Maj. Toru Tsuchiya, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Lt. Col. Todd Lafortune, Lockheed Martin, shake hands. Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.

Japan Deploys First F-35A Stealth Fighter

By Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has deployed its first F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant of the aircraft, at Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture in the northernmost part of Honshu on January 26, Japan’s Ministry of Defense announced last week.

The aircraft constitutes the nucleus of the JASDF’s first operational F-35A squadron with the remaining nine aircraft to be deployed by the end of fiscal year 2018.

“The deployment of the high-performance F-35 aircraft is significant for Japan’s security at a time when neighboring countries have been quickly building up their air force capabilities in recent years,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters on January 26.

The deployment takes place in the face of North Korea’s growing military capabilities and aggressive posturing on the Korean Peninsula.

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