Cold War Samurai – The 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 1987 – 1991

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What the “neighbors” thought of F-16s at Misawa

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The Soviets did not wait long to criticize the decision to base F-16s at Misawa. And they did so more often than they changed leaders, which was a lot in the 1980s. Brezhnev was the big guy when the decision was announced. On the same day the basing decision was announced by Japanese and American officials, 30 September 1982, the official Soviet news agency, Tass, “…denounced the Japanese decision to allow the U.S. to deploy F-16 fighter-bombers on the island of Honshu,” calling the decision “hostile and provocative.” Tass said Japan was making “another move escalating tension and enhancing the threat of war in the Far East,” and that the increased U.S. military presence would put Japan at the forefront of any U.S.-Soviet armed conflict. (Tass Scores F-16 Deployment, 30 Sep 1982)

Lenid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the CP of the USSR, 8 April 1966 – 10 November 1982. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Lenid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the CP of the USSR, 8 April 1966 – 10 November 1982. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Brezhnev soon passed away, on 10 November 1982, and was replaced by Yuri Andropov. Communist writers in their innumerable publications continued to express their unhappiness with the plan for F-16’s at Misawa, as in this 1983 example: “…the recent (Japanese) government decision to the deployment at the U.S. military base in Misawa of 50 F-16 fighter bombers capable of bombing the Soviet Union serves as nothing other than a new manifestation of hostility and ill intentions in respect of the Soviet Union.”

Yuri Andropove, General Secretary of the CP of the USSR, 12 November 1982 – 9 February 1984 (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Yuri Andropov, General Secretary of the CP of the USSR, 12 November 1982 – 9 February 1984 (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The critique continued, “Both political circles and the press of Japan regard this step as an attempt to change in its favor the evolved military balance in the Far East and establish its superiority in the air space adjacent to the Soviet borders.” (Soviet-Japanese Relations at the Present Stage, Feb 1983)

Konstantin Chernenko, General Secretary of the CP of the USSR, 13 February 1984 – 10 March 1985 (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Konstantin Chernenko, General Secretary of the CP of the USSR, 13 February 1984 – 10 March 1985 (Courtesy Wikipedia)

In February, 1984, Konstantin Chernenko succeeded the deceased Andropov. The Kremlin continued its criticism of the U.S. presence at Misawa through the period between the announcement and the actual basing of F-16s there. They hoped to pressure Japan into abandoning the decision, and kept up their propaganda and disinformation campaign into the time when the first Vipers were slated to arrive.

The Soviets got yet another leader when an ailing Chernenko died in March, 1985, the third Soviet leader to die  in office in less than three years.  He was replaced by Mikhail Gorbachev, who would remain at the Soviet helm until the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union.

Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the CP of the USSR, 11 March 1985 – 24 August 1991 (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the CP of the USSR, 11 March 1985 – 24 August 1991 (Courtesy Wikipedia)

But as Gorbachev assumed power, nothing really changed in the Soviet dislike of the Misawa F-16 plan, soon to be implemented, and they renewed their efforts to derail it:

“As part of the Soviets’ 1985 campaign to threaten Japan into a withdrawal of support from the United States, the Soviet press built up the issue of the U.S. F-16’s at Misawa. The USSR accused Japan of supporting the U.S. in its buildup of offensive capabilities there. Accusations included:

• Basing of “nuclear-capable” F-16’s;

• Permitting existence of an “underground nuclear arsenal”;

• Providing a command post for directing nuclear, chemical and bacteriological warfare against the Northwest Pacific.

The implicit threat was clarified by citing that

‘it would be naive to believe that the states to which the systems threaten will not take counter-measures to neutralize the new danger emanating from Japanese territory.’

