Saturday, January 20, 2018

Week in review (1/14 to 1/20)

It was back in April 2015 that I first wrote an article about the F-35 reprogramming lab at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The headline said a lot: "Putting the fight in the F-35."

The two-page article was the cover story for that issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor newsletter. It focused on the $300 million reprogramming lab that provides the F-35 with mission data to give it combat smarts. The story also noted that two more multimillion-dollar labs would be built at the base to customize data for F-35 partner nations. (newsletter, pp 1-2)

During the week, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $7.5 million for modification of a previously awarded contract to transition the F-35 Australia, Canada, United Kingdom Reprogramming Laboratory (ACURL) system from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Support includes required activities including packing, shipping, installation, integration, and testing. This modification also provides for initial spares for the ACURL. Seventy percent of the work for this contract will be done at Eglin and 30 percent at Fort Worth. It’s expected to be completed in March 2019. (Post)

Late last year, we told you that the folks who operate the Eglin reprogramming lab, the 53rd Wing’s 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron, was awarded on Oct. 25 the Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Team of 2017 for their work on the F-35A Initial Operational Capability delivery at Eglin Air Force Base. The Air Force Science, Technology, Engineering and Math annual award recognizes the efforts and achievements of scientists and engineers who make significant contributions to technology and engineering. For the last seven years, 513th EWS airmen and sailors of the F-35’s U.S. Reprogramming Laboratory have been doing just that. (2017 post)


Space
At Stennis Space Center, Miss. NASA engineers picked up this year where they left off in 2017, conducting a certification test of another RS-25 engine flight controller on the A-1 Test Stand.

The 365-second, full-duration test came a month after the space agency capped a year of RS-25 testing with a flight controller test in mid-December. A 3D printed part tested in December, a pogo accumulator assembly, was tested again. It's part of an ongoing series of tests with parts made using advanced manufacturing techniques that will make building future engines more affordable.

For this "green run" test, the flight controller was installed on RS-25 developmental engine E0528 and fired just as during an actual launch. Once certified, the flight controller will be removed and installed on a flight engine for use by NASA’s new deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System. (Post)


Testing
The Air Force's first fully upgraded C-130H arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., last week to begin a full range of testing. The Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing-owned aircraft will be here for several months undergoing multiple test flights.

The goal of these evaluations is to collect data and confirm the increased fuel efficiency, reliability and overall performance improvements gained from the new propellers and upgraded engines.

The flight testing will be conducted by 153rd AW and C-130 Combined Test Force aircrews. ANG Airmen will maintain the aircraft during its time here. The Wyoming Air National Guard was chosen to receive the C-130H because of its involvement in the initial testing with the new systems in 2008, when the Air Force explored the idea of upgrading the H-model. (Post)


Airbus
The U.S. International Trade Commission released a detailed report that reviews arguments on both sides of the Boeing-Bombardier trade dispute and provides a basis on which commissioners will decide if Bombardier's CSeries sale to Delta Air Lines harmed Boeing.

The 118-page document written by the ITC's staff provides no recommendations, but rather compiles information the ITC gathered during its months-long trade investigation.

Bombardier says it has made "substantial further progress" toward building a new aircraft assembly line in Mobile, Ala., according to filing with the ITC. Bombardier is locked in a trade dispute with Boeing; Airbus and Bombardier have formed a joint venture and say they want to assemble jets in Mobile; and Boeing, which has scoffed at the Airbus-Bombardier plan, has explored a relationship with Brazil's Embraer that has some similar aspects. (Post)


Airports
Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in West Bay northwest of Panama City has added another major airline service to cities that are hubs for American Airlines, allowing connections to flights all over the world. Starting June 7, American Airlines’ 65-seat Eagle service will be offering twice-a-day, nonstop daily service to and from Charlotte, N.C., and Dallas/Fort Worth international airports. (Post)

Further to the west, American Airlines plans to launch daily nonstop service between Pensacola International Airport in Florida and Philadelphia International Airport, also starting June 7. Philadelphia International becomes Pensacola International Airport’s eighteenth nonstop destination. (Post)


Unmanned
The property appraiser’s office in Florida’s Santa Rosa County is among the first in Florida using unmanned aerial system. The office has been testing the use of drones to supplement and update property data since September 2016.

Property Appraiser Greg Brown is responsible for identifying, locating and valuing all property within the county for tax purposes. Previously, every two years Brown's office has had to pay $250,000 per flight for an aerial photography company to fly over the county's 1,100 square miles to get photos. Using the drones pushes that need back to every three or four years. (Post)


Contracts
L3 Technologies Inc., Communications Systems-West, Salt Lake City, Utah, was awarded a $9 million contract to explore technologies enabling cooperative engagement in degraded communication environments for the next generation of munitions. Work will be performed in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is expected to be complete by January 2025. Air Force Research Laboratory, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Bell-Boeing JPO, Amarillo, Texas, was awarded a $35 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement in support of the V-22. Four percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Other work locations are in Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Missouri, the United Kingdom, New Jersey and Orlando, Fla. and is expected to be completed in April 2022. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Week in review (1/7 to 1/13)

Will we have a spaceport in Hancock County, Miss.?

The Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission has commissioned RS&H Inc. to study the feasibility of obtaining a Launch Site Operator License that could open the door to commercial space flight at Stennis International Airport in Kiln, Miss.

The airport is just outside NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, the nation's largest rocket engine test facility and home to some 40 federal, state and commercial companies, including Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce uses the airport to transport the jetliner engines it tests at Stennis Space Center.

The Federal Aviation Administration has developed regulations that enable airports to host operations of reusable launch vehicles that take off and land like aircraft. Several kinds of such vehicles are currently under development.

Bill Cork, CEO of the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission, said the commercial space industry is “poised for dynamic growth, and Hancock County is uniquely positioned to benefit from this growth.” (Post)


Space
Speaking of space, a secret spacecraft launched by a SpaceX rocket last weekend failed to enter a stable orbit and was lost. The spacecraft, called Zuma, launched Sunday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, apparently did not separate as it was supposed to from the upper stage of the rocket.

The payload is classified and built by Northrop Grumman, the aerospace and defense company. It was not clear if the failure was due to problems with the SpaceX rocket or with the Zuma spacecraft. SpaceX, which is developing its next-generation Raptor engine at Stennis Space Center, Miss., said the rocket performed as designed. (Post)

Although the satellite was lost, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket made a success vertical touchdown at Landing Zone 1, a SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral. It landed less than 8 minutes after taking off. SpaceX now has 21 successful first stage returns, part of its plan to develop reusable rockets. (Post)

-- NASA is looking to small businesses and research institutions for innovative technologies that could have significant potential for successful transition into NASA mission programs and other commercial markets.

This year, through NASA's Small Business and Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I solicitation, proposals for research, development and technology demonstrations can be submitted until March 9, 2018, 4 p.m. CST. (Post)


Economic development
The beat goes on with attempts to land additional aerospace activities.

Florida's The Bay County Economic Development Alliance is working on 25 projects for 2018. Six of those projects may be announced within the first quarter of the new year, according to EDA President Becca Hardin.

Among the six is Project G-Force, which involves an aviation manufacturing company in the process of deciding to locate in Bay County or one other site. Hardin expects a decision on the $20 million project by the end of January. Another, called Project SoHo, is at the airport campus and would represent a $25 million investment. (Post)


Bases
Personnel from the 41st Aerial Port Squadron of Savannah, Ga., and other units from the Air Force, Army and Navy teamed up for a joint training exercise that ended last weekend at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., and the Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) in Gulfport, Miss.

