Saturday, August 25, 2012

Week in review (8/19 to 8/25)

A report about high foreign interest in locating in the United States; Dothan taking steps to protect Fort Rucker; four counties with Air Force Special Operations bases teaming up as sister counties; a hotel on Air Force property inching forward; Marines getting ready to train on F-35Bs; and complaints that the FAA has missed a deadline in establish UAV test sites all were among the aerospace news items of interest to the Gulf Coast during the week. And of course, there's also the threat of a hurricane coming this week.

Here's your week in review:

Aviation Week had an item this week about overseas companies increasingly eyeing operations in the United States. It says the aerospace industry is playing a huge role in the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing. It mentions Belgium's Asco opting to build a plant in Stillwater, Okla., Brazil's Embreaer building jets in Melbourne, Fla., and Airbus' plans for an assembly line in Mobile, Ala. It also touched on Airbus' decision to double its purchases from U.S. suppliers. (Story)

Aviation Week also released during the week its 16th Annual Workforce Study, which analyzes current aerospace and defense workforce issues, trends and opportunities. The study notes that A&D manufacturing has been the strong point of the American economy for the past four years, with companies hiring machinists, operators and skilled craftsmen for U.S. facilities.

Many of the 12,000 who will be hired in the next three years will be in the air transport manufacturing cluster in the Southeast, a region that appeals to employers due to its lack of labor unions and abundance of state incentives. The study says companies have landed new manufacturing facilities in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. (Post)

But the worry remains about finding enough qualified employees. Thirty percent of respondents to the survey say manufacturing shortages are hindering their ability to grow. That issue was raised last year during the Aerospace Summit in Sandestin, Fla. (Post) Company officials who attended, pointing to an increase in work, said the region needed to prepare the workforce.

-- The Mobile Press-Register also took on a workforce issue during the week. It posed the question, can a top-tier aerospace company co-exist with existing mid-wage companies in the same industry? That question came up after Airbus announced it is building an A320 assembly line in Mobile, which is also home to several smaller aerospace companies. At least one of those companies is looking to expand into Pensacola because of concerns about keeping workers with a new kid on the block. (Post)

Dothan, Ala., will join other cities in southeast Alabama to pay for a consultant to protect Fort Rucker in a future base closure round. The thinking is to take the offense on the next base closing round in order to capture additional missions. The Base Realignment and Closure Commission determines how to realign military resources. In the last round Fort Rucker lost jobs to Huntsville, Ala. Fort Rucker is the primary training base for Army aviation. (Post)

-- Two counties in Florida and two in New Mexico that host Air Force Special Operation Command bases are now sister counties. Civic leaders from Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties in Florida and Curry and Roosevelt counties near Cannon Air Force Base, N. M., said the intent is to open lines of communication on key issues that affect the AFSOC communities. (Post)

-- The Tri-County Small Area Studies is being discussed at public meetings in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties. The study, a joint venture of three counties and Eglin Air Force Base commissioned in 2011, deals with encroachment issues affecting Northwest Florida's bases. The idea behind the study is to balance the needs of the military mission with civilian development. (Post)

-- Speaking of land use, a plan to build a Fort Walton Beach hotel on Air Force property is inching forward. Okaloosa County approved a development order for the privately managed Emerald Breeze Resort, which will be built on Gulf front property owned by Eglin. Building permits will be withheld until a lease agreement is finalized. (Post)

-- There will be a building dedication next week in memory of Tech Sgt. Daniel Douville, an airman assigned to the 96th Explosives Ordnance Disposal Flight. He was killed while on this third deployment June 26, 2011, from injuries suffered from an improvised explosive device on the border of the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand province, Afghanistan. (Post)

-- While on the subject of honoring heroes, the 30-foot tall Marine Aviation Memorial Tower is now standing at its new home at Veterans Memorial Park in Pensacola, Fla. The bell tower was dedicated at a ceremony last weekend. The company that built it hopes to build 100 similar towers and place them nationwide. (Post)

In Huntsville, Ala., Marshall Space Flight Center engineers and engineers at Langley
Research Center in Hampton, Va., are using wind tunnel tests to enhance NASA's Space
Launch System that will carry astronauts into deep space aboard the Orion spacecraft. The SLS engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and the core stage of SLS and Orion are built at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. (Post)

