Saturday, June 10, 2017

Week in review (6/4 to 6/10)

The week started out with the release of the sixth edition of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor book, and it's now available for download. The 100-page book, free to readers, details the aerospace and aviation activities in the region between Southeast Louisiana and Northwest Florida. To access the book, visit the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor website.

But there was a lot more aerospace news during the week. Here's your weekly review:


F-35
The Air Force temporarily grounded a squadron of F-35s at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., after five pilots reported symptoms consistent with oxygen deprivation, the service said Friday.

The 56th Fighter Wing canceled local flying operations for its F-35A fighters after five incidents since May 2 where pilots experienced symptoms similar to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation. Each time the F-35's back-up oxygen system kicked in and pilots were able to land the plane.

Flight operations are scheduled to return Monday. F-35 operations at five other bases are not affected. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)

Navy T-45s recently has also had issues with oxygen deprivation.


Airports
Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport will receive $2.1 million and Pensacola International Airport will receive $43,796 in grant money from the Department of Transportation. The Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport will use the money to rehabilitate 2,000 feet of taxiway, and Pensacola International will use its grant to remove obstructions on land acquired for further airport development. The money is expected to be disbursed before September. (Post)


Space
Air Force Reservist Lt. Col. Robert Hines Jr., a test pilot at the 84th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., was among 12 selectees named to the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.

Hines serves as an F-15E Strike Eagle program test director and test pilot at the F-15 Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force for the 84th TES. In civilian life, Hines is a full-time NASA research pilot. Hines, who has flown 76 combat missions, will report for duty in August for two years of astronaut training. (Post)


Education
One hundred and nine graduates received degrees last weekend as Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide held its Pensacola commencement exercises June 3 in the Blue Angels Atrium of the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

The Pensacola campus, located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as undergraduate certification. (Post)


Bases
Col. Debra Lovette took command of the 81st Training Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., during a June 2 ceremony. The outgoing commander, Col. Michele Edmondson, will be the new executive officer to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

The 81st TRW provides technical training for officers, enlisted and civilians of the Air Force, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserves and other Defense Department agencies. (Post)

-- Two 815th Airlift Squadron crews from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., participated in a six-ship multinational airborne mission in the Normandy region June 4, 2017 to commemorate D-Day 73.

C-130J Super Hercules crews from the 815th AS joined the 37th AS from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, as well as French and German C-160s to drop 451 U.S., French, British, Dutch and German paratroopers and re-enactors. The aircraft followed the same route C-47s did to drop paratroopers on D-Day.

The 815th AS, assigned to the Reserve 403rd Wing at Keesler, is one of nine historical units that took part in various events and ceremonies throughout the region. Now a C-130J tactical unit, the 185th AS was the 815th Bombardment Squadron during World War II.

It was in 1944 that paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Infantry Divisions dropped into France in the opening moments of what would become known as “The Longest Day.” (Story)


Contracts
Woolpert Inc., Dayton, Ohio, Stanley-UC-Cardo JV, Muscatine, Iowa, HDR Engineering Inc., Omaha, Neb., have been awarded a combined $40 million multiple award contract for architectural-engineering services. Work will be performed at various U.S. and international locations including Hurlburt Field, Fla., and is expected to be complete by May 31, 2022. The 765th Specialized Contracting Flight, Hurlburt Field, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Week in review (5/28 to 6/3)

Want to get a better handle on all the aerospace and aviation activities in the Gulf Coast region?

The sixth edition of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor book will be published next week, and it's filled with updated information about the aerospace and aviation activities in the Interstate 10 region between Southeast Louisiana and Northwest Florida.

The first book was published in 2011, and it was an annual until 2015, when we shifted to biennial publication for the 2017 issue.

You'll be able to download a copy next week at the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor website. So how much does it cost? It's free to readers, thanks to the support of our underwriters. Many of them have supported this ongoing research project for multiple years. We also have some new underwriters this year.

I should also mention our underwriters provide support sight-unseen. They all believe in the value of a third party telling the story. So, forgive me if I say, we wrote the book.

Now for your week in review:

Relocation
The 524th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., is relocating to Duke Field near Crestview. Once here, it will become part of the 492nd Special Operations Wing.

Cannon celebrated the heritage of the 524th SOS and the C-146 Wolfhound at an end-of-mission ceremony May 31, where the squadron guidon was turned over the 492nd SOW. The move to Duke Field has been under discussion for more than four years. (Post)

Contracts
L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss.
, was awarded an $83 million modification to a previously awarded contract activity to exercise an option for the organizational and depot level logistics services required to support and maintain the TH-57 fleet. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Milton, Fla., and is expected to be completed in May 2018. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $413.8 million contract for Lot 15 Joint Air-to -Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) production. Contractor will provide 360 JASSM-ER missiles and tooling and test equipment. Work will be performed at Orlando and is expected to be complete by Aug. 31, 2020. 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 $244.3 million modification to a previously awarded delivery order issued against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for the procurement of initial air vehicle spares in support of the F-35 for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-U.S. Department of Defense participants, and foreign military sales (FMS) customers. Work will be performed in Texas, California, New York, the United Kingdom, New Hampshire, Florida, Iowa, Arizona, Connecticut, the Netherlands, Illinois and Georgia. Work is expected to be completed in June 2021. … Geocent LLC, Metairie, La., was awarded a $15.6 million contract for platform integration and systems engineering support to provide design, engineering, integration, and advanced concept development for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for the Department of Defense. All work will be performed in San Diego, Calif., and work is expected to be completed May 31, 2019. … Global Connections to Employment Inc., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded a $10.5 million modification to a contract for dining facility and cooking support services for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Week in review (5/21 to 5/27)

The announcement late in the week that Northrop Grumman would expand its unmanned systems center in Moss Point, Miss., had intriguing information that the company would add a mix of additional work, including sub-assembly work for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The announcement was made by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant during the annual investors meeting of the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation in Pascagoula.

Northrop Grumman opened its systems center in Moss Point at the Trent Lott International Airport originally to work on Fire Scout unmanned helicopters. But even before it opened the plant was expanded to 101,000 square feet and work on Global Hawk fuselages was added.

The company and Jackson County economic development leaders have said from the start that Northrop expected to bring more work to the plant, which had room to expand if needed. The expansion will add 60 jobs and represents a company investment of $3.7 million. The state will contribute $7.5 million in BP restoration money to harden the runway at the airport. (Post)


Military
The White House's proposed budget for 2018 budget released during the week calls for a new round of military base closures in 2021. It's likely to get some resistance from a Congress that so far has rejected the Pentagon's calls to close bases because of a roughly 20 percent excess capacity.

The last Base Realignment and Closure round was in 2005. The Gulf Coast has multiple military bases, including many with aviation missions. In past BRACS the region has done pretty well. It's lost some missions, but has also gained some from other bases. (Post)


Space
Aerojet Rocketdyne was picked to build the main propulsion system for a reusable hypersonic aircraft, the XS-1, being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and Boeing.

The company said it will produce two AR-22 engines using parts from previous versions of the space shuttle main engine that have remained in the company and NASA inventories.

Aerojet Rocketdyne will conduct assembly and ground testing work on the two engines at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss. Boeing and DARPA entered into an agreement to build, design and test a technology demonstrator earlier in the week as part of the agency’s Experimental Spaceplane program. (Post)

Speaking of engines, NASA engineers successfully conducted the second in a series of RS-25 flight controller tests during the week. The test was rescheduled after a facility issue, subsequently resolved, forced rescheduling of a May 16 hot fire.

