Sunday, April 14, 2024

N.C. budget slates $350M for Navy project at Global Transpark

There’s $350 million in the N.C. Senate budget version for Navy hanger facilities at the Global TransPark in Kinston.

The Navy would use this property as an extension of Fleet Readiness Center East, the massive aviation maintenance and repair depot at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock.

FRC East would get the maintenance and repair work on Navy and Marine C-130s, large transport planes, that are being worked on elsewhere. The Navy would pay to lease these TransPark facilities, at least $15 million a year, and that is how the state outlay would be paid back over time.

If approved, the new hangers would be a big win for the TransPark, a state operation that was created 30 years ago to promote economic development in eastern North Carolina. It would further cement the relationship between 4,000-employee FRC East, the largest industrial employer east of Interstate 95, and the TransPark.

Two years ago, FRC East moved its UH-1 “Huey” maintenance operation to the TransPark. It has worked out well.

The allocation, which hasn’t been previously publicly disclosed, is among hundreds of projects funded in the state budget, which starts July 1. State GOP lawmakers are months overdue in passing the multibillion dollar budget because of disputes among House and Senate leaders. The Global Transpark project is not viewed as controversial.

The project was discussed at last week’s Global TransPark Authority board meeting. HDR is working with FRC East on preliminary designs for the C-130 facilities with the cargo planes likely to be begin arriving in three years. Some paperwork and sign-offs are pending, provided the state funding is approved.

Business North Carolina wrote about about FRC East last year. The military’s aviation depots around the country often have space challenges, especially with all the F-35 jets and other platforms coming into service.

The TransPark, an hour’s drive from Cherry Point, could fit well with FRC East. GTP, which was once Kinston’s airport, has an 11,500-foot runway, 2,500 acres and a growing aviation and aeronautics presence, with Wichita, Kansas-based Spirit AeroSystems and Kinston-based charter jet company flyExclusive.

Lenoir Community College is building a $25 million Aviation Center of Excellence at the transpark, and Draken International, which flies training exercises against pilots at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and MCAS Cherry Point, is also there.

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