US Air Force advises JASDF AWACS on new system upgrade

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tylir Meyer

Members of the 961st Airborne Control Squadron provided advice the 602nd Airborne Control Squadron of the Japan Air Self Defense Force on a new detection system onboard an E-767 at Hamamatsu Air Base, Japan, Sept. 11-15, 2023.

Sharing knowledge and experience on electronic control systems improves JASDF’s battle management command and control capabilities (BMC2), while also increasing interoperability and mutual understanding between the U.S. and Japan.

“Strengthening the relationship with the 961st AACS, which utilizes the same system, is leading the improvement for interoperability on a tactical level between Japan and the U.S., thus contributing to its effective and practical capabilities,” said Japan Air Self Defense Force Capt. Masashi Mizukami, 602nd AACS electronic combat officer.

In July 2022, The 961st AACS and 602nd AACS signed an agreement to become sister squadrons. This relationship promotes cooperation and the exchange of experience between the U.S. Air Force and JASDF. 

The 602nd AACS is currently undergoing a mission computer upgrade on the E-767. Considering the nature of the upgrade, they reached out to the 961st AACS.

“They [JASDF] reached out to us for advice on this system we use. We immediately started to prepare to provide assistance. Once we established what they wanted and what we could provide, it was smooth sailing from there,” said U.S. Air Force Captain Demario Kohn, 961st AACS air battle manager.

Airmen from the 961st AACS have a wealth of experience utilizing the Passive Detection System. Offering this experience to JASDF electronic control officers (ECO) increases the level of tactical understanding between ECOs.

“The Pacific is a very large AO (Area of Operation). So if we can communicate the same language and have the same understanding of this system with JASDF, then our collective situational awareness will improve,” Kohn said.

The 961st AACS gave advice on the foundational concepts of this system, notably the electronic support team cycle. 

“Starting from zero we identify what is important – the electronic support team cycle, the roles of each, and how they have to communicate together to share information to drive updates to that database,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christopher Reed, 961st AACS intel and tactics section chief. “All of that to improve the accuracy of being able to identify what is out there.”

This was the first iteration of an information exchange, but U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Martsolf, 961st AACS ground system support section chief, hopes there will be more in the future. 

“It’ll be a continuing effort to help advise on things that we see based on what we have found works best. They can determine for themselves whether that is what they want to do, or take part of it and improve in a different way that works best for them,” Martsolf said.

Ultimately, the exchange developed friendships and BMC2 capabilities across the U.S.-Japan alliance.

“We accomplished everything we set out to show them, and they put it all into action right away. If they keep repeating the process, they’ll get the program to where they want to be,” said Reed. “That will vastly improve our interoperability on a tactical and operational level.”