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13th AMU Panthers Improve Bilateral Relations at Komatsu ATR

By Senior Airman Collette Brooks | 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs | Oct. 11, 2019

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen with the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit conducted an aviation training relocation at Komatsu Air Base, Japan, Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.

Approximately 90 Team Misawa members and six U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons traveled to Komatsu AB in support of facilitating bilateral training sorties. The 28 sorties executed during the ATR gave Wild Weasels the ability to learn, train and integrate with their host nation partners while identifying successes and shortfalls.

Airmen faced executing mission requirements in an unfamiliar location with a limited number of home duty station maintenance materials alongside Japan Air Self-Defense Force members.

“Since we’re always refining our combat readiness, ATRs give us an opportunity to survey airfields around Japan, while gaging our ability to operate in a simulated deployed location,” explained Master Sgt. John Turrill, the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit specialist section chief and the senior NCO Komatsu ATR lead.

The week-long exercise included visual range air-to-air combat, bilateral aircraft recovery, refueling, launching and joint usage and training of aerospace ground equipment.

“Working with our counterparts was mutually beneficial because both parties learned from one another,” expressed Turrill. “Misawa Airmen showed JASDF personnel the functionality of our F-16s in addition to practicing their communication skills and training abilities.”

Turrill added that cross training with host nation counterparts minimizes their mobility footprint, while maximizing tactical strength, friendship and alliance.

“My hope going into this ATR was for the experience to be educational and safe, and we did just that,” explained Capt. Phillip McCoy, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot and Komatsu ATR detachment commander. “All participants demonstrated hard work, consistency and dedication regardless of unexpected changes we could not control.”

During the final days of the exercise, ATR participants faced inclement weather; however, that did not hinder the team’s productivity or ability to thrive.

“A tropical storm was heading our way,” explained McCoy. “It might have initially sounded like a setback, but we worked together as a team and made adjustments. I was overwhelmed with the generosity, understanding and flexibility JASDF personnel showed us in regards to sortie schedule changes. Komatsu’s support allowed Team Misawa members to maximize their ATR experience regardless of last-minute changes.”

Turrill added that the cohesion of JASDF and U.S. forces during training exercises like this aids in enhancing in the 50-year-old security alliance maintained by the two nations.

“ATRs allow us the flexibility to perform optimally while interacting with our JASDF partners,” explained McCoy. “Gaining familiarity with this location, equipment and people is pivotal to the success of operating out of this base in the future, if need be. The more integration we do, the stronger we become.”

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