Saturday, October 13, 2018

Week in review (10/7 to 10/13)

With so many military assets along the Gulf Coast Interstate 10 corridor region, anytime a hurricane threatens it puts billions of dollars worth of critical U.S. assets at risk. While aircraft, ships and personnel can be evacuated to safer locations, the bases have to withstand the onslaught - and have done so for years.

Tyndall took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael, one of the most destructive hurricanes on record, and like surrounding civilian locations, the base was devastated. Every building took a hit, and there are reports that aircraft that couldn’t be moved – like those in hangars for repairs or maintenance - were also damaged. (Post)

There were no fatalities at the base, which had a skeleton crew left behind to ride it out. The runway, crucial for the base to get supplies brought in, has been reopened, but when personnel and families can return is unclear at this point. But there’s a long road ahead for the base.

So what will it cost to rebuild? Tyndall’s plant replacement value is $1.637 billion, according to the Department of Defense Base Structure Report FY 2015. The plant replacement value (PRV) is what it would cost to replace all buildings, structures and linear structures at a facility, using that year’s labor and materials costs. Depending on the extent of damage, it's a pretty good indicator of the pricetag.

There are 45 bases and base annexes in the region between New Orleans and Panama City with a combined replacement value of nearly $22 billion. The most expensive is Eglin Air Force Base, with a PRV of $4.9 billion. In fact, all the replacement values have gone up since the 2015 report.

Beyond the actual cost, there’s the disruption to the mission. Tyndall is home of F-22 training and an operational F-22 squadron. It’s also were a lot of full-size drones, former fighters converted into target planes, are located.

The base, 12 miles east of Panama City and 16 miles west of Mexico Beach, is home of the 325th Fighter Wing and some 600 military families. It's also home to headquarters of the First Air Force, part of the Air Combat Command, responsible for air defense of the United States.

The Pentagon grounded all 245 U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marines F-35 fighters this week as part of an ongoing investigation into a jet that crashed in Beaufort, S.C., late last month. The cause is believed to be  problem with fuel tubes.

Eleven international partners who participated in the program also grounded most of their F-35s. Some that had already been inspected were back in service, according to reports.

A Navy board is charged with overseeing the investigation, and they are conducting a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube inside the engine of the F-35 aircraft, according to military officials. Joe Dellavedova, director of public affairs for the F-35 program, said that they will remove and replace any fuel tubes they suspect might be problematic.

Those planes that don't have the problem will be cleared to fly, he said, and they hope to have the inspections completed within 24 to 48 hours. Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is home of the F-35 integrated training center. (Post)

A team of operators conducted another 500-second RS-25 hot fire on the A-1 Test Stand at Stennis Space Center on Oct. 11, the fourth in a series that will extend into 2019. Once again, the hot fire features an acceptance test of an RS-25 engine controller for use on a future flight of NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

Four RS-25 engines, firing simultaneously, will provide a combined 2 million pounds of thrust to help launch the new rocket. NASA has been testing RS-25 engines at Stennis Space Center (SSC) for SLS use since early 2015. (Post)

Orbital Sciences Corp., Chandler, Ariz., was awarded a $791.6 million other-transaction agreement for the development of a Launch System Prototype for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. The areement requires shared cost investment for the development of the OmegA launch system. Work will be performed in Chandler; Magna and Promontory, Utah; Iuka, Miss.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Sandusky, Ohio; and Michoud, La., with launch facilities at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The work is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2024. The Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the contracting activity. … Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Grand Prairie, Texas, was awarded a $164 million contract modification to previously awarded contract for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Field Support Contract (TFSC). This modification will increase the total ceiling value from $561,200,000 to $725,200,000. The work will be performed in Huntsville, Ala.; Sunnyvale, Calif.; Grand Prairie, Texas; and Troy, Ala. The Missile Defense Agency, Huntsville, is the contracting activity.

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