA's Exploration Flight Test (EFT-1) in 2014. (Source: NASA, 04/25/12)

Blue Origin tests craft design

CFD image of capsule. Blue Origin photo
KENT, Wash. -- Blue Origin, one of four companies working on technologies for commercial space transportation, said it successfully tested the design for its orbital spaceship in a series of wind-tunnel tryouts. More than 180 tests were done over the past several weeks at Lockheed Martin's High Speed Wind Tunnel Facility in Dallas. Blue Origin, backed by billionaire Jeff Bezos, soon will be conducting tests of the thrust chamber assembly for the BE‑3 100,000-lbf liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen rocket engine recently installed on the E‑1 complex test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center. In addition to Blue Origin, other companies receiving $320 million from NASA for work on space transportation are Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and SpaceX. (Source: MSNBC, Blue Origin press release, 04/26/12)

J-2X starts test series

J-2X test April 26, 2012. NASA/SSC photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA kicked off the next round of testing on the Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne J-2X rocket engine Thursday, gathering data on the performance of the newly-installed engine nozzle extension and test stand "clamshell" as well as on the engine start and shutdown sequences. The test on the A-2 Test Stand begins a second, more extensive round of testing for the next-generation engine selected as part of the Space Launch System. The nozzle extension and clamshell equipment allow operators to test the engine at simulated altitudes up to 50,000 feet. (Source: NASA/SSC, 04/26/12)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blimp as a satellite

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- An SUV-sized helium-filled blimp has been catching some attention in Panama City over the past few days. Suspended 500 feet in the air, the Aerostat is tethered to a mobile base equipped with technology to operate unmanned vehicles from shore. The Aerostat acts as a satellite, relaying signals that would otherwise be out of range of the Naval Surface Warfare Center. The primary purpose of the Aerostat tests by the NSWC is to map the range and area in which an Aerostat can be effectively used to extend the range for relaying data. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 04/25/12)

United opting for Boeing?

Boeing has the upper hand against rival Airbus in the battle to win an aircraft order from United Continental Holdings. The potential value is $15 billion. Sources told Reuters that Boeing is the front-runner for orders for about 180 narrow body jets, and Bloomberg was told by sources that Airbus has dropped out of the contest. The deal could be concluded this summer. Talks had been underway for at least six months about a mix of current-generation Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s. (Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg, 04/23/12) Gulf Coast note: Airbus has an engineering center in Mobile, Ala.

Global Hawk Block 30 hangs on

The Air Force is proceeding "prudently" on the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 program, even though it's targeted for cancelation in the president's fiscal 2013 budget request. That request cancels the Block 30 order, originally planned for 42, and puts 18 existing Block 30s into storage. But Col. Karl Rozelsky, the Air Force's director for the Global Hawk program, said the service is not going to make any major changes until Congress acts. (Source: Air Force Times, 04/25/12) And some action is occurring. While the president's budget request provided no funds to operate the 18 drones, the House Armed Services Committee is providing money and marching orders. The HASC's mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013 includes $260 million towards keeping the Block 30s operational. (Source: AOL Defense, 04/25/12) The marked bill adds 560 personnel to the strength of the Air Force to maintain the 18 UAVs. Another House Armed Services panel would have to add funds to operation and maintain the aircraft. (Source: Washington Post, 04/25/12) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawk center fuselages are built in Moss Point, Miss.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Contracts: Lockheed, $114.2M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two contracts totaling $114.2 million for the F-35. It was awarded a $68,284,013 modification to the previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee F-35 Low Rate Initial Production II contract for changes to the configuration baseline hardware or software resulting from the JSF development effort. This modification defines the contractor's responsibility to incorporate government-authorized changes for the U.S. Air Force conventional take-off and landing and the U.S. Marine Corps short take-off vertical landing aircraft and provides funding for such efforts. This contract combines purchases for the Air Force (55.2 percent) and the Navy (44.8). The company also was awarded a $45,900,000 modification to the previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee F-35 Low Rate Initial Production III contract for changes to the configuration baseline hardware or software resulting from the JSF development effort. This modification defines the contractor's responsibility to incorporate government-authorized changes for the U.S. Marine Corps and United Kingdom short take-off vertical landing aircraft, and provides funding for such efforts. This contract combines purchases for the Navy (77.8 percent) and the United Kingdom (22.2 percent). Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to span multiple years. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/24/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

