New bomb: China has prepared ‘Heavenly Thunder’ for Taiwan
LONDON, (BM) – State media in the PRC presented a promising Chinese weapon system amid growing tensions with Taiwan and the United States, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing The Guardian.
The new program of the military edition of the Chinese television channel CCTV7 tells about the aircraft weapons developed by the Norinco Corporation (China North Industries Corporation).
In particular, a new tactical planning guided aerial bomb Tianlei 500 [which translates as “Heavenly Thunder”] weighing 500 kg was demonstrated for the first time. The bomb is said to carry a cartridge of 240 submunitions.
The maximum flight range of the Tianlei 500 is over 60 km. The control is carried out autonomously using the global positioning system BeiDou. The circular probable deviation is about 30 m, and the area of damaging dispersion of submunitions is 6,000 square meters. m. It is reported that the Tianlei 500 can carry six different types of ammunition.
This demonstration was carried out against the backdrop of exacerbating tensions between China and Taiwan and the United States due to, in fact, Taiwan itself, as well as Hong Kong, the South China Sea and the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, August 17, the government of Taiwan announced that it will intensify its efforts to screen new arrivals from Hong Kong to prevent Chinese spies from settling on the island.
The Taiwan Council for Mainland China Affairs said it was “strengthening governance” for Hong Kong and Macau residents who are from mainland China or who are current or former party, government or military officials, and the Council’s current activities “are aimed at discouraging them to infiltrate, act as a united front [including within the framework of the “United Front”], organize riots or engage in espionage activities. “
United Front refers to the department of the Chinese Communist Party that is responsible for co-opting [introducing new members, bypassing the election stage] overseas Chinese and non-Communists.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen opposes the policy of rapprochement with the PRC and has repeatedly stressed Taiwan’s claims to sovereignty, and has systematically done so since her re-election earlier this year.
In a speech last week, she welcomed US assistance and announced increases in defense spending to improve Taiwan’s ability to repel a possible Chinese invasion of the island, prompting criticism from Beijing.
This statement followed the conclusion of the visit to Taiwan of a US delegation led by Cabinet Secretary Alex Azar. At such a high level, the Americans have not visited the island for four decades, and this infuriated the official Beijing, which warned the United States against “playing with fire.”
The recently formalized $ 62 billion deal between Taiwan and the United States to buy F-16 fighters from the American company Lockheed Martin has also been flagged in Chinese state media as a clear provocation.
The US sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan is an infringement on Chinese sovereignty, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing on August 17.
Lijian noted that the sale of arms to Taiwan violates the “one China” principle. “These actions by Washington seriously infringe on the interests of China and undermine the national security of the PRC,” said a spokesman for the PRC Foreign Ministry.
“Taipei has signed a formal agreement with the United States to acquire 66 newly built Lockheed Martin F-16C / D (F-16V) Block 70 Viper fighters. Apparently, this refers to the conclusion of a final agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between the governments of the two countries within the framework of the American program of intergovernmental foreign military sales,” said Konstantin Makienko, deputy director of the Center for Strategies and Technologies, to Gazeta.Ru.
As the interlocutor of the publication said, Taiwan has long sought the acquisition of 66 to 72 F-16 fighters of modern modifications in the United States. Earlier, the administration of US President Barack Obama for political reasons refused to sell 66 F-16C / D Block 50/52 fighters to Taiwan.
In 2018, Taiwan asked the Trump administration for 66 fighters of the latest modification of the F-16V Block 70 [and plus six such additional aircraft to replace the operational losses of Taiwan’s F-16 fighter jets in recent years] – and, as a result, won a supply contract.
Prior to that, Taiwan received 150 F-16A / B Block 20 fighters [120 F-16A and 30 F-16B] under the Peace Fenghuang program under the 1992 agreement under the American FMS program in 1997-2001.
Currently, the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of China [Taiwan] under a 2016 contract worth $ 3.8 billion with Lockheed Martin Corporation is implementing a program to upgrade 142 existing F-16A / B Block 20 fighters to the F-16V level, with the implementation of work in 2017-2022 years at the facilities of the Taiwanese aircraft building corporation Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation.
The first Taiwanese F-16A fighter to complete the upgrade to the F-16V level began flight tests in August 2018, and on October 19, 2018, it was formally transferred to the Taiwan Air Force.
Read more: Taiwan Buys 66 F-16s Totaling $8 Billion
Taiwan with this modernization program became the first customer and recipient of the F-16V modification, advertised as the most advanced version of the F-16 fighter family and equipped with the new Northrop Grumman AN / APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar [SABR] with AFAR.
The 66 additional newly-built F-16V fighters now being purchased are to replace 56 French-built Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighters received in the 1990s and whose operation is facing significant difficulties due to the lack of spare parts in the Taiwan Air Force.
According to local sources, Taiwan wants to sell its Mirage 2000-5 fighters to a “third country”.
China, reminds The Guardian, has never renounced the use of force to subjugate Taiwan to its control and condemned the United States for selling weapons to the island. In turn, support for Taiwan, including military support, is an invariable part of American foreign policy.
Meanwhile, all parties to the hypothetical conflict have begun tactical live-fire exercises in the region. Last week, the US Navy conducted exercises in the South China Sea, which, according to a US Navy spokesman, “are essential to ensure the responsiveness and flexibility of the joint force, and to keep the Indo-Pacific region free and open.”
On August 16, the China People’s Liberation Army garrison based in Hong Kong also released live action footage in the north and south of the Taiwan Strait. The PLA spokesman, without pointing specifically to the United States, said that “a large country” is constantly taking negative steps on the Taiwan issue, which served as the wrong signal to the forces of “Taiwan independence.”
In addition, according to Taiwanese media reports, footage of joint training of the US and Taiwanese forces has recently appeared.
Natasha Kassam, a researcher at the Foreign Policy Analytical Center at the Lowy Institute [Sydney, Australia], said that Beijing’s stance is a form of containment and is aimed at avoiding a “high risk” military conflict.
China signals its disagreement with the strengthening of US relations with Taiwan and sent a message about this to the potentially new US administration, led by Joe Biden, who has historically supported Taiwan, writes The Guardian.
“China’s increasingly aggressive behavior suggests that Beijing’s ability to annex Taiwan is dwindling. In the past, Beijing’s strategy has included coercive measures, military threats, and economic incentives. It looks like they are beginning to recognize Taiwan’s independence, and resistance to unification has reached a critical point,” Qassam said.
Recent comments in editorials from Chinese state media and senior officials called for an easing of tensions with the United States, but blamed Washington for the friction and controversy, The Guardian writes.
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