Home » Air » China On Pace to Challenge U.S. Airpower Edge: General

China On Pace to Challenge U.S. Airpower Edge: General

by Bryant Jordan on September 18, 2013

China1NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — As China continues to enhance its military’s technology and equipment, the U.S. Air Forces Pacific Command needs to be able to respond – even if it’s not against China, the commander of PacAF said Wednesday.

“We may not necessarily fight China, we will fight their stuff,” Gen. Herbert Carlisle said during a presentation at the Air Force Association’s annual conference here.

Carlisle, who took over the Pacific theater command just over a year ago, said enemies and potential enemies have seen what American airpower can do “and their objective in many cases is to keep us as far as away as they possibly can.”

Carlisle was not alone in raising the specter of an emerging and growing China as a key challenge to the U.S.

On Tuesday, Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command, told reporters that China is forging ahead with fifth generation fighters that will challenge American airpower in the region in about five years unless the U.S. is able to field the F-35 Lightning II as scheduled.

The Air Force is slated to buy 1,763 F-35s — barring budget cuts that reduce the number. The plane was already behind schedule before the economy crashed in 2008 and began taking a toll on the Defense Department.

“If we keep slowing the ramp, we’ll never get to 1,763 because I’ll be ‘bone yarding’ the first ones before I get the last ones. It’s critical we get to that number,” Hostage said.

PacAF spelled out a year ago its need for the F-35, emphasizing in its annual strategic plan that it remained a priority for the theater.

“New threats and investment needs are not theoretical possibilities for the future; they are here now,” the plan stated.

Carlisle on Wednesday called China “the pacing threat” because it’s the most capable in the region. He also noted that Russia is developing more sophisticated capabilities and exporting them to other countries.

“These advance capabilities will be ubiquitous throughout the world just because they go to the highest bidder,” he said.

They’re using electronic attack systems able to operate in a spectrum that can wreak havoc on GPS and radar systems, Carlisle said. Potential adversaries wanting to keep the U.S. at a distance look to do that with advanced surface-to-air missiles land and anti-ship missiles.

Integrated air and missile defense will be one of the biggest challenges, he said, requiring continued capability in strike ops, active defense – including Patriot missiles, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missiles – and passive defense capabilities such as flexible basing of launch and fuel assets, concealment and camouflage, and agile command and control capability.

The military’s emphasis on the Pacific region – dubbed the Pacific Pivot – is a response to the U.S. determination that national security strategy requires a more robust presence.

“This administration has said that by necessity we will refocus and rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region just because of [its] importance,” he said. “Thirty-six countries [and] 55 percent of gross domestic product of the world is in this region, and clearly the health and security and stability of the Asian-Pacific region is key to not only our country, but pretty much every country in the world.”

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{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

blight_ September 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm

"Thirty-six countries [and] 55 percent of gross domestic product of the world is in this region"

Why yes, a good fraction of that 55% used to be American, but now it's…you know whos.

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USS ENTERPRISE September 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Its coming back though.

Slowly but surely…..

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NaVet September 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I'm a little confused by these numbers. Since the US has aprox. 21% of the world GDP and the EU contries 22% I am somewhat sceptical that almost all of the remaining world GDP can be concentrated where you say it is. Could you clarify this please?

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A. Nonymous September 19, 2013 at 11:05 am

That 55% must include our own 21% of world GDP (and possibly South America as well). South and Central America is around 8% of world GDP. Sub-Saharan Africa's portion of world GDP is a heart-breakingly low 2%.

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blight_ September 19, 2013 at 6:02 pm

You're absolutely correct. I posted a few times, but the World Bank numbers suggest US at ~20%, the EU close to that, China at 10%, Japan at 8%, India at 7ish, I think. Not sure how to make numbers add up to 55%, but if you throw in Russia, Vietnam, Australia, Singapore…hmm…

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Atomic Walrus September 19, 2013 at 7:01 pm

You realize that US GDP continues to grow, right? It's not like those countries have actually cut US GDP with their growth. If, on the other hand, you're fixated on trying to maintain the relative strength of the US compared with the rest of the world compared with its post-WW2 high – well, you're just going to have to get over that.

