HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite the forced grounding of America's fleet of F-22 Raptors because of suspected problems with their oxygen systems, Hawaii's Air National Guard (HIANG) pilots call the jets the best fighters in flight.
HIANG has nine of them at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Eleven more are on the way.
But the maintenance facility needs an upgrade to keep up with the modern air machines.
"The whole maintenance operation is the heart of any flying organization," HIANG Brig. Gen. Stan Osserman said.
By the summer of 2013 the Air Guard's old hangar and maintenance building will be replaced by a massive new maintenance facility. It's designed by an engineering firm that built two other F-22 sites at Air Force bases on the mainland.
"The building is built with a photovoltaic PV array on the roof, which will provide about 120 kilowatt hours of energy. It will offset about $75,000 of yearly annual energy savings," said Mark Zimmerman of engineering firm Burns & McDonnell.
The building's footprint will be huge -- 77,500 square feet.
The Air Guard broke ground on Friday. Construction will be done by local companies using local labor. The building is expected to consume close to no electricity during most days.
"Any government work you have has to have a green element to it. It has to be LEAF certified. This is becoming the standard," said Denny Watts, president of Watts Construction.
The standard for maintaining the F-22 fleet at Hickam has been to split maintenance work between nine buildings. It's costly and counterproductive.
"Anytime you're moving you're wasting time, you're wasting money," Osserman said..
The new maintenance facility and Raptor hangar will cost $37.1 million to build. Like the fighter jet it will be cutting edge.