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Sun sets on Kadena’s F-15 Eagle

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Savannah L. Waters
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

 In recognition of the U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle’s legacy, the 18th Wing hosted the Kadena Eagle Sunset Celebration, April 14-15. The event gathered F-15 pilots, intelligence professionals, maintainers, families, and others who directly contributed to the success of the F-15C/D the last 44 years.

As part of its modernization plan, the Air Force is returning Kadena’s senior fleet of F-15C/D Eagle aircraft back to the United States. The decision marks a significant milestone in the history of the base, which has hosted the venerable air superiority fighter since 1979.

“Kadena-based F-15C/D Eagles have ensured air superiority for decades to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander. “We owe the many men and women, past and present, who have flown, maintained and supported the F-15 for their invaluable contributions toward peace and safety in the region.”

Wilsbach, the 18th Wing’s commander from 2009 to 2011, attended the celebration and flew with the wing to bid the F-15 farewell.

“Because of Kadena’s strategic location, we must maintain capabilities to address near-term threats while accelerating vital modernization efforts necessary for success in a high-end conflict,” said Wilsbach, who also flew F-15s as a captain at Kadena from 1993 to 1996.

“While we say farewell to a venerable aircraft that has rightfully earned its place among the greatest air-superiority fighters ever built, we look forward to introducing even more advanced capabilities to the region,” he said.

As the unit progresses through this transitory phase, the U.S. Department of Defense will continue to maintain a continuous fighter presence in the region by temporarily deploying newer and more advanced aircraft to backfill the F-15s as they return to the U.S. mainland. 

Modernizing capabilities in the Indo-Pacific theater remains a top priority, and the transition to more capable aircraft at Kadena exemplifies the DoD’s continued commitment to enhancing posture while building on the strong foundation of the Alliance with Japan.

“Pacific Air Forces’ commitment to regional deterrence and the defense of Japan remains ironclad,” Wilsbach said. “We’ve deployed Airmen and advanced combat fighters to Kadena from across the globe, ensuring no gaps in fighter coverage through this transition as we modernize our forces in the region.”