Thursday, July 12, 2012


Where will these countries train their pilots, if they are able to purchase the F-35?  The answer is.  EGLIN AFB.  What does this mean? There will be a lot of folks from around the world finding out about the “Emerald Coast”.  Enough said.

Lockheed's F-35 fighter attracts foreign interest

1:21am IST
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
FARNBOROUGH, England (Reuters) - More than 25 countries have expressed interest in Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, including Singapore, which is still evaluating its options, and South Korea, which is due to pick a winner in its fighter competition by year's end, top Lockheed officials said on Wednesday.  South Korean officials are due to visit Lockheed's Fort Worth, Texas, production facility and other sites later this year for weeks of data-gathering, including classified simulator tests, as they weigh the F-35 bid, according to sources familiar with what will be handled as a government-to-government sale.  Lockheed's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is vying with Boeing Co's F-15 fighter and the four-nation European Typhoon for the multibillion-dollar 60-jet South Korean order.  Lockheed beat Boeing to win the lucrative Joint Strike Fighter contract in 2001. After years of cost overruns and technical challenges, as well as a 10-week strike earlier this year, Lockheed's $396 billion F-35 program is now focused on what officials describe as normal goals for any new military aircraft: completing development and testing, starting pilot training and drumming up more foreign orders.  "We're executing to plan, and executing to plan means that we're becoming predictable," Larry Lawson, executive vice president for aeronautics at Lockheed, told Reuters during an interview at the Farnborough International Airshow. "And predictable is a very good thing ... with the amount of oversight that we have on the F-35 program," he said.  Japan's decision to buy the F-35 last December gave the program a big boost, but U.S. officials are keen to lock in more customers to help increase the number of jets being built, which in turn will reduce the price of all planes that are eventually built.  Lockheed had hoped to drive down the price per plane by quickly ramping up production to around 18 to 20 planes a month. Instead, production will stagnate at around 30 planes a year for the next few years. Lockheed officials and F-35 test pilots touted the program's progress during a media briefing at the air show, where a mock-up of the radar-evading, single-seat aircraft drew a steady stream of interest from industry executives and foreign delegations. The program has conducted 595 test flights thus far in 2012, versus the 445 test flights planned, and four more jets were delivered to the U.S. government this week, bringing the total number of deliveries to 30. Lawson said Lockheed should be able to complete production of all 30 planes planned for this year, despite a 10-week strike by 3,650 workers at the Fort Worth plant and two military bases in California and Maryland.

Lockheed is building the new warplane for three U.S. military services and eight international partners -- Britain, Italy, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands. Israel and Japan have also ordered the plane. The Pentagon restructured the $396 billion weapons program for a third time this year, postponing production of 179 fighter jets until after 2017, to allow more time for development and testing, and to reduce the number of needed retrofits. The move added $1 billion to $6 billion in cost to the program, according to various estimates, because it eliminated anticipated economies of scale that were meant to start sharply reducing the cost as production quantities increased. It also spurred some soul-searching among foreign partners on the program, including Italy, whose own budget pressures have prompted it to cut back its planned orders by one-third. However, since then, the U.S. government and six of the eight partner countries have put jets under contract. Israel and Japan have also signed agreements locking in their procurements. "That's the ultimate measure of normalcy," Stephen O'Bryan, vice president of F-35 business development at Lockheed, told Reuters in a separate interview at the air show. "It's the ultimate measure of confidence in the program." Italian Air Force Lieutenant General Paolo Civalleri told Reuters at the air show that his country was satisfied with progress on the plane. "Everybody is comfortable; the only problem is the budget," Civalleri said. Lockheed officials declined to identify any of the other countries exploring possible F-35 purchases, which are handled on a government-to-government basis, but said they had been engaged in nonstop meetings at the air show. Lawson said the cooperative nature of the F-35 program, in which eight countries are chipping in to fund development of the new plane, would be increasingly important in coming years as budgets in the United States and Europe come under increased pressure. Lockheed remains in protracted negotiations with the Pentagon about a contract for 30 more production jets, talks that have been under way since early December 2011. The two sides remain at odds over overhead costs, with U.S. military officials asking for thousands of pages of additional documentation, on top of the 6,000 pages in Lockheed's initial proposal submitted in April 2011. U.S. officials submitted their first counter-offer in April 2012. Lockheed officials declined comment on the state of the negotiations. Navy Vice Admiral David Venlet, who heads the F-35 program for the Pentagon, did not attend the air show. The four jets delivered this week will fly to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where Air Force and Marine Corps officials are getting ready to start training pilots later this year. "We will be in full swing by the end of the year," said Marine Corps Colonel Arthur Tomassetti, vice commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing at the Air Education and Training Command.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by Matthew Lewis)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


In today’s world, Special Operations, Special Forces, and High Tech Weapons are the key in defending our nation.  We are lucky to have all of these elements on one of the largest military installations in the world right in our back yard.    If you have been falling along with my BLOG (which you can review by visiting the link below), you will see the evidence of how important our area is to this country and the assets being placed here to accomplish our military missions.

