Eagles swap to maintain dynamic fighter presence at Kadena

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Catherine Daniel and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dwane Young
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

F-15C Eagles from the 144th Fighter Wing, Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, arrived at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Oct. 2, 2023, to ensure continuous fighter presence through the phased return of Kadena’s fleet of F-15C/D Eagles to the United States.

While deployed to the Keystone of the Pacific, these National Guard Eagles will work in conjunction with additional heavy, reconnaissance, and fourth and fifth generation fighter aircraft assets that are both augmented to and stationed at Kadena Air Base to ensure continued steady-state fighter capabilities in the region.

Together the diverse array of fighters, alongside joint and allied forces strengthen operational readiness to defend Japan while ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific through a robust presence of dynamic fighter aircraft.

“Our squadron’s excited to train and integrate with Team Kaden and our bilateral partners,” said Lt. Col. Jon Vanbragt, 144th Operations Group commander. “Operating in the Indo-Pacific offers immense opportunities for our Airmen and allies to strengthen our partnerships and continue to refine our tactics.”

The reception of the F-15C at Kadena enables the 18th Wing to work dynamically in a fluid airspace and area of operation ensuring U.S. Forces Japan and allied partners remain postured to deliver lethal and credible airpower to ensure the defense of U.S. allies and a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“The F-15s presence in the Indo-Pacific region has not only been a valuable opportunity for the units deployed here to train alongside joint and bilateral partners, but it has demonstrated the expanse of capabilities a diverse fighter presence provides in a dynamic theater,” said Col. Henry Schantz, 18th Wing Operations Group commander. “Each unit that deploys here brings their own distinct skill sets and experiences, and we look forward to working and learning with the next set of operators to meet pacing threats and continue building partnerships throughout the region.

Throughout these deployments, 18th Wing will continue to comply with applicable bilateral agreements with the Government of Japan regarding noise abatement. All visiting aircrews are briefed on local noise abatement procedures and mission planners will continue to give due consideration to limit local impacts.

As the 18th Wing continues the phased return of Kadena’s fleet of Eagles, the Department of Defense will maintain a steady-state fighter presence in the region by temporarily deploying aircraft to maintain deterrence capabilities and added flexibility in a dynamic theater.

Posturing with a wide range of capabilities in the Indo-Pacific theater remains a top priority. The transition to more capable aircraft at Kadena exemplifies the DOD’s continued commitment to enhancing posture while building on the strong foundation of our Alliance with Japan.