Misawa AB’s First Joint, Bilateral Elephant Walk Features JASDF F-35s, US F-16s, EA-18Gs, C-12, MC-130Js and P-8

Twelve U.S. Air Force F-16CM Fighting Falcons, 12 Koku-Jieitai F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, two U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, a USN C-12 Huron, two USAF MC-130J Commando II aircraft, and a USN P-8 Poseidon participate in an “Elephant Walk” at Misawa Air Base, June 22, 2020. The Elephant Walk showcased Misawa Air Base’s collective readiness and ability to generate combat airpower at a moment's notice to ensure regional stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. This was Misawa Air Base’s first time hosting a bilateral and joint Elephant Walk (U.S. Air Force photo by SSgt Melanie Bulow-Gonterman).

U.S. Air Force F-16CM Fighting Falcons, JASDF F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, a USN C-12 Huron, USAF MC-130J Commando II aircraft, and a USN P-8 Poseidon took part in a readiness exercise at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

31 aircraft took part in a readiness exercise that culminated in a joint and bilateral “Elephant Walk” at Misawa Air Base on Jun. 23, 2020.

The drills were organized by the local-based 35th Fighter Wing to validate the wing’s ability to rapidly generate combat airpower.

“The goal of this exercise was to execute a short notice, agile combat execution-style deployment and generation,” said Maj. Brannan Studley, 35th Fighter Wing director of wing inspections in a public release. “We learned a lot, refined our training, and demonstrated we’re ready to fight, which is even more critical in the middle of COVID-19 operations.” This exercise and demonstration touched on all five of the Air Force core missions: Air and Space Superiority, Global Strike, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, Rapid Global Mobility, and Command and Control.

After the conclusion of the generation portion of the exercise, 12 U.S. Air Force F-16CMs taxied to the runway, along with 12 JASDF (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, two U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, a USN C-12 Huron, two USAF MC-130J Commando II aircraft from Kadena Air Base, and a USN P-8 Poseidon. A JASDF CH-47 Chinook photoship took the shots of Misawa Air Base’s first “bilateral and joint” Elephant Walk.

Twelve U.S. Air Force F-16CM Fighting Falcons, 12 Koku-Jieitai F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, two U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers, a USN C-12 Huron, two USAF MC-130J Commando II aircraft, and a USN P-8 Poseidon participate in an “Elephant Walk” at Misawa Air Base, June 22, 2020. The Elephant Walk showcased Misawa Air Base’s collective readiness and ability to generate combat airpower at a moment’s notice to ensure regional stability throughout the Indo-Pacific. This was Misawa Air Base’s first time hosting a bilateral and joint Elephant Walk. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class China M. Shock)

Among the interesting things you could note in the photographs is the fact that thd F-16CMs carried the AGM-158 JASSM missile. The AGM-158 has been used by the Americans since 2003 and it is one of the most modern missiles in the world. The new missile uses its inertial navigation and GPS (global positioning systems) to find its target, and an infrared seeker for pinpoint accuracy right before impact.

Misawa hosts JASDF’s 302nd Squadron, formerly operating the F-4EJ “Kai” Phantom II. The transition to operational status for Japan’s new F-35A Lightning IIs took place on March 26, 2019. The 302 Hikotai lost an F-35A Lightning II, serialled 79-8705, the first of 13 Japanese F-35s assembled at the Nagoya FACO (Final Assembly and Check-Out), with the loss of the pilot in the Pacific Ocean on, April 9, 2019.


About David Cenciotti 4124 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.