Hailed as the world's most advanced air-superiority aircraft, the F-22 Raptor, built jointly by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, is making many air forces water at the mouth. The chief of the Australian Defense Force, Air Marshal Angus Houston, has called it "the most outstanding fighter plane ever built." It is no wonder that countries like Japan and Australia have sought to acquire it.
But so far, Washington has been loath to provide even its closest allies with the aircraft, mostly over fears that the technology -- the F-22 has, among other features, stealth characteristics -- could be passed on to third parties.
In Japan's case, it is not so much that Tokyo would willfully sell the technology to a country such as China, but rather that it could be leaked. As Kyodo News agency reported in July, leaks of data pertaining to the US-built Aegis defense system by Japan's Self-Defense Forces, among others, have fed fears at the Pentagon that Japan cannot be fully trusted with advanced technology such as that found in the Raptor. Similar fears over the years have made it difficult for Taiwan to obtain some of the weapons it has sought.
But Washington could soon revisit its policy on the F-22 and other weapons systems. Despite ever-growing defense budgets, the US military is nevertheless starting to feel the pain of its various costly deployments in theaters such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Part of that overstretch could be remedied by further empowering its allies. NATO's encroachment into former Soviet territory since the early 1990s is a perfect example.
A similar phenomenon could develop in Asia, where the US is making efforts to retain its military lead. If, because of its responsibilities elsewhere, it continues to be unable to mobilize enough forces to counter what it perceives as a rising Chinese military threat, the US will feel inclined to increasingly rely on its regional allies. But reliance alone, without giving its allies the muscle they need to provide a credible countervailing force, would be meaningless.
In other words, the proxies will need to be given the weapons necessary for them to maintain a military edge over an opponent whose modernization of its own forces has made leaps in recent years and that, following the US' shooting down of a dead spy satellite last week and fears of an arms race in space, could soon accelerate.
Not only would this approach allow the US to contain or encircle China, but pressure from the military-industrial complex in the US will also lead to a relaxing of export controls that have stalled the sale of F-22s to other countries. As history has taught us, when business interests coincide with geopolitical considerations -- and the Asia-Pacific region certainly provides us with such an example -- whatever reluctance states might have to share what is theirs will evaporate.
During his visit to Australia on the weekend, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was once more asked by his Australian counterpart if the US would be willing to sell Australia F-22s to ensure air superiority over its northern neighbors.
While he did not make promises, Gates -- the same Gates who berated NATO for not doing or spending enough -- said he would raise the issue back home.
Odd as it may seem, approval may depend on Iran. If the situation there degenerates to the point the US feels the need for a military response, the Asia-Pacific will become of secondary importance to the US, which will need its regional proxies more than ever. If this happens, look for the F-22 in the skies Down Under.
As China’s economy was meant to drive global economic growth this year, its dramatic slowdown is sounding alarm bells across the world, with economists and experts criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) for his unwillingness or inability to respond to the nation’s myriad mounting crises. The Wall Street Journal reported that investors have been calling on Beijing to take bolder steps to boost output — especially by promoting consumer spending — but Xi has deep-rooted philosophical objections to Western-style consumption-driven growth, seeing it as wasteful and at odds with his goal of making China a world-leading industrial and technological powerhouse, and
For Xi Jinping (習近平) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the military conquest of Taiwan is an absolute requirement for the CCP’s much more fantastic ambition: control over our solar system. Controlling Taiwan will allow the CCP to dominate the First Island Chain and to better neutralize the Philippines, decreasing the threat to the most important People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) space base, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. Satellite and manned space launches from the Jiuquan and Xichang Satellite Launch Centers regularly pass close to Taiwan, which is also a very serious threat to the PLA,
During a news conference in Vietnam on Sept. 10, a reporter asked US President Joe Biden about the possibility of China invading Taiwan. Biden replied that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is too busy handling major domestic economic problems to launch an invasion of Taiwan. On Wednesday last week, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office published a document outlining 21 measures to make the Chinese-controlled Fujian Province into a demonstration zone for relations with Taiwan. The planned measures would expand favorable treatment for Taiwanese people and companies, and seek to attract people from Taiwan to buy property and seek employment in Fujian.
More than 100 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) vessels and aircraft were detected making incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Sunday and Monday, the Ministry of National Defense reported on Monday. The ministry responded to the incursions by calling on China to “immediately stop such destructive unilateral actions,” saying that Beijing’s actions could “easily lead to a sharp escalation in tensions and worsen regional security.” Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said that the unusually high number of incursions over such a short time was likely Beijing’s response to efforts