16 September 2011

Eight Bells Lecture Examines Growth of China Air Power

John Kennedy, Eight Bells Lecture Examines Growth of China Air Power,” Newport Navalog, 16 September 2011, 18-19.

The 2011-2012 season of the Eights Bells Lecture Series at the Naval War College Museum opened last week with a presentation of Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles.

Given by Professor Andrew Erickson, a co-editor with Professor Lyle Goldstein for this volume, the book is the fifth in the series, Studies in Chinese Maritime Development, published by the Naval Institute Press. This is the first book in the series, however, linking China’s military aerospace and maritime capabilities.

The book is divided into six thematic sections and provides a good overview of indicators of this growing national power whose economic and military power might challenge, and even  impose an “anti-access” challenge to the United States.

The first section establishes the maritime context and points to the rapid and broad-based expansion of Chinese capabilities. Although driven by a Taiwan scenario, rapid gains point to ever-expanding aviation technologies. Section two looks at roles for these increasing aerospace assets, particularly intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The third section then looks to prospective missions that might result from these advances.

The next two sections look at the strides made by the Chinese in cruise and ballistic missile capabilities, supported by evolving maritime doctrine. Lastly, the book discusses the implication for the United States and its regional allies and how these emerging capabilities, challenges and intentions can be interpreted and met.

Can East Asian waters become a potential no-go zone for U.S. maritime assets, especially its aircraft carriers? This question speaks to the high-stakes political play within the global commons as conflicting interests arise.

Although China still has limitations in its aerospace capabilities, U.S. planners need to determine how best to face this ever increasing power and realize that U.S. regional power advantages have already started to disappear. There are countermeasures and steps; but, the United States cannot be complacent about Chinese antiaccess capabilities. …

To watch a video of the lecture, click here.

Click here for more information on the book presented: Andrew S. Erickson and Lyle J. Goldstein, eds., Chinese Aerospace Power: Evolving Maritime Roles (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2011).