U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, the U.S. Forces Japan and Fifth Air Force commander, reviews weather during a pre-flight brief at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 27, 2019. During his visit, the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons gave him a tour of the airspace Team Misawa uses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, the U.S. Forces Japan and Fifth Air Force commander, reviews weather during a pre-flight brief at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 27, 2019. During his visit, the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons gave him a tour of the airspace Team Misawa uses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

Misawa F-16 Fighting Falcon painted, prepped for USFJ/CC

by 1st Lt. Jeremy Garcia
Misawa Air Base

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members of the 35th Maintenance Squadron completed a full repaint of an F-16C Fighting Falcon for the first time in two years here, Feb. 8.

This jet serves as the premier and ceremonial aircraft for Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, the United States Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander.

Commanders with aeronautical experience are often assigned a premier aircraft in their designated area of responsibility. For Schneider, flying the F-16 here will mark a return to his preferred aircraft; he flew F-15E Strike Eagles while commanding the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

“Having this aircraft is symbolic of the specialized and critical role the 35th Fighter Wing plays in the Indo-Pacific,” said Lt. Col. Chris Moeller, the 13th Fighter Squadron commander. “As the Pacific Air Forces' only dedicated ‘Suppression of the Enemy Air Defense’ wing, we ensure air superiority in this region.”

Increased senior leader engagements at Misawa leverages improved dialogue with Airmen and supervisors while building relationships and conveys the United States' commitment to the region. Airmen with the 35th MXS stenciled and refurbished the general's aircraft, protecting it from corrosion and extending its service life. They worked on the "Viper" for approximately two weeks to ensure the readiness of the jet and aided in maintaining a forward presence in the Indo-Pacific.

“The mission capability of the aircraft is a big focus within maintenance and ensuring a cohesive paint coating is one step to accomplish it,” said Master Sgt. Ashley Bevis, the 35th MXS aircraft structural maintenance section chief. “We are honored to provide this aircraft to the USFJ/5th AF commander as his premier aircraft.”

Over the coming years, the general will fly with both of the 35th FW's squadrons to maintain his training currencies.

“It is a great opportunity to have Lt. Gen. Schneider fly with us because it gives us a chance to show him firsthand the incredible work Team Misawa does daily,” said Moeller. “We are excited to have the general join us at Misawa.”

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