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35th Fighter Wing brings fight to Keen Sword 2017

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Patrick O'Connell, left, a 35th Maintenance Squadron crew chief and Capt. Kyle Benham, right, a 35th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, performs a pre-flight check during exercise Keen Sword 17 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2016. Misawa participated in a series of bilateral exercises, showcasing the positive relationship with our Japanese host nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Patrick O'Connell, left, a 35th Maintenance Squadron crew chief and Capt. Kyle Benham, right, a 35th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, performs a pre-flight check during exercise Keen Sword 17 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2016. Misawa participated in a series of bilateral exercises, showcasing the positive relationship with our Japanese host nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Benham, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, loads a tape into an air combat maneuvering instrument, prior to taking flight during exercise Keen Sword 17 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2016. The 35th Fighter Wing focused on combat readiness and partnered with the VAQ-135 Naval Unit and the Japan Air Self-Defense Forces to work on joint tactics to practice a defensive counter-air scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Benham, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, loads a tape into an air combat maneuvering instrument, prior to taking flight during exercise Keen Sword 16 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2017. The 35th Fighter Wing focused on combat readiness and partnered with the VAQ-135 Naval Unit and the Japan Air Self-Defense Forces to work on joint tactics to practice a defensive counter-air scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Benham, a 35th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, dons his piloting gloves before flight during bilateral exercise Keen Sword 17, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2016. The exercise had various scenarios, including defending the Hokkaido Port, in Hokkaido, Japan, from a multitude of enemies. The U.S. has maintained a diplomatic, economic, and military presence in the Pacific throughout our nation's history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Benham, a 35th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, dons his piloting gloves before flight during bilateral exercise Keen Sword 17, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2016. The exercise had various scenarios, including defending the Hokkaido Port, in Hokkaido, Japan, from a multitude of enemies. The U.S. has maintained a diplomatic, economic, and military presence in the Pacific throughout our nation's history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Patrick O'Connell, a 35th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, checks flight controls during exercise Keen Sword 17, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2016. Exercises like Keen Sword are a decisive demonstration of the strength of the friendship between the people, and provide an indispensible field training environment for enhancing mutual understanding of each country's tactics, communication protocols, procedutres and general interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Patrick O'Connell, a 35th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, checks flight controls during exercise Keen Sword 17, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2016. Exercises like Keen Sword are a decisive demonstration of the strength of the friendship between the people, and provide an indispensible field training environment for enhancing mutual understanding of each country's tactics, communication protocols, procedutres and general interoperability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Ryan Forystek, a 14th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, prepares to depart during exercise Keen Sword 17 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2016. Approximately 24 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, honed in on joint-tactics, while breaking language barriers among the pilots. For more than 50 years, the U.S.-Japan Alliance has been the foundation of peave and security in Northeast Asia and the cornerstone of U.S. engagement in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Ryan Forystek, a 14th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, prepares to depart during exercise Keen Sword 17 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 10, 2016. Approximately 24 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, honed in on joint-tactics while breaking language barriers among the pilots. For more than 50 years, the U.S.-Japan Alliance has been the foundation of peace and security in Northeast Asia and the cornerstone of U.S. engagement in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force Mitsubishi F-2, flies to Hokkaido Port during bilateral exercise Keen Sword 17, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 11, 2016. The fundamental role of U.S. forces in Japan is to deter aggression and maintain peace and security in the region and is an essential component of the U.S.-Japan alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force Mitsubishi F-2, flies to Hokkaido Port during bilateral exercise Keen Sword 17, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 11, 2016. The fundamental role of U.S. forces in Japan is to deter aggression and maintain peace and security in the region and is an essential component of the U.S.-Japan alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sadie Colbert)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

The 35th Fighter Wing took to the skies during exercise Keen Sword 17 at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 7–11, to enhance bilateral confidences and working relationships with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

Exercises like Keen Sword are a decisive demonstration of the strength of the friendship between the people, and provide an indispensable field training environment to enhance mutual understanding of each country’s tactics, communication protocols, procedures and general interoperability.

“One of the biggest ways this exercise helps our partnership is by making relationships with the JASDF pilots and breaking through the language barriers,” said Capt. Joshua Lemair, a 13th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “During our planning cycle, we work with each other for many hours figuring out our plan to win.”

The 35th FW focused on combat readiness and integrated with the VAQ-135 Naval Unit and JASDF from Misawa and Chitose Air Base in Hokkaido, Japan, to practice a defensive counter-air scenario.

For more than 50 years, the U.S.- Japan Alliance has been the foundation of peace and security in Northeast Asia and the cornerstone of U.S. engagement in the region. In 1960, Japan and the U.S. signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. The alliance plays an indispensable role in ensuring the security and prosperity of the U.S. and Japan, as well as regional peace and security.

Beginning in late October, approximately 11,000 U.S. personnel participated in the exercise and worked with their Japan Self-Defense Force counterparts at military installations throughout mainland Japan, Okinawa and in the waters surrounding Japan.

"We planned together for months,” Lemair said. “We brought our support, aircraft and pilots together to help setup the exercise and make it a success.”

Capt. Mark Jaszczak, a 13th FS Flight Commander, said each sortie took approximately 15 hours of mission planning, totaling around 75 hours of planning during Misawa’s portion of the exercise.

He added that even the 35th FW commander, Col. R. Scott Jobe, got in on the action and flew with the crews.

“There are varied experience levels throughout the pilot core,” Jaszczak said. “Col. Jobe has several thousand flying hours in the jet and the time spent as his wingman is invaluable. It’s that type of experience that helps you to identify the core essential skills necessary to be a fighter pilot.”

First Lt. Scott Pippin, a 13 FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, said the opportunity was well worth the hard work.

“It is awesome working with our international partners,” Pippin said. “They are our host nation and we finally get to integrate the two Air Forces. It is more jets to train with and allows a more diverse experience.”

The U.S.- Japan alliance, strengthened by updated guidelines and the two countries’ respective security and defense policies, continues to serve as the cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific as well as a platform for promoting a more peaceful and stable international security environment.