US forces to deploy F-35s to Japan's Misawa base for first time

The US Department of Defense says it will deploy F-35 stealth fighters to Misawa Air Base in northern Japan for the first time as part of its modernization plan for tactical aircraft based in Japan.

The Pentagon said on Wednesday the US Air Force will replace the 36 F-16 aircraft currently stationed at Misawa base in Aomori Prefecture with 48 F-35 fighters.

The F-35s are fifth-generation fighters equipped with advanced radar-evading capability and a system to quickly detect enemy threats.

Japan's Air Self-Defense Force already deploys F-35s at the Misawa Air Base.

The US Department of Defense also said the US Air Force will deploy 36 upgraded F-15 aircraft to replace 48 retiring F-15s at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture, southern Japan.

The department says the modernization plan will be implemented over the next several years and reflects over 10 billion dollars of capability investments.

It says the plan will enhance the US-Japan Alliance, bolster regional deterrence, and strengthen peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hayashi Yoshimasa told reporters on Thursday that the modernization plan comes as Japan faces the most severe and complicated security situation since the end of World War Two and as nearby countries step up their military activities.

Hayashi said the plan will enhance the performance of fighter planes, strengthen the mission capability of the US forces as a whole and further reinforce the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-US alliance.