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Yokota showcases adaptability and mission capability with Samurai Surge

Multiple C-130J Super Hercules aircraft with the 36th Airlift Squadron taxi on the flight line during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Multiple C-130J Super Hercules aircraft with the 36th Airlift Squadron taxi on the flight line during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge exercise served as a demonstration of the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 353rd Special Operations Group’s ability to generate air ready aircraft in an expedient manner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

A crew chief, assigned to the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, marshals a C-130J Super Hercules during the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

A crew chief, assigned to the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, marshals a C-130J Super Hercules during the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The Samurai Surge event also served as a training opportunity for aircrews to fine tune their skillsets and better prepare themselves to respond to humanitarian aid and disaster relief scenarios throughout the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Two C-130J Super Hercules with the 36th Airlift Squadron taxi on the flight line during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Two C-130J Super Hercules with the 36th Airlift Squadron taxi on the flight line during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge exercise served as a demonstration of the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 353rd Special Operations Group’s ability to generate air ready aircraft in an expedient manner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

A crew chief assigned to the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to marshal C-130J Super Hercules during the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

A crew chief assigned to the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to marshal C-130J Super Hercules during the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The exercise was conducted in order to demonstrate the wing’s ability to rapidly provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief across Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

A crew chief assigned to the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to marshal C-130J Super Hercules during the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

A crew chief assigned to the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepares to marshal C-130J Super Hercules during the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. To ensure the health and safety of its Airmen in the face of an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Yokota’s personnel proactively utilize social distancing and cloth face coverings to better protect themselves, the community, and the Wing’s overall mission capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

C-130J Super Hercules aircraft with the 36th Airlift Squadron sit on the flight line for pre-flight inspections prior to starting the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

C-130J Super Hercules aircraft with the 36th Airlift Squadron sit on the flight line for pre-flight inspections prior to starting the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. While Yokota requires cloth face coverings to reduce potential exposure and spread of COVID-19, for safety purposes, aircrew are not required to do so immediately before and in-flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Two UH-1N Iroquois with the 459th Airlift Squadron take off during the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Two UH-1N Iroquois with the 459th Airlift Squadron take off during the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The exercise was conducted in order to demonstrate the Wing’s ability to rapidly provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief across Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Aircrews conduct a physically distant pre-flight briefing before stepping out to their aircraft as part of the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise.

Aircrews conduct a physically distant pre-flight briefing before stepping out to their aircraft as part of the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise. While COVID-19 has forced teams maintain aircraft and mission plan in a physically distant manner, Yokota’s Samurai Surge serves as proof the pandemic has not altered the 374th Airlift Wing’s mission capability, adaptability and readiness to respond to the needs of the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

Aircrews conduct a physically distant pre-flight briefing before stepping out to their aircraft as part of the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise.

Aircrews conduct a physically distant pre-flight briefing before stepping out to their aircraft as part of the 374th Airlift Wing’s Samurai Surge training exercise. With an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Yokota’s Airmen have had to adapt how they go about their mission while simultaneously maintaining mission capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Machiko Arita)

A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, flys through the clouds above the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the formation flight portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.
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A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, flys through the clouds above the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the formation flight portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020. The exercise used 17 aircraft in total from the 36th AS, 459th AS, and the 353rd Special Operations Group and tested Yokota’s capability to respond to the needs of the Pacific on a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Workman)

A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, flys through the clouds above the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the formation flight portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.
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A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, flys through the clouds above the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the formation flight portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020. The exercise used 17 aircraft in total from the 36th AS, 459th AS, and the 353rd Special Operations Group and tested Yokota’s capability to respond to the needs of the Pacific on a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Workman)

Staff Sgt. Marcus Wright, 36th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules loadmaster, briefly looks at the camera before opening the door to get formation flight documentation during Yokota Air Base, Japan’s Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.
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Staff Sgt. Marcus Wright, 36th Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules loadmaster, briefly looks at the camera before opening the door to get formation flight documentation during Yokota Air Base, Japan’s Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020. The Samurai Surge event included both a 17 aircraft elephant walk and a C-130J formation flight designed to test Yokota’s mission capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Workman)

A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, taxis across the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.
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A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, taxis across the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020. The exercise used 17 aircraft in total from the 36th AS, 459th AS, and the 353rd Special Operations Group and tested Yokota’s capability to respond to the needs of the Pacific on a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Workman)

