Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dragon ends successful mission

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft splashed down Thursday in the Pacific after a successful cargo mission to the International Space Station. The historic nine-day mission, the first privately owned and operated spacecraft to dock with the ISS, has ushered in what is expected to be a highly competitive field of private space flight. The capsule splashed down west of Baja California. It delivered cargo to the ISS and brought back cargo that will be turned over to NASA. SpaceX is short for Space Exploration Technologies, based in Hawthorne, Calif. (Sources: multiple, including Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, CNET, 05/31/12) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., is testing rocket engines for other companies planning commercial space flights.

Enders named EADS chief

AMSTERDAM -- Tom Enders today was elected chief executive officer of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS) at a meeting of the company's board of directors here. He replaces Louis Gallois, who held the position for the past five years and is retiring. (Source: Reuters, 05/31/12) Gulf Coast note: EADS has two operations in Mobile, Ala., and one in Columbus, Miss.

Canada considers "Polar Hawk"

Northrop Grumman photo
Canada is considering a variant of the Northrop Grumman Block 30 Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft, dubbed "Polar Hawk." As many as three aircraft could wind up patrolling the nation's far northern regions. Northrop Grumman is teaming up with L-3 MAS in the effort. The aircraft's satellite communications system will be modified to cope with spotty coverage found in the arctic, and it will have wing deicing and engine anti-icing capability. (Source: multiple, including Flightglobal, PR Newswire, The Globe and Mail, 05/30/12) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawk fuselage work is done in Moss Point, Miss.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Contract: ASRC, $10M

ASRC Primus, Greenbelt, Md., was awarded a $10,115,260 firm-fixed-price contract to provide for the services in support of aircraft refuel/defuel at Fort Rucker, Ala. Work will be performed in Fort Rucker, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 16, 2013. The Mission and Installation Contracting Center, Fort Bragg, N.C., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/29/12)

Contract: EADS, $26M

EADS - NA, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $26,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract to provide for the modification of an existing contract to supply contractor logistics in support of the Light Utility Helicopter Program. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2012. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/29/12)

3-D scanner a hit at Eglin

Image of F-15 from scanner. Courtesy photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 46th Test Wing's Air Force SEEK EAGLE Office bought a 3-D laser scanner system six months ago, but they had no idea it would make such a difference. The $150,000 Leica HDS 7000 3-D laser scanner and Rapidform reverse engineering software program was purchased to quickly build accurate digital models of Air Force aircraft and weapons for use in aircraft-weapon compatibility analyses. After a month of trial use, they were able to use it to quickly scan an entire aircraft. The lead contract engineer said that four years ago it took six people two weeks to manually collect 3-D data for an A-10 aircraft, but with this scanner two people can collect the same amount of data in two days. Word of the success of the system has spread and other branches are contacting Eglin. Two weeks ago Eglin scanned 13 Navy aircraft in eight days. (Source: Team Eglin Public Affairs, 05/25/12)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lockheed delivers SBIRS core

SBIRS core. Lockheed photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- Lockheed Martin received the core structure for the U.S. Air Force's fourth Space Based Infrared System geosynchronous satellite. SBIRS delivers improved missile warning capabilities, while simultaneously providing intelligence and battlespace awareness missions.  The structure was delivered to Lockheed Martin's Mississippi Space and Technology Center, where engineers and technicians will integrate the spacecraft's propulsion subsystem, essential for maneuvering the satellite during transfer orbit to its final location and conducting on-orbit repositioning maneuvers throughout its mission life. The integrated core propulsion module will then be shipped to Sunnyvale, Calif., for final assembly, integration and test. SBIRS GEO-4 is on schedule to be available for launch in 2015. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 05/24/12)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hurlburt Field bustling

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The chief of the Air Force Special Operations Command told a chamber breakfast Friday that the base is bustling, and it will get more so. Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel said Hurlburt right now has more active duty than the larger Eglin Air Force Base. He said Eglin's 9th Special Operations Squadron will be brought over to Hurlburt in the next year. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/25/12)

J-2X marks first in test

J-2X marks first at SSC. NASA/SSC photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – A J-2X engine that will eventually be used in the NASA Space Launch System had a 40-second test on the A-2 Test Stand Friday. For the first time, test conductors fired the J-2X in both the secondary and primary modes of operation, 20 seconds in each. Previous tests were run in one mode only; combining the two allowed operators to collect critical data on engine performance. Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is developing the J-2X engine for NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. (Source: NASA/SSC, 05/25/12)

