February 12, 2007 (by Asif Shamim) - 12 F-22 Raptors of 27th FS, which were due to arrive at Kadena Air Force Base on Sunday have been delayed without word. No new dates for this deployment have been announced.
The first of 12 F-22 Raptors lands for a brief layover Feb. 7 at Hickam AFB, Hawaii. Photographed here landing is F-22A #03-4049. [USAF photo by TSgt Shane A. Cuomo]
The USAFs next generation fighter was due to arrive over the weekend at Kadena. Statement issued by the air force said the fighters has turned back to Hawaii for operational reasons. The press release did not go into further detail.
Hickam Air Force Base says there was an issue with the jet's navigation system. A spokesperson says they are troubleshooting the system. F-22A engineers and maintainers are working to update the software. The jets will likely depart again sometime this week.
The deployment which was due to last 3 months has come at a time of much turmoil in the region. Diplomatic talks are still on going with North Korea to end its nuclear arms program. However it should be pointed out this was not the reason why they current deployment has been delayed according to military officials.
Lieutenant-General Bruce Wright, Commander of U.S. Force Japan was quoted in front of journalists in Tokyo last week saying "What the F-22 deployment does is ... make the (U.S.-Japan) alliance stronger, and that is a factor for dealing with the complexities of North Korea" .
He went on to say about the F-22 "The Raptor is very formidable asset, with very formidable capability compared to any other fighter".
The Japanese Air Self Defence Force is considering replacing its aging fleet of F-15s and one possibility is the F-22.
Saturday saw a peaceful protest outside the airbase at Kadena. Protesters were seen carrying signs saying "Raptor, Go Home". The local residents have long standing issues with U.S. Forces based on the island.