Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SLS core segment completed

NEW ORLEANS -- The first liquid hydrogen tank barrel segment for the core stage of NASA's new launch vehicle, the Space Launch System (SLS), recently was completed at the agency's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The segment validates the vertical weld center is working the way it should. The vertical weld center is a friction-stir-weld tool for wet and dry structures on the SLS core stage. Friction stir welding uses frictional heating, combined with forging pressure, to produce high-strength bonds virtually free of defects. NASA and Boeing engineers have been conducting friction-stir-welding tests at Michoud to ensure quality and safety of flight hardware. Boeing is the prime contractor for the SLS core stage, including its avionics. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the SLS program for NASA. (Source: Space Travel, 07/31/13)

EADS getting new name

The parent of Airbus is changing its name from EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.) to Airbus Group and putting its space and military units into one division. Airbus Group, renamed after its successful commercial airliner subsidiary, will consist of three divisions: Airbus, comprising all commercial operations; defense and space, which combines the company's Cassidian defense division with aerospace unit Astrium; and helicopters. Changes begin in January and will be completed during the year. EADS was formed from French, German and Spanish aerospace companies 13 years ago. (Sources: Wall Street Journal, BBC, Financial Times, 07/31/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala.

F-35 comment period ends

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The time for residents to comments on a proposal to allow more F-35 jets to fly over Valparaiso ended Monday. The Northwest Florida Daily News reports that nearly 70 people, most from Valparaiso or nearby, lodged comments, according to a preliminary analysis provided by Mike Spaits, environmental spokesman for Eglin Air Force Base. About 20 percent favored lifting restrictions on the runway that would send F-35 traffic over Valparaiso. The main concerns of those opposed to the plan are noise and impacts to property values, Spaits said. A final report is expected to be released to the public this fall. The 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin now hosts 30 of the military’s newest fighter jets. Eglin is home of the integrated training center for all F-35 training. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 07/30/13)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Contract: Multiple, $300M

Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions, Owego, N.Y., TYBRIN Corp., Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; Harris IT Services Corp., Dulles, Va.; SRA International, Fairfax, Va.; Raytheon, Garland, Texas; and L-3 National Security Solutions, Reston, Va., were awarded a $960,000,000 multiple award contract for Network-Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2) Application Services. This contract will provide services such as sustainment, migration, integration, training, help desk support, testing and operational support. The period of performance is seven years, and the ordering period is a three year basic period with four 12-month options, if exercised.Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/HICK, Maxwell Air Force Base-Gunter Annex, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 07/29/13)

Deal reached on F-35s

The Defense Department and Lockheed Martin reached agreement on orders for 71 more F-35s worth as much as $7 billion, according to a report by Reuters. The deal includes 36 jets in the sixth lot and 35 in the seventh, with 60 going to the U.S. military and 11 for Australia, Italy, Turkey and Britain. The government negotiates separately with Pratt & Whitney for the plane's engines. (Source: Reuters, 07/29/13)

Monday, July 29, 2013

100th CNI delivered for F-35

SAN DIEGO -- Northrop Grumman delivered its 100th communications, navigation and identification (CNI) system to Lockheed Martin for integration into the F-35. The AN/ASQ-242 CNI provides pilots with the capability of more than 27 avionics functions. It allows the simultaneous operation of multiple functions, including Identification Friend or Foe, navigation, and various voice and data communications. Northrop Grumman also produces the center fuselage, radar and electro-optical subsystem, software and more for the F-35. (Source: Northrop Grumman, 07/29/13) Gulf Coast note: The F-35 Integrated Training Center is at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Italy begins F-35 assembly

Assembly of the first F-35 to be produced outside the United States has begun in Italy at a 22-building complex with more than a million square feet of covered space. Manufacturers delivered major structural components to the new final assembly and check-out (FACO) facility at Cameri Air Base, west of Milan. The plant will assemble the first F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant, designated AL-1, for the Italian air force and eventually those for the Netherlands, if that country confirms acquisitions. The plant is operated by a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Alenia Aermacchi. It will also build the wings for all F-35 partner nationals and other potential customers. (Source: AINonline, 07/26/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center.

