Saturday, November 26, 2016

Week in review (11/20 to 11/26)

We know we have a lot of entrepreneurs in the Gulf Coast region. We had a cover story about entrepreneurship in the October issue of the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League Business Quarterly, so I know there are plenty of innovators.

So for all you idea folks, here's one you might find interesting: It's the "Space Poop Challenge." NASA has launched the contest to come up with the best solution to get rid of waste while astronauts are stuck in a space suit for days on end.

Here's the deal. When those high-flying adventurers are in the International Space Station, there are specially designed waste collection systems. But when they are stuck in their space suits, they are fitted with absorbent diapers. That's fine for short-duration stays in the suit, but they sometimes have to be there for 10 hours at a time. And once they start venturing into deep space, they can expect to be in them even longer. Thus the NASA challenge.

NASA vowed to award up to three $30,000 prizes for the most promising in-suit waste management systems. The goal is to test them within a year and start using them within three years. Inventors have until Dec. 20 to submit designs for a personalized, hands-free system that routes and collects waste and takes it away from the astronaut’s body for up to six days.

You can see the details at the contest website. Take a look. I promise it won't be a waste of time.


Airbus
An A321 built in Mobile, Ala., for Delta Air Lines was scheduled to perform a flyover Saturday at the Iron Bowl game between Alabama and Auburn at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The A321 flyover was scheduled to be after the National Anthem and before kickoff. The plane had its first flight Nov. 12 and will be delivered to the customer in December. (Post)


F-35
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $7.2 billion modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract for F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The Lot 10 modification provides for the procurement of 90 aircraft, including planes for the Air Force, Navy, Marines and foreign customers.

Work will be done in Texas, California, Florida, New Hampshire, Maryland, the United Kingdom and Japan and is expected to be completed March 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 and reprogramming labs. (Post)


F-22
Pratt and Whitney, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $93.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract for F119 engine sustainment. The engine is used in the F-22 Raptor fighter. The contractor will provide engine sustainment labor, data and combined test force operations and support.

Work will be done in Connecticut, California, Alaska, Hawaii, Utah, Virginia, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma and at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2017. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity. (Post)


Other contracts
Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, was awarded a $267.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract for additional joint performance-based logistics support for the Marine Corps MV-22, and the Air Force and Special Operations Command CV-22 aircraft. Work will be performed at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and sites in Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Mexico, Virginia, California, Arizona, Hawaii, and various locations outside the continental U.S., and is expected to be completed in November 2018. … Raytheon Co., El Segundo, Calif., was awarded a $9 million modification to an order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement to manufacture and deliver three AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars in support of the F/A-18 E/F and EA-18 aircraft. Work will be done in Forest, Miss., Dallas, El Segundo, Calif., and Andover Mass. (8 percent), and is expected to be completed in August 2018.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Week in revew (11/13 to 11/19)

For any journalist, it's easy to recall the tragedies you've covered, whether you were at the scene or in a newsroom working the phones. In my more than 40 years working for newspapers and what at the time was called the wire service, there were plenty. And all of them are memorialized in my mind.

But sometimes, the memorial ends up being a physical reflection of the loss.

According to the Pensacola News Journal, about 200 people were in Navarre, Fla., Friday morning for the unveiling of a memorial at Navarre Park. It’s for the crew of the Army UH-60 Black Hawk that went down in Navarre Sound March 10, 2015.

Eleven servicemen died, including the four-man National Guard flight crew and seven Marines. It happened during a night-time training mission when thick fog turned a routine training mission into a tragedy. Responders worked 10 days to locate all of the fallen soldiers and Marines.

The initiative to create the memorial was led by the 35 members of Leadership Santa Rosa Class 29, and businesses, organizations and individuals donated time and money to make the memorial a reality. It is on permanent display at Navarre Park, 8543 Navarre Parkway. (Story)


Bases
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter during the week joined in a training exercise at Northwest Florida's Eglin Air Force Base with special tactics airmen and Army Green Berets. He also toured the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Headquarters at Hurlburt Field and met with base commanders before taking part in the hour-long exercise.

Carter joined a special forces assault team in a simulated hostage rescue that included special operations teams landing in two CV 22 Ospreys and assaulting a mock target. During the exercise Carter called in an air strike involving an F-35, AC-130 gunship and a U28 surveillance aircraft. (Post)

- The Trust for Public Land says 626 acres of Northwest Florida’s Wolfe Creek Forest has been acquired and added to the Blackwater River State Forest. The property, which includes frontage on Big Coldwater Creek, will help protect Naval Air Station Whiting Field’s base operations from encroachment that could jeopardize its mission.

The purchase will also protect water sources, public recreational activities, bird migration, and habitat for endangered species and other wildlife. TPL bought the land last month from CF Florida LLC for $1.5 million and sold it to the state for the same amount. (Post)


Airbus
The first Airbus A321 aircraft built for Delta Air Lines at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Ala., took to the air for the first time last weekend for a three and a half-hour flight. The jetliner will go through a couple more weeks of final production before being delivered to Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines. This is the fourth customer’s aircraft to have their first flight in Mobile in 2016, and this will be the 15th aircraft to be delivered in 2016. (Post)


Contract
Raytheon Co. - Missile Systems Div., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $17.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for depot repairs and sustainment activities. Contractor will provide High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile targeting system contractor logistics support services. Work will be performed at Tucson and is expected to be complete by Nov. 30, 2017. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Week in review (11/6 to 11/13)

With the presidential election now behind us and the future administration starting to put the pieces in place, the question comes to mind, what will a Trump administration mean for the aerospace industry, and particularly in the Gulf Coast region, which has military, commercial and NASA operations?

We'll go into a lot more in the upcoming December issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter, but speaking very broadly, it appears to be good for the defense industry based on the Trump promise to enlarge the military. We have plenty of defense contractors in the I-10 region, and plenty of bases that would benefit from more defense dollars.

But the commercial aerospace side is a big question mark, since so much of it depends on trade agreements. Trump's anti-trade rhetoric during the campaign raises real concerns about the expansion of global trade. He wasn't shy about blasting globalization, which is at the heart of the steady expansion of the aerospace sector over the past 20 years, an expansion that included Airbus setting up an A320 final assembly plant in Mobile, Ala.

But by and large the industry is making nice with the Trump administration – as is to be expected when there are so many questions on the table. Boeing, which is finalizing a deal to sell 100 jetliners to Iran, congratulated Trump and Congress and said it looked forward to working with them to promote global economic growth and protect workers. But Trump has strongly criticized an Iran nuclear deal that made the sale of those planes possible. (Story)

Some of the key questions at this early stage include who will be Secretary of Defense? While we don't yet know, some defense stocks rose after the election based on Trump comments that he wants to enlarge the military.

But a lot of questions remain, like what will happens to the Pentagon's initiatives to reach out beyond the traditional industry to harness innovation and technology in places like Silicon Valley? We've seen that initiative here through Fort Walton Beach's Doolittle Institute. It acts as a go-between for Eglin Air Force Base and private businesses.

According to the Washington Post, under Obama, the Pentagon reached out to non-traditional sources to harness innovation to help the U.S. military hold on to its technological advantage over potential adversaries. But under Trump those initiatives could be imperiled, according to Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He said Trump would likely bring in "a totally new team of civilian leaders with completely new priorities."

But Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst with the American Enterprise Institute, who briefed the Trump campaign several times, said that those programs are a relatively small portion of the budget, and that it is vital to invest in technology at a time when it is moving so fast. "We have lost our technological supremacy," she said. "He would be crazy to abandon that." (Story)

According to Flightglobal, the Trump call for a retreat from globalization has to be viewed with some concern by the industry. It seeks to reverse a nearly 20-year trend that has transformed the geography of aerospace and enabled its expansion. In the last five years alone, the industry has benefited from global trade. Airbus now assembles A320s in China and the United States, as well as in Europe. Boeing is also planning a completion and delivery center for 737s in China. Major structures for the F-35 are assembled outside the United States. (Story)

And what will the Trump administration mean for NASA? At this point, it's not clear what the administration's priorities will be. What programs will be continued and which will be dropped? Both NASA programs and commercial space programs are important for this region, which has two major NASA operations.

I don't know if we can say at this point what a Trump administration will mean in the long run for aerospace and defense - certainly not on any specific level. It does appear that once a political candidate wins an office and learns more about the intricacies, there's a tendency to make adjustments to stated goals. As I've heard some put it, they tend to grow into the office. We'll have to see how this all goes.


Test centers
The Air Force has approved the realignment of selected Air Force Test Center operations 
and facilities from several separate locations under one commander at Arnold Engineering Development Complex, Tenn.

The change consolidates the current capabilities of the AEDC at Arnold; the Hypersonic Combined Test Force, currently part of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.; and all the current capabilities of the 96th Test Group, headquartered at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; and the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., both currently part of the 96th Test Wing at Eglin.

Also part of the consolidation are the Federal Research Center at White Oak, Md., and operating locations at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; Moffett Federal Airfield, Calif.; Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; and the Army's White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

As part of this action the 96th Test Group and 796th Test Support Squadron at Holloman will be inactivated and will then be activated as the 704th Test Group and 704th Test Support Squadron, respectively. The duty locations, manpower authorizations and resources of the 704th TG and 704th TSS will be exactly the same as the inactivated 96th TG and 796th TSS.

Only the parent unit will change from the 96th TW to AEDC. This realignment will only impact the administrative reporting chain of the affected organizations and will not require the transfer of personnel or any change in missions at those locations. (Post)


F-35
When F-35 fighters flew simulated combat missions around Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., their pilots couldn’t see the “enemy” radars on their screens. That’s because the F-35s’ on-board computers analyzed data from the fighters’ various sensors, compared the readings to known threats, and figured out the radars on the training range weren’t real, so the software didn’t even display them.

The F-35 and the F-22 fifth-generation fighters are overturning how the Air Force operates. In its simplest terms, it could be that a pilot closer to the battle has an even better picture of the battle than senior officers further away in an AWACs or operations center. (Post)


Contracts
Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $167.5 million advance acquisition contract for long lead components, parts and materials associated with the low-rate initial production Lot XI of 48 F135-PW-100 propulsion systems for the Air Force; 14 F135-PW-600 propulsion systems for the Marine Corps; and 4 F135-PW-100 propulsion systems for the Navy. In addition, this contract provides for the long lead components, parts and materials associated with 41 F135-PW-100 and 3 F135-PW-600 propulsion systems for international partners and foreign military sales customers. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co. - Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $76 million option 
to a previously awarded contract for Lot 10 Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer (MALD-J) vehicles and support equipment. Work will be performed at Tucson and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2020. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Week in review (10/30 to 11/5)

While the movers and shakers of the region were gathering in Gulfport, Miss., Thursday and Friday for the fifth annual Aerospace Alliance Summit, there was another fifth annual that was going on in South Mississippi.

It was the two-week long Southern Strike training exercise that involved more than 2,000 special warfare operators from all branches of the U.S. services, along with some foreign units. It was noteworthy, in part because it illustrated just how important this region is to the nation's defense. More on that later.

The Aerospace Alliance summit was held at the Island View, and about 130 people attended. The impressive list of participants included economic development leaders, academic officials and officials from a host of companies that are involved in aerospace activities in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, the member states of the Aerospace Alliance.

This is the third one I've attended, starting with the inaugural event at the Sandestin Resort at Miramar Beach, Fla. I also attended the summit in Huntsville, Ala., a few years ago in part because I have family who live in that area, so it was a great opportunity to visit as well as cover the summit.

The 2016 iteration of the summit kicked off with a dinner Thursday evening. In his introduction, Neal Wade, chairman of the 8-year-old Aerospace Alliance, said the four states rank as the third largest aerospace corridor in the world. He said that says a lot about the depth the breadth of the aerospace and defense industry in the four states.

But with the election coming up Tuesday, politics was the focus of the dinner speaker, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. He was the state’s two-term Republican governor from 2004 to 2012, and he spoke about the uncertainties and concerns over the presidential election.

Barbour, the 63rd governor of Mississippi, is also the former chairman of the Republican Governor's Association and former chairman of the Republican National Committee. He was widely praised for his leadership during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Gulf oil spill of 2010, and today is a respected observer of the political system.

"Nobody's ever seen anything like this," he said about the contentious race between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. He said two-thirds of the American people think the nation is going the wrong way, and that people are mad and scared.

Barbour brought up the decision of the British to leave the European Union, where many people were mad and tired of having decisions made in Brussels rather than London. They wanted to tell Brussels "something vivid," he said. Then he shifted to the United States election.

"In America, Washington is not in another country, but a lot of Americans feel like it's in another country. And they wanted to shoot Washington the bird and they couldn't think of a better, more magnificent jackass middle finger than Donald Trump," he said.

He ran through a litany of problems the country faces, including the weak recovery, terrorism, crime and the balkanization of the media. Barbour said that historically when there’s parity between the two parties, "we're bunched up in the middle. Today there is no middle."

He said that in this environment, we are stuck with the two most negatively perceived nominees of the two greatest political parties in the world, he said, and for many the choice is "which one I want to vote against more?"

The next day the focus shifted back to aerospace. Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis with The Teal Group, discussed the growth of the aerospace industry, still the strongest industry on the planet. But he also warned that a correction looms in the future. There were also several panel discussions, including one on commercial applications of unmanned aircraft systems.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant in his welcoming address spoke about the significance of aerospace for Mississippi. He said virtually every commercial plane in the world has at least one part made in Mississippi, which has 120 aerospace sector companies, including some of the biggest names in the industry. He also said the four-state region is where the growth of the industry is going to be.

When the summit was over, Glenn McCullough Jr., executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, said the event highlighted that there are great opportunities for the four states. Don Pierson, secretary of Louisiana Economic Development, said the region is building an important corridor, noting that among other things the shared “NASA DNA” provides unique advantages. (Post)

We'll have a more detailed story and analysis about the summit in the December issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor/Gulf Coast Reporters’ League Aerospace Newsletter.

Meanwhile, while the summit was going on, special operators and conventional units were wrapping up their two weeks of training in South Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.

The nerve centers for the training were the Mississippi National Guard at the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, just south of Hattiesburg.

The training included three, large-war games, multiple bilateral events, and a final culmination exercise. (Post) The Sun Herald had a story about the training Friday. (Story)


Contracts
HX5 LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $7.3 million modification to a contract for a six-month extension providing for the entire spectrum of mission planning support for 98 Army National Guard flying units. Work will be performed in Arlington, Va.,, with an estimated completion date of April 30, 2017. … DCS Corp., Alexandria, Va., was awarded $59.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract for weapons and systems integration support services for the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division’s (NAWCWD’s) aircraft integrated product teams. Aircraft include the F/A-18, EA-18G, F-35, AV-8B, AHN-1/UH-1, and unmanned aerial systems. Work will be performed at NAWCWD China Lake, Calif. (87 percent); Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (8 percent); and at various locations within the U.S. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in October 2017.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Week in review (10/23 to 10/29)

Pensacola leaders were, understandably, overjoyed Friday when they had the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $46 million aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility that will be built at Pensacola International Airport.

