The U.S. military will begin moving in November its carrier-based aircraft from a base southwest of Tokyo to the ‘ Iwakuni base in western Japan under a plan to realign U.S. forces, Japanese government officials said Friday.
Iwakuni Mayor Yoshihiko Fukuda received the explanation about the relocation of the aircraft from the U.S. Navy’s Atsugi air facility in Kanagawa Prefecture from Japanese foreign and defense ministry officials.
The relocation of the aircraft, which are attached to the carrier Ronald Reagan deployed at the U.S. Navy’s Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture, will take place in three stages through May 2018. Parliamentary Vice Defense Minister Hiroyuki Miyazawa said the number of aircraft to be moved to Iwakuni is likely to total 61.
Two squadrons of F/A-18 fighters will move to Air Station Iwakuni in November and other fleets in January and May next year. The relocation will bring to Iwakuni around 3,800 U.S. military service personnel, base workers and their family members.
The government officials also told Fukuda that E-2D early warning aircraft, coming from the United States, will arrive at Iwakuni base in early February and conduct training for a few months before being loaded onto the aircraft carrier.
After the meeting in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Fukuda told reporters that he needs to quell public concerns over noise and safety problems before giving a green light to the relocation plan.
The U.S. military said earlier this month that it will start relocating the carrier-based aircraft in the second half of 2017, but the details had not been clear.