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According to a Department of Defense news release, the United States Air Force has decided to permanently deploy 36 F-15EX Eagles to Okinawa.

This deployment is part of a broader plan to modernize US fighter aircraft stationed in Japan. The F-15EXs will replace the 48 F-15C/Ds that were previously based at Kadena Air Base. The Pentagon explained that this transition is part of “a planned divestment and modernization,” with squadrons of both fourth- and fifth-generation fighters rotating through Kadena until the upgrade is complete.

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In addition to the changes at Kadena, the plan includes stationing 48 F-35A Lightning II fighters at Misawa Air Base, replacing 36 F-16 Fighting Falcons. The Marine Corps will also adjust the number of F-35B aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni as part of its ongoing modernization efforts. The Air Force highlighted that these changes reflect “over $10 billion of capability investments to enhance the U.S.-Japan Alliance, bolster regional deterrence, and strengthen peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The restructuring comes amid rising tensions between the US and China, which the Pentagon has labeled as a “pacing challenge” due to its assertive actions in the East and South China seas. This move is intended to showcase “the ironclad US commitment to the defense of Japan and both countries’ shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

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More on the F-15EX:
The F-15EX is a highly advanced version of the legendary F-15 Eagle, incorporating state-of-the-art avionics, enhanced radar systems, and improved weapons capacity. It features the latest electronic warfare systems, fly-by-wire flight controls, and an advanced cockpit with modernized displays. The F-15EX can carry a larger and more diverse payload than its predecessors, including hypersonic weapons. Compared to the F-15C/D models, the F-15EX offers significantly enhanced survivability and lethality, with better mission flexibility and extended service life due to its upgraded systems and materials. The older F-15C/D models, while still formidable, lack the modern advancements and increased payload capabilities found in the F-15EX.


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