New Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein ended his first State of the Air Force briefing on Wednesday with a brief lecture for the Russian Air Force. Russia has been flying combat operations for about one year in Syria, largely bolstering the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad as opposed to its stated goal of fighting ISIS, and engaging in close intercepts of US and allied aircraft across the globe. The Russian Air Force has been effective in doing this, which is not surprising because in decades of flying near US aircraft and borders, it has shown to be capable, Goldfein said. For more than 50 years, US and Russian aircraft have been intercepting each other and flown close “because we’ve had standard rules of behavior” that both countries have adhered to. However, Goldfein said he is “very concerned” about recent Russian behavior that is not as professional as what Goldfein has seen up close in those intercepts. “I’ve seen the Russian Air Force in action,” he said. “They are a professional air force, they’re better than that.”
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.