WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and its Subcommittee on Defense, today praised the Air Force’s decision to direct $18 million to Maxwell Air Force Base (AFB) for the construction of a new Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) facility for the purpose of force protection and safety. The construction is expected to begin June 2019 and conclude December 2020.
“The Air Force’s decision to direct $18 million to Maxwell for a new air traffic control tower is outstanding news,” said Senator Shelby. “This needed upgrade will increase the base’s functionality by improving the structural conditions and enhancing the safety and visibility of all operations. Without the replacement tower, the current facility’s health and safety issues could result in ground accidents and costly damage or loss of assets. I applaud the Air Force on their decision to fund the project. As the second busiest distinguished visitor base in the nation, this funding is critical to maintaining and advancing Maxwell’s performance, particularly in light of its support for the F-35 fighter jet program.”
For the last decade, Maxwell AFB has been in need of a modernized ATCT facility of adequate size and configuration in order to properly control current activity and future air traffic within the air operations area. The existing tower, constructed in 1955, is believed to be the second oldest active ATCT in Air Force inventory and fails to meet current mission requirements. Maxwell AFB is the second busiest distinguished visitor base in the Defense Department. Controllers in the current tower do not have 100 percent visual contact of all aircraft landing surfaces or ground controlled movement areas due to obstructed views. Further, the facility does not have an elevator and therefore does not meet National Fire Protection Association line safety code. It also has numerous additional health and safety issues resulting from the tower’s age and deterioration.
Maxwell AFB played a role in the Air Force’s recent selection of Dannelly Field, also located in Montgomery, as a site for the new F-35A fighter jet program. The powerful new aircraft is a 5th generation fighter jet that will eventually replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II’s, which have been the primary fighter aircraft for more than 20 years.
Officially known as Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Maxwell AFB is located in Montgomery and serves as the training site for 90 percent of Air Force officers. Maxwell is the headquarters for the Air Force’s Air University and provides critical support for the 908th Airlift Wing, the Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate, and more than 30 tenant units. The base also occupies the site of the first Wright Flying School, one of the Wright brothers’ earliest flying schools.