The Air Force’s biggest F-35 operating base recently unveiled its new $45 million runway, bringing to a close a nine-month project that sent the base’s F-35s to other locations across the world.
The new 13,500-foot runway included new concrete pavement repairs, wider shoulders, a 55-foot widening to the taxiway, new overruns, improved signage, and upgraded lighting, according to a Hill release.
When the second phase of the construction project began in June, Hill sent its F-35s away to allow for the work. Twenty-four F-35s and about 250 airmen went to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, to operate during this phase. F-35s and airmen also deployed to the Middle East to conduct combat operations out of Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates.
Additionally, other F-35s and airmen deployed to Europe, with construction being a “catalyst” for this move, 421st Fighter Squadron pilot Capt. Joseph Walz told Air Force Magazine during the deployment. It was the first time since F-35s began arriving at Hill in 2015 that the base’s three squadrons had left the Utah location at the same time.
The construction project will help F-35 operations through an expected reduction in foreign object debris, Hill officials said.
“The old runway was literally falling apart, so having a brand new runway will be a major benefit to Hill Air Force Base and its pilots for years to come,” said Thomas Murdock, airfield manager with the 75th Operations Support Squadron, in the release.