- China To Demonstrate Air Superiority in Taiwan War Games - 12 July, 2004 13:38

Provocative Weakness:

This AFP headline states, "China to Demonstrate Air Superiority in Taiwan War Games." The story says:

"The emphasis on air supremacy is central to any PLA offensive operations in the Taiwan Strait, but the Taiwan Air Force has traditionally held the upper hand in this area," said one analyst.

"But as the PLA Air Force has made rapid improvements in this area with significant acquisitions of Russian fighters and attendant weapons packages ... the air balance is now beginning to gradually swing in China's favor.

"This article clearly suggests that the Chinese will use the Dongshan exercise as a forum to show that it can now succeed in gaining air dominance against the Taiwanese, which is a major step in making its threats of the use of military force, including an invasion, more credible."
I know what you're thinking: "Yeah, those great Russian fighters. Why, if I were a Taiwanese pilot flying my F-16, I'd be quaking in my boots."

Well, the odds on that proposition changed just recently.

The success of the Indian air force against American fighter planes in a recent exercise suggests other countries may soon be able to threaten U.S. military dominance of the skies, a top Air Force general said Wednesday.

"We may not be as far ahead of the rest of the world as we thought we were," said Gen. Hal M. Hornburg, the chief of Air Combat Command, which oversees U.S. fighter and bomber wings.

The U.S.-India joint exercise, "Cope India," took place in February near Gwalior in central, India. It pitted some F-15C Eagle fighters from the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, in mock combat against Indian MiG, Sukhoi and Mirage fighters.

The F-15Cs are the Air Force's primary air superiority aircraft. The Indian fighters, of Russian and French design, are the type of planes U.S. fighters would most likely face in any overseas conflict.

Hornburg, speaking to reporters, called the results of the exercise "a wake-up call" in some respects, but he declined to provide details, other than to suggest the Indian air force scored several unexpected successes against the American planes.

For the last 15 years, the U.S. military has enjoyed almost total command of the air during conflicts.... Still, new tactics, better Russian fighters like the Su-30, and a new generation of surface-to-air missiles mean that U.S. dominance could be ending, said Loren Thompson, who follows military issues for the Lexington Institute, a Washington think tank.

"The United States has grown accustomed to having global air superiority, yet we haven't put much very much money in the last generation into maintaining that advantage," he said, noting the F-15 first flew in the 1970s.

"So of course the rest of the world is finally starting to catch up," he said.
This is one reason that Jiang Zemin confidently predicted this week, "Taiwan by 2020." I see no reason that he should have to wait so long.

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