Eyes on China, US Plans To Train Fighter Pilots of India, Japan, Oz in Guam

/ 27 June 2020

  • The United States is contemplating to open its training facilities at the Anderson Air Force Base in Guam in western Pacific Ocean for the fighter jet pilots of India, Japan and Australia – ostensibly to step up military cooperation among the four nations to counter growing belligerence of China.
  • The move comes six months after the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen signed a memorandum of understanding for Singapore to set up a fighter jet training detachment in Guam.
  •  With an eye on the aggressive Chinese behaviour, the United States's Defense Bill -  National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal 2021 - has sought fighter jet training detachment for India, Japan and Australia in the US Pacific territory of Guam. 
  • The move comes even as Trump’s Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said that the US was bringing down number of its troops in Europe in order to re-deploy them in Indo-Pacific to make it sure that it is “appropriately postured” to counter the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), in view of the growing belligerence of China, not only along its disputed border with India, but also in South China Sea.
  • The US in December 2019 inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Singapore for setting up a permanent training detachment for the fighter jets pilots of the city-state in Guam. Trump Administration has now proposed to assess the “merits and feasibility” of similar MoUs with other US “allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region, including Japan, Australia and India”.
  • New Delhi is aware of the US plan. It was discussed when Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks in New Delhi and agreed to deepen defence and security cooperation, including through advanced training and joint war-drills involving the army, navy and air forces of the two nations.
  • The permanent training detachment for Indian, Australian and Japanese fighter jet pilots in Anderson Air Base will enhance the interoperability of the air forces of the US and its partners in the Quad and maximize preparedness to counter any threat in the Indo-Pacific, a source in New Delhi said.
  • The bill proposes procurement of 48 Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs), which it said will be especially useful in the Indo-Pacific, which the Department of Defense has named its priority theatre.
  • The LRASM provides a near-term capability enhancement that will allow the carrier air wing to contribute to blunting a Chinese offensive earlier in conflict, thereby directly advancing the objectives and priorities laid out in the National Defense Strategy.
  • There is also some reports of seeks acceleration in the American effort to establish an F-35A operating locations forward in the Indo-pacific region. But It has yet to announce plans for any F-35A operating locations forward in the Indo-Pacific region.
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