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US Military Investing Over $10 Billion In Japan Forces

The US military is investing $10 billion to modernize its forces in Japan, deploying advanced fighter jets to strengthen the US-Japan Alliance, enhance regional deterrence, and ensure stability in the Indo-Pacific. Over the next few years, the US will replace older aircraft models with fifth-generation F-35A fighters and new F-15EX jets at key bases. Specifically, […]

The US military is investing $10 billion to modernize its forces in Japan, deploying advanced fighter jets to strengthen the US-Japan Alliance, enhance regional deterrence, and ensure stability in the Indo-Pacific. Over the next few years, the US will replace older aircraft models with fifth-generation F-35A fighters and new F-15EX jets at key bases.

Specifically, 48 F-35A fighters will replace 36 F-16s at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan, while 36 F-15EX jets will replace 48 older F-15C/D models at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. The number of F-35B aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni will also be adjusted. This modernization demonstrates the US commitment to Japan’s defense and a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi highlighted the importance of the US-Japan alliance, especially given increased military activities by neighboring countries. Japan faces threats from China, Russia, and North Korea, including territorial disputes and North Korea’s missile program. Japan also monitors Taiwan closely, as it is crucial for Japan’s energy supply routes.

Okinawa, located about 450 miles from Taiwan, hosts a significant US military presence, including the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base. The F-15EX jets will improve US deterrence with their advanced capabilities, including unparalleled weapons capacity and survivability. Analyst Peter Layton noted that these jets could carry long-range cruise missiles capable of striking deep into China.

The F-35As, the Air Force’s newest stealth fighters, will complement the F-15EXs. The F-35’s stealth and sensors will operate forward, relaying data to the F-15EXs, which will use their missile capacity for offensive operations. This synergy will enhance US air power in Japan.

These aircraft deployments are part of broader improvements to US forces in Japan, which include over 50,000 troops. Okinawa alone houses more than 25,000 U.S. military personnel and numerous installations, with 70% of US bases in Japan located there. Additionally, a newly redesignated Marine unit with advanced intelligence and anti-ship missile capabilities will be based in Japan, further strengthening the alliance’s deterrence and response capabilities.

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JapanTDGThe Daily GuardianUS MilitaryUS-Japan