Few can build an airport in three days

In just three days the Swedish Armed Forces air base battalion/T can build and operate a fully operational airport, for example in a response area for the Nordic Battlegroup.“We’re one of the few countries in the world that can build an entire airport in such a short time,” says Captain Peter Forslund, materiel manager for Komnät Flygbas.

“For a Hercules, a solid grass surface is sufficient for landing,” says Peter Forslund. Photo: Anders Sjödén

In a hangar at the Blekinge Wing, F17, in Kallinge is what could soon be a fully operational airport in another part of the world. There is radar equipment, runway lights, a control tower, communication systems, personnel offices in containers and much else that’s needed to build an airport from scratch.

The T in air base battalion/T stands for Transportable. It’s also a T that represents a fundamentally altered Swedish air base system.

The previous model of fixed air bases around the country is being replaced by a geographically independent base system that can be established virtually anywhere in the world.

A hard gravel surface is enough
“All you really need is a hard enough surface for aircraft to land. For a Hercules a hard gravel surface could be enough,” Peter Forslund explains.

Parts of the transportable unit will be usable in the Nordic Battlegroup, in which it will be known as Air Base Unit AB01. A wide range of mission types will have to be conducted in different parts of the world, which places demands on accessibility, modular construction and usability.

The air base battalion’s task is to run the air base by establishing an airport and serving the Air Force wings based there.

The air base may also serve as an airport for foreign aircraft, although without maintenance services.

Controllers first on site
The capability requirement governs what equipment and which parts of the unit need to be used.

The air base battalion has to be able to initiate its response to a limited degree in just a short time, developing to full capability within a few days.
“If for instance there’s already an existing airport in a reaction area, the mission can begin with a single air traffic controller and a communication radio. The remaining equipment and personnel can then be flown in,” says Peter Forslund.

“The mission can begin with a single air traffic controller and a communication radio”

The military equipment was handed over from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration to the Swedish Armed Forces last autumn. Work has been under way during the spring at F17 to verify all the materiel and constituent systems ahead of operational handover.

In the meantime a new Air Force communication network is being built up, known as Komnät Luft. The communication network for the air base battalion is part of this. All comnets are to be based on the same basic technology, including IP telephony, gigabit LAN and the Tetra radio system.

Harmonised technology entails greater accessibility, scalability and benefits in co-ordination and training.

The aim of introducing Komnät Luft is to make liaison personnel from different units freely interchangeable. For example, personnel from the combat command battalion, who handle similar equipment, should be able to be brought into the air base if required.

Text & Photo: Anders Sjödén