On May 11, 2010, at a public seminar on Capitol Hill, the US-Taiwan Business Council will release a report entitled “The Balance of Air Power in the Taiwan Strait”. This report provides a detailed examination of Taiwan’s major air defense requirements, and was written to conform to the 2009 Congressional directive instructing the U.S. Department of Defense to prepare an assessment of Taiwan’s current air defense capabilities.
The Council’s report discusses Taiwan’s need to address the burgeoning cross-Strait fighter gap; to undertake a mid-life upgrade of its existing F-16s and Indigenous Defense Fighters; to invest further in modernizing its ground-based air defenses; to continue the force-multiplier effect of investments in modern, balanced and integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities; and to increase investments in Electronic Warfare and Information Warfare.
This analysis report also examines the potential impact on U.S. forces if Taiwan can not defend its own airspace. The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) notes that the U.S. is required, “to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force.” Should the U.S. decide not to provide Taiwan with the equipment it needs, it would lead to a degrading of Taiwan’s military strength. Given that American forces in Asia are already stretched thin, the report asks what impact such an outcome would have on American readiness, and questions where the additional forces would come from to fill the gap.