Concerns of congestion at Naha Airport arise from doubled number of F15s at JASDF Naha Air Base
January 27, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On January 26, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) decided to form a new air wing, the 9th Air Wing, at Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Naha Air Base starting January 31. Naha Air Base’s 83rd Air Wing will receive 20 F-15 fighter jets from Tsuiki Airfield. With this addition, the 83rd Air Wing will be transformed into the 9th Air Wing. Not only will this decision change Naha Air Base’s collective number of F15 aircraft to 40 in number, but increase their personnel by 300 people. There is concern that doubling the number of fighter aircraft at Naha Air Base will negatively affect tourists flying to Naha, and residents in the surrounding areas.
In addition to forming the 9th Air Wing, the MOD decided to open Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) Camp Yonaguni on March 28 this year. In an interview following a Cabinet meeting on January 26, Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani stated that the MOD is clearly demonstrating that it is strengthening the defense of Japan’s southwestern islands.
In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of scrambles conducted by the JASDF stationed at Naha. The MOD is forming the 9th Air Wing to strengthen the defense of Japan’s southwestern islands. Minister Nakatani is planning a visit to Okinawa on January 31 for a ceremony celebrating the formation of the 9th Air Wing.
At Naha Airport there is only one runway, and it is shared by Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) and civilian flights. Lately, JSDF aircraft that experience trouble have repeatedly blocked the runway. Civilian aircraft are put on standby for JSDF landings and takeoffs, and it is expected that the increase in the number of aircraft flying in and out of the airport will affect civilian flights used by tourists.
In June last year a JASDF helicopter, without receiving directions from an air-traffic controller, crossed the path of a civilian aircraft that was making a takeoff from Naha Airport. Voices from the tourism industry are raising concerns about overcrowding operations at Naha Airport with the projected doubling of fighter aircraft using the runway.
Construction of JGSDF Camp Yonaguni is advancing with a plan to station a JGSDF Coast Observation Unit there.
(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)
JASDF’new air wing operates 40 F-15s in Naha
January 31, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On January 31, a ceremony commemorating the establishment of Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s 9th Air Wing was held at its base in Naha.
The 9th Air Wing commander and Naha Base commander Kiyoaki Kawanami received the corps flag from Deputy Defense Minister Kenji Wakamiya.
The new air wing operates about F-15s with 1,500 personnel. Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s 83rd Air Wing, which was set up at Naha base in 1972, was dissolved.
Wakamiya stated in his speech, “We can protect the lives and property of the people as well as securing the territorial land, water and airspace.”
(English translation by T&CT)
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