The 500-second test – more than eight full minutes – was on the A-1 Test Stand and is designed to test the controller, the key modification to the former space shuttle engines. The Space Launch System will be powered by four RS-25 engines. The first flight controller was tested in March for installation on one of the four EM-1 engines. (Post)


Contracts
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, Calif., was awarded $64.5 million for a modification to a previously awarded contract to exercise an option for operator, maintenance, logistic support and sustainment engineering services in support of the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator (BAMS-D) program. Work will be performed in Maryland, California and various forward operating locations and is expected to be completed in June 2018. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $19.8 million for a modification to delivery order issued previously against a basic ordering agreement. This modification procures work on the aircraft memory system and panoramic cockpit display in order to alleviate diminishing manufacturing sources constraints projected under F-35 production Lot 15 for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and international partners. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in March 2019. 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. … Raytheon Co., Keyport, Wash., was awarded a $14.7 million contract to provide maintenance and support for the AN/AQS-20 sonar mine detecting set to maintain and improve system sustainability. The AN/AQS-20 is a towed, mine hunting and identification system for Program Executive Office, Littoral Combat Ships. Five percent of the work will be done in Panama City, Fla. Other work locations are in Rhode Island and Washington state, and is expected to be completed by May 2018. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, Panama City, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Week in review (5/7 to 5/13)

At first glance it looked like the good folks at Airbus had sent an old press release. The headline said Airbus was building its first A320 in Mobile, odd considering the first one was last year.

But that momentary thought left quickly when I realized it was actually building its first A320 member of the A320 series, or "family" as the company calls it. So far all 27 jetliners that have been built and delivered at the plant have been the A321, the largest member of the A320 series.

The major component assemblies for the A320 recently arrived from Europe. This aircraft will be delivered to Spirit this summer. The plant, which began production in July 2015, is equipped to assemble A319, A320 and A321 passenger jets. (Post)

Later this year the U.S. Manufacturing Facility will begin building its first Airbus with the new engine option, a more fuel-efficient aircraft.

In another Airbus story during the week, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines has placed an incremental order for 30 A321ceo aircraft. This order follows three previous Delta orders for the Current Engine Option version of the largest Airbus A320 series.

The airline took delivery of its first A321 in March of last year. Delta now has ordered a total of 112 A321s, each powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International.

Many of Delta’s A321s are being delivered from the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile. By the end of 2017, the Airbus facility in Mobile is expected to produce four aircraft per month, most going to Airbus’ U.S. customers. (Post)

Then there's this interesting Airbus item. The company announced during the week that it is launching a new drone aerial imagery service in Atlanta. The subsidiary, called Airbus Aerial, plans to sell its imagery services to a variety of industries, including insurance, oil and gas, utilities and others.

It plans to partner with others to provide the needed service. It will use drones and satellites to capture imagery. Airbus announced the new service at a drone conference during the week in Dallas. (Press release)


Bases There was a changing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., during the week when the Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center was deactivated and the 492nd Special Operations Wing activated.

Like the organization it replaces, the 492nd SOW's mission is to train, educate and equipping special operators and perform test and evaluations of special operations programs and equipment.

The wing's forerunner is the 492nd Bombardment Group, which flew special operations missions in World War II in Europe. (Post)

-- Airmen, Marines, sailors and soldiers came together May 6 to honor and remember their fallen explosive ordnance disposal brethren during the annual memorial ceremony at the Kauffman EOD Training Complex at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Six new names were added to the engraved lists that now contains 326 people. The 2017 event marked the ceremony's 48th year. Each year, a wreath is placed in front of each branch of service's list of names before they are read aloud. (Post)

-- Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich wants to honor Keesler Air Force Base with the return of an Air Force plane along U.S. 90. Gilich proposes moving a decommissioned 1956 F-104 jet on display at Keesler to the center median of U.S. 90 near White Avenue, down the street from the base. Keesler supports the idea and has offered logistical support for the move. (Post)


Space
A piece of test hardware for NASA's Space Launch System was damaged May 3 at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The hardware damaged was the bottom dome of a test Liquid Oxygen Tank. It was not welded to the rest of the tank at the time. NASA and prime contractor Boeing have both formed independent assessment teams. The impact on the SLS development calendar is unclear. There were no injuries. (Post)


Economic development
State and local leaders gathered at the new GKN Aerospace facility near Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport this week to welcome the new arrival. In February the aircraft supply company announced it would build a manufacturing facility in Bay County. It’s the company’s first site in Florida. GKN Aerospace will create at least 170 new full-time equivalent jobs y the end of 2020. (Post)


T-45
The House Armed Services Committee wants more information from the Navy as part of its ongoing probe into problems with T-45 training aircraft used at Naval Air Station Pensacola and bases in Mississippi and Texas. The committee wants to schedule of all tests and evaluations of equipment associated with the trainer, as well as the Navy’s actions in response to test results. Pilots had complained about oxygen issues with the jet, which is still flying with limitations on maneuvers. (Post)


Airports
The number of passengers passing through Pensacola International Airport have steadily grown over the past five years. Departures during this year’s first three months are 4.7 percent higher than in the same span in 2013. March performed particularly well, with 7.4 percent more departures this year over 2016. (Post)


Contract
Raytheon Missile Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $7.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide life of type buys, obsolescence components under the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile Lots 28-30 production. Work will be performed at Tucson and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2019. This contract involves foreign military sales to Japan, Norway, Romania, Turkey, and Australia. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Week in review (4/30 to 5/6)

Last week I wrote that the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League is currently compiling the sixth edition of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor book, the first since we shifted from an annual to a biennial. One chapter focuses on the considerable space-related activities we have in the Gulf Coast region, thanks to Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Stennis Space Center in Mississippi and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Many of you may think of NASA when it comes to space, and that's certainly true and continues to be true. But a growing part of the field of space that's incredibly exciting is the commercial activities in the field, and our region is in the thick of that. We devote a chapter of our June 2017 book to take an in-depth look at this important field.

The reason I mention that chapter is that Aerojet Rocketdyne at Stennis Space Center recently conducted hot-fire tests to validate the design of the preburner for the AR1 rocket engine, which is being developed to replace the Russian-built RD-180 engine currently used to launch most U.S. national security payloads.

The preburner, a component that drives the engine’s turbomachinery, was built using state of-the-art techniques, including 3-D printing. With the design now confirmed, Aerojet Rocketdyne has cleared one of the major technological hurdles to fulfill the congressional mandate to end U.S. dependence on Russian engine technology for military launches. (Post)

Rocketdyne has been a long-time fixture at Stennis Space Center. Once a division of North American Aviation, Rocketdyne later became part of Rockwell International, then Boeing, then United Technologies, where it became Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne. It became Aerojet Rocketdyne when UTC sold it to GenCorp.


Education
With the growth of aerospace and aviation activities in the Gulf Coast region, there was some news out of Alabama that bodes well for the future of the sector in our region.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced plans during the week to create the Alabama Aviation Education Center near the Airbus manufacturing facility in Mobile. It is designed to bolster Alabama's workforce development efforts and inspire young people to pursue careers in the state's growing aerospace cluster.

The $6.5 million center at the Mobile Aeroplex, developed in partnership with Airbus, will provide aviation-themed activities and STEM-focused educational programs to visitors. It will have classrooms, workshops and innovation rooms, along with exhibits, aircraft models, videos and more.