A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, taxis across the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.
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A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, taxis across the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020. The exercise used 17 aircraft in total from the 36th AS, 459th AS, and the 353rd Special Operations Group and tested Yokota’s capability to respond to the needs of the Pacific on a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Workman)

A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, taxis across the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.
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A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, taxis across the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020. The exercise used 17 aircraft in total from the 36th AS, 459th AS, and the 353rd Special Operations Group and tested Yokota’s capability to respond to the needs of the Pacific on a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Workman)

Aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 21st Special Operations Squadron participate in the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
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Aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 21st Special Operations Squadron participate in the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The exercise was conducted in order to demonstrate the Wing’s ability to rapidly provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief across Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Juan Torres)

Aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 21st Special Operations Squadron participate in the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
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Aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 21st Special Operations Squadron participate in the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The Samurai Surge event also served as a training opportunity for aircrews to fine tune their skillsets and better prepare themselves to respond to humanitarian aid and disaster relief scenarios throughout the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Juan Torres)

A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, taxis across the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.
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A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, taxis across the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020. The exercise used 17 aircraft in total from the 36th AS, 459th AS, and the 353rd Special Operations Group and tested Yokota’s capability to respond to the needs of the Pacific on a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Juan Torres)

Aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 21st Special Operations Squadron taxi their way across the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the
elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.
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Aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 21st Special Operations Squadron taxi their way across the Yokota Air Base, Japan, flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020. The exercise was conducted in order to demonstrate the Wing’s ability to rapidly provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief across Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Juan Torres)

A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, is prepared to participate in a Samurai Surge, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
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A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, is prepared to participate in a Samurai Surge, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The Samurai Surge allowed the 374th Airlift Wing to test its mission capability through an elephant walk and training flight providing aircrews the vital training needed to respond in area of responsibility as unique as the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Juan Torres)

A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, is prepared to participate in a Samurai Surge, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
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A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, is prepared to participate in a Samurai Surge, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The Samurai Surge allowed the 374th Airlift Wing to test its mission capability through an elephant walk and training flight providing aircrews the vital training needed to respond in area of responsibility as unique as the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Juan Torres)

C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, are prepared to participate in a Samurai Surge, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
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C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron, are prepared to participate in a Samurai Surge, May 21, 2020, at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The Samurai Surge serves as a training opportunity for aircrews to fine tune their skillsets and better prepare themselves to respond to humanitarian aid and disaster relief scenarios throughout the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Juan Torres)

Seven C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 374th Airlift Wing fly line up on the flightline as part of the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020.
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Seven C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 374th Airlift Wing fly line up on the flightline as part of the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020. The 374th AW operates a mission fleet of C-130J Super Hercules, C-12 Hurons and UH-1N Iroquois as the primary Western Pacific airlift hub for U.S. Air Force peacetime and contingency operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Seven C-130J Super Hercules' assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron taxi on the runway at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samurai Surge training exercise
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Seven C-130J Super Hercules' assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron taxi on the runway at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samurai Surge training exercise. The 374th AW operates a mission fleet of C-130J Super Hercules, C-12 Hurons and UH-1N Iroquois as the primary Western Pacific airlift hub for U.S. Air Force peacetime and contingency operations.(U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

A CV-22 Osprey assigned to the 21st Special Operations Squadron taxis on the runway at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samura Surge training exercise.
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A CV-22 Osprey assigned to the 21st Special Operations Squadron taxis on the runway at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samura Surge training exercise. This was the first time the CV-22 has been a part of a Yokota AB elephant walk.. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

CV-22 Ospreys assigned to the 21st Special Operations Squadron taxi on the runway at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samura Surge training exercise.
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CV-22 Ospreys assigned to the 21st Special Operations Squadron taxi on the runway at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samura Surge training exercise. This was the first time the CV-22 has been a part of a Yokota AB elephant walk. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 21st Special Operations Squadron taxi their way across the Yokota Air Base, Japan flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.
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Aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 21st Special Operations Squadron taxi their way across the Yokota Air Base, Japan flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020. With 17 aircraft participating, the Samurai Surge allowed the 374th Airlift Wing to test its mission capability through an elephant walk and formation flight, providing aircrews the vital training needed to respond in area of responsibility as unique as the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 21st Special Operations Squadron taxi their way across the Yokota Air Base, Japan flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.
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Aircraft from the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and 21st Special Operations Squadron taxi their way across the Yokota Air Base, Japan flightline during the elephant walk portion of the Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020. With 17 aircraft participating, the Samurai Surge allowed the 374th Airlift Wing to test its mission capability through an elephant walk and formation flight, providing aircrews the vital training needed to respond in area of responsibility as unique as the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

