U.S., Japan strengthen combat capabilities during bilateral exercise
By Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto , 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 03, 2017
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Misawa's Wild Weasels and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Koku-Jieitai) strengthened their combat capabilities during a large force bilateral exercise, April 16 to 21.
The bi-annual training exercise incorporates a multitude of aircraft from the U.S. and Japanese fleet into air-to-air combat and suppression of enemy forces scenarios.
A total of eight F-16 Fighting Falcons from Misawa’s 35th Fighter Wing flew in the exercise, along with eight F-15DJ Eagles, two Mitsubishi F-2As, two C-130E Hercules, and a Boeing E-767 airborne early warning and control aircraft belonging to Koku-Jieitai units at Misawa and Chitose Air Bases.
“Working hand-in-hand with allies across the Pacific during training not only builds a foundation to address war-time contingencies but grants both forces to gain a better understanding of each other’s procedures and skill,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Kenkel, the 14th Fighter Squadron director of operations. “During a real world event is not the time to have a breakdown in communication or mission set.”
During the exercise aircraft, simulating enemy aircraft, also known as “Red Air”, challenged friendly aircraft known as “Blue Air”. The USAF and JASDF were integrated playing positions on both sides.
"Each facet had specific locations to be at when the fight began; the Blue Air setting up to defend their lane in defensive counter air or to push into their target area in the strike mission while the Red air set up their presentations in the opposite end of the airspace," Kenkel stated.
Flying activities took place high over the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility, where they employed offensive and defensive counter-air maneuvers. This training allowed those involved a realistic simulation of what to expect in combat.
This exercise is not the only chance that the fighter pilots get to fly with their Japanese counterparts, but it is one of the few chances to do it so close to home.
“This training is beneficial for everybody,” said Kenkel. “We train with the JASDF in world-wide exercises with upwards of 80 aircraft working together where the desired learning objectives are set by higher echelons. This exercise is localized to the fighter squadrons from Chitose and Misawa to incorporate smaller scaled learning objectives that are closer to home.”
International partnerships continue to reinforce unified efforts to address 21st century threats. Shared principles, a common view of threats, and commitment to cooperation provide far greater security and stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The continually changing global security environment requires increased and improved communications and coordination among the numerous agencies and organizations working to achieve national security.
“This exercise is a great opportunity to accomplish large force employment between the 14th Fighter Squadron and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force,” said Lt. Col. Mark Heusinkveld, the 14th Fighter Squadron commander. “Our countries’ air forces provide a continual airpower presence that contributes to peace in the Pacific and the mutual defense of Japan. These bilateral exercises keep both forces ready at a moment's notice and fosters a deeper sense of trust between the two fighting forces.”