The Air Force will need to spend up to $500 million at Eielson Air Force Base over the next five years to prepare the installation to host two squadrons of F-35A Lightning IIs.
Eielson will need new hangars, munitions igloos and recreational facilities, along with an upgraded south entrance, following the Air Force’s decision earlier this week to base its first operational overseas F-35As at the installation located 26 miles south of Fairbanks.
Officials are planning 46 construction, remodeling and demolition projects between this fall and the scheduled arrival of the first jets in 2020, reported the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
About $37 million in construction is planned for this year, followed by $296 million in projects in 2017, said 354th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Mike Winkler. The next year also figures to be busy, with an estimated $200 million in planned construction, Winkler said.
Adding two squadrons of the Air Force’s most advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft would boost Eielson’s population to 7,751, a gain of 1,563 military and civilian personnel. To accommodate the extra airmen and their families, other installation services may need to be expanded as well.
A larger base exchange, for example, may be necessary, Winkler said. He also broached the possibility of opening a craft brewery on the installation.
“Regardless of whether it ends up being a brewery or something else, with the additional population here, we’re going to be looking to bring other quality-of-life initiatives down here,” he said.
Construction on the first project, a six-bay flight simulator building, is expected to begin in September, according to the story.