US Plan Potential Withdrawal Of F-16s From Misawa, Japan
September 14, 2009

The Obama administration has proposed the possible pull out of all 40 F-16s from Misawa AB to the government of Japan. The discussion are supposed to have taken place back in April and have only now been released.

The move could possibly start at the end of the year with the agreement of the new incoming administration of Democratic Party of Japanese leader Yukio Hatoyama.

As part of the same strategic review plan the US has also told Japan that they may also remove 50 or so F-15s from its base in Kadena, Okinawa.

Both proposals are pending as the Japanese government are still concerned about the situations in North Korea. Japanese officials say the moves could send the wrong message to North Korea and China at a time when Pyongyang has conducted missile and nuclear tests and Beijing is rapidly modernizing its military.

The proposed withdrawal of the F-16s and the cut in F-15s at Kadena would be welcomed by local communities because it would help to reduce the burden of hosting U.S. bases by cutting aircraft noise and the chance of accidents.

The F-16s were deployed at the Misawa base during the Cold War in the 1980s, and some defence experts believe the planes could be used for a so-called surgical attack against North Korea now that the Cold War is over.

A Japanese government source said the next-generation F-35 fighters could be flown from Guam and stationed at Misawa on a rotational basis if the F-16s are pulled out.

Full production of F-35s has not yet started, and deployment of the jets is unlikely to take place for at least five years. This could mean there is a period where there are no U.S. fighter planes regularly stationed at Misawa Air Base.