-- The Air Force Space Command will begin operational use of a Boeing satellite built to monitor space debris. The Space Based Surveillance Satellite was launched nearly two years ago, but it took that long to fix a problem with onboard electronics. This is of interest to the 20th Space Control Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., which tracks space debris with the world's most powerful radar. (Post)

-- A ship that was a player in the space program will now serve the Merchant Marines. The recovery ship M/V Liberty Star is being transferred from NASA to the National Defense Reserve Fleet for use in training at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. The ship retrieved space shuttle boosters and more recently fetched Orion crew capsules. Liberty Star and its sister ship, Freedom Star, have been regular visitors to the Gulf Coast. Shuttle external tanks built at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans were placed on barges and towed to Kennedy Space Center by those ships. (Post)

Marine pilots at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will soon begin training flights in F-35B jets. That's the variant of the plane that can take off and land vertically, according to unidentified sources cited by Reuters. Test pilots began preliminary orientation flights of the F-35B at the air base in May and have completed nearly 200 limited flights, none involving vertical landings. (Post)

Unmanned systems
With the FAA under pressure to allow unmanned aerial vehicles in the national airspace, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International is complaining that the FAA has already missed an Aug. 12. That was when it was to designate six test ranges where standards can be developed. In May the FAA said it was making progress in its site selection process and expects to name the sites in December. The Gulf Coast region is heavily involved in UAVs, including production and training, and efforts are under way to build an indoor unmanned systems center near Eglin Air Force Base. (Post)

Coastal Helicopter Inc., Panama City, Fla., was awarded a $9 million contract for aircraft flight test support of programs such as the Advanced Littoral Reconnaissance Technologies, Office of Naval Research. Work will be done in Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. (70 percent) and Panama City, Fla. (30 percent), and is expected to be completed by August 2017. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co., Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $81.8 million contract for Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammers. Work is to be completed by Aug. 31, 2014. The contracting activity is AFLCMC/EBJM of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Week in review (8/12 to 8/18)

Gulf Coast aerospace junkies had plenty of news of interest to them during the week, including word about the first customer for Airbus Mobile A320s; an increase in F-35 activity at Eglin and a program to create a bunker-buster for the aircraft; the interest being shown in an indoor unmanned systems facility; the crash of a NASA lander during a test and more.

Here's the week in review:

What airline will be the first to get an A320 rolling off the assembly in Mobile, Ala.? According to Flightglobal, Virgin America will take delivery of an A320neo from Mobile during the first quarter of 2016. The low-cost carrier has 30 of the type on order.

Airbus said in July that it's establishing a seven-building, 116-acre assembly line at Mobile's Brookley Aeroplex, the first assembly line for Airbus in the United States. It will create more than 3,000 construction jobs and when it's finished, about 1,000 people will work there. (Post)

Anything involving the A320 will be of interest to this region from here on out. There was an item during the week about Hong Kong Airlines and its interest in the A320 and A330. That company had planned to buy 10 of Airbus' A380 aircraft for long-haul trips to London.

But according to the Financial Times, the six-year-old airline canceled its all-business class service to London following losses on the long-haul route. The carrier, a unit of China's Hainan Airlines, plans to adopt a more cautious approach to launching any long-haul service. (Post)

While on the subject of Airbus, keep an eye on the rift between Airbus and a Seattle company, Aviation Partners, over those upturned tips at the end of the wing. The winglet or a sharklet improves fuel efficiency. Aviation Partners wants an injunction to prevent Airbus from selling A320s with sharklets. Airbus claims it came up with the design on its own. (Flightglobal story; News Tribune story)

Aviation Partners also has a joint venture with Boeing, called Aviation Partners Boeing. That operation just landed its biggest order ever, 40 winglets for 737s operated by China Southern Airlines, according to several reports. (Story)

OK, we're on a roll now talking about corporations. Here's an item about two companies of interest to this region. United Technologies will start taking bids soon on some Goodrich assets it has to sell. That was a condition for winning regulatory approval of its takeover of Goodrich.

UT closed its largest-ever acquisition last month, but has to sell assets like Goodrich's power generation and small-engine control units. Those assets could earn more than $500 million.

