The US is sending aircraft that can detect stealth fighters to Japan to counter China’s growing strength.
The deployment of its latest advanced early warning aircraft to bolster its defenses in Asia comes amid fresh tensions between the US and China.
The move was planned before the US presidential election.
However, relations between the two countries are delicate after President-elect Donald Trump suggested he is willing to abandon the “One China” policy which guides Washington’s position on Taiwan.
Mr. Trump caused outrage in Beijing after he took a call from Tsai Ing-wen, the president of democratically self-ruling Taiwan – with which the US has not had official diplomatic relations for almost four decades.
Officials in Beijing have said it is “seriously concerned” about the US view on Taiwan.
However, Mr. Trump has shown no signs of backing down to China, which considers Taiwan a rogue province awaiting unification.
He has also criticized Chinese currency policies, its activities in the South China Sea, its stance towards North Korea and slammed its seizure of a US underwater drone in international waters.
The deployment of the Northrop Grumman Corp E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is part of a wider US pivot to Asia of its most advanced aircraft and ships.
“These moves are in accordance with the strategic vision for the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, a plan to put the most advanced and capable units forward in order to support the United States’ commitment to the defence of Japan and the security and stability of the region,” the US said in a statement.
It added: “The Advanced Hawkeye’s suite of systems allow it to act as the ‘digital quarterback’ of the fleet, collecting and distributing the tactical picture to command centers and other assets.”
The aircraft – described as a “game changer” on the Northrop Gruman website – will be based at the US Corps Air Station in Iwakuni in western Japan
Other advanced equipment to be sent to US units in Japan include the Boeing Co’s P-8A Poseidon submarine hunting patrol aircraft and Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealth fighter.