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18th Wing, joint partners execute first WestPac Rumrunner exercise

Two F-15C Eagles from the 44th Fighter Squadron refuel with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron Jan. 10, 2020, during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner out of Kadena Air Base, Japan. Rumrunner represents an evolution in the capabilities of 18th Wing assets to work with joint partners to defend American allies and ensures a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Seefeldt)

Two F-15C Eagles from the 44th Fighter Squadron refuel with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron Jan. 10, 2020, during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner out of Kadena Air Base, Japan. Rumrunner represents an evolution in the capabilities of 18th Wing assets to work with joint partners to defend American allies and ensures a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Seefeldt)

A maintainer from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to fuel an F-15C Eagle during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. Airmen from the 18th Wing operate in a safe and e3nvironmentally conscious manner and adhere to strict standards set by Department of Defense and host-governments at all times. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

A maintainer from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to fuel an F-15C Eagle during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. Airmen from the 18th Wing operate in a safe and environmentally conscious manner and adhere to strict standards set by Department of Defense and host governments at all times. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

A U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II from the 17th Special Operations Squadron takes off during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner Jan. 10, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th Wing, the largest combat wing in the U.S. Air Force, stands ready to cooperate with the regional partners to enhance readiness and lethality for our allies. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Rebeckah Medeiros)

A U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II from the 17th Special Operations Squadron takes off during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner Jan. 10, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th Wing, the largest combat wing in the U.S. Air Force, stands ready to cooperate with the regional partners to enhance readiness and lethality for our allies. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Rebeckah Medeiros)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Bradley Smith, 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs post-flight inspections during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner Jan. 10, 2020 at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Airmen are trained and empowered to make disciplined decisions at subordinate levels, ensuring the air component commander’s intent is met and the initiative is taken in a contested environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Bradley Smith, 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs post-flight inspections during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner Jan. 10, 2020 at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Airmen are trained and empowered to make disciplined decisions at subordinate levels, ensuring the air component commander’s intent is met and the initiative is taken in a contested environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rhett Isbell)

Airmen of the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron arm a 44th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020.  The 18th Wing-led exercise validated new ways to deploy and maneuver assets in order to operate in contested environments.  (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Ryan Simpson)

Airmen of the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron arm a 44th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing-led exercise validated new ways to deploy and maneuver assets in order to operate in contested environments. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Ryan Simpson)

An HH-60G Pave Hawk assigned to the 33rd Rescue Squadron performs helicopter air-to-air refueling with an MC-130J Commando II from the 17th Special Operations Squadron above the Pacific Ocean during Exercise Westpac Rumrunner Jan. 10, 2020. Westpac Rumrunner represents an evolution of 18th Wing assets and capability to work with joint partners in defense of American allies and to ensure a free and open Indo‐Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

An HH-60G Pave Hawk assigned to the 33rd Rescue Squadron performs helicopter air-to-air refueling with an MC-130J Commando II from the 17th Special Operations Squadron above the Pacific Ocean during Exercise Westpac Rumrunner Jan. 10, 2020. Westpac Rumrunner represents an evolution of 18th Wing assets and capability to work with joint partners in defense of American allies and to ensure a free and open Indo‐Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets fly alongside a 909th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker after aerial refueling during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The exercise provides an opportunity for Kadena Airmen to practice a diverse array of capabilities in addition to working alongside joint partners in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks)

U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets fly alongside a 909th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker after aerial refueling during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The exercise provides an opportunity for Kadena Airmen to practice a diverse array of capabilities in addition to working alongside joint partners in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks)

Three U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, fly in formation during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner Jan. 10, 2020. The WestPac Rumrunner exercise brought Airmen and joint partners together to train and execute innovative ways to deploy forces in a contested environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cynthia Belío)

Three U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, fly in formation during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner Jan. 10, 2020. The WestPac Rumrunner exercise brought Airmen and joint partners together to train and execute innovative ways to deploy forces in a contested environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cynthia Belío)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Breann Turner, 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron electronic combat officer, coordinates the electronic air battle aboard an E-3 Sentry during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner out of Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. WestPac Rumrunner represents an evolution of 18th Wing assets and capability to work with joint partners in defense of American allies and to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Fernandez)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Breann Turner, 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron electronic combat officer, coordinates the electronic air battle aboard an E-3 Sentry during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner out of Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. WestPac Rumrunner represents an evolution of 18th Wing assets and capability to work with joint partners in defense of American allies and to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Fernandez)

A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle from the 44th Fighter Squadron takes off during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner Jan. 10, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Westpac Rumrunner represents an evolution of 18th Wing assets and capability to work with joint partners in defense of American allies and to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mandy Foster)
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A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle from the 44th Fighter Squadron takes off during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner Jan. 10, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Westpac Rumrunner represents an evolution of 18th Wing assets and capability to work with joint partners in defense of American allies and to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mandy Foster)

Maintainers from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit prepare to refuel F-15C Eagles during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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Maintainers from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit prepare to refuel F-15C Eagles during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

A maintainer from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron pulls chocks from an F-15C Eagle during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photos by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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A maintainer from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron pulls chocks from an F-15C Eagle during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photos by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

An F-15C Eagle taxis for takeoff during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photos by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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An F-15C Eagle taxis for takeoff during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photos by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

