Japan says ‘Sayonara’ to F-15C Eagle – last flights are this week
TOKYO ($1=140.48 Japanese Yens) — The US Air Force is preparing to make the final flights of the McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle in Japan. Japan’s Kadena Air Force Base, the longtime home of American F-15s, will say goodbye to them this week.
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Earlier, BulgarianMilitary.com reported that F-22s from the inventory of the US Air Force will take over from the F-15s in the region. On a rotational basis, the F-22s will participate in various exercises, training, and missions as part of a bilateral program aimed at increasing operational readiness and improving interoperability. Activities that were previously performed by the F-15.
The last flights of the F-15s will be between November 10-18, when an aviation training transfer will take place. This event is organized by the 8th Air Wing of the Japan Self-Defense Force [JASDF]. Locally known as ATR. The final destination of the event is Tsuiki Air Force Base in Japan.
Tomonori Okubo, a JASDF lieutenant colonel, and commander of the 6th Fighter Squadron said in a statement that the US and Japan are the backbones of conflict deterrence in the region. He added that thanks to joint cooperation with the US Air Force, stability in the region has been preserved. According to Okubo, the upcoming bilateral training is a signal of a strong alliance between the two countries.
190 Airmen at Kadena Air Force Base will take part in this exercise. Lt. Col. Craig Van Beusekom said that Japan and the United States must continue to work as one and continue to communicate effectively with each other. Beusekom is a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force and commander of the 67th Fighter Squadron.
Details about the upcoming aviation training have also become known. US and Japanese pilots will conduct bilateral flight operations. All of them will also be allowed to practice deploying during combat operations.
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.
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.
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