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jack cox September 24, 2013 at 11:26 am

free trade-globalization, imposed on us by the feral reserve presidential puppets so the trading clan can resurrect nobility in a world of servants, slaves, and hirelings, that is were our manufacturing infrastructure has been sent by the predator NYSE and political arena, who see common america like their herd of cattle

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Bernard September 18, 2013 at 6:40 pm

The F35 is not going to help American air power against foreign aircraft. The F35 is ill suited to AA missions. Furthermore Chinese technology is far off, this is just another boogeyman that doesn't exist. We don't need the Cold War hype all over again.

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BajaWarrior September 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Says who?

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jackiecox September 21, 2013 at 3:57 am

words are cheap

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theazcowboy September 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm

The F-35 JSF will (((quitely))) disappear as more and more problems arise + its inadaqute engine that needs to be replaced and a Pentagon that has refused to spend the money on this (back-to-back = F-22) LEMON!

FYI: China's F-10, F31 and F-35 (No, not the USAF's JSF) 5th generation fighters (last 2) has the Pentagon worried as their performance has been superior.

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radiogaga September 24, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Well, just buy those planes from China then. I am sure it will a lot cheaper. It's not like China doesn't want to sell the planes. Instead of wasting money on one F-35, the US can acquire 3 or 4 J-31s.

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Rexford Dundon September 22, 2013 at 11:38 am

China has stealth fighters in development, they have the equivalent of the Aegis weapons system, they have very quiet SSN's and SSBN's. If anyone thinks their military is still stuck in the 60's you need to get your head out of the sand, and do it damn quick.

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radiogaga September 24, 2013 at 7:49 pm

Very quiet SSN's and SSBN's? Are you sure?

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Lance September 18, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Bernard nailed it. The JSF is not meant to be our "Super fighter" of the 21st century the ill fated F-22 was that and now production is way over!!!!!! They wanted to upgrade F-15s now they want to ditch both planes to save this billion dollar boondoggle.

I dont trust Pentagon generals anymore they have so much kickbacks with money and trips and have there pet project. Heck, they say Egypt would be a mortal threat to the US is they could get there money maker projects safe from cuts. I let the CIA and DIA worry about ten years down the road over China Russia and who ever else the defense industry wants to make a bogyman to give them money we cant afford to pay any more.

China owns us financially they wouldn't want to attack there money client who pumps there economy up.

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USS ENTERPRISE September 18, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Yeah, true. Also, there is the US Pacific Fleet. Does that, like, not count or something?

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orly? September 19, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Fleets plural.

There is more than one.

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spurlockda September 22, 2013 at 5:40 pm

You are wrong – there is only one PACFLT. Either you are not Navy or you didn't pay attention in class.

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Rest Pal September 20, 2013 at 11:40 am

No, the entire US military won't count when the best you can do is mutual destruction. Soon, China will be able to do to the US what the US did to USSR – bankrupt the US by dragging it through an arms race by virtue of China's bigger, stronger economy, and far bigger, smarter, and more industrious pool of scientists and engineers. I'm not saying China will. But China will have that option within 3-4 years.

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blight_ September 20, 2013 at 5:49 pm

Never thought of it that way. Hrm.

They aren't necessarily hooked on us…we are just consumers for their products.

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Rest Pal September 20, 2013 at 10:31 pm

more precisely, consumers who borrow money from China to buy Chinese products, without the ability to pay the money back in full.

USS ENTERPRISE September 21, 2013 at 11:36 am

Consumers that, if we stop buying, they stop prancing around to the bank…..

spurlockda September 22, 2013 at 5:45 pm

I'm not sure about their scientists and engineers – I believe they are more proficient at reverse engineering as opposed to innovation. Not 100% sure but that thought is running around in my head. Could be brain washing :-)

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valbonne September 19, 2013 at 5:17 am

China invested over US$3Trillion in US Government Bonds and other Money Instruments. Which country will go to war with such a business partner? US Military still have Cold-War mentality with Russia & China.

