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Kadena F-15 fighter squadron training may shift to Guam

Date Posted: 2011-01-07

A deal brokered by the Japan Defense Ministry and the U.S. has F-15 fighters now based at Kadena Air Base being relocated to Guam for exercises, possibly as early as next year.

F-15's have been training outside Okinawa, but within Japan, since 2007. This marks the first time training exercises will move the aircraft away from Japan. The official decisions were made in May 2010 during foreign and defense ministerial talks, but news of the deal has just been announced by Defense Ministry sources. Toshimi Kitazawa, the Defense Minister, told Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other senior Japanese ministers about the plan only a few days ago.

The overseas training could begin next fiscal year. Japan is expected to pick up the tab for relocating the exercises overseas, and that will require revamping the special agreement linking exercises and the host nation support provided. The current support agreement expires the end of March. However, U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos and Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara are expected to sign a draft revision of the pact sometime this month. Once that's done, Prime Minister Kan will send the bill to the Diet for approval.

Japanese officials say the training realignment has new elements for Japan Air Self Defense Forces. JASDF fighters are also expected to travel to Guam's Anderson Air Base to participate in the exercises. "We hope to see relocation of one or two squadrons, 50 aircraft based at Kadena, for training exercises," said a senior Defense Ministry official.

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