Tuesday, August 9, 2022



Deployed to Okinawa, Japanese F-35 Fighters Take Up an Anti-China Mission

The U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35B—its version of a fighter being fielded by the Air Force and Navy—has vertical landing capabilities, but those may have compromised some aspects of the Lightning II’s performance.

Here's What You Need To Know: If Chinese ships and aircraft can isolate the Senkakus, then it will be easy for Chinese troops to occupy them. And very difficult to Japan to recapture them: the special amphibious brigade created by Japan would be a sitting duck. But even a few F-35Bs operating from rough airstrips—and perhaps armed with hypersonic anti-ship missiles—could disrupt a Chinese amphibious landing.

Japan may deploy its new F-35 stealth jet fighters to an airbase in southwestern Japan.

The location is not coincidental: Nyutabaru Air Base, in Miyazaki Prefecture, is situated nearer to Japanese islands and waters claimed by China.

“The envisioned deployment of the aircraft to Nyutabaru Air Base is aimed at keeping in check China’s maritime assertiveness around the area, including the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea,” according to an article in the Japan Times. China claims the islands, which are located near China and Taiwan, as its own, and has repeatedly sent ships and aircraft into the area.

A former Japanese military officer recently made waves after saying he believes China plans to invade and annex Taiwan by 2025 and Okinawa by 2045.

The comments by retired Lt. Gen. Kunio Orita, a 35-year veteran of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and a former commander of the 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron and 6th Air Wing, appeared last month in the English-language Taiwan News.

Orita, who retired in 2009 and is now a guest professor at Toyo Gakuen University in Tokyo, recently told Stars and Stripes he expects Beijing will attempt to expand its sphere of influence by first taking control of Taiwan and then militarizing a key disputed islet in the South China Sea.

Once that’s accomplished, he said, China will set its sights on Japan’s southern island prefecture, which hosts about half of the approximately 54,000 U.S. troops serving in Japan.

Beijing plans to force the United States out of Okinawa by fostering negative media coverage and supporting the anti-U.S. military protest movement on the island, the former general said.

“If China can push out the U.S. military from the region, it is possible that they can conquer the South China Sea and they will gain the power to stop any trade between Japan and other countries,” he said in a phone interview with Stars and Stripes on Jan. 28.

Shoal strategy The key to making this happen is building a naval port at Scarborough Shoal, an islet about 200 miles west of Manila in the South China Sea, Orita said. Beijing took control of Scarborough’s resource-rich lagoon from the Philippines in 2012.

“By building up their forces there, it will add tremendous pressure on surrounding countries,” he said, adding that China backed off plans to militarize Scarborough as it’s done on other South China Sea islets after U.S overflights of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs in April 2016.

A pair of B-52 bombers flew past the shoal in June, drawing condemnation from Beijing, according to The Associated Press.

This will begin with China declaring a no-fly zone around the island nation, he said, adding that any aircraft that tries to come to Taiwan’s aid will be shot down.

Orita then expects Beijing to provoke and attack Taiwanese navy and air force assets, both on land and in the Taiwan Strait, which separates it from China. Next, he expects them to blockade the island until Taiwan’s government agrees to come to the negotiating table, where a pro-Beijing regime will be installed.

“After taking over Taiwan, China will gain more influence over Indo-Pacific shipping lanes, then China can start to add nuclear pressure on the countries in the Pacific,” he said.


I like the theory, and what if they used the 747 platform as a mass anti-air AMRAAM platform, it would be a decent counter to Chinese numerical superiority. They could be guarded by a few F-16's/F-35s etc and the AWACS could guide them with a software update to target hostiles singularly. Stealthy cruise missiles fired from a large platform at a very safe distance actually represent a better chance of penetration than risking a stealth bomber flying directly into contested, hostile territory. Ground based radars in long wavelength may well make "stealth" bombers moot very quickly.  Stealthy cruise missiles fired from a large platform at a very safe distance actually represent a better chance of penetration than risking a stealth bomber flying directly into contested, hostile territory. Ground based radars in long wavelength may well make "stealth" bombers moot very quickly.


