US Air Force to send dozens of F-22 Raptor fighter jets to Pacific in powerful message as tensions with China escalate
Lauren Fruen10:55 ET,
THE US Air Force is set to send dozens of F-22 Raptor fighter jets to the Pacific as tensions with China escalate.
Around 25 of the aircraft will head to Guam and Tinian islands later this month in what experts say is a powerful message to the Communist nation.
Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Pacific Air Forces commander, told CNN: “We have never had this many Raptors deployed together in the Pacific Air Forces area of operations.”
Experts fear China will blast the United States off the top spot to become the world’s top economic and military power within the next decade.
Defense analyst Carl Schuster said: “The Pacific Air Force is demonstrating that it can deploy as many or more fifth-generation aircraft into the theater on short notice than (China) currently has in its entire inventory.”
Normal deployments feature six to 12 of the jets, Schuster said.
America has around 180 F-22s; China has up to 24 fifth-generation fighters.
Former Australian air force officer Peter Layton said: “The US is actively practicing the deployments it will make if there is a major crisis or war.
“The US is taking China very seriously and is developing its force posture and training its forces to be able to quickly move into position.”
The move is part of Operation Pacific Iron 2021.
“Airmen deployed in support of Pacific Iron 2021 will demonstrate Multi-capable Airmen skills and conduct simulated combat flight operations from local airports in Guam and Tinian,” the Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.
They added: “More than 35 aircraft and approximately 800 Airmen from Pacific Air Forces and Air Combat Command will deploy to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s area of responsibility in July to participate in Operation Pacific Iron 2021.”
A bombshell Pentagon report said the world is edging towards nuclear war because Russia and China are modernizing ballistic missiles, and developing new submarines.
Beijing is reportedly considering whether to develop autonomous nuclear weapons systems, the New York Post reports.
Ambassador Robert Wood told reporters last week: “If they were to develop, these kinds of weapons and aerial systems, this has the potential to change the strategic stability environment in a dynamic way.”
China is on course to overtake the US and become the biggest economic powerhouse, Professor Kerry Brown, of the Lau China Institute at King’s College London, told The Sun.
“Economically, barring total disaster for China, it will be the largest economy some time in the next decade,” Professor Brown said.
China’s rapid military modernisation has fuelled growing concern among its Asian neighbours and in the West.
The People’s Liberation Army now has the world’s second-largest annual budget after the US armed forces and has been adding sophisticated new aircraft, showcased in a flyover at the start of the centenary ceremony featuring a squadron of China’s J-20 stealth fighters.
The country is enmeshed in a deepening rivalry with the United States for global power status and has seen recent clashes with India along their disputed border.
And China’s ambitions show no sign of dampening.
Ashok Swain, professor of peace and conflict research at Sweden’s Uppsala University, believes China will “get the upper hand, both economically and militarily, on bilateral terms” in the next decade.
“The US is spending on its military at least three times more than China, but China is spending more and more every year to modernise its military and develop new weapons,” the 56-year-old told The Sun.
“China, under Xi Jinping, has become very different from what it was expected to be ten years ago when the Chinese Communist Party was celebrating its 90th anniversary.
“There is no hope anymore of regular transition of power or some openness in the political system.
“Xi now has total control of the country, party, and military.”
Most read in News
Robert Sutter of George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs warned that Xi is “setting up China for a protracted struggle with the US”.
“In foreign affairs it involves growth of wealth and power, with China unencumbered as it pursues its very self-centered policy goals at the expense of others and of the prevailing world order,” Sutter said.
New data has revealed how the Communist Party ranks swelled by 2.43 million in 2020 – the largest annual gain since Xi became president in 2013 – to 95.15 million members now.