NYUTABARU AIR BASE, Japan --
The Pacific Air Forces F-16 Demonstration Team, based at Misawa Air Base, Japan, arrived at Nyutabaru Air Base, Miyazaki, Japan, Nov. 29, to participate in the two-day Nyutabaru Air Show, which expects to attract approximately 100,000 spectators.
Continuing their long-standing relationship with Nyutabaru AB, this year marks the demo team's seventh year appearing at the show.
"We have performed at Nyutabaru every year since 2010, and this is my second show here," said Maj. Richard Smeeding, the PACAF F-16 Demo Team pilot and a Colorado native. "It's neat being able to come back and reengage with pilots and continue to build upon these prior relationships we've developed over the years.
He continued by stating these relationships have afforded the U.S. Air Force multiple opportunities to grow closer to their bilateral partners, especially with Japanese Air Self-Defense Force members who fly F-15J's out of Nyutabaru AB.
"We were able to fly against the JASDF's F-15Js in a training scenario, which was a great opportunity," Smeeding said. "That training was actually a direct result of last year's air show. I asked the Nyutabaru wing commander if the demo team could come out a few days before the air show this year to train with the base's assets, and the coordination took off from there.
Smeeding noted the significance of the experience.
"It's not often that we get to fly in a one vs. one setting where we can break down to the smaller elements of how we would fight in a close engagement, understand what their thinking is and ultimately learn from each other, allowing us to better integrate in combat situations."
Even at events that don't offer this kind of training, though, the PACAF F-16 Demo Team plays an integral part in strengthening U.S. ties with its partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Smeeding stated these shows also give the team an opportunity to interact with international militaries, local nationals and represent the Air Force--and the United States as a whole--by being a positive image for these communities in which they perform.
"We are the biggest community engagement tool in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, giving us the opportunity to meet people face-to-face, show them we are a professional organization that works hard, are proud of what we do and really care about the people for whom we perform," Smeeding said.
Eight aircrew members and one pilot from Misawa Air Base, Japan, fill out the PACAF F-16 Demo Team. At each show, they execute an aircraft demonstration, which highlights the speed as well as the overall maneuverability of the jet, and a ground show, which displays the precision and expertise of the aircrew.
The show at Nyutabaru AB is the team's eighth and final performance of 2017.
"We have a really well-established team," said Master Sgt. Jeff Parker, the PACAF F-16 Demo Team superintendent and Louisiana native. "A lot of work goes into making sure these air shows are flawlessly executed. We have had two great days of practice and are ready to put on a great show this Sunday for our host nation."