Saturday, December 27, 2014

Week in review (12/21 to 12/27)

News of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor during the week included Lockheed Martin meeting its target delivery number for F-35s; Airbus delivering its first A350 XWB; certification of a Pratt and Whitney engine for the A320neo; launch of an Air Force study of test ranges; and the MQ-8C Fire Scout getting its sea legs.

Here's your week in review:

Lockheed Martin met its 2014 target of delivering 36 F-35 fighters, according to DoD's F-35 program office. The U.S. accepted the last of the 36 jets early in the week. It was the first carrier-variant built for the Marine Corps.

Lockheed Martin, which is building three F-35 variants, has delivered 109 operational F-35s to the U.S. and partner-nations since 2001. Eight other countries that helped fund its development are Canada, Britain, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark. Israel, South Korea and Japan have also placed orders.

The first Marine F-35C will be assigned to the Navy's VFA-101 "Grim Reapers" squadron of the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. After delivery, it will be used for maintenance and pilot training at Eglin. (Post)

The first A350 XWB has been delivered to Qatar Airways. The jetliner is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. More than 1,500 engines have already been sold to 40 customers. Trent engines, including the XWB, are tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

Pratt and Whitney's engine for the Airbus A320neo family of jetliners, scheduled to enter service in late 2015, has been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. The engine powered the A320neo when it took its maiden test flight in September. Airbus has more than 3,300 orders for the A320neo family as of November, according to the company. The newest A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., will open in 2015. (Post)

The Air Force has launched a major study into the future of its test ranges. Steven Pennington, director of Bases, Ranges, and Airspace for the Air Force, said the focus of the review is finding how much operational infrastructure is needed to enable current and future readiness.

Pennington made clear that big ranges, such as Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and Eglin Air Force Bases, Fla., won't be going anywhere and remain vital for composite force training and testing of high-tech jets such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Part of the need for the new infrastructure is the increasingly advanced technology being fielded by the service, like the F-35. Eglin is where the Air Force develops and tests air-delivered weapons systems and it’s also home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)

While on the subject of Eglin, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Dec. 16, the Defense Department doesn't know whether its hundreds of testing and training ranges in the U.S. are vulnerable to spying by foreign entities doing business near those properties.

According to Stars and Stripes, the report says the Pentagon hasn't done a risk assessment, nor has it determined which ranges are the most critical to protect. The Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy operate 450 test and training ranges on U.S. soil, used for air-to-air and ground-to-air missile launches, live-fire artillery, armor and small-arms training, and ship and submarine maneuvers.

For its report, GAO interviewed officials from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Nellis AFB, Nev., Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev.; and the Army’s White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The sites were chosen because they represent three of the services and are located near federally managed lands on which foreign encroachment has been a concern. GAO recommended DoD determine vulnerability, critical need and threat exposure of each of the ranges. (Story)

The Gulf Coast region has multiple test and training ranges, including the vast ranges of the Gulf of Mexico. Naval aviators are trained in this region, along with F-35 and F-22 pilots. It’s also home of the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Miss., Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Miss., and Navy and NASA test and training activities at Stennis Space Center, Miss.

-- At Hurlburt Field, Fla., an AC-130H Spectre gunship named "Wicked Wanda" took her last flight Dec. 19 and is scheduled to officially retire in 2015. The gunship, Tail Number 6575, has deployed in nearly every conflict the U.S. has been involved in, officially and unofficially, since the end of the Vietnam War. Eventually the plane with a 43-year combat history will be displayed in the Hurlburt Field Air Park. (Post)

For the first time ever, Northrop Grumman's MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter flew off a Navy ship, the guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109). It happened this month off the Virginia coast.

After more than a year of land-based testing at Point Mugu, Calif., the MQ-8C performed 22 takeoffs and 22 landings while being controlled from the ship's ground control station. The MQ-8C, which uses a Bell 407 airframe, is a larger version of the MQ-8B Fire Scout, which uses a Schweizer helicopter airframe. The B variant has tested aboard ships on numerous occasions.

Final assembly for both variants is done in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)

United Technologies Aerospace Systems was recognized as a Gold Tier supplier for the Defense Department's Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) as part of DoD’s Superior Supplier Incentive Program.

UTC Aerospace Systems currently has spare parts contracts with the DLA that span across all of UTC Aerospace Systems' segments, including actuation and propeller systems, nacelle systems, air management systems, electric systems, ejection seats, sensing systems, landing gear, engine systems, sensor systems, and wheels and brakes.

UTC's Aerospace System's aerostructures business unit at Foley, Ala., designs, builds and supports nacelle systems for commercial and military aircraft. The Foley site houses original equipment work as well as the Alabama Service Center, a maintenance, repair and overhaul site for nacelle components. (Post)

Pratt and Whitney, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $270.5 million contract modification for F119 engine sustainment. Some of the work will be done at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2015. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $491.5 million contract for Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) production Lot 28. Contractor will provide AMRAAM missiles and other AMRAAM system items. This contract involves foreign military sales to Korea, Oman, Singapore, and Thailand. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $21.9 million contract for advanced medium range air to air missile (AMRAAM) technical support. Contractor will provide technical services and analysis supporting the AMRAAM weapon system. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

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