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No runway? No problem for Team Yokota

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Taylor Altier
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

For the second time in recorded history, Team Yokota launched and recovered multiple C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from its Foxtrot taxiway to respond to a simulated damaged airfield during Exercise Beverly Morning 24-1 at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Oct. 22. 

In the exercise scenario, Yokota’s primary runway was damaged, causing a severe interruption to flight operations–or one may think.  

To continue Yokota’s airlift hub mission, teams of 374th Maintenance Group, 374th Operations Support Squadron, and 36th Airlift Squadron Airmen prepared aircraft to launch from the Foxtrot taxiway, which was repurposed for this exercise as a landing zone in lieu of a runway.  

Yokota’s C-130Js can take off and land on any stretch of land that is roughly 3,000 feet long and 60 feet across. However, Yokota crews executed with room to spare, according to Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Hooke, 374th OSS Air Traffic Control tower chief controller. 

"The scenario provided a unique opportunity to not only test Yokota’s resolve to accomplish the mission, but also demonstrate our ACE capabilities,” he said. “Operations like this are ultimately successful, not because of a single career field, but because of the talents specialists from across the wing bring to fight. Today was truly a team effort and shows what our wing is capable of." 

Throughout the scenario, Tech. Sgt. Justin Ivey, 374th OSS Landing Zone Safety Officer and tower senior watch supervisor, surveyed the landing zone, marked it appropriately, and communicated with the aircrew and airfield management personnel for multiple launches, fast approaches, and assault landings.   

“We can establish landing zones anywhere that meets our requirements when a conventional runway isn’t available or accessible,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Rathke, 374th OSS airfield management specialist. “Which means our teams have the ability to launch and recover aircraft from austere locations, with the right preparation.” 

This training ensures aircrew and airfield operations teams can achieve enhanced Agile Combat Employment and perform skilled landings on short, narrow, crowded, and even unmarked strips of land, sustaining airpower to deliver effects at the location and time of our choosing.