Airfields and Runway Availability

Both the PRC and Taiwan possess numerous airfields and operating locations in the Taiwan Strait region, and the PRC also has extensive basing facilities farther inland that give it a measure of security that Taiwan, because of its island status, cannot possess. In the Nanjing Military Region alone, there are more than 40 airfields, all of whose runways are longer than 7,000 feet, easily capable of supporting fighter and strike aircraft operations. On Taiwan, there are 12 air bases, with more than 23 runways longer than 7,000 feet. There are five highway strips longer than 8,000 feet that can be used as emergency runways.22

Unmanned Aerial Systems

In recent years, the PRC has been actively scouting, purchasing, and devel­oping technologies to support its indigenous unmanned aerial systems (UAS) programs. The PRC’s unmanned aerial vehicles (e. g., W-50 pilotless aircraft) have already entered into active service with PLA units and have reportedly attained “combat effectiveness.”23

In 2007, Hsu Sho-hsuan of the Taipei Times reported that:

A large number of recently decommissioned fighter aircraft have been turned into pilotless drone planes to be used together with Harpy anti­radar unmanned aerial vehicles purchased from Israel. These could help PRC punch holes in Taiwan’s air defense systems and destroy key targets.24

As for Taiwan, its UAS aircraft are assigned to army aviation forces and to the Special Forces Command, and are used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) purposes.