News items about the F-35 during the past week showed just how much the Lockheed Martin fighter is the product of an international effort. Not only is the jet important to Northwest Florida, where Eglin Air Force Base is home to the F-35 integrated training center, but to allies who invested money in the project.
First, Congress agreed during the week to provide $554.2 billion in funding for the military in fiscal 2015 that includes $224 million for two additional F-35A fighters for the Air Force and $255 million for two additional Navy F-35Cs. The measure funds a total of 38 F-35 fighters, nine more than in FY-14. (Post)
-- Italy and Turkey were chosen by the Pentagon to provide initial heavy maintenance of F-35 fighters in Europe starting in 2018. That paves the way for billions of dollars of work by companies in those countries and several others in coming years. Italy will provide initial heavy maintenance, with Britain providing backup airframe maintenance. Heavy maintenance on the F135 engine will be done in Turkey, but Norway and the Netherlands will also set up sites in a few years. (Post)
Meanwhile, Italy is preparing for the rollout of its first F-35A from the final assembly and checkout facility at Cameri Air Base in northern Italy. The first aircraft is scheduled to come off the line by March 2015. Italy invested about $1 billion in building the facility, which began operations last year. The original plan called for about 250 planes, 113 for Italy and 85 for the Netherlands, to be built at the plant. But the final number is up in the air. Cameri is also the site of Italy’s hub for Eurofighter Typhoon and Tornado work. (Post)
-- Northrop Grumman earlier this month completed the center fuselage for the first F-35 to be ordered by Norway, a conventional takeoff and landing variant designated AM-1. Northrop Grumman designed and produces the center fuselage for all three F-35 variants. The AM-1 center fuselage is the first of 52 fuselages that will be produce for Norway. Lockheed Martin will perform final assembly and checkout of the Norwegian F-35s in Fort Worth, Texas. (Post)
-- In a story out of Canada, a report says the F-35 has no clear edge over three other jet fighters Canada is considering to replace its fleet. The F-35, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and Boeing Super Hornet are all able of accomplish missions envisioned by Canadian military leaders. The only exception would be going to war with another state. Canada is one of the original nine partner nation in the F-35 program and for now still intends to buy 65 F-35s beginning in 2020. (Post)
-- Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $169.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide Depot Phase I-IV services to support Low Rate Initial Production Lot VII F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and international partners. Work will be done in New York, Texas, New Hampshire, California, Iowa, Florida, Michigan and the United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed in June 2018. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Air Force (47 percent), the U.S. Navy (33 percent); U.S. Marine Corps (14 percent); and international partners (6 percent). (Post)
Capt. Todd Bahlau will take over next week as commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla. He takes over from Capt. Matthew Coughlin, who is retiring. Bahlau is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and aviator who comes to Northwest Florida from duty with the U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. (Post)
-- The Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team announced updates to its 2015 Air Show season and the release of the 2016 schedule. The team will perform 65 shows at 35 locations in 2015, and 69 shows at 36 locations in 2016. The team is based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. (Post)
-- The Boeing 747 that's known as Air Force One when it's carrying the president spent a portion of last weekend at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., undergoing recertification testing. The plane recently completed a year-long maintenance cycle and is being tested before its return to service. (Post)
-- Northwest Florida Regional Airport is considering changing its name to Destin-Fort Walton Beach International Airport. The Department of Airports plans to ask Okaloosa County Board of Commissioners to consider the name change during a January meeting. (Post)
-- A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and aircrew rescued a man from a life raft 30 miles south of Venice, La., during the week. His vessel hit an unknown object and he had to use his life raft. (Post)
For the first time Fire Scouts unmanned helicopters will be at sea on four ships at the same time. Two East Coast-based frigates are deployed, each with four MQ-8B models. The LCS Forth Worth recently left San Diego for a planned 16-month deployment with a hybrid aviation detachment of one MQ-8B and one MH-60R Seahawk manned helicopter. Early this month the California-based Coast Guard National Security Cutter Bertholf got underway carrying two Fire Scouts, a first for an NSC. Finishing work on Fire Scouts is done in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)
I hope you had a chance to download the recent aerospace newsletter. We had four feature stories about aerospace activities in this region. One article was about aerospace activities in Northwest Florida's smaller, rural counties (Post), and another story about Continental Motors of Mobile, Ala. (Post) We also had an article about Marianna Airmotive, in Cantonment north of Pensacola, (Post), and a story about a new FAA-approved asphalt that’s more durable, stronger and fuel resistant is making some inroads at airports. (Post)
Reliable Contracting Group LLC, Louisville, Ky., was awarded an $8.4 million contract with options for replacing the fuel pipeline at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., with an estimated completion date of March 21, 2014. The Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $12.5 million modification to previously awarded contract for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system. Contractor will provide protected key management architecture (KMA) for installation, integration and factory test of the replacement KMA system with the existing AEHF control and space segments. Lockheed Martin does a portion of the work on the AEHF system at Stennis Space Center, Miss. … Composite Engineering Inc., Sacramento, Calif., was awarded a $72.4 million contract for Air Force Subscale Aerial Target Lots 11-13 production. Contractor will produce the AFSAT BQM-167A that will be used by the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group to test and evaluate air-to-air and surface-to-air weapons systems. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.