The multimillion-dollar race to prepare Eielson Air Force Base for 54 new F-35 fighter jets and Clear Air Force Station for a new Long Range Discrimination Radar system is well under way, with a handful of new projects bid out this quarter and a lot more bid solicitations being readied for near-term release.
“Everything is going pretty much on schedule,” said Monica Velasco, program manager of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ F-35 beddown program.
Velasco said a lot of the F-35 program projects are being prepared for bid solicitation.
Two of the F-35 projects are already in construction. In December, Watterson Construction won the contract for the $19.8 million flight simulator building. Velasco said the project crew is hard at work — utilities are in, the foundation is in, the exterior is almost all the way up and structural steel is being placed.
A project to build six earth-covered magazines at Eielson is also under way. The crew there is excavating in preparation to pour the thick concrete walls. The goal is to build six earth-covered areas in which F-35 missiles can be stored. Watterson Construction and Callahan Construction, both of Anchorage and Fairbanks, banded together for a joint venture, in which Watterson will mentor Callahan Construction and provide guidance throughout the project.
Two projects have recently been awarded. A project to build a two-bay hangar, propulsion maintenance area and corrosion-control dispatch area was awarded in June to a joint venture between Bethel Federal Services LLC and UNIT COMPANY. The $37.3 million project is scheduled to be complete by July 2019.
A project to renovate an existing building to add classrooms and an engine maintenance training area was also awarded. Silver Mountain Construction, a subsidiary of Cook Inlet Region Inc., won the $18 million project. The project is slated to be complete in April 2019.
A few projects have changed direction or scope, Velasco said. A plan to renovate two buildings, 1307 and 1338, shifted instead to a project to renovate only one building (1338) and demolish and replace the other building (1307), using Military Construction, or MILCON funds, which are designated to pay for real property assets that service members and their families need to work, train and live.
“It was a small building,” Velasco said. “It didn’t comply with (building) codes, so the plan is to do a MILCON project to demo it and replace it.”
A project to add space and remodel Building 6385 into a conventional munitions facility suffered a similar fate. Because the criteria for the new munitions facility are so specific and the existing facility is outdated and in need of being brought up to code, the Air Force instead plans to demolish the building and build it to suit. Velasco said her office expects the munitions facility to be bid in fiscal year 2020.
Velasco said the changes wouldn’t delay the arrival of the F-35s.
“The Air Force will likely shift some operations so that they can capture that function,” Velasco said.
Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves, the Missile Defense Agency director overseeing the Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) project at Clear Air Force Station, said the $112.9 million Mission Control Facility portion of the project is proceeding apace.
A second LRDR-related project at Clear will construct a concrete foundation for an equipment shelter that houses the main radar equipment and arrays. It has a projected cost of between $5 million and $10 million, and should be awarded in 2018, Greaves said.
Other projects planned for Clear are on schedule to be awarded in October 2018 or mid-2019.