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majr0d September 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Yep. it's the US' cold war mentality causing Russia and China to block even a strong condemnation of Syria's use of chemical weapons against civilians.

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blight_ September 19, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Why even Cold War mentality? I'm sure they're just trying to save Syria from the New Axis Of Evil regime change list.

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Stephen N Russell September 18, 2013 at 9:06 pm

China on par due to intelligence, tech thefts alone to = US in airpower
Seen many plane pics on Facebook of adv Chinese types= to F22 etc.
Scary

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Pilgrimman September 19, 2013 at 11:17 am

Because Facebook is a great source of totally unbiased and accurate information!

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USS ENTERPRISE September 19, 2013 at 8:39 pm

What, the J-20? Isn't it a bit, big, for a nimble fighter?

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Jeff September 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm

FYI, it's slightly smaller than a Su-27.

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Tom September 20, 2013 at 11:30 am

The US military would like you to believe the J-20 and similar Chinese efforts are a real threat, just like they did with Russia and the Mig-25 in the early 1970's. The reality is that the J-20 is probably inferior to current F-15's due to inferior engine technology, electronics, and manufacturing quality.

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radiogaga September 24, 2013 at 8:12 pm

What's your proof or evidence of the reality, if it's indeed a reality?

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hibeam September 18, 2013 at 10:37 pm

We sent them all of our jobs, both high tech and low tech. Then we let them flood our markets without reciprocal access to their markets? And now this? Big fat friggin surprise. Who could have possibly foreseen this day coming?

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Rest Pal September 19, 2013 at 12:40 am

It's the US government that has been denying US companies access to the Chinese market. Most of China's orders for products made by US companies have failed to go through the approval process in Congress because of various restrictions. China doesn't need most of what US companies make. The stuff China does need and want to buy are mostly expensive high-tech equipments. US companies could have been making a lot of money but radicals in Congress refuse to review or revise trade restrictions involving high tech products.

China has been more open than even Japan when it comes to market access.

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blight_ September 19, 2013 at 6:00 pm

I thought the People's Republic requires joint partnership with local companies to sell product in China…most are happy to do so.

Like us, they covet high quality stuff. When Pratt and Whitney wants to make stuff in China, they sit up and take notice. When GE makes CFE engines in the PRC, they are also happy to roll out the carpet.

When it comes to stuff that has export controls and requires Congressional meddling, the waffling begins.

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Rest Pal September 20, 2013 at 12:39 am

That's not the same as denial of market access. The arrangement had been made a long time ago with US trade representatives in the WTO negotiation stage.

China is more open than Japan when it comes to market access. Google it.

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Belesari September 20, 2013 at 5:55 pm

And one has been our Ally for over 50 years and has a people who generally just want to be left alone and also haven't hinted that we should split the world between us.

The Japanese are our Allies, Aren't threatening their neighbors with war or telling them to mind their betters. Aren't ruling over their people like the communist party.

The average Chinese person is cool the problem is that there is a very nasty trend in their history. When they are on the rise they become very expansionist and dominating. They have in the past invaded just about everyone around them multiple times. Then civil war and famine and chaos and repeat. Add in the times where the social progress just halts because their ruling class decides it needs to…

I want to be at peace with the world. However as the saying goes..If you want peace prepare for war.

Wulf145 September 20, 2013 at 5:33 am

"I thought the People's Republic requires joint partnership with local companies to sell product in China…most are happy to do so. "

No, that is only if you want to produce or manufacture something in China.

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PolicyWonk September 19, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Actually, Patrick Buchanan most certainly did. During 2001-2008, he wrote numerous editorials decrying the virtual give-away of tens of thousands of dual-use technologies, hard-won manufacturing techniques, millions of American jobs and the resulting tax base – in return for short-term profits for American companies.

