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Misawa Air Base Hosts Joint Bilateral Integration Training

Four men in uniform stand in front of three fighter jets.

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Timothy J. Farag, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) commanding officer, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David M. Dubel, 14th Fighter Squadron commander, Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Lt. Col. Yoshihiko Ida, 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron commander, and JASDF Lt. Col. Hidetoshi Tamura, 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron commander, stand in front of aircraft from their respective squadrons at Misawa Air Base, Aug. 26, 2021. VMFA-121 utilized Misawa's unique capabilities in Draughon Range as well the expertise of pilots and maintainers from both the 14th Fighter Squadron and their JASDF counterparts to increase their operational readiness.

A fighter jet taxis from the left as another takes off from a runway.

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning ll with the "Green Knights" Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), takes off at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021. VMFA-121 integrated with Misawa’s 14th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots, bolstering their ability to work together in the event of future real-world operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Two fighter jets, an F-16 followed by an F-35, taxi from the right.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II prepare to takeoff at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 and the 14th Fighter Squadron conducted integration training affording all parties involved a greater understanding of how to work together in the event of real-world operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

An F-35 taxis from the left.

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II with the "Green Knights" Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), taxis down the runway at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021. VMFA-121 utilized Draughon Range’s new joint threat emitters to train their suppression of enemy air defense capabilities. Draughon Range is the only place in-theater that offers such emitters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

A pilot sits in the cockpit of an F-35. The canopy is open.

A U.S. Marine with the "Green Knights" Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), prepares for takeoff after entering the cockpit of an F-35B Lightning II aircraft at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021. VMFA-121 needs to be able to operate anywhere if called upon to deter and defeat adversaries. The ability to integrate with partners and allies is a vital part of that capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

A pilot gives a thumbs-up hand signal from the cokpit of an F-35 sitting in front of a hardened aircraft shelter.

A U.S. Marine with the "Green Knights" Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), gives a thumbs-up from the cockpit of an F-35B Lightning II at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021. VMFA-121 deployed F-35B Lightning IIs to Misawa Air Base to conduct aerial fighter integration training alongside the 14th Fighter Squadron throughout the month of August 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

A person in uniform leans into an open canopy of an F-35 fighter  jet.

A U.S. Marine with the "Green Knights" Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), conducts pre-flight checks on an F-35B Lightning II at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021. The Marines of VMFA-121 conducted aerial fighter integration training with the 14th Fighter Squadron as well as suppression of enemy air defenses training at Draughon Range, the premiere air-to-ground training site in northern Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

A person drives a weapon lifting machine while another stands nearby.

U.S. Marines with the "Green Knights" Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), operate an air launched weapons loader to lift an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021. In addition to integrating with the 14th Fighter Squadron, VMFA-121 was able to hold bilateral F-35 talks between Marine Corps and JASDF pilots and maintainers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Five Marines hoist a missile to be uploaded to an F-35 fighter jet.

U.S. Marines with the "Green Knights" Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), load a training AIM-9 Sidewinder missile onto an F-35B Lightning II aircraft at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021. VMFA-121 pilots conducted suppression of enemy air defense, strike mission, and defensive counter-air training with F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots from the 14th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

Two fighter jets sit near aircraft shelters. One close, one in the distance.
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Two U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs with the "Green Knights" Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), sit on the tarmac before pre-flight checks are performed at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021. The Marines of VMFA-121 conduct training throughout Japan in order to sustain their high level of proficiency and operational readiness while increasing interoperability with both the U.S. Air Force, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

An F-35 sits on pavement. Trees in the background.
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A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II with the "Green Knights" Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) sits on the tarmac at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Aug. 12, 2021. VMFA-121 is the first forward-deployed Marine F-35B squadron, capable of providing close air support and conducting strike missions in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Leon Redfern)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, deployed F-35B Lightning IIs to Misawa Air Base to conduct aerial fighter integration training alongside the 14th Fighter Squadron throughout the month of August 2021.


The Marines of VMFA-121 are another weapon in the arsenal that the U.S. employs to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The Marines conduct training throughout Japan in order to sustain their high level of proficiency and operational readiness while increasing interoperability with both the U.S. Air Force, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

“One reason we came to Misawa was to use Draughon Range and the Joint Threat Emitters that simulate surface-to-air missile threats,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Timothy J. Farag, VMFA-121 commanding officer. “Another great reason we came to Misawa was to integrate with the F-16s here, as well as in hopes that we could do something with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.”

VMFA-121 pilots conducted suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD), strike mission, and defensive counter-air training with F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots from the 14th Fighter Squadron.
The fighter attack squadron needs to be able to operate anywhere if called upon to deter and defeat adversaries. The ability to integrate with partners and allies is a vital part of that capability. This integration training affords all parties involved a greater understanding of how to work together in the event of real-world operations.

“From a joint perspective, sometimes we think the same thing, but say it in different ways,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David M. Dubel, 14th Fighter Squadron commander. “So being able to brief, fly and debrief with our Marine Corps partners gives us a common understanding of what we’re saying on the radio and what we’re doing tactically so we can integrate better in the future.”

In addition to integrating with the 14th Fighter Squadron, VMFA-121 was able to hold bilateral F-35 talks between Marine Corps and JASDF pilots and maintainers.


“What impressed us the most was how faithful the Marines of VMFA-121 are. They are also positive and cheerful at the same time,” said JASDF Lt. Col. Yoshihiko Ida, 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron commander. “Japan Self-Defense Forces do not have a direct counterpart of the Marine Corps. However, through the past three weeks we are convinced that they are also a truly reliable ally.”

The Marines were also able to train with the newly installed Joint Threat Emitters at Draughon Range.

“We unfortunately don’t have those emitters available where we’re stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, or really anywhere else in theater,” said Farag. “The training we do in the simulator, we’re trying to replicate in the air, using the airplane’s capabilities, to mimic the real-world SEAD mission. It’s great to be able to try and exercise those systems.”

Draughon Range is a premiere air-to-ground training site located in northern Japan. U.S. Force and partner nations train at the range to enhance capabilities such as SEAD, munition employment, Combat Search and Rescue and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, ultimately enhancing the readiness of joint and multinational forces in the region.