Misawa Air Base
Misawa Air Base is located approximately 400 miles north of Tokyo, adjacent to Misawa City in Aomori Prefecture, (pop. approx. 42,000) in Tohoku. There are about 5,200 U. S. military personnel assigned to Misawa (pronounced MEE-sah-wah) , along with 300 U. S. civilian employees end 900 local national employees. Misawa Air Base is unique in that it's the only combined, joint service installation in the western Pacific. Units representing all four U. S. services are assigned here as well as the Japan Air Self Defense Force, or JASDF. The 35th Fighter Wing serves as the host unit and major associate units include the 301st Intelligence Squadron, Naval Air Facility, Naval Security Group Activity, JASDF Northern Air Defense Force Headquarters and 3rd Air Wing.
Misawa Air Base has witnessed a large amount of growth over the past few years. It is a dynamic air base with modern facilities, excellent housing, and is surrounded by the natural mountainous beauty of rural northern Japan. Misawa Air Base has witnessed a large amount of growth over the past few years. It is a dynamic air base with modern facilities, excellent housing, and is surrounded by the natural mountainous beauty of rural northern Japan.
Misawa AB, including its exchange and commissary, was originally designed to support about 5,000 people. The current population is closer to 12,000! Without much warehousing space, popular and seasonal items sell out fast; restocking is slow. Quantity and selection vary from season to season and year to year, so the following information about shopping is more a reflection on this past year than a prediction of the coming year. The exchange mall includes a sports store, pack and wrap, photo shop, flower store, dry cleaners, Korean/Japanese gift shops, computer store, book store, optical shop, military car sales outlet and food court.
Most main base officer housing is located around the corner of the main gate, within a block or two of the commissary exchange complex and the O'Club. Tall pine trees provide lots of shade, and the yards tend to be large. Homes on main base are older but okay if renovated. All non-H-style houses on main base were slated for demolition at least three years ago, but progress has been slow. North Area housing is located on the far side of the base--just under 15 minutes from the main gate or 10 minutes from a side gate (P.O.L. gate). The North Area has its own elementary school, childcare center, fire station, and shoppette mini-mall containing a food court, video store, dry cleaners, and barber shop.
F-16s from the 35th Fighter Wing (35 FW) share a single runway with the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF). The JASDF 3d Air Wing has one squadron each of F-1 fighters, F-4 fighters, T-4 training aircraft, and E-2C airborne fighter control aircraft. Additionally, US Navy P-3 antisubmarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, JASDF CH-47s, numerous transient transport aircraft, carrier based USN and USMC fighters, and a major Japanese civilian air carrier use the airfield facilities.
In August 2001 the Japan Defense Agency submitted a budget request for $83,000 for a survey of the potential impact of a second runway at the northern Honshu base. The survey would study the current runway condition, examine Japanese law and U.S. operating standards, and address the area's cultural resources. The survey also would include an environmental assessment to determine what effect a 10,000-foot runway to be built north of the present runway would have on the area. Building another runway at Misawa Air Base would not signal an expansion of the U.S. Forces presence at the busy joint-use installation. Some local citizens groups opposed to the stationing of U.S. and Japanese units at the base fear the additional runway would increase noise levels over the city. The additional runway does not suggest an expansion of U.S. Forces strength at the base. The Air Force has requested the addition of a second runway to alleviate the number of delayed takeoffs and landings for U.S. aircraft operating from the base. Japan Air System operates seven daily flights from Misawa Airport, adjacent to the base, but JAS aircraft use the base's runway for takeoffs and landings.
In addition to the Navy, Misawa Air Base also hosts US Army, Marine Corps and Air Force units in conjunction with Japanese Air Self Defense Forces. The camaraderie and interaction among all the services is unparalleled. Opportunities abound for Sailors to join a team of 1,200 plus personnel, whose mission is support. In addition to the Naval Air Facility and Naval Security Group Activity, Misawa also is home to Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Det., Personnel Support Det., Patrol Wing 1 Det, and Mobile Mine Assembly Unit 12 - to name only a few. Nearly every rate is represented somewhere at NAF Misawa.
U.S. Naval Communications Detachment (NAVCOMM Det) Misawa was officially established in February 1991. NAVCOMM Det Misawa is a tenant command of U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan, which is located on 35TH Fighter Wing Air Base Misawa, Japan. NAVCOMM Det Misawa's primary mission is to provide reliable communications support for Commander, SEVENTH Fleet and supporting units, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, Defense Information Systems Agency and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force. The detachment operates and maintains the Tactical Support Communications Center in support of Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing One Detachment Misawa, and operational deployed commander, Commander Task Group 72.4. Additionally, the detachment provides CMS, STU-III, GATEGUARD, and DMS equipment along with training and technical assistance to Naval Air Facility, Commander Task Group 72.5 and 12 tenant commands.