The primary goal of GRIP III Breaking Barriers was to give reservists and military members an opportunity to train with aircraft, personnel, and equipment that they don't regularly encounter in everyday training. The 1108th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group at the CRTC provided UH-60 helicopters to ferry personnel between Keesler and the CRTC, simulating transportation between forward operating bases. The Navy Special Boat Team 22 from Stennis Space Center, Miss., provided a riverine command boat, rigid inflatable boats and trailers to allow personnel to practice loading and off-loading. (Post)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Week in review (12/31 to 1/6)

Last week I touched on some of the news from 2017 that was important to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor, so it makes sense to look ahead this time by filling you in on upcoming issues of our bimonthly aerospace newsletter. It's something from the future where I have some control.

We plan to have six issues during 2018, assuming we get enough underwriters to back our research. We provide the newsletter free to readers, but that’s only possible through the support of underwriters who want our unique aerospace/aviation coverage to continue.

Our next issue in February will have a four-page cover story focusing on Alabama's aerospace footprint. If you are a regular reader, you know we had cover stories about Louisiana's and Mississippi's aerospace activities in the October and December issues, respectively. Our April issue will focus on Florida.

Because 2018 is an off-year for our biennial Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor book, we will turn our June newsletter into something of a highly condensed update of the book published in 2017. We’ll have an eight-page overview on the major aerospace activities in our region, which should come in handy for folks from our region who attend the July 16-22 Farnborough Air Show.

We're also in the early stages of planning an issue in October that will focus on educational opportunities in the aerospace and aviation fields. Of course, in addition to those planned stories there will be articles prompted by breaking aerospace news events in the region.

Contact me if you're interested in being among the subscribers who have the newsletter PDF delivered via email. You can see all our past issues at our archive.

Now for your rather short week in review:


Bases
The Navy Blue Angels are now in El Centro, Calif., for winter training. They left Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., Wednesday. The team will perform in El Centro March 10, then return to Pensacola after that to begin the regular show season. Naval Air Station El Centro is between San Diego and Yuma, Ariz. (Post)

-- An associate of mine, who also happens to maintain our shipbuilding/maritime news feed, pointed out a story from the Northwest Florida Daily News. It said some 400 gallons of Jet-A fuel spilled early Friday at Eglin Building 92 after a switch box froze. That activated fuel pumps, overfilling an underground storage tank. Absorbents were put in place to soak up the spill.


Contract
The Boeing Co. Defense, Space and Security, St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $193.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) Increment 1 Lots 12-14 production. This modification provides for the purchase of an additional quantity of 6,000 SDB 1 all-up-rounds being produced under the basic contract. Work will be performed in St. Louis and is expected to be completed by Dec. 30, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Week in review (12/24 to 12/30)

This is the time of year when folks are inclined to reflect on the year that's wrapping up, and I'm no different. We certainly had a lot of noteworthy aerospace-related events along the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, all underscoring that this region is a hot spot for aerospace and aviation.

Of course, we have a long history in the field, but it's been getting more attention in recent years. Aerospace and aviation are two of the most research-intensive fields, and the folks who toil away in the field are paid well. It includes a wide range of jobs, from scientists and engineers to janitors and ticketing agents. It involves the government and commercial companies, and involves some of the hottest fields anywhere, including unmanned systems and commercial space exploration.

In this rather cursory look at the highlights of 2017, keep in mind I'm not touching on everything – not by a long shot. If you have the time and inclination, go to the aerospace news feed and in the left column you'll see "blog archive." There were 403 news items posted in 2017. Click on each month and you'll be able to see every headline for the brief posted during the year – as well as previous years going back to 2008.

Interested in what happened before this news blog was launched in 2008? On the home page of Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor, click on "news" and then go to "archives." You can find news items going back to 2005.

So, here are the highlights of 2017:

The 50th Alabama-built passenger jet was delivered in December to Delta Air Lines, and orders continue to come in for popular A320 family of Airbus jets. What might have been the most stunning news was word that a new assembly line might be coming to Mobile to build Bombardier C Series jets. A lot of hurdles are still in front of the project, but what an endorsement for the work being done in Mobile. By the way, in January the Airbus Engineering Center marked 10 years in Mobile.

Over in Mississippi, NASA's Stennis Space Center has made it clear it's interested in creating a research park near the center. Some of what's being called Enterprise Park will be inside SSC and some will be outside, a feature that will make it easier for companies that want to be near SSC but don't want to go through the tight security requirements within the gates.

Anyone who knows me knows I've been a big advocate of research/technology parks. It's a magnet that draws the best and the brightest. There are plenty of examples of the benefit of this kind of approach - just look at Cummings Research Park in Huntsville, Ala.

SSC during the year also continued testing the RS-25 engine that will power the first stage of NASA's Space Launch System, which will take astronauts into deep space. And it's not just NASA that's involved in the field. Several commercial space companies during 2017 decided to use SSC for rocket engine development. Relativity Space started testing its liquid oxygen/liquid methane engine at SSC. In addition, Stratolaunch signed an agreement with NASA to use the E1 test stand at SSC to test rocket engines.

Before all that, in May, Aerojet Rocketdyne was selected to build the main propulsion system for a reusable hypersonic aircraft, the XS-1, being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and Boeing. Aerojet Rocketdyne will conduct assembly and ground testing work at SSC for the XS-1, part of DARPA’s Experimental Spaceplane program. Aerojet Rocketdyne also is using SSC to conduct testing for its AR1 rocket engine, being developed to replace the Russian-made RD-180.

Companies not involved in space were also expanding in the Gulf Coast region during the year. In Alabama's Baldwin County, UTC Foley opened a new nacelles assembly facility. Across the bay in Mobile County, Safran is opening at new facility at the Mobile Aeroplex for its nacelles work.

Global aircraft supplier GKN Aerospace decided during the year to locate an assembly plant near Panama City, Fla., at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. Earlier, in May, Northrop Grumman said its Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., is expanding its workload to include subassembly work for the F-35.

At Eglin Air Force Base, the 96th Cyberspace Test Group was activated late in the year. To the east of Eglin near Panama City, Tyndall Air Force Base was chosen for an MQ-9 Wing, also late in the year.

Speaking of drones, Mississippi State University in Starkville was chosen by the Department of Homeland Security as a base of operations for drone research. Much of the work on how to best to use the devices will be done in South Mississippi, including Camp Shelby, Stennis Space Center, and Singing River Island in Jackson County.

That's a quick look at the highlights. If you want to read beyond the headlines and briefs, you can read more in-depth stories in our bimonthly aerospace newsletter. You can look at all the stories from 2017 in our newsletter archive. The 2017 newsletters begin with Vol. IV (February) and end with Vol. V (December).


Now for your week in review:


Bases
Chief Master Sgt. Michael West, a Special Tactics operator with the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., was awarded the Silver Star Medal, the nation's third highest medal for valor against an enemy of the United States.

West was awarded the medal on Dec. 15 for his actions during the five-day Operation MEDUSA in 2006. West utilized 58 coalition aircraft to deliver 24,000 pounds of precision ordnance to eliminate more than 500 enemy forces, securing the safety of 51 U.S. Spec Ops forces, and 33 coalition partners.

