Members of the US Air Force’s 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons, based at Misawa Air Base, Japan, joined forces with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members and assets recently for exercise Pacific Weasel.
The exercise, which started in 2018, took place over the Draughon Range on March 27.
This year’s edition of the drill included US F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons, command and control assets assigned to the 610th Air Control Flight, and surface-to-air missile simulators from the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force 101st Antiaircraft Artillery Unit from Camp Hachinohe.
“Each (Pacific Weasel) provides opportunities to train in a larger event with other aircraft than we would be able to train with in standard day-to-day training,” said Maj. Daniel House, 35th Operations Support Squadron assistant director of operations. “We have offensive and defensive teams, each with their own objectives and mission sets. This exercise gives our aviators the opportunity to really stretch their legs.”
“The (Pacific Weasel) exercises are a great time for us to fully mission plan, execute and debrief a mission set that is essential to Misawa and our host nation partners,” said Capt. Peter Magness, 13th Fighter Squadron electronic combat pilot. “We had the opportunity to train with SAM site operators. Misawa (AB) is fortunate to have a series of emitters at Draughon Range that we get to train with, but the incorporation of the JGSDF into (Pacific Weasel) gives us an extra layer of realistic training for our Wild Weasel mission. With Red Flag-Alaska 20-01 being canceled because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, days like this still allow us to participate in large force exercises and develop good learning points.”
Given that the 35th Fighter Wing hosts the only units in the Indo-Pacific region whose mission is the suppression of enemy air defenses – otherwise known as the Wild Weasel mission– the ability to partner with its JGSDF counterparts is critical to pilot development and training. Maj. House added that the Pacific Weasel’s future was limitless.