Maintainers from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron inspect an F-15C Eagle during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photos by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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Maintainers from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron inspect an F-15C Eagle during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photos by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

A fuel meter sits alongside an aircraft refueling station during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photos by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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A fuel meter sits alongside an aircraft refueling station during Exercise WestPac Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photos by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

U.S. Air Force Staff. Sgt. Adam Kope, 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15C Eagle dedicated crew chief, marshals an F-15 Eagle during Exercise Westpac Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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U.S. Air Force Staff. Sgt. Adam Kope, 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15 Eagle dedicated crew chief, marshals an F-15C Eagle during Exercise Westpac Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

A maintainer from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to fuel an F-15C Eagle during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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A maintainer from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to fuel an F-15C Eagle during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

U.S. Air Force Staff. Sgt. Adam Kope, 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15C Eagle dedicated crew chief, talks to the pilot of an F-15C during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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U.S. Air Force Staff. Sgt. Adam Kope, 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15 Eagle dedicated crew chief, talks to the pilot of an F-15C during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

Capt. Keven Donavan, 67th Fighter Squadron pilot, brings his F-15C Eagle to a halt for refueling during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoerpability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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Capt. Keven Donavan, 67th Fighter Squadron pilot, brings his F-15C Eagle to a halt for refueling during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

Maintainers from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, practice de-arming an F-15C Eagle during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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Maintainers from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, practice de-arming an F-15C Eagle during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interopability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

Two F-15C Eagles land during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interopability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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Two F-15C Eagles land during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

Maintainers from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, conduct a walk for foreign object debris during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)
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Maintainers from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 67th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, conduct a walk for foreign object debris during Exercise Rumrunner at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, Jan. 10, 2020. The 18th Wing and its joint partners executed the first WestPac Rumrunner exercise, which focused on defensive counter air capabilities and joint interoperability using agile combat employment concepts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Raughton)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --

More than 60 aircraft and 300 personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marine Corps participated in 18th Wing’s first WestPac Rumrunner exercise Jan. 10, 2020.

With the evolving security environment in the Indo-Pacific and to further support a safe and secure region, the 18th Wing spent months designing WestPac Rumrunner as an exercise to train counter air capabilities and strengthen joint interoperability. In addition to air tactics and joint interoperability, Airmen were charged with ensuring continuous airpower by using tactics derived from Pacific Air Force’s agile combat employment concept of operations, or ACE.     

 “As we executed this first iteration of Rumrunner, the exercise development team monitored how well our distributed joint forces came together and applied elements of ACE to disperse, recover, and rapidly resume operations,” said Capt. Brian Davis, 67th Fighter Squadron F-15C evaluator pilot and exercise director for WestPac Rumrunner.  “The Rumrunner team looks forward to how we will continue to evolve and hone our procedures in the future.”

As the largest combat wing in the U.S. Air Force, Kadena Air Base was able to deploy a wide array of aircraft to simulate a realistic training scenario along with support from joint forces. The adversary air force primarily consisted of the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and Air Force’s F-15C Eagles, but the home team brought overwhelming joint capabilities to deny the adversarial advance.

F-15Cs defended the airspace and the KC-135 Stratotanker provided aerial refueling, while the 353rd Special Operations Group’s MC-130 Commando II dramatically extended the range and combat capabilities within the battlespace.

But, most unique to this exercise was the air-to-air and air-to-ground command and control provided by the Air Force’s E-3 Sentry, Navy’s E-2 Hawkeye, and 18th Wing’s 623rd Air Control Squadron, all of whom worked seamlessly to ensure battlespace situational awareness while expertly handing-off key targeting information to the U.S. Army’s 1-1 Air Defense Artillery’s Patriot surface-to-air missile battery.  Marine Air Control Squadron-4 helped track the operations and were able to test integration capabilities for their systems at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan.

“My unit and I were excited to be participating in a joint large force mission of this type. We had the unique opportunity to work with the Army ADA through the 623rd ACS to integrate as a cohesive air defense team,” said Capt. Shawn Storey, 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron.  “This exercise delivered a great opportunity to plan, execute and debrief in person to develop relationships and hone our joint integration, communications and execution skills face-to-face.”

As part of the ACE strategy, to extend and improve the availability of aircraft during a contingency, Air Force maintenance Airmen were positioned on the ground at MCAS Futenma to provide a quick refuel so the aircraft could swiftly be launched and returned to the fight.  

“The ACE concepts being developed are not confined by current maintenance doctrine or tactics,” explained Lt. Col. Johnny West, 18th Maintenance Group deputy commander. “Our senior leaders are encouraging maintainers and logisticians to be more creative and assertive at lower levels to overcome generation and re-generation limitations that could occur in a highly-contested environment,” he said.  “Today’s Rumrunner exercise allowed us to practice operating in a simulated austere environment, which is fundamental to the ACE concept, and our maintainers successfully refueled F-15s and launched them back into the air.”

Overall, Brig. Gen. Joel L. Carey, 18th Wing commander, described WestPac Rumrunner as a success and a valuable learning tool for the U.S. Pacific Air Forces and joint services.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our efforts today,” said Gen. Carey.  “This event was a big win for us in the Pacific.  Being able to test our ACE capabilities with our joint partners highlights the importance of interoperability and the capabilities of our Airmen and sister services. Working in conjunction with the Navy, Army and Marine Corps was crucial to the success of Rumrunner and its ability to be a powerful learning tool moving forward.”