Saturday, October 30, 2010

Week in review (10/24 to 10/30)

In an age of global competition with so many players seeking to attract and maintain jobs, an interesting question was raised by the Wichita Eagle last weekend: "What is the worth of a well-trained work force?"

The headline posing the question was atop a story about the opening last week of Wichita's brand new $52 million, 230,000 square-foot National Center for Aviation Training, designed to help the city maintain its position in the aerospace industry. (Story)

Wichita has been an aerospace power for a long time. It was the top-ranked metro area for aerospace and defense manufacturing in Business Facilities magazine’s 2010 Rankings Report, ahead of Huntsville, Ala., Seattle, Wash., Charleston, S.C., and Fort Worth, Texas. (Story)

But there are some concerns about the future. Jobs have been lost over time due to a variety of factors, including outsourcing and automation. The latest concern is Hawker Beechcraft, which reportedly is looking at Louisiana for a new home.

The question: Can other states easily create a cheaper work force from scratch?

Well, "easily," perhaps not. But yes, it can be done. The paper points out that North Carolina did it for a Spirit AeroSystems plant that opened this year. And while the newspaper didn't point out this example, we have one right here on the Gulf Coast. South Mississippi creating an aerospace work force from scratch for the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss. (Story)

As the Wichita newspaper reported, expertise is worth a lot, but can be replaced if another location is willing to spend the money to train workers. It takes years to get the depth of expertise found in a place like Wichita – or Washington State, California or Huntsville for that matter – but given enough time, that eventually happens.

If anything, the fact that others can grow expertise underscores the point that the key is to find those combination of elements that set you apart from the crowd. And that's no small feat in an age when everyone seems focused on finding competitive advantage.

During the week, more than a dozen NASA and university scientists visited schools in the New Orleans area to encourage students to learn more about our Earth system and the importance of the view from space.

The scientists were in New Orleans for the "A-Train Symposium," named after a fleet of NASA satellites orbiting the planet to collect data on a variety of aspects of the Earth system, including the atmosphere, land surface and oceans. The conference began Monday and ended Thursday.

Efforts to interest students in careers in math and science are encouraging. The recently released "Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited," a follow-up to a report first issued in 2005, warns of the nation's slip in science and technology. And if you want one "factoid" that should make you shake your head, how about this: The U.S. graduates more visual arts and performing arts majors than engineers.

Ground was broken in Gulf Breeze, Fla., for a $10 million headquarters building for Avalex Technologies, which specializes in aerial surveillance equipment for the military and law enforcement. The company currently uses two buildings in downtown Pensacola, just across the bay from Gulf Breeze. It has 55 technicians and researchers and needed room to grow. The 9.2-acre site in Gulf Breeze was once was occupied by a new car dealership.

It’s clear Pensacola doesn’t see it as a loss. Gulf Breeze has long been a bedroom community for the Pensacola area, and workers go back and forth in a relatively short commute. The groundbreaking didn't have just Gulf Breeze officials, but Pensacola officials as well who see the new facility as a potential magnet for other high-tech businesses.

Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., conducted its second aircraft performance evaluation using a biomass-derived fuel, this time with an F-15 Eagle. The jet flew at a variety of flight conditions, achieved supersonic speeds, and landed with no issues.

The biofuel blend used for the Eagle flight was comprised of fifty percent Hydro-Processed Renewable Jet blend mixed with 50 percent JP-8. The HRJ was derived from extracted animal fats and oils, and then refined into a kerosene using conventional processes.

In March of this year, an A-10 flew on a 50/50 JP-8/HRJ blend derived from oil extracted from camelina seeds, a weed-like non-food source plant.

- The two millionth visitor to the Air Force Armament Museum, the only museum in the world dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of Air Force armament, passed through the doors Oct. 21. The 28,000 square-foot museum opened to the public in the spring of 1976. The museum gets about 400 visitors per day, and during fiscal year 2010, some 123,000 people walked through the front doors.

- A full body scanner was shown at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport during the week. The airport brought in the Transportation Safety Administration's regional director to vouch for the new system and the privacy protections that are in place. Ray White showed reporters how the images are captured and the measures TSA takes to ensure no one can ever see what a specific traveler looks like.

The UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter built by EADS North America in Mississippi has surpassed the 40,000-flight hour milestone in operational service with the Army and Army National Guard. Built at the company’s American Eurocopter facility in Columbus, a total of 138 Lakotas have been delivered to date for fielding to Army, Army National Guard and Navy. The production plant is adjacent to the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. EADS North America also has operations in Mobile, Ala.

Cubic Defense Applications of San Diego has received more than $16 million in new orders this year for air combat training systems and spares. The new bookings provide P5CTS/TCTS training equipment for Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Eielson AFB, Alaska, Nellis AFB, Nev., Naval Air Station China Lake, Calif., NAS Fallon, Nev., and NAS Oceana, Va. … L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, Madison, Miss., was awarded an $8.6 million contract which will acquire aircraft maintenance support services for wing and site training devices, ground instructional training aircraft, historical/static display aircraft, and maintenance of the 80th Flying Training Wing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Week in review (10/17 to 10/23)

A mini remotely piloted aircraft with attack capabilities makes its debut next month during evaluation flights at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The evaluation is being conducted by the Air Force Air Armament Center and U.S. Special Operations Command.

Specifications call for the aircraft of 3 to 5.5 pounds and fly up to 30 minutes. Besides a warhead, the payload will include a video camera and transmitter to relay images to ground forces.

Troops will fly the bomber using a laptop-size console. How much of a punch the RPA will pack is still under wraps. In December the Air Force will select up to three firms to compete for the contract.

- The Navy successfully conducted the first flight test of the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis Block I system at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., Oct. 13 on an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.

The system allows the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout to conduct reconnaissance in littoral areas, detecting minefields and obstacles to prepare for amphibious assaults. The COBRA Block I system will now enter low-rate initial production with the first production unit scheduled for delivery in fiscal year 2012.

Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss., at the Unmanned Systems Center.

- Stars and Stripes reported during the week that unmanned helicopters will deliver cargo to remote outposts in Afghanistan next year as part of a Navy trial to reduce exposure to roadside bombs during supply missions.

The Navy plans to select a contractor later this year to conduct the trial in 2011, according to the chief of the Navy's Cargo UAS Integrated Product Team. Boeing, with its A160T Hummingbird helicopter, and Kaman/Lockheed Martin, with its K-MAX helicopter, are vying for the contract. (Story)

Aerial tanker
Months after leaving the competition to build tankers for the Air Force, Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush has no regrets. Bush made the comment during a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The company backed out of a partnership with EADS North America because it felt the contest favored the smaller Boeing offering.

Rebecca Grant, an industry consultant, said the tanker program is being miscast as a choice between buying a U.S.-made Boeing 767 versus a foreign-made Airbus 330. She said that ignores a fact of life in the aerospace industry: There are no purely American-made airliners.

Grant, who said either company will create about the same number of jobs in the United States, also said it's possible the number of tankers built will be well below original projections.

EADS wants to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala.

- Australia’s third mission-equipped A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport completed a four-hour maiden flight and performed a series of preplanned tests. It reached an altitude of 41,000 feet.

Airbus Military will begin deliveries of A330 MRTTs this year to its first operator, the Royal Australian Air Force. A total of 28 A330 MRTT are being produced for Australia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

EADS North America is offering an A330 MRTT-based tanker to the U.S. Air Force as the KC-45 in the competition with Boeing.

The Department of Defense is ready to add cyberspace to sea, land, air and space as the latest domain for warfighters. The U.S. Cyber Command was established in May and this month came the cybersecurity agreement between DoD and Homeland Security.

"Information technology provides us with critical advantages in all of our warfighting domains, so we need to protect cyberspace to enable those advantages," said Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III. Adversaries may be able to undermine the military's advantages in conventional areas by attacking the nation's military and commercial information technology infrastructure, he said.

This threat has "opened up a whole new asymmetry in future warfare," Lynn said.

The Air Force trains cyberspace personnel at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Other cyberspace training is done at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and at the Navy’s Corry Station in Pensacola, Fla.

That 860-mile walk that began at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, earlier this month ended during the week at Hurlburt Field, Fla. It was the second year for the walk, which honors special tactics airmen that have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Six teams of two to three walkers started from San Antonio carrying 50-pound packs and batons engraved with the names of the fallen airmen. The walk took them through five states. Last year's walk honored 12 special tactics airmen, but this year it's 14. The most recent deaths were in September.

