F-35 stealth fighters to deploy to Japan next year

News
Three F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and two AV-8B Harriers with Marine Attack Squadron 211, 3rd MAW, fly in formation over eastern California in 2013. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley announced plans to deploy F-35 stealth fighters to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni next January at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (Raquel Barraza/U.S. Marine Corps)
From Stripes.com
Three F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and two AV-8B Harriers with Marine Attack Squadron 211, 3rd MAW, fly in formation over eastern California in 2013. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley announced plans to deploy F-35 stealth fighters to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni next January at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (Raquel Barraza/U.S. Marine Corps)

F-35 stealth fighters to deploy to Japan next year

by: Stars and Stripes | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: March 26, 2016

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The U.S. is planning to send F-35 stealth fighters to Japan next year, according to a Japanese media report.

Plans are to deploy the jets in January to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean Stackley announced at a House Armed Service Committee hearing Wednesday.

“Marine pilots love this plane and the capability it brings to the air-ground task force,” Stackley said.

Japan is one of eight countries jointly developing the high-tech fighter, which has become America’s most costly weapon with a price-tag of $1 trillion over the next four decades.

Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force plans to acquire 42 F-35s. Stackley told the committee that the first of those jets is expected to roll off the assembly line in November.

U.S. Forces Japan spokesman Lt. Col. Kenneth Hoffman said in an email Friday that the deployment of the aircraft would not proceed without an authorization from the Japanese government.

The Marine Corps will eventually replace all of its F/A-18 Hornet jets stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni with F-35B Lighting IIs, Hoffman said.

“The government of Japan is aware that the U.S. intends to replace the F-18 with the F-35 in the future. The specific timeframe for this replacement remains to be determined,” he said.

The effort to exchange aircraft will take place in close coordination with the government of Japan, Hoffman said.

news@stripes.com