Rising tensions with China are prompting the United States to hold military exercises that simulate conflicts in the Pacific. Several US Air Force aircraft have been deployed to the region, such as B-52 and B-2 bombers and F-35 fighters.
Last week, however, the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, the main US fighter, carried out flight operations in Tinian, a small island that is part of the Northern Marianas, territory belonging to the country.
With a runway of 2,700 meters, Tinian does not have an infrastructure like the military base in Guam, 160 km away, but it is an alternative in cases of alleged attacks on Kadena Air Base, in Japan, for example.
To train pilots and ground crews to operate from the site, the USAF deployed some F-22 fighters from the 525th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, which is based in Japan to replace the F-15 Eagles.
“This is the first time F-22s have ever been on this island,” said the 525th EFS commander. “As we go through these training scenarios, we’re collecting data and establishing tactics, techniques and procedures to further inform how we as a force fly, fight and win in a modern, contested environment.”
Weeks ago, F-35 stealth fighter jets were also at Tinian, carrying out similar activities. The island is about 2,700 km from Taipei, Taiwan, considered by China a “rebel province”.