In addition to the construction jobs, the VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering hangar - which will be larger than the terminal building at the airport - will provide permanent jobs for some 400 aerospace workers, and it's likely to grow in the future.

About 100 invited guests showed up for the event, five years in the making, at a corner of the airport on what was a picture perfect day. The new operation at the airport is an expansion for VT MAE, owned by ST Engineering of Singapore. VT MAE has had a large operation at the Mobile Aeroplex since 1991.

Construction on the four-acre building in Pensacola will begin Monday and is scheduled to be finished by February 2018. (Post)

While it's being ballyhooed as marking Pensacola's entry into the growing aerospace segment of the economy, it's really just the latest, albeit highly publicized, addition to the Pensacola metropolitan area's aerospace sector.

For years the Pensacola MSA has been a key military aviation training center, includes the training of pilots. Pensacola and Milton have been the location for private companies that ensure the Navy can satisfy that mission. Take a look at "Keeping 'em flying still big business" in the April 2015 issue of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter.

You might also find interesting "The Rockhill Group continues to grow" in the February 2016 issue of the newsletter, about a former military pilot's startup that is having a high degree of success landing military contracts. Then take a look at "Small company with a big task" in the December 2014 issue of the newsletter, about Marianna Airmotive.

There's more, including "Avalex innovating in key security fields" in the February 2015 issue, a story about the Gulf Breeze-based company, and you might also find it interesting to read "TPR settles in, mulling expansion" in the August 2014 issue of the newsletter, and "Aircraft displays simplify flying" in the March 2014 issue.

And we're planning to do more stories in coming issues about these aviation-related businesses that don't get a lot of publicity, but are playing a key role.


Economic development
In Mobile, Ala., we found out during the week that France's Thales has joined the growing list of aerospace companies that have set up operations at the Mobile Aeroplex. Thales is involved in avionics, in-flight entertainment, aircraft connectivity and aircraft electrical systems.

"Our relationship with Thales spans more than a decade and when it requested a flexible and scaleable location to meet their current business case needs, we were more than happy to get to work," said Roger Wehner, executive director of the Mobile Airport Authority. (Post)

The Aeroplex is also the location of the Airbus A320 series manufacturing facility, which is now routinely building jetliners. The first U.S.-built Delta Air Lines Airbus A321 has been painted with the company's colors and has left the paint shop at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility.

The Delta jetliner is the 15th A321 produced by Airbus in Mobile since the start of operations in July 2015. Twelve aircraft have been delivered to customers thus far. MAAS Aviation completed the painting in its facility located on the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley within the Airbus manufacturing facility campus. (Post)

Meanwhile, over in east central Mississippi, Raytheon announced Monday that it will assemble the T-100 trainer in Mississippi if the company wins the Air Force's T-X competition. The jet is a modified Aermacchi M-346. True, Meridian is a bit outside the immediate I-10 aerospace corridor, but it does show just how hot this broader region has become for aerospace.

The site in Meridian is near the airport was chosen because it has the infrastructure and is close to its customers. One newspaper said it would mean 450 jobs. Raytheon has manufactured products in Mississippi for more than three decades. Leonardo-Finmeccanica, CAE USA and Honeywell Aerospace have partnered with Raytheon to offer the T-100 to the U.S. Air Force. Also competing for the contract are Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. (Post)


JobsA host of companies were on hand to take applications from job-seekers Friday at the 8th annual CareerSource Escarosa job fair at Pensacola State College’s Jean and Paul Amos Performance Studio. Among the companies are VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Eastridge Workforce Solutions, and Navy Federal Credit Union. EWS is hiring people to build solar energy farms that are part of a partnership between regional military bases and Gulf Power. (Post)


Contracts
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was issued a $10.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract for production of one MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned air system. Moss Point, Miss., will do 16 percent of the work. Other work sites are San Diego, Ozark, Ala., and Fort Worth, Texas. Work will be completed in August 2019. … PAE Aviation and Technical Services LLC, Marlton, N.J., was awarded a $14.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract. The contractor will provide maintenance of aerial targets, and operations and maintenance of range instrumentation systems at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.; and maintenance of full-scale aerial targets at Holloman AFB, N.M. This includes functional and quality assurance support for the Aerial Targets Program, which directly supports live-fire weapons system testing and enables the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group in the developmental and operational weapons testing for all air-to-air missiles and for the F-22, F-35, F-16, and F-15 aircraft. Work is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2017.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Week in review (10/16 to 10/22)

The 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron is now at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., after moving from Pope Army Airfield, N.C., on Oct. 15. It’s now part of the Air Force Reserve's 403rd Wing.

The move allows the unit to have access to the 403rd's training missions and 20 C-130Js. The 36th AES currently has 30 personnel, but is scheduled to have 40 officers and 83 enlisted personnel.

The day before the redesignation ceremony, the 36th AES it took part in a training mission with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler. (Post)


F-35
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $743.2 million modification to the previously awarded low-rate initial production Lot 9 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter advance acquisition contract.

It provides additional funding and will establish not-to-exceed (NTE) prices for diminishing manufacturing and material shortages redesign and development, estimated post production concurrency changes and country unique requirements. In addition, this modification will establish NTE prices for one F-35A aircraft and one F-35B aircraft for a non-U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) participant in the F-35 program.

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)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. got another contract during the week, this one a $20.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract. Work will be done at the Ogden Depot as well as at F-22 operational bases, including Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. (Post)


Contracts
SURVICE Engineering Co., Belcamp, Md., was awarded an $15.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract for SEEK EAGLE program modeling, analysis, and tools support. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Oct. 22, 2017. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Energy and Environment LLC of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was among the companies awarded a $50 million contract for environmental remediation services for the Army Corps of Engineers, South Atlantic Division. … DynCorp International, Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $63.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for continued contractor operated and maintained base supply support. Work will be performed at Naval Air Stations Pensacola and Whiting Field, both in Florida, and other bases.Work is expected to be completed by April 30, 2017. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Week in review (10/2 to 10/8)

If you haven't had a chance to look at it, you might want to check out the latest Gulf Coast Aerospace Newsletter. The October edition was published Tuesday, and includes stories that are bound to be of interest to those who follow the region’s aerospace activities.

There's a story about the upcoming Aerospace Alliance Summit in Gulfport, Miss., and a story about areas that are attractive to aerospace manufacturers. There are also stories about NASA's unique camera that captures detail never before seen, and about new collaborative opportunities at the Mobile Aeroplex. (Post)


Unmanned
The Navy awarded Bell Helicopter a $3.3 million contract to investigate the potential for future flight strain, fatigue, and tail boom might cracking on the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.

The concern is whether those issues might arise because the Naval Air Systems Command is flying the MQ-8C at higher weights and altitudes than those for the civilian version of the Bell 407. Final assembly of the MQ-8C is done in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)


Corporate
Star Aviation has been acquired by Carlisle Companies Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz. A Carlisle executive said Star will add "significant engineering resources and technology" to Carlisle's portfolio.

Carlisle designs, manufactures and markets a range of products to a range of niche markets, according to the company’s website. That includes commercial roofing, agriculture and mining to aerospace and defense electronics.

