US extends its position in the Western PacificOctober 10, 2013
First, news broke late last month that the South Korean government had re-thought its choice of the updated F-15 “Silent Eagle” for its next big fighter purchase, and instead will likely opt for the F-35. This means the F-35 will operate among all of the major US allies in the region – Australia, Singapore, Japan and now South Korea. The uniformity would offer a bonus in the event of a region-wide conflict, with spare parts and trained maintenance personnel available from north to south.
The US is also broadening its presence in Japan, stationing the largest array of advanced weaponry on the islands in years. Both the Air Force and Marine Corp variants of the F-35 will be stationed there, along with squadrons of V-22 Ospreys and unmanned Global Hawk surveillance craft. The Navy will station their most advanced anti-submarine planes, the P-8 Orion, on Japanese soil as well. This upgrade in Japanese postings will be augmented by an array of “temporary” bases across the region, including “Tinian and Saipan to Australia, Singapore, Thailand, India, and possibly sites in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.”