U.S. Air Force via Wikimedia Commons

As China dramatically expands its People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) capabilities, the US Navy is increasingly challenged to handle this growing threat, particularly in the Western Pacific. China is now deploying huge numbers of new, capable combatant ships, submarines, and aircraft armed with short and long-range Anti-Ship Cruise Missiles (ASCMs).

The US Navy’s ability to counter China’s mushrooming naval forces with its current surface, subsurface and air fleet — alone — is limited. One answer — bring in the Air Force.


According to Air Force Magazine, the “US Air Force can provide a cost-effective solution to meet the challenges posed by China in the Pacific by renewing training and equipping its bombers for maritime strike missions.”

Or as The National Interest notes, “In particular, the brass want the long-range bombers to help deter Chinese aggression in the Pacific and, in the highly unlikely event of major war, send Beijing’s hundreds of warships to the ocean bottom.”

Air Force Magazine adds:

Air Force bombers can launch large salvos of ASCMs and other weapons at short notice and from multiple directions. Stealth bombers can penetrate the umbrella of Chinese air defenses to threaten and destroy Chinese naval assets. These aircraft can also cue non-stealthy aircraft and other shooters for over-the-horizon strikes, further complicating adversary defensive calculations.

US Air Force bombers offer joint and combined combatant commanders a strong, cost-effective, and efficient deterrent to Chinese naval power; bolster US Navy and allied forces in continuing efforts to counter China; and enhance American national security options to respond to potential Chinese aggression in the Asia-Pacific theater and around the globe.

Specifically, this will entail using long-range B-52, B-1, B-2, and the latest B-21, strategic bombers — armed with Harpoon anti-ship missiles, AGM-158 joint air-to-surface standoff munition (JASSM) weapons, and the latest Long Range Air to Surface Missile (LRASM).

Using Air Force bombers in a maritime strike role will also involve enhanced training for strategic bomber crews in the conventional missions they may not be proficient in — “sea surveillance, mine laying and conventional ‘iron bomb’ missions.”

It will also mean, as The National Interest describes, a lot more low-level “wave top” flying by these huge bombers, “skimming the ocean surface at an altitude of just 80 or 90 feet, lower than the deck of an aircraft carrier.” Using these bombers, weapons, and tactics could give the Air Force a significant ability to help the Navy take down China’s growing fleet.

As retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula says in Air Force Magazine, “Rather than a costly naval buildup that might not achieve the necessary increase in maritime striking power to meet the demands of our national military strategy, an asymmetric—and truly joint—approach is to rely on Air Force bombers to increase US maritime strike capability.”

While we still need to grow the US Navy in size and capability, using Air Force bombers appears to be one great solution to jointly help the Navy counter the Chinese naval threat in the Pacific.

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Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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Sirdirkfan
Sirdirkfan
2 years ago

When China put up its satellites it took great care to inform the world that those satellites are armed.
Satellites sit higher than any F-22 which makes the F-22s targets.
Think it means that the next ‘war’ will be a satellite war which is why our guy who’s always a thousand steps ahead of the world, especially enemies like China, built us a Space Force.
Go Trump ! – KAG 2020

Teruqua Jones
Teruqua Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Sirdirkfan

It would really surprise China to see bombs coming at them from space! We need to vaporize that horrible country.

James Everett
James Everett
2 years ago
Reply to  Teruqua Jones

But target their leaders, not their citizens.

Omega 2
Omega 2
2 years ago

START BY TAKING OUT CHINA’S SAND ISLANDS FOR THERE NAVY SHIPS TO CRIPPLE THERE FLIMSY NAVY! SEE HOW THEY LIKE OUR VIRUS IDEAS!

Brit Conner
Brit Conner
2 years ago

This is a great idea. And we could start small. A recent article told how the Chinese invaded the Indonesian fishing waters with their fishing boats, using dredging-type fishing that destroyed the delicate bottoms as they scooped up all marine life. And they were accompanied by Chinese Coast Guard boats just in case Indonesia might object. In cases like this we could use armed Predator drones to take out the armed coast guard boats and chase away the fishing boats. China has no legal right to go inside the 12-mile limits of other nations. Give the warning about next time, then make it happen.

Terry
2 years ago
Reply to  Brit Conner

Take out their satellites they have armed them an act of war against humanity