Airbus will play a central role in developing the educational programs offered at the center. The facility will be managed and operated by Airbus Americas Inc., which will collaborate with educators, universities and other aviation companies operating in Alabama to develop flight-themed educational programs for the center.

The facility will be open to the public, with a minimal entrance fee to help offset its operating costs. (Post)

That gives the region yet another science/aviation experience designed to pique the interest of young people. Over in Pensacola there's the National Flight Academy, and in Mississippi there's Infinity Science Center, but there's a lot more. For parents who want to spur the imagination of the upcoming generation, take a look at an article we published in the July 2016 edition of the Gulf Coast Reporters’ League Business Quarterly, pages 24-37. You can download the magazine PDF here.


Airbus
Speaking of Airbus, the company has appointed Laurent Blattner as President of Airbus DS Military Aircraft, Inc. Blattner will lead a 70 plus employee operation in Mobile that continues to increase its service and support capabilities in maintenance, repair and overhaul of various Airbus military aircraft and components.

Blattner’s most recent position was with Airbus Services as CEO of Cassidian Aviation Training Services SAS and Aviation Defense Service. Prior to joining Airbus, Blattner served 28 years in the French air force as a colonel where he was in charge of maintenance units dedicated to fighter aircraft.

For two of these years he served as an exchange officer at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Blattner succeeds Juan Uriarte, who has been CEO for ADSMAI in Mobile since 2014. Uriarte is returning to Airbus in Europe. (Post)


Contracts
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. of San Diego, Calif., was awarded two contracts this week related to the Fire Scout and Global Hawk unmanned aircraft built in part in Moss Point, Miss. The company was awarded $32.9 million for a modification to a previously awarded contract for integration of the original equipment manufacturer radar into the MQ-8C Fire Scout. Work will be performed in California and the United Kingdom and is expected to be completed in May 2020. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. The company was also awarded a $39.9 million contract for Battle Field Airborne Communications Node (BACN) for EQ-4B Global Hawk. Northrop will provide BACN payload modification, integration, and installation onto the EQ-4B. Work will be performed at San Diego and Palmdale, both in California, and is expected to be complete by May 2, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Week in review (4/23 to 4/29)

It's that time of year again for the Gulf Coast Reporters' League. We're in the midst of compiling the sixth edition of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Corridor book.

The 2017 edition is the first since we shifted from an annual to a biennial, and it will be packed with new and updated information for those who follow aerospace and aviation activities in this region.

A lot has happened in the I-10 aerospace corridor since the last edition was published in 2015, not the least of which is the production of jetliners in Mobile, Ala. So you won't want to miss this issue to add to your collection and keep up to date on this growing sector.

As in the past, this book will be free to readers, thanks to the underwriters who are coming on board. All our underwriters recognize the value of this ongoing study, and they want it to be shared with a wide audience. Making it free to readers is the best way to ensure that.

Now for your week in review:


Airbus
Airbus continues to reserve judgment on any progress Pratt & Whitney has made in resolving several production problems plaguing its PW1100G turbofan. Deliveries of Pratt-powered A320neos remain stunted and the first Pratt-powered A321neo sits undelivered more than four months after certification.

Out of an expected 200 A320neo-family deliveries by the end of the year, Airbus shipped 26 during the first quarter, including the first CFM Leap-1A-powered A321neo. The A320 series plant in Mobile, Ala., will eventually build neo planes in addition to the current engine options. (Post)


Military
The Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels were in the same location at the same time for some joint training during the week – something that happens rarely.

The two elite flight demonstration teams are seldom in the same place at the same time because the Department of Defense wants to cover as much territory with the two teams as possible.

But they were both at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., during the week, something they haven’t done in Pensacola for more than 15 years. The two teams practiced Tuesday and Wednesday, and treated beach crowds to flyovers Wednesday. (Post)


Space
NASA selected 399 research and technology proposals from 277 American small businesses and 44 research institutions that will enable NASA's future missions into deep space. The awards have a total value of approximately $49.9 million.

These include 13 projects tied to Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi.

NASA received 1,621 proposals in response to its 2017 solicitation for its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. From those, NASA selected 338 SBIR and 61 STTR Phase I proposals for contract negotiations.

The SBIR Phase I contracts last for six months and STTR Phase I contracts last for 12 months, both with maximum funding of $125,000. (Post)


Lockheed
It was a big week for contracts for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. of Fort Worth, Texas, with multiple contracts related to the F-35. That’s of interest to the region since Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the F-35 integrated training center.

The largest was a $1.37 billion contract for long-lead time materials, parts, components, and effort for 130 low-rate initial production Lot 12 F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, non-U.S. Department of Defense participants, and foreign military sales customers. In addition this contract provides long-lead time materials, parts, components, and effort for 110 Lot 13 and 14 F-35 aircraft for the non-U.S. DoD participants and foreign military sales customers.

In a second huge contract, the company was awarded a $422.7 million modification to a previously awarded low-rate initial production Lot 10 F-35 advance acquisition contract. This modification provides the procurement of production non-recurring special tooling and special test equipment to support the F-35 production.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics also was awarded a $109.6 million modification to a previous delivery order against a basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for the procurement of 567 modification kits for offboard system hardware and turnaround assets, and also recurring labor for the completion of hardware and software upgrades in support of the F-35 Lighting III Block 3F upgrade for Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, and international partners.

In two other F-35-related contract, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $10.8 million modification to a previously awarded advanced acquisition contract for additional hardware modules and racks in support of the F-35 low-rate initial production Lot 11 aircraft for the government of Israel under the Foreign Military Sales program. It also was awarded an $18.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide additional sustainment, integration and test, training, and database production in support of the F-35 for the government of Japan under the Foreign Military Sales program.

In a non-F-35 contract, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $31.1 million modification to previously awarded contract for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile production support, systems engineering, and tooling and test equipment. This contract consists of foreign military sales to Poland. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.


Other contracts
DynCorp International, Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a contract for contractor operated and maintained base supply services for the T-6A/B/D Texan II aircraft. The contractor will provide serviceable aircraft material and support equipment to support Air Force, Navy, and Army Texan II aircraft. Among the bases where work will be performed is Naval Air Station Pensacola and Naval Air Station Whiting Field, both in Florida. … HX5 LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $67.9 million contract modification for a system support representative contract that will provide for the entire spectrum of mission planning support for ninety Air National Guard flying missions. Work will be performed in Arlington, Va., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2018. … Harris Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., was awarded a $10.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract for system sustainment of the FPS-85 Phased Array Eglin radar, which provides space situational awareness data for tracking space objects. Contractor will provide sustainment services which include weapon systems management and engineering, core sustainment for the field service teams, requirements development modeling and analysis, engineering support and technical orders support. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2018.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Week in review (4/16 to 4/22)

NASA on Tuesday will show off to the media the first completed core stage structural test article of the Space Launch System rocket built at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

This test article will be shipped on the barge Pegasus from Michoud to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., where it will undergo structural testing.

The engine section, the bottom of the 212-foot-long core stage, has to be strong because all four RS-25 engines and the SLS's two solid rocket motors are attached to it and produce 8.8 million pounds of thrust at lift-off.

