The U.S. military probably has enough warplanes to win a war with China in the western Pacific. What it doesn’t have is enough bases. But maybe American troops could “borrow” those bases … from China. By dropping paratroopers or landing Marines on some of Beijing’s new island outposts.
Distance is the great destroyer of tactical air power, especially in the vast Asia-Pacific region. Most modern fighters can fly and fight no farther than 500 miles from their bases. Refueling tankers realistically can add a few hundred miles to a fighter’s combat radius.
The amount of air power China and the United States can bring to bear in a war over, say, the disputed islands of the South China Sea depends in large part of how many bases each country can set up, supply and protect within 500 miles of the major battle zones.