Saturday, September 21, 2013

Week in review (9/15 to 9/21)

Two space launches with Gulf Coast ties, multiple contracts related to the F-35, Lufthansa picks the XWB engine for a batch of A350s it’s buying; and the end of a joint engine development project of Rolls-Royce and Pratt and Whitney were among the items of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace region during the week.

There were also at least two items not appearing on the daily news feed that are of interest to this region. One was a story in Florida Today about surplus NASA facilities. It uses the A3 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center, Miss., to lead off the article. To see the story, click here.

The other story was about the F-35, like the ones stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., home of the joint training center. This story was in Vermont's Burlington Free Press and was about whether F-35s would use afterburners or not during takeoffs at the airport where some of the aircraft may eventually be stationed. There has been an ongoing debate in Vermont about whether the F-35 makes too much noise.

But the most interesting part of this latest story was near the end. Rosanne Greco, a South Burlington City Council member and F-35 critic, said that when a composite plane crashes, fire departments need specialized equipment to deal with the toxic fumes and to extinguish the fire. She's worried officials won't be prepared.

Then came this: "That plane is going to crash," she said. "It's a matter of where it's going to crash. I am really hoping it crashes soon so that we see what happens when it goes down. So we don't witness it if it went down here."

The words "I am really hoping it crashes" almost seemed to jump out from the page. Imagine that. And she's a former Air Force  officer, according to the paper. If you think that kind of comment got by the newspaper's readers, think again. There were hundres of comments, with many stunned she would wish an F-35 to crash. Click here to see the story and the comments.

While on the subject of F-35s, there were plenty of items on that topic during the week.

-- The Netherlands will buy 37 F-35s to replace its fleet of F-16s. The number of jets the Netherlands agreed to buy is much lower than the 85 it had initially sought to purchase, but the purchase has long been anticipated since the Netherlands has participated in the F-35 development. (Post)

-- Landing-gear tires made by Dunlop Aircraft Tyres Ltd. for the Marine Corps version of the F-35 have been wearing out at unacceptable rates when operated as a conventional aircraft. The tires cost about $1,500 apiece, and they are fine when used for short takeoffs and vertical landings. The Pentagon is working with Lockheed Martin and the U.K.-based Dunlop Tyres on a new design. (Post)

-- If you're Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, it was a pretty lucrative week. Four contracts with a value of $176.3 million related to the F-35 were awarded during the week. Add another contract related to the F-22 and the company chalked up $201.1 million in contracts. Here are the specifics:

The company was awarded a $99 million modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract to provide long lead-time parts, material and components required for the delivery of 19 conventional take off and landing F-35 aircraft for the U.S. Air Force. That was on the 18th. (Post) The company two days later was awarded a $46 million modification to a previously awarded F-35 low rate initial production Lot VI advance acquisition contract. (Post)

Lockheed Martin also was awarded a $20.5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement and delivery of electronic components needed to support F-35 production and sustainment requirements due to current diminishing manufacturing sources. (Post) Also, the company won a $10.8 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to provide initial non-prime mission equipment and interim technical support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter United States Reprogramming Laboratory. Seventy percent of that work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post) The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority for all four of those F-35 contracts.

In addition, Lockheed Martin also was awarded a $24.9 million modification to previously awarded contract for technology upgrades to facilitate a new operating system for the F-22 training systems at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., as well as Sheppard, Langley, Nellis, Hickam, and Elmendorf Air Force bases. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. Tyndall is where the Air Force trains pilots to fly the Raptor. (Post)

Rolls-Royce and United Technologies Corp. junked a joint venture to develop an engine to power future mid-size aircraft. It was blamed on the current regulatory environment. The partnership between was originally announced in the fall of 2011. In addition to the joint-venture agreement in 2011, Rolls-Royce around the same time agreed to sell its stake in the International Aero Engines venture to Pratt & Whitney. That $1.5 billion deal closed in June 2012. (Post)

-- Lufthansa selected Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines worth $1.5 billion, including service
support, to power 25 Airbus A350-900 aircraft. Lufthansa has 60 Trent-powered Airbus A380s, A330s and A340s either in service or on order. Rolls-Royce tests engines, including the XWB, at its outdoor test stand at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

The third in a series of secure U.S. military communications satellites successfully launched during the week aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The Advanced Extremely High Frequency-3 satellite faces 110 days of orbit-raising operations and 60 days of testing. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Sunnyvale, Calif., is building six AEHF satellites under a contract worth some $9 billion. Core propulsion system work on the AEHF satellite is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- Orbital Science's Cygnus spacecraft took off Wednesday atop an Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Va. The commercial spacecraft is heading for the International Space Station with about 1,500 pounds of goods. If everything goes as planned, Cygnus will be the second commercial spacecraft to dock with ISS. SpaceX's Dragon capsule was the first. The Antares AJ26 engines are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

A Federal Aviation Administration grant of $2.74 million will be used to build a $3 million Eglin Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting station on military land south of the Northwest Florida Regional Airport terminal. Okaloosa County will contribute $154.8 million and the state Department of Transportation will provide $150,000. (Post)

-- In recognition of National POW/MIA Day, Eglin Air Force Base honored America's former prisoners of war and missing in action with a ceremony Friday at the Air Force Armament Museum, outside the main gate. (Post)

L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison Miss., won an $11.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract for trainer maintenance services. Work will be done at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, with an expected completion date of Sept. 30, 2014. … Environmental Management Resources Inc., Lawrence, Kan., was awarded $11.4 million under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract for renovation and repair of Corry "A" School Bachelor Quarters 3707 and 3708 at Corry Station, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Work is expected to be completed by March 2015. … The Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $6.8 million modification to previously awarded contract for full food services at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., with an expected completion date of Sept. 30, 2017.

LCS modules: Northrop Grumman received a $25.2 million contract from the Navy for additional Littoral Combat Ship Mission Modules. The Independence-class of the LCS is built in Mobile, Ala., by Austal USA. (Post)

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