After the structural tests at Marshall, Pegasus will transport the entire flight core stage to NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., for testing, and then on to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration into the SLS vehicle and launch. (Post)


Bases
At Hurlburt Field, Fla., two Special Tactics airmen received the Air Force's highest combat medal at the same time for separate missions in Afghanistan. One Air Force Cross was given to retired MSgt. Keary Miller, and the other was given to SSgt. Chris Baradat.

Miller in 2002 helped care for critically wounded service members during a 17-hour battle against Al Qaeda forces. In 2013 Baradat, serving as a combat controller, directed air strikes during three hours of fighting against the Taliban.

Both were originally awarded a Silver Star, but during a review of awards they were upgraded to the Air Force Cross. The Air Force Thunderbirds kicked off a special ceremony at Hurlburt Field with a flyover. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein presided over the ceremony. (Post)

-- A Boeing 747 VC-25A, one of two VC-25As assigned to the Presidential Airlift Group, 89th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Andrews, Md., was on the flightline April 19 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. It’s known as "Air Force One" whenever it’s used by the president, though any U.S. Air Force plane he’s aboard receives that radio call sign. The aircraft was completing a maintenance cycle and is undergoing an operational test regimen before being certified to return to presidential service. (Post)

-- At Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., the youth center hosted the opening of its new Boys’ & Girls’ Club Center for Innovation.

The center will provide members access to advanced technologies and focus on STEM-related subjects and activities, including a robotics kit, 3D printers, a makerspace with a giant tool wall, invention- and computer- building kits that will offer hands-on learning opportunities to explore and advance understanding of scientific and mathematical concepts.

The program is made possible by a grant from Raytheon to cultivate interest in the STEM fields, which are expected to grow nearly twice as fast as any other field by 2018 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Eglin is the third Air Force youth center to benefit from the grant. (Post)

-- The Navy resumed T-45 training flights at Naval Air Station Pensacola and two other bases after halting the flights because of concerns about the oxygen system. Training can continue as long as pilots remain below an altitude of 10,000 feet to avoid using the onboard oxygen generator system. Normally, training is done at altitudes of 14,000 feet.

Pilots at NAS Pensacola, Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss., and Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, had complained about experiencing episodes of hypoxia and training was temporarily suspended. The investigation is continuing. (Post)


Unmanned
Mississippi State University in Starkville was chosen by the Department of Homeland Security as a base of operations for drone research. Much of the work on how to best to use the devices will be done in South Mississippi.

Operations are expected to begin in the fall. Sites that will be used are Camp Shelby, which is the Army National Guard’s national drone-training center; buffer zone areas at Stennis Space Center, which is used for Department of Defense special-operations training; and the maritime environment accessible from the U.S. Coast Guard facilities on Singing River Island in Jackson County. (Post)

-- An autonomous helicopter designed to boost intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for ship crews at sea has completed a successful first flight from the deck of a littoral combat ship underway.

Earlier this month, the MQ-8C Fire Scout took off from the Independence-Class LCS Montgomery during a two-week series of tests off the coast of California. The flight came two years after the Fire Scout was first delivered to the Navy in December 2014 and marked a milestone in proving out the reliability and safety of the small drone.

A Fire Scout had previously conducted an at-sea flight off an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, the Jason Dunham, in December 2015. Fire Scouts are built in part in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)


Contracts
L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $202.2 million contract for depot level maintenance, logistics, and sustaining engineering services in support of the C-12 utility lift aircraft for the Navy and Marine Corps. Three percent of the work will be done in Belle Chasse, La.. … Lockheed Martin Corp., Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $100 million contract for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) production support. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Jacobs Technology Inc., Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $7 million modification to a previously awarded contract for services in support of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. … Longbow LLC, Orlando, Fla., was awarded a $10.8 million modification to a contract to exercise options for Hellfire engineering services. Work will be performed in Orlando, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and Huntsville, Ala. … Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $64.6 million option to a previously awarded contract for the Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) program. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Linthicum Heights, Md., was awarded a $7.5 million contract for logistic support of the AN/ASQ-236 aircraft pod. One of the work sites is Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Week in review (4/9 to 4/15)

A massive bomb developed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., during the Iraq war was used for the first time in combat this week against a target in Afghanistan. It reportedly destroyed three underground tunnels, weapons and ammunition, and by Saturday reports indicated more than 90 ISIS fighters perished.

The GBU-43 Massive Ordinance Air Blast Bomb is 21,600 pounds and is nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” an appropriate nickname given that Saddam Hussein, a week before the first Gulf War in 1991, promised the fight against the United States and its allies would be the "mother of all battles."

Well the GBU-43 was never dropped on Iraq, but it was dropped during the week by an Air Force Special Operations C-130 in the Achin district of the Nangarhar Province. Guided to its target by GPS, it's considered a "smart bomb."

The GBU-43 is one of the bombs from a family of massive bombs first developed during the Vietnam War to clear landing zones. During its development, the GBU-43 was dropped twice at the Eglin Air Force Base bombing range.

While the GBU-43 is the most powerful of the lineup, the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal is the 30,000-pound GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator. That bomb, also developed by the Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate at Eglin, is designed to blow up after penetrating the hardened target. (Post)

The GBU-43 and GBU-57 have different blast profiles. The air blast or air burst bomb is designed to detonate before impact, which sends a good deal of its explosive energy out to the sides. A penetrator bomb's energy is sent upward and downward.

Nangarhar is the same province where a soldier assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Eglin Air Force Base died earlier in the week. Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Md., died April 8 of injuries sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations. (Post)


Jobs
One hundred thirty defense contractors at L3 Crestview Aerospace have been laid off. The aviation firm assembles, fabricates, and repairs aircraft parts. The layoffs are the result of cyclical work-contracts. The workers will receive severance packages and information on job opportunities within L3 Aerospace. (Post)


F-35
A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Italian government and the Okaloosa County School district. As part of the the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program at Eglin Air Force Base, the Italian air force is establishing a permanent presence in the area and will enroll Italian students into Okaloosa County schools. The Italians will establish the Italian Cooperative Program into select districts schools. The program will offer Italian education taught by its natives. In all, 600 American and Italian students will participate in the program next year. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded two contracts during the week in connection with the F-35. It was awarded $372.9 million for a modification to a previously awarded low-rate initial production Lot 10 F-35 advance acquisition contract. It provides the procurement of F-35A and F-35B variants including deficiency corrections for non-U.S. Department of Defense (non-U.S. DoD) participants. Work is expected to be completed in March 2020. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. In the other contract, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. was awarded a $9.5 million modification to a previously awarded low-rate initial production Lot 9 F-35 advanced acquisition contract. This modification provides for the delivery of hardware and engineering services for the government of Japan. Work is expected to be completed in October 2018. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Vectrus Systems Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., was awarded a $97.3 million contract for the acquisition of base operations support services. Contractor will provide base operations support for 11 functional areas to include, installation and mission operations management, installation and facility engineering, emergency response management, grounds maintenance, supply services, community services, vertical transportation equipment, human resources support, and weather services for Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. Work will be performed at Keesler and is expected to be complete May 31, 2018. The Air Force Installation Contracting Agency/338th Specialized Contracting Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Week in review (4/2 to 4/8)

The April edition of the Gulf Coast Aerospace Newsletter will be published Tuesday. In this issue, we fill you in on the two economic development projects that were announced since our last issue: GKN Aerospace setting up shop in Panama City, Fla., and Continental Motors, consolidating its sprawling operation at the Mobile Aeroplex into a single building.

