Naha AB airmen train with Team Kadena firefighters
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- A 64-mile long, ten-mile wide island occupied by 1.4 million souls leaves zero margin for error with Japanese and U.S. aircraft in the event of an inflight emergency requiring immediate landing procedures. Naha Air base and Kadena Air Base aircrews train together to ensure the safety of Okinawan residents and safe landing of troubled aircraft.
Service members from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force 9th Wing and U.S. Air Force 18th Civil Engineer Squadron conducted bilateral flight line training at Naha AB March 15, 2016.
Crews worked together to enhance each unit's readiness in case of an inflight emergency by simulating an aircraft arrest barrier recovery procedure for a JASDF F-15 Eagle aircraft.
"We gained a mutual understanding of communication and emergency procedures for in the event a JASDF F-15 makes an emergency landing here on Kadena," said Mitsuo Yamaguchi, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron fire training officer.
Despite language differences, Japanese and U.S. crews communicated successfully through universally adapted aircraft hand signals.
"It was all done through hand signals in compliance with NATO standards," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Patrick Walsh, 18th CES firefighter. "Crews working on any flight line need to know these signals."
In addition to practicing NATO signals, JASDF airmen trained 18th CES firefighters to use their own emergency procedures for inflight emergencies, ensuring Team Kadena readiness for emergency landings by Japanese F-15 aircraft.
"We had a great training opportunity, and we communicated efficiently," said Maj. Tsukasa Yoshika, JASDF liaison officer. "Such training will help us in case we have to divert to Kadena Air Base in the future."
Walsh agreed that the bilateral training with the JASDF was a success.
"It's a great experience because we continue to develop a relationship with them, promoting teamwork and continuity among JASDF and USAF," he said. "We are here for them."