TOKYO - The US Navy plans to deploy F-35C fighter jets to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture sometime after 2021, according to local media.
It will be the first deployment to Japan of the C type of the advanced stealth fighters.
The F-35C will replace some aircraft belonging to carrier-borne jet squadrons that have been relocated from the Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Kanagawa Prefecture, according to a US Navy official stationed in Japan.
The move of jet squadrons of the Atsugi-based Carrier Air Wing Five involves about 60 aircraft, including F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighter jets and C-2 transport aircraft. The command functions of CVW-5 will also be relocated.
The navy official told The Yomiuri Shimbun: "Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5...will receive the F-35C Lightning II sometime after 2021," adding that the "F-35C's (squadrons) will forward deploy to MCAS Iwakuni".
The official said: "When the first F-35C squadron forward deploys to Iwakuni, it will replace an F/A-18 Super Hornet squadron."
CVW-5 will contain a mix of fourth-generation F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets and fifth-generation F-35C strike fighter aircraft in the future, the official added.
The number of F-35C aircraft to be deployed was not stated.
Featuring advanced stealth capabilities to evade detection by radar, F-35 aircraft are cutting-edge fifth-generation fighters. They also have excellent networking capabilities to integrate information from such military equipment as ground-based radar stations and Aegis-equipped destroyers and convey it to pilots.
They include the F-35A for the US Air Force, the F-35B for the US Marine Corps and the F-35C for the US Navy, which is the one best designed to land on a carrier as it has larger main wings and equipment to absorb the shock of landing.