A software glitch has delayed the deployment to Japan of 12 U.S. Air Force F22A Raptor stealth fighters, the Air Force said Tuesday.
The stealth fighters were originally due to arrive at the U.S. Air Force’s Kadena base in Japan’s Okinawa prefecture on Saturday, but that was postponed a day due to bad weather. En route to Japan the next day from Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii, they turned back because of a problem with the navigation software on the aircraft, said John Monroe, an Air Force spokesman at Kadena.
Precise details of the problem and the number of aircraft affected weren’t known by the base. Typically, all 12 planes would turn back if only one developed a problem, he said.
The aircraft are due to be stationed in Japan for between three to four months. It’s the first time that the F22A has been stationed overseas, and its arrival is not welcome among local residents. Several hundred people protested their arrival outside the base on Saturday.
The United States has about 50,000 servicemen and women stationed in Japan as part of a mutual security pact between the two nations. Many of them live on bases in the small Okinawan islands and are a constant source of irritation for some residents. Japan remains a strategic point for the U.S. military because of its close proximity to several potential hot spots including North Korea, China and the Taiwan Straits.
Monroe said a decision on when the stealth fighters, which are attached to Langley Air Base near Washington, D.C., will arrive in Japan is hoped for later in the week.
—Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)
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