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China may now have air superiority over US in Pacific

beijingwalker

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China may now have air superiority over US in Pacific

Ageing and fewer US fighters flown by undertrained pilots have likely already fallen behind China’s rapid fleet expansion
By GABRIEL HONRADA
SEPTEMBER 24, 2022

How_Chinas_stealthy_new_J20-f7143b78fa45dea3cc4f88b787b17cbb.png

The J-20 is China’s most advanced stealth fighter jet in service. Photo: Twitter

China’s jet fighter force may have already caught up with the quality and quantity of the US, prompting new urgent calls in Washington to build up and modernize the US fighter fleet.

US Air Combat Command Chief General Mark Kelley said that America’s combat air forces are 12 squadrons short of multiple aircraft types at the US Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference this month, as reported by the Air and Space Forces Magazine.

He cautioned that the US had departed the era of conventional overmatch, with US combat air forces less than half of what they were during the 1991 Gulf War. However, exact aircraft numbers are highly classified; fighter squadrons generally consist of between 18 and 24 jets.

“When you have conventional overmatch, strategic risk is low. But that’s not where we’ve arrived in terms of conventional deterrence,” Kelly said.

He noted that while the US Air Force needs 60 fighter squadrons, it has only 48 of those to carry out its missions for homeland defense, overseas contingencies, overseas presence and crisis response.

He added that while the US Air Force has nine A-10 ground-attack aircraft squadrons, they lack air-to-air and multirole combat capability.

Kelly said these fighter shortages are most acutely felt in the Pacific, noting that the US needs 13 fighter squadrons in the region but now has only 11. In terms of crisis response forces, he mentions that the US is five squadrons short.

Apart from squadron shortages, Kelly mentions that only three out of eight squadrons are transitioning to new aircraft, resulting in a fighter force that is smaller, older and less capable.

He pointed out that the US fighter fleet is, on average, 28.8 years old compared to 9.7 years in 1991, with readiness levels plummeting as pilots get only 9.7 flight hours a month, compared to 22.3 just before the 1991 Gulf War.

Flying is a skill that atrophies without practice, notes Kate Odell in a February 2022 article for the Wall Street Journal. She notes that a fighter pilot needs 200 flight hours a year to stay sharp, with four or three practice sorties a week to maintain proficiency. At one or two sorties, Odell mentions that a pilot will deteriorate in ability and comfort in the cockpit.

Kelly makes a case for a fighter force that will dissuade any opponent from contemplating war with the US, making the case that no country in its proper frame of mind would pick a fight with a country with 134 modernized, well-trained and well-equipped fighter squadrons.

To achieve these force numbers, Kelly states that the US must maintain a production target of 72 fighters per year and keep its allies at a comparable level of capability, as the latter will be critical force multipliers.

He proposes a 4+1 fighter force mix for the 2030s, consisting of F-22s, F-35s, F-15EXs, F-16s, and A-10s. The F-22 will be the primary air superiority platform to be supplanted by the upcoming Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter.

The F-35 would be the workhorse for operations in contested airspace, supported by the F-15EX carrying long-range air-to-air weapons and 5th-generation sensor capabilities. F-16s would be a general-purpose model, while the A-10 will remain in its ground attack aircraft role.

In contrast to the US, Xiaobing Li, in the Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, notes that China has 1,800 fighters divided into each of its five theater commands and organized into seven to 10 fighter brigades having three to six fighter groups, with each group having 30 to 50 aircraft. Regarding training, the defense website Global Security notes that in 2017 China’s fighter pilots managed 100 to 110 flight hours per year.

Given the flight hours mentioned by Global Security, there may not be much difference between the flying hours of US and Chinese fighter pilots. However, Lyle Morris notes in a 2016 RAND article that China’s fighter pilot training scenarios are highly scripted and tied to ground control, potentially making them less responsive and adaptable to rapidly-changing combat scenarios.

Morris notes that China has tried to simulate unscripted scenarios with systemic reforms to train its pilots to fight and win against militarily superior opponents such as the US.

He says China has given its pilots the responsibility to make their flight plans and complete autonomy over their sorties. Still, Morris notes that it will take time to reform the rigid operational practices institutionalized in China’s air force.

