11 months ago

Alabama leads development of U.S. Army’s hypersonic weapons — ‘A critical priority’

Alabama’s aerospace and defense sector is continuing its ascent on the world stage.

The U.S. Army on Friday announced it is awarding two major contracts for work in Alabama related to the production of hypersonic weapon systems – one for Dynetics Technical Solutions in the amount of $351.6 million to produce Common-Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB) prototypes in Huntsville, and the second to Lockheed Martin in the amount of $347 million to serve as the Long Range Hypersonic Weapon (LRHW) prototype system integrator, part of which will be conducted in Courtland.

In a statement, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) praised the contract awards.

“Hypersonic weapons are a critical priority as we continue to innovate and improve our nation’s defense,” he said.

“The decision by the Army to select Dynetics, located right here in Alabama, and Lockheed Martin’s Courtland facility to advance this important national security initiative is a testament to the complex defense work taking place in our state,” Shelby added. “These contracts allow us to leverage commercial technology to field needed weapons to our soldiers in just a few years. This is incredible news, not only for Alabama, but also for the entire nation and the modernization of our armed forces.”

The $351.6 million contract awarded to Dynetics will provide for the production of at least 20 C-HGB prototypes. Over a three year period, Dynetics, in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, will produce the first commercially manufactured set of prototype C-HGB systems, which will be used by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency.

As the prime contractor for the C-HGB, Dynetics will provide program and supplier management; procurement; assembly, integration and testing; electrical and mechanical manufacturing; and systems engineering for the prototype. In a release, the company said that General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon will be on their team, assisting on the project.

Steve Cook, president of Dynetics Technical Solutions, said, “We are honored to be selected for this high priority national security program. Dynetics has been developing enabling technologies for many years.”

“The common hypersonic glide body is a vital component in the National Defense Strategy that includes weapons with increased power. Our team is pleased the Army saw that our highly-skilled engineers and technicians can bring this technology rapidly and affordably to the warfighter,” he concluded.

The $347 million contract awarded to Lockheed Martin for its service as the LRHW prototype system integrator will allow for support in manufacturing, assembly, integration, test, systems engineering and analysis – part of which will occur at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Lawrence County.

Additionally, Lockheed Martin has chosen Dynetics to work on this project, developing launchers with hydraulics, outriggers, power generation and distribution for the ground platform. Dynetics will also provide flight test and training support.

The C-HGB will be part of an integrated Army hypersonic weapons system prototype that will deliver residual combat capability to soldiers by Fiscal Year 2023. This new class of ultrafast, maneuverable, long range missile will launch from mobile ground platforms. Hypersonic weapons are unique in that they are capable of flying at five times the speed of sound and operate at varying altitudes.

Both contracts are part of the U.S. Army’s work to advance the fielding of a prototype hypersonic weapon by Fiscal Year 2023 and transition the development of Army hypersonic capabilities out of government laboratories and into commercial production.

This collaboration is administered by the Army Hypersonic Project Office, part of the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO), which is headquartered at Redstone Arsenal in North Alabama and led by Lieutenant General L. Neil Thurgood.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 mins ago

Alabamians in Wetumpka, Prattville hold events in support of police

Citizens in two central Alabama towns have gathered in the past week to show their support for the law enforcement officers that protect their communities.

The people of Wetumpka held a “Back the Blue” rally on Saturday, and members of the public in nearby Prattville had a “Blessings for Blue” event on Thursday.

Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson told the Montgomery Advertiser, “What’s going on all over the country, it just builds our morale to know our community believes in us and are here to support us.”

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The Wetumpka Herald estimated the attendance for the Saturday event at around 100 individuals who came from across Elmore County.

Ashley Carter, who organized the Wetumpka event, told the Herald, “I felt like there was a need for something like this because there’s so much negativity in the world today and I wanted to do something to bring in some positivity.”

Ed Reeves, an assistant chief in the Wetumpka Police Department, remarked to WSFA, “This is an awesome opportunity and we really appreciate it with the state the country’s in right now and a lot of feelings towards law enforcement.”

“It’s good for our officers to know that somebody does still appreciate what we do,” he added.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

59 mins ago

Auburn taking no action against faculty member who said ‘F*** every single cop,’ advocated for abolishing ‘whiteness’

Auburn University will not fire or otherwise take action against an incoming faculty member who recently sparked controversy for incendiary comments about law enforcement.

Yellowhammer News last week broke the news about Jesse A. Goldberg, Ph.D., who was set to begin as a lecturer in Auburn’s English department this fall semester.

The Auburn faculty member tweeted the following (censoring added by Yellowhammer News):

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F*ck every single cop. Every single one. The only ethical choice for any cop to make at this point is to refuse to do their job and quit. The police do not protect people. They protect capital. They are instruments of violence on behalf of capital.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Goldberg in other social media posts. He also tweeted, “Whiteness is violence. Abolish whiteness.”

