Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Orbital, ATK merging

Alliant Techsystems (ATK) of Arlington, Va., is merging its aerospace and defense segments with Orbital Sciences, the Dulles-Va.-based commercial space firm. The $5 billion transaction is expected to be completed later this year. The new company will be Orbital ATK, based in Dulles. ATK, a major ammunition maker, is spinning off its hunting gear segment into a separate company. ATK is looking to bolster its aerospace business and Orbital Sciences hopes to boost the scale of its existing operations and gain a foothold in the defense sector. Last year Orbital’s Cygnus spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station, the second commercial company to do so after SpaceX. ATK is also involved in space activities, building aerospace structures and rocket engines. This month it received a contract from United Launch Alliance (ULA) to deliver hardware for the Atlas V and Delta IV rockets. (Sources: multiple, including Washington Post, Reuters, GovConWire, 04/29/14) Gulf Coast note: Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket is powered by AJ-26 engines tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss.; ULA's Delta IV is powered by RS-68 engines tested at SSC; ATK also has operations in Huntsville, Ala., and an aerospace structures business in Iuka, Miss.

Exercise spans several states

The ninth annual Emerald Warrior military exercise got underway Monday in Northwest Florida. It's sponsored by the Special Operations Command and is an irregular warfare exercise. Last year about 1,900 service members from different branches participated, and organizers expect the number to be about the same this year. About 90 aircraft will participate in the exercise, which will run through May 9 at Hurlburt Field, Eglin Air Force Base, Apalachicola, all in Florida, Camp Shelby and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, Pelham Range, Ala., and Melrose Range, N.M. Participants will interact using actual aircraft and personnel, as well as virtual simulators and computer-generated emulators that will interact in a live scenario. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/28/14)

SSC tech in Spinoff 2013

A host of products, including three with ties to Stennis Space Center, Miss., are featured in Spinoff 2013, an online publication that highlights commercial products created using NASA-developed technology. The SSC products include cloud based data sharing for emergency managers, an early warning system to identify potential threats to the nation's forests, and smart sensors to monitor components on rocket engine test stands in order to avert equipment failure. Also featured in the 2013 edition is an air purification system that can sustain miners in the event of a disaster, a solar-powered vaccine refrigerators saving lives in remote areas throughout the world, and a powerful heat shield used on the first commercial spacecraft to successfully achieve orbit and return to Earth. (Source: NASA, 04/28/14)

Monday, April 28, 2014

New Orleans airport growing fast

The publication Airline Weekly says Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans was the fastest growing United States airport in terms of passenger traffic from 2012 to 2013. The 7 percent growth rate beat Houston, Austin and San Jose, Calif., which all showed 6 percent growth. Next on the list were Charlotte, N.C., Nashville, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles, which all had 5 percent growth. (Source: Times-Picayune, 04/28/14)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

SpaceX to sue Air Force

SpaceX said Friday it plans to sue the Air Force for awarding billions to United Launch Alliance for national security launches that might even violate sanctions against Russia. The suit is expected to be filed Monday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The military spends billions yearly with UAL, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. It uses UAL’s Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles. The Atlas V first stage is powered by Russian-built RD-180 engines, which has raised concern among some lawmakers. But UAL has been highly successful with 68 successful launches in a row. SpaceX's launch system still has to be certified as meeting military standards, something that is expeced. (Sources: Space Daily Express, Breaking Defense, Bloomberg, 04/25/14) Gulf Coast note: Delta IV uses Aeroject Rocketdyne RS-68 engines, assembled and tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss., for the first stage; SpaceX will be testing its next generation engines at Stennis Space Center.

Friday, April 25, 2014

NASA, SSC top innovative list

For the fourth consecutive year NASA tops the list of most innovative large federal agencies, according to the Partnership for Public Service. The agency scored 76 points out of 100 on the innovation scale. It also accomplished a first in 2013: NASA is the parent agency to the top five most innovative sub-agencies on the list, with John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi ranking No. 1. The analysis, compiled by the Partnership for Public Service, Deloitte and the Hay Group, is based on the Office of Personnel Management’s 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. (Source: Government Executive, 04/24/14) Previous related

Vietnam joins A320 supplier list

Sharklets at the tip of wings helps airflow.
Airbus file photo
Nikkiso Vietnam Co. of Hanoi will make composite vertical bars and armor plates of winglets for A320 aircraft as a subcontractor for Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD), which has been an Airbus supplier since 1998. KAL-ASD has been the sole supplier of winglets, which Airbus calls Sharklets, since 2010. Nikkiso Vietnam is a 100 percent Japanese invested manufacturing company. Production will begin before the end of the year. Winglets are designed to help save fuel by reducing drag and improving air flow at the end of aircraft wings. (Sources: multiple, including SGGP, tuoitrenews, Vietnam Briefing, 04/24/14) In February KAL-ASD delivered its 1,000th winglet built at its Busan plant (Source: Airbus, 02/18/14). Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