West was originally awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions in May 2007, but due to a recent DOD-wide review, his package was resubmitted for an upgrade. (Post)


Contracts
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded $255.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the Lot 3 low-rate initial production of three MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, trade studies and tooling in support of the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office. Moss Point, Miss., will do 4.2 percent of the work. Work is expected to be completed in December 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $25.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract for special tooling and test equipment, for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile Lots 28-30 production. Work will be performed in Tucson with an expected completion date of Dec. 31, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $634.2 million contract for Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) production Lot 31. The contract is for the production of the AMRAAM missile and other AMRAAM system items. Work will be performed at Tucson with an expected completion date of Jan. 31, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Week in review (12/17 to 12/23)

With everybody running around trying to get last-minute shopping completed, this is one of the weekly columns that likely slips by unnoticed. But here it is anyway, a day later than normal because I was among those running around like crazy on Saturday.

Here's wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Now for your week in review:


F-35
The Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field in Montgomery, Ala. has been selected for a site for a new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter mission. The 187th was one of five ANG units on the short list being considered. In choosing Montgomery as one of two bases for the F-35A, it means 1,000 jobs over the next few years, a $70 million up-front investment, and a $24 million annual economic impact to the region. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)


Bases
Naval Air Station Whiting Field is the recipient of the Installation Excellence Award, the third win over the last four years for NAS Whiting. The award recognizes top Navy commands at shore for their excellence across several categories, including installation management, program excellence, environmental stewardship, mission successes and community outreach. NAS Whiting Field, in Milton, was selected as the winner in the small base category from a field of 32 installations. (Post)


Space
Joan Higginbotham wanted to be an engineer, and thought she might work for IBM. What she didn’t expect was to travel in space, she told University of New Orleans graduates at their recent commencement. She shared her journey from a college graduate with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering to one of only three African-American women to travel into space. She traveled on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station in 2006. “The sky is absolutely no longer the limit,” Higginbotham told graduates. “I am challenging you to aim high.” (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $7 billion for F-22 sustainment. Work will be performed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., four other operation bases and six support locations, as well as at other potential stateside and overseas locations, combat deployment and enroute support bases, potential locations through depot partnering agreements, and system program office locations. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Bethpage, N.Y., was awarded a $25 million modification to a previously awarded contract for weapons planning software. Work will be performed in Bethpage, with an expected completion date of Sept. 28, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Silicon Graphics Federal LLC, Annapolis Junction, Md., was awarded a $22.6 million contract for Department of Defense high-performance computing modernization program’s technology insertion. Work will be performed in Stennis Space Center, Miss., with an estimated completion date of July 20, 2023. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $33.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the Increment V production and delivery of three Fire Scout MQ-8C unmanned air systems. Work will be performed in Moss Point, Miss., Ozark, Ala., and other locations and is expected to be completed in March 2020. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … JPATS Logistics Services LLC, Cape Canaveral, Fla., was awarded a single award contract with a five-year ordering period and a maximum value of $2.2 billion for the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System T-6 contractor operated and maintained base supply services, which will provide a full spectrum of transparent supply chain management services to support safe, flyable T-6 aircraft to meet users’ daily flight schedules, consistent with Department of Defense and commercial sector best practices in procuring, producing and delivering products and services to customers. Work will be performed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Naval Air Station Whiting Field and other locations. Work is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2022. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Space & Mission Systems Corp., Redondo Beach, Calif., was awarded an $110 million contract for the gray wolf science and technology demonstration effort. Work will be performed in Redondo Beach, with an expected completion date of Dec. 17, 2024. Air Force Research Laboratory, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. Infinite Energy Construction Inc., Kansas City, Mo., was awarded a $9.2 million contract for simplified acquisition of base engineering requirements. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with an expected completion date of Jan. 1, 2023. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Week in review (12/10 to 12/16)

The December issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor newsletter will be published Tuesday and available for download at our website. Subscribers will receive it via email to their inbox.

The cover story highlights Mississippi's considerable aerospace and aviation activities, from training military pilots to building unmanned aircraft and testing huge rocket engines. It’s the second of a four-part series where we focus on the aerospace footprint of the four states that make up the Aerospace Alliance.

We also have a story about the Airbus Mobile assembly facility, which just delivered its 50th jetliner to Delta Air Lines. The plant at the Mobile Aeroplex is on a roll. It recently learned it will be building more jetliners for Delta. We'll also tell you what we know about the Bombardier C Series that officials plan to build in Mobile.

Finally, we'll tell you about the aerospace summit that was held in New Orleans just after our October issue was published. The summit attracted the movers and shakers from the Gulf Coast region, and we’ll provide you with some of the highlights, including what's in the works to create a research park in and around Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Now for your week in review:


Airbus
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has placed an order with Airbus for 100 of the A321neo aircraft, most of which will be built at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Ala. The planes will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1133G-JM geared turbofan engines.

Delta's announcement on the A321neo follows several orders in recent years for the current engine option (ceo) version of the A321. Delta has ordered a total of 117 A321ceos, each powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International.

With more than 5,300 orders received from 96 customers since its launch in 2010, the A320neo family has captured some 60 percent share of the market. The Delta has taken delivery of 13 U.S.-manufactured Airbus aircraft since last year.

In addition, less than two years after Airbus delivered the first A320 family aircraft built in Mobile, the 50th aircraft built in Mobile was delivered to Delta this week. The milestone was celebrated by the facility’s employees, as well as Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor and members of the Delta Air Lines delivery team. (Post)

The Mobile factory produces four aircraft per month for delivery to Airbus’ U.S. customers. Plans for further production ramp up are currently being discussed. (Post)


Space
NASA engineers wrapped up a year of Space Launch System testing with a final RS-25 rocket engine hot fire on Dec. 13 at Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi.

The 400-second test on the A-1 Test Stand was a "green run" test of an RS-25 flight controller. It marked the eighth RS-25 test of the year and the sixth flight controller to be tested for use on NASA's Space Launch System vehicle.

The engine tested also included a large 3D-printed part scheduled for use on future RS-25 flight engines. The part, a beach ball-sized pogo accumulator assembly, is a complex piece of hardware that acts as a shock absorber to dampen vibrations, or oscillations, caused by propellants as they flow between the vehicle and the engine.

Initial reports show the 3D-printed hardware performed as expected, opening the door for more components scheduled for future tests. (Post)


Contracts
The Boeing Co., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded an $18.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the integrated sustainment support of the AC-130U gunships. This modification provides for the continuation of services for the development, modification, sustainment and maintenance of the AC-130U gunship. Work will be performed in Fort Walton Beach; Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan; and Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, with an expected completion date of Dec. 31, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $8.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide form-fit-function replace hardware assets to include guidance sections and integrated test vehicles under the advanced medium-range air-to-air missile lots 28-30 production. Work will be performed in Tucson with an expected completion date of Dec. 31, 2019. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a ceiling $6.7 million contract for F119 engine sustainment. Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., is among the work locations. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. … L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a
$79.4 million contract for contractor operated and maintained base supply of the Air Education and Training Command fleet of 178 T-1A trainer aircraft. Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., is among the work sites. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Tinker AFB, Okla., is the contracting activity … L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., also was awarded a $10.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for logistics support of the T-1A aircraft. Services include contractor-operated maintained supply, over and above, on-equipment maintenance, data and field service representatives. Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., is among the work sites. Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Week in review (11/26 to 12/2)

A new wing at Tyndall Air Force Base, an award for a Hurlburt Field gunship crew and the installation of a pathfinder RS-25 on the SLS core stage at Michoud were among the news items during the week of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor.

