The first female F-35 pilot; another contract for engines for the F-35; a UAV center for excellence; the certification of another aerospace park; and the official opening of an aviation education center were among the stories of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week.
Here's the week in review:
The first female F-35 pilot has started training. It's Lt. Col. Christine Mau, 33rd Fighter Wing Operations Group deputy commander, who completed her first training flight in the single-seat fighter following 14 virtual training missions in the full mission simulator at the F-35 Academic Training Center. (Post)
-- Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $7.6 million modification to a previously awarded F135 advanced acquisition contract for long-lead items for low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot X.
The long-lead items include group hardware supporting the LRIP Lot X delivery of conventional take off and landing (CTOL) propulsion systems for the Air Force, group hardware supporting the LRIP Lot X delivery of CTOL, carrier variant propulsion systems for the Navy/Marine Corps, and group hardware supporting the LRIP Lot X delivery of short take-off and vertical landing propulsion systems for the Marine Corps.
This contract combines purchases for the Navy (97.4 percent), and the Air Force (2.6 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)
The Federal Aviation Administration chose Mississippi State University as the FAA's Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The center will focus on research, education and training in areas critical to integration of unmanned systems into the nation’s airspace.
The MSU team brings together 15 of the nation's leading UAS and aviation universities. It will be able to begin research by September 2015 and be fully operational and engaged in a research agenda by January 2016. The Gulf Coast region is heavily involved in unmanned systems. (Post)
DeFuniak Springs Municipal Airport has become the first certified industrial park in Walton County through Gulf Power's Florida First Sites program. The program was created in 2013 to help communities prepare sites to attract new industries and new jobs to the region. It's the seventh site to be certified in Northwest Florida. (Post)
NASA selected research and technology proposals from 254 small businesses and 39 research institutions in the United States for grants to develop new technologies that will further NASA's journey to Mars. A dozen selected proposals involve technology being administered by the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., each worth up to $125,000 in the Phase 1 period. (Post)
More than 2,100 personnel from across the Gulf Cost and New Mexico on earlier this month completed the two-week-long Air Force Special Operations Command training exercise Emerald Warrior 2015. Among the training sites were Hurlburt Field, Eglin Air Force Base and Apalachicola in Florida, Camp Shelby and Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the Pelham Range in Alabama, and Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. (Post)
-- The Navy's Blue Angels announced a new commanding officer for the demonstration
squadron's 2016-17 season. It's Navy Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi, a California native and experience F/A-18 pilot. He'll take over command after early November’s final show of the 2014-15 season at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Bernacchi will succeed Capt. Tom Frosch. (Post)
Educators, politicians, students and residents gathered in Fairhope, Ala., last weekend to dedicate a new aviation training academy at H.L. "Sonny" Callahan Airport. The academy first opened to students in January and teaches aviation, industrial maintenance and welding to adult and high school students for college credit. (Post)
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, Calif., was awarded a $38 million modification to a previously awarded contract. It provides 64 MQ-9 Electrical Safety Improvement Program retrofit kits on 64 Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, and Air National Guard Block 1 aircraft. Air Force Special Operations Command is headquartered at Hurlburt Field, Fla. … Airbus Defense and Space Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded a $24 million modification to a multi-year contract for mission equipment packages to be cut into the Lakota Helicopter production line as part of the Army Aviation Restructure Initiative for training aircraft. Work will be performed in Columbus, Miss. … Applied Research Associates Inc., Albuquerque, N.M., was awarded an $18.8 million contract to provide research and development for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center in the development and evaluation of enhanced and emerging technologies under robotics and automation. Work will be performed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by April 30, 2020. The 325th Contracting Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.