ECP market share down

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- Despite an increase in traffic as spring break kicked off last month, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP) failed to increase passenger traffic year-over-year in March. The airport in West Bay, northwest of Panama City, saw a nearly 10 percent decrease in passengers, falling from 171,741 in March 2013 to 155,161 this year. ECP's market share also dropped. It held a 19 percent market share between January and March, falling behind both Tallahassee Regional Airport and Northwest Florida Regional Airport in Fort Walton Beach, which held 21 and 20 percent, respectively. Pensacola currently holds 40 percent of the market. By comparison, ECP held 22 percent of the market between January and September of 2013, Tallahassee had 19, Fort Walton 20 and Pensacola 40 percent. Executive Director Parker McClellan said some of the decrease could be linked to special introductory fares for Southwest Airlines flights out of Pensacola International Airport when the airline launched service in that city. (Source: Panama City News Herald, 04/23/14) Previous: Southwest adjusts flights; Crosswind runway delayed; Airport celebrates Southwest

Hill F-16s train with F-35s

F-16 takes off while F-35s taxi in joint training.
Air Force photo
Pilots from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, trained alongside the new F-35 fighter for the first time Thursday at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The pilots didn't fly the F-35 but did participate in a training mission aboard F-16s. Hill will receive 72 F-35s next year. The jets will be flown by 388th and 419th fighter wings. Hill Air Force Base already has trained maintainers to work on F-35s. (Sources:Standard-Examiner, 04/24/14, Salt Lake Tribune, 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 04/25/14)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Eagle Claw remembered

Wreath on the memorial
Air Force photo
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – There was a ceremony at Hurlburt Field Thursday marking the anniversary of Operation Eagle Claw, the ill-fated 1980 attempt to rescue 52 American hostages from Iran. U.S. forces who had gathered at the first staging area, Desert One, had fewer than the required number of helicopters in operational condition, and the decision was made to abort. But one of the helicopters crashed into a transport aircraft, which contained both service members and jet fuel. The resulting fire killed eight service members. Five were from Hurlburt Field. (Source: Hurlburt Field, 04/24/14)

Probe details emerge

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- The investigation into possible misconduct by former Blue Angels lead pilot Capt. Greg McWherter focuses on allegations that he allowed sexual harassment within the flight demonstration squadron. McWherter was fired last week from his most recent job as second-in-command of Coronado Naval Base in San Diego, home to two aircraft carriers, four units of Navy SEALs. The Navy said the complaint came from one person. (Source: Pensacola News Journal, WEAR-TV, 04/24/14)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Unofficial inactivation ceremony held

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – It's not until June 15 that the 345th Tactical Airlift Squadron stands down, but there was a ceremony Friday marking the end of the unit. The unit's C-130J aircraft will be sent to another base, but all the 345th airmen have already been given orders for reassignments. Col. David J. Condit, commander of the 403rd Operations Group, said that if they had waited until June 15 there would only have been three people left, which wouldn’t make for much of a ceremony. The 345th is an active-duty component of the 403rd Wing. (Source: Sun Herald, 04/22/14) This week, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority whip, visited Keesler with Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi. McCarthy said after his 90-minute tour that he thinks the best place to keep the C-130J aircraft is at Keesler. (Source: WLOX-TV, 04/23/14)

Contract: Multiple, $109.9M

Midwest Air Traffic Control Service Inc., Overland Park, Kan. (N65236-14-D-4984) and Readiness Management Support LC, Panama City, Fla. (N65236-14-D-4985), are each being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee, with provisions for firm-fixed-price task orders, performance based contract. The contracts are for the procurement of air traffic management and electronic equipment maintenance services to support air traffic control operations, airfield management, air to ground communications operations and maintenance, surveillance and precision radar systems operations and maintenance, voice communications systems operations and maintenance, and aviation command and control operations and maintenance. The cumulative, estimated ceiling value of the base year is $109,874,600. These contracts include options, which if exercised, would bring the cumulative ceiling value of these contracts to an estimated $330,295,200. This contract action merely establishes a potential ceiling value and does not obligate the Navy to fund to the ceiling. Work will be performed in Southwest Asia. Work is expected to be completed by April 2015. If all options are exercised, work could continue until April 2019. SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic Navy working capital funds in the amount of $25,000 will be obligated at the time of award as the minimum guarantee and will be split among the two awardees; these funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract action establishes a potential ceiling value, in which funds are obligated on individual task orders for efforts that fall within the core competency areas. The multiple award contracts were competitively procured by full and open competition via the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center e-Commerce Central website and the Federal Business Opportunities website, with three offers received. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/23/14)

Australia buying more F-35s

Australia will order 58 more F-35 fighters for $11.61 billion, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Wednesday. Australia approved the purchase of 14 of the stealth fighters in 2009, and the additional jets will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with enough aircraft to form three operational squadrons and one training squadron. The first F-35 aircraft will arrive in Australia in 2018 and enter service with the RAAF in 2020, Abbott said. (Source: Reuters, 04/22/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Marvel of Flight scheduled