J-2X set for next test series

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, right,
looks at J-2X at the A-2 stand. NASA photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- The J-2X engine that will power the second stage of NASA's Space Launch System is set to undergo a series of tests beginning Wednesday, the first of 16 scheduled for this year. The Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne engine, called E10001, is at the A-2 Test Stand for tests that will build on sea-level tests on the first developmental engine last year. This second test series will simulate high-altitude conditions where the atmospheric pressure is low. The heavy-lift SLS will use J-2X engines on the second stage to power the vehicle after the first stage is jettisoned. In its first round of testing, the J-2X engine reached 100 percent power in four tests and achieved a full flight-duration firing of 500 seconds in its eighth test. The engine was fired a total of 10 times for a cumulative 1,040 seconds of testing various aspects of performance. (Source: NASA, 04/24/12) Previous

SpaceX delays launch

Next week's launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule will be delayed at least a week, the company said. The delay will allow for additional testing. Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, planned to launch its demonstration mission Monday from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. (Sources: multiple, including Florida Today, Space, Huntsville Times, 04/24/12) Gulf Coast note: NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests rocket engines for some of the companies involved in commercial space ventures.

EOD memorial service set

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Department of Defense Explosive Ordnance Disposal community is hosting the Annual EOD Memorial Ceremony on May 5 at 9 a.m. at the EOD Memorial, Range D-51 in Niceville, Fla. This year's keynote speaker is Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. The EOD Memorial Foundation honors the men and women of the EOD community, and the ceremony adding names is held each year. The memorial currently honors 269 EOD technicians who died in the line of duty since 1942, 92 of them since September 11, 2001. Eighteen names will be added. (Source: Eglin Public Affairs, 04/24/12)

More F-35 turbulence: strike

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The F-35 program is facing more turbulence, this time in the form of a strike. Assembly workers at the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, where F-35s are built, went on strike Monday. Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 776, which represents 3,600 workers, voted Sunday to reject Lockheed Martin's final contract offer. The workers do nearly all the aircraft assembly and manufacturing functions at the plant that builds the F-16 and F-35. (Sources: multiple, including Fort Worth Star Telegram, 04/22/12, WFAA-TV, NBC5, 04/23/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Monday, April 23, 2012

$262.3M Fire Scout contract won

Fire Scout MQ-8C. Photo by Chad Slattery
A $262.3 million contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., for work on eight Fire Scout unmanned helicopters, the Defense Department announced Monday. Nearly half the work will be done at the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss. The contract provides for the development, manufacture, and testing of two Fire Scout MQ-8C, the larger version of the Fire Scout that uses a Bell 407 airframe, and production of six air vehicles. It also calls for spare parts in support of the endurance upgrade rapid deployment capability effort. Work on the Fire Scouts will be performed in Moss Point, Miss. (47 percent); San Diego, Calif. (46 percent); and Yuma, Ariz. (7 percent). Work is expected to be completed in May 2014. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/23/12) Story by GCAC

New airport chief named

GULFPORT, Miss. -- Clay Williams has been named the new executive director of Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, according to the Sun Herald. He'll replace Bruce Frallic, who will retire in August after serving as executive director for 26 years. Williams currently works as a government relations representative for Capitol Resources LLC, managing the firm's Gulf Coast office. (Source: Sun Herald, 04/23/12) Previous

Sunday, April 22, 2012

SSC: Leveraging NASA assets

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – Stennis Space Center is the most capable of four facilities where NASA tests rocket engines, and much of the growth of the facility has been in non-propulsion activities. But with commercial companies grabbing a larger piece of the space flight field, SSC’s assets might prove to be a lure. The latest carrot is the E-4 test facility. (Source: Sun Herald, 04/22/12)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Harris to head 96th Test Wing

