The “Eagles” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 115 touched down at their new home of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan, Nov. 28.
VFA-115’s arrival marked the beginning of the Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 relocation from Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi.
The move was part of a broader relocation of CVW-5 units to MCAS Iwakuni stipulated under a 2006 agreement between the U.S. and Japanese governments.
The Eagles’ journey to Iwakuni began with their departure from Atsugi, Sept. 10, when they embarked the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for a regularly scheduled patrol.
With the conclusion of embarked operations, the squadron’s attention has shifted to taking full advantage of the operational resources and opportunities available at MCAS Iwakuni.
Operations from MCAS Iwakuni will offer improved ability to integrate with co-located U.S. Marine Corps tactical aviation units, superior range availabilities, and larger, more modern facilities. The geographical proximity of MCAS Iwakuni to other major U.S. air bases in the region, will also allow the squadron to increase the frequency with which it trains with U.S. Pacific Air Forces fighter units, further advancing joint warfighting capabilities in this vital theater.
In addition to these operational advantages, many VFA-115 personnel regard the move to Iwakuni as an opportunity to expand the breadth and depth of their immersion in Japanese culture.
“Living in Iwakuni will provide a very different perspective of Japan,” said Lt. Steve Bachman, who lived at NAF Atsugi for the previous two years. “We are transitioning from a densely populated urban environment in the Kanto Plain, to a more rural aesthetic in the areas around Iwakuni. Our personnel will probably find themselves spending more time outdoors in the mountains and at the beach than in the past.”
VFA-115 has operated in the Indo-Asia-Pacific for over 75 years and was stationed at NAF Atsugi for 31 years. The squadron is currently forward-deployed to the 7th Fleet area ofmresponsibility as a component of CVW-5 and regularly conducts operations from Ronald Reagan in support of security and stability in the region.