Saturday, June 28, 2014

Week in review (6/22 to 6/28)

Stories about the F-35 were all over the Gulf Coast aerospace news feed during the week. It started when an F-35A, the Air Force variant of the plane, had a fire at the rear of the plane as it was getting ready for take-off.

Flights of the Air Force's conventional takeoff and landing variants have been suspended pending outcome of an investigation. But te Marines resumed flying the F35B variant Friday, and still plan to fly several of the jets to the U.K. next month for the Royal International Air Tatoo and Farnborough International Air Show. Four of the Marine jets, which can take off and land vertically, arrived in southern Maryland Friday to be prepared for their trans-Atlantic flights.

Meanwhile, according to Reuters, sources said engine pieces and fragments were found on the runway at Eglin after the fire, the first confirmation that the fire involved the plane's Pratt and Whitney-built engine.

-- In an unrelated F-35 item, the Air Force said it will continue to limit F-35 flights over Valparaiso to minimize the impact of jet noise. The decision overruled a previous recommendation to lift restrictions.

Takeoffs and landings on a runway that sends traffic over Valparaiso will only be allowed in emergencies, unplanned contingencies and when forced by weather. Lifting restrictions would have allowed up to an average of 33 operations over Valparaiso per day, but Friday's decision limits operations to an average of one per day.

In practice, it means many days with no operations at all and other days with more than one, said Kathleen Ferguson, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics. (Post)

-- There was some positive news for the F-35 during the week. The projected cost to upgrade F-35s declined by about $920 million, or 36 percent, in less than two years. That's according to the Pentagon’s latest analysis.

The estimate for improvements and corrections for Lockheed Martin aircraft already built or planned in contracts to be awarded through 2016 has dropped to about $1.65 billion from a $2.57 billion estimate in September 2012. The need to retrofit the planes stems from the Defense Department's decision to produce the F-35 even as it’s still being developed, called concurrency. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin won two contracts during the week related to the F-35. In one, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $76 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 252 helmet mounted display systems in support of the F-35 aircraft for the Navy, Air Force, and the governments of Japan and Israel. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in July 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)

In another award, Lockheed won an $8.9 million cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to the previously awarded advance acquisition contract for the procurement of 14 repeatable release holdback bars and common sustainment support of the F-35 Low Rate Initial Production 6 aircraft. Work is expected to be completed in March 2017. This modification combines purchases for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and the international partners. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)

Airbus awarded two key contracts during the week.

The company awarding a contract to Terex Material Handling to supply Demag crane installations for its new assembly facility in Mobile, Ala. Ten process cranes will be employed for the final assembly of A320 family aircraft in three production hangars.

The process cranes, measuring up to 218 feet in length, feature up to four suspensions for handling of sensitive aircraft components. Demag Cranes is a German heavy equipment manufacturer, a part of U.S.-based Terex. The A320 final assembly line is being built at Mobile Aeroplex and will open in 2015. It will produce its first A320 in 2016. (Post)

Airbus also has a contract with DHL Global Forwarding, the air and ocean freight specialist within Deutsche Post DHL, which will provide transportation of A319, A320 and A321 aircraft components and general cargo from Hamburg, Germany, to Mobile.

DHL will provide air, ocean and road freight services beginning in 2015. The agreement comprises general cargo, which will be shipped via air and ocean, and major aircraft components including rear fuselage, forward fuselage, wings, and the vertical as well as horizontal tail plane.

The major components will be shipped via coaster from amburg to Bremerhaven, Germany, where they will be loaded onto container liner shipping service. After their arrival in Mobile, trucks will take care of delivery to the final assembly line at the Mobile Aeroplex. (Post)

-- The Alabama Industrial Development Training program's $7 million Alabama Aviation Training Center, already opened for a month, had a grand opening Tuesday in Mobile. The facility not far from the $600 million Airbus final assembly line site, has six classrooms, five labs, general office space, a conference room, break room and a shop floor where the majority of the training will take place. (Post)

There were two recent acquisitions involving Gulf Coast operations.

