PORTSMOUTH — All four members of New Hampshire's congressional delegation were at Pease Air National Guard Base on Monday for the opening of the 157th Air Refueling Wing's new squadron operations facility.
The 38,000-square-foot building on the flight line brings together operations that have been spread across the base for the past 20 years and will start welcoming personnel by mid-December.
The $10-million project was more than four years in the making and is one of many reasons the base was selected to be one of the first homes for the new KC-46A refueling tankers, which will be phased in over the next several years.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH, and former Sen. Judd Gregg helped secure the federal funding needed to construct the facility, but individual personnel also helped find funding as changes became necessary.
When the 64th Air Refueling Squadron joined the base, plans changed to accommodate the active-duty squadron. Plans to include a wing for air traffic control was scrapped.
The new building will be LEED Silver-certified and is designed to comply with energy and resource recommendations of the U.S. Green Buildings Council.
The operations group that will be housed in the building is primarily responsible for executing refueling and aircraft flying missions and currently use KC-135R aircraft.
In addition to office space, and the 190-seat briefing room, the building includes billeting for readiness crews, high security office space and equipment repair and storage space.
The building can also accommodate an additional wing to link the air traffic control squadron with the operations group in the future.
The building uses heat pumps to help deliver heat where it is most needed, incorporates solar hot water panels, maximizes natural lighting where possible and will conserve on water usage as well.
Shaheen said the new operations facility will allow the Guard to do what it does even better while Shea-Porter said the building is a reflection of the nation's commitment to the men and women who serve it.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, and U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-NH, also commended the New Hampshire Air National Guard for their excellence in serving the nation and on the dedication of their new building during a ceremony in the briefing room.
Col. Paul Hutchinson, commander of the 157th, said the day marked the first step in preparations for the KC-46 tankers and $47 million in government building projects associated with their arrival.