According to Buchanan, the 8.2 million new folks added to welfare, unemployment and food stamps, were due to the previous administrations give-away of technologies in return for access to Chinese markets. He warned that the Chinese would use this immense influx of new technologies to rapidly bolster their defense spending, catch-up quickly w/r/t weapons system design, and would start throwing their weight around diplomatically.

All of those predictions, lamentably, came true. As Buchanan put it, the Chinese acquired more technology from the US in less than 8 years than the Soviets did in 60 years of cold war.

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blight_ September 19, 2013 at 2:26 pm

During the '90s, our sights were focused south, not west.

How people pay for their shortsightedness.

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Rest Pal September 23, 2013 at 1:27 pm

quote: — "the Chinese acquired more technology from the US in less than 8 years than the Soviets did in 60 years of cold war."

I think by "acquired" you mean the Chinese purchased some technologies from US companies. (China has been buying industrial techs from around the world – Germany, France, Australia, Japan, Israel, and Russia.) As such, they are legal commercial transactions between consential parties. Buchanan has no business accusing any party of wrong doing.

sorry, Buchanan has no credibility. Even a casual review of his statements and policy arguments over the years will review a unmistakable bias, prejudice and false information and accusations.

Buchanan himself relies on new-con propaganda sources for various information, agenda, policies and support. Absolutely no credibility.

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John September 18, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Here's an idea. Let the countries near China start spending for their own defense!

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jackiecox September 21, 2013 at 3:59 am

It requires decades of engineering design, and longer to develop manufacturing processes related to defense equipment, its not like building a model airplane from balse wood

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radiogaga September 24, 2013 at 8:05 pm

John, you don't seem to know a thing about countries near China. Mongolia might be well on its way to re-join China and become an autonomous province. N.Korea is a long time ally and friend of China. Laos and Cambodia have already become a part of Greater China's economy. Singapore is 80% Chinese. Malaysia is about 20% Chinese and closely linked to China in trade. Even Vietnam, which has fought a border war with China in 1979, is rapidly integrating into the Chinese economy. Indonesia has a Chinese minority that controls well over 50% of the country's economy; same for the Philippines. Pakistan is China's staunchest ally. India has a border dispute with China but its trade with China far exceeds its trade with the US. Iran has friendly relations with China, so do Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan. Russia has been among the largest energy, technology and weapons providers to China. Taiwan is practically 100% Chinese and the majority of people identify with mainland China far more than it does the US.

You really need to read and learn more before you speak or post.

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Rest Pal September 25, 2013 at 12:16 am

Very good. That's why the US has been trying its best to instigate conflicts in the region. We can always count on the US to continue using its same old M.O. – false flag ops, covert funding of criminal gangs, covert military aids, and assistance in subversive operations and sabotage. Just the past 5 years we have seen US evil, dark hands in Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iran, N.Korea, Somalia, …

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now2node September 19, 2013 at 3:42 am

Reply to John

Japan and S Korea already spend A LOT. S Korea pays for a BIG portion of operating cost of USFK. The cost sharing has been in place for decades.

The other Asian nations cannot afford to spend as much, because they are not that rich.

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Rest Pal September 19, 2013 at 10:32 am

Japan and S. Korea are suckers.

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Belesari September 20, 2013 at 6:00 pm

What a informative opinion. Please tell me more.

Maybe they could be more like Palestine. Same land as the Israelis. Are given untold billions over the years. Result one is a shitty Islamic shit hole the other is one of the most socially and technologically advanced countries in the world with lots of tree's, gardens and such. Of course the Israelis have planted those tree's while the palies have turned their children into bombs and complained how the world hates them.

But you would know all of that from past comments you've made on this site.

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radiogaga September 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm

What's the point of your rants about Palestine and Islam?

