There were a lot of news stories of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor during the week, including "firsts" for the A320neo and F-22; a job posting for a test pilot in Mobile, Ala.; a magazine story about Mississippi's Stennis Space Center and its role in the Space Launch System program; and a story about a new customer for the F-35.
Here's your week in review:
Airbus has posted more positions for its A320 final assembly line being built in Mobile, Ala. One is for a test pilot. Successful candidates will be test pilot graduates holding a valid license from a recognized test pilot school and have earned a Class 1 medical certificate. (Post)
Airbus is also seeking additional liaison engineers. The three positions include liaison systems engineers for both cabin systems and power plant and electrical as well as liaison engineers for structure. (Post)
The plant at the Mobile Aeroplex will open in 2015 and produce its first aircraft in 2016. It will assemble 40 to 50 aircraft each year when it's producing at full speed. It's Airbus' fourth final assembly line for its A320 family of aircraft.
One of the aircraft the Mobile plant eventually will assemble is the A320neo, the more fuel efficient version of the popular single-aisle Airbus jetliner. That aircraft had a successful maiden flight late in the week in southwest France.
The plane, powered by Pratt and Whitney PW1100G-JM engines, flew for two hours and 22 minutes, kicking off a year of flight trials. The A320neo can also be purchased with LEAP-1A turbofans built by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric and Safran. (Post)
Airbus expects to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from the neo version of the plane. Neo is short for "new engine option," and is a more fuel-efficient variant of the "ceo" model, or current engine option. Airbus has received more than 3,000 orders for the new model. Airbus plans to deliver its first one in 2015.
Speaking of doing something for the first time, the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor jet fighter during the week flew its first combat operation. An Air Force official confirmed that the Raptor was used over Syria during nighttime operations against the Islamic State and other militant groups as part of a joint force of U.S. and Arabian Gulf region allies.
The F-22 fleet is relatively small. While the Pentagon originally planned on a major buy of the Lockheed Martin-built jets, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates pushed to end the plane’s production in the early days of the Obama administration. F-22 pilots are trained at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., which also has an operational squadron of the fighters. (Post)
Another fighter associated with the Gulf Coast region, the F-35, has won a new customer. The Republic of Korea decided to buy 40 Joint Strike Fighters. Korea opted for the conventional take off and landing variant, the F-35A, which is also used by the U.S. Air Force. Initial deliveries will begin in 2018. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)
-- During the week a modification was awarded to Lockheed Martin, $331.4 million, to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract for procurement of production non-recurring items, including special tooling, special test equipment items and software lab upgrades in support of F-35 aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, international partners, and foreign military sales.
Work will be done in Fort Worth, Texas; Nashua, N.H.; Orlando, Fla.; El Segundo, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; Cameri, Italy; Palmdale, Calif.; Samlesbury, United Kingdom; Irvine, Calif.; Baltimore, Md.; Cheltenham, United Kingdom; East Aurora, N.Y.; and Marietta, Ga. Work is expected to be completed in December 2017.
This modification combines purchases for the U.S. Air Force (34 percent); U.S. Navy (17 percent); the U.S. Marine Corps (17 percent); international partners (19 percent); and foreign military sales (13 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting authority. (Post)
Lockheed Martin also was awarded a $60 million modification to the previously awarded Lot IX F-35 advance acquisition contract to procure long lead parts, materials and components in support of the procurement of four additional F-35A Air Systems for the government of Japan under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in February 2015. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. (Post)
-- Also during the week, Alion Science and Technology Corp., Burr Ridge, Ill., was awarded a $49.9 million order to previously awarded contract for the F-35 program. The contractor will provide the application of materials, manufacturing and testing to increase supportability, survivability, producibility and affordability of the program.
The company also will develop, implement and enhance the analytical capabilities necessary to evaluate system performance, perform root cause analyses and identify failure modes or other support system deficiencies of components and end items modified through the application of advanced material, manufacturing and testing technology.
Work will be performed at Arlington, Va., and Rome, N.Y., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 29, 2016. Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity. (Post)
In addition to all our military activities, this region is also heavily involved in space programs, thanks to Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.
