Delaware Delegation Gets Good News From Air Force Brass

WASHINGTON, DC – After a meeting with the Air Force’s top program planner, U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper and Congressman Mike Castle announced today that the Air Force intends to construct a brand new, state-of-the-art aerial cargo port at Dover Air Force Base. The new facility would replace the existing 50-year-old structure that suffered serious damage when two cargo bay roofs collapsed during the February blizzard. 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. Already, with the use of hardened shelters where the cargo bays were, Dover has reclaimed four of those channel missions. Last month, Delaware’s Delegation requested that the Air Force look into replacing and updating the base’s entire freight terminal, rather than closing down the affected ports or patching-up the existing, aging structure. Because a new facility would greatly expand the capacity of Dover’s port and because of the age of the current one, the Air Force planners agreed with the Delaware Delegation that a brand new facility made the most sense. Yesterday, the Air Force informed the delegation that they intend to construct a new 355,000 square foot facility, at an estimated cost of $79.2 million. The cost would include $56 million for the facility construction, $21.5 million for the equipment and material handling systems, and $1.7 million for the planning and design. “This is great news” said Senator Biden. “Not only will this new aerial cargo port enhance Dover’s ability to do what it does best, move massive amounts of cargo and equipment quickly and efficiently, it also clearly demonstrates that Air Mobility Command sees Dover Air Force Base as a vital component of their operations today and far into the future.” “We couldn’t be more pleased that the Air Force has decided to pursue a completely new aerial cargo port to replace the Korean War-era facility,” said Senator Carper. “The new port facility will enhance Dover’s standing as the busiest cargo port in the nation and strengthen Dover’s long-term potential.” Congressman Castle said, “This announcement confirms the vibrant future of Dover Air Force Base, and improves the long-term strategic airlift capacity for our military. The new cargo facility will improve efficiency and increase capacity. We are committed to providing the critical personnel and resources for the base.” Recognizing the vital role Dover played in both Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the Air Force would like to get the project funded and completed as soon as possible. At this point, the Air Force is planning to request the funding in the next Supplemental because the damage was caused by an act of nature and is relevant to war time needs.