A dozen US Air force F-35A stealth fighter aircraft will arrive next month at Kadena Air Base, on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, for its first deployment in Asia-Pacific region.
More than 300 airmen from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah — including pilots, maintainers and other personnel — will deploy to Kadena to support the F-35A aircraft for its six-month deployment schedule, Pacific Air Forces announced.
“The F-35A gives the joint warfighter unprecedented global precision attack capability against current and emerging threats while complementing our air superiority fleet,” said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander. “The airframe is ideally suited to meet our command’s obligations, and we look forward to integrating it into our training and operations.”
The move, long anticipated, comes amid surging tensions on the Korean Peninsula over Pyongyang’s ever-improving nuclear and missile programs.
Former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James hinted in February that the service would deploy two separate “theater security packages” of F-35s by the end of 2017 – first to Europe, then to the Asia-Pacific, Defense News reports.
The US has already deployed F-35B short takeoff and landing variant permanently stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, since January.