Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
/ Published January 06, 2021
A U.S. Air Force 67th Fighter Squadron F-15C Eagle and a 909th Aerial Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker prepare to conduct air-to-air refueling during a training exercise July 8, 2020, off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. U.S. Air Forces are postured and ready to respond to crises and contingencies throughout the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, contributing to regional stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rebeckah Medeiros)
Pacific Air Forces demonstrated its ability to conduct combined joint all-domain command and control to keep a free and open Indo-Pacific Dec. 21, when the command worked together with allies and partners in the region to secure the Western Pacific.
F-15Cs and a KC-135 from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan, as well as aircraft from the Republic of Korea Air Force and Japanese Self-Defense Force, responded to Chinese and Russian aircraft flying together in airspace monitored by the U.S. and its allies and partners. Korea and Japan handled the response in the vicinity of their airspace, while PACAF responded to the aircraft in international airspace.
“We’re always ready to quickly and safely respond at a time and place of our choosing,” said Gen. Ken Wilsbach, PACAF commander. “I’m glad to have opportunities like this to work with our joint teammates and allies and partners to conduct information sharing and synchronize our response. This mission demonstrated decades of work and training we’ve accomplished together to focus on our interoperability to secure the safety of the theater.”
The 613th Air Operations Center in Hawaii, serving as the theater’s primary node to synchronize joint targeting and effects for air operations, worked with a U.S. Navy surface warship and air operations centers in the region to provide seamless combined joint all-domain command and control of the operation from start to finish.
“This operation highlighted our capability to provide a common operating picture to do our mission. Our shared interoperability with the U.S. Navy, the ROKAF and the Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) showed our flexibility and speed to respond to potential threats,” said Maj. Gen. Lansing Pilch, PACAF director of operations and communications. “From detection to completion, we were able to use our innovation and technology to seamlessly communicate with our counterparts.”
Our shared situational awareness with our allies and partners is a major advantage, which allowed decentralized execution on each nation’s part, said Pilch.
The U.S. and its allies and partners train regularly to conduct intercepts, and used this opportunity to sharpen their skills.
“I’m proud of our Airmen and teammates from the Republic of Korea and Japan who displayed outstanding airmanship and poise while conducting this operation. It shows the thousands of flight hours of training together has paid off,” said Wilsbach.