Delaware Delegation Announces $9.5 million to construct New Air Traffic Control Tower at Dover Air Force Base

Wilmington, DE — As Congress wrapped-up business this weekend before heading home for the November elections, U.S. Senators Joe Biden (D-DE) and Tom Carper (D-DE) and Congressman Mike Castle (R-DE) announced $9.5 million in federal funds to construct a brand new state-of-the-art air traffic control tower for Dover Air Force Base and an additional $740,000 to purchase land adjacent to the base. At the urging of the delegation, the $9.5 million was included in the military construction appropriations bill passed by both houses this weekend. In Fiscal year 2003, Congress provided $675,000 to begin work on designing a new air traffic control facility at Dover to replace the existing structure – the oldest control tower in the Air Force and one that does not provide a clear view of the airfield. When requesting the funds from the appropriators, Senators Biden and Carper and Congressman Castle argued that “failure to fund this project completely could put air operations and personnel at risk.” “Quite simply, we were concerned that waiting on this project posed a serious danger to the aircrews and aircraft that continue to be vital to our war effort,” said the Senators and Congressman, noting that the majority of air cargo supporting operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Europe goes through Dover. “It is absolutely vital that our personnel have the equipment they need to do their jobs without endangering themselves or the valuable cargo they carry.” In addition to the funding for the Air Traffic Control Tower, the delegation was able to secure $740,000 for DAFB to purchase 26 acres of privately owned land adjacent to its main runway. The land is currently owned by National Waste Services, which operates a waste transfer station that processes household and other types of waste. Birds are attracted to that waste, and in order to reduce the risk of bird strikes, Kent County officials are looking to move the waste facility to a new location. Once a new location has been finalized, this money would go toward purchasing that 26 acres of land in order to prevent any future encroachment at the base. “These funds represent important investments in Dover Air Force Base’s future,” said Senator Biden. “The old tower was too small, it didn’t have enough room for modern radar equipment, it couldn’t accommodate training, the view of the flight line was impaired and it had to be evacuated in high winds. The new tower will take care of all of those problems and more. By making Dover work better, we are able to get supplies and equipment to our troops in harms way faster and more efficiently. The same is true of the land funds. By protecting the area around the base from encroachment problems, we are protecting a vital military asset.” “The funds the delegation helped secure for Dover will help make the base safer and more secure for our servicemen and women,” said Senator Carper. “The tower is currently the oldest in the Air Force, yet we have one of the most vitally important bases on the East Coast. It makes sense that we continue the modernization of the base, and our colleagues in Congress agreed. This legislation, like ones in previous years that helped Dover build a new mortuary, a new aerial port and new housing units, is further proof of the value the military and Congress place on Dover. As for the land acquisition money, as a former naval flight officer, I know first-hand the risk birds can pose to aircraft. This money will help ward off encroachment at the base and make Dover pilots that much safer.” “The construction of this much needed control tower is a critical step in improving the safety and efficiency of the Dover Air Force Base. Many people, including the Delaware Delegation, have worked hard toward this goal and we are happy to celebrate this victory with our military personnel. It is imperative that we continue to ensure that Dover remains one of the most important bases providing support to our brave men and women fighting the war on terrorism. In addition to the tower, the land acquisition funding will be essential to ensuring the safety of our pilots and crew,” said Congressman Castle. The bill now goes the President for his signature into law.