Apart from reforming rigid training practices, China has fast-tracked its pilot training program, notes Liu Xuanzun in a July 2022 article for Global Times. Liu notes that under the old training program pilot cadets required four to six years of flight training to operate a fourth-generation fighter, but the new program trims the period to three years.

This accelerated training program aims to match the record production rates of China’s fighter jets. In a December 2021 article for Global Times, Liu Xuanzun notes that China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), achieved record production of its J-15 carrier-based fighter and J-16 multirole fighter jet and even finished its production quotas in advance, despite difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the article did not divulge any precise production numbers. Against America’s 4+1 fighter force mix, China can field a combination of J-20 and FC-31 fifth-generation fighters; J-11, J-15 and J-16 heavyweight fighters in various configurations; and J-10 lightweight fighters.

Moreover, in terms of qualitative improvements to its fighter jets, China has been steadily improving the quality of its jet engines, which were a significant handicap for its fighters, and substantially improving its air-to-air missiles to the point of exceeding Western models in some cases.

Kelly’s proposal to bulk up US fighter strength is reminiscent of the Reagan administration’s 600-ship navy plan, which aimed to overmatch the Soviet Navy.

The US accomplished this massive naval shipbuilding program by investing in proven platforms and, at the same time, making critical investments in emerging technologies, notes Joseph Sims in an August 2022 article for the US Naval Institute.

While Kelly’s mention of tested platforms such as the F-15EX, F-16 and A-10 balanced with newer models such as the F-22 and F-35 may follow this logic, Sims cautions that the US cannot trade quality for quantity, which may give a false sense of actual capability and hence security.

He also says that quantity is essential and that there should be an absolute minimum number of combatant units that force levels are not permitted to go below.


 

ozranger

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China may now have air superiority over US in Pacific

Ageing and fewer US fighters flown by undertrained pilots have likely already fallen behind China’s rapid fleet expansion
By GABRIEL HONRADA
SEPTEMBER 24, 2022

How_Chinas_stealthy_new_J20-f7143b78fa45dea3cc4f88b787b17cbb.png

The J-20 is China’s most advanced stealth fighter jet in service. Photo: Twitter

China’s jet fighter force may have already caught up with the quality and quantity of the US, prompting new urgent calls in Washington to build up and modernize the US fighter fleet.

US Air Combat Command Chief General Mark Kelley said that America’s combat air forces are 12 squadrons short of multiple aircraft types at the US Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference this month, as reported by the Air and Space Forces Magazine.

He cautioned that the US had departed the era of conventional overmatch, with US combat air forces less than half of what they were during the 1991 Gulf War. However, exact aircraft numbers are highly classified; fighter squadrons generally consist of between 18 and 24 jets.

“When you have conventional overmatch, strategic risk is low. But that’s not where we’ve arrived in terms of conventional deterrence,” Kelly said.

He noted that while the US Air Force needs 60 fighter squadrons, it has only 48 of those to carry out its missions for homeland defense, overseas contingencies, overseas presence and crisis response.

He added that while the US Air Force has nine A-10 ground-attack aircraft squadrons, they lack air-to-air and multirole combat capability.

Kelly said these fighter shortages are most acutely felt in the Pacific, noting that the US needs 13 fighter squadrons in the region but now has only 11. In terms of crisis response forces, he mentions that the US is five squadrons short.

Apart from squadron shortages, Kelly mentions that only three out of eight squadrons are transitioning to new aircraft, resulting in a fighter force that is smaller, older and less capable.

He pointed out that the US fighter fleet is, on average, 28.8 years old compared to 9.7 years in 1991, with readiness levels plummeting as pilots get only 9.7 flight hours a month, compared to 22.3 just before the 1991 Gulf War.

Flying is a skill that atrophies without practice, notes Kate Odell in a February 2022 article for the Wall Street Journal. She notes that a fighter pilot needs 200 flight hours a year to stay sharp, with four or three practice sorties a week to maintain proficiency. At one or two sorties, Odell mentions that a pilot will deteriorate in ability and comfort in the cockpit.

Kelly makes a case for a fighter force that will dissuade any opponent from contemplating war with the US, making the case that no country in its proper frame of mind would pick a fight with a country with 134 modernized, well-trained and well-equipped fighter squadrons.

To achieve these force numbers, Kelly states that the US must maintain a production target of 72 fighters per year and keep its allies at a comparable level of capability, as the latter will be critical force multipliers.

