24 F-22s Deployed To Guam and Okinawa

Jan 26, 2009
By David A. Fulghum

In the fourth and largest F-22 deployment so far, a squadron of the U.S. stealth fighters has shifted from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, to Andersen AFB, Guam.

Another 12 fighters from Langley AFB, Va., flew to Kadena AFB in Okinawa, Japan, earlier this month.

The first F-22 deployment was from Langley to Elmendorf, the second was from Langley to Okinawa and the third was from Elmendorf to Guam. All were temporary single squadron moves to test the new aircraft’s logistics and reliability and — in the last two moves — to participate in the rotation of units to the western Pacific Ocean.

Moving the F-22s to non-U.S. bases, like Kadena, which belongs to Japan, is considered risky because intelligence gathering can be conducted from both the island and from ships in the area. Of particular concern are electronic and signals intelligence (sigint) that might be gathered by the extensive Chinese merchant fleet, according to senior U.S. intelligence officers. Russian Tu-95s with sigint capabilities recently flew close enough to Guam to create an operational stir.

U.S. officials say the two units are part of an ongoing rotation of forces to ensure security and stability throughout the Asia-Pacific region. In case of a military emergency in Asia, U.S. fighters from Hawaii, Guam, Alaska and Kadena would shift to forward bases in Japan, South Korea or Singapore. Then additional aircraft from the continental United States would shift to the intermediate bases, ready for further deployment.

A key mission for the F-22 in the western Pacific is cruise missile defense because of the fighter’s advanced, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which can detect small objects at long range, as well as fielding new versions of the AIM-120C and D-model ARMRAAM air-to-air missile.The F-22 also has a very sophisticated electronic surveillance system that would help monitor electronic snooping by the Chinese, Russians and others.

Photo: USAF

AVIATION WEEK Copyright 2009, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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