Navy prepares more contracts for work related to F-35

pdonohue@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 22, 2012 

An F-35 fighter jet.

TOM REYNOLDS — Tom Reynolds

Navy officials are seeking more contractors for work to prepare the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort for the arrival of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Contractors have until this week to submit proposals on a $10 million to $15 million project to build a simulated-flight deck, according to Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast in Jacksonville, Fla.

Made from an advanced, high-temperature concrete that can withstand the heat from the new jets' engines, the surface will be used by pilots to practice taking off from and landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier using the plane's short takeoff and vertical-landing capabilities.

Simulations currently are conducted on a small stretch of one of the base's two runways, while a lead signal officer sits inside a small shack on the shoulder of the runway and assists incoming pilots as they attempt to land.The contract also includes a "tower" for the lead signal officers, the notice said.

The winner of that contract is expected to be announced in mid-January, according to federal officials.

Navy officials also notified contractors this month of plans to install new security measures on the flightline before the jet's arrival in 2013 or 2014.

That work is expected to cost between $10 million and $14 million, according to a pre-solicitation notice.

The notice did not provide many details about the new security measures but said the winning bidder must meet several military security policies. The work will create "clearly defined and protected perimeters and access control points" to the flightline, hangars and jets.

The security contract also will be awarded in mid-January, federal officials said.

Both proposals are part of a $351.8 million makeover the air station must undergo over the next five years to house the fighter jet that will replace all of the F-18 Hornets at MCAS Beaufort.

The air station will be home to three new active-duty JSF squadrons and two pilot-training squadrons, Navy officials have said.

The construction began in September 2011, when Florida contractor Hensel Phelps broke ground on a $70 million hangar and training facility, work that is expected to be completed by August 2013.

Earlier this year, Head Inc. of Columbus, Ohio, was selected from among 13 defense contractors to build five vertical-landing pads, according to Sue Brink, a naval facilities spokeswoman.

Brink said Head will design the pads and has already started site work.

The project, which will cost between $16 million and $19 million, is expected to be completed in August 2013, she said.

Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/OnBaseBeaufort.

Related content:

Three F-35 fighter jets delivered as work at Marine Corps Air Station continues, May 15, 2012

Air station to break ground on facilities for new jet, Aug. 29, 2011

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