MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Working in 10-man crews, Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 engineers began making way for a new amphibious assault ship practice landing pad on the Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue flight line March 18.
Capt. David Thomas, Bogue airfield operations company commander, said the project is a multi-faceted operation replacing roughly 200,000 square feet of AM-2 matting currently used for Bogue’s simulated LHA deck. LHA and LHD are amphibious assault ship hull classifications; the matting design replicates the ship’s deck, offering pilots valuable training options when actual ships are not available.
The aluminum matting, used on expeditionary airfields worldwide, is nearing the end of its service limitations.
Contractors will pour fresh asphalt in the exposed area and lay sod on dead or grassless areas reducing the amount of potential foreign object debris near the airfield. FOD can be harmful to aircraft that frequent Bogue Field.
Once new matting is in place, Bogue personnel will repaint the surface with the LHD design.
“LHDs are the modern replacement to the LHAs,” said Thomas. “So when the pilots do their field carrier landing practices, they will be getting as realistic training environment as possible.”
Thomas said the difference between the current deck and the new one is the size, shape and scheme of the paint markings.
Despite having a section of the flight line temporarily out of service, the auxiliary landing field continues to support a high number of aviation operations. However, fixed-wing aircraft have been restricted from Bogue until construction is complete.
Thomas said maintaining constant communication has helped deconlfict the construction and training requirements aboard the airfield.
“The Marines out there working on the construction are the same ones expected to maintain the rest of the airfield,” said Thomas. “So it will seem relatively seamless for its customers here at Bogue, but an additional workload for the Marines stationed here.”
Each piece of the AM-2 matting weighs approximately 155 lbs and must be disassembled by hand.
Staff Sgt. Travis Goodwin, the MWSS-271 production control chief, said it is back-breaking work but the Marines are stepping up to the challenge.
Thomas said the deconstruction phase is slated to take two weeks, but believes the Marines will be finished in one.
The overall project is expected to be complete before June 1.