Nine more F-35A stealth fighters will be deployed to Misawa by the end of 2018
Japan is ready to deploy the F-35A and the first aircraft will go to Misawa Air Base this month, NHK reports. Nine more Lightning IIs will be deployed to Misawa by the end of 2018.
Noteworthy, as explained in a previous article, because of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs recent developments Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated that he will think through a decision to give preemptive strike capability to his country. The F-35 is one of the options under consideration to provide such ability to the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF).
Japan’s Defense Ministry said that to perform such mission the aircraft will carry the Norwegian-made Joint Strike Missile (JSM), a long-distance anti-ship missile designed to take on high value, heavily defended targets.
Currently Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) has ordered 42 F-35As. The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant of the fifth generation stealth aircraft.
However as we have already reported, Japan is considering the purchase of F-35B STOVL variant so that it can deploy fighters further south in the Okinawa Prefecture.
The JSDF is barred from deploying military aircraft to Shimochijima airport, which has the longest runway in the Ryukyu Islands. Therefore, defense officials are thinking of using the F-35B at airports with shorter runways.
Also, the deployment of F-35Bs on the Izumo-class helicopter destroyers are bound to draw controversy during current laws. The ships will have to be modified with ski-jumps and upgraded aviation fuel storage facilities. Tokyo might even build a new-class of ship to handle the F-35B.
Officials are still mulling whether to convert some F-35As under order to the B-model or buy new jets.
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin
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