At a ribbon-cutting ceremony aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Monday, Oct. 16, Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) opened a new facility expected to usher in next-generation avionics excellence.
Costing roughly $30.7 million, Building 227 (B.227), or FRCSE’s new Targeting and Surveillance Systems Facility, will be home to Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) avionics systems like targeting, surveillance, radar, and others used in the F -35 Lightening II – one of the most complex avionics systems in service today. The facility will house the personnel and other staff required for depot-level avionics repairs.
“Dozens of FRCSE personnel, partners and contractors had a hand in bringing this project to fruition,” said FRC Southeast’s Commanding Officer Capt. Al Palmer. “The Targeting and Surveillance Systems Facility won’t just increase the capacity of avionics work that happens here, but it’s forecasted to help streamline existing product lines, increase efficiency and prepare the command for future systems that are vital to the safety of our nation and partner nations.”
The two-story building broke ground by way of a military construction project (MILCON) in November 2020, however the contract was awarded to Archer Western by Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast (NAVFAC Southeast) well before that in December 2019. Construction took almost three years with keys being turned over to FRC Southeast personnel on Oct. 13, 2023.
“This project has a tilt-up concrete wall panel structure to accommodate avionics workload, personnel and equipment for the JSF program at FRCSE,” said Cody Stepko, an avionics process engineer at FRCSE. “It will also include an area for engineering and administration staff. This project will provide climate-controlled areas for avionics and offices, restrooms, change rooms, break rooms, mechanical/electrical rooms and more.”
Before the new building was erected, FRCSE’s avionics program was housed in Building 168 – a 27,015-square-foot facility, which is dwarfed in comparison by the new Targeting and Surveillance Systems Facility at 49,503 square feet. The old avionics buildings will also undergo renovations to provide continued support to the war fighter.
B. 227 is intended to support avionics repairs for state-of-the-art aircraft in a greater capacity than ever at the command – housing 59 people at initial move-in, but expected to grow to more than 160 over the next several years. In fact, the 2024 fiscal year forecast estimates a corresponding uptick in avionics work and man hours – roughly 32,000 – an increase of almost 40 percent from fiscal year 2023 and climbing.
“Every team member that played a role in standing up this facility and those who will work within it must understand how important they are in the bigger picture,” said Stepko. “The repairs that will be conducted in this state-of-the-art facility maintain assets that play a key role in keeping our pilots, personnel and nation safe – making sure everyone makes it home to their families at the end of the day.”
FRCSE is designated as an Avionics Center of Excellence and a sole depot source of repair for over 20 Department of Defense systems, including electronic warfare, radar, sonar, radio detection, laser ranges, electro-optical, inceptor systems, targeting systems, infra-red, memory units, controls and additional avionics systems.