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Runway repair reduces FOD at Balad

by Staff Sgt. Paul J. Gonzalez
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

5/22/2006 - BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- The Air Force, along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and civilian contractors, is repairing a section of runway here that is showing signs of decay.

The runway was not designed to accommodate heavy aircraft such as the C-5 Galaxy and the C-17 Globemaster III. The aircraft have taken a toll on the previously patched runway damaged during the first stages of the war, said Maj. Matthew Jefson, U.S. Central Command Air Forces construction management office project manager.

“What we have done is come in and remove the entire pavement,” Major Jefson said. “We have gone all the way down and even removed some of the sub-grade, putting in a new surface for a runway that will be twice as thick as the old one.”

Transforming this former Iraqi fighter base into a major hub for all types of military and civilian aircraft has posed many challenges particularly when it came to foreign object debris, or FOD.

“FOD issues were terrible,” Major Jefson said. “There were four major bomb craters on the runway that were repaired expediently by engineering units so the runway could be operational. This project is a full in-depth repair.”

Replacing a section of runway, as well as constructing new helicopter pads and cargo staging areas, has decreased FOD substantially.

“Previously, the runway had to shutdown for four hours a day so maintenance crews could repair the joints coming up and causing FOD," Major Jefson said. 

Currently, crews are replacing about 3,500 feet of runway. 

“The engineers have to lay almost three times the amount of concrete to accommodate the larger aircraft,” Major Jefson said. When completed, this section will add up to 66,000 cubic meters of concrete, enough to lay a road 25 to 30 miles long.

The project is scheduled to be completed in August. Until then, everyone involved with the runway will continue fighting FOD using 24-hour street sweepers and constant vigilance. 

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