F-16s operate at all altitudes within a 200 NM radius of Misawa. When flying VFR outside of designated training areas, F-16s use ATC radar flight following services. In an effort to avoid TCAS incidents with local airline traffic, Misawa F-16s are required to fly on IFR clearances when above FL150. For most training missions, F-16s fly to the Charlie MOAs off the west coast. F-16s also frequently fly between the base and Ripsaw Range, 10 NM to the north. Misawa's simulated flameout (SFO) practice pattern extends to 10,000' over the airfield. Approximately 50 sorties are launched daily. Click here to see the local training area.
US Navy P-3s mainly fly long range, over-water ASW missions originating and terminating at Misawa. They will normally only be seen in the local area conducting transition training under RAPCON or tower control. Touch and go landings are common during these missions. VFR training flights are occasionally flown in the local area away from the airfield.
JASDF F-1s, F-4s, T-4s, and E-2Cs generally operate between Misawa and their training areas 40 NM off the east coast (Bravo MOAs). They usually cruise to and from these areas from 5000'-25000'. F-1s and F-4s also use Ripsaw Range and operate at low altitude between Misawa and the range. E-2Cs are seen only during departure/arrival operations. F-1s may be required to scramble. This sometimes causes delays in the local area. Don't be surprised if you see them departing opposite the traffic flow.
There is very little civilian traffic in the area. Light aircraft are virtually non-existent. There are some hang gliding clubs operating in the area. Japan Air System (JAS) has seven scheduled flights in and out of Misawa daily. Their ramp is at the southeast end of the field. Expect delays when they are within 15 NM of the base on arrival. Several airways transit the local airspace, predominantly west of the field. Most civilian traffic on the airways are commercial jetliners, operating in the mid - upper twenties and thirties.
There are four gunnery ranges located within 35 NM of Misawa. R-130 Ripsaw Range - located 10 NM north of Misawa, is used by both JASDF and USAF aircraft. Vertical limits are surface to 23,000'. It is controlled by both USAF and JASDF personnel. ATIS broadcasts the range status (hot or cold). Although the range is small, bombing patterns extend up to 10 NM west of the range. R-521 - located 25 NM north of Misawa, is used by the JASDF for ground-to-air training. It's vertical limits also extend from the surface to 23,000'. It is controlled by the JASDF. R-Shimokita - located 30 NM north, is used for surface-to-surface training. The vertical limits are specified by NOTAM. It is controlled by the Defense Agency (Japanese). R-129 - located 35 NM east of Misawa over the water it is used for air-to-air gunnery practice. Vertical limits are surface to 35,000' and is controlled by the Northern Air Defense Command (Japanese).
Misawa AB is on the northeast end of Honshu Island, approximately 325 miles north of Tokyo. Coordinates are N40°42'11.598", E141°22'06.108". The airfield is directly north of Misawa City. The airfield has a single asphalt/concrete surfaced runway oriented 95.09°/275.12° degrees magnetic. The field elevation is 119 feet MSL. The runway is 10,000 x 150' with 50'-wide asphalt shoulders. The first 1,500 ft of Runway 10 and the first 1,000 ft of Runway 28 are concrete, while the remainder of the runway is asphalt. Each end of the runway has 1,000 ft of stabilized, non-weight bearing overrun. Both Runway 28 and Runway 10 have ILS and PAR approaches available. Click here to see the airfield diagram.
There are two 75 ft-wide parallel taxiways on both sides of the runway. Taxiway A is bordered by a stabilized, non-weight bearing shoulder. Taxiway B, between Taxiway B3 and B5, is bordered with stabilized, non-weight bearing, marked shoulders. Between Taxiway B3 and B1, it has no shoulders (bordered by grass) or side markings. Most of the taxiways north of the runway are for locally based aircraft parking. Taxiway C3 leads north to the hot cargo pad.
