LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The day a pilot takes to the skies for the first time is a milestone like no other. Abuzz with excitement and numerous things to remember, one aspect of Laughlin’s flightline may be taken for granted – airfield lighting.
Laughlin is currently modernizing the airfield lighting system. While Laughlin’s current airfield lighting systems are effective, this new project will better ensure the flightline is safe, well-lit, and effective for training the next generation of airpower, future proofing the system for years to come with current electronics and safety equipment.
"The project is to replace the old constant-current regulators because they are over 50 years old,” said Caroline Easley, 47th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical engineer. “So, at this point, if anything breaks on them, we have to go online to find parts and order them since they are no longer manufactured.”
This endeavor is critical because constant-current regulators ensure a steady voltage through all operational conditions and are an essential part of the lighting system that enable Laughlin’s pilot training mission.
"Current regulators aren't the actual lights; instead, they are what controls the lights," said Easley. "It's part of one singular building that keeps the current constant, so the entirety of the lights stays on."
Right now, it takes Laughlin's airfield a total of 17 current regulators to fully function and control all lights to ensure complete airfield coverage and ensure that the mission can proceed with efficiency and safety.
This project is funded through a Texas grant. It is an infrastructure grant program designed to assist defense communities that have been positively or negatively impacted by a change or announced change by the Department of Defense.
"The total project scope requested for the Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant (DEEAG) award of $2.5 million focuses on the modernization of all outdated electrical systems and the repair or replacement of current facility HVAC infrastructure," said Carlos Velarde, Val Verde County engineer.
Laughlin isn't in this alone, thanks to the cooperation between Laughlin and the local County, the project is slated to be complete later this year. With the completion of the modernization, the safety of the flightline will be improved ensuring that lights will stay on during critical moments and that the maintenance of the system can continue. This project will enable Laughlin’s mission to continue, allowing Team XL to safely train the world's greatest aviators.