Pilots, maintainers and support personnel from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings and 12 F-35A Lightning II jets will travel to Kadena Air Base for six months as part of the U.S.’s ongoing security presence in the area, known as a theater security package. This is the second deployment of the F-35As stationed at Hill AFB, following a short show of force in RAF Lakenheath earlier this year.
"The F-35A gives the joint warfighter unprecedented global precision attack capability against current and emerging threats while complementing our air superiority fleet," said Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, earlier this month. "The airframe is ideally suited to meet our command's obligations, and we look forward to integrating it into our training and operations."
The deployment was scheduled well in advance and is unlikely directly tied to growing tensions with North Korea, or the upcoming Presidential trip, but the timing is certainly advantageous. Unfortunately, in spite of the F-35's performance in both Lakenheath and Red Flag earlier this year, recent controversy in the availability of spare parts puts it back in the cross hairs for critics.