Thursday, September 22, 2022

South China sea patrols to continue as RAAF declares China's air defences are 'not impenetrable'

 Australia's new Air Force Chief has declared surveillance missions will continue in the South China Sea despite a "recent spate of unsafe incidences" in the contested international airspace claimed by Beijing.

Earlier this year Defence revealed a Chinese J-16 fighter aircraft had conducted a "dangerous" intercept of a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) surveillance plane in the region, prompting a diplomatic protest.

During the May 26 confrontation the Chinese military plane released aluminium chaff that was ingested by the Australian P-8's engines, a move Prime Minister Anthony Albanese condemned as dangerous and aggressive.
Air Marshal Robert Chipman has described recent encounters with the People's Liberation Army as "robust to say the least" and demanded the Chinese military adhere to higher standards of "professionalism".
"We see the Chinese as an incredibly capable, modern military — what should follow is high standards of professionalism, and we would like to see the same standards of professionalism from the Chinese that we extend to them," the RAAF Chief said.
In his first comments to the media since his appointment last month, the RAAF Chief also warned China had established a "formidable aerospace capability" in the South China Sea, but military operations could still be conducted there.
"It doesn't make it impenetrable and it doesn't mean you can't deliver military effects to achieve your interests when you are operating against China, so I don't think to that extent it's an exclusive area to us," he said.
Speaking alongside the visiting US Secretary for the Air Force Frank Kendall, Air Marshal Chipman said he didn't believe there would be an increase in confrontations with Australian aircraft.
"Certainly, we have seen a recent spate of unsafe incidences, but it's not a trend line that we can see sustained," he told media inside Defence Headquarters in Canberra.
"Our operations haven't changed, it is still business as usual for us, we force generate our crews to a very high standard, they're capable of operating in contested environments and so we think they're well equipped to keep operating in the South China Sea."
Last month the ABC revealed Australian warship HMAS Parramatta had been closely tracked by the Chinese military during a recent operation in the South China Sea, including being followed by a nuclear-powered submarine.
Secretary Kendall described China's increasing militarisation in the South China Sea as an attempt to develop capabilities to keep nations away from its shores.
"They are as formidable a strategic opponent as I have seen, we are in what I consider to be a race for military technological superiority with the Chinese," he said.
Both men spoke to the media after holding top level talks on deepening air force and space co-operation with a particular focus on projects such as the Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft.



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