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Maxwell receives funding for new air traffic control tower

Brandon Moseley

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Wednesday, U.S. Representative Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, announced that Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery will receive $18 million from the Air Force’s Fiscal Year 2019 military construction account for a new air traffic control tower.

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, praised the Air Force’s decision to direct $18 million to Maxwell Air Force Base (AFB) for the construction of a new Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) facility for the stated purpose of force protection and safety. The construction is expected to begin on June 2019 and conclude December 2020.

“The Air Force’s decision to direct $18 million to Maxwell for a new air traffic control tower is outstanding news,” said Senator Shelby. “This needed upgrade will increase the base’s functionality by improving the structural conditions and enhancing the safety and visibility of all operations. Without the replacement tower, the current facility’s health and safety issues could result in ground accidents and costly damage or loss of assets. I applaud the Air Force on their decision to fund the project. As the second busiest distinguished visitor base in the nation, this funding is critical to maintaining and advancing Maxwell’s performance, particularly in light of its support for the F-35 fighter jet program.”

Senator Shelby is he chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and its Subcommittee on Defense.

Representative Roby has advocated for this project for several years, released the following statement:

“Updating the Air Traffic Control Tower at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base is long overdue,” Rep. Roby said in a statement. “I have personally climbed up the antiquated tower and can attest to how dangerous it is and how badly it needs to be replaced. I am very pleased that this issue is being addressed through the recently passed military funding bill, and I look forward to seeing this improvement become reality as Maxwell continues to support the needs of the Air Force in the River Region, including the 187th Fighter Wing’s missions. This would not be possible without Senator Shelby’s efforts, and I appreciate his leadership as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense.”

Maxwell’s existing Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) was constructed in 1955 and is believed to be the second oldest still active ATCT in Air Force inventory. Roby’s office says that it fails to meet current mission requirements and safety codes.

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Maxwell AFB is the second busiest distinguished visitor base in the Defense Department. Controllers in the current tower do not have 100 percent visual contact of all aircraft landing surfaces or ground controlled movement areas due to obstructed views. The current facility also does not have an elevator and therefore does not meet National Fire Protection Association line safety code. It also has numerous additional health and safety issues resulting from the tower’s age and deterioration.
Having Maxwell AFB so nearby played a role in the Air Force’s recent selection of Dannelly Field, also located in Montgomery, as a site for the new F-35A fighter jet program. The F35 is a 5th generation fighter jet that reportedly will eventually replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II’s, which have been the primary fighter aircraft for decades.

Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base is located in Montgomery and serves as the training site for 90 percent of Air Force officers. Maxwell is the headquarters for the Air Force’s Air University and provides critical support for the 908th Airlift Wing, the Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate, and more than 30 tenant units. The base also occupies the site of the first Wright Flying School, one of the Wright brothers’ earliest flying schools.

Historically, Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base has provided direct support to the 187th Fighter Wing in airfield operations, primarily as an alternate basing location in the event of runway closure at Dannelly Field. The existing configuration and location of Maxwell’s current ATCT will not adequately support the 187th Fighter Wing’s new F-35 mission.

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