$153M NASIC expansion critical to nation’s defense, leaders say

Artist rendering of the new National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The Air Force Civil Engineer Center awarded a $153 million contract Aug. 18, 2020, to expand the NASIC with a new intelligence production facility. (Courtesy photo)
Artist rendering of the new National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The Air Force Civil Engineer Center awarded a $153 million contract Aug. 18, 2020, to expand the NASIC with a new intelligence production facility. (Courtesy photo)

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base officials on Thursday broke ground on a $153 million complex they say will play an integral part in the nation’s defense.

The 255,000-square-foott, five-story Intelligence Production Complex will be an expansion of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, a 650,000-square-foot facility. Construction is expected to begin later this month, it’s scheduled to be completed in early 2025.

ExploreNASIC expansion at Wright-Patt grows Ohio’s work in space

The groundbreaking marks another milestone in the history of NASIC’s expansion from its humble beginnings at McCook Field in downtown Dayton in 1917 to the numerous additions that are currently standing, said Col. Maurizio “Mo” Calabrese, NASIC’s commander.

“Our newest facility will continue to accelerate us into the future with added seat capacity, advanced laboratory capabilities and give us that ability to produce the nation’s finest foundational scientific and technical intelligence available for our policymakers, our warfighters and our acquisition professionals,” he said.

Colonel Maurizio Calabrese, Commander at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was one of the guest speakers Thursday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Nation Air and Space Intelligence Center's (NASIC) Intelligence Production Complex lll military construction project. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Colonel Maurizio Calabrese, Commander at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was one of the guest speakers Thursday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Nation Air and Space Intelligence Center's (NASIC) Intelligence Production Complex lll military construction project. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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Several dignitaries, including U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, state Rep. Rick Perales, were on hand for the ceremony.

The expansionis needed because the current facility makes it difficult to collaborate, and working in close concert with each other is how they advance intelligence, Calabrese said. The new facility will solve that problem.

Military and civilian dignitaries break ground for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center's (NASIC) Intellingence Production Complex lll military construction project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Thursday afternoon. Construction for the 150 $3 million complex is expected to begin later this month and will be completed in early to 2025. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF
Military and civilian dignitaries break ground for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center's (NASIC) Intellingence Production Complex lll military construction project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Thursday afternoon. Construction for the 150 $3 million complex is expected to begin later this month and will be completed in early to 2025. MARSHALL GORBY\STAFF

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The complex will have more than 100 conference rooms, 3-D visualization and state of the art laboratories.

“We are going to be able to accelerate the intelligence we produce, and that’s just going to make us that much better as a nation, as we compete with our potential future adversaries,” Calabrese said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently awarded Cincinnati-based Messer Construction a $126 million contract for construction. The company has been working with Wright-Patt since 1939, said Kevin Cozart, Messer’s senior vice president.

Portman, Turner, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and others worked to secure the funding in Congress for the complex.

The project is great for the community and the country, because the work being done at NASIC is “absolutely essential to the safety and security of every single one of us," Portman said.

“You think about the increasing threats we are encountering as a country, from the air, from space," he said. “Folks who are going to help the leaders of our country be able to defend all of us and all of our communities are going to be right here.”

ExploreMesser wins largest Wright-Patt construction contract The National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. FILE

Turner expressed similar sentiments, saying the project was made possible because military and civilian employees at NASIC are diligent in terms of national security.

“Their reputation of excellence are what caused the Department of Defense and Congress to look to this site to invest dollars to make sure that they have the latest tools and the best equipment, and the best facilities to be able to continue their work,” he said.

Wright-Patt is vying to be the permanent headquarters of the military’s Space Command. About a dozen or so Space Force personnel are currently working under Calabrese at NASIC. More may come to the area once the new building is complete, officials said. So whether or not Wright-Patt gets the headquarters, the new complex will be helpful to the entire program, Portman said.

Adding the Intelligence Production Complex is necessary because space is a warfighting demand, and it’s the next frontier, Calabrese said. The United States wanted to keep space peaceful. However, when the country’s global competitors started do things that weren’t peaceful, America had to respond, he said.

Most people’s daily lives, including getting money from an ATM, depend on space so much that the average American doesn’t realize it, he said.

“Is it the next frontier? I think for warfighting in terms of tactics, techniques and procedures and capabilities, yes,” Calabrese said. “But at NASIC, it’s already here today. It’s not next for us, it’s been part of our DNA since the ’50s.”

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