HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- Before explaining the importance of the base's new F-22 heavy maintenance facility, which was unveiled Thursday, Rep. Rob Bishop wondered aloud how long it would take to fill the 96,000-square-foot area with foam.
According to Col. Allan Day, 309th Maintenance Wing Commander, the answer is close to 90 seconds.
"It wouldn't go all the way to the ceiling," Day said of foam that would be dispensed from nozzles near the ceiling, installed in case of a fire. "The foam would just rise above the level of the plane."
Hill Air Force Base showed off the completion of the second and final phase of the $45 million project, which will house an F-22 heavy maintenance facility and composite back shop, as well as seven aircraft maintenance docks.
The 309th Maintenance Wing at Hill is one of two facilities in the nation that maintains, repairs and modifies F-22 fighter aircraft to meet current and evolving maintenance demands.
"This facility greatly expands our capability to do that," said Maj. Gen. Andrew Busch, commander of the Ogden Air Logistics Center.
Day said the maintenance hangar will be fully functional in the next few months, and the number of workers will increase from 168 to 230.
The Air Force can have up to 12 F-22 jets out of the lineup and under repair at one time. In the past, HAFB had up to six in for repair while up to six were sent to contractor Lockheed Martin's site in Palmdale, Calif.
Day said the new facility would allow HAFB to work on all 12 if needed.
"We work on what they bring us," Day said.
Bishop said that while the F-35 fighter jet, which will replace the aging F-16, is the future, there is still great need to maintain the F-22 Raptors.
"Sustainment will be more important than ever," Bishop said. "We need to have a strong workforce that will defend the country."
Hill will refurbish some existing hangars in the future and will provide maintenance for the F-35. Bishop said the maintenance work that will be provided to the fighter jets shows how important it is to keep jobs at HAFB.
"I don't want people to naively think we're just trying to get jobs here," Bishop said. "But these jobs are needed."
Big-D Construction was responsible for construction of the project. The company completed Phase 1, a 71,688-square-foot F-22 aircraft overhaul and test facility, in August 2010.