Airmen train Japanese pilots for air-to-air refueling
5/24/2010 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Japanese and U.S. airmen are working together to certify about 20 Japanese Air Self Defense Force pilots in day and night air refueling here.
Airmen here have been training JASDF F-15 Eagle pilots since 2003.
(Media-Newswire.com) - 5/24/2010 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan ( AFNS ) -- Japanese and U.S. airmen are working together to certify about 20 Japanese Air Self Defense Force pilots in day and night air refueling here. Airmen here have been training JASDF F-15 Eagle pilots since 2003.
The training comes as Japanese pilots from Naha and Hyakuri air bases prepare to fly across the Pacific to participate in a Red Flag Alaska exercise in June at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
Red Flag Alaska is a large coalition exercise that involves many aircraft in complex missions. The exercise provides U.S. and coalition forces an opportunity to train together, improving readiness for wartime coalition missions.
In order to be certified, each pilot must successfully complete at least two daytime and two nighttime air refueling flights after completing several hours of classroom work.
"I believe this training is one of our most important missions, as we will continue to work with the U.S. and enhance interoperability in the future," said JASDF Lt. Col. Eiji Kitigawa, the305th Tactical Fighter Squadron commander at Hyakuri AB.
The training began May 9 and during the two weeks of training, some of the pilots have progressed from performing their first-ever air refueling to becoming fully certified.
This training will enable JASDF F-15 pilots to complete the long flight to Alaska without stopping and will extend their sorties at Red Flag so they can maximize their participation.
"I think ( the training ) went awesome," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Steinkraus, a boom operator with the 909th Air Refueling Squadron. "The Japanese pilots did really well today. In two weeks, they have gotten very proficient."
Helping guide the Japanese pilots through the intricacies of air refueling has been the job of four Air Force pilots; two from Kadena AB, one from Tyndall AFB, Fla., and another from Yokota AB, Japan.
Capt. David Siemion, an instructor pilot from the 67th Fighter Squadron said this was his first time training with the JASDF pilots and he was impressed with the professionalism of his counterparts as well as their ability to learn.
"It is challenging and it's very impressive how skilled and understanding the JASDF pilots are," he said. "We have to slow down a little bit and make sure we're clear, but it is very impressive how well they are learning something that is completely foreign to them and in a different language."
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