Saturday, September 3, 2011

Week in review (8/28 to 9/3)

Two more F-35s arrive at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., more workers for the Northrop Grumman Fire Scout program in California, concerns over cuts to the nation's hurricane tracking programs - including the Hurricane Hunters in Biloxi, Miss. - and Eglin awarding of more than $800 million in contracts highlighted Gulf Coast aerospace news during the week.

Two Lockheed Martin F-35As arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., this week, joining two earlier arrivals that will be used for training pilots and maintainers at the new F-35 Integrated Training Center.

The jets left Wednesday from Fort Worth, Texas, along with two F-16 escorts for the 90-minute flight. The two F-35s are AF-10 and AF-11 from the second lot of low-rate production aircraft.

Speaking of the F-35, Texas Rep. Kay Granger has called Friday for increased production of the Joint Strike Fighter, and suggested that its critics, like Sen. John McCain, visit the mile-long factory before continuing to push for cuts in the Defense Department's largest weapons program.

The remarks came after a tour of the facility with Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, whose district includes Eglin Air Force Base, where F-35 pilots and maintainers will be trained. Both said that when Congress reconvenes next week, members should consider the nation's security goals before cutting into defense programs. (Story)

Unmanned systems
Northrop Grumman will add 100 workers in Rancho Bernardo, Calif., to enable the company to continue developing its Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle and a larger version called Fire-X. About 200 employees are already assigned to the program.

The company also is negotiating with the Navy to add weapons to Fire Scout, says George Vardoulakis, Northrop's vice president of tactical unmanned systems.

The Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, Miss., builds portions of the Fire Scout.

Federal cuts
There are concerns that budget cuts could jeopardize future accurate hurricane forecasting. Proposed cuts in the budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and in funding for new satellites could undermine the National Hurricane Center's forecasting ability.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson told reporters in a visit to NHC headquarters in Miami that there was also talk about possible Defense Department cuts to funding for the 10 C-130 Super Hercules "hurricane hunter" planes based in Biloxi, Miss. He vowed that the proposed cuts would be halted in the Senate.

Weapons testing
BAE Systems, Boeing, and the Navy recently conducted a successful test of the Mk 38 MOD 2 Tactical Laser System concept at Eglin Air Force Base in Eglin, Fla. The concept is a proposed high energy laser addition to the Mk 38 naval gun systems currently deployed on most surface combatants.

The test system fired against air and surface maritime targets. Additionally, swarm tests were conducted to simulate an attack by a large number of fast, maneuvering small boats, intermingled with neutral boat traffic. These tests demonstrated a consistent ability to detect, track, classify and engage threat vessels at tactically relevant ranges.

The Air Force and Lockheed Martin signed a five-year deal to further sensors technology. The cooperative research and development agreement with Air Force Research Laboratory will assess the viability of Lockheed's cooled tri-mode seeker for integration onto Air Force weapon platforms.

The seeker combines several sensors and a radar that run simultaneously and share information in flight. The work will be done with AFRL's Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., according to the Dayton Business Journal.

MacAulay-Brown Inc., Dayton, Ohio, was awarded a $26 million order for information technology and intelligence services. Specialized Contracting, HQ AFSOC/A7KQ, Hurlburt Field, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co., Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $569 million contract modification for air-to-air missiles and test vehicles and equipment, software and logistic support. It includes foreign military sales. AAC/EBAC, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … InDyne Inc., Reston, Va., was awarded a $192.8 million contract which exercises option two, fiscal 2012 and 2013, of Eglin Test and Training Complex Range operations and maintenance for test and training areas, and technical facilities. AAC/PKET, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $14.4 million contract modification to provide of 602 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. Air Armament Center/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … EADS North American Defense, Arlington, Va., was awarded a $43.8 million contract to provide for the modification of an existing contract to procure 32 security and support mission equipment package production cut-in. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss.

Tidbits from other fields
Shipbuilding: Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead visited Austal USA's Mobile, Ala., shipyard and called it "a model for others to follow." He said he's excited about the commitment and innovation that's gone into the shipyard, which he considers on the leading edge of shipbuilding. … Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Miss., celebrated the "start of fabrication" of the U.S. Coast Guard's fourth National Security Cutter, Hamilton. … BAE Systems, Boeing, and the Navy recently conducted a successful test of the Mk 38 MOD 2 Tactical Laser System concept at Eglin Air Force Base in Eglin, Fla. The concept is a proposed high energy laser addition to the Mk 38 naval gun systems currently deployed on most surface combatants.
Marine science: The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative will use $112.5 million to fund eight research teams over the next three years to study the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. Universities with operations along the Gulf Coast that are participating in one or more teams include the University of Southern Mississippi, University of West Florida, Louisiana State University, Tulane University, Florida State University and the University of Mississippi. Also participating will be Mobile’s Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Naval Research Laboratory, which has a detachment at Stennis Space Center, Miss.
Advanced materials: Pennsylvania-based stainless steel scrap recycler Cronimet Corp. plans to locate a manufacturing facility in Pensacola, Fla., in early November, creating 15 manufacturing and administrative jobs. Cronimet recovers and reprocesses stainless steel and high-grade alloys for manufacturers. … The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss., hopes to get approval for a new undergraduate degree program in polymer sciences engineering. It will be the only polymer engineering major in the state.