Royal Australian Air Force pilots were able to experience the capability of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-15 fighter jets when they climbed into the cockpit for exchange flights.

The flights allowed pilots to get a first-hand look at the differences in power and manoeuvrability between RAAF and JASDF (Koku-Jieitai) aircraft.

No. 77 Squadron F/A-18 Pilot Flight Lieutenant Jess said that there was no better way to understand an aircraft than from the inside.

“The F-15 and F/A-18 are obviously vastly different fighter jets. The first thing you feel is the size difference, the F-15 is a lot larger and thus has a lot more thrust,” she said.

“Flying in the F-15 felt comparatively a lot faster and there was a lot more g-force.

“In the mission I was a part of, our F-15 did lots of basic fighter manoeuvring against one of my flight commanders in the F/A-18.

“My flight was not only a lot of fun but also a valuable learning insight into better understanding how the F-15 moves in the air.

“It was great to see how the Japanese operate. We do some things the same but also a little bit different. I didn’t like the G very much though; it was a lot more intense than the F/A-18.”

Captain 'Blade' from the Koku-Jieitai is given a brief on the F/A-18B Hornet by No. 77 Squadron pilot Flight Lieutenant 'J-Mac' during an exchange flight on Exercise Bushido Guardian. 

Australia deployed six F/A-18A/B Hornets from RAAF Base Williamtown’s No. 77 Squadron to participate in Exercise Bushido Guardian in Chitose, Japan September 11 to October 8.

The Hornets trained alongside three different squadrons from the Koku-Jieitai. No. 201 and No. 203 Squadron from the 2nd Air Wing flying the F-15J, and No. 3 Squadron from the 3rd Air Wing flying the F-2A.

No. 201 Squadron F-15J pilot Captain Imai understood the importance of relationship building from the tactical level. He made sure Flight Lieutenant Jess’s flight was a memorable one by also flying over lots of beautiful Hokkaido scenery.

“I think it's great that we are able to train together starting from the ground preparations,” Captain Imai said.

“But the most valuable thing is that we can share our airmanship in the sky.”

Exercise Bushido Guardian is the first ever bilateral air combat exercise conducted by the Koku-Jieitai and the RAAF and will test the limits of the two nations’ ability to work together using activities focused on real-world requirements.