Central Florida technology defense contractor turns old plane into NATO training facility – Orlando Business Journal – Orlando Business Journal

A scrapped C-130 cargo plane just finished a 5,600-mile journey from Tucson, Arizona, to Belgium, thanks to a Winter Springs-based information technology and training defense contractor. 
Advanced IT Concepts Inc. led the renovation of the scrapped plane, which was slated for use in the film industry, into a realistic training environment for the NATO Special Operations Allied Center for Medical Education at Chièvres Air Base in Belgium. This is the realization of a contract worth roughly $3 million Advanced IT Concepts landed in 2019. 
The project is part of a program managed by the U.S. Defense Agency, meant to upgrade a NATO medical simulation training facility. That program required a simulated C-130 plane to be integrated in the medical training activities. 
After Advanced IT Concepts secured the plane and transported it from Arizona to its integration facility in Longwood. There, the aircraft’s shell was cleaned, disassembled, modified, painted and bubble-wrapped so it could be shipped to Belgium piece by piece. Meanwhile, Advanced IT Concepts hired two European companies to undertake modifications including changes to walls and ceiling, and installation of new HVAC systems. 
During this process, the Covid-19 pandemic began to affect the U.S. and Europe. However, Advanced IT Concepts managed to deliver, install and test the plane, software and components. It’s now being used by Special Forces medics in Belgium. 
“Covid presented an extraordinary challenge for all of us, but by working together and remaining flexible, we were able to complete this phenomenal task,” said Advanced IT Concepts founder and President Gabriel Ruiz
The project is an example of the region’s substantial amount of defense contract work, which supports job growth at local companies including Advanced IT Concepts. For example, the company in January announced an $800 million Department of Defense deal expected to create jobs at Advanced IT Concepts’ Central Florida facilities
Defense contractors are a major part of Central Florida’s tech sector, and the region wins billions of dollars in federal deals each year. For example, there was $6.2 billion of federal contract work ongoing in metro Orlando in fiscal-year 2021, according to federal contracting data. 
This work is important because it generates subcontractor opportunities and high-wage jobs. Public/private economic development group Enterprise Florida estimated the defense industry supports more than 196,000 jobs in and around metro Orlando. 
A major source of the federal government work is the region’s $6 billion modeling, simulation and training industry. The sector directly employs more than 30,000 people, paying an average annual salary of $78,341, according to the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.
Much of the region’s work for the Department of Defense is high-tech work around information technology, software and simulation. This work is important, as the DoD’s emerging technologies and innovations rely heavily on software, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at Washington D.C.-based think tank Hudson Institute, during defense industry news site Defense One’s December Outlook 2022 webinar. 
“So much of the new capabilities we’re fielding now are based in software, and the hardware is almost a commodity we’re buying off the shelf in a lot of cases.” 
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