by ROBERT BECKHUSEN It began as a conspiracy by two international drug traffickers to smuggle meth into New Jersey, but ended as a plot to steal U.S. military drone technology on behalf of the Chinese. At least, that’s the rather fantastic claim made by the Justice Department in an oddball caper that seems to borrow [...]
Archived posts with tag ‘Taiwan’
Taiwan’s Submarine Fantasy
Forget designing and building stealth fighters or robot aircraft. They are not the toughest technological design challenges in the world of weaponry. The hardest weapons to develop are large, armed submarines. They are, after all, the closest equivalent to spacecraft, with the added requirement that they be largely autonomous — that is, functional while cut off from the outside world — and support large numbers of people. Even the Royal Navy, no stranger to submarines, had to call in U.S. assistance to build its latest Astute-class subs.
Pilotless warplanes are proliferating across the Pacific. This poses a big problem for U.S. defense planners, according to one retired U.S. Air Force general.
Developments in the last week could promise hope, or doom, for the Taiwanese air force.
Five years after the government of Taiwan requested permission to purchase 66 new F-16C jet fighters from the United States, it appears the deal is finally dead – a victim of the United States’ growing ties to China and the U.S. administration’s unwillingness to proceed with a deal that could anger Beijing.
It was sold as a demonstration of Taiwan’s high-tech defenses against a rapidly rising China. But Tuesday’s firing of 19 air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles before an audience of top government officials and reporters might end up having another equally important effect for Taiwan: scoring pity points with China hawks in Washington.
Richard Weitz wrote last week that China might seek to purchase the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter if its own J-11B fighter (which, as he notes, bears an uncanny resemblance in many ways to the Su-27) isn’t able to fulfill its planned roles. One of these roles would be to match the widely exported US F-16 Fighting Falcon — a relatively low-cost but effective multi-role jet that has been sold to numerous U.S. allies (although not to Taiwan, which I’ll come back to in a minute).
Sam’s Southeast Asia Round-Up
Chinese and American Strategy Edition
Last week in New York, in support of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly backed giving the South China Sea status as a “maritime commons.” Martin Ott, writing for the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, says this assertive posture stands out from recent years of America’s relative distance from the issue.
“There are many factors that make it extremely unlikely that the [People's Republic of China] will use military force to try to achieve the long-held goal of ‘reunification,’” Jeffrey Wasserstrom wrote in his book China in the 21st Century. For one, “money and people are moving across the straits regularly and in ways that benefit both countries.”
In mid August the U.S. military belatedly published its annual report on Chinese military power. The 83-page document highlights the growing sophistication of Chinese weapons and Beijing’s increasingly ambitious regional strategy. China’s major preoccupation is, of course, Taiwan — a country the U.S. is legally required to defend.
Japan has gone ahead and decided that airspace above Yonaguni island, the westernmost island in all of Japan, is indeed entirely Japan’s responsibility. That may sound like a no-brainer, but during the 1950s, the United States controlled Yonguni and the rest of the Ryukyu islands and decided to split control of the airspace with Taiwan. Taiwan is not happy.
Photos are circulating showing the Chinese military firing artillery and even tanks from the decks of commercial freighters. “At first glance these pictures appear confusing,” Stephen Miles notes. No kidding. Needless to say, cargo ships don’t make great platforms for tanks, and tanks don’t make great naval artillery. So why bother?