December 20, 2007 (by MSgt. Sean P. Houlihan) - Airmen from the Wolf Pack have just returned on December 20 after completing an 11-day training exercise for air combat training with sailors flying the F-18 Hornets at Atsugi NAF, Japan.
Airmen from the 8th FW and Sailors from Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5) poise for a group photo at the conclusion of the two units training together at the Navy base in Japan on December 19th, 2007. Forty Airmen from Kunsan went to Atsugi for combat air training. [USAF photo]
Forty Airmen from the 8th Operations Group, 8th Maintenance Group and 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron along with five F-16s deployed to the naval installation Dec. 9 to 20.
"Air combat training between the services exposes both Navy and Air Force pilots to different air to air tactics and aircraft capabilities," said Maj. Michael Boger, 8th Operations Support Squadron director of operations and training exercise commander. "This type of training is critically important to maintain not only Wolf Pack pilots and maintainers, but Navy fighter pilots' combat skills by engaging in realistic air-to-air combat training against different types of high-performance fighter aircraft."
During the training exercise pilots received training on different basic fighter maneuvers as the two different airframes went head to head within each training scenario. Training was stepped up during differential air combat tactics when four F-16 pilots flew against up to six F-18 pilots. A scenario was also played out where a combined flight of two Navy and two Air Force jets flew against another combined flight of two Navy and two Air Force jets.
These scenarios along with flying from Japan according to Major Boger helped trained Wolf Pack aviators to varied aerial situations allowing them to learn adaptation and flexibility. He added that many of the maneuvers used during training at Kunsan against Wolf Pack F-16's were validated against the Hornets with slightly different cues for accomplishing certain maneuvers.
Pilots flying the missions were not the only Airmen who received valuable training during the training exercise.
According to Capt. Katie Jett, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge, maintenance has been great with all Airmen fully engaged during launch, recovery and any maintenance issues that have arose during the training exercise.
She said deploying to a Navy base compared to an Air Force base means there is different equipment to service and troubleshoot the aircraft along with parts. However, those differences didn't affect maintenance but will be beneficial for future training exercises.
"Since we've experienced what a Naval base has to offer, we'll be able to better coordinate prior to arrival what we can count on the Navy to provide and also what exactly to bring for future training exercises to Japan."
This has been a beneficial training exercise for both operators and the maintainers that would be great to have as a reoccurring event for the 35th as a unit."
The other beneficiary of the training was the Carrier Air Wing FIVE (CVW-5) based at Atsugi. The unit with its six squadrons and five different airframes was easily able to integrate and train with the 35th Fighter Squadron pilots through the joint air to air training.
"Joint air to air combat training is extremely important in today's military as joint operations become more and more essential," Lt. CDR
. Jason Lane, assistant operations officer for CVW-5 said. "In a dynamic air to air training environment, face to face planning, briefing and debriefing are crucial to the training."
All agree that the training accomplished and bonds created have been beneficial for all.
"This has been a phenomenal training that potentially will open the door to more opportunities for Kunsan and Atsugi to work together to hone combat skills."