Preparing a fighter jet for one of the Japanese air force’s top officers was a nervous but memorable day on the job for Leading Aircraftman Nick Brown.
The aeronautical life support fitter, originally from Townsville, Queensland, prepared an RAAF F/A-18 Hornet for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Chief of Staff, General Yoshinari Marumo, during Exercise Bushido Guardian.
The exercise is the first ever bilateral air combat exercise between the JASDF (also known as Koku-Jietai) and the Royal Australian Air Force.
Leading Aircraftman Brown joined the RAAF in 2015, looking for a job where he could see the world and get paid at the same time. In just four years, his role has taken him on domestic exercises all around Australia and overseas to Las Vegas and, now, Japan.
As part of a three-man team, he was essential to mission success by servicing and maintaining aircrew flying equipment and fitting Koku-Jieitai pilots for exchange rides in the F/A-18B Hornet.
“Both when I deploy and am at home, I am responsible for flying equipment that includes helmets, masks, life preserver vests and G-suits,” Leading Aircraftman Brown said.
“I also do the fitting for pax (backseat passengers) and provide instruction on how the gear works.
“On Bushido Guardian, I’ve fitted Koku-Jieitai pilots who don’t always speak English. I’ve learned how to communicate better with people, mostly with a lot of hand signals which seem to be pretty universal.
“I really enjoy working with foreign forces and seeing the similarities and differences in how each country operates. It has been quite interesting.”
Although he always looks forward to getting home to sleep in his own bed, he loves the opportunity to work overseas and the job variety.
“My best day on the job was going for a pax ride in the F/A-18 Hornet; now I’m a part of our first ever air combat exercise in Japan, making Japanese friends and having fresh sushi for dinner. It’s pretty great,” he said.
Exercise Bushido Guardian is the realisation of a long-held ambition for both Australia and Japan to expand their defence cooperation.
Conducted primarily from Koku-Jieitai bases in Chitose and Misawa, the exercise involved participants from the RAAF Air Combat, Air Mobility, Surveillance and Response, and Combat Support Groups exercising alongside their Japanese counterparts.