[caption id="attachment_234662" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Dover Air Force Base Commander Col. William C. McDonald speaks before state, county and business leaders during the 2023 State of the Base address.[/caption]
DOVER — The Dover Air Force Base Commander Col. William C. McDonald held his inaugural State of the Base address on Monday morning, highlighting the work of thousands of airmen on and off the complex throughout the year.McDonald, who took command of the 436th Airlift Wing in July, gave government and business officials a bird’s eye view of the overall mission at the busiest air freight terminal in the U.S. Department of Defense. With about 11,000 airmen, reservists and civilians on base, DAFB continues to hold a strong place in not only central Delaware’s economy, but also innovative solutions.“Operations here at Dover can occur and change at any moment. And we cannot maintain that strategic advantage without allowing ourselves to become open to creative new solutions that may come from the curious minds of our airmen,” McDonald said.Coordinated with the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, the State of the Base is an annual invitation to state and local government officials and the business community to provide an insight on the base’s role in local and global communities. One critical role that DAFB plays is to handle equipment and cargo around the world, as missions to Europe, the Middle East and Africa are routed through Dover.“That ensures the United States can leverage the manpower facilities and material handling equipment located here at Dover,” the commander added. “Just this year alone, we secured 130 million pounds of cargo and 6,000 passengers in 8,000 missions. And these missions are having a direct impact on the world today.”Included in those missions were more than 440 missions, preparing 172 million pounds of equipment to Ukraine as the Ukraine-Russia War continues on. Airmen in the First State were also instrumental in transporting rescue crews and equipment to Turkey after an earthquake struck. The DAFB also plays a critical role in supporting the security of President Joe Biden and his family, with 37 missions in America and across the globe.When it comes to the base itself, DAFB has 36 construction projects in the works, estimated at $186 million. One project is the new aircraft maintenance hangar, capable of fully enclosing a C-5 aircrafts, is estimated to be complete by spring 2024. Facing a 168-bed shortfall for airmen, a $51 million three-story dormitory is targeted for Fiscal Year 2027. Without that new dorm, younger airmen are living off base.Touting other firsts, McDonald also pointed out that last summer the DAFB successfully completed its first wet wing defuel of a C-5 Super Galaxy at the base. Airmen used four fuel trucks simultaneously to drain fuel from the wings, which were sealed to be used as additional gas storage.“This procedure removes the fuel and transfers it while the engines are still running on the aircraft, essentially turning the C-5 into a flying gas station,” the commander said. “This new procedure allows employed efforts to reduce the reliance on standard refueling methods and reduce the reliance on standard refueling methods.”In other technological advancements, the DAFB airmen are working on drone programs as well as using lighting 3-D printers to replace some parts of aircrafts. But nothing is as critical as mission readiness in terms of times of a crisis.That was put on display in July with Mobility Guardian 23, with 70 aircrafts and 3,000 service members from seven countries, including America, to span 13 million square miles. The exercise over the Indian Ocean enabled 15,000 joint forces to join in the theater.“It offers just one example of how we expanded capability and one of our existing weapon systems for maximum endurance operation in the C-5,” McDonald said. “We will stop at nothing to complete our mission.”
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