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National Guard dedicates $38 million aviation hangar

HAWAII NATIONAL GUARD/FACEBOOK

By WILLIAM COLE | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 12, 2018

The Hawaii Army National Guard dedicated a new $38 million aviation support facility hangar at Kalaeloa on Thursday that will help support its more than two dozen Chinook, Black Hawk and Lakota helicopters.

The new facility is the third support hangar for the National Guard. The other two are at Wheeler Army Air Field and in Hilo at Lyman Field.

Work was started on the new Kalaeloa hangar in 2015. The total cost includes $33.4 million in federal funds and $4.51 million in state general obligation bonds, officials said.

The Hawaii National Guard previously said the more than 67,000-square-foot center would include a hangar and administrative space for classrooms, conference rooms and offices.

"The hangar is there to support all general aviation," said Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Chuck Anthony. "So our Black Hawks and CH-47s that are at Wheeler will be supported at Kalaeloa as well. But we got (a) new medevac unit as well, which is based at Kalaeloa. So this particular facility will be supporting those Black Hawks."

The Army Guard has about 12 big twin-rotor Chinooks, 11 Black Hawks and several UH-72 Lakotas. Anthony said eight UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters are based in Hilo, with one to three on Oahu at any given time.

In late 2016 the Army Guard's then newest unit, Detachment 1, Company G, 1st Battalion, 189th Aviation Regiment, received three HH-60M Black Hawks to provide medevac support to military entities. The unit was expected to have about 30 soldiers on part-time status, the Guard said at the time.

The unit was not expected to provide full-time support to civil authorities, but was expected to provide supplemental support.

Medevac units are in high demand and one of the most requested for deployments, according to the Hawaii Guard.

"(The) basic mission is medical evacuation," Chief Warrant Officer 3 Phillip Wilson said in a news video released at the time by the National Guard. "It's basically a wartime function only. It's not going to be a big enough unit to provide a stateside mission other than disaster support."

The medevac Black Hawks differ from current Guard models in that they have an external hoist, a forward-looking infrared radar and the ability to carry six patients on litters.

Wilson said the new choppers would "definitely help if there are a lot of casualties that the local counties aren't able to support, or if there is a search and rescue operation where additional aircraft are needed. This aircraft can actually identify and hoist them out of really tough terrain."

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