The president signed the $633 billion fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act into law during the week, despite objections to some parts. It includes a 1.7 percent pay raise for military personnel, $527.5 billion for DoD's base budget and much more.
It's nearly 700 pages and there are items of interest to the Gulf Coast region, including a requirement that all three versions of the F-35 have their initial operational capability no later than June 1, 2013. All the training is done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
The act also has a provision for $41.7 million for construction at Eglin of the Special Operations Forces Aviation Foreign Internal Defense (AvFID) operations and maintenance facilities. AvFID is a new mission of the Air Force Reserve's 919th Special Operations Wing at Duke Field. The wing is giving up the MC-130 Combat Talons and taking on the role of advising friendly foreign partners in the use of aviation. The NDAA also provides $16 million for construction of a fuel storage facility at Hurlburt Field, home of Air Force Special Operations.
NDAA also authorizes the Air Force to procure two space-based infrared system satellites. Portions of the SBIR are built at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The total amount obligated or expended for the two satellites can’t exceed $3.9 billion.
The act also requires the Air Force to maintain the operational capability of each RQ-4 Block 30 Global Hawk -- none of the funds can be used to retire, prepare to retire or place in storage an RQ-4 Block 30. Global Hawks are built in part in Moss Point, Miss.
The NDAA also affirms the Pentagon’s authority to conduct military activities in cyberspace through a unified command. Cyberspace is a key military activities in the Gulf Coast. The Air Force provides training for cyber space personnel at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., and Corry in Pensacola, Fla., is the home of the Navy's Center for Information Dominance. Training is also done at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
The NDAA also deals with Littoral Combat Ships. It requires the Secretary of the Navy to submit to the congressional defense committees a report by Dec. 31 of this year comparing the costs and performance of the two Littoral Combat Ship designs. One LCS type is built in Wisconsin and the other is built in Mobile, Ala., by Austal USA.
Now for the rest of the week in review:
The House approved a Senate amendment to a bill sponsored by Space and Aeronautics
Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo, R-Miss. It requires commercial launch companies to buy insurance for damage to third parties, and extends a waiver to allow American astronauts to continue to fly aboard Russian spacecraft to access the International Space Station through 2020.
The bill also conveys a sense of Congress regarding future U.S. human spaceflight capabilities, stressing the need to ensure continued development of both NASA's Space Launch System and Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, along with the pursuit of commercial crew services to the ISS.
Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, and Stennis Space Center, Miss., are both involved in the SLS program. SSC also tests rocket engines for commercial launch companies. (Post)
Northrop Grumman won't participate in the 2013 international air show in Paris, but could beef up its presence at air shows in Australia and the Middle East. It's part of the company's overall drive to cut costs in light of tighter U.S. defense budgets. Northrop, which builds portions of the Global Hawk and its variants as well as the Fire Scout UAVs in Moss Point, Miss., also skipped the Farnborough international air show outside London last year. (Post)
Alcoa Fastening Systems received Airbus' Supply Chain and Quality Improvement Program Best Performer Bronze award for 2012. AFS, chosen out of some 250 suppliers, provides fasteners to Airbus for all of its major programs including the A320, A330, A340, A350, A380 and the A400M. There will be a ground breaking this year for an Airbus assembly line in Mobile, Ala., that will build A320 aircraft. (Post)
EADS North America, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $26.3 million contract that will provide for the modification of an existing contract to procure contractor logistics support for Mission Equipment Packages for the Light Utility Helicopter program. Work will be done in Columbus, Miss., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2016. … Thales Raytheon Systems, Fullerton, Calif., was awarded an $18.5 million contract that will provide for the modification of an existing contract to procure Sentinel radars and spares in support of Foreign Military Sales. Work will be performed in Fullerton, Calif., and Forest, Miss., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2013. … MacAulay-Brown Inc., Dayton, Ohio, was awarded a $30.9 million contract modification that exercises the first option year of the original contract. The option modification provides the same intelligence services to process, exploit and disseminate support services for Air Force Special Operations Command headquarters. The location of the performance is Hurlburt Field, Fla. The contracting activity is AFSOC/A7KQ, Hulburt Field.
Signet: Signet Maritime Corp. of Pascagoula, Miss., has delivered Signet 141, a 140-foot deck barge that will be available for charter throughout ports in the Gulf of Mexico and assist customers in the Port of Pascagoula. The Pascagoula facility began construction of the new vessel in May. Signet 141 was christened Dec. 20. (Post)