The Defense Ministry’s Chugoku Shikoku Defense Bureau informed Yamaguchi Prefecture and Iwakuni City on Nov. 26 that the relocation of the second batch of carrier-based aircraft from the Atsugi base (in Kanagawa Prefecture) to the Iwakuni base (in Yamaguchi Prefecture), involving some 30 airplanes, including FA-18 fighters, will start on Nov. 27.
According to the Defense Bureau, two FA-18 fighter units and one EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft unit based at the USS Ronald Reagan will be relocated. However, the schedule may change depending on weather conditions.
In light of the recent crash of a C-2 transport plane based on the Ronald Reagan in international waters northwest of Tokyo’s Okinotorishima, 11 aircraft, including FA-18 fighters, that were scheduled to be relocated have already flown to the Iwakuni base on Nov. 26. Other airplanes will arrive on Nov. 27, while the 11 planes will be considered to have been relocated.
Furthermore, the unit to which the crashed C-2 belongs is also scheduled to be transferred in January, but the Defense Bureau is now saying that “this is being coordinated with the U.S. side.” The accident occurred while the aircraft was flying to the Ronald Reagan after stopping over at Iwakuni.
The plan is for a total of 61 carrier-based aircraft to be relocated in several batches by next May. The number of military planes in Iwakuni will double to around 120, making it one of the largest U.S. air bases in the Far East on par with the Kadena Air Base (in Okinawa) (Slightly abridged)