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Brig. Gen. David A. Harris, vice commander of the Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, will become commander of the 96th Test Wing, Air Force Materiel Command, at Eglin. Harris' assignment was one of 11 general officer assignments announced Friday by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. (Source: DoD, 04/20/12)

Friday, April 20, 2012

T-34 training ends at Whiting Field

MILTON, Fla. -- Naval Air Station Whiting Field had its final training flight of a T-34 Turbo Mentor Thursday, marking the transition to the T-6B Texan II. The student pilot was 1st Lt. Sarah Horn, and her flight instructor was Cmdr. John Hensel. Most of the remaining Whiting Field T-34s will be sent to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, where the Navy continues to train with that model. (Sources: Pensacola News JournalWEAR-TV, 04/19/12)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Raiders to return to Eglin area

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- Surviving members of the Doolittle Raiders will hold their 71st reunion in Fort Walton Beach next year, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. The last time Fort Walton Beach hosted the reunion was 1968. Eglin Field is where the Raiders trained for the daring April 1942 mission to bomb Japan. They launched B-25 medium bombers from the deck of the carrier USS Hornet four months after the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/18/12) The 70th reunion was held this week at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio. Four of the five surviving members of the bomber crews attended the event. The raid boosted American morale and showed the Japanese populace the homeland was not invulnerable. (Sources: Reuters, 04/18/12, Washington Times, 04/19/12)

Hearing set in suit

Alabama Aircraft Industries will try to convince a federal judge in Birmingham, Ala., next month to allow its $100 million lawsuit against Boeing to proceed. The small company filed suit in September in which it argued that its former business partner, Boeing, stole proprietary data that let the aerospace giant win $1.3 billion in contracts to maintain KC-135 refueling aircraft. Boeing has filed a motion to dismiss the suit. (Source: Reuters, 04/18/12)

Scandal touches Eglin

The prostitution scandal in Colombia is now touching Northwest Florida. There are reports that the U.S. Southern Command is investigating the role of five soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group, based at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Eleven members of the Secret Service that protects the president and other top officials have been linked by the agency to the scandal. They are accused of bringing prostitutes to a hotel in Colombia ahead of last week's Summit of the Americas attended by President Obama. (Sources: multiple, including CNN, Fayetteville Observer, 04/19/12)

Circling plane crashes in Gulf

A twin-engine Cessna on a flight between Slidell, La., and Sarasota, Fla., crashed in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday. The pilot was unresponsive for several hours and radar tracked the plane flying in loops over the Gulf of Mexico, about 150 miles south of the Florida Panhandle. Military jets from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and a Coast Guard aircraft from Mobile, Ala., were sent to the scene to monitor the situation. Officials believe the pilot was the only person in the plane. (Source: multiple, including ABC News, CBS News, 04/19/12)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SLS main to sport 4-engine setup

The main stage of NASA's Space Launch System being developed for deep space exploration will use four RD-25D space shuttle main engines. Engineers also considered three- and five-engine versions, Boeing officials said at the National Space Symposium in Colorado. After the RD-25D supply is used up, a throwaway version, the RD-25E, will be used. The main stage of SLS will be assembled at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans using friction-stir welders, and probably will be built of aluminum lithium. The first unmanned SLS flight is scheduled for 2017, and the first flight carrying the Lockheed Martin developed Orion crew capsule is slated for 2021. (Source: Aviation Week, 04/18/12) Gulf Coast note: Michoud also is building the Orion crew capsule; the RD-25 engines will be tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss., which is also testing the J-2X that will be used in the second stage.

