With an eye on the aggressive Chinese behaviour, the United States's Defense Bill - National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal 2021 - has sought fighter jet training detachment for India, Japan and Australia in the US Pacific territory of Guam. The move comes six months after the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen signed a memorandum of understanding for Singapore to set up a fighter jet training detachment in Guam.
The text of NDAA 2021, for the fiscal year beginning October 1, was introduced in the Senate on Thursday.
The act directs the Secretary of Defense submit to the congressional defense committees a report assessing the merit and feasibility of entering into agreements similar to that of Singapore with other US allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region, to include Japan, Australia, and India.
The US-Singapore memorandum is meant for approximately a squadron's worth of Republic of Singapore Air Force fighter jets and associated personnel. The Singapore training presence is expected to begin around 2029.
Among other things, the bill establishes the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which will focus resources on the Indo-Pacific - addressing key military capability gaps, reassuring US allies and partners, and bolstering the credibility of the United States, said Senator Jim Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Describing Indo-Pacific as the "priority theatre," an NDAA report said the bill establishes the Pacific Deterrence Initiative to enhance budgetary transparency and oversight, focus resources on capability gaps, reassure allies and partners, and restore the credibility of American deterrence in the region.
The bill proposes procurement of 48 Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASMs), which it said will be especially useful in the Indo-Pacific, which the Department of Defense has named its priority theatre.
The LRASM provides a near-term capability enhancement that will allow the carrier air wing to contribute to blunting a Chinese offensive earlier in conflict, thereby directly advancing the objectives and priorities laid out in the National Defense Strategy.
NDAA also seeks acceleration in the American effort to establish an F-35A operating locations forward in the Indo-pacific region.
To date, the Air Force has announced the selection of nine operating locations for the F-35A, including locations in the US, Alaska, and Europe.
It has yet to announce plans for any F-35A operating locations forward in the Indo-Pacific region.