Home' Air Force News : May 12th 2011 Contents CPL Zenith King
A 36SQN C-17A became the first
heavy-lift aircraft to land on the new
US$28 million all-weather airstrip at
the Multinational Base in Tarin Kot,
The Globemaster touched
down on April 2, two weeks
before the official opening of the
airstrip, which attracted digni-
taries from Kabul, including the
Uruzgan Provincial Governor,
Haji Mohammad Omer Shirzad,
and the Australian Ambassador to
Afghanistan, Paul Foley.
In a complex 12-month project,
the airfield was converted from a
1700m dirt strip to a 2225m con-
crete, all-weather airstrip capable of
handling heavy-lift aircraft.
The airstrip will eventually
become an asset of the provincial
The airfield upgrade increases
the ability for operationally critical
sustainment flights to operate in the
area all year round and provides new
opportunities for Uruzgan.
A small team of RAAF airfield
engineers supported the US-funded
One of those engineers was
SQNLDR David Fattore, who said the
airfield was crucial as the base relied
almost exclusively on air logistic sup-
port for resupply activities.
"Tarin Kot is not on the ring
route, which is the road connecting
all of Afghanistan," he said.
May 12, 2011
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"As a result it's very difficult to
get here by road. It's not impossible
but it takes a long time.
"Initially, the airfield had a dirt
runway that was capable of accom-
modating C-130 and C-17A aircraft,
but only if the weather permitted.
"It couldn't be used in bad
weather because rain and snow
would degrade the runway condition
and aircraft would lose their braking
friction. This meant there were times
when aircraft couldn't land, restrict-
ing our operational capability."
SQNLDR Fattore said that during
the construction period only the C-130
could be used to resupply the base.
"The C-130 has a lower payload
than the C-17A, which was further
reduced due to weight restrictions
placed on aircraft to enable them
to take off and land on the reduced
strip," he said. "This resulted in a lot
more C-130 traffic to keep the effort
up and supplies coming in.
"Now the strip is complete we
can have a C-17A carrying three
times the weight a C-130 can
The project came about after a
request from the Afghan government
for the airstrip to be improved.
Tarin Kot will be one of the first
to be turned over to the government
and it wanted a C-17-capable strip
that could be used for both civil and
military purposes in all-weather con-
The plan was to take the exist-
ing dirt airstrip, increase its sub-base
strength and then construct a con-
crete runway in its place.
Coupled with the new runway
would be a larger helicopter area
and also a parking apron and cargo
handling area suitable for use by a
SQNLDR Fattore said work
began on the airfield in April last
year when Australian combat engi-
neers extended the perimeter walls
to allow for an extra 500m of run-
"Once the perimeter had been
extended, concreting began at the
western end of the airfield," he said.
Airfield manager CAPT Andrew
Snow, of the US 1/245th Airfield
Operations Battalion, said that dur-
ing the work the number of aircraft
bringing in supplies and personnel
had been increased to meet opera-
"To get any kind of useable pay-
load in and out of Tarin Kot, pilots
couldn't do a normal take-off from
the runway," CAPT Snow said.
"They were taking off at maxi-
mum power over the construction
areas. This, along with the weather,
made it very difficult.
"As a result we were turning air-
craft away every day because they
just couldn't land here."
SQNLDR Fattore said that work-
ing on the upgrade was fulfilling
because the upgrade was important
for Uruzgan's future, and the project
developed his professional knowl-
"This airfield will be left for the
people for Uruzgan, so it is a critical
piece of infrastructure for Tarin Kot
that will connect it to other major
areas in Afghanistan," he said.
Super Hornets join Exercise Bersama Shield forces
AIR Force Super Hornets have joined
Navy units and armed forces from
Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand
and Britain in Exercise Bersama
Shield 2011 (BS11).
The exercise, the latest in the
Bersama series under the Five Power
Defence Arrangement (FPDA), start-
ed around the Malaysian Peninsula
and South China Sea on May 2 and
will finish on May 13.
The exercise involves nine guid-
ed-missile frigates, a submarine, 46
combat aircraft and various support
elements, and aims to enhance the
interoperability of the air, ground and
naval forces of the five countries.
Australian contingent commander
WGCDR Kenneth Robinson said
BS11 would develop and validate
doctrines and procedures for inter-
operability among FPDA nations'
navies, armies and air forces in a
combined, joint scenario.
A full round-up of the exercise will
be featured in the next edition of Air
BIG DAY: Flanked by many dignitaries, Uruzgan Provincial Governor Haji Mohammad Omer Shirzad cuts the ribbon to officially open the new
runway at Tarin Kot on April 14.
Photo: CPL Christopher Dickson
FIRST LANDING: The C-17A which was the first heavy-lift aircraft to
land on the runway.
Photo: SPC Edward Garibay, US Army
LACW Kylie Gibson
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