In one, Continental Motors Group's MRO subsidiary, Mattituck Services Inc., will purchase Southern Avionics and Communications Inc., of Mobile, Ala. Southern Avionics has been involved in avionics sales, installation and services since 1981 and has 14 employees at the Mobile Aeroplex.

The purchase adds avionics and aircraft interior maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities to Mattituck Services, located in Fairhope, Ala. Mattituck has been involved in general aviation service since 1996 and has 20 full-time workers. It offers overhaul/repair for Continental and Lycoming engines and major aircraft repairs. Southern Avionics has serviced aircraft ranging from small personal aircraft to large corporate jets. (Post)

In the other, Air Methods Corp. of Colorado, an air medical transportation firm, said it has acquired Baptist Health Care Pensacola’s four bases of operations for its aeromedical LifeFlight ambulance service. The change is effective immediately.

The four operating bases are in Pensacola; Semmes, Ala.; Greenville, Ala.; and Hattiesburg, Miss. Each has an EC-130 helicopter owned by AMC. As part of the acquisition, 43 clinical Baptist employees will join the Air Methods team. (Post)

NASA completed the most complex and flight-like test of the parachute system for the
agency's Orion spacecraft during the week. A test version of Orion touched down safely in
the Arizona desert after being pulled out of a C-17 aircraft, 35,000 feet above the Army's Yuma Proving Ground.

The test also marked the last time the entire parachute sequence will be tested before Orion launches into space in December on its first space flight test, EFT-1. During the flight, an uncrewed Orion launched by an Atlas V will travel 3,600 miles into space, farther than any spacecraft built to carry humans has been in more than 40 years.

The Orion for EFT-1 was built at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans. Stennis Space Center, Miss., is testing the engines that will be used in NASA's Space Launch System that will be used for future Orion launches. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $1.9 billion modification to a previously awarded contract for Space-Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) 5 and 6 satellites.

This contract modification will complete the production of the SBIRS GEO 5/6 satellites, which was started with the procurement of long lead parts, and also complete the associated ground operations and processing updates. The contract modification also includes adding options for acoustic testing, launch vehicle integration, launch and early on-orbit testing, and contractor operations support.

Work will be done in Sunnyvale and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2022. Space and Missile System Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base/El Segundo, Calif., is the contracting activity. Work on the SBIRS core propulsion system is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

Economic development
Gulf Power has launched an interactive website to market industrial sites and attract businesses to Northwest Florida. highlights 13 sites in that are going through the company’s site certification program. The program is designed to create an inventory of shovel-ready parcels of land that a business prospect can occupy quickly. It is similar to programs in nearby Alabama and Mississippi. (Post)

-- Enterprise City Schools are asking for help from the city council to fund a $16.5 million improvement plan designed in part to bolster the community’s support of nearby Fort Rucker. At a recent joint work session of the school board and city council, Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell applauded the school superintendent for helping the city prepare for an impending BRAC round. (Post)

Contract - Unmanned
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded two contracts related to unmanned systems during the week. In one, it was awarded a $63 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the Phase II continuation of post-demonstration activities in support of the Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program.

Activities include continued X-47B aircraft systems, test bed and flight test support at both shore-based locations and associated carrier detachments, continued development of Fleet Concepts of Operations, X-47B maintenance support, lab and test bed operational support and continued flight test opportunities.

While the X-47B program doesn’t involve the Gulf Coast, it’s of high interest because this is where future naval aviators are trained, and this is also where work is done on two other Northrop Grumman UAVs, Fire Scout and Global Hawk. (Post)

In the other award, Northrop Grumman was awarded an $8.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the extension of engineering and software sustainment services in support of the Fire Scout MQ-8B unmanned helicopter. Work will be performed in San Diego and is expected to be completed in November 2014. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Moss Point, Miss., is the final assembly line for the MQ-8B as well as the larger MQ-8C (Post)

Contract - Others
EADS-NA, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $14.4 million modification to a contract to exercise options for contractor logistics support for the Utility Helicopter 72A Lakota, which is built in Columbus, Miss. Estimated completion date is May 15, 2015. EADS-NA now goes by the name the Airbus Group. … Raytheon Co. Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $80.8 million contract for the Lot 7 Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer (MALD-J) missile (200 each) to include: data, mission planning, process verification program, and operational flight software. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBJM, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Foundry: Rolls-Royce North America is closing the foundry at its Pascagoula, Miss., plant and expects to lose 24 of the 47 employees. The plant's machining operation will continue. (Post)
Accident: Five people were injured, one seriously, after the collapse of two cranes moving part of a ship under construction at VT Halter Marine. (Post)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ex-Im debate rages

