Soothing words from a general about Eglin, a report about encroachment, an award for Keesler, a command change, two more F-35s at Eglin and a weapons test were among the aerospace activities for the Gulf Coast region during the week.
Consolidation of Air Force Materiel Command from 12 to five centers was not designed to pave the way for moving Eglin Air Force Base’s research, development, test and evaluation function to Edwards AFB, Calif. Brig. Gen. Arnold Bunch, director of Edwards’ Air Force Test Center, told the Florida Defense Support Task Force at a meeting during the week that he's striving to keep Eglin's RDT&E function viable.
Since the reorganization was announced late last year, leaders in Northwest Florida have been concerned about the fate of Eglin's multimillion-dollar RDT&E function. The consolidation was carried out in July.
The task force was created in 2010 to protect Florida's 20 bases. (Post)
-- Santa Rosa County during the week got the final version of the Eglin Air Force Base Small Area Studies report on encroachment. It recommends Santa Rosa amend land development code and enact 35- to 50-foot height restrictions, depending on the location in the proposed Eglin Military Airport Zone. Officials also should identify land uses that would be compatible with the base’s mission and reduce the maximum allowable density of developments. (Post)
-- While on the subject of Gulf Coast bases, for the second year in a row, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., won the highest command-level honor it can receive. The 81st Training Wing, which runs Keelser, won the Air Education and Training Command’s Commander-In-Chief's Annual Award for Installation Excellence. Keesler is AETC's nomineee because of the base's exemplary support of Defense Department missions. (Post)
-- At Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., Lt. Col. Joseph P. Kendall has assumed command of the 53rd Test Support Squadron. He replaced Lt. Col. James A. Sukenik, who is now the deputy commander of the 53rd Weapons and Evaluation Group. (Post)
-- An air traffic control tower at Florida's Destin Airport is inching forward. A tower would allow for simultaneous launches of planes at Destin and the Northwest Florida Regional Airport at Eglin Air Force Base. Right now planes at Destin must wait while traffic clears at the Eglin airport. The county commission still has to vote to proceed, and an environmental assessment will have to be done. (Post)
Two more F-35s arrived during the week at Eglin Air Force Base, home of the F-35 training center. One was a United Kingdom F-35, the second UK jet now at the base. The other was the 11th Marine Corps F-35. They took off from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base for the 90-minute flight. (Post)
Meanwhile, out in California, an F-35 test aircraft completed the first aerial weapons release of an Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile. Aircraft AF-1 jettisoned the instrumented AIM-120 over the China Lake test range from an internal weapons bay. It was the second in-flight weapons release in three days for AF-1. Earlier it released a 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition. (Post)
Spatial disorientation. That's what an investigative board concluded caused a February plane crash in Africa that killed four Hurlburt Field, Fla., airmen. Capt. Ryan P. Hall, Capt. Nicholas S. Whitlock, 1st Lt. Justin J. Wilkens and Senior Airman Julian S. Scholten died when their U-28A troop support aircraft crashed near Djibouti. Spatial disorientation is the failure to correctly sense the position, motion or attitude of the aircraft in relation to the ground. (Post)
-- An active-duty Hurlburt airman who was found dead last weekend after a boating accident in Okaloosa County was identified as Airman 1st Class Colby Siegel, 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The cause of the accident is under investigation. (Post)
L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a
$34.7 million contract for acquisition of aircraft maintenance support services for T-1A, T-6A, T-38C SUPT and T-38C IFF. The location of the performance is Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. (Post)