Saturday, June 9, 2012

Week in review (6/3 to 6/8)

The Air Force's decision to keep a two-star at Eglin Air Force Base, a record-setting test at Stennis Space Center, a contract to purchase a fix for the oxygen issue with F-22s and three bases that are interested in hosting aerial tankers are among the aerospace activities during the week of interest to the Gulf Coast region.

But first, if you want to learn all about aerospace activities in this region, you may want to download a free copy of Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor 2012-2013, the newest edition of the annual book that highlights aerospace activities between New Orleans and Panama City, Fla.

There's are chapters on foreign investments, space activities, research and development, unmanned aerial systems, military aviation activities and STEM education. There's also an executive summary and a chapter on the different lifestyles available in this region. The electronic versions are free thanks to this year's underwriters, the Aerospace Alliance and the Mobile Airport Authority.

If you're someone who still likes to hold a book in your hand, you can purchase a printed edition with glossy cover at cost, plus shipping, of course. To grab any version of the book, or even individual chapters, click here.

Now for the week in review:

The two-star who heads up the Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant, will remain at Eglin as its Program Executive Officer for Weapons.

Last fall the Air Force announced changes for the Materiel Command, which included shrinking the command from 12 to five centers. Under the consolidation, Merchant’s job would have been eliminated along with the Air Armament Center. Merchant said he’s pleased to remain in charge of the weapons programs. (Post)

-- Florida’s Eglin, Hurlburt Field and Tyndall Air Force Base are among nearly 60 installations being considered as operating bases for the Boeing-built KC-46A tanker. Three bases will be selected initially by December, but 10 will eventually get the planes. (Post)

-- The Army 7th Special Forces Group at Eglin will stand up a fourth combat battalion this fall. The new battalion will have 400 soldiers, and bring to 2,200 the total number of soldiers at the cantonment south of Crestview. (Post)

The military is looking into a "ground incident" a couple of weeks ago involving an F-22 Raptor. The plane was in a touch and go session when it was put out of commission. The plane was sidelined and the pilot benched. (Post)

If you follow the industry, you know that there have been problems with the oxygen system of the F-22. Well Lockheed Martin was awarded a $19.1 million contract for automatic backup oxygen supply in the F-22 Life Support System, including 40 retrofit kits, plus non-recurring engineering and 10 spares. Tyndall Air Force Base is home of an F-22 squadron and the location where aviators train to fly the aircraft. (Post)

The Northwest Florida Daily News had a feature story during the week about some of the technology being used to prepare pilots to fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Among the cutting-edge items is a scanner that reads the contour of a pilot's face and skull to come up with a custom-designed helmet. (Post)

-- The first non-test pilot of the F-35 in the armed services was approved during the week after flying his sixth and final checkout. Air Force Lt. Col. Lee Kloos, commander of the 58th Fighter Squadron at the 33rd Fighter Wing, also earned certification as a flight instructor for the Joint Strike Fighter program. Kloos has been certified for the Air Force "A" variant. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin was awarded a $111.6 million modification to a previously awarded advanced acquisition contract for recurring support activities for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. Sixty percent of the work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post)

NASA's Stennis Space Center conducted a test on the new J-2X powerpack that lasted for 1,150 seconds, surpassing the previous record by more than a minute. For NASA the test marked a milestone in development of a next-generation rocket engine to carry humans deeper into space than ever before. For SSC, it represented the longest duration firing ever conducted in the center's A Test Complex. (Post)

Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd., parent company of Mobile's ST Aerospace, said that Vision Technologies Aerospace Inc., ST Engineering's aerospace arm, has made a $49.7 million bid for the Tampa aerospace maintenance facility and some assets of Pemco World Air Services Inc., at a bankruptcy auction. (Post)

-- Northrop Grumman's Moss Point, Miss., plant is among nine of the company's facilities to receive the Aerospace Industries Association Excellence in Aircraft Manufacturing 2012 Worker Safety Award. This is the second such award for the company in as many years, and the third in the past five years. (Post)

Drydock launch: The Navy's next amphibious assault ship, America, was launched from Ingalls Shipbuilding’s floating drydock during the week. The ship will be capable of carrying a Marine Expeditionary Unit, helicopters, tiltrotors and F‐35B. (Post)

Keel ceremony: Ingalls Shipbuilding held a ceremony to authenticate the keel for its 10th amphibious transport-dock ship, the John P. Murtha. The keel-laying for the LPD 26 vessel was completed in February. Ingalls has delivered six San Antonio class ships to the Navy. (Post)

Hopper dredge project: BAE Systems has begun construction on the MV Magdalen, a trailing suction hopper dredge. The vessel will be the first designed by Netherlands-based IHC Merwede to be built in the United States. (Post)

Contract: Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., Pascagoula, Miss., was awarded a $17.3 million contract for DDG 51-class follow yard services. Some 98 percent of the work will be done in Pascagoula. (Post)

Training: New maritime training academies in Pascagoula, Miss., and Mobile, Ala., will help ensure that area shipyards have a steady supply of workers. Pilings on the Haley Reeves Barbour Maritime Training Academy north of Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula are about 90 percent driven. In Mobile, the Maritime Training Center near Austal USA opened in January 2011. (Post)

New commander: Cmdr. Mark Walsh took over command of the 210-foot cutter
Decisive from Cmdr. Teri Jordan during a ceremony at the Coast Guard Station at Singing River Island in Pascagoula, Miss. The ship has been in Pascagoula since 1998. (Post)