The AirSea Battle construct is “not targeted at a particular place,” but it’s easy to understand why people might think it’s built around China, said Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle. During a speech last week, the deputy chief of staff for operations, plans, and requirements said the interdependent Air Force and Navy want to gauge themselves against a country with “high-end” capabilities, but the potential adversary “with the most capability is the PRC,” or People’s Republic of China. “Will we ever fight China? . . . Hopefully not,” Carlisle told the audience during his Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Program presentation Sept. 29 in Arlington, Va. But given China’s aggressive pursuit of weapons exports, “we’ll probably fight their stuff,” he said. China will be the “pacing influence” for the development and introduction of new USAF and Navy capabilities, he said. (For more coverage of Carlisle’s presentation, read No More Libyas and To Do What and Put Away the Long Knives.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.