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NEWS | July 1, 2014

Japan Air Self Defense Force Trains, Excels during RED FLAG-Alaska

By Senior Airman Zachary Perras 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

RED FLAG-Alaska is a melting pot of different units from around the world, all training to accomplish the same goal: Mission success among allied and coalition partners.

The familiar faces of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force members are among those here at Eielson during RF-A 14-2, and the roar of their Mitsubishi F-15J Eagles is a welcome sound.

The JASDF is no rookie to RF-A, having participated in numerous exercises over the years. Still, they always arrive with the mentality that there is something new to learn each year.

"This is an excellent environment for training, one that we're proud to be a part of," said Maj. Taro Murao, JASDF F-15 pilot. "When we participate and cooperate with other nations, we learn not only a lot about them, but a lot about ourselves as well."

Historically, if a pilot survives his or her first 10 combat sorties, their ability to make it through an entire campaign dramatically increases. During RF-A, Eielson's 18th Aggressor Squadron aims to simulate those first 10 sorties through realistic combat experience to help increase participants' survivability and lethality.

"Every year we've come to RED FLAG, we look for ways we need to improve," said Murao. "We take those lessons learned back to Japan and seek ways to increase our capabilities as well as help our junior pilots learn the bigger picture of training with our allies."

With the help of the 18th AGRS, JASDF pilots have been able to experience "combat" in a simulated environment under conditions that are more challenging than any they are likely to face in a real-world engagement, said Maj. Robert Lindblom, 353rd Combat Training Squadron RF-A 14-2 team chief.

"The JASDF integrated extremely well with their allied partners and contributed to overall mission success," said Lindblom. "They truly seem to improve every year."

Murao said he looks forward to participating in RF-A in the years to come and is eager to develop a better understanding with allied partners in a joint environment.

"Through this exercise and with the help of U.S. forces, we're able to understand each other's capabilities. In turn, we can do our best to help one another in the future," he said. "The bilateral training ability of RED FLAG allowed us to expand our fighter tactics and has given us a great chance to show what the JASDF can do."

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