US F-15 fighters leave Japanese air base amid fears Beijing might invade Taiwan amid Ukraine crisis
US F-15 fighters leave Japanese air base amid fears Beijing might invade Taiwan amid Ukraine crisis

US F-15 fighters leave Japanese air base amid fears Beijing might invade Taiwan amid Ukraine crisis

The US Air Force flexed its military muscles at one of its airbases in Japan Tuesday, showcasing a fleet of more than two dozen warplanes in an apparent effort to deter Chinese forces from invading the self-governing island of Taiwan.

The display of military might at Kadena Air Base, which officials called a ‘routine wing readiness exercise,’ comes two days after President Biden dispatched several former senior defense staffers to the island nation in a show of support, as many wonder whether Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could trigger a Chinese invasion of the country.

The so-called ‘Elephant Walk’ – a term referring to the taxiing of large numbers of military aircraft before takeoff, when they are in close formation – saw a grouping of two dozen F-15 fighter aircraft and an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, collectively valued at just over a billion dollars.

The fleet of jets are assigned to the 44th and 67th Fighter Squadrons, better known by their colloquial epithets, the Vampires and the Fighting Cocks, respectively. The chopper belongs to the 33rd Rescue Squadron, which boasts the motto ‘That Others May Live.’

The formation also featured a $50million KC-135 Stratotanker refueling plane, assigned to the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, as well as a $270million E-3 Sentry aerial command and control craft, assigned to the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron.    

The show of force comes after months of mounting and increased Chinese aggression directed at Taiwan, including nine Chinese aircraft entering the nation’s air space Thursday – the day Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

The US Air Force flexed its military muscles at one of its airbases in Japan Tuesday, showcasing a fleet of more than two dozen warplanes in an apparent effort to deter Chinese forces from invading the self-governing island of Taiwan

The US Air Force flexed its military muscles at one of its airbases in Japan Tuesday, showcasing a fleet of more than two dozen warplanes in an apparent effort to deter Chinese forces from invading the self-governing island of Taiwan

The display of military might at Kadena Air Base, which officials called a 'routine wing readiness exercise,' comes two days after President Biden dispatched several former senior defense staffers to the island nation in a show of support, as many wonder whether Russia's invasion of Ukraine could trigger a Chinese invasion of the country

The display of military might at Kadena Air Base, which officials called a ‘routine wing readiness exercise,’ comes two days after President Biden dispatched several former senior defense staffers to the island nation in a show of support, as many wonder whether Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could trigger a Chinese invasion of the country

China has long claimed the island nation – situated at the junction of the East and South China Seas between China and Japan – as part of their republic, despite the country being self-ruling for decades.

In recent months, however, Republic of China officials have ramped up their threats to engage in military conflict if Taiwan continues to assert its independence, warning that the two superpowers could go to war if the US encouraged the island’s independence.

On Wednesday, Chinese officials slammed Biden’s decision to send a team of former White House staffers, led by former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, to show support for the nation amid the burgeoning conflict.

Biden had dispatched the previously unannounced delegation to Taipei following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which China is yet to condemn. 

‘The attempt by the US to show support to Taiwan will be in vain, no matter who the US sends,’ Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a statement.

‘The Chinese people are firmly determined and resolved to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.’ 

Wang Wednesday refused to say whether China considered Russia’s actions an ‘invasion.’ 

Other big names in attendance at the surprise meeting were Meghan O’Sullivan, a deputy national security advisor under President Bush; Michele Flournoy, an undersecretary of defense under President Obama; and former National Security Council senior directors for Asia Mike Green and Evan Medeiros. 

The so-called 'Elephant Walk' - a term referring to the taxiing of large numbers of military aircraft before takeoff, when they are in close formation - saw a grouping of two dozen F-15 fighter aircraft and an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, collectively valued at just over a billion dollars

The so-called ‘Elephant Walk’ – a term referring to the taxiing of large numbers of military aircraft before takeoff, when they are in close formation – saw a grouping of two dozen F-15 fighter aircraft and an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, collectively valued at just over a billion dollars

The show of force comes after months of mounting and increased Chinese aggression directed at Taiwan, including nine Chinese aircraft entering the nation's air space Thursday - the day Russian troops invaded Ukraine

The show of force comes after months of mounting and increased Chinese aggression directed at Taiwan, including nine Chinese aircraft entering the nation’s air space Thursday – the day Russian troops invaded Ukraine

The show of force comes after months of mounting and increased Chinese aggression directed at Taiwan, including nine Chinese aircraft entering the nation's air space Thursday - the day Russian troops invaded Ukraine

The show of force comes after months of mounting and increased Chinese aggression directed at Taiwan, including nine Chinese aircraft entering the nation’s air space Thursday – the day Russian troops invaded Ukraine

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has responded to China’s threats by setting the country’s military and intelligence security apparatus onto high alert, amid warnings that China could sense Western weakness after failing to prevent Russia’s attack.  

White House National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell described the delegation as ‘unofficial’ Monday during an online discussion with Washington, DC-based think tank the German Marshall Fund. 

During the virtual event, Campbell asserted that the delegation emphasizes Washington’s desire for peace and stability between the two nations.

He also stated the US will maintain close contact with the Indo-Pacific region while continuing to work closely with its European partners.

‘The selection of these five individuals sends an important signal about the bipartisan US commitment to Taiwan and its democracy, and demonstrates that the Biden administration’s broader commitment to Taiwan remains rock solid,’ the senior administration official said. 