He proposes a 4+1 fighter force mix for the 2030s, consisting of F-22s, F-35s, F-15EXs, F-16s, and A-10s. The F-22 will be the primary air superiority platform to be supplanted by the upcoming Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter.

The F-35 would be the workhorse for operations in contested airspace, supported by the F-15EX carrying long-range air-to-air weapons and 5th-generation sensor capabilities. F-16s would be a general-purpose model, while the A-10 will remain in its ground attack aircraft role.

In contrast to the US, Xiaobing Li, in the Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, notes that China has 1,800 fighters divided into each of its five theater commands and organized into seven to 10 fighter brigades having three to six fighter groups, with each group having 30 to 50 aircraft. Regarding training, the defense website Global Security notes that in 2017 China’s fighter pilots managed 100 to 110 flight hours per year.

Given the flight hours mentioned by Global Security, there may not be much difference between the flying hours of US and Chinese fighter pilots. However, Lyle Morris notes in a 2016 RAND article that China’s fighter pilot training scenarios are highly scripted and tied to ground control, potentially making them less responsive and adaptable to rapidly-changing combat scenarios.

Morris notes that China has tried to simulate unscripted scenarios with systemic reforms to train its pilots to fight and win against militarily superior opponents such as the US.

He says China has given its pilots the responsibility to make their flight plans and complete autonomy over their sorties. Still, Morris notes that it will take time to reform the rigid operational practices institutionalized in China’s air force.

Apart from reforming rigid training practices, China has fast-tracked its pilot training program, notes Liu Xuanzun in a July 2022 article for Global Times. Liu notes that under the old training program pilot cadets required four to six years of flight training to operate a fourth-generation fighter, but the new program trims the period to three years.

This accelerated training program aims to match the record production rates of China’s fighter jets. In a December 2021 article for Global Times, Liu Xuanzun notes that China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), achieved record production of its J-15 carrier-based fighter and J-16 multirole fighter jet and even finished its production quotas in advance, despite difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the article did not divulge any precise production numbers. Against America’s 4+1 fighter force mix, China can field a combination of J-20 and FC-31 fifth-generation fighters; J-11, J-15 and J-16 heavyweight fighters in various configurations; and J-10 lightweight fighters.

Moreover, in terms of qualitative improvements to its fighter jets, China has been steadily improving the quality of its jet engines, which were a significant handicap for its fighters, and substantially improving its air-to-air missiles to the point of exceeding Western models in some cases.

Kelly’s proposal to bulk up US fighter strength is reminiscent of the Reagan administration’s 600-ship navy plan, which aimed to overmatch the Soviet Navy.

The US accomplished this massive naval shipbuilding program by investing in proven platforms and, at the same time, making critical investments in emerging technologies, notes Joseph Sims in an August 2022 article for the US Naval Institute.

While Kelly’s mention of tested platforms such as the F-15EX, F-16 and A-10 balanced with newer models such as the F-22 and F-35 may follow this logic, Sims cautions that the US cannot trade quality for quantity, which may give a false sense of actual capability and hence security.

He also says that quantity is essential and that there should be an absolute minimum number of combatant units that force levels are not permitted to go below.


Difference on hours in cockpit are also changing rapidly between those 2 powers.
 

beijingwalker

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Size Matters: A Slim U.S. Air Force Can’t Go Toe-To-Toe With China​

By Mackenzie Eaglen
SEPTEMBER 24, 2022

The U.S. Air Force Seems To Have a Size and Capabilities Problem: Channeling his inner Mike Mullen, a former Navy chief, the head of the US Air Force said this week that those worried about America’s shrinking, antique air force must “account for all the capacity within our allies and partners.”

But that same logic didn’t work for the US Navy in 2005, and it won’t help the Air Force today.

Years ago, then-Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Mullen outlined the new organizational concept of a “1,000-Ship Navy.” The concept of international naval and maritime collaboration and cooperation is not problematic, per se.

What is the problem is that the 1,000-ship navy gave smart cover to decisionmakers to let the US Navy stall out in fleet size. Today’s Navy is almost exactly the same size as it was in 2005—even as various leaders have repeatedly called for a bigger fleet ever since. Even as threats have changed dramatically in that same time period.


