Twelve airmen this week deployed to Ecuador to help the country recover from a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit April 16. An eight-man airfield assessment team deployed to Manta on April 22 to help assess damage to an airfield, according to a US Southern Command release. A four-man team with a mobile Air Traffic Control Tower arrived at the city’s Eloy Alfaro Airport on April 26 to help local controllers with air traffic. The group will return to their home station this week, according to SOUTHCOM. The large earthquake, which was centered about 17 miles from the town of Muisne, killed at least 655 people in Ecuador and injured another 4,605. The 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota AB, Japan, sent several C-130Hs and crews to the Kyushu region of Japan on April 18 following a series of earthquakes there. The C-130Hs along with MV-22 Ospreys and a UC-35 helped ferry Japanese Self Defense Force equipment and personnel.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.