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China Asserts J-20’s Dominance Over Upgraded Taiwanese F-16s Armed with Advanced Targeting Systems

Congress has approved the sale of InfraRed Search and Track fighter jet targeting sensors to the island of Taiwan for deployment on F-16v variant fighter jets.

The US State Department has approved a possible $500 million sale of high-tech InfraRed Search and Track fighter jet targeting sensors to the island of Taiwan for deployment on F-16v variant fighter jets,

This latest development, the prospect of which is now approved by Congress, introduces a significant technological capability to the already upgraded and advanced “v” variant of the F-16.  Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST), which is integrated onto the US F/A-18 and other platforms, is and advanced targeting system reportedly capable of performing well in a high-threat “EW” environment and improving a fighter jet’s ability to “track” and “target” enemy planes with more precision and at greater ranges.

Clearly the intent seems to be to further deter China by improving Taiwan’s own ability to defend itself in the air against attacking People’s Liberation Army fighter jets, drones, helicopters and even surface ships.

Therefore, the arrival of IRST could prove quite significant, as it would likely slow down or damage anykind of Chinese aerial or amphibious assault to a much greater degree than non-upgraded F-16s would, potentially allow more time for US and allied air and surface assets to arrive and support Taiwan before the island can be annexed by the PLA.

Not surprisingly, Chinese government-backed newspapers are responding to this development by making a number of provocative comments. The most aggressive language, cited by expert sources familiar with Chinese military technology cited in the Global Times newspaper say the PLA Air Force’s J-20 will destroy upgraded Taiwanese F-16s in the air and even eliminate them before they get off the ground.

“The island of Taiwan’s F-16Vs might not even get the chance to take off from airfields before they are destroyed on the ground by precision strikes if a conflict breaks out in the Taiwan Straits,” the Global Times quotes a Chinese expert saying.

At the same time, the Chinese paper also reports that IRST is indeed an impactful technology able to potentially detect “stealth aircraft.”

“Unlike radar that uses the reflection of radio waves to find targets, IRST uses heat signals radiating from its target to detect them. Stealth aircraft are designed to be low-observable to radar, but its infrared radiation can only be reduced, not eliminated,” the Chinese paper writes.