Three airframes, one mission: Misawa PAC Weasel

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies over a U.S. Navy EA-18G during a PACIFIC WEASEL exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 19, 2020. This exercise allowed the 35th Operations Group and the U.S. Navy Electronic Attack Squadron 209 (VAQ-209) to integrate and enhance interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class China M. Shock)
A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon flies over a U.S. Navy EA-18G during a PACIFIC WEASEL exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 19, 2020. This exercise allowed the 35th Operations Group and the U.S. Navy Electronic Attack Squadron 209 (VAQ-209) to integrate and enhance interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class China M. Shock)

Three airframes, one mission: Misawa PAC Weasel

by Airman 1st Class China M. Shock
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members of the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons, the 610th Air Control Flight, U.S. Navy Electronic Attack Squadron 209 and Patrol Squadron One, executed Exercise PACIFIC WEASEL at Misawa Air Base, Japan, over Draughon Range, June 19, 2020.

The objective of this exercise was to integrate U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force assets to simulate the suppression of enemy air defenses and increase interoperability between the two services. This exercise incorporated a total of 21 aircraft, to include F-16 Fighting Falcons, EA-18G Growlers and a P-8 Poseidon.

VAQ-209’s leadership noted the importance of the joint collaboration.

“We are aggressively seeking out every opportunity to advance and strengthen our capabilities and proficiency at conducting joint, all-domain warfighting operations,” said Cdr. Joshua Fagan, Combined Task Force 70 Air Operations officer. “We regularly integrate with joint and partner nation components to exercise and develop tactical interoperability and effects synchronization.

The importance of this training in exposing aviators to new capabilities was also reinforced by the Air Force members leading the charge here.

“This was a joint large force exercise focusing on SEAD and air interdiction of maritime targets,” said Capt. Adam Starks, the 35th Operations Support Squadron chief of wing intelligence weapons and tactics. “Air Force assets practiced striking simulated naval vessels, enhancing Misawa’s joint capabilities and increasing its readiness.”

Wild Weasel pilots use exercises like PAC WEASEL to sharpen their tactical air capabilities and F-16 maneuverability.

“Integrating different airframes into our training helps us improve on each other’s capabilities, enhancing our interoperability,” said Capt. Coleman Farrell, a 35th OSS assistant to wing weapons. “This training provides us with hands-on experience that would help us if there were ever a real world situation.”

During PAC WEASEL, pilots practiced SEAD, escort, and strike missions as well as anti-surface warfare.

This exercise consisted of escorting the strikers into the target area in order to drop inert munitions while taking out the opposing forces.

The pilots used PAC WEASEL as an opportunity to learn from one another, understanding how each service operates at the tactical level.

“During PAC WEASEL, the desired learning objectives are created by the tactical experts within all the participating units and because of the mission planning activities, execution and debrief produce more tactical and beneficial lessons learned,” said Starks.

Starks believes every pilot, controller, and intelligence Airman participating in the PAC WEASEL exercise leaves the final debrief with an enhanced skillset and more operational experience.

“This exercise allows 35th Operations Group intelligence Airmen and the U.S. Navy Electronic Attack Squadron 209 (VAQ-209) to integrate and build comradery between the units,” said Starks. “This coordination and sharing of the operational tactics, techniques and procedures is extremely helpful.”

The SEAD mission affords aircraft the ability to put bombs on target, ultimately eliminating enemy integrated air defense systems.

"This type of integration is extremely helpful because the EA-18G Growler and the F-16 Fighting Falcon are two of the premier SEAD assets for the United States military,” said Starks. “Having the opportunity to practice some of their joint tactics, techniques and procedures is always worthwhile.”

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