44th Fighter Squadron trains with JASDF in Hokkaido Published Dec. 9, 2008 By Beth Gosselin 18th Wing Public Affairs HOKKAIDO, Japan -- Pilots and maintenance personnel from the 44th Fighter Squadron and 44th Aircraft Maintenance Unit arrived at Chitose Japan Air Self-Defense Force Base in Hokkaido Dec. 8 to participate in bilateral training with the JASDF 2nd Air Wing. Throughout the week, the Airmen will work side-by-side with their JASDF counterparts to increase operational readiness and enhance bilateral interoperability as part of the Aviation Training Relocation program. For many Airmen, the opportunity to train with the JASDF 201st and 203rd Tactical Fighter Squadrons was a welcome one. The three squadrons worked together during air refueling training last spring at Naha Air Base and during Red Flag Alaska. "I saw some familiar faces from Red Flag so it's great to fly with them again. I look forward to training with them this week," said Capt. John Fischer, a pilot with the 44th Fighter Squadron. The Airmen were treated to a welcome dinner hosted by the 2nd Wing with more than 70 JASDF personnel and distinguished visitors from the local community. The base commander, Maj. Gen. Shimpei Fukue, welcomed the crowd in both English and Japanese and explained how happy he was for the valuable training both sides will receive. Lt. Col. Jeff Klein, assistant director of operations for the 44th FS and detachment commander of this ATR, thanked the local community and JASDF staff for the hospitality and opportunity to train at Chitose. "We usually fly in Okinawa and are excited to train over different terrain and in new condition, even if it means operating in the freezing cold." This is the first ATR at Chitose Air Base and members of the 44th FS and 44th AMU hope it will not be the last. "These ATRs are a great chance for us to continue the positive working relationship we have with JASDF and learn from one another," said Colonel Klein.