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26 Apr 16. First Project Wellesley building handed over. The first of 26 buildings on the Worthy Down base, the respirator testing facility, has been handed over ahead of programme, and defect-free, to the Defence Infrastructure Organisation for the Ministry of Defence. The confidence facility where the Armed Forces can test protective equipment and their immediate action drills for operating in a chemical environment, has been built by Skanska’s construction team, which is working on the £250m Project Wellesley scheme to upgrade the Worthy Down site and redevelop the Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut, in Surrey. Military personnel will, in the sealed environment, be able to test their rubber breathing masks (respirators) which are issued for use in nuclear, biological and chemical weapons environments. The facility is a single-storey, block-built space with light and power, including an extractor to safely disperse the gas after testing. The building provides an example of the high standard that the rest of the site facilities will be built to over the course of the project, with the base remaining operational throughout. All the remaining project works are due to complete in 2019.
Nick Nichols, Process and Construction Management Lead for the DIO, said: “We’re very pleased to take ownership of the first of the 26 buildings to be constructed as part of Project Wellesley at the Worthy Down site. The high-quality building helps to meet the training needs of our people and will rigorously test the equipment, ensuring that our Armed Forces are ready, if, and when, they are called upon.”
22 Apr 16. MCAS Beaufort readies for expansion of F-35B training operations. The transformation of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort to support future US Marine Corps (USMC) and international F-35B Joint Strike Fighter training operations is well under way with the second dedicated aircraft hangar and a host of other upgrades in various stages of progress, IHS Jane’s has learned during a media brief at the air station. MCAS Beaufort is home to combat aircraft units under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 31, which include Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons (VMFA)-115, -122, -251, and -312 operating the F/A-18A and F/A-18C single-seat Hornet; Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadrons VMFA(AW)-224 and -533 operating the F/A-18D twin-seat Hornet; and Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT)-501, which is presently the only unit operating the F-35B at the facility. VMFAT-501 is hosting a detachment from the UK’s first operational F-35B unit – 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron – with the country’s third pre-operational aircraft (BK-3). The air station also houses two support units: Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron (MAS)-31 and Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS)-273. These squadrons provide a range of sustainment and ancillary services to the combat and training units during expeditionary operations as well as in garrison. According to the USMC, the second F-35B hangar – which was contracted for in August 2014 – will be completed by October 2016. The new hangar will be used by VMFA-115 when the unit transitions to the F-35B platform in 2017 and will also feature a new aircraft taxiway as well as an enhanced electrical power network to support the type’s maintenance requirements. IHS Jane’s understands that MCAS Beaufort is expected to accommodate a total of four F-35B hangars by 2018, which will be evenly split between the east and west ramps. Other recent infrastructure enhancements include an improved ground support equipment shop with additional storage space for MALS-31, with plans to replace part of the facili