Friday, May 25, 2012

ISS captures Dragon

The cargo-carrying spacecraft Dragon successfully hooked up to the International Space Station Friday. It’s a major first for a commercial space ventures. The SpaceX unmanned Dragon capsule was captured by the space station's robotic arm by astronaut Don Pettit aboard the space station. The hookup occurred some 250 miles above Australia. (Sources: multiple, 05/25/12)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Strike in fifth week

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The strike of machinist union workers at the Lockheed Martin plant that builds F-35s is now in its fifth week. Lockheed is under contract to build about 100 planes for the U.S. and foreign governments in five "low-rate initial production" lots. It's delivered 14 of the first 31 aircraft on order, including three since the strike began April 23. Lockheed is trying to maintain production and testing by having salaried employees fill in. (Source: Star Telegram, 05/23/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. It currently has 12 of the 59 F-35s it's scheduled to receive.

Segers joins R-R team

FAIRHOPE, Ala. -- Segers Aero Corp. is now an authorized maintenance center for the Rolls-Royce T56 series of engines. That could open new markets in Central and South America for the Fairhope company, which repairs and overhauls turbine engines. The company has about 104 workers and handles 45 engines a year. Rolls-Royce of Indianapolis announced the 10-year agreement naming Segers Aero as a new member of the Rolls-Royce AMC Global Network. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 05/23/12)

Guard F-35 pilots ready to fly

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Two Florida National Guard pilots are now assigned to the 33rd Operations Group at Eglin and will be the first Guard aviators to fly the F-35. Lt. Col. Randal Efferson and Maj. Jay Spohn will be among the first to learn how to fly the stealth fighter. Once trained, they'll help develop the training and standards for other F-35 pilots. Spohn will be the fifth member of the 33rd to fly the F-35, and the second to train at Eglin; about three months later Efferson will be the 10th military cadre pilot to fly. (Source: Florida National Guard Public Affairs Office, 05/23/12)

Medic joins "Hunters" on tour

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- An 81st Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight surgeon recently participated in the annual 403rd Wing Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour. Maj. Rhodora Beckinger joined the "Hurricane Hunters" of the Air Force Reserve Command's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron during their travel to six locations in Mexico, Costa Rica, St. Maarten and Puerto Rico to perform hurricane awareness and coordinate with local emergency managers and weather services in the host countries. (Source: 81st Medical Group Public Affairs, 05/23/12)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Silver Airways to serve airports

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport will have a new commercial carrier and a new destination beginning in August. Silver Airways of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will take over routes currently served by Delta Air Lines connecting to Memphis through three Mississippi regional airports. Delta had notified the Department of Transpiration in July that it intended to drop 24 routes in smaller markets, including Hattiesburg-Laurel, Greenville and Tupelo. Now, all three will connect to Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport. (Source: Hattiesburg American, 05/22/12) Previous

F-35B has first Eglin flight

F-35B takes off at Eglin. Lockheed Martin photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An F-35B made its first flight at Eglin Air Force Base Tuesday, two months after 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing officially introduced the Marine Corps' variant at the 33rd Fighter Wing. The goal for Marines was to start local area operations and conventional flights, beginning the process of gradually expanding the envelope to short takeoffs and vertical landings and more complex aerial training. Maintainers have been preparing for the flight with engine runs and taxi operations for about eight months since F-35 aircraft began arriving at Eglin last summer. (Source: Eglin Public Affairs, 05/22/12)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

APKWS successfully tested

APKWS test on armored vehicle. Eglin photo
BAE Systems said Tuesday that the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System scored its first-ever penetrating guided-rocket shots with the M282 warhead during tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The tests showed the product's ability to engage targets at close range and penetrate complex targets. Using inert M282 warheads with unmodified flight software, APKWS engaged six targets from airborne helicopters at ranges of 1.5 to 4 kilometers. All six shots hit the target less than two meters from the laser spot. During two live warhead ground shots, APKWS rockets with the M282 warheads penetrated a triple brick wall and an M114 armored personnel carrier. (Source: Business Wire, 05/22/12)

SpaceX launches rocket

Falcon 9 lifts off. SpaceX photo
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The SpaceX rocket launched Tuesday from a pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for a cargo mission to the International Space Station. Falcon 9 lifted the Dragon capsule at 3:44 a.m. Eastern Time. Before docking with the ISS, the capsule will undergo a series of tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the station. (Sources: multiple, 05/22/12) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests rocket engines for other private companies involved in space flight.

