Japanese visitors entering a C-130 aircraft during a Friendship Festival organised at the Yokota base.
Local Japanese visitors entering flightline of Yokota base.
Housing facilities built in the base for military troops.
Torii gate built for inaugurating the new air traffic control tower at the base.
374th Security Forces Squadron during a taser training exercise.

Yokota Air Force Base (YAFB) is situated 45km north-west of Tokyo at the foothills of the Okutama mountains in Japan. It is one of the three United States Air Force (USAF) bases in Japan built near the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The base is owned and operated by the USAF. About 14,000 personnel currently residing in the base.

Yokota Air Force Base history

YAFB was built in 1940 by the Imperial Japanese Army. The base was then known as Tama Airfield. Flight test activities of the Japanese Army Air Forces were carried out at the base during the Second World War. The USAF took over the control of Tama Air Field on 4 September 1945. Upon unveiling the air field as a US facility, the airfield was renamed Yokota Air Base in August 1946.

The base was used for bomber, reconnaissance and air defence missions during the military control of Japan between 1946 and 1950. It was utilised for combat missions over North and South Korea during the Korean War. It was also used for battle and air refuelling missions during the Cold War.

The squadrons deployed at the Yokota base were migrated to Kadena and Misawa Air Base in 1971. The headquarters of the Fifth Air Force (5AF) was shifted to the YAFB in November 1974.

The 316th Tactical Airlift Group, a part of the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing (374 TAW), arrived at the base in 1978. The 374 TAW was moved from Clarke Air Base to Yokota Air Base in 1989. It was renamed as 374th Airlift Wing (374 AW) in April 1992 and became a host unit of the base.

The Japanese Government decided to transfer the Japan Air Self Defence Force to the Yokota base in 2005.

“The Japanese Government decided to transfer the Japan Air Self Defence Force to the Yokota base in 2005.”

Design and construction

Construction of the Japanese Air Defence Command (ADC) began in 2008. The construction work will include building a 1.3 million square foot operations centre, dormitories for 200 bachelor troops, a dining facility, a Japanese military exchange store, an auditorium and other support facilities.

The ADC is scheduled for completion by the end of March 2011. The US and Japanese troops will share the base upon completion of the construction.

YAFB garrison facilities

The Yokota base served as headquarters for 374th Airlift Wing (374AW) which conducts airlift operations through out East Asia. It also houses fifth air force (5AF), 730th Air Mobility Squadron (730 AMS), American Forces Network, 315th Intelligence Squadron (315 IS), 36th Airlift Squadron and 459th Airlift Squadron.

The 374th Mission Support Group (374 MSG) provides command, control and direction support missions to 374 AW, US Forces deployed at Japan and 5AF.

The 374th Medical Group (374 MG) renders health care facilities to the 374 AW, 5AF and the US Forces Japan. It also supervises 374th Medical Support Squadron, 374th Medical Operations Squadron, 374th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, 374th Dental Squadron and 374th Surgical Operations Squadron.

The 374th Maintenance Group offers maintenance facilities to the existing C-130H, C-12J and UH-1N aircraft endorsing intra-theatre airlift and differentiated visitor transport for Pacific air forces (PACAF). The 374th Operations Group (374 OG) sustains troops, equipment and operational support in the Asia-Pacific region.

Air facilities

The YAFB accommodates C-130H Hercules, Bell UH-1N Huey helicopter, C-12J Huron, C-9 Nightingales, C-21 Learjets and Boeing 747 Cargo. The civilian charter aircraft encompass C-5, KC-10, DC-8, C-17 and L-100. The base features a single 3,353m-long and 61m-wide runway surfaced with concrete.

“The Yokota Air Force Base was built in 1940.”

It also boasts a renovated Air Mobility Command passenger terminal adjacent to the flightline. The terminal operates various flights to the PACAF deployed in Singapore, Korea, Hawaii, Guam and Continental US.

A new air traffic control tower was inaugurated at the base in January 2010.

Other YAFB facilities

The personnel residing at the base are offered facilities including temporary lodging, housing, education, ablutions, airlift facilities, child care facilities and medical care facilities.