The Airforce is doing this with palletized munitions on cargo aircraft. It allows them to turn C-130 and C-17s into missile trucks. A C-130 has a very low cost/flight hour and C-17 is comparable to a 747. And there are other platforms this could potentially work for, C-390 or A-400 for instance. This project doesn't require any modification of existing platforms. I wouldn't think the Airforce at this point would want to buy a legacy Aircraft for a suedo bomber conversion. But this was an interesting program.I visited the flight deck of a Cathay Pacific 747-400 on a flight from Paris to Hong Kong. It was a surprising experience to be flying over Russia, because the first time I went to Europe was before the USSR dissolved. I didn't get to see the landing from the flight deck, but watching the wingtip of the Jumbo skim the rooftops on approach into Kai Tak was something that I won't forget. Last year, I had a seat on the top deck of one of the last Qantas 747-400 flights from Haneda to Sydney. I did get to see Airforce One land in Canberra. I think it's the only one of those modified 747s ever to land in Australia.

Orita said China will then take the nearby Senkaku Islands, a disputed chain northeast of Taiwan and northwest of Japan’s Miyako island in the East China Sea also claimed by Japan and Taiwan, and encourage Okinawans to declare their independence from Japan.

The Chinese have long been antagonistic regarding the Senkakus.

In 2016, China sailed an aircraft carrier between Miyako and Okinawa’s main island. There have been frequent overflights of Chinese military aircraft in the same space since then, Japanese defense ministry officials told Stars and Stripes last year.

“China keeps pushing up the territorial line every year by breaking into Miyako-Okinawa,” Orita said.

The communist super power has also been “dumping money to influence Okinawa to turn its back on its country,” he said, in a reference to the island’s fervent anti-U.S. military movement.

Orita said he’s learned through intelligence sources that this includes funneling money to Okinawan media outlets for anti-U.S. military coverage. However, he could not provide proof of the assertion.

“China wants Okinawa to be an independent country,” he said. “An independent country does not need U.S. forces on the island.”

Dissenting opinions However, the retired general’s opinions are not universally accepted among Japanese academics. Aomori University professor Hideki Hirano told Stars and Stripes the comments were outlandish and questioned whether Orita had even said them.

Scholar, defense expert and former Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Lt. Gen. Toshiyuki Shikata said he agrees with Orita’s principles, but not his timeline.

“I don’t think Taiwan will be taken by military force by 2025,” he said. “China may use economic pressure as well as influencing the Taiwanese government and its people within instead.”

Shikata said he believes China would take Scarborough Shoal first and then move to take Taiwan, not the other way around.

“I believe China will expand its influence over Taiwan and Scarborough Shoal at the same time, as both are necessary for China to move toward the Senkakus,” he said.

However, if the Chinese do take Taiwan in the coming years, Shikata agreed that attempts to capture Okinawa are possible by 2045.

“China has been influencing Okinawa to become anti-U.S. military and anti-Tokyo,” he said. “China has been using the [protest] movement in Okinawa very well.”

Okinawan protest leaders have scoffed at assertions that their movement, which aims to reduce the island’s U.S. military footprint, has been co-opted by Beijing.

“If the Senkakus get taken over, the U.S. won’t be able to stop China,” Shikata said.

Neither Japan’s Defense Ministry nor Okinawan prefectural officials would comment on the former general’s statements.

A spokesman from the Office of the Secretary of Defense also would not comment specifically on Orita’s statements but said the Defense Department will “continue to pursue a constructive, results-oriented relationship with China.” It also will not accept policies or actions “that threaten to undermine the international rules-based order.”

“We will cooperate where our interests align, and compete, vigorously, where our interests diverge,” spokesman Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes on Jan. 29.

“We have a vital interest in upholding the current rules-based international order, which features a free, prosperous, and democratic Taiwan. The objective of our defense engagement with Taiwan is to ensure that Taiwan remains secure, confident, free from coercion and able to engage in a peaceful, productive dialogue to resolve differences in a manner acceptable to people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.”

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