Air Force breaks ground on first phase of ‘Osprey campus’ at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo
By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 5, 2019
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The Air Force broke ground Thursday on $63 million worth of facilities for CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft at the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo.
The work involves building 587,000 square feet, equivalent to about 10 football fields, of paved areas to support aircraft flown by the 21st Special Operations Squadron — the Dust Devils — which stood up at Yokota in July.
Five of the helicopter-airplane hybrids have been operating as a detachment at the base since October 2018. At full strength the squadron will fly 10 Ospreys supported by 450 personnel, officials have said.
A Shinto religious ceremony marked the start of work at the site of the new “Osprey campus” on the east side of the base runway.
“Forward-basing the CV-22 at Yokota provides an increased level of security, disaster preparedness, and emergency airlift capability during crisis situations that will allow U.S. Forces to support of the defense of Japan and the region,” squadron commander Lt. Col. Jason Hock, said in a statement issued after the ceremony.
The first things being built are paved areas such as aprons and taxiways as well as drainage, said Col. Thomas Verell, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Japan Engineer District.
They should be available for the Osprey squadron to use by March 2022, he said.
Other facilities, which will be built during the project’s second stage, include a maintenance hangar, operations warehouse, headquarters building and flight simulator.
However, all but the flight simulator are on a Defense Department list of $3.6 billion in projects deferred in fall to pay for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Verell said.
Japan-based Nippo Corp., which is building the Osprey facilities, is involved in other construction projects on U.S. bases in Japan, including facilities for Air Force MC-130J aircraft at Kadena Air Base and elementary schools and a power plant at Sasebo Naval Base, Verell said.