NAHA, Okinawa Pref. (Kyodo) Six U.S. F-22A Raptor stealth fighters took off from the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa on Sunday morning after completing their three-month deployment in support of the U.S. Pacific Command’s security obligations in the Western Pacific.
The state-of-the-art fighters from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia headed home after taking part in joint exercises with U.S. Air Force F-15 fighters stationed at Kadena as well as with Air Self-Defense Force F-15s.
The remaining six F-22As at Kadena are scheduled to leave Monday.
The dozen fighters had arrived at the U.S. base in two flights in January for the second such deployment, following the first assignment in 2007.
The F-22A Raptor, successor to the F-15, is a stealth fighter that can avoid enemy detection, cruise at supersonic speeds and is highly maneuverable.
The ASDF was considering the F-22A as Japan’s next-generation mainstay striker, but the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama indicated earlier this month it plans to end production of the jet as part of a review of the Pentagon’s spending priorities.
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