In another story, we fill you in on the replacement value of every base and military property in the region. And it’s huge – more than $22 billion. We also have a story about the new budget for NASA, and what it means for NASA projects in the Gulf Coast region.

Finally, we have an analysis about some of the key aerospace stories for our region that occurred since the last issue. If you’re not signed up to get a copy, reach out and let me know and I’ll add you to our list of subscribers. And you can’t beat the price, it’s free thanks to our underwriters: Santa Rosa Economic Development, Gulf Power, Mobile Airport Authority, and FloridaWest.

Now for your week in review:

T-45C
The Navy has extended the operational pause for T-45C flights. The pause was initiated after pilots expressed concern about physiological episodes blamed on possible oxygen issues while flying. The extension will allow the Navy to review engineering data and develop a path forward for the fleet that will ensure the safety of its aircrew.

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of Naval Air Forces, has visited T-45C training commands to address recent concerns. He went to Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, NAS Pensacola, Fla., and NAS Meridian, Miss., to talk with instructor and student pilots.

On March 31 roughly 40 percent of flights in the T-45C training commands in Meridian, Pensacola and Kingsville were canceled because of the operational risk management issues raised by instructor pilots. (Post)

The T-45C Goshawk is a two-seat, single-engine, carrier-capable jet trainer aircraft used by the Navy and Marine Corps for intermediate and advanced jet training. The T-45 has been in service since 1991. The Navy currently has 197 based at Kingsville, Meridian and Pensacola. (Post)

Fox News first reported the issue last week. (Post)


Assignments, promotions
The Blue Angels during the week announced Cmdr. Eric Doyle as the next leader of the flight demonstration squadron, which is headquartered in Pensacola, Fla. He will join the team for his two-year tour in November, taking over from current flight leader, Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi. (Post)

-- Air Force Brig. Gen. Shaun Q. Morris has been nominated to the grade of major general. Morris is currently serving as the Air Force program executive officer for weapons and director, Armament Directorate, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Materiel Command, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post)

-- Col. Evan C. Dertien, selected to the grade of brigadier general, has been assigned as commander, 96th Test Wing, Air Force Materiel Command, Eglin Air Force Base. He’s currently vice commander, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (Post)

-- Col. Lance R. Pilch, selected to the grade of brigadier general, has been assigned as vice commander, 7th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces and Chief of Staff, Air Component Command, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. He’s currently commander, 33rd Fighter Wing, Air Education and Training Command, Eglin Air Force Base. (Post)


Contracts
Security Walls, Knoxville, Tenn., was awarded a potential five-year, $45.3 million contract to provide a range of protective services at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., and Michoud Assembly Facility, New Orleans. … Siemens Industry Inc., Buffalo Grove, Ill., was awarded a $48 million contract for the Switchgear Replacement Effort program. Contractor will provide supply and installation of gas insulated switchgear. Some of the work will be done at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by April 5, 2022. Air Force Test Center, Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., is the contracting activity. … Rockwell Collins Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was awarded a $21.3 million modification to exercise the option on a previously awarded contract to support the Common Range Integrated Instrumentation System (CRIIS). Contractor will provide the second production lot of the CRIIS for upgrading the test and evaluation instrumentation at Air Force, Navy and Army test ranges. This second production lot will help complete range installations and activations at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., White Sands Missile Range, N.M., Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif., and Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $129.4 million modification to a delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This order provides for additional work on the TR-3 integrated core processor and related subsystems to alleviate diminishing manufacturing sources constraints projected under F-35 production Lot 15 for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and international partners. Work will be performed in Fort Worth and is expected to be completed in March
2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … NWF Contractors Inc., Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $9.2 million contract to construct concrete targets. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by April 2, 2022. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Week in review (3/26 to 4/1)

An expansion for Continental Motors, a historic first for SpaceX, drones at the Dauphin Island's airport, F-35 and military aircraft maintenance contracts, and a possible jet trainer plant in Alabama were some of the aerospace news items of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week.

Here's your aerospace week in review:

Economic development
Continental Motors will spend more than $60 million on a new facility at Alabama's Mobile Aeroplex in an expansion that's not expected to add jobs, but will ensure the company stays put in Mobile and Fairhope.

Officials hope to break ground this summer on a 225,000-square foot facility at the intersection of Broad Street and Michigan Avenue. The building design will be finalized by fall and manufacturing equipment installed in 2018, with full operational by the end of 2019.

Continental and parent company AVIC International Holding Corp., of China, will spend up to $30 million developing the new site, and about $40 million on new manufacturing equipment for the building, which also will house their global business headquarters. The company builds engines for small aircraft. (Post)

-- If Leonardo wins the T-X competition with its T-100 trainer, the company will build the aircraft in Alabama at Moton Field in Tuskegee. Upward of $200 million will be spent on construction including buildings, infrastructure and equipment, according to a joint news release from the governor's office and Leonardo.

The Italian company, when it was partnered with Raytheon, had planned to assemble the trainers, based on the Alenia Aermacchi M-346, in Meridian, Miss. But the partnership ended and Meridian was out of the picture.

The Alabama plant will perform structural sub-assembly, integration, final assembly and conduct research and testing at the site, according to the release. Leonardo would lease a new facility built by a public-private partnership. Plans call for creating 750 jobs over 10 years. (Post)


Space
SpaceX successfully launched and then retrieved its first recycled rocket late in the week. It was the first time SpaceX tried to fly a booster that had been used in a previous mission.

The Falcon 9 core landed on the bull's-eye of the ocean platform following liftoff with a broadcasting satellite for the SES company of Luxembourg. Founder Elon Musk foresees dozens if not hundreds of repeat flights for a booster and rocket turnarounds of as little as 24 hours, perhaps by next year.

SpaceX is developing Raptor, its next-generation engine, at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)

-- Delays in the development of Orion's European-built service module, and damage to NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans from a February tornado are the key schedule risks for the first Space Launch System mission, agency officials said.

The schedule for the launch of Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), currently planned for late 2018, remains uncertain regardless of the technical issues as NASA studies the possibility of putting a crew on the flight, which would likely delay it by up to a year. (Post)

-- From its final orbit location 22,000 miles above the equator, the third Lockheed Martin-built Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) satellite recently sent its first images back to Earth.

The satellite was launched on Jan. 20 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and is the third in a series of Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites that the U.S. Air Force uses to provide faster and more accurate missile warning data to the nation and its allies.

The next satellite in the series will undergo final assembly, integration and test at Lockheed Martin's satellite production facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., prior to its launch planned for later this year. The satellite’s core propulsion system and thermal blankets are integrated by Lockheed Martin at Stennis Space Center, Miss. (Post)


Military
The National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., is paying tribute to the Doolittle Raiders by refurbishing a B-25 B Mitchell bomber as a replica of the one flown by Lt. Col. James "Jimmy" Doolittle.

Sixteen Army bombers with 80 airmen flew off the carrier to hit Japan four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. They trained at nearby Eglin Air Force Base. The bomber will go on display outside the museum's Blue Angels Atrium on April 18 to mark the 75th anniversary of the raid. (Post)

-- Dauphin Island's airport will be used by the Navy for a project to demonstrate the use of drones to survey littoral areas. The Mobile County Commission approved a memorandum of understanding with the Raspet Flight Research Laboratory of Mississippi State University, which is working with the Naval Meteorological and Oceanographic Command at Stennis Space Center, Miss., on the project.

