Why does China consider the F-35 as the main threat in the Indo-Pacific? 

A Chinese study has identified the US F-35 fighter jet as the biggest threat to China in the Indo-Pacific, surpassing the F-22.

F-35 outperforms F-22 in region

Despite the F-22’s reputation as the most advanced stealth aircraft, the more recent technology F-35 poses a greater risk to Chinese forces in the Indo-Pacific region. The researchers highlighted the advanced avionics and multi-role capabilities of the F-35 compared to the F-22.

The study, published in the journal Modern Defense Technology, analyzed the threat posed by various US military aircraft in anti-aircraft operations near the Chinese coast. The results showed that both the F-22 and F-35 pose a significant threat to Chinese defenses.

Furthermore, more than 300 F-35 fighter jets are expected to be stationed in the Indo-Pacific region by 2035, being operated by countries including Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States.

Why does China consider the F-35 as the main threat in the Indo-Pacific? 

Recommendations to face the threat

The research team, led by Bao Junchen of the Hefei National University of Defense Technology, suggested a two-pronged strategy to counter the F-35 threat. This strategy includes improving electronic warfare capabilities for “soft kill” actions and developing physical weapons for “hard kill” responses.

The study also recommended using non-destructive (soft kill) and destructive (hard kill) attack methods against the F-35A, as this aircraft can serve as a sensor for intelligence gathering and primary escort in advanced strikes.

How has China developed its military capabilities?

Over the past two decades, China has made great progress in expanding its military capabilities. A world-class force that can project power and safeguard China’s territorial interests has been a primary goal of China’s military modernization efforts. China’s strategic doctrine guides its military modernization efforts, intending to bolster the country’s capacity for “active defense” and “informationized” warfare.

China’s expanding economy plays a major role in the country’s military modernization because it allows for greater military spending. China’s defense spending has been on the rise and will be second only to the United States. This has allowed China to put resources toward creating advanced weapons like the J-20 stealth jet and the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile.

China’s emphasis on technological innovation is also crucial to the country’s military advancement. China has spent a lot of money on R&D and put a lot of effort into creating its own military technology. China’s military has produced various cutting-edge technologies, including sophisticated missile systems, UAVs, and cyber warfare tools.

Strategic goals, including defending Chinese territory and ensuring Chinese interests, have helped direct China’s military development. China has put a lot of effort into creating “anti-access/area-denial” (A2/AD) weapons, such as modern missile systems and submarines, that can deter potential rivals like the United States.

China has also spent significantly on its navy, intending to create a “blue-water navy” capable of venturing far from Chinese territorial waters. China has spent in strengthening its submarine capabilities and has commissioned a number of cutting-edge warships, including aircraft carriers and guided missile destroyers.

In conclusion, China’s military has achieved great achievements in the past few decades thanks to several variables, such as the country’s expanding economy, innovative use of technology, and strategic goals.

 China’s strategic doctrine guides its military modernization efforts intending to bolster the country’s capacity for “active defense” and “informationized” warfare. China’s expanding military capabilities will have major repercussions for regional and global security because they allow the country to project power and defend its territorial interests.

China has been investing in developing its own military capabilities to counter US power projection in the Asia-Pacific region. Notable among its advances are the HQ-9 missile system and the J-20 stealth fighter.

These weapons are designed to counter the US strategy of penetrating air defenses and attacking high-value targets. Studying the F-22 and F-35 may help China develop effective countermeasures and protect its airspace.

Why does China consider the F-35 as the main threat in the Indo-Pacific? 

Facing the B-2 and B-1B bombers

The investigation also recommended a coordinated strategy to deal with B-2 and B-1B bombers, which threaten China by infiltrating its territory. Experts suggest a multidimensional approach to attacking bombers using various weapons platforms simultaneously from the air, land, sea, and space.

Other threats to consider

Although the study considered the MQ-9 drone less threatening, it cautioned against underestimating more advanced drones such as the XQ-58A and RQ-180. These drones could pose a growing threat to China in the future.

Instead of using AI, the researchers employed the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) to determine how dangerous each plane was. Military secrecy prevented the release of the underlying data, making it difficult for independent researchers to confirm the findings independently.

Implications for the region

The study underscores the importance of military capabilities in the Indo-Pacific region and the need for China to develop effective strategies to deal with emerging threats. As the military presence of the United States and its allies continues to increase, rivalry and competition in the region could intensify in the coming years.