While western coalition warfare has worked well confronting various enemies since the turn of the century, a war with Beijing would be very different. The assumption that friends, allies and partners will all join us is dangerously simplistic.

For the fourth time in his presidency, President Biden stated that the US would militarily come to Taiwan’s aid if invaded by China. Such an explicit statement of intent implies that our military can defend the island and defeat China.


But a recently released report from the Mitchell Institute on the strength of the Air Force says the service does not possess “the force capacity, lethality, and survivability needed to fight a major war with China.”

The report’s central finding is consistent with trends seen across the service. Consistent prioritization of research and development over procurement, reduced training, under-manned units, and fewer flying hours have left the Air Force in a position where deterrence is eroding.


The size and composition of the Air Force today is a result of chronic budget shortfalls and decades of thinking that shedding older systems to buy newer ones will yield platforms that are ever more “lethal, transformational, and modern.” This “divest to invest” strategy has been the gospel of the Air Force since the end of the Cold War and into the start of the so-called “peace dividend” that followed it.

The decline in the USAF’s fighter aircraft inventory over the past few decades puts the strategy in stark terms. As the Mitchell Institute’s report points out, the Air Force had 4,321 fighters at the end of the Cold War. Today it has just 1,420—a near fifty percent decrease.

The Air Force’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2023 continues this trend, cutting 150 aircraft while buying just 82 new airplanes. Slashing the size of the Air Force’s aircraft inventory while waiting on the next generation of technology to be fielded leaves the service in a tough spot. There is no guarantee that such technology will be operable on the timeline leaders want—and even less of a guarantee that expected savings will be passed on. As a result, “divest to invest” makes the service smaller, older, and less capable to deter and potentially defeat China.

Ironically, fewer aircraft means pilots fly less, which leads to reduced readiness. In Fiscal Year 2021, active duty pilots averaged 10.1 flying hours per month, putting them at 121.2 hours per year. That is about 80 fewer hours than the number of hours the Air Force believes necessary for peak readiness.

Yet declining readiness of combat fighter forces explicitly “raises the risk that an adversary will see an advantage, resulting in a failure of conventional deterrence,” Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mark Kelley said at the AFA conference this week.

Declaring the “era of conventional overmatch” over, Gen. Kelley was explicit in stating the size of the combat air forces “is well below where various unclassified studies have said they need to be.” He also noted that the fighter squadron shortages, in particular, are felt mostly in Pacific Air Forces—the pacing threat theater.

Relying on capability alone to win the day will only allow the Air Force to get smaller, older and less ready. And it will invite the very aggression America is seeking to avoid in Asia.

Mass and attrition must return as foundational force-planning principles for the US military. Capacity is as important as quality and high readiness.

Size matters. Just ask Ukraine.

 

Bleek

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I think it's safe to assume that the US still has a quality edge over China, hopefully China can bridge that gap soon and overtake it
 

MastanKhan

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China may now have air superiority over US in Pacific

Ageing and fewer US fighters flown by undertrained pilots have likely already fallen behind China’s rapid fleet expansion
By GABRIEL HONRADA
SEPTEMBER 24, 2022

How_Chinas_stealthy_new_J20-f7143b78fa45dea3cc4f88b787b17cbb.png

The J-20 is China’s most advanced stealth fighter jet in service. Photo: Twitter

China’s jet fighter force may have already caught up with the quality and quantity of the US, prompting new urgent calls in Washington to build up and modernize the US fighter fleet.

US Air Combat Command Chief General Mark Kelley said that America’s combat air forces are 12 squadrons short of multiple aircraft types at the US Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference this month, as reported by the Air and Space Forces Magazine.

He cautioned that the US had departed the era of conventional overmatch, with US combat air forces less than half of what they were during the 1991 Gulf War. However, exact aircraft numbers are highly classified; fighter squadrons generally consist of between 18 and 24 jets.

“When you have conventional overmatch, strategic risk is low. But that’s not where we’ve arrived in terms of conventional deterrence,” Kelly said.

He noted that while the US Air Force needs 60 fighter squadrons, it has only 48 of those to carry out its missions for homeland defense, overseas contingencies, overseas presence and crisis response.

He added that while the US Air Force has nine A-10 ground-attack aircraft squadrons, they lack air-to-air and multirole combat capability.

