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Pilots focus on air superiority, operations during Keen Sword

by Staff Sgt. Vann Miller
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2007 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan (AFPN)  -- Honing their skills against enemy air threats over the skies of Japan, Misawa fighter pilots participate in a two-week long training exercise here.

Exercise Keen Sword, which began Nov. 6, is a  joint and bilateral exercise simulating the defense of Japan using more than 60 military units from 24 locations

"This exercise adds another level of interaction beyond the 35th Fighter Wing and Northern Air Defense Command," said Capt. Jeremy Huffaker, the 610th Air Control Flight commander. "As a theater-level command and control exercise, Keen Sword leverages the (unit's) weapons control and air defense link capabilities to complete the 'big picture.'" 

The purpose of the exercise is to demonstrate the defense of this area in the Pacific region, said Maj. Robert Petty, the 14th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations.

"Each mission is focused by the Keen Sword objectives as well as the individual flight objectives" the major said. "They relate to joint and bilateral interoperability for the defense of Japan and security of the region. During the initial phase of Keen Sword, we practice air-to-air tactics ranging from basic intercepts to advanced multi-ship combat tactics. The last days of Keen Sword will be dedicated to combined effort, large-force employment." 

Some of the difficulties found in the training aren't about flying. They're the command and control infrastructure, as well as the language and cultural differences, said the major.

Overcoming challenges is what makes this training so valuable according to one of the pilots.

"The opportunity to interact more directly with our host-nation counterparts is one of, if not, the single greatest benefit," Major Petty said.

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