Boeing Frontiers
November 2002 
Volume 01, Issue 07 
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools

Digging in

GMD test bed construction ahead of schedule


It’s been more than three months since Boeing broke ground for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program’s missile defense test bed in Fort Greely, Alaska. Construction has progressed steadily with a plan to complete the first phase of heavy construction before winter. In fact, work across much of the site is actually several weeks ahead of schedule.

Fort Greely, near Fairbanks, is the site for a segment of the expanded missile defense test bed, which will house five Ground-based Midcourse Defense interceptor missiles, command-and-control buildings, as well as support facilities.

The project has been faced with several challenges including a very short construction season because of extreme cold weather and risks associated with silo excavation through difficult soil conditions.

Workers completed drilling for the six silos, including one for training and test operations, six weeks ahead of schedule, despite drilling challenges. Because Alaska is part of a broad glacial basin, large rocks and boulders made each silo excavation different and unpredictable. Workers installed liners in the silo excavations, which measure 15 feet in diameter and 75 feet deep, to protect them from the harsh Alaskan winter elements. When the weather allows next spring, the site will be ready for installation of the actual silos and the silo interface vaults, which contain all the cabling and wiring for each silo.

Other work that’s ahead of schedule includes excavation of the “utilidors.” These long underground concrete corridors will carry all the utilities necessary for the missile field. Key to progress on this activity is completing concrete pours before it gets too cold. The construction team expects to complete the heavy construction on the utilidors in November, well ahead of a planned date in 2003.

Buildings are going up rapidly as well. The Mechanical-Electrical Building, called the MEB, should be enclosed and under roof in just a few weeks, as will the Readiness and Control Building, which a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractor is building.

In a few weeks, when the winter weather sets in and temperatures can fall to 40 degrees below zero, the construction won’t stop at Fort Greely. Crews will continue to work inside of buildings such as the MEB and Readiness and Control Building. Outside work won’t begin again until things begin to thaw—usually no earlier than April.

Boeing is the prime contractor for the GMD program. Bechtel is the construction contractor for the Fort Greely missile field. Fluor Alaska Inc., under a Corps of Engineers contract, is constructing facilities and support structures. Completion of the test bed is scheduled for September 2004.


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