Misawa AB demonstrates combat readiness in first joint, bilateral elephant walk

Members of the 35th Fighter Wing completed a readiness exercise designed to validate the wing’s ability to rapidly generate combat airpower at Misawa Air Base, June 23. The exercise culminated in a joint and bilateral “elephant walk” formation composed of 31 aircraft, demonstrating large-scale combat airpower local to Misawa AB.

“The goal of this exercise was to execute a short notice, agile combat execution-style deployment and generation,” said Maj. Brannan Studley, 35th Fighter Wing director of wing inspections. “We learned a lot, refined our training, and demonstrated we’re ready to fight, which is even more critical in the middle of COVID-19 operations.” This exercise and demonstration touched on all five of the Air Force core missions: Air and Space Superiority, Global Strike, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, Rapid Global Mobility, and Command and Control.

After the conclusion of the generation portion of the exercise, 12 newly-configured F-16CM Fighting Falcons took to the runway, along with 12 Koku-Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, two U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, a USN C-12 Huron, two U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II aircraft from Kadena AB, a USN P-8 Poseidon, and a Koku-Jieitai CH-47 Chinook.

With the exception of the MC-130Js, the rest of the aircraft that participated are assigned to Misawa AB.

“Seeing our forces and our partners and allies taxi to the runway in one formation, as one fighting force, really brought home my last two years of command,” said Col. Kristopher Struve, 35th Fighter Wing commander. “I’m grateful to our Navy counterparts and Koku-Jieitai allies for their continued efforts in enhancing our interoperability and continuing to improve on our collective capabilities. Misawa Air Base would not be the combat-ready force it is without them.

This demonstration took the work of many agencies and individuals across the base, and the 35th Fighter Wing is grateful to our partners for showcasing the amazing, combat-ready force available to our Indo-Pacific leaders if called upon during a crisis.”

Twelve U.S. Air Force F-16CM Fighting Falcons, 12 Koku-Jieitai F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, two U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, a USN C-12 Huron, two USAF MC-130J Commando II aircraft, and a USN P-8 Poseidon participate in an

Twelve U.S. Air Force F-16CM Fighting Falcons, 12 Koku-Jieitai F-35A Lightning II, two U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, a U.S. Navy C-12 Huron, two U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II, and a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon participate in an “elephant walk” at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 22, 2020. The display of aircraft showcased Misawa AB’s collective readiness and ability to generate combat airpower at a moment’s notice to ensure regional stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. This was Misawa AB’s first time hosting a bilateral and joint elephant walk. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie Bulow-Gonterman)

U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and Japanese Air Self- Defense Force pilots attend a brief in preparation for an

U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and Japanese Air Self- Defense Force pilots attend a brief in preparation for an “elephant walk” at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 22, 2020. The display of aircraft highlighted Misawa AB’s collective readiness and ability to generate combat airpower at a moment’s notice to ensure regional stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. This is Misawa AB’s first time hosting a bilateral and joint elephant walk. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class China Shock)

Twelve U.S. Air Force F-16CM Fighting Falcons, 12 Koku-Jieitai F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, two U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, a USN C-12 Huron, two USAF MC-130J Commando II aircraft, and a USN P-8 Poseidon participate in an

Twelve U.S. Air Force F-16CM Fighting Falcons, 12 Koku-Jieitai F-35A Lightning II, two U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, a USN C-12 Huron, two U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II and a USN P-8 Poseidon participate in an “elephant walk” at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 22, 2020. The display of aircraft showcased Misawa AB’s collective readiness and ability to generate combat airpower at a moment’s notice to ensure regional stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by MC2 Jan David De Luna Mercado)

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