The demonstration will use an Outlaw SeaHunter equipped with LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system to measure water depth in coastal areas that are too shallow for survey vessels. The demonstration will be held from mid-May to early June. Manned aircraft equipped with LIDAR are currently used to survey coastal areas. (Post)

-- Navy Lt. Ryan Rankin, a Naval Air Station Pensacola instructor pilot, has set out to fly a different plane for every week of 2017. "I feel drawn to it. It is a feeling that I cannot describe. When I don't fly for a while, I miss it," said Rankin, 33, who is taking advantage of shore duty and using his military leave time to reach his goal of flying 52 different planes before the end of the year. A network of vintage aircraft enthusiasts is helping him find the various aircraft. (Post)


F-35 Three contracts were awarded during the week in connection with the F-35 program. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center and reprogramming labs.

In one, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $581.8 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This modification provides for air vehicle initial spares to include F-35 common spares; F-35A, F-35B and F-35C unique spares, and aloft spares packages/deployment spares packages and reprogramming lab spares required to support the air vehicle delivery schedule for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants, and foreign military sales customers.

In another contract Lockheed Martin was awarded $95.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract to provide technical and logistics services, training, maintenance and repair services, and supply chain management in support of F-35 joint strike fighter for a non-Department of Defense participant.

The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for both contracts.

In addition, SOLPAC Construction, San Diego, Calif., was awarded $15.6 million for a task order under a previously awarded contract for construction of an F-35C engine repair facility at Naval Air Station Lemoore.

The project includes reinforced concrete masonry unit walls, built-up roof, and pile foundation. Built-in equipment includes bridge cranes and support rails, stacker storage system, and elevator. The project also includes facility paving and site improvements, utilities, and environmental mitigation features.

Work will be performed in Lemoore, Calif., and is expected to be completed by June 2018. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, is the contracting activity.


Aircraft maintenance
Two contracts were awarded during the week in connection with aircraft maintenance at military bases in the region.

Rolls-Royce Corp., Indianapolis, Ind., was awarded $106.9 million for modification to a previously awarded contract to provide intermediate, depot-level maintenance and related logistics support for about 209 in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines.

Work will be performed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, Texas (46 percent); NAS Meridian, Miss. (42 percent); NAS Pensacola, Fla. (11 percent); and NAS Patuxent River, Md. (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2018.

In another contract, L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, Madison, Miss., was awarded a $16.1 million contract for maintenance, repair, and logistics support for the Chief of Naval Air Training aircraft’s intermediate maintenance.

Work will be performed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. (60 percent); and Corpus Christi, Texas (40 percent), and is expected to be completed in September 2022.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity for both contracts.


Other contracts
Electronic Metrology Laboratory LLC, Franklin, Tenn., was awarded a $10.5 million modification under a previously awarded contract to exercise Option 3 for base operations support services at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla., and outlying fields. Work will be performed in Milton, Fla. (80 percent); and outlying fields (20 percent), and work is expected to be completed March 2018. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity. … QuantaDyn Corp., Ashburn, Va., was awarded a $27 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the Joint Terminal Control Training and Rehearsal System (JTC TRS). Some of the work will be done at Hurlburt Field, Fla. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is the contracting activity. … United Launch Services LLC, Centennial, Colo., was awarded a $270.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract for launch vehicle production services involving a Delta IV Heavy and transportation. Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity. The Delta IV uses RS-68 engines assembled and tested at Stennis Space Center, Miss. … The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $15 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) technical support and aircraft integration. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Reliance Test & Technology, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded an $11.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Eglin operation and maintenance support service. This modification increases government provided values of cost reimbursable items supporting the National Radar Test Facility. Work will be performed at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2026. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was awarded a $142.4 million contract for procurement of the Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS Inc II) environment improvement of the air combat training with rangeless air combat and secure air-to-air and air-to-ground data link. This contract will include participant subsystems; ground subsystems; remote range units; peculiar support equipment; enhanced threats; platform interfaces; an internal rack-mounted subsystem capability for fixed wing and rotary aircraft; and an internal subsystem for the Joint Strike Fighter. Work will be done in Cedar Rapids (65 percent); Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (20 percent); Richardson, Texas (10 percent); and various locations within the continental U.S. (5 percent), and is expected to be completed in November 2022. Fiscal 2017 research, development, testing and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $8,318,444 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division, Orlando, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Week in review (3/19 to 3/25)

Get prepared for additional growth in the aerospace industry. The United States will see a "competitive and profitable aviation industry characterized by increasing demand for air travel [with] airfares growing more slowly than inflation" over the next two decades.

That's according to the FAA's annual Aerospace Forecast for fiscal years 2017-2037. "Looking ahead, there is confidence that the industry has been transformed from that of a boom-to-bust cycle to one of sustainable profits," FAA said in the report.

And airports in the region should take note. The FAA projected that "traffic growth by US mainline and regional carriers will increase at an average rate of 2.4 percent per year," while "passenger growth on US carriers will increase at an average 1.9 percent per year." (Post)

One of the companies that will be supplying jetliners for that growing industry is, of course, the Airbus manufacturing facility in Mobile, Ala. Made in Alabama, produced by the Alabama Department of Commerce, had a feature story during the week about the employees at the plant.

As you know, the first Alabama-made A321 jetliner took to the skies on its maiden flight a year ago, and the company is ramping up to eventually produce 40 to 50 jetliners each year. In the article, Gov. Robert Bentley noted that the plant is not only producing planes, but also creating opportunities that enrich the lives of the workforce. The story focuses on several of the plant's workers. (Post)


Space
The first RS-25 engine controller that will be used on the first flight of the new Space Launch System (SLS) was tested late in the week at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The new controller or "brain" has the electronics that operate the engine and communicate with the SLS vehicle.

Engine Controller Unit-2 was installed on RS-25 development engine No. 0528 and test fired for 500 seconds on the A-1 Test Stand. The engine controller will be installed on one of four flight engines that will help power the first integrated flight of SLS and the Orion spacecraft.

This year, two more engine controllers for the first SLS mission will be tested on this development engine at Stennis and installed on flight engines. The fourth controller will be tested when NASA tests the entire core stage during a green run on the B-2 Test Stand at Stennis. That testing will involve installing the core stage on the stand and firing its four RS-25 flight engines simultaneously, as during a mission launch. (Post)


Bases
The Department of Defense announced during the week the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom's Sentinel. Sgt. 1st Class Robert R. Boniface, 34, of San Luis Obispo, Calif., died March 19 in Logar Province, Afghanistan, from a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (Post)

-- Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., is the recipient of a new weather training technology. The 355th Training Squadron’s Weather Training Complex is where you'll find a 48-inch carbon fiber globe suspended from the ceiling that comes to life thanks to the projectors that point at it from each corner of the room.

The Science on a Sphere uses computers with high-end graphic cards and video projectors to display data onto the globe. It was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as an education tool to help illustrate earth weather science through animations of atmospheric storms, climate change and ocean temperatures.

The globe doesn't move, but gives that illusion. Instructors for Weather Initial Skills and Weather Officer Courses will use the system as a tool to help students gain an enhanced understanding of fundamental atmospheric and oceanographic processes. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $10.5 million delivery order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement to complete a Selective Precision Effects At Range Capability 3 risk reduction and integration study of the F-35 air system for the government of the United Kingdom. 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. … Engineering Research and Consulting Inc., Huntsville, Ala., was awarded a $99 million contract for Seek Eagle modeling, analysis, and tools support. Work will be performed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and is expected to be complete by Sept. 22, 2022. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., was awarded a $24.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract for QF-16 full-scale aerial target (FSAT) Lot 5A production. Contractor will provide 18 QF-16 FSATs and 18 associated four-year warranties for the QF-16 drone-peculiar equipment program. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Week in review (3/12 to 3/18)

NASA selected 133 proposals from U.S. companies to conduct research and develop technologies to help NASA's future deep-space missions. They include four projects with a combined value of $3 million that are tied to Stennis Space Center, Miss.

