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.