F-22 Raptor, F-35 and F-15 in massive power display

This event represents the latest elephant trek at the base of Okinawa, reaffirming the island’s critical role as the “cornerstone of the Pacific.”

Last week, the U.S. Air Force put on a formidable display of its combat capabilities at Kadena Air Base, Japan, where its fleet of fighter jets were meticulously arranged on the tarmac for an “elephant walk.”

In the words of the official statement from the base, “The largest fighter wing of the Air Force together with its mission partners in Kadena coordinated an unprecedented deployment of high-tech aircraft, including the F-15C, F-16C, F-22A, F-35A , MQ-9, HH-60G/W, MC-130J , KC-135, P-8, RC-135 and E-3 .

“These aircraft are prepared to carry out any air combat mission necessary to maintain the Indo-Pacific as a free and open region.” The statement also highlighted the dynamic flow of units at the base, marking the arrival of the F-16C and F-22A to ‘Keystone of the Pacific’, as well as the farewell of the F-35A and F-15C of the National Guard. Aerial.

Formation photographs, both ground and aerial, were followed by an impressive display of air power, with the aircraft executing maneuvers in the sky as part of an extensive exercise designed to strengthen defensive capabilities in support of American allies.

Kadena Elephant Rides

F-22 Raptor, F-35 and F-15 in massive power display
F-35

This event represents the latest elephant trek at the base of Okinawa, reaffirming the island’s critical role as the “cornerstone of the Pacific.”

A similar event took place in late November 2022, when six different types of aircraft lined up at Kadena, and another took place at the same base in November last year.

Originating during World War II, elephant rides began when large contingents of Allied bombers were massed for attacks, creating an image from the ground reminiscent of elephants in a row heading to a watering hole.

Today, the U.S. Air Force uses these elephant rides to demonstrate a unit’s operational capabilities and the teamwork required to execute such operations. Additionally, this type of practice prepares pilots for the rapid and coordinated deployment of fully armed aircraft to large events if required.

Reintegration of the F-22 to Operations in Japan

F-22 Raptor, F-35 and F-15 in massive power display
F-22

Last month, Kadena Air Base in Japan again welcomed F-22 Raptors, operated by the US Air Force’s 199th and 19th Fighter Squadrons.

During their stay in the so-called Cornerstone of the Pacific, “the 19th and 199th squadrons of FS Raptors will coordinate operations with other heavy fighters, reconnaissance aircraft and fourth and fifth generation fighters, reinforced and permanently stationed in Kadena, thus ensuring a continuous presence and robust combat capabilities in the region,” according to the Air Force statement.

This latest deployment of the advanced fifth-generation Raptors coincides with the 18th Wing’s oversight of the progressive retirement of the fleet of F-15C/D Eagles at Kadena.

Despite this boost in military capability, a minor setback was reported last week when one of the fifth-generation air superiority fighters experienced a front landing gear failure upon arrival at Kadena.

The incident took place just after the F-22 landed at the base, and a malfunction occurred while the aircraft was heading towards the parking lot with its engines already shut down.

Although this incident is a setback, it is not expected to significantly impact the operational capability of the US Air Force, given the strategic importance of maintaining a strong presence at the base.

With its extensive network of air bases and naval facilities, Okinawa plays a crucial role in regional stability and protecting vital sea and air routes.

From its strategic position, Okinawa is located approximately 900 miles from key cities such as Tokyo, Manila, Seoul and Hong Kong and about 1,200 miles west of Guam, a US territory essential to US military operations in the Asia-Pacific.