Dozens of fighter planes fly over the centerline of the Taiwan Strait every day, and warships roam the coastal waters. increase. It was an ominous change to the status quo and could have significant implications for Taiwan's defense in the future, experts and officials said.
Pushing a fighter jet over a perimeter not only erases the previous perimeter, but coordinating with warships to avoid missiles flying nearby is just kind of real-time. Interactions that the modern military spends so much time and effort perfecting are notorious for confusing Russians in Ukraine. Should Beijing launch a military strike against Taiwan or American interests in the Pacific, it would yield important knowledge of both Beijing's capabilities and preparedness.
Moving troops and equipment around the island and giving Beijing important insight into how it would react in times of war, China's military planners will no doubt absorb the reaction to their efforts. ing.
So far, China's training has been "like driving a new car over and over instead of taking it out on the highway," said the Trump administration's Asia policy officer at the Pentagon. said Randy Shriver. "The island's coordinated bracket is a type of exercise that is better suited to an actual attack." While maintaining it, it has openly withheld little or nothing about its exercises, but has not placed them near Taiwan.The amphibious ship Tripoli is near Okinawa, and the amphibious ship America is in the East China Sea. Both carry her F-35 fighter jets.
More importantly, it's a glimpse into how China deploys and uses its military. Colin Koh, a research fellow at Singapore's Defense Strategic Institute, said it was likely to be "jackpot information" that could provide insight into "the strengths and weaknesses of PLA mobilization."
These peeks are more concerned with "how the PLA will prosecute future aggression into Taiwan, or more generally with larger scales, than with long-planned exercises in mainland China." "It will give us a better perspective on how to conduct large-scale military operations," Koh added.
Defense officials said the military is closely monitoring the exercises, but has generally remained silent on China's actions. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reiterated this week that the United States does not want conflict with China.
Secretary of State Anthony Brinken said during a trip to Cambodia on Friday that "there is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalating military response", saying China's move in the region added that it was "a significant escalation."
While the Chinese military has been testing missiles for years, Chinese military launch crews are often faced with operational scenarios that must contend with complex military and civilian air and sea traffic. It's never worked and we have to make sure the missiles can fire. It will fly over populated civilian areas and land safely in designated waters.
Ahead of this week's live-fire exercises, Beijing released a map of her six zones where the exercises would be conducted, forming a virtual circle around Taiwan. After drills began on Thursday, the military fired at least 11 ballistic missiles that splattered into waters northeast, east and southeast of the island. Some landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, while others flew over Taiwan, an unprecedented move.
On Friday, China sent 30 of her fighter jets across the median line that bisects the Taiwan Strait in half, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Defense. The move "endangered the status quo in the Strait," officials tweeted, noting that Taipei responded by scrambled aircraft and ships, surveillance and launching anti-aircraft missile systems .
"We condemn such actions that disrupted the surrounding airspace and waters and will continue to ensure democracy and freedom without threat," the ministry tweeted.
The drills may be designed as intimidation, but the highly choreographed and coordinated movements are far more complex than previous power shows, Schriver said. 53}
"It's a few shots aimed at different enclosed areas in specific ways, so it's more like if you were actually using a missile to hit Taiwan," he said. rice field.
For China, the exercise is also an opportunity to learn whether Taiwan's air defense systems were able to intercept missile launches and how Taiwan's civil defense systems would react to attacks, Schriver said. Stated.
"They would know if Taiwan's air defenses caught us. Did they light us up with fire control radar?" he said.
The exercises not only test whether missiles can hit targets in operational scenarios, but also provide an opportunity to test whether Chinese ships and aircraft can effectively blockade islands through military action. provided.
The last time China made a move of this magnitude around Taiwan was in 1996, and he was offended by Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui's visit to the United States and his speech on the Taiwan Strait. That's when Beijing launched a missile into the Taiwan Strait after it stood up. democratization of the island.
But today's modernized Chinese army bears little resemblance to his 1996 army, with new missiles, the world's largest navy, two aircraft carriers, and her F-16 in Taiwan. and boasts fighter planes that rival those of U.S. aircraft carriers. jet.
"Then the PLA couldn't do this," said Ronnie Henry, a lecturer at George Washington University and a former defense intelligence officer for East Asia.
"What the PLA is doing these days is completely routine," Henry added. "They're just doing them all at once, encircling Taiwan, rather than spread out over several months in several training areas across the East and South China Seas."
However, Taiwan, too, has not let go in the last few decades. For years it has purchased US F-16 fighter jets and other equipment, and in late 2020 it plans to turn the island into a "porcupine" to better deter or resist Chinese aggression. There was a flurry of arms deals with Washington for highly sophisticated systems aimed at. The deal included four armed MQ-9B drones, 11 high-mobility artillery rocket systems (the same weapons Ukraine has made famous), and Harpoon ship-destroying missiles.
But now, for the first time, Taiwan and the US military are seeing signs that they may soon have to fight.
After decades of cautious The training exercises planned for 2014 are very different from rapid military operations in an unpredictable environment, and this latest crisis has brought China closest to the real world and its complexities.Readiness Exercises It will allow the PLA to test and validate the achievements of the 'modernization' efforts and reforms that have been carried out over the past decades," Ko said.
"This latest Taiwan Strait crisis provides an opportunity to assess their capabilities and identify weaknesses that need to be addressed," he added. "The PLA is likely to gather a lot of information about itself in the process."