Airport chief retiring

GULFPORT, Miss. -- Longtime Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport executive director Bruce Frallic is retiring in August. He served in his current position for 26 years and during that time guided the airport through the advent of the casino industry, the downturn in travel after 9/11, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the rebuilding that followed. The growth of South Mississippi as a casino destination brought a 400 percent increase in passenger boardings in the 90s, according to airport records. Frallic began his aviation career in 1967 in the Marine Corps. Of his 45 years in the aviation industry, 40 have been in commercial and airport management. Frallic also has worked at airports in Pensacola, Fla., and Hattiesburg, Miss. (Source: Sun Herald, Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, 04/18/12)

BRAC discussed at meeting

CRESTVIEW, Fla. -- An executive with the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council told the Crestview City Council that a trip to the nation's capital last month included more than 50 area leaders from five counties. Kay Rasmussen, vice president of community and economic development, said the annual Northwest Florida Defense Coalition meeting included officials from Okaloosa, Escambia, Santa Rosa, Walton and Bay counties who met with government and military officials. "We do this to speak with one voice for our communities," Rasmussen said, according to the Crestview News Bulletin. Topics discussed with the congressional delegation included the possibility of another Base Realignment and Closure round and the Air Force Material Command reorganization affecting the Eglin Air Force Base Air Armament Center. (Source: Crestview News Bulletin, 04/18/12) Previous BRAC; Previous reorganization

Orion parachute testing continues

NASA on Tuesday successfully conducted a drop test of the Orion crew vehicle's entry, descent and landing parachutes in preparation for the vehicle's orbital flight test, Exploration Flight Test -1, in 2014. A C-130 dropped a dart-shaped test vehicle with a simulated Orion parachute compartment from an altitude of 25,000 feet above the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. Orion will carry astronauts deeper into space than ever before, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during space travel and ensure a safe re-entry and landing. (Source: NASA, 04/17/12) Gulf Coast note: The Orion capsule is built in New Orleans at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility. Previous on EFT-1.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Contract: Boeing, $9.4M

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $9,353,862 firm-fixed-price contract to procure focused lethality munitions Small Diameter Bomb I variant. The location of the performance is St. Louis, Mo. Work is to be completed by Dec. 31, 2013. AAC/EBMK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/17/12)

UAVs become college majors

Top flight-training school Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and other universities have created majors for students interested in unmanned aerial vehicles. As the Federal Aviation Administration prepares to let unmanned aircraft operate in the national airspace, universities are getting into the act with programs to fly and build drones. They’re catering to a new generation of pilots who have no interest in getting airborne themselves. The drone industry worldwide is expected to grow to $11.3 billion annually by 2021. (Source: Bloomberg, 04/16/12) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts and Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; military base in the region are involved in using UAVs.

F-35 center begins formal training

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The integrated joint strike fighter training team has opened the doors for the first Air Force certification courses on the logistical support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The 33rd Fighter Wing has eight basic familiarization courses now in session at the academic training center with courses currently scheduled through early next year. About 100 maintenance students from three branches of service began the inaugural classes March 19. (Source: Team Eglin Public Affairs, 04/11/12)

Monday, April 16, 2012

First UK F-35 takes flight

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The UK's first production F-35, the short take-off and vertical landing jet, completed its 45-minute inaugural flight April 13. The plane, BK-1, will undergo a series of tests before being handed over to the UK's Ministry of Defence, which will then begin training and further testing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., later this year. BK-1 is the first of three F-35 jets that the UK has committed to buy -- two F-35Bs and one F-35C -- but the final size and makeup of the F-35 fleet order has yet to be determined. (Source: Defence Management Journal, Lockheed Martin, 04/16/12)

F-35 draft EIS released

The Air Force released the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed operational basing of F-35s, kicking off a series of public hearings. Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the preferred alternative for the active duty operational location and Burlington Air Guard Station, Vt., is the preferred alternative for the Air National Guard. The other active and Air National Guard alternatives under consideration are Jacksonville AGS, Fla.; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; and Shaw AFB/McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. "The Air Force is analyzing the impacts of basing three squadrons of 24 aircraft each at the active duty location and one squadron of 24 aircraft at the Air National Guard location," said Kathleen Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Installations. A final decision is expected in the fall of 2012. (Source: AFNS, 04/13/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $258.8M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $258,800,000 not-to-exceed undefinitized modification to the previously awarded F-35 low rate initial production Lot 5 contract, including one additional conventional take-off and landing aircraft for the Air Force and one additional carrier variant aircraft for the Navy. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas; El Segundo, Calif.; Warton, United Kingdom; Orlando, Fla.; Nashua, N.H.; and Baltimore, Md. Work is expected to be completed in February 2014. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/13/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