Friday, July 26, 2013

NASA told to go slow on pad lease

Two congressmen are concerned NASA might award use of a Kennedy Space Center launch pad in Florida to a company that wants exclusive use. The two members of the House subcommittee that approves NASA budgets said Launch Complex 39A is a unique, tax-funded asset that should be available to multiple rocket launchers. NASA doesn't need the former shuttle pad, one of two at KSC, and is offering it to companies to operate and maintain by Oct. 1. SpaceX and Blue Origin are known to have submitted proposals. SpaceX, which has already brought cargo to the International Space Station, wants exclusive use of the pad to accommodate a steady pace of launches. Blue Origin won't be ready to launch before 2018, but proposes to operate and modify the pad and make it available to interested users by 2015. (Source: Florida Today, 07/25/13) Gulf Coast note: NASA’s Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, are both involved in NASA and commercial space programs. Blue Origin has done testing at SSC. Previous

100th F-35 in final production

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The 100th F-35, the first aircraft destined for Luke Air Force Base, Glendale, Ariz., entered the last stage of final assembly. The conventional takeoff and landing aircraft, AF-41, will arrive at the base next year. In June, the Air Force announced an increase in the number of squadrons at Luke to six with 144 aircraft, which will make it the largest F-35 base in the world. Luke will also serve as an F-35A International Training site. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 07/25/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., which has 28 F-35s, is the training center for all variants of the F-35 and all the services as well as international partners.

335th TRS changes leader

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – Lt. Col. Dorene Ross took over as commander of the 335th Training Squadron from Lt. Col. Bradley McAlpine during a change of command ceremony July 22. Col. George Tombe, 81st Training Group commander, was the officiating officer for the event at the Roberts Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Facility. (Source: Keesler AFB, 07/23/13)

F-35 courts foreign customers

Lockheed Martin is looking toward international sales to keep the F-35 program aloft in an age of sequestration. Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed President and CEO, said that over the next five years "close to 50 percent of our orders will come from international customers." In the pre-sequestration fiscal 2014 budget, the Pentagon plans to order just more than 300 F-35s in all three variants in the next five years. International customers are expected to place multiyear orders for most or all of their planned fleets, so Hewson's prediction is likely to be accurate if Australia, Britain, Japan and other customers maintain their current plans and the campaign to sell the F-35 to South Korea is successful. (Source: Aviation Week, 07/25/13)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

F-35 deal near

Lockheed Martin is making progress in negotiations with the Pentagon about the next two batches of F-35 fighter jets and hopes to reach agreement soon, Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson said on Tuesday. Lockheed is building three models of the F-35 for the U.S. military and eight international partner countries: Britain, Australia, Canada, Norway, Turkey, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands. Israel and Japan have also ordered the jet. The total number of jets involved is 71, with 36 planes in the sixth production lot and 35 in the seventh, said a spokesman for the Pentagon's F-35 office. The number includes 60 F-35s for the U.S. military, and 11 for Australia, Italy, Turkey and Britain. (Source: Reuters, 07/23/13) Gulf Coast note: Pilots and maintainers of F-35 fighters are trained at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

American picks up A319

American Airlines on Tuesday took delivery of its first A320 family aircraft at a ceremony at Airbus facilities in Hamburg, Germany. Representatives from American Airlines, Airbus and CFM International celebrated the first of 260 Airbus single-aisles the airline has selected. American's A319s will seat 128 passengers and will be used initially on the airline’s domestic route network. The aircraft, powered by two CFM56 engines, is the first A319 to feature sharklets, composite wingtip devices that improve fuel efficiency. (Source: Airbus, 07/23/13) Gulf Coast note: An A320 final assembly line is being built in Mobile, Ala., at Brookley Aeroplex. Previous: Boeing, Airbus share record order; Airline ops for ROPS; Airbus to offer wider seats

AVIC buys Thielert

Aviation Industries Corp. (AVIC), China's biggest aerospace company, agreed to buy Thielert Aircraft Engines GmbH, shifting the insolvent German supplier's focus from military drones to private aircraft. Bloomberg reports that AVIC International Holding Ltd. plans to leverage Thielert's civil engine operations to capitalize on an anticipated private aviation boom. The sale finalizes insolvency proceedings for the Hamburg, Germany-based propeller-engine maker. AVIC bought engine-maker Continental Motors in Mobile, Alal, in April 2011 and also bought Minnesota-based planemaker Cirrus Aircraft. (Sources:, Bloomberg, 07/23/13)

Whiting AF training ends

NAVAL AIR STATION WHITING FIELD, Fla. -- A 19-year arrangement ended when the last Air Force pilot finished his instrumentation test this week. Nearly 100 Air Force student pilots annually have taken the main phase of their flight training at Naval Air Station Whiting Field while the same number of Navy pilots have trained at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Okla. But the services decided to end the reciprocal agreement to save travel expenses and trim other associated costs. Although the Air Force's exit means no more of its student pilots at Whiting, 18 of that branch's instructors will continue to be based there to help train Naval and Coast Guard students. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 07/24/13)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