The exhibition of the large fighter fleet, which is valued at more than $1.3billion, was likely meant to ward any prospective Chinese moves on Taiwan

The exhibition of the large fighter fleet, which is valued at more than $1.3billion, was likely meant to ward any prospective Chinese moves on Taiwan

The fleet of jets are assigned to the 44th and 67th Fighter Squadrons, better known by their colloquial epithets, the Vampires and the Fighting Cocks, respectively. The chopper belongs to the 33rd Rescue Squadron, which boasts the motto 'That Others May Live'

The fleet of jets are assigned to the 44th and 67th Fighter Squadrons, better known by their colloquial epithets, the Vampires and the Fighting Cocks, respectively. The chopper belongs to the 33rd Rescue Squadron, which boasts the motto ‘That Others May Live’

Campbell also said that in addition to the delegation to Taiwan, in the coming months, the world will see the US’ resolve to maintain contact with countries in the region, citing a planned visit to China by the head of the US Mission to the. Association of Southeast Asian, slated for March. 

However, on Wednesday, Chinese state-run media outlet the Global Times, a frequent critic of the US, cast doubt on Campbell’s claim in an op-ed piece that slammed the Biden-led nation as ‘frail’ and unable to defend Europe – let alone both Europe and Taiwan. 

‘Against this backdrop, fighting two wars will only be a suicide mission for the U.S.,’ the piece sniped, in what looked to be an apparent challenge to the US president, in an attempt to provoke him into sending troops to the Ukraine. 

The formation also featured a $50million KC-135 Stratotanker refueling plane (at front), as well as a $270million E-3 Sentry aerial command and control craft

The formation also featured a $50million KC-135 Stratotanker refueling plane (at front), as well as a $270million E-3 Sentry aerial command and control craft

US officials called the display a 'routine wing readiness exercise' despite the size of the fleet

US officials called the display a ‘routine wing readiness exercise’ despite the size of the fleet

The communist-run paper’s editorial board wrote that Biden’s refusal to deploy troops in Ukraine serves as ‘proof’ the White House isn’t ‘confident it can win even one regional war.’

The outlet also cited America’s failures after lengthy military operations in Vietnam and Afghanistan. 

The criticism echoed gormer Secretary of State Mike Pompeo‘s statements last week that suggested Biden was to blame for the invasion, during a Friday morning appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.    

F15 E STRIKE EAGLE 

  • First flight: 1984
  • Top speed: 1,874 mph
  • Use: USA, Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia
  • Wingspan: 42.8ft (13.05m)
  • Wing area: 608ft² (56.5m²)
  • Length: 63.8ft (19.4m)
  • Height: 18.5ft (5.63m)

‘We’ve seen a Russian dictator now terrorize the Ukrainian people because America didn’t demonstrate the resolve that we did for the four years prior,’ said Pompeo, who was former President Donald Trump‘s CIA Director before heading State. 

On Wednesday, Biden’s administration announced the postponement of an intercontinental ballistic missile test slated for this weekend, to show restraint and to avoid any possible misunderstanding with Russia, who put its nuclear forces on alert Monday.

One of the missiles, from a weapon system called the Minuteman III, is capable of devastating a city overseas less than 30 minutes after launch.

The attack on Ukraine has added another dimension at a time when relations between Beijing and Moscow were reported to be at a historic high. 

China, a longtime ally of Russia, has largely appeared to be distancing itself from Eastern European nation amid the conflict, which began Thursday, and has avoided condemning Putin for the invasion. 

On Monday, Wang told reporters that China and Russia were ‘comprehensive strategic partners of coordination’ – a marked about-face from the Chinese foreign ministry’s assertion last year that the two nations were ‘better than allies.’ 

Last week China appeared to throw Russia a sanctions-busting lifeline, by lifting wheat import restrictions. 

Taiwan, meanwhile, has been warily watching the fallout from Ukraine. 

‘The principle of self-determination cannot be erased by brute force,’ Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te said last week following Russia’s full-scale invasion Ukraine. 

Taipei diplomats said the delegation was evidence that Russian actions had prompted Washington, which under Biden has increased its focus on the Indo-Pacific region, to bolster relationships. 

‘The overall sense is that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has precipitated seismic shift in geopolitics. It doesn’t undermine Indo-Pacific efforts – it reinforces them,’ said a senior Western diplomat.

‘We’ll see the US doubling down on relationships in and beyond the region.’

Taiwanese army soldiers during a Readiness Enhancement Drill, amid escalating Taiwan-China tensions in January. The government in Taipei is watching the fallout from Ukraine

Taiwanese army soldiers during a Readiness Enhancement Drill, amid escalating Taiwan-China tensions in January. The government in Taipei is watching the fallout from Ukraine

Beijing claims the self-governing island of Taiwan as its own territory, and has promised to take it by force if necessary. It has stepped up aggressive flights by warplanes in recent months

Beijing claims the self-governing island of Taiwan as its own territory, and has promised to take it by force if necessary. It has stepped up aggressive flights by warplanes in recent months

The remains of Russian Army all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles Tigr-M (Tiger) on a road in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Monday. The invasion has heightened fears China could move on Taiwan

The remains of Russian Army all-terrain infantry mobility vehicles Tigr-M (Tiger) on a road in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Monday. The invasion has heightened fears China could move on Taiwan

Soldiers in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday as forces battle Russian invaders who have closed on the Ukrainian capital but have not achieved the rapid victory that Moscow expected

Soldiers in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday as forces battle Russian invaders who have closed on the Ukrainian capital but have not achieved the rapid victory that Moscow expected

A Taiwanese corvette is deployed during a Readiness Enhancement Drill, amid escalating Taiwan-China tensions, in Taiwan

A Taiwanese corvette is deployed during a Readiness Enhancement Drill, amid escalating Taiwan-China tensions, in Taiwan

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