NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan (NNS) – The "Dambusters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195, assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, participated in the bilateral training exercise Benkyoukai III, Nov. 28.
The bi-lateral “Benkyoukai” series, named for the Japanese word reflecting partnership and collaborative learning, began in April of 2016, when the Dambusters led the first interaction of the U.S. Navy and Japan Air Self-Defense Force assets in more than a decade.
“The bilateral training that we held with our fellow JASDF fighter pilots has built friendships and mutual understanding between our two forces and led to development of new Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) as we work together toward securing peace and freedom in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” said Lt. Cmdr. Collier Crouch, operations officer for VFA-195.
Cmdr. Guy Snodgrass, VFA-195’s Commanding Officer, created the Benkyoukai series to develop a partnership with host nation tactical aircraft squadrons. The first event, held in April, incorporated F-15J Eagles from the JASDF 305th Tactical Fighter Squadron, F-4EJ Phantom II fighters from the JASDF 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron and F/A-18E Super Hornets from VFA-195. Consisting of only Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT), aircrew from both nations were able to develop a fundamental understanding in order to safely operate their aircraft in a dynamic arena with each other.
The third installment of the Benkyoukai series introduced more challenging tactical scenarios as each squadron conducted multiplane events with four aircraft simulating airborne attacks against four other aircraft. Conducting increasingly complex scenarios will enable Japan and the U.S. to work together more effectively during future operations.
Throughout the week, aircrews from both nations were tested on their decision making and aircraft employment during complicated and extremely dynamic air-to-air intercepts. To close the week out, members from the 302nd, based four hours away in Hyakuri, Japan, visited Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi to receive a tour of facilities before joining the Dambusters for a softball game and barbeque, further strengthening the bilateral relationship.
Events such as Benkyoukai continue to improve the interoperability between partner nations. CVW-5 and the JASDF forces provide security and stability to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
CVW-5 is the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed air wing, operating from Naval Air Facility
Atsugi, Japan, and deploying aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).