The expansion of Fort Walton Machining, progress in getting an MRO in Pensacola, another test of the RS-25 rocket engine and contracts for the F-35 were among the stories of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace region during the week.
Here's your week in review:
Fort Walton Machining is expanding, a move that will mean 30 new positions and more than $1.5 million in new manufacturing equipment. It was the first company to apply for the city of Fort Walton Beach's Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption, an incentive for new and expanding businesses approved by voters in August. Greg Britton, CEO of Fort Walton Machining, said the equipment will give the Northwest Florida company greater capabilities in aerospace manufacturing. (Post)
Meanwhile, over in Pensacola, Fla., the project to bring an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility to Pensacola International Airport is inching ahead. An $8 million contract was awarded during the week to Phoenix Construction Services to expand the cargo apron. The apron is needed as part of the VT MAE project.
Another contract for $2.5 million was awarded to Atkins North America for architectural and engineering design for the VT MAE maintenance, repair and overhaul facility. Local company Greenhut Construction was awarded construction manager privileges when it comes time to build the facility, slated for January 2016.
VT MAE, which has a 1,000-employee MRO operation in Mobile, Ala., chose Pensacola for an expansion project. The two-hangar facility will employ some 300 workers when it opens. (Post)
A Space Launch System RS-25 engine had a 535-second test Friday at NASA's Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi. During the test, operators ran the engine through a series of power levels, including firing at 109 percent of the engine's rated power.
Data collected at various power levels will aid in adapting the former space shuttle engines to the new SLS vehicle, including development of an all-new engine controller and software. Four RS-25s will power the SLS core stage. (Post)
The Gulf Coast is heavily involved in NASA's SLS program. In addition to engines being tested at Stennis Space Center, the core stage is being built by Boeing at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. That's also where Lockheed Martin does work on the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.
Lockheed Martin demonstrated its Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM), engaging two laser-designated stationary targets during recent tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. In the first test, the missile flew four kilometers, engaged its precision-strike, semi-active laser and hit the stationary target. During the second flight, the missile flew four kilometers, acquired the target using its precision strike, semi-active laser while simultaneously tracking the target with its millimeter wave radar, and hit the stationary target. (Post)
The 177th Combined Arms Training Brigade had a change of command ceremony during the week at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center parade field. Col. William Chlebowski relinquished command to Col. Brandon Robbins during the ceremony. Robbins previously served as operations officer for the U.S. Army 101st Air Assault Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. Chlebowski has commanded the 177th CATB since July 2013. Camp Shelby, Miss., is the nation's largest state-owned training site. (Post)
-- At Fort Rucker, Ala., Shannon Miller became the garrison commander in a change of command ceremony earlier this month. Miller now has responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day operations at the base in South Alabama. She replaced Col. Stuart McRae, who becomes deputy of the Installation Management Command Pacific Region at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. Fort Rucker, near Dothan, is the home of Army aviation training. (Post)
Also at Fort Rucker, the base will lose 186 soldiers and an unspecified number of civilians by Sept. 30, 2018 due to an Army-wide reduction of 40,000 soldiers and 17,000 civilians. The Aviation Center of Excellence itself is expected to lose about 68 percent of the 186 soldiers, according to a Fort Rucker news release. (Post)
Lockheed Martin of Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two contracts during the week in connection with the F-35. The contracting activity in both cases is the Naval Air Systems Comand, Patuxent River, Md.
In one contract, the company was awarded a $718.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for non-air vehicle spares, support equipment, Autonomic Logistics Information System hardware and software upgrades, supply chain management, full mission simulators and non-recurring engineering services in support of low-rate initial production Lot 8 F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, international partner, and foreign military sales customers.
Work will be done in Orlando, Fla. (70 percent); Fort Worth (17 percent); El Segundo, Calif. (7 percent); Owego, N.Y. (4 percent); Greenville, S.C. (1 percent); and Samlesbury, U.K. (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in April 2020. This contract combines purchases for the Air Force (12 percent); Navy (5 percent); Marine Corps (16 percent); international partners (39 percent); and FMS customers (28 percent). (Post)
In the second contract, Lockheed was awarded a $101.3 million modification to the previously awarded Lot IX F-35 advance acquisition contract for the procurement of helmet mounted display systems for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, international partners and the governments of Japan and Israel under the Foreign Military Sales program. Yhe HMDS is a helmet display system that provides the pilot with aircraft/mission data on the visor display. Data consists of flight, navigation, and weapons symbology and video from onboard sensors.
Work will be done in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (65 percent) and Fort Worth (35 percent) and is expected to be completed in June 2018. This modification combines purchase for the Air Force (46.5 percent); Marine Corps (22.4 percent); Navy (14.9 percent); international partners (12 percent); and the governments of Japan (0.45 percent) and Israel (3.75 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program. (Post)
Onvoi LLC, Newbury Park, Calif., was awarded a $9.2 million contract for training flight services in support of the Air Force Undergraduate Air Battle Manager Training Course. Training services will include ground-controlled intercept target training, basic airmanship training, live-fire training, weapons system evaluations, and major command-directed development test and evaluations. Work will be performed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2019. The 325th Contracting Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. (Post)