The proposals were selected under Phase II of NASA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. SBIR Phase II projects will expand on the results of recently-completed Phase I projects. Phase I projects received six-month contracts of as much as $125,000. Phase II contracts are awarded up to $750,000 and the period of performance is no more than two years.

Successful Phase II projects may go on to Phase III of the program, which is commercialization. The proposals were selected according to technical merit and feasibility, in addition to the experience, qualifications and facilities of the companies, and their work plans and commercial potential. (Post)

In another space-related item outside this region, OneWeb Satellites LLC broke ground on an $85 million high-volume satellite manufacturing factory in Exploration Park, Fla., near NASA's Kennedy Space Center. It's set to begin production, integration and satellite testing later this year.

OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb, a satellite-based internet provider, and Airbus.

The factory is being built in partnership with the state of Florida and Space Florida. The initiative is anticipated to create nearly 250 direct, highly skilled manufacturing and engineering jobs, as well as thousands more throughout a broad supplier base across the nation that will support production.

"This new American-built manufacturing facility is the latest example of Airbus' commitment to expanding our manufacturing footprint in the U.S.," said Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus Americas. "We already build civil and military helicopters in Texas and Mississippi, as well as commercial aircraft in Alabama. So, building satellites in Florida with our partner OneWeb continues the Airbus trend of growing U.S.-based manufacturing and jobs and staying close to our American supply chain, within which we invest $17 billion annually.” (Press release)


Corporate
MAAS Aviation named Geoffrey Myrick as the chief operating officer in Mobile, Ala. Myrick will serve as operations officer for both the existing OEM (original equipment manufacturing) hangar that supports Airbus Americas and the new twin bay MRO hangar that provides services to commercial aircraft carriers as well as lease companies, military and corporate jet markets.

Prior to joining MAAS, Myrick served as vice president of sales for Certified Aviation Services, LLC, where his focus was the creation and execution of sales strategies in the MRO market. In previous roles, Myrick spent about five years at VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering in various capacities centered around marketing, sales, and management. (Post)


Bases
Two Eglin Air Force Base officers have been nominated for general rank appointments. In one appointment, Brig. Gen. Shaun Morris, the Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons and Armament Directorate director, was nominated to the grade of major general. In the other, Col. Lansing R. Pilch, commander 33rd Fighter Wing, Air Education and Training Command, has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. (Post)

-- Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson announced that Rear Adm. (lower half) Kyle J. Cozad, selected for promotion to rear admiral, will be assigned as commander, Naval Education and Training Command, Pensacola, Fla. Cozad is currently serving as commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, Norfolk, Va. (Post)


Contracts
HX5 LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was awarded a $95 million contract for personnel, supervision, and services necessary to provide services for research and development and related activities for the Engineer Research and Development Center Information Technology Laboratory. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of March 14, 2022. … Kratos Defense and Security Solutions’ subsidiary Composite Engineering Inc. (CEi) received the Lot 13 production of a previous awarded contract for Lots 11-13 of the Air Force Subscale Aerial Target. The $22.3 million contract will be performed by the Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, comprised of CEi and Micro Systems Inc. (MSI). CEi’s Sacramento, Calif., facility will lead the effort and provide 25 high performance BQM-167A aerial targets and associated technical support. The Fort Walton Beach, Fla.-based MSI will supply the majority of the high performance avionics utilized on the aircraft, including critical command, control and flight computer systems. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity. … Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. received a task order to support the U.S. Air Force 53rd Wing operations. The task order was awarded with a value of $204.9 million over four years and nine months if all options are exercised, and focuses on the provision of information technology support for weapons and computer systems related to systems development and operational activities. Work sites are primarily located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., but some work will also be done at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and other locations. … Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, Calif., was awarded a $15 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) engineering, manufacture and development. Work will be performed at Sunnyvale and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2019. Work on the propulsion module for the SBIRS is done at Stennis Space Center, Miss. … URS Federal Services Inc., Germantown, Md., was awarded a $35.1 million contract to provide maintenance services, including integrated support equipment (SE) maintenance repair and overhaul services to reduce repair cycle time and the availability of ready for use SE in the fleet and the Fleet Readiness Center Aviation Support Equipment sites. New Orleans will be the location for 5 percent of the work.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Week in review (3/5 to 3/11)

The House passed a $578 billion fiscal 2017 defense spending bill during the week. It allocates $8.2 billion to buy 74 additional F-35 fighters and funds 28 Lakota helicopters. Not in the bill is the expected supplemental budget request from the administration.

Any spending on the F-35 is welcomed in this region. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center and reprogramming labs. There are also companies, like Fort Walton Machining, that make parts for the fifth-generation fighter.

The bill also includes $187 million for the Lakota helicopters built by Airbus in Columbus, Miss., and in this region they are used by the Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Ala. It now has to make its way to the Senate. (Post)

On another front, Trump's plan to cut the Coast Guard budget to help fund his proposed wall along the border with Mexico is facing rough waters. One group that is highly critical is one of the oldest advocacy groups in the nation, the Navy League.

According to Breaking Defense, the group points out the number of search-and-rescue missions conducted each day the the Coast Guard, and the lives saved, as well as its role in stopping undocumented migrants and illegal drugs. A single National Security Cutter of the type Trump wants to cancel conducted 12 drug interdictions, confiscated more than 33,000 pounds of cocaine and detained 32 suspected smugglers in a single month, according to the League. (Story)

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, says Trump would be "foolish" to cut the Coast Guard's budget to help fund a wall, saying such a move would make the nation less safe and kill jobs in states like Virginia. (Story) Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, says 40 percent of all Coast Guard activity is in Florida, and it makes no sense to build a wall along the border and remove the maritime wall. (Story)

In addition to Nelson’s point about the level of activity in Florida, the rest of the Gulf Coast also has a lot at risk. We have Coast Guard stations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, including the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala.

If my guess is right, this proposal is a no-go.

In other aerospace news of interest to the Gulf Coast region during the week:


Aircraft
Italy's Leonardo is flying solo in the competition to build the U.S. Air Force’s T-X trainer. The company plans to establish final assembly for the M-346 trainer derivative in the United States, but where is still up in the air. When Raytheon was a partner, the plan was to build the trainers in Meridian, Miss., if the team won the contract. But that went away when Raytheon dropped out in January.

The proposed T-100 will use two Honeywell F124 engines made in Arizona, and its CAE simulators will be built in Florida. DRS will represent the American face of Leonardo, which did not select a separate US partner when it re-entered the competition. (Post)

-- Germany's defense ministry has decided to buy MQ-4C Triton unmanned surveillance planes built by Northrop Grumman for deliveries after 2025. The new drones will replace the Euro Hawk program, which Berlin canceled in May 2013 after it became clear that it could cost up to 600 million euros to get the system approved for use in civil airspace.