Monday, May 21, 2012

MAF sets networking event

NEW ORLEANS -- Michoud Assembly Facility on Thursday will hold a free networking conference for government agencies, prime contractors and small businesses. Held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Michoud Assembly Facility, it's designed to showcase the facility's manufacturing community and to help small businesses find opportunities to grow. (Source: New Orleans Times Picayune, 05/21/12) NASA-owned MAF has 43 acres under one roof.

NATO getting 5 Global Hawks

Northrop Grumman and NATO signed a $1.7 billion contract Sunday for a new surveillance and intelligence system that will include five unmanned Global Hawk Block 40s. Called the Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system, it's designed to support a broad range of missions for the alliance. The deal was signed during the meeting of NATO members in Chicago. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States are expected to participate in the system's acquisition, but all 28 alliance nations are to participate in long-term support. The first aircraft will arrive at Sigonella air base in Sicily in 2015 with full operational capability in 2017. The NATO AGS will be co-located with U.S. Air Force Global Hawks and U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance aircraft. (Source: multiple, including Reuters, Northrop Grumman via PRNewswire, 05/20/12) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawk center fuselages are built in Moss Point, Miss.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Contract: Raytheon, $85M

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded an $85,500,000 firm-fixed-price/cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to procure of Griffin missiles. First delivery order is for the procurement of 22 all-up-rounds and 43 telemetry rounds. The location of the performance is Tucson, Ariz. Work is to be completed by July 31, 2013. AAC/PKES, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/18/12)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

NASA eyes Delta IV stage

NASA plans to use a modified Delta IV second stage atop an early version of the Space Launch System for the unmanned Orion test flight in 2017, as well as for the manned flight four years later. In a May 3 procurement notice, NASA said the Boeing-designed Delta IV second stage is the only means available to support the immediate propulsion needs, and it’s the only one that requires relatively minor modifications to launch astronauts by 2021. (Source: Florida Today, 05/16/12; NASA procurement notice, 05/03/12) Gulf Coast note: The Orion crew vehicle is built at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans; the SLS first stage will use four RD-25 engines, tested at Stennis Space Center; Delta IV is built in Decatur, Ala., by Boeing and Lockheed Martin's United Launch Alliance. The first stage is powered by RS-68 engines, tested at SSC, and the second by a Pratt & Whitney RL-10; NASA and the Air Force are studying a replacement for the RL-10 class.

18 Hurlburt civilians to be cut

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Eighteen civilian workers at Hurlburt Field will be let go as a result of cutbacks announced in November 2011. Most of the positions were vacant when the cuts were first announced, but voluntary retirements and separation incentives did not reach the goal of losing 100 positions, leaving 18 people without jobs at the end of September 2012. Before then, however, they may be placed in other positions. The cuts are designed to return Hurlburt Field to 2010 employment levels. (Sources: WEAR-TV, WTVY-TV, Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/17/12)

Keesler to get new commander

BILOXI, Miss. -- Brig. Gen. Bradley Spacy will assume command of the 81st Training Wing during a ceremony at Keesler Air Force Base on Friday. Spacy will replace Brig. Gen. Andrew Mueller, who has been selected for a new command assignment at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Air Base Geilenkirchen in Germany. Spacy comes to Keesler from the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force in Washington, D.C., where he served as chief of the Senate Liaison Office and was responsible for communicating Air Force priorities and programs to the U.S. Senate. (Source: Sun Herald, 05/16/12)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

J-2X tested seven seconds

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- A Rocketdyne J-2X had a seven-second test firing Wednesday that focused on a modified nozzle extension that dissipates heat generated by the engine. The test was on the A-2 stand at the South Mississippi NASA center. The Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne J-2X is being developed for use in the second stage of NASA's Space Launch System. Another J-2X test, this one a powerpack, is expected next week. The powerpack sits on top of the engine and feeds the thrust chamber system, which produces engine thrust. (Source: GCAC, photo release, 05/16/12) Previous

RS-68A tested at SSC

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- A Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne RS-68A engine was tested Tuesday at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The engine, an upgrade of the RS-68 engine, is a liquid-hydrogen/liquid-oxygen booster engine designed to provide increased thrust and improved fuel efficiency for the Delta IV family of launch vehicles. Each RS-68A provides 702,000 pounds of lift-off thrust, or 39,000 more pounds of thrust than a basic RS-68 engine. After testing at Stennis Space Center, the engines are shipped to Decatur, Ala., for integration into a United Launch Alliance Delta IV to lift government payloads. (Source: GCAC, 05/16/12) Previous