In other words, if it continues to host U.S. forces, Japan faces Soviet nuclear strikes. This threat was declared despite Soviet acknowledgement that the forces are managed by Washington, not by Tokyo.” (TASS Cites Pravda on F-16 Deployment in Japan, 15 April 1985)

Despite Soviet opposition, the plan was implemented. But the commie whining continued as the 432TFW activated and as the 13TFS started operations:

“The American armed forces in South Korea and Japan as well as the ships of the 7th Fleet off the coasts of the USSR and China represent the forward-based forces that are aimed, first and foremost, against the Soviet Union and other countries of socialism.” “Misawa on the island of Honshu is the outpost of the American Air Force.” (CPSU on the Historical Mission of Socialism, March 1986)

Panther F-16As four ship returns to base, circa 1985 (Courtesy Skywarriors gallery.com)

Panther F-16A four ship returns to base, circa 1985 (Courtesy Skywarriors gallery.com)

And the Bolshevik complaining persisted even after the 14TFS started up at Misawa:

“The United States is expanding its military presence in the (Pacific) region,” a June, 1987 article opined. “With Tokyo’s tacit consent Washington is systematically violating the “three nonnuclear principles” – U.S. F-16 aircraft designed to deliver nuclear strikes are deployed at the Misawa base…” (The Course if the Peoples’ Security, 9 June 1987)

14TFS F-16C Block 30 85-1588 at Yokota AB, Japan, circa 1987 (Courtesy Mable.com)

14TFS F-16C Block 30 85-1558 at Yokota AB, Japan, circa 1987 (Courtesy Mablehome.com)

There would be more Soviet complaints in various statements and publications about Misawa F-16s through the rest of the Cold War. Call it information warfare of a sort – they were obsessed with their Marxist socialist politics and wacky way of looking at the world. It was like a leaky commie faucet with a constant drip, drip, drip…

We didn’t pay much attention to it; it was all high level stuff echelons above us and if we had any response to such remarks it was usually a chuckle to see how they regarded us and at the vast gap between truth and fiction. Their rhetoric caused us no concern – perhaps they were envious of us to be so favorably based in Japan as compared to some of their boondock flying bases in some awful places out there in the Far East. Even more, we had awesome new fighter aircraft fresh from the factory and some great airspace for flying. Who wasn’t jealous of that?

F-16s of Misawa AB, Japan. (Courtesy USAF)

F-16s of Misawa AB, Japan. (Courtesy USAF)

References

“Tass Scored F-16 Deployment” carried in Stanford University document, Issue Date: October 15, 1982, accessed at: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.stanford.edu%2Fgroup%2Ftomzgroup%2Fpmwiki%2Fuploads%2F2229-1982-10-15-FoF-a-SJJ.doc&ei=_3WJU5SpF8HhoATdnIDAAQ&usg=AFQjCNFzjkC1aJkmFdiSyAvWzOZMIUp50w&bvm=bv.68191837,d.cGU

Latyshev, I., “Soviet-Japanese Relations at the Present Stage,” Mirovaya Ekonomika I Mezhdunarodnyye Otnosheniya, No. 2, Feb, 1983, pp 27-36, excerpt accessed at: http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a368753.pdf

TASS Cites Pravda on F-16 Deployment in Japan, 15 April 1985, cited in “Japan-USSR: trade, technology transfer, and Implications for U.S., by Trombley, David L., Monterey, CA, Naval Postgraduate School, June, 1988, accessed at: http://calhoun.nps.edu/public/handle/10945/23062

Editorial, “CPSU on the Historical Mission of Socialism,” in Moscow Problemy Dalnego Vostoka, No. 1, Jan – Mar 1986, pp 3-13, excerpts accessed at: DTIC website, JPRS-UFE-86-004 8 October 1986 FBIS USSR Report Problems of the Far East, No 1, Jan Mar 1986

Senchuk, V., “The Course is the Peoples’ Security – On the Basis of New Thinking,” in Moscow Krasnaya Zvezda, 9 June 1987, First Edition, page 3, DTIC Website, FBIS JPRS Report JPRS-TAC-87-047 16 July 1987, Arms Control, accessed at: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CEMQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhandle.dtic.mil%2F100.2%2FADA358817&ei=KuyIU9qQKY74oATvxID4Bw&usg=AFQjCNGMMR4mx8DHwYVK5rtZZ5wN-5iU1A&bvm=bv.67720277,d.cGU

List of General Secretaries of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Secretary_of_the_Communist_Party_of_the_Soviet_Union

Misawa F-16 photo at:  http://www.misawa.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/web/070103-F-9322E-062.JPG

F-16A 4-ship image at:  http://skywarriors-gallery.com/usaf%20432tfw.htm

14TFS F-16C image at:  http://www.mablehome.com/aviation/gd/f-16c/f-16c.htm

 

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