AF addresses pilot shortage

A salary up to $97,400 and a signing bonus of $225,000 may help the Air Force replenish its thinning rank of fighter pilots. The shortfall of 200 this year could grow to 700 by 2021 if something isn't done, officials said. The Air Force, which has about 3,000 fighter pilots, wants veteran pilots to make a nine-year commitment to fly fighters. The problem is, many military pilots find the lure of being a commercial pilot hard to resist. It costs about $6 million to train a fighter pilot. The competition between the military and airlines for pilots promises to be fierce in the future as airlines seek out young talent to replace retirees. Boeing last year estimated a global need for 460,000 new commercial pilots over the next two decades. (Source: Los Angeles Times, 07/22/13) Gulf Coast note: Pilots from all branches are learning to fly F-35s at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Air Force pilots train on F-22s at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Naval aviators have initial training in Florida at Pensacola and Milton.

Astronauts climb in CST-100

HOUSTON -- Astronauts at Johnson Space Center got a first look at Boeing's CST-100 space capsule Monday. A Boeing manager said the primary mission of astronauts who use CST-100 isn't flying the spacecraft but going to the International Space Station for six months. Boeing is one of the companies building spacecraft to fly astronauts to and from ISS. SpaceX and Sierra Nevada are also building them. (Source:, 07/23/13) Gulf Coast note: Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, La., are both involved in NASA and commercial space programs.

RAK mulls three plane types

RAK Airways of the northern Gulf emirate of Ras Al Khaimah said it's in talks with Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier about an order for at least 10 single-aisle aircraft to meet expansion plans. State-backed RAK is looking at the Boeing 737-800, Airbus A320 and the CSeries jet from Bombardier. It hopes to make a choice by the end of the year or early next. The United Arab Emirates home to five separate airlines operating full-size jets, four of them offering short-haul services. RAK Airways currently serves nine cities including Cairo, Doha in Qatar, Kathmandu in Nepal, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Chittagong in Bangladesh using two A320s and two 737-400s. (Source: Bloomberg, 07/22/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

Monday, July 22, 2013

FTC OKs GE Avio purchase

The Federal Trade Commission has given a thumbs up to General Electric's purchase of the aeronautics unit of engine-maker Avio SpA. GE agreed not to interfere with the development of a key engine component for United Technologies Pratt & Whitney, an aircraft engine maker that competes with GE. The agreement resolves FTC charges that the proposed $4.3 billion acquisition unveiled in December would be anticompetitive.The concerns stemmed from the fact that GE and Pratt & Whitney are the sole firms that make engines for the Airbus A320neo. The FTC's move follows a decision earlier this month by the European Commission to clear the purchase, saying possible conflicts of interest had been addressed. Avio makes components for commercial and military jet engines as well as propulsion systems for satellite-launch vehicles. (Source: WSJ, 07/19/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus will be building A320neo jets in Mobile, Ala. Previous

Airbus posts for new job

MOBILE, Ala. -- Airbus Americas is seeking a quality conformance specialist for its final assembly line being built at the Mobile Aeroplex. The successful candidate will work with the company’s quality project team in Hamburg, Germany, responsible for designing how quality inspections will be performed at Airbus’ first U.S. assembly line. Airbus broke ground in April on the $600 million A320 assembly line, which will employ 1,000 people directly when it reaches full annual production. (Source:, 07/22/13)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Airbus revises numbers

Airbus has raised its order target for 2013 to more than 1,000 aircraft, compared with a previous goal of over 800, sales chief John Leahy told Reuters on Friday. The new target puts Airbus on course to beat its 2012 gross order tally of 914 aircraft, Leahy said on the sidelines of an event to mark the 1,000th delivery of an Airbus A330 aircraft. Airbus is trying to regain leadership of the $100 billion annual jet market after Boeing grabbed the top spot in both orders and deliveries last year. So far Boeing is winning this year's order race. (Source: Reuters, 07/19/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

Navy gets upgraded Fire Scout

MQ-8C at Naval Air Systems Command.
Navy photo
Northrop Grumman delivered the first upgraded version of the Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to the U.S. Navy earlier this month in preparation for ground and flight testing. The MQ-8C delivered to the Naval Air Systems Command uses a Bell helicopter airframe, which is larger than the airframe used in the MQ-8B. But both aircraft share proven software, avionics, payloads and ship ancillary equipment. The upgraded Fire Scout responds to an urgent need to provide the Navy with increased endurance, range and payload. It has three times the payload and double the endurance of the MQ-8B. The MQ-8B currently operates on Navy frigates and in Afghanistan, where it provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to maritime and ground commanders. The first deployment of the upgraded MQ-8 will be in 2014. (Source: Northrop Grumman via PRNewswire, 071913) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.

