F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters sit secured to the deck of the USS Wasp. Photo: US Navy via AFP

The US Marine Corps has finished deploying a full squadron of 16 F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters at its air station in Iwakuni, Japan as part of a US buildup to counter a military threat from North Korea.

The Marine F-35Bs complement a dozen Air Force F-35As that the US Air Force is also deploying to a base in Kadena, Japan this month.

The US military’s newspaper Stars and Stripes said the deployment was completed on Wednesday with the arrival of three F-35Bs for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 which now boasts a full complement of 16 aircraft.

The F-35B is the short-takeoff, vertical-landing Marine Corps version of the advanced stealth fighter. The Air Force F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing model of the Lightning. It is the smallest and lightest version of the fifth-generation fighter and is the only one armed with an internal cannon that can be used against ground targets.

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