A lot of folks involved in aerospace are keeping a close eye on the debate over whether to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Those who want it to fade away say it doles out billions to companies that don't need it. They call it corporate welfare. But those who want it to remain say it's critical to letting U.S. companies stay competitive on the world stage.

The Ex-Im Bank, created in 1934 by executive order as part of the New Deal, is both a bank and federal agency. It provides guarantees, direct loans and other financing to foreign buyers to help U.S. companies sell goods and services abroad. It helps aerospace companies like Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, Sikorsky and others make big sales abroad.

But it's not uniquely American. Other countries, including the U.K., France and Germany, have export credit agencies to help their companies, like Airbus. Canada and Japan also have similar organizations, as does the up and coming aerospace player China.

The argument may be reminiscent of those made over incentives. You may not like incentives, but everyone else offers them and you're at a disadvantage if you don't. The same seems to be the case with export credit agencies. Drop Ex-Im and the U.S. is at a disadvantage selling abroad.

So who wants it killed and who wants it to live? Democrats, some House Republicans, and businesses big and small are backers of Ex-Im. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers are also backers, and created a coalition that includes 865 organizations.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is another backer, urging its 600,000 members to oppose efforts to defund the bank. IAM says the bank provides guarantees that supports more than 200,000 U.S. jobs.

"Without Ex-Im Bank financing, the U.S. aerospace industry will be at a severe disadvantage as European and non-European competitors would continue supporting their companies through their comprehensive industrial policies," said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. He adds that as China's export credit agency grows, "why would we want to eliminate one of the only effective tools the U.S. has to compete with China?"

But there are plenty of opponents. The Ex-Im Bank debate has split the Republican Party between those concerned about corporate welfare and those committed to the traditional allegiances with big business. Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson has said he opposes reauthorization unless there are changes to the way the bank finances the sale of wide body aircraft. Delta feels Ex-Im gives an unfair advantage to the airline’s foreign competitors.

Because Boeing benefits greatly from Ex-Im, one might assume Airbus would be opposed to the bank. But you would be wrong. Airbus, which could gain significantly if Ex-Im's authorization lapsed, is not opposed to the lender. The aircraft manufacturer told Flightglobal in 2012 that it would welcome financial support for any aircraft assembled at its new final assembly line being built in Mobile, Ala., and exported from the United States.

But Doug Greco, vice-president of sales finance at Airbus Americas, said in March that he has no "thoughts" on Ex-Im reauthorisation. He noted that Airbus expects a significant number of the first A320 family jetliners assembled in Mobile to go to U.S. customers. But that might not always be the case.

For this region, where the aerospace footprint is growing, the benefits from the continuation of the Ex-Im Bank seem apparent. It makes it easier to sell products and services abroad, and while the U.S. market continues to be the world's most robust, the rest of the world is growing in importance. And selling parts of services abroad will be a key to future growth.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Week in review (6/15 to 6/21)

The military during the week ordered mandatory inspections of all F-35 fighter jets after a Marine Corps F-35B suffered an in-flight emergency. A majority of the 97 F-35s in the fleet had already been inspected and cleared to resume flights on Monday.

The inspections were focused on the oil flow management valve fitting on all F135 engines, which are built by Pratt & Whitney. The valve provides oil flow to the engine bearing compartments. (Post)

In another engine-related story, Pratt and Whitney leadership, employees, and state and local leaders early in the week dedicated the company's new engine center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The expansion of Florida's Palm Beach County facility is designed to meet the forecasted demands of the Next Generation Product Family of engines, and also provides a critical second source for the F135 engine used in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

It was two years ago when the expansion of the facility was announced, an investment of more than $63 million. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 training center, and Airbus is building an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

Airbus Americas is seeking aircraft quality conformance specialists for its A320 final assembly line being built at the Mobile Aeroplex in Alabama. The position requires a minimum of four months' training abroad and a degree in aerospace/industrial engineering or business quality management is preferred. Click here for a complete list of job postings. (Post)

-- Airbus Group's name change is enhancing how the European weapons and plane maker is perceived. That’s according to Allan McArtor, chairman and chief executive of Airbus Group Inc., the U.S. unit of the European company. The company formerly known as EADS announced the rebranding last summer to highlight the name of its commercial plane unit, Airbus.

