MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Aircraft and personnel from Kadena Air Base, Misawa AB and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force participated in Aviation Training Relocation Dec. 1-18 here. The exercise gave all aircrew members involved the opportunity to demonstrate interoperability between the Air Force and the JASDF, fulfill training requirements, practice close air support and perform basic fighter maneuvers along with counter-air and air-to-air training scenarios. The end goal was simple; all units involved hoped to create a more integrated and proficient bilateral forces. "We don't get many opportunities down in Kadena to fly with the JASDF F-2s," said Capt. Brian Anderson, the 67th Fighter Squadron weapons flight commander. "The JASDF's mission set, different platforms and skills help to improve our training, as well as theirs; building international interoperability." Between the three forces, roughly 800 sorties were flown and approximately 250 air refueling Ready Aircrew Program sorties were accomplished providing Misawa's 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons with valuable training needed to fulfill monthly and annual requirements. "The 18th (Operations Support Squadron), (909th Air Refueling Squadron) is our main source for air refueling," said Staff Sgt. Bennita Edwards, the 35th OSS host aviation resource NCO in charge. "This is important to the fighter squadrons and their pilot training because with each tanker sortie, the pilot attains an additional Ready Aircrew Program sortie. Depending on the pilot's level of expertise, he or she is required to reach a specific level of RAP sorties each month/fiscal year to be considered 'combat mission ready.'" The wide array of aircraft made the exercise equally beneficial to experienced and newer aircrew. "The cornerstone of this ATR for us is being able to participate in the Misawa (large force exercises) that have been scheduled," Anderson said. "These large scale LFEs continue to help strengthen bonds between Kadena, Misawa, JASDF and the Navy up here, as well as give us the opportunity to fly with aircraft we don't normally get to fly with." The exercise has proved to be trying, but ultimately helped communication barriers between both the JASDF and Kadena pilots. "The language barrier will always be difficult, however, it's just something we've learned to work through," Anderson said. "During mission planning it's taken a little bit of give and take to figure out what they mean and what that means to us so we can efficiently and effectively accomplish the mission." While the training has been deemed exceptional by all involved, it was also an opportunity to continue to build relationships between U.S. and Japanese allied force. "Overall the ATR has been a great occasion for all parties," Anderson said. "We don't get many opportunities to fly with the F-16 (Fighting Falcons) and F-2s and the JASDF members don't have many chances to fly with F-15's. So this exercise has given everyone mission critical training that could help if we had to employ what we learned in a real-life scenario."
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