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US F-15EX and F-35s to be permanently stationed in Japan, DoD announces

A USAF F-35 at Kadena AFB, Japan. F-15EXs are set to replace the rotational fighter units currently deployed to the Okinawa air base. (US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Alexis Redin)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) announced its intent to send Boeing F-15EXs and additional Lockheed Martin F-35s to bases in Japan, renewing its tactical air fleet in the country.

The US Air Force's (USAF's) Kadena Air Force Base (AFB), in Okinawa, is set to receive 36 F-15EXs, according to the announcement. The new fighters are intended to replace the 48 F-15C/Ds that returned to the United States in 2023. The USAF has since rotated different tactical fighter units through Kadena AFB.

In addition, the USAF intends to replace the 36 Lockheed Martin F-16C/Ds of the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa AFB, in northern Honshu, with 48 F-35As.

US Marine Corps (USMC) aviation forces are also set to be bolstered. The service is to “modify the number of F-35Bs” at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, located in Yamaguchi prefecture on southern Honshu, according to the announcement, which does not specify the number of aircraft set to fly from the base. Today the USMC deploys F-35Bs to the base on a rotational basis.

The rebalance is set to take place “over the next several years”, and “reflects over USD10 billion of capability investments”, the announcement said.

The USAF deferred questions to the DoD. Neither the DoD nor the USMC responded to questions at the time of publication.

For more information, please seeUpdate – Changing the guard: Concern over US withdrawal of F-15 jets from Okinawa .

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