Dover Air Force Base Slated to Get $57.5 Million in Federal Funds to Replace Damaged Cargo Port
Washington — After several months of working with Air Force and Department of Defense officials, U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper and Congressman Mike Castle announced today that Dover Air Force Base is slated to get $57.5 million in federal funds to design and construct a new, 350,000 sq ft. state-of-the-art aerial cargo port. The funds are part of the $87 billion Emergency Supplemental bill currently being considered by Congress.
The new facility will replace the existing 50-year-old structure that suffered serious damage when two cargo bay roofs collapsed during the blizzard of February, 2003. Even with the damage, Dover was still able to move over 30% of the cargo airlifted into theater for Operation Iraqi Freedom, but five of Dover’s regular supply missions, called “channel missions,” had to be shifted to other bases.
Earlier this year, Delaware’s Congressional delegation met with Air Force leaders to makes sure that all options were being evaluated and aggressively pursued. When the decision was made to replace the entire aging structure with a new, state-of-the-art terminal, the delegation worked with the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of Defense’s office to make sure they were aware of the critical situation and its impact on war operations.
Recognizing the vital role Dover plays in both Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the Air Force requested the funding in the Supplemental because the damage was caused by an act of nature and directly impacts the nation’s ability to fight and win major combat operations, and to continue to sustain troops overseas.
“Dover Air Force base is a key part of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and clearly the inclusion of this project in the Supplemental bill proves that,” said Senator Biden. “Replacing this port is part of our commitment to making sure the men and women in the field have everything they need to get the job done. It will allow the Base to continue to maintain their high operations tempo, moving massive amounts of cargo and equipment quickly and efficiently.”
“The delegation has worked with the administration and other lawmakers extensively over the past few months to try to secure the money for the aerial port, which we feel is needed to help Dover Air Force Base continue to run its missions in the international war against terrorism,” said Sen. Carper. “I have said before that Dover Air Force Base is a vital part of our military and will be around for a long time. The decision to include the money for the new cargo port in the Supplemental bill is simply another vote of confidence in Dover and its future.”
“We have been working extremely hard with Air Force and Pentagon officials to ensure this funding for the aerial port, and believe the inclusion of this funding is a testament to what a vital resource the Dover Air Force Base is now and will continue to be in the future,” said Congressman Castle. “Delaware is a significant part of the day to day operations for our military, especially during our current operations overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. While this funding has not been finalized, I plan to monitor and make sure it is protected through the process.”
The Emergency Supplemental bill still needs to pass both houses of Congress before it is signed into law. Both the House and the Senate are expected to take up the measure in the coming weeks.