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla. -- DeFuniak Springs will host its fourth annual fly-in aviation festival from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the DeFuniak Springs Municipal Airport. Planes on display at the “Marvel of Flight” festival include a B-25, Chinese and Russian military planes, Huey and Cobra helicopters and more. The festival was created by Leadership Walton, a program of the Walton Area Chamber. Price of admission is a canned food item for the Matrix Community Outreach Center. (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 04/21/14)

Contract: Northrop, $25M

Northrop Grumman, Annapolis, Md., is being awarded a $25,000,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N61331-10-D-0009) for the continuation of depot level repair, maintenance, related engineering services, change kits and integrated logistics support documentation for the AN/AQS-14A Sonar Detecting Set, AQS-24 Mine Hunting System, ALQ-141 Acoustic Minehunting/Minesweeping System, USM-668 Intermediate Level Test Equipment (ILTE) and the Modified USM-668A ILTE and the Swivel Slip-Ring Assembly. Work will be performed in Annapolis, Md., and is expected to be completed by February 2015. No funding will be obligated at time of award and contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/22/14)

Eglin wins environmental award

The Department of Defense announced Monday that two Air Force installations were among the winners of the 2014 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards. The Natural Resources Team at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., won the Natural Resources Conservation, Individual/Team award for offered long-range solutions that ensured regulatory compliance while maximizing the use of land and water ranges to maintain mission readiness. The other Air Force award went to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center F-35 Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health Support Team at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (Source: AFNS, 04/21/14)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Raptor tests to begin within month

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – Testing of a new, more powerful SpaceX engine will begin within a month at NASA's rocket engine test facility in South Mississippi. A ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held today marking the start of a partnership between SpaceX and Stennis Space Center. SpaceX, which has already successfully completed resupply missions to the International Space Station, plans to test its methane-fueled Raptor rocket engine on the E-2 test stand. The reuseable engine is being developed for a heavy-lift launch vehicle. "In partnership with NASA, SpaceX has helped create one of the most advanced engine testing facilities in the world, and we look forward to putting the stand to good use," said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX. "These types of activities are opening new doors of commercial space exploration for companies," said Stennis Center Director Rick Gilbrech. SpaceX's Dragon space capsule successfully docked with the ISS Sunday, its third resupply mission. (Source: GCAC, 04/21/14)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ex-Blue Angel boss investigated

Former Blue Angel Capt. Gregory McWherter has been relieved of duty as executive officer of Naval Base Coronado, Calif., pending an investigation into allegations of misconduct while he was commander of the Blue Angels aerial demonstration team. McWherter was commanding officer and flight leader of the Pensacola, Fla.-based Blue Angels from November 2008 to November 2010, and from May 2011 to November 2012, and has been at Coronado since November 2013. The F/A Hornet pilot has logged 5,500 flight hours and 950 aircraft carrier landings during training missions and deployments to the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and the western Pacific. He also was an instructor at the Fighter Weapons School, known as Top Gun. (Sources: Pensacola News Journal, Los Angeles Times, U-T San Diego, 04/18/14)

Airbus pondering 'neo Plus?'

With the more fuel efficient A320neo set to start flight tests in October, industry sources claim Airbus is considering a focus to avionics, cabin and other system improvements that could sustain the A320 well into the 2020s. Aviation Week reports that according to sources, suppliers will meet with Airbus later this month to discuss the Single Aisle Incremental Development program, also known as the A320neo Plus. The initiative could result in a series of systems and interior upgrades that would start being introduced as of early 2016 onto production aircraft. Airbus denies such a concrete project is in place. (Source: Aviation Week, 04/17/14) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., to help meet demand for the popular jetliner. The first plane will roll out in 2016.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Contract: Lockheed, $54.6M

Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded a $54,574,234 modification to a previously awarded fixed-price-incentive-fee, cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-12-C-0004) for production non-recurring technical assistance in support of the F-35 Lot VII effort for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and international partner governments. Services to be provided includes manufacturing technology transfer and planning tasks required to ensure a manufacturing base with sufficient technical knowledge to support F-35 production requirements. Work will be performed in El Segundo, Calif. (38 percent); Fort Worth, Texas (24 percent); Warton, United Kingdom (16.5 percent); San Diego, Calif. (14 percent); Orlando, Fla. (3.4 percent); Nashua, N.H. (2.3 percent); Palmdale, Calif. (1.2 percent); Marietta, Ga. (.3 percent) Amityville, N.Y. (.2 percent); and Laval, Canada (.1 percent), and is expected to be completed in January 2015. This modification combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (4 percent); the U.S. Air Force (38.7 percent); and F-35 international partner governments (21.3 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/16/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the F-35 training center.

