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US plans to deploy F-35C to Iwakuni

An F-35C in flight. (U.S. Department of Defense/Released)
April 02, 2018

The first-ever deployment to Japan of the C type of the advanced stealth fighters is expected to beef up deterrence toward China and North Korea.

The F-35C will replace some aircraft belonging to carrier-borne jet squadrons that have been relocated from the Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture, according to a U.S. Navy official stationed in Japan.

The move of jet squadrons of the Atsugi-based Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5) involves about 60 aircraft, including F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighter jets and C-2 transport aircraft. The command functions of CVW-5 will also be relocated.

The navy official told The Yomiuri Shimbun, “Carrier Air Wing [CVW] 5 … will receive the F-35C Lightning II sometime after 2021,” adding, “The F-35C’s [squadrons] will forward deploy to MCAS Iwakuni.”

The official said, “When the first F-35C squadron forward deploys to Iwakuni, it will replace an F/A-18 Super Hornet squadron.” CVW-5 will contain a mix of fourth-generation F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and fifth-generation F-35C strike fighter aircraft in the future, the official added.

The number of F-35C aircraft to be deployed was not stated.

Featuring advanced stealth capabilities to evade detection by radar, F-35 aircraft are cutting-edge fifth-generation fighters. They also have excellent networking capabilities to integrate information from such military equipment as ground-based radar stations and Aegis-equipped destroyers and convey it to pilots.

They include the F-35A for the U.S. Air Force, the F-35B for the U.S. Marine Corps and the F-35C for the U.S. Navy, which is the one best designed to land on a carrier as it has larger main wings and equipment to mitigate the shock of landing.

Meanwhile, regarding aircraft succeeding the two C-2 transport planes belonging to CVW-5, the navy also unveiled a plan to deploy its Osprey aircraft. This step will be taken as part of the navy’s plan to replace aircraft on a global scale from 2021 to 2026.

“No decision has been made as to which base in Japan the CMV-22B would be forward deployed,” the official said.

But Osprey aircraft will likely be deployed to the Iwakuni base, as the Osprey and the F-35C are expected to be operated in an integrated manner.


© 2018 the Asia News Network (Hamburg, Germany)

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