NASA, AF to study joint engine

NASA and the Air Force will study next-generation upper stage propulsion, formalizing their interest in a new upper stage engine to replace the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL-10. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., hopes to find a less expensive RL-10-class engine for a third stage of the Space Launch System. Two engines have already been pegged for the SLS: the Space Shuttle Main Engines will power the first stage and the Rocketdyne J-2X will power the second stage. The Air Force Space and Missile System Center's Launch Systems Directorate in Los Angeles hopes to replace the RL-10 engines used on the upper stage of the Atlas V and Delta IV used to launch satellites. Partnering will help reduce costs and strengthen the nation's rocket propulsion industrial base, NASA said. "In recent years, it's become apparent that the rocket propulsion industry is in a state of distress,” said Dale Thomas, Associated Director for Technical Issues at Marshall. “Collaborating, especially in a time of declining budgets, helps to grow and strengthen the knowledge base which is important for our nation's technical pre-eminence." (Source: NASA/Marshall, Flightglobal, AvioNews, 04/12/12) Gulf Coast note: Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, is building portions of the SLS, including the Orion crew vehicle; Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests NASA and commercial rocket engine systems, including the J-2X and SSME.

F-35s have first formation sortie

F-35s in formation. Air Force photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Two F-35As from the 33rd Fighter Wing had their first formation flight over Eglin's range April 10. Lt. Col. Eric Smith, 58th Fighter Squadron director of operations, flew the lead aircraft while Marine Maj. Joseph Bachmann, Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 aircraft maintenance officer, flew wingman. The pilots, both first in their service qualified to fly the F-35, were validating pilot syllabus objectives in preparation for future training. The 33rd FW is responsible for F-35 A/B/C pilot and maintainer training for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and in the future, at least eight coalition partners. (Source: Air Force, 04/13/12)

Airport ponders two carriers

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport is expected to make a decision within a month on a replacement carrier to take over for Delta Air Lines. Airport Director Thomas Heanue said the airport is considering bids submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation by Silver Airways and Air Choice One Airlines. Delta notified the transportation department last July that it intended to drop 24 routes in smaller markets across the nation, including Hattiesburg. (Source: Hattiesburg American, 04/12/12)

Airmen to get medals

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Four members of the 96th Explosive Ordnance will get five medals in a ceremony April 19 at 9 a.m. Tech Sgt. James Fitzgerald and Staff Sgt. Kelly Badger will be awarded Bronze Stars. Staff Sgts. Kevin Parke and Christopher Lacy will be awarded the Purple Heart. Parke was injured in two separate incidents in Afghanistan and will receive two Purple Hearts. (Source: Eglin Air Force Base, 04/13/12)

Cyber will help Keesler

BILOXI, Miss. -- The heavy emphasis on cyberwarfare and other high-tech subjects taught at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., should ensure the installation plays a key role for the U.S. military into the future, a top Air Force intelligence official said in an interview with the Sun Herald. "Keesler is one of the most important bases in the Air Force," said Maj. Gen. James Poss, assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The Air Force set up its undergraduate cyberspace training unit at Keesler in 2010. Poss said the Gulf Coast is turning into the "Cyber Coast," noting that the Navy is involved in cyberwarefare traininge in Pensacola, Fla., two hours away. (Source: Sun Herald, 04/11/12) Cyber training also is done at Hurlburt Field, Fla., less than an hour from Pensacola.

