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Navy awards $ 737 million to repair China Lake Airport after the 2019 earthquake damage

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A fault line on Lake China on October 17, 2019. US Geological Survey photo

Last week, the Navy issued contracts worth at least $ 737 million for new airport capabilities at the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, California, where two major earthquakes last year damaged vital facilities at the main base for research, testing and evaluation that remain not fully operational. .

The July 2019 earthquakes severely damaged facilities on the eastern side of the airport.

Officials from the Marine Facilities Engineering Command – Southwest said in a press release: “It is planned to replace the facilities in an undeveloped area on the southern side of the airport due to space restrictions on the eastern side, and in order to maintain the continuity of current operations during construction” about the last contract awarded . “Six projects, which include the new South Airport complex, have been merged into a single mission to achieve efficiency during construction.”

The facilities will be built according to modern seismic codes on the ground south of the current NAWS China Lake Airport known as Armitage Field. The projects are: replacement hangar 3, yard, taxi lane and facilities for research, development, testing and evaluation. Integration Lab Air Operations Facility and Air Traffic Control Tower; Aircraft parking lot to support hangar 2 replacement; Advanced war barn; And a skeletal rescue and rescue station / aircraft.

The Department of Defense announced that Environmental Chemical Corp., headquartered in Burlingame, California, secured a contract to design and build the South Airport complex on September 10, with construction due for completion by November 2023.

The contract, awarded by NAVFAC Southwest based in San Diego, California, includes an additional $ 40 million in untested options and planned modifications including “enhanced seismic flexibility, outdoor concrete, plant materials, generators, uninterruptible power supplies, outdoor kitchen, and system.” Electronic security, aircraft protective enclosures, stretch fabric structures, and above-ground magazines, ”as well as“ side equipment, audiovisual equipment, furniture, fixtures and equipment. ”

“This mission order award is a landmark action by the entire NAVFAC Systems Command in support of the NAWS China Lake earthquake recovery efforts, and is an important part of restoring the stabilization to its full operational capacity,” Captain Mike Oestereicher, commander of NAVFAC Southwest officer, said in a press release. “It represents a large portion of the funding earmarked for the overall recovery effort, and will restore the lost airports mission capacity to NAWS China Lake.”

The contracts represent the largest contract issued to date for the reconstruction of Lake China. The weapons station has an area of ​​1.1 million acres, and is the largest single property for the Navy. Among its tenants is the Weapons Division of the Naval Air Warfare Center, which is located under Naval Air Systems Command. The facility has long supported the advanced development, testing, and evaluation of weapons systems, from aircraft and missiles to advanced unmanned aerial vehicles, all of which are backed by a range of testing facilities, equipped ground and air ranges, the extensive Michelson Lab complex and propulsion laboratories.

The two earthquakes – of magnitude 6.4 on July 4, 2019 and of magnitude 7.1 the next day – hit the Mojave Desert. The shivers dislodged some items from store shelves, opened wounds along roads, diverted railroad tracks, and severely damaged 1,341 – or more than 60 percent – of its buildings and facilities. These included older buildings such as the installation’s All-Faith Chapel that had not been built or had not been modernized to more modern and more stringent earthquake codes.

The epicenters of the two earthquakes were within the property, not far from the “main” headquarters area, the airport and important RDT & E facilities. Navy officials did not publicly detail the broader impacts on operations and RDT & E, but the damage was so widespread that it reduced mission capabilities at the weapon station for some time.

“Developing and awarding a project of this scale in such a short time is almost unprecedented, and it is the culmination of the tireless efforts of an amazing team of professionals across NAVFAC and numerous stakeholders and support organizations,” Cmdr. “We look forward to beginning efforts to build the South Airport and return NAWS China Lake to full operational readiness,” Dan Stokes, Assistant Chief Operating Officer at NAVFAC Southwest, said in the statement.

According to the contract announcement, all new facilities will be constructed with reinforced concrete foundation and floors, steel vertical frames, concrete building unit and sheet metal walls according to the modern seismic code.

The weapons station contained 2,132 buildings and facilities, 329 miles of paved roads and 1,801 miles of unpaved roads, plus its main air facility called the Armitage Field, all of which were estimated to be worth nearly $ 3 billion. About 620 active duty military personnel, 4,166 civilian employees and 1,734 contractors worked at the Weapon Station, which is also home to the 31st and 9th Airborne Test and Assessment Division, Southwest China Naval Facilities Engineering Command Lek, Naval Aviation Detachment, and various marine explosives. Munitions disposal detachments.

Lee Saunders, a spokesperson for NAVFAC Southwest, said the leadership has established a responsible construction officer, or OICC office, on Lake China. OICC will oversee what is expected to be numerous contracts and task orders for new construction as well as for the renovation of the damaged buildings and structures.

The first major contract was a $ 99.8 million mission order awarded in April to design and build 25 new ammunition bunkers and a passive storage facility, built to modern earthquake codes, according to NAVFAC Southwest.

“Mission-critical operations and RDT & E support for the fleet were negatively affected by the damaged magazines, with ammunition stored in a handful of suitable magazines remaining or shipped off the base to other locations,” Oestereicher said in a press release at the time. “This project will return that lost capacity and help bring NAWS China Lake back into full readiness.”

The mission order, awarded to Reyes Construction of Pomona, California, includes demolishing an idle storage facility and 32 warehouse damaged by earthquakes, as well as construction of electrical systems, communications, intrusion detection, paving of roads and apron, bridge crane and positive drainage for magazines and new storage facilities.

The new magazines are expected to be built by August 2022.

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