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The 353rd Special Operations Wing located at Kadena Air Base, Japan is comprised of approximately 1000 Airmen and is the only Air Force Special Operations unit in the Pacific. The 353 SOW is the focal point for special operations aviation activities throughout the Pacific. Under operational control of the commander, Special Operations Command Pacific, the 353 SOW plans and executes general war and contingency operations using advanced aircraft, tactics and techniques to infiltrate, exfiltrate, resupply and support special operations forces.
The 353rd Special Operations Wing traces its origins to the 3rd Air Commando Group and the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing. First activated as the 353rd Special Operations Wing at Clark Air Base in the Philippines April 6, 1989, the Air Force radically reorganized in 1992 in order to drawdown the size of headquarters staffs. During the process the 353 SOW was re-designated the 353rd Special Operations Group, effective Dec. 1, 1992. On July 14, 2021, the 353 SOW was re-designated back to the 353rd Special Operations Wing.
The 1st Special Operations Squadron operates the MC-130J Commando II. The Commando II flies clandestine, or low visibility, single or multiship, low-level air refueling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, and infiltration, exfiltration, and resupply of special operations forces by airdrop or airland intruding politically sensitive or hostile territories. The MC-130J primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by airborne threats.
The 21st Special Operations Squadron flies the CV-22B Osprey. The CV-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft. Its mission is to conduct long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions for special operations forces. The CV-22 is equipped with integrated threat countermeasures, terrain-following radar, forward looking infrared sensor and other advanced avionics systems that allow it to operate at low altitude in adverse weather conditions and medium- to high-threat environments.
The 320th Special Tactics Squadron consists of Combat Controllers, Pararescuemen, Combat Weather personnel and Survival Resistance and Escape specialists. Enabled by deployed- ready combat support personnel, these Special Tactics operators can rapidly infiltrate into austere or hostile areas to enable airpower success in support of contingency operations.
The 353rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron provides consolidated fixed-wing maintenance for highly specialized combat-ready aircraft from multiple missions design series. The unit provides a full range of logistics support to include managing formal training, readiness spares, maintenance scheduling and analysis.
The 353rd Special Operations Support Squadron contains and operates the logistics and operations planning support functions for the entire group. The squadron maintains all of the communications assets assigned to the 353rd SOW. The squadron also contains the intelligence function for the group. In contingency operations and wartime actions, the SOSS becomes the group commander’s combat staff.
The 753rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintains the CV-22 Osprey, a tiltrotor aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft.
Detachment 1 of the 43rd Intelligence Squadron provides dedicated, real-time threat warning and enhanced situational awareness in support of Air Force Special Operations command. The unit serves as the conduit between the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency and provides maintenance and support to the mission of the 353rd SOW.
MC-130J Commando II Fact Sheet
CV-22 Fact Sheet
Air Force Special Operations Command