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MCIPAC Communication Strategy and Operations

Okinawa Marines in the Asia-Pacific region

Okinawa, Japan
MCAS Futenma Phase Two Complete of the Air Field Revitalization

By Lance Cpl. Tayler P. Schwamb, Marine Corps Installations Pacific | Marine Corps Installations Pacific | January 17, 2018


Due to a location the region as well as physical aspects, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma has been a key installations in supporting regional security in the Indo Asia Pacific since 1945.

After approximately one year of revitalization efforts, local community and MCAS Futenma leadership held a ribbon cutting ceremony in honor of the completion of work which marked the station’s ability to again support fixed wing air craft operations, Dec. 27.

MCAS Futenma’s revitalization (return to prior operational capabilities) ensures the readiness of MCIPAC’s network of air stations throughout the region. The ability to launch aircraft allows greater flexibility to operational assets on island toward saving lives and preserving regional peace, stability and security. MCAS Futenma was the hub for air operations during Operation Tomadachi in 2011 and humanitarian assistance efforts during the Kumamoto earthquake in 2016.

In January 2017, MCAS Futenma began a crucial three-phase project to revitalize outdated equipment and infrastructure necessary to ensure the sustainment of safe training and operational capabilities related to flights.

MCAS Futenma’s infrastructure was last updated in the early 1970s and was once again due for extensive upkeep. In order to maintain the air station’s operations during revitalization efforts, the project was split into phases. “Three phases is the best way to do air field repair because you can continue to fly,” said Harold Treadway, the airfield manager of MCAS Futenma.

The three phases consisted of nine initiatives including repairs to lighting systems; taxiways; drainage pipes; and sewage lines.

Repairing the airfield lighting system consisted of removing all the existing 1960’s era airfield lighting systems and bringing them into compliance with the Department of the Navy and Federal Aviation Administration regulations. The new conduit and wiring underneath the airfield and lighting makes it safer to land and gives military pilots and aircraft better support capabilities during bad weather, which is a common occurrence in Okinawa.

MCAS Futenma also repaired the shoulders of the runway and taxiway. This FAA and DON requirement, creates a safety zone on the side of the runway to prevent sand, grass or other types of foreign objects that present a hazard to aircraft on the runway, making landing planes safer for military pilots and in turn the local community.

The taxiway drainage pipes and sanitary sewer lines were also in need of repair. Flooding would cause asphalt damage and lead to flight delays for extended periods of time. After various tests, pipes were repaired to ensure the current drainage and sewer are efficient.

While phase two has been completed, phase three of revitalizing MCAS Futenma’s airfield is still to come in 2018.

“We are mid-stride in the revitalization, there is still a lot of work to be had here,” said Col. Mark Coppess, commanding officer of MCAS Futenma. “With the airfield repaired and brought back to standard, III Marine Expeditionary Force is better positioned to rapidly respond to emerging crises throughout the Asia Pacific. In addition, as a key part of network of bases throughout the region, MCAS Futenma provides opportunities, not just for military air craft but also for civilian aircraft coming in and out of Naha that require an emergency divert airfield.”