HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Hill Air Force Base has been a staple in Northern Utah for 80 years now, but as new opportunities arise at the installation, expected to bring some significant growth, a group of communities are working to ensure a smooth transition.
A conglomerate of Northern Utah cities, spearheaded by Layton, are working on what is being called the Hill Air Force Base “Compatible Use Plan.” In addition to Layton, the coalition also includes Clearfield, Ogden, Riverdale, Roy, South Ogden, South Weber, Sunset, Uintah, Washington Terrace, and Davis and Weber counties.
Nearly a year ago, the Department of Defense supplied Layton with a $385,000 grant to help develop the plan.
“This has been a lengthy process so far,” Lon Crowell, deputy director of community and economic development for Layton, said during a recent virtual open house on the initiative.
The plan will study seven primary areas: land use, transportation, airspace, infrastructure, security, environment and economic development. Officials in the group say information gathered through this process will be a valuable guide and resource for local development and land use issues that may impact Hill, and for developing operations on the base.
According to an announcement for the grant on the Federal Register, the plan will address instances in which civilian activities might impair the utility of Hill and will ensure local civilian development does not negatively impact the base’s missions, test facilities and training ranges. The plan will also identify development initiatives for local communities to provide for the quality of life for airmen and their families.
A consulting firm called Matrix Design Group has been selected by the group to help guide the process.
“We’re really at the stage of gathering information from the community, in addition to all the other stakeholders,” said Matrix’s Deputy Project Manager Patrick Small. “Ultimately ... we’ll develop some recommended strategies.”
Small said a public meeting at which potential compatibility issues are presented will be held sometime in early 2021.
Hill is expected to see major expansion over the next several years, namely with the work currently underway on the base to replace the entire land-based portion of the U.S. nuclear enterprise.
Headquartered at Hill, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program will replace the United States’ current ground ballistic missile force, which is made up of some 400 Minuteman ICBMs. The full program is estimated to cost more than $80 billion over its 30 year lifespan. The total cost includes the acquisition of missiles, new command and control systems, and large-scale renovations of launch control centers.
Currently being built up near Hill’s southwest border with Roy, the program will eventually include six new buildings with over 1 million square feet of office and lab facilities. In August 2019, Northrop Grumman broke ground on the Roy Innovation Center, which will serve as future headquarters for Northrop’s work supporting the program.
Base officials and members of Utah’s congressional delegation have said the program will be the largest source of growth across the base during the next several years, expected to bring as many as 4,000 new employees along with the construction of the new buildings.
Meanwhile, work also continues to ramp up at the Ogden Air Logistics Complex on base, which performs repair, overhaul and modification on planes like the F-35, F-16, A-10, C-130 and T-38 aircraft. The complex also performs work on the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile system and other items like rocket motors, air munitions and guided bombs, software, electronics and other aerospace components. The outfit has more than 8,000 employees.
And together, Hill’s 419th and 388th fighter wings operate as the Air Force’s first combat-ready F-35 outfit. Hill has 78 individual F-35s, divided equally among the three squadrons. The wings regularly train at the Utah Test and Training Range, which draws aircraft from all over the world. The west desert training range is the largest contiguous block of supersonic training airspace in the United States and will be analyzed thoroughly in the compatibility project.
As the compatibility project progresses, information will be available at hillafbcup.com. Small said residents of the communities involved in the study are encouraged to fill out a community questionnaire, which is available on the website.