A RAND Corporation study for the United States Air Force titled Shaking the Heavens and Splitting the Earth gives a grim picture of Taiwan’s security.
The 274-page study by the Washington, D.C. think-tank reviews the Chinese Air Force with a detailed look at capabilities.
The RAND report warns, “First, if the United States intervenes in a conflict between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan, it should expect attacks on its forces and facilities in the western Pacific, including those in Japan.”
“During such a conflict, the U.S. armed forces should prepare to deal with electronic jamming on a scale larger than it has seen in any conflict,” the report ominously warns.
“Once the conflict begins, the United States should accept the likelihood that the runways of Okinawa’s military airfields will be rendered at least temporarily unusable and that many or most unsheltered aircraft will be damaged or destroyed.”
“In a conflict over Taiwan, the capabilities of Taiwan’s armed forces would be critical to the outcome, even if the United States intervened on a large scale.” RAND continues, “From what we find in Chinese military publications, Taiwan should also expect attacks on government, water, and electric installations.”
Attacks on Taiwan would not happen in a vacuum, “It is likely they would be accompanied by massive cyber attacks on U.S. military and other government networks.”
The RAND study said China could devastate Anderson Air Force Base in Guam with 75 cruise missiles and could deploy 400 cruise missiles against Misawa Air Base in Japan. Kadena Air Base in Okinawa is also within range of Chinese missiles as is Futenma Air Base.
“If the PRC chose to use force against Taiwan, whether in the form of an outright invasion or blockade, it would likely begin with an offensive air campaign against the island,” said the study authors.
RAND said, “Prior to the launching of physical attacks on Taiwan, computer network attacks would likely take the form of covert efforts to disable Taiwan’s early warning systems and communication networks and to insert software exploits for later use.”
“Once physical attacks began, computer network attacks would probably include more-aggressive efforts to penetrate and exploit or disable all of Taiwan’s military information and communication systems through the insertion and activation of backdoors and viruses and denial-of-service attacks.”
“In addition to the threat posed to U.S. and Taiwanese air forces in the western Pacific by Chinese air attacks, offensive air operations against China would be challenging in a Taiwan scenario,” stated the report. “U.S. fighters would likely face overwhelming odds in engagements to defend Taiwan’s airspace.”
The RAND report concludes, “The longer Taiwan is able to deny the PRC air superiority over Taiwan, the more combat power the United States will be able to bring to the defense of Taiwan and the better chances of a successful defense of the island.”
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