Warplanes: March 31, 2005

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China is apparently planning an out-of-the-blue (OOTB) attack on Taiwan, that will initially consist mainly of missiles, warplanes, paratroopers and troops out on "training exercises". What this means is that, during what appears to be peacetime maneuvers, the troops involved will suddenly move against a nearby nation and invade. This tactic was developed by Russia during the Cold War, but never used. They prepared for it by holding large scale training exercises twice a year, near the border with West Germany. The Russian troops were all ready to practice, or go to war. An OOTB attack could be ordered by having the troops to cross the border and attack NATO forces, who would have insufficient warning to deal with the sudden offensive. NATO finally caught on to this plan, and put the troops on alert during the Russian field exercises. The OOTB was most noticeably used, and successfully at that, when the Russian trained Egyptian army surprised the Israelis and recaptured the Suez canal in 1973. 

If everyone is on to OOTB attacks, how does China expect to get away with it? Especially when it would involve an amphibious operation involving at least ten hours time at sea for the ships of the amphibious force. The exact details are kept secret, but the plan involves using over 600 ballistic missiles, and several hundred warplanes, which China has stationed within range of Taiwan. Within an hour, the missiles could hit Taiwanese anti-aircraft missile launchers, radars, airbases, ships in harbor and army barracks and combat vehicles. Launch the attack in the pre-dawn hours, and you catch most of the troops in their barracks, and the ships, warplanes and tanks lined up and vulnerable. Amphibious troops would already be on their ships, for an amphibious exercises, escorted by numerous warships. As the amphibious fleet headed for Taiwan, hundreds of Chinese warplanes would return to hit whatever targets had been missed. 

Taiwanese commanders have responded with plans to keep warships at sea and some aircraft in the air at all times during Chinese exercises. Even 900 ballistic missiles, which the Chinese will have in place during the next few years, would not be sufficient to shut down the Taiwanese armed forces. But if the missiles, and air strikes soon thereafter, could do enough damage to prevent the first wave of amphibious ships from getting hit bad, Taiwan would be in big trouble. In fact, if the Chinese could get control of the air over Taiwan for a day or so, three Chinese airborne divisions could be dropped on Taiwan as well.

Taiwan has always expected assistance from the U.S. Navy and Air Force. But without advance warning to get a carrier or two into the area, and a few hundred U.S. Air Force planes alerted for movement to Taiwan, Japan and Guam, the American assistance would be too late. Thus, for Taiwan, an OOTB attack, which the Chinese appear to be preparing to carry out, is something to worry about.

 


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