Saturday, March 30, 2013

Contract: L-3 Vertex, $10.6M

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC., Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $10,606,604 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery requirements contract for maintenance and logistics services, including labor, services, facilities, equipment, tools, direct and indirect material, and related support equipment required to support and maintain the T-39N and T-39G aircraft. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and is expected to be completed in September 2014. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/29/13)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Former Blue Angel takes command

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- A former member of the Blue Angels flight demonstration team took the helm as commanding officer of Naval Air Station Pensacola. Capt. Keith Hoskins, 47, who flew with the Blues from 1999 to 2001, took over from Capt. Chris Plummer. Hoskins is also the first African American to hold the job of commanding officer of NAS Pensacola. The base has had 56 previous commanding officers since 1914. His career includes a combat stint in Iraq, a total of 3,400 flight hours and 570 aircraft carrier landings. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 03/28/13)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Funding ends April 7 for tower

Funding to operate the control tower at Stennis International Airport near Stennis Space Center, Miss., will end April 7. Stennis is one of 149 airports nationwide whose tower operation is ending due to sequestration. Elsewhere in Mississippi, Greenville's airport tower will lose funding April 21, and the towers in Olive Branch, Tupelo and Hawkins in Jackson will be cut off May 5. The Federal Aviation Administration also released guidance for airports affected by the closures. It said the operators can operate as non-towered airports or keep towers working without federal funding. (Source: Sun Herald, 03/27/13) Previous

Interest in UAV test sites high

The Federal Aviation Administration has received 50 applications from 37 states for its nationwide competition to select six research and test sites for integrating unmanned aircraft systems with manned aircraft. Some states have pooled their resources with neighbors. Getting a test-site designation will help communities build a UAS research and development and manufacturing cluster or expand an existing one. Sites will be evaluated based on geographic and climatic diversity, ground infrastructure, research needs, population and air traffic density, according to FAA spokesman Les Dorr. FAA drone rules will govern such things as certification of aircraft, training and medical checks for operators, allocation of bandwidth for command and control, and standards for automated systems that unmanned aircraft use to sense danger and avoid collisions, Dorr said. The FAA is coordinating its efforts with the Department of Defense, NASA and Congress, as well as public agencies. Currently, the FAA has issued only a few hundred certificates for drone operators, but it forecasts that as many as 7,500 unmanned aircraft could be flying over the U.S. within five years, Dorr said. To ensure the drones are being used properly, the FAA plans to test the aircraft at six sites, which will be selected by the end of the year. (Sources: Defense Communities, Stars and Stripes, 03/28/13) Gulf Coast note: The Gulf Coast region has a high level of UAV activity, including building portions of the Global Hawk and Fire Scout in Moss Point, Miss.

EADS shareholders back changes

Airbus parent EADS won backing from shareholders for sweeping changes in its structure that emancipate it from political interference. Shareholders Wednesday tore up a Franco-German ownership pact in favor of greater management freedom. Created from a merger of French, German and Spanish assets with a tight rein on strategy, Europe's answer to Boeing has often been swept up in Franco-German industrial tensions. It's the biggest shake-up since EADS was founded in 2000. EADS Chief Executive Tom Enders said the new rules would limit government involvement to the roles of regulator or customer, giving EADS management the independence of a "normal" company despite the fact that core government stakes are rising to 28 percent from 20 percent. The changes follow last year’s failed attempted merger of EADS and BAE Systems, which would have given the company a stronger role in defense activities. (Source: Reuters, 03/27/13) Gulf Coast note: Groundbreaking for the Airbus A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala., is slated for April 8.

NASA poorly managed explosives

NASA's inspector general said in a report released Wednesday that Stennis Space Center, Miss., stored explosives in an unsafe building during part of 2012, but the situation has since been changed. Inspector General Paul Martin's report said NASA's overall Explosives Safety Program "was poorly managed and exposed personnel and facilities to unnecessary risk." Inspectors identified 155 violations of regulations, policies and procedures at four NASA centers that routinely procure, store, transport, and handle explosive materials, pyrotechnics, and propellants, or energetic materials. The primary locations for the audit were Glenn Research Center, Ohio, Stennis Space Center, Wallops Flight Facility, Va., and White Sands Test Facility, N.M. All had violations. "To NASA's credit, personnel at each site quickly addressed the issues we uncovered that presented an immediate threat to personnel and facilities." (Sources:, IG report, 03/27/13)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Groundbreaking will draw big names

Airbus is bringing its top guns to Mobile, Ala., on April 8 for the groundbreaking of Airbus' $600 million assembly line. Tom Enders, CEO for Airbus parent EADS, Fabrice Bregier, president and CEO of Airbus; and John Leahy, COO Customers-Airbus, are all expected to attend. The Mobile plant, the fourth that will be assembling A320s, will start delivering its A320s by 2016. The A320 competes with Boeing’s 737. Airbus has retained a big lead in orders for the A320neo over Boeing's 737 Max, both fuel efficient versions of their respective lines. (Source: Puget Sound Business Journal, 03/26/13)

