Yokota Air Base, Japan --
Members of the 36th Airlift Squadron and 459th AS completed the first 374th Airlift Wing Generation Exercise, referred to more commonly as an Elephant Walk, since 2014 at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 4, 2018. Both squadrons combined to have 12 C-130J Super Hercules, three C-12 Huron’s and two UH-1N Iroquois participate in the event.
An Elephant Walk exercises the maximum generation of all aircraft on Yokota while the formation flight enabled the aircraft to gain necessary training for future scenarios. The formation flight took place throughout the Kanto Plains and Mt. Fuji.
“We used the Elephant Walk, a large-scale generation exercise, as a way to test our capabilities to ensure we are ready to provide any kind of assistance to any location throughout our area of responsibility if needed,” said Maj. Johnathan Slottje, 36th Airlift Squadron pilot. “It was an amazing event, especially since the maintainers ensured our final two Super Hercules were ready to go within a week of arriving.”
During the formation flight, the aircrews flew over the ocean, through mountainous terrain and dropped sand bags on Yokota’s airfield to test and improve their capabilities while flying together.
“Even though we had two of our aircraft performing another mission, this exercise tested our capabilities in case we have to complete a task like this at a moment’s notice,” Slottje said. “The capabilities of the new J-model [C-130s] have helped expand our abilities of how we use the aircraft to complete our mission.”
Even though aircraft personnel completed the missions, they couldn’t accomplish it by themselves. Multiple agencies including airfield operations, air traffic control, and aircraft maintenance came together to ensure the exercise was successful.
“It showcases our abilities to have multiple agencies respond to meet our commitments out here in this region,” said Senior Master Sgt. Eddie Ybarra, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead production superintendent. “We have put in a lot of hours this week to ensure we can continue our regular training sorties along with making sure all of our aircraft are fully capable for this training exercise.”
Both training scenarios allowed base personnel to have a first-hand view of Yokota’s aircraft proficiencies when it comes to launching the base’s aircraft at a moment’s notice.
“I think all of the hard work that was completed by everyone in preparation for this event has been awesome,” Ybarra said. “Being able to have all of our aircraft ready to participate in the exercise was a great way for us to test our capabilities to ensure our pilots can launch all of the aircraft at once.”
This was the first time the base has completed an Elephant Walk and formation flight with the new C-130J models. With Yokota having a full fleet of Super Hercules aircraft, the base is able to provide rapid mobility from the Pacific’s premier power projection platform.