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:

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)

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)

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.

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