U.S. Marines send F-35 stealth fighter squadron to Japan

The Marines' F-35B, pictured, is capable of conducting short takeoffs and vertical landings AFP

WASHINGTON —

The U.S. Marine Corps said Tuesday it has sent a squadron of F-35B fighters to Japan, marking the first operational overseas deployment for the controversial jet that is under scrutiny from President-elect Donald Trump.

The planes’ deployment to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on Honshu Island marks a major milestone for the F-35, which has been bedeviled by technical glitches and soaring cost overruns.

With a current development and acquisition price tag already at $379 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is the most expensive plane in history, and costs are set to go higher still.

The Marines’ version of the plane, known as the F-35B, is capable of conducting short takeoffs and vertical landings. 

Trump last month sent shockwaves through the aerospace industry when he tweeted that he wanted rival Boeing to price out a possible alternative.

“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” Trump tweeted December 22.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet does not have stealth capabilities and has been in use since the late 1990s.

Once servicing, maintenance and other costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft’s lifespan through 2070, overall program costs have been projected to rise to as much as $1.5 trillion.

Proponents of the F-35 tout its speed, close air-support capabilities, airborne agility and a massive array of sensors giving pilots unparalleled access to information.

“The unique combination of stealth, cutting-edge radar and sensor technology, and electronic warfare systems bring all of the access and lethality capabilities of a fifth-generation fighter, a modern bomber, and an adverse-weather, all-threat environment air-support platform,” the Marines said in a statement.

In August, the U.S. Air Force declared an initial squadron of F-35A stealth fighters as ready for combat and said an overseas deployment for that version of the plane was likely early this year.

The U.S. Navy’s version of the plane, the F-35C, is built to land on aircraft carriers.

© 2017 AFP

  • 3

    theFu

    Bring back the A-10!

  • 0

    turbotsat

    theFu: Bring back the A-10!

    Tell the Donald! Maybe he can make it happen!

  • -1

    voiceofokinawa

    The Marines’ version of the plane, known as the F-35B, is capable of conducting short takeoffs and vertical landings.

    H'm ... The so-called "helipads" they've constructed are not only for Ospreys but also for Harrier Jump Jets. Enter F-35B's with V/STOL capability. Certainly, Okinawa's burden of hosting the bulk of U.S. bases won't be reduced at all by the return of the 4,000 ha land of the Northern Training Area, as ballihooed.

    One cannot measure the burdens the area residents feel simply in terms of the number and areas of bases. Variables such as air and noise pollution but also destruction of nature, culture and economy must all be taken into consideration. If these second factors multiply in the face of the first, what's the meaning of "the reduction of Okinawa's burdens" Tokyo and Washington tout and promote in so high-profile a fashion?

  • -1

    MsDelicious

    I like shiny jets.

  • -1

    voiceofokinawa

    MsDelicious,

    Kids like war games and war toys. I don't blame you for liking shiny jets, but this is nothing different from kids' liking of war games and war toys.

  • 0

    qwertyjapan

    How did anyone know that the stealth planes went to Iwakuni?

  • -1

    voiceofokinawa

    qwertyjapan 

    How did anyone know that the stealth planes went to Iwakuni?

    The answer is in the second pragraph of the article, that says:

    The planes’ deployment to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on Honshu Island marks a major milestone for the F-35, which has been bedeviled by technical glitches and soaring cost overruns.

    Today's Ryukyu Shimpo reports on the U.S. Marine Corps announcement dated Jan. 10 that 10 F35B's to be deployed at Iwakuni have left a base in Arizona, adding they will arrive at Iwakuni in several days.

    The article also reports that the Marines are planning exercises by Iwakuni-based F35B's in Okinawa, so that hangers for them have been built at Kadena Air Base and V/STOL facilities have been completed at Ie Jima Auxiliary Airfield.

    Okinawa's burden of hosting the bulk of the US. military presence in Japan will multiply, no doubt.

  • 0

    qwertyjapan

    Look over your head, that's a joke flying over it.

  • 0

    maglev101

    overall program costs have been projected to rise to as much as $1.5 trillion.

    Yikes! Meanwhile, the US has 3rd world infrastructure, secondary education, healthcare, etc.

  • 0

    DocCarlos

    Who cares, Remember this is a Joint Strike Force Jet that also Japan will use and was designed by multiple countries including Japan. Keeping the old and ignoring new technology is like going to war with rubber bands against high tech

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