The PLA has set out to ensure it would not suffer this fate, military experts said.
CHINA BUILDING UP AIR DEFENCES
Underpinning its defences, China has built a hardened, integrated air defence system bristling with batteries of Russian-made and locally produced surface-to-air missiles.
Since 2000, the PLA air force has taken delivery of almost 550 advanced fighter and strike aircraft that potentially match or even exceed the capabilities of all current Western aircraft except the F-22, some aviation experts said.
And, the PLA still has more than 1,000 less advanced fighters to defend its airspace.
That means only the U.S.’s 185 F-22s and 20 stealthy B-2 bombers could penetrate China’s airspace in a conflict right now, according to senior U.S and Asian military commanders.
Another key objective for Beijing is to keep U.S aircraft carrier battle groups far away from areas of operations near the Chinese coast.
It has invested heavily in submarines, surface warships and missiles that could be used to attack carriers or keep them at bay, forcing their aircraft to operate at long distances.