UT is swapping some operations in this region. It owned Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, which has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss., but Rocketdyne is being sold to GenCorp., the folks who also own Aerojet. But now UT owns the Goodrich Alabama Service Center in Foley, which is becoming part of UT Aerospace Systems. (Post)

What weekly column would be complete without something about the F-35? As you know, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the training center where aviators from all U.S. military branches as well as foreign nations will be trained to fly and maintain the stealthy aircraft. Eglin has nine F-35As, nine U.S. F-35Bs and one UK F-35B.

Word has it, flight training on the F-35 continues to accelerate at the 33rd Fighter Wing. Lt. Col. Lee Kloos, commander of the wing's 58th Fighter Squadron, told Flightglobal that in the first week of flying in March there were two flights scheduled. In August the number is 16 F-35 sorties a week and in September it will be 21. (Post)

Kloos flew the 100th sortie of the F-35A variant at the base during the week. The 90-miunute flight took him over southern Alabama, Tyndall Air Force Base on the east end of the Florida Panhandle and Destin before he returned to Eglin. Taking off just after Kloos was Col. Andrew Toth, who piloted another F-35 during the sortie. (Post)

Here's another F-35-related item, this one involving its weaponry.

Boeing won a $1.4 million contract earlier this month to help the Air Force design a rocket-propelled bomb for the F-35 that can destroy deeply buried enemy targets. The program is the High Velocity Penetrating Weapon, which aims develop a 2,000-pound bomb with the punch of a 5,000-pound gravity bomb.

Boeing joins a list of defense contractors working on the program, including Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Md.; MBDA Missile Systems of Paris and Raytheon of Waltham, Mass. Boeing also is working on a separate bunker-busting munitions program called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a program managed by Eglin. (Post)

The High Velocity Penetrating Weapon will be the focus of a meeting slated for October at Eglin Air Force Base. Military weapons experts will brief industry on the progress and future needs of that program, as well as future needs for guidance, navigation and control, propusion and explosives. (Post)

Unmanned systems
I've got to hand it to the economic development folks in Okaloosa County, Fla. They understand the import role unmanned systems will play in the future. Regular readers know plans are in the works for a 45,000-square-foot Autonomous Vehicle Center not far from Eglin Air Force Base.

The joint venture is between the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council and the University of Florida. Plans are to build the facility at UF's Research and Engineering Education Facility. And it won't be just for the aerial variant of robotic vehicles. Ground vehicle developers are welcome as well.

The Northwest Florida Daily News had an item during the week where Larry Sassano, president of the EDC, said he went to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's show in Las Vegas and met with some two dozen companies developing air and ground systems. He didn't name names, but told the paper there's already interest in leasing space at the still-to-be-built facility. (Post)

This region already has a foot in the door when it comes to the UAV field. Northrop Grumman Fire Scout and Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss., and UAVs are used by the military in training across the region.

The marine variants are also a big factor in this region. The Navy folks at Stennis Space Center, Miss., operate a fleet of underwater robots, and the Navy at Panama City, Fla., is also heavily involved in underwater and surface robotic systems.

A small NASA lander being tested for missions to the moon and other destinations beyond Earth crashed and burned after veering off course during a trial run at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla., last week. Morpheus crashed near the runway formerly used by NASA's space shuttles.

Designed and built by engineers at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Morpheus made several flights attached to a crane before the ill-fated free-flight. The engines appeared to ignite as planned, but a few seconds later Morpheus rolled on its side and fell. The engine that powers the lander was tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

The State Bond Commission in Louisiana during the week approved a request by officials of New Orleans International Airport to refinance existing bonds for additional parking. The panel approved the proposal to issue up to $40 million in bonds to refinance existing ones at a lower rate for an additional five years. (Post)

Lt. Col. Bruce Bunce assumed command of the 81st Range Control Squadron Aug. 10 from Lt. Col. Ryan Frederick at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Frederick will be assigned to Ramstein Air Base, Germany. (Post)

EADS-NA, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $19.8 million contract to provide for the modification of an existing contract to procure contractor logistic support for the UH-72A program. Work will be done in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2012. (Post)

Jobs: Austal USA will add up to 1,000 new jobs in the wake of a new five-year, $5 million deal with Alabama. Once the overall expansion is completed, total employment at the Mobile complex is expected to reach about 4,600 people. (Post)

