Chinese break-ins into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) are now a regular occurrence. The unprovoked aggression has become an everyday phenomenon with an identical modus operandi.
Western support for Taiwan has further angered Beijing, which views the self-governing island as an inalienable part of the mainland and has pledged to have reunification. After the crash of the F-16 Viper in Taiwan yesterday, several questions have been raised about possible Chinese factors behind it.
According to commentators, the crash of one of Taiwan’s most advanced fighter jets during a routine rehearsal points to problems with pilot training and fatigue when responding to frequent PLA flights.
According to an initial assessment, the F-16V pilot, Chen Yi, reportedly turned on the speaker key during flight, limiting his communication with air command. Military analysts and Air Force veterans believe he mistook the button for a delay test, Taiwanese media reported.
“Taiwan Air Force must adjust its training program and standards to keep pace with the mainland,” Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of Canada-based Kanwa Defense Review said.
According to the Air Force, Chen, the missing pilot, had flown more than 300 hours, including 60 hours in the F-16V.
Lu Li-Shih, a former instructor at the Taiwan Naval Academy, said Taiwanese Air Force student pilots would not participate in such a drill until they had logged more than 100 flying hours. Pilots with less experience, on the other hand, had to step up in the face of the increasing Chinese air raids on the island’s ADIZ.
“The accident must be attributed to the lack of pilots available to meet the demand of the growing number of fighter jets that Taipei plans to buy from the United States – young pilots are being forced to step up their training,” Lu said.
Taiwan had ordered the F-16 Viper jets under an upgrade program with Lockheed Martin to meet the PLA Air Force challenge. China’s repeated interference and its claims of reunification pose the greatest threat to Taiwan’s security in decades.
China’s air strikes in Taiwan’s airspace continue.
5 military aircraft from #Beijing have entered the Taiwanese ADIZ.
This is the ninth intrusion in January, Taiwan’s defenses are immediately activated by sending Taiwanese fighter jets into the area#Breaking news pic.twitter.com/OnVp07GSPZ
— Informazione Alternativa (@InformazioneA) January 12, 2022
China’s fighter jets regularly enter Taiwan’s ADIZ, about nine of which only entered two days ago. Furthermore, according to Taiwan News, two spotter planes entered the airspace today. Chinese military aircraft have entered Taiwan’s ADIZ 961 times within 239 days, the Liberty Times quoted the Ministry of National Defense (MND) as saying.
The fatigue and lack of training experienced by pilots flying the Vipers has been cited by military analysts as one of the reasons for the crash. The stress created by the urgency to fend off any Chinese threat has become the sole basis of most missions in Taiwan.
In the face of increasing adventurism and fewer pilots to fly the newly introduced aircraft, pilot fatigue and stress are becoming apparent.
Cadet pilots used earlier-generation aircraft such as the F-5Es, which Lu said had very different flight control systems than modern F-16s, and younger pilots needed additional training to make the switch, SCMP said.
Ben Ho, an air force researcher on the military studies program at Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the PLA’s “circulation flights” over Taiwan have become more frequent in recent months, exhausting the island’s air force workers and giving them lower maintenance levels. that the F-16 needs.
Crash of Taiwan’s best fighter
On January 11, a Taiwanese F-16V (Viper) fighter jet that had been recently modified disappeared during a training mission over sea. According to the Taiwanese Air Force, the F-16V fighter lost contact with the airbase in southwestern Taiwan.
According to the Taiwan Air Force, the F-16V jet crashed into waters east of the island shortly after takeoff from Chiayi Air Force Base.
1 #ROCAF #F16 disappeared from the radar in Chiayi yesterday. Minister Chiu was briefed on the progress of the search, expressed his condolences to the family of the pilot, Captain Yi Chen, on behalf of President Tsai, and promised that the rescue parties would leave no stone unturned. pic.twitter.com/bG5dJt9WZm
— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, ROC 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) January 12, 2022
The accident happened during a training exercise to simulate rapid air-to-ground dive bombardment, which SCMP says is a difficult part of the program for inexperienced pilots.
According to eyewitnesses, the plane crashed into water near Aogu Wetland in Dongshi Municipality of Chiayi. A spokeswoman for Taiwan’s presidential office confirmed the news and said search and rescue operations had been conducted, as previously reported by the EurAsian Times.
Furthermore, Taiwan has now suspended all combat training after the crash. The F-16 Viper that resulted in a horrific crash had entered service just over a month ago and has reportedly been pursuing PLAAF fighter jets that regularly enter Taiwanese airspace.
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) Nov 18, 2021
The modified “V” aircraft entered service in November, with new armament and flight control systems, but Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of Canada’s Kanwa Defense Review, believes the island’s training program and standards may not be appropriate for the island. kept up.
The upgraded ‘Vipers’
The plane that went missing on Tuesday was one of 141 F-16A/B fighter jets converted to the current F-16V as part of a $4 billion deal between the Taiwan Air Force and Taiwanese aircraft manufacturer Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation ( AIDC) with Lockheed Martin, as reported by the EurAsian Times.
In November 2021, the Air Force of the Republic of China received 64 advanced F-16V “Viper” aircraft. These aircraft are Taiwan’s most modern jet fighter squadron and are expected to bolster the country’s defensive capabilities. Taiwan plans to upgrade all of its 141 F-16 A/B fighter jets by the end of 2023.
The Taiwan Air Force has ordered 66 new F-16Vs with upgraded electronic equipment, weapons and radar systems to bolster Taiwan’s capabilities in the fight against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, most notably the J-20 stealth fighter. The aircraft are expected to be delivered at the end of next year.
The Viper features more weapons, better electronic warfare systems, accurate GPS navigation, and the ability to avoid collisions on its own. The F-16V’s landing gear is more powerful, allowing it to carry more fuel and weapons. The AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-88 HARM, AGM-154 JSOW, and SLAM-ER missiles are also included in the package.
The SLAM-ER missiles are a powerful long-range precision weapon with a range of approximately 170 miles. This is the first weapon of its kind with an operational ‘Automatic Target Acquisition’ capability, allowing it to fly automatically to its target using only GPS inputs.
So while the aircraft remains the most advanced fighter in Taiwan’s arsenal and capable of withstanding the PLAAF, experts’ opinions of insufficient training and stress in pilots due to frequent break-ins may remain a major reason behind the crash. .