Cannon opens doors to media

Cannon Connections photo: Liliana Castillo Eleven members of the media spent the day at Cannon Air Force Base Wednesday. Media Day included a briefing and interview with Col. Stephen Clark. Clark said $1.2 billion will be funneled into Cannon over the next five years.

By Liliana Castillo: Cannon Connections

Cannon Air Force Base received its first CV-22 Osprey last week and picked up a second Wednesday.

That is one example of growth that has defined Cannon since it was switched from Air Combat Command to Air Force Special Operations Command on Oct. 1, 2007.

The base showcased its mission, aircraft, growth and construction Wednesday for the mission’s first Media Day.

Eleven media members were shuttled around the base to visit aircraft and their crews, experience a mission briefing from Col. Stephen Clark, eat at the new Pecos Trail Dining Facility, try out a CV-22 Osprey flight simulator, see hammer-and-nail construction, and view a ground control station for the MQ-1 Predator.

Clark said it’s important for the media and surrounding communities to understand the base and its mission.

Clark said the base’s fleet of aircraft will grow from the current 35 to 91 manned and 51 unmanned aircraft.

The commander said the immediate issue is providing housing for young airmen.

Michael Poston, deputy base civil engineer at Cannon, said the base will have 1,038 homes, which will include building 676 new homes.

“There is a privatization initiative going on and we hope to close that in June 2011,” Poston said.

Poston said Cannon has been under construction almost continuously since 2007.

“There was a lot of construction needed to make larger facilities for the larger aircraft,” Poston said.

ACC housed F-16s which were much smaller than the C-130s used by Special Operations, he said. Poston said he expects to see construction ongoing at Cannon beyond 2020.

Clark said $1.2 billion will be funneled into Cannon over the next five years.

Poston said the projects planned, including a new ramp southeast of the base, are programmed and authorized but funding is decided on a year-by year-basis.