Here's your week in review:


Bases The Air Force picked Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., as the preferred location for hosting a new MQ-9 Reaper Wing with 24 remotely piloted aircraft. Vandenberg AFB, Calif., is considered a reasonable alternative.

The wing will be composed of an operations group with mission control elements as well as a launch and recovery capability, and a maintenance group. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said Tyndall best meets the requirements for the Reaper, including fewer aircraft competing for air space, nearby training ranges, great weather and lower up-front costs.

Based on current projections, airmen are expected to begin arriving at the new location as early as 2020. The first aircraft are expected to arrive in 2022. (Post)

-- Fourteen AC-130U gunship crewmembers provided close-air-support to a U.S. Special Forces team and 43 Afghan soldiers near Kunduz, Afghanistan Nov. 2, 2016. The crew's persistent fire support, presence of mind and courage during two hours of intense combat ultimately saved 50 lives.

For their actions the aircrew of the AC-130U gunship known as "Spooky 43" were presented the 2016 Mackay Trophy by Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson at an awards ceremony in Arlington Nov. 29. The crew is based at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

The Mackay Trophy was first awarded in 1912 and honors the most meritorious Air Force flight of the previous year. (Post)


Space
Engineers at the Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans are using a pathfinder RS-25 engine to practice the installation of engines on the Core Stage of the Space Launch System (SLS).

Each core will receive four RS-25s, currently undergoing test firings at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., ahead of a path that will see them being shipped to MAF. The installation of all four RS-25s on the Core Stage will be a major milestone on the path to Exploration Mission-1, the first launch of SLS.

Test firings at the Stennis Space Center (SSC) continue to serve toward the readiness of that milestone, with the first four flight engines now closing in on shipping to MAF to be installed on Core Stage -1 (CS-1). Those engines, all Space Shuttle veterans, are E2045 in position 1, E2056 in position 2, E2058 in position 3, and E2060 in position 4.

All four of these RS-25s will remain at SSC until MAF engineers have completed the work on CS-1. The latest schedule shows the four engines will make the journey to New Orleans in May of next year. (Post)


F-35 contracts
United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $353.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract that provides for performance based logistics sustainment in support of the F-135 propulsion system in support of the F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft for the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participants and foreign military Sales (FMS) customers.

This modification provides for maintenance of support equipment, common program activities, unique and common base recurring sustainment, repair of repairable, field service representatives, common replenishment spares, conventional take-off and landing/carrier variant F-135 unique maintenance services, and short take-off and landing F-135 unique services.

Among the work sites is Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and work at all locations is expected to be completed in November 2018. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)

In addition, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $37.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for software conversions for structure and systems datasets in support of Lot 10 production for the F-35 joint strike fighter.

Work will be performed in Texas and the United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed in June 2020. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)


Other contracts
Bering Sea Environmental LLC, Anchorage, Alaska, was awarded an $8.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Air Combat Command's air combat training system operations and maintenance. Among the bases where work will be done are Eglin Air Force Base and Tyndall Air Force Base, both in Northwest Florida. The expected completion date is Dec. 31, 2020. ACC, Acquisition Management and Integration Center, Hampton, Va., is the contracting activity. … Cubic Defense Applications Inc., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $14.8 million multiyear contract for contractor logistics support. It provides for comprehensive, effective, and quality contractor logistics support for the Saudi Arabian P5 combat training system to sustain operational tempos currently located at several bases in Saudi. Work will be performed in Saudi Arabia, with an expected completion date of Feb 28, 2022. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Kaman Precision Products, Orlando, Fla., and Middletown, Conn., has been awarded a $85.2 million contract for delivery of lot 13 of the joint programmable fuze, FMU-52 and corresponding production, test and engineering support. Work will be performed in Orlando and Middletown with an expected completion date of Feb. 28, 2019. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Week in review (11/19 to 11/25)

L3 Crestview Aerospace, an aeronautical manufacturer that employs more than 500 people at its operation in Crestview, is up for sale. The Crestview plant manufactures and modifies cabins, fuselages, tail booms and other parts for commercial and military aircraft. L3 Crestview Aerospace also includes a plant in Chihuahua, Mexico, that produces sheet metal and parts for commercial aircraft structures. It’s part of a move by New York-based L3 Technologies to focus on more profitable businesses.

L3 initially announced its intent to sell Vertex Aerospace, which includes Crestview Aerospace, a couple of weeks ago. The announcement that Crestview Aerospace is for sale does not mean that layoffs or other job actions at the company’s local facility are imminent, said L3 spokesman Lance Martin. (Post)


Space
WIRED takes a look behind the scenes at five NASA facilities, including Michoud and Stennis Space Center, to capture how engineers build and test in preparation for the 2019 launch of the most powerful rocket ever built, the Space Launch System. (Post)


Bases
Air Force Col. Michael E. Martin has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Martin is currently serving as the commander, 24th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla. His was among a series of appointments made by the president and announced last week by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. (Post)


Contracts
Raytheon Co. - Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $59.7 million contract for Enhanced Paveway II's support equipment and support hours. Work will be performed at Tucson, with an expected completion date of Feb. 28, 2019. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Arête Associates, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $7.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) program systems support for the AN/DVS-1 COBRA Block 1 system and support equipment. Work will be performed in Tucson and is expected to be completed by December 2018. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Week in review (11/12 to 11/18)

Another company signs up to test engines at Stennis Space Center, Miss., a huge A320 purchase will be a boost for the Mobile Airbus facility, the V-22 fleet has topped 400,000 flight hours, and more details on the C Series that will be build in Mobile were among the news items of interest to the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor during the week.

Here’s your week in review:


Space Stratolaunch will test engines at NASA's Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi. That's according to an agreement signed in September. NASA published the agreement on its website as part of a provision in a NASA authorization act signed into law this year to disclose such agreements. An annex to that agreement specifies that it involves "testing of its propulsion system test article element 1" at Stennis's E1 test stand.

That facility has supported engine tests by a number of companies in the past under similar agreements that provide access to test stands there on a non-exclusive basis. Stratolaunch plans to deliver the test article to Stennis for "fit tests and checkouts" by the end of May 2018, with the test series completed by the end of 2018. Stratolaunch will pay NASA $5.1 million under the reimbursable agreement to cover costs of the test campaign, including an upfront payment of $1 million. (Post)


Airbus
The A320 assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex, which was already scheduled to build jetliners for Frontier Airlines starting next year, will now build even more thanks to a major deal between Airbus and Indigo Partners.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between Airbus and Indigo Partners for 430 additional A320neo aircraft. The commitment is comprised of 273 A320neos and 157 A321neos worth $49.5 billion at list price. The agreement was announced at the Dubai Airshow.

"Any A320 order placed anywhere in the world is good for Mobile because it means a strong order book and solidifies the U.S. Manufacturing Facility's role in Airbus' global production network," wrote Kristi Tucker of Airbus' Mobile operation, in an email. "It's extra special when there's a direct connection to the order, such as this one." (Post)

The aircraft would go to airlines in Indigo's investment portfolio: Frontier Airlines of the U.S., Mexico's Volaris, European carrier Wizz Air Holdings and JetSmart, which began operating this year in Chile. Airbus builds the A320 family of jetliners in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; Tianjin, China; and Mobile, Ala. (Post)


C Series
Bombardier Inc. is forecasting it plans to spend $300 million on its C Series assembly facility in Mobile, Ala., creating as many as 2,000 jobs in the U.S. Airbus and Canada-based Bombardier announced in October that they had agreed to form a partnership to build Bombardier's C Series passenger jets in Mobile.