The plan, which must still be approved by parliament, calls for Germany to buy the Tritons from the Navy. Sensors for the Triton are to be built by Airbus. Fuselage work on the Triton variants of the Global Hawk are built in Moss Point, Miss. (Post)


Airports
In Alabama, the 79,000-square-foot CAE Dothan Training Center is now officially opened at Dothan Regional Airport. It’s designed to provide fixed-wing flight training to the Army, Air Force and other customers.

The CAE center provides classroom, simulator training and live flight training. CAE is responsible for providing all the training required for experienced rotary-wing aviators transitioning to fly the services fleet of more than 350 fixed-wing aircraft. More than 600 Army and Air Force pilots will be trained annually. The center is 10 miles from Fort Rucker. (Post)

-- A record 11.1 million passengers traveled through Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in 2016, with more than a third using Southwest Airlines. The Dallas-based airline continued to dominate domestic flights in and out of New Orleans, shuttling more than 4.1 million travelers in 2016. That was double the number who flew Delta Airlines. (Post)

-- Alaska Airlines, the parent company of Virgin America, will launch daily nonstop flights from Louis Armstrong International Airport to San Francisco starting Sept. 21. The daily Virgin America flight will depart New Orleans at 4 p.m. and arrive at San Francisco International Airport at 6:30 p.m. local time. The return connection will depart San Francisco at 8:48 a.m. and arrive in New Orleans at 3:03 p.m. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded $64.7 million for a delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This order procures work on the integrated core processor in order to alleviate diminishing manufacturing sources constraints projected under F-35 production Lot 15 for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and international partners (20 percent). Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in March 2019. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity. … Applied Systems Engineering Corp., Niceville, Fla., was awarded an $11.7 million contract to provide essential hardware, upgrades, and repairs for the Battle Management Systems program, specifically Advanced Tactical Navigator units. The work will be performed in Niceville and is expected to be completed by March 2022. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren, Va., is the contracting activity. … ViON Corp., Herndon, Calif., was awarded a $34.8 million contract to provide Capacity as a Service support to Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Headquarters, SPAWAR System Center Pacific and SPAWAR System Center Atlantic. Work will be performed in Charleston, S.C. (63 percent); San Diego, Calif. (30 percent); New Orleans, La. (5 percent); and Norfolk, Va. (2 percent). Work is expected to be completed March 2022. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, is the contracting activity.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Week in review (2/26 to 3/4)

Northwest Florida as a region must commit to economic diversification if it wants to create the change its business leaders envision. That was the message from Jon Roberts for more than 100 people who showed up at Northwest Florida State College recently for a preview of the "blueprint" for successful regional diversification.

The plan is called Northwest Florida Forward. Key points are training a workforce capable of filling positions as new industry locates in the area, and taking advantage of existing regional industry clusters such as aerospace and defense.

"We designed this regional strategy to be a framework for prioritizing projects so everyone in Northwest Florida benefits," said Rick Byars, the chairman of the board of Florida's Great Northwest. (Post)

This is something that clearly needs to be done. I've always said the entire region, from Southeast Louisiana to Northwest Florida, has huge potential if the various organizations would work together. Doing something like this in one part of that region - Northwest Florida- certainly makes sense.

-- On another economic development front over in Mobile, Ala., Roger Wehner resigned as executive director of the Mobile Airport Authority. The authority said Mark McVay, director of finance, will serve as interim executive director while the board of directors conducts a search for a permanent replacement.

It was in 2013 that Wehner became executive director of MAA, which oversees operations of the Mobile Aeroplex and Mobile Regional Airport. He was involved in activities at MAA even before that, on loan to the agency from Alabama Power. During his tenure the Mobile Aeroplex saw considerable growth as aerospace companies came to the aeroplex to be close to the Airbus A320 final assembly line. (Post)

I just hope Wehner ends up staying in this region working in economic development in some capacity. His experience is crucial to our region.


Military
It looks like the Air Force Special Operations Command will be installing and testing lasers on AC-130 gunships this year. That’s what Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, head of AFSOC, told Breaking Defense.

Webb said AFSOC, based at Hurlburt Field, Fla., hasn’t decided where the laser would go. The tests will help determine that, as well as which mix of weapons is most effective. Webb’s predecessor, Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, had previously said the laser would probably go on the left side of the plane. (Post)


-- Speaking of Hurlburt Field, AFSOC is currently hosting Emerald Warrior, a joint military exercise involving 1,500 military personnel from the Air Force, Army and Marines, along with three partner nations.

It began Feb. 27 and ends March 11. Scenarios include operations involving inserting and removing troops from combat situations, direct assaults, military freefall, and live-fire events. In addition to the activities in Northwest Florida, training will be conducted at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, Melrose Range, N.M., and Fort Knox, Ky. (Post)

-- Halfway through their winter training in El Centro, Calif., the Blue Angels are getting ready to begin their 2017 season March 11 with their annual start-of-season performance at Naval Air Facility El Centro. The Blue Angels are based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. (Post)


Space
The 20th Space Control Squadron's Charlie Crew at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., successfully tracked India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle Feb. 15. Loaded with 104 satellites, the Indian PSLV set the record for the most spacecraft launched by a single rocket.

Using the world's most powerful phased-array radar, the space surveillance squadron uses an integrated team of military and civilian airmen to track an estimated 23,000 near-Earth and deep-space objects each day. The AN/FPS-85 is the only phased array radar capable of tracking objects 40,000 kilometers away. (Post)


Airports
The Northwest Florida International Beaches Airport Authority is set to begin exit terminal security improvements. The board approved GAC Contractors to install glass-walled security corridors and a video-enabled exit lane breach control system from Tyco Integrated Security.

Tyco's system uses video analytics technology to immediately identify if an individual attempts to enter an airport exit lane from the wrong direction. It alerts security personnel and records the incident for instant playback. (Post)


Airbus
The Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility will be making more than A320 series jetliners next week. The production team will be making pink paper planes March 8 as part of the Women of Aviation Worldwide Week’s Guinness World Record Attempt. It’s designed to show Airbus’ support of women in the aviation industry. The plane throw will be at 11 a.m. CST. A minimum of 40 and up to 200 paper planes are expected to be thrown. (Post)


Contracts
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded three contracts related to the F-35 program. It was awarded a $1 billion contract for recurring logistics support and sustainment services for F-35 aircraft in support of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, non-Department of Defense (DoD) participants; and foreign military sales (FMS) customers. It also was awarded a $20.6 million modification to the previously awarded low-rate initial production Lot 10 F-35 advance acquisition contract. The modification provides for airworthiness requirements, technical reviews, deficiency corrections, and chase maintenance for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, non-U.S. Department of Defense (Non-U.S. DoD) participants, and foreign military sales (FMS) customers. The company also was awarded an $11.6 million contract action against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. This order provides for initial operational test and evaluation configuration support efforts in support of the F-35 aircraft for the Air Force and Navy, and international partner countries. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity for all three contracts. … ECSC LLC, Panama City, Fla., was awarded a not-to-exceed $40,000,000 contract for paving requirements at Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases in Nevada. The 99th Contracting Squadron, Nellis Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, Madison, Miss., was awarded $15 million modification to a previously awarded contract for aircraft maintenance and logistical life cycle support for the C-12 utility lift aircraft. New Orleans will be one of the work locations (4 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, is the contracting activity. … Pride Industries, Roseville, Calif., was awarded an $18.4 million contract for base operations. Work will be performed in Fort Rucker, Ala., with an estimated completion date of Feb. 28, 2018. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Fort Rucker, is the contracting activity.