KADENA AIR BASE, Japan: U.S. and Japanese F-15 pilots began day and night air-refueling training July 27 and will continue through Aug. 7 in preparation for the Red Flag-Alaska exercise in October.
Instructor pilots from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and Yokota Air Base, Japan, joined KC-135 Stratotanker teams from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron here to train 18 Japan Air Self Defense Forces pilots on how to refuel safely, as well as help them regain their currencies for Red Flag-Alaska.
This training is beneficial to both the U.S. Air Force and JASDF, said Capt. Scott Taylor, an instructor pilot with the 95th Fighter Squadron from Tyndall AFB.
“This also allows us to observe JASDF tactics and compare them with our tactics to ensure we are able to operate effectively together as a coalition,” the captain said.
Red Flag-Alaska is a large coalition exercise that involves many aircraft in complex missions. The exercise provides U.S. and coalition forces an opportunity to train together, improving readiness for wartime coalition missions.
“Air-to-air refueling is an essential skill for JASDF and U.S. pilots to allow for force projection,” Captain Taylor said. “This training will allow them to safely deploy their jets to Alaska. During the exercise, it will allow them to get the gas they need to make it to the fight and have plenty of time to accomplish the objectives.”
The JASDF pilots have executed the training well, said Maj. Marcelo Morales, an instructor pilot with the 13th Air Force, Det. 1 from Yokota AB.
“Hopefully after this exercise we will all have learned to work more effectively with each other, not just pilot to pilot, controller to pilot, but also on the equipment, data link and maintenance ends,” Major Morales said. “What we practice now will pay dividends in the future when we train or when we actually execute as a coalition air force.”
JASDF Lt. Col. Osamu Uemori, commander of the 303rd Tactical Fighter Squadron from Komatsu Air Base, Japan, said JASDF pilots are looking forward to training in Alaska because there are fewer air restrictions there as opposed to Japan.
“It is so valuable for JASDF pilots to fly in an environment that allows them to execute a variety of training scenarios,” Colonel Uemori said. “During this joint training, we have been learning specific techniques to help us brush up on our skills; it will also bring us a marked improvement for air defense capability.”
Colonel Uemori said they have received a great deal of support from the U.S. instructor pilots who have advised them on techniques not only for air-refueling, but also for Red Flag Alaska.
“I believe Red Flag Alaska is valuable for both the pilots and Japan Self Defense Forces to enhance our main fighter aircraft — the F-15s — capability in the future,” he added.
“Operating in the environment in the world today it’s important that we can accomplish objectives with coalition partners, not just the U.S. or JASDF alone,” Captain Taylor said. “JASDF are definitely an important player in coalition forces out there. The U.S. can’t go in and accomplish the mission alone.”