Japanese aviators train to survive cold
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force aviators traveled to the harbor at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, to conduct Winter Survival Training March 9-11, 2016.
Mandatory for all aviators and aircrew, the JMSDF conducts this training semi-annually, once in the summer and once in the winter.
“This winter training helps ensure our aviators have the skills necessary to survive in case of a contingency situation over the water,” said JMSDF Lt. j.g. Yusuke Fujimoto.
To start the training aviators fired off a flare-gun and a pencil-gun which is a smaller version of a flare gun. The aviators then set off two smoke signals: red smoke for daytime and gray smoke with a red flashing light for nighttime.
“I think the flare and smoke training was important because you can’t be lost and not know what to do with your gear in an emergency situation,” said Fujimoto.
The final portion consisted of drifting training where the aviators dressed in Taikan Taisui Fuku, a cold and water resistant suit. They then jumped into the water, swam to inflatable-life-saving boats and worked as a team to climb aboard.
Aviators that fly rotary-wing aircraft are required to wear the cold and water resistant suits during flights because if a problem occurred while in the air, the crew wouldn’t have time to put on the suits before hitting the water.
Aviators that fly-fixed wing aircraft are not required to wear the suits during flights because their aircraft have the ability to stay afloat before submerging, which affords the crew time to get in the suits.
“My favorite part was the drifting training,” said JMSDF Petty Officer 1st Class Kimihiko Irie. “It is rare for us to drift and wear all of the gear. If you don’t train, you can’t take care of what you need to do in a contingency situation.”
After boarding the boats, the crew then disembarked and swam to shore to conclude their training.
“It is important to conduct this training because the aviators have many skills and one is survival,” said JMSDF Lt. Cmdr. Kiyoshi Saito, public relations officer for Fleet Air Wing 31. “In the case of an emergency situation, we can have another chance and survive.”