XB-1 Program Developments

Boom Supersonic completed the inaugural flight of XB-1, the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet, at Mojave Air & Space Port. The flight occurred in the “same hallowed airspace where the Bell X-1 first broke the sound barrier in 1947,” according to the company’s founder and CEO, Blake Scholl. The flight testing will aid the development of Overture, a supersonic jet designed to transport passengers up to 1,300 mph at an altitude of 60,000 feet. For more information about today’s milestone achievement


Navy renews plan for energy project on NAS Lemoore farmland | Around Kings County

It’s back and it could be big. The US Navy has dusted off plans that have been shelved for the past 10 years, offering to lease 11,000 acres of farmland surrounding the NAS Lemoore base for energy production.

In a release made public Feb. 12, the Navy says it is taking this first step in the process by issuing a “Request for Interest” (RFI) seeking information from interested parties on a potential long-term lease for commercial development and operation of critical energy resiliency infrastructure and/or water utility options on 11,000 +/- acres of underutilized, non-excess agriculture land.”

The Navy says they want to look at energy and/or water development opportunities that “will help mitigate threats posed by wildfires and other natural disasters, climate change, water supply shortages, bird air strikes, an unreliable electric grid, as well as cyber and kinetic attacks.”

What is the goal? Like all US military bases, the Navy wants to improve “Energy Security solutions that mitigate the effects of supply disruptions on mission essential functions.”

What’s the worry? Grid blackout caused by a slew of dangers from cyber attacks, strong storms, extreme heat or wildfire that can shut down power that the base depends on. Worries also surround water disruptions brought on by extreme weather — both drought and floods that could pose an actual national security issue that would be out of the military’s control.

The Navy says they do not want to pay a developer for power generated or water improvements but if a project is built, they want to receive “an uninterrupted supply of energy and water necessary” as a (IKC) in-kind-consideration — to carry on with base operations despite any crisis. The developer could offer the power for sale on the market as the incentive to make what will be a major investment.

If the base is potentially vulnerable, it also offers an opportunity to develop both on-base power and water improvements. The notice points out that the base is near critical California electric grid infrastructure and offers geographical features, flat land with sufficient sun and wind, that could support additional energy infrastructure and/or water utility development.

Industry Day Feb. 29

The government will be offering an Industry Day on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024 that will provide all interested entities an opportunity to participate in a site tour to view and walk portions of the proposed leased premises.

“NAS Lemoore is host to approximately 20,000 acres of federally-owned rural agricultural land. The secure operational and administrative areas are surrounded by 11,000 acres of prolific agriculture lands with more than 10,000 acres out-leased for agricultural production. The active cultivation of these farming operations have been critical in reducing bird air strikes, as the periodic discing and turning of soil reduces the bird population by frustrating the ground prey base. However, the farming operations are water intensive.”

Therefore, the notice says ”any development ideas in response to this RFI must support the installation’s mission activities and positively contribute to the energy and water goals.”

This is not the first time the US Navy has considered a solar project on their ag land here. A solar energy project at Naval Air Station Lemoore that was “first announced in 2015 is still moving forward,” according to NAVFAC Southwest Energy, it was reported last year. At that time the Navy was working with an Arizona utility affiliate to build a project. Now they have apparently opened the bidding to other developers.

Our past reporting noted “The idea is to ensure the base can operate even if faced with loss of power from the grid. Emergencies like wildfires in California have put portions of the state at risk of going dark with PG&E impacted.”

Notice that this time the Navy has added water resiliency as well as power projects. The base is surrounded by Westland Water District who just announced an expansion of solar projects on their land. They explain that California has set its sights on 100% clean energy. “By 2045, and the Central Valley will play a vital role in getting there. The same Mediterranean climate that make Westlands an ideal farming location, make it well-suited for solar. As water supplies have become more unreliable, farmers have turned to solar development as an alternative use for the land.”

The Navy request offers the possibility to use up to 11,000 acres – what could be a huge solar farm next to the base, possibly one of the largest in the US. Consider that nearby the Westland Solar Park that includes 12 large solar array facilities will, when built out, sprawl over 20,000 acres producing 2700 MW of power.

The Kings County Assessor says the value of big solar projects in the county as of June 2023 was $142.5 million. Even though this potential project would be on federal lands, the lease of the acreage would be taxed.


US Cold Storage in Tulare plans $76 mil expansion after food package deal

United States Cold Storage Inc. expects to complete an 8.56- million-cubic-foot refrigerated addition at its Tulare North warehouse in Tulare come February 2025.

This $75.7 million expansion will include some of the industry’s latest storage and retrieval automation and bring the operation’s total space to more than 24.7 million cubic feet, the largest single footprint in the company’s network.

“I am thrilled for our fifth strategic expansion in Tulare,” said Rod Noll, USCS senior vice president for the Western Region. “This expansion reflects the continued growth of some of our major customers who are broadening their manufacturing capabilities. Specifically, we have a consumer-packaged goods customer relocating its business to northern California and to this facility.

“Meanwhile, we also look forward to contributing to the local Tulare business community and creating additional job opportunities.”

