JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -The Selah Airstrip at the Yakima Training Center will re-open to aircraft operations Nov. 15 at 11 a.m. The airstrip has not been used for fixed-wing aviation since 2003 due to pavement degradation. Renovation of the airstrip began in 2017.
YTC will commemorate the airstrip re-opening with the inaugural landing of a 62nd Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft carrying a 17th Field Artillery Brigade High-Mobility Artillery Rocket (HIMARS) launcher, both from JBLM.
The C-17 will land on the newly-renovated airstrip to demonstrate a joint HIMARS Rapid Infiltration (HIRAIN) forcible entry mission, the kind of training YTC can now handle. The HIMARS launcher will offload from the C-17, fire several Reduced Range Practice Rockets (RRPR) into the YTC impact area, and load back onto the C-17 for takeoff.
Re-opening the airstrip to some of the U.S. Air Force’s largest cargo planes will expand training opportunities at YTC for Joint Base Lewis-McChord and military units DOD-wide.
Yakima Training Center opened in 1942 (originally as the Yakima Firing Center). Selah Airstrip, a 5,200 foot-long austere airstrip in the middle of YTC was built in 1958 as a dirt strip to support Army and Air Force aircraft operations. In 1976, the mile-long airstrip was given an additional base layer and a paved asphalt surface was added to accommodate C-130 Hercules transport planes. In 2003 the airstrip was closed to traffic due to pavement degradation. The airstrip’s smaller taxiway continued to be used for drone operations.
The upgrade and maintenance project, started in 2017, was undertaken to perform full depth repair of the airstrip and bring it up to current standards in order to support the latest Army and Air Force aircraft, including the C-17 Globemaster III.
Fixed wing operations will once again occur at the Yakima Training Center. These operations will support future exercises utilizing the airstrip for troop movement and logistical requirements. This new capability will significantly enhance the training capabilities offered at YTC, including the opportunity to land, step off the plane, and conduct live-fire operations.