Lockheed Martin and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force personnel work together to taxi in the arrival of the first foreign military sales F-35A onto the 944th Fighter Wing ramp Nov. 28, 2016, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The arrival marked the next step for the international F-35 training program. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)
By Brian Brackens, 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs / Published July 31, 2018 on WPAFB News
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Managing multiple construction projects around the world isn’t easy, but it’s a job that the professionals in the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate’s Construction Branch have perfected.
The office is supporting 17 foreign military partners by building air bases, strengthening and expanding runways, constructing air fields, living quarters, hangars, maintenance, dining and training facilities.
So far this year alone, 82 facilities valued at $211 million have been built and turned over to foreign partners, and currently the office is overseeing $4.4 billion in construction projects, an increase of more than $1 billion from the previous year.
The work the Construction Branch does is crucial, because of the importance infrastructure plays in supporting weapon systems.
“Without a good base or without the right facilities, the partner nation will not be able to perform its mission,” said Dr. Carlos Braziel, the Requirements and Other Programs Section Chief within the branch. “Our partners recognize our office’s expertise in integrating their infrastructure with the weapons systems they purchase from the U.S. The infrastructure support we provide ensures our partners have the bases to adequately launch, operate, and maintain their systems for many years to come.”
Managing construction work overseas can be challenging and complex, said Dr. Mike Hassan, Chief of the Construction Branch.
“Part of the challenge is keeping up with demand,” said Hassan. “A lot of [foreign military] sales are happening. In addition, we have to engage different cultures, different communities and things are not always black and white. We deal with a lot of sensitive issues, which requires diplomacy. We consider ourselves engineering diplomats.”
Some of the current projects the branch is working on includes finishing an electronic warfare range, turning over a major base and completing the construction of a secure storage facility for various countries around the globe.
“What we do is important,” said Hassan. “We are providing capability to our [FMS] customers and improving the interoperability of the U.S. Air Force and our allies.”