May 13 2016

Tillis amendment requires Army leadership to report to the Senate with an outline to extend the runway at Fort Bragg’s Pope Airfield and to indicate whether such a project is a priority

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced that he has secured his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring the Secretary of the Army, in coordination with the Commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, to submit a report to the Senate outlining plans to extend the runway at Fort Bragg’s Pope Airfield and to indicate whether such project is a priority for the Army.  Tillis originally introduced the Pope Airfield runway language as standalone legislation last month.

Currently, C-17 and C-5 airlifts cannot depart from Pope Airfield fully fueled with a full load of paratroopers due to the current 8,500 foot takeoff length of the runway. Fully loaded C-17s and C-5s require a takeoff length of 10,500 feet, and 11,500 feet, respectively. To make up for the difference and complete their mission, C-17 and C-5 airlifts must refuel at Charleston, S.C. or Gander, Newfoundland, at a taxpayer cost of $17,000 per hour. 

Fort Bragg leaders have previously requested that the runway at Pope Airfield be extended to accommodate the airlift requirements of America’s Global Response Force, whose mission is to have the units of the XVIII Airborne Corps anywhere in the world within 48 hours notice. Prior to the latest round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), extending the Pope Runway was the Air Mobility Command’s number one airfield project and the United States Air Force’s number two project for funding. 

“Pope Airfield’s runway must be extended in order to fully support the rapid deployment capabilities of America’s Global Response Force,” said Senator Tillis. “Our paratroopers and our taxpayers deserve to know whether or not the runway extension is a priority for the Army, and my amendment will ensure they receive an answer.”