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F-35A Stealth Fighters Arrive In Japan For 6-Month ‘Theater Security’ Deployment

Stars and Stripes // October 31, 2017

The first two of a dozen F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters arrived on Okinawa this week for a six-month deployment that’s part of Pacific Command’s “theater security” program.

The jets — America’s newest and most advanced stealth fighters — landed at Kadena Air Base on Monday afternoon, an Okinawa Defense Bureau spokesman said. They will be joined by 10 others from Utah’s 34th Fighter Squadron to help “demonstrate the continuing U.S. commitment to stability and security in the region,” the Air Force said.

Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force

The fighters will be joined by approximately 300 airmen from Hill Air Force Base.

The jets’ arrival marks the first time the F-35A has deployed to the region after its debut at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition earlier this month, the Air Force said last week.

Air Force officials have lauded the Lightning II for its “unprecedented global precision attack capability against current and emerging threats.”

“With a very complex security environment, including [the situation with] North Korea, [the deployment of F-35A fighters] indicates that the U.S. side is showing a certain extent of commitment to this region,” Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters on Friday.

American military aircraft often draw the ire of Okinawa’s anti-base protest movement. Onodera said he has requested that the U.S. military minimize the F-35A’s impact on local residents by adhering to noise-control measures.

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