Hill AFB runway

An F-35A takes off from a newly resurfaced runway on Nov. 5, 2019, after completion of a nine-month construction project at Hill Air Force Base.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — A $45 million project to reconstruct Hill Air Force Base’s runway has been finished after nearly nine months of work.

A project designed to better handle Hill’s almost fully-developed F-35 fleet, the work included a complete asphalt rehabilitation of the 13,500-foot runway, the construction of wider shoulders, a widened taxiway on the south end of the facility, new overruns, new airfield signs, new electrical wiring and new airfield lighting.

In a press release, Paul Waite, project officer from Hill’s 75th Civil Engineer Group, said the construction will improve pilot safety and better protect Air Force assets. Base officials say the new runway will drastically decrease Foreign Object Debris, which was becoming an issue with the aging runway.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, FOB is any object in an airport environment that could injure airport or air carrier personnel and damage aircraft.

“The old runway was literally falling apart,” Hill Airfield Manager Thomas Murdock said in the press release.

Waite said there were numerous modifications to the contract during the work and heavy rainfall in the spring impacted construction.

“With every project this size and scope, there will be wrinkles and challenges,” he said.

For most of the construction period, the runway was open to military aircraft because work was completed in three phases. According to the Hill release, the first phase began in February with work on some 4,000 feet at the north end of the runway. A second phase that started in June, required the entire runway to close as crews worked on the middle section. During that time, Hill’s fighter wings were deployed to several different locations.

For about two months during the summer, Hill’s 34th Fighter Squadron and 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit moved their F-35A Lightning II operations to Mountain Home Air Force Base Idaho, nearly 300 miles northwest of Hill. The group included more than 250 airmen from 388th and 419th fighter wings and up to 24 jets. Hill pilots in Idaho continued their normal operations and flew with other Air Force units.

During construction, two other F-35 squadrons deployed to the Middle East and Europe.

According to Hill’s release, the 75th CEG worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to install sensors that will track pavement stress data over the next several years. Data points will be collected from several types of aircraft that fly into Hill, helping the base update the design software used for runway and airfield pavement design.

The data will be shared with the FAA to improve runway design at both military and civilian airfields across the country.

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