DRS drops 150 workers

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- Defense contractor DRS Technologies laid off 150 workers Thursday as a result of the defense spending downturn. Richard Goldberg, senior vice president of public affairs, said the cut was across the board in every department, including hourly employees and managers. The company still employs about 450 people in its operation at the Fort Walton Beach Commerce and Technology Park. "We hope business will improve and we'll be able to bring some people back," Goldberg said. DRS, headquartered in Parsippany, N.J., is a supplier of integrated products, services and support to military forces. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/12/12)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Contract: Boeing, $98.8M

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $98,800,000 not-to-exceed cost-plus-incentive-fee and firm-fixed-priced contract to procure enhanced threat response redesign for the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a quick reaction capability program. The location of performance is St. Louis, Mo. Work is to be completed by March 30, 2014. AAC/EBDK/EDBJ, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/12/12)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

SSC gets new research center

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA's Stennis Space Center will be the home of the National Oceans and Applications Research Center, Gov. Phil Bryant said Wednesday at the ribbon-cutting for the Infinity Science Center. NOARC will combine the capabilities of NASA, NOAA and the Navy to analyze and understand the Gulf of Mexico watershed and other oceans NOAA monitors. Bryant said the center will be the "Woods Hole of the South," a reference to the world-renown center in Massachusetts. NOARC data could be used to develop environmental management best practices, identify optimal sites to build infrastructure and help guide coastal restoration efforts. NOARC will leverage a partnership with the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology to help encourage the development of small businesses that benefit from NOARC data. NOARC will be funded with remaining monies that BP granted to Mississippi during the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. The center will receive initial funding of $500,000 to provide for basic startup needs. (Sources: Sun Herald, WLOX-TV, press release, 04/11/12) Stennis Space Center is home to 30 agencies, including NASA and NOAA. It's also the center for the Navy's oceanographic work.

Drone use up in 30-year plan

Bloomberg reports that the military will increase its fleet of unmanned aerial aircraft at least 45 percent over the next 10 years. That information is in the Pentagon's 30-year aviation report. The inventory of pilotless aircraft will grow from 445 in fiscal year 2013 to 645 in fiscal year 2022. Bloomberg said the Defense Department plans to spend $770 billion on aviation assets from 2013 to 2022, a figure that includes drones and all other aviation assets. (Source: Bloomberg, 04/10/12) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned aircraft are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Infinity opens this week

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. -- The $30 million, 72,000-square-foot Infinity Science Center opens to the public at 10 a.m. Thursday. Infinity is just west of the Mississippi Welcome Center, off Interstate 10 at Exit 2, and officials expect it to be a major tourist attraction. The center showcases the activities of NASA and the 30 agencies at NASA's nearby Stennis Space Center. Exhibits include the Science Express, Science on a Sphere and the Space Gallery. The outdoor exhibits include an F-1 rocket engine, like the ones that powered Saturn V rockets used in the Apollo program. The ribbon-cutting, not open to the public, is set for Wednesday. (Sources: Mississippi Press, 04/09/12, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 04/10/12)

Fire Scout mishaps probed

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. -- The Navy has temporarily suspended Fire Scout flight operations while it investigates two unrelated operational mishaps with the MQ-8B unmanned helicopter. A Fire Scout operating off USS Simpson late last month was ditched at sea after a mission when it was unable to lock on to the landing system. The crew later recovered the Fire Scout. Then in an April 6 incident, a Fire Scout crashed in northern Afghanistan while on a surveillance mission. The Navy has 14 Fire Scouts in inventory. Since 2006 Fire Scouts have accumulated more than 5,000 flight hours with more than 3,000 in operational deployments. (Source: NNS, 04/10/12) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Contract: EADS, $12.8M

EADS North America, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $12,830,935 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the contractor logistic support services. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2012. Five bids were solicited, with three bids received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/09/12)

Contract: Roy Anderson, $26M

Roy Anderson Group, Gulfport, Miss., was awarded a $25,942,000 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the construction of a terminal high altitude area defense instructional facility at Fort Sill, Okla. Work will be performed in Lawton, Okla., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 1, 2014. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 12 bids received. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa, Okla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/09/12)

Contract: L and M Welding, $8.5M

L and M Welding, Mobile, Ala., was issued a fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract with a maximum $8,500,000 for torch repair kits. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. There was one response to the Web proposal. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2012 Defense Working Capital Funds. The date of performance completion is April 8, 2014. The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/09/12)

