F-22A Raptors this week returned to Kadena Air Base in Japan for the first time in more than three years, the Air Force said.

In a release, Pacific Air Forces said that the fifth-generation fighters, aircrew and support personnel were from the 525th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

They are taking part in the theater security package program under the recently-renamed U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which is intended to “signify a continued commitment to regional stability and security.”

In a follow-up email, the 18th Wing at Kadena said that fourteen Raptors are deploying there. They will also train with local assigned units, the 18th said.

“The theater security package deployments are requirements based, lasting as long as they are needed by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command,” the 18th said. “While deployed, these squadrons execute a variety of missions, which can include ensuring access to the global commons, global situational awareness, combating piracy, active defense, and power projection.”

PACAF’s theater security package deployments have regularly been taking place since March 2004, the release said.

The last time F-22s traveled to Okinawa, where Kadena is located, was in 2014. During that deployment, those F-22s, which were also from the 525th, took part in a bilateral November 2014 exercise with Japanese pilots called Keen Sword.

They also participated in other training exercises, including exercise Foal Eagle alongside South Korean forces, that served as shows of force and deterrence to China and North Korea.

The newly-arrived F-22s are replacing F-35As, which returned to Hill Air Force Base in Utah after a six-month deployment to Kadena.

The 18th Wing, the host unit at Kadena, did not say how many F-22s have been deployed there.

“Combined, these deployments reinforce PACAF’s commitment to the employment of fifth-generation fighter technology within the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility,” the release said.

Stephen Losey covers leadership and personnel issues as the senior reporter for Air Force Times. He comes from an Air Force family, and his investigative reports have won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover Air Force operations against the Islamic State.

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