China’s air force has announced that its J-16 fighter jet, developed to 'target Taiwan,' will be combat ready soon.
The air force said a squadron of J-16s – described as 4.5-generation fighter jets – had conducted a combat training exercise along with J-10, J-11B and Su-30 aircraft, SCMP reported.
The Shenyang J-16, based on the Russian Sukhoi-30 fighter jet, was introduced around 2012 to 2013 but did not make its official debut until a year ago, during a military parade marking the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Quoting a Hong Kong-based military analyst Song Zhongping, SCMP said, the J-16 was not considered combat ready. He said, “It will take some time to improve – not just the J-16 itself, but how it integrates into the whole system and how it works with other fighter jets and support planes on a mission.”
The PLA claims that the J-16 has a great capability for electronic warfare with its phased array antenna, fire-control radar and jamming system. The fighter jet carries a 30mm cannon, 12 air-to-air missiles, rockets and satellite-guided bombs, and anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles.
According to the mainland Defense Ministry, J-16 has not been involved in missions where PLA Air Force regularly sent warplanes specially H-6K strategic bomber – to patrol around the island of Taiwan Strait to show its capability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
SCMP noted that military observers believe the J-16 has been specifically designed for military campaigns against Taiwan.
Taiwan has been steadily improving its defences to fend off a sea-borne or air assault.