Airport cop search narrows

VALPARAISO, Fla. -- Northwest Florida Regional Airport officials are closer to getting a new in-house police force. Airport Police Chief Melvin Tennyson and Sgt. Richard Noiseux recently completed interviews with 12 officer candidates. Okaloosa County plans to hire eight. Airport and county officials hope to make offers to candidates in the next two to three weeks. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/08/12)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

NASA appointments

Mississippi native Arthur E. "Gene" Goldman has been named acting director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. He was named to the post last month after serving as deputy director from March 2010. From 2008 until 2010 Goldman was the director of Stennis Space Center, Miss. In addition, Robert Champion, a native of Woodstock, Ala., has been appointed deputy director of Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, where he was acting deputy director and chief operations officer from 2010 until this latest appointment. Earlier, Chris M. Crumbly, a native of Rome, Ga., was appointed director of Michoud, where he had been deputy director from March 2011. (Sources: NASA, 04/05/12, 04/06/12, 04/03/12)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fire Scout to get smarter

Navy Fire Scout unmanned helicopters will be getting smarter about hunting pirates thanks to an Office of Naval Research-funded project that will help the robots autonomously distinguish pirate boats from other vessels. The Navy plans to upgrade Fire Scouts with the Multi-Mode Sensor Seeker, a mix of cameras, infrared sensors and LIDAR that will provide 3-D laser images. MMSS is designed to reduce the workload of sailors operating Fire Scouts from control stations aboard Navy ships. Testing begins this summer off the coast of California. (Source: Office of Naval Research, 04/05/12) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in Moss Point, Miss., by Northrop Grumman; Fire Scouts will eventually serve on the Navy's Littoral Combat Ships, a version of which is being built in Mobile, Ala., by Austal USA; the Office of Naval Research's Naval Research Laboratory has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New squadron preps for F-35

F-35C at Patuxent River. Lockheed Martin photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- While Navy personnel are busy preparing to teach the next generation of sailors how to work with and fly the F-35C, Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101) readies for its stand-up ceremony on Eglin Air Force Base May 1. The original Fighter Squadron 101 was established May 1, 1952 and flew various aircraft, including the F-4 Phantom and F-14 Tomcat. It was disestablished in 2005 with retirement of the F-14. VFA-101 will be re-established May 1 at a new hangar and training facility on Eglin, training pilots and maintainers for the fleet. VFA-101 is a part of the 33rd Fighter Wing, a joint-service training wing responsible for F-35 A/B/C pilot and maintenance training for the Navy, Marine Corps, and the Air Force. Initially, 59 aircraft and three flying squadrons, one for each service's aircraft variant will be based at Eglin. The F-35 Academic Training Center serves as the schoolhouse, where wing personnel expect to train more than 2,000 maintenance students and 100 pilots each year. (Source: NNS, 04/05/12)

Contract: Northrop Grumman, $27M

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Aerospace Systems, Melbourne, Fla., is being awarded a $27,058,492 modification to previously awarded contract for the procurement of the AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) low rate initial production. Work will be performed in Melbourne, Fla. (36.2 percent); Tucson, Ariz. (34 percent); St. Charles, Mo. (12.5 percent); Irvine, Calif. (8 percent); San Clarita, Calif. (5 percent); and Edgewood, N.Y. (4.3 percent). Work is expected to be completed by April 2014. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/05/12)

First Dutch F-35 rolls out

Dutch F-35. Lockheed Martin photo
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The first F-35 for The Netherlands rolled out of the F-35 production facility earlier this month in Texas. This is the latest step in the production process leading to its eventual assignment this summer to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., home of the F-35 training center. The Netherlands will use the conventional takeoff and landing jet, known as AN-1, for training and operational tests for pilots and maintainers. AN-1 will undergo functional fuel system checks before being transported to the flight line for ground and flight tests in the coming weeks. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 04/04/12)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Contract: ALFAB, $150M

ALFAB Inc., Enterprise, Ala., is being awarded a not-to-exceed $150,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the procurement of AM-2 matting packages: F-71, F-72, F-73, and F-78 for the expeditionary airfield. The matting packages include end frames, stampings/markings, end sheets, and locking bars. Matting is designed to interlock in a brickwork type pattern and provides for the construction of portable runways and taxiways for aircraft launch and recovery. Work will be performed in Enterprise, Ala., and is expected to be completed in April 2017. This contract was competitively procured via electronic request for proposals as a 100 percent small business set-aside; three offers were received. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, N.J., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/04/12)

