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F-22 Raptor Leaves its Nest
Kyodo News  |  February 01, 2007
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Virginia - The U.S. Air Force will deploy at Kadena base in Japan's Okinawa Prefecture its newest stealth fighter, the F-22A Raptor, for 90-120 days from around Feb. 10, the first time the plane will be fielded outside bases in the United States, a commanding officer here said Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver, commander of the 27th Fighter Squadron at the Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, told Kyodo News that the United States will deploy 12 F-22A planes and about 260 personnel, including about 20 pilots, at the Kadena Air Base.

Their activities will include drills with U.S. Air Force units in the Misawa base in Aomori Prefecture, northeastern Japan, and in South Korea.

Tolliver expressed understanding toward concerns among people in Okinawa about the planned deployment, but added that the aircraft will not use afterburners when taking off and that their noise will not be bigger than that of F-15 fighters currently deployed at the Kadena base.

The purpose of the temporary deployment, he said, is to show the "strong alliance" between Japan and the United States and that the United States considers the region around Japan "important."

Tolliver said Kadena was chosen because it is a "great strategic part of the world."

The local assemblies of the town of Kadena and the adjacent town of Chatan have both adopted a resolution against the deployment.

The F-22A Raptor was developed by defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. as an air superiority fighter and a successor to the F-15. It went into service with the U.S. Air Force in December 2005.

The aircraft, which can evade radar detection, is equipped for ground attack, electronic attack and signals intelligence roles as well. It has high mobility at supersonic speeds and the ability to attack ground targets.

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