TAMPA — MacDill Air Force Base is one step closer to hosting 23 Army helicopters and more than 300 additional personnel.
A ground-breaking ceremony was held Monday to mark the start of construction on a $50 million, 92,000-square-foot Aviation Support Facility for the Army Reserve Aviation Command.
The facility, being built by Hensel Phelps Construction Co., will host more than 260 military personnel and another 60 civilians, said Army Brig. Gen. Scott Morcomb, head of the Army Reserve Aviation Command.
It is expected to open in October 2019.
"This will be our most modern, capable facility in the country," Morcomb said.
It will serve as a new home for A and F Companies of the Army’s 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment. The regiment flies UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, providing medical evacuation and battlefield transportation services.
Members have seen action in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Morcomb said some personnel are expected to be sent overseas next year.
Now based at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, the units outgrew the location seven years ago, Morcomb said. The move to MacDill, he said, was "an obvious choice."
Military transportation planes will take over the space at the airport in Clearwater — UC-35C Citation V Ultra twin engine jets and C-12 Huron twin-engine propeller planes.
The helicopters will join the other major aviation group at MacDill — as many as two dozen KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling jets. The base has 19 of the Stratotankers now and more are coming.
Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.