Hawaiian raptors strengthen regional readiness at the Keystone of the Pacific

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jesse Monte
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

The skies over the Keystone of the Pacific recently featured unique guests, as several visiting F-22 Raptors and Airmen from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, conducted a series of missions at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

While at Kadena AB, the fifth-generation air dominance fighters, as well as the U.S. Airmen who fly, maintain and support these machines, conducted various missions to enhance operational readiness to defend Japan and ensure a free-and-open Indo-Pacific.

“Our visit is part of our normal readiness training to practice interoperability in support of bilateral and joint operations,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Horton, Hawaii Air National Guard 199th Fighter Squadron commander. “In short, we go somewhere new, then seamlessly integrate into the complex and dynamic multi-domain joint force.”

Due to its vital strategic location, Kadena AB regularly hosts visiting joint, allied and partner forces.

Operating out of Kadena allowed the Hawaiian Raptors to build invaluable experience in the physically vast and strategically complex environment of the Indo-Pacific, which enabled greater readiness and interoperability with Kadena Airmen and aircraft, as well as regional allies and partners.

Of note, integration among fourth-generation aircraft, such as the 18th Wing’s F-15C/D Eagles, and the visiting fifth-generation F-22s enabled U.S. pilots to familiarize themselves with each fighter’s unique strengths and limitations, building a stronger total-force team.

Flying together in a training environment allowed units to refine tactics, techniques and procedures, and built confidence in the ability to fight together and increase each other’s lethality, explained Horton.

Furthermore, by operating from Kadena AB during this visit, Hawaii’s Raptors reinforced the U.S.-Japan alliance in accordance with mutual defense agreements.

“It is very encouraging to see this great total-force integration and a team of like-minded individuals focused on the mission,” Horton said. “Japan is a great ally of the United States and a crucial partner in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific, and we are very honored to be here.”