Taken on Nov. 22, 2022 the photos in this post show US Air Force (USAF) aircraft lining up on the runway during a capabilities demonstration at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Kadena based 18th Wing’s ability to rapidly generate US airpower is a vital function of its mission to ensure the stability and security of the Indo-Pacific region.
The demo included HH-60G Pave Hawks, F-15C Eagles, F-22A Raptors, a KC-135 Stratotanker, an E-3 Sentry and an RC-135 Rivet Joint.
According to images shared by Kadena, the exact breakdown of aircraft included in the elephant walk:
All but the F-22s are part of the 18th Wing, Kadena’s host unit, which has roughly 80 aircraft total. The Raptors are from the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and recently deployed to Kadena after the Air Force confirmed that it will be removing the base’s 48 F-15C/D Eagles over the next several years.
According to Air Force Magazine, the service has said the F-15C/Ds will initially be replaced by a rotation of deployed fighters, while a permanent replacement has not yet been named, though it is likely to be the F-15EX. F-16s from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, are expected to follow the F-22s.
The display of air power and capabilities at Kadena came on the same day US Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III met with his Chinese counterpart, Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe, in Cambodia. During that meeting, Austin called on China “to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan,” according to a Pentagon readout.
In 1991, Kadena Air Base combined three wings — the 376th Strategic Wing, 18th Combat Support Wing and the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing — into one, incorporating the E-3 Sentry, KC-135 Stratotanker and F-15 Eagles all under one wing — the 18th Wing. Since then, the 33rd Rescue Squadron and its HH-60G Pavehawk helicopters have also realigned under the 18th. Additional unit restructuring has followed, making Kadena one of the most complex and certainly the largest operational combat wing overseas in terms of the number of aircraft assigned.
Operating from the largest US installation in the Asia-Pacific region, the 18th Wing defends US and Japanese mutual interests by providing a forward power projection platform with integrated, deployable, combat power. The Wing operates a fleet of combat-ready aircraft to perform air superiority, aerial refueling, airborne warning and control, and combat search and rescue functions. In addition, a force of 8,000 trained Airmen is postured to support Air Force commitments in the Pacific region as well as US military commitments around the world.
Photo credit: Senior Airman Jessi Roth / U.S. Air Force
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