Navy's second MUOS launched

MUOS launch atop Atlas V.
Navy photo courtesy NASA
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The Navy's second Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite was launched Friday at 9 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 41. The launch of the satellite atop an Atlas V is a key step in providing enhanced satellite communications for the Navy and Department of Defense. MUOS is a next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system designed to improve beyond-line-of-sight communications for U.S. forces. MUOS will provide military users 10 times more communications capacity over the existing system by leveraging 3G mobile technology, including simultaneous voice and data capability. (Source: NNS, 07/19/13) Gulf Coast note: Work on the core propulsion system for the MUOS, an A2100 satellite-based spacecraft, is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous

Friday, July 19, 2013

EADS eyes name change

The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., EADS, is considering changing the company's name to the Airbus Group, Reuters reports. The change would reflect the success of the company's commercial aircraft sales. Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS, accounts for two thirds of EADS revenue and continue to increase as airlines move towards more fuel-efficient models. Airbus broke ground in April on an A320 assembly line at Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala. The name change possibility is part of a broader move to reorganize some business units. Changes will be discussed by the board of directors at the end of July. (Sources:, Reuters, 07/18/13)

Resort taking shape

Artist drawing of resort. Courtesy illustration
Construction crews are less than a year away from completing a resort in Northwest Florida being developed under an enhanced use lease (EUL) with the Air Force. The fifth floor will be poured sometime before August. The Holiday Inn Resort, set to open in the spring of 2014, is being built on 17 acres of land on Santa Rosa Island owned by Eglin Air Force Base. The land is used to perform telemetry testing by the 96th Test Wing. The 50-year lease agreement the Emerald Breeze Resort Group entered into with the Air Force in November calls for the developer to make monthly lease payments based on hotel revenue. In addition, the developer will provide infrastructure for the 96th Test Wing to install test monitoring equipment, which previously sat at ground level, on the hotel's roof. (Source: AFCEC Public Affairs, 07/18/13) Previous

Measure to close MSFC withdrawn

WASHINGTON -- A measure to create a commission to look at consolidating Alabama's Marshall Space Flight Center and Mississippi's Stennis Space Center was withdrawn at the last minute Thursday. Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., who represents an area where Goddard Space Flight Center is located, was reportedly upset over cuts in programs managed by Goddard. Her amendment would have directed the BRAC-like panel to study MSFC and SSC "to determine if their rocket-related activities should be combined in one location." The measure also directed the panel to look at moving Marshall's work to Stennis or Houston's Johnson Space Center. (Sources: SpaceNews, WAFF-TV,, WHNT-TV, 07/18/13)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Contract: Lockheed Martin, $70.4M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $70,358,000 modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract to provide long lead-time parts, material and components required for the delivery of seven conventional take off and landing F-35 aircraft and one short take-off vertical landing F-35 for the government of Italy. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in February 2014. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority. (Source: DoD, 07/18/13)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cygnus to visit ISS in fall

Orbital Sciences' cargo spacecraft is set to make its first flight to the International Space Station in September. The Dulles, Va., company has a launch window between Sept. 14 and 19 for the Cygnus cargo ship. It will be launched atop an Orbital Science Antares rocket, which made its first test flight in April from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in eastern Virginia. Orbital was awarded a NASA contract to provide at least eight resupply flights to the ISS. (Source:, 07/16/13) Gulf Coast note: The first stage Antares is powered by twin Aerojet AJ26 engines tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous

Tyndall target drone crashes

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- An unmanned Air Force QF-4 target drone assigned to the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group crashed on the drone runway during take-off at 8:25 a.m. Wednesday. No personnel were injured. U.S. 98 was closed and will remain so up to 24 hours. Target drones are equipped with a self-destruct charge powered by a short-life battery that will be fully depleted in 24 hours. The crash occurred while a second drone was in the air. That drone, as planned, was destroyed by a missile over the Gulf of Mexico. The drones assigned to the 53rd WEG run about 100 missions each year. A QF-4, which will ultimately be replaced by QF-16s, is 63 feet long 16 feet high and weighs 30,328 pounds. With fuel it's about 35,000 pounds. Just a week ago another QF-4 was destroyed near Port St. Joe after it veered from its planned flight path. (Source: Panama City News Herald, Northwest Florida Daily News, 07/17/13) Previous

