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04:17 PM, August 23, 2016
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US To Deploy 16 F-35B Fighters At Japanese Airbase Next Year
F-35B Lightning II

The United States plans to deploy 16 F-35 fighters to the US military base in Japan’s Iwakuni in Yamaguchi.

The plan is to deploy 10 aircraft in January and additional six in August next year. The Japanese government informed Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda as well as Yamaguchi Governor Tsugumasa Muraoka of the planned deployment.

The United States plans to replace the F/A-18 fighters and the AV-8 Harrier jets at the Marine Corps’ Air Station Iwakuni with the F-35B, a variant of the F-35 fighters capable of short takeoff and vertical landing. 

Fukuda told Shunsuke Takei, parliamentary vice foreign minister, and Hiroyuki Miyazawa, parliamentary vice defence minister, that his city was frustrated at the lack of information provided to them by the central government and called for details to be given to them in a “swift” manner, Kyodo News reported Monday

“The (F-35) deployment is simply upgrading the type of aircraft and is not linked to the US military realignment,” Takei said during their meeting.

The Iwakuni base is also expected to accommodate 59 carrier-borne fighter jets from the US Navy’s Atsugi base in Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, around next year, in line with the realignment of US forces in Japan agreed by Tokyo and Washington in 2006. The move is viewed as further strengthening the base’s functions. 

“As this would be the first deployment in Japan, we would like to make inquiries about the aircraft’s safety and operation,” Fukuda told reporters after their meeting. 

Muraoka separately said to reporters he wants to “respect the wishes of residents”. 

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