Friendship Jump 2023 May 25, 2023

The annual Yokota Friendship Festival joint capabilities demonstration draws in festival-goers that are looking forward to viewing airborne demonstrations with the 36th Airlift Squadron using their C-103J Super Hercules to drop Japan Ground Self-Defense Force paratroopers, as a display of the strong bond the alliance between the U.S. and Japan.

This year was the first time the U.S. Army 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), U.S. Air Force 320th Special Tactics Squadron, and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force paratroopers conducted a joint airborne demonstration together, providing a special sight for audiences during the Yokota Friendship Festival 2023.

“The unique part was we got to complete the demo with not only JGSDF paratroopers, but also the Air Force and Army units,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Bryan Maynard, 36th AS C-130J pilot. “All three units all together showing support for each other, the U.S. and Japan partnership, spoke volumes for our readiness.”

Two USAF C-130Js took-off and climbed to 9,000 feet to prepare for an airdrop over the Yokota flightline drop zone 30 minutes ahead of the event, with dozens of paratroopers onboard ready to show off a military-style freefall.

The aircraft approached the DZ with the pilots zeroing in via onboard navigation systems to the predetermined drop point, and shortly after they reached 1,250 feet the jump signal sounded for the paratroopers and more than 50,000 audience members got to see parachutes deploy across the flightline.

“It was a unique demonstration for us,” said JGSDF Capt. Hironori Kaneko, JGSDF 1st Airborne Brigade mission commander. “This clearly demonstrated the interoperability and the partnership that we have with the U.S. Air Force.”

Since 2019, JGSDF 1st Airborne Brigade has participated in this event for the festival, showing the results of frequent training with Yokota Airmen.

The Yokota Friendship Festival is a lasting testament to the strength of the U.S.-Japan friendship, and integrated operations such rapid airlift and air drops of paratroopers and equipment display the high capabilities of joint forces to protect and ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region.