New AICUZ expected later this year, air station officials say

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comApril 7, 2012 

Officials at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort say area residents will get their first look at the base's new Air Installation Compatible Use Zone later this year.

Navy and base officials are redrawing the buffer zone, which designates areas subject to high jet noise and potential crashes near MCAS Beaufort and recommends the types of developments that should be allowed, said Lt. Sharon Hyland, air station spokeswoman.

Hyland said the new AICUZ will be presented to the public in late summer or early fall.

The air station's buffer zone is based on noise from the F-18 Hornet, but the zone has not been established for the F-35, which will replace all of the F-18s now flown at MCAS Beaufort.

The air station will be home to three new active-duty F-35 squadrons and two pilot-training squadrons, a transition requiring $351.8 million in improvements over the next five years, according to the Navy.

The planes are scheduled to arrive in 2013 or 2014.

Florida contractor Hensel Phelps began construction in September on a $70 million hangar and training facility. The work is expected to be completed by September 2013.

Navy officials also expect to award a $16 million to $19 million contract for five vertical-landing pads at the air station. The pads, which will be made of advanced high-temperature concrete, will be used by air station pilots to practice the new jet's vertical take off and landing capabilities.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/OnBaseBeaufort.

Related content:

Residents quiz air station officials on jet noise, F-35B, March 20, 2012

Work to prepare air station for new jets continues, Dec. 10, 2011 Air station to break ground on facilities for new jet, Aug. 29, 2011

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