Singapore to buy F-35s

Singapore is expected to announce sometime in the next 10 days that it plans to buy its first squadron -- 12 planes -- of Lockheed Martin's F-35Bs. It will ultimately buy 75. The decision will eventually leave China facing 50 to 100 Australian F-35As, 42 F-35As in Japan, 75Bs in Singapore and however many of the three versions built and fielded by the United States are regularly in the Pacific. Singapore and the other Pacific countries have concluded that the F-35 is effective. One senior official from the region told Colin Clark of AOL Defense that the F-35 is "simply undefeatable." The official said the aircraft is expected to maintain its dominance for at least a quarter of a century. (Source: AOL Defense, 03/25/13)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

UT completes unit's sale to Safran

HARTFORD, Conn. -- United Technologies Corp. said today that it completed the sale of the former Goodrich electric power systems business to Safran for about $400 million. Sale of the electric power systems unit was one of the two divestitures required by regulatory authorities as a condition of UTC's acquisition of Goodrich Corp. UTC completed the sale of the other unit, the legacy Goodrich pumps and engine controls business, earlier this month. (Source: PRNewswire, 03/26/13) Previous Gulf Coast note: UT's Rocketdyne, which has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss., is being sold to GenCorp.; Goodrich has an operation in Foley, Ala.; Safran is building a $2 million engineering center in Mobile, Ala.

Dragon spacecraft returns

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft successfully completed the company's second cargo flight to the International Space Station with a 12:36 p.m. EDT splashdown Tuesday in the Pacific Ocean a few hundred miles west of Baja California, Mexico. The capsule will be returned to the SpaceX test facility in McGregor, Texas. Some cargo will be removed at the port in California and returned to NASA within 48 hours. This includes a freezer packed with research samples collected in the space station's unique microgravity environment. The remainder of the cargo will be returned to Texas with the capsule. The spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on March 1, carrying about 1,268 pounds of supplies and investigations. It returned about 2,668 pounds of science samples, equipment and education activities. (Source: NASA, 03/26/13) Previous Gulf Coast note: NASA's Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi, in addition to testing rocket engines for NASA, tests rocket engines for some commercial space companies. Lockheed Martin will assemble the composite structures for Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Previous Michoud is also involved in NASA's Space Launch System project.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Contract: Northrop, $433.5M

Northrop Grumman Corp., Aerospace Systems, San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $433,518,021 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for contractor logistics support for the RQ-4 Global Hawk fielded weapon system. The location of the performance is San Diego, Calif. Work is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2014. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2013. The contracting activity is AFLCMC/WIKBA, Robins Air Force Base, Ga. (Source: DoD, 03/25/13) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are make in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $40.2M

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $40,200,000 fixed-price-incentive, advance-acquisition contract to provide long lead-time parts, materials and components required for the delivery of four Low Rate Initial Production Lot VIII F-35 conventional takeoff and landing aircraft for the government of Japan. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in February 2014. Foreign Military Sales contract funds in the amount of $40,200,000 are being obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to the FAR 6.302-4. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority. (Source: DoD, 03/25/13)

Contract: L-3 Vertex, $12.9M

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC., Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $12,946,025 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery requirements contract for logistics services support of the TH-57 aircraft fleet. Services to be provided include repair and/or overhaul of aircraft, engines, avionics and related components. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station, Whiting Field, Milton, Fla., and is expected to be completed in June 2013. Funds are not being obligated at time of award. Funds will be obligated on individual delivery orders as they are issued. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/25/13)

Nellis gets three F-35s

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Three F-35s were formally accepted during a ceremony at Nellis Air Force Base last week. The aircraft will be assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, where they will undergo operational testing. One of the focus areas for the 422nd TES will be to develop tactics. Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said the group's and squadron's pilots and maintainers "would take the F-35's performance to new heights and define the very tactics the F-35 will one day use to defend freedom around the world." Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Lofgren, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, said he expects to see the same dramatic new tactics development with the F-35A as was seen with the F-22. Nellis is slated to get 36 F-35A Lightning IIs by 2020. The 422nd TES and 53rd TEG are geographically separated units of the 53rd Wing, headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Source: 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs, 03/21/13)

H2 gets nod from GSA

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- H2 Performance Consulting (H2), Pensacola, Fla., was awarded Schedule 70 for Professional IT Services from the General Services Administration. IT Schedule 70 is a long-term contract issued by the GSA to a commercial technology vendor that signifies the GSA determined the vendor's pricing is fair and reasonable and the vendor is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Buying from pre-approved vendors allows agencies to cut through red tape and receive goods and services faster. (Source: H2 Performance, 03/21/13)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

