MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Team Misawa hosted the latest iteration of a PACIFIC WEASEL exercise over Draughon Range near Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 26, 2023.
PAC WEASEL is a recurring air combat exercise that allows joint and bilateral partners to discover innovative solutions for any given mission. This exercise series supports the U.S. commitment to defend a free and open Indo-Pacific region by enhancing the readiness and tactical capabilities of U.S. Forces Japan and Japan Self-Defense Forces.
“Our primary mission for this training exercise is airborne interdiction of maritime targets,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Rohan Naldrett-Jays, 35th Operations Support Squadron chief of wing weapons. “During the training, we'll also be facing a substantial air threat that is representative of a modern adversary as well as surface-to-air threats that are also combat representative.”
PAC WEASEL involved a formidable force comprised of various aircraft types from different units, including F-16 Fighting Falcons and P-8 Poseidons from Misawa Air Base, Japan; EA-18G Growlers from the Electronic Attack Squadron 135 on deployment to Misawa; F-35A Lightning IIs from Kadena Air Base, Japan; and F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Aircraft Group 12 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. The force package was supported by the 610th Air Control Flight as well as E-3 Sentries and KC-135 Stratotankers from Kadena.
The adversaries will be provided by the 35th Fighter Wing, which will incorporate over-the-horizon capability into the training scenarios. Furthermore, the two F-35 squadrons will actively participate in the exercise, adding to the realism and intensity of the training.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Jonathan Marshall, 13th Fighter Squadron flight lead pilot, emphasized the significance of such training opportunities. "As we get an opportunity every quarter to meet with other units around the Indo-Pacific region, we're able to validate and explore emerging tactics, techniques, and procedures as well as increase the intensity and realism using modern combat scenarios against simulate near-peer adversaries," he explained.
The exercise aimed to foster cooperation and coordination among units in the Indo-Pacific region, enhancing their collective ability to respond effectively to potential threats. By practicing combat-representative battles and addressing tactical challenges, participating units strengthened their readiness and further refined their operational skills, increasing joint interoperability.
As the exercise progressed, the dynamic display of air power served as a testament to the U.S. military’s resolve to protect, deter, and defend, ensuring the continuance of a free and open Indo-Pacific.