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Jpoint September 19, 2013 at 10:26 am

The claim that trading partners do not go to war due to economic concerns has been repeatedly proven false historically, yet it seems to be one of those items of "knowledge" that gets repeated enough that people believe it. The US and Japan were very large trading partners in the years leading up to WW2. (A significant number of the weapons they used against us were wholly/partially US made) Hitler and Stalin did tremendous amounts of trade before Operation Barbarossa. (German soldiers actually waited for one last Russian trade with goods to enter German-controlled Poland before crossing the border) Pre-WW1 Europe was bustling with commerce among the nations that would later go to war – trade reached its peak in 1913, right before war broke out. The US Civil and Revolutionary Wars also featured very substantial trading partners going to war. Ditto the Napoleonic Wars.

The US and China may never (hopefully) go to war, but claiming that they won't do such a thing due to trade or money (including bonds, just another form of trade) is wishful thinking.

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Mjr. Paynendaz September 19, 2013 at 1:06 pm

So true. If you sucker punch the guy holding your i.o.u. you get his wallet, not to mention all his other 'stuff'.

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Riceball September 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm

It was due in part to our economic ties that Japan went to war in the first place, they had to import a lot their resources from the US and other countries but wanted their own source of resources like oil & steel so they started to invade their neighbors. Going to war with us was in order to get us our of the way and to allow them a free hand in the Pacific free or any interference.

As for Germany & Russia, they were allies of convenience and nothing more. Hitler hated the Russians and Communism and was simply biding his time before he broke his treaty with Stalin and invaded Russia. To the best of my knowledge there never was all that much trade happening between Russia & Germany, mostly a little help from Russia early on when Germany was trying to re-arm and Russia allowed them use of their land to develop & test their early tank design. But Hitler had always planned on invading Russia because he had his eyes on Russia's land for Germany.

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blight_ September 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Petroleum and heavy metals went west…both are critical to any war machine. Shortages of tungsten affect the quality of anti-tank penetrators. Shortages of vanadium and the inability to make steel alloys affect the metallurgy of your armor plates.

I wonder if those rare earth shortages had anything to do with the subsequent increased weight of German panzers, plus their very low rate of production of the heavier tanks. It might also have been why the Germans pushed hard in shaped charges for infantry weapons, freeing up tungsten for tank anti-tank penetrators.

I also forgot rubber for tires. Like America, pre-WW2 the world ran on natural rubber…and to get it, you either ship it through US->Atlantic->Western Europe-> Germany, or Far East->Soviet Union->Germany.

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Ben September 19, 2013 at 11:48 am

Unshackle Japan, begin exporting the F-22 to S. Korea, Japan and Australia.

That keeps us from assuming all the responsibility for protecting everyone in the region while at the same time gives us some much needed revenue. You know, like what China is doing.

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jackiecox September 21, 2013 at 3:59 am

F-35

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Ben September 21, 2013 at 10:51 am

That's a bad joke.

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Rest Pal September 23, 2013 at 1:37 pm

so is the F-22

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radiogaga September 24, 2013 at 7:36 pm

I think Ben meant to say that his post about exporting the F-22 to Japan was a joke. But you are right about the F-22. It's got to be a joke, or its production wouldn't have been canceled.

OD351 September 19, 2013 at 3:58 pm

What?!? Did they just get off that V-22? That was a diplomatic risk of high magnitude giving these guys a joy ride on that death machine….

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Mike September 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

OD351 the press has over reported the dangers of the V-22. They do this to get published, get ratings and reflect their political views. Vertical flight tends to be more dangerous then conventional aircraft but comes with advantages that conventional aircraft can't meet. The V-22s safety record while not stellar is better then other vertical flight aircraft in the Marine inventory. The V-22 also brings with it capabilities that neither conventional or vertical lift aircraft can meet to accomplish tasks that could otherwise not be done.

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hibeam September 19, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I wonder if Chinese schools are anything like the expensive chaotic dysfunctional nightmares this country runs in cities like Detroit, Chicago and Oakland. Hope so. Otherwise we are in big trouble.

