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[Opinion] Deployment of F-22 Fighters in Alaska

Posted August. 22, 2007 06:20,   


The term “stealth” refers to a military airplane that can avoid enemy radar detection while carrying out missions. The first of its kind was the F-117 bomber, which was manufactured in 1981. Following it, in 1987, B-2 bombers became another “stealth” brand, and subsequently the F-22 Raptor fighter in 1997. The Raptor, a bird of prey, is the most advanced version that the Pentagon has developed so far. It is not only invisible to radar, but also to the human eyes. Thus, unlike the “traditional” stealth planes, it can execute missions even during the daytime.

The “invisible” aircrafts first demonstrated their power in the late 1980s. F-117 bombers carried out precision bombings in Panama and the first Gulf War. The United States did not lose a single bomber, as it demonstrated its supreme air power. But in the late 1990s, it lost one F-117 in Kosovo. The bombers took the same navigational path for one week, which enabled the enemy to shoot it down.

During a training session last year, the Pentagon had new F-22 Raptors engage against rival fighters such as F-15C, F-16, and FA-18. The new fighters shot down all 144 fighters without any loss. Great powers around the world such as China and Japan are eyeing the development of their own stealth aircrafts. In particular, Japan, which plans to choose its new strategic fighters next year, is pushing the United States to buy F-22. American law prohibits the export of the planes to a foreign country. Japan has promised to launch its own development efforts unless Washington allows it to buy them.

The Pentagon has recently deployed eight F-22 fighters in Alaska. By early next year, it plans to increase the number to 40. The latest move seems to be part of the U.S.’ global strategic initiatives. The U.S. Pacific Commander confirmed the deployment and said that selection of Alaska was based on its proximity to Asia and Europe. Some experts assert that the F-22 deployment was done to check the secluded regime in Pyongyang. F-22 can fly over Pyongyang whenever the White House orders -- a great threat to the dictatorship.

Editorial writer Yuk Jeong-su, sooya@donga.com