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Deputy AFSOC commander visits 353rd SOW, Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s amphibious aircrews

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brandon Esau
  • Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Eric Hill, deputy commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, visited Kadena Air Base, Japan, to meet with 353rd Special Operations Wing Airmen and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to engage with Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force allies April 6, 2022.

During the visit, Hill’s second to Kadena, he had the opportunity to witness the unique search, rescue, and personnel recovery capabilities of the JMSDF’s US-2 amphibious aircraft.

The US-2 aircrew and team of rescue swimmers demonstrated the aircraft’s ability to take-off and land on formal runways and open water and how that provides the JMSDF with expedited response and rescue options.

“As we continue to research and explore our own amphibious options, we are keen to learn from the Japanese Self Defense Force, their US-2’s amphibious aircraft is an incredible platform,” said Hill “Our Japanese hosts were gracious and provided us a familiarization flight—it’s clear to see the advantages this aircraft provides in a portion of the world dominated by the Pacific Ocean.”

Hill discussed the evolving roles that Special Operations Forces must adapt to fulfill across the Indo-Pacific, emphasizing the need for multifunctional Airmen and the importance for U.S. SOF to deepen relationships with international allies and partners throughout the region.

“Our AFSOC heritage is a story of Airmen who adapt to the environment and employ Airpower in unconventional ways”, said Hill. “Runway independence is critical in this theater and the ability to make the Pacific Ocean our landing zone offers unique opportunity. As we drive to field our own amphibious aircraft capability—and partner with allies who do—rest assured, we will find ways to deliver advantage when and where it is needed most.”

Hill made a stop on his tour to brief personnel from the 353rd SOW and explain the significance of their presence in this area of responsibility.

“I always enjoy the ability to come to visit with our Japanese allies to ensure that our partnership stays strong,” said Hill. “This region is of vital importance to the U.S.’s national interests, and I know that the Air Commandos who call Japan home will continue to provide unique advantage through their (including families) dedication and selfless service.”