- The Naval Helicopter Association's Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In was held during the week at Naval Air Station Whiting Field near Milton, Fla. The event gave members of the naval helicopter community a chance to network with one another and with industry officials. Students at Whiting got a chance to see some of the aircraft they'll be flying.

Whiting Field's Training Wing 5 trains about 1,300 pilots a year.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne won the 2010 Large Business Prime Contractor of the Year Award from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The award recognizes excellence in support of the work of the Marshall Center and in sustaining NASA's mission.

The company was recognized for exemplary support of the center's subcontracting programs under the J-2X upper-stage engine and Space Shuttle Main Engine contracts.

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne also has an operation at John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Joint Strike Fighter
The Pratt & Whitney F135 short takeoff/vertical landing variant propulsion system for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter successfully completed one of the most demanding tests in the qualification program.

The high temperature margin test which took place at Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee and involves intentionally running the engine to turbine temperatures beyond design conditions while simultaneously operating the turbomachinery at or above 100 percent of design conditions.

Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will be home of the F-35 training center.

Job satisfaction
Want a satisfying career? Try the military, notably the Air Force.

The Air Force ranks fifth in job satisfaction, according to a new report by CareerBliss, a company and salary review online site. In fact, military careers rank higher than a lot of private sector companies. The Army National Guard is ranked seventh, the Marines eighth, the Navy ninth and the Army eleventh.

Google is No. 1 in employee satisfaction. Also ranking high on the list is 3M, ABN AMRO and DTE Energy. But military careers beat such well-known names as General Electric, Disney, Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft in overall happiness. (Story)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

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

It was in 2005 that a warning was issued that if we don't do something to improve our investments in science and technology, the United States would continue to slip against global competitors. Five years later, the National Academies revisited the issue and found we're still slipping.

The study, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm Revisited," lists several pages of disturbing “factoids” about the United States in the world stage. One really struck me: The U.S. graduates more visual arts and performing arts majors than engineers.

Should that really be a surprise? We’re fed a steady stream of information on the lavish lifestyles of those in the entertainment industry. It's the age of celebrity, where "reality" shows can rocket even the most untalented into fame and fortune. I'd guess my grandchildren and yours know who Snooki is, but not Nobel Prize winner Robert Edwards.

But there are some encouraging efforts in the Gulf Coast region to highlight science, technology, engineering and math as exciting fields to enter. These efforts recognize the value of making it as entertaining and engaging as possible.

In Mississippi, the Infinity Science Center, an interactive facility begin built near Stennis Space Center along Interstate 10, is beginning to take shape. Work began May 3 near the Welcome Center in South Mississippi not far from the state line with Louisiana.

About 90 percent of the steelwork is up and 80 percent of the concrete is done. A "topping off" will be celebrated in the next few weeks. The building is scheduled to be finished in August.

Backers are still raising some $2 million for the $12 million interactive exhibits. Infinity will highlight ocean, space and earth science through fun exhibits at the center. It's expected to open in the spring of 2012.

Infinity will add another piece to what's already available in this region to try to get young people interested in science and technology. We already have two museums that focus on aerospace: Pensacola's National Naval Aviation Museum and Eglin's Air Armament Museum. And in Mobile, there's the Gulf Coast Exploreum.

Pensacola is also creating a national flight academy. During the summer St. Joe, a Florida real estate development company, provided a $1.25 million donation. The academy, which will provide week-long sessions to students in 7th through 12th grades, is set to open in 2012. Its purpose is to motivate students to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math in what's called a "learning adventure."

What makes sense is for the various museums, learning centers and academies to work together at some point in the future to provide a package of learning experience for the nation's youth. It will be our part in helping to turn around the slide.

Helicopter repair firm Vector Aerospace will add 100 jobs to its Andalusia, Ala., operation. Mayor Earl Johnson said local governments will spend around $3 million to build a 42,000-square-foot building for Vector at the South Alabama Regional Airport.

Vector, of Canada, opened in Andalusia in 2008. The location is not far from two major bases that are heavy users of helicopters: Fort Rucker near Dothan, Ala., and Naval Air Station Whiting Field, near Milton, Fla.

