Jacqueline A. Newmyer has an interesting military analysis of China’s seeming air-power deficit in Policy Review. Indeed, the air force of the People’s Republic of China is based primarily on old Soviet fighter designs that are throughly outclassed by American aircraft. Even National Guard units have better aircraft than the PRC’s air force.
Newmyer points out that Chinese strategic doctrine realizes that the only way to limit US forces is to make their control of the air hazardous through anti-aircraft missiles, guns, and jamming technology. However, it seems that US advances in stealth technology may undercut that doctrine by ensuring that efforts at jamming are made more difficult.
The Chinese do have a formidible military, and a Sino-American war would be devasting (and thankfully unlikely despite recent tensions). However, the real relevance of this article is in the possibility that Chinese methods may be used by other hostile nations in the future – which is why the US military must maintain the ability to fight a war on the land, sea, and air, at any place and any time.