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NEWS | April 11, 2023

Strike Eagles join Lightning II’s at Keystone of the Pacific

18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- F-15E Strike Eagles from the 336th Fighter Squadron, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, arrived at Kadena Air Base, Japan, April 8, 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, the Strike Eagle will work in conjunction with F-35A Lightning II aircraft deployed from Eielson Air Force Base and remaining F-15C/D Eagles 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.

The F-15E is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions. An array of avionics and electronics systems gives the F-15E the capability to fight at low altitude, day or night and in all weather.

For air-to-ground missions, the F-15E can carry most weapons in the Air Force inventory. It also can be armed with AIM-9M Sidewinders or AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles, or AMRAAM for the air-to-air role. The "E" model also has an internally mounted 20mm gun.

“We’re excited to welcome the Strike Eagle to the Keystone of the Pacific,” said Col. Henry Schantz, 18th Operations Group commander. “The F-15E is a proven combat platform that brings some unique capabilities into our already formidable mix of aircraft here at Kadena.”

This reception of advanced fighter aircraft at Kadena ensures the 18th Wing remains postured to deliver lethal and credible airpower to ensure the defense of U.S. allies and a free and open Indo-Pacific.

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 newer and more advanced aircraft to backfill the F-15s as they retrograde.

Modernizing 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.

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