NASA gears up for RS-25 tests

RS-25 tests will begin this summer.
Aerojet Rocketdyne photo
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- With testing of the J-2X engine completed April 10, engineers at Stennis Space Center are now focusing their attention on preparing the RS-25 engine for the test stands. Four RS-25 engines, previously known as space shuttle main engines, will power the core stage of Space Launch System that will take astronauts deeper into space than ever before. More than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.6 feet, the core stage will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the RS-25s. Modifications to the engines, like higher thrust levels, were needed on the engines for the SLS. Gary Benton, J-2X and RS-25 test project manager at SSC, said the J-2X powerpack testing began in late 2007, and a wide range of full-engine developmental tests have been done. A number of J-2X tests benefit the upcoming RS-25 tests. (Source: NASA, 04/11/14) Background story: SSC does what's needed for stand

Orion powers through test

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. -- NASA's Orion spacecraft passed a test designed to determine readiness for its first flight test, Exploration Flight Test-1. EFT-1 later this year will send the spacecraft more than 3,600 miles from Earth then back. The spacecraft ran for 26 uninterrupted hours during the final phase of a major test series completed April 8 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The test verified the crew module can route power and send commands that enable the spacecraft to manage its computer system, software and data loads, propulsion valves, temperature sensors and other instrumentation. (Sources: Space Travel, 04/16/14, NASA, 04/11/14) Gulf Coast note: Orion is built in part at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans.

SpaceX ribbon-cutting slated

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- There will be a ribbon-cutting Monday at NASA's Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi to mark the beginning of SpaceX's new engine component test operations. SpaceX, the first commercial company to successfully send supplies to the International Space Station, said in October 2013 that it would use SSC to test its new Raptor methane rocket engines. Another company that can send cargo to the ISS, Orbital Sciences, uses Aerojet AJ26 engines to power its Antares rocket. Those engines also are tested at SSC. Scheduled to attend the 3 p.m. CDT ribbon-cutting is SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, SSC Director Rick Gilbrech, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Sen. Thad Cochran and Rep. Steven Palazzo. (Source: GCAC, 04/16/14) Previous

F-35 fleet passes 15K flying

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Lockheed Martin F-35 fleet recently surpassed 15,000 flight hours, a major milestone for the program. As of April 7, operational F-35s had flown 8,050 hours while System Development and Demonstration aircraft had accumulated 7,123 flight hours. In 2014, F-35A test aircraft have flown 328 hours; F-35B test aircraft have accumulated 191 hours; and F-35C test aircraft have flown 91 hours. In comparison, operational F-35As have flown 963 hours, while their F-35B and F-35C counterparts have accumulated 1,012 and 98 hours respectively for the year. (Source: Lockheed Martin, 04/15/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Last Holloman F-22 arrives

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The last F-22 from New Mexico arrived at Tyndall Air Force Base this week. The final four F-22 Raptors from the 7th Fighter Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, Albuquerque, N.M. arrived Tuesday. In total, 24 F-22 Raptors were transferred to Tyndall from Holloman. The transfer of the squadron will involve about 1,100 active, reserve and support personnel. Seven T-38 Talons also were moved from Holloman to Tyndall. (Source: News Herald, 04/11/14; 325th Fighter Wing, 04/15/14) Previous: New F-22 squadron named; F-22s log milestone; Tyndall mission statement changed

Keesler C-130Js topic on Hill

WASHINGTON -- Keesler Air Force Base's C-130Js were brought up by two Mississippi members of Congress during two hearings in Washington. Rep. Steven Palazzo, in front of the House Readiness Subcommittee hearing, and U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, grilled Air Force leaders about plans to move 10 aircraft to Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. Palazzo said it doesn’t make sense from a cost perspective or a readiness perspective. He pointed out that $58 million was spent on construction at Keesler in recent years to accommodate the planes. Wicker also questioned the savings. He said he doesn’t believe the numbers add up. (Source: Sun Herald, 04/10/14) Related

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Contract: Jacobs, $67M

Jacobs Technology Inc., Tullahoma, Tenn., has been awarded an estimated $67,000,000 modification (14) for an existing indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (FA9200-12-D-0085) with multiple funding appropriations at the task order level for technical and engineering acquisition support services. This modification provides for the exercise of an option for additional diverse engineering, technical and acquisition support services being provided under the basic contract. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 18, 2014. The current action includes unclassified foreign military sales to Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordon, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emerites and United Kingdom. Fiscal 2013 and 2014 research development test and evaluation, operations and maintenance, and procurement funds will be obligated incrementally when available. Air Force Test Center/PZZ, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/10/14)

Trainers to set up at Camp Shelby

2-20th Special Forces Group, National Guard.
U.S. Army photo, 01/24/13
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -- A Maryland counterterrorism security training company has signed an agreement to conduct specialized training at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, officials said Wednesday. Annapolis-based ViaGlobal Group made the decision after several visits to the Mississippi National Guard base south of Hattiesburg. Camp Shelby's facilities include a state-of-the-art urban terrain site and live fire shoot house. ViaGlobal Group's executive board includes former commanders in Marine, Navy and Army Special Operations organizations. (Source: Camp Shelby Public Affairs, 04/10/14) The base is 135,000 acres with ranges for Abrams M1 tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, MRAPs and more. There's also an air-to-ground bombing range and a combat training runway designed for C-17 short-field landing operations.