International student flies F-35

Buchler in F-35. Air Force photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The first international student aviator at the 33rd Fighter Wing training to be an F-35B instructor pilot completed his first sortie in the joint strike fighter March 19. United Kingdom Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Frankie Buchler flew with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron-501. "The ground school training package at the Academic Training Center with the flight simulators prepared me for smooth flying," said Buchler. The ATC is part of the F-35 Integrated Training Center hosted by the 33rd FW. It is the hub for U.S. and international partner operators and maintainers of the joint strike fighter. It takes 10 flight hours, or about six to seven sorties, for a student pilot transitioning from other aircraft to become a qualified F-35 pilot. Buchler's last time flying was a year ago, coming from a background with the SEPECAT Jaguar and Eurofighter Typhoon. (Source: 33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 03/21/13) Eglin is where students, pilots and maintainers, from all branches of service and allied pilots will train.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

NASA awards contract mod

NASA signed a one-year contract option with Jacobs Technology Inc. to continue manufacturing support and facilities operations at the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The one-year contract option begins on May 1. With the exercise of Option 2, the mission services value increases by about $38 million, and the IDIQ potential maximum order value increases by $100 million for a new maximum potential contract value of approximately $477 million. The contract was awarded in May 2009. The contract will support critical operations under way at Michoud to advance the nation's human spaceflight endeavors, including work on the Orion spacecraft and modifications to manufacture the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System rocket. (Source: PRNewswire, 03/22/13)

Friday, March 22, 2013

New assignment at Tyndall

Brig. Gen. Jack L. Briggs II, deputy commander, Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Region, and deputy commander for Operations, 1st Air Division, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to vice commander, 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern), Air Combat Command, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (Source: DoD, 03/22/13)

Contract: EDO, $11M

EDO Corp., Panama City, Fla., is being awarded a $10,984,400 firm-fixed-price contract to build and deliver one MK-105 Mod 4 Magnetic Minesweeping System for the Airborne Mine Countermeasures Program. This system upgrade provides a significant reliability and performance improvement to the current MK-105, increasing the Navy's capability to conduct quick response, high speed airborne mine countermeasures for the next decade. Work will be done in Panama City and is expected to be completed by October 2014. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/22/13)

FAA has new tower closing lists

Federal contract towers at Stennis International Airport in Kiln, Miss., Hawkins Field in Jackson, Miss., and Dothan, Ala., are among 149 that will close beginning April 7 as part of a sequestration plan. But the Federal Aviation Administration chose to keep open 24 towers that were previously proposed for closing because a shutdown would have a "negative impact on national interest." The 24 towers saved from the chopping block include towers at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala., Meridian, Miss., and Columbus/Starkville, Miss. Another 16 federal contract towers under the "cost share" program will remain open because Congressional statute sets aside funds every fiscal year for these towers. These cost-share program funds are subject to sequestration but the required 5 percent cut will not result in tower closures. (Sources: FAA, Sun Herald, 03/22/13)

Contract: H2 Performance, $4M

H2 Performance Consulting (H2), Pensacola, Fla., announced the award of a five-year, $4M contract to provide the Navy Manpower Personnel Training and Education with support for its Authoritative Data Environment. Authoritative data is mandated by Department of Defense. The DoD IT Strategy and Roadmap sets forth a fundamental change in the way the DoD acquires, develops, fields, and maintains applications through consolidation of applications and data services. A key is the identification of authoritative data sources and elimination of duplicative data systems through the use of data warehouse best practices. H2 experts and advisors are tasked with preparing and supporting ongoing development of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the application of SOA capability. (Source: H2 Performance, 03/22/13)

Boeing buys more S.C. land

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Boeing will pay $12.5 million for about 320 acres of land near its current 787 Dreamliner final assembly plant in North Charleston, S.C. The company doesn't have specific plans, but the purchase will provide land for possible future use. Boeing South Carolina does final assembly for the 787 Dreamliner. The facility also makes aft and mid-body sections for the 787. A deal signed in December provides Boeing the option to buy 750 more acres in several parcels, including the 260 acres it sits on, now leased for $1 a year from the Charleston airport. If it exercises the option, by 2025 Boeing could own almost 1,100 acres. (Source: Reuters, 03/21/13) Gulf Coast note: Boeing's chief rival, Airbus, is building an A320 final assembly plant in Mobile, Ala.

