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US Air Force F-16s Join F-15s, F-22s in Japan

A team of US Air Force F-16C/D Fighting Falcons has landed at Kadena Air Base in Japan to support an ongoing phased return of F-15C/D Eagles to the US.

The F-16s are operated by the US 52nd Fighter Wing based in Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany and will work alongside the 3rd Wing’s F-22A Raptors deployed from Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska.

The teaming will temporarily replace the F-15 Eagles in the Indo-Pacific to secure a “steady-state fighter presence” as the US Department of Defense conducts its ongoing modernization program and related transitions across the theater.

“These temporary deployments bring a diverse set of platforms to the region and provide the opportunity to integrate, train, and operate with our joint forces and international Allies and partners,” 18th Operations Group Commander Col. Henry Schantz stated.

F-15 fighters at Exercise Vigilant Ace in South Korea in 2017
Four F-15s from Kadena Air Base, Japan, fly over Gwangju Air Base in South Korea, December 1, 2017. Image: US Air Force/Senior Airman Jessica H. Smith

Bolstering Indo-Pacific Airpower

The Kadena Air Base has served as a critical staging asset to deter threats and maintain US airpower in the region for decades.

Since November 2022, several F-22s have been stationed at the base to employ advanced avionics and sensor fusion capabilities.

The Falcons and Raptors will combine their air-to-air capabilities, assisting the remaining Kadena-based Eagles to “deter and, if necessary, prevail over acts of aggression that threaten peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.”

“It is exciting to train new aircrew to operate in and around the Indo-Pacific region,” Schantz expressed.

“The units bring their own distinct skill sets and experiences from around the globe to bolster our Allies and partners while we work together to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.” 

Two US Air Force F-22 Raptors fly over Edwards Air Force Base, Ca. Image: Chase Kohler/US Air Force

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