Naha Airfield was constructed for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in
1933 as Oroku Naval Air Base. In 1936, the control of the airfield was
handed over to the Japanese Ministry of Communications and it was
renamed Naha Airfield.
In 1942, the Navy regained control of the base and reverted the name
to Oroku Naval Air Base.
The american troops captured the airfield on 1 April 1945.
After WWII, the airfield became a major USAF Air Base under
operational control of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and was named Naha
Naha was home to several USAF fighter and transport units.
Fighters were flown by the 51th Fighter Group (later 51th
Fighter-Interceptor Wing) which was composed of three squadrons :
16th, 25th and 26th. They flew the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, the
North American F-86 Sabre and, for one of them (16th), the Convair
F-102A Delta Dagger. Transport aircraft were Fairchild C-119 Flying
Boxcar flown by the 21st Troop Carrier Squadron and Lockheed C-130
Hercules flown by the 21st, 35th and 817th Troop Carrier (later
Tactical Airlift) Squadrons.
The base became a joint civilian-military airfield in 1954 with the
resumption of civilian air traffic between Tokyo and Okinawa.
The U.S. Air Force left Naha on 31 May 1971 and the control of the
airfield was tranferred to the Japanese Ministry of Transportation
which established Naha Airport on the site. The control of the
military side of the airfield was transferred to the Japan Air
Self-Defense Force in 1979.
Over the years,
several JASDF Fighter units have been based in Naha.
207 Hikotai flew the Lockheed F-104J Starfighter out of Naha from
November 1972 until its disbandment in March 1986.
302 Hikotai arrived in November 1985 with its licensed-built
Mitsubishi F-4EJ Phantom II to replace 207 Hikotai and stayed until
March 2009 where it transfered to Hyakuri.
In January 2009, 204 Hikotai, flying the licensed-built Mitsubishi
F-15J/DJ Eagle, arrived to replace 302 Hikotai.
It was joined by 304 Hikotai in January 2016, also flying the
Mitsubishi F-15J/DJ Eagle.
based 601 Hikotai, flying the Grumman E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early
Warning and Control Aircraft, started training detachments from Naha
As a permanent presence of AEW&C aircraft in the region was deemed
necessary, 603 Hikotai was created in April 2014 with four E-2C.
A first rescue
detachment started to operate out of Naha in October 1972 with
Mitsubishi MU-2S later joigned by Kawasaki KV-107 (licensed-built
Boeing-Vertol CH-46) helicopters.
Those aircraft were replaced by British Aerospace U-125 and Mitsubishi
A third type of aircraft now at the disposal of the Air Rescue Wing is
the licensed-built Kawasaki CH-47J Chinook previously controlled by
the Helicopter Airlift Squadron. They arrived in Naha in March 1992.
Another JASDF unit based in Naha is the Southwestern HQ Support Flight
formed in May 1972 with Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star. The unit now
flies the Kawasaki T-4.
Another service based in Naha is the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
5 Kokutai, flying the licensed-built Kawasaki P-2J Neptune, started
operations from Naha on 15 May 1972. The Neptune was replaced by the
Lockheed P-3C Orion in March 1991.
A second P-3C Unit, 9 Kokutai, was formed in Naha on 30 July 1993 but
was disbanded on 26 March 2008 as it merged with 5 Kokutai.
Last but not
least, Naha is home to 11th region of the Japan Coast Guard.
The first aircraft flown by the service out of Naha were Beech Model
18 in January 1975.
Today, a mix of Dassault Falcon 2000MSA, Bombardier DHC-8MPA and
Agusta Westland AW139 is used.
our spotting day in Naha was a non-flying day for the JASDF.
Only JMSDF and Coast Guards flew some missions.
There were many airliners to be seen but they are the subject of
Naha Air Base
9 Kokudan :
- 204 Hikotai :
Mitsubishi F-15J/DJ Eagle / Kawasaki T-4
- 304 Hikotai : Mitsubishi F-15J/DJ Eagle / Kawasaki T-4
Warning and Control Wing :
- 603 Hikotai :
Grumman E-2C Hawkeye
Air Rescue Wing
- Naha Air
Rescue Squadron : Mitsubishi UH-60J / British Aerospace U-125
- Naha Helicopter Airlift Squadron : Kawasaki CH-47J Chinook
- Kawasaki T-4
5 Kokutai :
- 51 Hikotai :
Lockheed P-3C Orion
- 52 Hikotai :
Lockheed P-3C Orion
Falcon 2000MSA, Bombardier DHC-8MPA, Agusta Westland AW139