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The US Department of Defense (DoD), in co-ordination with the Japanese government, announced on 3 July 2024 a plan to upgrade US tactical aircraft laydown across multiple military installations in Japan.

The modernisation plan, which will be implemented over the next several years, “reflects over USD 10 billion (EUR 9.21 billion) of capability investments to enhance the US-Japanese alliance, bolster regional deterrence and strengthen peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region”, according to a US DoD press release.

Under the plan the US Air Force (USAF) will upgrade its presence at Kadena Air Base by deploying 36 F-15EX Advanced Eagle aircraft to replace 48 F-15C/D Eagles as part of a planned divestment and modernisation. The Joint Force will continue to maintain a rotational presence of fourth- and fifth-generation tactical aircraft at Kadena Air Base throughout this transition.

The USAF will also upgrade its presence at Misawa Air Base from 36 F-16 aircraft to 48 F-35A aircraft, leading to greater tactical aircraft capacity and capability.

At Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, the US Marine Corps (USMC) will modify the number of F-35B aircraft to support the service’s force design modernisation implementation. The USMC will continue to maintain an enduring and rotational aircraft presence at MCAS Iwakuni to ensure the necessary capabilities to support the defence of Japan.

“The Department’s plan to station the Joint Force’s most advanced tactical aircraft in Japan demonstrates the ironclad US commitment to the defense of Japan and both countries’ shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” the US DoD stated.

An F-15EX Advanced Eagle fighter at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, on 8 November 2021. Under plans announced on 3 July 2024, the US DoD will be sending 36 F-15EX Advanced Eagles to replace 48 F-15C/D Eagles at Kadena Air Base in Japan. (Photo: USAF)