Beijing has once again hinted that its new J-20 stealth fighter jets will conduct patrols around, or above, Taiwan’s airspace to pressure the island nation to reunify with China.
The warning message recently announced by Wang Mingliang, a Chinese military strategist with the China National Defense University during special programming on China Central Television program about Taiwan.
“J-20s can come and go at will above Taiwan,” said Mingliang, adding that Taiwan was frightened about “precision strikes on the leadership or key targets.”
Mingliang said that the fifth-generation stealth jet is designed to pierce through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and launch either reconnaissance or assault missions on the island. The military strategist said the stealth fighter could easily take on the “antiquated” F-16s and Mirage 2000s, which are still the backbone of Taiwan’s air defense. In other words, the Chinese strategist said the stealth fighters would reign supreme in any combat operations or dogfight above or around Taiwan.
China Central Television report shows an inside view of a J-20’s cockpit. (Source: CCTV)
Earlier this month, a similar threat was echoed by Zhou Chenming, another Chinese military strategist, who said sea training exercises indicated that the stealth fighters would be sent to Taiwan and the heavily disputed regions of the South China Sea.
“The J-20 drill is another warning message because it went unseen by the Taiwanese air force and these stealth fighters are capable of a precision strike on the leadership,” Chenming said. “The PLA air force jets will enter the Taiwan [air defence identification zone] sooner or later.”
Beijing’s “goal is reunification with Taiwan” and “this is just one piece,” Dan Blumenthal, the director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told Business Insider, adding that cyber, sea, and political warfare are three domains that Beijing would remain dominant in the attempt to reunify Taiwan with the mainland.
Business Insider points out that Taiwan has a strategy to counter Beijing’s stealth fighters: new mobile passive radars and new active radars for their F-16Vs, according to Taipei Times. Taiwan is beefing up its electronic warfare units and advanced missiles, in the hopes to deter Beijing from violating its airspace with stealth fighters.
“It’s exactly what they should be doing,” Blumenthal said. “Just like any country would, they’re going to try to chase [the J-20s] away,” adding that Taiwan’s plan would be effective but that the country still wouldn’t be able to defend its airspace as well as major powers such as the US.
“Taiwan could probably use all sorts of help,” Blumenthal added.
Given that J-20 production is still a small number, it is hard to estimate how many stealth fighters Beijing will have for the next war patrol over Taiwan’s airspace. One thing is certain, the probability of a shooting war between China and Taiwan is growing by the week. As for now, stay tuned for future headlines of J-20s penetrating Taiwan’s airspace...China wants its island back.