128th Air Refueling Wing Expands Aircraft Hangar Capabilities

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Kuntze
  • 128th Air Refueling Wing
Contractors from KPH Construction, of Milwaukee, have made progress with an expansion for building 208, which is to become an aircraft hangar rather than an aircraft dock.

The contractual start date for the expansion was September 13, 2010, said Maj. Heath Duncan, the 128th Air Refueling Wing civil engineer squadron commander. Work for the expansion is scheduled to finish on July 10, 2011, he said.

To date, the construction project has suffered several setbacks, Duncan said. The expansion's foundation was hampered by winter weather and the effects of settling regarding nearby building 208, he said.

"We had to figure out a solution to these problems, and then execute the solution," Duncan said.

KPH Construction has been a vital asset throughout the expansion process, Duncan said. The local contractor has played an integral role in the mitigation of developing problems, he said.

"Throughout this process, KPH has been a great partner," Duncan said. "With a lesser contractor, we'd still be struggling with the foundation."

Speaking about the ongoing project, Duncan said, "It's been frustrating. The construction aspect has been difficult, but having this team - the architect and engineering firm Mead and Hunt, the contractor KPH Construction, and the government team - has made this possible. We wouldn't have done this without this team."

Looking ahead, the expansion promises to become a vital asset for the 128th Air Refueling Wing.

The expanded hangar will be a fully enclosed, corrosion facility available year-round for the painting and cleaning of aircraft , said Chief Master Sgt. Chris Chatham, 128th Air Refueling Wing maintenance operations flight chief. The expansion will convert the current nose dock - which only accommodates the wings and forward portion of an aircraft - into a sealable hangar able to contain an entire aircraft, he said.

Corrosion is the number one problem of today's aircraft, Chatham said.

"It's always going to happen to these aircraft as they get older," he said.

Deployments near salt water require constant corrosion work, and an aircraft deployed for even 30 days requires corrosion maintenance, he said.

KC-135R Stratotankers require two days in an enclosed hangar for a detailed cleaning, and an isochronical inspection - wherein an aircraft is fully reviewed, repaired, and returned to the flightline as mission ready - takes one month, said Chatham.

Dual hangars will give a greatly increased capability to the 128th Air Refueling Wing's maintenance squadron, Chatham said. The existing hangar is used to great effect, but it is also the site for on-base functions regarding community interactions, such as the Civic Dinner Dance, or training events, such as base-wide annual training. With the new hangar, the maintenance squadron can continue its mission without interruption while also serving the needs of the base's population, Chatham said.

Furthermore, the 128th Air Refueling Wing will save money by reducing the amount of time spent maintaining each aircraft, Chatham said. This has become more important since the Wing acquired three new aircraft late last year, Chatham said.

"[This expansion will] increase our efficiency by 40 to 50%," Chatham said.

The expansion project's current cost estimate is approximately $4 million.