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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — After less than two years of work, crews have finished construction on Ramstein Air Base’s new runway.

The massive landing strip is expected to be fully operational in September, following a series of certification tests that begin Sunday.

At 11,811 feet with its overruns, the runway is more than 2 miles long. That converts to roughly 3.6 kilometers or about the length of 33 football fields.

With the added length, larger aircraft can now take off and land at Ramstein with heavier loads, according to a 435th Air Base Wing press release. As a result, a C-5 Galaxy — the largest plane in the Air Force inventory — will be able to take off fully fueled and loaded. Such flights were not possible on the old runway.

Ramstein will see a 4 percent annual increase in overall air traffic once Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt, Germany, closes later this year. The increase will come in the form of six to 10 additional flights a day, said Capt. Jenny Lovett, 86th Airlift Wing public affairs officer.

From Sunday to July 27, Federal Aviation Administration-owned aircraft will evaluate the runway’s instrument landing system and tactical air navigation equipment. The FAA aircraft also will check the airfield lighting systems for both runways. German authorities also will conduct certification tests on the runway.

The roughly $69 million runway project began in August 2003 and is part of U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s $385 million Rhein-Main Transition Program. With Rhein-Main closing at the end of the year, the program was launched to shift strategic airlift capabilities from Rhein-Main to Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases in Germany.

Military aircraft missions at Rhein-Main are scheduled to stop in October. After the flying mission is complete, U.S. personnel assigned to Rhein-Main will begin to move to other U.S. European Command locations with their unit or on to other assignments around the world, according to a USAFE Web site.

Once the transition is complete, Rhein-Main will close, and the property will be turned over to the German government. Currently, Frankfurt International Airport plans to use the Rhein-Main property to expand its services.

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