U.S. to Deploy Stealth Fighters to Japan

A dozen F-22 stealth fighter jets will be deployed to the southern Japan island of Okinawa for three months from January, the Air Force said in a statement Wednesday. It will be their second deployment to the island in two years.

The F-22s, the newest fighter in the Air Force, are part of the 27th Fighter Squadron and will be deployed to Kadena Air Base from Langley Air Force Base, in Virginia. The first group of Langley-based F-22s to Kadena was sent in February 2007.

"These deployments underscore the U.S. commitment to Japan as a vital regional partner and signal U.S. resolve to ensure stability and security throughout the Pacific region," said the statement.

Another 12 of the fighters will be deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

The F-22 is seen as a possible replacement for the Air Force's fleet of F-15 fighters, but budget crunches have put the future of the stealth fighters in question.

Last month, the Pentagon decided to scrap Congress' plan to initially spend $140 million for 20 more F-22 stealth fighters, and instead opted to spend $50 million in "bridge funding" for only four of them. The scaled back plan allows the next administration time to decide whether to buy more aircraft, the Pentagon contends.

The statement said the exact date of the deployments will not be released until next month due to security concerns.