Long-term strategic competition between the United States and China in military aviation

August 4, 2018

Michael Chase and Oriana Skylar Mastro (AEI) analyze the future of competition between the U.S. and China in the military aviation sector.The full chapter can be found in Tai Ming Cheung and Thomas G. Mahnken (eds), The Gathering Pacific Storm: Emerging US-China Competition in Defense Technological and Industrial Development, (Cambria Press, 2018): 111-137.


The intensifying security competition between China and the United States in the Asia-Pacific region has manifested itself in a myriad of ways, including dangerous air encounters. Given the bilateral tensions and importance of airpower to national defense, has long-term strategic competition between the United States and China in the military aviation sector emerged?


To answer this question, this brief evaluates US and Chinese military aviation through three factors that shed light on the degree and nature of strategic competition: resource allocations, targeted platform development, and airpower employment concepts. While China has been competing with the United States for decades, China has only recently begun to drive US decisions. Cost-imposing strategies may not favor the United States, so innovation and technological developments in military aviation should focus on how to thwart China’s ability to achieve its military objectives. Read more.

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The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)
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