Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni or MCAS Iwakuni (岩国飛行場, Iwakuni hikōjō) (IATA: IWK, ICAO: RJOI) is a United States Marine Corps air station located in the Nishiki river delta, 1.3 NM (2.4 km; 1.5 mi) southeast of Iwakuni Station[3] in the city of Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan.

MCAS Iwakuni

Mcas iwakuni a insig.jpg
MCAS Iwakuni logo
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni - JMSDF Iwakuni Air Base (427022429).jpg
Airport typeMilitary air base
OperatorUnited States Marine Corps
LocationIwakuni, Yamaguchi, Japan
In use1940 – present
CommanderCol Richard F. Fuerst[1]
OccupantsMarine Aircraft Group 12
Carrier Air Wing 5 (USN)
Fleet Air Wing 31 (JMSDF)
Elevation AMSL10 ft / 3 m
Coordinates34°08′42″N 132°14′39″E / 34.14500°N 132.24417°E / 34.14500; 132.24417Coordinates: 34°08′42″N 132°14′39″E / 34.14500°N 132.24417°E / 34.14500; 132.24417
RJOI is located in Yamaguchi Prefecture
Location in Japan
RJOI is located in Japan
RJOI (Japan)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20A 2,440.5 8,007 Rigid reinforced Concrete
Number Length Surface
m ft
02H/20H 365 1,198 Concrete
Statistics (2015)
Cargo (metric tonnes)167
Aircraft movement2,939

Tenant commandsEdit

US Marine CorpsEdit

US NavyEdit

US Air ForceEdit

  • 374th Airlift Wing 374th Communications Squadron provides communications support to H&HS, MAG-12, Branch Medical Clinic Iwakuni, Army Corps of Engineers, and the JMSDF.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense ForceEdit


The Japanese government bought a large portion of what is today MCAS Iwakuni in 1938, with the view of establishing a naval air station. They commissioned the new base 8 July 1940. When World War II started, the Iwakuni air station was used as a training and defense base. The station housed 96 trainers and 150 Zero fighter planes on the airstrip. In September 1943, a branch of the Etajima Naval Academy was established here, with approximately 1,000 cadets undergoing training in the Basic, Junior and Senior Officer's schools at any one time. American B-29's bombed Iwakuni in May and August 1945, concentrating on the oil refinery and Rail Transport Office or train station areas. The last air raid took place just a day before the war was brought to a close.

The first allies to reach Iwakuni at the war's end were a group of U.S. Marines who had signed papers ending the conflict for the Japanese air base. After the end of World War II, various military forces from the United States, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand occupied the base and it was repaired by No. 5 Airfield Construction Squadron RAAF. It was designated a Royal Australian Air Force Base in 1948. The Americans first occupied the base in 1950 to use it as a springboard for aircraft heading to the Korean War. In 1952, the base officially became a United States military base.[6]

F-51Ds of RAAF No. 77 Squadron in maintenance at Iwakuni Airfield, June 1950.

Iwakuni had scheduled international service by private airlines from 1952 to 1964, during which time it had the IATA airport code IWJ. This code was later reassigned to Iwami Airport in neighboring Shimane Prefecture.[7]

Nuclear weapons were moved from Okinawa to the base for storage during a brief period in 1966. When U.S. ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer learned of the presence of the weapons, which was a violation of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, he told the United States Department of State that if the weapons were not removed within 90 days he would resign and go public with the information. The weapons were removed shortly thereafter, and their presence at the base did not become publicly known until 2010.[8]

It is currently home to around 5,000 United States Marines (including family members). The base is detailed for Marine pilot training and air patrol, using F/A-18 Hornet fighter-attack aircraft among others in compliance with the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security obligations to protect Japan. MCAS Iwakuni is also shared with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force. MCAS Iwakuni is home to a Department of Defense school, Matthew C. Perry (Elementary, Middle School and High School).

USMC F/A-18D takes off from MCAS Iwakuni in December 2005

A new off-shore runway opened at the base on 30 May 2010. The new runway is 2,440 meters in length.[9]

On 22 November 2017, a C-2A Greyhound cargo plane with 11 crew and passengers aboard crashed southeast of Okinawa after departing the base for the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. Eight of the 11 were rescued.[10]

USN Carrier Air Wing 5 relocation to MCAS IwakuniEdit

EA-18G Growler of VAQ-141 taxies after landing

Since at least 2005 there had been plans to relocate Carrier Air Wing Five's fixed wing aircraft from Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture to Iwakuni.[11] Yamaguchi governor Sekinari Nii said there was "no way" Yamaguchi prefecture would accept this.[12] In 2006 Iwakuni voters rejected the plan in a plebiscite[13] and Iwakuni mayor Katsusuke Ihara urged Tokyo to drop the plan.[14] In 2007 the Japanese government passed legislation to prepare for the relocation of US Forces in Japan including subsidies for local affected areas.[15]

The move was planned to have been done in 2014, but after construction delays the move was delayed by three years, to 2017.[16][17][18]

The move did not include the wing's two helicopter squadrons. The first CVW-5 squadron, VAW-125 flying the E-2D Hawkeye arrived in January 2017. The Boeing E/A-18G Growlers of VAQ-141 "Shadowhawks" completed relocation in January, 2018. As of May 2018, all fixed wing aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 5 had completed relocation from NAF Atsugi.

