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The SACO Final Report on Futenma Air Station (an integral part of the SACO Final Report)

Tokyo, Japan

2nd December, 1996

1. Introduction.

a. At the Security Consultative Committee (SCC) held on December 2, 1996, Minister Ikeda, Minister Kyuma, Secretary Perry, and Ambassador Mondale reaffirmed their commitment to the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) Interim Report of April 15, 1996 and the Status Report of September 19, 1996. Based on the SACO Interim Report, both Governments have been working to determine a suitable option for the return of Futenma Air Station and the relocation of its assets to other facilities and areas in Okinawa, while maintaining the airfield's critical military functions and capabilities. The Status Report called for the Special Working Group on Futenma to examine three specific alternatives: 1) incorporate the heliport into Kadena Air Base; 2) construct a heliport at Camp Schwab; and 3) develop and construct a sea-based facility (SBF).

b. On December 2, 1996, the SCC approved the SACO recommendation to pursue the SBF option. Compared to the other two options, the SBF is judged to be the best option in terms of enhanced safety and quality of life for the Okinawan people while maintaining operational capabilities of U.S. forces. In addition, the SBF can function as a fixed facility during its use as a military base and can also be removed when no longer necessary.

c. The SCC will establish a bilateral U.S.-Japan working group under the supervision of the Security Sub-Committee (SSC) entitled the Futenma Implementation Group (FIG), to be supported by a team of technical experts. The FIG, working with the Joint Committee, will develop a plan for implementation no later than December 1997. Upon SCC approval of this plan, the FIG, working with the Joint Committee, will oversee design, construction, testing and transfer of assets. Throughout this process, the FIG will periodically report to the SSC on the status of its work.

2. Decisions of the SCC.

a. Pursue construction of a SBF to absorb most of the helicopter operational functions of Futenma Air Station. This facility will be approximately 1500 meters long, and will support the majority of Futenma Air Station's flying operations, including an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)-capable runway (approximately 1300 meters long), direct air operations support, and indirect support infrastructure such as headquarters, maintenance, logistics, quality-of-life functions, and base operating support. The SBF will be designed to support basing of helicopter assets, and will also be able to support short-field aircraft operations.

b. Transfer 12 KC-130 aircraft to Iwakuni Air Base. Construct facilities at this base to ensure that associated infrastructure is available to support these aircraft and their missions.

c. Develop additional facilities at Kadena Air base to support aircraft, maintenance, and logistics operations which are currently available at Futenma Air Stations but are not relocated to the SBF or Iwakuni Air Base.

d. Study the emergency and contingency use of alternate facilities which may be needed in the event of a crisis. This is necessary because the transfer of functions from Futenma Air Station to the SBF will reduce operational flexibility currently available.

e. Return Futenma Air Station within the next five to seven years, after adequate replacement facilities are completed and operational.

3. Guiding Principles.

a. Futenma Air Station's critical military functions and capabilities will be maintained and will continue to operate at current readiness levels throughout the transfer of personnel and equipment and the relocation of facilities.

b. To the greatest extent possible, Futenma Air Station's operations and activities will be transferred to the SBF. Operational capabilities and contingency planning flexibility which cannot be supported by the shorter runway of the SBF (such as strategic airlift, logistics, emergency alternate divert, and contingency throughput) must be fully supported elsewhere. Those facilities unable to be located on the SBF, due to operational, cost, or quality-of-life considerations, will be located on existing US facilities and areas.

c. The SBF will be located off the east coast of the main island of Okinawa, and is expected to be connected to land by a pier or causeway. Selection of the location will take into account operational requirements, air-space and sea-lane deconfliction, fishing access, environmental compatibility, economic effects, noise abatement, survivability, security, and convenient, acceptable personnel access to other US military facilities and housing.

d. The design of the SBF will incorporate adequate measures to ensure platform, aircraft, equipment, and personnel survivability against severe weather and ocean conditions; corrosion control treatment and prevention for the SBF and all equipment located on the SBF; safety; and platform security. Support will include reliable and secure fuel supply, electrical power, fresh water, and other utilities and consumables. Additionally, the facility will be fully self-supporting for short-period contingency/emergency operations.

e. The Government of Japan will provide the SBF and other relocation facilities for the use of U.S. forces, in accordance with the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security and the Status of Forces Agreement. The two Governments will further consider all aspects of life-cycle costs as part of the design/acquisition decision.

f. The Government of Japan will continue to keep the people of Okinawa informed of the progress of this plan, including concept, location, and schedules of implementation.

4. Possible Sea-based Facility Construction Methods.

Studies have been conducted by a "Technical Support Group" comprised of Government engineers under the guidance of a "Technical Advisory Group" comprised of university professors and other experts outside the Government. These studies suggested that all three construction methods mentioned below are technically feasible.

a. Pile Supported Pier Type (using floating modules)--supported by a number of steel columns fixed to the sea bed.

b. Pontoon Type--platform consisting of steel pontoon type units, installed in a calm sea protected by a breakwater.

c. Semi-Submersible Type--platform at a wave free height, supported by buoyancy of the lower structure submerged under the sea.

5. The Next Steps.

a. The FIG will recommend a candidate SBF area to the SCC as soon as possible and formulate a detailed implementation plan no later than December 1997. This plan will include completion of the following items: concept development and definition of operational requirements, technology performance specifications and construction method, site survey, environmental analysis, and final concept and site selection.

b. The FIG will establish phases and schedules to achieve operational capabilities at each location, including facility design, construction, installation of required components, validation tests and suitability demonstrations, and transfer of operations to the new facility.

c. The FIG will conduct periodic reviews and make decisions at significant milestones concerning SBF program feasibility.

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