Saturday, November 11, 2017

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

A leadership change at Airbus Americas, the return of an Air Force squadron to full operational capability, large military training exercises, an Apollo-era artifact at Infinity Science Center, updates on the F-35, and plans for a new terminal were among the news items during the week of interest to the Gulf Coast aerospace corridor.

But before we get to your week in review, let me extend my gratitude to all my fellow veterans for their service. I come from a family with a long tradition of serving in the military. We've served in every branch, from one hitch to long careers, so this day is particularly important to my extended family. Thank you all.

Now for your week in review:

C. Jeffrey Knittel will become chairman and chief executive at Herndon, Va.-based Airbus Americas early next year. Knittel will replace Airbus Americas CEO Barry Eccleston, who is retiring Feb. 28, 2018.

Allan McArtor, chairman of Airbus Americas, will remain with the company as chairman emeritus. Knittel, who brings more than 25 years of global aerospace leadership experience to the position, will join the company at its Americas headquarters Jan. 12. (Post)

The 815th Airlift Squadron has completed its quest to reach full operational capability, four years after the squadron’s future was uncertain. The squadron and its C-130J Flying Jennies are again ready to deploy and provide combat-ready airmen for airlift mission.

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, the Air Force announced plans to transfer 10 of the Air Force Reserve 403rd Wing's C-130J aircraft. But two years later the Secretary of the Air Force reversed that recommendation, beginning the programming and budgeting work to restore personnel and mission capability at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. (Post)

-- Personnel and equipment from Air Force installations across the country have converged on Tyndall Air Force Base in Northwest Florida to participate in Checkered Flag 18-1, a two-week, large-scale exercise that integrates the war-fighting capabilities of fourth-and fifth-generation aircraft. It’s being held with the concurrently running Weapons Systems Evaluation Program, Combat Archer.

"What we have in our Checkered Flag airspace is an over water range that affords us the opportunity to be fully supersonic down to the ground," said Air Force Lt. Col. Daniel Lee, 44th Fighter Group deputy commander and Checkered Flag 18-1 Air Expeditionary Wing vice commander. "This is not a capability that we have on a large scale at any other ranges within the United States."

The exercise wraps up Nov. 17. (Post)

An early artifact of America's moon program is on display in Mississippi’s Infinity Science Center. It’s the command module from Apollo 4, an unmanned 1967 mission that successfully demonstrated the full Saturn V rocket and the capsule that would carry men to the moon.

The command module is on long-term loan from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum. The display is part of a redesign of the museum's space exhibits. The Saturn V rocket was among those tested at neighboring Stennis Space Center.

The 8,000-pound module was stored for five years at Stennis out of public view. (Post)

-- As the Senate Commerce Committee prepares to advance his nomination as NASA administrator to the full Senate, Jim Bridenstine offered pledges of continuity for many key agency programs. Bridenstine said he believed the Space Launch System and Orion programs are critical to the agency’s exploration plans, as well as contributions from commercial space ventures. (Post)

The 53rd Electronic Warfare Group’s Partner Support Complex delivered the F-35 mission data file to Norway Oct. 26. This is the first overseas delivery of Block 3F mission data to a foreign nation and was accomplished in anticipation of Norway’s first F-35s, which arrived last week and will be marked by a Nov.10 ceremony there.

The delivery of Block 3F mission data enables the F-35 to accomplish its primary missions of air interdiction, close air support, and suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses. Mission data files enable the aircraft to know what threats to search for and when, providing the F-35 its means of deciphering the environment.

The men and women of the PSC are charged with programming this essential mission data software for eight F-35 partner nations, to include Norway, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Denmark. (Post)

-- Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $34.6 million contract for weapons capabilities technology maturation and risk reduction pre-engineering, manufacturing and development activities for dual-capability F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft and small-diameter bomb 2 (SDB-II) in support of the Marine Corps and Air Force.

Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in July 2018. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. 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)

Design details for a new 120,000-square-foot, $90 million terminal at Louisiana’s Lafayette Regional Airport were unveiled during the week at the airport commission’s regular meeting.

Lafayette Regional Airport was the fourth busiest in Louisiana in 2016 in terms of enplanements, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, but Airport Director Steven Picou said it operates with the smallest square-footage.

The airport in Lafayette, site of a Bell Helicopter facility, is along Interstate 10 west of New Orleans. (Post)

Reliance Test & Technology, Crestview, Fla., was awarded a $48 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Eglin operation and maintenance services. Work will be performed at Eglin test and training complex, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., with an expected completion date of Sept. 30 2026. Air Force Test Center, Eglin Air Force Base, is the contracting activity. … Raytheon Co. Missile Systems Division, Tucson, Ariz., was awarded a $17.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile Targeting System (HTS) contractor logistics support (CLS) services. Work will be performed in Tucson, with an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2018. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity.

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