Planned relocations of US and Japanese forces on the island remain on track, says the top US commander there. Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of US Forces Japan, tells Stars & Stripes that Japan’s Air Defense headquarters are on schedule to move to Yokota Air Base by 2010. Wright also says the bilateral relationship is strengthening, citing Japan’s decision to continue host-nation financial support “at a relatively healthy level” and recent exercises that are fostering closer cooperation. The three-star, who also serves as commander of 5th Air Force, will retire next month after three years in this post. Lt. Gen. Edward Rice, who is currently Pacific Air Forces vice commander at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, will replace him.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.