Airbus makes first Mobile hire

MOBILE, Ala. -- Airbus Americas filled its first position for Mobile's $600 million A320 final aircraft assembly plant. Jennifer Ogle, 49, is the new director of human resources for the Mobile operation. She'll join Airbus on April 15 and report to Linda Herbert, vice president of HR for Airbus Americas. Ogle joins Airbus from Taylor-Wharton Cryogenics in Theodore, Ala., where she has been the human resources director since July 2011. Groundbreaking for the Mobile facility at Brookley Aeroplex is slated for April 8. Hiring for manufacturing jobs at the assembly line will begin during the fourth quarter of 2013 and continue into 2014. (Source: Airbus, 03/21/13)

Airline ops for Airbus' ROPS

American Airlines will equip all its A320s with Airbus' Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) technology. This on-board cockpit technology which Airbus pioneered independently over several years increases pilots' situational awareness during landing, reduces exposure to runway excursion risk, and if necessary, provides active protection. ROPS was first approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency on the A380 in October 2009 and is in service or ordered on around 70 percent of the A380 fleet. ROPS is part of the A350 XWB's basic configuration and is also being applied on the other Airbus types being produced today, starting with the A320 family, with certification on this type expected later this year. (Source: Airbus, 03/20/13) Gulf Coast note: Groundbreaking is slated for April 8 for an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

3-D printed part on rocket engine

J-2X with 3-D printed part. NASA photo
The latest in cutting-edge manufacturing is already having an impact on space exploration. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., prime contractor for the J-2X engine, recently used a 3-D printing process called Selective Laser Melting, or SLM, to create an exhaust port cover for the engine. SLM uses lasers to fuse metal dust into a specific pattern to build the cover, which is essentially a maintenance hatch for the engine's turbo pumps. On March 7, this part was exposed to the strenuous conditions of a rocket engine firing during a test at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., and will be a part of the rest of this test series. The J-2X is undergoing testing in support of the agency's Space Launch System Program, managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. (Source: NASA, 03/19/13)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Keesler to lose planes, squadron

BILOXI, Miss. -- The Air Force Reserve Command has decided 10 C-130Js from Keesler Air Force's 403rd Wing will be transferred to Pope Field, N.C., and the base's 815th Airlift Squadron will shut down. Keesler officials made the announcement Wednesday, according to the Sun Herald. The newspaper reported that a press release from Keesler said the base will lose the aircraft in October, the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year. (Source: Sun Herald, 03/20/13) The 815th "Flying Jennies," a tactical airlift unit that has been at Keesler since 1973, is responsible for delivering cargo to combat zones and provides humanitarian relief in disaster areas.

Report: Boat hit Eglin officer

A report released by a ground accident investigation board shows an Air Force officer was struck and killed by a government-contracted boat in October while participating in a one-man life raft training exercise near Pensacola, Fla. Maj. Garrett Knowlan was killed immediately when he was struck by a 41-foot MonArk tow boat involved in the Air Force Water Survival Training Course. Knowlan was a 2002 graduate of the Air Force Academy and a 2010 graduate of the Air Force Test Pilot School. He was then-assigned as the executive officer for the commander of the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Source: Air Education and Training Command, 03/19/13)

Airbus eyes French Spirit plant

French media are reporting that Airbus is talking with Spirit AeroSystems about buying Spirit's A350 XWB assembly plant in Saint-Nazaire, France. Spirit said the company doesn't speculate on business transactions that have not been announced, and Airbus said discussions with the company's suppliers are private. French newspaper Les Echos quoted a French union leader, Francoise Vallin, on the talks. Workers at Spirit's 90,000-square-foot French plant assemble the composite fuselage panels and central sections of the A350 that are designed, built and shipped from Spirit's larger facility in Kinston, N.C. (Source: Wichita Eagle, updated 03/19/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus will break ground next month on an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

New chief for Lockheed F-35

Lockheed Martin named Lorraine Martin its new leader for the F-35 program. Martin, 50, replaces her former boss, Orlando Carvalho, 54. He becomes executive vice president in charge of the aeronautics business. From 2004 to 2008, Martin was vice president of flight solutions, simulation and support for aircrew training programs for the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field in Northwest Florida. (Source: Bloomberg News, 03/18/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the military's F-35 training center.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Airbus lands $24B Indonesian deal

PARIS, France -- Airbus has snagged a “landmark order” from Indonesia’s Lion Air Group this week. The two companies finalized the $24 billion purchase of 234 A320’s. Lion Air’s Airbus order actually exceeds the order that the Indonesian carrier placed with the plane-maker’s U.S. rival, Boeing, in 2011 for 201 planes valued at $22 billion.Airbus is due to break ground on April 8 on a $600 million final assembly line at Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex that will be dedicated entirely to the production of the A320 family of aircraft. (Source:, 03/18/13)

Budget may ground the Blue Angels

After traveling from their winter base in El Centro, Calif., the Blue Angels have arrived in Pensacola amid a storm of uncertainty. Federal budget cuts threaten to cancel the Blue Angels annual July show at Pensacola Beach and perhaps being grounded for the rest of the season. The Navy has not informed the team of the fate of their air show schedule. The Navy has so far cancelled four air shows scheduled for April, but five practices in Pensacola in March are tentatively still scheduled. The sequestration cuts for the Navy, released in January, requires cancelation of all appearances through the end of the federal fiscal year which occurs in September. This includes the July Pensacola Air Show. The cancelations save an estimated $20 million. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 03/18/13)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Firm to settle with county

