Updates | Cherry Point

Transformation, Modernization Underway for F-35

May 18, 2020


Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
COMMUNICATION STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS _____________________________________________________________________________________
ADVISORY No.: 20200514-001

MCAS Cherry Point: Transformation, modernization underway for F-35

MARINE CORPS STATION CHERRY POINT, NC (May 14, 2020)–Major military construction (MILCON) is underway to transform and modernize Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point into a key base for the future of Marine Aviation and its next-generation fighter aircraft.

More than one billion dollars of MILCON is planned through 2027 to make way for six F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) squadrons. The MCAS Cherry Point F-35 Program will require the complete recapitalization of antiquated aviation operations and support facilities to accept the squadrons over an eight-year period. The modernization program will entail projects to construct new aviation facilities, renovate outmoded facilities, overhaul installation infrastructure, upgrade utilities, improve roadways and enhance airfield security.

“The improvements planned along the flight line will endure for decades and provide the infrastructure and facilities necessary to support Marine Aviation,” said Facilities Asset Manager Don Elliott.

Planning, design and contract negotiation and awards for the program have been underway since 2009. The overall plan includes details such as:

  • Design and construction of three state-of-the-art, two-module aircraft maintenance hangars. Each hangar can support two squadrons. New construction of an air traffic control tower, range support facility, airfield operations building, F-35 simulator facility and aviation maintenance support facilities;
  • Demolition of a number of obsolete airfield and station facilities;
  • Construction and renovation of supporting facilities that will support maintenance personnel and functions; and
  • In depth enhancement of training capabilities;

Elliott stated, there have been three major projects awarded to date including improvements to flight line security, utility and infrastructure improvements along Sixth Avenue and the first two-module F-35 hangar. The projects will be closely followed by the construction of the new airfield operations facility, or air traffic control tower, and the F-35 Simulator Facility this summer.

The facilities asset manager added, there have been other smaller projects underway to help make room for those major projects, which include the planned relocation of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Communication Strategy and Operations, 2nd MAW Air Combat Intelligence, Marine Air Logistics Squadron 14 Individual Material Readiness List (specialized equipment storage facility) and Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 Supply. The relocation of the Central Issue Facility and subsequent demolition of warehouse 144 was also in support of the planned new facilities.

Three of the oldest flight line hangars (Buildings 130, 1700 and 1701) that once served as aviation operations and support facilities were demolished during the first and second quarter of fiscal year 2020, and has left a gaping, noticeable change to the flight line landscape.

According to the ROICC, the demolition project is complete and the cleared area is the future site for the new F-35 hangars.

“It is the first visible evidence a period of transformation is underway,” said MCAS Cherry Point Commanding Officer Col. Mikel Huber.

“The view along Sixth Avenue is wide open,” said MCAS Cherry Point Resident Officer In Charge of Construction (RIOCC) Lt. Cmdr. Dave Dreyer. “The $5.3 million demolition project has cleared the site for construction of the first of the F-35 hangars.”

The first hangar project, has been awarded and is currently in the design phase and construction is scheduled to start in the fall — a $105 million project.

“We’re planning for construction of the hangars and affiliated paraloft facility, which will bring a flurry of additional construction vehicle traffic,” said Dreyer.

Utilities upgrades and road construction

Next is an extensive construction project to upgrade a substantial amount of infrastructure and reconstruct one of the installation’s well-traveled streets. The contract has been awarded and construction is underway to upgrade the utilities along Sixth Avenue and to widen a portion of C Street.

The project will go in phases to lessen the potential impact on the community, said Huber, which begins with the extension of Fifth Avenue as a detour route once Sixth Avenue closes. The ROICC said work is already underway to clear the wooded area at the point where the extension will connect the two streets.

When Sixth Avenue closes, current parking options along the way will be inaccessible. The first of three parking lots in the plan will be added to support tenants of various buildings along Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

C Street will be widened from its intersection of Second Avenue to Sixth Avenue. The street’s widening is aimed at mitigating the effects of the changed traffic pattern and the anticipated increase in traffic volume along the route. According to the ROICC, a turning lane will be added to facilitate optimal traffic flow.