A loadmaster with the 36th Airlift Squadron loads a low-cost, low-altitude bundle onto a C-130J Super Hercules at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samurai Surge training exercise.
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A loadmaster with the 36th Airlift Squadron loads a low-cost, low-altitude bundle onto a C-130J Super Hercules at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samurai Surge training exercise. The Samurai Surge event also served as a training opportunity for aircrews to fine tune their skillsets and better prepare themselves to respond to humanitarian aid and disaster relief scenarios throughout the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Staff Sgt. Sarah Meadows, 36th Airlift Squadron C-130J loadmaster, loads a low-cost, low-altitude bundle onto a C-130J Super Hercules at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samurai Surge training exercise.
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Staff Sgt. Sarah Meadows, 36th Airlift Squadron C-130J loadmaster, loads a low-cost, low-altitude bundle onto a C-130J Super Hercules at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samurai Surge training exercise. The Samurai Surge event also served as a training opportunity for aircrews to fine tune their skillsets and better prepare themselves to respond to humanitarian aid and disaster relief scenarios throughout the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

An Airman with the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron combat mobility flight loads low-cost, low-altitude bundles with a forklift into a C-130J Super Hercules at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samurai Surge training exercise.
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An Airman with the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron combat mobility flight loads low-cost, low-altitude bundles with a forklift into a C-130J Super Hercules at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020, during the Samurai Surge training exercise. The Samurai Surge event also served as a training opportunity for aircrews to fine tune their skillsets and better prepare themselves to respond to humanitarian aid and disaster relief scenarios throughout the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Nine C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron wait on the flightline during the Samurai Surge training exercise at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020.
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Nine C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron wait on the flightline during the Samurai Surge training exercise at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020. Through the use of low-cost, low-altitude bundles, Yokota’s C-130J’s are able to deliver supplies into austere environments where a runway may not be available, getting critical supplies into the hands of those that need them in both contingency operations and in support of disaster relief missions throughout the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Seven C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron wait on the flightline during the Samurai Surge training exercise at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020.
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Seven C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron wait on the flightline during the Samurai Surge training exercise at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020. Through the use of low-cost, low-altitude bundles, Yokota's C-130J's are able to deliver supplies into austere environments where a runway may not be available, getting critical supplies into the hands of those that need them in both contingency operations and in support of disaster relief missions throughout the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Crew chiefs assigned to the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron push an A/M32 diesel generator into position prior to starting a C-130J Super Hercules during the Samurai Surge training exercise at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020.
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Crew chiefs assigned to the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron push an A/M32 diesel generator into position prior to starting a C-130J Super Hercules during the Samurai Surge training exercise at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2020. To ensure the health and safety of its Airmen in the face of an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Yokota’s personnel proactively utilize physical distancing and cloth face coverings to better protect themselves, the community, and the Wing’s overall mission capability.(U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

