F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Juvats supply Red Air support to the Marine Corps

May 30, 2007 (by MSgt Sean P. Houlihan) - The term "joint operations" in todays military is thought of American service members carrying out missions with service members from different branches of the U.S. military or coalition partners working together.

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For two units, one in Japan and the other in the Republic of Korea, joint operations went in a different direction as the mission wasn't against one adversary force but against each other. Marine Corps aviators stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan flew simulated combat mission against opposing forces, commonly referred to as Red Air, pilots from 80th Fighter Squadron here.

The 80th FS deployed to Iwakuni for a week, May 20 to 25th to assist with upgrade and continuation training for the F/A-18 Hornet Marine unit. The trip was also repaying a favor to the Marines as they were the same unit that provided the 8th Fighter Wing with opposing forces during the April Operational Readiness Inspection.

"The squadron seeks out dissimilar aircraft training as much as possible," Lt. Col. Al Wimmer, 80th Fighter Squadron commander. "There is a great deal of cross talk and comparisons done to learn the capabilities in a joint war scenario. The ability to train with dissimilar aircraft is the most reliable type of air-to-air training done in order to detect threats."

Colonel Wimmer said he is proud of the 10 pilots and more than 40 maintenance and support Airmen that went to Japan and showed the commitment and dedication that epitomizes what it means to be a member of the "Wolf Pack."

During the week-long event pilots from the 80th FS flew 31 sorties. The sorties were a combination of one-on-one, four-on-two, four-on-four and the final sortie a 12-on-six.

"This was a great experience flying against interservice pilots," Capt Darin Wetzler, 80th FS pilot said. "Each of the services have there way of doing business and flies different tactics. Being able to see firsthand the different capabilities of each aircraft and where advantages lie between the services is invaluable training for both units."

The captain said he was reassured that even though each service may have different tactics they are both valid and lethal when it comes to real world tactics against an adversary.

"Interservice operability will be crucial to bring to the fight when called upon to achieve end state objectives," Capt. Wetzler said.

The colonel also said that training is also good for the larger Defense Department focus on transitioning from an interoperable to an interdependent force.

"When we go to war it is joint environment if not in a coalition as well," he said. "The knowledge of interoperability the services have with each is the best I have seen in my 19 years of flying. During the Cold War the Air Force would not know much about the Marine Corps or Navy but now there is the knowledge that makes everyone more effective in the battle space."

Courtesy 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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Lt. Col. Al Wimmer, commander of the 80th FS, was one of ten pilots that flew as opposing forces against Marine Corps pilots stationed at MCAS Iwakuni during a week long deployment. Colonel Wimmer, the other pilots and the F-16s returned to Kunsan on May 25th with maintenance and support Airmen returning on May 26th. [USAF photo by SSgt. Darcie Ibidapo]

USAF F-16C block 30 #86-0270 from the 80th FS returns to Kunsan AFB after a week long deployment to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan on May 25th. Pilots from the 80th FS flew dissimilar aircraft sorties as opposing forces, commonly known as red air, for Marine Corps aviators flying the F/A-18 Hornet. The sorties are valuable upgrade and continous training for pilots within the two units. [USAF photo by SSgt. Darcie Ibidapo]