Kelly said these fighter shortages are most acutely felt in the Pacific, noting that the US needs 13 fighter squadrons in the region but now has only 11. In terms of crisis response forces, he mentions that the US is five squadrons short.

Apart from squadron shortages, Kelly mentions that only three out of eight squadrons are transitioning to new aircraft, resulting in a fighter force that is smaller, older and less capable.

He pointed out that the US fighter fleet is, on average, 28.8 years old compared to 9.7 years in 1991, with readiness levels plummeting as pilots get only 9.7 flight hours a month, compared to 22.3 just before the 1991 Gulf War.

Flying is a skill that atrophies without practice, notes Kate Odell in a February 2022 article for the Wall Street Journal. She notes that a fighter pilot needs 200 flight hours a year to stay sharp, with four or three practice sorties a week to maintain proficiency. At one or two sorties, Odell mentions that a pilot will deteriorate in ability and comfort in the cockpit.

Kelly makes a case for a fighter force that will dissuade any opponent from contemplating war with the US, making the case that no country in its proper frame of mind would pick a fight with a country with 134 modernized, well-trained and well-equipped fighter squadrons.

To achieve these force numbers, Kelly states that the US must maintain a production target of 72 fighters per year and keep its allies at a comparable level of capability, as the latter will be critical force multipliers.

He proposes a 4+1 fighter force mix for the 2030s, consisting of F-22s, F-35s, F-15EXs, F-16s, and A-10s. The F-22 will be the primary air superiority platform to be supplanted by the upcoming Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter.

The F-35 would be the workhorse for operations in contested airspace, supported by the F-15EX carrying long-range air-to-air weapons and 5th-generation sensor capabilities. F-16s would be a general-purpose model, while the A-10 will remain in its ground attack aircraft role.

In contrast to the US, Xiaobing Li, in the Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, notes that China has 1,800 fighters divided into each of its five theater commands and organized into seven to 10 fighter brigades having three to six fighter groups, with each group having 30 to 50 aircraft. Regarding training, the defense website Global Security notes that in 2017 China’s fighter pilots managed 100 to 110 flight hours per year.

Given the flight hours mentioned by Global Security, there may not be much difference between the flying hours of US and Chinese fighter pilots. However, Lyle Morris notes in a 2016 RAND article that China’s fighter pilot training scenarios are highly scripted and tied to ground control, potentially making them less responsive and adaptable to rapidly-changing combat scenarios.

Morris notes that China has tried to simulate unscripted scenarios with systemic reforms to train its pilots to fight and win against militarily superior opponents such as the US.

He says China has given its pilots the responsibility to make their flight plans and complete autonomy over their sorties. Still, Morris notes that it will take time to reform the rigid operational practices institutionalized in China’s air force.

Apart from reforming rigid training practices, China has fast-tracked its pilot training program, notes Liu Xuanzun in a July 2022 article for Global Times. Liu notes that under the old training program pilot cadets required four to six years of flight training to operate a fourth-generation fighter, but the new program trims the period to three years.

This accelerated training program aims to match the record production rates of China’s fighter jets. In a December 2021 article for Global Times, Liu Xuanzun notes that China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), achieved record production of its J-15 carrier-based fighter and J-16 multirole fighter jet and even finished its production quotas in advance, despite difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the article did not divulge any precise production numbers. Against America’s 4+1 fighter force mix, China can field a combination of J-20 and FC-31 fifth-generation fighters; J-11, J-15 and J-16 heavyweight fighters in various configurations; and J-10 lightweight fighters.

Moreover, in terms of qualitative improvements to its fighter jets, China has been steadily improving the quality of its jet engines, which were a significant handicap for its fighters, and substantially improving its air-to-air missiles to the point of exceeding Western models in some cases.

Kelly’s proposal to bulk up US fighter strength is reminiscent of the Reagan administration’s 600-ship navy plan, which aimed to overmatch the Soviet Navy.

The US accomplished this massive naval shipbuilding program by investing in proven platforms and, at the same time, making critical investments in emerging technologies, notes Joseph Sims in an August 2022 article for the US Naval Institute.

While Kelly’s mention of tested platforms such as the F-15EX, F-16 and A-10 balanced with newer models such as the F-22 and F-35 may follow this logic, Sims cautions that the US cannot trade quality for quantity, which may give a false sense of actual capability and hence security.

