Saturday, November 4, 2017

Week in review (10/29 to 11/4)

A new tenant and more jobs at Michoud Assembly Facility, an award for Eglin's F-35 reprogramming office, and new air service at two of the region’s airports were among the Gulf Coast region's aerospace stories during the week.

Here's your week in review:

A new tenant is moving in and another expanding at Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in east New Orleans. Sinter Metal Technologies, a global supplier of metal and ceramic parts based in Liechtenstein, will move some of its operations into the facility. The company intends to invest $5 million in a new sintering facility at MAF to bond powder-based metals, material that will be used to make strong precision parts. The plan will create 15 new jobs.

Advanced Cutting Solutions, which specializes in kit-cutting tough materials like fiberglass, Kevlar and dry carbon, is expanding its presence at the facility, adding 30 new jobs. Gov. John Bel Edwards and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Director Todd May joined a host of local and state officials Wednesday to announce the jobs. State leaders also announced plans for an aerospace program at nearby Nunez Community College to train students for careers at MAF and other regional employers. (Post)

-- Dozens of interested business representatives gathered at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel in Mobile, Ala., during the week for a NASA Business Forum. Officials from Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Stennis Space Center and NASA Shared Services in South Mississippi, as well as representatives from prime contractors attended the event. NASA is committed to handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to small businesses every year, either through direct contracts or as subcontractors to the primes. (Post)

-- Rolls-Royce late last month celebrated 10 years at Stennis Space Center, Miss., where it operates an outdoor jet engine test facility. Rolls-Royce General Manager Hamish Guthrie said the company employs 46 people locally, and expects that number to rise in the future due to the demand of the company’s aircraft engines. Guthrie said employees have logged more than 7,000 hours testing engines. Rolls-Royce, which opened its first stand in 2007, added a second test stand in 2013. (Post)

The 53rd Wing's 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron last month was awarded the Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Team of 2017 for work on the F-35A Initial Operational Capability delivery at Eglin Air Force Base.

This Air Force Science, Technology, Engineering and Math annual award recognizes the efforts and achievements of scientists and engineers who make significant contributions to technology and engineering. For the last seven years, 513th EWS airmen and sailors of the F-35's U.S. Reprogramming Laboratory have been doing just that.

Supercomputers, referred to as sensor fusion, make up the F-35's brain. That brain provides the fighter with unique capabilities, making it more lethal, survivable and adaptable than any fighter aircraft on Earth, according to the Secretary of Air Force Public Affairs. However, without 513th EWS personnel inputting critical mission data into the F-35, sensor fusion wouldn’t work as intended. The aircraft wouldn’t know what threats to search for or when.

In the electronic warfare world, engineers refer to this ability to understand the world, the ability to sift through stimuli and make informed decisions about how to react, as mission data software. This software helps compile countless pieces of information about the environment the F-35 will fly into. It also creates within the F-35's brain the means of deciphering that environment.

The men and women of the 513th EWS program this essential mission data software, thus teaching the F-35 how to distinguish between stimuli and making it efficient, intelligent and lethal. (Post)

-- Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded a $19.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract. This modification provides for procurement of extra-long-lead items in support of the low-rate initial production Lot XII F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft production.

The extra-long-lead items include group hardware supporting the Lot XII delivery of conventional take-off and landing propulsion systems for the Air Force, Navy, non-Department of Defense (non-DoD) participants, and foreign military sales (FMS) customers, as well as group hardware supporting the Lot XII delivery of short take-off and vertical landing propulsion systems for the Marine Corps.

Work will be done in East Hartford; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Bristol, United Kingdom, and is expected to be completed in November 2019. This contract combines purchases for the Marine Corps (88.04 percent); non-DoD participants (9.86 percent); Air Force (1.49 percent); FMS (0.41 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales Program; and Navy .20 percent). 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. (Post)

Florida's Pensacola International Airport (PNS) reaches a new all-time high serving 1,668,897 passengers during fiscal year 2017. That's the highest count in a decade. A year before the Great Recession, the airport’s last passenger record was in FY07 when the airport served a total of 1,660,545 passengers.

In addition to the record, PNS announced a second daily non-stop flight to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) aboard American Airlines will be added to the flight schedule in the spring. Beginning April 3, 2018, passengers will have the option of booking a morning nonstop flight to DCA, in addition to the current afternoon non-stop flight. (Post)

-- In May, travel between Okaloosa County and the nation's capital will be easier for hundreds of military contractors and active duty personnel. The first non-stop American Airlines flights between Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport (VPS) and Washington D.C.'s Ronald Reagan National Airport will take off 11:05 a.m. May 4, according to a news release from the county.

An earlier flight is scheduled to depart Washington D.C. at 8:45 a.m. the same day, with arrival in Okaloosa County expected at 10:07 a.m., the release said. The two flights will run daily. The airport is located within Eglin Air Force Base. (Post)

The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group conducted operations from Nov. 1-3 and will do so again Nov. 6-8 in the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay as part of a Weapon System Evaluation Program. Between 8 a.m. and noon jets will be releasing munitions about 20 miles south of Destin in the Gulf of Mexico.

Between 1-5 p.m., about 30 boats traveling in formation will transverse between the Mid-Bay Bridge and the U.S. Highway 331 Bridge, including 10-to-20 miles south of Destin in the Gulf of Mexico, according to base officials.

The boat formation will be used as visual targets by military aircraft flying over the area. Some boats will have fake deck guns and rocket launcher tubes, but no live weapons or ammunition will be involved. The boats also will be using marine flares as visual markers. (Post)

-- Residents of Mississippi's Biloxi and Keesler Air Force Base may hear an increase in noise this weekend due to a training exercise. The Air Force Reserve's 403rd Wing will hold the exercise on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the Unit Training Assembly.

Sirens, alarms and loudspeaker announcements will be used to simulate realistic environments for personnel. Trainees will practice self-aid and buddy care, chemical warfare detection, and the ability to survive and operate in a deployed environment. (Post)

Numerous companies, including UTS Systems LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Fla. (W911QY-18-D-0161), will share in an $8,276,161,000 hybrid (cost, cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive, and fixed-price-redetermination) contract for Joint Enterprise Research, Development, Acquisition and Production and Procurement program to support research and development of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives defense systems, capabilities, equipment, supplies and material. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 3, 2027. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Natick, Mass., is the contracting activity.

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