Yokota Air Base is one of the US military bases set up on the territory of Japan after World War II. It is located in one of the 26 major cities of Western Tokyo – Fussa. It covers more than 136000 square km and hosts over 14000 individuals. It benefits from a 3.3 km long runaway too. The base is operated by the US Air Force. Some of the most important nonmilitary activities held at the base include the Friendship Festival. It is a local celebration that opens a wide part of the base for civilians, allowing them to inspect the planes, get inside them, learn about their history and features and see a few spectacular shows.
The base was first known as Tama Airfield. It was built by the Empire of Japan main army in 1940. It was used for tests and training activities only. It gained popularity and importance during World War II, when it was turned into the most important site for the Japanese Air Force. At the same time, the base was also a good and safe meeting point for the Japanese and Italian authorities. Japan and Italy had one of the strongest connections during the war.
The war reached to an end in the autumn of 1945, when the Empire of Japan surrendered. At the same time, an American cavalry division was sent to occupy the base and deal with it. The base was renamed to Fussa Army Airfield. A few days later, the authorities decided the Yokota sounded better. The initial objective of Yokota Air Base was to support the 2nd Combat Cargo Group, which brought in four squadrons. The upcoming two decades came with a lot of improvements. The base was upgraded and updated to the latest technologies. The major “face lift” finished in the ’60s. Some of the side effects of the expansion include the modification of a road, a highway and a line. During the first years after the war, the initial troops mostly dealt with the detailed mapping of South Korea and Japan.
The base played a very important role in the Korean War, as it was relatively close. However, it also saw a tragic plane crash in 1957, close to the base. All the troops on board were killed. When the Korean War ended, the base went into a stand-by status. It didn’t really act in the Cold War at all. Instead, the Vietnam War turned it into one of the most active US military bases in Asia.
In 2005, the base became the headquarters of the Japan Air defensive forces. It was also opened to civilian flights to help with the intense traffic on other airports in the area.
Yokota Air Base, Japan is the home of the 347th Airlift Wing, with all the four groups for mission support, operations, medical and maintenance. Each of these groups is responsible with different objectives and tasks. The base also hosts seven tenant and associated units, with less major responsibilities.