12th F-35 now at Eglin

The 12th Lockheed Martin F-35 that will be used for the training fleet at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., arrived Tuesday after a 90-minute flight from Fort Worth, Texas. The pilot of BF-11 was U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Fred Schenk. The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing production jet is now assigned to the Marine Fighter/Attack Training Squadron 501 residing with the host 33d Fighter Wing, where it will be used for pilot and maintainer training. Eglin now has 12 F-35s. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 05/15/12)

Keesler in running for school

Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., and Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, are candidate bases for the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) and Air Liaison Officer (ALO) School. Recent and current operations have created an increase in demand for TACPs to support Army units. The current TACP/ALO School at Hurlburt Field, Fla., lacks adequate facilities and ranges to train the required number of TACP airmen. Both bases will be evaluated and officials expect to announce the preferred location this summer. The final decision will be made after environmental impacts are analyzed. (Source: AFNS, 05/15/12) Keesler is home of the Air Force's technical training schools, including cybersecurity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

F-22s get short leash

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the Air Force to take additional steps to mitigate risks to F-22 pilots in light of an unresolved oxygen problem. Some pilots of experienced hypoxia-like symptoms, and some have refused to fly the Lockheed Martin built aircraft. Beginning immediately, F-22 flights must remain near potential landing locations, and the Air Force will expedite installation of an automatic backup oxygen system. (Sources: multiple, including American Forces Press Service, MSNBC, Los Angeles Times, 05/15/12) Gulf Coast note: Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., which trains F-22 pilots, is also among six bases were F-22s are based. Previous

GC bases valued at $20.3B

Military facilities along the Gulf Coast Interstate 10 corridor have a combined plant replacement value of $20.3 billion, with three bases accounting for nearly $8.2 billion. According to data in the fiscal year 2012 Department of Defense Base Structure Report, the region between Southeast Louisiana and Northwest Florida has 47 DoD sites with a combined 723,297 acres – more than 1,130 square miles. Many of the sites in South Alabama and Northwest Florida are outlying fields used by aviators for training. (Source: Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, 05/15/12)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mission, local development studied

Final recommendations are expected in June from a study about the impact on local communities from the expected increase in military training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The Tri-County Small Area Studies is a joint project of Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties, along with Eglin. The expected increase in air traffic at Eglin prompted the look at future planning and development to ensure it doesn't conflict with Eglin's mission. Eglin's 2009 Joint Land Use Study projected the number of flights in the base's air space will increase to 427,000 a year by 2014, more than doubling the 192,000 in 2009. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/13/12)

NG's environmental stewardship

MOSS POINT, Miss. -- The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality selected Northrop Grumman's Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point for membership in enHance, the department's voluntary stewardship program. Northrop Grumman earned the enHance designation of "Leader" by voluntarily implementing two environmental enhancement projects and a community service project. The 101,000-square-foot facility, part of Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector, opened in 2006 and does assembly work on the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter and ground control stations for the Navy. It also builds center fuselages for the Global Hawk for the Air Force, the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance system for the Navy and the Euro Hawk for Germany. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 05/14/12)

Tyndall mission statement changed

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Brig. Gen. John McMullen, the 325th Fighter Wing commander, has announced the wing mission statement has changed to "Train and Project Unrivaled Combat Power." The change better reflects the current and future missions at Tyndall, the general said. "On any given day, Tyndall has more than 100 of its members deployed to a variety of combat arenas. With the transition to Air Combat Command in October, Tyndall will also be tasked to provide a full combat F-22 Raptor squadron when called on by the combatant commanders," said McMullen. (Source: 325th Public Affairs, 05/10/12)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Contract: Enterprise Ventures, $12.5M

Enterprise Ventures Corp., Johnstown, Pa., is being awarded a $12,529,511 firm-fixed-price contract for the production of 12 carriage, stream, tow, and recovery system kits in support of the Naval Air Systems Command, MH-60S Airborne Mine Countermeasures Program. The objectives of the program are to design, fabricate, test, and integrate a system for the carriage, stream, tow and recovery of all five airborne mine countermeasures sensors to support the mission of the MH-60S helicopter. The contract includes an option that would bring the cumulative value to $31,969,022. Work will be performed in Johnstown, Pa., and is expected to complete by November 2014. Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/11/12)

