Misawa SEAD clears way for Yokota airdrops
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Massive dark clouds swooped in from the west, bringing snow and 60 mph winds--making it almost impossible to see your own feet at Draughon Range, Jan 31.
Although this may seem unpleasant to the average person, Airmen from the 36th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan, and the 35th Fighter Wing, viewed these as perfect conditions to perform their first joint airdrop training exercise.
“We came to experience different conditions and practice dropping since we only drop at our airfield,” said Staff Sgt. Clint Dabney, a C-130 Hercules loadmaster assigned to the 36th AS, Yokota Air Base, Japan. “This gives us the opportunity to drop in cold weather and train pilots when they cannot see on the ground, forcing them to use only their flight instruments.”
Flying blind, aircrew honed their instrument meteorological condition skills. During nonvisual airdrops, they also rely heavily on the drop zone control officers on the ground.
“Coming to Misawa allows us to practice our IMC airdrop by setting up new procedures for a new area, low-level flying and dissimilar aircraft training,” said 1st Lt. Luke Wilkinson, drop zone control officer assigned to the 36th AS, Yokota Air Base, Japan. “This prepares us for any contingency operation where we might have to drop supplies during a humanitarian or combat situation.”
While Airmen assigned to Yokota practiced airdropping; Misawa’s F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots rehearsed security measures, allowing the drop to happen safely.
“They practiced suppressing enemy air defense, or SEAD, while we were trying to drop supplies on the target,” explained Wilkinson. “It was nice learning to integrate with the F-16s and seeing different things like the IMC drop.”
This was the first time Yokota and Misawa came together to conduct this type of training, creating stronger air power capabilities and continuing the stability within the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Although this was the first time Airmen from Yokota and Misawa conducted this training, their dedication made it a successful airdrop and ultimately improved their abilities to drop cargo anywhere, anytime, regardless of the weather.
“This was the first-ever IMC airdrop at Draughon Range,” said Col. R. Scott Jobe, 35th Fighter Wing commander. “Partnering with Yokota, we flawlessly executed an airdrop amidst simulated anti-aircraft and surface-to-air missile threats. Additionally, our integrated forces countered a robust air threat en route to our objectives. Training like this demonstrates our growing capabilities here at Misawa to further prepare the Indo-Asia-Pacific theatre for potential crisis.”