But in another Vector development, the company plans to shed 30 jobs at its Almondbank facility in Scotland in a restructuring.

Unmanned Systems
Navy researchers want Sierra Nevada Corp. in Sparks, Nev., to develop an aircraft collision-avoidance system to enable unmanned aerial vehicles to operate in civil airspace without the risk of crashing into other aircraft. Military and Aerospace Electronics reports that the Office of Naval Research awarded the company a $6.2 million contract for the work.

The idea is to have the UAVs be able to sense and avoid other manned or unmanned aircraft while operating in the national air space, whether or not the other aircraft has its own collision-avoidance system. Sierra Nevada's initial work will focus on the MQ-8B Fire Scout, built in part in Moss Point, Miss., and Army Tier 2 RQ-7A/B Shadow 200.

Air Force researchers are pursuing a similar initiative called the Multi-Vehicle Unmanned Aircraft Systems Sense and Avoid program. The Air Force Research Laboratory awarded a contract in September to Barron Associates Inc. in Charlottesville, Va., and AeroMech Engineering Inc. in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Mississippi's Harrison County Development Commission has released its second annual report on the military in South Mississippi, and much of it aviation related.

The report highlights military activities at Harrison County's Keesler Air Force Base, Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, the National Guard at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and the Coast Guard.

The publication also has stories about the Navy's activities at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Miss., and Hattiesburg's Camp Shelby.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was involved in compiling the study. If you're interested in a copy of the report, visit the Harrison County Development Commission Web site and you can download a PDF of the 20-page report.

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $20.1 million contract which will provide for the next generation guidance section to design and build a new guidance section test position. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. AAC/EBAC, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Week in review (10/3 to 10/9)

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program continues to make headlines. In Northwest Florida, where the Air Force is establishing a training center at Eglin Air Force Base, the noise issue hasn't gone away. On the broader front, cost issue continue to come up.

Aviation Week reported during the week that the Defense Department's decision to decertify Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth fighter assembly facility for poor auditing caught company officials off guard. The plant is where F-35s are built.

The company said a corrective action plan was accepted by the Defense Contract Management Agency in late June, and it's in place. But that didn't stop the Pentagon from forcing the issue through the decertification. At issue is Lockheed's adherence to Earned Value Management System standards, used by contractors to provide data to the Defense Department to audit the progress of programs. (Aviation Week story)

If you're not familiar with the Earned Value Management System, you're not alone. As National Defense magazine points out, EVMS is something familiar only to government procurement folks. But it's being blamed for the cost overruns with the F-35 program. The magazine details some of the issues, and steps being taken to address the problems. (National Defense story)

But there was some positive news as well for the F-35 during the week. Flight tests were resumed after fixes were made to a software flaw with the jet's fuel pumps. Test aircraft of the three variants were grounded Oct. 1 after lab tests revealed a fault in software that controls three fuel-boost pumps, raising concern they could shut down during flight and stall the engine. But as officials said, the testing is designed to find these problems before an aircraft becomes operational.

And contracts are still coming in for the stealthy aircraft. Lockheed Martin was awarded a $13 million modification to a previously awarded contract to incorporate the shipborne rolling vertical landing capability into the F-35 for the United Kingdom. Work will be done in Texas, the United Kingdom, California and Florida.

And Israel during the week became the first buyer outside the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s nine-nation development group when it signed a $2.75 billion deal to buy 20 F-35s. Deliveries are slated for between 2015 and 2017.

The U.S. plans to buy 2,473 of the F-35s, and eight international partners may buy 700 more. Fifty-nine of the aircraft will be going to Florida's Eglin Air Force Base, where a JSF training center is being established. Precisely what runways will be used is still up in the air, so to speak.

The city of Valparaiso, adjacent to Eglin Air Force Base, has taken on the Air Force over the noise issue. It has again retained the services of a Tallahassee law firm as it seeks clarification of Eglin’s draft of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released last month. The law firm represented Valparaiso in both of its lawsuits against the Air Force that were settled earlier this year.