Workforce training: In Pascgoula, Miss., 295 students graduated from Huntington Ingalls Apprentice School. Ingalls apprentice program provides two-to-four year curriculums for students interested in shipbuilding careers. (Post) In Mobile, Ala., 15 people graduated from Austal USA's four-year apprenticeship program. Graduates consisted of six electrical journeymen, four pipe-fitting journeymen, and five fabrication journeymen. (Post)

Unmanned anti-sub: Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Va., was awarded a $58.5 million contract in the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel Program. The contractor proposed a trimaran platform. Long Beach, Miss., will perform 13.4 percent of the work. Other work sites are in Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island, California, Florida and Virginia. (Post)

Testing: The Underwater Breathing Apparatus performed at a "world class" level when the improved deep sea breathing device was tested at extreme depths, according to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City (Fla.) Division. It's called the MK 16 MOD 1 UBA, and it looks like a regular diving suit. (Post)

Contract: Huntington Ingalls Industries, Pascagoula, Miss., was awarded a $7.2 million modification to previously awarded contract for research, development, test, and technical services in support of DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer. Work will be done in Pascagoula (80 percent), and Gulfport, Miss. (20 percent), and is expected to complete by September 2013. (Post)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Week in review (8/5 to 8/11)

It's not obvious on the surface, but rest assured, there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes as economic development officials and companies work to grab a piece of the Airbus pie.

Aerospace suppliers in Washington state and Kansas hope to benefit from the Airbus decision to place an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala. And in this region, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida officials are working to leverage this watershed event.

Consider this: Airbus wants to double the $12 billion it spends with U.S. suppliers over the next 10 years. That's according to Airbus officials who attended the Air Capital Supplier Summit in Wichita, Kan., where Airbus has an engineering center. Airbus earlier had been in Washington, Boeing’s home turf, also looking for suppliers. (Post)

Make no mistake about it. The Airbus decision is huge on many levels. It's big for Mobile, it's big Alabama, and it's big for the Gulf Coast region and future generations of workers. It's also big for suppliers and other foreign companies interested in entering the U.S. marketplace.

Mobile's successful recruitment of Airbus along with past efforts to attract foreign investments offers a playbook on how to create U.S. jobs. The United States is still the premier destination for international firms, but its lead is slipping.

A decade ago the United States attracted more than 40 percent of foreign investment, but today it's 18 percent, according to the Organization for International Investment. OFII president Nancy McLernon said in an interview with the Mobile Press-Register that the Airbus deal is an example of how the U.S. can regain its competitive edge. (Post)

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley apparently knows that landing the assembly plant isn't the end of the competition. Attracting suppliers is just as important. Bentley said Florida and Mississippi are racing to play host to companies that make up the jetliner's supply chain, and he has been chatting with company representatives since the Farnborough Airshow last month about coming to Alabama. (Post)

OK, while we’re on the subject of foreign investments, there's at least one foreign investment that won't happen after all. Vision Technologies Aerospace, the aerospace arm of Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd., halted its acquisition of Pemco's Tampa aerospace maintenance facility, after some closing conditions could not be fulfilled by the seller before the deadline. ST Engineering is the parent company of Mobile's ST Aerospace in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

Unmanned systems
Northrop Grumman has flown two Global Hawks in formation under its KQ-X program to develop a drone tanker for air-to-air refueling of drones. One aircraft was equipped with a belly-mounted refueling system, and though no fuel was transferred, it was an important step to demonstrate the feasibility. Unmanned systems, including Global Hawk, are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. The strange thing is, even though Mobile lost out on the Air Force tanker deal, drone tankers may one day be built in nearby Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Air National Guard Maj. Jay Spohn on Aug. 3 flew his final of six flights to become the first Guard pilot to qualify as an F-35A instructor pilot at the multi-service, multi-national Integrated Training Center. Spohn, assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing, was selected in November of 2009 to be initial F-35A cadre and help pave the way by developing syllabus for flight training. (Post)

-- Over at Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, Fla., Hangar 1 is undergoing renovations to support the new 325th mission: a new operational F-22 Raptor squadron. The 325th is transitioning from Air Education and Training Command to Air Combat Command, and that requires modifying the hangar. It should be finished by October. (Post)

-- Also at Tyndall, Maj. Shawnn Martin assumed command of the 325th Maintenance Squadron during a change of command ceremony. Martin, previously commander of the 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, is replacing Maj. Andre Lecours. (Post)

