Did the US Navy withdraw from the South China Sea after Chinese jamming attacks on their planes? Find out what the FACTS really are…
Claim : US Navy Withdraws After Chinese Jamming Attacks!
This is the Chinese article that went viral with Chinese netizens and Sinophiles sharing it excitedly, and here is the English translation :
US Navy Withdraws After Chinese Jamming : A Fantasy
Yet again, people shared the article without even bothering to fact-check. A few seconds of Googling would have revealed that the article is completely BOGUS.
Here are the facts and reasons why this is yet another Chinese tall tale.
Fact #1 : There Is No Such CNBC Report
A quick check on any search engine will show that CNBC never published a report on US Growler planes being attacked by Chinese jamming.
Fact #2 : No US Growler Planes Ever Lost Control From Chinese Jamming
No US EA-18G Growler planes ever lost control from Chinese jamming.
The Americans first detected Chinese jamming during USS Theodore Roosevelt’s deployment to the Philippines in 2018.
One EA-18G Growler pilot confirmed it in an interview with GMA News Online, but pointed out that they were not in danger :
The mere fact that some of your equipment is not working is already an indication that someone is trying to jam you. And so we have an answer to that.
Fact #3 : EA-18G Growler Is An Electronics Warfare Aircraft
The Boeing EA-18G Growler is a two-seat electronics warfare aircraft, designed to jam enemy radar and electronics.
While the Growler is still vulnerable to powerful ground jamming, it is the worst aircraft for the Chinese to attack electronically because it’s the American aircraft most able to defend against and respond to a jamming attack.
Hence, the pilot’s response – “We have an answer to [Chinese jamming]“.
Fitted with a multitude of jamming pods and electronics, its electronics warfare officer can counter-jam Chinese radar and communications in the area.
And if they are ever in real danger, the pilot can fire AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) to destroy the Chinese jammer.
But perhaps that’s also the reason why the Chinese chose to attack the EA-18G Growler in 2018 – it was the aircraft best able to withstand such an attack.
Fact #4 : It Is Illegal To Jam Any Aircraft In International Airspace
While China have the right to jam foreign military aircraft entering their airspace without permission, they do not have the right to jam any aircraft, military or civilian, flying in international airspace.
While a jamming attack is not an act of war like firing a missile or shooting shells at the aircraft, it is still a hostile, provocative act that could result in the loss of aircraft and aircrew.
Needless to say – it is illegal for for anyone to electronically interfere with aircraft flying in international space, even if they are EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft.
No nation that claims to be peaceful would behave so recklessly.
Fact #5 : China Pledged Not To Militarise The Spratlys
Back in 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that China has no intention to militarise the Spratly islands :
Relevant construction activity that China is undertaking in the Nansha Islands does not target or impact any country and there is no intention to militarise.
President Xi Jinping also reiterated that China is “committed to freedom of navigation in the sea” and to “resolving disputes through dialogue“.
The presence of military jamming equipment in 2018 though would suggest that President Xi was lying, or has no control of what really goes on in the South China Sea.
It doesn’t help that the writer specifically pointed out how China has militarised those islands :
Since the construction of China’s island and reef defense began, the living space of US military fighters and warships has been shrinking. If China continues to develop like this, the United States will not have any chance of winning.
Fact #6 : Jammers Are Offensive Weapons
The claim that electronic jammers are defensive weapons is nonsensical. Electronic jamming is an offensive capability.
Imagine if your neighbour used an electronic jammer to disrupt your Wi-Fi network, claiming that he has the right to defend his own Wi-Fi network. Which court in the world would agree with him?
The Chinese author of that fantasy piece actually debunks his own claim that jammers are defensive weapons, noting that “it is an electronic jamming device that can cut off the enemy’s radio system. The attacked fighter will be out of control. Since it cannot be controlled, these fighters will soon crash.”
Does that sound like a defensive weapon to you? Serious lack of logic and common sense.
Fact #7 : Electronic Jammers Do Not Affect Flight Controls
While electronic jammers can suppress or disrupt radar and communications, they cannot render an aircraft uncontrollable.
Airplanes will not crash simply because they lose radar and communications. So the claim that Chinese jammers caused the Growler planes to almost crash is ludicrous.
Fact #8 : Chinese Jammers Do Not Cover Half The South China Sea
While the writer claims that the US military acknowledged that China’s electronic jamming system has covered more than half of the South China Sea, this is yet another fantasy.
The Chinese only deployed military jamming equipment to several artificial islands they created on Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross.
And as powerful as ground-based jamming can be, their effectiveness is greatly reduced by range. That’s why China created their Xi’an H-6G airborne jamming aircraft in 2018.
These long-range jamming aircraft would not be necessary if China is capable of jamming electronics across such a vast distance.
Fact #9 : The United States Did Not Withdraw
The United States did not withdraw from the South China Sea as claimed in the article.
In fact, they sent two aircraft carriers – USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan – together with their battle groups into the South China Sea earlier this month (July 2020).
It was the first time two carrier groups operated together in the South China Sea since 2009. The third US carrier – USS Theodore Roosevelt – was also nearby, in the Philippine Sea.
The US Navy Chief of Information left no doubt that the two carriers were there to assert that the South China Sea are international waters, not Chinese waters.
And yet, there they are. Two @USNavy aircraft carriers operating in the international waters of the South China Sea. #USSNimitz & #USSRonaldReagan are not intimidated #AtOurDiscretion https://t.co/QGTggRjOul
— Navy Chief of Information (@chinfo) July 5, 2020
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