The Air Force's sent its most advanced stealth fighter to Japan this month to fly in a training exercised aimed at deterrence and maintaining security in the region, as tensions in the area have risen over maritime disputes in the South China Sea.
F-22s this month flew from Kadena Air Base as part of exercise Keen Sword, underway from Nov. 8 through Nov. 19, as tensions in the area have risen over maritime disputes in the South China Sea. in which U.S. Air Force crews fly and train with Japan Air Self Defense Forces to "increase combat readiness and interoperability" between the services. The F-22s are from the 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
Keen Sword is a bilateral exercise that has been held biennially since 1986, according to the Air Force. U.S. crews fly and train with Japan Air Self Defense Forces Japanese airmen throughout the area.
In addition to the F-22s, Air Force rescue crews from Kadena's 33rd Rescue Squadron and Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska's, 212th Rescue Squadron trained with Japanese rescue crews at Komatsu Air Base.
About 11,000 U.S. personnel from U.S. Forces Japan, 5th Air Force, U.S. Naval Forces Japan, U.S. Army Japan and III Marine Expeditionary Force also participated in the exercise, which took place throughout Japan, Okinawa and in the seas surrounding the country. The exercise ran from Nov. 8 through Nov. 19.
"Keen Sword is designed to allow [U.S. and Japan] to practice and coordinate our procedures together and interoperability in all warfare disciplines," Adm. John D. Alexander, commander of Battle Force 7th Fleet, said in a news release. "We'll be conducting anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare, air-to-air and air defense warfare scenarios, and we'll be doing that as a combined force."
Air Force F-22s have recently been active in training exercises in the region, serving as a deterrence to North Korea and as a show of force to China. Last spring, F-22s were sent to Osan Air Base, South Korea, to participate in exercise Foal Eagle, a large-scale drill alongside South Korean forces.
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor from the 525th Fighter Squadron stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, lands on the Kadena Air Base, Japan, runway Nov. 14 during Keen Sword 2015.
Photo Credit: Senior Airman Maeson Elleman/Air Force