A U.S. Strategy to Counter China’s Airpower Modernization

  • Lieutenant Colonel David S. Eaglin

After years in the Middle East and Afghanistan, America formally asserted its renewed attention and commitment to Asia with the announcement of the U.S. Pacific rebalance in 2012. With this policy shift, the U.S. turned its focus squarely toward China whose rise challenges U.S. influence. After more than 200 years of contact, China stands today as neither enemy nor close ally of the United States. While China has long maintained a large Army, its recent economic boom has allowed it to significantly upgrade its airpower capabilities enabling power projection well beyond its borders. These improvements have stirred regional alarm and threaten the existing international order where the U.S. has long stood as the hegemonic leader. Historically, the phenomenon of rising powers challenging or surpassing the existing leading power has rarely ended peacefully. Thus, America must develop a strategy to counterbalance China's rising air arm in order to secure U.S. interests, reassure allies, and maintain regional stability.