F-35s Arrive at Kadena as F-15 Withdrawl Continues

F-35 Lightning II fighters arrived on Okinawa this month because the Air Pressure continues to swap out its completely deployed F-15 Eagles at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

The 18th Wing at Kadena mentioned the 355th Fighter Squadron from Eielson Air Base, Alaska started the deployment on March 28. It’s unclear what number of F-35s at the moment are working there. Air Pressure officers declined to offer the precise variety of F-35s at Kadena or say when extra F-15s would depart, citing operational safety. Nonetheless, officers mentioned the F-35 deployment was momentary as a part of the DOD’s plan to position extra superior fighters at Kadena on a rotational foundation because the previous F-15s head out.

“The subsequent batch of F-15s will depart Kadena in phased actions over the approaching months,” a spokesperson for Pacific Air Forces instructed Air & Area Forces Journal. “Departures will happen as soon as adequate deployed forces are in place and operational to make sure no hole in steady-state fighter presence.”

Kadena is a strategic location for the Air Pressure, round 450 miles from Taiwan. The bottom payments itself because the “Keystone of the Pacific.”

After greater than 40 years of Eagle operations, Kadena has had practically each plane kind within the Air Pressure’s fighter fleet cycle by means of the island in current months: F-35s, F-22s, F-16s, and the unique F-15s.

The Air Pressure promised to interchange the previous Eagles with newer and extra succesful plane, beginning with F-22 Raptors from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska and F-16CMs from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The F-35s of the 355th FS mark the third squadron to go to Kadena as a part of the F-15 alternative plan. The F-22s and F-16s stay deployed at Kadena.

F-15s leaving Kadena are destined for the Boneyard or Air Nationwide Guard service. Air Nationwide Guard director Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh instructed reporters on the AFA Warfare Symposium March 8 the ANG had some F-15s from Kadena present process intensive depot tear-downs.

F-35s from the 355th Fighter Squadron deployed to Kadena as early as March 4, in line with photograph captions of F-35 operations within the Pacific launched by the Air Pressure. It’s unclear if the plane in these pictures returned to Alaska or stayed at Kadena. The spokesperson for Pacific Air Forces mentioned all of Kadena’s F-35s “scheduled to reach have finished so.” A spokesperson for the 354th Fighter Wing, the guardian unit of the 355th, famous the arrival of the plane March 28 however added, “to guard operational safety, precise particulars on flight and arrival occasions can’t be supplied.”

U.S. Air Pressure F-35A Lightning IIs taxi on the flightline after arriving at Kadena Air Base, Japan, March 28, 2023. U.S. Air Pressure photograph by Airman 1st Class Tylir Meyer

Regardless of the island’s strategic significance and proximity to the potential flashpoint of Taiwan, the Air Pressure should take away the completely deployed F-15s from Kadena as a result of they’re just too previous, service officers say.

“F-15Cs: Final yr after we have been right here, there have been two plane at Kadena that have been grounded and would by no means fly once more and two extra that might solely fly a one-time flight to the Boneyard,” Lt. Gen. Richard G. Moore, Jr., deputy chief of workers for plans and packages, instructed a Home Armed Service subcommittee March 29. “Now it’s three which are grounded endlessly and 4 that may solely which are solely able to one-time flight to the Boneyard. Of each ten plane within the F-15C that we put into depot, solely two of them come out.”

The Air Pressure has used its newer fighter plane at Kadena to hop across the Pacific for varied Agile Fight Employment workouts, together with deployments of F-22s to Tinian and the Philippines—the primary time fifth-generation fighters deployed to these places. The Pentagon desires to speculate $88 million in upgrades to Kadena as a part of its fiscal 2024 funds request.

The F-35s look set to proceed the development of Kadena’s fifth-generation plane getting used as a versatile drive. The 18th Wing mentioned in a information launch that “the F-35 squadron plans to rotate personnel and tools to a number of working places with the intention to help the Theater Joint Pressure Air Part Commander and the 18th Wing whereas sustaining readiness for the high-end combat.”