Star, which specializes in in-flight entertainment, was founded in 1999 and has an operation in Seattle. The company says it anticipates continued growth in Mobile. (Post)


Contracts
The COLSA Corp., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $44.8 million modification to exercise the option on a previously awarded contract for technical and management advisory services including command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR); and cyber support. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is one of the work locations, and the work is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2017. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Bevilacqua Research Corp., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $25.9 million modification to exercise an option on a previously awarded contract for technical and management advisory services. Work locations include Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … QuantiTech Inc., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $25.7 million modification to exercise an option on a previously awarded contract for technical and management advisory services for range support. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and other locations and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2017. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … The Torch Technologies Inc., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $24.3 million modification to exercise an option on a previously awarded contract for technical and management advisory services for armament support. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Kirkland AFB, N.M., and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2017. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … M1 Support Services, Denton, Texas, was awarded a $10.5 million modification to exercise an option on a previously awarded contract for ground instructional training aircraft, historical static display aircraft, trainers, support equipment, aerospace ground equipment, and munitions trainer maintenance services. Work will be performed at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, and Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2017.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Week in review (9/18 to 9/24)

The long, drawn-out legal battle with Airbus and the European Union on one side and Boeing and the United States on the other took a step towards being resolved with a ruling by the World Trade Organization this week.

WTO ruled Thursday that European governments failed to end billions in unfair state subsidies to Airbus, despite an earlier ruling to remove them. That opens the way for the United States to impose more than $5 billion in annual tariffs against goods and services from the European Union.

But the WTO in a future ruling is expected to find that the United States failed to address concerns about subsides that helped Boeing, in part through tax breaks. That could lead to the EU being able to impose similar tariffs on U.S. exporters.

The Boeing/Airbus court case is part of the larger battle between the two giants over market shares. The combined backlogs of commercial airplanes has risen to almost $1.4 trillion. Airbus builds the hot-selling single-aisle, twin-engine A320 series jetliners in Mobile, Ala., as well as Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; and Tianjin, China. (Post)

In another Airbus-related story closer to home, Spirit Airlines took delivery Monday of its first A321 made in the United States at Mobile's U.S. Manufacturing Facility. On hand for the occasion were executives from Airbus and Spirit Airlines, 140 Spirit Airlines employees, and the 350 Airbus employees.

The $600 million plant, at the Mobile Aeroplex had its ceremonial opening in September 2015 and delivered its first jetliner – to JetBlue – in April 2016. The Spirit aircraft is the 10th delivered so far. Airbus anticipates delivering four planes a month out of Mobile by the end of 2017. (Post)

Across the state line in Pensacola, Fla., the Pensacola City Council approved a final amendment to a lease agreement with VT MAE and approved a $6.3 million loan to enable construction of a maintenance and repair facility to begin.

The project at Pensacola International Airport was delayed after VT MAE requested the planned hangar be enlarged to accommodate larger 757 aircraft. The price went from $37.3 million to $46 million to handle larger aircraft.

The city secured additional money from the state to cover the increase, but won't get it until fiscal year 2018, thus the need for the loan. VT MAE, owned by Singapore Technologies Engineering, has a major facility in Mobile and is expanding into Pensacola. (Post)


Bases
Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field in Florida and Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., are among the bases in the running to train battlefield airmen. We first told you about this in July, and now the military is doing assessments at each base.

The Air Force wants to consolidate eight locations into "three or four," according to Military.com. The current centers are scattered across seven states. The consolidation is designed to provide improved infrastructure with enhanced aquatic training for combat rescue and other missions. The service is conducting environmental assessment surveys at all eight locations being considered. (Post)


F-35
Lockheed Martin rolled out the first 42 F-35As ordered by the Japan Air Self Defense Forces to replace a nearly 80-strong fleet of McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantoms. The event was attended by about 400 representatives from both countries.

Lockheed is building the first four Japanese jets in Fort Worth, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will produce the remaining 38 under license at its Nagoya facility. MHI won the 2011 competition to build the F-35A.

Maintenance training is already underway for the first Japanese Air Defense technicians at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and the first Japanese pilots will begin training at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in November. (Post)

Meanwhile, Raytheon Co., Fullerton, Calif., was awarded a $254.6 million contract for the design, development, manufacture, integration, demonstration, and test of the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System.

This contract will utilize and continue development of eight existing engineering development models; and deliver two additional EDMs to support fleet early operational capability requirements for F-35B/C and MQ-25 test and initial operational requirements aboard nuclear aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.

In addition, this contract will deliver weapons replaceable assemblies, a technical data package, and provide developmental test and operational test support. Work will be performed in Fullerton; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Marlborough, Mass.; and Indianapolis, Ind., and is expected to be completed in September 2022. (Post)


Contracts
United Technologies Corp. - Pratt and Whitney, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $10.5 million modification to previously awarded contract for F119 engine sustainment. Work will be performed at multiple locations, including Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2016. … Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., was awarded $232 million for a modification to a previously awarded contract for the procurement of two CH-53K system demonstration test article aircraft. Work will be performed at a variety of locations, including Fort Walton Beach, Fla., and Jackson, Miss. The work is expected to be completed in February 2020. … L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded $166.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance and logistics services in support of about 200 T-45 aircraft based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, Miss.; NAS Kingsville, Texas; NAS Pensacola, Fla.; and NAS Patuxent River, Md. Work will be performed in Kingsville (48 percent); Meridian (44 percent); Pensacola (7 percent); and Patuxent River (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2017. The company also was awarded an estimated $43.5 million modification to exercise the option on a previously awarded contract for support of T-1, T-6, and T-38 undergraduate pilot training. … Jacobs Technology Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $22.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Air Operations Center (AOC) interim sustainment services. … Moca Systems Inc., of Niceville, Fla., is among the companies that will share in the award of a $10 million contract for architect and engineering, and cost engineering services to support the Mobile District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Week in review (9/4 to 9/10)

Over the next couple of weeks, Northwest Florida's Eglin Air Force Base will be the site of some crucial testing for the U.S. military. The sprawling base will host the 2016 edition of Black Dart, a formerly classified counter-drone program.

It gets under way Sunday and will continue until September 23, according to Breaking Defense. The purpose it to test technologies to detect, identify, track and defeat unmanned systems, a growing concern for the military and the public at large.

It's hard to overstate just how important this is. Everyone who pays attention understands the incredible capabilities of drones. We've used them to take out terrorists, but the flip side is that our enemies can use them as well. And what's particularly frightening is that the field of drones includes not only the large ones, like Predators and Global Hawks, but small ones the size of birds or bugs.

Black Dart is being conducted at Eglin this year because of the size of the base and the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, where testers will have access to ships. Two Aegis destroyers will participate in Black Dart, according to reports. The program is run by the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization.

Fifty-five systems were tested and there were more than 100 sorties during last year's Black Dart in California, the 14th iteration of the program, according to National Defense Magazine. It was classified until its 2014 demonstration, when it was opened to the media because organizers wanted the public to know the government is not only aware of the growing threat, but actively working to mitigate it. (Post)

-- Black Dart is not the only drone-related story of interest to the region. Eglin and Tyndall Air Force Base are among four sites being considered to host unmanned MQ-9 Reaper aircraft, a hunter-killer system. The other bases are Vandenberg in California and Shaw in South Carolina.

The Air Force is looking for a base to host a wing of 24 Reapers, built by General Atomics and capable of remote controlled or autonomous operations. The Air Force also is looking at five bases to host mission control operations.

