The U.S. Navy on Thursday said it will deploy its latest advanced early warning aircraft to Japan to bolster air defences, deterring potential missile attacks and intrusions by stealth aircraft.
The Northrop Grumman Corp E-2D Advanced Hawkeye deployment is part of a U.S. military pivot to Asia of its most advanced aircraft and ships to counter China’s growing military strength.
The move, although planned before the U.S. election, comes amid fresh tension between the United States and Japan as President-elect Donald Trump questions the longstanding One-China policy.
“The Advanced Hawkeye’s suite of systems allow it to act as the ‘digital quarterback’ of the fleet, collecting and distributing the tactical picture to command centers and other assets,” the U.S. Navy said in a press release.
The aircraft, designed to operate from aircraft carriers, will be based at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni in western Japan. It can act as a networked battle management platform, guiding other aircraft and ships to fire on incoming threats.
The Navy did not give a specific number, but a squadron typically includes between 12 and 24 aircraft. The new aircrafts replace an older version, the E-2s.
U.S. military units in Japan have also been among the first to receive other advanced equipment, including the Boeing Co’s P-8A Poseidon submarine hunting patrol aircraft and Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealth fighter.