Fortifying Israel’s Nevatim Air Force Base
The Nevatim Air Force base is located southeast of Be’er Sheva, the largest city in the Negev desert of Israel and one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the country. The base, built initially as a rough runway in 1947, has undergone several upgrades since then. Joint Israeli and U.S. funds revamped Nevatim in 1983 as a modern facility and the base has been continually improved since.
“This is the largest construction project ever awarded in Israel by the USACE under the Foreign Military Sales program,” said Kevin Connors, project manager. “The project was extremely high profile, with members of Congress regularly briefed on status given the pending delivery of U.S. military jets that were to be based at our project site.” The firm undertook the construction of hardened aircraft shelters, auxiliary facilities, and buildings for waste collection, administration and storage. The team also constructed a reinforced concrete utilities tunnel for communications, electricity, water and sewer, compressed air and aviation fuel.
This was an exceptionally challenging project given the multiple events that impacted our team, including the pandemic and in-country conflicts… It was an incredibly fluid environment, and yet, we kept working and delivered an outstanding project.
CDM Smith’s construction team received the go-ahead to start project work as the COVID-19 pandemic surged globally. “Our team never stopped working even with the incredible uncertainties of the COVID pandemic weighing on us. We had over 150 workers on our project site, all laboring to move the project forward,” said Connors. He recalls contact tracing efforts in the early stages of the pandemic before it was commonplace. “There was so much uncertainty, with decisions being made on the spot on how to keep things moving while not really knowing how serious the pandemic was and what health effects COVID-19 really presented. It was an incredibly fluid environment, and yet, we kept working and delivered an outstanding project,” he said.
The team rose to the challenge by creating a plan that included training for safety protocol, illness reporting and social distancing. Preventative measures included socially distant meetings outdoors and routinely disinfecting common tools and areas. By staying vigilant, construction proceeded through the pandemic without delays. “With the wars, COVID-19 pandemic, and global supply chain issues, we were under incredible pressure to finish the project, with almost daily surprises impacting us on site,” Connors said.
Through their resiliency and dedicated work ethic, the team delivered the structures successfully. The team constructed eight 500 m2 hardened aircraft shelter buildings of reinforced concrete with two, concrete-filled steel sliding gates on each side of the shelter. Each door weighs approximately 90 tons. The other supporting buildings range from 50 m2 to 5,600 m2 equipped with Building Management Systems, including a human-machine interface. Delivered in just over two years, this design-bid-build project also incorporated the construction of roads and taxiways. CDM Smith completed all construction, commissioning, training, and delivery of as-built drawings, O&M manuals and a warranty plan. The team submitted preconstruction documents to USACE detailing quality control, mobilization plans, environmental plans, and more and stayed in compliance with Israeli Air Force construction requirements. The team met site-specific requirements by translating documents into English or Hebrew, managing site access on the active military base, and keeping in compliance with the most current health and safety requirements.
“This was an exceptionally challenging project given the multiple events that affected our team, including the pandemic and in-country conflicts. These challenges tested our resolve and pushed our team to the limit,” said Connors. “In the end, the satisfaction of completing this complex project, with no major safety incidents and with high quality, made all our sacrifices worth the effort. I am exceptionally proud of everyone who worked on this project."