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Missiles or signals? How Misawa’s Joint Threat Emitters keep Wild Weasel pilots combat ready

Satellite dishes on a Joint Threat Emitter spin while operated by defense industry partners.

A Joint Threat Emitter (JTE) provides electric signals to aircraft after being installed on Draughon Range at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 3, 2021. The JTEs provide ground threat warnings to aircraft via an electronic signal to simulate a surface-to-air missile or anti-aircraft artillery to pilots for realistic aerial combat training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

A group of men surround and provide maintenance on a Joint Threat Emitter.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Daniel House, 35th Operations Support Squadron range operations officer and members from the Joint Threat Emitter (JTE) system program office, install a new JTE system near the flightline at Misawa Air Base, Japan, May 18, 2021. Misawa AB, with the help of defense industry partners, recently installed two new JTEs to train with as close to real-world conditions, as safely possible. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Two men operate a Joint Threat Emitter from the Command and Control Unit.

Joint Threat Emitter (JTE) system program office members test a JTE Command and Control Unit at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 14, 2021. The emitters have the ability to respond to aircraft’s countermeasures and can help further train pilots by mirroring enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Man holds a joystick operating a Joint Threat Emitter from the Command and Control Unit.

A Joint Threat Emitter (JTE) system program office member operates a JTE from the Command and Control Unit at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 14, 2021. The JTEs allow Misawa AB to prepare against enemy air defenses and stop them from destroying friendly aircraft in real-world combat scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Group of men and women pose for a photo in front of a Joint Threat Emitter

U.S. Air Force Maj. Daniel House, 35th Operations Support Squadron range operations officer, and members from the Joint Threat Emitter (JTE) system program office, stand in front of a recently installed JTE at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 3, 2021. The new JTEs will produce better trained joint and bilateral pilots who are more capable to protect U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific region, and defend Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Misawa Air Base pilots are constantly training and attending exercises to hone their skills to fine points, but ultimately nothing beats real-world experiences when preparing to project agile combat air power.

Providing real-world scenarios is expensive and it can also be dangerous. Misawa AB, with the help of a commercial defense industry partner, recently installed two new Joint Threat Emitters (JTEs) to get as close to real-world conditions, as safely possible.

“To best train pilots, we have to give an accurate representation of enemy anti-air systems,” said Maj. Daniel House, 35th Operations Support Squadron range operations officer. “These JTEs allow us to prepare against enemy air defenses, and stop them from destroying friendly aircraft in combat scenarios.”

These JTEs provide ground threat warnings to the aircraft via an electronic signal to simulate a surface-to-air missile or anti-aircraft artillery -- giving Wild Weasel, joint, and partner nation pilots realistic aerial combat training.

The threats aren't physical, but they emulate numerous types of radar, electronic warfare and other threats. The emitters also have the ability to respond to aircraft’s countermeasures, and can help further train pilots by mirroring enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures.

“The new JTEs provide multi-threat training by combining two subsystems into one package,” House said. “These JTEs allow Misawa to triple the amount of simulated anti-aircraft systems we’ve trained and operated with in previous years.”

Maj. Thomas Nichols, 13th Fighter Squadron chief of weapons and tactics, explained JTEs can go beyond just benefiting Air Force pilots at Misawa AB.

“These new assets will allow us to integrate with all forces across U.S. Forces Japan as well as Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces,” Nichols said. “We’ll have the ability to yield a better repeated and improved training together.”

Ultimately, the new JTEs will produce better trained joint and bilateral pilots who are more capable to protect U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific region, and defend Japan.