Hattiesburg losing Silver Airways

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Silver Airways served notice that it intends to pull service from the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport and other airports. Hattiesburg-Laurel Executive Director Tom Heanue said he received a call from airline officials Wednesday to let him know Silver intended to file 90-day Notice of Termination papers. Silver informed him that it was shutting down the bulk of its Atlanta operations. Silver began providing connections from Hattiesburg to Atlanta in 2012 after Delta Air Lines said in 2011 that it was dropping 24 routes in smaller markets across the nation, including Hattiesburg. Silver Airways, a regional carrier based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was awarded the routes as the Essential Air Service subsidy jumped from about $1.4 million annually to about $2.9 million. (Source: Hattiesburg American, 04/09/14) Previous: Delta cutting 24 markets; Silver Airways to serve airports

Mobile FAL takes shape

Mobile FAL nearly done. Airbus photo
MOBILE, Ala. – A year after the ground breaking ceremony for Airbus' first A320 family assembly facility to be built in the United States, the Mobile plant is progressing. The main buildings are taking shape and the first employees have started on-the-job training in Hamburg, Germany. The steelwork on the main building, the Final Assembly Line hangar where the A320 family aircraft will be assembled, started in April 2013 and is nearing completion. In addition, the powerhouse, which will provide utilities, is also nearing completion. The construction work continues with the assembly of the service building, housing the main offices, followed by the building of the logistics centre. (Source: Airbus, 04/10/14)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ingalls to deliver LHA 6

PASCAGOULA, Miss. -- A ship that will one day carry F-35B and MV-22 aircraft will be delivered in a ceremony Thursday. Ingalls Shipbuilding will deliver the amphibious assault ship America (LHA 6) in a noon ceremony at the shipyard. America-class ships are 844 feet long and 106 feet wide and will have a crew of 1,059 and 1,687 troops. The ship will be capable of carrying a Marine Expeditionary Unit, including Marine helicopters, MV‐22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and F‐35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. The ship has an increased aviation capacity to include an enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion of the aviation maintenance facilities, a significant increase in available stowage for parts and support equipment, and increased aviation fuel capacity. (Source: Ingalls, 04/09/14)

Grant will help business expand

ENTERPRISE, Ala. -- A $500,000 grant is being awarded to the city that will help an Enterprise company expand its aviation business and provide 200 new jobs. The company is Alabama Aircraft Support, which specializes in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of military and commercial helicopters and small aircraft. The Community Development Block Grant awarded to the city will provide infrastructure enabling the company to expand with a 64,800-square-foot aircraft maintenance building and hangar. CDBG funding will provide sewer services to the facility that will be built on a nine-acre site at Enterprise Municipal Airport. The city has pledged $219,940 in additional funds for the sewer project. (Source: WSFA, 04/08/14) Enterprise is west of Fort Rucker, the Army's helicopter aviation center. Previous

Airline changes Airbus orders

American Airlines is changing 30 firm orders for 30 Airbus A320neo jetliners into options, according to an investor update filed on Tuesday morning. The planes were scheduled to be delivered in 2021 and 2022 and were part of the order of 260 Airbus narrow-body aircraft announced in 2011. American also said it terminated its existing lease financing arrangements for 62 Airbus A320 that American is scheduled to receive between 2015 and 2017 and instead will the purchase the aircraft. (Source: Star-Telegram, 04/08/14) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., to help address the backlog of orders. Previous related

Armament Directorate hits milestone

JASSM-ER missile release from B-1 bomber.
USAF photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The Armament Directorate celebrated a milestone with delivery of the first production lot of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range missiles to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, last month. The JASSM family of weapons, JASSM and JASSM-ER variants, are autonomous, long-range, conventional air-to ground, precision guided missiles. The weapons provide focused lethality to strike highly defended, high value targets. The JASSM Program Office at Eglin Air Force Base, working with contractor Lockheed Martin Missile Fire and Control in Orlando Fla., jointly spearheaded the development, testing and fielding of this newest JASSM variant. With little change in design, the JASSM's newest accomplishment provides a weapon that can reach targets more than two and half times farther than its predecessor, while still hitting its target with accuracy. Seventy percent of the hardware and 90 percent of software are common between the two variants. (Source: AFNS, 04/08/14)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

FAA eyes another UAV center

The Southeast didn'get one of the six FAA test sites that will help integrate unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace, but now the Federal Aviation Administration wants to establish a center for excellence within the next year. FAA, which issued a presolicitation notice March 31, is looking for government, industry and academic partners for the COE. Areas of interest include air traffic control interoperability, airport ground operations, pilot training and certification, human factors and privacy practices. The FAA intends to release a draft request for proposal and publicly discuss program requirements in May. The Gulf Coast in a major player in robotics and unmanned systems. UAVs are used at several military bases in the region, and Fire Scout and variants of the Global Hawk unmanned aerial system are built in Moss Point, Miss. The Naval Oceanographic Office at Stennis Space Center, Miss., operates a fleet of unmanned underwater vehicles, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, Fla., does R&D with unmanned maritime systems. In addition, the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola, Fla., is a recognized leader in human-machine interaction. (Source: GCAC, 04/08/14, FBO, 03/31/14)

