FORT GREELY (AP) -- Workers at the new missile defense base here have installed a metal liner for the first of six missile silos dug more than 75 feet into the Interior soil.
Construction of the missile defense site is a round-the-clock operation as summer wanes. Still fringed by wildfire-blackened spruce, the 260-acre site that once served as a training area for Fort Greely is crisscrossed with access roads rumbling with heavy truck traffic.
On Thursday, work on the missile silos reached a milestone as the first corrugated metal liner was lowered into a concrete shaft just two months after ground was broken officially.
''They are right on schedule,'' said Tom York, an engineer with the Site Activation Command, part of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. York could hardly contain his excitement as the crane operator held the roughly 75-foot-long tube of 15-foot-diameter metal over one of the six silos dug into the earth.
''This is big-time, getting this liner in,'' York said. ''We've been drilling these holes for two months.''
Each of the silos will be lined with the metal tubes, and then sleeves into which missiles will be fitted. Five of the silos will contain missiles that will be used to test the cutting-edge defense system. The sixth silo is intended as a spare.
Outside the missile defense area, several Delta Junction workers from Central Welding were constructing more liners.
''That first one was a nightmare,'' Matt Finn said. ''The second one went together a lot better.''
The schedule calls for the Readiness & Control Center, the nerve center for the base, to be largely finished by summer's end, and for the silo sleeves to be installed.
''It's been a good summer all the way around,'' York said.
All construction is scheduled to be finished by Sept. 30, 2004.
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