Written by Staff Writer
Taiwan unveiled new version of its aging air force fighter jets on Thursday, amid threats from China over the self-ruled island’s defense.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday that China had spotted the new Stealth Viper X variant in offshore surveillance flights in the East China Sea.
A Chinese aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, was briefly stationed in the region last year and was in international waters — the latest example of China’s aggressive policy toward Taiwan.
The strategic island is claimed by China as its territory — a claim the island’s leadership in Taipei counters by saying that self-ruled Taiwan is a sovereign state with self-defense capabilities.
Several anti-ship ballistic missiles were seen deployed near the Liaoning in September last year.
The drills followed another lengthy standoff between China and Taiwan which in April 2018 ended after protests by Taiwan’s community in Hong Kong.
New Hybrid platforms
In a list of improvements to Taiwan’s conventional and nuclear forces, the country’s defense ministry said its fighter jets would be augmented with “rare” Y-20 Hybrid subsonic and ballistic missiles, new modified/modified F-16 fighter aircraft, two air defense destroyers, ASW surveillance platforms and additional aircrew training facilities.
A top priority is for Taiwan to be capable of striking China militarily, according to the ministry.
“Our air force will step up the intensive training and upgrade of our air power, relying on the services of new-generation combat aircraft,” said Lieutenant General Chen Chung-chi, chief of the army’s science and technology, research and development office.
The two sides have already clashed in the air over an island in the Taiwan Strait in March.