UTC center gets Spirit contract

FOLEY, Ala. -- UTC Aerospace Systems' Aerostructures has been chosen by Florida-based Spirit Airlines to provide nozzle maintenance for the Airbus A320 family aircraft in the carrier's fleet. Spirit operates a fleet of more than 50 A320 family aircraft. The work for the three-year contract will be done at UTC Aerospace Systems' Alabama Service Center in Foley, which houses both original equipment work as well as the Alabama Service Center, a maintenance, repair and overhaul site dedicated to nacelle components. (Source: al.com, 04/08/14) Background story: Thriving in the shadow of a giant, Gulf Coast Reporters League newsletter, December 2013

Monday, April 7, 2014

UK team to train on Triton

LONDON -- Britain's Ministry of Defense is sending a team to train on Northrop Grumman's MQ-4C Triton unmanned system in preparation for a decision next year on whether to re-establish a maritime patrol capability. The government said that four personnel are scheduled to train on the MQ-4C Triton during June and August 2014 at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. The Triton is the U.S. Navy's version of Global Hawk. It's in flight test phase ahead of delivery to the U.S. Navy. (Source: Defense News, 04/07/14) Gulf Coast note: Tritons are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. Previous: Initial flight tests of Triton done; Australia to buy Tritons

Park designated AdvantageSite

FAIRHOPE, Ala. -- A 110-acre industrial park next to H. L. Sonny Callahan Airport is now the fifth Baldwin County site to earn the Alabama AdvantageSite designation. Since its inception in 2008, the program, coordinated by the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has recognized 47 sites in the state that meet guidelines including utility and environmental standards, size, zoning and accessibility. The Fairhope Airport Industrial Park has 75 contiguous developable acres out of 110. It’s located 12 miles south of Interstate 10, next to the municipal airport and its 6,604-foot runway. The area is also the location of the nearly complete Aerospace Training Center. (Source: al.com, 04/07/14)

JHSV to test railgun

Electromagnetic railgun. Navy photo
The Navy plans to test a prototype electromagnetic railgun aboard a joint high speed vessel in fiscal year 2016, the service said today. It marks the first time an EM railgun will be demonstrated at sea. Railguns use an electromagnetic force to rapidly accelerate and launch a projectile between two conductive rails. The launch is at such high velocities that it can achieve greater ranges than conventional guns and maintains enough kinetic energy that it doesn't require a high explosive payload. High-energy EM railguns are expected to be used against multiple threats, including warships, small boats, aircraft, missiles and land-based targets. A JHSV is being used because of its available cargo and topside space and schedule flexibility. (Source: NNS, 04/07/14) Gulf Coast note: JHSVs are built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

403rd conducts training exercise

BILOXI, Miss. – All of Keesler Air Force Base’s C-130J and WC-130J aircraft were up in the air simultaneously Saturday as part of the 403rd Wing's training exercise called Operation Surge Capacity. The combat readiness exercise was one of the largest the 403rd Wing has conducted in years. Hundreds of airmen in the 403rd Wing took part in this massive training exercise, created to test multiple capabilities in the wing and help ensure readiness in future missions. The three-hour training exercise included dropping 15 pound sandbags to simulate a tactical air drop. (Source: WLOX-TV, 04/05/14)

Friday, April 4, 2014

81 Medical Group gets new leader

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The "Dragon Medics" welcomed their new leader last week as Col. (Dr.) Thomas Harrell assumed command of the 81st Medical Group from Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Kory Cornum during a change of command ceremony at Keesler Medical Center's Don Wylie Auditorium. Harrell comes to Keesler Air Force Base from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, where he commanded the Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Joint Venture Hospital and also served as the Alaskan Command command surgeon. Cornum has been reassigned to Scott AFB, Ill., as Air Mobility Command command surgeon. (Source: 81st Medical Group, 03/31/14)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Contract: BAE, $47.4M

BAE Systems Electronic Solutions, Nashua, N.H., is being awarded a $47,352,248 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity delivery order contract for the manufacture of the transmitter countermeasures T-1687A/ALE-70 (V) in support of the Joint Strike Fighter program. Work will be performed at Nashua and work is expected to be completed by April 2017. Fiscal 2014 procurement of ammunition Navy and Marine Corps, and fiscal 2012 Air Force aircraft funding in the amount of $14,314,816 will be obligated at the time of award. The Air Force funds in the amount of $6,308,224 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support, Mechanicsburg, Pa., is the contracting activity (N00104-14-D-K054). (Source: DoD, 04/03/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center.

