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HILL AIR FORCE BASE — A new building at Hill Air Force Base is expected to help in the nation's military defense efforts.
The new $35 million software support facility will house the 309th Software Maintenance Group, whose software support mission is a top priority for the base, according to a news release from the base.
"This building offers state-of-the-art engineering labs and an agile work environment for our scientist and engineer workforce," Tracy Stauder, 309th Software Maintenance Group deputy director, said in the release. "It will be a great asset to the Air Force."
Hill leaders expressed gratitude Friday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The official move-in date is anticipated to be in mid-April.
Due to the increasing software-intensive nature of weapons systems, a new software facility was necessary to sustain responsibilities for the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the integrated networks for battlefield command and other long-term Department of Defense programs, explained Maj. Gen. Stacey Hawkins, Commander of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base.
"It's a secure facility so it's well-postured to receive our fifth-generation aircraft workloads," he said. "In the future, the replacement for the intercontinental ballistic missile — the ground-based strategic deterrent — will also be housed here."
Because the latest generation of military fighter jets is so computer-advanced, being able to properly maintain the technology used to power them is an especially high priority, he added.
"Having a software engineering facility to sustain the software and to develop software for emerging threats is vitally important," Hawkins said. "This is the center of gravity for the F-35 weapons system."
He said the building will accommodate about 350 workstations and includes 15,300 square feet of laboratory space that will help support the growth of the Software Maintenance Group. The unit has hired almost 400 personnel over the past three years and is expected to expand from approximately 1,600 personnel currently on staff to more than 3,000 people over the next decade, he added.
"We're trying to build a software campus, and that is a big part of that growth and will help us attract STEM professionals who we feel will be attracted to the work being done in that facility," Stauder said.
Stauder noted that software development is a dynamic and ever-changing environment, so having a state-of-the-art facility designed with open space is a "big leap forward" and will allow the Air Force to be more competitive and better able to attract top software developers as well as engineers from the Beehive State and around the country, he said.
Construction of the facility was made possible by the state of Utah under the enhanced use lease program, explained David Williamsen, program manager for the Enhanced Use Lease Management Office at Hill Air Force Base. The Utah Legislature appropriated $21.5 million to the Military Installation Development Authority, a political entity established in 2007 to facilitate the development of under-utilized military land, to help fund the building.
He said facilities like the new building are necessary to support the work being done currently for military defense as well as into the future.
"The new weapons systems have an amazing amount of software compared to what older weapons systems had," he said. "This project has been really good for the state because we have a lot of software engineers that are hired on because of the continued growth we've had with all the demand for that type of expertise."
Gary Harter, executive director of the Utah Office of Veterans and Military Affairs, said the facility will accommodate the growth and need for software specialists for years to come and is also a significant investment in the country's efforts to enhance military readiness and defense.
"They will be at the leading edge of everything the Air Force does for their advanced weapons systems," he said. "It'll be a great boon to the economic development of the communities around the base in northern Utah."