Saturday, December 13, 2008

Week in review (12/07 to 12/13)

Five contracts with a connection to the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor were awarded during this past week. One was aircraft-related, three for weapon systems and one was for a construction project in New Orleans. The total value of the awards was $159.7 million.

The Air Force modified a contract with Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. of San Diego, Calif. – not to exceed $18.2 million – that will provide additional long lead associated with five Global Hawks, two ground segments, two EISS and two ASIP sensor payloads. Global Hawk fuselage work is done in part in Moss Point, Miss., at the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center.

In a weapons-related award, Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz., won a $15.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for technical support of AIM-9X missiles for the Navy and Air Force. Five percent of that work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., where the Air Force tests and develops airborne weapons systems. Eglin was also the contracting activity for two other weapons-related contracts. One was awarded to Raytheon, a $7.9 million modification of an Air Force contract for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile Air Intercept Missile. The other was a contract to McDonnell Douglas Corp., of St. Louis, Mo., for $110 million that exercises an option for Small Diameter Bombs, carriages, and technical and logistical support.

The other contract awarded this past week was for $8 million to Broadmoor, LLC, of Metairie, La., for design and construction of Calibration Laboratory at Naval Air Station JRB New Orleans.

Speaking of construction, ground was broken in Gulfport, Miss., at the Naval Construction Battalion Center for a new Naval Meteorology Professional Development Center. The $8.7 million center is designed to meet the current and future mission to advance, implement, and manage the education and advanced professional training of meteorology and oceanography officers, aerographer's mates and civilians.

Another construction project of note: Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., is doing repair work on its airfield ramp that will improve the field’s capability to handle larger aircraft. The 270-day project got started earlier this month. The current airfield operations support the C-21 missions of the 45th Airlift Squadron, C-130s from the Air Force Reserve's 403rd Wing, support for Coast Guard's aircraft training and more.

Goodrich Corp. was selected by Airbus to supply wheels and carbon brakes for all variants of the A350 XWB aircraft. The company could see as much as $3 billion in revenue over the life of the program. Although Goodrich’s Alabama Service Center in Foley, Ala., won’t be doing any of the work – the equipment will be provided by a Goodrich team in Ohio – in this economy anything that helps the parent company has got to be seen as positive news.

A California company with a manufacturing operation in Ocean Springs, Miss., has been named the 2008 North American Homeland Security Inspection and Screening Company of the Year by Frost & Sullivan. Rapiscan Systems was cited for its ability to develop and deploy products that enhance security at airports, seaports and border crossings worldwide. Rapiscan Systems has a 10,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Ocean Springs.

At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., a new chief of the Air Armament Center has been announced. Maj. Gen. David Eidsaune is leaving Eglin to become director of operations at headquarters Air Force Materiel Command at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Replacing him is Maj. Gen. Charles R. Davis, executive officer for the F-35 program office in Arlington, Va. Hard to picture a better selection, considering Eglin is in line to become a joint training base for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – if all the noise issues can be resolved.

A bit of news on the Air Force tanker project: U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates urging quick action to replace the Air Force’s fleet of refueling tankers. The letter was sent after U.S. Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania said it could take at least two more years to restart the tanker competition. Both Alabama senators are hoping the Northrop/EADS team will win so the tankers can be assembled in Mobile, Ala.

Finally, the Army plans to bring a digital data link to its fleet of Raven UAVs so more aircraft can fly in a given combat area. The Army project manager says the service is buying 50 new Ravens and retrofitting 200 others. An executive with AeroVironment, a California company that makes the digital data link, says that with digitally compressed video more can be put into smaller bandwidth. AeroVironment has a UAV training and support operation in Navarre, Fla.

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