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Friday, December 6, 2013

Quick Thoughts: China's AIDZ

Image Credit: Defense News

Author's Note: Sorry for the lack of content as of late. As I am a man of my word, I've been writing the long awaited "China's Anti Access Strategy: Submarine Force" article I promised several months ago. Hopefully it will be published in the near future.

In a baffling display of ill-conceived foreign policy, China's new air defense identification zone (AIDZ) has managed to draw the ire of nearly every country within the intimidate vicinity of China, most notably Japan and South Korea. As one geopolitical analyst reporting to Breaking Defense phrased it, "This ancient civilization, which has thousands of years of diplomatic experience and gave us Sun Tzu and all his subtlety, has given us some ham-handed diplomacy for the last few years".

Some have called upon the USAF and USN to make daily runs into the AIDZ to demonstrate US commitment to the region (in addition to the recent trip undertaken by a pair of US B-52 aircraft). Japanese and South Korean military aircraft have also violated the zone. As Defense News reported, the response by Chinese media outlets to these violations was largely hawkish, especially toward Japan.  However, the Chinese media has expressed a more measured tone in its rhetoric toward the United States when compared to Japan. The following is from the Global Times newspaper which is widely recognized to be an outlet for the Chinese Communist Party: "We should carry out timely countermeasures without hesitation against Japan when it challenges China's newly declared ADIZ. If Tokyo flies its aircraft over the zone, we will be bound to send our plane to its ADIZ...We are willing to engage in a protracted confrontation with Japan...If the US does not go too far, we will not target it in safeguarding our air defense zone"

China emphatically maintains it has the right to create an AIDZ and US and Japanese criticism is unjust as both countries maintain AIDZ of their own. In principle, China certainly has the right to create an AIDZ  judging from a historical precedent set by the United States and other countries (the US has had AIDZs since World War II). However, China's existing AIDZ as outlined by its Ministry of Defense does not clearly qualify as to what is internationally recognized as an AIDZ in many respects.

China's establishment of an AIDZ represents an opportunity for the United States to expand upon its influence in the region if certain measures are taken. China is already widely perceived to be a regional bully, recent events will almost certainly solidify existing perceptions within South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. The creation of China's AIDZ in conjunction with its disaster relief response to the Philippines, or its lack of a substantial initial response, has certainly reduced Chinese soft power in the region. Meanwhile, US soft power in the region has been on the rise and the deployment of B-52 aircraft in addition to the ongoing massive naval exercises between the US 7th Fleet and the Japanese Navy reaffirm Washington's strong commitment to the region.

US 7th Fleet lead by the USS George Washington at the AnnualEx 2013 exercise.

Vice President Joe Biden is met with President Xi Jinping on Wednesday over a private dinner and two hour long bilateral meeting. According to the former US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, the amount of time President Xi afforded  Biden was irregular in its generosity. While the two reportedly have a cordial relationship, Biden clearly expressed the United States does not recognize China's AIDZ.  Clearly the US must express its solidarity with Japan and South Korea but, in terms of rhetoric, it would not be prudent to to push china too far on its AIDZ. It is highly improbable that China will recant its previously expressed statements as it would severely damage to the prestige of the current Chinese leadership. However, China could choose to effectively not enforce the zone. This would likely be the most plausible solution to reduce tensions without causing total embarrassment for the Chinese leadership and the US could continue its operations in the area, provided the US does not communicate publicly about how often it violates the zone e.g. routine surveillance flights (as to not embarrass the Chinese leadership on a continual basis). Some US analysts already doubt China could enforce its zone even if it tried:

“Let China run itself crazy trying to enforce this...I just can’t see how China will sustain the enforcement. Too much traffic goes through there. If no country recognizes it, [and] don’t respond to China’s IFF [identification friend or foe] interrogation or VID [visual identification], then this new ADIZ is meaningless.”

On a related note, A White House source reporting to Reuters expressed that negotiating a deal with Iran is "the top item on his foreign agenda for the rest of his term."  While President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts in negotiating an preliminary agreement with Iran is certainly commendable, China's creation of its AIDZ serves as a blunt reminder that the United States must maintain its focus on the Asia-Pacific. The pivot strategy is arguably the wisest foreign policy action made by the Obama Administration and recent events have made it abundantly clear that more US resources must be allocated to the Asia-Pacific region. 


  1. Hay Matt,

    I think china has seriously under estimated the response for the region and the United States.

