Hill AFB fighter wings deploy Airmen, F-35As to Japan Published Nov. 21, 2023 By Micah Garbarino and Staff Sgt. Dwane Young 388th Fighter Wing Public Affiars and 18th Wing Public Affairs HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- This week, Active duty and Reserve Airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings here deployed the F-35A Lightning II to Kadena Air Base, Japan, as part of an effort to assure allies and deter threats to stability in the Pacific region. Hundreds of pilots, maintainers and support personnel deployed as the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. The Airmen will be joined in Kadena by the 356th Fighter Squadron From Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, which also flies and maintains the F-35A. "This is what we train for every day at Hill. I'm proud of our Airmen's dedication and preparation, and I'm thankful for the support of Team Hill, which ensures we can deploy and meet our tasking," said Col. Michael Gette, 388th Fighter Wing commander. "This deployment will be a valuable experience in the Pacific theater, especially for our young Airmen as we hone how we employ and sustain the F-35 in a complex region." These fifth-generation fighter deployments are part of a series of U.S. Air Force movements designed to ensure a "zero-gap" in regional fighter presence throughout the departure of Kadena’s fleet of F-15C Eagles, according to officials. “With this deployment, our squadron will continue Team Kadena’s work of strengthening our interoperability with our allies and bilateral partners,” said Lt. Col. Jondavid Hertzel, 4th Fighter Squadron commander. “We look forward to exchanging experience, tactics, and techniques with the variety of flying units at Kadena, to strengthen our deterrence measures, and add more versatility to the Indo-Pacific theater.” The F-35A is the U.S. Air Force’s latest fifth-generation fighter. It is an agile, versatile, high-performance, 9g-capable multi-role fighter that combines stealth, sensor fusion and unprecedented situational awareness. Continuing rotations of aircraft at Kadena also ensures the 18th Wing remains postured to deliver lethal and credible airpower in support of shared U.S. and allied interests. “The F-35s presence in the Indo-Pacific region presents a valuable opportunity for the units deployed here to train alongside joint and bilateral partners. The deployment demonstrates the capabilities a diverse fighter presence provides in this dynamic theater,” said Col. Henry Schantz, 18th Wing Operations Group commander. “Each unit that deploys here brings their own distinct skill sets and experiences necessary to effectively meet pacing threats while fostering partnerships throughout the region.” Modernizing capabilities in the Indo-Pacific theater remains a top priority. The transition to more capable aircraft at Kadena exemplifies the DOD’s continued commitment to enhancing posture while building on the strong foundational alliance with Japan. As the "Keystone of the Pacific," Kadena hosts more than 100 aircraft, both deployed and permanently stationed, all performing a wide range of functions to help maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.