The Japanese government informed the city of Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture on Monday that the United States plans to deploy 16 F-35 fighters at the U.S. military’s base there from January to August next year.
It would be the first time that stealth aircraft have been stationed overseas.
High-ranking officials from Japan’s defense and foreign ministries visited Iwakuni in western Japan and informed Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda of the planned deployment. The plan is to first deploy 10 F-35 jets in January and six more in August.
Fukuda told Shunsuke Takei, parliamentary vice foreign minister, and Hiroyuki Miyazawa, parliamentary vice defense minister, that his city was frustrated at the lack of information provided to them by the central government and called for details to be given to them in a “swift” manner.
The United States plans to replace the F/A-18 fighters and the AV-8 Harrier jets at the ‘ Air Station Iwakuni with the F-35B, a variant of the F-35 fighters capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings.
The envisioned deployment of the F-35, which is being developed by an international consortium led by U.S. aircraft giant Lockheed Martin Corp., is part of the U.S. strategic rebalance to Asia amid China’s military buildup.