One airman assigned to Kadena Air Base on the Japanese island of Okinawa is confirmed dead while two others are still missing, according to a base release. The three airmen were washed out to sea from the island’s northwest coast at 3:45 p.m. local time on Oct. 5 as Typhoon Phanfone raged around the island. The Japanese Coast Guard pulled the one airman from the sea; medical personnel at a local hospital later pronounced the airman dead. HH-60s from Kadena and Japanese Coast Guard are continuing to search for the remaining two airmen. Rough seas are complicating rescue efforts, states the release. The Air Force is withholding the names of the airmen for 24 hours, pending notification of their next of kin.
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.