B-2 Shelter System [B2SS]
Extra Large Deployable Aircraft Hangar Systems
(Formerly: B-2 Shelter Program)
The Government conducted a streamlined acquisition program to leverage state of the art technology, hardware, and documentation in order to integrate shelter, structure, utilities/utility interfaces, and environmental control subsystem(s) using existing commercial hardware and equipment to provide an Extra Large Deployable Aircraft Hangar System (XLDAHS). The XLDAHS shall provide for a system that is air transportable, affordable, durable, easy to erect, maintain, and function at worldwide locations.
The need to find a fix to the problem started in 1998 when the B-2 passed through Guam and maintenance crews found a shortage of temperature-controlled space needed to maintain the aircraft's Low Observable - or stealth - coatings and materials. Officials from Air Combat Command, the aircraft's operational user, challenged Aeronautical Systems Center experts to provide them with a deployable shelter capable of supporting B-2 maintenance operations.
The B-2 Shelter System, built by American Spaceframe Fabricators, Inc. facilitates low observable (LO) maintenance at FOLs. A shelter is 250' wide by 60' high, 175,000 pound and uses 32 oz PVC cover, 15 oz liner. Each B2SS stretches almost a football field wide with an interior volume of 1.1 million cubic feet, providing the environment needed to maintain the stealth characteristics of the B-2 at a forward location.
One system fabricated, 4 to 6 more to be built, cost is $2M-2.5M per shelter package, can be transported in 29 C-130 sorties, heated and air-conditioned. The soft-walled shelters can withstand high and low temperature extremes, 40 pounds of snow per square foot and 110 mph winds. They can also be equipped with a pressured liner to protect troops from biological and chemical attacks. One of the greatest challenges was designing the shelter's 10-ton clamshell retractable door, which rolls back like a huge eyelid. The shelters also feature state-of-the-art heating, ventilation and air conditioning and control systems.
The hangars can be taken apart for shipping by boat or plane, and provide more lighting, space and environmental controls than the existing permanent air force docks.
Among other "one of a kind" components, the "B2- Hangar" features a unique "clam shell" retractable door and state-of-the-art HVAC and Control systems. "Our operational personnel like working in it (the ASFI designed hangar) better than the more expensive permanent buildings," said a representative of the Air Force.
In addition to getting the B-2 Spirit bombers closer to the fight when needed, the deployable shelters will keep B-2 crews from having to fly what have been, in past combat operations, up to 44-hour missions to strike targets and return home due to the lack of required environmentally-controlled space for maintenance
The contract for the shelters was awarded in October 1999 to American Spaceframe Fabricators, Inc. ASFI delivered the first shelter system to Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., home of the B-2 bomber. There, team members conducted a test and evaluation program. In total, maintainers and contractor workers successfully erected and dismantled the shelter system three times.
To further demonstrate the shelter system's capabilities, 509th Bomb Wing maintenance crews at Whiteman successfully performed necessary LO maintenance on the B-2 while it was in the shelter. A survey reported they felt the shelter was completely effective.
On September 28, 2001 the Pentagon awarded a $12 million contract to build four specially designed shelters to protect the aircraft under the B-2 Extra Large Shelter Program. This contract includes four deployable, extra-large shelter systems, four sets of anchoring kits, 12 air-conditioners, four humidifiers, two extra-large shelter deployment kits, two environmental control system deployment kits, one humidifier deployment kit, two spares/tool kits and two erection towers. At this time, the total amount of funds has been obligated. This work will be completed 30 weeks after receipt of order.
As of early 2003, the Combat Support System Program Office at Eglin AFB, FL, managed the B2SS program, in cooperation with the B-2 System Program Office at Tinker AFB, OK, and the Directorate of Requirements at Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley AFB, VA.
One shelter would be erected at Fairford and four would go to Diego Garcia. Five more shelters are needed, because Andersen already has hangars the B-2 could use.
In mid-September 2002 it was announced that the United States had formerly asked the United Kingdom for permission to construct 4 shelters at Diego Garcia. The construction process would take 30 days per structure.
As of early December 2002, two of the shelters had been completed, located on a parking area. Twenty members of the 49th Materiel Maintenance Squadron from Holloman AFB, NM, spent more than 70 days constructing erecting the shelters, which were erected simultaneously. Two erection towers forming something similar to a tripod were used, with one person controlling both wenches, to place the shelters' trusses into place. The trusses are huge metal structures that span from one side to the other. Once in place, the truss would then be anchored down with cables, and each successive truss would be attached to the previous one. The shelter's covering is composed of huge sheets of fabric with eyelets through which rope is run through manually, using personnel working on top of the structure, and strapped in with harnesses and safety lines.
The two additional shelters could not be constructed until June 2003 as concrete foundations had to be poured.
As of early January 2005, four completed shelters were visible on one of the parking ramps of Diego Garcia.
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