The 35th Fighter Wing is the host unit at Misawa Air Base -- the northernmost U.S. installation in Japan and the only bilateral, joint-service, civilian-use air base in the Pacific. Misawa Air Base is located on the shores of Lake Ogawara in Misawa City in the Aomori Prefecture.
The mission of the 35th Fighter Wing is to "provide worldwide deployable forces, protect U.S. interests in the Pacific and defend Japan with sustained forward presence and focused mission support."
The wing operates and maintains two squadrons of F-16CM (C and D models) Block 50 Fighting Falcons. The pilots of the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons conduct daily flight training including air-to-air tactics over water and air-to-ground weapons delivery at Draughon Range. The 35th Fighter Wing is the Air Force's premier Wild Weasel organization and specializes in the suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses including surface-to-air-missile systems.
In addition to daily air combat training, the 35th Fighter Wing holds quarterly operational readiness exercises, which keep Misawa Airmen ready to execute their mission at home or abroad. The wing maintains readiness with participation in Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) sponsored exercise like RED FLAG-Alaska and DISTANT FRONTIER and participates in joint and bilateral exercises such as COPE NORTH and KEEN SWORD to maintain combat readiness of U.S. and allied forces.
Since the 1990s, the 35th Fighter Wing has supported U.S. Operations in Southwest Asia with the regular deployments of Airmen and the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons to combat theaters.
The 35th Fighter Wing consists of four groups: the 35th Maintenance Group, the 35th Medical Group, the 35th Mission Support Group, and the 35th Operations Group. As the base operating unit, the 35th Fighter Wing hosts U.S. Navy and U.S. Army units, including Naval Air Facility Misawa and Joint Tactical Ground Station Misawa. In addition, the wing hosts elements of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, including the Northern Air Defense Headquarters and the 3rd Air Wing.
Activated at Johnson Air Base, Japan on August 10, 1948, the 35th Fighter Wing carries the bestowed honor of the Army Air Force's 35th Fighter Group, established on December 22, 1939. During the course of World War II, the 35th Fighter Group fought through the Pacific from Australia to Japan. Richard I. Bong, the Air Force's all-time, top scoring ace, scored his first aerial victories while temporarily attached to the group. However, the 35th Fighter Group and 35th Fighter Wing's all-time top ace was Thomas J. Lynch, who scored 20 aerial victories before being shot down over New Guinea. Following World War II, the group began occupation and air defense duties on mainland Japan. In 1948, the 35th Fighter Wing assumed operational command of the 35th Fighter Group and continued the group's mission set from Johnson Air Base.
In 1950, the 35th Fighter Wing was one of the first units to respond to the crisis in Korea by flying missions from mainland Japan to support the Pusan Perimeter. In July, the 35th Fighter Wing's operations group and two fighter squadrons deployed to Korea for combat; however, the wing -- with one assigned and one attached squadron -- flew air defense and photographic reconnaissance missions in Japan. In December, the wing headquarters moved without personnel or equipment to South Korea and assumed the resources of the 6150th Tactical Support Wing. From Korea, the 35th Fighter Wing flew F-51 Mustang aircraft in combat operations, including armed reconnaissance, bomber escort, interdiction, and ground support. After suffering heavy causalities, the unit returned to Japan in May 1951 where it remained until its inactivation in October 1957.
In 1966, the Air Force reactivated the 35th Fighter Wing for combat operations at Da Nang Air Base in Vietnam. The wing remained at Da Nang for five months where it scored four aerial victories. These victories made the 35th Fighter Wing one of the few wings in the U.S. Air Force to have attained aerial victories in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. In October 1966, the 35th Fighter Wing relocated to Phan Rang Air Base where it flew vided air support of ground forces, interdiction, visual and armed reconnaissance, strike assessment photography, escort, close and direct air support and rapid reaction alert missions. The wing continued operations from Phan Rang until 1971 when the unit inactivated with the gradual drawdown of U.S. forces in Vietnam.
The 35th Fighter Wing reactivated the same year at George Air Force Base where it began its long association with the Wild Weasel mission. Initially, the wing provided exercise, test, and training for F-4 aircrew and maintenance personnel. However, in July 1973, the wing began training replacement aircrews for the F-105G, Wild Weasel III aircraft. The Wild Weasel mission is the suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses and the protection of other aircraft from enemy surface-to-air missile systems. In 1975, the wing began similar training for the F-4C, Wild Weasel IV, aircrews.
While assigned to George Air Force Base, the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional) activated at Shaikh Isa Air Base in Bahrain in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD in 1990. In the first days of Operation DESERT STORM, the invasion of Iraq, Wild Weasel aircrews of the wing led and protected waves of fighter-bombers in hostile Iraqi airspace. Throughout the conflict, the wing provided Wild Weasel support, and by the end of the war, the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional) had destroyed 254 radar sites, effectively shutting down the entire Iraqi air defense system. The wing played an essential role in the successful air campaign and completed 3,072 combat sorties totaling more than 10,000 flight hours. Meanwhile, A Base Realignment and Closure commission selected George Air Force Base for closure, and the wing began phasing down and inactivated in December 1992.
In an effort to protect its legacy, the Air Force instituted a heritage scoring system to ensure units with distinguished histories remained active. Out of more than 200 units, the 35th Fighter Wing ranked third, ensuring its place among active units. As a result, the Air Force activated the 35th Wing at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, on May 31, 1993, flying air defense missions in the F-15C Eagle. Sixteen months later the 35th Fighter Wing inactivated at Keflavik and activated the same day at Misawa Air Base, Japan. At Misawa AB, the wing resumed Wild Weasel operations. After achieving initial operational capability on F-16CJ aircraft in 1996, the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons and Airmen of the 35th Fighter Wing have repeatedly deployed in support of Operations SOUTHERN, NORTHERN WATCH, IRAQI FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, and ENDURING FREEDOM in Southwest Asia.