The P-8’s long-planned arrival in the western Pacific comes about a week after China unilaterally declared a broad swath of the East China Sea’s air space as its national air defense identification zone and demanded that military aircraft identify themselves and file flight plans with the Chinese government.
The United States, Japan and other Asian nations have stated that their military aircraft will not recognize the zone, which includes airspace over the Japanese-administered Senkaku islands.
China also claims the uninhabited islands, which are valued for the energy and food resources in their near shore waters.
The two patrol aircraft left Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., on Nov. 29, and later landed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi for refueling before touching down in Okinawa, Navy officials said.
Another four P-8s will arrive during the next few weeks, according to Navy sources.