Article Courtesy, NAS Lemoore
NAS Lemoore Commanding Officer Doug Peterson signs a beam during a "topping out" ceremony at the half-way point of construction on a new F 35C Lightning II hangar.
NAS Lemoore Commanding Officer Doug Peterson signs a beam during a "topping out" ceremony at the half-way point of construction on a new F 35C Lightning II hangar.
Photo Courtesy NAS Lemoore

Naval Air Station Lemoore and Harper Construction Company Inc. leadership recently (October 26) participated in a “topping out” ceremony aboard NAS Lemoore, marking the official half-way point of construction on a new F-35C Lightning II hangar.

The F-35C Lightning II is the latest advance in Navy jet technology. Traditionally, builders hold a topping out ceremony when the last beam of a building is placed atop a structure during its construction, signaling the finish of the structure of the building.

Building 360, known as “Hangar Six,” will be the second F-35C hangar at NAS Lemoore.  This construction project began roughly four months after Harper Construction Company Inc., from San Diego was awarded a $95-million-dollar, firm-fix price contract for the new facility in September 2019.

“This effort represents many years of successful planning, programming, and stakeholder coordination – now visibly evident through current construction progress at Hangar 6,” said NAS Lemoore Public Works Officer, Cmdr. Greg Woods. “Harper Construction broke ground in January 2020 and is on track to deliver these first two modules in late 2021. The project has been a great example of government and industry partnership, as this project utilized a fast-tracked design-built acquisition strategy to ensure construction timelines would meet aggressive operation mission need dates.  An additional adjacent 2 modules will be delivered in late 2023, providing the first complete Type 1 purpose-built home for the F-35C Lightning II.”

Hangar Six will be the first NAS Lemoore hangar built, from the ground up, specifically for the 5th Generation strike fighter. The F-35C Lightning II facility will be located just north of Hangar Four aboard the operations portion of NAS Lemoore.  The project includes the construction of a two-module aircraft maintenance hangar with flight pre-planning operations spaces as well as work bays with cranes, shops, offices, and associated airfield pavements, operational and munitions storage.  It also includes the renovation of an existing battery shop and the addition of a new tool room. 

“Due to the tight timeline, the Hangar 6 team had to think outside the box to come up with solutions that would allow the construction progress to stay on schedule,” said Lt. Cmdr. Caroline Mayer, Public Works Department Lemoore’s FEAD Director.  “Thanks to the engagement and ingenuity of all involved, we’ve been able to work through concerns while keeping the project on track.”

The new F-35C hangar joins the list of buildings that have been added or remodeled at NAS Lemoore to accommodate the program, including the newly-remodeled Hangar Five, a Pilot Fit Facility (PFF), Centralized Engine Repair Facility (CERF), Pilot Training Center (PTC) and the Tactical Combat Training System (TCTS) facility.  Future projects are sequenced to provide additional operational capability as additional Navy squadrons transition to the F-35C.  Marine Corps F-35C squadrons will be based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. 

“Just eight short months ago we stood on an open field here with Harper to celebrate the Hangar 6 groundbreaking,” said Lt. Jason Gamble, Public Works Department Lemoore’s Deputy FEAD.  “Now we are putting up the final structural member of a 100,000 square-feet F-35C Maintenance Hangar.  Harper and the U.S. Navy have worked together to overcome tremendous difficulties to keep this project ahead of schedule.  Together we not only found a way to meet the needs of the Navy but exceed expectations.”

NAS Lemoore was established in 1961 as the master jet base for the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet. It was purpose-built to support Cold War aviation missions and was chosen because of its location, access to ranges, congestion-free airspace, and good weather that supports unimpeded flight training and operations. 

To date, the installation remains the newest and largest U.S. Navy jet base and maintains a busy flight schedule, holding on to its master jet base distinction.  NAS Lemoore is currently home to 16 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter squadrons and is the only home to U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II Fleet squadrons: VFA-147 “Argonauts,”  VFA-125 “Rough Raiders,” the F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) and the most recent addition, VFA-97 “Warhawks,” who will begin their transition to the Lightning II next year.

The mission-ready F-35C is the latest addition to U.S. Navy’s Carrier Air Wing.  With its stealth technology, state-of-the-art avionics, advanced sensors, weapons capacity, and combat radius, the aircraft carrier-based F-35C provides unprecedented air superiority, interdiction, suppression of enemy air defenses and close-air-support as well as advanced command and control functions through fused sensors.  These state-of-the-art capabilities give pilots and combatant commanders unrivaled battlespace awareness and lethality.