The latest news from Taiwan is that the air force is flexing its muscles in the face of a Chinese war game. China is sending its air force jets to Thailand to simulate air attacks on enemy forces, test air support plans, and deploy troops. The game is dubbed Falcon Strike 2022. China has long professed peaceful “reunification” of Taiwan, but has consistently warned that it could use force if needed.
The drills come at a time when the democratically-governed island has been under constant Chinese pressure. In recent years, Taiwan has upgraded its aging fleet of fighter jets to bolster its military readiness in case China invades its island. In November, Taiwan deployed its first squadron of US-made F-16Vs, an upgraded version of the F-16 fighters.
Taiwan’s air force has been on high alert since the start of the month and is ready to respond to any threat. It has two pilots on duty at all times and can be in the air within six minutes. Its latest fighter jets, the Lockheed Martin F-16V, are capable of carrying advanced avionics, weapons and radar systems. The new aircraft can also carry Raytheon Technologies Corp’s AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
While the probes are not necessarily indicative of an imminent invasion, they do indicate that Beijing is increasingly motivated to invade Taiwan sooner rather than later. This could have catastrophic consequences for the island’s sovereignty. And the rising Chinese power of China might well anticipate its own future dominance in the Western Pacific, forcing Taiwan to reunite with the PRC.
As the tense relationship between Taiwan and China grows, Taiwanese citizens are on edge. China’s military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait have caused disruption in air travel and shipping lanes. Taiwan has called the actions by China a “blockade.” The US and Japan have both condemned these exercises and called for a ceasefire.