The October issue of Air and Space Smithsonian magazine has a well-written feature story on NASA's Space Launch System, which will be even more powerful than the Saturn V that played such a huge role in our nation’s space program.
The article focuses on Stennis Space Center, the nation's largest rocket engine test facility. Among the places visited by the writer was the room no larger than a convenience store that houses more than a billion dollars worth of irreplaceable RS-25 engines that will power the core stage of the SLS.
A lot of copy is also devoted to the historic B stand, where the four-engine SLS first stage will be tested in less than two years. This stand, listed as a National Historic Landmark, is where booster tests were done for both the Apollo program and the shuttle. It's a good read. (Post)
The 801st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., is among the winners in the 2014 Department of Defense Maintenance Awards announced Friday. The awards for depot and field-level units are presented annually to recognize outstanding achievements in weapon system and military equipment maintenance. The 801st was one of two award winners of the field-level maintenance award in the medium category. (Post)
-- In Florida, Walton County officials are letting the sun set on a half-cent tourist development tax levied since 2009 to help recruit and promote low-cost air carriers at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. The tax, part of the county bed tax, will expire at the end of the month. (Post)
A lot of contracts were awarded during the week with some ties to the Gulf Coast aerospace region. In six of them, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. Three of them went to Raytheon.
Raytheon Co. Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded an $11 million modification to previously awarded contract for GPS-Aided Inertial Navigation System II Phase III. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missiles Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $15 million modification to previously awarded contract for the Advanced Electronic Protection Improvement program. Contractor will provide a schedule extension of the AEPI contract for design, development, integration, test and implementation of performance enhancements to the AIM-120C-7 missile. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. ... Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $12.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile production lot 27. This contract is for Life-of-Type-Buy parts for AMRAAM contract line item number 6020 being produced under the basic contract. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.
Zodiac Data Systems Inc., Alpharetta, Ga., was awarded a $10 million contract for sustainment of the current Airborne Data Recorder fleet. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 26, 2019. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. ... Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $9 million contract for Subminiature Flight Safety System integration onto the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Armament Directorate, Advanced Programs Division, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … PowerSecure Inc., Wake Forest, N.C., was awarded an $8.3 million contract to repair and relocate an 115 kV transmission line. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be completed by Oct. 10, 2015. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.
Jacobs Technology, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $171.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for services in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division's Combat Environment Simulation Division. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity. … Exelis Inc., Clifton, N.J., was awarded a $71.5 million contract to provide Countermeasures System Operational Flight Program software deficiency analysis, block cycle software support, enhanced maintenance test set software support, original equipment manufacturer system sustaining engineering services and maintainability and reliability system line replaceable unit-10 final redesign. Hurlburt Field, Fla., will be one of the work locations. ... Fluor Federal Solutions LLC, Greenville, S.C., was awarded a $27.2 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise option three for base operations support services at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and the surrounding areas of Saufley Field, Corry Station, and Bronson Field. Work will be performed in Pensacola and is expected to be completed September 2015.
Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $7.3 million modification for extension of services for the C130J Maintenance and Aircrew Training System. Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., is among the work locations. ... Sikorsky Support Services Inc., Stratford, Conn., was awarded a $19.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract for organizational, intermediate, depot-level maintenance for T-34 and T-44 aircraft, and organization and intermediate maintenance for T-6 aircraft. In addition, this modification provides for logistics support, including labor, services, facilities, equipment, tools, related support equipment, direct and indirect material to support 36 T-34s, 54 T-44s, 42 T-6As, and 207 T-6B aircraft, based primarily at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla.; and Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Work will be performed in Corpus Christi (50 percent), Whiting Field (39 percent) Pensacola (8 percent) and various sites within the continental United States (3 percent), and is expected to be completed in December 2014. … Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, San Diego, Calif., was awarded a $78 million delivery order under a basic order agreement for initial Global Hawk Block 40 spare parts. Work will be performed at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Ga., and is expected to be complete by Sept. 24, 2018. Gulf Coast note: Central fuselage work on Global Hawks is done in Moss Point, Miss.