Here's your aerospace week in review:
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)
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)
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.
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.
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.