US, Japan Boost Training

A new training set-up between the Air Force and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force is allowing F-16s of the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa AB, Japan, to regularly practice suppression of enemy air defense missions in a robust simulated combat environment, including live ordnance drops, according to Misawa officials. “This may be the most important thing that has happened here in the last 20 years,” said Capt. Chris Behrens, 35th FW weapons systems commander, in the base’s May 2 release. Prior to this, the unit’s pilots conducted their SEAD training only a few times a year away from home, mostly at Red Flag-type exercises, or in entirely simulated drills at home, according to the release. “Now, we actually have a [Japanese] missile site simulating shooting at us and showing up on our real-life systems so we can react and simulate engaging,” said Behrens. The Japanese air defenders benefit from the practice of shooting at the F-16s. This training is especially significant for Misawa’s airmen now that the Defense Department has suspended Red Flag exercises due to budget sequestration. (Misawa report by SrA. Derek Van Horn)