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Misawa Air Base demonstrates its combat readiness in first joint bilateral Elephant Walk


Members of the 35th Fighter Wing completed a readiness exercise, designed to validate the wing’s ability to rapidly generate combat airpower, at Misawa Air Base, June 22, 2020. The exercise culminated in a joint and bilateral “Elephant Walk” formation composed of 31 aircraft, demonstrating the large-scale combat airpower local to Misawa.

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Misawa Air Base demonstrates its combat readiness in first joint bilateral 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 (Picture source: U.S. Air Force/Branden Yamada)


“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. “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 newly-configured F-16s took to the runway, along with 12 Koku-Jieitai (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, a USN P-8 Poseidon, and a Koku-Jieitai CH-47 Chinook photoship.

With the exception of the MC-130Js, the rest of the aircraft that participated are assigned to Misawa Air Base. “Seeing our forces and our partners and allies taxi to the runway in one formation, as one fighting force, really brought home my last two years of command,” said Col. Kristopher Struve, 35th Fighter Wing commander. “I’m grateful to our Navy counterparts and Koku-Jieitai allies for their continued efforts in enhancing our interoperability and continuing to improve on our collective capabilities. Misawa Air Base would not be the combat-ready force it is without them.

This demonstration took the work of many agencies and individuals across the wing, and the 35th Fighter Wing is grateful to our partners for showcasing the amazing, combat-ready force available to our Indo-Pacific leaders if called upon during a crisis.”

This was Misawa Air Base’s first bilateral and joint Elephant Walk.