CAMP LEATHERNECK, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Third Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) is currently completing the final phases of an extensive three-year flightline project aboard Camp Bastion, which will allow the flightline to traffic larger aircraft, such as the C-5 Galaxy, Boeing 737 and Antonov AN-124 Condor on its 11,500-foot runway.
The new runway parallels the previous 7,000-foot runway, which will remain as a functioning part of the flightline.
“We were unable to simply expand the old runway without shutting it down, which was not an option,” said Maj. Michael Helt, the 3rd MAW (Fwd) engineering officer. “By running the new flightline parallel to the old one, we are able to utilize the old flightline as an aircraft taxiway.”
The flightline was a joint effort between Marines, sailors, airmen and local contractors. The execution has taken more than three years, and although the flightline is not entirely complete, it is now being utilized by Marine aircraft aboard Camp Bastion.
The need for this runway was recognized as coalition operations and service members operating out of Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion began to increase. This new asset will allow troops and supplies to flow through the camps more quickly and efficiently.
According to Helt, the ability to receive air traffic from larger aircraft will also assist in reducing the amount of civilian and military convoys traveling to and from Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion, which will reduce the threat of roadside improvised explosive devices.
“The new airfield demonstrates, yet again, the adaptability and flexibility of 3rd MAW (Fwd),” said BGen Andrew W. O’Donnell. the commanding general of 3rd MAW (Fwd). “Not only can we frag, fly and fix aircraft, we can move, build and sustain airfield operations and simultaneously support the Marine Air Ground Task Force during kinetic operations.”
The new runway is slated to be flight checked and certified on Feb. 5, but will continue to receive improvements into 2012.
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