100th F-35 targeting system delivered

EOTS and low observable window on F-35.
Lockheed Martin photo
Lockheed Martin recently delivered the 100th Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) for the F-35. It combines forward-looking infrared and infrared search and track functionality to provide pilots with situational awareness and air-to-air and air-to-surface targeting from a safe distance. "F-35 pilots can use the imagery to determine exactly where to strike while staying out of harm's way," said Ken Fuhr, director of fixed wing programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. Lockheed Martin is producing EOTS under the seventh low-rate initial production contract. Components of EOTS are manufactured at the company's Ocala, Fla., and Santa Barbara, Calif., facilities. Lockheed Martin also manufactures the low observable window for the aircraft at the company's Orlando, Fla., facility. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 07/12/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 Integrated Training Center.

McArtor: Relationship the key

Relationships. That's what it all boils down to, according to Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor, as the reason his company chose Brookley Aeroplex in Mobile, Ala., for its A320 final assembly line. He wrote a guest column that accompanied CNBC's "America's Top States for Business 2013." McArtor wrote that Airbus felt Mobile and Alabama would be the ones to stand with the company and meet its needs. He pointed out that Airbus builds strong relationships with its customers, who work closely with the Airbus throughout the many years a plane serves a carrier. That's the same kind of relationship Alabama and Mobile formed with Airbus going back to the days the company was trying to win a contract to build Air Force aerial tankers. Groundbreaking on the assembly line, which will employ 1,000 workers, was in April. The first Mobile-assembled A320 will be delivered in 2016. (Sources: CNBC, 07/15/13,, 07/16/13)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

505th CCW gets new leader

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Col. Daniel J. Orcutt, former Strategy Division chief of the 609th Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia, received the guidon and command of the 505th Command and Control Wing during a change of command ceremony July 9. He took over from Col. Mustafa Koprucu. Maj. Gen. Jeffery Lofgren, the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, presided over the ceremony. The 505th CCW is the Air Force's only wing dedicated to operational-level command and control testing, training and tactics development. The Wing's units are distributed across 14 locations in 12 states. The wing is headquartered at Hurlburt. (Source: 1st SOW, 07/16/13)

F-35 equipment team named best

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- One of the Air Force's newest aircrew flight equipment teams is now the Air Force's best. The 33rd Fighter Wing's aircrew flight equipment flight was chosen the best in the Air Force in the small program category for 2012. The wing is the only unit to fly and train on the F-35A fifth generation fighter. "This outstanding feat was accomplished amidst a year of numerous challenges in stand-up operations for the F-35," said Col. Todd Canterbury, the 33rd Fighter Wing commander. "It shows how hard their team worked to be considered the best in the Air Force." (Source: AFNS, 07/16/13)

Cherry Point depot gets F-35B

CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- The first F-35B is now at Cherry Point Fleet Readiness Center East to undergo modifications. The FRC East is the first Naval Aviation Depot to do the first modifications on the F-35. FRC workers will reinforce hinges on doors that allow the F-35B to take off and land vertically as part of the first modification to the jets. Such modifications are common once an aircraft joins the fleet. Lt. Col. Steve C. Gillette, of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, flew the F-35 unescorted from Elgin Air Force Base, Fla., to Cherry Point on July 9. Eglin is home of the Integrated Training Center for the F-35. (Source: Havelock News, 07/15/13)

Friday, July 12, 2013

EasyJet firms up orders

The U.K.'s easyJet firmed up an order for 135 A320 medium-haul, single-aisle aircraft from Airbus. The initial agreement was announced in June. EasyJet signed firm contracts for 35 A320s with currently available engines and 100 that will be powered by new, more fuel-efficient engines. EasyJet is the U.K.’s largest airline, carrying 55 million passenger a year. It’s also the largest A320 family customer and operator in Europe. (Source: Airbus, 07/11/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus broke ground in April on an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

F-35 pilot cadre grows to 100

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Maj. Robert Miller of the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, became the 100th pilot to fly the Lockheed Martin F-35 when he took to the skies above Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 9 for a training flight. Miller's 90-minute flight was in an F-35A, the Air Force variant. The flight followed academic and simulator instruction at Eglin's Integrated Training Center, which provides pilot and maintainer training for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps variants of the fighter. The joint service partners at Eglin have flown 2,292 F-35 hours and have 28 aircraft, the largest F-35 fleet in the world. The base eventually will have 59 F-35s. About 100 pilots and 2,200 maintainers will be qualified annually through the training system at the base. The Lockheed Martin training system is also operational at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 07/11/13)

