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U.S. Air Force Uniform Patch Depicts Reaper Over China, Beijing Dissatisfied

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U.S. Air Force Uniform Patch Depicts Reaper Over China, Beijing Dissatisfied

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Between September 3rd and September 29th, the US Air Force conducted Exercise Agile Reaper.

The aim was to train its MQ-9 Reaper squadrons to carry out an effective island assault and train to tackle more challenging adversaries such as Russia and China.

The MQ-9 Reaper is proven in the Middle East on strikes on various militant targets.

“It incorporates maritime interdiction capabilities, it incorporates a lot more major contingency operation capabilities, air interdiction,” 29th Attack Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Brian Davis said. “It reinvigorates our strike coordination and reconnaissance capability, and it also increases our combat search and rescue capability.”

The exercise partnered three MQ-9s with the Navy’s Third Fleet, which deploys carrier strike groups, submarines, and other sea vessels and aircraft to the Eastern Pacific, along with Air Force C-130s, and special warfare and Marine Corps personnel, Davis said.

“It’s a demonstration of our capability to rapidly move the MQ-9 anywhere in the world, to unfamiliar locations, and then get out and show the operational reach capabilities of the MQ-9 to provide maritime domain awareness to our joint service partners,” Davis said.

A photograph of these airmen was published by Air Force Magazine on September 24th, and it appears to have angered China.

U.S. Air Force Uniform Patch Depicts Reaper Over China, Beijing Dissatisfied

Click to see full-size image

Why?

Because it features a patch that shows a skeletal Grim Reaper equipped with his traditional scythe, was worn by airmen participating in Agile Reaper, an exercise last month involving three of the drones deployed to Naval Station Point Mugu, Calif., from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.

“This is an extremely arrogant provocation,” the Global Times, Chinese state outlet said in an article on September 29th. “This is a move to further stir hostilities between Chinese and American societies and an extortion against China. The US military is using the drones and patches to stimulate the imagination and create images of China and the US going to war.”

The newspaper on September 19th posted a video issued by the Chinese air force that showed nuclear-capable H-6 bombers carrying out a simulated attack on what appears to be Andersen Air Force Base on Guam.

But that the US is preparing for potential hostilities with China and/or Russia is no secret.

“Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities for the Department [of Defense], and require both increased and sustained investment, because of the magnitude of the threats they pose to U.S. security and prosperity today, and the potential for those threats to increase in the future,” the 2018 National Defense Strategy states.

As recently as February, members of the 18th Aggressor Squadron out of Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, wore red and black patches showing a Soviet-era hammer and sickle over a palm tree while participating in the Cope North drills on Guam.

The aggressors’ mission involves playing the role of enemy air forces during training.

“China will shoot down incoming US warplanes, no matter they are unmanned or manned,” the Global Times warned. “If those planes cause actual damage to Chinese islands and reefs, we will strike the platforms and bases from which those planes take off.”

If Chinese-held islands in disputed South China Sea territory are attacked they will be “turned into a fully operational military base,” the newspaper reported.

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