On October 16, the Florida League of Defense Contractors held their inaugural First Coast Defense Expo at Cecil Airport. The Jacksonville JetPort hosted the nearly 325 attendees in their newly constructed hangar.
The event provided a powerful opportunity for regional defense contractors and suppliers to showcase their capabilities to national prime defense contractors.
In addition, a town hall style discussion on the importance and role of the defense industry to national security and the economy was conducted.
Participants on the panel included Congressman Ander Crenshaw, Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, Jacksonville’s Mayor Alvin Brown and key industry representatives.
“The First Coast is an anchor to our national security -- a standing not possible without the dedication of our men and women in uniform and the support and expertise of the companies that make up our regional defense industrial base,” said Crenshaw. “Events like this are a fabulous opportunity to view exhibits, network, participate in workshops and meet the people who play a central role in supporting the mission of our men and women in uniform wherever they serve."
Thirty-five sponsors and exhibitors including General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Fleet Readiness Center Southeast and Boeing were set up inside the hangar. A static display of seven aircraft, a Cougar ISS armored vehicle and a Go-Fast boat added flavor to the event.
Given the success of this inaugural event, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority looks forward to the opportunity of hosting the expo on an annual basis.
The QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target program hosted a ceremony August 31 at Boeing's Cecil Airport facility in Jacksonville, Fla., to celebrate program accomplishments before the next contract phase, which is planned to begin in 2013.
The program is developing a higher performing target jet that can be flown manned or unmanned to help evaluate how U.S. fighters and weapons operate against potential adversaries.
Participants acknowledged employees' efforts in the program's success. After installing over 3,000 new wires for the first QF-16 conversion, the program turned power on in late 2011 and had a successful first manned flight in May.
"The important work you're doing on the QF-16 program is one example of innovation that is important not only to the U.S. Air Force but also to the state of Florida," said U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla.
"Today's celebration signals a continued commitment between The Boeing Company, our customer and our supplier partners," Torbjorn Sjogren, Global Maintenance & Upgrades vice president, said.
U.S. Air Force customer Randy Brown, director, Armament Directorate, joined employees for the event along with a number of Florida state and local officials including Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, representatives from the Jacksonville Aviation Authority and community leaders.
Boeing won the $72 million contract in March 2010. In this initial phase of the contract, Boeing is performing pre-engineering, manufacturing and development to convert six F-16s into QF-16 aerial targets for the Air Force.
The Air Force will begin the next level of testing in Phase II of the contract at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., in 2013. Boeing will support the initial flight testing at Tyndall then later at Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
By Wendy Parker, Boeing PR
Gov. Rick Scott signed House Bill 59 officially declaring Cecil Spaceport a designated Space Territory. The bill was passed by Florida lawmakers during the 2012 legislative session as an initiative to develop Florida’s aerospace industries and will provide funding opportunities for Spaceport facilities and infrastructure.
“It is critical that we continue to focus on and invest in infrastructure projects that will directly benefit our state’s economy. Having Cecil Airport designated as a spaceport will play a major role in the continued development of Florida’s aerospace and aviation industries and will continue to keep our economy heading in the right direction.” said Scott.
The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) has been working for over six years in acquiring this designation which began with obtaining the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Spaceport license for horizontal operations. Cecil Spaceport now joins two other designated Space Territories in the state – Cape Canaveral Spaceport and Eglin Air Force Base.
The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) has contracted C.C. Borden Construction, Inc. to build hangar 915 at Cecil Airport. The hangar will be a 33,000 square foot maintenance hangar with associated office, workshop, aircraft hangar and apron area. Hangar construction is forecasted to be complete in March 2013.
KCI Aviation, an aircraft maintenance provider, has signed an agreement with the JAA to lease the new facility. The company currently has aircraft maintenance facilities in West Virginia and Oklahoma. This third location at Cecil Airport is projected to bring an estimated 40 new jobs to the Jacksonville area with a direct economic impact of $2.2 million annually. KCI Aviation expects to start Jacksonville operations immediately after hangar construction.
Cecil Airport and its facilities have served this community with distinction for over 70 years. The airport has a rich and long tradition of aviation history. Starting out as a Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) in 1941, the main mission was military flight training. Today, Cecil Airport supports high tech systems and aviation training, governmental and civilian aviation operations and aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul activities. Through the years, most of the airport facilities and infrastructure have been revived and are a productive part of the airport today.
Completed in 1942, Hangar 13 provided a base of aviation training, maintenance, and operations. As seen in this 1955 photo, military aircraft were stored and serviced in the hangar. Today the hangar is leased by the Department of Homeland Security and serves as a base of aviation operations for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Jacksonville JetPort, Inc. (JJP) is the airports Fixed Base Operator (FBO, provides aviation services to the tenants and operators of the airport). JJP recently completed the construction of a new 14,500 square foot corporate hangar. With this construction, an important milestone was achieved; while this hangar is the fifth new hangar since JAA ownership in 1999, it is the first one built using private funding and not FAA, FDOT or JAA dollars. Within one month of being completed, the hangar was fully leased to several corporate and private aircraft owners. This hangar facility provides a combination of office, workshop and hangar storage.
Future expectations for Cecil Airport are high! From spaceport development to new aviation facilities the airport is poised to be an economic engine fueled by aviation companies from around the nation in need of a larger industrial airport with the right mix of location, business climate, and a skilled work force. KCI Aviation, a perfect example of these types of companies, selected the airport to become their company’s third national location. The Jacksonville Aviation Authority is committed to continued developments and building successful business partnerships.