Flight academy launches

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The National Flight Academy at Naval Air Station Pensacola welcomed its first class Thursday afternoon. The $45 million academy near the National Naval Aviation Museum creates a science, technology, engineering and math learning environment within a center that replicates the feel of an aircraft carrier. The first class has students are from Escambia and Milton High schools. Astronaut Mark Kelly gave the keynote speech Friday morning. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 05/11/12) Previous

Exploreum gets Airbus grant

MOBILE, Ala. -- The Airbus Corporate Foundation awarded a second $50,000 grant to the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center in keeping with its goal to "inspire disadvantaged children and young adults through aviation." The Exploreum will use the funds to expand its first year pilot youth mentoring and aeronautics program. Dubbed ExploreAIR, the Exploreum's expanded program will focus on students, grade 6-12, and support the science center's ongoing Workforce Development initiatives. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 05/10/12)

Two F-35Bs arrive at Eglin

Two F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing production aircraft arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Thursday after a 90-minute flight from Fort Worth, Texas. It brings to 25 the number of production F-35 deliveries to the Department of Defense. The Marine Corps F-35s, designated BF-9 and BF-10, are now assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron 501 residing with the host 33d Fighter Wing. Eglin now has 11 F-35s. Both jets will be used for pilot and maintainer training at the F-35 Integrated Training Center. Another F-35B, BF-11, is also slated to arrive soon at Eglin. (Source: PRNewswire, 05/10/12)

J-2X powerpack tested

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA conducted a 340-second test of the J-2X powerpack Thursday as part of the development of the next-generation rocket engine for the Space Launch System. Thursday's test is part of a series of firings on the J-2X powerpack, a system of components on the top of the J-2X, including the gas generator, oxygen and fuel turbopumps, and related ducts and valves. On the full J-2X engine, the powerpack feeds the thrust chamber system, which produces engine thrust. The test was to operate the turbopumps over a range of speeds by varying the gas generator valve positions. (Source: NASA/SSC, 05/10/12) Previous

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Contract: Raytheon, $11.4M

Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., is being awarded an $11,435,796 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for central processing unit, circuit card assembly spike extension on the Lot 24 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile production lot. The location of the performance is Tucson, Ariz. Work is to be completed by Jul. 31, 2013. AAC/EBAC, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/10/12)

Contract: McDonnell Douglas, $24M

McDonnell Douglas Corp., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $23,999,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract for indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity for technical support for the Joint Direct Attack Munition weapon system to include non-warranty induction and repair, annual software updates, mission planning support and studies/analysis. The location of the performance is St. Louis, Mo. Work is to be completed by Dec. 31, 2013. AAC/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/10/12)

Senate panel gets F-35 update

Senior Air Force and Navy leaders told the Senate Armed Services Committee's airpower panel that the F-35 remains the centerpiece of the services' modernization program. Vice Adm. David J. Venlet, F-35 program executive officer, said technical and cost issues remain, but the F-35 is an impressive marriage of engine and airframe, and carrier test pilots have lauded its handling. (Source: American Forces Press Service, 05/09/12) Venlet told the panel the next contracts for F-35s will be tied more closely than previously to testing, assembly and software progress. Six of the 31 aircraft in the next round won't be awarded until Lockheed Martin meets at least five criteria, including successful review this year of the latest software release. (Source: Bloomberg, 05/08/12) Venlet later touted a fix for the jet's troubled, high-tech helmet, which officials hope will solve jitter picture and lag time issues. A "micro-inertial measurement unit" is expected to fix the jitter and "signal processing changes in the software and the architecture" could fix the lag. Program officials also plan to improve a camera installed on the helmet which they believe will fix "the acuity and night vision," he said. (Source: Navy Times, 05/09/12) Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin issued a press release about the milestones in the F-35 flight test program, noting progress in the first four months of 2012 ranging from a record number of flight hours in March to the 30 local area orientation flights at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., home of the F-35 training center. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 05/08/12)

MSU hosting UAS symposium

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Some of the nation's leading experts in unmanned aerial systems will be at Mississippi State University May 14-16 for the 2012 UAS Symposium. The symposium will focus on the impact of unmanned aircraft technology on research, defense, homeland security, law, and public policy. The university and the Association of Unmanned Aerial Systems International-Mississippi are co-hosts. The program features a lineup of speakers, panel discussions, flight demonstrations, and tours. Maj. Gen. James O. Poss, U.S. Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, will deliver the keynote address Tuesday. (Source: MSU, 05/09/12) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles, or systems, are built in part in Moss Point, Miss., and bases in the region are involved in UAV activities.

