F-22 Raptor stealth fighters arrive at Yokota; F-16s en route
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A dozen Alaska-based F-22 Raptor stealth fighters have arrived in Japan amid tensions in Northeast Asia over North Korea’s latest nuclear test and the prospect of Taiwan declaring independence from China.
The Air Force’s most advanced aircraft, assigned to the 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, touched down Wednesday at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo.
The Raptors will be joined by F-16s from the 18th Aggressor Squadron, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, U.S. officials said.
“Yokota Air Base is receiving a temporary influx of 26 U.S. fighter aircraft, F-22s and F-16s,” said Col. Kenneth Hoffman, U.S. Forces Japan spokesman.
Japan’s Fuji Television carried a report suggesting the deployment may be part of efforts to stabilize the region after Taiwan elected a pro-independence president, Tsai Ing-wen, last week and North Korea’s conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.
However, Hoffman said the deployment was scheduled before those developments.
“This movement of aircraft is part of a previously scheduled training deployment to Japan that will enhance our ability to fulfill our treaty obligations to defend Japan and promote stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” he said.
Stars and Stripes staffer Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.