Goldberg, as he has noted before on social media, is himself white.

Yellowhammer News’ reporting last week reached national publications and others across the state, leading elected officials to weigh in.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) tweeted that Auburn “should FIRE Jesse Goldberg for venomous hate of America’s law enforcement community.”

“Auburn: please investigate, determine truth, fire this guy IF media reports accurate! Tax dollars should not fund police haters,” he added.

State Rep. Brett Easterbrook (R-Fruitdale), a member of the House Education Policy Committee, reacted to Goldberg’s statements about law enforcement in a Facebook post of his own.

“You wonder how our society raised a bunch of communist that hate our country? Here is one of the main sources of the problems in our society. Universities!” Easterbrook said. “Not all college professors are complete liberals that are educated beyond their understanding, but here is a prime example.”

“He also thinks we should abolish a society that could have prisons. Simply release all prisoners? Obviously he has no idea what type of people are in those prisons and yet he is educating our youth,” the freshman state legislator continued. “Professor Goldberg needs to resign today. If not, Auburn University, should fire him immediately. Our tax dollars are paying for this foolishness. As an Auburn graduate, I am ashamed that someone like this is ‘educating’ our children.”

A statement from an Auburn spokesperson to Yellowhammer News last week said, “Auburn officials are considering options available to the university.”

However, after that consideration, no “adverse action” will apparently be taken.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) had written to Auburn on August 3 defending Goldberg’s social media posts as protected speech under the First Amendment. FIRE argued that since Auburn is a public institution, they could not punish the employee for his views.

Writing back to FIRE in a letter this week, Auburn University President Dr. Jay Gogue noted that he was “pleased to respond in order to confirm Auburn’s commitment to the Constitution.”

“Your letter specifically requests that Auburn ‘publicly disclaim the possibility of disciplinary sanctions against Dr. Goldberg,” Gogue continued. “Dr. Goldberg, in expressing his thoughts, was not authorized to and did not purport to speak on behalf of Auburn University. Auburn affirms that it will not take adverse action against Dr. Goldberg or any member of the Auburn community based on that person’s engagement in individual speech or conduct protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States or the State of Alabama.”

He added, “That is true even when such speech is deemed by many to be offensive, indecent, of little value, and of great cost to the institution. Indeed, even when a message may be viewed as disrespectful and abhorrent, Auburn will not violate the law or Auburn policy.”

This letter was praised by FIRE, who noted Auburn currently holds their highest possible rating for free speech policies among college campuses.

However, not everyone is a fan of the university’s decision on Goldberg. Reacting to Auburn’s announcement, State Rep. Proncey Robertson (R-Mount Hope), also a member of the House Education Policy Committee, said he was “very disappointed.”

“As you consider where to send your student to college, or where to spend your money on sports memorabilia, etc. I would encourage you to remember this decision by Auburn University,” he wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.

“This professor and Auburn Universtiy has a right to their views,” Robertson concluded. “But, they do not have a right to your personal tuition money or your tax dollars.”

Yellowhammer News has requested comment from Auburn.

UPDATE 10:10 a.m.

Goldberg’s Twitter biography has been changed to say that he is now a “Visiting Research Fellow” at Auburn rather than a “lecturer,” meaning he might not be teaching students anymore. This article has been edited to reflect that he may no longer be a “lecturer.” However, his Humanities Commons profile still says he is a lecturer who will be teaching classes at Auburn. Yellowhammer News is still awaiting comment from the university.

UPDATE 10:50 a.m.

Auburn University said in a statement to Yellowhammer News, “Auburn agreed to Dr. Goldberg’s request that his role transition to a research-focused assignment.”

According to a social media post by Goldberg before last week’s news, he was scheduled to teach four classes during the fall semester. He was planning on teaching all of these classes in an online format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

7 Things: College students with coronavirus will be isolated, PPP saved 672,861 jobs, State Rep. Dismukes has another bad day and more …

7. Fauci is already looking at coronavirus next year

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci has predicted that the coronavirus is going to be something that we live with for a while since it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to completely get rid of it due to how “highly transmissible” it is.
  • Fauci said that we need a “combination of a good vaccine and attention to public health measures,” and he doesn’t mean more shutdowns, but we could be wearing masks and social distancing for quite some time. Fauci added that “by the time we get through 2021 and go around for another cycle that we’ll have this under control.”

6. No plans to clean the Madison County monument

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  • Madison County Commission Chair Dale Strong has addressed the issue of the vandalized Confederate monument outside the Madison County courthouse in downtown Huntsville, saying, “It will be left as is for now.”
  • Strong clarified that there are no plans to clean the monument currently, adding, “[It] would not be right to ask county employees to do it.”

