Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ferret Flight, Business As Usual or PSYAct?

The 26 November 2013 Washington Post featured an article “US flies two war planes over East China Sea, ignoring new Chinese Air Defense Zone (see:, which is also the photo source.

According to the article the US flew two unarmed B-52 bombers over two Chinese islands as a part of a previously scheduled training mission.

Some interesting observations here. Once upon a time, the US and the Soviets used to engage in ‘ferret flights’. Military aircraft would fly a course that looked like they were going to enter the territory of the target country. Of course, they didn’t, but the flight caused the target to activate their defenses and the electronics (trackers, anti-aircraft missiles, etc) along with them. The flights ‘ferreted’ out the likely defensive actions of the target.

Was the US sending a message to the PRC: “We don’t really care what your pronouncements are, we are still the dominant force in Asia?” or was this simply a preplanned activity that went ahead because those responsible for the activity never got the message about China’s new Air Defense Identification Zone.

The timing was also a bit screwy since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced major reform initiatives at the recent Third Plenary Session of the Communist Party’s 18th Central Committee. (see:

In any event there was no major outcry from the PRC so it remains to be seen whether or not there will be any psychological impact of the flights. Of course, long time Sinophiles know that Chinese are long haul players and will act only when it suits them, mostly on their own time.

See: for more on the Chinese response.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers and Happy Holidays to one and all.

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