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Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Japanese forces arrive for Red Flag-Alaska
An aircrew from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force exits an F-15 after a July 11 seven-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean from Hyukari Air Base near Tokyo to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The JASDF airmen are participating in Red Flag-Alaska, a multinational air combat training exercise over the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex. (U.S. Air Force photo)
by Staff Sgt. Shawn J. Jones
Red Flag-Alaska Public Affairs
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFPN) -- Airmen from the Land of the Rising Sun arrived in the Land of the Midnight Sun July 11 in preparation for the Red Flag-Alaska air combat training exercise.
After a seven-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean, six Japanese F-15s from Hyakuri Air Base near Tokyo and a U.S. KC-10 Extender carrying 21 Japan Air Self-Defense Force members landed at Eielson Air Force Base under Alaska's sunlit midnight sky.
More than 125 Japanese airmen will work and fly alongside an international force from Mongolia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and the United States from July 12 to 27.
The massive land area and varied terrain of the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex, the largest training range in America, provides a vital training environment different from the Japanese airmen's homeland.
The landmass of Japan is comparable to the size of California, but the country consists of thousands of islands. The natural landscape of Japan results in a significant proportion of its airspace being located above water.
Training at the complex allows the Japanese Airmen to train in airspace conditions that parallel the settings of ongoing modern conflicts, said Col. Kyuichiro Tanaka, the flight commander of Red Flag-Alaska's Japanese forces.
The air-to-air combat training of Red Flag-Alaska is expected to provide an almost-real combat experience for Japanese F-15 aircrews. Aggressor squadrons are allied units that adopt the traits, tactics and tendencies of enemy air forces to provide a training environment more realistic than training against traditional allied units.
This is the first time airmen from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force will train against an aggressor squadron, Colonel Tanaka said.
Training at Red Flag-Alaska also gives Japanese airmen an opportunity to exchange tactics and techniques with their cohorts from other nations.
"Red Flag-Alaska fosters military-to-military communication at both the officer and enlisted levels that will help to improve the relationships of the countries involved," said Lt. Col. Brett Pauer, the director of operations for Red Flag-Alaska.
Though the JASDF participates in an annual training exercise with the U.S. Air Force in Japan and regularly receives air-refueling support from U.S. aircraft, they have less experience in a multinational environment. Colonel Tanaka said the cross-military communication of Red Flag-Alaska will help provide that experience.
Red Flag-Alaska's multinational participation and the addition of the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex assets provide realistic combat training in a safe and controlled setting.
"In addition to training on a spectacular range in realistic combat scenarios, we also get the opportunity to exercise with our international partners, which in and of itself is extremely beneficial," said Col. Daniel DeBree, the Red Flag deployed forces commander.