Wade says hangars needed

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport needs new hangars to lure a top tier aerospace company. That's according to Bay County Economic Development Alliance Director Neal Wade. Although Wade would not name names because of a confidentiality agreement, he said there's one contender to bring 700 aerospace jobs to the West Bay area near the airport. Wade wants two hangars. The cost is in the vicinity of $30 million, airport officials said. Wade said a couple of potential sources for funding are being worked. Airport Executive Director Parker W. McClellan agreed. "We have 50 acres ready to go tomorrow ... All we need is one hangar to get started." McClellan said if one hangar opened, there could be 50 to 200 additional acres of property that could be developed. Wade noted that in April, Commercial Jet, an aircraft maintenance company, announced the opening of a 400,000-square-foot facility at Alabama's Dothan Regional Airport. "Commercial Jet is in Dothan because they have hangars there and that's the reason they are not here," Wade said. (Source: News Herald, 07/10/13) Related: Dothan facility lands client$12M investment in Dothan MRO

Drone destroyed after malfunction

PORT ST. JOE, Fla. – A QF-4 target drone out of Tyndall Air Force Base plunged into the Gulf of Mexico near St. Joseph Peninsula State Park Wednesday after it was destroyed by ground controllers. Tyndall officials said the unmanned Air Force drone assigned to the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group was destroyed Wednesday morning after it went “haywire” and left its safety zone. The drone, an F-4 Phantom converted to fly without a pilot, carries a self-destruct charge and was destroyed as it returned to base after a routine operation, officials said. (Source: News Herald via The Star, 07/10/13) Previous: QF-16 drone arrives

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Contract: SRI, $230M

SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif., has been awarded a $230,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for hardware, software, prototype systems, spiral software enhancements and installation training support for the Digital Video Laboratory III. The basic contract is a five-year contract; with the work for the first delivery order performed at Princeton, N.J., and is expected to be completed by July 9, 2014. Air Force Test Center/PZIE, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 07/10/13)

Drone lands on carrier

X-47B snags cable in historic carrier landing.
U.S. Navy photo
A robot aircraft made history when its tailhook caught a cable and it made a successful arrested landing on the flight deck of a moving aircraft carrier off the coast of Virginia today. "It isn't very often you get a glimpse of the future. Today, those of us aboard USS George H.W. Bush got that chance,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. The Northrop Grumman-built X-47B, a tail-less, unmanned combat aircraft about the size of a fighter, landed autonomously using GPS and sophisticated software. Named "Salty Dog 502," the unmanned aircraft took off from the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and headed for the carrier, the same ship where an X-47B for the first time executed a catapult launch in May. Two arrested landings were successful, but after reporters and VIPs left, a third landing was aborted when the aircraft itself detected a navigation computer issue. It landed safely back on land. (Sources: Navy, NBC News, Los Angeles Times, Breaking Defense, 07/10/13) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman builds portions of two unmanned aircraft, Fire Scout and Global Hawk, in Moss Point, Miss.

Air show goes on

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Although sequestration has grounded the Navy Blue Angels from participating in the summer air show at Pensacola Beach, the show is being held with an all-civilian lineup. Twenty-four civilian aircraft will participate in the show Friday and Saturday. The big question for beach businesses is whether a show without the Navy flight demonstration team, based at nearby Naval Air Station Pensacola, will draw as many visitors. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 07/10/13)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Drone's arrested carrier landing

An unmanned X-47B is scheduled to make its first arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier in a historic first on Wednesday. The Northrop Grumman-built aircraft, called “Salty Dog 502,” will leave Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and head for the USS George H.W. Bush, sailing off the coast of Virginia, for the arrested landing aboard CVN 77. Landing on a carrier deck is one of the most challenging tasks for a naval aviator. There will be nobody on the surface controlling the landing. Rather, the X-47B will land autonomously using precision GPS navigation, a high-integrity network connection and advanced flight control software to guide itself through the turbulent air behind the aircraft carrier and onto the moving flight deck. (Source: Navy Live, 07/09/13) Gulf Coast note: Northrop Grumman builts portions of the Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned systems in Moss Point, Miss. Previous: Drone catapults from carrier; Drone makes arrested landing

