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Kadena Air Base
Part of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)
Located near: Kadena, Okinawa, Japan
44th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle takes off at Kadena Air Base

A 44th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle takes off at Kadena Air Base, Japan
Built 1945
In use 1945 – present
Controlled by Flag of the United States Air Force United States Air Force
Garrison USAF - 18th Wing.png
18th Wing (USAF)

Kadena Air Base is a United States Air Force base in the towns of Kadena and Chatan and the city of Okinawa, in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. Kadena Air Base is home to the USAF's 18th Wing, the 353d Special Operations Group, reconnaissance units, 1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery, and a variety of associated units. Over 20,000 American service members, family members, and Japanese employees live or work aboard Kadena Air Base. It is the largest and most active US Air Force base in the Far East.


F-22 Raptor edit1
F-22 Raptor over Kadena Air Base

Kadena Air Base's history dates back to just before the 1 April 1945, Battle of Okinawa, when a local construction firm completed a small airfield named Yara Hikojo near the island's village of Kadena. The airfield, used by Imperial Japanese warplanes, was one of the first targets of the Tenth United States Army 7th Infantry Division. The United States seized it from the Japanese during the battle.

What the Americans captured was a 4,600 feet (1,400 m) strip of badly-damaged coral runway. Army engineers from the 13th Combat Engineer Battalion, 7th U.S. Infantry Division quickly made repairs and, by nightfall the same day, the runway could accept emergency landings. Eight days later, and after some 6 inches (150 mm) of coral were added, the airfield was declared operational and put into immediate service by artillery spotting aircraft when the runway became serviceable on 6 April.

LAV-25 USMC and USAF personnel on patrol
USMC and USAF personnel on patrol, Kadena Air Base

Additional construction was performed by the 807th Engineering Aviation Battalion to improve the airfield for USAAF fighter and bomber use with fuel tank farms, a new 6,500 feet (2,000 m) bituminous runway, and a 7,500 feet (2,300 m) runway for bomber aircraft, by August.

Kadena airfield was initially under the control of Seventh Air Force, however on 16 July 1945, Headquarters Eighth Air Force was transferred, without personnel, equipment, or combat elements to the town of Sakugawa, near Kadena from RAF High Wycombe England. Upon reassignment, its headquarters element absorbed the command staff of the inactivated XX Bomber Command. Kadena was used by the headquarters staff for administrative flying requirements.

Base facilities

Kadena Passenger Terminal
Kadena Passenger Terminal
Kadena High School
Kadena High School
Children from local foster homes have valuable experience 140328-F-QQ371-196
Members of Fire Bird Taiko Club from Amelia Earhart Intermediate School perform for children from Okinawan foster homes on Kadena Air Base
  • Gate 5 Park
  • Kadena Passenger Terminal
  • Kadena BX
  • Schilling Community Center
  • Rocker Enlisted Club
  • Officers Club
  • Kadena Aeroclub
  • Banyan Tree Golf Course
  • Jack's Place Restaurant (originally Skoshi KOOM – Kadena Officers Open Mess)
  • Kadena High School
  • Kadena Middle School
  • Kadena Elementary School
  • Bob Hope Primary School
  • Ryukyu Middle School
  • Amelia Earhart Intermediate School
  • Stearley Heights Elementary School
  • The Asian Division of University of Maryland University College (UMUC)
  • Kadena Commissary


Elephant walk at Kadena Air Base (3)
Aircraft from the 18th Wing at Kadena air base

The 18th Wing is the host unit at Kadena air base. In addition, the base hosts associate units from five other Air Force major commands, the United States Navy, and other Department of Defense agencies and direct reporting units. Associate units operate more than 20 permanently assigned aircraft from the base on a daily basis.

  • 18th Wing
    The 18th Wing is the Air Force's largest and most diverse combat wing. The Wing is broken down into five groups: the 18th Operations Group, the 18th Maintenance Group, the 18th Mission Support Group, the 18th Civil Engineer Group, and the 18th Medical Group. Kadena's fleet of F-15C/D Eagles (the 44th and 67th Fighter Squadrons); KC-135R/T Stratotankers (the 909th Air Refueling Squadron); E-3 Sentry|E-3B/C Sentries (the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron); and HH-60 Pave Hawks (the 33d Rescue Squadron).

Associated units:

U.S. Airmen with the Kadena Air Base honor guard present the U.S. and service flags during Kadena Air Base (AB) Special Olympics opening ceremony at Kadena AB in Okinawa, Japan, Nov 111105-F-ZT401-386
U.S. Airmen with the Kadena Air Base honor guard present the U.S. and service flags during Kadena Air Base Special Olympics opening ceremony
AP-3C Orion at Kadena Air Base October 2018
AP-3C Orion at Kadena Air Base
U.S. Airmen with the 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit install a missile on an F-15 Eagle aircraft during a weapons load competition April 5, 2013, at Kadena Air Base, Japan 130405-F-FL836-208
U.S. Airmen install a missile on an F-15 Eagle aircraft during a weapons load competition at Kadena Air Base
  • 353d Special Operations Group
    This is an element of the Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Florida. The 750 Airmen of the group are organized into the 1st Special Operations Squadron, the 17th Special Operations Squadron, a maintenance squadron, the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, and an operations support squadron. The flying squadrons operate the MC-130J Commando II, MC-130H Combat Talon II.
  • 733d Air Mobility Squadron
    This squadron manage all passengers and cargo traveling by air in and out of Kadena. This Air Mobility Command unit supports about 650 aircraft arrivals and departures every month, moving more than 12,000 passengers and nearly 3,000 tons of cargo.
  • 82d Reconnaissance Squadron
    Air Combat Command's 82d Reconnaissance Squadron maintains aircraft; prepares combat-ready aircrews; and analyzes, processes, and disseminates intelligence data launch in support of RC-135V/W Rivet Joint, RC-135U Combat Sent and WC-135 Constant Phoenix missions flown in the Pacific Theater.
  • 390th Intelligence Squadron
    This Air Intelligence Agency squadron conducts information operations by providing tailored combat intelligence and assessing the security of friendly command, control, communication and computer systems to enhance warfighting survivability, situation awareness and targeting.
  • U.S. Army
    1st Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment, assigned to the 94th AAMDC is a Patriot PAC-3 battalion. It consists of four Patriot missile batteries (Alpha through Delta), a maintenance company (Echo) and a headquarters battery (HHB).
  • The Air Force Housing Management Office (HMO) manages Military Family Housing (MFH) for all service members assigned to Okinawa. Kadena Air Base contains nearly 4,000 family housing units, in apartment, townhouse, and single family home styles.

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