YOKOTA AIR BASE, TOKYO, Japan -- The annual Yokota Friendship Festival Joint Capabilities Demonstration draws in many festival-goers to view airborne demonstrations, with the 36th Airlift Squadron using their C-130J Super Hercules to drop Japan Ground Self-Defense Force paratroopers as part of a display of the strong bond and alliance between the U.S. and Japan.
This year was the first time the U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), U.S. Air Force 320th Special Tactics Squadron, and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force paratroopers conducted a joint airborne demonstration, and this joint venture provided a special sight for audiences during the Yokota Friendship Festival.
“The unique part was we got to complete the demo with not only JGSDF paratroopers, but also the Air Force and Army units,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Bryan Maynard, 36th AS C-130J pilot. “All three units, all together showing support for each other, the U.S. and Japan partnership, spoke volumes for our readiness.”
Two USAF C-130Js took off, climbed to 9,000 feet high, and prepared for an airdrop over the flightline drop zone as dozens of paratroopers waited in preparation to take part in this military-style freefall over Yokota Air Base.
The pilots zeroed to the calculated the predetermined drop point. Shortly thereafter, they reached 1,250 feet, and the jump signal sounded for the paratroopers to deploy above more than 50,000 audience members watching from the flightline.
“It was a unique demonstration for us,” said JGSDF Capt. Hironori Kaneko, JGSDF 1st Airborne Brigade mission commander. “This clearly demonstrated the interoperability and the partnership that we have with the U.S. Air Force.”
Since 2019, JGSDF 1st Airborne Brigade has participated in this event, showcasing the frequent bilateral training with Yokota Airmen.
The Yokota Friendship Festival is a lasting testament to the strength of the U.S.-Japan relations and integrated operations to execute rapid airlift and air drops of paratroopers and equipment, as well as displaying the high capabilities of the joint forces in protecting and ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region.