Yokota working vehicle showcase
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Yokota’s airlift mission couldn’t function without its wheels on the ground. Yokota has a variety of specialized vehicles in all shapes and sizes, performing jobs from cleaning sewage lines to loading cargo to putting out fires.
This article showcases four of Yokota’s high-tech, hard-working vehicles: the 60k Tunner, the Striker 3,000, the 10k all-terrain forklift and the Humvee.
“Without K-loaders, there would be no airlift,” said Airman 1st Class John Thomas Dennis, 730th Air Mobility Squadron air freight technician.
The 60k Tunner is Yokota’s largest K-loader, vehicles designed to load and offload aircraft cargo. The 60k Tunners utilize hydraulics to adjust the height of the loading platform, up to 18.5 feet, and can support up to 60,000 pounds.
Dennis drives and operates all of the 730 AMS K-loader models.
“It’s my favorite part of the job,” Dennis said. “Driving the K-loaders is a lot of fun, especially when you lift it way up in the air to drive up to a KC-10 aircraft.”
The cargo Dennis helps to transport mainly supports permanent change of station moves but is also critical to a variety of other missions, such as repairing deployed aircraft.
The Striker 3,000 is the newest addition to Yokota’s firefighting arsenal. It is equipped with advanced, self-operating features and adapted specifically to combat aircraft fires.
Unlike the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department’s older firetruck models, the Striker 3,000 can be operated by one driver. It is equipped with a “snozzle,” a hull-piercing attachment that can open an aircraft to aid in extinguishing a fire. The truck is twice the size of previous models and has an improved boom-length which extends up to 75 feet longer, giving it a maximum reach of 750 feet. The Striker 3,000 can disperse three types of firefighting agents: water, foam and Purple K, a dry chemical, and can hold up to 3,300 gallons of water.
“I love it,” said Airman 1st Class Thomas Smith, 374 CES driver operator. “It’s an awesome ability to know that you can single-handedly put out a fire and possibly save someone’s life. That joy that you see when we bring little kids in and they get to sit in the driver’s seat is like what I experienced the first time I got to operate it.”
10k all-terrain forklift
Forklifts are an essential part of Yokota operations and are used in numerous places: on the flight line, on construction grounds, at drop zones and more.
The 374 LRS uses 10ks for large cargo transport, loading and unloading up to 10,000 pounds of aircraft parts, barrels and canisters at a time for any number of uses across base.
“It’s extremely bouncy,” said Airman Jalen Johnson 374th LRS vehicle operator and dispatcher. “You’re like a bobble head in there.
While the 10k’s bounciness may make it a challenge to drive at times, its usefulness can be seen in the sheer number of them dispersed throughout Yokota.
“It’s fun being able to operate heavy machinery and pick up things that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise,” Johnson added.
High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle is abbreviated as HMMWV, more commonly referred to as Humvee. Humvees are versatile, all-terrain vehicles that can be outfitted as light utility vehicles or light armored cars. In 1979 the U.S. military developed them to replace several existing trucks with an all-in-one light tactical vehicle.
According to Airman 1st Class Alexander Love Gaunt, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels systems maintenance civil engineer, driving the Humvee around Yokota can attract a lot of attention because it is such a symbol of the U.S. Military.
“People, military or not, stare in curiosity,” Love Gaunt said.
Love Gaunt explained that the 374 CES uses the vehicle’s power for hauling large equipment. Other squadrons, such as the 374 LRS, use it to navigate rough terrain like remote drop zones.
The 374 Airlift Wing, with its role as the primary airlift hub in the western Indo-Asia Pacific Region, has a diverse set of tasks to ensure the mission is completed. Vehicles, of all shapes and sizes, assist in making these tasks much easier and more efficient to accomplish.