The U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps have performed an “Elephant Walk” training with nearly three dozen fifth-generation fighter planes in Japan.
The exercise, which the air force calls an “elephant walk,” took place at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and involved eight F-35B Lightning IIs aircraft assigned to the Marine Aircraft Group 12 and 10 U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors and 10 F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
The term elephant walk dates to World War II when large fleets of allied bombers would conduct attacks in missions containing 1,000 aircraft.
The training also included five U.S Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets and a KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft. The large formation exercise tested the units’ ability to rapidly generate joint airpower in support of the defense of Japan, ensuring the stability and security of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
“It was a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our joint airpower capability alongside our MAG-12 partners with their various aircraft,” said U.S. Air Force Col. David Berkland, 354th AEW commander. “This demonstration, and the joint training missions we flew afterwards, allowed us to improve our already formidable integration tactics with the U.S. Marine Corps.”
The 354th AEW has been conducting agile combat employment training at MCAS Iwakuni for the past month. MCAS Iwakuni is uniquely qualified to enable the Joint Force, be it through providing use of the station’s collocated harbor and airfield, serving as a staging point for non-organic aircraft operations, or any number of other operational activities.
Following the capabilities demonstration, the pilots conducted local training sorties in the approved training airspace around Iwakuni.