Largest US-Japan airborne operation in history drops hundreds of Japanese soldiers near Mount Fuji

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Airman 1st Class Janaelle Hogans, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, right, waves to the pilots of a C-130J Super Hercules following an equipment airdrop as part of exercise Airborne 21, at Yokota Air Base, Japan, March 11, 2021. The 374th Airlift Wing paired with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, 1st Airborne Brigade, for the largest static-line personnel jump and cargo drop between the U.S. and Japan. This operation furthered our capabilities to provide regional security in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Spalding)


Seth Robson

Stars and Stripes

Mar. 12—YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — “The biggest US-Japan airborne operation in history” involved hundreds of Japanese soldiers parachuting from Air Force transport planes in the shadow of Mount Fuji, according to the 374th Airlift Wing.

Photos of Tuesday’s training, dubbed Airborne 21, show paratroopers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s 1st Airborne Brigade jumping from a C-130J Super Hercules assigned to Yokota’s 36th Airlift Squadron. They landed at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji.

The Air Force was fortunate to be able to support Airborne 21, an event led by the JGSDF, wing spokeswoman Capt. Caitlin Mott wrote in an email Friday to Stars and Stripes.

“It involved the largest personnel drop during a ground scheme of maneuver,” she said, echoing a wing Facebook post saying the training included “approximately 600 JGSDF paratroopers, 12 C-130J aircraft and 130 containment delivery system bundles.”

Japanese paratroopers have jumped from the wing’s planes in the past. In November 2018, for example, two C-130Js flew from Yokota to Tsuiki Air Base in Fukuoka prefecture to collect 80 Japanese paratroopers who jumped from the planes with the help of Army paratroopers from Alaska.

During Airborne 21, Yokota’s aircraft dropped the Japanese supply bundles without malfunctions, Mott said.

The supplies were dropped to multiple locations, in theory supporting individual firing positions, she said.

“This event further strengthened our relationship with our allies and partners by demonstrating our resolve to promote security and stability throughout the region,” she said.

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