Dry Cockpits to Spare

Three Japan Air Self Defense Force pilots are currently undergoing F-16 conversion training with the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson. “Not many of our pilots have flown this type of fighter. It’s a real privilege for us,” said JASDF 1st Lt Kazuhiro Ota in a July 9 Tucson release. Last year’s devastating tsunami in northern Japan severely damaged several of Japan’s Mitsubishi F-2 fighter trainers, so the trio is training in the United States to regenerate Japan’s air defense capability and relieve strain on JASDF’s training pipeline, states the release. Though a different design, the F-2 shares a great deal of commonality with the F-16, due to Mitsubishi’s collaboration with Lockheed Martin. This makes the F-16 an ideal training surrogate, according to the release. Another JASDF pilot is scheduled to arrive this fall, about the same time that the first three finish their training. (Tucson report by 1st Lt. Angela Walz)