The United States Air Force is planning to once again utilize the Pacific airfield that was used to launch the atomic bombings against Japan during World War II. The island of Tinian is expected to serve as one of the multiple Pacific bases the U.S. Air Force could use to disperse its forces in the region in the event of a future conflict with China.
In a recent interview with Nikkei Asia, Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of Pacific Air Forces, explained that Tinian’s North Airfield is in the process of being restored.
According to Stars and Stripes, North Airfield featured four 8,500-foot runways in 1945, which allowed the Air Force to launch its B-29 Superfortress bombers against Japan.
Since its use during World War II, the airfield has experienced significant jungle overgrowth. Wilsbach noted that North Airfield “has extensive pavement underneath the overgrown jungle. We’ll be clearing that jungle out between now and summertime.” Wilsbach noted that the airfield will be “an extensive” base once it is completed.
While he did not disclose details concerning when the Air Force will be able to utilize the airfield, he told Nikkei Asia, “If you pay attention in the next few months, you will see significant progress.”
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024, which was recently approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, provides the military with tens of millions of dollars for multiple projects on the island of Tinian.
Funding under the National Defense Authorization Act includes $26 million for the development of the airfield, $46 million for a cargo pad and taxiway extension, $32 million for parking aprons, $20 million for fuel tanks, and $4.7 million for a support and maintenance facility on the island.
According to Stars and Stripes, the projects on the island of Tinian are part of the U.S. military’s plan to restore multiple airfields in the Pacific that were previously used by the United States during World War II.
Stars and Stripes reported that the Air Force is working to establish additional bases in the Pacific to allow for the disbursement of aircraft in the event of a future conflict, especially since Chinese missiles are capable of reaching current U.S. bases in the Pacific.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dan Leaf, a former deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told Stars and Stripes, “With modern aircraft and weapons, some of the preparatory work for a modern airfield is much better done in advance rather than response making it important to act now.”