Story and Photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Kapinos
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Despite inclement weather and the possibility of snowfall, a new runway was opened and celebrated by Air Force and Army personnel, civilian contractors, and Afghan officials Dec. 20.
The $68 million project was executed by Contrak International from Cairo, Egypt with an Afghan workforce supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers and Air Force personnel.
"Bagram Airfield has been here in this valley for decades," said Brig. Gen. Christopher Miller,
An A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing lifts off the new runway opened Dec. 20 at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. The new runway is 2,000 feet longer than the previous runway and can support all of the aircraft in the U.S. inventory
455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. "Afghan irmen have flown from this field in years past and I look forward to the day when it again can be a purely Afghan Airfield, serving whatever roles the people of Afghanistan choose,"
"This is a vital runway and an essential part of Afghanistan's future," he added.
The runway project began in 2004, when it became evident that the older Russian-built runway was not able to support the continuous operations in and out of the airfield. The runway was being subjected to use beyond its capability. On average, the airfield saw a landing or take-off once every four minutes.
"The old runway could serve for years to come, but it needs daily repair by our Airmen to keep it in active service," said General Miller.
Utilizing a work force of Afghan nationals upwards of 400 working each and every day, Contrack International worked closely with their military partners to build a runway and aircraft ramp capable of handling most aircraft in the military inventory.
The new runway is 2000 feet longer than the older and is 11 inches thicker, which gives it the ability to handle larger aircraft if necessary, such as the C-5 Galaxy or the Boeing 747.
"This runway is designed to accept the majority of aircraft in the military inventory and mainly in place to accept 'medium load' aircraft; however, it can accept the larger aircraft, but it will wear out faster if heavy airplanes use it on a regular basis," said Lt. Col. Eric Mulkey, CENTAF Construction Management Officer.
Speaking to the large crowd, General Miller emphasized the importance of the airfield in the continuing effort to secure a modern infrastructure for the country.
"This is a milestone in Bagram Airfield's ability to support the battle for a strong and stable Afghanistan. This is a concrete and lasting expression of America's commitment to the future of the Afghan people," said General Miller.