Taipei, Two local military experts recently called on Taiwan’s armed forces to be prepared for a war of attrition with China, following an increase in Chinese military maneuvers near Taiwan in recent months with the aim of wearing down the nation’s military.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has sent planes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and across the Taiwan Strait median line more than 28 times this year.
On each occasion, Taiwan’s Air Force intercepted the PLA aircraft.
The dramatic increase in incidents has not only forced Taiwanese pilots and fighter jets to maintain a higher degree of combat readiness, it had also led to a huge increase in maintenance costs for Taiwan’s armed forces.
A Taiwan defense ministry official recently told CNA that the increased frequency of PLA incursion into Taiwan’s ADIZ means Taiwan’s military aircraft have been forced to increase maintenance, including fueling and replacing spare parts, increasing the workload of maintenance crews and military logistics personnel.
One of the main challenges is due to the fact that most Taiwanese military aircraft were made overseas and Taiwan does not have the ability to build these spare parts itself, according to the official.
As such, Beijing’s recent military maneuvers in the region not only pose a threat to frontline soldiers but also a challenge to those in logistic departments, the official said.
To boost the morale of military logistics personnel as Taiwan’s armed forces face repeated Chinese incursions, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) inspected the Air Force’s 3rd Logistics Command in Kaohsiung city’s Gangshan District, a maintenance base for fighter jet engines, and an Army combat engineer unit, in late September.
Asked to comment, Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), an analyst at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, recently told CNA that military units belonging to the logistic division are normally relatively low-key and not in the public eye.
However, they play a role in defending the country that is every bit as important as that of their counterparts in frontline combat units, he added.
Tsai’s recent inspection tours to such logistic units means the government is attaching greater importance to them, which will help raise the armed forces’ overall combat readiness, according to Su.
Su said the increased frequency of PLA incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ is meant to drive Taiwan’s air force to exhaustion so the PLA wins the war of attrition.
In response to the incursions, Taiwan’s air force has decided to increase next year’s budget for maintenance and boost the military’s logistic capabilities.
However, Su pointed out that the PLA aircraft incursions are a greater burden on China as the Mission Capable Rate of the PLA’s latest generation of fighter jets is only about 60 percent.
PLA fighter engines have a far shorter lifespan; about one-fourth that of the engines of American fighters.
Also, PLA jets are stationed across the mainland and also responsible for patrol missions not only across the Taiwan Strait but also on the China-India border; South China Sea, and waters near Japan, Su added.
That is why the PLA has recently sent relatively lower speed aircraft, such as Y-8 and Y-9 transportation aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ instead of sending faster fighter jets, according to Su.
Taiwan also needs to adopt a different mindset in terms of logistics and maintenance, Su said.
Commenting on the same issue, retired Air Force Lieutenant General Chang Yen-ting (張延廷) told CNA that Taiwan should consider sending lower speed planes to intercept Chinese planes in the future instead of sending its fighter jets as it does currently.
Chang notes that Taiwan’s existing backbone fighters, F-16s, Mirage 2000s and IDF jets have all been in service for more than 20 years.
Since Taiwan’s military currently has limited numbers of low-speed aircraft, Chang proposed that the defense ministry purchase more light reconnaissance aircraft or UAVs to monitor Chinese warplanes flying in Taiwan’s ADIZ.
This would allow the military to reduce maintenance costs for the nation’s fighter jets and maintain a higher Mission Capable Rate to defend the country during wartime, Chang added.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel