Demolition ceremony breaks ground for F-35 infrastructure

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Eric Burks
  • 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A demolition ceremony here Nov. 8 marked the first physical step in developing the infrastructure needed for the 48th Fighter Wing’s future F-35A Lightning II squadrons.

Col. Evan Pettus, 48th FW commander, took the first sledgehammer swing to symbolically break ground in a construction zone that will eventually be home to approximately 1,200 Airmen and 54 F-35A Lightning II aircraft composing two fighter squadrons.

"This marks a new beginning for the Liberty Wing," Pettus said. "2021 may seem like the distant future, but there's a lot of work to be done to make sure RAF Lakenheath is prepared for the F-35A's arrival."

Development and construction of new facilities will take place after the demolition of buildings located near the flightline’s Charlie Ramp, the 57th Rescue Squadron and the Civil Engineer Readiness Flight, said Lt. Col. William Vause, director of the 48th FW’s Program Integration Office.

Demolition is projected to begin between the fall of 2018 and spring of 2019, Vause said.

“The overall effort will involve many construction projects, and we’re continuously identifying more requirements,” he said.

The first F-35A fighters that will be assigned to the wing are scheduled to arrive in November 2021, with all aircraft and associated personnel projected to be in place by fall 2023.

“The success of the F-35 beddown here will be due to the close integration of multiple Ministry of Defense and Department of Defense stakeholders,” said Vause.