NG gets NETC contract

HERNDON, Va. -- The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a three-year, $84 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract to support the Naval Education Training Command at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Northrop Grumman will provide planning and assessment, curriculum development, and computer-based modeling and simulation training solutions. The team will also be responsible for providing program management and staff support. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 05/07/12) Previous

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The election and Airbus

The political columnist of the Mobile Press-Register takes on the question of whether the election of Francois Hollande as president of France might have an impact on "The Project," shorthand for the effort to get an aircraft assembly plant in Mobile. He concludes the change in leadership at Airbus parent EADS is more relevant. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 05/09/12)

Chamber unveils economic plan

DAPHNE, Ala. -- The Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce has unveiled its new Blueprint for a Better Tomorrow economic development strategy. At a news conference Tuesday, Bradley Byrne, the chamber board's vice chairman for economic development, outlined four areas of concentration, including aerospace. The chamber also wants to leverage the higher educational attainment level of Baldwin County residents. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 05/08/12)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Contract: Northrop, $25.7M

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Integrated Systems Sector, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $25,709,758 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract to purchase three Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicles Lot 5 low rate initial production and one ground control station. Fifty-five percent of the work will be done in Moss Point, Miss., and 45 percent in San Diego, Calif., and is expected to be completed in December 2013. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/08/09)

Report puts focus on F-22

A report on television's 60 Minutes about pilots who refuse to fly the F-22 because of hypoxia-related safety issues has pulled attention back to the advanced aircraft. Air Combat Command in Langley, Va., said it was inundated with requests for response regarding the Sunday report. Investigators have yet to pin down what's wrong with the oxygen system that grounded the aircraft, including those at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for months. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., issued a statement Monday vowing to work to help to solve the problems. He also wants the entire training mission at Tyndall. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 05/07/12)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $237.7M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $237,740,000 modification to the previously awarded fixed-price-incentive-fee F-35 Low Rate Initial Production IV contract for changes to the configuration baseline hardware or software resulting from the JSF development effort. This modification increases the concurrency cap for the U.S. Marine Corps and United Kingdom short take-off vertical landing aircraft; Air Force and Netherlands conventional take-off and landing aircraft; and Navy carrier variant aircraft. The concurrency cap establishes the threshold at or under which the contractor is obligated to incorporate government-authorized changes. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to span multiple years. This contract modification combines purchases for the Navy (64.5 percent); Air Force (29 percent); the United Kingdom (3.5 percent); and the Netherlands (3 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/07/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $14.2M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Ft. Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $14,165,940 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract to implement required design changes that allow coalition training operations for the F-35. Work will be performed at Orlando, Fla. (55 percent), Fort Worth, Texas (34 percent), and El Segundo, Calif. (11 percent). Work is expected to be completed in December 2016. Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/07/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

2nd AEHF launched

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The 45th Space Wing on Friday successfully launched the second Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite onboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V vehicle. AEHF-1 was launched from here in August of 2010. AEHF is a joint service satellite communications system that will provide communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets. The AEHF system is the follow-on to the Milstar system. (Source: 45th Space Wing Public Affairs, 05/04/12) United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Previous on AEHF. Gulf Coast note: Core propulsion work for the AEHF is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

GD gets NETC contract

FAIRFAX, Va. -- General Dynamics Information Technology has been awarded a contract by the Navy to deliver education and training support services to the Pensacola, Fla.-based Naval Education and Training Command and the Naval Education and Training Professional Development and Technology Center. The three-year, multiple-award contract has a potential value of $97.4 million to all nine awardees, if all options are exercised. General Dynamics will provide personnel to support training services including instructional designers, computer programmers, computer graphics specialists, military analysts and senior training analysts. Work will primarily be performed in Pensacola, Gulfport, Miss., Hampton Roads, Va., and Port Hueneme, Calif. (Source: General Dynamics, 05/07/12)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

AJ26 has acceptance test

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- Engineers at NASA's Stennis Space Center conducted a 55-second hot-fire engine acceptance test of the Aerojet AJ26 engine E9 on Thursday. The test on the E-1 test stand involved engineers from NASA, Orbital Science Corp. and Aerojet. After test data is reviewed and the engine inspected, it will be shipped to the Wallops Flight Facility launch site in Virginia for installation on Orbital's Antares rocket. A pair of Aerojet engines will provide first-stage power for the rockets on missions to the International Space Station. Orbital is a partner in NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services joint research and development program. (Source: NASA/SSC, 05/03/12)

