By Gordon Lubold
Oct. 3, 2013
Hagel and Kerry announced that Japan would accept a new U.S. base for Global Hawk drones. Japan has agreed to host an American base to operate up to a few Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles from an as-yet-undisclosed location as early as next spring, marking the first time the U.S. will be allowed to base UAVs in the region as China builds up its military capabilities and North Korea threatens the region.
At a so-called 2+2 meeting here in Tokyo, the U.S. and Japan announced that the U.S. Air Force would base two or three long range Global Hawks somewhere in Japan. While the U.S. has operated unmanned systems over Japan in the past, for example after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the agreement marks the first time the U.S. can actually base them here. The basing of the UAVs puts an American long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability in the heart of Asia.
The U.S. will also introduce two MV-22 Osprey squadrons in Japan. The U.S. will also deploy, for the first time outside the U.S., a Navy P-8 patrol plane beginning in December as part of the phase-out of the P-3. The agreement also allows the U.S. Marine Corps to deploy F-35B Joint Strike Fighters to Japan in 2017 in what will be the first deployment of the controversial jet outside the U.S.