The Taiwanese air force will perhaps sigh in relief at the news that Russia is refusing to sell China Sukhoi Su-35 multirole aircraft — one of the world’s most advanced fighters — and top-of-the-line S-400 air defense systems over fears that Chinese engineers could eventually copy the technology.
The Russian-language Kommersant business newspaper reported earlier this year that Beijing last year had requested 48 Su-35s, valued at more than US$4 billion, as well as an unspecified number of S-400 systems.
With Taiwan already playing catch-up in the race for control of airspace in the Taiwan Strait, this development will provide relief, as the introduction of the Su-35 would have added to Taipei’s headaches.
Despite the impressive capabilities of the Su-35 — a so-called “four-plus-plus generation” aircraft — US analysts argue that the Lockheed Martin F-35, which Taiwan might now be interested in acquiring, is a superior fighter.
Ariel Cohen, a defense analyst at the Heritage Foundation, claims that the F-35’s superiority stems from the Su-35 being a “modernization” of its “progenitor,” the Su-27, while the F-35 is a new model.
“The Russians have some good specific system technologies, [but] their ability to effectively integrate them often lags behind that of the West,” Cohen said.
Aircraft currently in service in Taiwan’s air force, or the F-16C/D that it has sought since 2006, would not have a similar edge.
For its part, with a range of approximately 400km, the S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system would have posed a serious threat to aircraft taking off from Taiwan, complementing China’s deployment of several 200km-range Russian-made S-300PMU-1 and S-300PMU-2 SAMs around cities and in Fujian Province facing Taiwan. China also deploys the HQ-9, a derivative of the S-300.
According to reports, China had planned to deploy the S-400 around its major cities to protect against incoming aircraft and ballistic targets.
At the heart of Moscow’s reluctance to release the defense articles to China are the aircraft’s engines and advanced passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar systems, the defense magazine Kanwa reported in its latest issue.
Relations between the two countries were strained recently over allegations that China’s Shenyang J-11B was a replica of the Russian-made Su-27.
China cancelled an order for 95 Su-27s last year after launched serial production of the J-11.
Russia has also often complained about China’s reverse engineering of its systems for production of its own cheaper export versions to compete against the Russian originals.
A bilateral relations fact sheet on Taiwan-US relations published on the US Department of State Web site was recently updated to remove statements saying that it acknowledged Beijing’s “one China” position, and that the US does not support Taiwanese independence. The fact sheet is produced by the department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. A previous version of the document opened with the statement: “The United States and Taiwan enjoy a robust unofficial relationship.” It said the US acknowledged “the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China,” and said that the US “does
INDIRECT MESSAGE? Chinese planes might have entered Taiwan’s ADIZ to take part in drills with a carrier group that was about 500km off the east coast, an analyst said The Chinese military yesterday said it had conducted live-fire drills in waters and airspace off Taiwan’s eastern and southwestern coasts from Friday to Sunday to test and upgrade its joint combat capabilities. The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) posted the news on Chinese messaging platform WeChat. Over the past few days, authorities in Taiwan and Japan have observed deployments of Chinese planes and ships near Taiwan from a PLA carrier group of five destroyers, a frigate and a resupply ship led by the Liaoning aircraft carrier. The Japanese Ministry of Defense first announced on Monday last week that
China appears to have built mockups of a port in northeastern Taiwan and a military vessel docked there, with the aim of using them as targets to test its ballistic missiles, a retired naval officer said yesterday. Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩), a former lieutenant commander in Taiwan’s navy, wrote on Facebook that satellite images appeared to show simulated targets in a desert in China’s Xinjiang region that resemble the Suao naval base in Yilan County and a Kidd-class destroyer that usually docks there. Lu said he compared the mockup port to US naval bases in Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan, and in Subic Bay
Police are investigating the death of a Formosan black bear discovered on Tuesday buried near an industrial road in Nantou County, with initial evidence indicating that it was shot accidentally by a hunter. The bear had been caught in wildlife traps at least five times before, three times since 2020. Codenamed No. 711, the bear received extensive media coverage last year after it was discovered trapped twice in less than two months in the Taichung mountains. After its most recent ensnarement last month, the bear was released in the Dandashan (丹大山) area in Nantou County’s Sinyi Township (信義). However, officials became concerned after the