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UKTeacher September 22, 2013 at 4:03 am
BRASS September 20, 2013 at 10:18 am

I said for years a day of reckoning is coming for the US due to our budget and acquisition policies and it is nigh. Thanks to selfish and incompetent national leadership on Capitol Hill and the White House since Reagan, the US is slowly being relegated to the status of the former USSR and Rome. – - – ..

Unfortunately development and production, at least for the US, take decades and this is not a trend easily reversed or in time to prevent our disability at the hands of others. – - -..

Dangerous times are here and will get worse.

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hello September 20, 2013 at 3:43 pm

My God, they could at least clean that osprey, look at those marks from the engines.

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Virgil Cuttaway September 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm

The US is a declining power. China’s meteoric rise has been brought about totally by our trade policies and our manufacturing capability being moved to China. China has a long-term plan. The US, on the other hand, is more concerned about social programs than national security. This concern will bite us in the butt in the future.

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Virgil Cuttaway September 20, 2013 at 9:21 pm
Greg September 21, 2013 at 4:08 am

It seems that China has sat back to watched the USA fight two wars. They know what we have today, and probably know most of what we will have tomorrow. In comparison, how mush do we really know about them? Do we know as much about their military, and what they could have in the near future? I do have to wonder. We put every piece of information on television and internet.

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Ben September 21, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Saying they've learned how we fight isn't entirely accurate. We've only been at war with third world countries and guerilla groups. We haven't faced a true conventional military power in over half a century, and thus haven't shown our tactics for doing so in just as long.

However I do agree that we disclose far too many capabilities as public knowledge nowadays. Sometimes I half wish for the Cold War days of secrecy.

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jack cox September 24, 2013 at 11:31 am

obama et al dismantling our military, like NASA, will take decades to reconstruct, once he is gone

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radiogaga September 24, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Obama is dismantling the country to build up the military for waging wars abroad at the bidding of big oil, Wall Street, and the defense industry.

You are right about NASA being part of the military. It has always been.

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BSBS October 1, 2013 at 4:23 am

USA's democracy system is hijacked by it's politicians, they lied during election in order to get them self into government, then they could use the power to get most of tax payer money to spend in military, so that they can keep bullying other countries that disagree with them on any random invalid reasons, is this democracy? no, it is dictatorship internationally.
The world order has changed. USA government knows it, this is why it is trying to rip every cent which is supposed to spend on ordinary American people, to put into military spending.
because it will not willingly accept it is losing international power, it will do every way possible to prevent it, even World War. This is where real threat coming from in the future for all the human race.
Wake up! Americans, people from all round world all admit American people build a great nation and great democracy system. Unfortunately, more and more countries and people are turning against USA, not American people, they are USA government and politicians, they have ruin your great country, bring USA to the edge of bankruptcy, eventually they will take whole world into fall out.

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Rest Pal September 20, 2013 at 10:57 pm

The US does NOT actually consider Japan an ally, but a WW2 loser that can be made (using sticks, carrots, and geopolitical manipulations etc) to serve as an expandable force against Russia, N.Korea, and China in the event of a large-scale war. A pawn to contain China and Russia.

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radiogaga September 24, 2013 at 7:44 pm

I don’t know where you learned your history, but you are wrong. China is nowhere close to being as expansionist as the US, the UK, Japan, and Europe. Based on historical records, China had over a hundred ships 10-20 times the largest European vessels long before Columbus had reached America.

China was invaded by the US, the UK, Japan, and many European countries in the 1800s.

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theazcowboy September 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm

You can design 'only' so many shapes of brassiere's to hold up a pair of t*t's, Pilgrim!

And, so it is with fighter aircraft: Double vertical stabilizser tails; (Russian) invented canted air inlets, semi-delta wings to control 'wing loadings' and missile bays built inside the fusalage.

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Rest Pal September 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm

the US has been borrowing money from China to buy Chinese products, you ignorant, clueless braggart.

why don't you stop buying all things made in China, and see what happens.

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radiogaga September 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm

I mentioned China's large naval fleet before Columbus to illustrate the point that China could have invaded Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, but did not.

The UK did. The US did, and is still doing it.

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