Vipers, Growlers integrate, enhance joint SEAD readiness

EA-18G Growler inspections

U.S. Navy Airman Joaquin Flores, assigned to the “Garudas” Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134, performs pre-flight inspections with an EA-18G Growler at Misawa Air Base (AB), Japan, Oct. 5, 2017. The VAQ-134 is a part of a Theater Support Package for the Indo-Asia-Pacific region currently deployed to Misawa AB under Commander Task Force 70. Additionally, the unit is one of four EA-18G units able to deploy within U.S. Pacific Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

Relaying the message

U.S. Navy Aviation Machinist Mate 2nd Class Michael Cornes, assigned to the “Garudas” Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134, speaks to another EA-18G Growler maintainer while conducting flight operations at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Oct. 5, 2017. More than 200 personnel, accompanied by five Growlers, traveled across the Pacific Ocean from Naval Air Facility Whidbey Island, Wash., as part of a Theater Support Package within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. During their tenure here, F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots from the 35th Fighter Wing will train with EA-18G pilots in efforts to develop integration tactics, techniques and procedures to maintain an electronic attack capability within the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

Passing the word

U.S. Navy Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Andrew Demont, assigned to the “Garudas” Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134, speaks to other EA-18G Growler maintainers while conducting flight operations at Misawa Air Base (AB), Japan, Oct. 5, 2017. The VAQ-134 is currently deployed to Misawa AB under Commander Task Force 70 and is a part of a Theater Support Package for the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman)

Glow of the neon lights

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, assigned to the 35th Fighter Wing, sits on the runway at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 21, 2017. In an air-to-surface role, the Viper can fly more than 500 miles, deliver its weapons with accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft and return to its starting point. The F-16s at Misawa have suppression of enemy air defense capabilities, which are vital to the security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

Unbreakable brotherhood

Two U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots, assigned to the 35th Fighter Wing, exchange hand signals prior to departure from Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 21, 2017. U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, assigned to the “Garudas” Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134, and 35th FW Vipers joined forces to provide more realistic training for both sets of pilots. Typically, F-16 pilots train with simulated assets, which can mask communication and tactical problems that may arise when engaging in a real-world scenario. Training with tangible Growlers allows Viper pilots to identify and overcome issues that theoretical assets cannot simulate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

Up, up and away

Five U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons, assigned to the 35th Fighter Wing, taxi and take off at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 21, 2017. In addition to the 12 Vipers, U.S. Navy EA-18G pilots, assigned to the “Garudas” Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134, flew with the 13 and 14th Fighter Squadron, to enhance readiness and understanding of how the two airframes operate hand-in-hand during real-world missions. The VAQ-134 is currently deployed to Misawa from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., as part of a six-month Theater Security Package, which is designed to enhance regional security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Five U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, accompanied by more than 200 personnel, traveled across the Pacific Ocean from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, to Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 4, as part of a six-month Theater Support Package within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

During their tenure at Misawa AB, the Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134 is working to develop their integration tactics, techniques and procedures with 35th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcons.

"We are using Misawa AB as our primary location, while being deployed to the Pacific Command's area of responsibility for approximately six months," said U.S. Navy Lt. Richard Delk, the VAQ-134 training officer. "While we are here, we have the capabilities to detach anywhere within the AOR if needed."

The VAQ-134 recently transitioned into a shore-based expeditionary squadron, versus a ship-based one, and is one of four Growler units capable of deploying within PACOM.

While this is the first time the VAQ-134 has conducted training at Misawa AB, they are no stranger to the 35th FW mission.

"We've trained quite a bit with F-16s during exercises such as Red Flag and Northern Edge, but this is the first time flying with F-16s in Japan for the VAQ-134," said Delk. "We've had a lot of success flying with the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons because our mission sets are very similar--both focusing on the suppression of enemy air defenses."

With the 35th FW's Viper block-50 configurations, pilots integrate heavily with Growler pilots during real-world scenarios, depending on their specialized equipment to ensure mission success.

"The EA-18G Growler flies an electronic attack mission using a suite of jamming pods to confuse enemy radars, greatly aiding in our block 50's ability to conduct SEAD operations," explained Capt. Karl Wilson, the 14th Fighter Squadron C-flight commander.

Although working with sister services can be difficult, this valuable training gives both sets of personnel the skills and practice to identify and overcome issues they wouldn't normally be able to assess, whether at Misawa AB or NAS Whidbey Island.

The VAQ-134 plans to train with Misawa's Vipers at least once a day for the remainder of their deployment.