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Byrd says first C-5 coming in December

August 18, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - The first C-5 aircraft is expected to arrive at the 167th Airlift Wing, Air National Guard base south of Martinsburg in December, U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd announced Thursday.

"The progress in the construction at the 167th Airlift Wing means that we are on schedule for the first C-5 to arrive by December," Byrd said. "This is great news for the National Guard and the Eastern Panhandle."

Byrd, D-W.Va., toured the construction under way at the air base with West Virginia Adjutant Gen. Allen Tackett, 167th Wing Commander Col. Eric Vollmecke and construction officials.

"The men and women of the 167th Airlift Wing have answered the call to duty time and again, whether in Iraq or here at home," Byrd said. "They never let us down. This new mission, with the fleet of C-5 aircraft, will bring greater challenges to the men and women of the 167th, and I have every confidence that they will excel."

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Legislation to accelerate construction funding for the Martinsburg air base upgrades is pending, and Byrd has included nearly $39 million in the coming year's military construction budget. The majority of that funding would be directed toward completing the extension of the runway and taxiways at the airport. Another $7.5 million will replace the fire station and rescue operations at the National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing, while $5.7 million would go toward new supply facilities at the air base, according to a press release from Byrd's office.

A $5 million allocation would be used to construct the 19,000-square-foot avionics maintenance and repair facility for the C-5 aircraft.

Initially, the C-5 airplanes at Martinsburg will result in a $235 million federal investment to upgrade and expand the entire Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport facility. Byrd has taken credit for obtaining more than $197 million for the upgrades.

"It's going tremendously well because the weather's been so good," Vollmecke said Thursday.

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