The following arresting systems are available: two BAK-12 bi-directional arresting cables located 2,500 feet from the approach end of Runways 10 and 28. Two BAK-12 bi-directional arresting cables located approximately 1,250 feet from the approach end of runways 10 and 28. JASDF Safe Bars are installed at both ends of the runway. The far (1,250 ft from end of runway) BAK-12 is normally in the raised position at all times. The near (2,500 ft from end of runway) BAK-12 is also in the raised position. The Safe Bar Barrier is in the lowered position. Both approach end BAK-12s are in the lowered position. Plan for a 15-minute set up time for approach end cable arrestments. The safe bar net barrier and main stanchion is laid in the overrun. Landing in the overrun can be very hazardous due to entanglement with the safe bar net barrier located in the overrun. The approach end BAK-12(s) will be activated at the request of the pilot or supervisor of flying (SOF). When requested, the approach end BAK-12 can be made ready within 10 minutes during normal duty hours. After duty hours, weekends, and holidays, the approach end BAK-12 can be readied in 15 minutes. Expect the runway to be closed for approximately 30 minutes following a barrier engagement.
The runway is equipped with high intensity runway lights (HIRL). The five levels of intensity are controlled by the Tower and may be adjusted upon pilot request. US standard high intensity approach lights with sequenced flashing lights, CAT I (ALSF-1). Runway Distance Markers are internally illuminated with white lights. PAPIs are installed on the approach end of Runway 10 and Runway 28 (Glide slope 2.5 degrees). The taxiways are lighted with standard blue taxiway lights, lighted in sections by the control tower. A standard airport rotating beacon is located on top of a water tower one mile south of runway center line. All prominent obstructions within the airfield boundary are marked with standard red obstruction lights.
Normal arm/de-arm operations will be conducted for JASDF on taxiways A2 and A5 in the designated areas and B1 or B5 for local USAF operations. In case of hung/malfunctioning forward firing or live ordinance, taxiways B1 or B5 are used. For deployed units please coordinate with 35 OSS/OSAM (Airfield Management) for Arm/Dearm procedures.
Base Operations (USAF/JASDF) will notify the Tower, RAPCON, command post, and base weather of current runway condition reading/runway surface condition (dry or wet) (RCR/RSC). Also, Base Operations (USAF/JASDF) will brief pilots on current RCR/RSC when flight plans are filed. Base weather (USAF) will brief current RCR/RSC information (including water depth information) when applicable.
The USAF Fire Department provides aircraft crash fire fighting equipment and joint rescue services at Misawa AB. The USAF Fire Department responds to all emergencies/incidents involving USAF aircraft. "Chief-2" will act as the on-scene commander. Prior to termination of an in-flight emergency, the Fire Department will visually confirm that there are no fuel or hydraulic leaks. When the aircraft is safe to taxi, the on-scene commander will inform Tower and terminate the emergency. If an aircraft has a malfunction that requires technical assistance from ground personnel and the pilot cannot communicate directly with qualified personnel, the SOF (VHF 122.8 or UHF 283.3), Misawa Tower will coordinate. Consider using the Single Frequency Approach (SFA; UHF 235.0) for inflight emergencies. This allows all concerned agencies (tower, RAPCON, SOF, and Fire Department) to be on one single frequency. The flight safety truck is also equipped with a UHF radio and can provide assistance while on scene. Flight safety response personnel monitor single frequency approach (if in use) or ground control (275.8) during all emergencies.
The 35 FW Commander will activate any Search and Rescue (SAR) actions as necessary for missing or confirmed lost aircraft. SAR efforts can be activated by contacting "Cardinal," the F-16 Supervisor of Flying (283.3/122.8) during the normal flying day, and Misawa Command Post (Weasel Ops 277.2/141.60) or Misawa Tower (315.8/118.1) at all times. When advising Japanese controllers that SAR is required, use the term "Search and Rescue," since they don't recognize the term "SAR." MAINTENANCE RUN-UP AREAS: High power maintenance engine run-ups will be performed in designated areas located on taxiways B1, B5, and the hot cargo pad. Use of these areas is restricted to 0600L to 2200L and will be coordinated with Base Operations prior to run-up.
The primary short-range divert is Hachinohe, 10 NM south of Misawa. Its runway is 7380' long and has an ILS approach to RWY 25. Hachinohe is serviced by Misawa Approach Control. The closest USAF operated divert base is Yokota, 312 NM south of Misawa. Its runway is 11000' long. The best Japanese operated IFR divert field is Chitose, 126 NM north of Misawa. It has three separate runways, the longest being 9840'. The field has a high density of civilian traffic, as well as JASDF F-15J fighter traffic. The two westernmost runways serve the military. The single runway to the east is referred to as "New Chitose" and serves civilian traffic. Also a good IFR divert field, Matsushima is located 137 NM south of Misawa and is a military field. It's longest runway is 8860' long. Several smaller civilian airfields are scattered around the local area. On northern Honshu is Akita (83 NM southwest), Hanamaki (75 NM south) and Aomori (30 NM west). On southern Hokkaido, you have Hakodate, 69 NM northwest of Misawa. Each field has an 8,200' runway (Hanamaki's is only 6,500') and is equipped with an ILS approach. On northern Hokkaido, Kushiro, Memanbetsu, Obihiro, and Wakkanai are all available, but have shorter runways. At night, there are very few airfields open. Only Matsushima, Chitose, and Hachinohe are open 24 hours. Runway lighting must be requested from tower.