Paint hanger work to begin in 2Q

MOBILE, Ala. -- Airbus Americas will break ground on a $13 million paint shop hangar for its A320 final assembly line in the second quarter. The facility will be operated by MAAS Aviation Services, a division of the Expressair Aviation Group. The paint hangar is expected to employ 34 people. MAAS has options for expansion as Airbus' production increases. Airbus is building its $600 million A320 final assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex. It's expected to open in 2015 and its first plane will be produced in 2016. (Source: al.com, 04/03/14) Expressair Aviation Group is a privately owned, Irish registered holding company. MAAS has paint hangars in Ireland, the UK and Netherlands.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Contract: Northrop, $43.8M

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., is being awarded a $43,781,216 modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-12-C-0059) for the production and delivery of five MQ-8 Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (VTUAV) and one ground control station 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 December 2015. Fiscal 2013 and 2014 aircraft procurement, Navy funds in the amount of $43,781,216 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, 04/02/14) Previous

More Airbus openings posted

MOBILE, Ala. -- Airbus is seeking to fill seven hourly aircraft quality inspector positions for its A320 final assembly line being built at the Mobile Aeroplex. The latest listings include one quality inspector for the flight line and six for the final assembly line. Pay ranges from $20 to $30 an hour. For regular updates on job postings, check the Alabama Industrial Development Training program website. (Source: al.com, 04/01/14)

IHMC to show off robots

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Some of the world's most advanced robots will be on display next week at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition Robotics Lab in downtown Pensacola. The open house is April 10, from 4-7 p.m., at 201 E. Wright Street. It's part of fifth annual National Robotics Week April 5-13. Among the robots on display will be Atlas, a humanoid robot built by Boston Dynamics and used by IHMC in the DARPA Robotics Challenge in December 2013. IHMC, which wrote the programs that allowed Atlas to perform life-saving tasks during a disaster, finished second among 16 of the world's top robotics development teams. Also on display at the April 10 open house will be FastRunner, a two-legged, fast-moving platform inspired by the ostrich, and NASA's X1 exoskeleton, designed to help astronauts exercise in space and to help disabled humans walk on Earth. The event is free and will feature demonstrations and tours. (Source: IHMC, 04/01/14)

Aero manufacturing takes off

The South is already home to auto giants, and now it's increasingly attracting some of the biggest names in aviation, including Boeing in South Carolina, Airbus in Alabama, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. in Georgia and GE Aviation in North Carolina. Aerospace companies are moving manufacturing operations to Southern states, in part due to lower costs, generous state incentive packages and right-to-work laws that make it hard for unions to organize. The aerospace sector is growing. Sales grew 41 percent from 2002 to 2012, driven largely by military and international sales. And that growth won't ebb anytime soon. (Source: Stateline, 04/02/14)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Contracts: Multiple, $20M

Alessi Keyes Construction, North Little Rock, Ark.; AMR Construction LLC, Little Rock, Ark.; Oren Atchley Co., Inc., Fort Smith, Ark.; BES Design/Build LLC, Fairhope, Ala.; Beshears Construction Inc., Fort Smith, Ark.; C&M Contractors Inc., Doniphan, Mo.; Charpie Construction Co., Inc., Hopkinsville, Ky.; CWR Construction Inc., North Little Rock, Ark.; DAV Construction Co., Sherwood, Ark.; Flynco Inc., Little Rock, Ark.; Haralson Property Resources LLC, Memphis, Tenn.; Hernandez Consulting LLC, New Orleans, La.; HGL Construction, Midwest City, Okla.; Hollon Contracting LLC, Dothan, Ala.; J&S Construction Company Inc., Cookeville, Tenn.; Jack Helms Construction Co., Fort Smith, Ark.; Jack Morgan Construction, England, Ark.; Jane Construction LLC, Ozark, Ark.; K&E Construction Inc., South Beebe, Ark.; LJB Construction Inc., Rogers, Ark.; Lobina Construction, Hot Springs, Ark.; McCormick Asphalt Paving & Excavation, Ozark, Ark.; Precise Concrete Works LLC, Memphis, Tenn.; Primestar Construction Corp., Dallas, Texas; RHI Inc., West Haven, Utah; Roederer Construction Inc., LaGrange, Ky.; Ross Sparks Builders, Little Rock, Ark.; Structural Systems Inc., Fort Smith, Ark.; Wilkins Construction, North Little Rock, Ark., were awarded a $20,000,000 firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the sustainment/repair and maintenance of National Guard military construction projects at Little Rock Air Force Base, Camp Joseph T. Robinson, and Fort Smith Regional Airport. Funding and work location will be determined with each order. Estimated completion date is March 31, 2019. Bids were solicited via the Internet with 29 received. All contractors in this announcement are small businesses. National Guard Bureau, North Little Rock, Ark., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/01/14)

