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ATC team continues support to Bagram mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cierra Presentado
  • 455th AEW Public Affairs

The Bagram Air Traffic Control tower team has been managing aircraft traffic movement since 2003 and continues Bagram’s role supporting NATO’s Resolute Support mission and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel here on a daily basis.

The Midwest Air Traffic Control team provides air traffic control for all military and civilian aircraft coming in and out of Bagram. They control an average of 500 to 660 aircraft a day taking off and landing on the airfield.

“Here at the tower we control all air traffic coming and leaving the AOR. What we report to the pilots and to the base agencies greatly affect the mission,” said Douglas Mack, 455th Expeditionary Operations Squadron air traffic control chief. “Our main goal is to make sure we are transferring information to everyone that’s involved with the airfield.”

The new air traffic control tower was built in 2008. Previous to the new facility, the airfield was managed from the old Russian control tower on Camp Cunningham on the west side of the base which was built between 1976- 1979. Plans for the new tower started in 2003 and after a few delays, the submission was accepted in 2005.

With a 10 million dollar budget, the project resulted in a seven story building installed with an elevator and built to withstand an earthquake of 7.2 or higher. At the time it was built, it was the most sophisticated air traffic control system in the country.

“I’ve been here for three years and I already see a tremendous difference with the base,” Mack said. “There’s been a lot of transition; there use to be a lot more military here. Seeing how far we’ve come and knowing that the Afghans are now able to protect themselves is a good feeling.”
With the on-going threat against Bagram, the airfield is always at risk. When an IDF attack occurs, the ATC team role includes alerting all pilots and aircrew to cease movement until the airfield is safely cleared to continue air traffic movement.

“If the airfield is impacted by an attack, we automatically put out frequency’s alerting the crews and pilots of civilian and military aircraft,” Mack said. “It may slow down the schedule but it’s very important we alert everyone that the runway is not safe for landing or takeoff.”

The ATC tower will continue to impact the mission and ensure the safe landing and takeoff of all aircraft here at BAF.

“The Midwest ATC professionals are truly an integral component to the Combined Forces Air Component Commander priorities providing safe and expeditious air traffic control fostering decisive airpower for regional and base defense, support for building partnership capacity engagement and contingency readiness through preparedness,” said Maj. John Himes 455 Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron liaison officer.