As the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) deploys J-20 stealth fighters in increasing numbers, Taiwan is fielding mobile passive radar systems to defend its airspace against stealth aircraft, a senior Ministry of National Defense official said.
Two radar units — developed by the ministry-affiliated Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology — would be deployed some time this year for operational testing, the officials said on condition of anonymity.
The system would enter mass production in 2020 if the military decides that it meets its operational needs, he said.
Photo copied from the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology’s Web site
The institute has been working for years to incorporate Western military technological trends in its mobile passive radar system, the official added.
The military’s concept for counter-stealth air defense is comprised of active and passive systems, which would detect, track and lock on to stealth targets at long range, the official said.
The active means would consist of upgraded F-16 warplanes, which have advanced radar systems capable of detecting stealth aircraft, he said, referring to F-16V aircraft and the APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar.
The radar systems would comprise the passive end of the system, the official said.
The mobile units will be remotely linked to active phased array radar systems and “magnify” the radar cross-section of detected objects without emitting radiation, he said.
They are less vulnerable to electronic warfare interference and anti-radiation missile attacks, a fact sheet published by the institute said.
China claims that the J-20, its indigenous stealth strike fighter, performs on a par with the US’ F-22 Raptor, the official said, adding that the jet is likely capable of attacking targets at sea.
The radar systems are a response to the threat posed by Chinese stealth fighters, including its modified Su-35 fighters, which the PLAAF has been coating with radiation-absorbing paint to give them a measure of stealth, he said.
While the J-20 is in limited service, there is no doubt that the PLAAF will increase the size of its stealth fighter fleet and supplement it with other warplanes, which would pose a significant threat to Taiwan’s air defense, he said.
“These developments will erode the detection range of our advanced warning radar systems or even lead to the complete loss of advanced warning and quick reaction capabilities,” he said. “The military must plan for and deploy countermeasures to preempt them.”
The PLAAF on Friday last week dispatched formations of Su-35 fighters and H-6K bombers to fly around Taiwan, the first time that the former was sent on such a patrol.
The Chinese military claims that the J-20 has been deployed in air combat drills at sea.
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