Japan: F-22 Raptors to take over the F-15 combat duty in Okinawa

TOKYO ($1=147.16 Japanese Yens) — Japan continues to closely monitor the actions of China and North Korea in the region. USA too. After the US announced that F-15 Eagles from the Air Force inventory would be withdrawn from Okinawa, Japan’s defense minister announced that F-22 Raptors would take over their functions.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

Kadena Air Force Base on the island of Okinawa hosts the United States Air Force in the region. It will be also part of the upcoming exercises. US and allies in coming days will rise 240 aircraft will fly over this part of Asia. Taiwan is also participating in the exercises. These exercises include 24 hour continuous training flights. Almost the entire range of air systems to be part of them, including the F-35. The US will take more than 100 warplanes into the air in the coming days in a show of strength and empathy against the “enemies” of its partners.

All this comes against the backdrop of recent aerial exercises by Pyongyang, which played out air war scenarios with 180 of its warplanes, all of the Soviet design. Pyongyang does not like the US presence in the region and has officially declared repeatedly that the short-range ballistic missiles launched this year were a response to “American provocation”.

The deployment of the F-22s to Okinawa comes as the US has yet to decide exactly what aircraft will replace the F-15s in Kadena Air Base’s inventory. The Japanese minister confirmed that the Raptors will perform functions on a rotational basis. I.e. six months will be at the base, after which other aircraft from other bases will be deployed. There is no exact information on exactly how many F-22s the US will send to Okinawa.

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The F-15C/D Eagle has been at Kadena for more than 30 years. The platforms are older than what the US has. Against the background of developing technology and more modern and productive fighters of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, it is only logical that a newer, modern and combat-capable air weapon system such as the F-22 should be localized in the region.

Ben Lewis, a defense analyst, says that if a conflict were to occur involving Pyongyang, the F-22 would be a better option to face the enemy in the air than the F-15. Both Lewis and other experts suggested that F-22 fighter jets from Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska would be sent to Okinawa.

Some US experts were quick to criticize Washington for the decision to withdraw the F-15C/D Eagle from Okinawa. China’s growing influence in the region and increasing combat capability in all domains has been the cause of criticism. But they were quick, and seeing that the US intends to deploy significantly more combat-capable fighters in the future, their initial decision is now considered logical.


Whether Washington will send combat air squadrons permanently to Kadena Air Force Base is yet to be decided. Although some say the rotation principle violates the US-Japan Permanent Deterrence Treaty, others say it is a temporary solution, and while it is in place, the Japan-US treaties in this regard are not in violation.

Thrust vectoring engine: J-20 performs strong maneuvers at low speed
Photo credit: ADN

But China is also taking similar actions, analysts report, even before the US. Beijing has already deployed its J-20 fifth-generation fighter squadrons in all five theaters of command. Production and development of cruise missiles continue apace. Beijing showing serious investment in this area over the past 24 months.

These missiles are capable of reaching Okinawa or Guam, a key island for the US Air Force. The real threat from PLA exist. I.e. the deployment of stealth fighters find an even more logical explanation.


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