The C series project would create 400 to 500 direct jobs and 550 to 700 indirect jobs at supplier and support companies. The forecast was part of a regulatory filing. Still to be determined is the fate of the proposed import duties of 300 percent on the C Series tentatively imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce in response to a price-dumping claim made by Boeing. (Post)


Bases
The Bell Boeing V-22 fleet of tiltrotor aircraft, including both CV-22 and MV-22 variants, has surpassed the 400,000-flight hour milestone. The V-22 Osprey has been continuously deployed since entering service in 2007 with the United States Marine Corps and Air Force Special Operations Command in 2009.

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey is a joint service, multirole combat aircraft that uses tiltrotor technology to combine the vertical performance of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft. With its nacelles and rotors in vertical position, it can take off, land and hover like a helicopter. Once airborne, its nacelles can be rotated to transition the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight. (Post)

-- Capt. Ryan Bernacchi turned over command of the Navy Blue Angels to Cmdr. Eric Doyle at a ceremony last Sunday at the Blue Angels Atrium inside the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola. About 500 people attended the event. (Post)

-- Air Force Col. William W. Whittenberger Jr. has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Whittenberger is currently serving as the mobilization assistant to the director of strategic plans, programs and requirements, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla. His was among a series of appointments made by the president and announced today by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. (Post)


Contracts
The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded an $11.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for QF-16 full-scale aerial target lot 5B. Work will be performed in St. Louis, with an estimated completion date of April 27, 2021. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Bell-Boeing JPO, Amarillo, Texas, was awarded $10 million modification to a previously issued task order, placed against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for field representative and logistics support services in support of the V-22 aircraft for the government of Japan. Work will be performed at Camp Kisarazu, Japan (85 percent); Philadelphia, Pa. (11 percent); and Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (4 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2019. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Week in review (11/5 to 11/11)

A leadership change at Airbus Americas, the return of an Air Force squadron to full operational capability, large military training exercises, an Apollo-era artifact at Infinity Science Center, updates on the F-35, and plans for a new terminal were among the news items during the week of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor.

But before we get to your week in review, let me extend my gratitude to all my fellow veterans for their service. I come from a family with a long tradition of serving in the military. We've served in every branch, from one hitch to long careers, so this day is particularly important to my extended family. Thank you all.

Now for your week in review:


Airbus
C. Jeffrey Knittel will become chairman and chief executive at Herndon, Va.-based Airbus Americas early next year. Knittel will replace Airbus Americas CEO Barry Eccleston, who is retiring Feb. 28, 2018.

Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus Americas, will remain with the company as chairman emeritus. Knittel, who brings more than 25 years of global aerospace leadership experience to the position, will join the company at its Americas headquarters Jan. 12. (Post)


Bases
The 815th Airlift Squadron has completed its quest to reach full operational capability, four years after the squadron’s future was uncertain. The squadron and its C-130J Flying Jennies are again ready to deploy and provide combat-ready airmen for airlift mission.

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, the Air Force announced plans to transfer 10 of the Air Force Reserve 403rd Wing's C-130J aircraft. But two years later the Secretary of the Air Force reversed that recommendation, beginning the programming and budgeting work to restore personnel and mission capability at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. (Post)

-- Personnel and equipment from Air Force installations across the country have converged on Tyndall Air Force Base in Northwest Florida to participate in Checkered Flag 18-1, a two-week, large-scale exercise that integrates the war-fighting capabilities of fourth-and fifth-generation aircraft. It’s being held with the concurrently running Weapons Systems Evaluation Program, Combat Archer.

"What we have in our Checkered Flag airspace is an over water range that affords us the opportunity to be fully supersonic down to the ground," said Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Lee, 44th Fighter Group deputy commander and Checkered Flag 18-1 Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander. "This is not a capability that we have on a large scale at any other ranges within the United States."

The exercise wraps up Nov. 17. (Post)


Space
An early artifact of America's moon program is on display in Mississippi’s Infinity Science Center. It’s the command module from Apollo 4, an unmanned 1967 mission that successfully demonstrated the full Saturn V rocket and the capsule that would carry men to the moon.

The command module is on long-term loan from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum. The display is part of a redesign of the museum's space exhibits. The Saturn V rocket was among those tested at neighboring Stennis Space Center.

The 8,000-pound module was stored for five years at Stennis out of public view. (Post)

-- As the Senate Commerce Committee prepares to advance his nomination as NASA administrator to the full Senate, Jim Bridenstine offered pledges of continuity for many key agency programs. Bridenstine said he believed the Space Launch System and Orion programs are critical to the agency’s exploration plans, as well as contributions from commercial space ventures. (Post)


F-35
The 53rd Electronic Warfare Group’s Partner Support Complex delivered the F-35 mission data file to Norway Oct. 26. This is the first overseas delivery of Block 3F mission data to a foreign nation and was accomplished in anticipation of Norway’s first F-35s, which arrived last week and will be marked by a Nov.10 ceremony there.

The delivery of Block 3F mission data enables the F-35 to accomplish its primary missions of air interdiction, close air support, and suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses. Mission data files enable the aircraft to know what threats to search for and when, providing the F-35 its means of deciphering the environment.

The men and women of the PSC are charged with programming this essential mission data software for eight F-35 partner nations, to include Norway, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Denmark. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $34.6 million contract for weapons capabilities technology maturation and risk reduction pre-engineering, manufacturing and development activities for dual-capability F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft and small-diameter bomb 2 (SDB-II) in support of the Marine Corps and Air Force.

Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in July 2018. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)


Airports
Design details for a new 120,000-square-foot, $90 million terminal at Louisiana’s Lafayette Regional Airport were unveiled during the week at the airport commission’s regular meeting.

Lafayette Regional Airport was the fourth busiest in Louisiana in 2016 in terms of enplanements, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, but Airport Director Steven Picou said it operates with the smallest square-footage.

The airport in Lafayette, site of a Bell Helicopter facility, is along Interstate 10 west of New Orleans. (Post)


Contracts
Reliance Test & Technology, Crestview, Fla., was awarded a $48 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Eglin operation and maintenance services. Work will be performed at Eglin test and training complex, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with an expected completion date of Sept. 30 2026. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co. Missile Systems Division, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $17.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile Targeting System (HTS) contractor logistics support (CLS) services. Work will be performed in Tucson, with an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Week in review (10/29 to 11/4)

A new tenant and more jobs at Michoud Assembly Facility, an award for Eglin's F-35 reprogramming office, and new air service at two of the region’s airports were among the Gulf Coast region's aerospace stories during the week.

Here's your week in review:

NASA
A new tenant is moving in and another expanding at Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in east New Orleans. Sinter Metal Technologies, a global supplier of metal and ceramic parts based in Liechtenstein, will move some of its operations into the facility. The company intends to invest $5 million in a new sintering facility at MAF to bond powder-based metals, material that will be used to make strong precision parts. The plan will create 15 new jobs.

