HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. – The $53 million airfield renovation is underway, with the Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completing a repaving of the runway by July 31, 2023.
Originally opening in 1929 as the Savannah Municipal Airport, the airfield has been functioning as a military airfield since 1940 when the U.S. Army Air Corps took ownership. Almost a century old, the airfield is in need of revitalization to keep the aging infrastructure functioning in order to meet its mission as part of the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield power projection platform.
"Our mission here at the garrison is to deliver quality base support and to enable readiness for our Army," said Travis Mobley, Hunter Army Airfield deputy to the garrison commander. "Our status as a power projection platform is dependent on our ability to access land, air and sea for mobilizing and deploying our Soldiers around the word. These renovations will enable our Armed Forces to rapidly deploy as the nation calls."
In addition to runway repaving, there will be new striping throughout the airfield, taxiway shoulders will be repaved, cracks throughout the airfield will be sealed and several smaller areas will receive new concrete or asphalt depending on technical evaluations.
Also part of the project, hundreds of storm drainage pipes underneath the installation are getting evaluated, cleaned and repaired. Those pipes that have been identified as needing repair will be lined with a fiber glass liner that is cured using a UV light, thus rejuvenating the pipes.
“By repairing rather than replacing, we are saving time, money and environmental impact,” said Todd McGalliard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resident engineer at Hunter Army Airfield. “You’re talking about dozens of pipes that are multiple hundreds of feet long, which would have cost hundreds of millions instead of tens of millions to replace.”
The runway repaving is the primary work being done throughout the airfield. On the runway, contractors have replaced 4 inches of asphalt in the middle 150 feet and 2 inches on the outside 25 feet. This was done in two parts or lifts.
The portion of the runway being repaved was approximately 10,000 feet long and 200 feet wide.
“The goal with many of these projects is to bring the runway capacity back into compliance and to reduce FOD (foreign object debris), which can cause major damage to engines on planes because of how much air they draw in,” McGalliard said. “By having new asphalt on the runway and shoulders, it’s now tight and the places for FOD to be produced have been reduced.”
As the asphalt breaks down, the aggregate or rocks within the asphalt begin to separate and come loose. This creates FOD, which can become extremely dangerous to aircraft if sucked into their engines.
The places on the airfield with concrete were not identified as needing repair outside of a few areas on apron and ramp area.
According to McGalliard, this rejuvenation project should increase the lifespan of the airfield by 20 years with proper maintenance.
The project completion turnover date is scheduled for July 11, 2024.