The ability to deploy 140 personnel, six fighter jets and 61,000kg of cargo across the globe to Japan would not be possible without the heavy airlift muscle of Air Mobility Group.
No. 77 Squadron and support elements deployed to Chitose Air Base in Japan for Exercise Bushido Guardian from 11 Sep to 8 Oct 19.
Bushido Guardian is the first air combat exercise with Japan and will see RAAF F/A-18 Hornets training tactics and manoeuvres alongside Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Koku-Jieitai) F-2A and F-15J fighter aircraft.
Logistics Officer, Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Gemma Donald explained getting the required amount of cargo, personnel and aircraft all the way to Japan was an enormous undertaking.
“There is a lot of planning and logistics that goes on behind the scenes to get the gear we need moved across the globe from Williamtown to Chitose,” FLTLT Donald said.
“The jets depended on the KC-30 Multi-Role Tanker Transport which acted as a service station in the sky.
“It enabled multiple refuels as well as carried a large number of personnel.
“Our support equipment was delivered via a C-130J Hercules and three loads of C-17A Globemasters.
“We relied on the muscle of the aircraft and the expertise of the crew to ensure the gear arrived both safely and successfully.
“To put it in perspective, 61,000kg of cargo equates to about 435kg of excess baggage per person on this exercise - it’s a lot of gear!”
Once the cargo arrived, Koku-Jieitai and RAAF personnel worked together to off load pallets and containers.
FLTLT Donald and her Koku-Jieitai counterpart, Transport and Supply Officer, 1st Lieutenant (1LT) Tsugiaki Nagatomo had to overcome barriers in each other’s equipment and language.
“I think there are some things we don’t understand because this is the first joint training with the RAAF but we are all working hard together to achieve the same goal,” 1LT Nagatomo said.
“Not speaking the same language can be challenging but this is overcome by taking time to understand each other’s procedures, using linguist support and non-verbal cues such as hand signals,” FLTLT Donald said.
“It’s the strong person-to-person bonds that are formed on exercises that truly strengthen our ability to be interoperable.”
Exercise Bushido Guardian will enhance the defence cooperation and develop mutual understanding between the RAAF and Koku-Jieitai.