Advanced Cutting Solutions, which specializes in kit-cutting tough materials like fiberglass, Kevlar and dry carbon, is expanding its presence at the facility, adding 30 new jobs. Gov. John Bel Edwards and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Director Todd May joined a host of local and state officials Wednesday to announce the jobs. State leaders also announced plans for an aerospace program at nearby Nunez Community College to train students for careers at MAF and other regional employers. (Post)

-- Dozens of interested business representatives gathered at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile, Ala., during the week for a NASA Business Forum. Officials from Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Stennis Space Center and NASA Shared Services in South Mississippi, as well as representatives from prime contractors attended the event. NASA is committed to handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to small businesses every year, either through direct contracts or as subcontractors to the primes. (Post)

-- Rolls-Royce late last month celebrated 10 years at Stennis Space Center, Miss., where it operates an outdoor jet engine test facility. Rolls-Royce General Manager Hamish Guthrie said the company employs 46 people locally, and expects that number to rise in the future due to the demand of the company’s aircraft engines. Guthrie said employees have logged more than 7,000 hours testing engines. Rolls-Royce, which opened its first stand in 2007, added a second test stand in 2013. (Post)


F-35
The 53rd Wing's 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron last month was awarded the Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Team of 2017 for work on the F-35A Initial Operational Capability delivery at Eglin Air Force Base.

This Air Force Science, Technology, Engineering and Math annual award recognizes the efforts and achievements of scientists and engineers who make significant contributions to technology and engineering. For the last seven years, 513th EWS airmen and sailors of the F-35's U.S. Reprogramming Laboratory have been doing just that.

Supercomputers, referred to as sensor fusion, make up the F-35's brain. That brain provides the fighter with unique capabilities, making it more lethal, survivable and adaptable than any fighter aircraft on Earth, according to the Secretary of Air Force Public Affairs. However, without 513th EWS personnel inputting critical mission data into the F-35, sensor fusion wouldn’t work as intended. The aircraft wouldn’t know what threats to search for or when.

In the electronic warfare world, engineers refer to this ability to understand the world, the ability to sift through stimuli and make informed decisions about how to react, as mission data software. This software helps compile countless pieces of information about the environment the F-35 will fly into. It also creates within the F-35's brain the means of deciphering that environment.

The men and women of the 513th EWS program this essential mission data software, thus teaching the F-35 how to distinguish between stimuli and making it efficient, intelligent and lethal. (Post)

-- Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $19.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for procurement of extra-long-lead items in support of the low-rate initial production Lot XII F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft production.

The extra-long-lead items include group hardware supporting the Lot XII delivery of conventional take-off and landing propulsion systems for the Air Force, Navy, non-Department of Defense (non-DoD) participants, and foreign military sales (FMS) customers, as well as group hardware supporting the Lot XII delivery of short take-off and vertical landing propulsion systems for the Marine Corps.

Work will be done in East Hartford; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Bristol, United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed in November 2019. This contract combines purchases for the Marine Corps (88.04 percent); non-DoD participants (9.86 percent); Air Force (1.49 percent); FMS (0.41 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program; and Navy .20 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md, is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)


Airports
Florida's Pensacola International Airport (PNS) reaches a new all-time high serving 1,668,897 passengers during fiscal year 2017. That's the highest count in a decade. A year before the Great Recession, the airport’s last passenger record was in FY07 when the airport served a total of 1,660,545 passengers.

In addition to the record, PNS announced a second daily non-stop flight to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) aboard American Airlines will be added to the flight schedule in the spring. Beginning April 3, 2018, passengers will have the option of booking a morning nonstop flight to DCA, in addition to the current afternoon non-stop flight. (Post)

-- In May, travel between Okaloosa County and the nation's capital will be easier for hundreds of military contractors and active duty personnel. The first non-stop American Airlines flights between Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) and Washington D.C.'s Ronald Reagan National Airport will take off 11:05 a.m. May 4, according to a news release from the county.

An earlier flight is scheduled to depart Washington D.C. at 8:45 a.m. the same day, with arrival in Okaloosa County expected at 10:07 a.m., the release said. The two flights will run daily. The airport is located within Eglin Air Force Base. (Post)


Bases
The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group conducted operations from Nov. 1-3 and will do so again Nov. 6-8 in the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay as part of a Weapon System Evaluation Program. Between 8 a.m. and noon jets will be releasing munitions about 20 miles south of Destin in the Gulf of Mexico.

Between 1-5 p.m., about 30 boats traveling in formation will transverse between the Mid-Bay Bridge and the U.S. Highway 331 Bridge, including 10-to-20 miles south of Destin in the Gulf of Mexico, according to base officials.

The boat formation will be used as visual targets by military aircraft flying over the area. Some boats will have fake deck guns and rocket launcher tubes, but no live weapons or ammunition will be involved. The boats also will be using marine flares as visual markers. (Post)

-- Residents of Mississippi's Biloxi and Keesler Air Force Base may hear an increase in noise this weekend due to a training exercise. The Air Force Reserve's 403rd Wing will hold the exercise on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the Unit Training Assembly.

Sirens, alarms and loudspeaker announcements will be used to simulate realistic environments for personnel. Trainees will practice self-aid and buddy care, chemical warfare detection, and the ability to survive and operate in a deployed environment. (Post)


Contracts
Numerous companies, including UTS Systems LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (W911QY-18-D-0161), will share in an $8,276,161,000 hybrid (cost, cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive, and fixed-price-redetermination) contract for Joint Enterprise Research, Development, Acquisition and Production and Procurement program to support research and development of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives defense systems, capabilities, equipment, supplies and material. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 3, 2027. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Week in review (10/22 to 10/28)

VT MAE, which will be opening a maintenance, repair and overhaul facility at Pensacola International Airport in May 2018, had a career information event at Pensacola State College's Hagler Auditorium Friday.

Bill Hafner, president of Mobile-based VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering, said the company will try to hire all 12 students graduating in December from George Stone Technical Center's Aviation Airframe Mechanics program, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

The information session was designed to brief the community on the upcoming hiring needs, employment procedures and subcontracting opportunities. The MRO will eventually hire 400 workers. The company's primary facility at the Mobile Aeroplex has about 1,000 workers.


Cyber
Come December a new group as part of the 96th Test Wing will be activated at Eglin Air Force Base.

The Air Force recently approved the 96th Cyberspace Test Group being formed from the existing 46th Test Squadron. There will be other test units at six separate geographic locations throughout the U.S.

The new group will include three subordinate squadrons: the 45th Test Squadron, 46th Test Squadron and the 47th Cyberspace Test Squadron. About 19 of 50 new positions are projected to be added to the group at Eglin over the next five years.

In addition, a business and logistics division will be established at Eglin to provide program management, budget and finance, as well as logistics, security and information technology functions.

The change brings current AFTC cyberspace test capabilities under a single command structure of the newly formed group, but leaves all the current jobs, missions and assets in place at their current operating locations. (Post)

This is all occurring at a time when this region is making a big push to train a new generation in cybersecurity.


F-35
The Pentagon is accelerating production of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 jet even though the planes already delivered are facing "significantly longer repair times" than planned because maintenance facilities are six years behind schedule, according to a draft audit.

The Government Accountability Office, Congress's watchdog agency, found the time to repair a part has averaged 172 days, twice the program’s objective. The shortages are "degrading readiness" because the fighter jets "were unable to fly about 22 percent of the time" from January through August for lack of needed parts. Eglin Air Force Base is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)


Museum
The National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola was named one of the Top 25 museums across the globe by TripAdvisor as part of its 2017 Travelers' Choice Awards.

The museum ranked No. 16 on the list that included such well-known museums as the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The rankings are based on quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for museums worldwide gathered by TripAdvisor over a 12-month period.

The 350,000-square-foot museum on 37 acres has a variety of attractions and more than 150 military aircraft representing the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. (Post)


Contracts
NASA awarded 24 Multiple Award Construction Contract Two (MACC-II) contracts to 20 small businesses and four large firms for general construction services at NASA's Stennis Space Center and several other agency locations. It has an anticipated value not to exceed $3 billion during an eight-year ordering period.

