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Lockheed Martin F-22s from the 7th Fighter Sqdn. at Holloman AFB, N.M., will join the specially modified Boeing F-15Cs of the 44th Fighter Sqdn. and the 67th Fighter Sqdn. already at Kadena AB. Another four F-15Cs equipped with active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radars from the disbanding 71st Fighter Sqdn. at Langley AFB, Va., have been tapped for transfer as well.
Unofficially, U.S. military planners say that even more AESA-equipped F-15s will be sent to Okinawa to further increase the anti-missile forces already there. The first upgraded F-15 units worked out tactics for cruise missile defense while stationed in Alaska. About two years ago, they made the shift to Japan’s southern most air base, which has responsibility for an area of operations that extends to within about 20 mi. of China. Japan apparently joined in the preparations by sending its Mitsubishi F-4Js to mainland bases and replacing them with Mitsubishi F-15Js. Japan is considering a similar AESA radar upgrade to a portion of its F-15 fleet, but the proposition will have to be approved in the next round of Japanese defense budget negotiations.
The newest twist is that the U.S. Air National Guard (ANG) and Raytheon are planning demonstrations of a Raytheon air-launched, hit-to-kill missile called the network-centric airborne defense element (NCADE) for a boost-phase, ballistic missile defense mission. It uses a Raytheon AIM-120 Amraam body and extends the range far enough to support boost-phase, anti-ballistic missile operations.