The Europe-based upgraded F-16s will be a part of Kadena’s remaining F-15s and the F-22s deployed there from Alaska.
A month after the first wave of F-15 Eagles left Kadena Air Base, Japan, and returned to the USA, F-16CMs from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, deployed there to help the Eagles’ phase-out and momentary exchange them whereas the Air Pressure works on a everlasting alternative. The F-16s of the 52nd Fighter Wing will work along side Kadena-based property and F-22 Raptors deployed from the 3rd Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska, to make sure continued steady-state fighter capabilities.
“We’re excited to be right here supporting our allies and companions within the Indo-Pacific area,” stated Lt. Col. Shaun Loomis, 480th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander. “We sit up for coaching and working on this uniquely advanced and strategically important area. Moreover, we’re grateful for the chance to expertise day-to-day life and native tradition right here in Okinawa.”
Twelve F-16s departed from Spangdahlem as JEST 11-16 and JEST 21-26 on January 11 and, supported by KC-135, KC-10 and KC-46 tankers, routed to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, earlier than persevering with on to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson. Nonetheless, only eight F-16s arrived at Kadena on January 16, in accordance with stories, whereas the remaining 4 are anticipated to reach at vacation spot at a later date.
“Since Nov. 4, deployed F-22s have employed their distinctive mixture of stealth, tremendous cruise, superior avionics and sensor fusion capabilities to convey air dominance to the Keystone of the Pacific, augmenting the air-to-air capabilities of Kadena’s F-15 fleet”, stated the press release. “Because the F-16s start operations, they too will combine their distinctive strengths to assist Group Kadena deter and, if needed, prevail over acts of aggression that threaten peace and stability within the Indo-Pacific.”
When the primary wave of F-15s left Kadena, the Air Pressure stated the phased withdrawal of the F-15s will happen in waves over two years and, in the intervening time, fourth- and fifth-generation fighters will rotate there in an effort to “keep regional deterrence and bolster the power to uphold treaty obligations to Japan.” The Division of Protection is engaged on a long-term, everlasting plan for Kadena, with a alternative but to be decided, however in accordance with sources, it will likely be superior to the F-15C/D.
“These momentary deployments convey a various set of platforms to the area and supply the chance to combine, prepare, and function with our joint forces and worldwide Allies and companions,” stated Col. Henry Schantz, 18th Operations Group commander. “It’s thrilling to coach new aircrew to function in and across the Indo-Pacific area. The items convey their very own distinct talent units and experiences from across the globe to bolster our Allies and companions whereas we work collectively to keep up a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Whereas the choice to deploy F-16s from Germany to Japan might sound unusual, that is according to the DoD statements that “modernizing capabilities within the Indo-Pacific theater stays a high precedence”, as Kadena’s strategic place makes it an important staging location for forces to discourage regional adversaries and challenge U.S. airpower all through the Indo-Pacific. Actually, Spangdahlem’s F-16s are among the many most fashionable of the Air Pressure, as final 12 months they turned the primary energetic–obligation Vipers to receive active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars.
Many are additionally arguing the choice as a result of the deployment comes as Russian forces are engaged in a full-scale battle in Ukraine, which is rather a lot nearer to Spangdahlem than Kadena. We should always not neglect, nevertheless, that a number of fighter jet deployments are presently ongoing in Europe, so the F-16 deployment to Japan won’t essentially weaken the US posture within the space. The presence of NATO allies participating in the operations with their fighter jets and their means to shortly deploy extra, if wanted, may need been one other one of many contributing elements behind the choice.
Additionally, the Indo-Pacific is the opposite hotspot which is drawing consideration internationally, with the continuous threats of a Chinese invasion in Taiwan and Kadena being the closest air base from the place US asset might be deployed if wanted. Because the US is making ready for a attainable near-peer battle over the Pacific and avoiding a direct intervention in Ukraine that might result in additional escalations, deterrence performs a giant position to keep away from combating on two fronts on the identical time.