December 18, 2013 (by SrA Kayla Newman) - The first of several F-16 Fighting Falcons arrived at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Dec. 15, 2013.
The first F-16C block 30 #85-1412 from 457 FS arrives at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on December 15, 2013. The F-16s transitioned from Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Bagram once the main runway was renovated. [USAF photo by SrA Kayla Newman]
The F-16s, coming from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, come into Bagram continuing to provide close-air support and armed over watch for the Service members on the ground. Before the F-16s could land however, the main runway on Bagram had to be renovated.
“When the main runway was originally built, it was only built to last so many years,” explained U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Hoffman, 455th Operations Support Squadron commander. “The runway was reaching the end of its service life, so we had to take apart approximately 90 feet of the asphalt and re-lay it to extend the service life of the runway.”
The project took 121 days to complete, in which the airfield at Bagram still accomplished 92,000 operations using the temporary runway.
Bagram also expanded its runway 2,000 feet, which was a requirement for the incoming F-16 Fighting Falcons.
According to Hoffman, the F-16s take-off and landing distance for the loads they carry are much greater than any other aircraft at Bagram.
“Bagram is at a higher elevation and the higher the altitude gets, the higher our landing speeds are,” explained Lt. Col. John Marusa, 457th Fighter Squadron commander. “We use a lot more runway than usual.”
The length of the renovated runway not only allows fighter aircraft to carry more ammunition, but also allows cargo aircraft to carry more loads.
While transitioning between runways and between bases, the 457th FS
maintained their air tasking orders.
“We were able to transition to the temporary runway and then back to the main runway without any impact to the ATO,” said Hoffman.
Bagram’s airstrip is currently functioning at 99 percent capacity and is also the busiest airfield in the Department of Defense for single runway operations.
"I’ve been impressed with the 455th and our move up here,” said Marusa. “We’ve had a lot of support across the wing to make this as easy a transition as possible."