The US took its newest and most expensive stealth fighter jet on the road Saturday, deploying the F-22 to an air base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa for its first overseas mission.
The first two of a dozen F-22s roared into Okinawa's skies from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia for a three- to four-month deployment to show "the flexibility that US forces have to meet our ongoing commitments and security obligations throughout the Pacific," the US military said in a statement.
Bringing the planes to Japan is a way of showing off the fighter's strengths in a region with a complex security balance that is being challenged by the rapid growth of Chinese and North Korean military power.
"It's a very formidable asset," said Lt. Gen. Bruce Wright, commander of the US forces in Japan. Wright added that it is important for the F-22 pilots from Langley to get the experience of flying abroad and training with the Japanese.