By SOF Editor on Fri, 12/18/2009 - 11:40am
MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. (AFNS) -- Japanese Air Self-Defense Force pilots teamed up with 129th Rescue Wing aircrews here for refueling training Dec. 7 to 18.
Maj. Eiji Sekine and Capt. Takeshi Tokuda, UH-60J helicopter pilots assigned to the Air Rescue Wing at Komaki Air Base, Japan, and Maj. Masahiko Miyazaki and Capt. Takemas Tsuchimiochi, C-130H Hercules pilots with the 1st Tactical Airlift Wing at Komaki AB, received hands-on training for day and night air refueling on the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter and MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft.
"They have done some refueling training with the 33rd Rescue Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan," said Maj. Mathew Wenthe, the 129th Rescue Squadron's tactical officer. "However, the 33rd RQS is on a deployment rotation leaving them unable to provide any more training or academic service to the JASDF pilots."
This collaboration was prompted by a plan by JASDF officials to buy refueling pods for the C-130H. JASDF pilots currently are flying KC-767 jet tankers and UH-60Js, but have no refueling systems, Captain Tsuchimiochi said.
"When we got word from Kadena, we thought it would be a great experience to support," Major Wenthe said. "There's a big push for building partnership from the Pacific Air Force and we see this as a key element to that partnership. It's been a blast."
JASDF officials plan to buy refueling probe packages for their UH-60s so the pilots can do air refueling while on rescue missions. Their job will be to return to Japan and teach their fellow pilots the training they've learned here, Major Wenthe said.
"Our rescue squadron saves include retrieving sick fishermen at sea and shipwrecks," Major Sekine said. "With this training we will return to Japan to train our pilots and become operational in the near future."
Focusing on safety, partnership and accuracy while training, the Japanese pilots will return home to improve their rescue mission's range and efficiency.
"We do our best, thank you for all of the training," Major Miyazaki said. "We appreciate everything."