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F-16s return to new runway at Buckley AFB

F-16s from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard begin to return to Buckley Air Force Base July 12, 2014, slightly ahead of schedule, after spending approximately three months at Denver International Airport while the base runway was being reconstructed. Despite relocating their entire flying operations, the wing managed to provide uninterrupted support to their Aerospace Control Alert mission 24/7 throughout the transition to DIA and back to Buckley AFB. (Air National Guard Photo by Capt. Kinder Blacke)

F-16s from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard begin to return to Buckley Air Force Base July 12, 2014, slightly ahead of schedule, after spending approximately three months at Denver International Airport while the base runway was being reconstructed. Despite relocating their entire flying operations, the wing managed to provide uninterrupted support to their Aerospace Control Alert mission 24/7 throughout the transition to DIA and back to Buckley AFB. (Air National Guard Photo by Capt. Kinder Blacke)

F-16s from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard begin to return to Buckley Air Force Base July 12, 2014, slightly ahead of schedule, after spending approximately three months at Denver International Airport while the base runway was being reconstructed. Despite relocating their entire flying operations, the wing managed to provide uninterrupted support to their Aerospace Control Alert mission 24/7 throughout the transition to DIA and back to Buckley AFB. (Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. Wolfram Stumpf)

F-16s from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard begin to return to Buckley Air Force Base July 12, 2014, slightly ahead of schedule, after spending approximately three months at Denver International Airport while the base runway was being reconstructed. Despite relocating their entire flying operations, the wing managed to provide uninterrupted support to their Aerospace Control Alert mission 24/7 throughout the transition to DIA and back to Buckley AFB. (Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. Wolfram Stumpf)

F-16s from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard begin to return to Buckley Air Force Base July 12, 2014, slightly ahead of schedule, after spending approximately three months at Denver International Airport while the base runway was being reconstructed. Despite relocating their entire flying operations, the wing managed to provide uninterrupted support to their Aerospace Control Alert mission 24/7 throughout the transition to DIA and back to Buckley AFB. (Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. Wolfram Stumpf)

F-16s from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard begin to return to Buckley Air Force Base July 12, 2014, slightly ahead of schedule, after spending approximately three months at Denver International Airport while the base runway was being reconstructed. Despite relocating their entire flying operations, the wing managed to provide uninterrupted support to their Aerospace Control Alert mission 24/7 throughout the transition to DIA and back to Buckley AFB. (Air National Guard Photo by Tech. Sgt. Wolfram Stumpf)

Colorado Air National Guard F-16s return home to Buckley Air Force Base after being housed temporarily at Denver International Airport for the last three months, Buckley AFB, Aurora Colo., July 12, 2014. The partnership between DIA and the COANG  allowed necessary runway reconstruction at Buckley AFB to take place while also providing F-16 pilots the opportunity to continue their 24/7 alert mission and vital training flights twice a day at DIA. Construction on the runway will continue through September, however the airfield is back to operational status. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea)

Colorado Air National Guard F-16s return home to Buckley Air Force Base after being housed temporarily at Denver International Airport for the last three months, Buckley AFB, Aurora Colo., July 12, 2014. The partnership between DIA and the COANG allowed necessary runway reconstruction at Buckley AFB to take place while also providing F-16 pilots the opportunity to continue their 24/7 alert mission and vital training flights twice a day at DIA. Construction on the runway will continue through September, however the airfield is back to operational status. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea)

Colorado Air National Guard F-16s return home to Buckley Air Force Base after being housed temporarily at Denver International Airport for the last three months, Buckley AFB, Aurora Colo., July 12, 2014. The partnership between DIA and the COANG  allowed necessary runway reconstruction at Buckley AFB to take place while also providing F-16 pilots the opportunity to continue their 24/7 alert mission and vital training flights twice a day at DIA. Construction on the runway will continue through September, however the airfield is back to operational status. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea)

Colorado Air National Guard F-16s return home to Buckley Air Force Base after being housed temporarily at Denver International Airport for the last three months, Buckley AFB, Aurora Colo., July 12, 2014. The partnership between DIA and the COANG allowed necessary runway reconstruction at Buckley AFB to take place while also providing F-16 pilots the opportunity to continue their 24/7 alert mission and vital training flights twice a day at DIA. Construction on the runway will continue through September, however the airfield is back to operational status. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Colorado Air National Guard's F-16 fleet is heading back ahead of schedule to the newly reconstructed runway at Buckley Air Force Base after spending three months at Denver International Airport.

Personnel from the 140th Wing relocated their flying mission to DIA back in April, with the intent to stay 90 days while the runway at Buckley underwent heavy construction. Fortunately, the operation went as planned and the jets were able to start flying back over the weekend.

"The transition to and from DIA was seamless," said Col. Floyd Dunstan, 140th Wing commander. "Thanks to the huge amount of planning and effort that went into this move, and the tremendous support we received from all of the agencies at DIA, we were able to maintain our 24/7 alert mission and sustain routine training flights throughout the relocation. Now we are excited to return to a much-improved runway."

The 140th Civil Engineer Squadron spearheaded the runway construction project, which involved pouring approximately 60,000 cubic yards of concrete, according to Lieutenant Col. Tom Niichel, 140th CES construction manager.

"We lowered the northern end of the runway a little over seven feet and we put new concrete on both the north and south landing zones," said Niichel.

In addition to leveling the runway, the team also replaced the concrete on a large portion of the taxiways and apron due to the effects of alkali-silica reaction, a chemical reaction that had cracked and degraded the surface of the concrete over time, Niichel explained.

While the entire construction project will not be complete until September, the airfield is fully operational and the first jets touched down at Buckley on July 11.

Niichel is hopeful that after this runway overhaul, the airfield will be operational with only routine maintenance for the next fifty years.
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