A contingent of F-22s and some 300 airmen arrived on Okinawa, Japan, from JB Langley-Eustis, Va., as part of a normal rotation of combat forces to the Asia-Pacific theater, announced Pacific Air Forces officials. Capt. Kim Bender, PACAF spokeswoman, told the Daily Report on Tuesday that Langley’s expeditionary squadron arrived at Kadena Air Base on Jan. 14 Okinawa time. She said 12 F-22s are part of this four-month deployment, along with Active Duty personnel from the 1st Fighter Wing and members of the Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd FW. The F-22s are part of a US Pacific Command theater security package meant to promote peace and stability in the region. While on Okinawa, the F-22s and Langley airmen will train with Kadena’s 18th Wing, states PACAF’s Jan. 15 release. The command said F-22s routinely deploy to the area as the Defense Department repositions forces as needed. This deployment does come at a time of heightened tensions between China and Japan over territorial disputes in the East China Sea. On Jan. 11, for example, Chinese J-10s and Japanese F-15s shadowed each other near the disputed Senkaku Islands, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.