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NEWS | Oct. 30, 2023

Japanese, American Aviation Exhibit Unprecedented Interoperability During Resolute Dragon 23 FTX

By 1st Lt. Jude Hydrick, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

Aviation units from the United States Marine Corps and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force participated in the field training exercise portion of Resolute Dragon 23, Oct 14-31, 2023.

In partnership with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262, the Western Army Aviation Group and 1st Helicopter Brigade increased interoperability between the two nations by testing new tactics, and, for the first time, Japanese AH-64 Apache attack helicopters provided attached escort for a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft while operating in the Hijyudai Range of Northern Kyushu.

Maj. David Vanrooy, VMM-262 operations officer, said, “The bonds forged over years of joint training and exercises emphasized the ability of both U.S. and Japanese rotary aviation units to seamlessly integrate as a partner force. Beyond this, the bilateral maintenance actions conducted between the U.S. and Japanese Osprey squadrons while executing Resolute Dragon 23 improved joint operations and demonstrated the mutual benefits of our strategic partnership.”

The display of interoperability between 1st MAW’s VMM-262 and Western Army Aviation Group’s 1st Squadron, Combat Helicopter Battalion, sends a clear message about the commitment of the United States and Japan to advancing regional security, and underscores the increasing collaboration between the U.S. military and Japan Self-Defense Force in combined operations.

This is not the first time VMM-262 and their Japanese partners have worked together. In Exercise Iron Fist 23, held earlier this year, VMM-262 (Reinforced) as the Aviation Combat Element of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, along with their Japanese counterparts, arranged attached escort by U.S. Marine Corps AH-1 attack helicopters to Japanese CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The success of the attached escort operation during Exercise Iron Fist 23 showcased the reciprocal relationship between the United States and Japan in building combined tactics, techniques, and procedures, and their commitment to ensuring regional security and stability.

"Our collaboration with 1st Helicopter Brigade and Western Army Aviation Group in Resolute Dragon 23 is a testament to the progress we've made over the course of multiple exercises and extensive planning meetings,” said Lt. Col. Adrian Evangelista, the commanding officer of VMM-262. “The attached escort of Japanese Apache helicopters is a monumental step forward, and I believe it sets the foundation for even deeper cooperation in the future."

Joint missions help both nations refine their abilities to work together effectively, improve joint logistical support and maintenance, and further enhance operational readiness throughout the region.

Exercises like Iron Fist 23 and Resolute Dragon 23 exemplify the enduring strategic partnership between the United States and Japan, and both countries’ dedication to promoting peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region. Military exercises ensure that both nations stand ready to meet any challenge that may arise in the region. Throughout Resolute Dragon 23, the mutual support and unity displayed by the JSDF and the U.S. Marines of 1st MAW symbolize the strength of the U.S. and Japanese alliance.