AFIMSC construction enhances DAF rescue missions in Indo-Pacific

  • Published
  • By Mila Cisneros
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center is modernizing infrastructure at Kadena Air Base, Japan, to enhance search and rescue mission operations in the Indo-Pacific region.
The effort is led by AFIMSC’s Detachment 2, with the support of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, as part of the organization’s continuous focus on keeping Air and Space Force installations ready and lethal.
The $157 million investment will deliver a state-of-the-art helicopter rescue operations maintenance hangar to support Pacific Air Force combat search and rescue capabilities.
“Modernizing facilities is foundational to sustaining resiliency and improving Air and Space Forces mission capabilities,” said Col. George Nichols, deputy director of the AFCEC Facility Engineering Directorate. “We remain focused on delivering sustainable and cost-effective infrastructure to uniquely position and equip our warfighters with the capabilities they need to accomplish their missions.”
The directorate is charged with execution of DAF’s multi-billion, worldwide military construction effort.
Construction for Kadena’s new facility began April 17 with a traditional Shinto groundbreaking ceremony which was held on site of the recently demolished failing helicopter operations hangar.
Kadena is on the forefront of DAF mission operations and is critical to ensuring U.S. military strength in the Indo-Pacific theater due to its strategic location on the island of Okinawa.
The installation is home to the 33rd Rescue Squadron, the unit responsible for the training, planning and execution of combat search and rescue operations in the region. The infrastructure enhancements will significantly improve mission capabilities.
The $5.7 billion MILCON portfolio in the Pacific spans 18 installations. AFIMSC Det. 2 assists AFCEC with a variety of design and construction management tasks to include requirement identification, resource planning, cost estimating, and environmental support.
“The detachment is our execution arm that’s boots on the ground as we deliver construction programs to support the many Pacific Air Forces’ missions essential to our national defense priorities in the Indo-Pacific theater,” Nichols said.
The construction will replace an aging infrastructure which has endured years of environmental corrosion and is a safety hazard for personnel supporting the upkeep and repairs of a fleet of Air Force helicopters.
The new, 131,384-square-foot hangar will provide areas for operations, maintenance and the storage functions required to support the mission. The facility will also feature administrative offices, flight trainer simulator, six exterior parking spaces and a wash rack.
“Above all, we designed this facility to withstand the corrosive climate and typhoon weather often experienced on Okinawa, ensuring its cost effectiveness, longevity and resilience for years to come,” said Lt. Col. TJ Gabrielson, MILCON and housing construction chief for Japan at AFIMSC Det. 2.
The detachment is partnering with Kadena’s 18th Wing and the Japan District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the project, which is expected to be complete in February 2027.