Was Chinese Air Incursion a Simulated Attack?
In January, China sent a fleet of military aircraft over the small strait that separates Taiwan from the Chinese mainland. When the Biden Administration sent the US Navy Theodore Roosevelt strike carrier to investigate, the Chinese fleet conducted a ‘simulated attack run.’
The Chinese air incursion included 8 H-6K bombers, 4 J-16 fighters to protect the bombers, and a Y-8 control plane that acted as a command post. As confirmed by Chinese state media, H-6K bombers can be equipped with YJ-12 anti-ship missiles (the kind of weapon best equipped to take out a carrier strike group). China’s Air Force has more than 200 H-6K’s.
China conducted a second air incursion the following day.
It included J-10 fighters, J-16 fighters, Su-30’s, anti-submarine aircraft, and a surveillance plane.
Experts believe the sorties may have been training exercises to boost combat capacity of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) against US aircraft carriers, as well as a test to determine President Joe Biden’s response against such an attack.
As expected, Biden has made virtually no comment on the Chinese air incursion.
The Chinese bombers remained at a safe distance from US ships. However, US ships overheard Chinese pilots confirming naval strike orders and simulating weapons launches.
“PLA war-planners seem to view their bomber fleet as primarily useful for attacks on Taiwan, Okinawa, and Guam,” explains Ian Easton, a military expert based in Virginia. “Unlike other types of military aircraft, bombers are fundamentally geared toward offensive operations…That’s all they do. And because China’s H-6 bombers lack stealth and speed, they can only be used effectively in a first-strike capacity to catch targets by surprise.”
China’s show of force near Taiwan demonstrates “the PLAAF’s ability to put together a multi-plane strike, which we would likely see in the event of a hot war against Taiwan,” adds Bernard Cole, a professor at the National War College in Washington, DC.
“Reunifying” Taiwan with the Chinese mainland is a stated priority for Beijing. President Xi Jinping has confirmed the PLA will not hesitate to use “force” to achieve this goal. China has made it very clear that it will go to war to prevent Taiwan from claiming independence. They have also warned the US to “refrain” from supporting any movement towards independence in Taiwan.
Any attack on Taiwan would require a US response. And it would also lead to a “long and extremely bloody air war,” warns Easton.
Author’s Note: China knows that its best chance to attack Taiwan is with Sleepy Joe in the White House.