The first of several F-16 Fighting Falcons arrived at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 15.
The F-16s from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, will 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 had to be renovated.
“When the main runway was originally built, it was only built to last so many years,” said Lt. Col. Scott Hoffman, the 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 by 2,000 feet, which was a requirement for the incoming F-16s.
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 Airfield.
“Bagram is at a higher elevation and the higher the altitude gets, the higher our landing speeds are,” said Lt. Col. John Marusa, the 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 heavier loads.
While transitioning between runways and between bases, the 457th FS maintained their assigned sorties.
“We were able to transition to the temporary runway and then back to the main runway without any impact to the (air tasking order),” Hoffman said.
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 (Air Expeditionary Wing) and our move up here,” Marusa said. “We’ve had a lot of support across the wing to make this as easy a transition as possible.”