    2 Aircraft carrier groups and the Japanese and South K, would have more fighter air craft than the entire China Air force.

    Have you read the Report into the Analysts of the China Aircraft carrier.
    This is from a Canadian Admiral who just fished his stint and A think Tank in the AUD/NZ

    Without me reading the Fk'n 20+ pages, which they could have done in 2-3 pages instead IMO.

    The J15 that are taking off, are limited and unable to carry a full load, china are using JS10 engines which seem to be taking off in only good weather, and limited amount of take off and range.
    After careful monitoring of the take footage, they predict that the aircraft has not got the power to take off with a full weapons load. Also there is question over the fuel tanks scraping on the take off.

    The Canadian Admiral, Just said why are we wasting our time and so concerned over china Aircraft carrier.

    Pretty much the need a new Aircraft the J15, is not cutting it, it can not carry the weapons load and has not got the engines. "The Bird is to big and fat" (J15) and not having the engine.

    So this to me is if china, they buy 10-15 S400 system and produce there own and 100 Russian built SU35s, if china had there own built 5th gen engine in there J20 and J31 and had a new built type of carrier based aircraft like a F18 super hornet type. Until then there is not stress of china threat, I agree with the Canadian Admiral.

    China needs at lest 20+ years, they can only copy so much.

    1. Recent events largely contradict the popular narrative the United States is in an irreversible state of decline and China's rise will go about unhindered. While there are certainly areas that need to be attended to, but the United States' technological advantage, its unrivaled ability to project power, and its strong relationships with Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines certainly grants it an edge over China. I'm really not worried about the Liaoning as without an adequate carrier air wing, its just an asset on paper. India is likely ahead of China in terms of operational carrier aircraft, the Mig-29K is superior to the J-15 & Su-33 in many respects. The J-15 is probably comparable to the original F/A-18A and by the time its actually full operational, US carriers will have F-35C's and Super Hornets so its not a concern. Plus China is behind in AWACS and anti-submarine hunting helicopters as well (the PLAN only has a few capable Russian ASW helicopters).

    2. Agree, 100% with you Matt, the hysteria coming out of the USA is like china can challenge the USA. That's not the case.

      So it's all about the USA budget, not china. USA need a bad guy to keep selling jets and ships to US contractors. Even though china is not to be ignored it's not need the level of attention it was given.

      Wasn't the Mig-29k a massive failure. That's why Russia abandoned it. Both Russia and China need a new Aircraft carrier aircraft.

      India is not that advance a number of corruption issue have hit all 3 levels of there military. Also they are learning form Russia, which has there Owen issue.

      Matt, I doubt you have heard this is the USA news, But even with all the anger towards china by Japan and SK you would think they would not be talking with each other.
      Well guess what??
      Japan-China and SK-China signed a massive Free Trade deal at the shock of US officials, even though they are fighting they are getting more involved with business together.
      SK_Australia signed one as well, and we are in Final talks with Japan,China and the USA.

      Just wonder weather you heard the Trade deals over in the USA on any of the major networks, regarding China,Japan,SK?

    3. I don't really see a reason to expand upon military funding beyond current levels assuming Sequestration in undone or at least mitigated by allowing the military to decide on what it wants to cut. I would advocate for increasing R&D though. If I was President, first thing I would do would be to double NASA's budget and triple DARPA's (which would only cost an additional 24B out of a 3+ trillion dollar budget). Gotta love US Defense industry's marketing strategy :) but in all seriousness, while China is certainly not the USSR, it would be naive to believe to assume China is the United State's "friend". A poll I saw said that the only demographic in the US in which a majority thought China was a friend of the US was among academics.

      The Russian Navy plans to retire its Su-33's by 2015 and replace them with Mig-29K's. It wouldn't surprise me if there were issues but by virtue of how bad the Su-33 is, it would be hard to believe that the Mig-29K is somehow worse:

      My understanding is that the free trade pact between Japan, China, and South Korea is still being negotiated. I was aware that Biden was originally set to discuss the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) prior to China's creation of an AIDZ. Is the TPP what you were referring to or did you mean something else? The TPP was mentioned by a few networks but only briefly. I also am a news junkie and read a lot so I'm unsure how many people heard about it.

    4. Matt got to love Darpa

    5. Found another Vid you might be interested in. F35 cockpit

    6. Nice, I wish interfaces were this intuitive for other products (F-35 cockpit). Have you read Aviation Week's new article about the RQ-180 btw? There were a lot of rumors about a huge stealth drone replacement for the RQ-170 but up until recently they had not been substantiated.

