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Wed Feb 14, 2018, 01:19 PM

Are China and Russia challenging US military dominance?

Deutsche Welle
Interview with Bastian Giegerich is the director of defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). He leads the team that publishes the annual Military Balance report.

DW: You note in the IISS 2018 Military Balance report that China has been investing heavily in its air force. Is Beijing now on par with Washington in terms of air dominance?
Bastian Giegerich: China is not yet on par with the United States but it's catching up. And in some selected areas, our assessment is indeed that China is doing more than just catching up. There are a couple of examples to illustrate that: For instance, we assess that China will add an extended-range air-to-air missile to its inventory this year, and we expect its stealth fighter jet, the J-20, to enter front-line service by 2020. And those are indeed advanced capabilities that challenge air superiority for the United States: At the very least, they will have the effect that the air domain will become a very contested domain again. Operational assumptions over the past two decades for the US, and I would say Western militaries in general, have been that the West and the US own the air domain and can operate in it with great freedom. I think those days now are over.


The gloomiest part of your analysis might be the possibility of a great-power conflict. China, Russia and the US are modernizing their nuclear arsenals. Are we returning to the beginning of the 1980s?
I don't think that's quite accurate. But I think what we are seeing is a situation where the possibility of a great-power conflict is now probably higher than it was at any point in the past 20 years. That does not mean that a great-power conflict or a great-power military conflict is inevitable ... but it is more likely. And part of it is a result of Russia and China challenging the global predominance of the United States and systematically preparing for the possibility of conflict. Nuclear weapons of course are the ultimate deterrence, so to speak. And we've looked at the nuclear modernization programs of the three big powers China, Russia and the US and all of them are in the process of modernizing their nuclear forces.

http://www.dw.com/en/are-china-and-russia-challenging-us-military-dominance/a-42586553

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