The closure of the runway at Misawa AB, Japan, for routine maintenance has forced two fighter squadrons from the 35th Fighter Wing to temporarily relocate. The 13th Fighter Squadron has moved to Eielson AFB, Alaska, and the 14th Fighter Squadron has moved to Kunsan AB, South Korea. The Air Force expects the aircraft, crews, and support personnel to return to Misawa in early July when the work on the runway will be completed. The maintenance has been planned for several years, according to a press release, and should keep the runway in good repair until 2026. The temporary squadron relocations also provide “the opportunity to gain valuable training we wouldn’t normally get at Misawa,” said Capt. Brian Herring, the 14th Fighter Squadron B flight commander, according to the release. “This also forges partnerships throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific.” Members of the 13th FS participated in Exercise Northern Edge 2017 while in Alaska, completing 171 of 172 planned sorties. “There are incredible ranges in Alaska, we had a chance to practice with real emitters, back at Misawa it’s mostly simulation,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Moeller, the 13th Fighter Squadron commander. “Here, with the ground emitters, we had a chance to test our equipment and our capabilities against those specifically… how well we detect, react and report them.”
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.