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Fightin' Fujins soar to Kadena

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dwane Young
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, OKINAWA, JAPAN -- F-35A Lightning II aircraft from the 4th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, arrived at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Nov. 20, 2023, joining the 356th Fighter Squadron from Eielson AFB, Alaska, in providing forward-deployed fifth-generation fighter capabilities to assure allies and deter threats to regional stability.

This deployment is part of a series of U.S. Air Force fighter deployments designed to ensure a zero-gap in regional fighter presence through the phased departure of Kadena’s venerable fleet of F-15C Eagles.

As the Keystone of the Pacific, Kadena hosts more than 100 aircraft, both deployed and permanently stationed, all performing a wide range of functions to help maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The F-35A is the U.S. Air Force’s latest fifth-generation fighter. It is an agile, versatile, high-performance, 9g-capable multi-role fighter that combines stealth, sensor fusion and unprecedented situational awareness.

“With this deployment, our squadron will continue Team Kadena’s work of strengthening our interoperability with our allies and bilateral partners,” said Lt. Col. Jondavid Hertzel, 4th FS commander. “We look forward to exchanging experience, tactics, and techniques with the variety of flying units at Kadena, to strengthen our deterrence measures, and add more versatility to the Indo-Pacific theater.”

Continuing rotations of aircraft at Kadena also ensures the 18th Wing remains postured to deliver lethal and credible airpower in support of shared U.S. and allied interests.

“The F-35s presence in the Indo-Pacific region presents a valuable opportunity for the units deployed here to train alongside joint and bilateral partners. The deployment demonstrates the capabilities a diverse fighter presence provides in this dynamic theater,” said Col. Henry Schantz, 18th Wing Operations Group commander. “Each unit that deploys here brings their own distinct skill sets and experiences necessary to effectively meet pacing threats while fostering partnerships throughout the region.”

Throughout these deployments, the 18th Wing will continue to comply with applicable bilateral agreements with the Government of Japan regarding noise abatement. All visiting aircrews are briefed on local noise abatement procedures and mission planners will continue to give due consideration to limit local impacts.

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