KUALA LUMPUR --- Though they don’t get as much attention as the Navy’s, U.S. Air Force has been conducting its own regular freedom of navigation flight operations in the South China Sea, Commander of Pacific Air Forces Gen. Charles Q. Brown told reporters on Friday.
“We’ve been flying in and around the South China Sea for really about the past 15 years, and I would probably tell you we’ve done some as recently as this week. It doesn’t probably get as much press as what you hear about with the freedom of navigation and the maritime environment, but we do hear about it because we do get calls from [Beijing],” he said in a media conference with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.
Brown did not say what specific activity took place last week but said that the U.S. has a number of air activities in the South China Sea, be it with the U.S. Navy’s P-8 aircraft or with the Air Force’s bomber, U-2 and RQ-4 Global Hawk fleets.
Goldfein later added that the U.S. will continue to operate both in the air and at sea, in international waters and international airspace, and keep those areas open for others as well. While the Air Force has since the end of the Cold War shrunk by 3,000 aircraft and about 300,000 personnel, its footprint and posture in the Pacific has remained unchanged, he said. (end of excerpt)
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