These Are the 3 Most Powerful Air Forces in All of Asia

Robert Farley
U.S. Navy [Public domain]

Robert Farley

Security, Asia

Who is number one? China? Japan?

These Are the 3 Most Powerful Air Forces in All of Asia

Pound for pound, the Republic of Korea Air Force may be tougher than any of the services listed here.

Airpower has played a critical role in the conflicts that have set the Asian political scene since World War II.  From the Korean War to the Vietnam Conflict to the several wars between India and Pakistan, air forces have helped tip the strategic balance in war, and frame the terms of peace.

But effective air forces need more than flashy fighters.  They need transport aircraft that can provide strategic and tactical airlift, and Aerial Early Warning (AEW) planes that can maintain surveillance and control of the sky.  They need a defense-industrial base that can keep the warplanes in the air. This article looks at the three most effective air forces in Asia, in the context of their ability to put planes in the sky, to make sure those planes are well flown, and maintain a reliable supply and procurement base.

This first appeared in 2015.

Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF)

The JASDF was established in 1954 as the air branch of the Japanese Self Defense Force, the quasi-military mandated by the post-World War II peace treaty. Over the decades, Japan has combined its own high level of technical sophistication with a series of airframes provided by the United States to field a formidable force.

The JASDF is well stocked with modern, capable aircraft. It flies over 300 generation 4 and 4.5 fighters (F-15s and F-2s), supplemented by an older group of F-4 Phantoms. It maintains a large AEW fleet, along with a squadron of tankers capable of keeping its fighters in the air.

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