Marine Corps Air Station
Located in the midst of Futenma city, Futenma Air Base is said to symbolize Okinawa's base-related issues such as the dangers of aircraft noise pollution and crashes. The US Marine Corps Futenma Air Station occupies a fourth of the total area of Ginowan City, and it is right in the center of the city. Roads, waterworks and sewerage systems have to make a detour to avoid the air station. It is a major obstacle to improving the city's infrastructure. In addition, to avoid inconvenience to US aircraft approaching to the air station, the height of buildings is restricted near the base, and thus redevelopment, which Ginowan City wants to undertake, cannot be carried out.
The base has many support facilities including hangars, communication facilities, maintenance/repair facilities, parts warehouses, offices, a fire station, PX, clubs, bars, health clinics, and MWR facilities. It is well equipped with such facilities as hangars, a communication facility, maintenance and repair facilities, storage facilities, a fire station, and leisure/recreational facilities for US personnel.
Marine Corps Air Station, Futenma began in 1945 as a bomber base. Construction of hangars and barracks began in 1958. The airfield was commissioned as a "Marine Corps Air Facility" in 1960 and became an Air Station in 1976. Located within Ginowan City, Okinawa, the Air Station is home to approximately 4,000 Marines and Sailors. It is capable of supporting most aircraft and serves as the base for Marine Aircraft Group 36, Marine Air Control Group 18, and Marine Wing Support Squadron 172. The Air Station provides support for the III Marine Expeditionary Force and for Marine Corps Base, Camp Butler. Since 15 January 1969 MCAS Futenma serves as a United Nations air facility and a divert base for Air Force and Naval aircraft operating in the vicinity of Okinawa.
More than 3,200 Marines are stationed at Futenma, which covers about 480 hectares and includes a 2,800-meter-long and 46-meter-wide runway. The installation is a critical component of the Marine Corps' forward deployment because it is the home base of the 1st Marine Air Wing. The Wing's primary mission is to participate as the air component of the III Marine Expeditionary Force. The wing's Marine Air Group-36 provides tactical fixed and rotary wing aircraft and flies about 70 aircraft, including CH-46 and CH-53 helicopters and KC-130 aerial refueling airplanes.
MCAS Futenma's primary mission is to maintain and operate facilities and provide services and materials to support Marine aircraft operations. MCAS Futenma covers 1,188 acres of land and is completely surrounded by the urbanized growth of Ginowan City. The land at MCAS Futenma is leased from about 2,000 private landowners by the government of Japan. About 40 percent of the base is used for runways, taxiways, and aircraft parking. The remaining portions of the base are used for air operations, personnel support facilities, housing, and administrative activities. MCAS Futenma has a runway and parallel taxiway that are 9,000 feet long as well as an aircraft washrack, maintenance facilities, vehicle maintenance facilities, fuel storage facilities, a hazardous waste storage and transfer facility, a control tower, an armory, and other facilities needed to operate a Marine Corps air station.
If the Marine Corps presence is to be maintained with air and ground combat units and logistical support collocated on Okinawa, then MCAS Futenma or a suitable replacement is required to maintain the operational capability of the III Marine Expeditionary Force's air combat element.
In SACO's December 1996 Final Report, it was agreed upon that this facility would be completely returned. With a land area of 4,806,000m^2c, a total of 2,562 land owners are paid a yearly rental fee of 5.793 billion yen.
The new a 2,500-meter runway, which would replace Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, was initially proposed to be built over a reef that is almost 2 miles off the shores of Henoko.
A new Japanese proposal on relocating the heliport functions of the air base was made in October 2005. The heliport would be built partly within Marine Corps Camp Schwab in Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, extending out into the shallow waters. This reflected a modification of Japan's proposal that it be built completely within Camp Schwab. Japan considered a revised version of the Henoko proposal with a shorter, 1,500-meter runway. Critics charged that even the shorter runway off Henoko would cause irreparable damage to the environment.