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AFCEC runway construction at Little Rock AFB near final phase

  • Published
  • By Mila Cisneros
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – After over two years of construction, the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center successfully completed a vital milestone of the extension of Little Rock Air Force Base’s mission-critical runway in Arkansas recently. 

The significant project milestone, spearheaded by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, is part of a four-phased effort to fully replace the aging runway, built in 1955.
The achievement, referred to as “Phase 3A,” modernized the middle west end of the runway, adding 3,000 feet of new pavement to extend the operational section to 8,000 feet and re-opening Taxiway B. 


“Mission-ready airfields are essential to the lethality and readiness of our Air and Space Forces,” said Col. George Nichols, deputy director at AFCEC’s Facility Engineering Directorate. “The airfield is Little Rock’s most important mission asset, and many thanks to our teams of engineering experts, we’re delivering resilient infrastructure the installation needs for its mission assurance.”

The AFCEC directorate is the Air Force’s design and construction entity charged with delivering military construction programs that support Department of Defense priorities. 

AFCEC is executing the $180 million construction effort, providing design and planning, and ensuring the project stays on time and within budget alongside contracting partners in the Air Force Installation Contracting Center’s 772nd Enterprising Sourcing Squadron.   

The recent phase 3A milestone supports the training mission at Little Rock AFB and significantly bolsters the installation’s flying mission by providing more flexibility for mission commanders, enabling more efficient and safe daily flight operations. 

The Arkansas base is home to the 19th Airlift Wing and serves as the center of the C-130 enterprise. It hosts the world’s largest C-130 training mission, providing agile combat airlift worldwide and training pilots and aircrew for all Department of Defense branches. 

Additionally, the installation supports a variety of other missions and accommodates aircraft within Air Mobility Command’s fleet including the C-5 Galaxy, KC-10 Extender, C-17 Globemaster III and KC-135 Stratotanker. 

The AFCEC-led effort is one of the most extensive infrastructure repairs at the Arkansas base since its first opening. 

“Over the years, certain sections of the runway were fixed and patched multiple times to ensure the airfield remains operational. However, the runway required a complete replacement,” said Monica Escobar, AFCEC’s project manager. 

Modernization of Little Rock’s airfield began in May 2020 when AFCEC, in collaboration with the installation’s 19th Civil Engineer Squadron, AFICC and AFIMSC’s Detachment 9, awarded the contract for the long-awaited upgrades. 

Since then, much of the work is completed to include a new 4,000-foot assault landing zone, 10,000-foot construction on primary runway 07/25 and replacement of seven connecting taxiways.  

After six years of closure, the reopening of the ALZ was a major addition to the installation’s training capabilities, as the landing assault space helps pilots train for landings in austere locations with unfinished or shorter runways.

Work is currently underway to complete “Phase 3B” which involves finishing the remaining 2,000-foot of concrete paving on the main runway, 1,000-foot of asphalt paving on the overrun, rebuilding Taxiway A, in addition to extensive airfield electrical light fixture replacements and upgrades to navigational aids.

Weather conditions have caused major challenges for the project, Escobar said, but thanks to teamwork and effective planning early in the construction, the AFCEC team identified a path to merge projects into phase three, keeping delivery on time and within budget. The plan allowed contractors to work both the ALZ and west runway at the same time. It also included phases 3A and 3B at the same time vice sequentially.

AFCEC plans to wrap up the west runway section by July before transitioning to the final construction phase in the fall. 
Once all phases of construction are complete, the runway will be 12,000 feet long and 150 feet wide.