Around Town: As the F-35 program revs up ... the F-22 ramps down
by Otis Brumby, Bill Kinney, Joe Kirby
Around Town Columnists
June 06, 2011 12:00 AM | 7524 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WHILE PRODUCTION is slowly ramping up on the F-35 Lightning II fighter program at the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta, as reported in Saturday’s Around Town, it’s headed in the opposite direction for the F-22 Raptor fighter program. The plant has now delivered 180 of the 195 Raptors planned, company officials told local editors and reporters during a Media Day session last week.

“We’ve usually delivered two per month for the past 15 years,” said F-22 Program Manager Jeff Babione.

The Raptor is still the “class of the field” in terms of fighter jets, able to go from a standstill to 700 mph in 55 seconds and outmaneuver anything in the sky.

Interestingly, Lockheed gets a “progress payment” from the government during the 30-month assembly of each copy of the $139 million jet as specified segments are completed, and another as it crosses the “finish line.”

“The F-22 program will finish strong, and will be sustained by plant” after production is complete, said Shan Cooper, Lockheed vice president and plant manager.

But most of the tools and equipment that comprise its production line will be packed up and shipped to a Lockheed facility in California, where they will be carefully stored in case the government should decide to acquire more Raptors, said Lockheed spokesman Jeff Rhodes.

Unlike the sun-setting F-22 program, there is no end in sight for the vaunted C-130 Hercules cargolifter. Nearly 3,000 copies of the “Herk” have been built since the mid-1950s, and all but the first two were built here.

“This is without doubt the most successful, longest continually-constructed aircraft in history,” said Jack Crisler, director of business development for the C-130 program.

Production has gone from a recent low of just one per month in 2008 to the current three per month of the upgraded “J” model, with half of recent output going to Uncle Sam and the rest to international customers. The Hercules is being flown by 63 other countries and has been produced in 70 different variants. Its missions include hauling military supplies, flying humanitarian relief missions, hunting hurricanes and serving as an airborne fire extinguisher.

“I think the C-130 will be flying long after I’ve retired,” Cooper laughed.

The horizon also is bright for the C-5 Galaxy cargolifter, according to C-5 Program VP Greg Ulmer. There are 600 people working on the five-story tall Galaxys at the plant, with that number expected to grow to 750 as production ramps up to 11 modifications a year of older-model Galaxys, which thereafter are designated as C-5M SuperGalaxys.

“The Galaxy is ‘The King of Logistics,’” Ulmer said, and carries more fuel than the entire weight of a C-130. It can fly non-stop from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to Afghanistan without refueling. Or, it can refuel just before landing there, then offload thousands of gallons of the precious liquid in-theater, he said.

The plant’s other major program at the moment is the “mid-life upgrade” rewinging program for the P-3 Orion maritime surveillance plane. The program should extend the operational life of the 430 sub hunters in the fleet by another 20 years or so, according to P-3 program director Clay Fearnow, a retired Navy carrier pilot.

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Cooper now has been on the job as plant manager for six months, and said there have been few surprises.

“But it has been an education in the sense of learning more about our products and getting to know our customers,” she said. “It’s been a reminder of the importance of the quality of the product.”

“I’ve got the best job in the world at the best plant with the best employees,” she concluded.

SICK BAY: Earl Stine of east Cobb, who ran unsuccessfully last year to succeed Tim Lee representing northeast Cobb on the county commission, underwent surgery Monday to remove a brain tumor. Get well soon, Earl!

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FORMER CHRISTIAN COALITION director Ralph Reed will be guest speaker at Saturday’s 8 a.m. Madison Forum breakfast at the Rib Ranch on Canton Road in east Cobb, reports Forum head Michael Opitz. Reed was a protégé of Coalition founder the Rev. Pat Robertson and ran unsuccessfully against Casey Cagle for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor in 2006.

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THE COBB YOUNG REPUBLICANS will host Michael McNeely, chairman of the Georgia Black Republican Council, at their 6:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting at the House of Lu in downtown Marietta, reports CYR head Katelyn Ledford. ... The Cobb Democratic Party will gather for its annual picnic after the Marietta July Fourth Parade. This year’s event will begin at noon at Rhyne Park on King Springs Road in Smyrna and honors Herb Butler, “a driving force behind the county party,” according to the invite. Cost is $10 per adult.

THE DAYS OF CRAMPED EATING SPACE and fighting for a parking space at popular French patisserie Douceur de France on Glover Street at Atlanta Road will soon be over. Co-owner Danielle Beaudet told AT the restaurant will be moving to 277 South Marietta Parkway across from the CVS on the Loop, likely in June. Beaudet and husband, Chef Luc Beaudet will own the building (they rent their current space), which is being transformed from its earlier incarnation as a check cashing/convenience store owned at one point by Larry Ceminsky.

The native French couple opened their business as a take-out bakery in a humble, nearly-century old house on a forlorn stretch of Glover in 2000, and had steadily expanded their offerings as word got out about what they offer.

One of the first challenges after they moved to a full-service breakfast and lunch menu was figuring out what to serve when people ordered French toast. The problem? There’s no such item in their native France.

“When we first came to America, we had no idea what a ‘French Toast’ was or French fries or even a French kiss,” notes the Douceur menu. “But we learned and we have now created our own version of the French Toast: one thick slice of brioche dipped into our crème brulée batter, then cooked and caramelized. It is served with fresh strawberries and topped with a fruit coulis, (bananas & strawberries) and whipped cream.”

The cost, if you’re getting hungry, is $7.25.

Business at the Douceur has been so good they also opened a store on Alpharetta Street in Roswell. They were on the verge of expanding the original location once again but realized that doing so would have cut too deeply into their already limited parking space, and thus chose to move to the Loop.

“This will have a bigger parking lot, a bigger building, more space and a lot of exposure,” Ms. Beaudet said.

The Douceur has brought a touch of class and beauty to an otherwise drab, industrialized neighborhood just down the street from the Cobb school headquarters and MDJ offices, and will be missed. But to the Beaudets and their new location, we say “Bon chance!” (Good luck!) and “A bientôt! (“See you soon!”).

THE MARIETTA GONE WITH THE WIND MUSEUM – Scarlett on the Square will host three members of that movie’s cast this weekend as part of “A Tribute to Margaret Mitchell: The Book that Touched the World.” The celebration honors the 75th anniversary of the book’s publication and on hand will be cast members Ann Rutherford (“Carreen O’Hara”), Mickey Kuhn (“Beau Wilkes”) and Patrick Curtis (baby “Beau Wilkes”).

Events will include a breakfast with the stars at the Marietta Conference Center, a panel discussion and autograph session.

For more, go to gwtwmariettaga.com or call (770) 794-5145.

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THE COBB LANDMARKS & HISTORICAL SOCIETY will hold its semi-annual membership meeting, “Passport to Preservation,” from 4-6 p.m. Saturday at The Root House museum in Marietta.

Author Doug Frey will be on hand to autograph copies of his just-published masterpiece on historic local homes, “Marietta: The Gem City of Georgia,” reports Landmarks spokeswoman Allison Gruehn.
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