The first operational Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A Lightning touched down at an arrival ceremony at Misawa Air Base in Japan this week.
In the upcoming Japanese fiscal year, nine more aircraft will join this one to incept the first fifth-generation fighter squadron as part of the JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing.
“The F-35A will bring transformation in air defense power and significantly contribute to the peace for citizens and ensure security,” said JASDF Maj. Gen. Kenichi Samejima, the 3rd AW commander in a press statement.
“All service members will do their best to secure flight safety and promptly establish an operational [squadron] structure step-by-step.”
According to the manufacturers, the aircraft is a high-performance, multirole aircraft with ‘advanced electronics designed to heighten situational awareness and distribute more information to pilots than any other fighter aircraft, giving operators a critical advantage over adversaries’.
Japan is one of 12 countries to purchase the F-35A.
“This aircraft represents not only a big step forward in technological advancements and combat capabilities but also in U.S.-Japan relations,” said Col. R. Scott Jobe, the 35th Fighter Wing commander.
“We look forward to training alongside our JASDF counterparts and continuing to enhance the safety and security of Japan together.”
In total, JASDF plans to acquire 42 F-35As as successors to its F-4s. A commemorative ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 24 at Misawa AB to celebrate the official initial deployment of a JASDF F-35A.