A decision to provide more land for Air Force training and progress on the high-tech F-35 helmet highlighted aerospace activities of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week. Here's your week in review:
The Air Force will be allowed to conduct training exercises on state forest lands in the
Florida Panhandle. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Florida Forest Service signed an agreement that allows the Air Force to use some areas in the Blackwater River State Forest and Tate's Hell State Forest near Apalachicola.
Specifics of how and when the lands will be used will be determined over the next few months.
David Core, assistant director of the Forest Service, told the Northwest Florida Daily News that the military is vital to the economy, and it needs more room. As Eglin has continued to grow, the Air Force approached the state about using the land to increase its capacity to conduct training missions, Brig. Gen. David Harris, commander of the 96th Test Wing, wrote in an e-mail to the paper. He said the extra space will alleviate congestion. (Post)
The Air Force is a major landowner in Northwest Florida. Eglin Air Force Base is 450,000 acres and Tyndall Air Force Base is about 30,000. The Navy is also a major landowner in Northwest Florida.
-- The Blue Angels performed Friday and Saturday in their final show of the season at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. The Blue Angels always perform twice during the year in their hometown. One show is in the summer at Pensacola Beach and the homecoming is at the base.
Lockheed Martin reported progress with its cutting-edge helmets that will be used with the F-35. Executive VP Tom Burbage said the helmet's night-vision performance was the "only real question" left in resolving the helmet issues, but progress has been made on that.
The helmet, which integrates data from all sensors and cameras aboard the jet, was designed by a joint venture between Rockwell Collins Inc. and Israel's Elbit Systems. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. (Post)
NASA provided businesses an update on the Space Launch System during a seminar at Michoud Assembly Facility during the week. It drew about 150 people. The core stage of the 70-ton SLS, designed to carry astronauts into deep space, will be built at Michoud by Boeing. The engines that will power two stages will be tested at Stennis Space Center, about 40 miles away in Mississippi. An unmanned test of SLS is scheduled for 2017. (Post)
-- John C. Stennis Space Center held an event on space travel and the center's role in space at the Wal-Mart in Picayune, Miss. Saturday. Activities included learning about how people live and work in space, hands-on educational activities and facts about the International Space Station. More than 5,000 people are employed at SSC, which has a $682 million in economic impact. (Post)
Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $18.3 million contract for integration and weapon verification support. Work is expected to be completed by December 2016. The contracting activity is AFLCMC/EBDK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post)
Austal: John "Dugan" Shipway, a retired Navy admiral, has been elected to chair the board of Austal USA in Mobile. Shipway, who spent 35 year in the Navy, joined the Austal USA board in March as an outside director. (Post)
Ingalls: Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. is holding a job fair Nov. 8 in Pensacola, Fla., hoping to eventually hire nearly 2,000 workers for Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. (Post)
McIlwain: Longtime marine biologist Thomas D. McIlwain died after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 71. McIlwain had a 50-year career and spend most of his time at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Miss. (Post)