KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Construction kicked off Monday for a new hangar at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base -- the largest project in the base's history.

Tennessee Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Holmes and several local and state civic leaders joined the 134th Air Refueling Wing in kicking off the hangar's construction on Sept. 23 at 11 a.m. 

Congressman Tim Burchett, R-Tenn.,  attended the ceremony. 

In a statement from the 134th Air Refueling Wing, officials said the project will employ more than 300 East Tennessee workers during the construction process. The project is expected to be completed by fall 2021. 

134th Air Refueling Wing Commander Col. Lee Hartley said the hangar will be "a tremendous development" for the wing and the Tennessee National Guard. 

“This project ensures our Airmen can continue to provide vital air mobility and air refueling capabilities in support of the nation and the state of Tennessee for years to come," Hartley said. 

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When complete, the 57,400 square-foot hangar will support aircraft maintenance and corrosion control for the KC-135 Stratotankers currently flying out of McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base. Officials said the base will also be able to support the U.S. Air Force’s new in-flight refueling aircraft, the KC-46 Pegasus. 

Contractors will break ground on the west end of the base and begin construction of a 28,000 square-foot hangar bay, a 4,600 square-foot corrosion control section, a 5,400 square-foot avionics shop and 19,400 square-foot section for maintenance and general-purpose shops. 

Lt. Col. David Barrett, a 134th Air Refueling Wing deputy base civil engineer, said the hangar is one of the National Guard's top current military construction projects. He said the new hangar is a big development for the local base. 

“The new hangar represents the largest project in base history and will serve as the cornerstone to modernize aircraft maintenance operations to support the flying mission for many years to come. We are excited to break ground and get started," Barrett said.

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Unit administrators said the base was chosen for a new hangar after being nationally recognized several times in the past few years. The 134th Air Refueling Wing was named the top KC-135 unit in the Air National Guard by the Airlift/Tanker Association, recognized by U.S. Strategic Command and was recently presented with the unit’s 14th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.