The Wall Street Journal reports that the move is part of a broader plan to maintain modest naval and ground forces in the Middle East while countering China and Russia.
The United States plans to deploy aging A-10 strike aircraft to the Middle East as replacements for more advanced fighters that will be moved to the Pacific and Europe as tensions with China and Russia rise, a news report said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, the move, scheduled for April, is part of a broader plan that also calls for modest naval and ground forces to be kept in the Middle East, US officials said.
Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder told the Journal that the “global force management process is dynamic and the Secretary of Defense makes decisions based on threats to our armed forces and our national security interests.” Ryder declined to discuss the details of the move.
According to the news report, some US officials have criticized the plan to swap out the advanced fighter jets for the older A-10 jets as it could weaken US military power in the Middle East. The Air Force’s A-10 close air support attack aircraft is known as “the tank killer”.
“The imperative is to get the most appropriate aircraft to the Pacific for the bigger threat challenges,” said Larry Stutzriem, a retired Air Force major general. was quoted. “The A-10 is still relevant to the mission that CENTCOM is flying over the Middle East.”
The US administration has strengthened an arc of military alliances in Asia-Pacific to better fight China, including in future confrontations over Taiwan.
The Journal report comes after a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Moscow to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The two called for a “responsible dialogue” to resolve the Ukraine crisis, with Xi acknowledging that Beijing and Moscow had signed an agreement that took ties into a “new era” of cooperation.
“Right now there are changes – the likes of which we have not seen for 100 years – and we are the ones driving these changes together,” Xi told Putin. The Russian president replied: “I agree.”
China’s military said on Thursday it had been monitoring and dislodging a US destroyer that had illegally entered the waters around the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.
The US Navy disputed China’s claim that the warship conducts “routine operations” in the South China Sea and was not expelled.