The Air Combat Command is to conduct on-site surveys at the bases, and could selected preferred locations as early as the winter of 2016. Currently the Air Force flies about 60 drone missions per day, but that figure is expected to increase.

More than two years ago the 919th Special Operations Wing welcomed the 2nd Special Operations Squadron, its remotely piloted aircraft unit. The 2nd SOS was formerly located at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The unit is at Hurlburt, but none of the aircraft are located here. The move to Hurlburt completed the process of placing AFSOC RPA operations on AFSOC bases. (Post)


Economic development
Eglin is looking for developers with ideas for a 50-acre property in Fort Walton Beach near the Okaloosa County Courthouse. An appraisal found it would be a good location for mixed-use development. Eglin is hosting an Industry Day at 9 a.m. Sept. 28 at the Holiday Inn Resort on Okaloosa Island to provide information about the property with developers, realtors, builders, architects and others.

The project follows the successful development of the 152-room, beachfront Holiday Inn Resort by Gulf Breeze-based Innisfree Hotels on Eglin-owned property in 2014. Innisfree shares some of the revenue with the military. The Holiday Inn Resort was the base's first attempt to partner with private business for development of the unused land and was so successful, Innisfree is building a 175-room Hilton Garden Inn next door. (Post)


Airbus
The first Airbus A321 aircraft built for Spirit Airlines at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility flew for the first time last week. The jetliner took off from the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley and had a 3.5-hour test flight. The aircraft will go through a couple more weeks of final production before being delivered to Spirit Airlines. It’s the 10th Airbus jetliner built at the new Mobile assembly line. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $10 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option to procure additional diminishing manufacturing sources electronic components in support of the F-35. Work will be done in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in December 2018. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center and reprogramming center. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $49.2 million contract to exercise an option on a previously awarded contract for Small Diameter Bomb Increment II Lot 2 production. Contractor will provide SDB II weapons and containers. Work will be done in Tucson and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. .. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $8 million contract for field team support services for Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile development test mission support including test planning, test operations, test reporting, and telemetry analysis. Contractor will provide ground tests, captive flight tests, and live fire tests conducted for developmental purposes up to and including operational test readiness reviews. It also includes management and maintenance of AMRAAM separation test vehicles and other assets used for the test programs. Work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Utah Test and Training Range, Utah, White Sands Missile Range, N.M., Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif.; Edward Air Force Base, Calif., Nevada Test and Training Range, Nev.; and Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Sept. 8, 2017. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $13 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for maintenance, repair, and logistics support for the Chief of Naval Air Training aircraft’s intermediate maintenance departments located at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. Support to be provided includes labor, equipment, tools, services, and direct and indirect material. Work will be performed at NAS Pensacola (60 percent); and NAS Corpus Christi (40 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Week in review (8/28 to 9/3)

The explosion this week of a Falcon 9 rocket and loss of the payload was a setback for a company that has been one of the stars of the nation's commercial space industry. The SpaceX rocket exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Thursday, destroying the rocket and a $200 million communications satellite.

It was the second explosion of a SpaceX rocket in just over a year. In June 2015 a rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station blew up. The cause was blamed on the failure of a steel struck purchased from a supplier.

The accident Thursday was during the standard pre-launch static fire test around the upper stage oxygen tank. (Story)

Stories involving SpaceX are of high interest to the Gulf Coast region because it's involved in space activities thanks to Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. In addition, SpaceX is using Stennis Space Center to develop its next generation Raptor engines.

In another item of interest to this region, a U.S. court backed Leonardo's challenge to the U.S. Army's contract with Airbus Helicopters for 16 more UH-72A Lakota helicopters and has given the Army six months to justify that contract award, re-compete it or drop the acquisition.

The Lakota helicopters are made in Columbus, Miss.

Leonardo challenged the Army's modification late last year of the original 2006 Light Utility Helicopter program contract to permit the purchase of 16 more Lakotas on the grounds that Airbus was a responsible sole source.

Leonardo's AgustaWestland division lost out on the original contract award to Airbus. In 2006 the contract was valued at $43 million for initially eight helicopters, with options for as many as 483 more. The Army to date has received more than 350 UH-72 aircraft. (Story)

In other news of interest to the region during the week:

F-35
Three F-35Bs and 75 personnel from the Marine’s Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., along with 21 members of Edwards' JSF Operational Test Team, completed a 22-day deployment Sept. 1 at Eglin. They were here for complete five AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile and one GBU-12 aerial laser-guided bomb test shots. Eglin is home of the F-35 integrated training center and reprogramming lab. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin of Fort Worth, Texas, and Pratt and Whitney of East Hartford, Conn., each were awarded two contracts during the week. The contracting activity in all four cases is the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md.

In one contract, Lockheed Martin was awarded an $18 million modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract. This modification provides for long lead time materials, parts, components and effort required to maintain the planned production schedule for one F-35A low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 11 aircraft, and two F-35A and one F-35B LRIP Lot 12 aircraft for a non-U.S. Department of Defense participant in the F-35 program. (Post)

The company also was awarded a $28.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract for additional sustainment in support of Low Rate Initial Production Lot 10 F-35 aircraft. Support to be provided includes non-air vehicle spares, support equipment, Autonomic Logistics Information System hardware and software upgrades, supply chain management, full mission simulators and non-recurring engineering services for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. (Post)

Pratt and Whitney Military Engines was awarded $38.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract for sustainment program administrative labor in support of the F-35 low-rate initial production Lot IX procurement. This modification provides for program administrative labor in support of F-135 sustainment efforts. (Post)

The company also was awarded a $7.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification procures advanced spare parts and deployment spare part packages and initial spare 3BSM modules in support of the F-35 for the Marine Corps and Navy. (Post)


Airbus
A JetBlue A320 made history during last week when it made the first commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than a half-century. The Airbus jetliner, Flight 387, left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and landed in the central city of Santa Clara after a 51-minute trip. U.S.-Cuba travel was curtailed during the 55-year-old trade embargo.

The same day, the transportation department announced the carriers selected to operate routes to Havana: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. Carriers will serve the Cuban capital from Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa. (Post)

Airbus makes A320 series jetliners in Mobile, Ala. JetBlue was the first customer to take delivery of an A321 in April 2016.


Contracts
DRS Training and Control Systems, LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $9.8 million contract to procure overhaul/upgrade of the AH-64 digital captive boresight harmonization kit for a minimum quantity of 25, maximum of 200. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 29, 2021. … Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, was awarded a $32.4 million modification to previously issued delivery order placed against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for software and hardware upgrades for 28 V-22 flight simulators for the U.S. Marine Corps (19 MV-22) and the U.S. Air Force (9 CV-22). Four percent of the work will be performed in Fort Walton Beach, and the rest at other locations, and is expected to be completed in March 2020. … L-3 Communications Corp. -Systems Field Support, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $19.6 million modification on a previously awarded contract for C-12 contractor logistics support. Work will be performed at a variety of locations worldwide and is expected to be complete by Aug. 31, 2017. … SDVE, LLC, Andalusia, Ala., was awarded a $9.8 million contract for simplified acquisition of base engineering requirements. Contractor will provide simplified acquisition of base engineering requirements contract work including detailed task specifications that encompass most types of real property maintenance, repair, and minor construction work.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Week in review (8/14 to 8/20)

If you've been following aerospace activities in this region long enough, you certainly recall the battle between Boeing and what was then called EADS to win the contract to build aerial refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force.

