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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 February 2007, 13:57 GMT
Stealth jets on Okinawa mission
Lockheed F-22 Raptor
The jets are the most expensive in the USAF arsenal
The deployment of United States Air Force (USAF) F-22 stealth fighter jets to a base on Japan's Okinawa island has prompted protests from residents.

The 12 aircraft were due to land at the island's Kadena airbase on Sunday but the US said they had turned back to Hawaii for operational reasons.

The jets are to be stationed on Okinawa for three months - the first time the jets have been deployed outside the US.

Hundreds of protesters were outside the base on Saturday to oppose the move.

The protest was peaceful, and no arrests were reported.

"I am protesting because the deployment of America's newest F-22 fighter jets runs counter to the principle of reducing (military) burden on Okinawa. So I made a placard and came out here," local resident Hiroshi Teruya, 66, told the Reuters news agency.

The fighters, built by Lockheed and nicknamed Raptor, are the newest and most expensive aircraft in the USAF arsenal.

The aircraft had originally been due to arrive on Saturday, but were delayed because of bad weather.

Some 50,000 US troops are based on the islands. There have been recent protests from islanders unhappy at the US military presence.

The jets' deployment comes as the US continues to take part in six-nation talks in the Chinese capital, Beijing, aimed at bringing an end to North Korea's nuclear arms programme.

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