Dover Air Force Base (IATA code: DOV) is situated 4km southeast of Dover city, Delaware, in the US. The base is owned by the United States Air Force (USAF) and operated by the Air Mobility Command (AMC). It also serves as launch abort facility for space shuttle programmes. Around 7,900 personnel reside at the base.
Construction of the base on a 3,900-acre site began in March 1941 with the requirement of the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) for a training airfield.
The base was opened in December 1941 under the designation Municipal Airport / Dover Airdrome. The first military unit (112th Observation Squadron) arrived at the base in the same month to carry out anti-submarine patrols off the Delaware coast.
The Dover Airdrome was renamed as the Dover Army Airbase and Dover subbase in April 1943 and June 1943 respectively. It was named as Dover Army Airfield (DAA) in February 1944. The base was selected by the Air Technical Service Command in 1944 to engineer, build and carry out air launched rocket tests.
The DAA operations were temporarily suspended in September 1946 due to reduction of the military forces in the USAF after World War II. It was renamed as Dover Air Force Base in January 1948. The base was reactivated in August 1950 with the outbreak of the Korean War and the expansion of the USAF in response to the Soviet threat in the Cold War.
In April 1952, the operations of the base were transferred to the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) which was later renamed as the Military Airlift Command (MAC) in January 1966. The C-5 Galaxy was first deployed at the base in 1971.
The DAA was transferred from MAC to AMC in 1992. It received the first C-17 Globemaster III from Boeing in May 2007. A new $14m custom-built facility was officially inaugurated in April 2011.
Design and construction
A 13,584ft2 C-17 flight simulator training facility was designed and built at the base by Tetra Tech to provide physical security from terrorist activities.
It is made up of robust steel frame structures, strengthened concrete foundations, floor slab and metal stud walls. The facility is equipped with electrical, mechanical, communications, fire protection and detection systems.
Hunt Communities has built and manages family housing units at the base.
MOCA Systems has built the 370,000ft2 C-17 Air Freight Terminal (AFT) at a cost of $77m. Also known as the Oversized Cargo Facility, the AFT is the largest and busiest freight terminal in the US Department of Defense.
Philadelphia District has designed and constructed the new air traffic control, a new chapel, a 58,000ft2 fitness centre, a maintenance training facility and aircrew flight training equipment facility under a $235m military programme.
The DAA serves as the headquarters for the 436th Airlift Wing (436 AW) of the AMC. Also known as Eagle Wing, the 436 AW was activated at the base in January 1966 to carry out airlift missions, such as passenger and freight transportation and special operations.
The 436AW is organised into four groups, namely 436th Operations Group, 436th Mission Support Group, 436th Maintenance Group and 436th Medical Group.
The base is also home to 512th Airlift Wing (512 AW) which is also referred to as the Liberty Wing. The 512 AW was activated at the base in July 1973. It is an associate air force reserve unit principally used to recruit, train, deploy and retain highly qualified air force personnel for the USAF.
Other tenant units deployed at the base include the Charles C. Carson Centre for Mortuary Affairs, AMC Museum, 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 3, 436th Aerial Port Squadron, Joint Personal Effects Depot, United Services Organization – Delaware (USO), Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Army & Air Force Exchange Service and Defense Commissary Agency.
Air facilities and control tower
The DAA features two runways (1/19 and 14/32), taxiways and a large parking apron. The first runway is 2,927m long and is paved with asphalt. The 3,399m long second runway is surfaced with asphalt or concrete.
The base can accommodate various aircraft, including T-7, T-11, T-28, T-33, P-51 Mustangs, C-47, C-45, C-46, C-119, C-124, C-133 Cargomasters, C-141 Starlifter, C-17 Globemaster and C-5 Galaxy.
A 400m2 air traffic control tower and 743m2 radar approach control (Rapcon) facility were opened at the base in October 2009 to replace the existing 11-storey control tower which had been operational since 1955.
The new control tower is built to the north of the old tower at a cost of $16m. It features advanced digital equipment, elevators, safer stairwells, additional space for crew briefings and better visibility. The Rapcon is constructed to meet the current USAF air traffic control facility standards.
The DAA offers education, temporary lodging units, 725 family housing units, ten dormitories, child care and medical care facilities. It features two racquetball courts, a large open gym and a basketball court.
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