I remember writing about it in 2005, when EADS was first looking for a site in the United States where it could build tankers if it won the contract. That chosen site ended up being Mobile, Ala. The contract was at first awarded to EADS, but after a Boeing protest the competition began anew. Boeing won the second time around in 2011, primarily because it said it could build them  for considerably less than EADS.

But Mobile may have ended up the winner in the long-run. EADS, which changed its name to Airbus Group, decided to build a plant in Mobile anyway, to assemble the popular A320 series of jetliners. The first one was delivered to customer JetBlue in April, and the brand new planes have been rolling out of the plant ever since.

And the tanker? The road has not been easy for Boeing, which experienced delays and cost overruns. Boeing ended up being too optimistic with its cost estimate – something many thought at the time was likely the case – and will have to cover about $1 billion in unexpected expenses.

But on Aug 12 the Pentagon deemed the tanker is now ready for production. This past week the Air Force awarded Boeing a $2.8 billion contract for production of 19 refueling tankers in two batches. Under the contract, Boeing will deliver two low-rate initial production lots of seven and 12 KC-46A Pegasus tankers – modified 767 aircraft. The Air Force is seeking 179 of the tankers to replace about a third of its aging tanker fleet. The first plane will be delivered in about a year.

Finally, our military will get the tanker that is so sorely needed.

F-35
Carrier-variant F-35s during practice landings at Choctaw Naval Outlying Field near Pensacola, Fla., ended up being so precise and consistent with landings that their tailhooks hit the same spot on the runway every time. Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, head of Naval Air Forces, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., that the landings on the same spot tore up the runway. The F-35C uses the Delta Flight Path, a built-in technology that controls glide slope and minimizes the number of variables pilots have to monitor as they complete arrested carrier landings. (Post)

-- Members of the 33rd Fighter Wing are participating in the two-week Northern Light exercise at Volk Field in Wisconsin. In Northern Light, Air National Guard, Air Force and Navy aircraft simulate deployment and missions in a contested environment. Col. Lance Pilch, 33rd FW commander, said the wing is continuing to be integral in building battle-ready F-35 pilots and maintainers capable of employing this weapons system against elevated threats. (Post)

-- United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $17.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract for additional long lead items in support of the F-35 low-rate initial production Lot XI procurement. This modification provides for delivery of long-lead items for the LRIP Lot XI effort for the Navy/Marine Corps, Air Force, international partners, and foreign military sales customers. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)

Space
NASA engineers successfully conducted a development test of the RS-25 rocket engine Thursday. The RS-25 will help power the core stage of the agency’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket for the journey to Mars and beyond. The test of engine No. 0528 was for 420 seconds. The SLS rocket will be powered by four RS-25 engines, firing along with a pair of solid rocket boosters. NASA has conducted tests of the new booster at Orbital ATK’s test facilities in Promontory, Utah, while all RS-25 developmental 
and flight engine tests will be conducted on the A-1 Test Stand at SSC. (Post)

Airbus
The first U.S.-built A321 for Spirit Airlines has left the MAAS Aviation paint shop at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility and will soon enter the flight test phase. The aircraft is the 10th A321 to be produced in Mobile. Seven have been delivered. (Post)

Contract
Webb Electric Co. of Florida, Pensacola, Fla., was awarded an $11,499,889 firm-fixed-price contract for repair circuit six, selected portions. Bids were solicited via the Internet with seven received. Work will be performed at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31, 2018. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa, Okla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Week in review (8/7 to 8/13)

This past Tuesday we published our latest edition of the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League Aerospace Newsletter, and we hope you had a chance to take a look. The eight-page publication had four stories about aerospace activities in our region.

In our story “Farnborough: Cementing the bonds,” we talked to some of the folks who attended the July air show near London. There was one announcement of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the air show, but what doesn't get publicity are the relationships developed and nurtured at the air show. Those are investments of time and effort that might not have any payoff for many years to come. Story

In our article "DI: Putting innovation on the fast track," we tell you about the think tank in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., that's getting noticed. The Doolittle Institute opened its doors in 2014, but it’s on a growth curve. Last month the state said DI would get $100,000 from the Florida Defense Support Task Force Grant Program. But that's just part of the story. DI has a growing operation in Tampa, and it has collaboration agreements with universities and research organizations, including the well-known Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola, Fla. Story

If you're interested in robotic aircraft, take a look at "Drones grow SSC science repertoire." The story is out of Stennis Space Center, Miss., best known as the location where huge rocket engines are tested. This tells you about the newest addition to its science portfolio. The recent decision by the FAA to expand SSC’s restricted airspace is expected to be a boon for the growth of UAV activities at the NASA center. Story

In another SSC-related story, "SSC key in quest for next gen engines," we tell you about how the NASA facility has become a battleground in the contest to replace Russian-built engines used for government launches. SpaceX and Aerojet Rocketdyne, two of the four companies competing to develop engines to replace the RD-180, both have chosen to use SSC to develop the crucial engines. Story

To want to download the entire 8-page PDF, click here. But be patient. Depending on the speed of your computer, it might take a while to download. But we think it's worth it.

In other news during the week, we posted an item about a booster test for NASA's Space Launch System in June that also demonstrated a new video recorder that captured unprecedented imagery of the rocket firing.

Developed by engineers at NASA’s SSC, the camera can record multiple slow motion exposures at once. Conventional cameras can only record in one exposure, a problem when trying to document very bright events like a rocket test. The new method is called the High Dynamic Range Stereo X, or HiDyRS-X. (Post)

There were also at least two contracts awarded that are of interest to the Gulf Coast region. Both were for the F-35. As you know, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center and two F-35 reprogramming labs. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for both contracts.

United Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded $151.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification procures initial spare modules, engine system trainers, support equipment and depot activation services and supplies in support of the F-35 for Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, international partners and foreign military sales customers. Work will be performed in Connecticut and Indiana and is expected to be complete in September 2019. (Post)

Also, Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $20.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the procurement, delivery, installation, configuration, and standup of the Naval Air Station Lemoore Training Infrastructure System and Pilot Fitting Facility in support of the F-35. Work will be performed in Orlando, Fla.; Greenville, S.C.; and Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in March 2019. (Post)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Week in review (7/24 to 7/30)

Another test of the RS-25 rocket engine at Stennis Space Center, Miss., two more A320 orders that likely will involve the Airbus plant in Mobile, Ala.; a contract to upgrade Pensacola, Fla.-based Blue Angel jets to make the Super Hornets; and swarm of UAVs over the Gulf of Mexico were among the stories of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week.

Here's your week in review:


Space
The RS-25 developmental test engine No. 0528 that had to be shut down early in a test July 14 was fired up again Friday and had a successful 650-second test at NASA's Stennis Space Center. The test was on the A-1 Test Stand.

The earlier July 14 test of the same engine, also at the A-1 stand, had to be aborted after 193 seconds when there was an issue with the stand. No damage was done to the engine.

Four of these Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines, modified versions of the engines that were used in the Space Shuttle, will be used along with a pair of solid rocket boosters to lift the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System that will be used to send astronauts further into space than ever before. (Post)

NASA has a supply of RS-25 engines from the Space Shuttle program but has contracted with Aerojet Rocketdyne to build additional engines for SLS missions. All flight testing for SLS takes place at SSC, as will the core stage testing for the first integrated mission of SLS and NASA’s Orion spacecraft, Exploration Mission-1. The next scheduled RS-25 developmental test at SSC is set for Aug. 18.