He also says that quantity is essential and that there should be an absolute minimum number of combatant units that force levels are not permitted to go below.



Hi,

The american general is being deceitful & lying. After ww2---americans believe in 10: 1 superiority in numbers.

5:1---they become concerned---. 3:1 #'s superiority---the will get into combat on their own terms.

Chinese should be very concerned over this statement---. It is like showing the right and hitting with the left.

I like how this article is about the Air Force while everybody here on PDF keeps focusing on yapping about Aircraft Carriers and Navy planes.
Hi,

Carriers carry the planes to that region into combat.
 
Last edited:

Goritoes

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May, but China knows very well they are still no match for Full US Military might, they are catching up but Americans are advancing fast as well, so its hard for Chinese to catch up unless some major calamity hits US or China suddenly gets a lot of Allies.
 

Hamartia Antidote

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Carriers carry the planes to that region into combat.

Carriers have nothing to do with the Air Force. They never ferry Air Force fighter jets anywhere. They carry Navy and Marine planes.

I don't even think they could get them on or off the carrier easily with a crane even if they wanted to since they aren't designed to be lifted off the ground that way.
 
Last edited:

MastanKhan

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Carriers have nothing to do with the Air Force. They never ferry Air Force fighter jets anywhere. They carry Navy and Marine planes.

I don't even think they could get them on or off the carrier easily with a crane even if they wanted to since they aren't designed to be lifted off the ground that way.
Hi,

I did not say anything contrary to that---but when the general state 'air force '---he was alluding to 'air power ' and not to the title of the organization.

May, but China knows very well they are still no match for Full US Military might, they are catching up but Americans are advancing fast as well, so its hard for Chinese to catch up unless some major calamity hits US or China suddenly gets a lot of Allies.
Hi,

Or unless an alien ship lands in china---.
 

CLUMSY

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Lol China would still get its stuff rocked in case of an actual conflict.

Delusional indian fool are you.
Oh is he wrong? Dont forget the US Navy literally has the 2nd largest airforce in the world. Thats not accounting for the qualitative edge in aircraft and doctrine.
 

Ajamal

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China may now have air superiority over US in Pacific

Ageing and fewer US fighters flown by undertrained pilots have likely already fallen behind China’s rapid fleet expansion
By GABRIEL HONRADA
SEPTEMBER 24, 2022

How_Chinas_stealthy_new_J20-f7143b78fa45dea3cc4f88b787b17cbb.png

The J-20 is China’s most advanced stealth fighter jet in service. Photo: Twitter

China’s jet fighter force may have already caught up with the quality and quantity of the US, prompting new urgent calls in Washington to build up and modernize the US fighter fleet.

US Air Combat Command Chief General Mark Kelley said that America’s combat air forces are 12 squadrons short of multiple aircraft types at the US Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference this month, as reported by the Air and Space Forces Magazine.

He cautioned that the US had departed the era of conventional overmatch, with US combat air forces less than half of what they were during the 1991 Gulf War. However, exact aircraft numbers are highly classified; fighter squadrons generally consist of between 18 and 24 jets.

“When you have conventional overmatch, strategic risk is low. But that’s not where we’ve arrived in terms of conventional deterrence,” Kelly said.

He noted that while the US Air Force needs 60 fighter squadrons, it has only 48 of those to carry out its missions for homeland defense, overseas contingencies, overseas presence and crisis response.

He added that while the US Air Force has nine A-10 ground-attack aircraft squadrons, they lack air-to-air and multirole combat capability.

Kelly said these fighter shortages are most acutely felt in the Pacific, noting that the US needs 13 fighter squadrons in the region but now has only 11. In terms of crisis response forces, he mentions that the US is five squadrons short.

Apart from squadron shortages, Kelly mentions that only three out of eight squadrons are transitioning to new aircraft, resulting in a fighter force that is smaller, older and less capable.

He pointed out that the US fighter fleet is, on average, 28.8 years old compared to 9.7 years in 1991, with readiness levels plummeting as pilots get only 9.7 flight hours a month, compared to 22.3 just before the 1991 Gulf War.

