February 18, 2007 (by Asif Shamim) - Finally after much delay two F-22s of 1st FW wing arrive over the skies of the Southern Japanese island of Okinawa on Saturday. Eight more arrived on Sunday after flying in from Hawaii.
Two F-22 Raptors taxi after landing at Kadena AFB, marking the aircraft's first overseas deployment on 17th February, 2007
The fighters' arrival had been delayed by seven days due to bad weather and some problem with the navigation system software. Military spokesman also denied the delay was due to six-country talks regarding North Koreas nuclear arms program which ended last Tuesday with an energy-for-arms deal.
Ten F-22s were expected to reach Kadena airforce base today, but only 8 have arrived. Airforce officials have said two of the advanced jets have diverted to Wake Island due to trouble with there generators.
The deployment which is planned for between 3-4 months is part of "the flexibility that U.S. forces have to meet our ongoing commitments and security obligations throughout the Pacific," U.S. military official said in a statement.
Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of the U.S. forces in Japan stated "it is important for the F-22 pilots from Langley to get the experience of flying abroad and training with the Japanese".
However he went onto say there were no plans to regularly deploy to Japan after the current deployment ends. F-22s are to be based in Alaska and possibly Hawaii, which would give a significant boost to the Air Force's fire power in the Pacific.