Saturday, September 3, 2016

Week in review (8/28 to 9/3)

The explosion this week of a Falcon 9 rocket and loss of the payload was a setback for a company that has been one of the stars of the nation's commercial space industry. The SpaceX rocket exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Thursday, destroying the rocket and a $200 million communications satellite.

It was the second explosion of a SpaceX rocket in just over a year. In June 2015 a rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station blew up. The cause was blamed on the failure of a steel struck purchased from a supplier.

The accident Thursday was during the standard pre-launch static fire test around the upper stage oxygen tank. (Story)

Stories involving SpaceX are of high interest to the Gulf Coast region because it's involved in space activities thanks to Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. In addition, SpaceX is using Stennis Space Center to develop its next generation Raptor engines.

In another item of interest to this region, a U.S. court backed Leonardo's challenge to the U.S. Army's contract with Airbus Helicopters for 16 more UH-72A Lakota helicopters and has given the Army six months to justify that contract award, re-compete it or drop the acquisition.

The Lakota helicopters are made in Columbus, Miss.

Leonardo challenged the Army's modification late last year of the original 2006 Light Utility Helicopter program contract to permit the purchase of 16 more Lakotas on the grounds that Airbus was a responsible sole source.

Leonardo's AgustaWestland division lost out on the original contract award to Airbus. In 2006 the contract was valued at $43 million for initially eight helicopters, with options for as many as 483 more. The Army to date has received more than 350 UH-72 aircraft. (Story)

In other news of interest to the region during the week:

Three F-35Bs and 75 personnel from the Marine’s Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., along with 21 members of Edwards' JSF Operational Test Team, completed a 22-day deployment Sept. 1 at Eglin. They were here for complete five AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile and one GBU-12 aerial laser-guided bomb test shots. Eglin is home of the F-35 integrated training center and reprogramming lab. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin of Fort Worth, Texas, and Pratt and Whitney of East Hartford, Conn., each were awarded two contracts during the week. The contracting activity in all four cases is the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md.

In one contract, Lockheed Martin was awarded an $18 million modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract. This modification provides for long lead time materials, parts, components and effort required to maintain the planned production schedule for one F-35A low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 11 aircraft, and two F-35A and one F-35B LRIP Lot 12 aircraft for a non-U.S. Department of Defense participant in the F-35 program. (Post)

The company also was awarded a $28.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract for additional sustainment in support of Low Rate Initial Production Lot 10 F-35 aircraft. Support to be provided includes 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 for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy. (Post)

Pratt and Whitney Military Engines was awarded $38.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract for sustainment program administrative labor in support of the F-35 low-rate initial production Lot IX procurement. This modification provides for program administrative labor in support of F-135 sustainment efforts. (Post)

The company also was awarded a $7.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification procures advanced spare parts and deployment spare part packages and initial spare 3BSM modules in support of the F-35 for the Marine Corps and Navy. (Post)

A JetBlue A320 made history during last week when it made the first commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than a half-century. The Airbus jetliner, Flight 387, left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and landed in the central city of Santa Clara after a 51-minute trip. U.S.-Cuba travel was curtailed during the 55-year-old trade embargo.

The same day, the transportation department announced the carriers selected to operate routes to Havana: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. Carriers will serve the Cuban capital from Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa. (Post)

Airbus makes A320 series jetliners in Mobile, Ala. JetBlue was the first customer to take delivery of an A321 in April 2016.

DRS Training and Control Systems, LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $9.8 million contract to procure overhaul/upgrade of the AH-64 digital captive boresight harmonization kit for a minimum quantity of 25, maximum of 200. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 29, 2021. … Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, was awarded a $32.4 million modification to previously issued delivery order placed against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for software and hardware upgrades for 28 V-22 flight simulators for the U.S. Marine Corps (19 MV-22) and the U.S. Air Force (9 CV-22). Four percent of the work will be performed in Fort Walton Beach, and the rest at other locations, and is expected to be completed in March 2020. … L-3 Communications Corp. -Systems Field Support, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $19.6 million modification on a previously awarded contract for C-12 contractor logistics support. Work will be performed at a variety of locations worldwide and is expected to be complete by Aug. 31, 2017. … SDVE, LLC, Andalusia, Ala., was awarded a $9.8 million contract for simplified acquisition of base engineering requirements. Contractor will provide simplified acquisition of base engineering requirements contract work including detailed task specifications that encompass most types of real property maintenance, repair, and minor construction work.

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