The Air Force has already said it will limit flights from the Eglin runway that would cause the most noise problems for Valparaiso. The supplemental environmental impact statement analyzed 19 alternatives for F-35 flight operations, and narrowed to seven the options that will be presented at scoping meetings. Runways at Duke Field and Choctaw Field are being considered as auxiliary fields for the school. (Northwest Florida Daily News story)

Unmanned systems
Japan is considering buying three Northrop Grumman Global Hawks to help monitor China and North Korea, according to Kyodo News, citing sources in the Defense Ministry and Self-Defense Forces.

The unmanned high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft can fly at altitudes of 60,000 feet for more than 30 hours. Although the ministry has been conducting basic research on unmanned surveillance aircraft since fiscal 2003, Japan is now tilted toward first importing the Global Hawk. Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss., at the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Center.

A California company working with Ukrainian planemaker Antonov lost a protest over the U.S. Air Force's decision to reject its bid for the tanker program. The bid arrived five minutes late, but U.S. Aerospace claimed the Air Force conspired to prevent the bid from arriving in time.

A protest was filed with the Government Accountability Office in August, and in mid-September the GAO rejected part of the claim. Wednesday's decision fully denied U.S. Aerospace's claim. EADS, which hopes to assemble the tankers in Mobile, Ala., at Brookley Industrial Complex, and Boeing, which will build them in Washington, are the only competitors for the $40 billion contract.

Meanwhile, in California during the week, aerospace workers, city and state officials rallied as part of an effort by EADS North America to showcase its candidate for the Air Force tanker contract, the KC-45 tanker.

The rally counters similar efforts by Boeing, the other competitor in the tanker fight. This rally was hosted in Irvine by Parker Aerospace. Parker would be a major supplier on both the KC-45 and Boeing's proposed KC-767 program.

Members of the media were invited to Mississippi's John C. Stennis Space Center during the week for a roundtable discussion with the center's director, Patrick Scheuermann. He assured them that the future looks bright for Stennis, in part because of its diversity.

SSC is where rocket engines are tested, but it has more than 30 tenants, the largest being the U.S. Navy. The media also got a tour of the construction site of the new A-3 test stand, which will be able to test rocket engines at simulated altitudes up to 100,000 feet, and the E-1 test stand that will be used to test Aerojet AJ26 rocket engines.

SES Construction and Fuel Services LLC, Oak Ridge, Tenn., was awarded a $7 million contract for work at the 81st Medical Support Group, Arnold Annex and Main Clinic, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. The estimated completion date is Aug. 1, 2011. … L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $91 million contract which will exercise fiscal 2010 options for logistics support of the T-1A aircraft at Vance, Columbus Randolph, and Laughlin Air Force Bases and Pensacola Naval Air Station.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Week in review (9/26 to 10/2)

It was a week where the aerospace news stories for the Gulf Coast region were all over the charts: Congress approved a blueprint for NASA, Michoud laid off workers, Southwest Airlines said it plans to buy AirTran, and a lot of contracts with Gulf Coast ties were awarded.

Congress has given the thumbs up to a plan for NASA that extends the space shuttle program for a year and backs the use commercial carriers for transporting humans into near-Earth space. The bill dismantles the Bush-era Constellation Program, which sought to return astronauts to the moon, and extends the life of the International Space Station to 2020.

At Stennis Space Center, Miss., where propulsion systems are tested and certified, center director Patrick Scheuermann said he'’s confident Stennis will be fully utilized for future space exploration. In addition to testing engines for NASA, the facility for years has also been used by commercial companies to test engines.

But at Michoud Assembly Facility in east New Orleans, about 300 workers were laid off as production of the space shuttle external fuel tank ended. Lockheed Martin had about 1,500 people at MAF at the start of the year, but the number has dropped as various stages of external fuel tank production have ended. It'’s down to about 600.

- In another space-related matter, NASA chose the Naval Research Laboratory's Wide-field Imager to be part of the Solar Probe Plus mission set for launch no later than 2018. The Solar Probe Plus will plunge directly into the sun's atmosphere about four million miles from our star's surface to explore a region no other spacecraft ever encountered in a bid to unlock the sun's biggest mysteries. The Naval Research Lab has a detachment at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

Over $1 million in grants from the state of Florida will go to expand buffer zones around Naval Air Station Whiting Field near Milton, Fla., and Naval Air Station Pensacola. The Navy is also contributing $1.2 million to Santa Rosa County to buy land around Whiting, a key aviation training center. The Florida Defense Infrastructure grants are awarded annually to protect Florida's bases.

