At a time when our air force is reduced to a shell of its former self, U.S. Air Force commanders are worried over the rising threat from Russian and Chinese aircraft around the world. The threat to the U.S. homeland is especially worrisome. The Obama administration’s decision to truncate the F-22 production line and reduce fighter wings to an unsustainable level is having predictable consequences. This is at the same time that the White House is ramping up operations in the South China Sea and elsewhere.
“Our concern is a resurgent Russia and a very, very aggressive China,” said Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, who leads Air Combat Command, reported USA Today.
The South China Sea and other overseas contingencies are also a major concern. “Their intent is to get us not to be there,” Carlisle said. “So that the influence in those international spaces is controlled only by them. My belief is that we cannot allow that to happen. We have to continue to operate legally in international airspace and international waterways. We have to continue to call them out when they are being aggressive and unsafe.”
American commanders have seen a ramp up of aggressive actions near the U.S. mainland. “We have seen an increase,” Carlisle said. “All the way down to the California coast. The number and frequency has increased.”
At some point, China will declare and air defense zone around their newly built islands in the South China Sea. This could be a flash point with United States forces in the region. “Their expansion into the Paracels and the Spratleys is so they can declare it and then have the capability to enforce it, where they can do intercepts,” Carlisle said. “They are doing it outside of what could be consider the norms.”
“As they become more aggressive, you run the risk of miscalculation,” he said. “You don’t know where that’s going to lead, or end.”