U.S. eyes deploying F-35 stealth fighters to Iwakuni base in 2017Kyodo News International, Inc.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 -- (Kyodo) _ U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday that the United States plans to deploy F-35 fighters to the Air Forces' Iwakuni base in Japan's Yamaguchi Prefecture in 2017, the first overseas stationing of the stealth aircraft.
The F-35 is being developed by an international consortium led by U.S. aircraft giant Lockheed Martin Corp. The envisioned deployment is part of U.S. efforts to rebalance its global posture and presence to emphasize the Asia-Pacific region in the face of military buildup of China.
Touching on a plan to enhance U.S. military presence and capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region, Panetta told in a speech in Washington that the effort includes "the first overseas deployment of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Iwakuni in 2017."
The Pentagon is believed to replace the F/A-18 fighters at the Marine Corps' Iwakuni Air Station with the F-35B, a Marine use variant of the F-35 fighters.