TRSS changes command

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Lieutenant Col. Jason Costello assumed command of the 325th Training Support Squadron from Lt. Col. Douglas Kugler during a change of command ceremony Friday. Prior to the change of command, Costello was the 325th Fighter Wing Chief of Safety. Kugler is now the 325th Operations Group Action Officer. (Source: 325th Public Affairs, 05/04/12)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Contract: L-3, $29.8M

L-3 Communications Aerospace LLC., Madison, Miss., was awarded a $29,787,008 labor-hour contract. The award will provide for the labor and administration services in support of aircraft production at the Corpus Christi Army Depot. Work will be performed in Corpus Christi, Texas, with an estimated completion date of April 28, 2014. Eighteen bids were solicited, with eight bids received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/04/12)

Contract: L-3, $48.2M

L-3 Communications Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $48,219,927 labor-hour contract. The award will provide for the labor services in support of aircraft production at the Corpus Christi Army Depot. Work will be performed in Corpus Christi, Texas, with an estimated completion date of April 28, 2014. Sixteen bids were solicited, with five bids received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 05/04/12)

State funds base support programs

The state of Florida will have $4.6 million to spend on programs supporting its defense installations in the fiscal year starting July 1. Funding includes money for three grant programs and the Florida Defense Support Task Force, The task force was created last year by the legislature to help the state prepare for a future BRAC round and attract more R&D and other defense activities. The state last year allocated $5 million for the task force, and the FY 2012-2013 budget adds $2 million more. The grant programs will get $2.6 million. Florida is home to 21 military bases and missions, making defense Florida's third-largest job producer. The state's military presence brings $58 billion into its economy annually. (Source: Defense Communities, 05/04/12) Northwest Florida is home to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Corry Station, Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Hurlburt Field, Duke Field, Eglin Air Force Base, Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City.

Hawker Beechcraft files Ch 11

Hawker Beechcraft, which Louisiana more than a year ago tried to lure to Baton Rouge, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday. The company reached an agreement with many creditors on a plan to restructure its debt. Hawker Beechcraft, based in Wichita, Kan., filed in federal bankruptcy court in New York. The company said workers will continue to be paid and customer needs met. The company employs some 4,700 in Wichita, and has operations in Arkansas, England and Mexico. (Source: Baton Rouge Advocate, 05/04/12, Wichita EaglePRNewswire, 05/03/12)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kelly to address students

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Retired astronaut Mark Kelly will be the keynote speaker during the May 11 grand opening for the first class of students attending the National Flight Academy. Kelly is the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, wounded in a shooting during an outdoor event last year. Kelly, a former combat pilot, will be joined by retired astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan. The flight academy, a replica of the inside of an aircraft carrier, is designed to interest students in careers in science, technology, engineering and math. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 05/03/12)

Science center to show off harvest

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- Infinity Science Center on May 7 will show off its first major aeroponically-grown lettuce harvest from the Controlled Environment Agriculture exhibit. The exhibit demonstrates methods astronauts on long-duration space missions can use to grow food, in this case lettuce grown without the use of soil. The prototype exhibit was developed and built by Innovative Imaging and Research with funding from the Chief Technologist's Office and the University of Southern Mississippi's Business and Innovation Assistance Center, in partnership with the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology. (Source: NASA/SSC, 05/03/12)

Airport gets improvements grant

KILN, Miss. -- Stennis International Airport, just outside NASA's Stennis Space Center, is receiving a federal grant of $855,000 for several improvement projects associated with a new terminal. The projects include construction of a new aircraft parking apron, rehabilitation of part of another apron and repainting taxiway markings. Some of the funds also will be used to improve a runway safety area, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. (Sources: Sun Herald, 05/02/12, FAA, 05/03/12)

UT eyes one Rocketdyne buyer

United Technologies' talks to sell its Rocketdyne space unit are focused on one possible buyer, the head of the company's Pratt & Whitney engine unit told Reuters. UT in March put up for sale Rocketdyne, which makes engines for space programs. It's part of an effort to avoid selling new common shares to fund its $16.5 billion pending takeover of aerospace components maker Goodrich Corp. (Source: Reuters, 05/02/12) Gulf Coast note: Rocketdyne has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; Goodrich has an operation in Foley, Ala.; UT unit Sikorsky has an operation in Pensacola, Fla.

