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F-35B stealth fighter to headline Iwakuni’s annual air-show festival

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 departs Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Sept. 18, 2017.

AARON HENSON/U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO

By JAMES BOLINGER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 12, 2018

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — For the first time, America’s most advanced stealth fighter will perform aerial maneuvers at an air show in Asia during next month’s Friendship Day at MCAS Iwakuni.

The F-35B Lightning II will demonstrate its hovering, vertical landing and short takeoff capabilities for the more than 210,000 people expected to attend the 42nd annual festival on May 5, Marine 1st Lt. Melissa Heisterburg, deputy director for MCAS Iwakuni Communication and Strategy Operations, said Thursday.

This year also marks the first time that the Navy’s Carrier Air Wing 5 — which recently relocated to Iwakuni from Naval Air Facility Atsugi — will be heavily involved in the event. The wing will provide a variety of static displays, including F/A-18E and F Super Hornets, E-2D Hawkeyes, E/A 18G Growlers and Black Hawk helicopters, she said.

Another first: the Army’s parachute team, nicknamed the Golden Knights, will present the American and Japanese flags for the opening ceremony, Heisterburg said. The group has never before delivered both flags for an air show.

Aerial performances will include the Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 demonstration team, an MV-22 Osprey demonstration and a Marine Air-Ground Task Force demonstration that will feature simulated close-air support, aerial refueling and tactics used by Marine infantry in combat, according to a statement issued this week by MCAS Iwakuni.

The Japanese Air Self-Defense Forces will showcase its multirole F-2 fighter, and the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force will perform an airborne rappelling demonstration, the statement said.

Also appearing will be Yoshihide Muroya, a Japanese aerobatics and race pilot who was the first Asian to compete in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, and Masahiro “Whiskey Papa” Utsumi, an internationally renowned aerobatics pilot, the statement said.

For more information on the festival, www.friendship-day.net.

bolinger.james@stripes.com
Twitter: @bolingerj2004

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