The number of J-16 fighters in the service of the Chinese Air Force is increasing, as an affirmation that this will be the country’s spearhead fighter if there is a conflict in the Taiwan Strait in the future. future.
In recent years, the Chinese Air Force has been equipped with J-16 heavy fighter aircraft , in increasing numbers. The Taiwan Strait is where the J-16 regularly conducts patrols, along with other Chinese fighter jets.
The J-16 is derived from the Soviet Su-27 Flanker design, and of the many variants, derived from the Flanker in service around the world, the J-16 is considered the most complex fighter in the Su-27 series. This is also the only version of Flanker (until now) using active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.
In addition, the J-16 fighter also uses advanced stealth coating, modern avionics and electronic warfare systems, and PL-15 long-range missiles, self-guided by AESA radar. Currently, the J-16 fighter is the main fighter, cooperating with other fighters such as J-11, J-10, J-7 and H-6 bombers to patrol near the Taiwan border.
In addition, the J-16 also serves as a protective aircraft for other heavy aircraft that are not capable of self-defense, such as the KJ-500 airborne early warning aircraft and the Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
Modern variants of all of these aircraft, which use advanced data links, are particularly valuable for operations with the KJ-500 aircraft with its very large radar and powerful power; on a mission to provide the aircraft with data to destroy the target.
The Taiwan Strait is only about 130 km wide, currently considered the hottest sea in the world, when the parties involved often take actions, causing unnecessary tension.
The government in Taipei is not recognized by the United Nations, but the island of Taiwan continues to be protect by the United States of America fighter aircraft and other modern weapons. Of course, the US has refused to supply Taiwan with modern F-35 stealth fighters, but US sold to Taiwan the modernized light fighter F-16V which is fully capable of confronting Chinese fighters.
Currently, Taiwan does not have many modern fighters; meanwhile, the Chinese Air Force has deployed many aircraft with superior combat performance compared to Taiwanese fighters and regularly infiltrated Taiwan’s airspace, as a show of force.
If a war happens now or in the near future, it is expected that the PLA Air Force J-16 will serve as the central fighter; responsible for both intercepting and destroying surface and sea surface targets.
The J-16 made its flight on October 17, 2011, with different sources as to when it entered China Air Force service from 2013 to 2015. The J-16 is gradually replacing older fighters like the J-7, as a frontline fighter and has a significant advantage over the number of fighters currently in service.
The J-16 has a much larger radar and much better anti-jamming capability, stealth features and the use of the PL-15 air-to-air missile which uses a more advanced AESA radar homing and has a longer range than any other missile.
The J-16 has a lower cost of use and production cost than the J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter, and is more versatile and more suitable for air-to-ground missions. which means it could play a more important role in the war in the Taiwan Strait.
Some military analysts have predicted that, if a cross-strait conflict occurs, the PLA Air Force’s J-20 stealth fighter could be devoted to intercepting third parties such as the US and Japanese intervention; while the J-16 fighter will overwhelm the fighters of the Taiwan Air Self-Defense Force.
To deal with China’s warplanes having an overwhelming number, and especially with the number of J-16s, Taiwan has ordered 66 F-16Vs from the US; This is the most upgraded version of the famous F-16 series, equipped with many technologies of 5th generation fighters such as AESA radar, AIM-120C air-to-air missiles.
Taiwan is completely confident with the F-16V, they can confront China’s J-16 fairly, while waiting for help from the US or Japan. However, the delivery time for this number of aircraft begins at the end of 2026; Therefore, at this time, Taiwan has no aircraft that is a worthy opponent of the J-16.