BRAC request sent to Congress

The BRAC process would look very similar to the 2005 round under the legislative proposal the Defense Department sent to Congress for base closure rounds in 2013 and 2015. The process for appointing commissioners, milestones and reports DOD must meet, and more, are essentially unchanged from the last round, based on a preliminary analysis of DoD's 36-page proposal. Lawmakers have made it clear that they have no appetite to authorize a BRAC round in 2013. (Source: Defense Communities 360, 04/04/12) Gulf Coast note: BRAC is of high interest to the Gulf Coast region, which has multiple military bases.

County eyes new airport road

CRESTVIEW, Fla. -- Okaloosa County airport officials hope to secure $12 million in federal stimulus money to build a road that would connect Bob Sikes Airport to U.S. Highway 90. The money is part of $500 million that will be made available through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery program. County Airports Director Greg Donovan said more than 1,200 people enter and exit the airport daily, and driving along a residential area is inadequate. He said the road would open the door for other businesses at the airport. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/03/12)

Moss Point site recognized

Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., is among eight sites in the company’s Aerospace Systems sector to earn International Organization for Standardization 14001 registration. The other sites are in San Diego, El Segundo and Palmdale, Calif.; Melbourne and St. Augustine, Fla.; Bethpage, N.Y.; and New Town, N.D. In addition, Moss Point, San Diego and New Town received the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series 18001 certification for managing employees' health and safety in the workplace. Moss Point recorded zero injuries two of the last three years and reduced hazardous waste generation by 10 percent year over year between 2008 and 2010. The registrations and certifications are renewals from previous years. (Source: Globe Newswire, 04/03/12)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Alabama eyes spaceport

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama lawmakers are looking at the possibility of establishing a commercial spaceport somewhere in the state. Legislators from Alabama's state Senate and House of Representatives met in the joint committee room to announce they would introduce joint resolutions to set up a nine-member panel to look at creating a spaceport authority. That authority could then apply for approval to build a spaceport. (Source: multiple, including AP via Montgomery Advertiser, Birmingham News, WHNT-TV, 03/03/12)

Monday, April 2, 2012

New AAS unveiled

EADS North America unveiled its Armed Aerial Scout 72X+ (AAS-72X+) at the annual Army Aviation Association of America convention in Nashville, Tenn., during a press conference. The armed derivative of the Army’s UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter will be built by the company's American Eurocopter business unit in Columbus, Miss. Three Armed Aerial Scout Technical Demonstrator Aircraft have already been developed, tested and flown by EADS. (Source: EADS North America, 04/02/12) EADS is one of several competitors for the program to replace the OH-58 Kiowa Warriors.

Integrated assembly line produces

Integrated Assembly Line. Northrop photo
PALMDALE, Calif. -- Northrop Grumman's first F-35 center fuselage produced by its auto-industry inspired Integrated Assembly Line was delivered to Lockheed Martin last month. The company has delivered 69 center fuselages since 2005, but this is the first from the IAL. It was developed and designed with the help of the Detroit-based KUKA Robotics Aerospace Division, a commercial automation integrator. As a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team, Northrop Grumman, among other things, produces the center fuselage and designed and produces the aircraft's radar and other avionics. (Source: Globe Newswire, 04/02/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base is home of the F-35 training center.

Suit blames engine maker

MOBILE, Ala. -- Continental Motors has been accused of making a defective engine that caused a 2010 plane crash that killed a jogger on the beach in Hilton Head, S.C. Attorneys for the Mobile-based manufacturer, know as Teledyne Continental Motors before its sale to China’s AVIC last year, say the engine had nothing to do with the accident. The pilot of the kit-built plane and several other companies involved in the manufacturer and maintenance of the plane are also defendants in the suit filed in South Carolina. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 04/02/12)