During the past week, an Air Force Reserve wing in the region got a new commander, contracts for engines were awarded in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the first JSF production model that will come to Eglin Air Force Base flew for the first time, and the Air Force picked a company to handle housing at two area bases.
The 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., now has a new commander. It's Col. Jay D. Jensen. The command changed during a ceremony at the Event Center, during which the flag passed from Brig. Gen. James Muscatell Jr. to Jensen. From April 1999 to July 2008, Jensen served with the 403rd at Keesler, working with the 815th Airlift Squadron. Muscatell commanded the wing since January 2009. He’s heading for Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
There's now a contractor that's been signed up to build privatized housing at Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field. The Air Force said Picerne Military Housing will build the homes and be the landlord to active-duty service members for the next 50 years. The Air Force contract also includes bases in California, Alaska, Kansas and North Carolina. The developer will build up to 929 homes at Eglin and 484 homes on Hurlburt.
New Jersey-based DRS Technologies has laid off about 65 workers from its Fort Walton Beach, Fla., office. The layoffs were the second time this year that workers were let go. DRS cut 38 employees in February. Officials blame it on the ebb and flow of contracts. The office in Commerce and Technology Park specializes in communications, unmanned aircraft and boarder security products. It now has about 790 people.
Pratt and Whitney, which makes the primary engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, was awarded two contracts valued during the week for 38 engines.
The largest contract was $910 million for 36 low rate initial production F-135 engines. The contract is for 12 conventional take off and landing propulsion systems for the Air Force, 18 short take off and vertical land engine systems for the Marine Corps, one short take off and vertical land engines for the United Kingdom, and five carrier variant engines for the Navy.
The contract converts a previously awarded undefinitized contract to a fixed-incentive-fee contract. It combines purchases for the Navy ($638,956,839; 70.2 percent), Air Force ($222,506,542; 24.45 percent) and the United Kingdom ($48,691,764; 5.35 percent).
Pratt and Whitney also was awarded a $35.5 million contract to provide for additional procurement of one F-135 carrier variant engine for the Navy and one short take off and vertical landing spare engine for the Marines. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for both contracts.
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will be the Joint Strike Fighter training center. The first F-35A production aircraft that will be delivered to Eglin made its first flight on May 6, according to Aerospace and Defense News. Known as AF-8, the aircraft will be delivered to Eglin for pilot and maintainer training later this year.
Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $45.8 million contract modification for 75 baseline missiles for the Joint-Air-to-Surface-Missiles Program Office. Work will be done in Orlando. The AAC/EBJK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.
Tidbits from other fields
Shipbuilding: Huntington Ingalls Industries' Pascagoula shipyard won a $2.7 million grant for a project to improve shipyard welding. Ingalls was one of six shipyards sharing about $14.6 million in project grants from the National Shipbuilding Research Program to develop a process to eliminate over-welding to reduce distortion.
Materials: DuPont said it will expand its global titanium dioxide production by about 350,000 metric tons to meet increasing demand for the pigment. The expansion includes a new production line at the company's Altamira, Mexico, site, and improvements at other production facilities, including the DeLisle plant in South Mississippi.