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SAN DIEGO-Construction has begun on a $63.7 million weapons and armament tech center at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station that is a project of San Diego-based Barnhart Inc. for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. The 170,000-square-foot design/build project, with architecture and engineering services provided by KMA Architects, includes laboratories and supporting administration offices.

Designed to LEED Silver standards, the new tech center will feature a dividable 335-seat conference room, secure work areas and transient office workspaces. The exterior will feature seating areas connected by a pedestrian plaza to the existing base laboratory complex.

The tech center grounds will offer Navy exhibits, including an F-18A fighter jet, along with various Navy missiles developed at China Lake, plus parking for 700 vehicles. The China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station provides research, development, acquisition, testing and evaluation of weapons and armament for the Navy.

China Lake is the leading land range and weapons development laboratory for the Department of the Navy. The groundbreaking for the weapons and armament tech center follows the launch of construction late last year for a $7.1 million, 24,000-square-foot facility at China Lake that will include 10,000 square feet of engineering laboratories.

The China Lake facility is one of the most storied of such Naval facilities. It traces its history to the summer of 1943, when officials from the Navy and the California Institute of Technology flew a small plane over the Mojave Desert in search of a perfect remote location to establish a shooting range for testing Navy missiles. They ultimately chose the China Lake site for its location, which was deemed remote enough for the missile testing but close enough to be convenient to Pasadena-based CalTech.

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