F-35As temporarily deployed to Kadena

F-35As temporarily deployed to Kadena

An F-35A stealth fighter in landing position letting out roaring noise at 3:07 p.m. on November 2 in Kadena (photograph by Futoshi Hanashiro)


November 3, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo



(Central Okinawa) On November 2, ten F-35As, one of the U.S. Air Force’s newest stealth fighters, arrived at Kadena Air Base. The F-35As are normally stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The 18th Wing of the U.S. Air Force stationed at Kadena Air Base has announced that a total of twelve aircraft, including the ten that recently arrived, and 300 personnel will be temporarily stationed at Kadena for six months. The other two aircraft had already arrived on October 30, and the temporary deployment of new aircraft at Kadena is now complete.


This is the first time the F-35A has been operated in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. According to the Okinawa Defense Bureau, there has been no notification from the U.S. military regarding when training using these aircraft will start, but it is expected to start on November 3 or later. There are concerns that this will cause an increase in noise suffered by nearby residents.


The “Three-City/Town Liaison Council on U.S. Military Kadena Air Base” (Three-Party Council), comprising representatives from Okinawa City, Kadena Town, and Chatan Town, had protested to the U.S. military and the Okinawa Defense Bureau and demanded that the aircraft not be deployed.


Kadena Mayor Hiroshi Toyama expressed anger at the deployment of the twelve new aircraft, saying, “I do not accept flights by aircraft brought in from the outside, and the F-35 fighter in particular causes extreme noise; I am concerned that this will increase harm [to residents]. I want them to be removed with haste.”


The F-35s arrived in two groups of five aircraft over the course of one hour, starting around 3 p.m. The aircraft circled overhead before landing, producing loud noise.


Members of the Kadena local government measured noise of 92.9 decibels on the roof the town office at 3:04 p.m. when the F-35s flew overhead. 90 decibels is approximately the level of noise heard inside a loud factory.


The Three-Party Council plans to do a visual survey of the F-35 operation going forward and visit the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to protest at the end of November.


Since October 31, there have been daily flights at Kadena Air Base of FA-18 Hornets belonging to Iwakuni Air Station. On November 1, eight FA-18s were located at Kadena and conducted training there until around 9 p.m. Although all the aircraft returned to Iwakuni on November 2, two new ones arrived on the same day.


(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)


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