The JASDF operates helicopters throughout northern Honshu. Local helicopters usually launch and recover on Taxiway B near B5. Use caution when taxiing in this area. The main operating area is south of Hachinohe, usually below 5000 feet MSL. The JASDF also ferries helicopters between Chitose and Hachinohe on a route that runs along the west side of Shimokita peninsula at 2000 feet. The area west of Ripsaw (R-130) and north of Noheji is where fighter aircraft and helicopters may conflict with each other.
There are several hang glider clubs that fly regularly in northern Japan. They have been seen as high as 7000' MSL, and the most popular site is on Mt. Iwaki, west of Hirosaki.
When the JASDF are using R-129 for gunnery/tow target practice there may be some problems with the departure and recovery of the target towing aircraft. The target towing aircraft normally requires 10 minutes to clear the runway after landing. Arrival delays can be expected during this time. If runway 10 is in use, the tow ship will make its recovery to runway 28 (an opposite direction approach). Aircraft will not depart when the tow ship is 15 miles or less from runway 28. Additionally, aircraft are restricted from initial or closer in the overhead pattern, established on downwind or closer in the rectangular pattern, and IFR aircraft will not be permitted closer than 15 miles on final when the tow ship is 15 miles or less on approach to runway 28. Expect delays.
Several nuclear power plants are located north of Misawa. The Japanese are very sensitive about these facilities-never over fly them at any time. While at Ripsaw, avoid flying north of the river, three miles north of the conventional target. Do not over fly the nuclear power plant or the large POL tank farm north of the river.
TCAS resolution advisory reports are a major concern for Misawa. There are four major airways between Misawa and the west coast of Japan, all running north-south and heavily traveled by civil airline traffic. In order to avoid TCAS incidents, the 35th Operations Group Commander has issued the following directive: Pilots will make every effort to avoid airliners by a minimum of 5NM laterally and 2000 feet in altitude. If on an intercept course, pilots should make every attempt to maneuver away from the intercept course no later than 10NM. Pilots will obtain VFR flight following and traffic advisories anytime they are operating above 10,000' MSL. This service will not always be available, but pilots should attempt to obtain flight following from either Sabre, Headwork (JASDF ATC flight following) or Sapporo Control.
During the Meiji period, a national horse farm was established in the area of Misawa Air Base and was eventually used as a cavalry training center for the Imperial Army. As late as the 1930s, at the onset of the Sino-Japanese War, the emperor's cavalry was stationed here, until its transfer to China.
Misawa's transformation to an air base began in 1938. The Imperial Army laid a primitive airstrip in the heavily wooded terrain for use as a base for long-range bombers in the defense of northern Honshu Island during the China conflict. It could also be used as a launching site toward the United States and Russia, if necessary. A communications site was established in 1941, which was used to send signals to a combined fleet anchored in Mutsu Bay. This fleet would later launch the aircraft that attacked Pearl Harbor. The base was taken over by the Imperial Navy Air Corps in 1942 and the base's mission changed to research and development for training and fighter aircraft. Lake Ogawara, which borders the base, was used to test seaplanes. In 1944, facilities were built for Kamikaze Special Attack forces. Shortly before the war's end, the Yokosuka Flying Corps began testing new aircraft designs here. These improvements, while too late to change the outcome of World War II, were made to Zero and Raider fighter aircraft. In July 1945, a B-29 sabotage training program was established at Misawa. Using wooden dummies of the bomber, the pilots and crewmen were taught how to destroy them. The war ended before the training could be applied. One month before the end of World War II, U. S. fighters strafed and bombed the base. One week later, B-29s all but destroyed it.
The American occupation of Misawa began in September 1945, when the Army's famed "Wildcat Troops" arrived. Later, Army engineers restored the base for future use by the Army Air Corps. During the Korean conflict, Misawa supported the F-80s, F-84s and F-86s that saw action over that peninsula. F100 fighters arrived in 1958 followed by F-4s that operated from here during the Vietnam conflict.
