Chinese and Russian aircraft have been behaving more aggressively toward US military aircraft and inching their patrols closer to the American West Coast, raising alarms with the US Air Force and Navy.
According to USA Today, USAF Air Combat Command head General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle told USA Today that the US need to challenge Russian and Chinese air assets behaving aggressively in international airspace is an essential -albeit dangerous- affair.
“Our concern is a resurgent Russia and a very, very aggressive China,” Carlisle said.
With both countries intent on growing their territory – Russia in Eastern Europe and China in the Pacific- and enhancing their spheres of influence throughout the world, the US has taken note of their desires to send a clear message concerning American military supremacy around the globe.
“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.”
US military aircraft -whose crews are held to much more stringent procedures- find themselves narrowly avoiding collisions from aggressive Chinese and American pilots- often with dire consequences.
In 2001, a US maritime patrol plane was struck by a Chinese J-8 fighter, cutting the fighter in half and forcing the American plane crew to make an emergency landing in Hainan. The crew were held and detained by the chinese for 12 days before their release, with the American plane dismantled by the Chinese and returned to the US in boxes. Last week, Chinese pilots attempted fate once more by again buzzing patrol planes.
Russian fighter pilots have been conducting their own hazardous shenanigans, including buzzing within feet of American warships and performing barrel rolls over the top of American reconnaissance planes in the Black Sea region. In addition, Russian bombers -namely the Tu-95 Bear- have been flying closer and closer along the California coast, coming within 40 miles of the Golden State last summer.
“We have seen an increase,” Carlisle said. “All the way down to the California coast. The number and frequency has increased.”
Carlisle expects China to institute an Air Defense Identification Zone over a large portion of the South China Sea, as well as claiming more territories on artificial islands.
“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.”
The general also thinks that maintaining communication lines with China and Russia is the key to avoiding mishaps or potential confrontation.
“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.”
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