New support facility and Blackhawk helicopters unveiled at Kentucky National Guard

10/14/2015 03:47 PM

FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear and Adjutant Gen. Edward Tonini cut the ribbon on a state-of-the-art Kentucky National Guard Army Aviation facility in Frankfort on Wednesday.

The 126,000-square-foot facility, which comes at a $25 million price tag, provides an enclosure for a new fleet of UH-60 Blackhawk and LUH-72 helicopters. In total, the Kentucky Guard has 10 new Blackhawk helicopters and three more making their way to the Guard in coming years.

The helicopters replace an aging fleet which had 15,000 to 20,000 flight hours — or an equivalent 200,000 to 250,000 automobile miles, Tonini said on Wednesday.

Crews broke ground on the new facility in 2013, but Beshear told Pure Politics he’s had his eye on this project since the beginning of his first term in office.

“Wow. Look at what happened eight years later — this is a beautiful facility,” Beshear said. “Also it’s essential to support our National Guard for natural disasters. I mean, they have saved lives of Kentuckians in every natural disaster, but also when they have been called to serve overseas in the Middle East.”

“I’ve said when Superman is not available I call on the Kentucky National Guard because they get the job done,” Beshear added.

The helicopters will also be used in a joint operations effort to eradicate drugs from across the state, Beshear said.

“These helicopters are going to be combined with our state police efforts, and we’re going to make sure we really crack down on illegal drug production in the commonwealth,” he said.

The new facility for the helicopters earned a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification and has thermal heat pumps and other high-tech, cost-saving environmentally friendly capacities.

Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, called it a 21st century building, with Franklin County Judge-Executive Huston Wells adding that the facility is a forward-thinking endeavor.

Beshear and Tonini also cut a ribbon in Louisville at the Bowman Field Readiness Center to reveal a $4 million renovation of the Butler Reserve Center, which was acquired in 2013.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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