"Already, it's made an impact, particularly on Capitol Hill," McArtor said in an interview at the AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum in Atlanta. McArtor said Airbus is still looking to expand its share of the U.S. defense market by selling its helicopters, explosive detection technologies and other products.

He said the new A320 final assembly line being built in Mobile, Ala., will produce four planes a month by 2017, but can ramp up to eight a month if needed. Citing feedback from Delta and JetBlue, McArtor said airlines love the idea of taking delivery of planes in Mobile. (Post)

Airbus and Safran agreed to set up a joint venture to develop launchers for satellites and other space vehicles in a move intended to provide stronger competition for rivals like SpaceX. The 50-50 venture will combine Airbus’s launch technology with Safran's propulsion systems.

The venture is designed to ensure Europe can keep pace with U.S. performers such as SpaceX, one of a dozen or so private space companies racing to develop lower-cost technology, as well as increasing competition from China and Russia. Airbus and Safran both have operations in Mobile, Ala. (Post)

-- NASA's Orion spacecraft is taking shape at the agency's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The media was invited to a status update on Orion and to see the spacecraft during the week. Technicians began attaching the crew module on top of the completed service module on Monday, the first step in moving the three primary Orion elements into the correct configuration for launch.

This is all part of NASA's Space Launch System program, designed to carry astronauts deeper in space than ever before. Orion was built at Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans, and rocket engines for the SLS program are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. But Orion on this first flight will be lifted atop a Delta IV, which is powered by RS-68 engines tested at SSC. (Post)

Lockheed Martin successfully fired HELLFIRE and DAGR missiles from its Long Range Surveillance and Attack Vehicle (LRSAV) turreted weapon system during recent ground-to-ground tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The LRSAV ground-vehicle weapon system uses advanced missile and weapon control-system technologies and a newly developed 15-inch, spherical, mast-mounted electro-optical/infrared sensor to enable targeting. (Post)

Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy demonstrated a new multimode maritime surveillance radar on the MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter that will enhance long-range imaging and search capabilities for Navy commanders. It will provide the MQ-8B Fire Scout with essential operational capabilities in all tactical environments and will improve how it addresses threats in real-world scenarios.

Northrop Grumman modified a Telephonics AN/ZPY-4 multi-mode maritime surveillance radar system used for manned aircraft so it could be used on the MQ-8B. Final assembly of the Fire Scout B and C variants is done in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

The Boeing Co. Defense, Space and Security, St. Louis, Mo., was awarded an $80 million contract for Small Diameter Bomb Increment 1 (SDB 1) technical support. The contractor will provide SDB 1 weapon integration support, including technical support to the designated aircraft System Program Offices testing, upgrades, program management support, and software updates to the SDB 1system required to integrate the SBD 1 weapon system with other weapons systems. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/EBMK, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Head Inc., Columbus, Ohio, was awarded a $13.7 million contract for the repair of the airfield at Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base New Orleans. The work to be performed provides for the repair of the main runway 4/22 and taxiways associated with runway 4/22.

Keel: Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant spoke Friday at a keel authentication ceremony at Ingalls Shipbuilding for the amphibious assault ship Tripoli (LHA 7). (Story)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Week in review (6/8 to 6/14)

Late next month the Gulf Coast region will be saying goodbye to an energetic visionary who clearly understands the important economic development role of airports. But he's going to a place that is right at the forefront of Florida's aerospace activities.

I'm talking about Greg Donovan, director of the city-owned Pensacola International Airport. He's leaving at the end of next month to become executive director of the Melbourne Airport Authority/Melbourne International Airport.

