The US military is expected to postpone sending F-15C, F-16, and F-18 fighter jets to Japan, The Next Week reported.
According to sources in the Pentagon, the decision is due to a “lack of consensus” among US military commanders and is not related to the threat posed by North Korea.
However, the Pentagon said it is concerned about the risk of the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jet being diverted from a base in Japan to the United States.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense has said it will not participate in the US-led coalition’s bombing campaign against North Korea unless Pyongyang complies with its obligations under international law.
Japan has pledged to halt the military exercises and nuclear tests by Pyongyang if North Korea continues to threaten the US, and has deployed its own fighter jets and nuclear-powered submarines to the region.
A US defence official told The Next Monday the decision will be announced at a press briefing on Friday, although the official did not give a timeframe for when the news will be made public.
The US Air Force’s Pacific Command confirmed it would not send the F35B, a twin-engine jet that has a range of over 3,000 nautical miles (5,600km), to Japan.
“The Air Force will continue to support the United Nations Security Council and Japan’s national security interests in the region, and will continue its ongoing efforts to deter and contain the threat from North Korea,” a spokesperson for Pacific Command said in a statement.
“Japan has a responsibility to deter, contain, and defeat North Korea, and we will continue this responsibility.”
In a separate development, the US Senate Armed Services Committee approved the US Department of Defence’s $1.2 billion request for a new US fighter jet in January.
The proposed aircraft would be built by Lockheed Martin Corp and be based at the Boeing Co facility in St Louis, Missouri.
The Senate panel approved the request on Tuesday, but the Senate committee was split over the merits of the proposed new aircraft.
The committee is expected vote on the request in the coming days.