HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The first commercial building at the new Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park opened Monday, bringing contractors on base in an integrated ICBM facility.
"The opening of the Falcon Hill facility represents a significant step forward for Hill AFB and northern Utah’s aerospace industry," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "Falcon Hill is evidence how public-private partnerships can be successful in strengthening the economy while also increasing the efficiency of the military. As someone who’s worked on Falcon Hill for the last decade, I'm pleased to help usher in this critical new phase for the Air Force."
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said the 151,783-square-foot facility for the ICBM Prime Integration Team led by Northrop Grumman is a "major milestone achievement for the future of Hill." Hill maintains the nation's land-based intercontinental ballistic missile fleet.
Monday's opening does not immediately create new jobs but rather brings Northrop Grumman contractors who work on ICBM maintenance to be located closer to their military counterparts by already being on base.
Falcon Hill is the largest enhanced use lease in Air Force history and the first to use a purely commercial model. If fully developed as conceived, the project would include eight million square feet of office space and amenities like restaurants and hotels on 550 acres on Hill's west side.
In return, Hill would receive 1.6 million square feet of office space at no cost for Air Force projects. The remaining space would be for lease to government agencies and defense contractors or other private agencies.
It is estimated that 15,000 new aerospace industry jobs and approximately 60,000 additional jobs would be generated by the completion of the Falcon Hill project.
Some members of Utah's congressional delegation are currently at odds with an Obama-administration budget proposal that includes significant military cuts in coming years. Just how much of the Falcon Hill project will be built may depend on budget-driven military realignments, though budget cuts are not expected to reduce the contractors' workforce at Falcon Hill.
Gov. Gary Herbert said Hill fares well amid scrutiny about military strength. "When you analyze it on what's in the best interest of this country's national defense, what's in the best interest of the Air Force and (Hill's) Air Logistics Center, Hill Air Force Base stands very tall."