“The reality is there will be a period of inconvenience the air station will endure in order to achieve this significant step forward in capability,” said Huber. “We are hopeful that the phased approach to accomplishing the utility project will lessen the impact to the community.”

Transformation and modernization of MCAS Cherry Point is projected through 2027. Installation leaders and managers will provide periodic updates and applicable information as things progress. Find more information HERE.



FRCE Steps Up to Keep F-18s in Flight

April 27, 2020

FRCE steps up to keep F-18s in the Fight

Donovan Guthrie, right, and Jason Hollister check an F-18 safety valve against the technical instruction to ensure it’s ready for issue, or RFI.

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. — When coronavirus-related workforce shortages impacted Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at Tinker Air Force Base, Fleet Readiness Center East stepped up to take on a component workload and ensure continued readiness for the F-18 fleet.

FRCE was initially scheduled to begin working with the F-18 cabin safety valve later this year while the Oklahoma City ALC’s test chamber underwent scheduled maintenance. That timeline moved forward when, as a result of the pandemic and associated risk mitigations, the facility at Tinker AFB saw a significant reduction in the number of available artisans. Because FRCE had already been making preparations to accept the workload, the handoff occurred with no interruption to the fleet.

“The original intent of bringing this workload to FRCE was to support Tinker Air Force Base through a major support equipment rework effort,” said Mary Linton, an aerospace engineer working with F-18 environmental control systems on the Gas Turbine Compressor-Pneumatics Fleet Support Team at FRCE. “All of the great effort that went into establishing this capability proved even more critical to maintaining the readiness of the F-18 fleet as we navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.”

The cabin safety valve is an integral part of the aircraft’s environmental control system, explained Linton. The valve, present on both Legacy Hornets and the newer Super Hornets, acts as a backup to maintain proper cabin air pressure above 23,000 feet in the case where the cabin air pressure regulator fails to function. It also serves as a supplement to the cabin air pressure regulator in regulating cabin air pressure when the aircraft is in a rapid dive, and it assists the cabin air pressure regulator in emergency relief dumping of cabin air pressure.

FRCE was set to begin repairing, checking and testing the valves in May, to shift the workload from Oklahoma City ALC, said John Miller, a planner and estimator with the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Logistics department at FRCE. Inductions would start at 20 per month and lead to the full induction rate of 40 per month by July, he explained.

“Originally the plan was for FRCE to slowly ramp up production to give the shop time to gain experience on the component and to ease into the additional workload,” Linton added. “FRCE was challenged to ramp straight up from no workload to 20-40 a month to support the F-18. The fact that they were able to do is a testament to the hard work and dedication all of the personnel at FRCE have to support the warfighter.”

The artisans in the engine driven compressor/gas turbine compressor shop at FRCE did require some additional training to prepare for the new component, but that didn’t delay the depot’s response to the fleet’s need, Miller said.

“We were still able to hit the ground running,” he added. “And now we are repairing or check-and-testing each valve that meets certain criteria by engineering, via temporary engineering instruction.”

To date, FRCE has turned around 18 of the 40 units inducted so far, with plans to induct 10 more soon. After that, more “F” condition valves, which are unserviceable but reparable, must arrive at the depot to keep the workload constant.

“The availability of components is still in flux due to COVID-19 and other factors, but the transition should move smoothly,” Miller said. ““FRCE can handle the workload, as long as the support elements are good.”

FRCE is North Carolina’s largest maintenance, repair, overhaul and technical services provider, with more than 4,000 civilian, military and contract workers. Its annual revenue exceeds $835 million. The depot generates combat air power for America’s Marines and naval forces while serving as an integral part of the greater U.S. Navy; Naval Air Systems Command; and Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers.

