The 374th Airlift Wing provides Rapid Mobility as the Pacific’s Premiere Power Projection Platform. It is responsible to the 5th Air Force commander for C-130J, UH-1N and C-12J operations including tactical air-land, airdrop, aeromedical and distinguished visitor airlift. As the primary Western Pacific airlift hub for peacetime and contingency operations, the wing provides airlift for the movement of passengers, cargo and mail to all Department of Defense agencies in the Pacific area of responsibility and provides transport for people and equipment throughout the Kanto Plain and the Tokyo metropolitan area. During peacetime, the 374th Airlift Wing maintains a constant state of readiness by participating in joint training exercises.
Personnel and resources
The wing is composed of four groups, including 17 squadrons. More than 3,500 military members alongside U.S. and Japan civilian employees make up the 374th Airlift Wing work force, which supports 32 tenant units and a base populace of approximately 12,000. The wing includes the 36th Airlift Squadron, which flies the C-130J Super Hercules, and the 459th Airlift Squadron, which flies UH-1N helicopters and the C-12J Huron. In total, the wing has more than 20 aircraft.
The wing's forces are organized under four groups: 374th Operations Group, 374th Maintenance Group, 374th Mission Support Group and the 374th Medical Group. These four groups are supported by 10 wing staff agencies that report directly to the wing commander.
The 374th Airlift Wing resulted from a restructuring of Air Force units at Yokota Air Base in 1992. The former host unit of Yokota Air Base, the 475th Air Base Wing, and its subordinate units were inactivated and the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing was redesignated as the 374th Airlift Wing and transferred from Air Mobility Command to Pacific Air Forces on April 1, 1992.
The 374th was established as 374th Troop Carrier Wing, Heavy, on Aug. 10, 1948, and activated on Aug. 17, 1948. The 374th operated at Harmon Field, Guam, from August 1948 through March 1949 and provided troop carrier operations in the Pacific and Far East. The wing moved to Japan in March 1949, assuming control of Tachikawa Army Airfield, which later became known as Tachikawa Air Base, until Jan. 1, 1956.
The unit performed routine transport operations until the outbreak of war in Korea in June 1950. The first of several groups of repatriated prisoners were transported by the 374th from Korea to Japan in April 1953 during Operation Little Switch and subsequently transported United Nations prisoners of war during Operation Big Switch from North Korea. On July 1, 1957, the 374th was inactivated. It was later redesignated the 374th Troop Carrier Wing and activated in June 1966. In August 1966, the 374th began operations at Naha Air Base, Okinawa. The 374th was redesignated the 374th Tactical Airlift Wing on Aug. 1, 1967.
In May 1971, the wing replaced the 314th Tactical Airlift Wing at Ching Chaun Kang Air Base, Taiwan. The wing provided support in March 1973 for Operation Homecoming, the repatriation of American prisoners from Hanoi, North Vietnam. The 374th moved to Clark Air Base, Philippines, in November 1973.
Aircraft from the unit took part in Operation Baby Lift (evacuation of Vietnam orphans) and Operation New Life (evacuation of Vietnamese refugees) in April 1975. The 374th moved to Yokota in October 1989.
The 374th controlled aerial port facilities in South Korea until November 1983 then later in the Philippines and Japan. In 1980, the unit began supporting U.S. Navy elements in the Indian Ocean area of responsibility and deployed C-130s, associated aircrews and support personnel for operations in Southwest Asia from Dec. 30, 1990, to July 6, 1991.
Air cargo and aeromedical airlift support was provided for the evacuation of Clark AB, Philippines, after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, from June 8 to July 1, 1991. In April 1992, control of the 374th returned to Pacific Air Forces Command when the 374th was redesignated the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base. In 1996, the 374th deployed portions of the Air Transportable Hospital to Andersen AFB, Guam, to assist in Operation Pacific Haven migrant operations in assistance of more than 2,000 Kurdish foreign nationals.
After an earthquake triggered tsunami struck 11 Southeast Asian nations on Dec. 26, 2004, killing upwards of 125,000 people, the 374th Airlift Wing deployed to Utapao Air Base, Thailand, from Dec. 28, 2004, to Jan. 26, 2005 as part of Operation Unified Assistance. Operating from Utapao, the unit's C-130s distributed humanitarian supplies to the people and nations of the devastated region.
The 374th Airlift Wing's role as the sole airlift hub of the western Pacific increased in significance following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. During the first few days following the earthquake and tsunami, surveillance missions launched from Yokota gathered imagery and information on areas in the north that could be used as runways. Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group based out of Kadena Air Base were repositioned here so they could help clear debris from Sendai Airport eventually enabling larger, fixed-wing aircraft carrying humanitarian relief supplies the ability to land. More than 370 sorties were launched out of Yokota Air Base and the wing served as the logistical center for USAF relief operations.
In November of 2014, Airmen from the 36th Airlift Squadron launched 24-hour C-130H aircraft night operations in support of Operation Damayan, substantially multiplying the joint airlift component to the Philippines and increasing the flow of evacuation flights from Tacloban, the region hit hardest by Typhoon Haiyan. Five C-130H crews from Yokota conducted multiple nighttime sorties that each carried up to 42,000 pounds of rolling cargo in the form of humanitarian aid and relief supplies from Manila to Tacloban. Crews also airlifted evacuees seeking safe haven to Manila with each aircraft carrying approximately 120 passengers per evacuation mission.
Following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in the spring of 2015, Yokota sent four C-130 Hercules and accompanying personnel to aid Joint Task Force-505. Personnel supporting the JTF included maintainers, security force professionals, logisticians, contracting personnel and other critical specialties. Additionally, an emergency medical package with doctors, nurses and medical technicians joined the support effort.
The 374th Airlift Wing sent two C-130H Hercules aircraft and aircrew to the Kyushu region in April 2016 to support the Government of Japan in their relief efforts for the series of earthquakes that took place in Kumamoto Prefecture and surrounding areas. Yokota aircraft transported heavy vehicles and personnel from Chitose Air Base, Hokkaido, to Kyushu, improving the capabilities of ground relief efforts in the region.
(Current as of January 2018)