The Air Force on Aug. 13 signed a lease and development agreement with a private developer for a $1.5 billion aerospace research park called Falcon Hill on the grounds of Hill AFB, Utah. Under the terms of the deal, Sunset Ridge Development Partners will finance, build, and manage eight million square feet of office space, including supporting restaurants and two hotels, on 550 acres of land on the west side of the base under a 50-year lease, according to the Air Force and a release from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The park is intended to attract thousands of aerospace industry jobs to the area. In return, Hill will receive up to 1.6 million square feet of free office space to use for Air Force projects. The Air Force land is being made available under a DOD enhanced use leasing program that makes under-utilized land available to private developers for commercial uses. Service officials say Falcon Hill is the largest EUL deal to date. Construction will begin on the first 180 acres and two million square feet of the project later this year, with completion of this initial phase anticipated in 2010. Hatch said the research park will also strengthen Hill’s position in such efforts as its bid to host Air Force Cyber Command’s permanent headquarters.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.