The US Air Force has begun deploying F-22A fighter jets to the Kadena Air Base, Japan, as part of a phased withdrawal of its retiring F-15C/D fleet.
The Raptors assigned to the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska were flown to Kadena on November 4, Pacific Air Forces announced in a statement.
Forty-eight F-15s of the 18th Wing are being temporarily replaced “with newer and more advanced fighters” as a permanent replacement has not yet been decided, the service stated on October 28.
“Until that decision is made, the DoD will continue to use the Global Force Management process to provide backfill solutions that maintain regional deterrence and bolster our ability to uphold our treaty obligations to Japan.”
Phase-Out to Take Two Years
The F-22s are expected to replace the McDonnell Douglas F-15s one-to-one in six months, with more extensive deployment possible thereafter. The withdrawal is expected to take two years.
The aircraft has been operating at Kadena since 1979. The Okinawa base is the air force’s closest land-based location to Taiwan, some 450 miles (724 kilometers) away.
“For decades, Kadena Air Base has served as the keystone of the Pacific. The base’s strategic position makes it a vital staging location for forces to deter regional adversaries and project US airpower throughout the Indo-Pacific,” Pacific Air Forces said.