Flying is a skill that atrophies without practice, notes Kate Odell in a February 2022 article for the Wall Street Journal. She notes that a fighter pilot needs 200 flight hours a year to stay sharp, with four or three practice sorties a week to maintain proficiency. At one or two sorties, Odell mentions that a pilot will deteriorate in ability and comfort in the cockpit.

Kelly makes a case for a fighter force that will dissuade any opponent from contemplating war with the US, making the case that no country in its proper frame of mind would pick a fight with a country with 134 modernized, well-trained and well-equipped fighter squadrons.

To achieve these force numbers, Kelly states that the US must maintain a production target of 72 fighters per year and keep its allies at a comparable level of capability, as the latter will be critical force multipliers.

He proposes a 4+1 fighter force mix for the 2030s, consisting of F-22s, F-35s, F-15EXs, F-16s, and A-10s. The F-22 will be the primary air superiority platform to be supplanted by the upcoming Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) fighter.

The F-35 would be the workhorse for operations in contested airspace, supported by the F-15EX carrying long-range air-to-air weapons and 5th-generation sensor capabilities. F-16s would be a general-purpose model, while the A-10 will remain in its ground attack aircraft role.

In contrast to the US, Xiaobing Li, in the Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, notes that China has 1,800 fighters divided into each of its five theater commands and organized into seven to 10 fighter brigades having three to six fighter groups, with each group having 30 to 50 aircraft. Regarding training, the defense website Global Security notes that in 2017 China’s fighter pilots managed 100 to 110 flight hours per year.

Given the flight hours mentioned by Global Security, there may not be much difference between the flying hours of US and Chinese fighter pilots. However, Lyle Morris notes in a 2016 RAND article that China’s fighter pilot training scenarios are highly scripted and tied to ground control, potentially making them less responsive and adaptable to rapidly-changing combat scenarios.

Morris notes that China has tried to simulate unscripted scenarios with systemic reforms to train its pilots to fight and win against militarily superior opponents such as the US.

He says China has given its pilots the responsibility to make their flight plans and complete autonomy over their sorties. Still, Morris notes that it will take time to reform the rigid operational practices institutionalized in China’s air force.

Apart from reforming rigid training practices, China has fast-tracked its pilot training program, notes Liu Xuanzun in a July 2022 article for Global Times. Liu notes that under the old training program pilot cadets required four to six years of flight training to operate a fourth-generation fighter, but the new program trims the period to three years.

This accelerated training program aims to match the record production rates of China’s fighter jets. In a December 2021 article for Global Times, Liu Xuanzun notes that China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), achieved record production of its J-15 carrier-based fighter and J-16 multirole fighter jet and even finished its production quotas in advance, despite difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the article did not divulge any precise production numbers. Against America’s 4+1 fighter force mix, China can field a combination of J-20 and FC-31 fifth-generation fighters; J-11, J-15 and J-16 heavyweight fighters in various configurations; and J-10 lightweight fighters.

Moreover, in terms of qualitative improvements to its fighter jets, China has been steadily improving the quality of its jet engines, which were a significant handicap for its fighters, and substantially improving its air-to-air missiles to the point of exceeding Western models in some cases.

Kelly’s proposal to bulk up US fighter strength is reminiscent of the Reagan administration’s 600-ship navy plan, which aimed to overmatch the Soviet Navy.

The US accomplished this massive naval shipbuilding program by investing in proven platforms and, at the same time, making critical investments in emerging technologies, notes Joseph Sims in an August 2022 article for the US Naval Institute.

While Kelly’s mention of tested platforms such as the F-15EX, F-16 and A-10 balanced with newer models such as the F-22 and F-35 may follow this logic, Sims cautions that the US cannot trade quality for quantity, which may give a false sense of actual capability and hence security.

He also says that quantity is essential and that there should be an absolute minimum number of combatant units that force levels are not permitted to go below.




Here is the air power rating.


US Airforce-242.9
US Navy Air wing-142.4
Russian Airforce-114.2
US army Aviation-112.6
US Marin Corp-85.3
India-69.4
PLA Airforce-63.8


It is very surprising that Still Chinese believe that their air force may be superior in Pacific. The fact of the matter is that US navy air wing is 2 times more powerful than whole PLA Airforce. PLA is full of Junk planes and Chinses dream to dominate US in pacific. Just a high rank US army officer has said that they are least bothered about J 20 but Chinese believe that US should bother.
 

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