August 15, 2004

NO ONE VOLUNTARILY FLIES AEROFLOT:

Taiwan Flaunts Its Air Superiority Over China (Richard Chung, 8/14/04, Reuters)

Taiwan flaunted its fighter jets in the biggest-ever air show on the island on Saturday, a show of strength as tensions simmer with arch-foe China.

U.S.-made F-16s, French Mirage fighters and Taiwan-made Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDFs) streaked across the sky above the Taoyuan airbase in northern Taiwan, spinning 360 degrees in sharp formations in front of a cheering crowd.

The exhibition came as Taiwan and China hold annual military drills, with tensions especially high this summer because Beijing is convinced the island it views as a renegade province could push for formal statehood under President Chen Shui-bian.

It is a move, China says, that can lead to war.

"Communist China has deployed missiles pointed at Taiwan and is building its sea and air power to attack Taiwan," Chen told a conference in Taipei.

"This kind of scheme by China to use military might to intimidate Taiwan is a challenge not only to Taiwan's democratic system but also to regional security and stability."

Military analysts say there is now a rough balance of power across the Taiwan Strait: China's 2.5-million-strong People's Liberation Army far outnumber Taiwan's 400,000 troops, but the island maintains a qualitative advantage.


If you're old enough, this situation will remind you of the confrontation that effectively ended the Cold War, when the Israelis had an absurdly high kill-ratio against Syrians flying Soviet jets, demonstrating their drastic inferiority.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 15, 2004 12:00 AM
Comments

Oh, Brothers... there're far worse than Aeroflot!

Have you flown Air Sudan lately? Or Yemenia Airlines? Try it and learn--viscerally--the meaning of the cliche "heart in throat".

Posted by: John at August 15, 2004 12:21 AM

The Marine Corps aviators in my old (1970's--'80's) Reserve Air Group used to say that Redbloc aircraft were good enough, but that they suffered from inferior avionics and insufficient pilot training. It's not enough to have a good airframe, you need all the magic black boxes that let you see them and keep them from seeing you.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 15, 2004 9:02 AM

The Marine Corps aviators in my old (1970's--'80's) Reserve Air Group used to say that Redbloc aircraft were good enough, but that they suffered from inferior avionics and insufficient pilot training. It's not enough to have a good airframe, you need all the magic black boxes that let you see them and keep them from seeing you.

Posted by: Lou Gots at August 15, 2004 9:02 AM

But given the seriousness with which the least Democratic administration took keeping defense secrets away from Beijing, a Kerry Adminbistration could have the Chinese in a competitive position by late in the decade.

Posted by: John at August 15, 2004 9:47 AM

Just make sure that Taiwan has enough nukes to take out every major mainland city and the games over.

Posted by: MB at August 15, 2004 10:00 AM

The only people who can afford to use nukes are those who have nothing of their own to lose -- Islamists, mainly.

I wouldn't bet that Chinese inferiority is permanent. The MiG 15 ruled the skies over Korea for a while.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 15, 2004 1:37 PM

Then we started trying again--we always slack off between wars.

Posted by: oj at August 15, 2004 1:43 PM

Well, the MiG-15 was a Russian design, based heavily on a German design they captured after the war, with an engine the Brits sold them. It'll be a long time before China can produce an F-22 equivalent.

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 15, 2004 1:49 PM

Didn't their best pilot fly into the US surveillance plane 3 years ago?

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 15, 2004 3:40 PM

The biggest problem for China is that amphibious invasions are hard. If Napoleon and Hitler couldn't conquer Britain, why should China be able to do it to Taiwan?

What good is it to land troops but strand them without reinforcements, ammunition, or other supplies?

If Taiwan has enough food and oil reserves stored to last any initial blockade and decent ASW, what do they have to worry about?

Posted by: Chris Durnell at August 15, 2004 4:34 PM

If China is ruthless enough, they might just flatten Taiwan with rockets.

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 15, 2004 6:58 PM

Papaya:

They'd lose that exchange.

Posted by: oj at August 15, 2004 7:43 PM

Yes, if Tom Clancy is to be believed, when China reaches towards Taiwan, then India, Russia, the US, and possibly even Vietnam will scratch back. Not much fun for the Chinese on that day.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 15, 2004 9:43 PM

Y'know, Orrin, you ought to leave off politics for a while and study military history.

About how the Navy ordered the F9F pilots not to engage MiG 15s, f'rinstance.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 16, 2004 2:11 AM

Yes and our tanks got all shot up in North Africa. We're a democracy, our military goes to seed between wars. Then we try.

Posted by: oj at August 16, 2004 8:37 AM

F-86s were a different story.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at August 16, 2004 8:49 PM

That's true, but there was a period before they arrived.

Orrin is fond of saying that we always win in the long run, which isn't true, but even if it were, getting killed in the short run is serious business.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 17, 2004 2:49 PM
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