PAC WEASEL: Synergistic Readiness in Joint Bilateral Operations

  • Published
  • By 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Team Misawa hosted the latest iteration of a PACIFIC WEASEL exercise over Draughon Range near Misawa Air Base, Japan, Dec 8, 2023.

PAC WEASEL is a recurring air combat exercise allowing joint and bilateral partners to discover innovative solutions for any mission. This exercise series supports the U.S. commitment to defend a free and open Indo-Pacific region by enhancing the readiness and tactical capabilities of U.S. Forces and Japan Air Self-Defense Forces (JASDF).

“As the U.S. Air Force continues to focus exercises on Agile Combat Employment and Distributed Ops, elite large force exercises with flying opportunities are harder to come by,” said Major Sean Collins, 35th Fighter Wing exercise lead.

In this iteration, Misawa hosted a large force exercise for U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and JASDF participants from across the First Island Chain. Scenarios were cultivated during the exercise in which hosted participants conducted mission planning and executed the simulated fight the following day over the course of two continuous hours, employing simulated munitions on real moving targets found by a full team of real-world dynamic targets.

It involved a formidable force comprised of various aircraft types from different units, including U.S. assets such as F-16 Fighting Falcons from Misawa Air Base, P-8 Poseidons on deployment to Kadena Air Base, F-35A Lightning IIs from Eielson Air Force Base, and JASDF F-15 Strike Eagle from Chitose Air Base. The force package was supported by the 610th Air Control Flight and JASDF Northern Air Defense Control Group members from Misawa Air Base, E-3 Sentry, and KC-135 Stratotankers from Kadena Air Base, alongside other supporting assets.

““By hosting this exercise, we drive our own desired learning objectives that focus on execution at the tactical level. We can apply advanced fighter integration, tanker coordination, tactical command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance so that when the joint and coalition forces take off, we still know how to get the job done in the air.”
said Maj Collins

The exercise aimed to foster cooperation and coordination among units in the Indo-Pacific region, enhancing their collective ability to respond effectively to potential threats. Participating teams strengthened their readiness by practicing combat-representative battles and addressing tactical challenges, further refining their operational skills and increasing joint interoperability.

“This year included a lot of firsts,” said Collins. “We had the first-ever U.S. Air Force F-35 detachment participate in the mission planning and execution from Misawa Air Base, alongside the first U.S. Air Force F-35A and JASDF F-15 integration.”

“There were a lot of victories on Friday when we executed. We had a load of lessons learned and synergy built between the bilateral forces showcasing that, without a doubt, these exercises better prepare the allied team for major combat ops.”