A way for suppliers to hook up with Airbus; the ownership issue with EADS; F-16 drones at Tyndall Air Force Base; the return of F-22s to the air; the first UK pilots training on the F-35; formation of the first operational F-35 squadron; and solar power at Fort Rucker highlight the aerospace news of interest to the Gulf Coast during the week.
Here’s your week in review:
Interested in being a supplier for Airbus? You now have a tool at your disposal. The company's website has a tab that allows companies to register to become a supplier for the company's global operations and the $600 million A320 assembly facility that will be built in Mobile, Ala., at Brookley Aeroplex. Here's the link. (Post)
Speaking of the A320, China Eastern Airlines, one of that country's three major carriers, said Friday that it will buy 60 Airbus A320 aircraft in a deal worth $5.4 billion. That's according to several published reports. Shanghai-based China Eastern said the new aircraft will be delivered in stages from 2014 to 2017. Sales of A320s are of interest to Mobile, Ala., since it will begin building them in 2015.
Another topic of high interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace region is the ownership of Airbus parent EADS. Early in the week Reuters reported that France and Germany were discussing a compromise where each country would hold around 12 percent of the aircraft maker. It's a complicated ownership structure, and that became apparent during the failed attempt to merge EADS and the UK's BAE Systems. (Post)
The first QF-16 drone for developmental testing arrived at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., early last week. QF-16 is a supersonic reusable full-scale aerial target drone modified from an F-16 Fighting Falcon. Right now the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group uses QF-4s, made from 1960s F-4 Phantom, to conduct their full-scale aerial target missions. The targets allow the Air Force and allied nations to have a realistic understanding of what they could face on the battlefield. Boeing Global Services and Support will conduct testing on the QF-16. (Post)
The first operational squadron of F-35s began forming during the week at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., with the redesignation of an F/A-18 squadron as Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121. The squadron has received two F-35Bs, which can take off and land like a helicopter. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center. (Post)
Last week, the first two United Kingdom pilots started training with the F-35. They joined the U.S. Marines Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, which is conducting initial training and instruction on the F-35B at Eglin. The U.K. pilots will take academic courses for about six weeks before they go on their first flights. (Post)
The 325th Fighter Wing resumed normal flight operations early in the week. Col. David Graff, the wing commander, stood the wing flying operations down following the crash of an F-22. In that incident, the pilot ejected safely and nobody on the ground was injured. Graff was the first to take to the air in an F-22. (Post)
A photovoltaic array being installed at Fort Rucker, Ala., is expected to save the Army money. The 51-kilowatt array is directly connected to Alabama Power's electrical grid, so any energy that is generated at Hatch Stage Field that isn't used can be fed back onto the grid. Fort Rucker is the primary flight training base for Army aviation. (Post)
Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $6.4 million contract to provide flight support for the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air missile. The location of the performance is Tucson, Ariz. The contracting activity is AFLCMC/EBAD, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post)
Dolphins: NOAA appointed an enforcement officer to investigate the mutilation and deaths of dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico. He's Richard Stifel, an enforcement officer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Post)
Contract: Exelis Inc., Alexandria, Va., was awarded a $93.3 million contract to design, procure, install and maintain the Adaptive Persistent Awareness Systems. Work will be performed in various naval facilities worldwide. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity. (Post)