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U.S., Japan strengthen combat capabilities during bilateral exercise

Lt. Col. Matthew Kenkel, the 14th Fighter Squadron director of operations inspects the exhaust nozzle and augmenter area of an F-16 Fighting Falcon prior to the start of of a bilateral exercise at Misawa Air Base Japan, April 19, 2017. The regularly scheduled exercise has been planned for several months. It is another key opportunity for the Air Force and Japan Air Self- Defense Forces to practice combat capabilities together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Kenkel, 14th Fighter Squadron director of operations, inspects the exhaust nozzle and augmenter area of an F-16 Fighting Falcon prior to the start of of a bilateral exercise at Misawa Air Base Japan, April 19, 2017. 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. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A 14th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off as part of  a bilateral exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 19, 2017. During the exercise aircraft, simulating enemy aircraft, also known as “Red Air”, are challenged friendly aircraft known as “Blue Air”, this is also known as offensive and defensive counter-air maneuvers. Strengthening the abilities both offensively and defensively in the air is crucial to ensuring security and stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. This training allowed those involved a realistic simulation of what to expect in combat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 14th Fighter Squadron, takes off as part of a bilateral exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 19, 2017. During the exercise aircraft, simulating enemy aircraft, also known as “Red Air”, are challenged friendly aircraft known as “Blue Air”, this is also known as offensive and defensive counter-air maneuvers. Strengthening the abilities both offensively and defensively in the air is crucial to ensuring security and stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. This training allowed those involved a realistic simulation of what to expect in combat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

Three 14th Fighter Squadron pilots walk toward their F-16 Fighting Falcon to prepare for take off from Misawa Air Base, Japan, prior to the start of a bilateral exercise, April 19, 2017. 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. Operating from a key strategic hub in the Asia-Pacific region, the 35t Fighter Wing defends U.S. and Japan mutual interest by providing a forward a forward power projection platform with integrated, deployable, combat power. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

U.S. Air Force pilots assigned to the 14th Fighter Squadron walk toward their F-16 Fighting Falcons to prepare for take off from Misawa Air Base, Japan, prior to the start of a bilateral exercise, April 19, 2017. 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. Operating from a key strategic hub in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, the 35th Fighter Wing defends U.S. and Japan mutual interests by providing a power projection platform with integrated, deployable, combat power. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Newton, a 14th Fighter Squadron standards and evaluations liaison officer,  prepares to don his helmet prior to take off to participate in a bilateral exercise at Misawa Air Force Base, Japan, April 19, 2017. The bi-annual exercise incorporates a multitude of aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and Japanese Air Forces into air-to-air combat and suppression of enemy forces scenarios. The 35th Fighter Wing operates a fleet of more than 40 combat-ready aircraft to perform air superiority functions at a moment’s notice in compliance with war time contingencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Newton, a 14th Fighter Squadron standards and evaluations liaison officer, prepares to don his helmet prior to take off to participate in a bilateral exercise at Misawa Air Force Base, Japan, April 19, 2017. The bi-annual exercise incorporates a multitude of aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and Japanese Air Forces into air-to-air combat and suppression of enemy forces scenarios. The 35th Fighter Wing operates a fleet of more than 40 combat-ready aircraft to perform air superiority functions at a moment’s notice in compliance with war time contingencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force E-757, an airborne early warning and control aircraft, soars over Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 19, 2017. The E-757 was one of 18 aircraft that participated in a bi-annual bilateral training exercise, part of a continuous exercise program to enhance interoperability between U.S. and Japan forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force E-757, an airborne early warning and control aircraft, soars over Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 19, 2017. The E-757 was one of 18 aircraft that participated in a bi-annual bilateral training exercise, part of a continuous exercise program to enhance interoperability between U.S. and Japan forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Newton, a 14th Fighter Squadron standards and evaluations liaison officer, climbs a ladder to the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon prior to the start of a bilateral exercise at Misawa Air Base, April 19, 2017. Exercises such as this enhance inoperability between the Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Forces and showcase the long standing military partnership and commitment between the two nations ensuring security and stability throughout the Indo Asia Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Dakota Newton, a 14th Fighter Squadron standards and evaluations liaison officer, climbs a ladder to the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon prior to the start of a bilateral exercise at Misawa Air Base, April 19, 2017. Exercises such as this enhance interoperability between the Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Forces and showcases the long standing military partnership and commitment between the two nations ensuring security and stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A 14th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon soars into the sky at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 19, 2017. A total of eight F-16 Fighting Falcons flew in a bilateral exercise, along with eight F-15DJ Eagle, 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. The bi-annual exercise has been planned for several months prior to execution. The 35th Fighter Wing provides continuous operational support that contributes to peace in the Pacific and the mutual defense of Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 14th Fighter Squadron, soars into the sky at Misawa Air Base, Japan, April 19, 2017. A total of eight F-16 Fighting Falcons flew in a bilateral 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. The bi-annual exercise has been planned for several months prior to execution. The 35th Fighter Wing provides continuous operational support that contributes to peace in the Pacific and the mutual defense of Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

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.”