With the departure of the fighters in 1972, Misawa's primary mission was turned over to the 6920th Electronic Security Group, now the 301st Intelligence Squadron and the Navy's P-3 Orion antisubmarine warfare planes. For more then a decade, Misawa remained a quiet, unassuming base until it was thrust into the international limelight as a major deployment site for rescue and recovery operations, following the 1983 downing of a Korean Airlines 747.
On July 4, 1985, fighters returned to Misawa.
Misawa is a small, coastal city bordering the Pacific Ocean. It is located in a rural area and has a population of over 42,000 people. Community relations between Misawa and the base are excellent, with base residents taking an active part in the local festivals and celebrations. Your Sponsor and Welcome Packages will have a wealth of information including pictures. Be sure to review these sources of information carefully.
Misawa has well-defined seasons. Though short, autumn is beautiful with pleasant temperatures, late-blooming flowers, and the changing colors of the trees. Winter gets serious in November, peak in January and February (20's to 30's), and start fading near the end of March. Strong winds often intensify the cold temperatures. Snowfall is not as bad as statistics show, it can be heavy but is often turned to slush or even melted by late afternoon. Icy roads are the greater concern- lasting one to two months. As the ice and snow clear and the ground dries, dust storms become a hazard near farm fields. In the spring, the winds switch and come from the east off the ocean. Thick sea fog is common in the morning or early evening. From mid-June to mid-July is a rainy season. Normally, summer temperatures average in the 70'Fs, but July and August 1994 were exceptionally hot (80's & some 90's) and muggy! September is the rainiest month, but the cooler temperatures are welcome.
Near the 1995 new year, Misawa experienced two earthquakes--7.5 and 6.9 on the Richter scale at the epicenter off the coast of Hachinohe, a nearby city. There were few injuries and no deaths in Misawa. Personal property damage varied from less than $50 in some units to over $10,000 in some apartments on the upper floors of the towers. Most of the damage to base structures was cosmetic (cracked tiles, plaster, etc.). But even minor earthquakes can play havoc with china, crystal, and collectibles.
Naval Air Facility, Misawa
The Naval Air Facility, located at Misawa Air Base, provides support to transient Navy aircraft and to the patrol squadrons that deploy there. Misawa Air Base is approximately four hundred miles north of Tokyo and is located in Aomori (which means blue-green forest) Prefecture, the northernmost prefecture on the island of Honshu. Personnel assigned to the base enjoy an excellent relationship with Misawa City and the local community. There are unlimited opportunities for travel and cultural exchanges at events such as the annual air festival, children's home-stay exchange programs, and participation in local and regional festivals.
Commander Fleet Air Western Pacific Detachment Misawa was established on 1 July 1972 with a complement of 4 officers and 27 enlisted personnel. The detachment was initially responsible for operation of the air field at Misawa in and for operation of the fuel arms.
In January 1973, COMFAIRWESTPAC Detachment Misawa commenced supporting a 3-plane patrol squadron detachment, assisting then in their around-the-clock surveillance of the Pacific Ocean. In mid-1973, the detachments took over responsibility for support of all transient aircraft services from the U.S. Air Force and additionally provided support of all transient aircraft services from the U.S. Air Force and add additionally provided support for tactical aircraft from the carriers USS HANCOCK and USS MIDWAY. During this period, initial elements for an Intermediate Maintenance Facility began providing Navy aircraft maintenance support. The fall of 1973 also saw Navy Misawa assume control and coordination for the use of the Ripsaw air-to-ground weapons range and an air-to-air weapons range.
In February of 1974, COMFAIRWESTPAC Detachment's manpower allowance was increased to 7 officers and well over 100 enlisted personnel. The fall of the year saw an ever-increasing Navy tempo of operations in support of both the patrol squadron and tactical air detachments.
1975 continued to find the pace of Navy Misawa operations at a high level and manpower allowance doubling. In August, the first full patrol squadron arrived for a regularly scheduled deployment to Misawa. In September 1975, the Chief of Naval Operations directed the COMFAIRWESTPAC Detachment Misawa be disestablished and Naval Air Facility, Misawa be commissioned on 1 October 1975.
Misawa is an accompanied tour area, with concurrent travel of dependents authorized. On- base housing is authorized for personnel GS-9 and above. Current waiting period is 12 to 18 months.
When arriving at Narita Airport employees must take a commercial bus to Haneda Airport where they can continue on their connecting flight to Misawa on the Japan Air System (JAS). The base is approximately 5 minutes away from the Misawa Airport. Your sponsor will provide detailed information regarding the bus, JAS, and lodging accommodations when arriving at Narita Airport after ground transportation is no longer available.