A United States Air Force F-22 Raptor takes off from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich/UPI
TOKYO, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force flew eight F-22 stealth fighters to Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo on Wednesday, but U.S. officials said the move was a scheduled deployment.
The arrival of the Lockheed Martin aircraft, one of the most advanced fighter jets in operation, comes in the wake of North Korea's fourth nuclear test and Taiwan's elections, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
The deployment comes after the nuclear aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis departed the western coast of the United States last Friday. The vessel can sail anywhere from Japan to the southern Pacific and could dock in Yokosuka, Japan, to join the USS Ronald Reagan, another Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier.
U.S. Forces Japan stated the F-22s, originating from Alaska, are to remain at the base until Jan. 22, as part of a scheduled drill. F-16 fighter jets are also due to arrive at the location.
Stars and Stripes reported the F-16s are from the 18th Aggressor Squadron, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
"This movement of aircraft is part of a previously scheduled training deployment to Japan that will enhance our ability to fulfill our treaty obligations to defend Japan and promote stability throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region," said Col. Kenneth Hoffman, a spokesman for U.S. Forces Japan.
While U.S. officials say the deployment is nothing special, Japanese television network Fuji reported the deployment was part of efforts to stabilize the region. Taiwan's election of the opposition party candidate Tsai Ing-wen could put China on guard, according to Japan press.
China does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state.