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Dec 30, 2019 / 08:45

US Air Force affirms regular activities in South China Sea

US Air Force generals asserted that though they don’t get as much press coverage as the Navy’s freedom of navigation operations, the Air Force’s activities in the South China Sea are still carried out regularly.

Generals from the US Air Force have recently affirmed that they have been flying in and around the South China Sea for really about the past 15 years, and continue doing “on a regular basis”.

 US aircraft operate in the South China Sea. Photo: Defense.gov

“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,” he said. “And so it’s something we do on a regular basis with, whether it’s our bombers, whether it’s our – the Navy’s P-3/P-8s, our U-2s, RQ-4.”

Brown affirmed at the 2019 Pacific Air Chiefs Symposium that the US Air Force’s aim was to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region, promote mutual understanding of common issues and challenges, and enhance capabilities and interactions with partners and allies.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein meets with his Vietnamese counterpart, Lieutenant General Le Huy Vinh, during his historic visit to Hanoi in August. Photo: The US Air Force

Meanwhile, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein talked about the enhancement of the US-Vietnam defense ties. He highlighted the two generals’ visit to Vietnam in August, saying it was the first visit of a US air chief since the end of the war.

“So it’s a fascinating part of our journey together,” he said.

The visit is another major example of how relations have changed over the last years, especially when a US aircraft carrier visited Vietnam in March 2018 for the first time since the war ended.

The visit took place at the time when a Chinese survey ship and escorts conducted maritime survey within Vietnamese exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.

More broadly, the US military engages in numerous annual training exchanges and activities to enhance bilateral cooperation and interoperability with the Vietnam People’s Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard.