10:30 GMT +321 August 2019
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    F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter

    F-35B Touches Down at Okinawa for the First Time

    © REUTERS / US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Remington Hall/Handout
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    Two US Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II aircraft landed on Okinawa on Monday, marking the stealth fighter’s first appearance on the Japanese island.

    Flying in from their mainland base at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, the aircraft are from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121. They arrived at Central Okinawa’s Kadena Air Base.

    A statement from the service called the F-35Bs "the future of Marine Corps tactical aviation." The jets will operating out of Kadena and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, also on Okinawa, on a "transient basis," according to Stars and Stripes.

    While this is the fighter’s first trip to an Okinawa airfield, the aircraft trained over the island after making its first appearance in Japan in January.

    The F-35B’s arrival in Japan was the aircraft’s first international deployment, with the Marine Corps saying in a statement that the event "marks a significant milestone in the F-35B program as the Marine Corps continues to lead the way in the advancement of stealth fighter attack aircraft," according to Defense News.

    Brought in to replace the EA-6B Prowler and the AV-8B Harrier, the short-takeoff, vertical-landing F-35B Lightning has had its share of issues, to the point of US President Donald Trump considering nixing the program.

    A month before coming into office, Trump wrote on Twitter, "The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th."

    As a result, defense manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-35, agreed to sell the Pentagon 90 of the new fighters for $8.5 billion, a deal that saved the government more than $700 million over the last group of planes purchased.


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    Fighter jet, US Marine Corps, Okinawa, Japan
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