Donovan has lead Pensacola's airport since early 2013. During his tenure, the airport added new service from Southwest Airlines and Silver Airways, increased seating capacity by 13 percent and the 127-room Hyatt Place hotel at the airport campus was completed. More than $21 million in federal and state aviation grants also were secured during his tenure.

Donovan has been instrumental in elevating the profile of the airport as an economic development engine. The 350 acres of airport land being made available to aviation companies under Donovan’s tenure was the subject of a story in the first issue of the Gulf Coast Reporters' League aerospace newsletter. One of the companies interested in setting up shop at the airport is ST Aerospace, a maintenance, repair and overhaul company based in Singapore that already has a large operation in Mobile. (Post)

I met Donovan a few years ago when he was head of the airports in Okaloosa County. In that position he oversaw the operations at Northwest Florida Regional Airport in Valparaiso, Destin Airport and Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, which is heavily used by the region's military aviation bases. It's also home to several big aerospace companies, including BAE Systems and L-3.

But the move is understandable. Donovan is going to a region that's a major aerospace and defense hotspot with a worldwide reputation. Melbourne is part of Florida's Space Coast, and the city of Melbourne itself is home to Northrop Grumman, Embraer, Rockwell Collins, DRS Technologies and more.

Donovan, a graduate of the Melbourne-based Florida Institute of Technology, will be a great fit in the Space Coast region. According to a Gannett news service story, Melbourne Mayor Kathy Meehan said one detail that stuck out with Donovan was that he was still promoting the Pensacola airport during his tour of the Melbourne facility. She said he handed her a promotional brochure of that airport after their one-on-one interview.

The big news for Airbus during the week was the United Arab Emirates decision to cancel its order for 70 Airbus A350 commercial jetliners. The deal was worth an estimated $16 billion. The other big company that took a hit from the decision was Rolls-Royce, which supplies the XWB engine for the A350.

Airbus says it's already received calls from other airlines interested in the slots, and Rolls-Royce said it was confident the delivery slots that start towards the end of the decade will be taken up by other airlines.

More than 700 A350s have been sold along with 1,400 of the Trent XWB engines. Rolls-Royce tests its Trent line of engines, including the XWB, at its outdoor test stand at Stennis Space Center, Miss. An A350 recently was tested for extreme weather conditions at Eglin Air Force Base's McKinley Climatic Lab.

-- Another Airbus plane with a direct link to this region is, of course, the A320. The highly popular plane will be assembled in Mobile, Ala., at its $600 million plant at the Mobile Aeroplex. So anything about sales of A320s is of interest to this region.

That said, Allegiant Air of Las Vegas will acquire 14 Airbus A320 family jetliners and will buy two additional A319s it currently leases. It will also buy six A319s when they are delivered in late 2014 through 2015 from lessor GECAS, which agreed to lease the aircraft to Allegiant in 2012. The 14 A320 family aircraft that Allegiant will acquire includes 12 A319s now leased to an European airline until 2018. (Post)

-- Airbus will provide A320 family flight simulator training and courses to Mexican airline Volaris in Miami and Mexico as part of an agreement that includes more than 25,000 flight training hours for 500 pilots. The all-Airbus operator has ordered a total of 74 aircraft to date and operates 47 A320 family aircraft. Training of Volaris pilots has already begun at the Airbus Training Center in Miami, and in 2015 Airbus will provide the airline with flight training in Mexico City, where the airline is based. It will be Airbus’ first flight training center in Latin America. (Post)

Lockheed Martin expects to sign a contract with the Defense Department this summer for an eighth batch of 43 F-35 fighters. The deal is unlikely to match price reductions seen in the last several pacts, according to CFO Bruce Tanner. Although DOD’s F-35 program chief hoped to sign a new deal by the end of May, Tanner says it's still possible by the end of June. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home to F-35 training center. (Post)

The U.S. Air Force awarded the Dr. James G. Roche Sustainment Excellence Award for superior performance in aircraft maintenance and logistics readiness to the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft program. It's the second year in a row that the company won the award.

