The Israel Air Force is moving house in style. The Nevatim Air force Base in southern Israel
is now being converted into a new IAF base, complete with the longest landing strip in the Middle East stretching a staggering 2.5 miles.
These aerial photos attained by Ynet clearly show that construction in the area is coming to an end, and the new runway is now virtually complete.
Longest airstrip in Middle East
Construction of this new IAF transport base, which will replace its old counterpart in Lod, was no simple architectural feat, mainly due to the type of terrain found in the Negev and southern Israel.
Special bulldozers were flown in from oversees to complete the project and provide the extra muscle needed for construction, and the amount of asphalt used to pave the new landing strip was roughly equivalent to that needed in order to pave a 56- mile-long two-lane highway (the Tel-Aviv- Haifa Highway for instance).
The Nevatim project, which cost roughly $421 million to complete, also included construction of other operational buildings, residences for base personnel, underground hangers for the airplanes on site, and a brand new air traffic control tower.
Just how big is the newly constructed base? It will cover an area equivalent to Tel-Aviv and Jaffa, and its buildings will stretch across an area twice as large as the Azrieli Center. For those still unimpressed, the amount of rocks used in the construction of this new IAF base is roughly equal to that needed to pave 2.5 soccer fields!
Nevatim Air Base prior to construction
The base’s most important feature—its mammoth landing strip—will allow IAF planes to land and take off with far greater ease and flexibility, and was careful designed in a collaborative effort involving the IAF, Ministry of Defense and the Israel Defense Forces.
The Nevatim base, which currently houses several fighter planes, will now have some new “occupants” in the form of transport aircraft such as the Hercules and the Boeing 707, which are also used to refuel aircraft in mid-flight and are occasionally also utilized in combat operations. The new landing strip will allow the IAF to utilize the Nevatim Air Base for routine as well as emergency operations.
Construction on the new airstrip will be complete by 2009, at which point the IAF transport base will officially make its move to the Negev. This project heralds an IDF wide initiative to move many of its bases to the Negev.
The move comes at a total cost of roughly $658 million, and involves shifting many IDF training, Intelligence Corps, and Teleprocessing Unit bases to the Negev. A total of some 20,000 IDF soldiers in total are expected to relocate to the region.
Some 900 workers were hired to complete construction on the new and improved Nevatim Airbase, more than half of them residents of the Negev.