TAIPEI, TAIWAN — The supposed war between China and Taiwan, which some senior military-political experts say is inevitable, is bringing the development of new military strategies to the fore. Taiwan has conducted and continues to conduct exercises and training exercises to defend itself. Because according to some, Taiwan can defend itself but cannot attack.
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The F-16V and the French more than 50-year-old Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter were used in a non-standard combination precisely in one of the exercises in Taiwan. The drills resumed very soon, but they are only the beginning of something bigger – the Han Kuang military exercises, which are expected later in 2023.
One of the tweets on Twitter reveals part of the strategy of the Taiwanese Air Force through the use of F-16V and Mirage 2000. The two fighters in a joint combination forming a defensive pair “scrambled to intercept with SAM version of the TC-1 missile at daybreak.”
F-16V and Mirage 2000 as “interceptor pair”
This missile is Taiwanese short-range. However, it was used as a simulated incoming target. This means that the two fighters, the F-16V and the Mirage 2000, flew out to intercept and destroy her. Sources in Taiwan say several scenarios have been worked out.
In one of them, the missile was intercepted by a ground-based anti-aircraft defense system, which shared the information with the two fighters, which, based on this information, conditionally destroyed the target. The other scenario is that the pair in the air intercepted the missile themselves and conventionally destroyed the target.
The use of TC-1 can be seen as a bit of a worrying fact. Such exercises mostly use drones to simulate combat. The lack of use of drones in this scenario raises the question of whether Taiwan has any. Military experts say the use of the F-16V and Mirage 2000 is symbolic. Thus Taiwan has been able to exploit the pair’s strengths in radar detection, speed, maneuverability, and payload.
At the same time, according to Chinese sources, US military strategists participated in the exercises as observers and advisers. Their purpose was to direct the pilots of the Taiwanese Air Force to conduct air battles. However, this information is shared by Chinese bloggers. There is no confirmation that it is true.
Offense or defense?
However, Taiwan cannot attack. It can be defended, but that too is questionable. The territory of Taiwan is small and it is difficult to build a fortress structure and strategic depth on it. Currently, Taiwan actually has four destroyers and 22 frigates of three different classes. Most of the ships were launched between the 1990s and the beginning of the new millennium. They are already 20-30 years old.
Taiwan intended to develop its own missile frigate. BulgarianMilitary.com also wrote about these Taipei plans some time ago. But the Taiwanese encountered a problem related to destructive scanning. I.e. the local scientific institute did not develop an AESA radar, thus leaving the missile frigate facing delay and impossibility, at least for now.
Further analysis indicates that Taiwan’s other missile frigates also have gaps in their radar equipment and to function are forced to work in joint operations with the US-donated Oliver Hazard Perry-class ships as operational centers for guidance information. It is for some of these reasons that Taiwan is assumed to be defensive and not have the resources to attack.
Experts see a problem in Taiwan’s armed forces, especially its air force. However, this problem is not new to the world and is used by great powers.
Very often, Chinese aircraft enter Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone [ADIZ]. This forces Taiwan to fly its fighter jets for interception and escort them outside the limits of the zone of the Chinese fighter jets. In this way, Taiwanese weapon systems, especially fighter jets, depreciate faster.
China’s objective is to put “continuous pressure on Taiwan’s armed forces… to increase the strain on military resources [and] to have a negative impact on their [operational] readiness.”
BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that Chinese pilots have two or three times more flight hours than Taiwanese pilots. This also affects the combat capability of the Taiwan Air Force.
The situation with Taiwan is comparable to that of Ukraine. As for their geographical location. Both countries have small geographical areas. This affects its own military production process, as it cannot be moved far enough away from enemy missiles.
At the same time, specifically speaking of the pair of F-16V and Mirage 2000 fighters, Taiwan remains heavily dependent on supplies from the US and France to keep them operationally ready. Taiwan’s problem is the Mirage 2000, which rolled off the production line in 2007. Thus, spare parts and maintenance will be more difficult now than they were in the past.
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