A C-12 Huron assigned to the 459th Airlift Squadron flies over Mount Fuji, May 14, 2020, during a pre-Samurai Surge training exercise.
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A C-12 Huron assigned to the 459th Airlift Squadron flies over Mount Fuji, May 14, 2020, during a pre-Samurai Surge training exercise. While COVID-19 has forced teams to maintain aircraft and mission plan in a physically distant manner, Yokota’s Samurai Surge serves as proof the pandemic has not altered the 374th Airlift Wing’s mission capability, adaptability and readiness to respond to the needs of the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Three C-130J Super Hercules' assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron fly over Lake Motosu, May 11, 2020, during a pre-Samurai Surge training exercise.
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Three C-130J Super Hercules' assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron fly over Lake Motosu, May 11, 2020, during a pre-Samurai Surge training exercise. While COVID-19 has forced teams to maintain aircraft and mission plan in a physically distant manner, Yokota’s Samurai Surge serves as proof the pandemic has not altered the 374th Airlift Wing’s mission capability, adaptability and readiness to respond to the needs of the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Three C-130J Super Hercules' assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron fly over Mount Fuji, May 11, 2020, during a pre-Samurai Surge training exercise.
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Three C-130J Super Hercules' assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron fly over Mount Fuji, May 11, 2020, during a pre-Samurai Surge training exercise. While COVID-19 has forced teams to maintain aircraft and mission plan in a physically distant manner, Yokota’s Samurai Surge serves as proof the pandemic has not altered the 374th Airlift Wing’s mission capability, adaptability and readiness to respond to the needs of the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Three C-130J Super Hercules' assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron fly over Mount Fuji, May 11, 2020, during a pre-Samurai Surge training exercise.
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Three C-130J Super Hercules' assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron fly over Mount Fuji, May 11, 2020, during a pre-Samurai Surge training exercise. While COVID-19 has forced teams to maintain aircraft and mission plan in a physically distant manner, Yokota’s Samurai Surge serves as proof the pandemic has not altered the 374th Airlift Wing’s mission capability, adaptability and readiness to respond to the needs of the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Three C-130J Super Hercules' assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron fly over Mount Fuji, May 11, 2020, during a pre-Samurai Surge training exercise.
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Three C-130J Super Hercules' assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron fly over Mount Fuji, May 11, 2020, during a pre-Samurai Surge training exercise. While COVID-19 has forced teams to maintain aircraft and mission plan in a physically distant manner, Yokota’s Samurai Surge serves as proof the pandemic has not altered the 374th Airlift Wing’s mission capability, adaptability and readiness to respond to the needs of the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

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Despite the challenges of COVID-19 members of the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron, 374th Maintenance Group and the 353rd Special Operations Group came together to complete a 17 aircraft formation or an "Elephant Walk" as part of the Samurai Surge exercise.

YOKOTA AIR BASE, JAPAN --

Members of the 36th Airlift Squadron, 459th Airlift Squadron and the 21st Special Operations Squadron out of Yokota Air Base, Japan, came together to complete a 17 aircraft Samurai Surge training exercise, May 21, 2020.

The Samurai Surge exercise involved 17 aircraft for an elephant walk and a C-130 formation flight. Of those 17, two were CV-22 Osprey aircraft from the 353rd Special Operations Group. This event showcased the 374th Airlift Wing’s mission capability, adaptability and readiness to respond to disaster relief scenarios and contingency operations across Yokota’s area of responsibility to maintain regional stability in the Indo-Pacific, even in the face of an ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to inclement weather the morning of the event, a previously scheduled larger formation flight was reduced and launched as a smaller C-130J formation and a low-cost, low-altitude airdrop portion of the exercise was cancelled in effort to ensure the safety of aircrew and individuals in the surrounding Tokyo metropolitan area.

“An elephant walk is a critical test for not only our aircrew, but our maintenance and airfield operations teams,” said Capt. Melinda Marlow, 36th AS C-130J pilot and scheduler. “It showcases our ability to launch multiple aircraft out of a large formation to execute an airdrop mission. To make that happen, our entire operation begins with our maintenance team that has to put in a ton of work to make sure our aircraft are ready to go out and make that mission happen.”

As a significantly larger-than-normal aircraft formation, a total of nine C-130J’s, two CV-22’s, three C-12 Hurons and three UH-1N Iroquois participated in the event.

“Seeing an elephant walk is great. Seeing our work in action, our ability to generate such a large formation and what it is capable of doing is just an amazing experience to be a part of,” added MSgt. David Arnold, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-130J production superintendent. “This is proof that we can take our entire fleet to get them ready to execute any mission that comes down, putting our air power in action.”

This year, the exercise was conducted while under the restrictions of an ongoing pandemic, a situation that forced Airmen to rethink how these formations were planned, produced, and executed while following established guidelines and policies to prevent any potential exposure.

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on how we go about our mission planning, but not so much when it comes to our execution of that mission,” said Marlow. “If anything, it has allowed us to practice utilizing some of the tools and resources we have but don’t get to utilize very often. While the [physical] distancing aspect is unique, that distance in planning is a very realistic hurdle we routinely face when planning our real-world missions to respond to things that arise in our area of responsibility.

“We had to plan our flights and coordinate every detail from separate locations but at the end of the day, that 17 aircraft formation we mobilized today is the same level of mobilization we would have achieved prior to COVID-19. The C-130J’s mobilized are capable of delivering two battalions of paratroopers or up to 360K lbs. of cargo anywhere in the Pacific and COVID-19 doesn’t change that.”