The US Air Force announced last week that it would deploy F-35As to Japan for the operational debut of the variant in the region. The announcement stated that the 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings would deploy 12 F-35A Lightning II jets to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa for six months in ‘early November’ but RBC News showed the first 2 aircraft arriving in Kadena on 30 October turning ‘early November’ into ‘late October'.
Some 300 personnel will deploy for the six month period, joining US Marine Corps F-35Bs already in Japan and amidst rising tensions in the region. US President Trump is also due to arrive in Japan as part of a regional tour on 05 November so it is likely that the USAF are keen to demonstrate the F-35A’s deployment capability to such a high profile audience. It wouldn’t be surprising if the deployment is recognised or if Trump makes an official visit to US forces in Japan during his 3 day visit.
The USAF official statement said “This long-planned deployment is designed to demonstrate the continuing U.S. commitment to stability and security in the region.”