Saturday, September 26, 2009

Week in review (9/20 to 9/26)

The biggest aerospace story during the past week for the Gulf Coast aerospace region was the release of the guidelines for the competition to build aerial tankers for the Air Force. The contract is worth some $35 billion to build 179 planes in the first of three acquisition stages. Boeing and the Northrop Grumman/EADS are the competitors to build the tankers.

Lawmakers were briefed on the draft request Thursday. It cut from 800 to under 400 the number of requirements, and opts for a best-value tanker instead of best price. It will also be a fixed-price contest.

The Air Force also decided not to put in anything about the ongoing trade dispute between Boeing and EADS over government subsidies. The World Trade Organization made a ruling that favors Boeing on one phase of the rift. But another part of the dispute might well go in EADS’ favor. The Air Force did not want to include anything about a trade dispute that will take years to resolve.

Boeing plans to offer a tanker based on the 767 or 777, or perhaps both. The Northrop Grumman/EADS team will be offering a tanker based on the Airbus A330. Boeing wants to build the tankers in Washington and Kansas, and Northrop/EADS want to assemble them in Mobile, Ala.

This is the third attempt to replace the aging KC-135 tankers. The first attempt was a lease arrangement that was scuttled because of some shaddy antics by a top Boeing and Air Force official. The second contract was awarded to the Northrop Grumman/EADS team in February 2008, but a Boeing protest was upheld on grounds the selection process was flawed.

NASA is targeting Oct. 27 for the flight test of the Ares I-X rocket. There is another launch opportunity on Oct. 28. The date will be finalized at a Flight Test Readiness Review scheduled for Oct. 23 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The launch will provide NASA with an opportunity to test and prove hardware, facilities and ground operations, while gathering critical data for the Ares I rocket and future launch vehicles. Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans and Stennis Space Center, Miss., are both involved in the NASA’s space program.

- A next-generation satellite designed and built by Lockheed Martin is performing as required following its successful launch from Cape Canaveral earlier this month. The program, designated PAN, consists of a turnkey commercial-based satellite, ground and launch system developed to meet the U.S. government's future needs. The satellite is based on Lockheed Martin's A2100 spacecraft series. Some of the work on the satellite was done at Lockheed Martin Space and Technology Center, Stennis Space Center, Miss.

New Orleans officials intend to find out whether investors are interested in making Louis Armstrong International Airport the nation's first privately operated airport. The Federal Aviation Administration this month accepted the local airport’s application to participate in a pilot privatization program that the FAA authorized for U.S. airports in 1997.

- In Biloxi, Miss., Keesler Air Force Base’s 81st Medical Group has received full accreditation as a joint training platform. The program was evaluated by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in April and can proceed with training four general surgeons each year for five years of general surgery residency. The surgical residency was restructured in 2008 to include integration with the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., 96th Medical Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and the Biloxi Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

At least eight contracts with Gulf Coast connections were awarded during the week. Sikorsky Support Services Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a $133.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for maintenance and logistics services in support of 374 T-34, T-44, and T-6 aircraft. Some of the work will be done at NAS Whiting Field and NAS Pensacola. … L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded two contracts. One was a $112.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for logistics services and materials for organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance required to support 49 T-45A and 151 T-45C aircraft based at Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss., NAS Kingsville, Texas, and NAS Pensacola, Fla. The other was a $44.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for logistics support for 126 TH-57B/TH-57C aircraft. The work, 99 percent, will be performed at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla. … Rolls-Royce Defense Services Inc., Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded a $90.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for intermediate and depot level maintenance and related support for in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, NAS Meridian, Miss., NAS Pensacola, Fla., and NAS Patuxent River, Md. … Jacobs Technology Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded $18.1 million under a previously awarded contract to provide support of the transition from the NMCI environment to the next generation USMC IT environment. … BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $5.9 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise option year three for ammunition handling and management services for Navy Munitions Command, East Asia Division Detachment Pearl Harbor. … InDyne Incorp., of Reston, Va., was awarded a $14 million contract which will provide Eglin Test and Training Complex range in Florida operations and maintenance of test and training areas and technical facilities to include test and training mission support, engineering support for range system design/modification/range configuration and range support services to accomplish authorized range activities. … Del-Jen Inc., Gardena, Calif., was awarded $23.1 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise the second option period for base operations support services at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., Saufley Field, Corry Station, and Bronson Field.

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