YOKOTA AIR FORCE BASE, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan -- Hurricane-force winds gust through the air base from the downdraft of a U.S. Marine MV-22B Osprey lifting off. As it climbs higher, the air temperature plummets, and the Osprey joins a massive Japanese and U.S. formation of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft soaring over the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Fleet.
Approximately 28 aircraft from the JMSDF, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps flew in the 28th iteration of the JMSDF Fleet Review. The fleet review allowed the JMSDF to assess the readiness of its fleet and demonstrate Japan and U.S. commitment to enduring prosperity and security in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Any opportunity to work alongside Japanese forces gives us an advantage in the long run,” said Capt. Piotr K. Stapor, an Osprey pilot with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “In the long term, this increases our opportunities to do exercises together because out here we have been working side-by-side, seeing each other’s capabilities.”
Each crew member for this exercise was handpicked for his individual skills. The crew performed inspections in the varying weather temperatures, ranging from cold windy mornings to blistering heat in the afternoons, almost daily.
“I hope to participate in this (review) again someday,” said Stapor, from Lawrenceville, Georgia. “This will be something to help Japanese-U.S. relations in the future for exercises we are involved in, and I see this event taking place again in the future. It’s an honor to work alongside the JMSDF, the whole exercise has really been a lot of fun.”