Hurlburt activates 24th SOW; changes unit command
2012-06-12 15:58:06
HURLBURT FIELD — A V-formation of airmen in scarlet berets stood at the center of the Freedom Hangar, each hoisting the flags of their respective squadrons, the chrome tips glimmering in the early morning light. They stood at the center of a seated crowd of hundreds of airmen, their families, veterans, and other dignitaries who had gathered for two historic Air Force ceremonies: the activation of the 24th Special Operations Wing, and the change of command of the 720th Special Tactics Group. “Many of you signed up after 9/11, knowing what special tactics would entail,” said Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, of the perils facing the new wing. “You readily give tears, sweat, and blood.” Between operational and training units and recruiting locations, the 24th has 19 elements in 29 locations. Its missions will include airfield reconnaissance and personnel recovery. During the invocation, Hurlburt chaplain Capt. Jason Botts spoke of service members “transcending the allure of individual needs to serve the cause of something greater.” In the front row, a single empty seat commemorated those who had been killed in action. Above, rafters were painted with block letters declaring “The Combat Edge In Today’s World.” When the new commander of the 720th Special Tactics Group retook his Air Force swimming fitness test 21 years ago, the sergeant monitoring his test shaved a lap for him. “I’m here to pay back that lap,” said Col. Kurt W. Buller, to thunderous applause. “I might be kicking like hell in the water, and I’ll try not to piss in it. I’m gonna pay back that lap.” The 24th is the third active duty special operations wing presently headquartered at Hurlburt Field. Buller’s 720th is the major operational unit under the wing. He said he wanted the ceremonies to take place together so that he would have the chance to relay his story. Buller’s own scarlet beret indicated his experience as a special tactics combatant, a background which most unit commanders do not share. “It’s a recognition of the capability that special tactics Air Force brings to the nation, to the DOD,” said retired Brig. Gen. Bob Holmes, a former 720th commander, of the appointment. “These airman maximize the effects of land to air power.” Retired Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Norrad, a former command chief at AFSOC called it a “big morale booster” that special operations wings could now start promoting from within. When his speech was complete, Buller stepped off the stage and took charge of the 720th flag at the front of the V-formation, left hand curled against the small of his back at attention.


They did it!  Mobile, AL brings AIRBUS to the region.  I have noted many times how our region along the I-10 corridor from Mississippi to Northwest Florida will become a haven for the aerospace industry.  This is just one more reason, why it is.  What also must be noted is this announcement makes the Crestview Industrial Airpark tops on the list for many for subcontractors of the European Aerospace Giant AIRBUS.  As many of you know, Okaloosa County and the State of Florida has spent millions of dollars on the Crestview Airport so it can land the largest aircrafts in the world, which it already has done from the U. S. Air Forces’ C-5A military to Russian’s equilivant of the C-5A.  Great job to Okaloosa County and the State for some foresight.  STAY TUNED.  More announcements on the way.

1,000 new jobs coming to Mobile with Airbus
Staff and wire reports
MOBILE, Ala. — European aerospace giant Airbus will start building planes in Mobile, Ala., planting its first factory on U.S. soil and aiming to compete better against archrival Boeing. Airbus, based in France, said it plans to employ 1,000 people at the plant building its A320s, delivering the first one in 2016. Bay County Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Neal Wade was on hand for the deal’s announcement in Mobile. “It was fantastic,” Wade said. “It will be a boost for the entire region.” Wade said with the Northwest Florida Beaches International   Airport and an abundant amount of buildable property, Bay County could become more attractive to aerospace businesses. Economic officials have touted the Interstate 10 corridor from Mississippi to Northwest Florida as a future aerospace corridor. Airbus cranks out more than 400 A320s a year, more than any of its other planes. It competes headto-head with Boeing’s 737. Those planes are the minivans of the airline world: Widely-used people haulers generally flown on short and medium-haul trips. North America is the biggest single market for that type of plane, Airbus executives said, and they want more of it. Right now, Boeing’s 737 has an advantage, with Southwest and Alaska Airlines buying only 737s. “We needed to be visible in the States under the Airbus flag,” Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier said. Current A320 customers include US Airways Group Inc. and Frontier Airlines, and American Airlines gave Airbus a coup when it ordered 260 A320s last year. Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. had planned to build a new U.S. Air Force refueling tanker in Alabama but lost the bid to Boeing last year. EADS shares have been climbing on European markets since news of the Alabama deal surfaced last week. Airbus said sections of the plane will be built at its other factories and shipped to the port in Mobile, where they will be trucked to the new assembly line. The line itself will be a carbon copy of other Airbus lines, reducing startup expenses, the company said. Other big manufacturers have found homes in the South. Boeing assembles 787s in North Charleston, S.C., and Alabama is home to plants owned by Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota. The dean of the business school at the University of South Alabama, Carl Moore, said attracting a company like Airbus could have a transforming effect on Alabama like Mercedes-Benz had when it picked Alabama for its first American assembly plant in 1993.   “It’s a prestige name that’s internationally known,” Dean Carl C. Moore of the University of South Alabama said. With cars, building them close to where they’re sold cuts a significant part of the cost of delivering them to the showroom floor. That cost is minimal for airplanes, because they can be delivered anywhere in the world within a few hours for the cost of a tank of jet fuel. So building close to customers doesn’t hold the same advantages for Airbus as it would for, say, Nissan. Airbus already employs about 1,000 people in the U.S., including about 230 in Mobile who design and install interior items, such as seats and cabin equipment for its big planes.