Furloughs at a Cantonment aerospace company; a contract approval by members of a union; changes in F-35 flights over town near Eglin; a report critical of the F-35 engine; and two F-35 contracts totaling some $300 million were among the stories of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace region during the week.
Here's the week in review:
Marianna Airmotive has furloughed part of its workforce because of a slowdown in work for the government. The company, which overhauls and fabricates parts for Air Force C-5 aircraft, has not closed and expects to bring workers back when some expected contracts come through. In the most recent figures available, the company had 125 workers. (Post)
Meanwhile, union members of local 2777 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers ratified a three-year agreement with L-3 Vertex Aerospace at Naval Air Station Whiting Field. The agreement includes a three percent general wage increase for each year of the contract, among other things. (Post)
Work on a runway will cause the temporary shift of F-35 operations to another runway, which may lead to a slight increase in noise over Valparaiso for a few months. Most F-35 flight operations at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., use Runway 12/30, but that runway was closed for upgrades Friday. The F-35 traffic will shift to Runway 01/19, the base’s main north/south runway.
The Air Force also said that Eglin will become a temporary host to 15 F-35Cs that are part of the Navy’s backup aircraft inventory. The 15 planes will relocate to Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., when construction there is completed in three years. (Post)
-- A Government Accountability Office report slammed the reliability of Pratt and Whitney's F-35 engine. Federal auditors warned lawmakers that the engine "has a long way to go to meet program goals." Company executives said they were surprised by the strong language, and that the report, while accurate, fails to tell the rest of the story. The company says it’s updated its latest production engines to fix prior reliability issues, and those engines are meeting current government reliability marks. (Post)
Even with the criticism, Pratt and Whitney Military Engines of East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $157 million advance acquisition contract during the week to procure long lead-time components, parts, materials and effort in support of 90 low-rate initial production Lot X F-135 propulsions systems for the F-35.
It includes 44 F-135-PW-100 for the Air Force; 9 F-135-PW-600 for the Marine Corps; and 2 F-135-PW-100 for the Navy. In addition, this contract provides for the procurement of 30 F-135-PW-100 and 5 F135-PW-600 systems for international partners and Foreign Military Sales customers. (Post)
-- In addition to the F135 engine contract, the Defense Department during the week awarded another contract related to the F-35, this one to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Ft. Worth, Texas. It was awarded a $142.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract to continue development of the Joint Strike Fighter Autonomics Logistics Information System Standard Operating Unit Version 2 capability development effort.
ALIS monitors every component of the aircraft and alerts operators of any breakdowns. At least that's what it's supposed to do. But complaints heard by members of Congress range from the user-unfriendliness and slow response to queries to the high frequency of false alarms.
This modification includes the incorporation of sub-squadron reporting, dynamic routing, and decentralized maintenance capabilities. Work will be done in Orlando, Fla., and Fort Worth, Texas (20 percent), and is expected to be completed in July 2017. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. (Post)
Airbus awarded Turkish Aerospace Industries a new contract to supply its A320 aircraft with fuselage panels. Turkish Aerospace Industries has been the sole supplier for the Section 18 fuselage panels for the A320 since 2014. The new contract gives the Turkish company responsibility to manufacture another section of the Airbus A320 aircraft called Section 19. An A320 final assembly line will open in Mobile, Ala., this year. (Post)
Army Aviation's 1st Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment at Fort Rucker, Ala., has a new commanding officer. Lt. Col. James Ashburn assumed command last month during a change of command ceremony. Ashburn returns to Fort Rucker from an assignment with the joint plans office, and executive officer, for the U.S. Central Command headquarters in south Florida. He attended the Officer Basic Course and Initial Entry Rotary Wing Training at Fort Rucker after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy. (Post)
Systima Technologies Inc., Kirkland, Wash., was awarded a $12.5 million contract for stand-off precision guided munitions (SOPGM) precision strike capability. Contractor will provide support of the munition system carriage and release with products for employing SOPGMs and precision strike packages; installation, test, and operation of SOPGMs and precision strike capability on government specified platforms, assets (including aircraft) to support test of and training with SOPGMs and precision strike capability. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $14.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract for F-22 Sustainment contract for Reliability and Maintainability Maturation Program (RAMMP) annual support. F-22 pilots are trained at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. … Northrop Grumman Undersea Systems, Annapolis, Md., was awarded a $31.7 million contract for depot level repair, maintenance, and modifications of the AN/AQS-24 Mine Detecting System to support the Navy for the currently deployed Airborne Mine Countermeasures legacy systems. Naval Surface Warfare Center - Panama City Division, Panama City, Fla., is the contracting activity.