From www.navair.navy.mil


Facebook Makes Commitment to Veterans During COVID-19 Pandemic

April 17, 2020


As a proud supporter of the military and Veteran community, Facebook is committed to providing Veterans with meaningful ways to connect with the people they care about. Today, Facebook donated 7,488 Portals to the Department of Veteran Affairs that will be distributed in pairs to wounded/at risk Veterans and their Veteran caregivers to help them stay connected with friends and family during these difficult times.  We hope that by using these Portal video calling devices, Veterans and their caregivers will feel less isolated and more present with their friends and family no matter where they are.

The donation is through a collaboration with the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) Office and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network. Though discussions about this partnership began long before the COVID-19 crisis began, facilitating social connection for Veterans and their caregivers and families is more important now than ever, with many of these individuals experiencing further isolation due to social distancing measures.

The VA blog announcing the partnership and more details can be found here.

In addition, we thought you might be interested in this refresher on how to best keep your communities informed through Facebook products during this uncertain time. To ensure that VSOs are aware of Facebook’s many resources, Facebook is holding a webinar on best practices and new tools it has created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other ways that Facebook is helping in this time of need.  This webinar can give you guidance on how to best utilize Facebook to communicate with your community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • What: Webinar on Facebook best practices for VSOs and COVID-19 response
  • When: Thursday, April 23, 2020, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET
  • Where: GoToWebinar
  • How: Register here for dial-in link and code

Please RSVP for this training by registering here and feel free to share this invitation with your networks.



Governor Roy Cooper Urges Support for MCAS Cherry Point and FRC East

April 06, 2020

Photo of NC Gov Roy Cooper

In a March 31 letter to the Secretary of the Navy, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Chief of Naval Operations, Governor Cooper urged the continued efforts to transform Cherry Point into a 21st century airstation. Specifically, the Governor urged action and cooperation:

“I know you appreciate how important it is to me that North Carolina does all it can to support and grow the
military. Therefore, I ask that you work with me to:

  • Seek Congressional authorization and appropriation of funding for critical infrastructure upgrades and
    new construction at FRC East. I will work closely with the North Carolina Congressional delegation to prioritize
    the construction of projects that support both the Department of Defense’s priorities and the State’s
  • Reaffirm the Navy’s commitment to use FRC East as primary source of depot work for F-35 JSF lift fans,
    components, and other related work. The people of our state are fortunate to have over seven hundred
    thousand dedicated and talented service members, veterans and their families call North Carolina home. As
    Governor, I am committed to maintaining the state’s status as the most military-friendly state in the Nation. I
    welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how the Navy, Marine Corps and the state can work
    together for the betterment of our installations, service members, their families, and veterans.”

Find a copy of Governor Cooper’s letter HERE.




COVID-19 Update from ACT Board President

March 27, 2020


We want you to know that ACT and its professional team continue to press hard for Cherry Point. The Air Station and FRC East have been the subject of several conference calls and discussions with Congressional staff and local leaders over the last ten days.

1. The latest federal COVID relief bill, what the media and politicians are calling the CARES Act, should be signed by the President later today. It is a huge 880 page, $2.2 TRILLION package with something for most everyone. For our purposes right now, we are focusing on how it impacts the Defense Department and military contractors.

a. Representative Mac Thornberry, former Chair of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), current senior Republican on the HASC, and friend to ACT said about the CARES Act: “This stimulus package includes provisions important to our men and women in uniform and their families. It pro-vides re-sources vital to the Military’s efforts to assist in pandemic response around the country, from deploying hospital ships to the search for a vaccine. It also provides resources needed to care for those in the military community who are infected with COVID-19. We need to give our military the resources it needs to get on with their important work.”

2. MCAS Cherry Point Slocum and Main gates remain open. However, additional ID checks are being conducted along with strict enforcement of military and retired access only to the commissary; most gathering spots are closed. All visits to base should be limited to an essential purpose. The message from the USMC is to protect our Marines from COVID-19 so they can train and do their duty.

3. FRC East remains fully operational. Those who can telework are doing so, but most employees are on the job in the FRC East buildings. Supporting the warfighter remains their top priority and so far COVID has not stopped their mission.

Please continue to follow CDC guidelines and adhere to any guidance issued by federal, state and local authorities as they are implemented for the health and safety of our community.


Will Lewis
ACT Board President