- At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant is scheduled to be the next Air Armament Center and Air Force program executive officer for weapons. Merchant will arrive from Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where he's director of logistics. Maj. Gen. C. R. Davis, the current program executive officer for weapons and Air Armament Center commander, was nominated for appointment to lieutenant general, and will be reassigned to Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.

- Also at Eglin, Dr. Mikel Miller was promoted to chief scientist and senior technologist for the Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate. In his new position, Miller will help lead the AFRL Munitions Directorate to the next generation of munitions systems. He wants to boost the number of AFRL scientists who have doctorate degrees from 17 percent to 30 to 35 percent by hiring new scientists and through internal academic growth.

- In another Eglin-related story, Boeing successfully completed the first flight tests of the MK-84 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition. The first two of seven planned tests at Eglin demonstrated the 2,000-pound weapon's capability against fixed, relocatable and moving targets. The test was in July, but only announced this past week. An existing JDAM can become a Laser JDAM with the installation of the Precision Laser Guidance Set.

Avalex Technologies, which makes aerial surveillance equipment, is moving its headquarters from Pensacola, Fla., to nearby Gulf Breeze. The 9.2-acre property is the former home of a car dealership. The new building will be some 53,000 square feet, way larger than the 17,000 square feet of two downtown Pensacola buildings Avalex now uses.

Southwest Airlines plans to buy AirTran for about $1.4 billion, a move that will give the combined airline operations in more than 100 different airports. In the Gulf Coast region, AirTran serves the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, New Orleans and Pensacola. Southwest Airlines serves New Orleans and the newly opened airport in Panama City Beach, Fla.

That announcement has accelerated a move in South Mississippi to establish an airline travel bank. Businesses and individuals are being asked to pledge support to keep AirTran flying and increase service at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Business Council and Chamber of Commerce have been working for months to establish an Airline Travel Bank.

OK, if you're going to read this part of the column, grab a cup of coffee and relax. It will take some time to get through it all. It was an active week for DoD contracts with ties to the Gulf Coast aerospace region. L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, of Madison, Miss., was awarded two contracts during the week. The largest was a $125 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for logistics services and materials for organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance to support 47 T-45A and 158 T-45C aircraft based at Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss., NAS Kingsville, Texas, NAS Pensacola, Fla., and Patuxent River, Md. Work is expected to be completed in September 2011. The other contract was an $18.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for logistics support for TH-57B/TH-57C aircraft. Nearly all the work, 99 percent, will be done at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla. Work is expected to be completed in March 2011. … Sikorsky Support Services Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a $63.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for contractor logistics support services for the T-34, T-44 and T-6 aircraft. Forty-three percent of the work will be done at the Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., and 10 percent at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Work is expected to be completed in March 2011. … Rolls-Royce Defense Services Inc., Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded an $89.1 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. The modification provides for inventory control, sustaining engineering and configuration management, as well as integrated logistics support and required engineering elements necessary to support the F405-RR-401 engine at the organization level. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, NAS Meridian, Miss., NAS Pensacola, Fla., and NAS Patuxent River, Md., and is expected to be completed in September 2011. … Mississippi Aerospace Corp., Picayune, Miss., was awarded an $8.6 million contract which will acquire loadmaster scanner crashworthy seats for the Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130H/W and EC 130J aircraft, and Air Combat Command and Air Force Reserve Command HC-130P aircraft. Air Force Special Operations Command is based at Hurlburt Field, Fla. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Aerospace Battle Management and Engagement Systems Decision Support and Targeting, of Hollywood, Md., was awarded a $99 million contract to procure weapons planning software. AAC/EBSK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Kaman Precision Products Inc., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $36 million contract modification which will procure joint programmable fuze systems for four Foreign Military Sales countries at a total quantity of 10,518 units. AAC/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $10.2 million contract modification to extend the period of performance of the Advanced Medium Range Air-to Air Missile (AMRAAM) aircraft integration support effort through Sept. 30, 2013. AAC/EBAK (AMRAAM Development Branch), Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.