DESTIN, Fla. -- Miracle Strip Aviation, one of two fixed-base operators at Destin Airport, has agreed to a plan that would settle its $485,000 debt with the county by 2019. The Okaloosa County Commission is scheduled to vote on the plan Tuesday. Under the plan, Miracle Strip Aviation, recently purchased by Mississippi-based Regal Capital, will pay the county $150,000 upfront, make $100,000 in major renovations to the county-owned terminal at Destin Airport and repay the remaining $235,382 at 4 percent interest over six years. Miracle Strip Aviation amassed the debt because of an error in the county’s billing system. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/17/13)

Operator announces terminal

CRESTVIEW, Fla. -- Bob Sikes Airport’s fixed-base operator anticipates breaking ground on a $600,000 terminal by April. Jonathan Dunn, Emerald Coast Aviation’s president, said his company recently sent the project out to bid. The 5,600-square-foot terminal will replace a facility that Emerald Coast Aviation and Sunshine Aero, its predecessor, have used for decades. The single-story building will house a reception area, offices, a lounge, pilots' room with shower, a conference room and an outdoor enclosed courtyard overlooking the airport. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/17/13)

Friday, March 15, 2013

STEMM school has new tool

F100 engine. Photo courtesy STEMM center
VALPARAISO, Fla. -- Science-minded middle school students in Okaloosa County now have a jet engine to use as a learning tool. Airmen from nearby Eglin Air Force Base delivered the engine Friday to the Okaloosa County STEMM Center, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, math and medical studies. The F100 engine from the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., will be used to demonstrate a variety of scientific principals to students. The STEMM Center plans to invite teachers from across the Panhandle to use the engine in their own programs. (Sources: WEAR-TV, Northwest Florida Daily News, Okaloosa County schools, 03/15/13)

Contract: Lockheed, $105.9M

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., is being awarded a $105,868,182 cost-plus incentive-fee and fixed-price incentive-firm contract for contractor logistics support, legacy sustainment and combined task force support for the Space Based Infrared Systems. The location of the performance is Colorado Springs, Colo. Work is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2016. The contracting activity is SMC/ISK, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. (Source: DoD, 03/15/13) Gulf Coast note: Work on the core propulsion system of the SBIRS is done by Lockheed Martin at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Contract: Boeing, $99..9M

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $99,900,000 firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee and indefinite- quantity/indefinite-delivery contract for production assets, spares, repairs and sustainment for the joint direct attack munitions system. The location of the performance is St. Louis, Mo. Work is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2016. Type of appropriation is foreign military sales funding. The contracting activity is AFLCMC/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Contract involves foreign military sales. (Source: DoD, 03/15/13)

Airbus gets big orders

Two airlines within two days put in orders for 184 Airbus aircraft. Lufthansa will buy 100 A320s and two A380s worth about $11.2 billion at list price, Airbus reported on Thursday. The Lufthansa Group is the biggest Airbus operator worldwide. (Source: Airbus, 03/14/13) On Friday, it was reported that Turkish Airlines is buying 82 A320 family aircraft. The order is worth about $9.3 billion, based on the current list price. Airbus will break ground April 8 on a $600 million final assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala. The plant will employ 1,000 and generate thousands of construction jobs. It will produce the A320 family of aircraft. (Source:, link, 03/15/13)

New officer assignments

The chief of staff of the Air Force announced today that Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Leahy, who has been selected for the rank of major general, commander, 23rd Air Force and director, operations, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., to director, operations, J-3, Headquarters U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Also, Brig. Gen. John M. Hicks, director, command, control, communications and cyber, J-6, Headquarters U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, to commander, 23rd Air Force and director, operations, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla. (Source: DoD, 03/15/13)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eglin slates boat ops

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Residents in the local area may experience low-flying aircraft or noise when the 96th Operations Group conducts boat operations March 18-22 in the Gulf of Mexico south of Destin in the morning and the Choctawhatchee Bay in the afternoon. The operations are part of the 53rd Wing’s Weapon System Evaluation Program. Fighter aircraft will release various munitions in the Gulf of Mexico during the morning test missions. In the Choctawhatchee Bay during the afternoon test missions, about 30 boats will operate as visual simulated targets for fighter aircraft. No bombs or munitions will be released during these Choctawhatchee Bay operations. (Source: 96th Test Wing Public Affairs, 03/14/13) Previous

Officials to visit Airbus plant

MOBILE, Ala. -- Local officials are leaving Friday for a four-day trip to Hamburg, Germany, to tour an Airbus final assembly plant for the A320 jet airliner. The trip includes two days in which officials will tour the German plant considered comparable to the $600 million plant that will be built at Brookley Aeroplex. Groundbreaking for the Mobile plant is slated for April 8. The group will include the mayor, city attorney, four city council members, three county commissioners and representatives of the Mobile Airport Authority. (Source:, link, 03/13/13)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Report sees more UAV jobs