Tulare City Manager Marc Mondell added praise. “US Cold Storage has been a fantastic local employer and partner for over 20 years,” he said.  We are thrilled that they are making another large investment into their Tulare facility and look forward to many more years of successful collaboration.”

US Cold Storage plans to break ground for the attached expansion this month, which will ultimately include two new refrigerated rooms capable of storage down to -20F degrees. Officials expect by this November to complete a conventional storage space spanning 3.08 million cubic feet. A second, 5.48 million-cubic- foot room is scheduled to open in February 2025. That space will feature very narrow aisle storage serviced by a warehouse guidance system and semi-automated, turret-style storage and retrieval forklifts.

Upon completion, Tulare North will have approximately 98,500 available pallet positions. The addition also includes 23 more shipping and receiving doors for the operation’s dock, which will boast 73 doors after completion.

“Tulare North is one of our largest facilities in the West Region,” Noll added. “Being a multi-dimensional facility, it can handle a large range of storage temperature requirements. Offering the flexibility of food grade ambient, refrigerated, frozen, and ice cream storage temps allows us to customize our services for many types of customers and many stages of production.”

USCS first built its Tulare North operation in 2002 as a 3.4 million-cubic-foot dry warehouse. Tulare North also offers import and export services, rail handling and product re-pack services. It also is certified according to the BRCGS Food Safety Global Standard. USCS also services the area from a second Tulare operation, a 7.3 million-cubic-foot Tulare South facility, which also offers ambient and refrigerated storage. USCS’s cold storage and logistics network spans 40 sites from coast to coast, including nine California locations from Sacramento and south to Bakersfield.  The company is a subsidiary of the U.K.’s John Swire & Sons Ltd.


Stockton Metro Airport Lands $26M For Upgrades

Stockton Metro Airport — just over 3 miles from Manteca’s northern most city limits — is undergoing $26 million in upgrades. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors approved $26.2 million Tuesday to fund what county leaders called “transformative improvements” at the airport. The funds will support revitalization of key facilities, increase capacity for commercial airline service and attain future economic development goals.

Allegiant Airlines currently non-stop flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix. It is also a key airport in Amazon’s Prime network with a number of flights daily delivering cargo that is headed for one of 11 distribution facilities they operate in the region including in Stockton, Manteca, Tracy, Patterson, and Turlock. Amazon has more than 13,000 people working at its nearby fulfillment centers. The airport’s role in San Joaquin County’s future is two-fold. There are 1.2 million residents in San Joaquín and Stanislaus counties alone that could access airline service.

It also playing a role in snagging business park tenants due to its ability to serve both cargo and corporate travel. Stockton has business park projects — or are zoned for such use — on three sides of the airport. Manteca’ business park expansion in the northwest corner of the city is just three miles from the airport. In addition. Manteca’s the general plan calls for the development of hundreds of more acres north of Roth Road that would be even closer to the airport. Given Manteca’s proximity to the airport — downtown Manteca is 8.3 miles away while downtown Stockton is 6.8 miles away — what occurs there can have a big impact on the Family City.

“This funding is a huge step to help attract prospective airline carriers and cargo operators to our region and contribute to jobs, economic development, and overall quality of life,” said San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors Chair, Miguel Villapudua.

“We foresee a time in the near future where we are transporting thousands of passengers each day on multiple airlines to destinations across the U.S. SCK already serves a market of over 1.2 million residents from San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties alone.  The addition of an updated terminal with a competitive scheduled airline service would greatly enhance the economic vitality of the County and Central Valley.”

The funding will be used for the following infrastructure projects:

*$8 million in terminal investments. Construct a new five gate, at-grade hold room designed to comfortably accommodate 400 peak hour passengers. Remodel parts of the existing baggage claim, Transportation Security Administration security area and ticket counter portions of the existing terminal. Add new baggage conveyors, provide space for rent-a-car counters and update restrooms.

*$7 million for west ramp restoration/redesign. Restore and redesign the west ramp to accommodate new hangar construction.

*$5.8 million in new hangars/awnings. Construct new aircraft storage hangars (38 units), aircraft sunshade awnings (10 units). Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) awning, and replacement commercial hangar.

*$4.5 million in commercial hangar acquisition. Acquire an existing commercial hangar to update and repurpose portions, or all, of the building and its site.

*$600,000: to construct a pilot center and self-serve fueling facility.

*$325,000 for an AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER STUDY. Complete a siting study for a new FAA-operated/County-owned air traffic control tower.

“These improvements are much needed and a long time coming,” said SCK’s Airport Director, Richard Sokol.

“SCK’s current air carrier terminal building is more than 60 years old. Over the years, some basic mechanical systems of the building have been repaired, but the layout and functionality of the building has gone essentially unchanged. In addition, aircraft size and passenger load has increased, and the way airlines use airport facilities has substantially changed since the 1960s. The existing building must be updated to successfully meet the needs of air carriers who wish to grow the airline market at SCK.”

Sokol noted that the building was originally designed for airplanes seating 50 passengers, while today’s operators feature aircraft seating 138 passengers or more.

He also said the existing passenger hold room was added in 2011, but its size cannot support concurrent operations of multiple aircraft used by today’s airlines.

In addition, security rules and procedures did not exist in 1965 and the way outbound bags are processed has also changed dramatically.