-- In Panama City, Fla., the airport authority awarded the stormwater management system augmentation contract to Phoenix Construction of Lynn Haven. Phoenix submitted a bid of $3.219 million, lowest of five bids. (Post)

Lockheed Martin of Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a not-to-exceed $209.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract that provides for the manufacture and delivery of initial air vehicle spares in support of 32 F-35 low rate initial production Lot V air vehicles. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. … Sikorsky Support Services Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a $39.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for logistics services and materials for maintenance to support 148 T-34, 54 T-44, and 178 T-6 aircraft based primarily at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; NAS Whiting Field, Fla.; and NAS Pensacola. Work is expected to be completed in December 2012. … Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $9.6 million modification to a previously awarded advanced acquisition contract. This modification includes work at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Contract: BAE Systems said the Mobile, Ala., shipyard has picked up a contract from
Houston, Texas-based GulfMark Americas Inc., to build two platform supply vessels. The 288-foot-long vessels are expected to cost $48 million each. (Post)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Week in review (7/29 to 8/4)

The past week was filled with stories of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor, including plans to create an indoor unmanned systems center in Shalimar, Fla.; the hint of 300 aerospace jobs in Pensacola; the extension of the partnership for the advanced manufacturing center in New Orleans; money for a fuel farm that will be leased by Rolls-Royce; an intriguing plan to use rocket engines that powered Saturn V for a new NASA rocket system; and the selection of a base to join Eglin to train F-35 aviators.

Here's the week in review:

Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada were awarded $1.1 billion in NASA contracts to develop the spacecraft that will be used to ferry crews two and from the International Space Station.

Boeing gets $460 million for its CST-100, which carries seven people and test-launches in 2016. SpaceX gets $440 million for its seven-astronaut Dragon capsule, which has already successfully completed a cargo mission to the ISS. Sierra Nevada will receive $212 million for its Dream Chaser, which looks a lot like the space shuttle.

The awards are part of NASA's Commercial Crew Development program, where NASA works with industry partners to develop commercial vehicles that will handle the low-Earth orbit chores. NASA is focusing on developing its deep-space program, which will take astronauts further into space than ever before.

It's developing the Orion crew vehicle, which is being built at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The capsule will eventually be launched by NASA's medium-lift Space Launch System. The first stage will also be built in New Orleans. Stennis Space Center, Miss., which is already testing the Rocketdyne J-2X engines that will be used in the second stage, will also be testing the RS-25 engines that will power the first stage. (Post)

Since I mentioned above Michoud Assembly Facility, this is a good place to mention a key partnership that received a five-year extension during the week. NASA and Louisiana leaders committed to a five-year extension of the partnership in the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing in New Orleans.

NCAM supports aerospace manufacturing research, development and innovation for NASA. It was formed in 1999 and includes NASA, NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility, the state of Louisiana and the University of New Orleans.

This new agreement expands the partnership to include Louisiana State University, which has engineering and research capabilities that can assist NCAM in fulfilling the nation's aerospace technology needs. (Post)

I also previously mentioned NASA's Space Launch System. But don't get the impression this is the only launch vehicle envisioned by NASA. SLS is a medium-lift launch vehicle, designed for 70 metric tons. But NASA also wants a heavy-lift rocket capable of hauling 130 metric tons.

And the power system that could be used on such a vehicle? Dynetics Inc., of Huntsville, Ala., thinks the engines that powered the Saturn V might be just the thing. It had a sterling history, and the company thinks modified F-1s would be ideal for the new rocket. Dynetics, which is teamed with Rocketdyne, is negotiating with NASA.

For Stennis Space Center, Miss., it could mean a return to testing that hasn't been seen since the Apollo era. When the five-engine cluster of the Saturn rocket was test-fired for the first time in 1967, windows shattered in nearby communities from the 7.5 million pounds of thrust. (Post)

Unmanned systems
Okaloosa County economic development leaders hope to develop an indoor test site for small unmanned aerial and land systems. The Economic Development Council is working to develop the 45,000-square-foot Autonomous Vehicle Center.

