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.”