PACAF demo team cultivates pivotal Indo-Asia-Pacific partnerships

The U.S. Air Force's F-16 Fighting Falcon Pacific Air Forces Demonstration Team maintenance members stand at parade rest while Maj. Richard Smeeding prepares to taxi prior to an aerial performance during Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka Feb. 16, 2017. The F-16 is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack and provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

The U.S. Air Force's F-16 Fighting Falcon Pacific Air Forces Demonstration Team maintenance members stand at parade rest while Maj. Richard Smeeding prepares to taxi prior to an aerial performance during Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka Feb. 16, 2017. The U.S. participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

A Wild Weasel F-16 Fighting Falcon sits on the tarmac shortly after arriving at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, New Zealand, Feb. 24, 2017. The Pacific Air Forces demonstration team showcases a positive, professional image of the United States Air Force to the people of the Western Pacific, making personal contact with host nation people on and off the flightline while showing support for the host government through the United States' presence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

A Wild Weasel F-16 Fighting Falcon sits on the tarmac shortly after arriving at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, New Zealand, Feb. 24, 2017. The Pacific Air Forces demonstration team showcases a positive, professional image of the United States Air Force to the people of the Western Pacific, making personal contact with host nation people on and off the flightline while showing support for the host government through the United States' presence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ty Watkins, an electrical and environmental craftsman with the 35th Maintenance Squadron, changes a water coalescer at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, New Zealand, Feb. 25, 2017. Water coalescers prevent water and oil from going through the environmental system so they don’t reach the turbine. This stops smoke and fumes from entering the cockpit. Watkins is one of 11 maintainers traveling with the F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ty Watkins, an electrical and environmental craftsman with the 35th Maintenance Squadron, changes a water coalescer at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, New Zealand, Feb. 25, 2017. Water coalescers prevent water and oil from going through the environmental system so they don’t reach the turbine. This stops smoke and fumes from entering the cockpit. Watkins is one of 11 maintainers traveling with the F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration team throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

Onlookers welcome Maj. Richard Smeeding after his aerial demonstration at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, New Zealand, Feb. 26, 2017. The Air Tattoo is held once every five years. The 2017 show celebrates 80 years of the RNZAF. Partner nations practice interoperability by bringing together 13 international aircraft from eight different countries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

Onlookers welcome U.S. Air Force Maj. Richard Smeeding after his aerial demonstration at Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Ohakea, New Zealand, Feb. 26, 2017. The Air Tattoo is held once every five years. The 2017 show celebrates 80 years of the RNZAF. Partner nations practice interoperability by bringing together 13 international aircraft from 8 different countries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jarrod Vickers)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 performs an aerial maneuver as part of the F-16 Aerial Demonstration Team during the opening ceremonies of Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, India Feb. 14. In addition to the F-16, the U.S Department of Defense supported Aero India with a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon and a U.S. Air Force C-130 J Super Hercules, which supported a joint U.S. and Indian Air Force parachute jump later in the week. The United States participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft. It is highly maneuverable and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon performs an aerial maneuver as part of the Pacific Air Forces Aerial Demonstration Team during the opening ceremonies of Aero India 2017 at Air Force Station Yelahanka, India, Feb. 14, 2017. In addition to the F-16, the U.S Department of Defense supported Aero India with a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon and a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules, which supported a joint U.S. and Indian Air Force parachute jump later in the week. The U.S. participates in air shows and other regional events to demonstrate its commitment to the security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote the standardization and interoperability of equipment, and display capabilities critical to the success of current and future military operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Mark Lazane)

Geelong, AUSTRALIA – A U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper part of the F-16 Demonstration team from Misawa Air Base, Japan, performs a high-speed pass by the crowd during the Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition (AVALON) March 4. AVALON 2017 is the largest, most comprehensive event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting aviation and aerospace professions, key defense personnel, aviation enthusiasts and the general public. The U.S. participates in AVALON 2017 and other similar events to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to regional security and stability. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, part of the Pacific Air Forces Demonstration Team from Misawa Air Base, Japan, performs a high-speed pass by the crowd during the Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition (AVALON), March 4, 2017. AVALON 2017 is the largest, most comprehensive event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting aviation and aerospace professionals, key defense personnel, aviation enthusiasts and the general public. The U.S. participates in AVALON 2017 and other similar events to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to regional security and stability. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

In just one month, the Pacific Air Forces demonstration team traveled to three countries, participating in air shows across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The stops for the demo team included:
-Aero India at Air Force Station in Yelahanka, India
-The Air Tattoo at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base in Ohakea, New Zealand
-The Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defence Exposition at Avalon Airport in Victoria, Australia

The demo team helps foster productive relationships with U.S. allies in the Pacific region through cooperation and dedication during these engagements.

“The team’s performance was exceptional,” said Maj. Richard Smeeding, PACAF Demo Team F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “There were multiple obstacles we have had to overcome to make it here, and they have not faltered despite the hectic schedule and being on the road for over a month.”

Although the demo team, based out of the 35th Fighter Wing, consists of just one airframe, aircraft from across the Pacific played pivotal roles behind the scenes. Specifically, a PACAF C-17 Globemaster transported supplies from Misawa to India and New Zealand, and a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 flew the gear on the final leg to Australia. 

“With the average Misawa F-16 being 25 years old, the jet is going to break down,” said Smeeding. “To be ready, [the C-17s] carry tools and parts to cover things that are more likely to go. If we have a part fail that we don't have, then we reach back for support.”

Support to air shows and other regional events allows the U.S. to demonstrate its commitment to the stability and security of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, promote standardization and interoperability of equipment and display capabilities critical to the success of military operations.

In order to exhibit this allegiance to the region, Smeeding performed extremely difficult maneuvers in the sky at every show – movements that operational pilots rarely have to use unless in a combat situation. Although he pushed his body to the limit, the true challenges weighed upon the demo team crew and supporting aircraft.

“The strain of -3 to 9.6 [gravitational force] demonstration flights pales in comparison to the sweat of solving the logistical and manning problems associated with back-to-back-to-back airshows in three countries,” Smeeding said. “Being on the road while the final planning is happening only compounds the difficulty and requires very creative problem solving.”

During each show, an F-16 Fighting Falcon from Misawa Air Base conducted a single-ship demonstration, showcasing every capability of the F-16 that make the jets desirable in combat.

“Even though we ran [just] a single-ship demonstration, it was a lot of work to maintain the jets and keep them healthy, while continuing to foster our Pacific partnerships,” Staff Sgt. Roddrick Davenport, PACAF Demo Team narrator.

Each show represented the growing partnerships and commitment between the U.S. and each respective country’s government, all while demonstrating air superiority.

“Overall, it was awesome performing for over 700,000 people and being able to experience so much of the Pacific in such a short amount of time,” said Smeeding. “We have never missed a show or a display window and it is a direct result of [the team's] unwavering dedication to the mission.”