    7. No, I haven't read it but thanks for the link.

      It looks like they are trying to make a B2 drone, that carry's electronic warfare. High altitude first strike drone.

      I think the successor to the B2, will be higher altitude, that can control this drone, and then just drop the bombs from a very very far distance. IMO, they are making the S400 and S500 system obsolete. Even if they can get a missile at that height, the area of cover for that air system will be so small.
      There is nothing in the S400 that will be able to hit this high altitude drone, that even if they can get a lock on it, they would not be able to hit it. An air missile has so much fuel to can carry.

      IMO, from everything I have read this year, the USA objective,

      1.Have high altitude B3, that's about 60,000+ft ceiling height, pushing the limits of the crew and aircraft. Have this stealth drone fly in front, at about 40-50+ft, jamming,electronic destruction of air defenses (emp), then guiding bombs.

      2.Hypersonic bombs, being drops from B52 well withing international airspace.

      3.Hypersonic Fighter Jest Small

      4. Drone Aircraft taking out all defenses, over whelm the system. it only take one hell fire at the mobile control tower and the rest can be cleaned up.

      5. Drone F18 and F16 as 1 and 2nd wave, Don't know how well they will do against air to air combat. That's to be seen.

      I have been reading alot of articles, both by Russia and USA, about overwhelming the system and then destroying the target.

      These is the Direction the USA is taking, IMO

      They day of fighter jet to fighter jet is coming to an end.

      Small drones in front, Fighter Drones behind, Human Drones in the Back ;-)

  2. Yes the TTP, they are still in talks, Funny how Japan had a fit and walked out, only to go back the next day and talk again. SK and China are close.
    But what I was talking about is the major deals china has signed with Japan and SK. Japan Automotive deal and Green Tech in the Billions. With SK joint Shipping projects and trade between the 2 country of material worth Billions again. SK and Aus signed there deal this week.

    I read that the Mig-29k was/is a disaster, It is just a small up grade to the SU33, not what Russia navy wanted, they wanted a more capable aircraft, but there budget was not there. With a critic aspect of the plan to have a large range of operation that the Mig dose not have.
    Time will tell on this one.

    I would not Increase NASA budget, i would give half of the budget to Elmon Musk, SpaceX. They are doing great stuff and going in a new initiative direction. I would triple Darpa Budget as well. I would also give Boston University a $1 billion a year, as they seem to be world leaders in Robotics, and Nano technology at the moment, I think they are up there with Japan and will pass them in the next 5 yrs if they get a funding boost.

  3. Good article Matt

    I was wondering, when will you post the Part 2 of "How to best employ combat aircraft, The American Aproach" Ive been waiting for ages on that one

    1. Thanks. Well I basically look part two of the "How to best employ combat aircraft, The American Approach" and turned it into the "The Benefits of Stealth and Situational Awareness". Sorry :( The American Approach article simply got too long and I hadn't posted material for a while, blog views were dropping considerably. So I basically cut down the introductory and background information and just posted the analysis and my conclusions of the future american strategy of fighter employment. The American strategy puts a focus on stealth, situational awareness, and pilot quality over large number of comparatively poorer trained pilots like the Russian system. The future effectiveness of the F-35 (with the aforementioned capabilities stressed in the design) can be inferred to some extent from the performance of F-22's. I might write an article on China's approach sometime in the future.

  4. With all of this going on, I certainly hope Indonesia stands with ASEAN and doesn't get heavily influenced by China.

    I read that country is the biggest prize for the US and China....

    1. I try to read on Asian politics when I can but I'm not too familiar with Indonesia in particular. Which way do you think they are leaning? The only things I've seen on the news here in the US relating to Indonesia are the recent rebukes Indonesia and Australia have exchanged plus Obama missing the ASEAN summit.

    2. Indonesia is playing both sides right now. They are not as insistent on CoC in the South China Sea as not to damage economic ties with China. It's going to be interesting how it will react to China's future ADIZ on the South China Sea.

      Yeah, I didn't pay much attention to Indonesia but as the "leader" of ASEAN, 250 million people, large economy, growing armed forces... It's vital Indonesia doesn't fall to China in order to preserve ASEAN interests.

  5. It's an air defense identification zone, A-D-I-Z.
    It's (1) in the East CHINA Sea, and smaller than Japan's, although it covers some of the same (disputed) area.
    So it's no big deal.
    Look for another one soon in the South China Sea.
    It's what great nations do.