Airbus
Two new orders for Airbus A320 jets came in during the week, and some of that work will be done at the new Airbus plant at the Mobile Aeroplex.

JetBlue amended its purchase agreement with Airbus to include an additional 15 Airbus A321ceo passenger jets and 15 A321neo jetliners. The "neo" designation indicates it's a jet with the new, more fuel-efficient engine option.

JetBlue already operates A321s and has not yet announced its engine selection for the newly ordered aircraft, but engine work on the Mobile-built planes is done in Foley, across the river in Baldwin County. (Post)

In another announcement late in the week, Allegiant Travel Co., of Las Vegas, Nev., signed a purchase agreement for 12 Airbus A320 jets with the current engine option. The deal marks the first time the low-cost airline has purchased new aircraft from any manufacturer. Each will be powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International. (Post)

-- Earlier in the week, Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said during the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s annual summer conference that the second largest growing industry sector in Alabama now is aerospace. He said the arrival of Airbus in Mobile will bring "great results for this region for months and years to come." The conference was in Orange Beach. (Post)


Blue Angels
The F/A 18 jets used by the Navy's Pensacola-based Blue Angels flight demonstration team will be upgraded and converted into Super Hornets.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., on Monday was awarded $12 million contract to make modifications to the F/A 18 Hornet jets that will make them the more advanced Super Hornets.

Nearly 83 percent of the work will be done in St. Louis, and the rest in El Segundo, Calif., and is expected to be completed September 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)


Unmanned
The Navy, beginning Friday, planned to conduct two technology demonstrations of swarming unmanned vehicles over the next nine weeks. In the first demonstration a "flock" of 30 unmanned aerial vehicles will fly over the Gulf of Mexico.

The LOCUST (Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology), first demonstrated in 2014, use a tube launcher that can propel the 30 UAVs within two minutes. An information-sharing data link between the UAVs enables autonomous collaboration.

The unmanned systems were to form up and four break off and perform an unspecified task. The next demonstration in September will feature swarming unmanned surface vehicles. (Post)


F-35
Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded n $11.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercises an option for the supplies and services to implement engineering changes to the Rolls Royce lift fan systems and engine ice protection system in support of the F-35 for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and international partners.

Work will be done at Indianapolis, Ind. (97 percent); and Oklahoma City, Okla. (3 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2017. This modification combines purchases for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and international partners. 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/bases
The airport in New Orleans leads the Gulf Coast with the lowest average airfares of 10 commercial airports in the region. First quarter data from the Federal Aviation Administration's Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows Louis Armstrong International had an average fare of $324.90, the only airport in the region with a fare below the national average of $361.20.

The airports with average fare between $400 and $500 were Pensacola International Airport, $454.77, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, $463.41, Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, $472.22, Hattiesburg/Laurel Regional Airport, $479.25, and Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, $489.30.

Three other airports had averages between $500 and $600. They were Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, $512.26, Mobile Regional Airport, $554.86, and Tallahassee International Airport, $574.79. Dothan Regional Airport had an average fare of $721.69. (Post)

-- Harris Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., was awarded an $8.5 million contract modification for the Eglin Beam Steer Segment technology refresh, System Program Agency development and risk reduction efforts.

Contractor work includes establishing the BEAMSTR lab environment; conducting trade studies and analysis; prototyping solutions and reduce risk of implementation of the BEAMSTR replacement project.

Work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base and is expected to be complete by Oct. 31, 2017. (Post)

-- Retired Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole, the co-pilot who sat next to Jimmy Doolittle during the famous bombing run over Japan five months after Pearl Harbor, was scheduled to be on hand Saturday to dedicate the newly remodeled Doolittle Raiders exhibit at the Air Force Armament Museum.

The museum is just outside the gate at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. During World War II the Doolittle Raiders trained at the base. Eighty airmen took off from the USS Hornet April 18, 1942 and dropped bombs on the Japanese homeland, an attack that helped lift U.S. morale. (Post)


Contracts
L-3 Communications Corp. System Field Support, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $216.4 million contract modification for 12 months of continued contractor aircraft logistics support. Work will be done in Madison with an estimated completion date of July 31, 2017. … Vanquish Worldwide LLC, Maryville, Tenn., was awarded a $7.3 million contract modification for supply, maintenance and transportation for logistics support services, Fort Rucker, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Aug. 31, 2017.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Week in review (7/10 to 7/16)

One firm announcement out of Farnborough during the airshow that has an impact on the Gulf Coast region was word that Aerojet Rocketdyne would assemble and test its AR1 liquid rocket engine at Mississippi's Stennis Space Center.

That decision will expand the company's operation at SSC from 130 to about 200 employees. Aerojet Rocketdyne's operation at SSC is called the Center of Excellence for Large Liquid Rocket Engine Assembly and Test.

AR1 is being developed to support the country’s mandate to eliminate U.S. reliance on the Russian RD-180 engine for national security space launches by 2019. Three other companies are also developing replacement engines.

Aerojet Rocketdyne's facility at SSC is already home for assembly and testing of the RS-68 engine that powers the Delta IV family of launch vehicles, and the RS-25 engine that will power NASA's Space Launch System. As a part of the buildup for RS-25 assembly and testing, Aerojet Rocketdyne is locating its RS-25 low pressure turbopump assembly to the company's facility at SSC. (Post)

Speaking of the RS-25, a minor issue with the test stand triggered an early shutdown in the latest test of an RS-25 engine at SSC. The test of developmental engine No. 0528 was Thursday on the A-1 test stand.

The test was supposed to be 650 seconds, but the engine shut down 193 seconds into the test. No issues were reported with the engine, and the next test is planned for August. The test was conducted by a team of NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Syncom Space Services engineers and operators. (Post)

In another test at SSC Friday, Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully completed its latest three-minute acceptance test on a liquid-fueled RS-68A booster engine. This is Aerojet Rocketdyne's 119th hot-fire test on the production model of the RS-68 engine family. The RS-68A is the world's most powerful liquid-hydrogen/liquid-oxygen booster engine and provides 702,000 pounds of lift-off thrust, some 17 million horsepower. (Post)

In another SSC-related item during the week, several media outlets reported that the Federal Aviation Administration expanded the restricted air space over SSC. The expansion supports ongoing rocket engine testing at the facility and allows Stennis Space Center’s tenants to test unmanned aerial vehicles for research and development purposes.

The restricted air space was first defined over SSC in the 1960s to test Saturn V rockets. The expansion, which went into effect on May 26, covers five areas of about 100 square miles between Stennis International Airport and the Picayune, Miss., airport. (Post)


Airbus
The first Airbus jetliner built in the United States, JetBlue's A321 BluesMobile, will participate in this month's EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016. The 64th annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in convention in Wisconsin is July 25-31 at the regional airport. The A321, built at the new Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Ala., was delivered to JetBlue in April. Five Mobile-built Airbus jetliners have been delivered to customers so far. (Post)


Bases
The Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron announced the selection of a prior Blue Angels pilot to serve as the new Blue Angel No. 6 opposing solo pilot. Navy Cmdr. Frank Weisser will return to the team for the remainder of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Weisser previously served on the Blue Angels from 2008-2010. Weisser replaces Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, who died in a crash during a practice session in Tennessee June 2. (Post)

The Naval Aerospace Medicine Institute on July 11 launched a new Flight Medic course at Navy Medicine Operational Training Center for seven search and rescue hospital corpsmen. In the past this was done at the sailor's command. No formal course existed for standardized training until the Navy joined with the Air Force and Army in 2004 to provide a more structured education. The three services went their separate ways April 1, and the Navy moved its course from Fort Rucker, Ala., to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. (Post)

The Air Force awarded Raytheon a potential $34.8 million contract to demonstrate an updated electronic warfare technology for the Miniature Air Launched Decoy-Jammer. MALD-X is a collaborative effort of the Air Force, Navy, Special Capabilities Office at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Florida's Eglin Air Force Base's MALD Program Office. Raytheon designed MALD to duplicate friendly aircraft flight profiles and radar signatures to confuse adversaries. (Post)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Week in review (7/3 to 7/9)

Leaders from the Gulf Coast region will be participating in the Farnborough International Airshow near London this week. The every-other-year show brings out the big names in the aerospace industry. Leaders from this region are there to talk up the benefits of having an aerospace operation right here.