MACC-II project work includes, but is not limited to, alteration, modification, maintenance and repair, demolition, design-build and new construction of buildings, facilities and real property at Stennis; NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, including White Sands Test Facility near Las Cruces, N.M.; NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Fla.; and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., including Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Businesses in the Gulf Coast region awarded contracts are Healtheon and Pontchartrain Partners, both of New Orleans; ESA South Inc., Cantonment, Fla.; Orocon Construction and WG Yates & Sons Construction Co., both of Biloxi, Miss.; Drace Construction Corp., Ocean Springs, Miss.; CCI Energy and Construction Services, Shalimar, Fla.; and MOWA Barlovento JV-2, Gautier, Miss. (Post)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Week in review (10/15 to 10/21)

The announcement that a new jetliner will be built in Mobile and a public rocket engine test in South Mississippi were just two of the news items during the week involving the Gulf Coast aerospace region. Here's your week in review:


Airbus
Airbus SE agreed to acquire a majority stake in Bombardier Inc.'s C Series jetliner program. The project includes assembling the C Series at Airbus’ plant in Mobile, Ala. But the details on the assembly have not been released.

Under the agreement, Airbus will provide procurement, sales and marketing, and customer support expertise to the C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP), the entity that manufactures and sells the C Series. At closing, Airbus will acquire a 50.01 percent interest in CSALP. Bombardier and Investissement Québec (IQ) will own about 31 percent and 19 percent respectively.

CSALP’s headquarters and primary assembly line and related functions will remain in Québec, Canada, with the support of Airbus’ global reach and scale. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of next year. (Post)

The deal comes weeks after the United States said a 300 percent tariff would be imposed on the C Series following a complaint by Boeing that the plane, developed with government subsidies, is being sold with a huge discount.

But will the tariff be imposed on a plane assembled in the United States? Many observers say it won’t, but Boeing says it will make no difference. We’ll have to wait and see how all this plays out.


Space
More than 1,500 people watched a verification test of an RS-25 rocket engine during an open house at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi during the week.

Engine E2063, one of the engines that will power the Space Launch System (SLS), was tested for 500 seconds, the same duration the engine will power during an actual launch. Engine E2063 is scheduled for use on NASA’s second mission of SLS and Orion, known as Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2).

The first integrated flight test of SLS and Orion, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), will be an uncrewed final test of the rocket and its systems. The EM-2 flight will be the first to carry astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft. (Post)

In another Stennis Space Center related item, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, of Hawthorne, Calif., was awarded a $40.8 million contract modification for the development of the Raptor rocket propulsion system prototype for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.

Work will be performed at NASA Stennis Space Center, as well as Hawthorne, Calif.; McGregor, Texas; and Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.; and is expected to be complete by April 30, 2018. The Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB, Calif., is the contracting activity. (Post)


Airport
Frontier Airlines will begin service from Pensacola International Airport (PNS) this spring with nonstop, low-cost flights to Denver International Airport (DEN) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) as part of its nationwide expansion. Service to Denver will begin April 22, 2018 while service to Chicago O’Hare is scheduled to begin May 12, 2018. (Post)

In another news item related to the Pensacola airport, VT MAE will host an information session Oct. 27 at 9:00 a.m. regarding its current operations, upcoming hiring needs, employment application procedures, and available subcontracting opportunities at its new aircraft maintenance facility being built at Pensacola International Airport.

The information session is at the Pensacola State College Hagler Auditorium, which is Building 2, 1000 College Blvd. in Pensacola. The event is for subcontractors and those seeking employment opportunities. (Post)


Contracts
Aermor LLC, Virginia Beach, Va.; American Systems Corp., Chantilly, Va.; and Qualis Corp., Huntsville, Ala., were awarded a $93,500,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center test services. The contractors will provide advisory and assistance services in support of operational test and evaluation that include a broad range of engineering, technical, and analytical services. Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field, both in Florida, are among the work sites. Other locations are in New Mexico, Colorado, California, Washington, Utah and Nevada, and is expected to be complete by Oct. 19, 2022. Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., is the contracting activity. … Textron Systems Marine and Land Systems, New Orleans, La., was awarded a $332.9 million contract for the procurement of up to 255 mobile strike force vehicles and related fielding hardware and field representative services for system de-processing. U.S. Army Contracting Command Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded an $11.6 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This order provides support for the first of class flying trials and the release of the military permit to fly for F-35B aircraft to operate from Queen Elizabeth class carriers in support of the government of the United Kingdom. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. … Reliance Test & Technology, Crestview, Fla., was awarded a $27.3 million modification for Eglin operation and maintenance services. Work will be performed at Eglin Test and Training Complex, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2026. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded $15.2 million for modification to a previously awarded contract for the integration of the original equipment manufacturer ZPY-8A/N radar into the MQ-8C Fire Scout. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas; Ozark, Ala.; San Diego; Edinburgh, United Kingdom; and Santa Clarita, Calif., and is expected to be completed in May 2020. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Special review (10/16)

First Airbus. Now Bombardier.

I don't usually publish a "week in review" column on a day other than Saturday, let alone one about a single news item. But the news out of Amsterdam and Montreal on Monday warrants a column.

Airbus and Bombardier announced an agreement where Airbus gets a 50.01 stake in the Bombardier C Series, the single-aisle jetliner that has been slow to sell but is one of the most advanced in the world. Under the agreement, Airbus will provide procurement, sales and marketing, and customer support expertise. But for our neck of the woods, the really big news is that there will be a C Series assembly line in Mobile, Ala., where Airbus is currently building A320 series jetliners. And that will mean more jobs. But details are few right now.

All of this will take some time to come to pass, but in the future, Mobile and the Gulf Coast will be able to brag that it makes not only the popular, best-selling Airbus A320 series, but the Bombardier C Series jetliners. That's significant for the branding of this region as an international aerospace and aviation center, especially in light of all the other aerospace and aviation activities along the Interstate 10 corridor.

The Airbus final assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex has already attracted plenty of suppliers, and having a Bombardier final assembly line for C Series jetliners is bound to attract even more, not only to Mobile proper but to its neighboring states.

The announcement comes within weeks of Bombardier being hit with a 300 percent import levy by the United States following a complaint by Boeing that the company was selling jetliners at a ridiculously reduced price. But that tariff isn't imposed on planes built in the United States by American workers for American customers like Delta Air Lines. The Atlanta-based company plans to buy 75 C series jetliners.

The move also gives Airbus an expanded global footprint through the partnership with the Bombardier final assembly line in Quebec, Canada, which will continue to build C Series jets but apparently not for the market in the United States.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Week in review (10/1 to 10/7)

Everyone in our region is little doubt preoccupied with Hurricane Nate churning south of us. Nonetheless, work goes on. We'll publish the October issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor newsletter Tuesday. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, it has a cover story about the aerospace and aviation activities in Louisiana.

But there's more. We'll also bring you a story about the two companies in South Alabama that provide engine podding work for jetliners. Podding is the part of the aviation industry that builds up the structure that surrounds and engine and attaches to the wing pylon.

UTC Aerospace and Safran Nacelles are the two biggest nacelles companies in the world, and they have operations in Foley and Mobile. We'll also fill you in on recent news relevant to the nacelles industry.

We also have a column on some of the other recent happenings in the aerospace region, including the Gulf Power Economic Symposium. If you want to stay up to date on this region's aerospace and aviation activities, the bimonthly newsletter is a good start. You'll be able to find it next week after Tuesday on the opening page of our website.

