Eagles migrate north for bilateral training

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Neville, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, conducts a flight sortie above northern Japan, June 12, 2017. Neville and other 13th and 14th Fighter Squadron pilots joined Kadena Air Base, Japan, F-15C Eagle pilots to conduct air-to-air coverage and suppression of enemy air defense procedures during an aviation relocation training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Neville, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, conducts a flight sortie above northern Japan, June 12, 2017. Neville and other 13th and 14th Fighter Squadron pilots joined Kadena Air Base, Japan, F-15C Eagle pilots to conduct air-to-air and suppression of enemy air defense missions during an aviation relocation training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Devin Ross, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, taps the wing of an F-15C Eagle prior to taxi at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Airmen and pilots from Kadena Air Base, Japan, and the 35th Fighter Wing, worked closely with Japan Air Self-Defense Force pilots to strengthen their bilateral partnership across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Devin Ross, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, taps the wing of an F-15C Eagle prior to taxi at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Airmen and pilots from Kadena Air Base, Japan, and the 35th Fighter Wing, worked closely with Japan Air Self-Defense Force pilots to strengthen bilateral partnerships and interoperability between the allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle pilot reaches into the cockpit after arriving at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 7, 2017. Pilots and maintainers relocated from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to Misawa to conduct joint and bilateral operations with F-16 Fighting Falcons and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-2s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle pilot reaches into the cockpit after arriving at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 7, 2017. Pilots and maintainers temporarily relocated from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to Misawa to enhance interoperability with F-16 Fighting Falcons and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-2s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Devin Ross, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, speaks with Capt. David Kuhn, a 67th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle pilot, during preflight check at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Airmen and pilots from Kadena Air Base, Japan, and the 35th Fighter Wing, worked closely with Japan Air Self-Defense Force pilots to strengthen their bilateral partnership across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Devin Ross, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, speaks with Capt. David Kuhn, a 67th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle pilot, during a preflight check at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Airmen and pilots from Kadena Air Base, Japan, and the 35th Fighter Wing, worked closely with Japan Air Self-Defense Force pilots to strengthen the partnership and interoperability between the allied nations and their airframes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

An F-15C Eagle takes off during an aviation training relocation at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Pilots and maintainers relocated from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to Misawa to conduct joint and bilateral operations with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-2s and the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

An F-15C Eagle takes off during an aviation training relocation at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Pilots and maintainers temporarily relocated from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to Misawa to enhance bilateral interoperability between the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-2s and the U.S. Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christian Ruiz, left, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft electrical and environment technician, Senior Airman Devin Ross, center, an 18th AMXS crew chief, and Staff Sgt. Wesley Martinez, left, an 18th Component Maintenance Squadron aircrew egress systems craftsman, conducts preflight procedures on an F-15C Eagle at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Pilots and maintainers relocated from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to Misawa to conduct joint and bilateral operations with F-16 Fighting Falcons and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-2s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christian Ruiz, left, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft electrical and environment technician, Senior Airman Devin Ross, center, an 18th AMXS crew chief, and Staff Sgt. Wesley Martinez, left, an 18th Component Maintenance Squadron aircrew egress systems craftsman, conduct preflight procedures on an F-15C Eagle at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Pilots and maintainers temporarily relocated from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to Misawa to enhance bilateral interoperability with F-16 Fighting Falcons and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-2s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Devin Ross, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, conducts preflight procedures prior to an F-15C Eagle flight at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Due to its strategic location in northern Japan, Misawa AB is a hub for contingency operations for airframes and units forward deployed across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It is important during trainings like these to test the abilities of the pilots and maintainers who work alongside the aircraft. Ross is assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Devin Ross, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, conducts preflight procedures prior to an F-15C Eagle flight at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Due to its strategic location in northern Japan, Misawa AB is a hub for contingency operations for airframes and units forward deployed across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It is important during trainings like these to test the abilities of the pilots and maintainers who work alongside the aircraft. Ross is assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Kuhn, a 67th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle pilot, dons his oxygen mask prior to flight at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Pilots and maintainers from Kadena Air Base, Japan, relocated to Misawa Air Base, Japan, due to its strategic location, ensuring contingency operations for airframes and units forward deployed across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Kuhn, a 67th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle pilot, dons his oxygen mask prior to flight at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Pilots and maintainers from Kadena Air Base, Japan, temporarily relocated to Misawa Air Base, Japan, to strengthen interoperability amongst different airframes and nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Kuhn, left, a 67th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle pilot, and Senior Airman Devin Ross, right, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, pause for a photo prior to flight at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Pilots and maintainers from Kadena AB, Japan, relocated to Misawa AB, due to its strategic location, ensuring contingency operations for airframes and units forward deployed across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Kuhn, left, a 67th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle pilot, and Senior Airman Devin Ross, right, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, pause for a photo prior to flight at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 13, 2017. Pilots and maintainers from Kadena AB, Japan, temporarily relocated to Misawa AB to conduct operations that strengthen interoperability between different airframes and allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Neville, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, banks right during a flight across Northern Japan, June 12, 2017. Neville and other 13th and 14th Fighter Squadron pilots joined Kadena Air Base, Japan, F-15C Eagle pilots to conduct air-to-air coverage and suppression of enemy air defense procedures during an aviation relocation training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)
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U.S. Air Force Capt. David Neville, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, banks right during a flight across Northern Japan, June 12, 2017. Neville and other 13th and 14th Fighter Squadron pilots joined Kadena Air Base, Japan, F-15C Eagle pilots to conduct air-to-air and suppression of enemy air defense mission during an aviation relocation training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Some birds migrate north for the summer, and over the last week this was the case for a unique flock of eagles welcomed onto Misawa Air Base for a training exercise with the 35th Fighter Wing and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

These birds, or F-15C Eagles, assigned to Kadena Air Base, Japan, joined F-16 Fighting Falcons and JASDF F-2s in blue skies to enhance interoperability between airframes and nations while also strengthening partnerships during a routine aviation training relocation.

“We do not fly with the eagles on a regular basis,” said Capt. Ben Walters, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “This training is critical because you don’t want the first time integrating with an asset that is supposed to provide coverage to be on the first day of a war. It has to be during training.”

Due to its strategic location in Northern Japan, Misawa AB is a hub for contingency operations for airframes and units forward deployed across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. It is important during training such as these to test the abilities of the pilots and maintainers who work cohesively alongside the aircraft.

“Training here in Misawa is important because it forces us to be in a different environment and overcome different adversaries we wouldn’t normally have at home station,” said Senior Airman Hugh Palmer, an 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron dedicated crew chief. “Working here also highlights our downfalls during a relocation and gives us the opportunity to work with our Japanese counterparts and allies to ensure we are proficient if we ever have to operate out of Misawa.”

In addition to operating alongside U.S. assets, both fleets worked with JASDF, or Koku-Jieitai, closely to empower bilateral partnerships and clearly understand their mission sets.

“We have to train with the Koku-Jieitai and be familiar with the way they do business so we can effectively integrate the way we are supposed to if anything were to kick off here,” said Walters.

Overall, pilots from all three units worked together to solidify air-to-air coverage, offensive counter air, suppression of enemy air defenses and escort procedures.

“As pilots, training like this just makes us better,” Walters concluded. “As professionals, it enhances our ability to integrate bilaterally with the JASDF, as well as with different weapon systems. We will exponentially grow more as pilots and as people the more times we conduct exercises like these.”