Considering F-15EX or F-35A, US Will Withdraw 48 Units F-15C/D From Japanese Air Base
The United States will withdraw 48 F-15C/D Eagle fighter jets from Kadena Air Base in Japan starting November 1, 2022. This is a fleet of F-15C/Ds that are over 30 years old, some are even almost 40 years old . All of these aircraft take shelter in two fighter squadrons at Kadena Air Base, namely the 44th Fighter Squadron and the 67th Fighter Squadron, both of which are under the control of the 18th Wing.
US Air Force (USAF) spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Friday the withdrawal of the F-15C/D from Kadena would take place in phases over two years.
When the F-15s retire, Stefanek said, the USAF will deploy newer, more advanced fighters as replacements. This was to maintain a stable USAF presence in Kadena.
However, it was emphasized that the US Department of Defense has not yet established a long-term plan for Kadena Air Base. The Pentagon is currently considering whether to station the fighter jets permanently in Kadena or use a rotation scheme. A number of aircraft are being considered to replace the F-15C/D at Kadena, including the F-15EX Eagle II or the F-35A.
It may well be the case that the Air Force is still undecided on how it will provide fighters for Kadena beyond that date, although there appear to be several alternatives, including a return to a permanent forward-deployed fighter presence at the base.
The reference to “advanced capabilities that are superior to the F-15C/D” could conceivably take in a variety of aircraft types, from existing fifth-generation fighters like the F-22 and F-35 to future air combat platforms, as well as the latest iteration of the Eagle, the F-15EX.
As we pointed out before, some officials had voiced hopes that the F-15EX would find its way to Kadena, although plans announced earlier this year to reduce the number of these aircraft being bought from at least 144 to 80 make that seem far less likely. There’s even a question as to whether some current F-15C/D units will even retain flying missions in the future. You can read our report on this potential outcome here.