The trade show portion is July 11-15, when we often hear about major contracts. The public show is July 16-17.

The F-35B short-takeoff and landing variant of the fifth-generation fighter is scheduled to participate in the show. Six F-35 jets, including one owned by Britain, were on display already at the Royal International Air Tatoo that precedes the Farnborough event.

Farnborough and the other every-other-year air show in Paris are opportunities to meet a wide variety of company officials – thus the participation of economic development officials from the region. But don’t expect any announcements related to our region. These events are typically ways to build relationships that can bring rewards down the road.


F-35
Speaking of the F-35, there were several contracts awarded for the fifth-generation fighter during the week. We follow it because Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center.

In one big contract, Pratt and Whitney Military Engines of East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $1.5 billion modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract. This modification provides components, parts, and materials for the production of Low Rate Initial Production Lot 10 F135-PW-100 propulsion systems for the Air Force (44); Navy (4); and (9) F-135-PW-600 propulsion systems for the Marine Corps.

In addition, this modification provides components, parts and materials for (36) F135 –PW-100 propulsion systems for the international partners and Foreign Military Sales customers; (4) F135-PW-600 propulsion systems for the international partners; and (2) F135-PW-100 propulsion systems for the global spares pool.

Most of the work, 89 percent, will be done in East Hartford. The rest will be done in Indianapolis, Ind., and Bristol, United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed in Sept. 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)

In another contract, Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $559.5 million contract for non-air vehicle spares, support equipment, autonomic logistics information system hardware and software upgrades, supply chain management, full mission simulators and non-recurring engineering services in support of low rate initial production lot 10 F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, Non Department of Defense (DoD) Participants, and Foreign Military Sales customers.

Most of the work, 79 percent, will be done in Orlando, Fla. The rest of the work will be done in Redondo Beach, Calif., Fort Worth, Texas, and Samlesbury, United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed July 2022. As with the F135 engine contract, the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, also is the contracting activity. (Post)

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics also was awarded a $93.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract for procurement of diminishing manufacturing sources electronic components. The modification will support aircraft production through Lot 14 for U.S. facilities, and Lot 15 for international facilities for the F-35.

Nearly all the work, 98 percent, will be done in Richardson, Texas, but two percent will be done in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in June 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River is the contracting authority for this. (Post)


Bases
The Air Force announced eight installations as candidate locations where it will potentially consolidate its Battlefield Airman training – that is, the training of airmen who are part of the nation’s special ops forces.

The installations are Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and Patrick AFB, all in Florida; Keesler AFB, Miss.; Joint Base San Antonio, Texas; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; Shaw AFB, S.C.; and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

Last year, the Air Force reviewed its Battlefield Airman training, and the review determined grouping training at consolidated locations may lead to improvements and synergies in the current training processes. A decision will be made in early 2017. (Post)


Unmanned
The Air Force recently selected the first 10 enlisted Airmen to attend RQ-4 Global Hawk pilot training, marking the first time since World War II enlisted Airmen will be behind the stick. The first combined enlisted and officer training course will begin October 2016, with the first enlisted Airmen expected to graduate in 2017.

 The Global Hawk is the most stable remotely piloted aircraft community and presents an opportunity now to integrate enlisted airmen in RPAs to posture the force for future operating environments. Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.; pilot training is a major military activity in the region. (Post)


Contracts
Sierra Nevada Corp., Mary Esther, Fla., was awarded a $23.2 million contract for forward operating location contractor logistic support. Contractor will perform 30-45 day excursions at forward operating locations in Afghanistan. Work will be performed at forward operating locations, Afghanistan, and is expected to be complete by May 30, 2017. … Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $28.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for hardware kits in support of the Phalanx Close-In-Weapon-System program. Work will be performed in Forest, Miss. (50 percent); Dallas, Texas (28 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (13 percent), and Andover, Mass. (9 percent), and is expected to be completed by February 2018.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Week in review (5/22 to 5/28)

While you're enjoying your long holiday weekend, please don't forget the reason. Monday is Memorial Day, a day to honor those who have given their all in service to the nation. Take time to give thanks for their sacrifices. They deserve nothing less than our respect and appreciation.

On a far less solemn note, as this month draws to a close, now is a good time as any to remind you that the June edition of the bimonthly Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor Newsletter is coming up. The eight-page newsletter, designed to keep you posted on significant aerospace and aviation activities in this region, will be published June 7.

Meanwhile, work continues on our July 5 issue of the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League Business Quarterly magazine. It's a special tourism issue that will take you on some fascinating road trips in the Gulf Coast region. We'll take you on a history tour, a science tour and much much more. We feel pretty confident this issue will be a keeper.

Both the newsletter and the magazine are free for readers, thanks to our newsletter underwriters and our magazine advertisers. Both are available electronically and can be delivered directly to your inbox. To sign up for either, send me an email and tell me which one you want, one or both, and I’ll add you to the distribution list.

Now here's the week in review:

Airbus
The first A321 jetliner built in the United States is now earning money for JetBlue. The first revenue flight was No. 611 from JFK airport in New York to Las Vegas on May 14. Since then, it has been to Orlando, Tampa, Barbados, Fort Lauderdale, Puerto Rico and San Diego. The plane, nicknamed “BluesMobile,” was delivered to JetBlue April 25 in a ceremony at the Airbus campus at the Mobile Aeroplex. (Post)


Bases
A nine-year-old got behind the controls of an Air Force F-35 simulator earlier this month as part of a 26-year-old program to reach out to the community and for children to experience a day in the life of an Air Force pilot. Christian Loafman was diagnosed with progressive infantile scoliosis and autism, and he’s had multiple surgeries.

Two weeks ago he was chosen as the 33rd Fighter Wing’s first F-35A Pilot for a Day at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. His day was May 18, and the affair included getting a flight suit with his name and 58th Squadron patch. He also saw a static display of an F-35 with his name on it before getting at the controls of a simulator. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $20 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the low-rate initial production Lot 8 non-recurring special tooling/special test equipment. This equipment will be utilized in the manufacture of general material bulkheads in support of the F-35 aircraft. Work will be performed in Ohio, Texas, Montana, Canada and California, and is expected to be completed in December 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $302.2 million contract for logistics services in support of the C-12 utility lift aircraft, including post-production, full commercial-type aircraft maintenance, logistics support, and materials for Marine Corps Reserve C-12 (UC-12B/F/M/W) and Navy TC-12B trainer aircraft. New Orleans is one of the work sites. Others are in Texas, Maryland, Bahrain, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Japan, South Carolina, Arizona, North Carolina, Virginia and California and is expected to be completed in July 2021. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, is the contracting activity.