Global Hawk has flown 100,500 total flight hours supporting diverse global missions. Carrying a variety of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor payloads, Global Hawk supports
antiterrorism, antipiracy, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, airborne communications and information-sharing missions. Central fuselage work on the Global Hawk is done in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

-- Northrop Grumman System Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $61.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for operations and maintenance services in support of the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance – Demonstrator (BAMS-D) Unmanned Aircraft System. This effort will provide logistics support; organization, intermediate, and depot (D) -level maintenance; and field service representatives, to ensure that the BAMS-D aircraft are mission-capable for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. The operational version of the demonstrator project is called "Triton," and uses a Global Hawk airframe. Central fuselage work on Global Hawks is done in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

LCS: USS Coronado (LCS 4), the second Mobile, Ala.-built Independence class Littoral Combat Ship, completed it final contract trials June 6 off the coast of San Diego. (Post)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Week in review (6/1 to 6/7)

More hiring at the Airbus plant in Mobile; more orders for A320s; the arrival of the final F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base; more contracts related to the F-35; and a new assignment at Hurlburt Field were among the news items of interest to the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor during the week.

Delta Air Lines is ordering 15 A321 aircraft, and many of them will be built and delivered at the new plant in Mobile, Ala. Delta is going with the current engine option, selecting CFM56-5B engines from CFM International, slated to be delivered starting in 2018. The Mobile plant has begun the hiring process, and aircraft assembly will begin there next year. (Post)

Speaking of hirings, the Airbus plant is looking to fill four logistics coordinator positions for its new A320 final assembly line. Logistics coordinators will be the first contact for operations on any planning and logistics issues, acting as liaisons between production and the logistics service provider company. (Post)

-- Canada's Bombardier suffered a setback to plans to build a jetliner to compete against the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 when a C Series flight test vehicle had an engine failure. The plane was on the ground at an airport near Montreal when one of the two Pratt & Whitney Pure Power engines caught fire. The cause is being investigated. (Post)

The 58th Fighter Squadron became the Air Force's first complete F-35A squadron with the delivery of the 26th and final F-35A May 28 to the 33rd Fighter Wing. The last F-35A delivered is more capable than the first F-35A delivered three years ago as a result of the F-35 program's concurrency development model. The 33rd FW is home to the F-35 Integrated Training Center responsible for F-35 A/B/C pilot and maintainer training for the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force and, in the future, at least eight international partners. (Post)

-- Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $113.4 million modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract for operations and maintenance support; non-recurring and recurring engineering sustainment, site activation, and depot activation work in support of Low Rate Initial Production Lot VIII F135 propulsion systems. The F135 powers F-35 fighters. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $90.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract to incorporate the updated system architecture into the original Diminishing Manufacturing Sources redesign activity for the Electronic Warfare System in support of the F-35 Lot VII effort for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marines and the governments of the F-35 International Partners. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $122 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the procurement of initial aircraft spares for the F-35 aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and international partners. (Post)

A mishap involving a Training Air Wing FIVE TH-57 Sea Ranger helicopter occurred during the week at Naval Air Station Whiting Field's Navy Outlying Landing Field Spencer in Pace, Fla. Both student and instructor have been released from a local hospital, where they underwent routine evaluation for minor injuries. (Post)

Col. Kirk W. Smith, selected to the grade of brigadier general, is being assigned from special assistant to the commander, Headquarters United States Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., to director, plans, requirements and programs, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla. (Post)

-- Former Blue Angels lead pilot Capt. Greg McWherter has been found guilty by the Navy of violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice in a case of sexual harassment involving the elite flight demonstration team when he commanded it for nearly four years ending in 2012. The probe focused on allegations that he allowed sexual harassment within the Pensacola-based flight demonstration squadron, the Navy said. (Post)

The Navy's X-47B unmanned aerial vehicle will join the fleet in the summer for a new round of testing that includes landing and take offs alongside manned F/A-18 jets and flying in patterns from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. The goal after that is an autonomous aerial refueling. Northrop Grumman operates the Unmanned Systems Center at Moss Point, Miss., where they do fuselage work on all variants of the Global Hawk and final assembly of Fire Scout unmanned helicopters. (Post)

ESA South Inc., Cantonment, Fla., was awarded a $45 million contract for emergency temporary roof repairs to residential structures in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster response.