Sequestration is not affecting construction of two F-35 training facilities at Luke Air Force Base. Although sequestration, which involved civilian personnel furloughs, resulted in cancellation of the spring open house and air show at the base, it has no effect on the F-35 program.
Lt. Col. Scott Fredrick, F-35 Division Chief in the F-35 integration office at Luke AFB, said the money was programmed a few years ago for construction of the facilities.
“So, all F-35 buildings are as programmed right now,” he said.
Fredrick said as he walks through the project, he sees “quite a few folks out there wearing hardhats,” and construction is right on schedule.
In fact, the first building, what is called Ops 1, the squadron building for pilots, should be up and operational in mid-October. Half of this structure is the building that housed the 62nd Fighter Squadron operations unit. It is 100 feet from the aircraft maintenance unit.
The other large project, the academic training center, is where pilots and maintainers will learn about aircraft, how to fly and fix it. Pilots who will be coming to this center are instructor pilots in various aircraft who will be transitioning to the F-35.
Fredrick said, “Ops #1, or Operations Building #1, will have 14 offices in the unclassified side and eight briefing rooms and another eight offices in the vault area for pilot briefings
Ops 1 building is 22,000 square feet at a cost of $13 million.
The academic center, set to open in mid- to late-2014, is what Fredrick called “a huge building.” At a cost of $54 million, this 145,000-square-foot center will house 12 flight simulators, have multiple classrooms for academics and maintainers.
Contractor for design of both buildings is Burns & McDonnell. Army Corps of Engineers is monitoring construction, Fredrick said.
An F-16 instructor pilot himself, Fredrick said four other F-16 instructor pilots will be part of his office, “to make sure future F-35 pilots are up for success.”
Once the first building is completed, Fredrick said there would likely be notification to the public. And, citizens will also be notified when the first F-35A Lightning II touches down at its home training base on the Luke AFB runway. Fredrick said that landing is expected in January.
Story by Carolyn Dryer, Editor