Environmental Review for Basing the Joint Strike Fighter F-35B at MCAS Iwakuni

F-35 B variant basing in Japan

Cardno has unparalleled F-35 NEPA experience having managed the environmental review process for eleven out of the fourteen DoD F-35 basing actions in the U.S. and the Pacific.

Cardno is the premier expert on the requirements for and environmental impacts from basing and operating the F-35, having prepared the documentation for almost every F-35 action by the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. For this reason, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) selected Cardno to conduct its Environmental Review (ER) to evaluate the impacts of basing F-35B aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni on mainland Japan and at Marine Wing Liaison Kadena (MWLK) at Kadena Air Base (AB) in Okinawa, Japan. This ER spans the breadth of mainland Japan, the island of Okinawa, and airspace over the Sea of Japan, North Pacific Ocean, and East China Sea.  

The proposed action based one permanent squadron of 16 aircraft at MCAS Iwakuni and two unit deployment program (UDP) squadrons of 20 total aircraft at Kadena AB. These aircraft replace the current permanent and UDP F/A-18C/D squadrons at MCAS Iwakuni (the permanent squadron) and MWLK (the two UDP squadrons). Aircraft operations were also evaluated at USMC Ie Shima Training Facility (ISTF) on Okinawa, as well as expeditionary operations at Misawa and Yokota ABs, as well as at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi. In addition to aircraft operations, the proposal included evaluation of potential impacts due to construction at MCAS Iwakuni, ISTF, and MWLK. In support of this, Cardno teamed with a local leading archaeology small business, conducted cultural resources surveys at both MWLK on Okinawa and ISTF on Ie Shima. 

Because of its experience in evaluating F-35 aircraft, Cardno was the lead in defining the DOPAA. This task involved data collection; pilot, maintainer, and airspace manager interviews; and interpreting F-35-specific operational data as they relate to existing aircraft missions. In addition to DOPAA development, Cardno created a first-of-its-kind ER approach for the USMC and Marine Corps Installations Pacific (headquartered in Okinawa). Project-specific work included developing and maintaining the project schedule; creation of an internal project website for ease of review for USMC and Navy installations across the world; and responsibility for supervising the translation of ER documentation for dissemination to the Government of Japan (GoJ). 

Aircraft Operations and Airspace Management: The ER examined aircraft operations based on local and Okinawan GoJ concerns, airspace use by other civilian and commercial aircraft, and aircraft scheduling issues. The ER also examined the flight profiles unique to the F-35. Cardno staff has analyzed F-35 aircraft operations since the inception of the program, from using surrogate aircraft to using actual field-tested data. This effort involved close coordination with the USMC Japan planning division, pilots, air traffic control managers, aircraft engineers/maintainers, and airspace managers. 

Cardno also evaluated potential noise impacts (using GoJ and US standards), including effects of low-frequency noise, at airfields on mainland Japan at MCAS Iwakuni, Misawa AB, Yokota AB, and NAF Atsugi; and on Okinawa at MWLK, ISTF, and MCAS Futenma.