Rubio touts Eglin

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – It would be foolish to move any of Eglin Air Force Base's mission elsewhere considering the decades long investment, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told a crowd at the Air Force Armament Museum Wednesday. Rubio affirmed his support of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Bill marker requiring the Air Armament Center stay at Eglin unless a future Base Realignment and Closure Act deems otherwise. An Air Force reorganization plans to eliminate AAC, merging the 46th Test Wing and 96th Air Base Wing and have it report to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Many fear it's a step towards moving Eglin's research, development, test and evaluation functions to Edwards. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 05/02/12)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SpaceX launch delayed again

The launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 is being delayed again while software issues are worked out. The rocket, carrying the Dragon capsule, is the first attempt by a private company to send cargo to the International Space Station. It was originally scheduled for April 30, delayed until May 7 and now delayed again. SpaceX has a $1.6 billion NASA contract to fly 12 cargo missions to the ISS. Orbital Sciences has a similar contract and is developing a rocket for a test flight this summer from Wallops Islands, Va. (Sources: multiple, including AFP via Space Travel, Washington Post, Huntsville Times, 05/02/12) Gulf Coast note: NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., tests rocket engines for commercial companies, including Orbital Sciences. Previous

L3 unveils military tribute

CRESTVIEW, Fla. -- L3 Crestview Aerospace on Wednesday unveiled the Armed Forces Tribute Memorial, designed and built by its workers. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said it's an outstanding thing for the company to have at its gate. He said the products of L3 go to the warfighter, and the memorial will serve as a reminder of this important work. L3 Crestview Aerospace employs about 900 people at its facility at the Bob Sikes Airport. (Source: WEAR-TV, 05/02/12)

NAS Whiting eyes utility savings

MILTON, Fla. -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast Public Works Department Pensacola, Fla., awarded a $3.6 million Utility Energy Services Contract to Gulf Power of Pensacola for an energy conservation project aboard Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla. The project, designed to reduce energy consumption and upgrade energy management infrastructure of 12 facilities, will start in July and is expected to be completed by April 2013. (Source: NNS, 05/02/12) NAS Whiting Field provides initial training for naval aviators.

NASA picks 10 STTR projects

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- NASA selected 10 proposals, one involving technology for Stennis Space Center, from small business and research institution teams to continue work on innovative technologies that could advance future missions. The Phase II winners in the agency's Small Business Technology Transfer Program now can enter negotiations for possible contract awards, with a total for all projects of about $7.49 million. The SSC-related project is for technology being developed for the Office of the Chief Technologist by Combustion Research and Flow Technology of Pipersville, Pa., and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Ala. (Source: NASA/SSC, 05/02/12)

PW delivers 50th F135

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Pratt and Whitney has delivered the 50th production F135 engine for the Lockheed Martin F-35. The engine is scheduled to be installed in a F-35C carrier variant for the Navy. The F-35C will be delivered to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., this summer for Navy pilot training. To date, the F135 propulsion system has powered more than 330 vertical landings, 2,000 test flights producing more than 3,000 flight hours. Pratt and Whitney is a United Technologies Corp. company. (Source: PRNewswire, 05/02/12)

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $7.5M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $7,516,372 modification to the previously awarded fixed-price-incentive-firm target F-35 Low Rate Initial Production IV Sustainment contract. This modification provides for the procurement of 1,198 active matrix liquid crystal displays, a diminishing manufacturing source part, for all low rate initial production variants. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in May 2012. This contract combines purchases for the Air Force (29.8 percent); the Marine Corps (14.4 percent); the Navy (12.1 percent); and the Cooperative Program Participant (43.7 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/30/12) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Contract: Qualis, Spectrum, $77M

Qualis Corp., Madison County, Ala., and Spectrum Comm. Inc., Newport News, Va., are being awarded a $77,000,000 cost indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity with cost-plus-fixed-fee and cost reimbursement task orders contract to procure operational test and evaluation services to support Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center in accomplishment of operational test and evaluation activities. The locations of performance are Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Eglin, Air Force Base, Fla., Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and Edwards, Air Force Base, Calif. Work is to be completed by Oct. 31, 2017. AFOTEC/A-7K, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/30/12)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blue Angels name next leader

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The Navy announced Tuesday that the commander of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team for the 2013-2014 season will be Cmdr. Thomas Frosch, who succeeds Capt. Greg McWherter. Frosch, a native of Michigan, comes to the Blue Angels after serving as commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 146 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif. The change of command will be Nov. 4, 2012. The Blue Angels flight demonstration team is based at Naval Air Station Pensacola. (Sources: multiple, including WALA-TV, WKRG-TV, WEAR-TV, 05/01/12)