Fighter jets from the Royal Australian Air Force and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASF) spent two weeks training in Japanese airspace for Exercise Bushido Guardian.
RAAF F/A-18 Hornets from No. 77 Squadron deployed to Chitose Air Base in Japan from September 11 to October 8 to fly joint training missions with F-2A and F-15J aircraft from the JASDF (Koku-Jieitai).
The exercise improved understanding of the air forces’ air combat tactics and manoeuvres.
Pilots from both nations were tested with various training opportunities and the No. 77 Squadron Flight Commander, Squadron Leader Michael Bailes, said the complexity of the missions gradually increased throughout the exercise.
“The types of air combat tactics that we are training start from one-versus-one basic fighter manoeuvres into two-versus-one visual air combat manoeuvring and then we move to the beyond visual range arena looking at offensive counter-air, defensive counter-air and large force employment,” Squadron Leader Bailes said.
“One hour of operating together in the air takes a lot of work on the ground. We do all our pre-flight planning, briefing and debriefs side-by-side with the Koku-Jieitai.
“It’s a very unique and valuable experience for our pilots to train so closely together. We’ve had the chance to learn from both nation’s professionalism and skill.
“Flying with the F-2A and F-15J allows us to better understand its capabilities and performance.
“This type of training greatly increases our combat effectiveness in the air and our ability to work together on future real-world contingencies or operations.”
Bilateral training with a country for the first time does not go without challenges, but Koku-Jieitai F-15J Pilot, Major Ito said both countries integrated well.
“The Australian Air Force has a deep understanding of the Koku-Jieitai and there are a lot of commonalities in both operations and logistics,” Major Ito said.
“Throughout Exercise Bushido Guardian, we’ve been able to deepen mutual understanding about each other’s tactics, training and procedures and have solid discussions on how to accomplish the mission together.”
Exercises such as Bushido Guardian forge stronger relationships and mutual understanding that underpin the overall strength of the special strategic partnership between Australia and Japan.