Equipping Edwards Air Force Base

The past, present, and future of Rubb USA and partner company Cocoon’s mission to supply Edwards AFB with alternative, rapidly constructed solutions.

It all started with a deadline: Edwards Air Force Base was the designated site for a 10-year development program but didn’t have the necessary hangar facilities or the time for a traditional construction process.

In their search for an alternative approach, they found Rubb USA, a company with a reputation for building huge steel-framed, fabric-clad, clear-span aircraft hangars worldwide. Rubb connected the Edwards team with Cocoon, their partner for all things military. In turn, Cocoon tapped procurement specialists ADS. Edwards now had a company that could engineer and manufacture the buildings, a company that could manage the project, and a company that could oversee the contract vehicle and financing.

B-52 over the Mojave Desert, Air Force photo by Christian Turner.

Time to order

The initial contract was for two 220’ clear-span x 200’ long hangars to house B-52 bombers, both with fabric roofs but metal sidewalls for noise abatement. In addition, there were two 50’ x 100’ full-fabric storage buildings, and a 100’ x 70’ full-metal SAPF (Special Access Program Facilities) building divided into two spaces.

The challenge was interfacing with the Edwards AFB infrastructure, particularly the water supply which needed to provide a specific amount of pressure for the fire suppression system to work. The upside of those challenges was the high level of communication, collaboration, and coordination between the project team and the Edwards AFB team.

The initial project took 2.5 years to become operational, whereas the MILCON process typically takes 7-10 years. The time savings were crucial to Edwards Air Force Base being able to fulfil the requirements of the development program. In addition, the cost to install the necessary facilities was approximately 75% lower than what had been estimated for traditional construction.

What’s next?

The Rubb and Cocoon team has been engaged to take on three more projects, starting with a 196’ span by 144’ long hangar (pictured above), which will be a high-security SAPF. The structure itself has been completed and team member Adamo Security Group is now doing its work to make the building SAPF compliant, with expected completion in September of 2024.

The next project is a 245’ clear-span hangar which will begin in April/May of 2024, followed by a 40’ by 75’ special purpose building which, while small, is a complex project involving a stand-alone, high-capacity 15-ton crane, fire suppression, and HVAC.

The Rubb and Cocoon work at Edwards Air Force base is notable because of the range of buildings being provided—all fabric clad with Thermohall®, a combination of Thermohall® roof and insulated metal walls, and all insulated metal roofs and walls. In addition, the site is exposed to some of the highest seismic load requirements in the USA. As is the case with all Rubb and Cocoon projects, each building meets all applicable building codes.

Initial projects:

  • (2) 220’ clear-span x 200’ long hangars, with fabric roofs and metal sidewalls
  • (2) 50’ x 100’ full fabric storage buildings
  • (1) 100’ x 70’ full metal SAPF building, divided into two spaces
  • (1) 340’ x 83’ two-bay drone hangar

Current and upcoming projects:

  • (1) 196’ clear-span x 200’ long full metal SAPF hangar
  • (1) 245’ clear-span full fabric hangar
  • (1) 40’ x 75’ building, with a 15-ton stand-alone crane