JASDF Hyakuri Air Base, Japan -- JAPANESE AIR SELF DEFENSE FORCE HYAKURI AIR BASE, Japan (July 7, 2017) – Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 arrived at Japan Air Self-Defense Force Hyakuri Air Base, Japan, July 7, 2017, to participate in exercises as part of the Aviation Training Relocation Program.
The ATR is designed to increase operational readiness and bilateral interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces. It also reduces noise impact across the country by dispersing unilateral jet-fighter training of U.S. forces in Japan.
“It’s a funded exercise by the government of Japan and the JASDF to conduct bilateral training,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Ryan Franzen, the operations officer with VMFA-232. “It also helps relieve the jet noise from Iwakuni.”
Throughout the exercise, VMFA-232 plans to enhance proficiency in dissimilar basic fighter maneuvers, section engaged maneuvers, active air defense and air interdictions, as well as conduct fighter attack instructor work-ups, and weapons and tactics instructor prerequisites.
The ATR program provides Marine Corps aviation the opportunity to conduct training and readiness requirements in various locations with differing opportunities. The program also allows the U.S. to foster host nation partnerships, which contributes to a more capable alliance.
“They want us here,” said Franzen “So far, it’s been amazing and nothing but positive. Having the Japanese and the U.S. flying together helps increase operational readiness and understanding each other tactically at a training level so that we can perform efficiently.”
VMFA-232, originally stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, is temporarily stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni under Marine Aircraft Group 12, as part of the Unit Deployment Program.
This is the first time VMFA-232 has been to JASDF Hyakuri Air Base, which gives the local Japanese forces the ability to simulate air-to-air maneuvers with unfamiliar aircraft.
“The Japanese are going to be able go against our weapon types,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Christopher King, an aviation ordnance technician with VMFA-232. “That’s going to give them the ability to perform offensive and defensive maneuvers.”
Marines with VMFA-232 said they are honored to be able to work with the Japanese and Japanese forces.
“I absolutely love them,” said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. William Dennis, a quality assurance Marine with VMFA-232. “They’re definitely professional, courteous and knowledgeable. I like working with them.”