Saturday, November 13, 2010

Week in review (11/7 to 11/13)

Will the Marine version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter be dropped? The co-chairmen of the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform think it should be, and apparently the Pentagon is looking at that possibility.

The commission, which can only make recommendations, issued a draft proposals to cut government spending, and in the long list is the suggestion to buy fewer F-35s for the Air Force and Navy, along with the elimination of the Marine Corps’ variant.

It remains to be seen how much of the draft proposal gets into the final recommendations due Dec. 1. But InsideDefense said during the week that senior defense leaders are considering revamping the F-35 program again, and possibly eliminating the Marine variant while speeding up development of the Air Force and Navy variants of the Joint Strike Fighter.

What all that might mean for Eglin Air Force Base., Fla., which is scheduled to be home of the Joint Strike Fighter training center, is a bit too early to tell. We said last week that the arrival of the first two F-35As, originally scheduled before the end of the year, has been delayed six months so further testing of the first models off the assembly line can be done.

Meanwhile, the first F-35C, the Navy's version designed for carriers, arrived last weekend at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The aircraft will conduct air-to-air refueling and performance testing at the Virginia base.

NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi conducted a successful test firing during the week of the liquid-fuel AJ26 engine that will power the first stage of Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Taurus II space launch vehicle.

The engine built by Aerojet was test-fired on Stennis' E-1 test stand. The test firing lasted 10 seconds and served as a short-duration readiness firing to verify AJ26 engine start and shutdown sequences, E-1 test stand operations, and ground-test engine controls.

The Taurus II space launch vehicle will take cargo to the International Space Station.

- Rolls-Royce has located the problem in older Trent 900 engines, like the one that blew apart last week and forced a Qantas A380 to make an emergency landing. The failure was the bearing box, which caused an oil fire and the release of the pressure turbine disc. Plans are to replace the part in the older Trent 900 engines. Rolls-Royce engines are now tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The outdoor facility, the H-1 test site, opened in 2008.

Beginning next month, Vision Airlines will offer service out of Northwest Florida Regional Airport, located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The company, started in 1994 primarily as a charter service, is based in Suwanee, Ga., and will offer non-stop service to Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Miami.

- A life-size bronze bust of Mississippi aviator John C. Robinson was unveiled and dedicated during the week at Mississippi’s Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport. The bust was commissioned by the John C. Robinson Brown Condor Association in honor of the Gulfport aviation pioneer. The unveiling is the kick-off of an effort to build the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum on the grounds of the airport.

New owners
LSI Inc. of Jacksonville, Fla., plans to acquire the assets of Aviation Systems Inc. of Northwest Florida next month. Founded in 1994, ASI of Pensacola provides training device design, engineering, manufacturing and repair services. ASI’s facility is 20,000 square feet and has 50 workers. LSI is an employee-owned training company and has more than 450 workers.

Blue Angels
The Blue Angels closed out the 2010 season with the annual Homecoming Air Show at Naval Air Station Pensacola Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Along with the flying, more than 50 military and civilian aircraft were on display.

Cubic Defense Applications of San Diego, Calif., won a $35 million contract as part of an industry team developing the Common Range Integrated Instrumentation System (CRIIS) for U.S. military test ranges. CRIIS, which will be operational at eight ranges, including Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., provides data to support weapon system testing for a variety of platforms, including aircraft, ships, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, ground vehicles and soldiers. Cubic is a subcontractor for Rockwell Collins, which was awarded a $140 million contract to develop the first phase of CRIIS. … Diligent Consulting Inc., San Antonio, Texas, was awarded a $24 million contract which will provide for Air Education and Training Command Department of Defense information assurance certification and accreditation process support services. AAC/PKO, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $16.2 million contract modification which will exercise the high-speed anti-radiation missile targeting system fiscal 2011 contractor logistics support option. AAC/IBAS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.