US Navy commander calls for more aircraft carriers in Pacific to dissuade China, Russia from conflict

The commander of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet has called for more aircraft carriers in the Pacific to dissuade China and Russia from conflict.

Vice Adm. Karl Thomas made the comment after the U.S. concluded a 10-day naval exercise with Japan, Australia, Canada and Germany, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Thomas, when asked about the threat from China and Russia, said it was important to show a united front to "other nations that might be more aggressive and authoritarian," the newspaper reported.

He added that the U.S. and allies should use joint exercises to "deter aggression from some of these nations that are showing burgeoning strength [and] tell these nations that maybe today is not the day."

Earlier this month, the U.S. Naval Institute said that China was building mock-ups of U.S. Navy ships as part of a new target range developed by the People's Liberation Army.

China commissioned its first domestically built aircraft carrier in late 2019, and a second carrier is expected to enter service by 2024, the Pentagon said in its annual report to Congress.

Russia, meanwhile, announced Monday that it successfully tested a Zircon cruise missile, which is believed to fly at more than five times the speed of sound, adding to concerns regarding Moscow's buildup of troops near its border with Ukraine.

Thomas made the remarks at the conclusion of the annual AnnualEX naval exercise, which began on Nov. 21 in the Philippine Sea off the coast of Japan.

The U.S. Navy was joined by the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, German Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Thomas said the combined forces represent "an incredible amount of power," the Journal reported, adding "when we think about how we might fight, it's a large water space, and four aircraft carriers is a good number, but six, seven or eight would be better."