Fact Check : US Withdraws After Chinese Jamming Attacks?

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Did the US Navy withdraw from the South China Sea after Chinese jamming attacks on their planes?

Find out what’s going on, and what the FACTS really are…


Claim : US Navy Withdraws After Chinese Jamming Attacks!

This was the Chinese article that went viral with Chinese netizens and Sinophiles sharing it excitedly in July 2020.

It was allegedly translated into English by Hong Kong-based analyst, Thomas Wing Polin, whose translation was widely circulated on social media

It is this English translation that has begun circulating again on social media, after tensions rose between the US and China.

Just now, the U.S. fighter plane flew over the South China Sea again.
Unexpectedly, it lost control halfway, and the U.S. finally admitted one thing.

Just now, the US CNBC website reported that several US Growler electronic warplanes were mysteriously attacked when they flew to the South China Sea again. These warplanes were all out of control midway, but these warplanes were out of control for only a few seconds. Then the US military ordered the request. All fighters over the South China Sea withdrew.

In this regard, the United States was at a loss as to why this happened. Finally, they mobilized reconnaissance satellites to discover that many electronic jamming devices appeared on the islands and reefs in the South China Sea. It was these devices that caused the short-term loss of control of the U.S. fighter planes. According to the pilots, when they were attacked electronically, all the instruments in the cabin were chaotic. The fighter planes were completely out of control and could not communicate with the outside world, but they did not know what happened.

Fiery Cross Reef 9 March 2017

After the accident, the United States negotiated with my country, demanding that my country dismantle the electronic equipment immediately, but it was rejected. These electronic devices are an important part of my country’s maritime defense and are not offensive weapons. Therefore, the US military’s request for dismantling is unreasonable. So why does this electronic device make the United States so afraid? First of all, 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.

The second is that its attack method is unpredictable. Compared with conventional air defense missiles, electronic jamming systems are more concealed. Because its attack method interferes with the radio, enemy fighter planes are often hit inadvertently. At the same time, this type of attack is almost impossible to intercept. That’s why the US military asks my country to dismantle these weapons.

Woody Island Chinese build-up

On the same day, Swift, the former commander of the US Pacific, finally admitted that the US military had lost the best time to control the South China Sea. He believes that China has deployed a large number of Hongqi 9 air defense missiles, H6K fighter jets, and electronic jamming systems on islands and reefs. The defense can be said to be solid. If US fighter jets rush into the South China Sea, they are likely to encounter “Waterloo.”

In fact, 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.

Whether it is islands or reefs or electronic jamming systems, these are part of our national defense system. According to the US military, my country’s electronic jamming system has covered more than half of the South China Sea. It can be seen from this that American fighters must be careful when entering the South China Sea.

Fact Check : US Growler Planes Blocked By Chinese Jamming


US Navy Withdraws After Chinese Jamming : A Fantasy

That Chinese article was given some legitimacy after it was posted in Asia Times by Pepe Escobar.

However, it is COMPLETELY BOGUS, and is yet another example of Chinese propaganda warfare. Here are the facts…

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 to 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.

Boeing EA-18G Growler
A EA-18G Growler, XE 573 166857 of the VX-9 “Vampires” cruises over the desert during a mission. Shot 3/11/2009. RMS 227040

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 an 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.

EA-18G Growler electronic warfare features

Fact #4 : It Is Illegal To Jam Any Aircraft In International Airspace

While China has the right to jam foreign military aircraft entering its airspace without permission, the Chinese 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“.

Xi Jinping and Barack Obama

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.

Russian Krasukha ground jamming system
Russian Krasukha ground jamming system

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. Planes that lose radar and communications can still fly…

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 launched their Xi’an H-6G airborne jamming aircraft in 2018.

These long-range jamming aircraft would not be necessary if China is already capable of jamming electronics across such a vast distance.

Xian H-6G jamming bomber
Xian H-6G jamming bomber

Fact #9 : The United States Did Not Withdraw

The United States did not withdraw from the South China Sea in July 2020, as claimed by 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 just before the Chinese article was published.

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.

Not did it withdraw in April 2021 when the same article went viral again.

In April 2021, the US Navy posted this famous photo of the captain and executive officer of USS Mustin (DDG-89) –  an Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer watching the Liaoning carrier group in the Philippine Sea.

The photo left no doubt that the US Navy was not going anywhere, and would shadow Chinese naval forces wherever they are in the South China Sea… and beyond.


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