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Three mayors protest Kadena night flights

Date Posted: 2006-09-16

In the aftermath of September 11th, America’s military has stepped up its vigil on Okinawa to thwart terrorist activity.

The defense posture on bases has been increased, security guards have been armed, ship and submarine movements schedules have become more secretive and guarded, new missiles are being deployed, and fences enhanced. Aviation units are flying more missions, and people are talking less about what is happening on bases.

The operations tempo at Kadena Air Base has increased as well, and that’s not sitting well with mayors of three surrounding towns and cities. The mayors of Okinawa City and Kadena and Chatan Towns are preparing a protest visit to Kadena Air Base September 19th to complain about night flights over their communities. The most recent irritant to them was the early Monday takeoffs of two F-15 fighter planes and three refueling aircraft. Local officials say the departure of the planes to the United States at 3:38am was unnecessary, and disturbed residents’ sleep.

The Air Force says it had notified the three communities of the planned night flights. Chatan, Kadena and Okinawa City say they made a request to Kadena officials to “change the flight schedule or to stop doing night flights”. Residents say they are worried about the number of night flight operations, pointing out the nights are becoming much more noisy.

Since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the military has made many security adjustments to increase force protection. A new fence is being built along Kadena Air Base, blocking the view of the runways, and Kadena is preparing for the deployment of PAC-3 protective surface-to-air missiles early next year.

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