A new study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI) finds that more than 70,000 new American jobs will be created in the first three years following integration of unmanned systems into the national airspace. For the four states with a piece of the Gulf Coast Interstate 10 aerospace corridor, it will mean a combined 6,690 jobs and economic impact of $1.3 billion by 2017. That breaks down to 3,251 jobs and an economic impact of $632 million in Florida; 1,510 jobs and an economic impact of $294 million in Alabama; 1,097 jobs and an economic impact of $213 million in Louisiana; and 832 jobs and an economic impact of $162 million in Mississippi. (Source: GCAC, 03/13/13) Study; Related: Huntsville vying to become FAA UAV test site

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

MAF to build LNG tanks

NEW ORLEANS -- Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin said Tuesday it will build two liquefied natural gas tanks at the Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans, adding 400 jobs. Each 88-foot-long tank, designed to carry 295,000 cubic meters of liquid gas, will serve as fuel tanks for propulsion engines built by the Finnish company Wartsila, Lockheed President Gerry Fasano said. Those engines are built to power commercial transport ships. Fasano added that the two companies are discussing contracts to build another six tanks of various sizes at Michoud that could serve as storage tanks to transport gas overseas. MAF is also used by the British company Blade Dynamics to build wind turbine blades, and more recently, Sierra Nevada Corp. said it had partnered with Lockheed Martin to build structures for the Dream Chaser commercial space vehicle. MAF is also where Orion and the core stage of the Space Launch System are being built. (Source: Times-Picayune, NASA, 03/12/13)

Airport director resigns

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- After two years of leadership at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in West Bay, airport Executive Director John Wheat has resigned. Wheat said Tuesday that he accepted a new position as the director of the Sacramento County, Calif., Airport System, where he will oversee one international airport and three reliever airports. Wheat was recruited by officials in the Sacramento County Airport System, which boasts a passenger traffic count of about 9 million per year with 14 airlines. His resignation is effective April 5. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 03/12/13)

Charges against Vision dropped

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- Criminal charges against Vision Airlines have been dropped. State Attorney Bill Eddins said Tuesday that his office dropped the first-degree grand theft charge against the airline after it paid more than $160,000 in fines and fees to Okaloosa County in the past month. The state attorney's office filed the grand theft charge after the county tried unsuccessfully for months to get Vision to pay unpaid passenger facility charges owed to Northwest Florida Regional Airport. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/12/13) Previous

Airbus project snags piece of award

Trade & Industry Development named the Airbus assembly plant project in Mobile, Ala., among its top 15 corporate advancement award winners for 2013. The magazine selected the Airbus project as one of 30 Corporate Investment and Community Impact winners nationwide for the transformational effect it’s expected to have on Mobile. Several hundred projects announced during 2012 were considered. Groundbreaking is slated for April 8 for the $600 million, 1,000-employee plant that will be the final assembly location for single-aisle A320 family of aircraft. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 03/12/13)

Contract: Enola, $20M

Enola Contracting Services, Chipley, Fla., was awarded a $20,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the modification of an existing contract to procure maintenance and repair services at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. Work will be performed in Fort Stewart, with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2014. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 15 bids received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Fort Stewart, Ga., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/12/13)

Contract: Speegle, $12.4M

Speegle Construction Inc., Niceville, Fla., was awarded a $12,358,500 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the construction of a squadron operations facility at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Work will be performed at Luke AFB, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 16, 2014. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 16 bids received. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles, Calif., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/12/13)

Contract: Northrop, $30M

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Linthicum Heights, Md., is being awarded a $30,000,000 indefinite-quantity/indefinite-delivery contract for contractor logistics support services in support of the AN/ASQ-236 aircraft pod. The location of performance is Linthicum, Md. Work is expected to be completed by March 11, 2016. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2013. The contracting activity is AFLCMC/EBSK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Source: DoD, 03/12/13)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Contract: Northrop, $71.6M

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $71,623,427 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price contract for the modification and delivery of six vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (VTUAV) and seven ground control stations in support of the VTUAV endurance upgrade rapid deployment capability effort. Work will be performed in Dallas, Texas (32 percent); Ozark, Ala. (27 percent); Rancho Bernardo, Calif. (25 percent); Moss Point, Miss. (15 percent); and Point Mugu, Calif. (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2014. Fiscal 2012 and 2013 Aircraft Procurement Navy contract funds in the amount of $71,623,427 are being obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/11/13)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Two units moving to Hurlburt

Two squadrons at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., are moving across town to Hurlburt Field. About 400 people with the 9th Special Operations Squadron and the 1st Special Operations Maintenance Squadron are moving this spring and taking their fleet of MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft with them. The move will unite all 1st Special Operations Wing squadrons at Hurlburt, allowing for more efficient aircraft maintenance because the newcomers will be able to work closely with squadrons maintaining very similar planes at Hurlburt. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/07/13)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

