NEWS | June 5, 2018

VMFA-121 Marines Fly High in Misawa Aircraft Training Relocations

By Lance Cpl. Alexia Lythos 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Aircraft Group 12 (MAG-12), 1st Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), deployed several F-35B Lightning II’s for a regularly scheduled aviation training relocation to Misawa Air Base, May 9, 2018. Aircraft training relocations are designed to increase operational readiness and bilateral interoperability for both U.S. and Japanese forces. This training is conducted in accordance with the agreements between the U.S. government and the government of Japan and has been taking place
since 1997.

“Misawa aircraft training relocation provides our Marines and Sailors an excellent opportunity to train with our U.S. Air Force counterparts and Japanese allies in the spirit of mutual security cooperation, while at the same time, allowing us to further hone our skills across a spectrum of F-35 mission sets,” said Col. Mark Palmer, the commanding officer of MAG-12.

MAG-12, like other units within 1st MAW, defends U.S. and Japanese mutual interests by providing a forward power projection platform with integrated, deployable combat power and operating a fleet of aircraft to perform air superiority, aerial refueling, airborne warning and control, and combat search and rescue functions.

“Our unit’s specific role is to provide security within the Asia-Pacific area, and we provide some unique capabilities in that respect,” said Lt. Col. Richard Rusnok, the commanding officer of VMFA-121. He continued on, saying, it's important because if we ever need to function together, it won't be our first time doing so.

Recurring bilateral training opportunities conducted by JASDF and forward-deployed U.S. Marine Corps forces demonstrate the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of operations between the U.S. and partners in this region. The MAG-12 ATR will continue to enhance and improve interoperability at the tactical level to keep forces formidable and adaptive.

“We have confidence that if we ever had to respond to an emergency in an environment such as this, that our pilots are ready to go,” said Rusnok. “We are the only forward-deployed F-35 unit in the world, and that is a critical capability for the nation. It doesn’t just help the Marine Air-Ground Task Force, it helps the nation as a whole. We’re here to respond to any sort of contingency operation in the Pacific region, and the whole idea of ‘fighting tonight’ is literally what we live to.”