Japanese Self Defense Force learning with 442 Squadron
There were lots of smiles at 7 Hangar last Thursday afternoon, as 62 Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) members from VP3 Atsugi received a warm welcome from 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron members at 19 Wing Comox.
Three P-3 long-range patrol aircraft from Japan, which look similar to 407 Maritime Patrol Squadron's CP-140 Auroras, landed at 19 Wing on a sunny afternoon, and the Japanese were met by a welcoming party that included Wing Commander Col. Jim Benninger; Lt.-Col. David Robinson, the Commanding Officer of 407 Squadron, and 407 Squadron Honourary Col. Dave Mellin before meeting members of 407 Squadron in the hangar.
The JMSDF is spending one week at 19 Wing to learn more about 407 Squadron operations and to improve working relations between the two countries.
"We came here to deepen the friendship, as well as to train with the Canadian Air Force," VP3 Atsugi Commander Urata Hajime said through a translator, adding the Japanese expected to spend their time in Comox studying the differences in operations between Canada and Japan and studying how to keep the flight safe.
"The other purpose is to understand the missions of both," he said.
This is the second time the JMSDF has visited 19 Wing in the past three years.
407 Squadron members were going to fly on the Nanoose Range with the Japanese and the U.S. Navy Monday, and on Tuesday, some members of the Japanese crew were going to fly with 407 members during a regular maritime patrol to see how they use some of the equipment the Canadians have but the Japanese do not yet have, explained Robinson.
"There are a lot of differences in the equipment, but the types of equipment are very, very similar," he said. "It's small differences, but they can make a big difference in how you employ the aircraft."
No one was expecting language to be a major barrier.
"We have many, many procedures that we both practise and that the U.S. Navy practises," said Robinson. "This makes it much easier even when we don't speak the same language, to know what the other country is doing.
"We'll be able to fly with the Japanese, we'll be able to work with them, and we'll all understand what each other is doing. (Language) is a barrier, but it's a small barrier, really. It will not affect our ability to get the job done and to be safe."