VMFA-121 Supports the Japanese Air Force as They Prepare for Their F-35s


2017-10-21 In a story published by the USMC on September 13, 2017, the key role of the USMC within the F-35 global enterprise was highlighted.

By Lance Cpl. Carlos Jimenez

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 hosted members of Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Third Air Wing for an educational tour and class centered around the F-35A Lightning II at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Sept. 13, 2017.

The tour was an effort from the Marine Corps to share knowledge and experiences of the F-35B Lightning II with the JASDF in preparation for their upcoming acquirement of the aircraft.

“The purpose of today’s tour was to bring some JASDF maintainers down from Misawa Air Base, who are expecting to get the F-35, and show them how we operate our maintenance department here in Iwakuni,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Adam Wellington, aircraft maintenance officer for VMFA-121. “We wanted to exchange ideas and answer questions for them as they prep for the arrival of this aircraft.”

JASDF personnel were given several classes regarding maintenance, serviceability, operability and more. Afterwards, they briefly toured VMFA-121’s facility, taking a peek into different departments and visiting the hangar to see, touch and study the aircraft up close.

JASDF Lt. Col. Mamoru Yamaura, F-35A Lightning II program office chief with the Third Air Wing, said even though they’re becoming increasingly knowledgeable, they’ve come to the point where they need to directly see how to operate the aircraft.

“It is very significant for us to see, meet and talk with personnel who are already operating or supporting the F-35,” said Yamaura. “This exchange program is very instructive for us. We’ve learned a lot about the F-35 and the United States Marine Corps. I believe we should have many more exchanges like this.”

Wellington attributed the success of the bilateral event to great questions posed by the JASDF personnel, the dialogue between all players involved and the fact that they are already well versed in many things about the F-35B Lightning II.

He claimed that not only was the training successful, but it deepened the relationship between them and the JASDF.

“This training enhances the relationship between the JASDF and the Marine Corps at large,” said Wellington. “That’s one of the benefits of this aircraft, it’s a joint aircraft that’s going to be used by multiple partners, including Japan. So the fact that they’re going to fly the same aircraft we’re already flying is just going to further strengthen the relationship we have with the Japanese.”