Contracts: Multiple, $33M

URS Federal Inc., Germantown, Md. (N00189-12-D-Z016); Raytheon Technical Services Co. LLC, Sterling, Va. (N00189-12-D-Z017); Technical Software Services Inc., Pensacola, Fla. (N00189-12-D-Z018); Camber Corp., Huntsville, Ala. (N00189-12-D-Z019); General Dynamics Information Technology, Fairfax, Va. (N00189-12-D-Z020); Northrop Grumman Corp., Herndon, Va. (N00189-12-D-Z021); Logistic Services International Inc., Jacksonville, Fla. (N00189-12-D-Z022); Sonalysts Inc., Waterford, Conn. (N00189-12-D-Z023); and Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, San Diego, Calif. (N00189-12-D-Z024), are being awarded modifications under previously awarded multiple award contracts to exercise option two of the contracts pursuant to contract clause FAR 52.217-9, option to extend the term of the contract. The contracts provide education training products and services for the Naval Education Training Command in conjunction with Naval Education Training and Professional Development and Technology Center which works to educate Navy sailors in a variety of ways. The maximum contract value, for option two, for all nine contracts combined, is $33,079,710. These nine contractors will compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contracts. No funding will be obligated with the exercise of the option, and therefore none of the funding will expire before the end of the current fiscal year. Funding will be provided on individual task orders issued against the contracts during the period of the option. Work will be performed in Pensacola (90 percent) and the other 10 percent will be performed at the contractors' locations. Work is expected to be completed April 30, 2015. The NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk, Contracting Department, Philadelphia Office, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity. (Source: DoD, 04/01/14)

Contract: Boeing, $80M

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., has been awarded a maximum $80,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, for Joint Direct Attack Munitions technical support for studies and analysis, product improvement, upgrades, integration (including, but not limited to, software integration, aircraft integration, and associated hardware) and testing. Work will be performed in Missouri with an expected completion date of March 31, 2019. Fiscal 2014 Air Force procurement funds in the amount of $4,141,039 and fiscal 2014 Navy operations and maintenance funds in amount $145,000 will be obligated at time of award. This award is the result of a sole source acquisition. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA8681-14-D-0028). (Source: DoD, 04/01/14)

Standex to supply A320neo

SALEM, N.H. -- Standex International Corp. announced that Spincraft, the company's engineered products metal fabrication business unit, received a life of program award from Senior Aerospace (SSP, formerly Stainless Steel Products) to produce exhaust plug and nozzle components for the nacelle on the Airbus A320neo. Spincraft will produce exhaust plug and nozzle sets, consisting of five individual components, for all the A320neo assemblies produced by SSP. SSP production is anticipated to represent up to 100 percent of the volume requirements on the UTAS nacelle for the Pratt & Whitney engine version of the aircraft. (Source: Business Wire, 03/31/14) Gulf Coast note: Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala.

Assignments impact Tyndall

New assignments have been made affecting Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Col. David W. Hicks, selected for the grade of brigadier general, vice director, operations, J-3, North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., has been assigned as vice commander, First Air Force (Air Forces Northern), Air Combat Command, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Also, Brig. Gen. Jack L. Briggs II, selected for the grade of major general, vice commander, First Air Force, Air Combat Command, Tyndall, has been assigned to director of operations, J-3, Headquarters U.S. Northern Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. (Source: DoD, 03/31/14)

IHMC scientist symposium speaker

PENSACOLA, Fla. -- Veteran Shuttle astronaut Tom Jones, a senior research scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, will be a featured speaker at the first X-STEM: Extreme STEM Symposium in Washington, D.C., on April 24. The symposium opens the third annual USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo and Book Fair, April 26-27, hosted by sponsor Lockheed Martin. Held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, X-STEM is a "TED-style" event for kids with talks by 50 of the nation's most noted science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals representing top universities, corporations, non-profits and governmental agencies. "I'm honored to speak at X-STEM and get to meet some of our future explorers," said Jones, who flew on four shuttle missions. "Exciting our young people about science, technology, engineering and math … is crucial to America's future." IHMC is a non-profit institute focusing on human-machine interaction. (Source: IHMC, 03/31/14)

NASA to extend contracts

Orbital Sciences and SpaceX could be hauling cargo to the international space station through 2017 under planned two-year contract extensions NASA announced March 31. NASA said it plans to extend the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contracts it gave Orbital and SpaceX in 2008 "for up to 24 months from December 2015 to December 2017." It was unclear whether NASA will be ordering additional missions. (Source: Space News, 03/31/14) Gulf Coast note: Orbital's Antares launch vehicle uses Aerojet AJ26 engines tested at Stennis Space Center; SpaceX last year announced it will test its Raptor methane rocket engines at SSC.

F-35 program cost drops

The estimated acquisition cost of the F-35 program dropped $11.5 billion over the past year, the congressional Government Accountability Office reported Monday in its annual report on U.S. arms programs. GAO now estimates the Pentagon will spend $332.3 billion over coming decades to develop the radar-evading F-35 jet and buy a total of 2,457 aircraft, about 3.3 percent less than last year's estimate. The new estimate was provided in fiscal year 2014 dollars. (Source: Reuters, Breaking Defense, 03/31/14) Gulf Coast note: Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training program.