Asia Pacific

China aiming for air control over Western Pacific, surveillance as far as Izu chain: report


In a report on its air strategy, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army plans to broaden its air surveillance and attack capabilities to the Western Pacific, including the vicinity of Japan, to ensure its command of the air, it was learned Sunday.

The report seen by Kyodo News emphasizes the need to develop and enhance nine types of “strategic equipment,” such as a new type of strategic bomber and a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense ground-based interceptor system with an eye specifically toward the United States, which is strengthening its so-called pivot to Asia.

While the expansion by China’s navy, such as its building of a second aircraft carrier, is attracting attention, the report by the Air Force Command Academy shows that country’s air force has also started developing a similar expansion strategy. As a result, conflict over the sea with the United States is likely to deepen further.

The academy, a think tank in Beijing of an air force leadership training organ, prepared the report in November last year. Reports by the academy have previously served as policy guidelines.

It lists the United States, Japan, Taiwan, India and Vietnam as “threats” in its military airspace until 2030. It proposes broadening the scope of surveillance from a “first island chain” linking Okinawa, Taiwan and the Philippines and one of China’s defense lines in the open ocean to a “second island chain” linking the Izu Island chain, Guam and New Guinea.

The report affords a glimpse into the Chinese military’s confidence in thwarting the U.S. military, which has been critical of China’s controversial land reclamation activities in the South China Sea. It mentions enhancing the ability to attack U.S. bases on the China side of the second archipelago line with strategic bombers, and “deter U.S. military intervention” in the event of a defense operation involving Chinese islands.

The nine types of strategic equipment also include a high-speed air-launched cruise missile, a large transport plane, and air ship that moves in the upper atmosphere, a next-generation fighter, unmanned attack aircraft, air force satellites and precision-guided bombs.

Regarding the air defense identification zone that China established over the East China Sea in November 2013, the report proposes cooperation between the air force and navy to enhance the air defense capability, and stresses the need to boost joint training.

The report also places considerable emphasis on developments in the space and missile fields. It says the air force would be put in charge of a space unit to be established in the future, adding that careful examination is needed regarded the form it will take.

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