USMC F-35B aircraftEdit

F-35B Lightning IIs with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121, taxi to the runway at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

The first aircraft of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 "Green Knights" (VMFA-121) arrived on 18 January 2017.[19] This became the first and only forward deployed Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II squadron in the United States Marine Corps. They have since flown show of force sorties against North Korea.[20]

Commercial servicesEdit

Regular commercial service started from 13 December 2012 with a civilian airport terminal built to accommodate commercial flights. It was initially projected that up to 430,000 passengers would use the airport each year,[21] and in the first seven months of operations the airport handled over 200,000 passengers, with average load factors between Iwakuni and Tokyo exceeding 70% during June 2013.[22]

Since IATA airport code IWJ, formerly assigned to Iwakuni, was already reassigned to Iwami Airport, new IATA code of IWK was assigned to Iwakuni. The inaugural flight was operated by All Nippon Airways from Haneda Airport. Also, Iwakuni Airport will be called by its official nickname "Iwakuni Kintaikyo Airport", named after the Kintaikyo bridge near the airport. In the future, they plan to serve international flights to China and South Korea and some other cities within Japan.


All Nippon Airways Naha,[23] Tokyo-Haneda

Friendship DayEdit

A child tries on a Kevlar helmet during the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni Friendship Day 2016 Air Show, 5 May 2016.

Every year on 5 May, Japanese nationals and U.S. service members, government employees and their families officially celebrate their long-standing friendship by opening the gates of MCAS Iwakuni for one of Japan's largest air shows dedicated to enhancing the friendship of the two nations. The event, entitled Friendship Day, hosts an average 250,000 visitors who travel from all over Japan.[24][25]

See alsoEdit


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the United States Marine Corps.

  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  1. ^ Commanding Officer : Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Col Richard F. Fuerst's Biography, MCAS Iwakuni, 20 July 2016, retrieved 31 July 2016
  2. ^ "Iwakuni Airport" (PDF). Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  3. ^ AIS Japan Archived 17 May 2016 at the Portuguese Web Archive
  4. ^ Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron
  5. ^ Air Station Iwakuni - Unit (Japanese) Archived 22 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. (n.d.). MCAS Iwakuni History. Retrieved 17 March 2010, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "12月開港の岩国空港略称、「IWK」に決まる". Nihon Keizai Shimbun. 28 July 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 国交省大阪航空局などによると、1952~64年の間、岩国は国際空港として民間機が発着しており、このときの略称はIWJだったという。これは現在、石見空港(島根県益田市)の略称として使われている。
  8. ^ Jiji Press/Kyodo News, "U.S. kept nuclear arms at Iwakuni in 1966: scholar", Japan Times, 17 March 2010, p. 1.
  9. ^ Japan Times, "New Offshore Runway at U.S. Iwakuni Operational", 30 May 2010.
  10. ^ Rich, Motoko (22 November 2017). "Navy Aircraft With 11 Aboard Crashes Into Waters Off Japan". New York Times. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  11. ^ Iwakuni to take in Atsugi jets? 4 Jun 2005 Japan Times Retrieved 10 August 2016
  12. ^ Yamaguchi governor rips Iwakuni move 31 October 2005 Japan Times Retrieved 10 August 2016
  13. ^ Johnston, Eric Iwakuni voters reject realignment plan 13 Mar 2006 Japan Times
  14. ^ Drop base plan: Iwakuni mayor 17 March 2006 Japan Times Retrieved 10 August 2016
  15. ^ Diet enacts law that paves way for U.S. forces realignment 24 May 2007 Japan Times Retrieved 10 August 2016
  16. ^ Air wing's move from Atsugi to Iwakuni delayed 3 years 25 January 2013 Stars and Stripes Retrieved 10 August 2016
  17. ^ Reducing military jet noise 9 August 2015 Japan Times Retrieved 10 August 2016
  18. ^ Suga visits Yamaguchi for consent to transfer U.S. carrier wing to base in Iwakuni 5 February 2017 Japan Times Retrieved 5 February 2017
  19. ^ Insinna, Valerie (10 January 2017). "First F-35B Squadron Moves to Japan". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  20. ^ LaGrone, Sam (31 August 2017). "Marine F-35s, Air Force Bombers Sortie with South Korea, Japan in Show of Force After North Korea Missile Tests". USNI News. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  21. ^ Tritten, Travis J.; Sumida, Chiyomi (19 February 2010). "Japan carrier to offer Iwakuni flights". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  22. ^ "開港半年の岩国空港、利用は堅調". 日本経済新聞. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  23. ^ "ANA Adds New Domestic Routes in S16". airlineroute. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  24. ^ "Press Conference for 2008 Friendship Day" (Press release). MCAS Iwakuni, United States Marine Corps. 8 April 2008. Archived from the original on 26 April 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
  25. ^ "Friendship Day website" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 1 May 2008.

External linksEdit