The $4.5 million Autonomous Vehicle Center will be built on the University of Florida's Research and Engineering Education Facility in Shalimar, near Eglin Air Force Base. The vision is to have a diverse group use it, from high school students to private companies. (Post)

The indoor facility makes a lot of sense. The Gulf Coast region is already heavily involved in unmanned aerial systems. Wasp, Raven, Puma-AE and Shadow UAVs are already flying around at military sites at Stennis Space Center, Miss., Camp Shelby, Miss., and Choctaw Outlying Field in Northwest Florida. The Coast Guard in Mobile, Ala., has also worked on a UAV training course for that service.

We also build them in this region. Fire Scout unmanned helicopters and high-flying Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss., by UAV powerhouse Northrop Grumman. This region is also involved in maritime robot systems. The Navy at Stennis Space Center, Miss., operates underwater systems worldwide, and the Navy in Panama City is involved in robotic systems for mine warfare.

On top of all that, the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola, Fla., is heavily involved in developing robotic systems, including the exciting field artificial intelligence. So this type of development is welcome and makes a lot of sense.

-- One of the more fascinating UAVs being developed is the Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator. The tailless, unmanned aircraft built by Northrop Grumman launched from Paxtuxent River, Md., and flew for 35 minutes, reaching an altitude of 7,500 feet and an air speed of 180 knots during the week.

One of the testing facilities at Pax River is a simulated aircraft carrier environment, which will allow team members to ensure the aircraft is ready to operate in testing at sea. Land-based testing will establish X-47B has the ability to conduct precision approaches and to perform arrested landings and catapult launches prior to actual aircraft carrier operations. (Post)

The development of the X-47B is of high interest to the Gulf Coast region because this is where aviation training begins for so many aviators who may one day become very familiar with robotic aircraft. And who knows, we may one day be doing a portion of the work on the X-47B in this region. The Northrop Grumman facility in Moss Point certainly has the capacity.

Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz., was chosen as an F-35 pilot training center, beating out Tucson, Ariz., New Mexico and Idaho. The base west of Phoenix will be joining Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., as the place where U.S. and allied aviators will be training on the latest and most expensive aircraft in the inventory. Glendale officials said the base will get 72 F-35s. Air Force officials said in a statement that Luke was chosen because of facility and ramp capacity, range access, weather, as well as capacity for future growth. (Post)

Jetliner engines
In Mississippi, a $300,000 grant and $740,000 loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be used by the Hancock County Development Commission to buy an industrial site and build a fuel farm for a jet engine test facility, which Rolls Royce will lease at NASA's Stennis Space Center.

The USDA program is designed to support job creation and strengthen economic growth in rural counties. Projects in 12 states are receiving money through Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, which provides zero-interest loans to local utilities which, in turn, provide funds to local businesses for projects to create and retain employment in rural areas. (Post)

-- Rolls-Royce and GE engines used in Boeing's 787 have caused some issues for the new aircraft. Last weekend debris shot from the back of a GEnx engine during a ground test at the Charleston (S.C.) airport. In an earlier incident, All Nippon Airways temporary grounded five 787s due to gearbox corrosion in the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines.

Rolls-Royce engines are tested at an outdoor facility at Stennis Space Center, Miss., and composite fan platforms and cases for the GEnx are made by GE Aviation in Batesville, Miss. (Post)

Reuters reported during the week that Pensacola's mayor expects to announce a deal soon with an aerospace company to bring more than 300 jobs to Northwest Florida. The mayor declined to name the company, but said it involves an expansion of the company now operating in Mobile, Ala.

The Mobile Press-Register reported in June that officials from Pensacola went to Mobile to talk to ST Aerospace about a possible move of all or part of the 1,000-worker operation to Pensacola. (Post)

Meanwhile, plans to lease 104 acres of Saufley Field in Pensacola to a private developer stalled because of the cost of moving several Saufley commands to Naval Air Station Pensacola. Saufley is used for Navy education and training support programs, and its two runways are used for flight training. The private developer envisions a research/commercial park at Saufley. (Post)

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a
$9.9 million contract for the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department support for Chief of Naval Air Training aircraft, transient aircraft, and other services activities at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. (Post)

Workshop: The Marine Technology Society's TechSurge Oceans in Action Workshop is
scheduled for Aug. 13 and 14 at the IP Casino Resort in Biloxi, Miss. The focus will be on technologies that have been developed or are being developed in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (Post)

Command change: Rear Adm. Brian Brown is the new leader of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss. He relieved Rear Adm. Jonathan White in a change of command ceremony during the week (Post)