403rd to get new leader

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Col. Jay Jensen, commander of the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., is being reassigned to the Pentagon. Jensen will be senior Air Force policy administrator for the Reserve Forces Policy Board. In that job he’ll advocate for reservists. A new commander will take over the 403rd at the end of this month. In addition to a change in leadership, the 403rd is changing in other ways. The Hurricane Hunters will stay at Keesler but 10 of the C-130Js in the 403rd are being transferred to North Carolina. In addition, the active duty 345th will be reassigned to other active duty posts and the 815th will be dissolved. (Source: Sun Herald, 07/08/13)

Budget closes museum on Mondays

NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA – The National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola will be closed Mondays because of sequestration. The first day of the closing was this week, and it will remain in effect through September. The museum, which has no cover charge, is closed on Mondays because federal employees handle management of the museum. Much of the staffing is done by volunteers. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, 07/09/13)

Monday, July 8, 2013

44 civilian positions being cut

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Twenty-nine civilian positions will be eliminated at Naval Air Station Pensacola later this year. Another 15 will be eliminated at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton. In Pensacola, jobs are being cut from force protection, command management and morale, welfare and recreation. The Reduction in Force will occur Nov. 30. (Source: WEAR-TV, 07/08/13)

Accelerator drawing businesses

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- GE Aviation, which opened its Ellisville plant in May, is now renting laboratory space in The Accelerator innovation center to train new employees to make components for jet engines. The first course, Composites 101, consists of two eight-hour days where trainees learn the fundamentals of working with composites such as carbon fiber and resins. Composites 102 is several more eight-hour classes. Two other new businesses are Vatican Capital, a private equity investment firm that moved to The Accelerator in March, and Radiance Technologies, which moved in at the beginning of the year. Radiance, established in Huntsville in 1999, develops electronics, polymers and military applications. (Source: Hattiesburg American, 07/07/13) The Accelerator business incubator was developed by the University of Southern Mississippi.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

NASA seeks lunar partners

NASA is offering its expertise and test facilities to potential lunar-lander partners who might be able to help mount scientific missions to the Moon as early as 2018. A request for information published July 2 seeks concepts for "an industry-developed robotic lander that can be integrated with a launch vehicle for the purposes of supporting commercial (and potentially future NASA) missions." The responses are due Aug. 2. NASA is proposing no-exchange-of-funds partnerships under Space Act agreements or other mechanisms, offering its technical expertise, test facilities, and some hardware and software to private companies willing to put up funding for lander development. NASA is piggybacking on the Google Lunar X Prize, $30 million in prizes to teams that can land a robotic spacecraft on the lunar surface. Right now 22 teams worldwide are in the running, working against a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015. (Source: Aviation Week, 07/05/13) Gulf Coast note: NASA has two facilities in the Gulf Coast region: Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Contract: UT, $134M

United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., is being awarded a $133,979,288 cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract. This modification provides for non-recurring and recurring sustainment, site activation and depot activation efforts in support of the Joint Strike Fighter F135 Propulsion System Low Rate Initial Production Lot VI. Work will be performed in East Hartford, Conn. (63 percent); Indianapolis, Ind. (25 percent), and Bristol, United Kingdom (12 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2015. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Air Force (44.1 percent); U. S. Marine Corps (23.5 percent); the U.S. Navy (21.6 percent); and the governments of the United Kingdom (2.1 percent); Italy (2 percent); Turkey (1.6 percent); Australia (1.6 percent); the Netherlands (1.3 percent); Canada (1 percent); Norway (.8 percent); and Denmark (.4 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 07/05/13) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Syphax orders six A320 jetliners

Tunisia's Syphax Airlines ordered six Airbus A320 aircraft, an order worth about $575 million. Syphax has confirmed its order to buy three A320neo, which incorporates more fuel efficient engines and "sharklet" wing tip devices, and three A320 aircraft. A provisional order for the aircraft was made last month during the Paris Air Show. The aircraft will be powered by engines from CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric and Safran. The list price of an A320neo is $100.2 million and the standard A320 is $91.5 million, but airlines usually get discounts. At the end of June 2013, firm orders for the NEO stood at 2245 from 40 customers. (Sources: Airbus, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, 07/04/13) Gulf Coast note: Airbus broke ground in April on a $600 million A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Northrop gets simulator contract

