Jacob Fuller, FISM News
The U.S. Air Force deployed F-22 Raptors to the territory of Tinian for the first time earlier this month for an exercise dubbed “Agile Reaper 23-1.”
It is the first time the stealth fighter jets have been sent to the tiny island territory, about 100 miles north of Guam and less than 2,000 miles off the coast of China in the western Pacific Ocean.
The F-22s, the first fifth-generation air-to-air fighter jets, deployed to Kadena Air Base in Japan in 2022 to replace the aging F-15 Eagle fighters. The distance from China is notable since the F-22 has a reported fuel range of 1,900. Jamieson noted that the jets will receive support from nearby Guam, including KN-135 Stratotanker refuelers, C-17 cargo planes, and E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft.
“For them to come support this exercise shows how agile we truly are,” Col. Kevin “Jinx” Jamieson, the commander of the 3rd Air Expeditionary Wing, told Air & Space Forces Magazine in an email.
The Department of Defense plans to make Tinian a permanent alternative location for aircraft currently operating out of Guam, according to Air and Space Forces Magazine.
GROWING TENSION WITH CHINA
U.S. intelligence has determined that Air Force bases in Japan and Guam would be likely targets if China and the U.S. were to engage in combat. In order to counter any such attack, the Department of Defense has enacted the Agile Compat Employment (ACE) program.
“Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are a strategic location that requires agility to defend if we find ourselves in a contested and degraded environment,” Jamieson said, adding that the exercise will give his team “a sense of reality and to rehearse in an environment that will likely challenge us real world.”
FISM News reported yesterday that the Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, testified Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee, stating that China continues to be the top threat to the security of the United States.
Haines explained to the committee that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remains the “unparalleled priority” of the United States Intelligence Community (IC).
“In brief, the CCP represents both the leading and most consequential threat to U.S. national security and leadership globally, and its intelligence-specific ambitions and capabilities make it for us our most serious and consequential intelligence rival,” Haines said.
Report aided in part by Vicky Arias, FISM News.