With the completion of the new runway and air traffic control tower at Camp Bastion in Helmand it is now capable of receiving the largest aircraft.
In the recent post on the future of tactical transport I covered the runway extension at Bastion/Leatherneck
The runway at Bastion has been continually improved, quoting from my favourite magazine,concrete monthly;
A small team of British Army Royal Engineers is getting close to the end of an ambitious 10-month project to build a second runway at the Task Force Helmand Task Force’s logistics hub, Camp Bastion, in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.
The new 7,710-foot-long runway, due to be completed in December, will enable the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) C-17A Globemaster aircraft to fly direct to Camp Bastion from the United Kingdom, greatly increasing the speed of the onward distribution of freight and supplies throughout the province. The C-17A Globemaster is the latest addition to the RAF’s fleet of transport aircraft and is capable of rapid, strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main or forward operating bases anywhere in the world.
The new runway will replace the temporary gravel landing zone constructed by the 39th Engineer Regiment in March this year. Currently C-17A aircraft can only land at Kandahar Airfield because of the gravel runway at Camp Bastion, so Hercules C-130 aircraft are used to ferry freight between Kandahar to Camp Bastion. The Hercules C-130 aircraft will also benefit from the new runway as they will be able to carry more weight on landing – be it troops or supplies.
October 2007 Issue
From 2008 Operation MERGE was initiated to improve the facilities again, in order to support the USMC deployment to Helmand, notably the Camp Leatherneck 1, 2 and 3 phases. As part of this operation and in order to operate the largest of aircraft like the AN-124 , C5 Galaxy and commercial aircraft like 747’s the runway at Bastion has been supplemented with a new build. This new 11,500ft runway will run parallel to the one mentioned above, which will now operate as a taxiway. When completed the new runway may also enable direct flights usingTristar’s rather than them flying into Kandahar, 25 odd times per month.
Now the second runway or flightline is fully operational no time has been wasted in getting the larger aircraft in, in fact, the largest aircraft in the world.
From the RAF operational update for March 6th
With both the new runway and ATC Tower now complete, Camp Bastion has been able to host a variety of interesting visitors. On 4 Mar 11, Bastion received its first visit from an Antonov An-124 cargo aircraft and on 7 Mar 11, the larger Antonov AN-225 flew into theatre. Whilst the ‘smaller’ version can carry a payload of up to 150 Tonnes, this is dwarfed by its 6-engine bigger sister. The only one in the world of this model, the AN-225 has a wingspan of 88m (290ft) and carry up to 250 Tonnes of freight.
Perhaps the best quote is from Captain Jeff Steele, the director of safety and standardization for US Marine Aerial Refueler Transport squadrons deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan
What they’ve built here is a commercial class airport, without the terminal