Northrop Grumman last week won a training-simulation contract potentially worth $490 million to support the Air Force's next-generation air-combat virtual-training network. Northrop Grumman Information Systems of Herndon, Va., was awarded the follow-on support for the Combat Air Force Distributed Mission Operations and Integration program, according to the Defense Department. The company will develop and manage the "Distributed Mission Operations Network 2.0" at its Orlando operation with work to be completed by June 30, 2018. The system will connect dissimilar combat-aircraft simulators, from fighters to refueling aircraft, to the same interactive trainer. Lockheed Martin also competed for the project, according to a senior defense analyst for the Frost & Sullivan consulting firm. Lockheed's Mission Systems & Training unit in Orlando, among other projects, manages the F-35 pilot-training center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., one of the centers that would connect to the Air Force's mission-operations training network. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Agile Combat Support, Simulators Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio is the contracting activity. Northrop Grumman's simulation division lost a bid earlier this year for a trio of contracts related to virtual-training systems for the Littoral Combat Ship, the Navy's new, advanced warship. (Sources: DoD, 06/27/13, Orlando Sentinel 07/03/13) The Independence-class variant of the LCS is built in Mobile, Ala., by Austal USA.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

West takes over 1st SOW

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Col. Bill West took command of the 1st Special Operations Wing during a change of command ceremony Wednesday. West, a navigator, comes to Hurlburt from his position as commander of the 27th Special Operations Group at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. West succeeds Col. Jim Slife, who has headed the wing for two years. The 1st SOW oversees operations at Hurlburt Field, the most deployed installation in the Air Force. It employs more than 8,700 airmen and almost 2,000 civilians. During Slife’s command, the wing was in a near-constant state of deployment, conducting combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Libya, South America and the Horn of Africa. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 07/03/13) Previous

7th SFG gets new leader

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Col. Christopher Riga became the latest commander of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) during a change of command ceremony Wednesday. He becomes the group's third commander since it moved from Fort Bragg, N.C., to its new 500-acre cantonment in Eglin Air Force Base. Riga replaces Col. Antonio Fletcher, who has served as commander of the 7th Special Forces Group for two years. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 07/03/13)

Harman to lead Okaloosa airports

Sunil Harman, Okaloosa County's new airports director, is scheduled to start work July 23. County commissioners unanimously approved Harman Tuesday night. Harman, who has worked as Tallahassee's aviation director since 2011, was chosen from a pool of 175 applicants. He will oversee Northwest Florida Regional Airport, Destin Airport and Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview. Harman replaces Greg Donovan, who left in March 1 to head up Pensacola International Airport. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 07/03/13) Previous

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lockheed delivers 3rd HEO

Lockheed Martin has delivered the third of four highly elliptical earth orbit (HEO) satellite payloads contracted by the U.S. Air Force as part of the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS). Featuring a mix of satellites in geosynchronous orbit, the SBIRS program provides improved missile warning capabilities. The contracts include four HEO payloads, four GEO satellites, and ground assets to receive, process, and disseminate the infrared mission data. The first two HEO payloads were delivered in 2004 and 2005. Prior to its delivery, the HEO 3 payload successfully completed environmental and functional testing to demonstrate performance in family with HEOs 1 and 2. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 07/01/13) Gulf Coast note: SBIRS is an A2100 satellite-based spacecraft, and work on the A2100 core's propulsion system, which positions the spacecraft in orbit, is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. Previous

Monday, July 1, 2013

Contract: EADS, $12.9M

EADS North America, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $12,921,227 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, option-filled contract for contractor logistics support for the Army's aviation assets. The cumulative total face value of this contract is $2,265,423,694. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss. Fiscal 2013 operations and maintenance funds are being obligated on this award. The Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 07/01/13)

Sequester hits commissaries

Sequestration will force military and retiree families to revise weekday food shopping routines at commissaries in the region. In Florida, commissaries at Pensacola Naval Exchange near Corry Station and Eglin Air Force base will be among 247 that will be closed on Mondays when civilian defense workers begin unpaid furloughs July 8. The commissary at Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, Miss., will also be closed Monday. About 148 others will close Tuesdays as well. That list includes Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Hurlburt Field and Tyndall in Florida, Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport, Naval Air Station Columbus and Naval Air Station Meridian, all in Mississippi, and Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base New Orleans in Belle Chasse, La. Commissaries employ 14,000 U.S.-based civilian employees who will be affected by furloughs. The changes will remain through Sept. 30. (Source: Defense Commissary Agency, store locator)

F-22 mod contract awarded

Lockheed Martin received a $12.7 million contract modification to supply the final batch of automatic backup oxygen supply (A-BOS) systems for the F-22 Raptor fleet. The contract includes 72 retrofit kits for operational aircraft, two for test aircraft, trainer kits, support equipment and spares, according to a Department of Defense announcement. The total cumulative face value of the overall contract is $5.1 billion. (Source: Flight Global, 06/28/13) Gulf Coast note: F-22 pilots are trained at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.