The deployment was planned before the whole China air defense zone situation, but the timing of the arrival of the advanced P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft has never been more fortuitous for the two allies. The aircraft will improve the United States‘ marine capabilities of hunting down submarines and other vessels that will intrude in the disputed territorial waters off the East China Sea.
The first of the six aircraft arrived on Sunday at the Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, with the other five set to be deployed later this month. The brand new patrol plane is currently on its very first mission in the waters west of Japan’s main islands. The aircraft was built by Boeing to replace the old propeller-powered Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion models that have been in use for the past 50 years. It is based on Boeing’s 737 passenger plane and has technologically-advanced radar equipment and high-tech torpedoes and anti-ship missiles. Compared to the P-3 model, the new P-8 Poseidon can last longer on a mission and can also fly further than the old models.
The P-8 came a day before the arrival of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who will be visiting Tokyo to hold discussions with Japanese leaders. Topmost on the agenda would be the ongoing issue with China, over their declaration of the air defense identification zone (ADIZ), a move that is seen as a form of aggression as it overlaps with Japanese airspace, particularly near the dispute Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. The U.S. has stated it is not taking a position regarding the issue of the sovereignty over the uninhabited islands, but due to its security pact with Japan, it recognizes that Tokyo exercises control over the territory and will help its ally defend from any attack or intrusion.
[ via Yahoo ]