The first, and possibly only, civilians to tour one of the new Joint Strike Fighter hangars before the arrival of the first F-35 squadron at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma filed in on Oct. 18.
Engineering students from Yuma High School, Cibola High School, San Luis High School, Yuma Catholic High School and Gila Ridge High School were led on a tour of the leading-edge hanger by Navy Lt. Cmdr. Angelique McBee, MCAS resident officer-in-charge of construction and a native of Jonesboro, Ark.
“Getting the opportunity to view these new facilities has opened our eyes to what it takes to put these things together,” said retired Maj. Philip Nash, who now teaches Engineering 102 at Yuma Catholic and a native of Summitville, Ind. “Technology wise, it keeps the country on the edge of everything.”
The initial designs for the JSF hangars were started in late 2009, and contracts were awarded in June 2011. The 52,000 square foot structure broke ground in September 2011.
With advancements in engineering materials and construction design, the project ensures the future squadron is outfitted in the safest and most efficient working environment possible.
The students learned of the hangar’s two major guiding principles applied: leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) and low impact development (LID).
“Leadership in energy and environmental design is a process whereby, during design and construction, we ensure that the building is energy efficient, that recycled materials are used and that local materials are bought within 500 miles of the project site itself,” said McBee. “By doing that, we’re not only helping ensure a more localized economy to the project, but we’re also ensuring that we don’t contribute to environmental degradation through transportation.”
Recycled or reclaimed materials were implemented into the project; any of the wood put into the building, from the flooring to the doors, was harvested for the specific purpose of construction by forest growth farmers. Also, low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints and plastics were used to minimize any airborne chemicals.
Low impact development is a principle that seeks to keep everything in the project site self-contained. For example, any storm water generated on-site stays there. This prevents any erosion issues that would normally come up.
Each hangar has the capacity to retain all storm water generated from inclement weather through large retention culverts underneath the parking structures. Typically retention ponds sit above ground, losing usable on-site space and beneficial areas of operation.
As the tour went on, the young engineering students learned how not only the natural environment was taken into consideration, but the local and regional economic one as well.
“We encourage our contractors, if the labor pool isn’t available in the city of Yuma, to try and stay in the state of Arizona,” said McBee. “So, in addition to a lot of our workers from Yuma, we have workers from the city of Phoenix as well.”
Even the landscaping plans are specified for the purpose of the natural Yuma environment. The project implemented a xeriscaping technique that uses native plants to save on water usage and minimize the need for maintenance.
The students were also briefed on other projects going on around base, including two new water towers on Water Tower Hill and the new parking shading structures with mounted photovoltaic solar panels, which will provide a percentage of renewable energy source for the base.
“When all of the projects that we have going on right now are finished, we will generate 1.3 megawatts of solar power,” said McBee. “That’s including all of photovoltaic’s that are on the parking structures and buildings that we’re putting up right now.”
The young engineers were able to see, first hand, the new sewer mains, water lines, electrical and telecommunications systems being routed underneath the streets of the station, which results in 250 miles of new infrastructure.
“The new squadrons and people that come in here need to take advantage of it, take care of it,” added Nash.
MCAS Yuma rests in the hands and minds of the hardworking service members and civilians who built it. A first-hand appreciation of what it takes to engineer it and, hopefully, a future appreciation for how to preserve it.
The second JSF hangar is expected to be completed by December 15th.