Active Duty and Air National Guard fighters joined forces with Marine Corps fighters at Kadena AB, Japan, for a large force exercise focused on maintaining air-to-air superiority while also protecting ground forces. F-15s from the 44th Fighter Squadron and the 67th FS at Kadena, F-16s from the Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing, and F/A-18 Hornets from Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225 took to the skies on June 30 to practice air-to-air capabilities while HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 33rd Rescue Squadron nearby Okinawa Air Base supported troops on the ground. “Working with the Marines provided an opportunity to see how to integrate the air piece with something on the ground,” said Air Force Capt. Nathan Franklin, 33rd Rescue Squadron pilot, in a July 1 release. “This is the first LFE I’ve been in that actually had a ground piece incorporated into an exercise. It was an interesting thing to see.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.