A change in leadership at Stennis Space Center, Miss., a suggestion that Northwest Florida step up its game to attract the aerospace industry, more news on the EADS-BAE Systems proposed merger, the standup of a special forces battalion at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and millions in contracts were among the news items of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor during the week.
Patrick Scheuermann, director of NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss., since 2010, is moving to Huntsville, Ala., to become director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. He'll be replaced at SSC by Richard J. Gilbrech, who is currently deputy director and a former director of SSC.
At Marshall, Scheuermann will replace Robin Henderson, who filled the position in Huntsville temporarily when Gene Goldman retired Aug. 3. The changes were announced Tuesday by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. (Post)
Huntsville is getting a good one. I've spoken to Scheuermann many times because of stories I've done about Stennis Space Center. He's always been helpful, and he knows his stuff. He's a man of vision who could see great things for SSC.
I'm a bit less familiar with Gilbrech, but I can tell you I had a sitdown with him once during his first tenure as director of SSC. I was impressed, but didn't get to talk to him much over the years. I'm looking forward to any opportunity for another talk.
That's the one thing about NASA and the military that takes some getting used to. The head honcho changes every now and then, but with NASA, it's possible someone who was there in the past will take over again.
Northwest Florida has to step up its game if it wants to join the global race for billions of dollars headed for civilian and military aerospace projects over the next two decades. That's what an aviation expert told more than 400 area business and political leaders at Gulf Power's 16th annual Economic Summit in Sandestin, Fla., during the week.
Aerospace industries the Panhandle should pursue include aircraft manufacturing, rockets and missiles, search and navigation, Tier 1 and 2 parts and service suppliers and unmanned aerial systems. Over the next 20 years more than 5,000 civilian aircraft will be built worldwide, and with a lot of aerospace workers reaching retirement, there will be a demand for new workers. Among the positive things Northwest Florida has is a lot of former military. (Post)
This isn't the first time experts have discussed the growth of the industry, and suggested the region prepare. During last year's Aerospace Alliance Summit in Sandestin, the same theme came across loud and clear. During that summit, speakers from Airbus and Lockheed Martin said growth is coming and the region needs to prepare. (Previous) Since that summit, projections have gone upward.
BAE Systems doesn't want to jeopardize its special relationship with the Pentagon and will walk away from the proposed merger with EADS to protect it. That's according to a report in Financial Times of London, quoting an unnamed source.
The relationship is a Special Security Arrangement and that has allowed UK's BAE to work on many U.S. projects, including the F-35. It's allowed BAE to build a 40,000-employee network in 40 states and make $14 billion a year in the U.S.
France and Germany's EADS has a more strict special security arrangement. It has 3,000 employees and makes $1.4 billion a year in the U.S. Both companies have operations in the Gulf Coast I-10 region. EADS also plans to build an A320 assembly line in Mobile, Ala. (Post)
While on the subject of EADS NA, the company was awarded a $10.9 million contract to provide for the modification of an existing contract for services in support of the UH-72A Lakota. Work will be done in Columbus, Miss. (Post)
Lockheed Martin recently conducted two separate DAGR missile flight tests, successfully firing the missiles from a prototype pedestal launcher and hitting a stationary target. The tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., demonstrated DAGR’s capability as a ground-based weapon.
In each test an inert DAGR missile locked onto the laser spot illuminating the target before launch. Each missile flew 3.5 kilometers and hit the target within one foot of the laser spot. Lockheed Martin has conducted more than 30 DAGR flight tests from ranges of 1 to 5.1 kilometers. DAGR has been launched from multiple HELLFIRE-equipped rotary-wing platforms, including the AH-64D Apache, AH-6 Little Bird and OH-58 Kiowa Warrior. (Post)
The fourth and final battalion of the Army 7th Special Forces Group has been activated at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. More than 100 people attended a ceremony at Friday morning. The activation of the 4th Battalion will enable the 7th Special Forces Group to sustain repeated deployments around the world. (Post)
L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC of Madison, Miss., won three contracts totaling $165.2 million during the week. The largest award, $126.5 million, is a modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for logistics services and materials for organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance required to support 28 T-45A and 171 T-45C aircraft at the Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas; NAS Meridian, Miss.; and NAS Pensacola, Fla. (Post)
Another contract of $27.3 million was awarded for logistics services support of the TH-57 aircraft fleet. Services to be provided include repair and/or overhaul of aircraft, engines, avionics and related components. Work will be performed at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla., and is expected to be completed in March 2013. (Post)
The company was also awarded an $11.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for maintenance and logistics services, including labor, services, facilities, equipment, tools, direct and indirect material required to support and maintain the T-39N and T-39G aircraft and related support equipment. Work will be done in Pensacola, Fla. (Post)
In other contracts awarded during the week, Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded an $89.2 million contract for long lead components, parts and materials associated with the Lot VII Low Rate Initial Production of F135 propulsion systems for F-35s for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, Turkey, Italy, United Kingdom and Norway. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. (Post) … Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Cambridge, Mass., was awarded a $13 million contract for research and development of an advanced secure micro digital data link unit. The contracting activity is AFRL/RWK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post) … PRI-DJI, Las Vegas, Nev., was awarded a $12.5 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise option two for Base Operations Support services at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., and sub communities. The total contract amount after exercise of this option will be $84,637,994. Work will be performed in Milton, Fla., work for is expected to be completed September 2013. (Post)