Delaware Air National Guard breaks ground on new fuel cell hangar, competing for new wing of C-130J aircraft
The Delaware Air National Guard broke ground on a new fuel cell hangar for the 166th Airlift Wing Monday morning.
The project has been on hold for 22 years, but Delaware’s congressional delegation earmarked the funds – $17.5 million – for the construction of the hangar in the Fiscal Year 2022 government spending package. The state contributed $1 million and the National Guard Bureau provided $4.6 million, for a total project cost of $23.1 million.
Sen. Chris Coons serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee and says the money for the hangar is modest compared to the whole budget.
“And when I need to defend to the people of the United States and the people of Delaware, why as an appropriator, who is on the Military Construction subcommittee, why I support congressionally directed spending, I cannot think of a better example,” Coons says.
And Major General Michael Berry says the new facility which is expected to be completed by January 2025, is much needed. He explains that the current hangar, built in 1962, is too small to fit a C-130, failing to meet force protection measures. The new building will give them the ability to control climate and keep the aircraft, crew, and maintenance safe.
“And so with this new building, we will fully encapsulate the aircraft into the building," Berry says. "We can control the heat, we can control the air, wind, rain, that will allow them to do their job as needed without dealing with the environmental factors. And most importantly, it will keep them safe.”
Berry adds that having a state-of-the-art, brand new hangar, will increase their chances of being selected to receive a new wing of C-130J aircraft.
“The J model is currently in use throughout the active component," Berry says. "So when you look at structurally and strategic integration of your reserve components into your active duty force, you’re supply line, your training pipeline, your pilots, and all the folks that work in and around those J models at the active duty level, they will be seamless with us once we have that aircraft.”
Berry notes that having a wing of the latest C-130 models would give them a competitive edge for recruitment as well, giving new enlistees an opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment in a state-of-the-art facility.