|Chapter III military update
A second F-35 reprogramming lab, this one for Australia, Canada and the United
Kingdom, has transitioned from a Lockheed Martin facility in Fort Worth, Texas, to
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The multimillion-dollar lab will allow those allies to program
the F-35 for their own needs.
Eglin has had a reprogramming lab for the F-35 since 2010. It provides the coding
for the stealth aircraft that give the F-35 its battle smarts. The coding enables flight
controls, radar functionality, navigation and identification, sensor fusion and more.
The United States military policy is to never share source codes for any U.S.
weapons system, but a compromise was reached with the F-35, which is funded in
part by partner nations. It involved establishing additional labs for the allies. The
development of the new lab for Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, allows
them to customize mission data that will be loaded on their F-35s to suit their needs.
Also in Northwest Florida since the book was published last year, officials in August
2017 marked the completion of the three largest combined solar facilities on Defense
Department property in a ceremonial flipping of the switch. Executives of Gulf Power,
Coronal Energy, the Air Force and Navy were on hand at Naval Air Station Pensacola’
s Naval Outlying Landing Field Saufley for the event.
Ground was broken in 2016 for the project that spans 940 acres across three Navy
and Air Force sites. Combined the three sites have about 1.5 million solar panels
capable of generating up to 120 megawatts of electricity.
To the west in Mississippi, the 815th Airlift Squadron 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.
No matter how you look at it, whether it’s through the value of their infrastructure,
their depth of talent, the businesses awarded contracts or their critical missions, the
Gulf Coast’s military bases are a huge, multibillion-dollar ongoing asset for the region.
The Gulf Coast is one of the most military friendly regions in the nation, a place
where the roar of a jet fighter or a distant rumble from exploded munitions are
considered the sounds of freedom. Every military branch is represented in activities
ranging from training to logistics. Military appreciation events are common.
According to the Department of Defense Base Structure Report FY 2015, there are
45 DoD properties in the corridor between New Orleans and Panama City, Fla. That
includes bases and annexes with a combined replacement value of nearly $22 billion,
the vast majority of that aviation-focused. The bases account for incoming dollars
through active and retiree payrolls, as well the contracts awarded to local companies
for work here and elsewhere.
The range of military activities in the region is considerable. The Navy Blue Angels
flight demonstration team is headquartered at Naval Air Station Pensacola, and the
Air Force trains pilots to fly the F-35 and F-22 at Eglin Air Force Base and Tyndall Air
Force Base, respectively.
It’s also home to the Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, and
the busiest naval air station in the nation at Naval Air Station Whiting Field. It has one
of the largest bases in the nation, Eglin Air Force Base, which boasts a huge R&D
program that develops aerial weapons.
- Gulf Coast Reporters League, June 2018