Herk Nation runway ready for take-off

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dana J. Cable
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

After nearly three years of construction, Herk Nation, along with congressional staffers and local civic leaders, gathered to officially celebrate the completion of the Little Rock Air Force Base runway construction project during a ceremony, Aug. 1, 2023.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center, the Air Force’s only design and construction agent charged with delivering military construction programs that support Department of Defense priorities, executed the $180 million construction effort. The AFCEC provided design and planning, as well as ensured the project stayed on time and within budget alongside contracting partners in the Air Force Installation Contracting Center’s 772nd Enterprising Sourcing Squadron and the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron.

To replace the 12,000-foot-long primary runway, eliminate airfield obstructions, and modify the lighting and navigation aid systems, the runway construction project was completed during a three-phased approach.

Phase one consisted of replacing the landing zone and center taxiway, while phases two and three focused on construction on the East and West portions of the runway and installing new lighting and navigational aid systems.

“Mission-ready airfields are foundational to the lethality and readiness of our Air and Space Forces,” said Col. George Nichols, deputy director at the AFCEC’s Facility Engineering Directorate. “The airfield is Little Rock’s most important mission asset, and we successfully delivered on completing this critical C-130 enterprise enabler. Many thanks to the entire project execution team comprised of matrixed professionals from within Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center that includes engineers, contracting officers, finance, lawyers and a myriad of other subject matter experts.”

The collaboration with the awarded contracted companies, for both the design and construction, afforded continued C-130 operations while simultaneously doing a phased rebuild both on time and on budget, Nichols continued.

Little Rock AFB provides tactical airlift worldwide and trains pilots and aircrew for all Department of Defense branches. In order to provide rapid air mobility, the base needed a reliable, safe runway that met the dimensions and weight-bearing capacity for their aircraft.

The 64-year-old runway was suffering from a substantial number of joint cracks and cracked slabs caused by seasonal weather fluctuations and heavy wheel loads from aircraft.

Now complete, the runway can accommodate other aircraft in the Air Mobility Command fleet such as the C-5 Galaxy, KC-10 Extender, C-17 Globemaster III, KC-135 Stratotanker and the KC-46 Pegasus.

The runway replacement also improves safety for pilots by ensuring they have a full field of vision entering and exiting the active airfield.

“Today as we stand in the face of great power competition, our nation entrusts us to win, and win we will,” said Col. Denny Davies, 19th Airlift Wing and installation commander. “The completion of this runway project helps solidify our ability to project worldwide maneuver at the time and place of our choosing. The men and women of the 19th Airlift Wing will continue to move out in order to win, and we will continue to invest in the resources and infrastructure necessary to achieve that vision.”