2nd Dutch F-35 rolls out

AN-2 in Texas. Lockheed Martin photo
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The second Lockheed Martin F-35 for the Netherlands rolled out of the F-35 production facility on March 2. It will be assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., later this summer. The Netherlands is planning to use this conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jet, known as AN-2, for training and operational tests for pilots and maintainers. AN-2 will undergo functional fuel system checks before being transported to the flight line for ground and flight tests later this year. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 03/07/13)

Stennis tower in jeopardy

The air traffic control tower at Stennis International Airport in Kiln, near NASA's Stennis Space Center, is among seven in Mississippi set to be closed in April as the Federal Aviation Administration moves to reduce spending by $600 million under automatic federal budget cuts. The FAA said it will consider keeping some towers open on a case-by-case basis. Other Mississippi airports on the list are Tupelo Regional, Golden Triangle in Columbus, Mid-Delta in Greenville, Hawkins Field at Jackson, Key Field in Meridian and Olive Branch Regional. (Source: AP via Hattiesburg American, 03/07/13) Stennis International serves NASA's Stennis Space Center, and among other things is the airport Rolls-Royce uses to receive and ship out engines that it tests at SSC.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Airport sets post-Katrina record

NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans’ airport surpassed 8.6 million passengers in 2012, a post-Katrina record that maintains an upward trend even as similar airports across the nation experienced a slight decline, according to airport figures. But the good year at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International still fell short of its passenger totals before the 2005 hurricane. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune, 03/06/13)

General: Furloughs just a part

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. -- The civilian furloughs have been announced, but more impacts from the $45 billion in sequestration cuts to the Department of Defense could soon hit Eglin Air Force Base in Northwest Florida. That's according to Brig. Gen. David Harris, commander of the 96th Test Wing. He was guest speaker at Wednesday's lunch meeting of the Rotary Club of Fort Walton Beach. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/06/13)

NVision building small sim

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. – It's cutting edge and designed to replace multiple other simulator systems in military aircraft. A while back the Naval Air Systems Command awarded NVision Solutions Inc. of Bay St. Louis a $35 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract to design, build, test, and manufacture the Handheld Radar Simulator (HRS). The company has been working the project for seven months now. HRS will replace multiple systems used to test electronic counter measures in military aircraft. NVision is designing, prototyping and later will manufacture this next-generation system through an agreement with partners Loglinear LLC and Applied Geo Technologies, also of Mississippi. NVision is headquartered near NASA’s Stennis Space Center and is a member of the EIGS geospatial technology cluster of the Magnolia Business Alliance. (Source: NVision/Magnolia Business Alliance, 03/04/13)

JSTARS, GH work together

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Northrop Grumman late last month completed a successful exchange of radar data during a flight test involving the U.S. Air Force's E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) and the RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 40 unmanned aircraft system. The Feb. 25 exchange is the first collaborative effort to stream ground moving target radar data from a Global Hawk Block 40 to a Joint STARS aircraft. Information can then be relayed from Joint STARS to ground forces. The flight successfully demonstrated the interoperability of both platforms to potentially improve and expand surveillance capabilities for deployed forces. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 03/06/13) Gulf Coast note: Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

More F-35 issues raised

A February report from the Defense Department's Operational Test and Evaluation department raises concerns about the survivability of the F-35 in a dogfight. The issues, including less out-of-cockpit visibility than other Air Force fighters, came up during training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. One pilot pointed out that lack of "aft visibility" could get a plane shot down in close combat. The helmet mounted display was also criticized for technical problems. The 68-page report was posted on the Project on Government Oversight website. The Air Force did its own Operational Utility Evaluation last year. (Sources: Time, Washington Times, Defense News, 03/06/13) Previous: F-35 cleared to fly; F-35A pilot training to begin; F-35 eval completed

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $72.2M

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a not-to-exceed $72,200,000 undefinitized modification to the previously awarded Low Rate Initial Production Lot 6 advance acquisition contract. This modification provides for the procurement of support equipment at Pilot Training Center 1, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., for the F-35 Conventional Take-Off and Landing air system program. In addition, this modification provides for the associated Data Quality Integration Management supplier support tasks, and all other sustainment data products for the U.S. Air Force and the governments of Italy and Australia. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (35 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (25 percent); Warton, United Kingdom (20 percent); Orlando, Fla. (10 percent); Nashua, N.H. (5 percent); and Baltimore, Md. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in August 2014. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Air Force (76.2 percent); and the governments of Italy (14.3 percent); and Australia (9.5 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/05/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Contract: Textron, $113.4M

Textron Marine & Land Systems, New Orleans, La., was awarded a $113,431,277 firm-fixed-price contract. The award will provide for the procurement of Mobile Strike Force vehicles to support the Afghanistan National Security Forces. This contract is in support of Foreign Military Sales for Afghanistan. Work will be performed in New Orleans, with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2014. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with one bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 03/05/13)

