US To Deploy F-22 Raptors At The Kadena Air Force Base In Japan Amid Continued Threats From North Korea & China
Following reports that the USAF is removing the F-15 Eagles from Kadena Air Base, US and Japanese officials have confirmed that the USAF’s F-22 Raptors would take over the Eagles’ duty.
On November 1, 2022, the Japanese Defense Minister confirmed that a dozen F-22 Raptors would be deployed rotationally to the Kadena Air Base on the Japanese island of Okinawa.
This decision comes amid continued belligerence by China and North Korea in the region. Today, as per reports, North Korea stormed with as many as 180 warplanes, to which the South responded by scrambling dozens of F-35 stealth fighters.
F-22 Raptors To Replace F-15 Eagles?
The USAF is retiring the F-15 Eagles from Kadena Air Base as part of its modernization plan. The service will start the deployment of fourth and fifth-generation fighters as a provisional measure this month.
The Japanese Defense minister said that the US military intends to station F-22 stealth planes on rotation at the Kadena facility on a semiannual basis for now.
Experts believe that F-22s are a good choice for deployment at the Kadena base. The aircraft would probably arrive from Alaska’s Elmendorf Air Force Base, part of the Pacific Air Forces.
However, the Raptor’s inventory is small, and its availability is often constrained for various reasons. Experts also wonder whether the Raptors will continue to be rotationally deployed when the Eagles are entirely withdrawn.
The description “advanced capabilities that are superior to the F-15C/D” might technically relate to a wide range of aircraft, including the latest version of the Eagle, the F-15EX, and fifth-generation fighters like the F-22 and F-35 and future air combat platforms.
The China Factor
Following the initial reports that the Eagles were departing Kadena, analysts and former officers began to criticize the move, arguing that it would strengthen China’s regional position.
China has deployed the stealthy J-20 in all five command theaters. Moreover, recent advancements in Chinese airpower have reduced the advantage once held by the F-15C/D.
Likewise, China made significant strides in developing a new generation of long-range air-to-air missiles and continuously enhancing sensor capabilities. These are crucial challenges for the United States and its allies’ deterrence measures against the Chinese military in the event of a Taiwan invasion.
The Pentagon is currently discussing whether to maintain a rotational arrangement or eventually send squadrons of jets permanently to Kadena. Nevertheless, the practicality of the rotating fighters is unclear.
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