5. Democrats don’t want a deal

  • As negotiations continue between Republicans and Democrats over another coronavirus relief bill, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) has said, “Democrats might not want a deal, politically.”
  • There’s further evidence that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have minimal intention of reaching a deal. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has said that four offers have been made that include $600 per week unemployment benefits, but Pelosi and Schumer have rejected each offer and given no counteroffers.

4. Majority favor mask order

  • A new poll released by Hill-HarrisX shows that among registered voters, 82% would support a national mask mandate, with 61% strongly supporting and 21% somewhat supporting.
  • The age groups of 18-34 and 50-64 showed 81% support a mandate, and those in the 35-49 and 65 and over age range show 83% support a mandate, but even 66% of Republicans, 93% of Democrats and 85% of independents support a mandate.

3. Arrest warrant issued for Will Dismukes

  • State Representative Will Dismukes (R-Prattville) was ordered to report to authorities by 4:00 p.m. on Thursday per an arrest warrant issued for first-degree theft of property, which is a Class B felony. It is alleged that Dismukes stole well over $2,500 from his former employer Weiss Flooring.
  • The issue has been investigated since May 20, and the business owners were the ones who brought the allegation forward. The illegal activity is said to have happened “from 2016 to 2018,” according to Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey. Governor Kay Ivey commented on the arrest, saying, “If true, it is disappointing when a public official, elected with the confidence of the people, abuses that trust.”

2. Paycheck Protection Program saved a lot of jobs

  • It’s estimated that the Paycheck Protection Program managed to save 672,861 jobs throughout Alabama, according to a new analysis released by Business.org. Nationally, there were more than 50.9 million jobs saved.
  • There have been more than 700,000 Alabamians file for unemployment since the coronavirus pandemic started, but last week has been the lowest for unemployment claims since March with 11,692.

1. Beds being prepared to isolate college students

  • College students are returning to campuses across the state, and everyone has to be tested before classes resume. The University of Alabama board of trustees has decided to spend $1.2 million to rent out 252 apartment beds so that they will have beds free on campus in the event that students test positive and need to be isolated.
  • Their plan will free up 450 beds on campus for isolation. Keeping coronavirus positive students on campus will make meal delivery and medical attention easier, according to vice president of the division of finance and operations Matthew M. Fajack. Currently, there are 8,281 students assigned to live on campus for the fall semester.

19 hours ago

Nick Saban named to board of National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches created by former Tide assistant

Former University of Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley on Thursday announced the creation of the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches.

Locksley served as an offensive assistant for the Crimson Tide in 2016, followed by a year as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach the next season before becoming the full-time offensive coordinator in 2018. He is now the head coach at the University of Maryland.

Speaking to NFL.com, Locksley cited a lack of black head coaches in the National Football League as well as among the college Football Bowl Subdivision.

“I wanted to create an organization that would be able to help prepare, promote and produce the next group of coaches coming up through the ranks at every level,” he told the outlet.

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Locksley is not the only Bama connection to the new nonprofit group, which will reportedly “seek to not only identify and groom coaches of color (male and female) for upward mobility, but also create a candidates list that will be vetted by a board of directors that includes some of the most respected and powerful names in sport.”

Included on that venerable board of directors is Tide head coach Nick Saban, as well as Ozzie Newsome.

Newsome was named to the College Football Hall of Fame after a four-year playing career at the University of Alabama. He also enjoyed a successful playing career in the NFL and is a two-time Super Bowl winning executive with the Baltimore Ravens.

Speaking about the board of directors featuring the likes of Saban and Newsome, Locksley explained, “These are all people that have either hired head coaches or coordinators or filled upper-level positions throughout their careers. They all have been at the top of the mountain, per se, in their respective areas, whether winning Super Bowls or national championships or being pioneers…”

“We want to use their experiences to help us formulate and produce the list of qualified candidates, so when people say there aren’t enough minorities to fill the positions that have come open over the years, we’re going to produce a list of qualified people that shows there are qualified people. What’s needed is opportunities,” he added.

RELATED: Alabama ranked No. 3, Auburn No. 11 in preseason coaches poll

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

19 hours ago

UAH receives grant to research how drones can aid disaster response

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) announced Thursday that it has received $1.1 million in grant funding to study how unmanned aircraft can aid the response to both manmade and natural disasters.

The money comes from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who granted a total of $3.3 million to the 24 universities in that comprise an Alliance for System Safety that focuses on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

“These grants will help develop a greater array of innovative strategies to more effectively deploy drones during emergency response situations,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

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UAH says it aims “to provide insight into the safe integration of UAS into the disaster preparedness and response areas,” with the funding provided this week by the federal government.

A release from the university points to a FAA study that shows there are currently 1.65 million recreational and commercial drones in the United States.

Huntsville’s biggest university says that the FAA program from which the grant is derived enables the agency “to conduct research in airspace and airport planning and design, environment and aviation safety.”

“These important grants fund the research which allows us to learn and implement the safety measures associated with UAS operations in the airspace,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95