A dozen F-22 Raptors have arrived in Japan amid tensions in Northeast Asia over North Korea’s nuclear test

An F-22 Raptor lands at Langley Air Force Base, Va., April 17, 2014. The 94th Fighter Squadron F-22 returned from a nearly four-month deployment to Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Antoinette Gibson/Released)

The U.S. Air Force has deployed 12 Alaska-based F-22 Raptor multirole jets to Yokota airbase, near Tokyo.

Twelve F-22s belonging to the 525th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, have arrived at Yokota airbase, in western Tokyo, on Jan. 20.

The dozen Raptor stealth fighters will soon be joined by 14 F-16s from the 18th Aggressor Squadron, based at Eielson AFB, Alaska, and will be involved in a previously scheduled joint training in Japan.

Although it’s still not clear whether the aircraft belong to an Air Force Theater Security Package (TSP), their presence in the region will also “promote” stability amid growing tensions in the Asia-Pacific theater following North Korea’s nuclear test on Jan. 6 and the election of a pro-independence president in Taiwan.

F-22s often deploy to Japan since the USAF has started rotating fighters to Pacific Command bases in March 2004 “to maintain a prudent deterrent against threats to regional security and stability.”

However, the stealth jets usually deploy to Kadena airbase, in Okinawa, home of the 18th Wing, the largest combat wing in the U.S. Air Force composed by F-15s, E-3s AWACS, KC-135s and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters.

Image credit: File photo U.S. Air Force

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


      • Right on spot. Useless expensive Soviet era relic. At the end of the day, facing a real modern battlefield, its useful payload is limited to TWO different types of Air to Ground ammunition: GBU-32s (1000 lbs INS/GPS bomb) and GBU-39s (250 lbs INS/GPS bomb). And the payload is ridiculous limited at 2000 lbs. Yes that’s it. 2000 lbs. An F-4 surpasses that by far.
        That’s it. Nothing else. It is just ok to hit soft static targets with a limited punch.

        Its concept is surpassed by the battlefield reality.

        Ah… by the way, J-20s, T-50s… all that kind of BS planes, all score in the same definition. Just good for stunts at airshows and for dick measuring in online forums.

        • Maybe you are unaware of what “Air Superiority Fighter” is, but it’s not designed for ground attack, it’s meant to fight enemy aircraft. We are building the F-35 for ground attack missions.

        • Why on the Earth are you blabbing on about air to ground munitions when talking about an air superiority fighter?

          The F22’s in Japan would be used to totally decimate the North Korean air force. The F-22 is still the best air to air fighter in the world.

      • You obviously know nothing about modern battlefields. Go and try nailing a talib or IS insurgent with your uber techno AMRAAMs… a 5.56mm bullet will score much better.

    • Former test pilot Paul Metz (some “nobody” that has far more experience than you) who flew the YF-23 during the ATF and then later the F-22 says that the F-22 is Cold War product

  1. Sending F-22s will make no difference. Given the present occupant of the White House, sending a dozen circus clowns would have had the same impact and would be more appropriate.

  2. “The Russians have had since they became aware of our F-117 to ready their air defense systems for stealth. That’s the early 1980s at the latest”
    > try late 80’s.

    “There are even hints they’ve come up with at least a ground-based counter.”
    > More like overly optimistic propaganda really.

    “That’s HF radars for crude but sufficient acquisition”
    >long rang detection and a very broad since of location.. you know early warning. Beyond that not much good, currently.

    “Stealth designed for X-band aircraft radars doesn’t work that low.”
    >physics is a “B”. Even still the fact that most if not all interception, targeting, and tracking radars work at the X band. RF wavelength that current and foreseeable stealth aircraft are designed to defeat.

    “Based on that data, a directly upward-looking radar lights up when the aircraft is directly overhead”
    >uh-huh. here lets have a very narrow radar beam point directly up in hopes that maybe just maybe a stealth aircraft will fly directly over it. That would be like using search lights at night to spot an aircraft.

    “overhead and pops off extremely fast missiles. Then it quickly goes silent again”
    >Cat and mouse.

    “It may even be designed to relocate quickly to dodge our radiation-following missiles”
    >Exactly how quickly can those systems pack up and move out. HARM stands for High-speed Anti Radiation Missile. The current AGM-88 HARM will fly down to the source at speeds well over mach 2. Newer versions of the HARM are not completely reliant on following the radar transmission back to the source. The AGM-88E has demonstrated hitting moving targets through means of its own millimeter wave terminal guidance and GPS/INS guidance systems. Also it wouldn’t be too far fetched that current Link-16 and future MADL will also provide additional terminal guidance.

    “Every weapon has its counter.”
    >Nor argument here. Though the real trick is coming up with a way on how to properly counter said threat. One enemy has uses HEAT and HV Kinetic rounds. The other will used advanced composite armor to adequately defend or defeat said threats… Chobam/Burlington armor.

    “The dismal reality is that real stealth is impossible”
    >Yes completely stealth is a nearly impossible. Understand however that stealth is a means to make you less visible thus being less susceptible to threats and defenses. Good example of this is camouflage.

    “Present-day designs work by presenting knife-edges to distant radars”
    >More like properly aligned angles and surfaces but go on. Also understand that the closer you can get to said threat or target without being detected will always give the defender or attacker the upper hand. The closer you are the less reaction time the enemy has to counter you.

    “But that of necessity means that they must concentrate all their directly back to radar surfaces on two places, above and below. There they stand out like barn doors.”
    >that is called angle and aspect. Again physics is a “B” but physics sets the rules where we are forced to play. It is impossible to be stealthy at ALL ANGLES. Though if you can maintain a degree of LO at multiple angles you’re still better than a platform that has DOESN’T HAVE ANY LO FEATURES. Of course there are things like continuous curvatures, advanced composites, and RAM that does aid in all aspect stealth but doesn’t make it completely stealthy either. The name of the game is to make you LESS VISIBLE. Being less visible gives you the advantage of having better SA.

    “Seeing that with a ground-based radar pointed upward is easy.”
    >If that radar is simply pointing upward and is still transmitting; my stealthy attributes and better SA gives me a better chance to avoid said threat.

  3. Can you tell me the last time it scored? or at least, can you tell me the last time it was a “critical asset” meaning that without it the US forces could not accomplish, by any mean, the assigned mission? …Yeah… it never occurred. A single C-17 is more critical than this uber-expensive hangar queen.

    • And when we need a plane that can actually take down aircraft, do we strap a few AMRAAM’s to that C-17 and hope for the best?

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