Now for your week in review:


Space The public will get a chance Oct. 19 to view a test firing of an RS-25 flight engine that will be used to power NASA’s new Space Launch System. This engine, No. 2063, will be one of four that will be used for SLS on Exploration Mission-2, the first flight of the rocket that will carry astronauts.

The engine test is part of the Founder's Day Open House at Stennis Space Center, which commemorates the anniversary of the rocket engine test site. Open house activities, including exhibits, demonstrations and speakers, will be hosted by participating Stennis agencies prior to an afternoon test of RS-25 flight engine on the A-1 Test Stand. (Post)


Contracts
DCS Corp., Alexandria, Va., was awarded a $207.6 million contract to provide system engineering, analysis, research, development, logistics, and configuration and data management services to the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division’s aircraft integrated pProduct teams, critical in the development, integration, test, evaluation, and fielding of new and upgraded capabilities to Naval aircraft, such as the F/A-18, EA-18G, F-35, AV-8B, AH-1/UH-1, and unmanned aerial systems. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will do seven percent of the work. Other work locations are in California, North Carolina, Arizona and Maryland, and is expected to be completed in October 2022. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, is the contracting activity. … COLSA Corp., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $56.2 million modification for technical and management advisory services command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and cyber support. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., among other locations. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … QuantiTech, Inc., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $39.6 million modification for technical and management advisory services range support. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., among other locations. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Torch Technologies Inc., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $34.6 million modification for technical and management advisory services armament support. The contractor will provide additional diverse research, development, test and evaluation, and acquisition support services. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and other locations. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Bevilacqua Research Corp., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $31.2 million modification for technical and management advisory services platforms support. The contractor will provide additional diverse research, development, test and evaluation, and acquisition support services. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Duke Field, Fla.; Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.; and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30 2018. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Week in review (9/24 to 9/30)

If you're into reading about contracts, this past week for the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor was certainly one for you. But it wasn't the only activity for the region. Here's your week in review:

The Air Force plans to declare its new AC-130J "Ghostrider" gunship ready for combat operations by the end of September. That’s according to Lt. Gen. Marshall "Brad" Webb, head of Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

He told reporters at the Air Force Association’s annual conference in National Harbor, Md., that it won't go into combat for a couple more years because of the high pace of operational missions abroad, which makes in more difficult to train special operators on the new gunship’s new weapon system.

The AC-130J, designed for close-air support, is armed with a 30mm GAU-23/A cannon and suite of precision-guided munitions that include the GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb and AGM-176 Griffin missile, and a 105mm M102 howitzer system. (Post)


Bases
The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Detachment 2 recently evaluated new, fully digitized navigation charts to streamline mission planning initiatives for the military. It’s the first major upgrade to the charts in some 30 years.

AFOTEC completed a successful operational test on a digitized navigation chart prototype in 2016, and the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency asked AFOTEC evaluate three new digitized charts for use by the Air Force and other military branches.

Over six weeks, Detachment 2 tested the new charts at nine military installations across the U.S., including at Eglin, using 16 different airframes. The new charts will be available for military operations as early as 2019. (Post)


F-35
The Air Force’s 33rd Maintenance Squadron provided training and support to F-35C operations aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7, 2017.

Two airmen and two sailors from the aerospace ground equipment flight and the wheel and tire shop qualified Abraham Lincoln sailors to operate F-35 support equipment, bringing the U.S. Navy one step closer to initial operations capability. With this training, the Abraham Lincoln's aviation structural mechanics are now qualified to tear down, inspect, clean, rebuild and service wheel assemblies. (Post)


Awards
The Santa Rosa County Economic Development Office received three Excellence in Economic Development Awards for 2017 from the International Economic Development Council during the IEDC Annual Conference Sept. 17-20 in Toronto. Two were related to aerospace and aviation.

One was a gold award for its aviation industry brochure in the category of special purpose print brochure, which details Santa Rosa County's advantages to companies in the aviation, aerospace, and related industries. The EDO took home a bronze award in the category of special purpose website, for SantaRosaAviation.com, a micro-site showcasing the county's advantages to companies in the aviation, aerospace, and related industries.

The office also won a silver award for its Career Pathways website, a project also in the category of special purpose website. The website is designed to provide students and their families guidance on local career opportunities. (Post)


Fort Walton Beach contracts
There were multiple contracts awarded during the week that will involve workers at Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

-- Reliance Test & Technology of Fort Walton Beach was awarded an $8.7 million modification to previously awarded contract for Eglin Air Force Base operation and maintenance support service. Work will be performed in Fort Walton Beach and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2026. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

-- Fort Walton Beach will share work with San Diego in another contract. Cubic Global Defense, San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $61 million contract for P5 combat training system/tactical combat training system updates. Work will be completed Sept. 30, 2022. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

-- Fifteen percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach under a $24.3 million contract modification that was awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp., Rotary and Mission Systems, Baltimore, Md. This contract exercises options for vertical launching system modules and associated equipment with the MK 41 vertical launch system. Work is expected to be completed by December 2022. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

-- The SURVICE Engineering Co. LLC, Belcamp, Md., was awarded a $10 million contract to perform research and development analysis for the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in the areas of air weapons systems survivability and lethality, test and analysis support, modeling and simulation (M&S), and M&S verification, validation and accreditation. Ten percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach and is expected to be completed in September 2022. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity.

-- The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $68.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for the procurement of the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G structural repair manual. Six percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

-- Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Linthicum, Md., was awarded a $12 million job order under a previously awarded basic ordering agreement for spare parts to support organic depot repairs of the AN/ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measures system. Five percent of the work will be done in Fort Walton Beach and is expected to be completed by April 2020. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity.


Other contracts
Fluor Federal Solutions LLC, Greenville, S.C., was awarded a $14.4 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise option 10 for base operations support services at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and outlying areas of Saufley Field, Corry Station, and Bronson Field. Work will be performed in Pensacola and is expected to be completed March 2018. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Rotary and Mission Systems, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $22 million modification to previously awarded contract for academic and simulator formal training and instruction. Work will be performed at Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.; Harrisburg Air National Guard Base, Pa.; and Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom; and is expected to be completed by March 31, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. … Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative, Wewahitchka, Fla., was awarded a maximum $36.3 million modification to a 50-year contract with no option periods, to incorporate a price redetermination rate increase, retroactive to June 1, 2014. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va. … JAR Assets Inc., Mandeville, La., was awarded a $9 million modification to previously awarded contract exercising the second option year for transportation of bulk jet fuel and marine diesel fuel by barge. Work will be performed at ports and points along the inland waterways and Gulf Coast locations in the Gulf Region with an expected completion date of Sept. 30, 2018. The U.S. Transportation Command, Directorate of Acquisition, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., is the contracting activity. … URS Federal Services Inc., Germantown, Md., was awarded a $15.5 million modification to a contract for rotary-wing flight instructor services. Work will be performed in Dothan, Ala., with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2018. U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command, Fort Eustis, Va., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., has been awarded a $450 million contract for Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) II integrated engineering change proposal contract. Work will be performed in Tucson, and is expected to be completed by Aug. 31, 2024. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity … A host of companies were awarded a combined $998 million for research, development, test and evaluation of weapon systems, subsystems, and components work. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative Inc., De Funiak Springs, Fla., was awarded a $60.2 million modification to a 50-year contract for additional utility services for the electric system at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va.