Northrop reorganizes sector

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- Northrop Grumman designated five centers of design and integration excellence in a reorganization of the Aerospace Systems sector's manned aircraft, unmanned systems and electronic attack businesses. Changes include closing an Information Systems sector facility in Dominguez Hills, Calif. The Manned Aircraft Design Center of Excellence will be in Melbourne, Fla., and will include aircraft design work currently being done at the company's Bethpage, N.Y., facility. The B-2, F/A-18 and F-35 programs will remain in Palmdale, El Segundo and Redondo Beach, Calif., respectively. The company's Unmanned Systems Center of Excellence will be at the Rancho Bernardo facility in San Diego, Calif. Two programs will transition to that center: the MQ-4C Triton program from Bethpage, and the NATO Airborne Ground Surveillance program from Melbourne. An Electronic Attack Center of Excellence will be in Bethpage and will include the Aerospace Systems' Electronic Attack program team. The company has designated two Aircraft Integration Centers of Excellence, one in Palmdale, Calif., and the other in St. Augustine, Fla. Current integration activities in Moss Point, Miss., and New Town, N.D., are not included in this transition. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 03/04/13)

Embry-Riddle contract change eyed

About two and a half years after voting to contract with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide to provide high school students opportunities to explore math and science through aviation, the Okaloosa County School Board has opted to go into contract negotiations with the university's main campus in Daytona rather than the satellite campus. The concern is declining enrollment. The school system had previously contracted with the main campus of Embry-Riddle, but in the summer of 2010 opted to contract with Embry-Riddle Worldwide, which has campuses at Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 03/04/13)

Blue Angels April shows gone

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Blue Angels air shows in April were canceled due to Pentagon belt-tightening, and what beyond that will still be canceled is unclear at this point. Only one of the Blue Angels' five scheduled practices in Pensacola during March is still definite. The Navy is still trying to determine the amount of flight training the Blue Angles will be able to do when they return to Pensacola from their winter training base in El Centro, Calif. (Sources: WEAR-TV, Pensacola News Journal, 03/04/13)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dragon arrives at ISS

A privately-owned unmanned U.S. space capsule docked Sunday at the International Space Station bringing more than 1,200 pounds of food, scientific materials and equipment to the space outpost. NASA said that SpaceX's Dragon capsule linked up with the ISS at 8:56 a.m. It was captured by the ISS’s robotic arm. NASA said a hatch between Dragon and the ISS would be opened Monday as the capsule commenced its three-week-long stay at the orbiting space station. (Sources: Multiple, including AFP via SpaceTravel, CNN, 03/03/13) Gulf Coast note: NASA's Stennis Space Center, in addition to testing engines for NASA programs, tests engines for some commercial space companies.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Contract: L-3 Vertex, $8M

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded an $8,076.281 contract modification for aircraft flightline maintenance for the F-16 aircraft in support of Taiwan's F-16 program. The location of performance is Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Work is expected to be completed by Feb. 28, 2014. Type of appropriation is international funding. The contracting activity is AETC CONS/LGCI, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. Contract involves Foreign Military Sales. (Source: DoD, 03/01/13)

Memorial dedicated at ATC

MOBILE, Ala. -- A memorial to the four crewmembers of a Coast Guard helicopter that crashed last year in Mobile Bay was dedicated Friday. The memorial was dedicated to the crew of CG-6535. Hundreds turned out at the U.S. Coast Guard's Mobile Aviation Training Center for the private ceremony, which honored pilot Lt. Cmdr. Dale Taylor, co-pilot Lt. j.g. Thomas Cameron, rescue swimmer Chief Petty Officer Fernando Jorge, and flight mechanic Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew "Drew" Knight. The MH-65C helicopter crashed after a training mission. (Source: Mobile Press-Register, 03/01/13) Previous

DoD wants more BRACS

The Defense Department plans to ask Congress for two new military base closure rounds in for 2015 and 2017, according to a former defense official. The Pentagon made the same request last year, but it went nowhere. Only Congress can authorize a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round. Critics say closing bases does not produce immediate savings and costs more upfront. The 2005 BRAC was not completed until the fall of 2011. (Source: Politico, 02/28/13) Gulf Coast note: The Naval Medical Research Laboratory at Naval Air Station Pensacola was realigned in the last BRAC, and only last year was it moved to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

F-35 cleared to fly

The Pentagon said on Thursday it would resume flights of its F-35 following a week-long precautionary grounding imposed after a crack was found on an engine blade on a test plane in California. No additional cracks were found during inspections of engines on the remaining 50 planes in the Pentagon's fleet, or any spare engines. The conclusion was the crack was caused from overuse in test operations. It was the program's second engine-related flight ban in less than two months. The Marines Corps version of the plane was grounded for nearly a month from mid-January because of a faulty hose in the engine, later blamed on manufacturing errors. (Source: New York Times, 02/28/13, Reuters, 03/01/13)